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Mandamon

20180326 - Journey to the Top of the Nether - Part 1 - 4482 words - Mandamon

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Hello all,

This is the first part of the second novella I'm writing in the Dissolutionverse. This one is a Jules Verne style adventure, and it's a mid-grade novel, so I'm mainly looking for comments on the voice, and a few other things:

From most to least important:
1) Do you engage with the main character, or at least think a kid/teen might engage? 

2)How is the character's voice? Does it need to be more snarky? less? something else?

3) Who do you think will engage gender-wise?

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult? (also, if you have experience with YA/MG, I'd love to hear if you think this works at all)

5) problems with plot/setting, etc. (Does it fit the "Jules Verne" mold?)

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Talking about the "cloud layer" is giving me a real minecraft vibe. Is the cloud layer 127 measurement units from the bottom? :3 

I would say, honestly, that this feels a little simplistic for a MG child. It's also an awful lot of telling, despite how energetic and enthusiastic the protagonist sounds.  It also feels a bit explain-y to me. Like, why is she thinking all this basic stuff to herself? 

While MG books in general have scaled back vocabulary, sentence structure, and some less complex character motivations, this by no means makes them simplistic stories, or precludes them from having complex plots.This has the makings of a decent kid's adventure, but I think right now you're giving young readers too little credit. 

On 3/26/2018 at 5:39 AM, Mandamon said:

1) Do you engage with the main character

Honestly not that much. She's certainly energetic, but she reads like an adult's idea of an archetypal kid, and not a child in her own right. Also, she strikes me as closer to a 7-year-old than a 9-year-old or any older. 

 

On 3/26/2018 at 5:39 AM, Mandamon said:

2)How is the character's voice?

i would say, it needs to be more hers, and less gee-whiz-golly generic kid.

 

On 3/26/2018 at 5:39 AM, Mandamon said:

3) Who do you think will engage gender-wise?

Either way, right now, since the primary thing differentiating her from a boy is the pronouns used in the text. You could trade her out for Ash Ketchum or any other kid-protagonist and not really notice a change.

 

On 3/26/2018 at 5:39 AM, Mandamon said:

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult?

I could, probably, but I read MG and YA for fun pretty regularly. As-is right now and based only on one chapter, I think you'd be pushing it for adult enjoyment.

 

On 3/26/2018 at 5:39 AM, Mandamon said:

5) problems with plot/setting, etc. (Does it fit the "Jules Verne" mold?)

Error: Insufficient data.  Never read any Verne, still a noob on your universe. Sorry. 

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Thanks @industrialistDragon!

I guess I erred too much on the simplistic side, but it's certainly easier for me to scale up the difficulty than down.

I might have gotten the voice a little better later on, so I'll go back in and fill in the blanks here.

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

reads like an adult's idea of an archetypal kid, and not a child in her own right

Any specific examples or suggestions for what to change? Is it that I'm telling more than showing? Or just lack of personality?

 

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

Talking about the "cloud layer" is giving me a real minecraft vibe. Is the cloud layer 127 measurement units from the bottom? :3 

Lol, depending on your measurements, yes.

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Everything @industrialistDragon said, plus it feels painfully like an info dump as soon as you get past the telling.

Character has no traits, feels like a stand in for an adult reader who got aged down. Have you spent much time with kids? They’re freakishly smart, especially the ones librarians deal with on a regular basis/have kids that have parents who would buy them books. 

Character is genderless, not sure how effective that will be. 

Telling about family is painfully infodumpy.

Book is about the mom, the kid is just a accomplice, and that literally removes the demographic of kids who have mother challenges, which is a good half of them. 

The world/plot/side characters seem really well done.

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16 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Any specific examples or suggestions for what to change? Is it that I'm telling more than showing? Or just lack of personality?

The telling, definitely yes; the lack of personality, definitely yes; the specifics....

 

"Awesome Crystal Beetle Drill" -- cute, but I don't know any real kids who do this that aren't directly quoting a shonen anime...

"How do they reach high shelves?" -- again, a bit twee. Surely she's seen by this point how people cope with being different sizes?

". Mom said we had to ration them," -- how old is this child that she barely understands the need to ration food? Surely a kid who idolized their parent as much as she does will have read up on how to survive a camping trip. I feel like she'd be more likely to be pointing out all the ways the shortcuts experienced adults do differ from best practices she's read about than be amazed they have to take supplies to go camping.

"what Mom called " -- hero worship is fine, but apparently her mom is the only one who knows anything? again, this is just feels like an adult assuming this is what kids do. Kids are sponges for cool random factoids. they absorb them from the air, practically, and sometimes they're hardpressed to tell you where they heard it. friends, other adults, some rando on the street, schoolbooks, TV, radio, other family members, everywhere... 

"and I didn’t want to make a bad impression" -- this section actually works. :)

"approximately as big as a house" -- this feels like an outside observation, if she is an E. If she's an E, wouldn't another E just be... normal? regular? right-sized? Plus, she's already demonstrated with the stairs remark she can't understand how other-sized people work, so why is she making a comparison to something outside her experience?

"and fumbled at the knot " why can't she do this? The mom thought she could and was almost perfunctory about telling her to. This fumbling and running feels like generic kid energy, and not like someone who would be very likely to have read about ballooning knots or whatever, if she idolizes mom enough to know the type of balloon mom uses to travel in. 

"We’re really moving! I’m on an adventure with Mom!" -- this feels way more like the start of the novel than all the build up to this point. 

"people who didn’t like us" -- this is what you tell, like, a toddler. The simplistic language she uses and accepts as satisfactory explanations from the adults around her is partially what's making her seem generic. Kids pick up on when you're holding back info. I know I sure as heck did. 

"How much longer? We’ve been rising for hooooours" <_< really? ... Really. :angry:

"I thought they were part of the basket" -- again, somewhat straining credulity for a decently-aged child with as much hero worship as she has NOT noticing fuel tanks. Kids notice dang near everything. All the things adults notice and don't pay attention to anymore 'cause we've seen them for forever. It's been my experience that what kids lack is not missing that there is a hole, but more the ability to differentiate between a hole that is merely wear to a nonstructural joint no need to notice, and ZOMG A HOLE THAT IS GOING TO TEAR EVERYTHING APART COME LOOK COME LOOK IT'S REALLY COOL ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE (and also the reverse. Since that hole was unimportant, I just ignored this one too. what's the big difference?) 

the bathroom bit is also a bit twee, but probably more kid-appropriate.

"But it’s so far away" -- again, how does she not know at least the basics of how distance works? 

and also what @mrwizard70 mentioned about mom being the protagonist. N isn't really doing anything. She's just there being a fangirl and getting in the way. She's barely even reacting to what's going on around her. 

 

 

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Overall

A neat story idea, but the protagonist is too young, I think, for what you were going for. I agree too with @industrialistDragon and @mrwizard70, so I won't belabor those points. 

1) Do you engage with the main character, or at least think a kid/teen might engage? 

Good energy, and engaging, but seems more like 5-6, sometimes 7, than I think maybe what you were going for?

 

2)How is the character's voice? Does it need to be more snarky? less? something else?

I enjoy it, but you'll have to give the kid some more complex reasoning if you want to age them up.

 

3) Who do you think will engage gender-wise?

Kid has no discernible gender to me right now so... 

 

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult? (also, if you have experience with YA/MG, I'd love to hear if you think this works at all)

Possibly. Depends on pacing and plot.

 

5) problems with plot/setting, etc. (Does it fit the "Jules Verne" mold?)

I've not read Jules Verne, so I can't answer this one. Generally though I love the world and am excited to hear more about the N--ther!

 

As I go

- page one: current dialogue has the kid reading about 6, to me

- page two: mom worship is VERY 6 year old

- page four: I would put our protag at about 5 in this section

- page five: the info dumping ages the book down, too. 

- page seven: so, I like the enthusiasm, but am unsure what the protag's goals are, or the direction of this story. Also as of yet, protag hasn't done anything

- page 11: I'm wandering. Still not quite sure what the plot is, or what the kid wants

- page 12: bathroom scene is cute and seems age appropriate for what you were going for

- page 15: also like the spitting

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Thanks @kais! That helps me place where I need to age things up. I'm writing the end of it now, and I think I've aged her up a bit by the end, so I'll try to go back and replicate that at the beginning.

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:unsure: 

I like the idea. Nice to read something a bit different on here...

  • Hmm, “new surprize”… What would constitute an old surprise?
  • So, I’m assuming m/c has two moms, but there seems to be some inconsistency in distinguishing between them. I thought at first that one was going to referred to as ‘Mom’ and the other as ‘Mother’, but that does not seem to apply.
  • I’m struggling a bit with the age. My first guess was 12. Then I come to the phrase ‘with regret’, which sounds much more adult to me. I appreciate this is first draft, but this is an pretty clear issue, I think.
  • So far, I am not especially engaged by the story. For me, the voice is very young and the perspective too basic/simplistic for my taste. Also, I will stick my head above the parapet and ask are any male characters? Boys will read about female characters, see under Hunger Games, but a complete absence of male characters would be another matter, I think.
  • I want to be far up the wall by evening” – I'm confused. They’re going up in the balloon, so what does the drill have to do with anything? I’d prefer the form of the mission to be clearer by this point.
  • I'm finding this really very slow. There is a lot of learning about the world, and names, and families and the time. It’s like being in school. Bored, bored, bored. I’m going outside to play catch.
  • Turns out, ballooning is boring.” – I'm not sure the word ‘boring’ should be anywhere near this story, certainly not opening a new section. If you want the reader to identify with the character, and the character is bored… Dangerous territory.
  • I'm thinking about character sliders here, for me they are all pretty low.
  • Skipping ahead, I find another section of the story on Page 11 that starts around the theme of boredom. This is where I stop reading.

I found nothing for me in this story. I’m afraid nothing engaged me or held my interest. I cannot think of anything about the m/c that would make me want to follow the story through. For me, they are not proactive, not competent and not sympathetic.

The preponderance of references to boredom, I think, is a terrible basis for starting even one section of a story, let alone more than one. I can’t help feeling that will leach right into the readers head.

Sorry I'm so down on this, but it just does nothing for me, which is really disappointing after the heights of Society. You asked about the Jules Verne-ness. I’m not feeling it, to be honest, because I'm getting no ‘wow’ from the character, the plot or the setting. I’m not getting a sense of grandeur or adventure. I just feel I’m hearing about how bored the m/c is all the time.

This is not a fair comparison, but Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was written for kids, and… wow. I appreciate this is not your natural oeuvre, but I could not get my head around what age the character is, or who the story was for, other than that it was not for me. Really sorry, man.

Personally, I would urge you to concentrate on the sophisticated and rewarding adult fiction that you have most definitely been wowing me with for years now. In that area, I think you are going from strength to strength. I’ve said before that Society is, for me, your best story to date.

<R>

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Thanks @Robinski. That seems to tie in with what the others were saying.

However, I've been doing some more plotting this week and I think I may have a solution. I'm going to do some rewriting hopefully tomorrow and maybe get this intro working better.

Might try to re-submit next week if I can get something better by tomorrow. if not, I'll hold off. 

Now that I'm writing the end, I think this can work--I just need to set a flamethrower to the beginning.

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I have no doubts that you can do it :) 

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