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About industrialistDragon

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  1. Sorry this is late and short. I don't have a lot to say that hasn't been said already by others. I had trouble getting into this section and had to try three times to get it all the way read. Partially that's because I read at work, but I just didn't feel the urgency that I know should be in this section. I know some of the disconnect is WRS, but I think it was also confusion about how everything was set up and played out, and I'm still having trouble caring about J or understanding why P has to be stopped by him, right now. :/ The only other thing I have to add is some weird speculation I was thinking about. Ch is clearly still the chosen one, she even gets the dramatic final fight with the big bad guy when J is stuck fending off mooks. So, what if you just, like, ran with that? Make it into a Sherlock Holmes and Watson sort of deal where Ch *IS* the hero/Holmes and J is the observer/sidekick Watson character? I feel like it's practically there already, it'd just need some change in focus here and there...
  2. Baklava! That looks delicious! I'm impressed, because that's far too many layers of flaky pastry for me to manage. Mincemeat just involves lots of chopping...
  3. There were local apples in all my varieties on supersale at the grocery store and, cat-gods of the internet preserve me, I'm making my holiday pies almost two months early. I AM NOT MENTALLY PREPARED FOR AN UNDERTAKING OF THIS MAGNITUDE. What have I done to myself? Send help (or apple corers). (pay no attention to the bagged apples, that's last year's photo. I haven't even photoed this year's ingredients yet @[email protected] )
  4. It's good to see S back! Fun fact: I could've sworn he was like 12 throughout what I read of the entire last book. Boy-howdy is that not true with this one! XD Over all, I think it's just the usual things I"m having issues with -- namely, more emotion from the characters, more clarity, and a bit better integration of the "last time on S Breaks The Nether" sections. Otherwise, as I go The beginning is feeling kind of repetitive for me. Having two sentences within a paragraph of each other starting with "Hearing the symphony had gotten easier in the month" feels a bit superfluous to me. I feel like there are a lot of rhetorical questions throughout this section as well. A few I find are okay, but after a while they tend to bump me out of the story. When S is wondering about his past, those seemed to fit well, but I'm wondering if the rest couldn't be reworded. Things seem a little sluggish and muddled with the beginning trying to balance the recap with the noise, but once E shows up I think things started to get interesting. I think I might like more direct lampshading of S's mental issues. I sort of recall what-all they were, so I know why he's reacting the way he is, but it's unclear from the text. So, if he's amnesia'd, and has been for a while, hasn't anyone else talked to him about who he used to be/his past? I feel like surely somebody'd try to remind him of himself, but he appears to not have any knowledge at all and that confuses me...
  5. I wasn't going to reply on this one per your request, but since I've been mentioned by name, I'll say a little. Re religion: Switching "Jew" to "Gene" does indeed take the sharpest edge off of it for me. However, nothing else was changed, so I feel like it becomes clear very early on what specific religion is meant instead. To my mind, much of the benefit that was gained by changing the word is lost at this point. I think @Mandamon's point about the "-ess" suffix is a good one. A little more obfuscation on this would help me out a lot more. I also agree with @kais's assessment re the sexism and racism: it's not that it has to go away, but if it stays it needs to be handled carefully. I would really want to see a lot more of Ty succeeding or working around the other's opinions of her. Right now for me the only thing that shines through is how little the others think of her. For the character questions Ty: I like that she is no longer shrill. That improves her a lot for me. However, it does uncover how much the story seems to highlight her weakness and low social standing. If she is brilliant, and heads above the rest intellectually, then I feel like this fact should be the one highlighted, early on and often, and the other (her low standing in the eyes of the men and physical weaknesses) aspects I think should be used to to bring out or define her primary trait. Right now, the line that I felt like highlighted her intellect in the first version (where she explains the situation to Ale during the argument with the village elder) has been given to Ala in this one, and I think it really steals her thunder. Ale: Same with Ale. I like that he now seems slightly less belligerent to me in this version, however, I'm not getting from the text that he has more emotional intelligence or sensitivity than the others. Again, I feel like the fact that he is big and imposing are traits that should be used to help highlight his primary trait of empathy (which would also help move him away from the "big dumb lummox" stereotype, I think). Ala: I liked the increased episodes of PTSD. The memories made me believe he'd been at war before. However, I'm not getting much else about his personality from the text. If he was raised in the nobility, I feel like there should be something -- his manner of speech, his accent, the quality of his clothes, his thought processes, something -- that marks him as different that's plain in the text for readers to pick up on. I feel like bringing out these differences, even if he's trying to pass as a commoner, will help me become more invested in what he's doing. Re stereotypes and tropes: Based on what you've said on this and what I know about historical fantasy, I'm willing to give this story a bit more leeway for tropish characters than I would for a more character-driven genre of story. That said, @Robinski and @kais do have a point. I like what you've talked about for the characters, both in their futures, and what they're supposed to be, but right now in the text that's written, all three of them don't show that. Right now to me they are fairly common, well-worn stereotypes that don't, unfortunately, hold my attention very well. Tropes are not necessarily all bad or all good, but I feel like some of the most important things especially with genre fiction is 1) knowing what tropes are being used, and 2) finding ways to make those tropes uniquely your own. Right now, I'm reading the story for the setting (which I will do and have done, but I am very odd) and not the characters. Re plot/agency/stakes: I think it is definitely very plot-ful! War and politics always make for lots of plot. I enjoy a good political novel, too. I'm not sure where the characters fit into the plot yet, though. The two things, plot and characters, don't feel very integrated into each other to me yet. Agency is tougher. As @Robinski and @Mandamon have pointed out, Ty is not really present in this section. She's treated more as an annoying piece of equipment necessary for travel than a person in her own right, so I think she definitely lacks agency. Both she and Ale seem to me to lack a certain ... urgency? reason? I'm not sure. Like, they've been in this village as untrusted, shunned outsiders for years... why didn't Ty at least leave before now? Why hasn't Ale seen the writing on the wall sooner, if he's supposed to be so emotionally perceptive? (I understand why he wouldn't have left, but it seems odd for him to be clueless of his situation.) For Ala... I think this version is better than the last for being clear about his having been a soldier previously, but I'm still not sure why he wants to go back to war. Why can't he just stay incognito? He's been living just fine as an outsider in this town for a year and a half, what in this (old, possibly already out-of-date) announcement forces him to reveal himself and return? Re the dog comparison: I agree. It's not great and needs to go. Re the "I'm a woman" statement: I actually didn't mind this as I thought Ty was being more rueful than anything else. To me, she was acerbically acknowledging that her society doesn't allow women to travel alone, and not merely being disparaging to her gender. Upon thinking on it more now, the line feels very modern-snarky and i'm thinking maybe that the sentiment might be better being expressed more blatantly? Nothing in the text states that women can't travel alone and that was all an assumption on my part. Re 3rd person omniscient: I think this would be a great story for the omniscient POV! I also completely agree with @Mandamon and @Robinski that right now the story is in 3rd person limited, and that one POV is Ala's. Mandamon's suggeston of exercises is spot-on too, and I'd add to that the suggestion to check out Ursula LeGuin's book on writing, Steering the Craft (the link is to the most recent version). I read the 1998 edition, and it had a really fantastic section on the different POV types and example exercises for trying them out. I think it would really help if you wanted to try for 3rd omniscient. Re lots of countries: It's great to have them! But I feel like they need to be added in slowly, at the point where they are most necessary (even if that's very much later in the story). Front-loading names and connections is common instinct, but in my experience doing so usually just bogs down the important parts of the beginning and confuses readers. I know I get confused when there are too many places and people I don't care about yet being named all at once.
  6. Please keep in mind I'm not Jewish, so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt... To my mind, those word have both a secular and religious meaning, so I think, if the words were used in their secular meaning, in an otherwise wholly-secondary-world fantasy story, then they'd be okay. I'd be more skeptical about their use in a religious context in a fantasy story. In a more general sense, my instinct is to make an analogy to copyright, which sounds weird, but hear me out. So, like, you can't copyright an idea; you copyright a specific instance of an idea fixed in a tangible medium. So, I can't make a grimdark horror novel starring Mickey Mouse, right? The Mouse is copyrighted, but the idea of talking anthropomorphic mice is not copyrightable, so I can make my grimdark story with talking anthro mice no problem. So, like, to me, it's fine to take ideas from real world religions, but the trouble starts when readers begin to see identifiable characteristics of specific real world religions in the fantasy story religion. If that makes sense? Unfortunately, what usually happens is that the real world prejudices expressed by characters in the story are imputed to the author, and unless it is handled very, very deftly, the entire story (and by extension the author) is seen to be condoning or approving of those prejudices. It's tough. Adding a layer of fantasy or allegory can sort of help insulate or encapsulate the prejudice and make it easier for readers to see it as part of a story. That's how the original Star Trek got all those highly political commentaries on the social issues of the time onto prime time TV, after all.
  7. Welcome back! I'm excited to see that it looks like you're taking on that historical travelogue you were talking about. Over all, I think there's an interesting premise here, and the use of actual history as a backdrop for a fantasy story is a well-known device (Game of Thrones and the War of the Roses, and Outlander and the Jacobite rebellions being famous modern examples). So you're in good company. That said, I agree with @Mandamon in that the characters don't seem well-grounded in their ages. They don't have to be in their 30s to be mature, but they need to be consistent in the maturity they have. Most of the time, the characters sounded like adults, and that's fine, but then they'd have a line that made them sound like modern teenagers, and it's the the both of those things right next to each other that is causing the disconnect for me. One option might be to have the characters mention somewhere that despite what seems like their youth to us, they have in fact been acting as adults in their society for many years. Something like working in that Ale has been managing his family farm for X years, ever since he reached his majority at age Y. Just something to work in how long they've actually been adults maybe? I also agree that the references to Judiasm and Islam need to go. They're especially jarring alongside the fantasy country names, and real-life religious bigotry is never going to go over well, regardless of historical accuracy. Additionally, the word used to describe Ty is seen as a racial slur by some. Even when it is not seen as outright highly offensive, its use by anyone who can't claim the word for themselves (that is, anyone not female-identifying and Jewish) is a dubious and condescending use at best. Changing the religions to fantasy religions would get rid of all of that, and cement the location as a fantasy world for the reader. Here's a really good discussion about the use of that word. It has several different Jewish scholars and activists talking about their own experiences with it: Tablet: Is it cool to say Jewess? As I go: I'm noticing a few grammar issues, nothing too terrible, but especially the beginning could use a pass for typos. All this talk of medieval travel remind me of the Orbis website, which is a cool interactive map of the Roman Empire that lets you pick your travel route and will calculate a travel time based on all sorts of things you choose, like social class/wealth, weather, and method of transportation (military relay riders could really book it!) Is there a reason Ty has to be shrewish, shrill, and nagging to all of the men around her? The shrewish woman is a very old, sexist trope that really isn't playing very well for me here. Yes, she has reason to be defensive, but the words used to describe her bring to mind outdated, harmful stereotypes that make her seem very unrealistic to me. I don't think Ala has "too much" PTSD. He seems remarkably well-adjusted for being through one or more bloody wars. If anything, I think he could have more flashbacks and reactions, though they wouldn't have to be in this section specifically. This section could use a bit more of his reason for going with the other two, though. They seem to both have very good, believable reasons for leaving the village and joining the army, but I'm a little unclear why exactly Ala is going back. I enjoyed this introduction and am looking forward to reading more about these characters!
  8. Worldcon Dublin: Worldcon Dublin panel FAQ: Worldcon Dublin panel submission form: Worldcon Dublin panel volunteer signup form:
  9. Over all, like @Mandamon, I'm mostly confused. The blocking felt shaky and I think there are double-crosses happening? But I don't know? D pops back up, which I liked, but I have no clue what she's doing. Is she working with P? Are the kings guards hers, P's, or some third party? And then the mage army, whose are they? I appreciate the gruesomeness of this section, though. Some very strong images! As I go: J keeps "pulling on the last of the tiger" or "feeling the marrow run out" throughout the whole section and the repeated vague statements of "nearly gone" make the scarcity feel artificial, the way bomb countdowns do on cheesy TV shows ... I am still not on board with Ch as The One Macguffin. Lady P telling everyone Ch has to live, and now apparently Ch is important to the king AND the diplomats from her home country? Give her some rubies and call her the Maltese Falcon, because everyone seems to be killing themselves to possess her. :/ I noticed the addition of women mooks and mages and I very much approve. I don't understand what D is talking about with P. I also don't understand how suddenly we went from "this one guy committed horrible atrocities so he could cast impossible fireballs" to "there's an army of magical mooks casting fireball everywhere like it's no big deal" ... like, wasn't last section all about how crazy difficult and terrible and awful the things he did to get this power were, and now suddenly there're a bunch of apprentices doing it like it was nothing? I feel like the apprentices really take away some of the importance of discovering P can do the impossible. The more I think about it, the more problems I have with D knowing before the reveal that P can do impossible, impossibly destructive things with magic that no one else is supposed to be able to do. Like, why in the world did she send J & co to the house knowing this? If it was "drawing him out" / "make him show his hand" ... well, it feels like P would use fireballs for just about anything, honestly, and additionally, D doesn't do anything with P being exposed. She doesn't use it against him, or do anything that would make me believe she had a plan all along and wasn't, in fact, just sadistically sending J & co off to die. The horse scene is nicely gruesome, but I am also confused as to why it's so important that it's in the title. J's nommed on or talked about nomming on plenty of animals to this point, and I can't figure out why this one should stick out above any of the others. The tiger seems more plot-relevant.
  10. I am seeing a lot of tense shifts and artifacts from the previous version. It might be worthwhile to do a grammar pass just to pick up the ones find/replace doesn't get to improve readability. I agree with @kais and @Mandamon that this is improved over the previous version, but that there are now too many POVs happening in the early part of the story and I have a hard time figuring out who the main character is. As I go: Ch1 was rough from a readability standpoint, but seemed to hang together a little better than earlier versions. Ch2 I already like F better than D. F seems much more ...present, for lack of a better word, in her story. Her description is very good, and I like it, but if she is a nonhuman, I think that might need to be mentioned more prominently. As-is, she could just be a very futuristically-colored human. Agree about the 3%. numerals and percentages like that seem more appropriate for a dry report than a story. The medical part with the heart attack feels a little sketchy, or thin, to me. Like it needs a bit more real world info backing it up. Maybe there's a documentary on first responders out there somewhere? Otherwise, it works as a nice showcase for what Oo can do. I didn't have many issues with the vibration, though I did wonder if simply breaking the obstruction into chunks that can then flow through and clog some smaller vessel wouldn't be causing more problems than it fixes. I honestly don't know; I know very little about medicine, but something just seems a bit off with the scene. The transition to sunlit suburb afterwards felt really abrupt and I didn't quite understand what was happening in the last part of this chapter. That said, I really like the idea of a retirement home for revolutionaries and exiles, and I think F is a really good character. Ch3 L is an interesting POV, but coming straight on the heels of the first two, I am 1) confused as to who is the main character, and 2) ready to skim his chapter to get back to people I already know. I don't want to meet anyone new right now, i want to read more about retired space pirates or drug deliveries Why do we get a gendered physical description of one of the teens, and the other one just gets neopronouns and no physical description? Also beware of falling into the white default here. So far, we've seen a blue-skinned alien, a paper white alien, and a bunch of humans with candy-color anime hair (and apparently no skin at all). Are there three people at the table? The dress, the xir, and the bald one? I'm confused. I'm a bit confused why an Oo scholar and artifact expert is still allowed to exist as a free citizen when Oo and its users are so heavily regulated. Yeah... an expert in a banned, regulated, violently oppressed population that is still a free citizen and apparently has a library full of forbidden books? I am... not sure how she missed the confiscations and book burnings that I would assume went with the Oo pogroms when she's so well known a local beat cop came to her for a consultation... "the shiny triple triangle" = ...triforce? I didn't really care for L's chapter. I'm left with more questions about the mom than anything. L seems pretty uninteresting, just another plucky boy in a uniform. The fact that he's working for the "bad" guys doesn't really make him or what I can see of his story any more compelling, unfortunately. I'm more interested in the mom, who apparently was a rebel, gave it up, had a family and settled down, then managed to become an expert in a forbidden, oppressed subject and collect a library of proscribed books without anyone finding out enough to do anything about her, despite her living in what sounds like the one, single place where she could most easily resume her own or aid others in their seditious ways. That takes talent!
  11. So I skimmed some of the changes to the preceding chapters, and while I can tell it's still a work in progress, I'm also not throwing all my flags on the play anymore, so good job and keep going! Over all, I agree with @Mandamon pretty completely. There was good action, but the revelation with Ch lacks the impact it could have, and the interactions with P and his guards seem like the whole lot of them are holding idiot balls for the chapter, without any good reason to be doing so. I enjoyed seeing J master the tiger, but I agree it could be made more intense by having him struggle a bit more for it. As I go: I am still not sold on Ch being the linchpin for everything. I mean, P's plan, ultimately, is to nom on a human who has consumed the super powerup tiger bones, right? It's the human-nomming part that makes animal-bone-powers permanent? Ch's non-human-nomming ability to keep her powers is mostly through training and is being used as a scare tactic, it feels like, because P isn't saying that he'll get the ability to keep all powers by nomming on Ch specifically, he's saying he wants the powerup from the tiger bones without the ragey side-effects or going to the effort of learning Another School of Magical Animal-Bone-Nomming. Yes? If so, then, really, all he needs is the tiger bones, and some schmuck to eat them. Eat the schmuck, get the power. Could be anyone. Could be J, if "high potential" is also conferred with the cannibalism along with the animal power.... So, I'm still having a hard time understanding why P is so obsessed with Ch, when he's holding the means to his ULTIMATE POWAH right in his hands (and monologuing at his "high potential" lunch). I agree that J just being left alone to do... whatever doesn't make much sense. Also, why is P just leaving the bones there? Aren't those important? As a back up plan if nothing else, because if Ch isn't forthcoming, then he still has the force-feed-schmuck/nom-schmuck plan to fall back on... Did you know, for years I thought the song "man-eater" was saying "whoa-oh here she comes/ she's a mind-reader" instead? I thought it was an awesome song about a kick-butt telepath. I'm older, i know what it really is, and I'm singing it to myself whenever I see Ch's nickname now. :3 (I'll take earworms over cringing any day of the week! I like the combo nickname much more now) "already too bloated with it to see anyone who unlike him" -- I think this is missing a/some part/s? Once the fire starts, the action is good, and enjoyable, but I'm still not clear on why anything is happening with J, and why P just left him alone? Also, I'm still confused about where my heist story went. This action adventure sequence is good and fun, but it's still not lining up with the first part of the story, and it feels a bit off to me for the political thriller chapter we just left. It's like the narrative is having the same identity crisis J is...
  12. I had a hard time getting through this sub, because so much of it seems to be founded on unrealistic and patently false ideas. I could not connect with any of the characters and every item they mentioned about the theft just pushed me out again and again by its sheer incredulity. To answer your questions, I knew what was going on pretty much after the first paragraph. I'm fairly conversant with this particular genre, and everything in the piece is easily within the well-worn genre paths. As such, I didn't find the plot to be particularly interesting, nor were the characters able to hold my interest in lieu of the plot. For me, the clues did not make much sense in the context of the setting, and the conclusions drawn from them seemed almost nonsensical, to the point they interfered with the plot. This kind of detective, the "notice tiny incongruities other people/the bad guy would normally miss and make logical/intuitive leaps based on tiny obscure factoids" kind of detective, is very popular right now. The problem with these types of sleuths however, is that their wild leaps of inference must be grounded in real facts and practices in order to work properly. TV shows often have multiple writers and fact-checkers going over a script to verify the claims being made. Even though this story is short, it still needs to have that basic level of research put into the setting in order for the conclusions to feel "real enough" to work. I feel like every fact presented in this case does not hold up to cursory scrutiny, and this makes the characters seem unhinged from reality when they make their conclusions. Some of the worst for me were Silver polish: Store-bought silver polishing paste concoctions of the kind that can commonly be bought in a grocery store and nowhere near not standard museum practice and in fact, using such paste harms an artifact over time. Store-bought polishing paste would never be used in a museum, anywhere. I did a little quick research, and it looks like careful application of inert powders such as chalk dust, rubbed in by hand over small areas with a cotton bud is closer to the industry standard. This would never be done in-situ while the piece is on display, but would be done when the artifact is taken down to whatever preservation department the museum has. It would be performed by a trained museum professional, someone with a degree in preservation, conservation, or one of their trained interns and never by the general building cleaning staff using their bare hands. For everyone to just believe that this is a reasonable way to frame anyone working in a museum does not make sense to me and threw me out of the story pretty hard. Dust/soot and custodial staff: Again, no museum worthy of calling itself such would ever let general facilities cleaners near the collection pieces. Dust can be tricky to take care of in a museum setting, as its removal has the possibility to damage fragile antiques no matter how careful a person is. As such, most museums have ginormously beefy HVAC systems to filter out as much dust as possible before it even hits the artifacts. Proper (intensive, detailed) building maintenance is also considered a preventative measure, so here the on-site custodial or facilities crew would have a hand in dust removal, though it would be limited to vaccuuming the floors and other non-collection surfaces within an inch of their life. Again, dusting of a painting is never done while the painting is on display. From my quick research, it is taken down, set in a special padded holder at an angle and then brushed with a fine, soft artist's paintbrush, slowly and carefully. If it was something less fragile like a frame, then the museum might use a special vacuum cleaner with an extra-fine HEPA filter and special extra small brushes. Again, never done while on display. Some artifacts are simply too fragile to dust and are housed in controlled enclosures from which they are only removed under certain circumstances. If the display enclosure is one that can even be touched -- not all of them are, and painting enclosures are one of those types that are rarely allowed to be touched -- general building maintenance staff might be allowed to clean those of fingerprints. Putting dust on the areas to frame the general building staff and again, having all characters involved simply believe this is a valid piece of evidence seems really unbelievable to me. At this point, I really wondered why the museum had called in detectives at all, since these are things that would not fool anyone with a basic level of training in museum studies, preservation, conservation, or archival sciences, yet the detectives are relying on them as if they were indicative of ... anything at all, really. "Janitors": No museum -- no public building, practically -- has janitors anymore. They are third-party outside cleaning services staff, facilities workers, custodial workers, or some other service staff. Having the curator use an outdated term, one which has somewhat negative connotations within the building maintenance industry, makes him seem unprofessional, and unreal. And anyway, any facilities maintenance and management service staff would not be going near the individual artifacts in a collection to clean them, so having people imply that this happens regularly and that it's a reasonable way to frame someone does not makes sense to me. Badges/silver polish: Silver polish on modern badges runs into the same problem as silver polish on antique artifacts -- it's super damaging and a security officer who used enough polish to leave gummy fingerprints on the wall would have a badge so damaged as to be unusable after one or two applications. Modern electroplated badges also shouldn't really NEED heavy polishing of the kind that requires paste. For the most part, a quick rub with a regular lint-free soft cloth or jewelry cloth is sufficient, on the off chance an officer has had the badge long enough for it to dull. Again, everyone simply agreeing that this was a reasonable and rational way to frame someone makes no sense to me. Power outages: I'm not entirely clear how the power outages worked in the story, but it seems like the thieves cut "main power" and that somehow disabled the general security's industry-standard, stand alone battery backups, as well as the battery backups on the individual security systems on the individual artifacts. Once again, I found myself unable to believe that this was a reasonable assumption for detectives to make and that it was at all even possible. Tying it in to the storm just added to the incredulity of this particular piece of evidence. I love "notice things" detectives, their quirkiness, their trivia, the way it all gets put together in the end. This however is less a detective story than a brief setting and a bunch of strange conclusions unconnected from reality. The characters seem to snipe at each other without any real sense of personality, and I'm still confused what the elder detective actually did. Like @Mandamon I didn't understand why then ending switched to a pair of dry summaries, and all of the comedy missed its mark with me. I'm always up for a good "notice things" detective, but without the proper grounding in reality and research, this type of story is always going to fall flat.
  13. Happy 300th post to me! It's not that big of a milestone to some people, but I've usually resumed full-time lurking well before now. So, thanks for being a generally awesome forum everyone!
  14. Yay, thank you! As @kais pointed out to me, it works because C is portrayed throughout as being none of the possible interpretations of that word (and personally I like that it's P who's the literal man-eater, since he's the cannibal gunning for C). Plus, it comes with its own theme song I am all for D getting a bigger role, but I'm unsure adding more characters is what's needed here. For a longer work, Lady P is definitely ripe for developing, but I think fixing C's handling and reworking P's evil speech will be much more beneficial overall, if that makes sense? Otherwise, maybe swapping some pronouns on a couple day workers, or otherwise showing in the background that women also exist (the fix to the prison scenes of mentioning an entire women's wing and that there were other women prisoners in the yard worked well)? It's close, is what I'm saying. Under number 1 on that "8 ways" link, it has a little paragraph about how just throwing more characters on a story is not necessarily the best answer to this problem. Going through the existing characters and simply asking "Why not a woman in this job?" or "Why does this character HAVE to be a man?" can be more beneficial. Does the head gardener have to be a man? Does the butcher? Is there any reason it can't be LADY P not Lord P who's the cannibal? This is why we love her.
  15. Sorry this took so long, the program I write in kept eating what I'd written... grumble... Bloody C? C the Butcher, Ship's Butcher? Corpse-eater? (maybe a bit too on-the-nose for future plot...) Man-eater? I mean, it would fit in a couple different meanings... C, the man-eater who survived the corpse ship? ehhh... maybe? But if he realizes it's the tiger on his own while it's happening, and maybe ends up unable to control it, it would make the tiger seem more powerful and play to P's throwing shade on D later on a little bit better... And not make J look quite so inept at his special ability as being completely oblivious to it does... >_>; There is; it's really tough. TLDR of it is that the voice of the narrative, not just the characters, need to refute the bad opinions, the racist character themselves needs to be solidly grounded and more than just The Racist (not necessarily sympathetic, but more), and even then there's a high likelihood of missing the mark. I just read Vonda McIntyre's most recent novel, Moon and Sun, that's set in Louis XIV's court (with sea monsters) and that book managed it well I felt. It's also one of the easiest (and often misused) ways to get away with racist characters -- set them in historically racist times. But even then, the book was about what makes us human and standing up to powerful governments when their rules are morally repugnant, so even though slavery wasn't the point of the novel at all, was in fact a very minor sub-plot point and several characters held racist views and weren't confronted about them, the whole novel is going to the idea that an institution like slavery is wrong, or more abstractly, that just because someone looks different from you that doesn't give you the right to treat them like animals. But that's the subtler thrust and voice of the entire novel that's going to repudiate the opinions of the characters. I couldn't point to any one sentence or passage that showed on its face that the entire novel doesn't agree with the characters, it's more the opinion I was left with when finishing the novel, and that's part of what makes it so tough. It's the voice of the author as it comes through the prose as a whole, and unfortunately silence or neutrality will be perceived as acceptance of the racist views. Characterization is also very important. A caricature or badly-done stereotype of The Racist is going to go over as poorly as any other badly-done stereotype or obvious break from reality. Nobody ever thinks they're racist, much less the broadly reprehensible, straw-man The Racist stereotype we're all told to hate. Nobody ever thinks they're a villain. Everyone thinks they're the heroes, saving the good people and upholding order. It's just statistics, you understand. If they just followed the rules. I'm not saying a racist character has to be sympathetic or likable, or even particularly deep. But they need to be more than just The Racist (A Really Bad Thing). I can't offer a lot of concrete guidance for writing racist characters and having them read as "acceptable." A writer is pretty much always going to be swimming in dangerous waters in US publishing with a character like that, imo. It needs to be handled with a lot of focus, awareness, care, probably sensitivity readers if they can be afforded, and frankly, the knowledge that even with all that the writer's likely to get it wrong. It's just plain tough. I can however provide some links to resources for some other takes on the issue that will hopefully help some: Writing with Color on writing racist characters -- Writing with Color is a great blog for questions about how to handle racial issues in writing. This reddit thread from /r/writing -- It's talking about writing a Nazi character, but I think it's applicable here. The absolutely blatant icky stuff, yes, it's gone and that's really good. But C is still the only one whose skin tone is treated as a fundamental part of her character. I did spot more of the side characters in later submissions getting skin mentioned and that's also really good, but with C it's at least once a sub, and then it's usually J marveling about how beautiful, how exotic, the dark tone is. C is still mostly defined by her dark skin and her relationship with J. This is tough with J being the POV character, but... it's like, even though she's supposed to have a life of her own, of which J is supposedly a small part, the sense is that she is just sort of frozen or in storage when J isn't paying attention to her. (All the non-J characters suffer from not having outside lives a little bit, but I feel like it's most pronounced with C.) C is treated differently by the story than any of the male characters, and suffers a lot from being the Smurfette of the story. Yes, D is female, but she is treated much more like the rest of the cast. C is different. C is Something Else, and that's the problem right now. C needs to just be one of the cast, not The One of the cast, if that makes sense. J's the protagonist, but C is the one woman, the one dark-skinned person, the one with the most-untouchable reputation, the one heaps-big scary killer, and now the one super-mage, and the one goal of the villain's plot. It might be worth it to try an experimental chapter where you sort of switch J and C -- give J some of C's specialness and just let C be a regular supporting cast member. If that makes any kind of sense? And of course, I have a link for this one, too: Eight Absurdities We Force on Female Characters -- I just discovered this website, and for the most part I like it! Not all of these apply to C, but in particular numbers 3 and 6 I felt made linking it worthwhile.