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Mandamon

20180219 - The Society of Two Houses - Part 1v2 - 4800 words - Mandamon

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Hello again!
This is a resubmit of the first section of the story, trying to fix the problems you all found. This ends at the same place as last time, so it's again mid-chapter and sort of abrupt.

What I'm mainly looking for is:

--Connection with the main character (emotion, description, etc)
--Pace keeps up through the section
--satisfactory explanation (or enough for now) for the Society and why it exists
--whether I successfully removed the infodumping
--is there enough challenge now for the MC?
--would you classify this as mystery, or suspense?


Anything else is also welcome!

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Overall, good improvement! I am connecting with the main character much more in this one. I don't know that there's more challenge, but he does seem to earn his discoveries a bit better, so I'm willing to go along with it. I actually felt like there was a bit more infodumping, but it was better incorporated, so I minded it less. It might be my foreknowledge, but it still feels like a suspense rather than a mystery. I'm not feeling duped anymore, though, so again, I'm fine with it.  The story probably could still benefit from another pass or two to just tighten in it general, but this is much better than it had been.

 

As I go:

Header text already makes more sense, coming from Mo, than it did before. Off to a good start!

"The Speaker had been an E" -- was? Nitpick, sorry. But he presumably didn't change species on death, so wouldn't he still be an E? 

He says he's been near violent death so he's cool with it, but then two lines later he's being grateful for uni dissection classes or else he'd not be able to handle it. I kind of think that the violent death would obviate the need to mention the uni classes...

The information about the society and the geas comes out more naturally now, and I like that there's a mention of Mo's paranoia early on to seed it for later. I feel like it's a bit longish for an aside early on though. Maybe only a little bit of trimming? 

"This murdered Speaker was our façade" -- would have been? Certainly he's not anymore: he's a corpse. 

lol'd at the unknown unknowns. I do feel like the society is better-defined now

Oh, good. Thanks for the lampshade on his implication in the murder. 

The rest seems to go similarly to the first version, but with better flow. 

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I felt like this opening was much stronger. I also connected with the main character more and was happy to see that he has more of a personality here. The scene with the secretary had a nice tension to it and I liked the added conflict as M investigated. The magic system was described even better here and I didn't feel as lost as I did the first time.

I agree with industrialistDragon over the better flow and the other points she mentioned. The society makes more sense now, and the reasons for it being hidden.

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Getting in just under the wire here...

Overall

Strong start, but still a bit too long in the office, I think. Purpose and through line were much better established this time around, and I liked getting the extra info on what the titles mean and the bits of worldbuilding. I think it probably needs another pass or two for tightening, but it's much better than last time!

Your Questions

On 2/19/2018 at 3:39 AM, Mandamon said:

--Connection with the main character (emotion, description, etc)
--Pace keeps up through the section
--satisfactory explanation (or enough for now) for the Society and why it exists
--whether I successfully removed the infodumping
--is there enough challenge now for the MC?
--would you classify this as mystery, or suspense?

I am not connecting to M, but I now understand his motivations a lot better. I don't know if I necessarily need to connect with him in chapter one, rather, I just need to find him interesting, which I do. Pace, as I noted below, lags in the room, but picks up once M leaves. Explanations were a lot better, and the worldbuilding seemed more concrete this time. Challenge and stakes are both better, and stakes much more clearly defined. Right now it reads like a mystery, but I could see it skimming into suspense if you build it right!

How did con sales go? Tell us all the details!

 

As I go

- Really strong opening paragraph!

- page one: ta-ble? Was this purposeful? Same with page two 'be-fore' and on page six: 'en-gagement' and 'develop-ment'. Since I just found another on page ten I'm assuming these were done on purpose?

- page three: the why of M doing the investigation is a lot clearer to me now. I feel like there is more purpose this time around

- page five: so I know what a System-B is from reading the series, but I don't think they've been described enough in this chapter for a new reader. Since they're the crux of the investigation, you might need a bit more on them and their importance

- page seven: while I'm much more invested this time around, I'm starting to get bored here. But I think this is more to do with the mystery style of writing. I've never been a big fan of Sherlock Holmes or mysteries, so this may be just more of a taste thing than anything else.

- It picks back up again around page twelve, when M leaves the room and starts interacting with people

- page fifteen: no genitals at all, or just no external genitals? Do they reproduce through budding?

 

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9 hours ago, kais said:

page one: ta-ble? Was this purposeful? Same with page two 'be-fore' and on page six: 'en-gagement' and 'develop-ment'. Since I just found another on page ten I'm assuming these were done on purpose?

Shoot. Forgot to take these out. They're hyphens from the book format I write in...

9 hours ago, kais said:

page fifteen: no genitals at all, or just no external genitals? Do they reproduce through budding?

through budding!

Sounds like this is getting to where it needs to be, with another pass. Thanks @kais!

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Glad to be reading this again. I don’t think I'm very good at going over things again, I tend to feel kind of closed off from it, but the first few lines of this version, to me, are much stronger than the previous draft so, instantly, I'm glad to be reading this, and I'm feeling more engaged :) 

Also, since you sent Word, I'm doing LBLs; I hope that’s okay. So, my comments here might be a bit thinner than usual.

  • Much stronger first line.
  • How does Man know he couldn’t have suffocated?
  • I like the time factor, but I didn’t understand why the speaker would not have had time to suffocate until the line about the secretary. I wonder if that could be clarified.
  • I really like the new notion of a little light larceny for the greater good. I think it makes the secrecy of the society more justified if there is something that might be criminal activity going on. This is strongly reinforced later with the reference to exploiting indiscretions of Speakers.
  • I like how you've underlined his decision to investigate. Neatly done, and completely clear.
  • Excellent line about the bile. I'm getting a much clearer feeling for Mandamon's motivations and his character.
  • I think the description of how Man’s abilities apply and how he uses them is much stronger than the first go-around. This really convinces me and pulls me in.
  • I feel like Man would have stopped the look of surprise on the eyes much sooner, unless he didn’t really approach the body until now, although I feel like he has.
  • Introducing the intern provides much greater tension. Excellent move. I don’t think she was there before, was she? (Moot question: moving on…)
  • I found the part about the chair unclear. Is he using the symphony to wedge the chair under the door handle? Surely the secretary will hear the chair scraping and get suspicious. Ah… I see it is. I struggled a little to believe that the symphony could do this. That’s potential, right?
  • I like the degree to which Man is incriminating himself, it makes for more tension as he puts himself more and more in a position to be the prime suspect, by wedging the door, for example. Yes, these stakes are much, much better.
  • I think whoever killed him took it.” – I’m just feeling the stake so much more this time around. Good job.
  • Why did Man leave the door open? I hate when people on TV never close doors!! And it's not always to let the camera man through.
  • Surely the answer to Moor’s question about coming there first is ‘yes’, but Man answers in the negative.
  • My mentor’s paranoia when dealing with the Society knew no bounds—warranted, in this case. I had absorbed some of those fears in the last half cycle.” – This is lovely writing. Really nicely phrased, and puts us into Man's mind.
  • The GA must be protected from, hm, dangers it does not realize. As no others take up that mantle, it always falls to the Society” – If the dangers are unknown, how could anyone else take up the mantle?

Yes, definitely. I think this is a big step forward. I really can see the improvement, increased tension, better pacing, etc. Nice work. I felt like the last two pages or so were a bit cluttered. I think Moor’s dialogue, and Man’s response in thought could be refined.

I will send LBLs separately, but I’m really keen to see this all finished. I will press on to this week’s submission now!

<R>

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Oh, and specifics:

--Connection with the main character (emotion, description, etc) - much better, imo.
--Pace keeps up through the section - yes, although it does slow a bit at the end, last couple of pages, for me.
--satisfactory explanation (or enough for now) for the Society and why it exists - Okay. Certainly before there was more detail. I very much licked how the Society seems more shady in this new version.
--whether I successfully removed the infodumping - yes, I still have it in my mind though, so it's hard to tell whether what remains is enough info on the society. I think you've done well in summarising the society, but I wonder if there is enough. Not sure I have enough distance to be certain.
--is there enough challenge now for the MC? - yes, more so than before, I think, because you've shown him misdirecting and concealing. I hope he thinks about that as we go forward, and is conscious about (seeming to) run foul of the law.
--would you classify this as mystery, or suspense? - I'm getting some of both, but it seems more in thriller territory now. I think that's fine. Sherlock, for example, if basically a thriller half the time, in my view.

:) 

 

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Just realized I didn't reply to @industrialistDragon and @Truthweaver. Apologies!

On 2/19/2018 at 8:57 PM, industrialistDragon said:

He says he's been near violent death so he's cool with it, but then two lines later he's being grateful for uni dissection classes or else he'd not be able to handle it. I kind of think that the violent death would obviate the need to mention the uni classes...

Good point. I'll mess this this to make it sound better.

On 2/20/2018 at 9:14 AM, Truthweaver said:

The magic system was described even better here and I didn't feel as lost as I did the first time.

Glad this read better. This is the fourth story, so I feel like readers may have encountered the magic by this point, but always good for new readers to pick it up as well.

34 minutes ago, Robinski said:

I found the part about the chair unclear. Is he using the symphony to wedge the chair under the door handle? Surely the secretary will hear the chair scraping and get suspicious. Ah… I see it is. I struggled a little to believe that the symphony could do this. That’s potential, right?

Yes--this is Potential: technically changing the kinetic energy of the chair falling into potential, so that it moves upwards and wedges under the handle. I wasn't completely satisfied when writing this, so I'll have to massage it so it makes more sense.

Also, yes, the intern is new.

Thanks @Robinski, and looking forward to the LBLs--they always help me catch stuff.

Sounds like this in on the right track, so I feel better about skipping over the intervening chapters to get to the new stuff.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

so that it moves upwards and wedges under the handle

Ooooh, this sounds rather like time travel.

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33 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Ooooh, this sounds rather like time travel.

In a sense..I mean it's reversing a reaction that should be irreversible, so going against entropy... ;-)

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

In a sense..I mean it's reversing a reaction that should be irreversible, so going against entropy... ;-)

Which is just awesome. We're actually heading towards this being my favourite D'verse story :o 

No pressure...

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3 hours ago, Robinski said:

No pressure...

I will attempt not to disappoint!

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