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Truthweaver

04/23/18 - The Agency, Chapter Two - 2390 words - Truthweaver

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A pretty short one this week--just a single scene from chapter two, which is also the last thing I've written in the original story. The time-travel mechanics and plot are undergoing some changes, but this scene will likely appear again in the next version, so any feedback on it is much appreciated!
 
Thanks!
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Overall, this read well. I have some comments and confusion on how the agency works in my notes.

I think my biggest problems here are:

1) Why does the agency need money if they can change time

2) Why didn't they just change what A did and fix things? No one would know, right (since time would have changed)?

3) K does an about-face on how we's treating A, from the first part to the last part.

 

Notes while reading

pg 2: "donations were the Agency’s main revenue"
--that seems odd for an agency with so much power. Surely someone's reversed time to play the slots a couple times and set up the agency?

pg 2: "It had been barbaric, chaotic, an absolute mess."
--uh-yeah! So there are other people who can change time? I wondering how the whole counry isn't completely messed up, or has ceased existing, by this point.

pg 3: "daily opportunity"
--I think we need more information on this. So law three means they limit themselves? Why not make an exception and fix everything?

pg 4: "and did as we pleased, we would be betraying the trust of the populace and reverting back to our old ways"
--ok, partially mollified. But at what point do they just say "we have a chance to save a lot of people" and do it anyway? Do regular people even know if time's been changed? Why not do it and just don't tell them?

pg 5: on the other hand, punishing A for defying a direct order makes sense. I just think the agency could also fix the mistake...

pg 7: "I was worried she was going to punish you or something.”
--well, unpaid leave is a punishment...

pg 7: "She couldn’t tell K."
--so I guess health leave is paid then. Probably need to make sure that's clear.

pg 7: "he would make a scene, and probably get himself in trouble as well"
--K is being really chatty here. It doesn't jive with how he just spent 10 minutes not talking to A.

pg 8: “You’re quiet,” 
--this as well. K seems to have forgotten he was angry.

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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

1) Why does the agency need money if they can change time

Mostly to pay their time-travelers. I'm leaning towards having the Agency charge a tax or have a mandatory tribute for its time-travel services. Still working out the kinks here...

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

2) Why didn't they just change what A did and fix things? No one would know, right (since time would have changed)?

Right. Right now I think the Agency has too much power, and I'm going to limit how they time-travel quite a bit so they can't just reverse time whenever they feel like it. It'll be more structured and less of a free-for-all, hopefully.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

3) K does an about-face on how we's treating A, from the first part to the last part.

Oops, I didn't even notice that. Will fix.

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I wondering how the whole counry isn't completely messed up, or has ceased existing, by this point.

Yeah, I see what you mean. I have a new system that I think will solve this, and keep time-travel from being so chaotic.

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Oh yay, more time travel!

Overall

This one was a bit slow, but I think with some work could really pack a punch. If you had an opportunity in chapter one to tell us about all the Horrible Things that happen when someone uses time travel more than once per day, it would raise the stakes in chapter one AND give more impact to chapter two. Please keep subbing! Time travel is always such fun.

On 4/23/2018 at 10:28 AM, Mandamon said:

I think my biggest problems here are:

1) Why does the agency need money if they can change time

2) Why didn't they just change what A did and fix things? No one would know, right (since time would have changed)?

3) K does an about-face on how we's treating A, from the first part to the last part.

I'll echo all three of these as well. 

As I go

- starting a chapter with a sparse room description isn't a great hook. Might try for something more dynamic

- the chapter really starts on page 3. The rest just seems like atmosphere and worldbuilding. For the sake of pacing and tension, you might consider working the first three pages in somewhere else, and starting on page 3

- page four: I think I need a lot more backstory on WHY they were restricted to only 1x per day reversals, for this page's impact to land well. Right now I'm just thinking... so there aren't any real repercussions, like ripping space time or anything. So yeah, why is this such a big deal?

 

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17 hours ago, kais said:

Please keep subbing! Time travel is always such fun.

Thanks, I plan to! I have a better grasp on the world building now--next step is the new plot. I hope to have something solid planned in about two weeks.

17 hours ago, kais said:

starting a chapter with a sparse room description isn't a great hook. Might try for something more dynamic

the chapter really starts on page 3. The rest just seems like atmosphere and worldbuilding.

Noted, I'll keep that in mind!

17 hours ago, kais said:

page four: I think I need a lot more backstory on WHY they were restricted to only 1x per day reversals

Yeah, I'll work on the consequences here and amp up the tension. I realize the threat (or lack of one) is very vague. I'll expound on the dangers and world building more in the first chapter.

Thanks for your comments, @kais!

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Glad to be reading Chapter 2. Sorry these comments are so late. I enjoyed this. Decent consequences for what she did. The stern boss is maybe a bit ‘low-hanging fruit’, but done well enough. My big issue is with K, who I thought behaved inconsistently during this chapter. Detailed comments follow.

  • and an utilitarian chair” – here’s an interesting one. Clearly, this follows the rules, but surely ‘an’ can’t right here. Don’t we all say ‘a utilitarian chair’ or ‘a used car’, but also ‘an uncomfortable car’? I’ve never noticed this before! OMG!!
  • There’s so many rooms here” – I know this is character dialogue, and characters are capable of having bad grammar, but still, ‘there are so many rooms’. I think this just makes the character look uneducated, if I'm honest. Yeah see, her observations does not come across as astute, because the grammar is wrong.
  • Sorry, this wasn’t supposed to be a grammar pass, but those two really stood out for me. There are other thing, but I really don’t want to lapse into line editing, which I guess isn’t very useful at this point.
  • I’m struggling a bit with the concept that the agency is mainly funded by donations. For one thing, it’s a bit curious that’s it’s not under state control, like NASA (say). Secondly, why would a state risk the potential that the president (say) could be assassinated at night and there would be no time-travel response? Thirdly, I'm surprised that citizens aren’t willing to donate when this is something that could save their life, or that or family or friends in the case of some terrible disaster. Didn’t ring true for me.
  • Another puzzler. Why would time travellers stick to these rather severe restrictions? I guess maybe that some don’t, but surely there must be some bad time travellers, or people who have no interest in serving the agency. How are the restrictions enforced? My scepticism is growing.
  • She said so aloud to K… just as D herself stepped into the room.” – the syntax here was weird to me, and I've suggested ellipsis as an alternative, to avoid having a sentence that is not a sentence (the second one, obvs).
  • Is the offence against the agency, or against the law of the land? The first seems less significant than the second.
  • D’s smile seems to greet them twice. The last sentence of the paragraph seems out of order.
  • K’s words are exceptionally toady, to the point I thought it out of character, like sort of overdone, a la Wormtongue.
  • Wait, what? The encouraging glance from K threw me. There’s something about his reactions that are inconsistent to me. He ignores her for the whole time they are waiting, then toadies up to D. Okay, he told the truth about events, but he gave A no encouragement at all on the train journey (I think), or in the room. Just felt off to me.
  •  No, K problems again. His concern now, and A’s comment about him being more loyal to her than the agency is completely off for me. If that were the case, why did he ignore her the whole time beforehand? If he was loyal to her, I think he would at least have said to her that he could not support her, because his own job would be at risk, that he would at least talk to her beforehand and try to reassure her.
  • The paragraph beginning “You're quiet.” seems out of place to me. This seems like the first thing he would say, before the explanation that she has just given. Put at the end here, it seems kind of repetitive of the exchange they have just had. I mean, she’s quiet because she’s just been made to go on leave, of course.

<R>

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

My big issue is with K, who I thought behaved inconsistently during this chapter

Yeah, I didn't even notice how inconsistently I had written his character here. I'll pin him down better, and change some of his reactions to be less "toady."

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

and an utilitarian chair” – here’s an interesting one.

I did some thinking, and it feels like it should be an "a" before the word if the "u" is pronounced as "you," so "a" here would be correct instead. Thanks for pointing that out, and for your other comments on the grammar as well!

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

I’m struggling a bit with the concept that the agency is mainly funded by donations.

I'll be changing this. I'm playing around with the idea of there being far fewer time-travelers than there are in this version, and them being hired by people instead. I'll see how it works...

Thanks for reading!

Edited by Truthweaver
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