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kais

TCS - Chapter 'Exile' (revised) - kais 12/18/17 4358 words

19 posts in this topic

Please abbreviate all places and names. This is a (longer) revised edition of what came through last week. Hopefully I fixed most of the issues, although I still haven't been through everyone's comments from last week. I'm catching up, I swear!

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Thoughts as I read. I don't feel qualified to prescribe anything, so I'm just going to tell you what I thought and felt.

  • (pg.1) I would think this species would have developed a fabric that the wouldn't soak through... maybe?
  • (pg. 1) The dialogue from N's father feels a little stilted, but maybe it's just me
  • (pg. 1) "The president of her homeworld stood before her." Are they not on her homeworld? 
  • (pg. 1) "and his shirt and trousers were finely stitched and crisp" The phrasing here was a little awkward for me, maybe it should be "and his shirt and trousers were crisp and finely stitched"
  • (pg. 1) I really need more character. I'm getting a sense of it, but I really wish there was more character on this first page. Last week's draft was much better in this regard
  • (pg. 3) Now I'm getting the character I was lacking on the last page, maybe add this earlier? It's not a big problem, but the first 2 pages were a little rough for me
  • (pg. 3) "She wanted to melt the president..." This is giving me the sense that someone/something is going to get melted later. I understand this is a short story though, and I haven't read a lot of short stories, so I'm not sure what to do here.
  • (pg. 3) I'm having a hard time grasping the layout of the room and the position/poses of the characters
  • (pg. 4) You missed the capitalization of Z's name in the second paragraph
  • (pg. 4) Back to the stuk , I'm getting a sense that this isn't normal to leak it like this, so the upholstery thing isn't bothering me anymore
  • (pg. 4) If N's brother is a big part of organizing the rallies, why is he smirking in the corner as the whole thing is jepordized?
  • (pg. 5) I haven't read any of the stuff that this is based on, but I'm confused with the naming here. I didn't get around to posting on last week's draft, but I was having the same feelings, is everyone named N? Including the species themselves?
  • (pg. 6) This is where the last draft started if I'm not mistaken, and honestly, I like that as a starting place much better. This may just be personal preference, and I haven't read many short stories, so it could be terrible to have it start here. I'm kind of viewing this as a chapter 1, and maybe that's the wrong way to look at it.
  • (pg. 6) You use the term homeworld again here, not sure why it bugs me, but it kind of gives me the sense that they're not on N's homeworld, which I believe they are
  • (pg. 7) Yes, I'm liking pg. 6 as a starting place much more, but I'm probably looking at it through the wrong lens
  • (pg. 12) Maybe it isn't so irregular for their stuk  to thin like this. I'm confused...
  • (pg 12.) Having problem picturing this too, how far back are the seats? How big is the shuttle? Maybe it's more like an open arena with the stage in the middle? Not sure...
  • (pg. 14) Wait, everyone was watching calmly, but now N's parents are arguing and pleading? Seems a little inconsistent
  • (pg. 15) "The ship was on auto, and had a dummy circuit." Maybe try "The ship was on auto, with a dummy circuit." Small change, but it threw me out a little
  • (pg. 15) I'm definitely liking the ship on auto, rather than the other life-forms that were piloting it in the last draft
  • (pg. 15) Yes, I was correct, and they are on N's homeworld.
  • (pg. 16) A very satisfying conclusion, and I really want more. What was the name of your published series this is based on?

Overall, I really like this story, and even though I haven't read the series this is based on, I was drawn in and wasn't confused or disoriented. I would, however, prefer it to begin on around page 6. I'm hoping there's going to be more about N, and I'm excited to see where this goes! (If it is going everywhere, I'm not sure if this is a short story or chapter 1, or a supplemental prologue to already published books, but whatever it is, I want more!)

Edited by MasterJack
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Overall: getting better, but keep going! 

 

Here's my as-I-go comments:

I think you may have over-corrected this time around. Ne feels a bit more Ne-like, but she's being pulled down by the weight of the definitions that break up her POV. It's a fine balance, explaining enough without adding too much and I think this prologue-ish section has teetered a bit too far in the other direction. I also feel like maybe some of the definitions need to be reworded to be more Ne-like, more opinionated rather than a straight up "look at the camera and define for the audience" type of neutral, if that makes any sense? So something that would be obvious to her -- like maybe the third parent definition -- and can be inferred from context decently well are probably unnecessary, but something like the Old Blood description could stay, but with more opinion in it? Maybe?

Ne's bro is kind of a jerk. I don't like him much.  He's using Ne as a patsy.

The jump from the new prologue-ish section to the prior version text is kind of jarring. I think I'd like to have a bit more transition than just a sentence. There're leftover first-introduction descriptions in the previous part that don't really fit anymore, either, with the prologue-bit added to the front.

Yeah, all this "clearly the beginning of the story" stuff is really odd now. The tone is different too... There, like, needs to be a middle ground between the drama of the prologue and the slice-of-life brightness of the old introductory parts. Maybe some foreshadowing? Maybe President Jerkface says soemthing like "you'll have my final decision on this tomorrow" or "the committee is still discussing possible actions and you'll have their verdict tomorrow" or "I have been working with your uncle to find an appropriate remedy" or something so that Ne can do some of the "he won't possibly mess up this crazy important religious thingummy he doesn't have the clout" worldbuilding earlier on? Maybe that would give it more of a through-line? I'm just grasping at random here. 

The interaction with mother reads better now. Ne is less passive. Moms is like super totes suddenly sicker, though. I don't think there's even one reference to mother's consumption in the prologue bit, but there's barely a mention of her in this part that DOESN'T point out somehow that Death's tapping his watch waiting for her to hurry up and shuffle off. It seems odd to me. 

"had bribed her into a decommissioned settee " I still don't understand if her brother is bribing the ship owner to let her on because young Ne is already mad for space and it's a big treat; or if he's bribing young Ne herself, to get her out where the ship was despite her not wanting to be there. :/

"she could see the smugness on his face" yeah, def don't like him. Smug is not a generally positive emotion, especially when he's all but taking credit for Ne's hard work. Yeowch. Dude, like, take a step back and let your sister have a moment here.  Geez.  Also... also it reads a little sinister? Like, is he smug because he knows what's coming? He's not full of happy shiny pride and love but anticipatory schadenfreude? This is my suspicious face... 

I do like the ending better without the taurs, though. 

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I haven’t read the previous iteration, so I’m going into this blind.

Tell: It’s a short story, so you’re limited in the amount of words you can spend, but the start of the story has a lot of telling about the setting, rather than showing. There are a lot of definitions, such as the secretions and the third parent, that are just dropped in the first few pages of the story. People who have read the published work won’t need those explained again, and the people who haven’t read the published work won’t care enough about the characters and the story yet for the background information to matter. It also makes for a slow start to the story.

Of her home-world: The inclusion of this in regards to the president feels really for a new reader’s benefit so they know that the president is the president of the whole world, not a single country on that world, as well as that he’s not a president of, say, an alliance or federation of worlds as is common in Sci-Fi. It doesn’t feel like a distinction N. would make (and indeed, she doesn’t do so later on), since we are on her home-world, there are no other species around, nor other presidents. By adding ‘of her home-world’ it gives the impression that N. is an outsider looking in, such as how a foreigner for instance would say ‘the king of the Netherlands’, but a Dutchman would simply say ‘the king’, N. should just be saying ‘the president’.

Mother: I didn’t really get the impression that she was very sick.

Brother: I don’t like the brother at all. The way he seems sadistically gleeful when N. is in trouble makes him seem like an cremhole, or worse, trying to plant the full blame of what’s going on, on her. If he is framing her, there is no pay-off to that subplot as it’s neither confirmed or denied anywhere, and the brother is barely a presence at the end. And if that was not your intent, and the brother is just an cremhole, that too feels a little disappointing as you’re setting up the hooks of a betrayal.

AFD: I felt a bit of a disconnect in N.’s views in this story, compared to her views in AFD. The impression I got from AFD is that she was exiled because she vexed the president and was riling up the population against their religion. Here she seems far more religious and her focus is more ecological than theological. Now the shift could have happened due to her contact with outsiders in the timespan between this and AFD, but at first read the differences felt jarring to me.

Nowhere on this planet: Love the foreshadowing there.

Ending: Nice cliffhanger ending.

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Overall, it's a good piece. You have a nice writing style that maybe is a little too dry, but otherwise very clear and easy to understand. I haven't read anything prior to this too, so I am coming in cold. I think you've been given some great feedback so far, so I won't just cover that same territory again, but here are some thoughts.

- I don't care if someone is the President. It holds no weight because I have no context, no reason to feel anything about that position. Give him a name early, give me a reason to feel what N feels about him. The same goes for things like "her father" - name him. Name all her parents. Make it personal.

- I'm just going to say it. Starting with a discussion on tree clearing doesn't do much for me. It's not really about that anyway is it? What is it really about for N? It would be cool if the President could call her out on something else - "You're doing this because ...", you know a suggestion she's maybe not all pure of intention. It doesn't matter if she is or not, what matters is she has a weakness that can be exploited, the waters muddied. That would be interesting. Also, why is a trainee pilot so interested in land clearing and politics? Why does what she say have enough weight to worry a President?

-  I don't know how economics, agriculture, politics, and the economy work together in this world so the conflict doesn't quite work for me. Can you make it relatable to something I know and already understand?

- I really like the ending. I think it sets up something I want to read. But you need to sell me on why the President is after her a bit more. It needs to be personal somehow.

 

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On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

I would think this species would have developed a fabric that the wouldn't soak through... maybe?

This is part of a long running gag through the series.

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

The dialogue from N's father feels a little stilted, but maybe it's just me

Could very well be. I'll go poke it with a sharp stick and see if it moves.

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

Are they not on her homeworld? 

Argh so, here is the bind I'm in. I WANT to say 'the Ne president', so it's clear he's the president of the planet, but then it's redundant in the paragraph with Ne's name. Yes, I did this to myself by having a species without individual names but I'm three books in and can't change it now so...ugh. I'll continue limping on my shot foot.

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

but I really wish there was more character on this first page.

It's the cold open (start of the new book). I'm trying not to bog down the first few pages but maybe I went a little too fast?

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

You missed the capitalization of Z's name

'Zie' is a gender neutral pronoun, so would no be capitalized.

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

why is he smirking in the corner as the whole thing is jepordized?

Because book three! This is supposed to be a good in-world gimme for the series readers, but I don't want him to come off too smug, either. But fundamentally he knows where this is going and he orchestrated most of it so yeah, he's pretty smug.

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

is everyone named N?

We have a winner! I've already spelled out so much that I didn't want to spell this out, too, and was hoping people could pick it up from context. Hence the reference to the child name, and the edited modifier at the end. Since you figured it out and you're new to the world I'm hoping it's okay!

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

Seems a little inconsistent

Edited

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

What was the name of your published series this is based on?

I'll DM you!

On 12/18/2017 at 0:38 PM, MasterJack said:

I'm hoping there's going to be more about N,

There are, in fact, three whole books about N. :)

Thank you so much for the thorough critique!

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7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I think you may have over-corrected this time around.

Well drat.

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

explaining enough without adding too much

I blame my most recent read, MIRROR EMPIRE, for this. It was super exposition heavy.

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

like maybe the third parent definition

Okay. I'll go through and see what can be trimmed out. You're probably going to have to suffer through this again next week now, too.

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Ne's bro is kind of a jerk. I don't like him much.  He's using Ne as a patsy.

I've edited a bit but he is doing this all on purpose, which is discussed in the end of the third book. I want this to be enjoyable for those readers while misdirecting new ones. Maybe too much misdirection?

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Maybe some foreshadowing?

Good call! Added.

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

It seems odd to me. 

Hmm. Will rethink.

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I still don't understand

Edited!

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

also it reads a little sinister?

That was kind of the idea. Maybe I need to back it up a bit?

Excellent comments. Thank you!

 

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

so I’m going into this blind.

Hey, I'm just glad to see you around these parts again!

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

It also makes for a slow start to the story.

@industrialistDragon noted this too. I'll take a few out and hopefully that will help.

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

N. should just be saying ‘the president’.

Point taken. Have edited.

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

I didn’t really get the impression that she was very sick.

Huh. We have conflicting feedback on this. I'll take another pass anyway and see how it looks.

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

If he is framing her, there is no pay-off to that subplot as it’s neither confirmed or denied anywhere

There's payoff to the subplot, but it's the end of book three. In theory people are coming off book three right into this book of shorts, and these actions are highly relevant. But to a new reader, maybe just confusing? He should seem like a bit of a jerk, but not wholly unlikable. I was hoping the sibling banter would diffuse some of that.

6 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

but at first read the differences felt jarring to me.

Argh, okay, was wondering about this. The next short is going to deal with it but I don't want this to be so jarring that people don't read it. What are your thoughts? Okay to explain in second short, or do I need a little bit more religion in this one?

Thank you so much! Always great to see you on the board!

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5 hours ago, toomsta said:

Give him a name early, give me a reason to feel what N feels about him. The same goes for things like "her father" - name him. Name all her parents. Make it personal.

Errr...can't help you on this one. Everyone has the same name on this planet, and they just use titles or modifiers. It's explained why in book one and I was hoping that the common name issue could be picked up in context from the first short but...maybe not?

5 hours ago, toomsta said:

Starting with a discussion on tree clearing doesn't do much for me.

It gets muddier later but it is about tree clearing. The whole series is about one particular species of tree. I don't know how to make this more relevant without a huge info dump at the start. How bad is your disconnect? Does the exile part keep you interested enough to get more world in the next chapter?

5 hours ago, toomsta said:

why is a trainee pilot so interested in land clearing and politics?

Yes. Why indeed? If this question is being raised, all is well!

5 hours ago, toomsta said:

Why does what she say have enough weight to worry a President?

Hoping this comes through in the next short.

5 hours ago, toomsta said:

Can you make it relatable to something I know and already understand?

I guess for new readers I'm relying pretty heavily on a general disdain for plantation forestry and deforestation, and/or a connection with oppressive religious policies. I'll see if I can be more specific on some things.

6 hours ago, toomsta said:

It needs to be personal somehow.

Good to know there isn't much buy in from new readers. Will edit.

Thank you so much for all the comments!

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1 hour ago, kais said:

It gets muddier later but it is about tree clearing. The whole series is about one particular species of tree. I don't know how to make this more relevant without a huge info dump at the start. How bad is your disconnect? Does the exile part keep you interested enough to get more world in the next chapter?

I think it's the difference between how characters relate to each other, and the plotting of the story.

Take Vin in Mistborn. The plot calls for her to be a Scar, to join the rebels and take down the Lord Ruler. But as a character that's not what she wants, she wants friends. She wants to be wanted. 

So here with N. The plot calls for her to be against three clearing, to protest against it. But what, as a character, does she want? How can the President use what she really wants deep down against her. 

Give that to me, and I'll buy into the Tree clearing no problem.

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Quote

Hey, I'm just glad to see you around these parts again!

It’s good being back in these parts again :)

Quote

 

There's payoff to the subplot, but it's the end of book three. In theory people are coming off book three right into this book of shorts, and these actions are highly relevant. But to a new reader, maybe just confusing? He should seem like a bit of a jerk, but not wholly unlikable. I was hoping the sibling banter would diffuse some of that.

 

The sibling banter does diffuse it a bit, but it also made him (and N. as well) come across as a childish jerk, not as a sinister mastermind plotting his sister’s downfall.

Do you need to have him smirk so openly, or could it be a little more circumspect? For instance, if he were to look concerned for his sister most of the time, but maybe in an unguarded moment showed a darker expression? Perhaps, when N. is going off on a tirade that the president is an unconscionable cremhole, you could have him smirk there. N. would think that he’s smirking because he agrees with her, whereas in hindsight, in book three, the reader would realize that he was smirking because she played into his hand antagonizing the president further.

 

Quote

Argh, okay, was wondering about this. The next short is going to deal with it but I don't want this to be so jarring that people don't read it. What are your thoughts? Okay to explain in second short, or do I need a little bit more religion in this one?

It’s an interesting dilemma you have. On the one hand you have the brother’s behavior, which can be  confusing to new readers, and on the other you have N.’s focus on ecology rather than theology, which could confuse existing readers.

Personally, I would like to see a bit more of her problems with the religion in this story, to link up more thoroughly with her starting point in AFD. At the start of AFD she has regular sessions with her uncle to talk about theology, and it was the theology she had to adopt in order to be given a chance to come back to her home-world. There was nothing there about having to be in favor of tree-clearing.

Another thing is that it is not really clear for now why she’s willing to risk so much (her future with the Guard) to vex the president on behalf of old trees, since part of becoming a pilot is a chance for her to get away from it all. I’m missing the personal stake for N. in this.

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7 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

Do you need to have him smirk so openly, or could it be a little more circumspect?

Nope! I've toned this down on both accounts. More brooding now, and maybe a little circumspect.

7 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

Personally, I would like to see a bit more of her problems with the religion in this story, to link up more thoroughly with her starting point in AFD.

Solid point. I wonder if I should stick the uncle into that first family scene. My big plan was to have the next short deal directly with him, and I don't know if including him in the first short would add or detract. Will try and see how it goes.

7 hours ago, Asmodemon said:

it is not really clear for now why she’s willing to risk so much (her future with the Guard) to vex the president on behalf of old trees, since part of becoming a pilot is a chance for her to get away from it all

Okay, making a note to be much more clear on this. Time for yet another rewrite! 

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Well, I see most everyone has torn this apart already! That's what I get for having a book release on Tuesday...

I had a lot less problem with this than others, though I may just be brain-dead from editing. My main issues were with the brother and the president.

I agree with the others that the brother comes off as a smug little jerk. I understand what's he's doing, having read the end of the third book, but he still feels smug. Maybe more love and banter, and less suspicious smiling? I don't know.

I like the suggestion of putting the uncle in the beginning with the president, as a foil. I felt like we never got quite enough of the uncle in the books, and he seemed an ok guy, for a world religious leader. It would also lend a little weight as to why the president is in these people's living room. Presidents don't usually make house calls.

pg 3: "Melt" the president is her first thought? Is that common?

pg 6: I love that just looking like a Terran is an insult.

 

oh, and @MasterJack, I had all sorts of questions about household design for stuk while reading @kais's novels, but it does get an answer later on. You'll just have to read and see ;-)

 

Side tangent: what did you think of Mirror Empire? I really wanted to like it, and I loved The Stars are Legion, but I just could not get into it. I really want to know more about weird plants and alternate dimensions, but that book was tough to read.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Side tangent: what did you think of Mirror Empire?

Ugh, it was a slog! I mean, I loved it, but I also hated it? I saw we rated it about the same on Goodreads. The worldbuilding was beautiful and the gender and sexuality diversity made my heart so happy but...there was fundamentally no character development. There was tons of setting dump (which I don't inherently dislike!), too many POVs (bordering on George RR Martin level of 'here's a POV character to drive a plot because I'm a poor writer, now watch them die), and the only character I ever really connected with was the Zezil's (sp?) husband. He emoted. No one else emoted!

The Stars are Legion is on my TBR pile, so I'm hoping for more gender and sexual fluidity, and maybe a little more character to go along with them.

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20 minutes ago, kais said:

The Stars are Legion is on my TBR pile, so I'm hoping for more gender and sexual fluidity, and maybe a little more character to go along with them.

I listened to that one on audiobook, so it might have changed my perceptions, but I thought it was much better. Looking back, it's still a little light on character, but the character moments that do happen are great.

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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I like the suggestion of putting the uncle in the beginning with the president, as a foil.

I'm still toying with this. I put him in, and then deleted him, and now I'm mulling. 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Is that common?

Apparently I am the only one (aside from Ne) who dreams of melting people. I'm going to embrace this weirdness.

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I had all sorts of questions about household design for stuk

Early early versions of AFD had more sections about stuk, and how other people viewed it, and how irritating it was. They got cut long before I ever found my way to RE, but that was at least one part of the universe I had moderately figured out. @industrialistDragon probably remembers them.

Thank you, as always, for the feedback, and CONGRATS on the book launch! Hoping to see mine in the mail soon!

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56 minutes ago, kais said:

@industrialistDragon probably remembers them.

Remember the who with the what now? Who are you again? ;) 

 

I mean, I have all those old versions and I'm sure I could look up the references if you really wanted... :3 

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49 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

Who are you again?

Certainly not someone who dressed up as a Highlander character for trick-or-treating with you back when we were far, far too old to be doing so. 

Those old AFD versions can go ahead and die, please and thank you. 

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48 minutes ago, kais said:

Certainly not someone who dressed up as a Highlander character for trick-or-treating with you back when we were far, far too old to be doing so.

No, I clearly remember the pair of us in sailormoon odango, and me with my Columbo trenchcoat, on a big city adventure. With photographs. Which I have all organized with their negatives by date. Must be someone else. ;) Oh and, speaking of kept negatives... 

 

51 minutes ago, kais said:

Those old AFD versions can go ahead and die, please and thank you.

Consider them added to the round file. 

 

Or the cloud. I always get those mixed up. :3 

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<cough> So, <cough> this is a bit late, but I hope that the comments are still of some use <cough>.

I've emailed line-by-lines back to you. I think this is certainly better than the first version, but I still had some issues.

- The opening is much sharper, I thought. Straight into the conflict and also early reveal of the political stuff;

- There are still some dips in pacing, particularly when they are talking about clothes;

- I think the arrival of the Pres at their home could be clearer and more dramatic;

- If the HP is preaching about the Ard legacy, does that not put him on the side of the And, and against the Pres?

- Something seems out of step with the number of warnings. he says no more, but he's just in fact given her one more--it seemed to me;

- I like the 'nowhere on this planet' line;

- To me, tousle is something you do to someone else's hair, not your own;

- There are line about cotton instead of rayon and I totally did not get the significance of that. It seems superfluous;

- Seemed to me that the door of the presidential skiff opened twice. This is followed by a description of the guards and their attire that really drained the tension of the scene away, for me anyway;

- It totally did not get the point of the ship's screen being set up to disguise the fact that it was rising. What was the point of that? Surely, if you're exiling someone, it really does not matter;

- The end left me a bit cold. I didn't really feel the desperation. Then again, the reality, presumably, would be that I'm sitting holding a book or reading a file, and I know that I'm only 25% of the way through, so I know I'm going too get to read what happens next.

In summary, definitely an improvement on numerous fronts, but still with some issues, imho.

<R>

 

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