kais

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  1. If it’s in the public domain I say go for it. Not bad taste at all, and fairly commonly done.
  2. Overall Some of the best movement and tension yet in the book. I really enjoyed most of this! I think it needs some cutting and streamlining, especially all the little interludes that don't seem to help the plot. The magic learning stuff was fantastic, and the little romance interlude was well placed and a nice way to break the magic interludes apart. I'm not sure if the other stuff is necessary, and I suspect it can be broken down and stuck into other interludes without losing the feeling. As I go - pg 1: The knock on the door was echoed by I dropping the broom< -- consider, especially for first sentences, more active voice. I dropped the broom, startled, by the knock on the door. - the first interlude could probably be cut. You could start the chapter with: Today was judgement day and it would be super catching and help streamline this chapter - pg 5: It's weird to me that I, who has never done much more than be pushed along by the plot, is suddenly demanding answers after BK calls her in. It's unusually passive for BK, too. I'm not saying I mind, but that it pings me as weird - pg 8: this scene with BK is the most engaged I've ever been with this book. I love it! - pg 10: Both times she had .... <-- paragraphs like this, that rehash what we already know, just slow down the tension. I'd suggest cutting it since the story is moving at a good clip. I don't need a recap on what she is thinking - pg 10: was wrong, though. It was her fault that G died. Sn was right in the fact that she had been enjoying the palace without considering the consequences for others. Not truly. She wouldn’t be so careless in the future, because next time, it might not be spy that had accepted the risks. <-- I agree with BK, and I really hoped that I would grow a bit from their talk, or at least see how to look at things differently. - pg 11: In that world, was she a chef…or something more? LOVE THIS - pg 15: could you blend the mini-romance interlude into the family interlude? I loved the romance interlude, but now going over the same things with the family, one or the other is redundant and we are losing momentum. I'm not sure what purpose the family interlude has, even - pg 22: YAYAY more magic learning - pg 21: more random interludes. Can these be smushed into others or cut? - pg 22: that last interlude doesn't appear to have a purpose
  3. Oooh, more poetry! These were so much fun! The last one had me in tears. I feel like it needs to go on Twitter immediately! A Mariner's Heart For some reason the second stanza I don't care for. The first and third are perfect, and I see the need for the second noting the first and third. Maybe it's repetition (the sea the sea, a storm a storm)? I agree that you need something about storms there in the second to have the power of the third though. - a thousand storms she hurls at me / fiercer still than man can be <--- although likely unintentional, I like what you've done with pronouns here. The sea is a woman, fiercer than a man (using man as a single gender, not as a word to mean all people). I think it's more powerful this way, especially noting the sort of patriarchal bent of many sailors - the stanza about peace seems out of place though. What war is happening? I thought we were talking about the raging sea and yearning for home? Though the yearning for home stanza would be more powerful if we had a specific thing to yearn for. Like a lady perhaps? - 'fore death upon the land <-- oh I see. There's conflict on land so the narrator chooses the sea. I think this conflict could be brought out a bit more. You really might just need one more solid stanza to give us a bit about conflict, or even to compare land conflict to sea conflict outside of the sea being fiercer than man. Maybe the sea being fiercer than a soldier? Some kind of specific soldier? That might tie this together nicely. Jack I love the imagery in here! The pacing/rhythm seems a bit off though, or I'm not familiar with the style. Every stanza has one sentence (never the same one really) that I want to cut a syllable from (or two). It makes reading it jarring, which is in contrast to rain which I feel like is smooth and slick - you lose me with the metaphor of the distant mother. At first I thought snow but by the end I was just confused. - he comes again? He who? Weren't we just talking about a mother? - oh, so it IS snow but....mother snow and jack frost??? Hence the title Jack I assume? - wish we had the nerve.... the nerve for what? Didn't the narrator just come in out of the cold? It's almost like the narrator wants to confront mother snow/jack frost but I can't quite grasp the story - a smile to freeze upon their face....LOVE THIS - she again. I'm confused as to who the players are - I don't feel like the end fits the general narrative here. It almost seems like a personal battle, but then has a sort of moral ending to it. I'd prefer the first, as it has real spark to it (though I'm confused as to who all the players are) The Editor OMG from the first two lines I adore this already - I don't know if I care for the playin' type language in an editor. I'd expect her words to be crisp, cool, and perfect - There’ll be time enough for Tweeting / When the subbing’s done <-- I died. We weren't supposed to read The Gambler???
  4. Yup, I'm late. I...would blame the holidays but really, I'm just behind on life. Overall Some good tension in here, and nice to see I really make a decision and start interacting with the plot! Her sister is very sister-like, and I appreciated that a lot. I think the last part isn't needed and detracts a bit from the flow, but otherwise this was a pretty solid chapter. As I go - scratching dry skin is not a particularly dynamic way to start a chapter - pg 2: ahh, here's the tension Ive been wanting most of the book! Excellent! - pg 10: I appreciate the way S is speaking to her. I want to speak to I like that a lot, too - pg 10: the revolutionaries aren't....very good, are they? They know I was being a guard. They know she knows names.Why go the day she is doing guard duty? Why ram her and not try to lie? - pg 11: You did this, I. You cost him his life <-- No, he cost himself his life by trying to kill a king through the front door. Poor planning cost him his life. And since I'm not convinced BK is all that bad, I think magic-ism / Fey-ism cost him his life - I'm not sure the last little section is needed. I think the narrative is stronger without it
  5. Changing him would get you more critiques though. No one wants to read a book with as deeply unlikable a protagonist as Q. Why would we spend time critiquing when we don’t like the protagonist AND the fundamental issues are not being addressed? writing is HARD. And we have all been where you are, fighting against tearing our manuscript to shreds when we get our first really publish-level feedback. We understand. We deeply, deeply empathize. We want you to grow with us and be here long term. But those of us who HAVE been here long term, and do crits every week regardless of whether or not we sub, see a lot of the same issues over and over. Those who are really willing to listen and incorporate not just minor issues but large, structural issues, are the ones who stick around and who we like to really invest time in You are here. You are subbing. You have a completed manuscript that needs cleaning. We can help you, but only if you’re willing to let us.
  6. Welcome to RE and congrats on your first sub! Sorry I'm late on this. Holidays and all. Overall I think this needs a lot of cutting and to be fitted into one chapter with a solid arc. We have what looks like an inciting incident...sort of, but no real grip on characters or world, and no greater story arc or plot progression. This reads more like a character sketch, which is just fine of course! It just needs work to turn it into the start of book that will compel a reader into the next chapter. It's a good start as you world build and character build in your head. The next step will be taking the meat out, cutting the fat, and fitting the skeleton on a narrative frame. Good luck, and I hope to read the next version! As I go - first line: If life is great and everything is perfect, why am I reading this book? Where is the tension? The plot? Opening lines should draw you in, not make you wonder why you should bother continuing - pg 2: Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing here? Why am I eating this person <-- this would be a much better opening line! - pg 2: she's looking at herself but doesn't note her skin tone. Everyone else is orange. What color is she? - pg 3: wait, is this a prologue? Ugh. Please cut unless the next chapter directly moves from this section. Especially since our character doesn't even have a name - pg 4: It was an emptiness that made lesser beings feel small and insignificant; for higher beings it was a place to call home. <-- this makes me not like our protagonist. He seems full of himself - pg 5: he's not worries so...why should we be? No tension here as there is no sense of danger - pg 6: I do not care about this battle because I do not yet care about the MC, and I have no feel for the setting or stakes. Why dos his have a....gun? Weapon? - so....two people are protecting a ship? One who doesn't seem to be in any real danger. - are we in third omniscient here or are you POV hopping mid scene? If the second, that is not advisable. It's really confusing to the reader and doesn't let us get grounded in any character - pg 8: Space Host, Coast to Coast... - pg 9: at this point I dislike Q enough to stop reading (if I were in a bookshop, etc) - ch 1: I think this could probably be cut, too. It doesn't seem to move the narrative forward (though I don't yet know what the narrative IS) and doesn't seem to have a structural arc. We get two characters, one of whom is very unlikable and a giant Gary Stu (which I don't inherently hate, but in this particular incarnation I don't see the point) and the other looks like she might just be propping him up and making him likable through her likability. - ch2: another POV? Too many too quickly. Pick one and stick with it for a few chapters so we can get grounded in the characters - ch2 is just ch1 from another POV so again, I think it can be cut. No need to rehash events that have already happened - pg 17: “Are you gonna join us on our next job?” she asked. “What is it?” “Smuggling operation. Trying <-- this is the first time I've had any idea what the plot might be about. It's also the first time I've been moderately engaged with the characters. Smuggling tropes I enjoy, but it took too long to get here. I'd have long ago put the book aside.
  7. Like someone took a draft, shredded it, then pasted it back together with Elmer's glue while drunk I don't! I'm a pantser. I just write and see where the characters go, then cut out the pointless parts after. Ends with overwriting but it's worked for me thus far.
  8. Overall A stronger chapter than most, for sure! I think it still lacks an arc. What is I's purpose in this chapter? How does this chapter move the story forward? I feel like if the bones were pulled from this it would be the front half of a chapter, the second half then containing the plot movement we need to keep going. Same. Right now I'm rooting for TBK. He's probably the strongest character in this next to I, and he has a lot more agency than she does. When he is in a chapter, the plot moves. Thirded here. I like this too, but I think we'd need more TBK POV chapters for it. As I go - I'd cut the first sentence and lead with the second. It's stronger by far - pg 3: I was fine until we got here: “See, he had already been plotting <-- when things became an infodump - pg 6: the wandering and seeing the city lacks real punch because it doesn't drive the story forward. Suggest having I see the city as she rushes to her home. Cut it down into maybe three powerful sentences, max, to keep the narrative flowing (especially after the good, but still very sedentary, first part) - pg 7: the home interlude also lacks any strong emotional punch. A few people are missing but....it's just another stop over. I feel like we are being dragged from scene to scene to get to a plot line I can't see yet, and it frustrates me. This should be a tense chapter, with I seeing all the carnage, but the emotional punch keeps getting delayed as we go to places that should resonate and then BOOM, I bounds off again to find....I don't know what. What is her goal in this chapter? - pg 12: the bribery section is good! - final scene seems superfluous
  9. Overall Hmm. Well I think the prologue can easily go. Chapter one is both better, and too cut down. We need the significance of the sword to give us buy in to the character as he gets set up on his hero's journey. And I think we need....just more grounding in the world. What sets this world, and this hero, apart from all the others? What is unique about this story? Why should we care about this hero? As I go - pg 1: They have destroyed themselves <-- this whole paragraph is deeply melodramatic and makes it hard for me to take this seriously. - pg 2: a Hero of the Stars <-- still melodramatic, but with a Chosen One trope added on - Prologue overview: I don't think this is necessary. It's so tropishly over the top that it almost lends itself to comedy. Nothing stands out as necessary--no characters really attach themselves to me. Aside from pointing out that the book will follow a Chosen One trope, I'm not sure what it gives the story Chapter 1 - pg 2: the opening this time is too quick, I think. Let us get a bit of the inciting incident (the sword arriving), so we have the significance of the event, before people move on - the scene with the father and the woman is better now, much quicker and to the point. I think it would work well if the first section had a bit more meat to it
  10. Little late, sorry about that. Overall I'd say this chapter can likely be cut. It seems to be primarily backstory/exposition/info dump, and does not appear to have an arc or to progress the narrative. It's a good writing exercise for sure, as it helps you get a feel for the world, but it isn't engaging to read because there's nothing and no one to connect with. It may help to outline each chapter (either before or after writing) so you can see if your chapter has an arc to it (fitting the events to a beginning, middle, end arc). If you can't do it, or there isn't actual plot movement in a chapter, it's either not a complete chapter, or it just needs to be cut. Same As I go - pg 1: scientists is not a proper noun - pg 1 is all info dump and not a strong way to start a chapter. I'd suggest cutting and trying to find a way to work that information in organically - pg 4: four pages in and there have been a handful of dialogue lines at best. The rest is just info dumps and narration. The arc of the chapter is not clear. What is it's purpose? How is it moving the story forward? It's really hard to stay engaged because I keep being given backstory and not the actual story. I can't care about the backstory until I know what the stakes are and am invested in the characters - pg 7: even the dialogue through here is just backstory. Nothing is moving the plot forward
  11. It's up to you, really. Full on swears need a warning, I'd say made ups don't, neither does anything you'd hear in a grad school playground (like dang, suck, etc.).
  12. Overall The last section was good! I liked the section with BK too. The first section just...seemed all over the place emotionally and I think it could use trimming and streamlining. I think there are too many POVs for one chapter, all trying to tell the same story. It'd be stronger with one, maybe two, not rehashing events but propelling the arc forward. It's a good installment, and I'm glad to see plot movement and get some tension. I think there is a bit more fat to trim, however, before the chapter really sparkles. As I go - pg 2: okay, there is action happening but I feel like I missed something. I think that first page should set the stage for the action in page 2. So maybe something like, They hunkered wherever, counting pamphlets, counting fingers, counting the minutes left of their lives should they be discovered. As it is the first page is very hum-drum and then WHAM we get smacked with what is supposed to be tension, but without the setup I just feel confused and a bit cheated. Set the stage. Make me want it. - pg 4: some redundancy on this page, especially with the word 'attack' - pg 4: blocking has me very confused. Where are they? What was their goal? They wanted to distribute the pamphlets but there were guards waiting for them and they got scattered....where? Docks somewhere? And now...they are trying to rescue some who were captured? - pg 5: wait, so they aren't going after the captured people? I feel like there's an emotional vacuum here now. They got found out and people were taken but the ending is...very casual. I think the emotional beats in this section are all over the place. I need some consistency - pg 7: War's entire POV appears to be an info dump. - pg 8: three POVs in one chapter is too much for me. Is War's necessary? What is the purpose? What is the arc? - pg 10: yup, definitely think War's POV doesn't need to be there - pg 13: So wait, is there a time jump when we get to Su's POV? I'm lost again - pg 13: better emotion through here. More consistent - pg 14: strong ending, though I wonder why they are coming to this conclusion so late? This seems like a plot arc that should have come around chapter three or so.
  13. Overall I liked the poem a lot! I think there are some extra words to be cut, and some rearrangement of some of the stanzas, but it has some powerful imagery. The prologue is...very prologue. It doesn't appear to have an arc or to contribute to a greater story. I think the meat of it could be boiled down to maybe four sentences as an epigraph to chapter one and convey all the same information--but with much more power. As it stands it's the kind of prologue editors just cut--it appears to be more of a writing exercise (which it was, so excellent!) than relevant to the narrative. As I go starting with Seashell Creatures - depending on how you hold it. <-- suggest removing 'on' as it throws off the rhythm - for the next stanza I suggest instead: My grandmother became a shell When I was very young She'd always seemed a strange creation Lying around As shells so often do - the next stanza I think should be cut as it takes us in a very different direction and confuses the poem - For this stanza, suggest instead: I wasn’t there as she withered in her shell, becoming an eho board with ricocheting memories. - I think the ending lacks a certain punch. In many of these stanzas I like the information and tone but there are too many words for the rhythm, and it seems like the subject and object are often inverted Blue and Orange - In that first sentence I don't think we need the words after the comma. It's more powerful without them - the first paragraph is too wordy. The sentences need to be trimmed down, and there's already a tendency to show then tell. If you just stick with showing, you can cut the telling and it'll be much tighter writing. For instance: It howled and groaned and shrieked, and currents blew this way and that, trying to knock her off course and render her giant wings ineffective. At any moment, she could be sent spiraling to the ground. Nature did not want her to reach the peak of the mountain, but she would You've already shown us that nature is against her. Both shown us and told us. So we don't need to be told again with the nature did not want her to... - noting that, I think you'd have a stronger opening if the first paragraph got boiled into just one sentence: The wind groaned and batted at Z, rendering her giant wings ineffective. - same with the second paragraph. I think it could be condensed into one pretty powerful sentence - the ending is confusing.
  14. Sorry about being late on this. Overall Chapter 4 had some good emotion, but no real plot arc. Chapter 5 didn't seem to have any purpose and definitely did not have an arc. Chapter five could probably be cut, a bit of plot added to chapter 4 to really meat it up. The writing is just fine! I think just some greater narrative plotting is required. As I go - reasonably strong start to the chapter. I'm engaged - pg 5: I like slice of life, but I'm getting antsy. I'm not sure what the purpose of this chapter is, or what the arc is - chapter 4 - I think this could have been a lot shorter so there was the same emotional punch but with fewer words. There are good emotional beats but I don't really see an arc or how this contributes to the greater story arc. I'd like more plot movement within this family time Moving to chapter 5 - pg 1: pouting isn't the best way to start a chapter - pg 2: I'm not engaged with this chapter. It seems like a reflection/info dump which, after a slice of life chapter, really drags the narrative pacing - chapter 5 - this chapter has less of an arc than the previous one. I think it could be cut entirely without hurting the narrative, especially if you put more plot in chapter 4