kais

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547 King's Wit

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  1. Overall First of all, props for this sub not having any overtly problematic content! I'm guessing you had to spend some time cleaning and editing and I really appreciate that. More generally, this sub gave the narrative some much needed forward momentum, but I feel like it fell flat on description and agency. I'm much more excited about E, who has a great voice and actually gets things done, than M, who seems to just let things happen to her. I'm not convinced she has any real concern about her father, and for a warrior her instincts about people around her seem decidedly dull. As an idea, you might consider swapping the voice of E and M. E would make for a much more compelling main character, and I'd love to see a bit more spirit in all this court intrigue. Haha, yeah, for sure. Nothing stings quite like a crit, but I wouldn't be where I am today as an author without this form and the loving, if not painful, crits. Keep at it! As I go - page one: So M is a seer and a sorceress, but isn't trained in either and maybe doesn't know? That seems really plot convenient. I have some continuing concerns about her lack of self esteem and lack of training. Noting how you've got her home village set up, you could tweak the culture so that kids born out of their caste system don't get training, which would make the fact that she has no idea she can do all these things, make more sense - I'd suggest cutting the whole first page. The story really beings on page two, and you could work the 'I've had visions since I was a kid but can't control them' into dialogue anywhere - page two: I have complex feelings about 'it' being used to refer to this vision-infant, primarily in the context of how M's people have been described thus far. If you don't want to gender the baby, 'they' would be appropriate, or you could juggle the words around so as to not have to use pronouns (it's hard, but it can be done). - page three: can you fall unconscious in a vision? - page three: I doubt morning itself had a headache - page three: missed opportunity for worldbuilding: please describe the nightclothes, or the bedroom, or something around her so we can get a better feel for the world - page four: who is the 'young lady?' I thought M was a warrior? - page four: now she's the 'young warrior' again. I did this a lot when I started writing, too, and eventually my editor beat it out of me. Try to use their names only. If you must use a descriptor, pick one and stick with it - page five: is her father actually all that sick? M doesn't seem that concerned - punctuation and grammar are really struggling on page six - page eight: Err, does M have a thing for E? Because M is giving E some hardcore either male or lesbian gaze in the 'her dress hugged her' paragraph. If you're writing lesbians I am, of course, all on board, but aren't they also sisters? Or is the sister thing a bond thing? I don't remember--likely WRS - E appears to have all the agency in this chapter - page 11: I find it hard to believe that a medallion that gives eternal youth would just be kept in a vault. Someone would have stolen it and built an empire around it, surely - page 13: she really thinks she can just go borrow this medallion? Why would someone let that thing out of their vault?? - page 15: stealing the amulet is the first thing I have seen that really looks like a through line in this narrative
  2. Slowly but surely, I'm catching up Overall It's got a fun space opera vibe to it for sure, which would definitely keep me reading. Per usual though, I want to connect more with the characters. I also found some of the scene jumps jarring in this submission, and thought some of the emotional set ups that were brought to head missed the mark by not being better foreshadowed earlier. I think they're all easy clean ups with some edits though. As I go - page one: some redundancy in those first few lines with 'makes' - did I miss some chapters? Probably, since I think I'm reading out of order. I missed the part with why they're leaving Earth, I think - page 1: camera's is not possessive in this context - page 1: wasn't either Ze or Ron nonbinary? I'm seeing male pronouns for both on page one and I'm confused - page 2: Oh wait, it's Al that's enby, isn't it? - page 3: the Ron reveal would have more power if I knew more about him and cared more about it. It might be worth pushing this reveal until we're invested in Ron a bit more - page eight: there's been some good emotion through here! With the ship gift though, I'm left confused. Does our MC like to fly? The gift would mean more if I knew more about our main character, I feel like. Has xe always wanted a ship? Did xe have some crushing desire to get off world? Why is this gift so important other than monetary value? - page 11: so I'm super interested in this life without O business and love where that part of the plot is going. The other reveals on this page are too much, I feel like. Let me have a sense of wonder about the lack of O first and MC's freedom, before hitting me with the artifact stuff. Also, I don't care enough for moms and dads here to care much about their extraction, nor do I have enough political feel to care about this coup. I think I'll need a bit more backstory before those elements matter to me. So in the last part of this page, I feel like I'm being rushed to a thicker through line that I didn't want yet - page 13: I'm confused. Where did this battle come from? Who are they fighting? Is this them trying to leave the moon and getting grounded? If so, I need more lead up - page 15: really confused as to how and when Ron got shot - page 16: this dichotomy crisis doesn't ring really true. We haven't seen any of D's internal strife yet about the things xe is mentioning, especially related to killing. From the first few chapters it looked like killing was very part of the world, so why would D have feelings against it? This section could and should pack more punch (especially since you're bringing the enby part into it, thus giving the dichotomy issue some real teeth) but right now it falls flat. A bit more internal strife early on would really seed this moment - page 17: also confused on page 17 because xir gender hasn't mattered at all to this point, so xir bringing it up now is confusing. I'm being told something is a thing, but I'd rather be shown - page 19: I adore the idea of feeding bedsheets into a printer for more raw material - snippet: seems fine for the moment? I think I'd need to evaluate in the context of the whole chapter
  3. Okay so I'm catching up on subs and this is the next one on my list. Since there's all that... fun stuff above, I'm going to read the sub and exclude any comments on implicit bias issues, since they've been well covered already. Overall Pacing is good in this! I was just starting to wonder how much more ball I had to sit through when the action came, so that was perfect. Again, aside from the issues discussed above, the only other big thing that pulled on me was the understanding of breeding for selective phenotypes and such. I want more about what they're trying to accomplish, or at least why they do it this way, because as it's stated it doesn't make much sense. If talent is additive, then the power of each talent would grow, in theory, with each generation. But I don't see an indicator of that, and it reads more like an obsession with inbreeding that anything else (so then I have to wonder about strange hereditary issues cropping up with the more powerful). But generally, this seems to be heading in a good direction. Keep at it, and good luck with the revisions! As I go - page one: I actually wouldn't mind a bit of description of the artwork, because we'd learn more about the culture through it - page two: I appreciate the blocking of fighting while in a dress. Movies make it look far too easy sometimes - page 2-3: what is all this fun backstory about the bond-sister? I want to read that book! - page four: problematic issues with 'breeding' aside, just from a pure genetics standpoint I feel like this pairing off doesn't make sense. Wouldn't they be trying to (assuming they're all obsessed with Mendelian genetics) cross breed so that you could have, say, a sorcerer-crafter? Assuming that there are positive and negative traits to each group (like, say, sorcerer's use magic but also have a low alcohol tolerance or something) wouldn't they want to breed out bad traits by crossing 'types' to get the best of both worlds? (and then things could go wrong sometimes, like how they keep trying to breed horses with zebras to get hardier zebra-like animals but all they get are the worst attributes of both) - page six: is this man they're giggling about the one who was borderline abusive in the last sub? WRS maybe here. I don't remember - page nine: there's a fair amount of telling and not showing in pages eight and nine. Just something to look out for - page 11: unclear why a warrior wouldn't know structural words. I've never had a class in engineering but I know what struts are. We may need more worldbuilding and information on the system of the protag's village (in terms of the sort of caste system they seem to have) to make this more believable - page 11: Personally, I'd take a jungle temple over a city palace any day - Gar is kind of adorable. He's my new 'ship
  4. Overall This is better than the first sub, definitely. A bit choppy in places, and the through line takes a bit to come through, but we do get there. Generally I think the piece lacks a sense of wonder and the (as you already noted) lack of emotional resonance. D, especially, needs to either emote more or think about emoting more or do more actions that allow us to intuit emotion. @industrialistDragon always tells me "emote for the cheap seats!" since I tend to have similar issues when writing characters. Any other comments I had have been well covered by others so I'll leave this with a 'looking forward to reading more!' As I go - page two: while page one had a good hook, page two is coming across a bit choppy. I think a bit more setting to ground us would be helpful at this juncture - page 4: at the end of the chapter I'm left with a sense of confusion. What is the through line? Our protag needs to take a suppressant and I understand why, but I don't yet care about them (them? zir? I don't think protag has pronouns established yet) enough yet for this to hook me. - page five: "...make him look like a piece of it." A piece of what? - page six: better emotion in this chapter, and I am much more interested in D now that I have some stakes. I'd love to see that last paragraph expanded out a bit. I'd like to get more of D's mindset, their trapped feelings, the thoughts on having to take suppressants, afraid for their lives from the government, that sort of thing - page 12: same as above for the end of the last chapter. I want more from D about how they feel. They have an ancient artifact in their pocket that got their friend's mother arrested. What do they think about that? They just used Super Special Powers! Did it feel awesome? A release? Painful?
  5. I'm getting caught up, slowly but surely. Overall Hm. Generally I really like the story and am interested in its progression. I thought this section was a little... stale in places, but I also enjoyed the atmosphere. I think the issue might be in some of the word choices. I felt like a number of the sentences wandered perhaps a bit too much, and it kept me from really settling into the narrative. Generally though, I found this engaging. Nice work! Yes! This was my favorite part, too Yes this. I made a comment on this below. As I go - page 18: love the brother interaction - you have a typo right before the section break on page 20 (my he) - page 21: 'the black witch' musing needs to be chased by the protag having some thought about the problems with that statement, relative to the world around him. I have some reservations as well about the lack of PoC in the narrative, assuming that you are modeling this off the UK at a certain time period, but also noting that this is a fantasy, so really you can do whatever you want. Point being though that this is loads better than when the book started out, but still needs some fine tuning, I think. Also, remember that if you skin tone one person, you need to skin tone them all - page 25: there's a lot of really good scenery in here, and ambiance, but I find myself wondering when our protagonist is going to exert some control or forward motion over his situation - page 28: yeah okay, I'm a sucker for the 'kiss as distraction' trope always. Carry on
  6. Wait, how many have been here for the full ten years?? You should get a badge or something!
  7. Ahh, here's the first part! Overall Having read this in reverse (chapters 3,4,5 first), I think you could cut chapters 1 and 2 entirely. It's a more interesting start on chapter 3, and since there's not a lot of emoting here, that could easily be added to the later chapters for more of a punch. While I appreciate that this is a first draft, between this and the other sub there are some troublesome issues with the female characters that are cropping up. I'm still unsure if this is purely POV, in which case S is not going to be a compelling narrator for a sizable subset of the reading population, or whether it is unintentional. It might be worth considering why the women are being written this way, and then tweak S as needed. Most generally, I feel like this piece suffers from a lack of voice. I need more from S, and more from the writing, in terms of why this story is unique. S is an easy fix, voice is a bit harder, but you'll get there with revision! Yuuuup OMG love this As I go - immediately thrown out by the first line, since, without context, it looks like his heart is in fact, literally exiting his skull - page 3: I have a quick dislike of P with the 'Oh it's my fault' line. It's fine to have a passive secretary type, but a bit of nuance would be nice - page four: why is P crying?? I don't see any reason for it, especially since the MC is really really calm. I'm not convinced this missing demon is any more than an inconvenience right now - page five: at the end of chapter one, I'm confused. S doesn't seem that concerned about his missing demon, all things considered. I am having a hard time caring as well, because I don't truly understand what is at stake. I think a bit more worldbuilding would be helpful. You have a great opportunity to do that in terms of P's reactions to the news, which I think is currently wasted on her stereotypical 1950s office secretary responses. - I'm not sure I actually know what burning iron smells like. Could you describe it just a bit? - page three: S is just thinking about things, not emoting about them. I think that's leading to this sort of detached feeling I get from him - page four: pork in this one as well? That's actually the most solid characterization of S that I've noticed between this sub and the later chapters - page six: so I've noticed that the female characters are routinely described either as emotional, or as sex objects. Since we're always in S's POV this could be reasonable, but it doesn't make him even remotely likable as a character unless you give him some redeemable qualities. For instance, @Robinski's Q character objectifies basically everyone of consenting age, but has a solid quirky personality and a soft spot for his ward. If you want to keep the sexist nature of S, he'll need to be more rounded out - page nine: wait, so he just... leaves? The ending doesn't make sense. Why not at least try to open the thing or ask her the questions that will tell him if she's sane or super powerful or whatever?
  8. Playing catchup, in random order. Also wow this sub is way over the limit. Overall Typos and grammar aside, for a first draft I thought this was well done! I think the narrative wanders and could be cut down, and I have some pretty strong feelings about the MC, but generally I found the writing style easy to read and what I could tell of the plot, to be engaging. Nice work! I completely agree. Yes this. Complete lack of urgency. I assumed this was a cleaning bucket that wasn't rinsed out well? Yes! Would love to see this explored more Allllll of this. I also commented on it below. Please also see my side-eye notes below. I either A) don't remember the first sub or B.) haven't gotten to it yet. P's weakness didn't bother me in this because we had other female characters. If P was the only female, I'd have been all over it. So in this case yes, I agree that since there's balance, P is good for now As I go - page three: as a note, the woman is the first person we've gotten a description of, despite not being the first person the MC has talked to, and her description is very male-gaze. Potentially appropriate, since the lead character is male, but if the narrative continues with only women getting descriptors it could become an issue - page four: Wait, are there two women? One? I'm confused with this blocking - Who are R and M? Have we already been introduced to them? - page five: realizing this is chapter three, but I'm unclear on what the stakes are in this piece - page six: the "I left you at the drop of a hat" seems contrived - page seven: 'No you haven't, I get almost twice the coin most women do.' Hard eye roll. This is a fantasy. People have demons and such. There's no reason for women to be paid less than men unless it's plot relevant, which I suspect this is not - page seven: the dialogue on this page is very maid and butler - the part where he thinks P might be into him really cements my dislike of this character. I don't know what you're aiming for with him in terms of reader empathy, but right now he comes off as a well-meaning chauvinist - page 11: the description of the magic and forming the bird is great! - page 13: where did P get acidic water? Why would you throw acidic water on someone? Is his skin melting off? - ah, never mind, I see. Ignore previous comment - page 14: I suggest you check and see what the current appropriate term is. I'm not sure its 'dwarf,' although 'dwarfism' is the scientific name for the condition. Last time I checked the term was 'little person' but that may have changed. - page 18: again realizing that I think I missed the first few chapters but I'm not clear what the through-line is on this story. What is the purpose? The mission? - page 19: after all the coin he'd sent her over the years... I really don't like the main character. Sending someone money doesn't entitle you to put them in danger. - at the end, unsure what all this wandering around with people has to do with finding his demon
  9. I'm going to blame surgery for having no memory of v1. Going in cold... Overall Generally, I liked this. I thought M could use more wonder, especially, but the descriptions and world were immersive and the pacing excellent. I second this! As I go - if M is a sentient tree I am so on board for this - page one: ooh, I love the genderless language M uses! Very in character - page three: I feel like we missed the opening chapter of this story. I think I need a little more grounding with M, and new readers might need a bit more grounding in the Ari. I connect with the story because how well I know the world, but even then I'm being driven by an interest in the Ari, not in M - page four: I have so many questions about what M looks like. Could we get a tight description earlier on? - page four: trees, for the record, have a very acute sense of smell - page 7: okay so I'm full of wonder, but M isn't. Since you're doing so well coding them as a tree (I think), you might consider having the reactions be like some specific species of tree (or anthropomorphized versions). Could M grow spines? If they have leaves, could they curl in? Shoot poisonous extractives by accident (ah those silly vestigial evolutionary things from before one was sentient!)? - page 7: Lumber does not hiss and screech. It definitely does under heat and pressure, especially if water is involved! - page 13: oh this is the story with the infant! I do remember!
  10. Okay, starting to slowly get back into the swing of things, but my inbox is overfull and I don't have the energy to try to figure out which subs came first. Hence, random crits as I have energy. Woo! Note: I'm very concerned about the lack of any taggable content. It's like I don't even know you. Not even a little swearing? Overall Although I don't feel there was a complete arc in this chapter, I did like the character development a lot. As a journey/setup chapter I thought it worked pretty well, and I'm pretty attached to C already (especially noting your email changes that will be taking place). My only real flag was the comment about courting her would be like hunting a tiger, and while I get the sentiment I wonder if it doesn't need to be delivered in a less exotic animalistic way... although because of the way J already interacts with her I wonder too if this isn't just his character, and if he's going to grow. It's not enough to throw me from the story by any means, and as I noted below, I think you've got some amazing depth potential with C that I really can't wait to read more of. Ah yes, I'll agree with this. Everyone is indeed very calm. Oooh, I can get behind this, too. A good crew always needs good banter As I go - page 32: I think I'd like it more if the market had at least one stand out feature - page 34: I had to stop and think a bit about his reaction to C's reaction to the innuendo. I realize I had to skip a few chapters so I'm missing some context. His reaction seems really in character, so that's good, but I wonder too if you couldn't give him a hint of understanding as to why she might react that way (although if you're writing him more completely clueless, disregard this entirely). Maybe something like: So, was it alright for her to make amorous jests, but not for me to hint at unspoken desires? That probably made sense if I thought about it, which I had no intention of doing at the moment. or So, was it alright for her to make amorous jests, but not for me to hint at unspoken desires? Was it a power issue? OTOH, C's response is perfect, and shows an amazing amount of depth for her character in just this one little scene. So while the line drives me away from J, and am instantly drawn into C. So maybe leave it alone? I don't know. I'm conflicted. - page 35: maybe it's the drugs I'm still on post surgery but I'm just please as punch that there is more than one woman in the narrative - page 39: again, I'm missing a few chapters but this is starting to have the feel of a heist novel. That would be so cool
  11. Racism is not 'silly stuff.' Critique is in no way meant to be uplifting, it's meant to be honest. We are trying to help and are being ignored and rebuffed. We are being called silly for caring about people of color. I'm so angry I am shaking. We cannot agree to disagree on racism. There is no politeness to cover up racism. This is not what this forum is about. And I have reached my limit. @Chaos
  12. Popping in from medical leave because someone lit the social justice signal. I know we've been through this before, @Jorville, but looks like we need to go over it again. It doesn't matter what you feel, personally. Using the word savage to refer to people of color is racist, and has a terrible history in science fiction. It has no place here. You can keep putting it in, but think about what you are doing to marginalized populations when you do. Just because it doesn't bother you doesn't mean it isn't an issue. This is unacceptable. Wholly unacceptable. There's whole websites dedicated to the white savior complex. Another problematic trope that needs to be scrubbed. And I will add that the more concerning thing here is that we have brought these to your attention before, and you have continued to include them. We have given you links before, which it appears you have ignored. We put a lot of time in trying to educate and help. If you want to ignore suggestions on comma use, that's fine. I abuse a comma as much as anyone. But when people are talking about racism, you need to listen. We all need to listen. In fact, colorism is a major issue facing groups today and while no, it's not racism, it's still very, very problematic. Consider that this topic may be outside your lane to write about. ... your text, as you have it written, is racist. This isn't a difference of opinion. We can debate intent, sure, but that's a conversation about implicit versus overt racism, not if it IS racism. We don't have any people of color on this forum that I am aware of. If we did, could you imagine how this discussion would make them feel? Could you imagine defending these phrases to a Native person who has had the word 'savage' hurled against them and used to deny their humanity? Do you think they would see its use in your story as harmless? You are welcome on this forum, as everyone is welcome on this forum, but that doesn't mean we are going to let problematic behavior slide under a 'let's agree to disagree' banner. We can agree to disagree about how much butter goes on toast or whether pineapple goes on a pizza. We can't agree to disagree about fundamental human value, or rights. We are willing to help walk you through this, but you need to meet us halfway. Everyone writes problematic stuff from time to time, and if they are lucky they get called on it. We're here. We're saying this isn't okay. Please hear us so that you can become a better writer and we can make this forum a welcoming place for writers of color.
  13. I can't imagine a hysterectomy is ever fun, but I do get good pain meds for a bit! Until July, all! Someone will have to update the fridging counter!
  14. Language, sex, AND violence? Well okay then! Overall This is a lot better! Most of my quibbles have been dealt with. I thought the motivations for the band of thieves could have been a bit less cliche, but generally this was an interesting start. That last section gave me the stronger motivation I needed to keep reading, as well, so good on including that. Yes please! I agree As I go - page four: little blister? Little sister? - character motivation and buy-in is a lot better this time around! - page four: unsure what 'heat' refers to. Magic? - page five: because it's been a number of pages since he talked about being pursued, I've lost a bit of the urgency and plot. I had to stop and remind myself why he is going to the butcher and why he needs heightened senses - page six: the butcher interaction is a lot smoother now, too - page seven: I'm a bit surprised there aren't some thoughts about his family having to do without his monetary support when he realizes he's been captured - page ten: so if anything, the interaction between C and our protag, to me, now has much more potential for romance. It's more subtle, maybe not there, and that makes it engaging - page twelve: I have some concerns about why no ship in the royal port will take C. I think it should be spelled out, because leaving it hanging makes me thinking the sailors are racist, and that opens a big can of worms in your narrative - nice ending!
  15. I'm not going to end up submitting this week, everyone. Sorry for the fake out.