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About industrialistDragon

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  1. Hahaha, nnnope! I enjoy the encouraging essays that come out during NaNo, and I'll cheer on anyone who's trying for it, but that kind of fast writing is waaaay beyond me.
  2. I think the difference is usually a matter of degrees. When "internal consistency" becomes "I can't possibly start writing until absolutely everything makes sense!" is when you might need to start worrying. Here are a few more links about it: Link one and link two
  3. Soo... NaNoWriMo is coming up. Anybody here going to try for it?
  4. Slow week, so how about some links? I stumbled across this series of posts by Judith Tarr talking about writing horse-based aliens with more focus on research into actual horse biology and behavior. Besides being really cool, it got me thinking about research. Has actually doing the research on something you've been writing fundamentally changed the way you've thought about/written it? (Besides the alpha wolf fallacy I mean.) This post by Kate Elliot does a great job of both citing sources and deconstructing commonly held ideas about women in history. Has research ever led you down a rabbit hole as deep as Patricia and Mike Briggs' quest to cast real, working silver bullets? I love doing research, but when I'm doing it on my own I definitely use it as a way to put off actually having to write. Have you ever been struck dreaded "getting ready to get ready syndrome?"
  5. Yay no more downer ending! Just kind of bouncing all over here.... I like the integration of the mentor's previous attempts much better now. It fits a lot more. I still feel like maybe the wrap-up runs a bit long, but I don't mind it as much, and it ends on a better emotional note. Agree with @TKWade that that section is now a sticking point for the introductory paragraph. But I would say that everything starting with "His first father" and going to the end of the first paragraph is... off kilter somehow? I don't know that it all needs to be cut, but I feel like some of the thoughts as presented there are maybe out of order now? The phrase TKWade pointed out is awkward anyway all on its own, so it's not helping things much. I am still somewhat confused by how the House of Potential works in relation to the other houses. You have whathisname Mr. math-and-grants describing it in detail now, but I still feel like what he says is being contradicted by what R thinks to himself while dealing with the machine. I've got a pretty clear idea of what R's doing in actuality; it's the larger, in-general descriptions and the comparisons to the other houses that're tripping me up. "the glow from an overheard light" overHEAD? Though, I mean, given it's a magical Symphony-powered light, it COULD be "overheard" too... :3 Also, hah! Snake guy signed his name to the wall he made! Like it was some kind of an assignment, I love it.
  6. You have my hackjob on the interlude on another platform. :3 As I go "was taut from scabs" do not understand this. did Sorin scratch themselves bloody AND heal up overnight? Am I missing something from last chapter? I'm assuming the self-harm is worked into the other chapters more? This casual reference seems to imply it. I'd be more willing to believe Sorin reopened old scabs or scratched the arms to the point of raised weeping welts over the course of a night, unless there's something I'm missing here. "to kiss her, right there, on the glacier" Um, weren't they doing just that last chapter? Like, totally nomming on each other? Sure, there were plot reasons for it, but still. Smooching on the glacier has totes happened so I'm not quite getting why Sorin's all "the glacier is a strange place to be kissing".... ". They refuse to be left behind by mechanization" I'd think they'd refuse to let their families starve for the preservation of a glorified union, but that's just me. This lake section is reading much better now. There's more interesting conflict and the lake is better integrated here than in the previous chapter. There are still some rough places that could do with a pass to tighten them up, but it's a big improvement. Yeah, definitely going to need a pass for awkward sentence formation.... Overall It works better than the previous version by a long shot, but it still needs some clean up and tightening. Also I feel like it'll fit better with the new chapters than with the old ones I'm remembering, so that might be affecting things too.
  7. Hmmm... I don't think so? I mean, I felt like it was pretty obvious he knew what he was assigning R to do. Maybe if there was less of the story of his attempt at the end? I felt like it ran a little long, the denouement, i mean. Or... maybe if he showed more appreciation for what R did? Because, like, we go from R being all "yeah i figured junk out and did stuff on my own and fixed things and want to be a mage now and yay!" to hissyface going "*sad sigh* Well at least you didn't kill the poor thing. Maybe someone else will be smarter than you or I when it comes back." and then it flops back to R "Well I guess there's a beer story outta all this. maybe I should be pulling turnips after all or whatever" and that's kind of a sad, defeated place to be, especially after the triumph of figuring out the problem. Maybe? [ETA:] Or, like, maybe, more emphasis on the cyclical nature of the problem? like with older senators or whatever being like "dude I thought you fixed this thing why does it always come up during an election" or whatever? Or with some kinda apprentice graffiti hints scratched into the walls from all the frosh who've tried to lick this problem once and for all? something to show it's a longrunning recurrent problem? I mean, if the cyclical thing is important, maybe?
  8. Hello and welcome. Thank you for submitting one with the double spaces! TKWade beat me to the reminder. Yes it is in the rules, and it is really super helpful for people like me that have some difficulties reading things on the screen. In general: i want to say that this is a well-written story. The grammar is solid, the characters are mostly believable and the main character's personality really shines through. As I go: Moving on to the story, I have to admit that present tense is not my favorite way to read a story, bit it works with the narrow, personal focus in this one here. There are several paragraphs, especially at the beginning here, that kind of loop back around on themselves. They're in the format like "I said A. Therefore B and C. Which is why I said A." People talk like that a lot, but writing is usually expected to be more linear. Ah, I see a Perfect Girlfriend here, I bet this collection of idealized qualities on a female-shaped pedestal is marked for some horrible end, to occur before or during the timeframe in question... (note from future me: ha! called it!) "When the Devil first came to me, I'd asked him" This really sounds like he's asking the Devil to teach him prayers... So... he's never been on the elevator in his own apartment before? Is that a phobia of some kind? I am confused. Also, I did not really get "avoidance of all reflective surfaces" from the story. I think that needs to be played up more if it's an important beat. I don't really have a problem with the cross or the park one way or the other. People need to get out and walk off stress, and parks have odd statuary. I've certainly gone walking around the block during insomnia attacks at half-past too dang late at night before. Though the bum did seem a bit random. I think the encounter there was the roughest part of the story for me. To get to the questions Yes, the fantasy element is "weak," but I don't think its weakness is a reason to change the plot around. I wouldn't call this story a "fantasy story" based on the elements within it, however. Plain fiction, maybe. Magical realism, maybe. Surrealism, maybe. Not fantasy. That would affect where to market it, but not whether or not to hang a plot on the elements in question. If it was a longer work, I'd expect a little bit more, maybe some kind of eventual commitment to whether or not the thing was his survivor's guilt talking or an actual crossroads deal, but here, in this short format, I don't think it's really necessary to know the whys and the hows of the mechanic by which he is still alive. Suze... so, yeah. What @kais said. She's fridged, and that's not good. She's barely a character, more just a collection of idealized notions for the main character to moon over. If i'm supposed to feel... anything at her death beyond the satisfaction that comes with calling a plot reveal before it happens, there's not enough of a person there to engender it. This also ties in to what I feel is the lack of resolution in the story. The story doesn't resolve so much as simply stop. What's the purpose here? Why did we spend this time with the main character? There's not condescending to your readers, and there's being purposely obtuse and leaving things unresolved. An ending that hammers home that it was the main character's attempted suicide that killed his love would go a long way to both giving the story some kind of resolution and not make it feel like it's being intentionally obtuse or simply random. As I said above, I don't think it needs more magic or godly intervention so much as a bit of streamlining and a real ending. It wouldn't help the fridging a whole lot, but if you're gonna axe a chick that's barely a character like this, at least use the death to give the story a good resolution.
  9. Definite improvement! Most of what I'm noticing now is sort of version mis-match? Like bits that remind me of v1 that don't quite jive with what's going on in v2.... "Now he wished he was back home" like this one. Now that the open is more concrete, this is striking me as vague. It SOUNDS like he's saying he'd rather be home pulling spines (v1), but I think it's supposed to be him wondering what's the point of being in the nether since he can do manual labor just as well at home. Yes? Maybe? But it could also be plain homesickness, since he's name-checked all 3 of his parents in the span of a sentence? "We hear how energy moves...This, it is not as limiting" So, this section seems to me to imply that Potential has SOME perception of the other houses' stuff, yes? But then there're several places where it's mentioned that they can't hear any other symphonies at all period and like maybe use math to get around that, and then there're another couple parts that seem to imply all mage-people can at least see other magics' colors if not hear them outright, and I guess i'm a little confused? The difference between his own notes and the ones he harvests from the environment is clearer, at least. And I like that he feels consequences of using his own now too. "and see what the Snakey was thinking" This makes me think Rey's telepathic. >_>;; I understand wanting to see the face of who you're talking to, but if feels odd to say that makes one able to know what the other person is thinking... "dry out the little hairs that covered his fingers" How does he grip anything?? >_>;; ", evener, " More even? Or is this more dialect? "ward of pure energy around the machine" So, in v1 he shielded the machine, but in this version he was trying to cover the hole, wasn't he? Earlier in that same sentence he anchored the spell to the floor under the hole, yes? And then it's not addressed directly again so i'm confused.... "back on the horn " this is a specifically telephone-related idiom, I thought. It sounds odd to me here. Like, he has telephones where he's from? "discover a solution in time" I thought that's what he just did? Since he changed the frequency, and it seemed permanent.... wouldn't that fix the problem? I mean, ignoring evolution, which would take at least one more iteration, wouldn't it? Since the baby critters wouldn't know to evolve until they tried the higher-frequency juice? So he's bought them like 60 to 100 years at least? Also, I agree with @kais here, in that the extended story kind of knocks the knees out of the momentum of the end here. Kind of turns a success into a downer ending, y'know? I don't mind the mentor character knowing the creature and having history with it, but I don't know that I need the how or the why behind the mentor know that stuff right at the end? Hah, maybe if people ask, it could be turned into anther short story!
  10. Is this the obligatory "I agree with @Mandamon?" Because I do. This is much improved. I have a better idea of where they are located, and how they are moving. It's a lot more interesting than before as well. As I go: "glacier looked more like a snowy landscape" well, yes. It would, wouldnt it? being a glacier? this just seems a bit redundant Thank you for the serac definition. I am still unclear on why Sa is shepherding them through the glacier. He didn't have a terribly good reason for escorting them out of the village, either, and I'm more unclear as to why he's still hanging around helping them out. (Note from future me: I see he sort of explains it maybe? I don't know if this uncertainty is really working for him right here at this point, though.) It does seem a little random for Sa to call out M about the lake, unless we're missing some part earlier (not in an interlude) where M somehow indicates it's well known that she's obsessed with it. Because, I thought I remembered last chapter M being worried about getting to the negotiations on time? Presumably someone who cared about meeting deadlines wouldn't be inclined to make costly side-trips on the way to their destination, yes? Or is he just being a jerk? "who know and love me instead of you?" While I like the increased motivation, I am confused. They're on a glacier, yes, but Sa just stated earlier he was avoiding all towns. In fact, the only other person with him when he says this line is the literal definition of "loves So and not Sa" and as far as I know, the witch shenanigans kept him from having a discussion with So in the town, so...Why is he out here with them again? "we were on the opposite bank" -- Of a thing that's little more than a puddle? Is this more symbolic than practical? I'm a bit confused. Sa hanging around the edges of this makeout session feels weird and a little icky. Voyeuristic? Sleazy? Skeevy? Something? I could see him being angry about the delay, and maybe the obvious attempt at subterfuge, but just watching? >_>;;; "She likes curly hair.” -- it's a good line, but is it a little flippant for So? I could really have done with description of the lake a bit earlier so I didn't keep thinking it was a puddle like the ones So mentioned right before they arrived at it. This interest in magic also strikes me as a bit out of character for So, unless things have changed significantly and So no longer has a pathological fear of it. "Why wouldn’t magic just leave me alone?" well... this time you kind of caused this, So.... The magic WAS leaving you alone, until you poked it... "This isn’t a political game." ...Except that's kinda exactly what it is? The whole things is basically a textbook example of a political power play.... even without foreknowledge.... >_>;;; "throw you into a serac." Now that serac has been defined, how does one get thrown into a giant spike of ice? Is M threatening to impale him? Keep it up!
  11. Substitutes don't get superlatives.
  12. Overall, it's a good start, but like your one last week, I got hung up on the tech. As I go: I am slightly confused by the location. On the way in, M is feeling claustrophobic about skyscrapers (which is a good line, btw! Very evocative), but the bulk of the story is set in what feels like is a send-up of suburbia. (Aside: they can't be THAT poorly off financially if they can afford a house with a yard close enough to downtown proper to feel overshadowed by skyscrapers!). Once again, I think this day-after-tomorrow story is suffering from not-enough-future. Everything the "cell drone" is described as doing a regular iPhone already does (including the household tasks -- I keep telling my friend he's going to create Skynet with all the household appliances he has linked to his phone). "default programming" -- I feel like this would be a superhuge deal, letting military-grade programming out to the general public. It's not *that* hard to run a wipe delete on things before letting them out... In fact, I just looked up Illinois' policy on recycling surplus electronics and it states a 3-pass wipe delete as a minimum for data storage devices, and for resold desktop computers to have their hard drives removed and outright destroyed/recycled. I can't imagine the procedures for decommissioning missile-firing attack drones would be any less rigorous... "the internet" -- I'm confused. Even if these drones did have default programming left in some kind of actionable form on them, I don't understand how the pictures got to a publicly-accessible place on the internet that also had an image search function and public commentary. Theoretically, wouldn't government-default programming upload to a government-default server? Even presuming it uploaded to a private or consumer location, who is opening the database to the public? Who is paying for bandwidth for all these people to visit and view images? Who wrote the code to change an image database into a website and implement public commenting? Why hasn't this site been taken down, like, immediately from privacy violation complaints? Websites don't just generate themselves, comment widgets are fairly complicated, and image searching is even now annoyingly difficult (despite what TV tells us). Again, even touch-sensitive, internet-connected tables are existing tech, and that combined with the other already-existing technology makes this instant-upload-to-a-public-website-that-is-somehow-easily-searchable-down-to-an-otherwise-private-individual idea a very hard sell for me. Moving on... I feel like a lot of the tropes going on here are kind of... dated? Like the vaguely Stepford neighborhood. The book the trope is named after came out in the '70s and it just feels a little old to be played straight as it is here. Are people really still afraid of suburban uniformity? The neighbors also feel a little Stepford-ish, but mostly remind me of '80s-era yuppies. Again, if they're supposed to be hipsters, I think the tech misses the mark a bit (also, aren't hipsters by definition around more urban centers, not the suburbs?). I feel like the husband is hewing very close to a sitcom-style incompetent husband, with all the issues that come with that stereotype (it's not fair to men or women). @kais has hit on the most problematic of the ones in the story here, so i won't rehash them. To me, the husband himself looks dim and slightly contemptuous of his wife, constantly pooh-poohing her fears and only doing things to humor her. The fact that he only gets involved when he reads internet commentary disparaging his wife feels especially cringeworthy to me. I'm wondering a little bit what she sees in him (also, thinking about my farming cousins just now, why didn't she just shoot the darn drones? I'm decently sure they'd just shoot it, if they were in a similar situation...). I did laugh at the end with Arnie, that's some good build up and payoff with him, but then I wondered at the implication that Arnie still had weaponry. Wasn't he remade into a crop duster? How can he terrorize camera drone yuppie stepford neighbors into submission with duster tanks? Again, the setup is good, M is a good and interesting character, but the tech needs a decent amount of work, and I felt like the husband is a bit of a fixer-upper as well.
  13. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to add to this beyond what @kais and @Mandamon have already said. It's definitely better, but it definitely has a ways to go. For my part, I'd like a little more grounding on why W needs to use two intermediaries (one of them apparently disposable) in order to get the contraband magical item to the priest. Purple Cape clearly knows how the whole job is set up, and that the person she's interacting with is a patsy. Why the extra steps? My second nitpick (other than those already mentioned) was the bit of POV shift where we suddenly are inside the heads of the thrill seekers attending the burning. One, it's a weird POV shift. Is R suddenly psychic? Two, additionally and unfortunately, it doesn't take a depraved person to watch and even enjoy such spectacles, it only requires habituation and being inured to the atrocity. Hangings in England in the 1500s through the 1800s were like festival days or modern sporting events, with people bringing their sweethearts, having picnic lunches, and generally partying. If this government regularly held public executions and isn't crazy oppressive to everyone in general including their followers (which doesn't seem like what this is?), I would expect a more jovial atmosphere, or at the very least more interaction between the crowd and the priest, and the crowd and R (it's super short notice, so I imagine the food vendors and souvenir sellers would be put out?). If you wanted to play up how rigged this system is, maybe it *is* a scheduled hanging day and R just doesn't realize he's the main event! I did enjoy the ending much better. It's well set up for the next chapter at that point. Also, welcome @ICanDream ! Have you read @Silk 's wonderful introductory post? It explains how this online writers' group works. You'll need to send a private message to @Silk and @Robinski (Silk is our lovely mod who is away traveling currently, and @Robinski is our mailing list manager pro tem) to get on the mailing list, and make at least one critique post before submitting work. Once you're on the mailing list, new submissions for critique go out on Mondays, usually. If you'd like to critique on this week's submissions, you'll need to contact the authors directly. As @TKWade mentioned, sometimes the group mailings can get picked up by spam filters, so be sure to check your spam or junk folder if you're on the list but haven't received any emails.
  14. Ooo, so here's a thing! Even today, electric cars are as much computer as they are mechanical device, so someone who works on these vehicles (especially future versions of them) would be just as much programmer or systems/data analyst as they were grease monkey. It's one of the issues traditional mechanics and DIY-ers today are facing when they try to repair their computer-controlled machines: companies install proprietary software on things like cars and farm equipment, then prevent the users from effecting any repairs by withholding the diagnostic tools necessary to fix the problems! The farmers and drivers are then forced to go to the licensed dealers/mechanics and pay a premium for simple fixes they used to do themselves.
  15. I almost wish you hadn't mentioned this was from a DND game. You did a good job of explaining the unfamiliar terms in the text, and I didn't really need the background on the world ( and if I had needed the info, it should have been in the text anyway ). Role-play games are a great source for story ideas, but the trouble with with them is that what sounds good aloud around the gaming table and on a character sheet often sounds hackneyed, random, and even problematic when written into a narrative format. It often takes a substantial amount of massaging to turn character sheets into characters and encounters into story beats. Even then, savvy readers can often "hear dice rolling in the background," as a friend used to say. How many dice before it becomes intolerable is a matter of preference (I can handle a good deal more than my friend could, for example)! Having said all that, this story is *almost* there. The parts @Mandamon and @Robinski mentioned -- the bar out of Central Casting (and that katana!) and the lack of lead-up to the magic powers -- are the most "dice-rolling-est" parts for me. As I go.... "He couldn't recount the times" -- did you mean the more common phrase "he couldn't count the number of times?" This one isn't wrong, but it did strike me as a little odd. "He couldn't recall a time" -- this one, by contrast, reads just fine to me. "crowd throwing rotten produce and screamed obscenities" *screaming. To go with "throwing" "d religious law dictated consequence in" did you mean "consequences?" Maybe "harsh consequences?" "d have his life back" -- in order for me to be invested in this, I feel like I need a bit more of the why or how he got into this predicament, and maybe a bit of what drove him to such dire straits. Maybe not all at once, but enough that I care about him, and enough to make me a bit anxious about what is supposed to be a tense moment for him, too. I'm just not quite there. "clydesdales..." Yeah. Seconding "draft horses." That's as useful a shorthand as the specific name, and one to which a few added sensory details would work very well (Have you ever been around one? Everyone says their hooves are big as dinner places but it never seemed real to me until I had to clean the hooves of a horse that was only part draft horse. They were monstrous! And purebreds are bigger!) In this section you're using the curse word for manure both in the literal meaning as here with the horse, and then shortly below in the metaphorical expletive sense. It's not wrong, but it sounds off to me to have two different uses of the same word in so close proximity. The use here with the horses also strikes me as cursing for the sake of using the word, and not because of the story. It doesn't really benefit the story much. "over the rouacus of the busy" I thought at first you meant "raucous" but then the sentence doesn't make sense, so I second "ruckus" (although you could add a noun to raucous and make it work then) I don't have a problem with the initial forgetfulness. It struck me as someone choking under pressure and made me smile a bit. The bar stool seems a little extreme, though, I suppose it could be fighting words to the right kind of person... "Me too." Gonna need some aloe for that burn, ouch! The second bit, where he's trying to pick a table, I had more trouble with, though I can't quite place why. Too long? Not interesting to me? I don't care enough? The tension's gone? Something's off with it. Sorry I can't be more help. "Of all the possession he'd lost" -- this phrase confused me. It doesn't seem to be used in the way the character intends, as it's implying he's lost his sketchbook (it's one of "all the things" that're gone now) but then he goes on to talk about how it's the Most Important Thing he still has left. That katana. I wonder at the use of a katana rather than any other kind of sword, since katanas invite all kinds of samurai, ninja, and weird oriental fetishistic tropes that seem to have very little to do with the rest of the setting or story. Mentioning a katana also implies the character has the highly specific knowledge needed to actually use it, which doesn't seem to fit with what else we know about him so far. There are plenty of other types of swords he could covet that would be more in line with the European-ish fantasy setting and more in keeping with the character's perceived class and social status. " an elder man" an elderly man? All the assumptions he makes about his sketch subject feel a bit superfluous to the story. Also, he's assuming an awful lot just from appearances. It makes me think less of him when he goes around making wild guesses about a person's character based solely on how they're sitting at a table. " he would know when they showed up" -- "know him when you see him" is super cliche. Also kind of awful planning. It makes the character seem very gullible to me that he wasn't at least a little suspicious of being repeatedly drilled in this cloak-and-dagger details and then to be given "you'll know him when you see him" for the important hand-off contact. The action is good, but the priest is not very believable for me. I get that he's protecting W, but he seems really to be just evil for the sake of being evil. There's no reason to immolate someone just for possession of an artifact, especially since the other consequences to having magic paraphernalia mentioned in the story is just being pilloried. The powers, as i mentioned above, don't have any foreshadowing or lead-up, so they feel pretty random to me. If this is part of a larger work, it might be better to end at the burning since it's a good chapter-end cliffhanger, and pick up the next chapter with an explanation of why he's not dead. I enjoyed reading it and think it's a good start to something longer. Looking forward to the next part!