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Mandamon

20180312 - The Society of Two Houses - Part 6 - 3258 words - Mandamon

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6th Submission:
NOTE: This is half a section again, so a bit of an abrupt stop.


Our story so far:
M finds the body of the Speaker when arranging a time to present his new invention. The Speaker had been in possession of a list of members of the secret society M belongs to. He tells the head of the Society, who confers with the record keeper for the society. The head explains about the history of the Society and how it will probably be shut down if word gets out. M needs to find the killer and the list.

M talks to his two colleagues, who work together closely on the technical details of the automatons they are designing. One goes with M to talk to two other members whose names were on the top of the list. Both have a means for getting around the Society's geas that keeps people from talking, but neither seems to have motive for the murder. M and his colleague go back to the record keeper, who they find lying in a pool of blood.

M and G investigate the second murder, find some strange things that don't add up, and go to Moort again. They tell them about what happened, but then a System Beast goes crazy and screaming starts. M and G rush to the workshop and fight to shut down their creations, and save K. Once everything calms down, they return to find the record keeper's body gone. M makes the connection between the murder weapon and harmonic effects he was studying, then finds an old, broken prototype gone from his room. It's the same one that caused the explosion that killed his parents and mentor.

Let me know what you think!

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Half chapter. Check.

Overall

Sentence wise and such, it's just fine. I had a hard time in the middle, and felt like everything was dragging, but M seeing his childhood home reinvested me. For me, a reader outside this genre, I think I need more touchstones to stay interested. But a mystery reader might not. I am unsure what that group looks for in a book. I thought the half chapter ended on a good beat, and I would definitely keep reading!

 

As I go

- kicker: there's a short here, somewhere. Separating children from families must encourage families to hide their gifted kids. I don't care how well thought of magi are, I'd never consent to having my kid taken from me before they were college age (well, maybe a little earlier, if puberty was rough...)

- page two: do we ever run into a pixie who isn't mischievous or irritating? I can't remember

- page seven: this may be my unfamiliarity with the mystery genre, but I'm not getting a lot of tension through here. I feel like we're on a journey where I'm being fed information, but I've lost the stakes and buy-in. This could also just be WRS

- page nine: engaged again, with M's memories

- wait, how long ago did his family die? I feel like lawn divots repair themselves within several weeks, don't they?

- still invested here by the end

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@kais Thanks for the comments and notes on tension. Very helpful for pacing!

 

12 hours ago, kais said:

I think I need more touchstones to stay interested. But a mystery reader might not.

Yeah--I'm not sure of the balance of character/plot here. I actually put more character in than I originally intended, because it just didn't feel right.

12 hours ago, kais said:

kicker: there's a short here, somewhere. Separating children from families must encourage families to hide their gifted kids.

Definitely. This sort of came out as I was writing it, but the more I thought of it, the more it fits in with the rest of the world.

12 hours ago, kais said:

do we ever run into a pixie who isn't mischievous or irritating? I can't remember

There's only been two, really, so far. So not yet...

 

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Ooh, ooh: next episode…

  • Love the title.
  • What kind of separating force is that? Unclear if it’s human intervention, or the symphony driving a wedge.
  • Not sure I follow how maji are set above others by this arrangement. Also, I don’t think you need ‘also’ after “both insulates” as ‘both’ is doing that job.
  • Would it not be the social impact of the symphony?
  • a promise of guilt” – ‘accusation’?
  • especially to for an inquisitive Pixie
  • destruction like such as the resonator had caused” – this sounded like present to me, which sounded odd, especially after the lead in.
  • Her furry fingers” – you’ve said ‘paws’, but paws don’t have fingers, surely?
  • Both of us We searched the workshop” – over wordy, I thought.
  • I don’t see the connection with removing A’s body and the preceding thought.
  • That’s the lead we’ve been missing the whole time.” – What is? I don’t think the actual lead is clear. Is it K’s involvement? The involvement of another?
  • adjust some of the gearing to process a ‘track’ command” – this is a beast of burden, why would it have such a sensitive olfactory system that it can do the job of a bloodhound? Also, can they not just follow the blood spots themselves?
  • they were Systems created of by the Houses of Potential and Power” – they’ve not made of the houses, surely.
  • She still hasn’t come back” – maid-and-butler, actually not that, just really obvious and unworthy of comment.
  • Sidebar into how dirty M’s clothes are was mildly irritating.
  • her she tugging her bandolier” – I'm pretty sure.
  • It’s a bit wordy around here, with statements of the obvious that easily can be cut to maintain interest and momentum. First(?) edit though, I appreciate.
  • on hoof pawing” – typo
  • The bit about the cloaking system fell flat for me. There’s potential for a critical reveal here, and shock that the mention can be seen by passers-by, but I feel that it’s lost in unnecessary comments about the system’s origin, and some rather flat dialogue.
  • Yeah, this whole thing with the sphere is treated like an intellectual exercise. I really want some urgency here; like it’s not a scientific puzzle but a practical disaster and threat to the society. At this stage, the stakes need to be escalating. For me, this is things getting worse, but I don’t feel it at all. Surely it’s not just a couple of neighbours who can see the house, but foot traffic on the street, who will start to spread news around the Imp; people will come and investigate, the Soc will be uncovered. Disaster!! Panic!! Urgency!!
  • when less people were about” – FEWER!!!!! :angry:;) 
  • Hopefully the SB can find something” – I say again, some of the dialogue is pretty boring (low hanging fruit), when it should be building the tension/urgency and keeping the reader engaged.
  • I walked behind the E” – hurried?
  • some powered by the notes of maji
  • holding home to rich or sprawling families, and scores of servants” – suggest. Also, scores, really? 20, 40, 60 servants? Sounds a bit lilke each house has 20 servants.
  • turned down an alley between two estates” – this feels to me like the area is slightly countrified rather than city centre—suburban if you like—to the point where this might be a lane rather than an alley. I think it’s the word ‘estate’ that gives me this impression.
  • my families possessions” – typo.
  • turned down the street with my old house” – suggest ‘towards’
  • The list of M’s memories; I feel like they are a list, and would scan better not as separate sentences, but separated by semicolons.
  • I was not one who gained comfort from close contact with others” – nice character note here.
  • It was natural to her to comfort others when needed” – already implicit.
  • rationalized my the eruption of emotion” – feels like a lot of ‘my’ close together near here.
  • It’s Pixie blood” – for me, this step is unnecessary, slowing us down. Maybe he could note it in passing, but I want higher momentum here. Personally, I would cut the whole reference to the blood here. Can they not just follow the beast?
  • high-stepped” – Huh? I must admit I thought goose-stepped.
  • Maybe I would go through that storage facility when this was over” – another nice character point.
  • Presuming this is the ending of another part, there’s really not drama, tension, excitement or mystery in this ending. Quite flat. Ending up in his parent’s former home would have been lovely symmetry, and would have packed an emotional punch. Is that not doable?

Decent chapter, but I think there are various ways to really punch it up and make it great. For me, still needs work, but I'm still feeling the arc and the through-line, but I want more from the narrative, and especially the dialogue.

Another thing, is the next one the last section? For what it is, I feel that this needs to be the conclusion, possibly with an ‘epilogue’ (not an actual epilogue). UNLESS, there is some set-piece to follow that involves destroying the spire, but for me that wasn’t the tone of the story.

<R>

(Second, that's not bad for me!! :) )

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Thanks @Robinski, especially for pointing out the pacing issues! Between you and @kais, I should be able to punch this section up a bit.

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Sidebar into how dirty M’s clothes are was mildly irritating.

Any particular reason why?

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Yeah, this whole thing with the sphere is treated like an intellectual exercise.

Agree--I got caught up in the fiddly bits. Will add in some more emotion to the discovery.

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

when less people were about” – FEWER!!!!! :angry:;)

Lol...I'm terrible at doing that. I should throw in some more just to raise your blood pressure ;-)

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Presuming this is the ending of another part, there’s really not drama, tension, excitement or mystery in this ending. Quite flat. Ending up in his parent’s former home would have been lovely symmetry, and would have packed an emotional punch. Is that not doable?

I thought of doing that, and then it ended up going a different way. Interested in what you think after reading the second half of this section!

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Another thing, is the next one the last section? For what it is, I feel that this needs to be the conclusion, possibly with an ‘epilogue’ (not an actual epilogue). UNLESS, there is some set-piece to follow that involves destroying the spire, but for me that wasn’t the tone of the story.

Um, sort of? We have the other half of this section, then the last climax section, and then an "epilogue" section, except I don't say that's what it is. Definitely interested to see what you think after reading the whole thing.

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6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Any particular reason why?

I felt the action was rolling, then suddenly we were talking about laundry. I'm meant it's not Q we're dealing with here ;) 

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Lol...I'm terrible at doing that. I should throw in some more just to raise your blood pressure ;-)

Cheeky whipper-snapper!! <cough, splutter>

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Um, sort of? We have the other half of this section, then the last climax section, and then an "epilogue" section, except I don't say that's what it is. Definitely interested to see what you think after reading the whole thing.

That's cool. Just based on pacing and components, I figured we must be nearing the end.

Still loving the story and looking forward to reading it complete and edited down the line :) 

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Well, apparently I forgot to post my reactions to the last set but they basically boiled down to what everybody else said, plus a couple lines that sort-of contradicted each other (it's been a very brain-foggy week, sorry). I'd've liked to hear more about M's tragic accident earlier, had it worked in better previously, especially as it provides a key plot point in this section and a Mcguffin in the last one.  The tidbits about his past pop up a bit too conveniently for me, even though they are by far the best part of M's character so far.  In this section M's most relatable and unique he's seemed to me thus far, and it's still not a ton. I think if i'd had more time with his background I'd feel a little more for him now that it matters. I didn't have that many pacing issues that seemed unusual to me.

 

"the combination we called an Archaeologist"  -- G is listed as a Watcher in the chapter start blurb, unless it's a different G...?

 

", when they were able to provide labor unhindered by hunger, or sleep, or lack of strength" -- so the machines will take the jobs of the hardworking servant class? ;) Is he planning on putting all those highly-trained butlers out of work? It's a good thing M isn't running for office anywhere! 

The security system hack struck me as either an extra info tidbit that was lingered over a bit too long, or a larger point that hadn't been incorporated yet. It seemed a little superfluous, but not overly so for an early draft. 


It feels like this (potential) reveal about K comes out of nowhere. Did she have a larger part in the skipped sections? Because I feel like she was barely more than a named background character from what I've read so far here, and I don't have more than a sketchy outline of her personality.  It feels awfully convenient the way she exactly matches the personality of the killer and G & M are only now realizing it. 

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4 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

"the combination we called an Archaeologist"  -- G is listed as a Watcher in the chapter start blurb, unless it's a different G...?

Ugh, no this is just fiddly in-world naming stuff. G's species have a "profession name" of sorts, which is "Watcher." "Archeologist" is her secret society two-house majus title.

5 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

so the machines will take the jobs of the hardworking servant class?

Well, they're really expensive to make, so probably not too many of them...;-)

5 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The security system hack struck me as either an extra info tidbit that was lingered over a bit too long,

Noted...I'll cut this down a bit

5 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

It feels like this (potential) reveal about K comes out of nowhere.

Hmmm..I'm hoping this is a combination of WRS and reading one section at a time. I'll have to go back and see if it's too sudden...

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