Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Mandamon

20170904 - Rey's first job - 3293 words - Mandamon

14 posts in this topic

Hello all,

  Looking for any and all feedback on this short story. It will be a backer reward on The Seeds of Dissolution Kickstarter (which is 73% funded as I send this out--yay!). It's sort of a companion to the story, adding some more content for a character who didn't get as much screentime as I wanted. It should be readable on its own, though it's meant to be read with the book.
 
Let me know what you think!
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh goody, I like Rey!

Overall

A good concept for a short, and I love Rey. I thought the piece fell flat though, in several places. Some thoughts on that below. I'd love to read it again once it gets a bit more punch!

As I go

- probably need better names than just 'first' and 'second' father

- the paragraph that begins with 'Rey leaned forward' seems out of place, flow wise, and maybe a little infodumpy

- LOL at the rodent problem

- majus rats FTW

- end of page four: I think the majus talking to Rey here lacks a bit of punch. The conclusion seems to come too easily. Unsure what to suggest. It just...falls a bit flat for something that should be our try-fail

- same thoughts on the end. Nothing is technically wrong, but it falls flat. Maybe he needs to work a bit harder to succeed? It might be that I don't have enough musical background to understand what he is doing, or that I'd like the short to tie in more to the base story. Unsure what to suggest, but punch, I think, is needed. Maybe tie some shady Cult of Form dealings in? Have him discover something?

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Kais on this one, the character of Rey is good, but the story falls a little flat.

 

Lack of tension: There isn’t a lot of tension in dealing with the rodent problem and there is no real stake in what Rey is doing. Whether he succeeds or fails at his task ultimately means nothing as he will still be an apprentice at the end of it. The solution also feels really easy, and while the solution did cost him ‘notes he will never get back’, in no way does this story address what that actually means for him. Can he do less magic now? Did he spent his own life force? I have no idea, so ultimately him losing notes doesn’t matter.

 

Maid-butler dialog: The first part suffers from some maid-butler dialogue. The majus explains things that Rey already knows, which doesn’t really hook me. And what follows isn’t really exciting enough to compensate for the initial dip in tension.

 

Accent or mistake: This is really a personal preference, as I don’t like accents written down, but with Rey I occasionally had difficulty determining if something was a mistake or typo or simply his accent.

 

Snakey: Nice pejorative.

 

Crate: I didn’t really get why Rey had to shove the crate. It only moved a little, but that was enough to generate so many extra ‘notes’ that he thought he would burst? It feels weird. And why would friction generate those notes?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @kais and @Asmodemon!

Re falling flat, that's exactly what I was looking for to shine this up. I'll try to add some more stakes for Rey failing (power outage for the Imperium or something). Probably needs another try/fail cycle as well. I'm trying to keep under 5k, but that still leaves me plenty of room.

12 hours ago, kais said:

Maybe tie some shady Cult of Form dealings in? Have him discover something?

Hmmm...I see what I can do with this. I like the idea of tying it in.

51 minutes ago, Asmodemon said:

I didn’t really get why Rey had to shove the crate

Yep, struggled with this. I'm trying to explain potential to kinetic energy transfer but it's not coming across well.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

- nit picking, second paragraph you use ', as usual,' twice. It follows quickly and sounds redundant.

- First section read a little slow for me and it was difficult to stay engaged. I don't know what it was, but it dragged for me. Maybe the dialogue, not quite engaging enough and a little info dumpy.

- I really like concepts in your story, but I would agree with the others. Fell pretty flat overall.

I think you could cut it down and make it more a little faster, maybe then it'd be more engaging, but there were parts that just seemed to move so slow i had it skim. It's a little info dumpy i think without being engaging and that kills it quickly for me.

On a different note: I checked out your Seeds of Dissolution kickstarter page. Love the artwork! I really hope you meet your goal :)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I've been noting it elsewhere, I oughtn't let it slide here -- please remember to double space (or at least 1.5) the paragraphs. 1, it's in the rules; 2, it's much much easier for me to read than single-spaced. :) 

 

As for the story itself, I do agree with the other comments that it's a little flat. However, I don't know that I need life-or-death stakes or a conspiracy tie-in to make it punchier. I just need to care about the main character, and be invested in him, and I'm not really. He seems like an easy-going affable guy, but his seeming lack of interest or investment in what's going on means that I-as-a-reader am not that invested in what's going on, either. It doesn't matter to him what's happening so why should it matter to me? He's not even really sure he wants to be there at all, since he keeps weighing learning magic against pulling weeds like they're evenly matched. And I know how I feel about pulling weeds, personally. :/ 

 

Another try-and-fail cycle might help. I don't really know. FWIW, I kind of thought he'd end up with a new pet, or somehow overfeed it until it finished its metamorphosis and went away on its own, instead of just scaring the critter away.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, TKWade said:

On a different note: I checked out your Seeds of Dissolution kickstarter page. Love the artwork! I really hope you meet your goal

Thanks! if you know anyone who like a copy, let them know!

Good comments on the pacing, @TKWade. I'll try to tighten it up.

43 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

I just need to care about the main character, and be invested in him, and I'm not really. He seems like an easy-going affable guy, but his seeming lack of interest or investment in what's going on means that I-as-a-reader am not that invested in what's going on, either.

Thanks, @industrialistDragon! Yes--I think this is what's been nagging me about the story. I'll look for better ways to engage him.

44 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

overfeed it until it finished its metamorphosis and went away on its own

Ooh--I like this solution! I may steal it, if that's alright.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I may steal it, if that's alright

Be my guest -- though, fair warning, if it's the first thing that comes to my mind, it's likely some horribly-overused plot point from '90s-era children's cartoons. ;) 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

- I agree there's a lack of tension. I think it starts to go sideways when you mention the rat problem. It doesn't seem like there's much stakes to solving this problem, and Rey is pretty dismissive of the rat for the most part. Since he doesn't care too much, we don't.

- As always, I like the idea of the Symphony and I especially like seeing this magic system in action.

- Maybe the issue is the try/fail cycle itself. Rey tries something, and it doesn't work - but it in most stories, such a failure has some consequence. There's very little consequence of that failure here other than Kheena's rebuke. Maybe the lack of barrier could cause the rat to do more damage somehow? 

- Rey's a fun character to read about, and definitely very easy to relate to. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, rdpulfer said:

but it in most stories, such a failure has some consequence. There's very little consequence of that failure here other than Kheena's rebuke. Maybe the lack of barrier could cause the rat to do more damage somehow? 

Aha--that may help out.  Thanks @rdpulfer (also thanks for backing!!!)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Aha--that may help out.  Thanks @rdpulfer (also thanks for backing!!!)

No problem, Mandamon - I've always liked the Symphony stories, so I know I'm getting something really awesome :)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Always a pleasure to be back in the Dissolutionverse.

  • at least until he figured out how to get his second father” - ? or ‘that he should get his…’ I just felt like there was something missing from the phrasing as is.
  • it is not as limiting as hearing the music defining” – I think?
  • transfer it somat else” – in English dialect (I forget which region, I'm afraid), ‘somat’ or possibly ‘somit’, means ‘something’. Hence, this sounds off to my ear, as I can’t associate it with ‘somewhere’.
  • pulling it back and forth between his hands” – I'm not entirely sure what’s happening here. I guess he is moving the pen using the symphony, but I'm not getting a ‘wow’. Okay, it’s easy and everyday for him, but I should still get some ‘wow’, I think.
  • threw the pen down and thumped the table” – I was seeing him as, not exactly timid, but quietly assertive, intellectually authoritative. This felt a bit brash to me.
  • We have a rodent problem” – Nice was to cap the section. Unexpected, but satisfyingly appropriate for a ‘first job’, and a test at the same time. It’s bringing to mind thoughts of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice / Harry Potter: Year 1. A sort of YA scale and tone which is very enjoyable.
  • hadn’t even known the HoP had a cellar” – lol.
  • The normally austere corridors turned utilitarian” – Hmm. I guess these are different, but they sound kind of similar too, like this would not be the greatest degree of change.
  • water, light, and motive forces” – How do you supply motive forces? Is there a big hand at the end of the pipe that pushes anything you place in front of it? I’m sort of stuck puzzling over how you transmit momentum through a pipe, or rather more how to apply it at the other end. It’s probably just a Civil Engineer being dense over mechanical things. Please feel free to tut several times, then talk down to me as you explain what a numpty I'm being :D
  • The transfer of measures” – My first thought was of actions, processes, etc. rather than portions, quanta, units, etc.
  • yer celler
  • layered over themselves until the result was nearly a block of notes” – something off in the phrasing, I feel, compared to ‘layered over themselves. The result was a block…’. At best, seems imprecise.
  • The head was fastened to the pipe in some way, and R poked at the thing with on finger” – why are these part of the same sentence?
  • didn’t think he was that simple” – is it ‘simple’? Is this not more on the scale of weakness/strength?
  • if I don’t do sommat else” – See, here’s ‘sommat’ used as ‘something’, not ‘somewhere’.
  • I kind of lost track of some of the description of the symphonic systems.
  • He pushed the crate back down off the top step” -?
  • The create fell two steps, then one more, then stopped, only a pace away from where Rey had imparted a hearty shove” – Typo, but also, I'm confused how it’s only a pace away. He can’t have shoved it very hard. Surely, he could have obtained more energy. Also, by carrying the crate up the stairs, he’s converted his chemical energy to potential in the crate, which he then harvests again by pushing the crate off the stair, and takes the energy back in. So, he can’t convert his own potential energy stored chemically in his body directly?
  • suitable enough to shock that little furry critter” – I'm doubtful you can have degrees of suitability in this phasing. Either it’s suitable to shock the creature, or it’s not.
  • Should have stayed” – I think he reaches this point of ‘giving up’ too soon. Pack it all in and go home because of one failed attempt?
  • It shared the a long snout and scales with of the scurries” – imho.
  • around his parent’s parents’ garden” – I believe.
  • Shew, then, yer bugger” – is it not ‘shoo’?
  • flapped it with his hands” – sounds like he slapped it. Flapped at it?
  • but yer havta go. on” – Have to go. As in ‘Your time’s up’?
  • notes disappeared with the phrase” – but isn’t the phrase made of the notes. Is this two versions of the same thing?
  • He backed up just a little
  • It was the part of the base beat of the Symphony that faltered” – I think.
  • Well, now he know knew, he could affect it
  • can find a taste tasty melody somewhere else
  • Maybe he’s he’d make a
  • parent’s vs parents’ again

I enjoyed this story a good deal, but I felt that payoff was a bit too easy, and lacked s sense of ‘wow’. Also, it seemed to me that he changed the nature of what the machine was doing. Surely, that would have other effects, or could even be detrimental to how the energy was used at the other end, where presumably there is machinery that is expecting and therefore designed to cope with material supplied in one key, which now will arrive in another.

So, my verdict would be that there is some revision and tightening required to deal with these issues, but otherwise, I enjoyed being in R’s company and seeing him interact with his master. Excellent fun, just a bit more punch and pizzazz, maybe.

<R>

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @Robinski for the comments and language clarification!

I have some ideas how to spice this up already. I'm going to work on it this week and see if I can't make it pop a little more. I think showing how messing with the machine impacts the community will help a lot.

1 hour ago, Robinski said:

How do you supply motive forces?

Yeah--this is a bit handwavy. I may just delete it rather than trying to explain.

Re: the crate. This needs a lot more clarification, or maybe just to be scrapped and replaced with something clearer.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

showing how messing with the machine impacts the community will help a lot

Agreed - could be really interested, and potentially a 'yes, but...' moment :) 

15 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

or maybe just to be scrapped

I love the idea that he has to create some kinetic energy to harvest, but it just seemed a bit roundabout, since he was using some of his own energy anyway. I guess maybe the point is it's a permanent investment, so he would rather use his chemical energy, which he can replace with food, to humph the crate up the stairs, rather than his permanent symphony. I think if that were shown a tad, I would have got it quicker.

It's going to be a great story though. I do like it.

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
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.