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Thread: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 2]

  1. #241
    Cookiegod's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Nov 25]

    I noticed it's 5 days since you posted, and no one's told you so far how great you're doing? Well fret not, I'm here now: You're doing great.

    Seriously though: It really is great. I can't give you any better feedback than that for now. I hoped I'd find time, which is why I'm only posting now, but I'm going through a bit of a non-writing-related-crunch at the time. The next month(s?) is(/are?) going to be hell for me, so I have to tone it down 'til Christmas.

    Only important two notes to what you wrote above in #238: 1) Cliffhangers are allowed and do not necessarily contradict the narrative arc rule. It simply depends on how it's done. E.g. look at the chestnut part that I wrote. It ended on a cliffhanger, but it also had a narrative arc.
    2) "Slow" parts are also expressly possible with a narrative arc and should have that narrative arc. Slow parts are great, but only if they have a purpose (just like all parts). So when you have people walking from A to B, use that to show how they evolve, or use it to flesh them out more, including their relationship. Note that I'd use the terrain in that case more than you already did (though as you know you did kinda well), in that I'd see the nature as a character in itself. So sometimes the nature can be embracing, sometimes harsh, etc., and I'd factor it in and see the environment as a character of its own.
    .







    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    No one cares what Derc has to say.

  2. #242
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Nov 25]

    Great updates! Two lines from the latest one stayed with me: "no matter what comes next", which reminds me that Halik and Fa'ram aren't on the same side anymore (if I'm keeping up with the shifting sands correctly) and "Remember who and what you are", which sounds like it may be a foreshadowing of something, or an indication that Halik senses that Far'am is losing sight of some part of himself - but perhaps the significance of the second line is something else, something I missed.

    I also wonder if this meeting is intentionally similar to the previous encounter between Tharin and Mun'at. Both dialogues involved friendly speech between potential enemies, with (at least, it seemed to me) mutual respect and affection but also an undertone of danger.
    Last edited by Alwyn; December 01, 2019 at 10:16 AM.

  3. #243
    Derc's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Nov 25]

    You did an 180 there in the conversation between Mun'at and Tharin. I liked how it was going first, with Mun'at being a real jerk, war looming over the horizon, and so on. I didn't like how it turned out then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Pretty sure you have some jokers up your sleeve anyways.

    I mean... the most logical thing to do in EB as the Nabateans is to get rid of the Saba first, and the Sabaeans are also a faction influental enough to oppose Nabatean hegemony over Arabia. Really, really curious how this will turn out. Nabataens and Sabaeans warring each others or becoming best bro's - both are interesting scenarios. You made it so that the reader also cares for the opposite side. Great thing!

    Evil twist at the very end of this last part. Somehow it was clear they must've been watched.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    What can I say, I've got Chapter 5 all finished, and just this morning concluded an "Interlude" mini-chapter that comes after and marks the mid-way point of the story.
    This is a great idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kilo11 View Post
    Those decisions are some of the worst ones for me. I wish I could just post my pdf and be done with it
    But you can!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Great updates! Two lines from the latest one stayed with me: "no matter what comes next", which reminds me that Halik and Fa'ram aren't on the same side anymore [...]
    Looks like this image has made it into the story:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  4. #244

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Nov 25]

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    I noticed it's 5 days since you posted, and no one's told you so far how great you're doing? Well fret not, I'm here now: You're doing great.
    Thanks Cook. You know, without those little bits of praise, I do lose the will to live

    But more seriously, thanks for real. It is always good to hear that you're liking it, and that things are going well. I work in academia, and I find that academics have in general become far too concerned with providing critiques, to the point that they rarely ever give praise anymore, and it really takes its toll in the long run when no one ever says that they like it or that this or that was particularly moving. So thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Seriously though: It really is great. I can't give you any better feedback than that for now. I hoped I'd find time, which is why I'm only posting now, but I'm going through a bit of a non-writing-related-crunch at the time. The next month(s?) is(/are?) going to be hell for me, so I have to tone it down 'til Christmas.
    No worries. You do you, and get to other stuff when you can. When the book is all done, you are going to get a .pdf to look at anyway, so you'll have a chance

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Only important two notes to what you wrote above in #238: 1) Cliffhangers are allowed and do not necessarily contradict the narrative arc rule. It simply depends on how it's done. E.g. look at the chestnut part that I wrote. It ended on a cliffhanger, but it also had a narrative arc.
    2) "Slow" parts are also expressly possible with a narrative arc and should have that narrative arc. Slow parts are great, but only if they have a purpose (just like all parts). So when you have people walking from A to B, use that to show how they evolve, or use it to flesh them out more, including their relationship. Note that I'd use the terrain in that case more than you already did (though as you know you did kinda well), in that I'd see the nature as a character in itself. So sometimes the nature can be embracing, sometimes harsh, etc., and I'd factor it in and see the environment as a character of its own.
    Interesting points, and one's which I agree with a lot. To each one:

    1) I've got nothing to add. We agree here, I think
    2) The thought about making the land into a full-fledged character (or at least, more played out) is definitely something interesting. I use a lot of anthropomorphized language when describing the land, but so far have not done some of the more basic character stuff with it. I will think about that more though. One thing I have been considering the whole time while writing is to actually split this story into two books. Book one would be chapters 1-5, but teased out a lot more, with a lot more development of characters and setting, and that would comprise the full story of uniting the tribes of western Arabia, and only that. Book two would then be focused just on southern Arabia and the interactions between the Nabati and the more settled peoples like the Saba' and Qatabani. If I do pull the trigger on that plan, I would have more room to explore these ideas more, which is one of the big reasons I have in favor of it. I'll think about it all more once I've finished the book as it is though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    Great updates! Two lines from the latest one stayed with me: "no matter what comes next", which reminds me that Halik and Fa'ram aren't on the same side anymore (if I'm keeping up with the shifting sands correctly) and "Remember who and what you are", which sounds like it may be a foreshadowing of something, or an indication that Halik senses that Far'am is losing sight of some part of himself - but perhaps the significance of the second line is something else, something I missed.

    I also wonder if this meeting is intentionally similar to the previous encounter between Tharin and Mun'at. Both dialogues involved friendly speech between potential enemies, with (at least, it seemed to me) mutual respect and affection but also an undertone of danger.
    Alwyn, you have a keen eye, and I am going to say no more than that, for fear of giving things away At any rate, I will continue to drop some twists as things go along, but I always try to leave the buildings of that twist laying around in earlier sections, so attentive readers can get a reward out of that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    You did an 180 there in the conversation between Mun'at and Tharin. I liked how it was going first, with Mun'at being a real jerk, war looming over the horizon, and so on. I didn't like how it turned out then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Pretty sure you have some jokers up your sleeve anyways.
    I most certainly do And their exchanges are far from over, so you will see that relationship develop for a while still. Hopefully, its continuation will be more satisfying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    I mean... the most logical thing to do in EB as the Nabateans is to get rid of the Saba first, and the Sabaeans are also a faction influental enough to oppose Nabatean hegemony over Arabia. Really, really curious how this will turn out. Nabataens and Sabaeans warring each others or becoming best bro's - both are interesting scenarios.
    Yeah, that was the only real viable option for the campaign. That, or head east, but Gerrha is just so not an inviting first conquest. There are two territories north of Rekem worth taking (Bostra and Palmyra), but they put you into direct contact with the Ptolemaic-Seleukid conflict, and put you in their way, which is something you don't want then. I have taken Bostra, but using the King, Malka Qênu, who isn't part of the story. So yeah, it's to the Saba', and in the story I am trying to flesh out how the internal politics of Saba' would affect this interaction with a people like the Nabati.

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    You made it so that the reader also cares for the opposite side. Great thing!
    I am really glad to hear this! One thing I have been trying to focus on as a writer is not having a proper "baddie". To me, people are people, wherever you go, and that means some will be punks, some will be more friendly, some will be... But most importantly, everyone has a bit of everything in them, and the only thing that usually makes someone an enemy is place of birth. So I have been trying to make it clear who our protagonists are, while also making clear that the antagonists are not necessarily "bad". I am very happy to hear that that is coming through!

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Evil twist at the very end of this last part. Somehow it was clear they must've been watched.
    Indeed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Looks like this image has made it into the story:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Nicely done!






    Now, before the next update goes up, I have something to say, and to ask, regarding regularity of my posting updates. So, National Novel Writing Month is now over, and while I definitely didn't meet my 30,000 word goal, I did get serious progress, and for that I am happy! I still have a lot to transcribe, but I'd say I have managed about 15,000 words last month, which amounted to me writing all of chapter 5, an interlude that marks the halfway point of the book, and about half of chapter 6. More than this though, the NaNoWriMo has gotten me into a groove wherein I can do a lot more writing than I previously was.

    The upshot of all of this (with regards to updates) is that I now have a backlog of updates from what I've already finished, and chances are this backlog will only grow given how much I am writing now. From my posting over the past month, it has seemed to me that once a week is maybe too quick. I can understand this, given the length of some of my updates, and that the language is a bit heavier which can make it more time-consuming for non-native speakers of English. Now, I really like getting feedback from you all for each update, because I use that as much as I can for improving the work, something which is important to me as I plan on trying to shop this book at some point. For that reason, I am going to start posting only twice a month, on the 1st and 15th (though for December, on the 2nd, as I was traveling yesterday). However, I'd be interested to hear any and everyone's thoughts on posting regularity, and for that reason I am adding a poll to this thread. If you have 30 seconds of spare time (and I know you do ) please take the time to briefly consider what you would really want most, in terms of posting time, and put your response down. If there is some overwhelming majority for a particular schedule, I'd be happy to accommodate it
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  5. #245

    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Nov 25]

    Continued from Chapter 5 - Part VI


    Dramatis Personae

    Nabati:

    Mun'at Ha'Qadri: General of the Nabati army, tasked with uniting the tribes of Arabia and subduing the Saba' confederations that control Arabia Felix.
    Shullai Ha'Maleki: Prince of the Nabati, riding south under Mun'at's command.
    Ravîv'êl Bikrum: Crown Prince of the Nabati. Currently governing the conquered settlement of Dedan.
    Malka Qênu: King of the Nabati, and leader of the united tribes.

    Rana'in: Elder warrior and long-time friend of Mun'at.
    Khalil: Raider under Mun'at's command, usually tasked with leading the cavalry and light skirmishers.
    Haza'el: Captain of the Nabati.
    Wayyuq: A spy and pathfinder in the service of the Nabati, but not of their tribe.

    Sabeans (Saba'):

    Mubsamat: Queen of the Saba' with ambitions to end the tribal rivalries that plague her people.
    Tharin: Captain of Mubsamat's guard, tasked with contacting the approaching Nabati on Mubsamat's behalf and bringing them over to her cause.
    Zaadi Il'Bayyin: Often referred to as "Lord of the Northpass", Zaadi is a Qayl (higher official) of the Saba', and the ringleader of a group of nobles arrayed against Mubsamat.
    Halik Il'Yakif: Landowner and noble of the Saba' who initially followed Zaadi's plans but has since been turned by Mubsamat.
    Far'am Rafshan: Half-Qatabani exile in league with Zaadi Il'Bayyin.
    Karab: Son of the Athtar Yazi' clan and great leader of the Hashidi warriors of the northern plateau. He is also in league with Zaadi against Mubsamat.
    Hasan: Deceased brother of Karab.



    Chapter 5
    The Incense Road


    --------------------------------------------------
    (Part VII)


    After an evening spent in the shadows of the dark mount, the Nabati had crossed the broad crater nestled among the peaks of Hijaz, finding at its easternmost edge a narrow trail winding over the final ascent. The path they traveled was half-choked with boulders and debris, the other half sliding scree-slopes that slipped away without warning, and they were forced to move slowly, picking their way forward with care. However, by evening they had gained the last rise, and once again they were on the high desert east of the Barrier Hills.

    Over the next days they moved easily, keeping to the incense roads and the safety of their regularly marked wells and oases. They traveled through Ta'if, Turbah, and Bishah, independent settlements which neither asked for nor gave fealty to the greater powers of Arabia, but as the Nabati advanced ever further south they began to notice a growing sense of unity in the tribes they encountered. The marks of it were subtle, but Mun'at felt them nonetheless, and twelve days after having left Bakkah, he approached Tharin to ask him if he knew what it was that bound together the peoples of that region.

    At first Tharin said nothing, and when finally he did speak it was with a measured caution, as though he feared to betray some secret. "We are entering the lands of the Minaeans, the Kingdom of Ma'in." he said slowly, growing quiet once his answer had been given.

    "And?" Mun'at prompted. "What of the people, the tribes and clans? Are they an honorable sort, or should we treat them with caution?" Mun'at paused, eying Tharin with a hint of uncertainty, and when he spoke again his words rang with authority, words of a commander to his soldier. "Tharin, you will tell me what you know." he said, brooking no argument.

    Tharin's eyes flashed for the briefest moment, but he answered without outward complaint. "The people of Ma'in are traders and raiders, desert folk unaccustomed to a civilized life, and they are not to be trusted." he said flatly.

    On hearing this Mun'at grew momentarily quiet, for in Tharin's words he recognized a people akin to the Nabati, and yet the Saba' captain had disparaged them without the slightest mark of hesitation or mercy. "And should we then see them as enemies, these Minaeans?" he asked evenly, adding, "Would they think us enemies, or do you think they could be persuaded to look on us and ours with kindly eyes?"

    Tharin waved a hand in dismissal. "They are a backwards lot, and I have never known them to be anything but enemies." he said with disdain.

    Again, Mun'at was still, considering what to make of this new friend the Nabati had gained, whether he had perhaps been in error to take the southern soldiers into his company. When finally Mun'at did speak it was with reproach in his voice, and more than a little disappointment. "Tharin, you say you have never known them to be anything but enemies, but the antagonism between you and them is your affair. I know these people not, and I would not think ill of them without just cause."

    "You offered your friendship to me," Tharin answered coldly, "and if friendship binds me to your causes, then you are bound equally to mine, and I tell you now that these unwashed desert savages are enemies of the Saba'." His eyes narrowed, Tharin added, "Or do you mean to say that you would befriend or speak kindly to the enemies of your allies?"

    Mun'at sighed and his gaze fell to the earth. "No, I suppose not." he said softly.

    At the words Tharin appeared satisfied and turned to walk away, when Mun'at laid a hand on his shoulder, staying him. "I do not like to make war without cause," he said with quiet fervor, "and even less so against peoples who I do not know, with whom I have no quarrel. Know this, captain of the Saba'."

    In answer, Tharin let out a soft grunt before turning and heading back to the company of his men, marching in the vanguard with Khalil's raiders and Wayyuq's scouts.

    Over the coming days, Mun'at spoke less and less to Tharin, but he kept his word to the southern captain. The army of the Nabati had met with no resistance since entering the lands of Ma'in, yet Mun'at placed them always on alert, and ordered the captains to make their men ever more ready for war. They were marching along the incense roads that eventually led to Najran, the stronghold of Ma'in, and by the caprice and ill-will of the Nabati's newest allies, their march had become of necessity one of violence and conquest. It was a course of events Mun'at would not have willingly or gladly chosen, but he no longer saw any possibility for doing otherwise.


    For weeks Zaadi's fortress and the surrounding valleys had been abuzz with activity. The scattered peoples of the Hashidi and Houthi clans, as well as a dozen lesser tribes, had been assembled outside his mountain fastness, making ready for war, and now, after such a flurry of activity and motion, the place seemed as if dead. Zaadi Il'Bayyin, the Lord of the Northpass, had received from Mar'rib daily worse news, reports of Mubsamat's growing strength in the court, and in an act of desperation he had dispersed his allies, sending them into the northern mountains with orders to seal the passes and trade routes leading toward Ma'in and the lands of North Arabia. From the heights of Sarat his forces would be unassailable, and Mubsamat would be forced to come to him, to her doom. And if she did not, if she remained safely ensconced about the palace on the high plateau, then the other lords of Saba' would see what he had so long ago, that she was a coward and weakling, fit only to spread distrust and lies, but not to lead.

    Though Zaadi had sent his friends away, he remained at his citadel with the soldiers of his own clan, waiting for some sign to come from the south, some piece of information to tell him what was happening in Ma'rib, who he could still call 'friend'. More than this, he waited for the queen to make her move, to show her hand, that he might respond accordingly. Yet day and night the road south lay still, the winding gray band delivering no messenger to the Lord of the Northpass, nor any knowledge of what events were unfolding beyond his domains. After three days of this, this constant waiting, Zaadi had begun to fear that no news would ever come, that his actions had perhaps been over hasty, rash even, when at long last a trail of dust was sighted rising over the road that led to Ma'rib.

    His steps suddenly light, Zaadi descended the walls, moving toward the broad plaza between the gatehouse and the main keep, and when he reached the flagged stones he saw two of his spies climbing down from horses glistening with sweat. He crossed toward them without hesitation, a gladness and ease rising in his breast, but when finally he stood before them those lighter thoughts were replaced by dread. The men's eyes were clouded with concern and a thinly-veiled fear, and both stood silent. "What is it?" Zaadi asked, his voice suddenly small.

    The two men glanced at one another uneasily, neither seeming pleased with the prospect of speaking, but after a moment one turned his gaze to Zaadi. "Lord of the Northpass," he began in weak tones, "as you commanded, we were watching the lands of the half-Qatabani, Far'am Rafshan, and for weeks there was nothing. Nothing of note in his workshops and no sign of the half-blood noble." The man paused, looking to his partner beside him for support, and when it appeared none would be given he quickly added, "But Far'am has returned."

    Zaadi's brow pinched together in open confusion. "What of that?" he finally snapped. "Of course the half-blood would return. Do you mean to tell me that you rode here, forsaking your watch, just to tell me this?! Well?"

    Again, the spies turned to one another, a series of silent looks passing between them, and after a time the second man, who till then had remained still, spoke. "Far'am returned, but not alone." he said slowly. "The half-blood returned from Qataban with the entirety of the tribes of his people, and even now they are camped in the wilds north of Far'am's home. They remain there, doing their best to remain unnoticed, but they are his. We are certain of that."

    On hearing this Zaadi's gaze fell to the earth, searching for what such news could mean, when the second man began speaking again. "But that is not all." he continued. "Before we departed his domains to return here we saw him receive a visitor. Halik Il'Yakif went to Far'am Rafshan, and alone they entered the half-Qatabani's home." The man paused briefly. "Lord Zaadi," he added solemnly, "they did not speak long, but from what we saw, they spoke as friends, brothers."

    His tale done, the man grew quiet, and for a moment silence reigned supreme on the stony plaza. Then, slowly, Zaadi's breathing became louder and louder, his jaw tight and eyes aflame. He locked his gaze on the second man who had spoken. "You will bring Far'am to me." he said in tones of red iron. "Take whatever men you might need, go to his damnable shacks north of Ma'rib, and drag him back here if you must. That man will explain his deeds, or he will answer for them."



    Continue to Chapter 5 - Part VIII
    Last edited by Kilo11; December 02, 2019 at 03:46 AM. Reason: To my shame, I missed some LaTeX markup :(
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  6. #246
    Cookiegod's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Good to know. I had completely missed it, even as I have read your updates. Once a week is indubitably the correct answer. There are only 52 weeks in a year. The question you have to ask yourself is: "Do I still want to be posting updates 5 years from now?"
    .







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    No one cares what Derc has to say.

  7. #247
    Turkafinwë's Avatar Cheerful Nihilist
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    Default Re: Writers' Study Chat and Feedback - Ask all your questions here!

    Very interesting developments, the encounter between Far'am and Halik in particular was very good in my opinion, their see-sawing of power between the two of them. It seems the alliance between Mun'at's Nabati confederation and the Saba are beginning to show the trouble of uniting all the tribes of Arabia. Tharin's hatred for the Ma'in is still unclear and to see Mun'at struggle to decide what he must do is conveyed very well.

    Two very good updates!

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  8. #248
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Written in Sand (Nabataean AAR for EBII)[updated: Dec 2]

    You've got me interested in both the tension between Mun'at and Tharin and the discovery which Zaadi made about Far'am.

    As I see it it, one challenge for Total War AAR writers is 'why good people go to war'. Of course, there different ways of dealing with this, such as: our main character doesn't have to be good and they don't have to start the war. Here, it seems that the alliance with Tharin explains why Mun'at is going to war - it's interesting to see what this shows us about Mun'at and about the growing tension between Mun'at and Tharin.

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