kais

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  1. I've had a family emergency come up so I'll be MIA for a bit. I'll get to the remaining crits as soon as I can. Sorry for the delay.
  2. Overall L's line is moderately engaging, and I liked her backstory. I'd like to know more about her. The Dr's is still really generic and I didn't feel any threat from the goons until the very end. There's also a lot of very generic feeling going on here, and I find myself wondering what sets this story apart? I also don't remember what the through line is, but that may just be WRS. I completely agree with this. The Dr. is still generic. L is starting to have a voice. As I go - oooh, nice epigraph - unsure how walls could be made of petrified wood that was sliced thin. How was the slicing done? I have tech questions - 'with nary an explanation' makes it sound like we're in a fairy tale - the sentient intestines that are moving of their own accord are very weird - pg 4: he poured that much disinfectant in the wound and the man didn't scream? He must already be dead - pg 5: we keep hearing about all the things the thugs will do, but we never see anything. We don't get words or actions, we're just told. This leads to lack of tension. I feel no threat from the goons (who have tribal tattoos and that strikes a very bad chord) - pg 7: the chest plate out of pelvises is the first showing we've had that makes me feel like the goons are dangerous - pg 7: fun fact - paper yellows with age with air and light exposure due to the lignin. If it was in a sealed pack, it wouldn't yellow - pg 8: wait, why is he leaving now? What was the catalyst? - pg 10: L's backstory is much more engaging - pg 14: I think I would like L's journey to the do's more if I hadn't had the dr's POV yet. He could reveal his backstory as he stitches or something and that would have a lot more tension - pg 17: why would 100 bastards hurt? I don't follow the analogy
  3. Overall Structurally, this was fine. In terms of forward progression and tension though, it seemed all talk and no action, no movement, no tension. I liked the strong start and the journey through the crystal was awesome. Once inside though it was a lot of talking and I think not enough time spent with each new idea and reaction from S. I think I would have liked less information, and longer on each information piece, complete with reactions. Still, solid draft! Yes to wonder, but not enough? I wanted to be bowled over with this hidden room and I felt just mildly interested. I think more deep discussion, more reaction, as you noted. The revelations make a sort of sense, but I kept waiting for there to be deeper discussion, and it stayed surface. I think I just need some really deep, thoughtful exchanges to really connect with what is going on. I'd be completely fine with it. As I go - so are house of time people called prophets? - pg 1: THAT'S RIGHT S! HE IS YOUR BOYFRIEND! (ahem) - pg 1: this jealousy seems a bit out of nowhere? Like the relationship is shiny and new, yes, but the raging jealousy seems juvenile. However, this could be a very teenage boy response so potentially spot on. - pg 3: intrigued by the gender-as-role system here. Decent parallels in many Earth societies so curious to see where you go with it - pg 5: he pressed. There was resistance, then not. I would love more explanation and description here. I want to feel what S is feeling and see what he is seeing - last paragraph pg 7: pronoun slip? - second to last paragraph, pg 10: second mention of mentor joining the web--redundancy
  4. Again, S for implied past acts, nothing actually on page. Take two! I turned some of the info dumps into dialogue and moved some of the plot forward to give the chapter more momentum. Also tried to clarify the interaction between A and E, and make that fight more understandable. Also tried to get the landing to end better, and more solidly. A few bits stayed the same. Curious about the E chapters, I sent the first six chapters to a few lesbian friends of mine who review books (main SFF, but lesbian SFF). They uniformly HATED the N chapters and found them boring and slow, and loved the E chapters and wanted her to do a bit more wallowing. SO, while I appear to have succeeded in writing a Very Straight character and a Very Gay character, they’re bouncing off the non-target demographics. I’ll need to either bring them both closer to the middle or bring out the cues more for the outside demographics in each chapter. Please bear with me as I try to figure this out. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.
  5. I watched a really cool NOVA special about Kepler planets and there's some new theories on how tidally-locked planets might work, and how the winds and the thicker atmosphere might actually mitigate the climate. Wind speed would be critical for whether it was worldwide even temp or just a band, so I'm trying for higher winds and smaller band. I think I'll have to run this all past an astro physicist though, just to double check. The trees part... I had to retro a previous chapter. The dark side now has full spectrum UV lights everywhere so the plants will grow. I forgot when writing that the snow side would be completely dark for the most part so had to retcon some things. Heh. Anyway they talk about this around... chapter ten I think. It will come! Argh, this was not the plan. A is supposed to be crushing on E, in fact, and I think in a few chapters that comes through more. I'm going to see if I can fix that undercurrent here in this chapter though, but I definitely did not mean for that to come through. Oh, just realized there were some questions. Nope. I wasn't sure there would BE an author identified. I hadn't really considered it. Guess I will now! I really like this! That isn't the primary conflict. I'll try to make the through line much more apparent in this chapter. It got stated in chapter one but may have been lost in the shuffle.
  6. It's clear this chapter has issues, as I thought it might. Instead of responding to individual comments like normal I'm going to do an overhaul and resubmit this upcoming week. Hopefully I can clear up most of the problems. I've written forward far enough in the book that I think I can move some events up and give this chapter more forward momentum. Thank you all so much for the help! I really appreciate it!
  7. Nah, I can bop out so you can have a slot, @molah
  8. If there's still a spot left I'll take it, but happy to skip, too.
  9. That's cool, but we'll need to be given some indication of that since you've set this in Generic European Fantasyland (at least from what I can tell ATM). What country were you thinking the hispanic and indigenous people were from/what culture(s) are you drawing from? For instance, if this was Peruvian inspired there wouldn't be horses so much as llamas, kittens would be guinea pigs (and would be raised for food along with bunnies), and the textiles would be described very differently. You could go into any number of pre-Incan societies for words on rulers that weren't so European military. If it's Generic European Fantasyland but with hispanic and indigenous characters, then tell us more about their clothes, the foods they like, how they maybe have accents (or maybe not!). How did this large enclave get into, say, the British Isles? And there's the problem right there. You call out differences and so therefore set a default, which is generally not great. It's fine if you want everyone to be hispanic except for some (Japanese?) characters, but it's very othering to assume default and then just describe the people that are different. It's a problematic way to write. Overt bias: 'Gay people are gross and shouldn't be allowed outside.' Implicit bias: 'I love having gay friends!' Overt bias: Black people are in prison more because they are more prone to violence Implicit bias: I don't like to ride the bus in the south side of town (wherein the south side is the poor/black/whatever side) Overt bias: A woman's place is in the home Implicit bias: Who is watching your kid while you are on your business trip? You can check your implicit bias here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/education.html But why? If most of the characters are hispanic, those words wouldn't be unusual to them. Not-italicizing Spanish words in this case would help with establishing the world Two things here 1) being in a marginalized community does not absolve you from racism or other forms of bias. Your family uses food-based descriptors, okay. But in material that is reaching a wider audience, when POC as a general whole have come down upon food based descriptors, ignores all of their work. I gave you links earlier and I think it would be good to read what those people have to say. Now, if you want to describe white people with food, go right ahead. Always okay to punch up. My favorite is 'skin like uncooked dough.' 2) being published or not, we are a diverse group of people who are reading your pieces. Using food descriptors is problematic. We have made you aware of the issue. We have provided links. This would be a good time to discontinue use of such descriptors. Otherwise you are ignoring the emotional energy and time we have taken for education, and you are telling other POC on the board that what you want to write is more important than the implications of long standing racist issues in writing. To put it another way--you'll have likely gathered from my writing that I am all kinds of queer. If Pretend RE Member 'Sally' submits a piece wherein her character uses the word 'dyke' outside of some sort of 1980s queer culture think piece where a middle-aged lesbian is reclaiming the slur, I'd provide links to Sally about why such a word is charged and not best for just random inclusion in a piece of fantasy. This word causes active harm. It carries cultural baggage. It has a place, but not as Sally presented it. Sally then responds that she will continue using the word because it works for her story and she has a friend who uses that word. Or Sally has two moms and they use it. It's a part of her life but Sally herself is not queer and has no ownership of that word. Sally is not being respectful of the history of the word, of the emotional labor that went into attempting to educate, and to continue using the word moves from implicit bias into a thoughtful-purposeful act. The first time it was used was implicit bias. The second time after education? That's something entirely different. Now, there is a work around. If indeed you want to relocate the world to a cultural surrounding where food is a primary centerpiece, and all the characters get described that way, and it is made clear in the narrative that this is of cultural importance to the story and that it advances the story, and that this is an ownvoices aspect, it could work. The issue here, now, is the othering being done by only food-coloring the non-majority character.
  10. Wait, I'm first? How did that happen? Wooo! Overall Well I was grumpy with the M start because we had such good tension going, but then it was short and gave good information so I'm fine with it. The E part felt a little... too much? I think I have growing concerns over the 'insanity' part of this and the wildnes., It seems too unfocused and more like a caricature than a real state of mind. I think picking something real world to model after might give it more credibility and more impact. Right now E seems to have left realism and gone into straight fantasy, but your books have always walked that sci fi/fantasy line so I'm having a hard time with it. Action wise it was good. I was hoping for more escaping though! As I go - epigraph: a lot of redundancy on the word 'stories' - pg 2: it's very hard to be invested in this when so many exciting things have been happening! I want to get back to the Ari - pg 4: oh the Earth question is being answered. Okay, interested pg 8: would like more general description of where they are and E reacting to it. How does she feel? - pg 9: wait, so is Z also a magus? Confused about this section.
  11. Hooray for revisions! Something tells me I'll be in this boat after this week's sub, too. Heh. Overall Generally, I didn't have enough world buy-in to feel tension there at the end. That info-dump halfway through needed to be sprinkled earlier. The chapter started really strong and then sort of devolved, I think, into more generic fantasy and info-dumps. I think what it needs is just some tightening and realigning of narrative structure. It isn't that you don't have cool stuff going on, it's just that the narrative keeps getting in its own way. The major issue I have is with the implicit (and bordering overt) bias in the piece. You've got some problematic descriptions with ethnic minority and neurodiverse people, that must be cleaned up. I've provided some reading links. Do let me know if you have questions. This is miles better than the first time! I think another good clean up should really get it into shape. As I go - +1 for two prologues turning into one epigraph - confused as to why she has to cut her hair? - I kind of miss the ominous IN THE FACE SHE STOLE vibe from the last one, but this whole section works better all around. Good hook! - pg 5: our MC is bordering on the Not Like Other Girls trope - pg 5: Is L actually Arya Stark? - pg 6: red flag going up with the only hispanic named character being a servant - pg 10: so page 1 had a great hook but now I'm left wondering what the through line is. Kittens are awesome but what is the point to the story? Why do I care about our face snatching MC? - pg 10: wow that's quite the info dump. I think I'd rather find the information out organically - page 11: wooooooah okay. 1) do not describe people using food. It's bad form at best and racist at worst. Here is a great site for alternatives! 2) 'slanted eyes' falls into the same issue as #1. Here's another page about how to code that better. - pg 12: wait is this narrative...making fun of someone with a lower than average IQ? - pg 13: of course she does yoga
  12. Congrats on your first post! Always happy to have new people on the board. Overall Generally, I was confused. I don't know what this piece was supposed to be. It's one part military, one part wonder-sci fi, one part space opera, and one part Star Trek fan fic. For a short story it would be best to stick with just one subgenre and one or two tropes. Otherwise the piece ends up scattered. I'm also missing buy-in. We don't get enough on the star to be excited it made a friend. When was it established that the star was lonely? Why would anyone care? Why would the star care at all about beings so small? I would need a lot more emotional buy-in from this work to really get invested. With that said, it has good bones and I think if it got cleaned up it could be a really cool short! Glad I wasn't the only one who saw this Agree As I go - 'Lovelace' is the name of the ship in the very popular space opera series Wayfarers by Becky Chambers. Definitely should find another name. I realize its also a historical ship name but since the Wayfarer's series is so recent and so popular, it'll ring a lot of bells you probably don't want rung - so is it pulsing Fibonanci or Pi? Which one? - names with an apostrophe in them are very fantasy, just FYI. - pg 3: we knew on the first page that the signal wasn't random. It seems silly to confirm that here. Slows pacing down - pg 4: It's becoming hard to stay focused. I don't have the sense of wonder I would need for this to stand on its own without characterization and social interplay, and I don't know enough about the characters to be interested in them. There does not appear to be stakes other than renewable energy, but since I have no idea if Earth is running out of energy, this doesn't matter much to me either at this stage. Lacking investment. - pg 7: oh, that's a nice twist! Definitely needs to come earlier though, since a lot of getting here was fluff. This would work as the hook on page one nicely - pg 8: wait, there's conflict in the galaxy? An attack? this seems to come out of nowhere - pg 9: alien using a human metaphor seems weird - pg 11: confused. Is this a wonder-at-the-galaxy science fiction, an action space opera where we stop some colony uprising, or something else? You're setting up a lot of tropes and then not following any of them. Also I'm getting a very strong Star Trek vibe - pg 12: I don't understand why the star cares at all about humanity. If the star is lonely, that needs to be established - you have a Scottish engineer? Is this a Star Trek fanfic? Cool if it is, just wondering - pg 13: I don't understand why the crew is getting into fights. What is the conflict? What are the stakes? I'm so lost - pg 14: there's military on board? This is far from a military sci fi so this looks like another truncated trope
  13. Voice is a fascinating thing in writing. Books don't necessarily have to have it, but when they do it often makes the reading experience richer. Voice... is sort of like relaxing the framework of the writing in many ways to inject the patterns of your main characters. Authors tend to have overarching voice, too, which makes say, an Anne McCaffery book easily distinguished from a Seanan McGuire book. In this book, there are two parts of voice at play. The first is the one I cannot readily control, which is my own authorial voice. I'm a scientist and we often invert around sentences to take pressure off the subject (passive) to focus on the result or action. You'll see that bleed through into my writing, giving it a flavor of a science paper in some places (and that's good or bad or irritating, depending upon your preference. I like to read books by other scientists because they invert, too, and I like that voice. Some people don't). The second part is that this book is filled with scientists so their speech, internal thoughts, etc., are all going to be shaped by how scientists think and talk. E in particular, and N to some extent, are a bit juvenile and use some modern syntax and such, which helped place the time period they came from (as now, or close to now). Doing these things adds voice to the book, as well as giving the reader more information than they realize they are getting. Example: The ship flew towards the tree. <-- clean, sharp, to the point There was a tree in the way of the flyer. <-- common science inversion Why was that stupid tree in the flightpath? <-- character voice They flew at Sally's maple tree like they didn't care at all she'd spent the past fourteen years getting it to grow. <-- informative with character voice So now let's take a look at an example from the chapter. It’d be easy to get distracted out here in the bizarre climactic failure they were flying through, and the urge to call the director and flash data in her face would have been impossible to ignore Could be readily shortened to: The weather distracted N. She wanted to call the director and smugly report the data. The short rewrite, though, looses the flavor of N. We lose critical information, too: how she feels about the weather (bizarre and a failure--something is wrong and she knows it), her feelings on authority (flashing data in your admin's face does not go over well in academia), and N's priorities (sister before everything else, including reporting the climate to the director). In the long version N also recognizes her own failings (if she had TOPA on, she wouldn't be able to resist the rub to her boss) and we see another facet of her determination to find E. Obviously every sentence can't be like this unless you are supremely good at writing, which I am not. A great example is Gideon the Ninth, which is like 100% voice and absolutely mind blowing. Voice is something agents and editors ding on a lot. If you don't have sufficient voice in your work it's next to impossible to get picked up (unless you're writing in some of the sci fi areas that don't tend to have voice, like military). Voice is something I've been trying to really cultivate recently, and I'm playing around with some aspects in this book (and failing with some of it too, obviously). My last book used introspection quite a bit for voice and I'm trying to get away from that and into sentence integrated voice, but it's a learning curve and a professional writer I am not. Voice also tends to be something poorly understood and hard to describe (see above and my nine paragraphs), so if I really failed at this explanation, my apologies.
  14. S just for a brief mention in memory. Back to E on this one. It’ll be the last wallowing chapter but I’m hoping for feedback on how the balance is between E hitting this super low point and then being effectively startled out of it. Also curious if you find tension in that interaction. Changes to previous chapters: there’s no sun on the snow side. Aheh. I forgot. So N and V over on the snow side see everything lit with UV-spectrum lights. Back to Ember on this one. It’ll be the last wallowing chapter but I’m hoping for feedback on how the balance is between Ember hitting this super low point and then being effectively startled out of it. Also curious if you find tension in that interaction.Changes to previous chapters: there’s no sun on the snow, side. Aheh. I forgot. So Nadia and Varun over on the snow side see everything lit with UV-spectrum lights.
  15. Whoops! Dropped dialogue. Will fix. Will clarify. Yes. Good point. Yup. Sorry, should have mentioned. Argh, was trying to show that N doesn't like formality. Bungled it. OOOOOHHH just wait Check fixing. Thank you so much for the feedback while on vacation! Yes, I'm debating crassness level on her. I need her and E's voices to be similar due to being sisters, but still somewhat distinct, but I think I want E to be more crass. That'll be something I settle on in the next draft, I think. Yes, and I didn't do it well. I've gone back and fixed it, hopefully, so it's a more conscious thing. Good call! I think I want to build to this in a later chapter, although I'm mulling. It's a fair point. He's a big pushover ATM. Wooooo! Glad it's on the right track. Thanks!! We did, but I'd already subbed that chapter so it got skipped. The chapters may go every other one now. Check. Will clarify It's a nightmare temperature, I can tell you that, but yes, in the right gear... Well yes she SHOULD. But she isn't, which is meant to be strange ah, okay, will look at this Emergency override. I'll make it more obvious Double check. Per above, I've tried to fix this Check. Have edited LOL! This is my fault. I forgot while writing this that they'd be on the unlit side of the planet, so no sun should be coming through at all. Have edited Oh good! This was part of the plan, with two MCs, both of whom appeal to different demographics! Thank you for the very detailed feedback, as always! I could, but it would be at the expense of voice, which I am trying to be very specific with in this book. Still, I appreciate you pointing it out. Thank you!