industrialistDragon

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  1. Overall, I agree with much of what @Mandamon and @kais have said. S is an interesting character, and I like her, but she reads to me as a young master or senior journeyman, not an established master of any great age. D is tougher. I'm not as interested in him, but his section was also one where I felt there were some factual inaccuracies that kept me from really engaging with his POV. Additionally, Having two POVs in the first chapter, compounded by what I'm recalling of the dead man's POV in the prologue, feels to me like too many new points of view too quickly, and that would also contribute to my inability to engage with the characters. To the thesaurus! Crack -- shatter, break, divide, sunder, carve, split, part, dissociate, rend, sever, chop, cleave, breach, fracture, schism, beat, ruin, mangle, contuse, pummel, wreck, pulverize, crumble, splinter, pound, grind, fragment, hammer, smash... Or you could just make up a word, maybe with some hard 'k', 't', or 'p' sounds to echo the nature of the power? As I go: From what I remember of the prologue, I feel like the story could start here with S without the prologue and be just fine. I like S and I'd like to spend more time with her. For D's parts, it might be worthwhile to look up some information on how the human body reacts to high temperatures and lack of water, or even just desert survival in general. Running, sweating, even feeling hunger and thirst, all of these things function differently under high heat and stress. Here and Here are a couple links that I found that seem like they might be helpful. I had a hard time getting into D's parts, mostly from what I think are dissonances between what I know of the effects of dehydration and sunstroke and the what D is described as doing and feeling during his trek. "They were beautiful and extremely comfortable" -- official, highly formal clothing for women being "extremely comfortable?" Now that's a fantasy world I can get behind! Just a gentle reminder that it's okay to have female characters display basic competency skills AND enjoy getting dressed up now and then. S isn't a bad character by any stretch, but in this dressing scene I feel like she's falling a bit into the She's Not Like Other Girls trope I was a bit confused by D's vision. I also thought he was dead at first.
  2. Overall: I feel like the first section of this would be much improved by some of the action and focus that's so prevalent in this second part. I feel like I would have liked to have had a bit more focus on the actual heist than all of the front-loaded information, and I would have liked to have had more time with the characters I'm supposed to sympathize with. As it is, I mostly feel for E, and agree with him, and am rooting for him, not any of the other characters. Much like the last submission with J, the way nothing ever goes wrong for him really neutralized a lot of whatever tension I was supposed to feel for the situation. I can't sympathize with someone who is completely perfect and apparently cares about nothing. Technically this continues to show improvement and I only had a little bit of trouble with the blocking (which felt fairly complicated so that's really very good). As I go: I know this is supposed to be a tense scene, but I really don't feel much tension in it. Like the last story that featured J, I don't feel much of any stakes or danger because J himself is never worried and never has to struggle for any thing he or his team does. The team's plan works perfectly, every bit of timing is right, everything is in its correct spot at the correct time, the guards aren't a worry, the weapons are useless, every move anticipated and accounted for... so why even bother? Why not simply walk up and take what he wants if everything is so simple to predict and easy to pull off? I"m still sympathizing most with lord E, who, besides being a terrible auctioneer just trying to retire, is apparently having his one close friend betray him and his reputation destroyed, and it feels like the good guys are enjoying rubbing his nose in his failures and their betrayals. Most of the good guys feel like arrogant, cruel jerks to me and I'm having a lot of trouble caring about them and their perfection. E is far more sympathetic at this point, and after watching him struggle and adapt, I want him to succeed and show these arrogant interlopers why he's lasted as long as he has. I'm not sure I care what happens after E is dead. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that they escape unscathed, with everything they wanted. I'm not particularly interested in the item they were after, because most of the characters haven't shown much interest in it other than the fact they were hired/assigned to take it. A heist with no danger and no jeopardy is just bullies stealing things.
  3. I was out of town most of last week so i'm just getting caught up, sorry! Overall: I think this is a much better introduction to the story, and I do like giving E more of an active role in the events. I understand more why M is so gung-ho on saving B now, but I'm wondering a bit if the focus of this part of the story isn't off, especially if the rest of it is similar to the first version. Like, this is shaping up to be mostly about M and E, and B is more just there to put the M+E relationship into higher relief, whereas in the first version it was mostly B and E was the superfluous one. I'm concerned that by the end of this section I'm expecting a family drama between M and E, and if I end up with a B section later on, I'm going to be really lost for why it's there (which is sad because I really liked B and their dogs-first approach to life ) As I go: This is me giving the side-eye to science and reason leaving no room for religion. Plenty of scientists are devout. One does not preclude the other. Plenty of cryptozoologists would argue the supernatural precluding the scientific, too, but I'm willing to give that one a pass since it's a pretty well-established trope. I'm a little confused as to why E is being kept in the dark about the family's heritage if M and so many other members apparently have been read in on the extra-human parts, and E is have real consequences to possessing extra-human abilities. But, maybe that's something from the other books? This whole opening page is reading very stream-of-consciousness and slightly info-dump-ish to me, and I feel like it is disjointed and a little repetitive as a result. yeah, no. I think M's being the jerk for meddling, not E for asserting their boundaries. Asserting boundaries is a healthy and brave thing to do and right now I'm feeling for E and I think M's out of line. I feel like M is coming off as much less sympathetic to me in this version, mostly for the way she keeps thinking E will get "fixed" and then somehow E will be grateful for M's meddling. To me, M seems like she thinks she deserves E's continued friendship and is entitled to mess with E's life uncontested, and I really don't like that. I like the foreshadowing with B, but I'm just not as interested in their conversations and the uncle's stroke as I was in the first version. I'm far more invested in E at this point.
  4. I was out of town most of last week, so I'm just getting caught up. Overall, I agree with a lot of what @kais and @Mandamon have said. There were too many POVS coming too quickly for me to become invested in any one character and I felt like I had no clear idea of what was going on for much of this section. There were also technical issues that I got hung up on, same as mandamon. I do think this is better structured than the last one and improvement is definitely noticeable! As I go: I really like the opening sentence! It is a good hook and interested me, however I skimmed the next page and a half of information on E. The extended summary wasn't able to hold the interest that the first sentence generated, and I got very little of who E was as a person out of them. It seemed to me that the narrator was more on display than the characters in that segment. I'm not sure I really believe in the polymath scholar. So far, the only thing A's shown me is that he's arrogant enough to believe he's an expert in everything. So, E's just got a bunch of legit auction items cheek-by-jowl with fenced goods, hanging out in his study, and he didn't bother to verify authenticity of a piece before taking it on as agent? I'm wondering at this point why anyone would hire him to sell anything legitimate. Given the way he was blatantly skimming, and his apparent negligence in verifying the goods he's using as a screen for his fenced items, I'd be chary of having him handle my stolen goods as well. It took me almost an entire page of G's POV to figure out that he wasn't just E by a different name. I was extremely confused by the abrupt switch and subsequently had trouble figuring out what he was doing with ropes and pitons. Diamond is incredibly hard and stands up to crushing pressures well, but it's very brittle and cleaves very easily. A knife made entirely of diamond going against wrought iron would shatter long before it cut through anything. "ques" -- questions? cues? queues? something in Spanish? He goes on to describe features or attributes, so I'm really confused what he's talking about. the switch to POV 3, J, is better telegraphed than the switch to G, but I'm starting to feel a bit burned out on new perspectives of the same event. And there's E badmouthing an item he's been commissioned to sell, then giving it away for free. Yep, I would NEVER hire him as my agent (which is what an auctioneer is), to sell anything legal, illegal, or anywhere in between. "gold inlet" = gold inlay? onlay? I'm not sure I believe or honestly really care about this attempted arrest or the somewhat conceited way J tries to create a verbal loophole for himself. By the point we actually get to the reveal, I care much more about E than I do any of the other players working against him. Even if he is a terrible auctioneer, he's trying to retire and that's a far more sympathetic motivation than what I'm seeing from the "good" guys, all of which seem uncaring and far too overconfident for me.
  5. Overall, I agree with a lot of what @Mandamon said, and I think most of what I would say otherwise on this section has been said on the previous sections. I feel like it hews a bit too closely to the movie, so much so that I recognize it even though I've never actually watched the film, and that does lessen the impact for me. As I go: Was this originally coffee and changed? I've never heard of tea being asked for "black," or served with cream and sugar in the States -- I thought that terminology was mostly for coffee... Okay, the depth of detail on the pee part of the diner scene squicked me out a little. "GoJoe convince" -- convenience? Like the other sections I'm picking up artifacts from the present-to-past switch, along with other grammar and typographical errors. I think @Robinski mentioned this in a previous section, but for compound adjectives and especially when using the modern vernacular of adding -chull as an intensifier to adjectives, it's extremely important to hyphenate them for clarity. Here are a couple of links discussing how and when to hyphenate compound adjectives: http://blog.stratamp.com/words-january-2015-grammar-tips/ http://writing-rag.com/2918/a-good-explanation-of-why-hyphens-are-important/ I like all the dogs and the dog info, but I feel like I could use some more description of them a little more often. It might be WRS, but I kept having a hard time keeping all the names straight and remembering their relative sizes and breeds. Re your grammar questions in the text, here are a couple of links about the future conditional, which I think is what you're looking for: https://www.englishpage.com/conditional/futureconditional.html https://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/advanced-level-future-unreal-conditional
  6. I... think I like the more passive version a bit better. ^^; I'm willing to be outvoted if the consensus thinks otherwise, though
  7. That sounds good to me!
  8. Sounds good to me.
  9. The longest subforum description on 17S clocks in at 192 characters. So, if we take that as an outside limit, we have a decent amount of wiggle room. "A writing help and support group specializing in critiques for new and beginning writers who intend their work for publication. All genres and skill levels are welcome."
  10. Then the next question becomes, what do we want the text to say?
  11. Hey @Silk (or anybody) I have a random administrata question: how would we go about getting the subtitle/description of the our subforum here updated? With NaNo starting up, I noticed a bunch of activity on the Creativity subforum, and it got me thinking. "Reading Excuses" doesn't sound like a crit or writing help group, and the subtitle description under that sort of makes it sound like we're a fan group for Writing Excuses, so if we wanted to be more accessible to the 17s forum as a whole (and NaNo's a great time for a crit and help group to be accessible I feel like), there ought to be some mention of the crit and help functions of what we do, I think? But like, how does somebody even go about suggesting something like that? Is there some kind of quorum needed to vote, or just, like, PMing an admin or...?
  12. Overall, this is more streamlined from the first version, which I appreciate. I like A as a character, she seems very interesting and her powers are intriguing. However, I feel like much of this could be cut, condensed, and streamlined further. I also feel like it suffers from a lack of stakes, if you'll forgive the pun. J/N is always in control, he never messes up, he never loses his cool, he never has to even bother to tell his assistant the plan, because ultimately anything she or anyone else does is inconsequential, both to the story's plot, and J/N's plan. It feels like he could have just walked in and taken the thing he wanted, and unfortunately, I don't find that kind of lack of suspense compelling. As I go: I am really confused as to why "the room" is subject to so much anthropomorphism in the first paragraph. Is there an AI watching things that would it matter so much as to whether "the room" liked this guy or not? I am very confused as to the setting of this story. Is it the real world or a fantasy one? The room medals confused me because, as far as I know, casinos in the real world don't work this way, which makes me think it's a fantasy or alternate reality setting, but then craps and blackjack are real-world games, and explained with real world rules and strategies, so I'm left uncertain how to parse the background of what's going on. Tunics and cloaks and capes and suits and no one bats an eye... The clothing described confuses me because there are these costume elements next to modern elements and I'm just wondering is this a costume party? Some kind of special event where the mask and capes would go unremarked? Why does J/N remove his coat early on, but the other man has his own outerwear on in the gambling scene? Three-piece suits are very real-world-modern fashion, but cloaks and tunics are standard fantasy elements, and I can't get a handle on any kind of internal logic in the setting, which makes it difficult to follow what's happening or why. I think this would work better ordered chronologically. I am very confused by this time- and setting- and character-jump. Yes, now that it's clear, I would really appreciate at least some of the "1 hour ago" section at the front of this, to at least explain what's happening. "in medias res" is a fine way to start a story, but I feel like it needs to be balanced with enough information to quickly and solidly establish the setting and what's at stake. I'm having a hard time seeing the purpose of this grift. First J/N stated it was to bait a specific person (the cloaked man?) and now he's asking a completely different person for a heretofore unknown item? I would really appreciate the shape of the grift laid out somewhere near the beginning, so that I know what to look for and can root for the characters as they go about it. Most of the heist, thievery, and sleight-of-hand stories I've watched or read have laid out at least the bones of the plan early on so that the reader is aware of what's happening and can feel the tension and suspense when the plan goes awry. Here I barely know what the characters think or feel, let alone what they're doing or why they're doing it. Without any anchor point for my interest in the characters, the game minutiae just seems dry to me. The POV shifts are very confusing to me. I don't mind the nameless narrator in the beginning, but then that narrator seems to be abandoned and the story seems to shift to limited third with the POV character seeming to change at random and that makes it very hard for me to stay invested in the story. The bit with the light bulb is good! I like the way it illustrates A's power without giving out a concrete explanation of it. And, like @Mandamon and @kais, once the numbered dice rolls start, I'm skimming. I don't care about the numbers, I care about the people, and by extension what the people care about. But, I'm not getting from this section of the story what J/N cares about, I'm just getting numbers and a a dry win/loss tally. This would be a great section for some commentary by the narrator from the beginning, and if the narrator was the one relaying the action, there would be no need to shoehorn in a strange POV to get both sides of the dice game.
  13. I agree with @Mandamon for most of the items he brought up. This section feels less cluttered than the first and I like spending more time with B. However, like Mandamon I had trouble with the B and J interaction, and with keeping all the B-names straight. As I go: I'm seeing a lot of grammar errors, word agreement issues, and present-tense artifacts, same as last section. Once again, pronoun-antecedent agreement is not matching up in some places, especially around the use of the singular they. I agree with @Mandamon that I feel like the first pages could be trimmed and streamlined a bit and the action only really starts to get interesting when J shows up. I do like B's continued emphasis on dogs over people. That's a nice bit of characterization there. J seeming to sit around outside for hours waiting to confront B seems odd. Is there any reason J can't confront B inside the store? I feel like the added humiliation of having the confrontation in public would go towards showing how unbearable B's life is. The confrontation itself is... a bit off. It feels stilted, sort of? Also, it feels a bit like there isn't enough foundation laid in the beginning (or maybe with the description of J in the store) to hold the emotional weight of what would be a very wrenching scene? Maybe? I also forgot/didn't pick up on the fact that B had been married from earlier, so maybe a larger lampshade hung on that earlier? Like, the dread B feels getting the mail because they're waiting for those divorce papers and they don't know when/if the papers will arrive, or the guilt/shame of not filing the papers themselves, thus freeing J to live her new life (because B thinks they are such a terrible spouse after all, etc, etc), or just, like, something to lay the foundation that J+B were a thing and now B blames themself for why the split happened earlier in the chapters than where it is now? I'm not sure. I can't quite put finger on why the actual confrontation bothers me, sorry. I don't have problems with the VR itself, but the plan is seeming to me to be increasingly Goldbergian in design the farther along it goes and I ended up wondering if all of it was necessary, since B having the talk with the "angel" seemed to be making real progress...
  14. Alternatively, companies like LexisNexis sell driver's license databases and other identity data like that. You have to have a "permissible use" and it's just ridiculously expensive to buy the data libraries (legally), but they're there. One of the places I used to work had an account for both the driver's license/address database, and the SSN death database (You can find older versions of the SSN death database for free online, but the ones offered for money are often updated more regularly). Aiming to steal login info for one of those would probably mean manipulating insurance industry, collections, or legal/law office workers, which may or may not be any different than stealing login info from government workers. Brute-force hacking one of these probably has the same difficulties @mrwizard70 pointed out and it might not make a difference in what you're intending for the character, but options do exist.
  15. Wow, this is the same chapter? I'm feeling like I might have a little bit of whiplash going from S to R, and then it's straight to M, and by that point I am definitely feeling some whiplash. I'd be fine with one extra non-S POV person in this chapter, but this feels like too many too soon. R seems singularly unsuited to being an interrogator; she keeps getting distracted by every little thought. Wasn't she a semi-career politician last time we saw her? Current administration notwithstanding, I feel like any politician who wasn't still in their first year could hold onto the thread of an argument and maintain a decent poker face in spite of some stressful questions and a few personal barbs, but R doesn't do that. I feel like R's composure just shredded like wet paper and then it's V in charge of that entire scene and that feels really weird to me. It's a nice way to recap what's going on politically, but it feels to me more like a conversation that's happening in someone's sitting room than an interrogation. It's fun to see M & co again, but I'm not sure how much I care about them right now. I feel like they don't have much to do with either of the first two scenes (which feel more urgent and related to each other, and which i'm more invested in, despite the fun cameos here and the oddness with R). And I'm still not fully on board with the super-secret-ness of the super secret society. It reminds me of some of the ridiculous and silly super-secret antics that happened during the height of the Cold War, only I'm not really convinced there's a cold war going on in the Nether from what I've read (but I've only read what you've submitted here so maybe i'm missing things). Since I do have at least some of the prior stories under my belt, I had a pretty good idea of who the characters were and what's going on, but looking at just the text, I think it's a little sparse on the character descriptions and scene settings. It's particularly apparent in M's scene, I feel.