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Mandamon

20180402 - Journey to the Top of the Nether - Part 1 - Lets try this again - 4346 words - Mandamon

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Part 1 v2:

I aged up the MC, and redid the personality. I'm feeling a lot better about this version, thanks to your comments. Let me know how this one reads.

Same questions as last time:

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

2)How is the character's voice?

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

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult?

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

Thanks!

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I enjoyed this a lot more than the previous version. I didn't comment because everyone had already said what I was thinking...but this version was much better.

1. I engaged with her, and my kid self would have been the same. She's interesting and her voice felt authentic. I could tell right away that she was a child, but she's more believable than previously.

2. Voice is good. I like how she's more reluctant to go on this trip, which is nice for some conflict. She reads as maybe ten or eleven to me. I like how she's at a balance between being enthusiastic about the adventure but also worried it will be boring/they'll fail. I think that's how a kid that age would think about something like this; I know I did.

3. Hmm...both? I was never picky about the gender of my main character, but it is nice to read about a female MC going off on an adventure for a change.

4. I'm an adult, and I enjoyed this! So yes. If the protagonist speaks to my inner child, and the writing isn't overly simplistic, I'll read it.

5. I had a bit of a hard time picturing the Nether. What is it, exactly? A giant box? Is it its own world or part of a larger country? Maybe some more explanation here would be nice. I haven't read Jules Verne since I was 12, so I can't say whether it fits that mold or not. If you mean as an adventure story, then definitely. I got that "adventure and exploration" vibe from it. Good opening and set up.

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Awesome! Thanks @Truthweaver, and glad it's working better.

27 minutes ago, Truthweaver said:

I had a bit of a hard time picturing the Nether.

There's some more description soon after this, and I'll try to post the next section next week, so let me know if that helps out, and if I need to bring it forward.

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This is much improved! I'm a little sad the genki vibe is almost completely missing, and to me, she's veering close to a sort of generic "spunky kid" archetype, however this version is a big improvement over the previous one! (and I'm still snickering at "cloud layer" ;) )

On 4/2/2018 at 5:46 AM, Mandamon said:

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

Much, much more. She has more of a personality and an opinion on the things that go on around her. She's still kind of reacting and commenting more than doing, but it is chapter one, so hopefully that change.

 

On 4/2/2018 at 5:46 AM, Mandamon said:

2)How is the character's voice?

Getting close to generic "children must snark" tropes for me, but it's only one chapter, so there's still time. 

On 4/2/2018 at 5:46 AM, Mandamon said:

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

Still reading fairly androgynous to me. I don't think any gender would be put off

On 4/2/2018 at 5:46 AM, Mandamon said:

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult?

Much moreso than the previous version!

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13 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Getting close to generic "children must snark" tropes for me, but it's only one chapter, so there's still time. 

 

13 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'm a little sad the genki vibe is almost completely missing,

Yeah, I think that's why I went with what I did the first time around. I wonder if I can put a little more "Sugoooiii!" in a few places, although it seems to be going in a different direction now as I do edits. I'll do another submit next week, since it seems pretty light so far.

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Better late than never?

Overall

The aging up really helped, and I really enjoyed the girl this time around. The first two pages were a little choppy still, but after that I had no issue settling into the narrative. Ready for the next part!

On 4/2/2018 at 3:46 AM, Mandamon said:

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

I do. I assume a MG reader would.

On 4/2/2018 at 3:46 AM, Mandamon said:

2)How is the character's voice?

Oooh, much better now, and more consistent.

On 4/2/2018 at 3:46 AM, Mandamon said:

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

Adventure with mom should be an easy sell for young girls, but there's no reason to think other genders wouldn't also find it appeal. The girl isn't hyper feminized either (not that there is anything wrong with that!), but with that you have a chance to appeal to more gender nonconforming kids, too.

On 4/2/2018 at 3:46 AM, Mandamon said:

4) Can you also enjoy this as an adult?

Thus far, yes. But moreso with this type of story, when I read it I envision reading it with or to my daughter. And if I can see that happening, I'll buy it, hands down.

On 4/2/2018 at 3:46 AM, Mandamon said:

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

okay with me!

As I go

- page one: I enjoy the spunk already

- page two: love the beetle pat and thoughts!

- the first two pages seemed a bit info dumpy to me, but that may be because I've read it before, too. Or rather, maid-and-butler I suppose

- page three: squishy wood? Intrigued. Tell me more!

- page 7: running much smoother now

- page 8: bit of whiplash? Wasn't our protag not keen on the adventure? Now she seems super excited to be out with mom?

- page ten: generally, 'young lady' is somewhat patronizing for anyone over the age of about 9-10. I forgot how old your protag is though, so this might be appropriate still

- page 13: I have so many thoughts and concerns about just chucking trash out of a hot air balloon...

- solid end line!

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, kais said:

- page 8: bit of whiplash? Wasn't our protag not keen on the adventure? Now she seems super excited to be out with mom?

Ugh. I'll track this down.

10 hours ago, kais said:

generally, 'young lady' is somewhat patronizing for anyone over the age of about 9-10.

Yeah, I'm still unsure on this. It might disappear.

10 hours ago, kais said:

I have so many thoughts and concerns about just chucking trash out of a hot air balloon...

Ha! yes, me too. I thought this fit better with the Victorian wasteful adventuring style...

Thanks @kais! Glad this is reading better.

Edited by Mandamon
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Quirk summary up front on the questions:

1) - Yes. Decent balance of grumpy and respectful; clinical and inquiring. I like the character, and she works sooo much better than the first version. Would a teen engage? I think so.

2) - Voice is fine, I thought. Kind of teen neutral in the sense that there is no overpowering personality trait, but that lets the reader imprint themselves on the character more easily.

3) - The voice is quite neutral gender wise so, although the character is female, it is not so much as to drive off male readers.

4) - Yes, most certainly, unlike before!! Good job turning this around.

5) - Hmm, see my detailed comments, but, in summary, I think the wonder and scale could stand to be dialled up near the start. We get into that more when they get up in the balloon, but I'm not really drawn into the wonder from the beginning.

 

I have emailed LBLs with quite a lot of comments in the Word file, but here are the highlights, duplicated from the LBLs.

"catch more to drink when it rained" - Hmm, I wonder if they can do this. How many of them are there? How much should a large creature like that drink in a day, compared to a human, which is not a small amount to start with. I'll be interested to see what tech they have to do this.

"There's no sun in the N..." - I don't buy that the teenager whose POV we are in would feel the needs to educate the reader on this stuff. I mean, it's just so boring. Like, keep up you dweeb, don't you even know about the N and lightenings? Duh!

"Mom held the vent on the burner open..." - Does the gas smell? Is the burner loud? A conventional balloon burner is, I think, from what I've seen. I'm not feeling as much in the scene as I could be. I think the description is lacking in some places, especially in terms of the other senses, and it really could ground us more in the location and the experience.

Some of the language and science around the movement of the balloon, the load it is carrying and the mechanics around the lift it generates did not ring true to me. I began to wonder how much you had researched balloon flight, but in particular, I am bothered by the weight they are carrying. The beetle must weigh an actual ton/tonne. I'm not convinced about the beetle swinging, and on the bit when they change canisters, although I think there is a great opportunity there (see detailed comments in LBLs).

"Is the LC really gone?" - Huh? This feels random, and rather contrived. I'm reading a story of Jules Verne-like adventure rather than one of mystery or intrigue, and something like this, I feel, is an unwanted distraction from the wonder and the exploration. Now I'm trying to puzzle out the significance of the reference for the story, rather than contrentrating on the wonder of flying in the balloon and seeing the Nether laid out below me. The references to Seeds could be problemtatic. Unless the reader has read Seeds, they will, I think, be confusing and distracting. There are enough of them now that they are becoming relevant to the story, and yet the reader will not understand the context. It's interesting to me having read Seeds, but I feel like it would turn off other readers who have this as a stand-alone.

"it swelled and curved" (the wall) - Which way? Confused here. If it's curving toward them, they are going to hit it. If it's curving away--where is it going? Degrees of curvature must be very subtle, because otherwise, over the considerable distances we're talking about, the wall will be significantly out of its original alignment.

I'm confused around the logistics of changing the canister, setting aside the physics of the balloon, but just the mechanics. How do they get it under the basket? Is there a hole in the floor?

I did't buy Pat not knowing what to do with the canisters. I would assume they always threw them over the side.

 

This version is like a million times more engaging than the last one. I've gone from hating to being engaged and curious. There's some real potential now, and I'm keen to get into the next part. What I expect soon is some good physical action/stakes and threat, although I think you have a great opportunity in this section, as per my suggestion in the LBLs.

Great job :) 

<R>

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Great comments as usual, @Robinski! I read through the LBLs and there's a lot of good direction. I realized about halfway through that I was missing some wonder and sense impact in the first sections, so I'll beef that up. 

I really like the idea of the balloon actively falling with the weight of the beetle, if the canister isn't pumping out heat. That will up the tension nicely!

Re: logistics of changing canisters in the balloon--that's just me not doing enough research ;-)

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