Eagle of the Forest Path

20170424 - EotFP - JBM - Ch5

7 posts in this topic

Hello,
 
On somewhat short notice, this is chapter 5 of Jet Black Medium. Unlike my previous submission this one has some more 'action', as well as some actual lawkeeping (though not in the story's main case yet).
 
Since my last previous submission, I've decided that if this story is to have even a chance of working, I need to do a(n other) thorough restructuring. I'm going to write on to the end first though, so this submission (and the ones in the future) will be continuing from what I've already submitted.
 
Summary:
Prologue: In which a man visits a priestess and has her curse someone.
Chapter 1: In which our hero visits a crime-scene, has an argument with his boss, and gets a shave.
Chapter 2: In which our heroine arrives, is flirted with by her escort, and eats some festival food.
Chapter 3: In which our hero meets our heroine, forms an opinion, and dismisses her.
Chapter 4: In which our heroine recovers from meeting the hero, meets her new landlady, and unpacks an old friend.
 
Chapter 5: In which the heroine receives a disappointing task, fulfills the task (more or less), and receives further disappointing tasks.
 
(Chapter 6: In which our hero receives some bad news, sees an old friend, and chides our heroine.)
 
Enjoy reading,
 
 
 
Eagle.
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On we go – more comments.

  • most importantly—quickly” – I worry about her judgement if she thinks this is the most important consideration. Being right (good judgement or deductive skills), must be the most important think, surely? I do like the purposeful opening to the chapter though.
  • solidly built veteran lictor” – I want this detail earlier, so I can picture him as we go.
  • I’m enjoying the pace and the forward momentum; this feels like the right approach at the right time. Get the story moving, and the character doing stuff.
  • The inside interior of the house was a mess” – more convincing and satisfying to use words that are more specific, I think.
  • The crash had come from a cupboard detaching from the wall” – this tells me nothing about the impact, it doesn’t convey the violence of a cupboard full of stuff smashing to the floor and exploding into splinters (for example).
  • Mistress Clup…” – this is in use as her title, so should be capitalised.
  • The smile must have worked as intended. The larger woman made chewing motions for a while before until she realized there was no other reasonable way to take response” – First, be more direct and positive, imprecise or indirect language is not satisfying. Secondly, I don’t think the grammar of the reaction is right. The woman takes the only reasonable course available.
  • she’d rather not have record Brom recorded as her first ever arrest” – more active and urgent to put this in the present.
  • a competitor, maybe?” – I believe this is a question.
  • All he does is go around and collect piss at night!” – Lol.
  • mister Clup” – again, Mister, I believe.
  • It’s clear that mister Clup is already dealing with enough malice in his life” – Ooh, this is very unprofessional – I don’t think this is in character, is it?
  • she said as her patron ran up” – This word is very plain as the name of your ‘Gee whizz’ magical artefact. I would like it to feel more like part of a mythos and have a bespoke word of its own.
  • So, because it’s another Dhe, cutting will work this time?” – Commas, need a couple here, for the pauses in the sentence.
  • she informed her.” – confusing, need one name or other.
  • How are you two still married? Char my bones, just get a divorce already. Or next time I’m here it might be to solve a murder” – Per my earlier comment, this is super unprofessional and I likely to get Laur pulled up on a charge pretty darn quickly.
  • Supplemental; also, it seems to me that your female characters so far are all harridans, and I include Laur in that category, although she is not ‘old’ (yet).
  • she’d banished the Dhé” – Really? I didn’t get any sense of that; I thought the patron killed one rat. That was too easy.
  • Well, it seems the case is closed” – Eh? What?! No, it’s not – she didn’t even investigate the culprit at all. That is not a closed case in any kind of police procedure I've seen on screen or read.
  • clutter-free except for a single, towering stack of files” – this is kind of cheating, I would drop ‘single’ which is misleading, even for only one word. I felt conned for no particular reason.

So, that was kind of fun, I enjoyed the directness of it, and that things were happening. Good pacing and getting stuck into some detection, however I ended up dissatisfied, for the reasons outlined, but from details that can be fixed easily enough, if you feel they are issues. To summarise, (1) Clup’s wife and the landlady feel very similar. The b*tching is entertaining, but beware of one note characters singing the same tune; (2) Laur patron killing the Dhe was too easy, or maybe give more description of the Dhe chasing about and shredding; (3) there’s no way the case is closed, no way.

Nice work though – it read very smoothly, I thought; I liked the style. Might consider nipping down to the hardware store and buying a bag of commas ;)

<R>

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- From the set-up, I expected Laurea to get a meaningless tasks, but instead she gets . . . an actual case? I was also surprised she considered it "amusing", when she seemed so dedicated to prove herself beforehand. Maybe this is an effort to make her seem overconfident.

- I do like the bickering in the case itself - it does show why Laurea was what was obviously a reoccurring problem - and I like how she deals with the case.

- And I liked the ending of the scene - although it seemed a tad predictable that it wouldn't be that easy to get what she wanted. 

 

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Generally agree with @Robinski (per contract). Glad to see some action, but I also thought L's response was a bit unprofessional. I'll second the warning against having too many female caricatures without some solid personalities. This does start to develop L as competent, but she ends up solving the symptom, not the cause of the curse. Does she have any thoughts about what else might be required to actually solve the case?

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "With her patron perched atop her brand-new, blue, prefecture-issue palla"
--this sounds cool but I have no idea what it means. I can only imagine Probitus is sitting on her umbrella or something.
"His eyes barely flickered to the Dhé gracing her shoulder"
--Ah. patron demon, not patron employer. I assume palla is a robe of some sort?

pg 1: "She made it all the way out of the quaestor’s offices before she couldn’t hold it anymore and her face relaxed into a wide smile."
--So...she's happy about it? the lips tightening and strained voice make me think this was a crap assignment. Or is she suppressing laughter?

pg 2: "she doubted they were inherently sloppier than patricians. They should be less so, logically speaking, since a large portion of patrician homes were cleaned by pleb servants"
--meaning plebs clean for the patricians, so are good at it and do it all the time? I get that L is biased, but this logic isn't even sound.

pg 3: "was no reasonable way to take"
--missing a word?

pg 5: "How are you two still married? Char my bones, just get a divorce already"
--Just to note, so far we've had a caricature of a grotesque landlady, and a caricature of an abusive, shrewish wife. Just be aware of what tropes you are calling forth.

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15 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Generally agree with @Robinski (per contract).

:lol:

 

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Thanks for reading and giving feedback.

Robinski

Spoiler
On 4/24/2017 at 6:28 PM, Robinski said:

On we go – more comments.

  • most importantly—quickly” – I worry about her judgement if she thinks this is the most important consideration. Being right (good judgement or deductive skills), must be the most important think, surely? I do like the purposeful opening to the chapter though.
    My reasoning here was that LC wants to work with PS on the big murder case, so she has to be fast with the small case he gave to get her out of the way. Her judgement is pretty solid, I think, it's her priorities that are a bit messed up.
  • solidly built veteran lictor” – I want this detail earlier, so I can picture him as we go.
    Will do.
  • I’m enjoying the pace and the forward momentum; this feels like the right approach at the right time. Get the story moving, and the character doing stuff.
    Thanks.
  • The inside interior of the house was a mess” – more convincing and satisfying to use words that are more specific, I think.
    I'll consider that.
  • The crash had come from a cupboard detaching from the wall” – this tells me nothing about the impact, it doesn’t convey the violence of a cupboard full of stuff smashing to the floor and exploding into splinters (for example).
  • Mistress Clup…” – this is in use as her title, so should be capitalised.
    Okay, I'll try to remember that.
  • The smile must have worked as intended. The larger woman made chewing motions for a while before until she realized there was no other reasonable way to take response” – First, be more direct and positive, imprecise or indirect language is not satisfying. Secondly, I don’t think the grammar of the reaction is right. The woman takes the only reasonable course available.
    I'll review this.
  • she’d rather not have record Brom recorded as her first ever arrest” – more active and urgent to put this in the present.
    True, but she's not the one keeping her own record. I'll think on it.
  • a competitor, maybe?” – I believe this is a question.
    I intended it as a suggestion, but the line is kind of thin here.
  • All he does is go around and collect piss at night!” – Lol.
    :D Oy! It's an honest job, and someone needs to do it.
  • mister Clup” – again, Mister, I believe.
    Right.
  • It’s clear that mister Clup is already dealing with enough malice in his life” – Ooh, this is very unprofessional – I don’t think this is in character, is it?
    Hopefully I can fix that in 3.0, when I've firmed up LC's personality. 
  • she said as her patron ran up” – This word is very plain as the name of your ‘Gee whizz’ magical artefact. I would like it to feel more like part of a mythos and have a bespoke word of its own.
    I'll think about that. I'd have to find a good word that makes it clear that a patron is a type of Dhé, and not something separate.
  • So, because it’s another Dhe, cutting will work this time?” – Commas, need a couple here, for the pauses in the sentence.
    All right.
  • she informed her.” – confusing, need one name or other.
    Okay.
  • How are you two still married? Char my bones, just get a divorce already. Or next time I’m here it might be to solve a murder” – Per my earlier comment, this is super unprofessional and I likely to get Laur pulled up on a charge pretty darn quickly.
    It would, if there was such a thing as professional standards in the setting. There are societal reasons why this isn't much of an issue, mainly because B&BC are plebs, and therefore not likely to go file a complaint. I could have blocked that in, but that would have been a strange tangent, plus LC is not actively thinking about that.
  • Supplemental; also, it seems to me that your female characters so far are all harridans, and I include Laur in that category, although she is not ‘old’ (yet).
    I'm embarrassed, but I hadn't actually noticed that. In my defense, similar descriptions also apply to most of my male characters.
  • she’d banished the Dhé” – Really? I didn’t get any sense of that; I thought the patron killed one rat. That was too easy.
    Right. I'll have to find a balance between showing repetitions of the rat-catching and making the chapter too long.
  • Well, it seems the case is closed” – Eh? What?! No, it’s not – she didn’t even investigate the culprit at all. That is not a closed case in any kind of police procedure I've seen on screen or read.
    Ah. I need to clarify that. The case isn't solved, but now that the Dhé is gone the characters can't really see the point of trying to find who summoned it.
    Anyway, it's on my issues list. I'll decide later how to fix it.
  • clutter-free except for a single, towering stack of files” – this is kind of cheating, I would drop ‘single’ which is misleading, even for only one word. I felt conned for no particular reason.
    I don't quite understand. But I'll give it a shot.

So, that was kind of fun, I enjoyed the directness of it, and that things were happening. Thanks. Good pacing and getting stuck into some detection, however I ended up dissatisfied, for the reasons outlined, but from details that can be fixed easily enough, if you feel they are issues. To summarise, (1) Clup’s wife and the landlady feel very similar. The b*tching is entertaining, but beware of one note characters singing the same tune; Yeah, in the next version, I'll likely leave out the landlady entirely (2) Laur patron killing the Dhe was too easy, or maybe give more description of the Dhe chasing about and shredding; I'll fix that (3) there’s no way the case is closed, no way. ... spoilers ;) ...

Nice work though – it read very smoothly, I thought; I liked the style. Might consider nipping down to the hardware store and buying a bag of commas ;)
All they had were semicolons. The store clerk suggested I cut them in half, but that was too much effort.

<R>

 

rdpulfer

Spoiler
On 4/25/2017 at 1:14 AM, rdpulfer said:

- From the set-up, I expected Laurea to get a meaningless tasks, but instead she gets . . . an actual case? I was also surprised she considered it "amusing", when she seemed so dedicated to prove herself beforehand. Maybe this is an effort to make her seem overconfident.
Oh bother, I glossed over that. Is there something like Weekly Writer Syndrome? This was mentioned in previous versions/drafts. This case is as close as PS could get to giving her a pointless task. Without her patron Dhé, LC would have had to work her way through everyone BC knows and figure out who had strong enough motive to hire a Fury Priest. She finds it amusing because she's aware that PS is trying to keep her occupied elsewhere for as long as possible, but he picked the one case that she could 'finish' in a single day. 
I'll mark this as 'needs improvement'.

- I do like the bickering in the case itself - it does show why Laurea was what was obviously a reoccurring problem - and I like how she deals with the case.
... why Laurea was ... what... uhm, what? Sorry, but I can't figure out what that sentence means.

- And I liked the ending of the scene - although it seemed a tad predictable that it wouldn't be that easy to get what she wanted. 
Thanks. It is predictable, but I don't see a way to make it surprising here (and inevitable ;)) while still writing the story I have in mind.

 

Mandamon

Spoiler
On 4/26/2017 at 8:47 PM, Mandamon said:

Generally agree with @Robinski (per contract). Glad to see some action, but I also thought L's response was a bit unprofessional. I'll second the warning against having too many female caricatures without some solid personalities. This does start to develop L as competent, but she ends up solving the symptom, not the cause of the curse. Does she have any thoughts about what else might be required to actually solve the case?
She does, I'll need to expand on that.

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "With her patron perched atop her brand-new, blue, prefecture-issue palla"
--this sounds cool but I have no idea what it means. I can only imagine Probitus is sitting on her umbrella or something.
If that was it, it would so go on the cover! :lol:
"His eyes barely flickered to the Dhé gracing her shoulder"
--Ah. patron demon, not patron employer. I assume palla is a robe of some sort?
A sash, goes around the waist and over the shoulder.

pg 1: "She made it all the way out of the quaestor’s offices before she couldn’t hold it anymore and her face relaxed into a wide smile."
--So...she's happy about it? the lips tightening and strained voice make me think this was a crap assignment. Or is she suppressing laughter?
The latter.

pg 2: "she doubted they were inherently sloppier than patricians. They should be less so, logically speaking, since a large portion of patrician homes were cleaned by pleb servants"
--meaning plebs clean for the patricians, so are good at it and do it all the time? I get that L is biased, but this logic isn't even sound.
Yeah, I'll just cut that second sentence. Thanks.

pg 3: "was no reasonable way to take"
--missing a word?
Oh dear! Yes indeed, a few words in fact: "... offense at that."

pg 5: "How are you two still married? Char my bones, just get a divorce already"
--Just to note, so far we've had a caricature of a grotesque landlady, and a caricature of an abusive, shrewish wife. Just be aware of what tropes you are calling forth.
I'm getting rid of the landlady, but I do need the wife for the plot.

 

Another great round of comments. I hope I can count on you again for the next submission.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

There are societal reasons why this isn't much of an issue, mainly because B&BC are plebs, and therefore not likely to go file a complaint.

Ah, hmm. I wonder how well that comes across as a thread through the story. I'm not sure I've had enough to flag these two as being part of an underclass going into the visit.

6 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

I'll have to find a balance between showing repetitions of the rat-catching and making the chapter too long

I think you could easily say something like 'the patron chewed up one rat, turned to shred another, pounced on a third' - racking up the numbers without racking up the word count.

6 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

now that the Dhé is gone the characters can't really see the point of trying to find who summoned it

Hmm, that would be a problem for me with the overall act of the story, I think... Would it? I guess if I had the sense that this sort of thing was a mischief crime, like graffiti, or throwing eggs at a window; the sort of thing the police would not have the resources to follow up, but I'm not sure I've got that sense about Dhe summoning, unless it's WRS on my part.

6 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

I don't quite understand. But I'll give it a shot

I felt it was like 'her desk for totally empty, apart from a huge pile of stuff in the corner' - i.e. it wasn't empty at all. The first part of the sentence being designed to mislead the reader. It just didn't quite land for me as a 'quip'.

6 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

All they had were semicolons. The store clerk suggested I cut them in half, but that was too much effort.

:lol: 

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