Mr. Wednesday

Members
  • Content count

    34
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

13 Bridgeman

About Mr. Wednesday

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    http://www.jaredbaca.com

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Boston, MA
  • Interests
    Writing, reading, music, and good beer.
  1. The other commenters pretty much have it covered, but I'd like to just agree with Kaisa that the Chapter 1 (which actually feels more like a prologue than a first chapter) actually takes away from the impact of the Snatcher being introduced. The conversation that Jenni overhears about the Snatcher is very well done and builds nicely to the last line of the chapter, but the tension is undercut by the fact that we already have a picture of the Snatcher as a sympathetic character. Maybe in the grand scheme of things it'll work for your story to sacrifice tension for the sake of introducing him in the prologue, but after the first reading I have to say that in my opinion it would be much more effective if you switched to the Snatcher's POV in the woods after the scene with uncle Jon. In that case we would have an idea of who he is, so it would be less disorienting, and he would be far more compelling because we already know that he is feared and (presumably) misunderstood.
  2. -I love the beginning of this chapter. The giant’s footprint is a really strong visual hook into the story, and I like how you personify it and say that it feels as if it might vanish into the trees. It really establishes tension. I also like how it establishes character conflict right off the bat, with Willow knowing what she should do and deliberately doing the opposite. -The line “The thought of an enraged giant bursting through the trees seemed completely at odds with the peaceful late morning atmosphere” feels slightly spoon-fed. I think you can establish that contrast without coming right out and saying it. -Saying that it felt like she was dipping her hand into another world seems a little too abstract compared to the concrete sensory description leading up to it. What exactly makes it feel like she’s dipping her hand into another world? It’s a cool idea, it just jumps out as being very abstract compared to everything else. -“A fresh cascade of shivers washed over Willow’s skin” This line feels too similar to the opening line of the chapter. The verb is different (“rippled” vs. “washed”) but repeating “shivers” and “over Willow’s skin” still draws attention to itself. -The use of the phrase “God willing” has a lot of implications about her culture and religion, and I’m not exactly sure what to take from it. It seems like the time period is medieval or perhaps earlier, with use of spears and bows and the mention of “elders” giving it an almost tribal feel, and there is definitely an element of mysticism. “God” (with a capital G), however, implies that they are possibly Judeo-Christians, which seems like it comes with a lot of historical implications. If that’s not your intention, and this is actually a fictional religion, then you may want to use a name other than “God”. Either way, their religion seems like it would play an important role if it has seeped into their everyday vernacular, and I think you need to clarify whether or not it’s a fictional religion or a historically accurate one. -“The slope leveled out into a wide wield of wheat and barley, dotted and there with dark green Barrows…” This sentence has some typos. Should “wield” be “field”? Also, I think it should say “dotted here and there”. Easy thing to catch on a second pass, but I thought I’d just point it out. -Like some of the others, I have a problem with the introduction of Willow’s metamorphosis. It muddies the character viewpoint, when it should be doing just the opposite. When you first mention it, you say “as if her body were undergoing some slight metamorphosis”, and later establish that her body does in fact undergo a metamorphosis. Is this something that has always happened to her? It kind of seems like that would be the case, considering that she is obviously different from the others and yet has spent her entire life in the village. So if this is something she knows about herself, regardless of whether or not she really understands what it means, then it is something she should expect and possibly even have a name for. We as the reader should understand right off the bat that this is something very real that happens to her, and not just a vague feeling. -“In an hour or so her body would have undergone the subtle metamorphosis…” I think it should be “would undergo” instead of “would have undergone”. The latter implies that something has interrupted it or prevented it from happening. -“…a pair of old women who smiled at Willow as she passed, one of whom smiled at Willow while she passed, while the other threw her a look of faint mistrust.” Do they both smile, or does one smile and one scowl? I think the first phrase is in there by mistake. -I really like that Willow has a difficulty with written language. Whether or not this proves to be a major part of the story, it’s a nice weakness that sets her character apart even further and acts as a barrier between her and something that her culture deems important. -As soon as she enters the village, we lose the sense of urgency concerning the footprint. It’s understandable that she’d be distracted, but it makes us question how important it actually is. I think one line of narration about Willow remembering the footprint or thinking about how she has to find Myra would keep it at the forefront. -Overall I’m getting a strong sense of character and conflict from this excerpt. The problem areas seem to be mostly with the world building. The writing is very strong, though, and the voice is definitely there. The imagery is very strong as well, and I especially like the addition of the Barrows. I’ve really enjoyed this story since its first draft. Nice job!
  3. Thanks guys! I have one question for the both of you…if you had read the first three chapters in succession, as opposed to reading them almost two months apart, would Molly's age at the beginning of chapter 3 have been more clear? In chapter one Julia essentially says that Molly ceased to exist at the age of 16, so I was hoping that when the reader saw her name that they would picture her as a teenager. If not, then I suppose I'll have to figure out a way to mention it at some point in chapter 3. I was hoping to get away with the maid and butler dialogue in this scene since it's something of a dream world, and therefore their conversation really is happening entirely for Molly's benefit and not just the reader's, but I'll probably still have to tweak it to make it less obvious. Also, the organ grinder thing was a nice catch. I kind of jumbled the two ideas together without realizing! "Squeezebox" is a colloquial term for an accordion, however, so at least I haven't completely put my musical roots to shame on that one.
  4. Thanks Mandamon! Yeah, I knew this chapter would be disorienting after the previous two. I'm really hoping that it's a side-effect of the serial format rather than a major problem with the writing. My alpha readers who got the whole book were definitely scratching their head for the first several chapters, wondering if Molly's time in Mystic's Haven was a dream or a flashback, but they all said that they were invested enough in both stories that their confusion wasn't a major deal-breaker. Each of their comments essentially boiled down to "I have no idea how these two stories are connected, but I really like reading both of them so I guess I'll just wait and figure it out." With this format, I supposed that's the best I can hope for. Anyway, thanks again!
  5. Pg. 1 "Gemeti seemed to have no problem with it" struck me as kind of a modern and casual phrase. It pulled me out of the story. You might consider saying something more along the lines of "Gemeti seemed not to mind". It's subtle, but it jumped out at me. Pg. 2 The passage in which Gemeti mentions the black hairs and the fruit tastings is a bit awkward. I like the innuendo, but for some reason the phrasing comes off as slightly clumsy, particularly the line "bring out the passionate this time of year". I like the idea though, it adds a very hedonistic flavor to the cherry festival. Pg. 2 When describing the food sculptures on the table, it seems backwards that the vegetables should be in the shape of animals and the meat in the shape of gardens. Was that intentional? It just seems like a strange choice. Pg. 4 The phrase "Amilanu moved the nobles aside with his bulk or a few words." seems unnecessary since you already mentioned how he was parting the crowd with his size and his domineering presence. Pg.5 I really like the difference in viewpoint and tone after the break. It is very clear that Belili has a different experience of the city, and that carries over to how she views the festival. It's a simple but very effective use of having two characters seeing the same environment and noticing different things about it. Great amping up of tension when Belili is brought before the Dyad. Overall I really like the tone of this chapter. I don't know quite how to describe it, but it seems very pagan and overindulgent. I like that it feels as if their merriment could turn into violence at any moment.
  6. Chapter 1 After attending the funeral of her beloved psychiatrist, Julia opens up to her husband about the tragedies in her past in more detail than ever before. She shows him the journal that Dr. Foster gave her after her parents were killed, which contains a series of drawings. The drawings all focus on a single theme: the circus she attended the night of the murders. She also tells her husband for the first time that her birth name is not actually Julia, but Molly, and that she started going by her middle name after losing her parents. After the conversation with her husband, Julia pays a small personal tribute to Dr. Foster’s memory by dedicating her unfinished cello concerto to him. Chapter 2 Four years after the death of her mentor, Julia’s life has changed significantly. Whether this is due to his death or whether something else has happened is unclear, but she has become a ghost of her former self. She has lost her job and all of her private music students, and she and Christopher have drifted apart entirely. Her only solace has been her fascination with the boy next door, Jeffrey, who is being abused by his alcoholic mother. Julia forms a silent kinship with the boy as she watches him from the other side of the garden fence. She hasn’t been able to summon the courage to come to his aid yet, however, and can only sit by and watch as his mother berates and humiliates him.
  7. This was a really solid chapter. The writing was very transparent, to the point where I was reading it like a book and not like a word document, if that makes sense. That rarely happens around here since we're specifically setting out to critique something, but in this case I just felt like I was reading one of the Mistborn books. I loved the line "The lie began to unfold from her tongue, taking on a life of its own. Her face leapt to obey her story, creating the right expression to go with her words." I honestly wish I had more to say, but his chapter is very well done. It's short and sweet, giving us the perspectives of both sisters and moving their stories along nicely. Keep it up!
  8. Hey all, I would love to get back into the game next Monday (6/22) if there's room. I'm going to catch up on as much feedback as possible between now and then!
  9. I'm trying to jump back into things after a month off, so a lot of my comments come from reading chapters 2-5 all in one week. The story is really good, and I can tell by how polished your first chapter was that once you do some revisions on the rest of the book it will be in really good shape. Overall comments: -I'm confused about the romantic subplot. I am reading these chapters straight through, and yet I feel like I'm missing bits and pieces. This is in line with Robinski's comment about the abundance of character names, and I agree with him. -As much as I like the detail you include about Willow's day-to-day responsibilities, those sections, particularly in Chapter 3, border on telling instead of showing. I could do with fewer tasks overall, and showing her attend to them in the present rather than listing them out to show the passage of time. -The discovery of the black mark on her chest definitely shouldn't be brushed off as something that can wait until morning. I suspect that no matter how exhausted she was, that should have jolted her awake. It's a pretty big development. The same goes for her remembering it in the morning. She kind of goes through several other things in her mind before she remembers the mark. -I agree that she takes too long to come to the conclusion that she should heal Myra in the forest. That should be the first thing that comes to mind if she had already spent so much time thinking about it prior to that interaction. These little questions about Willow's thought process and motivation are beginning to weaken her as a character, whereas in the first chapter she was very believable and sympathetic. -I'm unclear about the religion. I think the idea of dropping the reader into this culture and not explaining things right off the bat is a good method, it certainly avoids info dumping, but at this point it's giving me the impression that I missed something along the way which weakens my faith in the story itself. -In general, I get the impression that you're making a lot of things up as you go, which is fine for a first draft, but it's a little hard to follow as alpha readers. Like I mentioned before, this week I read chapters 2-5 all in one sitting and I still felt as if I had somehow missed several important details. -There is no description of the vora other than the fact that it's vicious and has a skeletal head. By default I pictured something reptilian, along the lines of a dragon or a dinosaur, but I'm pretty sure there was nothing in the story to support that image. The action works well, and the tension between Willow and the townspeople is very well done, but without a better picture of what's happening the scene loses some of its effectiveness. -"For once in her life, there was she could do to help." This chapter is full of typos and errors, which I know you'll catch on your revision, but this one in particular stuck out to me as missing a pretty crucial word. Is it "nothing" or "something"?? -Pg. 10 you repeat the phrase "crashing wind" -Overall, nice work, but I agree with Mandamon that we'll be able to give more helpful feedback on something that isn't a first draft. Keep up the good work!
  10. Thanks Robinski! As I'm sure you can gather from the conversations above, I am readily admitting defeat as far as the first chapter is concerned. I'm thinking of replacing it with a shorter prologue that outlines the sketchbook and the name change, while nixing the funeral entirely. My question to all of you is this: If I eliminate the funeral and instead have a short prologue that introduces the circus imagery (which I still believe is crucial), and then go straight into the backyard scene with Julia and Jeffrey, will it help clear up some of the confusion and time lapse issues? The first big hook/question in the story should be "what's wrong with Julia?" and I realize now that the funeral provides a false answer to that question.
  11. Thanks for the comments @rdpulfer! I think the story would better overall if I started with a short prologue and then made what is now chapter 2 into chapter 1. Julia being listless and depressed and developing a motherly fascination for Jeffrey is one of the central conflicts of the story. I think the general consensus is that the sooner I get to that, the better. The POV shift has always troubled me, and I'll probably just end up cutting it. I wrote this chapter before I fully understood POV, and I fell into the trap of thinking "cinematically", which is a trap I think we all fall into from time to time. I liked the idea of "panning out" and showing Jeffrey at the end of the section, but I agree that it is a bit out of place. The next chapter begins with Molly (hence the need to establish the name change early on) wandering through what we soon realize is a dream world, which establishes our second major story arc. The book essentially has two stories that run parallel to one another and (spoiler alert) ultimately converge at the end. The first is the story of Julia and Jeffrey, and the second is of Molly making her way through an Oz-like fantasy world where she is being hunted by gypsies and carnival freaks.
  12. Thanks for the feedback Mandamon! I'm beginning to realize that my problem is really that first chapter. It sets certain expectations that I did not intend to set. I know that I'm not supposed to explain my writing, but just so that it's not overly confusing going forward, I would like to bend the rules and explain a few things. The plot points I wanted to establish in chapter 1 are Julia's name change, the existence of the notebook and her obsession with the circus, and how influential Dr. Foster was after the death of her parents. When we jump ahead four years, it is supposed to be clear that something has happened to Julia that has derailed her, but we are not supposed to know what that is. The events of the preceding four years are revealed gradually throughout the book. I realize now that by opening with a funeral, I imply that Dr. Foster's death is the reason for her depression, but that is not be the case. I liked opening with the funeral because it allowed me to foreshadow events that come later in the book, but it looks now as if it's just too confusing. I might just cut the funeral scene in the beginning and come up with a different way to introduce the name change and the sketchbook. The story really revolves around Julia's fascination with the circus and her relationship with Jeffrey, the little boy next door.
  13. -I really like this chapter. The switch in viewpoints immediately gives it a nice epic scope. I'm really interested to see how the new aerland affects the world beyond Pen and Dev. The writing flows nicely, and for the most part I was actually so immersed in the story that I didn't notice the structure or technique overall, which as far as I'm concerned is a good thing. -Pg. 3 One thing I did notice is that the "which" vs. "that" problem came up again. "…but the few which remained all craned their necks to watch the two as they entered" should be "the few that remained". Basically, if it isn't preceded by a comma, it should be "that". You all can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that one. and again below: Pg. 5 "…the only kind which men like this respond to". -"Lianye pushed open the rickety old door, wincing as the rusted hinges squealed" I really like this description, especially the fact that you described the sound of the door. -Pg. 5 "…and the thug was confused to see determination burning within her eyes" I feel like this is a slight break in POV. Lianye wouldn't necessarily know the thug was confused unless you conveyed it through his facial expressions or body language. -Like I said above, I'm a big fan of the way you switched viewpoints, and I like that you did it so early on. I feel a strong contrast between the characters in this chapter and those in the first. -My only other comment is that the sentences tend to run a little long during the action sequence, and in several places I felt that they were slowing down the momentum.
  14. Despite losing her parents in a grisly double homicide at the age of 16, Julia Campbell has managed to create a life for herself that is, by all accounts, normal. She has a beautiful house in the suburbs, a budding career as a music professor, and a husband who adores her. It is only after she attends the funeral of her beloved psychiatrist and mentor, Dr. Foster, that she begins to realize that her grief may not be completely behind her. After the funeral, Julia shows her husband Christopher a sketchbook filled with drawings that she did in order to help her cope with parents’ murders. They all focus on a single theme: the circus. She explains that on the night her parents were killed, the three of them attended a circus in downtown Boston. In the wake of the horrors that followed, the mystical images she had witnessed in the Big Top would come to represent the final moments of her childhood. She has clung to them desperately and built upon them over the years, crafting a world within the pages of her sketchbook that is entirely her own, a safe haven where she can escape her grief. Christopher notices that the sketchbook bears the name Molly Hayes, and Julia confesses to him that her birth name was in fact Molly, and that she changed it in an attempt to start anew. Chapter 2 begins four years after Dr. Foster's funeral.
  15. Very nice! I made some notes below that are even more detailed than usual. I hope they're helpful. -This scene flowed nicely. As I said two weeks ago, I like the tone. Blacklake's thoughts seem somewhat disjointed and frantic. My only concern is that this sequence is quite similar to the one from two weeks ago, with Blacklake stalking frantically through the streets, describing them one by one, and noticing a lot of dark trees. The street names and the trees are a bit much, as others have pointed out, but I'm more concerned with the similarity to the earlier chapter. -Sabine's appearance breaks it up nicely and adds a new dimension to the plot. -Pg. 2 "Burt also…knew nothing about" these two sentences feel awkward and have a few typos. -Pg. 2 "It was too easy to be drawn into opening up to everything around him" This feels clunky. Maybe find a single verb to replace "opening up" so that it doesn't feel like you have so many prepositions. -I love the phrase "fair skin pinked by the heat of the common room" -Pg. 7 I think "monolog" is a bit of a strong word for what Sabine just said. In the flow of the scene, it doesn't feel like she's said all that much. She makes a much longer monologue at the end of this chapter. -Pg. 7 The phrase "his mind slowed to a glacial rumble by her glowing presence" feels strangely dissonant to me. I get what you mean, and I love both of those words, but for some reason they seem to conflict with each other. To me glacial implies cold and frozen, in addition to being slow, whereas glowing, and later "close to her flame" implies heat. It's subtle, but there's just some slight cognitive dissonance going on here between those two images. Nitpicky, I know. -Pg. 7 "Long ago, Rutland Blacklake mastered the art of not being abhorred by Sabine's antics." I may be wrong, but I don't think "abhorred" is the correct word here. He abhors her actions, not the other way around. (Or in this case, he doesn't abhor her actions, but still.) -Pg. 8 "His thoughts could not disguise the acid the laced them and he did not attempt to." This is awkward. "The" should be "that", but beyond that I think the sentence would read more smoothly if you referenced him not being able to disguise the acid in his thoughts, rather than his thoughts trying to disguise the acid in themselves. -Pg. 8 "It seemed that she had already lost interest in that subject…" I feel like this happens rather quickly. She hasn't been talking for very long, and she didn't sound remotely bored when she gave that impassioned "use your power to claim what's yours" statement just a few lines before that. -Pg. 9 "Soulless undoubtedly, and yet not listless like shades or spectres, but released from the mores that defined humanity (Sabine would say bound)." I really like this. It's just dramatic enough without being over the top. -The entire next paragraph, beginning with "Was she the inevitable result" is really nicely done. It's a strong moment of inner conflict without becoming melodramatic. -Pg. 10 "God" should be capitalized, unless Blacklake's a secret pagan. -Pg. 10 In contrast to my earlier praise, the paragraph that begins "Was forgiveness essential to being a human being?" does start to get a little naval-gazey. It's an important moral development, but it comes at a point where there has already been a lot of philosophizing and reflection on Blacklake's part. Maybe trim some of the earlier stuff so that this has more impact.