Firstly, thank you for your extensive comments and suggestions - I shall definitely keep them in mind when at length I get back to this chapter.
Well first off, I can't see why you're disappointed with this chapter save for the fact that you've been building towards these moments for so. Frickin'. LONG. I know how it feels. No matter what you do, you can't seem to get the magic and finally, you just say, "Screw it".
God, that is so very apt a characterization! This chapter has been hard for me to conceptualize, and I ended up going with what I think is a less than optimal version (and even less than optimal for its being less than optimal, if you know what I mean) because I feel like I'm not in a position to write it according to a different structure. And I'm tired. But I need to have this off my mind. Ergo...
First off, I want to suggest that you post this beast at Fanfiction.net as well as the White Tree (I believe that's the name) and Scribe network. FFN, especially, because this thing deserves a big audience.
I actually had the first 20 or so stories I wrote at FFN, and then I left with the Great NC-17 Purge of '02. Tired of dealing with site issues and fluctuating policy being implemented in ways I did not care for. Perhaps it is more stable now, but I still think I will keep my distance. I've got it up at HASA and LOTRfanfiction, and once I get done, I may also archive it at TFF. I just don't feel like keeping up with it on more sites than that. But thank you for the suggestion; it's not that I don't want readers, it's just that I don't want to deal with that particular site.
-It maybe because I haven't read this in a while, but your style seems to be moving closer to that of Tolkien. I'm not sure if this is simply practice or because the scene lends itself to that language. In any case, it's quite well done and very much suited to it.
It is closer to Tolkien's style, because that's what fit the chapter. I don't need that much of either Aragorn or Legolas to get us through the miles and miles and miles of deadly silent landscapes, so pulling away from them a bit became the logical move. And that distance makes it possible for me to imitate a little more closely Tolkien's own style. I'm glad it worked well for you. I had been worried that it would be an awkward switch-over (and in point of fact, as you remark, the actual switch is awkward).
-[Snip Simone Weil-esque passage] This little internal soliquey is very important, IMO, for understanding the mental states of these men. They're going on a suicide mission to the literal hell on earth. I'd like to see a bit more into their psychology.
I'll keep that in mind. I, too, would like to be able to do more with this, but the aforementioned "God I'm tired just get me through this" mentality is preventing me from finding an appropriate moment. Also, Tolkien's style makes it a little more difficult to insert such moments, which do need a bit of build-up to work well, either as contrasts with what's gone before or as capstones to an entire affective mood.
You had some very good small moments that showed that...Pipin, of all, people was an excellent window.
Pippin has been a lot of fun for me to write, and very useful as a narrator. I'm glad you liked his portion of the chapter, and that little bit of observation. The nice thing about him is that he doesn't have a very developed understanding of these sorts of mentalities, so he can be surprised by them and notice these little things. Legolas and Aragorn basically just live them and even if they don't verbalize them, they understand why you eat, why you do x. You do it because it's mechanical, because you have to do it, because it's inertia, because it's a way of not thinking about things and life has to go on while it goes on.
[snip gift-wrapped presents from Mordor]
Now, given the circumstances...namely Legolas going into homicidal mode and the battle kicking off...it is perfectly understandable, nay, realistic that [gift-wrapped present] is not dwelt upon... Still, if there's a way that you could realistically make the appearance ... have more significance to the characters, take it.
Good point. I don't mean to neglect it, it is a huge point. At the same time, there just isn't time to give it the attention it deserves. I'll try to incorporate that "no time for attention deserved" aspect into the story a little more.
-The reference to the Music was good, though it seemed oddly awkward and unnecessary somehow. Don't get me wrong; I think it needs to be there...though not necessarily in that position. It just feels oddly out of place.
That would be the awkward transition that prevents me from having to move first to either Aragorn or Legolas, and second, invent time-filling stuff wherein I have to pay attention to the mechanics of getting from place A to place B, and from character A to character B, in great detail. It also means I don't have to deal with Denethor angst, Legolas angst or anyone else angst - I can do collective angst and passing landscapes. Not optimal, necessarily, but it basically got me out of Minas Tirith and through Ithilien in relatively short order without burn out.
Your modification of the songs for Aragorn and the departing soldiers was wonderful and another one of those moments that helps to characterize what this story is all about. There is no verse, no rhyme or tunning. It's half rage, half delirium and all love.
Thanks - that was probably my favorite part of the whole chapter.
Due to my utter lack of knowledge about medieval battles...sorry, I'm modern Army, I shoot crap...
snork! I'm non-military in any sense of the term - I think I win on the ignorance scale.
I disclaimer of lack of knowledge. However, that time table seems to long to me, even if an enemy is going up that slope.
Good point. I'll revise for a much shorter time. I should just know better by now: NEVER commit myself to definite time spans for battles. Ever. It enables me to avoid making statements that are just unrealistic on the face of it... even for fantasy, heh heh.
-I don't know how much energy you have left after working on this thing for so long, but be sure you give all of the loose ends proper closure...Arwen, for example. There's no need to go on, but a good paragraph is, I think, necessary for her.
Oh, fear not. We aren't *nearly* done with this story yet, and I know what I want for the ending. Arwen will have her day, among others. :evil
Once you've finished this, give yourself some therapy by writing something really silly, short, silly and stupid...I think my favorite example is The Morning After: A Tale of Wanton Debauchery.
I've got something in mind of that sort. Also, I'm sure once I get through, I'll want to write something ridiculously fluffy and happy with kitties and bunnies and frolicking and all that sort of thing as a kind of system purge.
Thanks for your comments, IVIaedhros!