Mandamon

Alpha Readers Thread

86 posts in this topic

Yes, still send your chapters through the usual emails.  This thread is just for reading through complete works and giving overall feedback, rather than doing a chapter-by-chapter analysis.  We've been keeping the full works in a shared Dropbox folder, so we don't clutter up the forum and/or email.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mandamon,

 

I've read 'It's not my fault' and I thought it was a fun and fast read.

 

The way you showed teenager behaviour was insightful and almost satirical. As someone who was a teenager, I can certainly relate to what's happening to Allen and see what he does wrong when he says it's not his fault. That brings me to my first caveat : I'm not sure the piece fits with the intended audience. The book feels like YA, but I'm not sure a YA will get it and its nuances. For an adult, it's a great read, but I'm not sure an adult would pick it up in the first place.

 

Now, I don't have much to say about the first 80% of the book. Everything went smoothly and even if you had me raise my eyebrows in a few occurences (I found it too convenient that both Molly and Steeve would happen to like Allen and Judy), everything went well. My main issue is the ending which felt rushed. Rushed might not be the right word here : the plot unfolds at a good pace and then, it's "we have to get inside the factory for the finish." There was a bit of Deus Ex Machina here and even if you tried to explain it, it came out of nowhere. The climax scene was a bit confusing for me and I didn't quite picture what Allen was exactly doing and why. My big question here is why stay invisible when you could at least have one of the team produce a force field to have everyone outside stay outside. It would have freed pretty much everyone. Also, I'd advise you to research aneuvrisms : I'm not sure they work quite like that (I believe they either rupture or they don't, they don't evolve between the two states. I could be wrong on this).

 

I'll second the earlier comment on why isn't the town swarmed with journalists. Even if there is an apparent consensus among the adults in the town, there's really no reason to have the same reaction from people outside the town. I also wonder why the city hasn't been turned to ashes also : having a group of hormones infested superpowered teenagers should result in much mayhem while what you showed was mild annoyment at best. Some of the affected teenagers should also have gone to crime and apparently, none of them did.

 

If you have specific points you want me to address, I'd be happy to help.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Akobel:  Thanks a bunch!

 

On YA vs. adults:  Wow, that never even crossed my mind, but I see exactly what you mean.  Not sure what to do about it, as it turned out to sort of be the "theme" of the work.  I can hope that some teenagers are deep enough to see some of the meaning behind it.  If not, I hope it would at least be enjoyable and they would recognize the character actions as something that might happen to them.  I will certainly keep that in mind.

 

The ending:  Yes, totally agree again.  I think this needs some more editing for clarity and consistency.  Probably also some expansion so it doesn't feel as rushed.  I think I did do a quick check on aneurisms, but I will look again to make sure.  Maybe it needs a different wording.

 

Town vs the world:  I think this is the biggest editing point for me.  I originally intended most of the mutations to be very small, except for the early bus crew (or at least no one else realizes what they have) but it expanded as I wrote.  Intending this for YA, I cast the adults as ignoring what they couldn't understand (and thus not alerting journalists), but again, it got away from me.  I want to keep the story inside the town and focussed on characters rather than repercussions, so I'll have to work on a way to explain how the mutations didn't get out of hand.

Hmmm.  Maybe Nira will have a side business dealing with stole goods...

 

Did the two thugs in the Pizza parlor set you thinking about out of town influences and crime, or were you already thinking of it?

Also, were there any parts you particularly enjoyed, or particularly hated?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mandamon,

 

I have now finished Seeds of Dissolution, but first some excuses (of course!). Firstly, I did not manage to finish before Nanowrimo started, so had to shelf you for November, sorry! Then I wanted to keep going to finish my Nano project - which I hope to post here. Then it was Christmas and there were 3 to 4 weeks when I just couldn't get to it - all this said, once I got started again in early January and romped through the remaining 40% and I will email you the notes that I wrote - I apologise for the length of the document (yes, document), but I hope that the notes are useful.

 

I agree with some of what Akoebel says, particularly in terms of the ending and the epilogue, which I too thought could have been more dramatic, and also about Enos brother being largely forgotten, out of character given how deeply connected they are. I don't think it needs a resolution on Inas, but just a way to reflect that his absense still affects Enos greatly, and that the others (especially Sam, who seemed to have a conneciton with Inas too) have not given up on finding him.

 

I did not have a problem with some artistic licence in terms of the magic / science system or the powers of the nether, it's a fantasy novel, I think as long as something is well done, feels consistent and is dealt with consistently in a story then it will work (e.g. the Tardis).

 

I'll message you or email the file. Very happy to discuss. Overall though, I enjoyed Seeds of Dissolution very much and think that a polish of the text would make it very presentable to an agent in terms of quality compared to other books that I have read.

 

And when do we get the sequel???           : o )

Edited by Robinski
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Robinski--Thanks so much for the feedback and the document--I shall peruse them thoroughly!

 

You're actually just in time, as I'm doing another draft right now.  I got fed up with my other book.  And I plan to start an outline on the sequel pretty soon!

 

Thanks again

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I plan to start an outline on the sequel pretty soon!

 

Woo hoo!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Akoebel,

 

Just in case you think I've forgotten about it - I just passed Page 300 of Shrouds - on the home stretch. I get a bit read most days and expect to be finished before the end of June (I'm on holiday for 2 weeks in there, which will give me the time I need).

Edited by Robinski
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Robinski!

 

I'm about to start revising it, so end of June will be great!

Don't spend your entire holiday reading it, though.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's cool, I really want to keep going - things are ramping up now that Mahua and Neda are onto Arden's plan, so I feel like I'm on the ramp up into the conclusion. Anyway, I have a real schedule. Need to get back onto last year's Nano and finish it so that I can write the sequal for this year's Nano - it would be so much easier if I didn't have a real job!!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I have finished Shrouds, and I will email you my copious notes (apologies!).

 

Here, I'd like to comment on some of the exchanges and feedback on the forum, which I can read now that I'm finished.

 

1) - I have a problem seeing Arlon as likeable. I agree that he is set up that way to begin with, but when he starts killing gods, and the way he kills the solitary goddess, that was nasty. This said, I agree that cutting off his hands would have been out of character for the people making that decision, i.e. Neda, Mahau and Mandos. I also agree with Mandamon that actually cutting the leg off would have been extreme, and in any case led you to a cool alternative.

 

2) - I agree with Mandamon's point about more detail on the types of shroud. This is hinted at, of course, but not really explained properly.

 

3) - Same with the equation that leads to the raising of gods and greater gods. Another way to go would be that it just happens, that there is not some defined number, but I realise that would give you issue, as there would be no way for the characters to predict the danger and what to do about it. I did feel however that I couldn't really work out how the number were stacking up.

 

4) - Beware about breaking promises to the reader. I take your point about the murderer not really mattering, but it is a big part of what goes on early in the book. More of a revelation would have been good, I think, and I think you have to be cautious of setting up a situation that you are not all that committed (by the sound of it) to resolving.

 

All in all, I've really enjoyed reading Shrouds. I think the four central characters are strong and distinct from one another, and play of one another well. I had some issues on the way through, and these are set out in some detail (sorry!) in the notes that I've emailed to you.

 

I wish you all the best with Shrouds, and look forward to seeing something new from you in the future.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello. This is the Alpha Readers thread. Somewhere at the start there is a link to the Dropbox account.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is this still alive/going on? Are you still looking for alpha-reader feedback? (Just checking before I start reading into the rules etc. :))

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, I posted recently to bring it up near the top as someone else was asking about it. That said, personally, I doubt I'd have time to embark on a full read at the moment, but I would hope that someone would volunteer and have a novel of their own to put up. It takes two... etc.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I said in my email, I still got to finish my first draft. I wouldn't mind "building credits" in the meantime. :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooh, yes! I tried to get into the full manuscript group on this forum, but no one ever responded to my PM. I've got about one more week of agent edits and then would like to submit the full here for critique. Looking forward to reading everyone else's, too!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool. So did an agent read through your whole story? Are you publishing?

 

I think I'll put Waifs and Strays up here - although I've had about 10 pairs of eyes on the first few chapters, but no-one has read it through, and I don't want to start editing until I've got at least one opinion on the whole.

 

I'll get onto this after I finish Hold the Bridge.

 

Thanks for pinning, Silk. (Commas are like pawns, much more powerful than anyone really appreciates.)

Edited by Robinski
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool. So did an agent read through your whole story? Are you publishing?

 

 

I'm still working on my R&R from the agent. Hoping to nail it. My full manuscript has been requested three times by other agents, and I am in limbo on those ATM, too.

I've published before, just not in this genre. My current publisher doesn't do sci fi, so I thought I'd try to snag an agent this time around (last time I went direct to publisher). It's been an interesting experience. It's nice to see that agents genuinely like AFD, and the comments I get back in my Rs are really positive.

 

So it's been a learning experience, but overall a positive one.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I'm ready with mine. Anyone else? Are readers around, if no one wants to swap?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like I'll have a bit more free time for the next couple weeks, so if anyone has a text they'd like me to alpha-read, feel free to pass it along.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could probably get through 2 books in the next week or so.  Send 'em along!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could probably get through 2 books in the next week or so.  Send 'em along!

Sending you a PM now, ecohansen

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I finished reading Roamwald at the end of April and said I would ruminate a bit on the story before posting in this thread (no spoilers, of course).

 

My first reaction was that I very much enjoyed the story. I thought it steered away from the worst of the clichés that I was somewhat afeared of at certain points. I thought the two main characters were engaging, and also complementary, which worked well, making their POV sections distinctive. I found the supporting players unremarkable, but still solid and just well-drawn enough to be recognisable without being especially engaging - although Granny Jane is probably the exception to that, and Uncle Leon almost, although he didn't get a lot of screen time.

 

I felt that I could picture the setting well enough, although there wasn't all that much description, but given that it was a cottage in the woods; a town by a river; a cave in the mountains, etc. it was easy enough to imagine these places with the amount of description that was given.

 

I found the pacing very good. I always felt that the story was progressing and that there was something interesting happening. I never felt my attention wandering. Tension also was steadily increased, and I felt at times that I didn't know what was going to happen in certain scenes, which was good.

 

The end, for me, was satisfying. I thought that promises were kept. There were some mechanical issues in an area close to my engineering specialism, so I commented on those in some detail (and at considerable length, sorry Krystalynn!) - however those did not spoil my enjoyment of the story, and can of course be adjusted in the edit.

 

All round, it was an enjoyable and satisfying read. The concepts at play were by no means complex, but basic human challenges. Nonetheless, they were handled well and the writing was very good, both enjoyable and easy to read - I never felt that I was toiling at any point.

 

Thank you for the sneak preview, Krystalynn. I'll try to keep pasting my comments into the weekly threads to prompt / contribute to the debate, although I guess others may be getting a version that is slightly newer than what I have read. Gosh darn it, I'll need to read the final draft again before you submit it - which I hope you will, because I think this well told story could find a readership quite easily.

Edited by Robinski
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Waifs and Strays" by Robinski

Alpha read by krystalynn03

 

 

Waifs and Strays is an epic length novel penned by Robinski. The only bits of his writing I'd read before came from "Hold the Bridge," so I knew a little bit about his voice and his preferred style of fantasy before beginning, although it was still a rough draft. Some places of W&S read more polished than others, but overall, has a good story in it.

 

First, let me say that I've never done an alpha review before, so having Robinski kindly alpha reading "Roamwald" at the same time helped me learn to be a better alpha reader as I went.

 

Robinski demonstrates an ability in W&S that I envy. He constructs a plot thick with many different characters following their own plots at the same time weaving them all back together. I like to read that kind of pacing in books, but I find it very, very difficult to pull off as an author. W&S does a good job at making a lot of intricate pieces are fall into place for the whole.

 

The setting of Lufmatho has believable politics, religion, and a decent, if not completely fleshed out, magic system, that ties back to both of the former.

 

The protagonists of W&S evade the cliche of characters all having to come from a particular age group to be interesting. My favorite protag was Benam, an aging 'has been' hero who is haunted by his reputation on one hand while seeming to under perform his potential as a dock supervisor on the other. The arrival of the enemy jolts him from a boring middle life into one of meaning again, although not without personal cost.

 

Covelle, I think, is supposed to be the character that the majority of readers take to. He's an aristocrat gone rogue, but he never read quite right for me. He tries to change as a character and grow up as the novel progresses, but I think this is something that needs to be refined in revisions for him to have any texture.

 

There are two female protagonists, but most of what I think about them might be too spoiler-y, so I'll not say anything here.

 

There are parts of the book that need cutting and restructuring to change the pacing, but that's a normal fix. Who was who said that any first draft of a novel is really the author telling himself the story? I attribute most of the pacing problems currently in W&S to that and hope to see a tighter version in the future. The story, long as it is, is still pretty solid. While W&S sometimes had me question the characters, I never once questioned the overall plot logic. Robinski runs a very tight ship on the front. (See what I did there, R?)

 

There are several setting changes that stick out in my mind as vivid and well done: the rocky haven, the bilge of a ship, the river outside the mansion at twilight, the overgrown country cottage garden...

 

W&S did yank on my emotional chains a few times, giving me surprises, anger, and regret, which are all good in turn. Again, I can't really expound on that for sake of spoilers.

 

Robinski has far more knowledge about how the military and ships work, and every time he brought those elements into the story, the setting became very real.

 

W&S is a strong first run of a solid fantasy plot. I would like to see it's pacing restructured through cutting and revision, some of the main characters brought into more vivid focus, and a few of the more 'stock fantasy' settings or situations revised to be 'one off' to keep things a little fresher for readers who've read too many fantasy books in their life. :)

 

I hope you keep revising W&S and share with me and/or beta thread in the future soon, Robinski!

 

I'm still attached to Benam!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Putting out a call again for alpha readers for the sequel to AFD. Anyone?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can take a look-- it's a little outside of what I choose to read usually, or at least this has been thus far, but that just means I need to try a little harder to get into it. HMU if you don't mind that.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.