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Everything posted by Alderant

  1. So, I'm posting this here because I want this place, specifically to understand; because out of this entire forum, I feel like this place is the closest I've been to who I am, apart from some interactions with specific members of the 17th Shard community. I want to explain myself in a genuine capacity, so everyone here can understand what to expect from me going forward. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, or moderation feels that this post isn't appropriate for this forum, then please feel free to delete it. Please be forewarned that this post contains a lot of very personal experience, and so if that makes you uncomfortable, then it's probably best to stop reading; that said, I have always thought of this place (Reading Excuses) as more understanding and accepting of diversity, which is why I am making it here. History A long while back, I submitted a series of chapters before kind of falling off the face of the planet. There were....a lot of things going on. For most of my life, I was raised Mormon, and conformed to a certain set of beliefs. Three + years ago, I'd begun questioning that faith and belief system. Some things happened, my depression was at one of its lowest points, my marriage was pretty rocky, and seemed to be flipping back and forth between love and support, and antagonism and hostility. I felt out of place almost every place I went, and among every group of people I interacted with. Fast forward to when I joined this group back in late 2018. I honestly loved my time here. I loved participating in the discussion, and I loved reading everyone's stories. However, there were a lot of things going on in my life, and this was an escape for me. I didn't realize it at the time, but I now know that's what I was doing. In 2019, I started trying to submit a story that I was working on. At the time, it was a very cerebral (I thought) endeavor, and I thought I was approaching it from a specific standpoint, that of creating a story for my daughters. However, there were things in the narrative that weren't satisfying me, and things that people brought up that really bothered me--not in a way that anyone said anything wrong, but in a self-reflective manner that I didn't understand, and the constant running from my own problems, combined with the exhaustion of what I was experiencing, quickly caused me to burn out and stop posting altogether. For those that were burned by this that expected my feedback, I am deeply, truly, and terribly sorry. The past year and a half have been a very rough journey of self-understanding and discovery for me, and all of this came to a head late 2019. In the course of less than three months, the following life changes happened, and I'm honestly not sure if I've mentioned any of this here or not: I was diagnosed with severe ADHD-inattentive type, for which I am now on medication to treat. I discovered I was demisexual. My wife and I decided to leave the church I was raised in, which is Mormonism. As a result, I suffer from many similar symptoms cult survivors exhibit when they escape their oppressive environments. My wife informed me that she wasn't heterosexual. I discovered I was transgender. This, combined with the above, put tremendous strain on our marriage, and resulted in the following: I was ostracized from my family and forbidden to speak to my younger siblings. My marriage almost ended in divorce--we sought couple's counseling, and are still together, though the dynamic of our relationship is completely different than before. Since all of this happened, I've been forced to reevaluate pretty much my entire life and world view. Where I am currently I now identify as a Gaiaist--which is my own brand of belief system, not really based on any existing thing except through cursory connections. Feel free to ask me about it, but the cliffnote is basically that I am now an adeistic theist. I no longer believe in the Mormon church nor do I view it as a good thing. It has caused me a lot of harm that I am still learning to work through, and because of this, a lot of my former guards and walls are now nonexistent, though I am still learning how to walk, so to speak. I am demisexual--this is a real sexuality on the asexual spectrum, and essentially constitutes asexuality except in specific circumstances where emotional connections are formed, after which sexual attraction is possible. As such, I truly don't understand sexual attraction the same way most allosexual (non-asexual) people inherently do, and this will more than likely come out in anything related to sex that I comment on or post. ADHD means that I can get exhausted by things I consider work or difficult--more so than the average person. Things that involve a lot of effort on my part usually take a lot longer as a result, and I really struggle with not internalizing criticism. I am transgender. I identify as female, she/her pronouns. There are a lot of markers throughout my life that were evidence of this, but due to my conservative and oppressed upbringing, a lot of those things were either severely repressed, or actively danced around in my mind, usually manifesting throughout my life as severe depression. I suffer from some pretty severe dysphoria, and that combined with my undiagnosed ADHD appear to be the major sources of my twenty-year depression. I am taking steps to change that and to be more genuine with myself and those around me, and I do take hormones. Things are still strained with my family, though my brother (who is also transgender) and I have mostly been able to patch up our differences and disputes as a result and are closer than we have been in at least twelve years--five of which were spent basically not speaking to each other at all. What to expect from me There are a large combination of factors that have resulted in the person I am today. I did not have a traumatic childhood by most markers; my parents were loving and kind, and are some of the kindest people I know. However, this combination of factors, taken individually, would have been difficult for any person to grow up with on their own, and in me they are all combined. This means that while I may not have had a traumatic childhood, I have a lot of internal trauma related to my sense of self and my own identity, and I will more than likely bring one or more of these points up when I feel it necessary--this is not an attempt to gain sympathy or pity, it is an attempt to explain myself and where I come from. It is also not an excuse--I am now aware of most of my issues and am working to correct them. Going forward, my main goal is consistency; due to my ADHD, this is extremely difficult. I am trying to put systems in place to manage this, but a side-effect of the way ADHD (which is a neurological disorder) affects my brain, I never learned proper executive functioning. Things like forming habits and routines--that may seem perfectly simple and manageable to another--can be monumental tasks for me. Please understand this about me and be patient, I am trying my best. Being on the asexual spectrum means that both in my writing or in my comments, there may be unintended assertions or insinuations. A good marker comes from a while back, when I submitted a post and was informed that a character I hadn't intended to come across as lesbian was, and was taught about male gaze/lesbian gaze, and female gaze. This was a great lesson for me, and one I've been able to extend to others since who weren't aware of these things as I wasn't. If I am taking the time to ask about something related to sex or sexuality, please do me the courtesy of explaining and not assuming I will understand what you're talking about or referencing. For example, if I comment on a character's physical appearance, chances are likely that I'm literally just describing the character's appearance, and there is nothing sexual behind it in the slightest. I don't even understand the concept of random people being "hot" or "stormable". And no, demisexuality is not just "normal" relationship behavior, even if it sounds like it to you. I discovered that when I was writing before, what I was really doing was trying to explore myself, without admitting to myself that that's what I was doing. There was a large part of me that was repressed, and seeped out through "seemingly innocuous" manifestations that I now recognize for what they were: gender dysphoria. As a result, that story is being completely rewritten from the ground up with different focus. Eventually, I may submit it again, but I really want to get out of the mindset I was in before in writing it, so I will be approaching it differently from now on. I don't have much good will toward religion in any form. My own "theology" is a very "hands-off", adeistic belief in simply doing good and having that good go out into the world. In this respect, I've pretty much pivoted to the opposite position of where I was before--religion and theology have always been a particular fascination of mine, but I now approach it from a very cerebral standpoint as opposed to a spiritual one, as an extension of culture and human history, rather than as an existence of a higher order. I have taken great strides in trying to understand things like privilege, intersection, and targeted groups. As a transgender woman, I have gone from a prime position of privilege (white & male), to a targeted demographic (transgender). That being said, I fully acknowledge that there are situations and demographics that I will never understand what they feel, though there are some that I now do, and others that I understand only a little. I am not fully out in public yet. I still present as male at work and more fluid in public, and this is due to my work situation requiring regular interaction with people I am unsure of, including my father. Thus, I have become more aware of problems and am more likely to participate in reasoning and discussion involving these topics then before, when I tried to be simply open-minded. In closing Again, my point of this isn't to make anyone think they need to walk on eggshells around me or worry about "triggering" me or anything of the sort. I really just want to explain who I am now, because it's a stark contrast to who I was before, and I feel like you all are owed the service of knowing up front what you're getting with me. In many ways, I'm still the same. I still love the medieval period, still study it fanatically. I still approach literature discussion from a character-based perspective. And I still plan to give my all to whatever critique I am working on. But I also don't want to lead anyone on or let someone think they're getting something different with me than what I have said. I figured it was better to lay everything out and let you all judge, instead. But know that I really did love this community. I feel like I failed you all before, and that was a failure that I really took to heart. I don't want to do it again, and I hoping that by being honest with myself, and with all of you, I can be a better participant this time around.
  2. Could I have an email address change? I'm not getting these emails and things are quite...different than they were before. Sorry if I'm breaking's been a while and I'm just kind of starting to get back into the swing of normal life.
  3. To those wondering where I am--I've had a lot of pretty big life changes in the last couple of years, and I'm not confident or comfortable in participating in theorizing discussions here. I have always believed that characters are at the heart of Brandon's storytelling, and I will continue to love discussions related to the characters of the Cosmere and elsewhere. However, I have been historically largely disappointed by the level of discourse on this forum, particularly with respect to analytical sincerity and nonpartisan moderation, and I have very little desire to return to a place that, despite the best intentions of the moderation staff, made me feel less for not conforming to the popular, espoused ideas.

    If I have offended anyone in saying this, I apologize. My purpose was not to offend. More to give an insight into my state of mind.

    At this time, I am basically maintaining this account for the purposes of participating in Writing Excuses when I have the mental and emotional stability to do so, but I don't intend to participate much on the greater discussions of the forum as I once did years ago.

    I have made many great friends on here, people who, for all intents and purposes, I consider family, and for that I am grateful to my experience here. But for those who are hoping my comment on "Tactics to making a good post" means that I'm going to become active once more, I sincerely apologize, but that's not the case. Above all else, I have to consider my own mental and emotional health.

    1. Alderant


      EDIT: Reading Excuses, not Writing.

  4. As someone who had a fair amount of praise for content...well thought out posts, with references and calm, observational analysis tend to do well no matter the subject. Don't be dispassionate, but try to assert your position in a way that is contributing something new to the discussion, rather than reiterating points someone has already made (and possibly rebutted), or contains some new insight that hasn't been seen or talked about much. When in doubt, sit down and ask yourself "Would someone who doesn't share my view believe what I say based on what I've presented? Do I give them the opportunity to do so?" If yes, your post will be much better received than if not. Lastly, use Wheaton's law. No one, no matter how good your arguments, will read and like your post if you're antagonistic every time you talk to some one who disagrees with you. Be supportive of discussion and encouraging of viewpoints alternative to your own, rather than dismissive and discouraging. Critical discussion doesn't equate to antagonism, and if someone pokes holes in your theory, try to incorporate those criticism into your ideas rather than outright refusing to acknowledge their view and if all else fails, agree to disagree.
  5. (NOTE: In this thread I am only talking about emotionally intimate relationships. This does not mean that relationships are necessarily romantic or platonic—they can be either—but rather relationships of mutually deep emotional support. Please keep the discussion to this idea—romantic development can certainly be an eventual possibility, but it is not the focus of this discussion.) Before we get into this discussion, let me start by quoting part of a post here to see where this thread is stemming from: One of the things that Kaladin is severely lacking in his life are people that he shares an intimate emotional connection with. To date, there have been two that we have seen either implicitly or explicitly on screen: Tien, and Shallan. This emotional absence is, in large part I feel, why Kaladin is stuck in such a rut. He feels like he can’t confide in anyone, that he has to shoulder this darkness by himself, that no one else can possibly understand what he is going through—and for those of you unaware, this is textbook depression speak. Tien and Shallan both helped to banish the darkness. Tien was a beacon of light for Kaladin, Shallan someone was able to cut right through all of his walls and see to the heart of who he was. Aside from these two, however, Kaladin lets very few people in to see the true him. Who are some people that you think Kaladin could develop an intimate connection with? I have three in mind. Adolin Provided that there is no subsequent bad blood between these two over Shallan (and I doubt there would be, considering), and also provided that Adolin doesn’t spend the whole book around Shallan, I think there is the possibility that Kaladin and Adolin could reach some level of emotional depth. Adolin has shown remarkable insight into Kaladin and what Kaladin needs in trying times. Where I am concerned with this relationship is that Kaladin, despite liking Adolin and enjoying his company, has never really let Adolin in. Most of the “truths” he’s told Adolin are surface level things he’s told many others—such as Dalinar, Moash, and most of Bridge 4. In order for this pairing to work, Kaladin would need to open up to Adolin about his depression and despair, and a whole slew of other things, and Adolin in return would need to not brush off this conversation or divert it to an unrelated or easier topic, as he’s done repeatedly with his wife. Teft Oh, Teft. My heart goes out to you. One of the things that strikes me about Teft is that Teft is familiar with the darkness of depression, like Kaladin. This is a potential bonding point for the two of them. Teft has shown good insight into what Kaladin needs to do, especially with respect to appealing to Kaladin’s duty to his friends and those under his command. Where I worry about Teft is with his addictions. It’s very difficult to develop and maintain an emotionally intimate relationship if one person is constantly relying on the other. Further, Kaladin and Teft are two people who have lived a long time walling themselves off from others—one because he cares too much, one because he worries of failure. In this regard, they are very similar, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing—though I definitely believe that the potential is there for them to draw strength from each other if they could respectively let down their own walls. Jasnah Okay, that groan was audible, guys. Hear me out. I don’t mean this one romantically (though I’d totally be okay for it progressing to that point)—I mean this platonically. Presumably, with Jasnah now as “King” and Kaladin sworn to the protection of the King and his family, these two will spend a bit of time together. Though, yes, Jasnah and Kaladin might butt heads initially, I think there’s potential for both to develop an emotional connection. Their responsibilities are monumentally taxing, and both have had to shoulder their burdens alone for a long, long time. Jasnah has fought every day since her father’s death for a reason, for understanding, and to make the world a better place. Almost as a mirror, Kaladin has fought every day since his brother’s death to help others, to give misfits a place of safety, and to find purpose in his life. Both have lived a lot of their lives in isolation—much of it self-imposed. It’s not a stretch to believe that by virtue of time together, they’d eventually reach an understanding of each other and why they act the way they do, and Jasnah is blunt enough to cut to the heart of Kaladin’s issues without giving him leeway to escape. Kaladin, in reverse, is mature enough to appreciate Jasnah’s independence and drive—and oppose it when he feels the need to, which is something very few people seem inclined to give her. My biggest concern here, however, is that there just isn’t a lot to go off of with these two. A lot of it is conjecture on my part based on my own understanding of their characters. Anyway, what do you all think? Who out there could Kaladin develop an intimate friendship with, based on what we have so far? Because I think this kind of friendship—romantic or not—is absolutely vital to his development from this point on. Kaladin needs friends.
  6. Okay. Here's chapter one for the epic fantasy previously mentioned and submitted. Prologue is still under personal consideration, so rather than resubmit with something I'm not convinced I want yet, I'm just going on to the main story. As a reminder/bit of information, this is an adult-level epic fantasy (like Wheel of Time or Stormlight Archive) written ultimately for my daughters to have female characters to look up to and admire. I'm playing a bit with some tropes and ideas, but at its core it's a fantasy written for women. With that out of the way, I hope you enjoy it! EDIT: I know it's a little long--I'm sorry!
  7. Yeah, I've noticed that as well. That's going to need some revision, because part of the problem is that that's the way I talk. Jettying is a type of construction used commonly in medieval building construction, where the upper levels overhang the street as a way to improve the amount of space one could have despite limited floor space within the city. Yeah, this didn't work for me either on a couple more read-throughs. I'll probably switch back to imperial. Noted. This has more to do with world-building. It's an error I'm working to fix in the next draft--basically, soldiery isn't a well-looked on profession, so people that put care into things made for soldiers are kind of supporting an undesirable business. Working on this in the rewrite. L's hair is actually a very, very dark blue. There's probably a better word I can use...part of this just comes down to my personal color palette. Again, this goes to the world-building. Legs are supposed to be hidden, so soldiers often wear slitted skirts over trousers to have the appearance of modesty while freedom of mobility...not that that's really understood given the current text. Working on fixing this. That's intentional. Thanks, that's a good bit of advice. Half the problem is just knowing if I've hit the situation thoroughly enough. I'm glad it reads well. That's a good suggestion...I think I'll take your recommendation here. Yes. Typo. Lol. I'm actually mimicking the way my daughter speaks, so it's more phonetic than proper. This might be an American idiom...but it's a way of describing an accent that sounds a bit thicker and less precise than one might be used to. I might have phrased it the wrong way here though, because it's usually described as a "mouth stuffed with cotton". Mm. I'll think about this. Part of it grammatically is that I'm slipping through L's mental voice instead of my own, but it's a small change. That's good to hear. <phew> I.D. is correct that this is actual metal wire woven/embroidered into the skirts. Also, I need to mention this in the chapter, because gold is less valuable then silver here. Silver is...quite expensive, last time I looked at my coinage spreadsheet.
  8. Glad the prose works. And yes, the idea is to avoid those pacing problems. WoT is an influence, but it is not the influence. There are no singular influences to the writing of this story. ( ) I didn't see this in my draft, so it's possible some formatting got wonky between scrivener and word. Thank you. That's a helpful comparison. I could tell you everything in chapter one, but then where would the mystery be...? At this stage, it's more along the lines of asking "why is steel hard?" or "why is the sky blue?" I could explain, but it would be pretty banal, and I don't want to take pages to explain why glowstone and necrite exist and how exactly they operate. They're just part of the world. Midnight is a deep shade of blue. Black is black. Because of propriety. And it's not under her authority to do so. That's probably something I could include, thanks for the idea. Noted. Sounds like you have a hard time enjoying a story from a noble's perspective--which means it will be interesting to hear your thoughts throughout, because the idea of 'life as a noble is easy' is something I'm working around, conceptually. As for this: I'm working this out. Probably going to split at the scene break, expand the opening scene for the sake of world-building, and have the rest happen in the next chapter, which will allow me to include a scene I'd left out for a later chapter. I think you're right on the incident needing more punch, I've been toying around with that inevitability. Will consider. Thank you! That's helpful insight. I'll add that to my rewrite considerations. Good point. I'll take that into consideration. Perfect. (Ehehe) By the way, it's usually called an epigraph. I'm okay with prescriptive suggestions. I'm an assimilator, I take ideas and if they work, I incorporate them, and if they don't, I discard them. Never be afraid to offer a suggestion on what you think would improve the story--I'll choose whether or not I want to use it. Thanks for your thoughts!
  9. L is straight, so clearly I had a problem here. I'm trying to go back and rewrite it accordingly. I think the problem is just that I was so focused on including description that I used the wrong kind. HOWEVER, If you wouldn't mind helping me do a rewrite so I can better understand the principle, that would be awesome since I actually do have a character I want to be writing from a lesbian gaze in this story, and I want to make sure I do it the right way. Your experience would be incredibly valuable. I'm doing a pass on this chapter to try to bring this out more, but the society is definitely a topic of address within the novel. I missed some points that ultimately communicated the wrong thing, I think. The standards of dress, for example, aren't gender-specific--they're imposed on both genders (which is why both genders wear skirts), but I didn't indicate that very well. There's also a bit of gender-flipping in the prominence of genders in public society--this is something I also didn't portray very well. Yes. Working on making this more evident. This is one of those things that's going to be addressed over the course of the novel. Your second idea is closer to the truth.
  10. Thank you @Mandamon & @industrialistDragon, those are both very helpful bits of feedback. I'll go to work on what you've mentioned--some of those fixes should be fairly easy, but some will require a little bit of work. Thanks for your patience and understanding...a lot of it is definitely unintentional, so pointing out how it comes across and alternative things to consider is very, very constructive, even if it hurts a little. If you could...I could use some help with 'oppositional' writing. I'm not even 100% sure where I'm doing it or what's making it come across (I might have an inkling), so if you could continue to keep an eye out for this and give suggestions for improvement, it'd be greatly appreciated.
  11. Sorry for the absence, some things kind of went sideways in the last few weeks. I'm going to get back into critiques (I'd really like to catch up, I missed doing this), but can I also have a slot for next monday? It's a little long, but I wanted some early feedback before I go too far. Sorry, I know its not entirely fair to ask to post when I've not been critiquing. I can wait if necessary.
  12. Two things--one, this is from Shallan's perspective. Keep in mind she's the epitome of an unreliable narrator, but also that in this scene she was much more concerned with the fact that the chasmfiend fell on Kaladin and possibly ate him than its eyes burning. Second, We don't entirely know what "burned out eyes" looks like--no one ever really takes the time to dwell on or describe what they look like after. It's possible that Shallan's description of the eyes afterward as is what the eyes look like afterward, or--equally possible--she's just not paying much attention because she's more concerned about other things. It could be a simple error, but either way it isn't completely story shattering. We don't entirely know how fabrials/spanreeds work in the first place. It's likely Dalinar wasn't talking about replacing the ruby itself, but rather that he was worried about running out of the currency that makes the spanreeds work in the first place. That said, however, it's possible that the spanreed could have the ruby swapped out if the replacement was also conjoined to a different spanreed in Urithiru. Theoretically, so long as you had other rubies that were connected to a separate spanreed, you could take one "reed" and swap out the rubies as needed. This one actually doesn't seem weird to me at all--remember, spren like Syl can choose who they let see them. The only exception to this rule seems to be not Rlain, but Rock, who can see all spren regardless of if they want to be seen or not. There's no reason to assume that this rule of choosing applies only to humans, so the fact that Rlain doesn't see the spren and is unaware of Lopen's spren in general isn't weird in the slightest to me. Also, Lopen's spren is male: I think this one's been covered enough, but old is relative. Dalinar's in his fifties--so "an old general's trick" more than likely indicates recent history. I believe the wall itself is a "fabrial" that only needed stormlight to function--keep in mind that Urithiru had giant columns of gemstones that were meant to power everything from the lifts, to the plumbing. It's not unreasonable to believe that the wall of drawers served a similar function, and that's why it popped open when Renarin infused it--Renarin wasn't using the surges, per se, just turning the power on.
  13. V for violence. This is the prologue of the epic fantasy I’ve been working at. For anyone who read the original submission back in January, please disregard almost all of it. The story’s been massively overhauled, with a very different focus than before. Keep in mind that this is also a prologue, without Chapter 1 attached to it (which will come in the next submission). It takes place ~2,000 years before the events of the novel. It’s liable to change or be omitted entirely if I feel the story stands strongly enough later down the road, but I wanted to get it out of the way first. I also will be playing a bit with some standard fantasy tropes with this novel. I’m trying to avoid clichés, but you might notice some trends. You have been warned. It is a (first) draft, so not as interested in line-by-lines unless something is written really confusingly. I’m concerned primarily with the following questions: How do you feel about the conflict? Why? Is what I’ve written interesting? What about it (if anything) is interesting to you? If not, why? What questions does this makes you ask (if any)? If the answer is no, why? Is there anything you feel I do well? If nothing, how can I improve? Is there anything you feel I do poorly? If nothing, what can I strengthen? Most importantly, does this intrigue you enough to want to continue reading? The above questions are the ones I’m primarily concerned with as of this draft, but don’t let that dissuade you from adding anything else you feel is necessary. I would like as thorough a critique as you can give.
  14. Gotta have clean clothes when you're flying at hyperspeed.
  15. I do try to get proper knowledge before I write. But I might miss some things by virtue of ignorance (that it's a thing I should be concerned about). So, I'll ask forgiveness in advance, and if something comes up be sure I'll be asking about it.
  16. Whew. This is great feedback. I'll try to keep this in mind as I go, but part of the problem is simply I don't know what questions to ask. Thanks for the support. These are really good questions. Thanks! That's also a good question, one I hadn't fully considered. I've tried to reduce and fix this in the revision. I got used to using certain terms in the plotting/drafting stages and forgot to properly introduce all of them. Yeah, I've discovered I have some issues with setting the scene properly. I have trouble recognizing scenery in real life, so I'm working to fix this in the revision. This is probably more likely a failing on my part. But that's a good question to consider. Noted. Though, I'll ask: what defines "medieval-like speech"? That seems to be the most interesting part so far. Trying to fix this in the revision...I feel like the focus is off here. Sorry, I'm not sure what that means? P is MJ. A is Warden. But yes, that could distinctly be clearer. I'm wondering if I should write this segment from A's viewpoint instead. It'd take out the use of the magic system in the prologue, but it might be a little more of an engaging intro. Thoughts? I draw inspiration from many places. The lifestream is one of them, though the similarities end here. You'll probably pick up on a few little nods to my influential sources throughout the novel. Thanks! Probably next week or the week after. I think I'm going to do a test run of writing this same scene from A's perspective, P is clearly not working at this stage for a number of reasons.
  17. Good to know. I've tried to adjust this a bit in the revision. Noted. I've tried to make this more clear, so let me know what you think when I send the revision. Good bit of advice. I'll try to keep that in mind as well. Hopefully, this ends up being an epic fantasy you actually enjoy. Prevalence of men vs. women in fantasy is a direct trope I'm working against. I've constructed the entire world around this concept. Primarily, this is an epic fantasy I'm writing for my daughters, so one of my forefront thoughts is female characters they can identify with and look up to as they get older, and it's an epic fantasy where mostly women are the heroes. I'm also trying to play with some gender dynamics and sexuality, though since stretching my comfort zones means that it's probably still a few steps behind what others might be used to, some patience might be in order. Yeah, I'm trying to fix this in the revision. Cool. Thanks. I think this means I'm on the right track, at least.
  18. The difference between a favorable nod and an unfavorable one comes from whether or not the nod seems to be a direct derivation. For example, I could reference in a story how in ancient history the world was saved by a tall, red-haired man (which is a nod to Rand). Directly taking something from another text, however, usually does the opposite in that it comes across as an author either trying to ride another author's work, or deriving from another author's work because they lack creativity of their own. And unfortunately, the way this was written, it comes off as the latter, not the former--you have Winter Night being an inciting incident (which is how The Eye of the World began), and the ancient language of your world is called the Old Tongue. Am I making any more sense? Being inspired by the Wheel of Time is great. My own book is heavily inspired by the Wheel of Time. But a good nod is a subtle one, not a blatant one. A lot of my complaint would disappear, actually. My problem is the severity of the word 'anathema', and in my knowledge of history (keeping in mind this isn't my strong suit), even minor infractions of ecclesiastical law is met with severe retaliation--because it's kind of about control. If you allow people small infractions and acts of defiance, then you appear weak and unable to control your subjects. I'm not saying to change what you're doing--but I think you need some more concrete reasons why the people are showing this defiance (for example, they were taken over and its a secret thing they do among themselves to remember their culture!) And there's no better way to show this than through Z's own actions and thoughts. Glad it helped, haha. I always worry about being too harsh. From my (recent) experience, it might be better to err on the side of too much, rather than not enough. Easier to trim than create new content. That said, It's not necessarily about internal thoughts and dialogue as much as it is getting inside the person themself. Not just their thoughts, but their feelings, their body language, the way they physically react to the world around them. A boy touches a fourteen-year-old girl? That girl better react, either with disgust or heart aflutter. Boy falls and breaks his leg? Definitely should be seeing the panic of realizing what just happened, in addition to the pain. It's those kinds of intimate connections with the reader that tend to make the characters pop off the page--and it's something RJ does really well, almost to excess on occasion, so take some cues there.
  19. I haven't gotten to this yet, but I've been using Scrivener for years for Shattered Expectations. I'm hardly an expert, but I'd be happy to give you a few pointers if no one else knows it better.
  20. Argh. It's battle, the missing word is battle. I can clear that up. You're correct. Situation is dire, I need to go back and work that out. It's not YA, so that's a problem if it's coming across that way. Kiiiind of. They're human, but not...quite human. Similarly with the MJ. I can probably clarify this more, but I can't go into too much detail here because it's a plot point. That I can do. Glad that the magic system seems to be well-received so far. Ooohh that is definitely not what I was going for. That's going to need revision. Argh, this isn't supposed to be YA, so I definitely need to go back and adjust some things here. I have to go back and check, but I thought the line was "one of the two". There are only two others, H & Vin. This probably falls into the category of 'needs clarification'. That is correct. I've not been happy with the name, but I haven't figured out a suitable replacement yet. Thanks for returning the favor. I knew there were issues, but I couldn't put my finger on them--I was a bit afraid of being ripped apart and told "nope. This doesn't work at all" (self-doubt depression brain and all), so having potential is good. I was trying to avoid overwriting the prologue (I have a tendency to overwrite) and in retrospect, I apparently overcompensated and massively underwrote it. Writing a time-removed prologue is tricky, I've discovered, because it's a fine balance of divulging necessary information and holding back others for a sense of mystery...but clearly, there's more necessary information I need to add. So I'm going to have to dig back in and revise this...probably be a resubmit to make sure I'm hitting the essential points and getting the tone right. Thanks for the podcast recommendation, there's so many of those that I've been wary of digging into them for lack of what to look at. On the subject of this being YA, can you elaborate more on why it comes across that way? I don't intend it to be YA at all, so I want to make sure I know what I'm doing to make it come across that way and fix it. Thanks for the feedback!
  21. STANDARD DISCLAIMER: For demographic information, keep in mind that I am a white male nearing his thirties, married, with two young children, and come from a background of being LDS, conservative, and with a long history of chronic depression, so these things may color what I say during review. I try to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible. Sorry for the late reply to this, I've had a few things on my plate. Keep in mind that I haven't read the rest of the comments here yet. Let's dig in. Nitpicks: Inconsistencies/Concerns: Problems: Critique: Before I say anything else, let me state that this chapter was far more interesting than the last. The pacing was better, and stuff actually happened, which is great. I didn't find myself skimming, so that's a big improvement. Excepting the pinky promise at the end (which is childish without a reason for teens to be using it), there was a lot less overall immaturity, which is much easier to read. There were some problems. Most egregious being your use of Spanish--and the problem isn't that you use it! Let me make that clear. I have absolutely no problem with the way you include Spanish words and phrases within the text. Not italicizing them makes them feel organic within the terminology. Where it becomes a problem, is in this idea that the "Old Tongue" is anathema, yet no one bats an eye at its use. In fact, its use is so common that they call themselves the "pueblo" and refer to the festival as a "fiesta" and the worst they get is a raised eyebrow. This isn't anathema. Historically, anathema was one of the highest declarations a church could declare on people or ideas, second to heresy. It was basically outlawing an idea or person, claiming it was cursed and people could be punished or declared anathema themselves by just speaking to or helping a person so declared. It's a Really Bad Thing with Bad Consequences. If it's really so bad, so outlawed, than even a single use of the word should have consequences--especially when it's to someone as high up the chain as a General! Another huge problem is you so much time telling us what is happening. Z feels more like a passenger of the story, rather than a main, viewpoint character. We never really know what she's thinking or how she reacts to a situation, unless the Plot demands we do, and then we get a whole bunch of info telling that says "she does this/feels this/did this thing because" so that the Plot can move forward. And as a reader, that's frustrating. I highlighted one part in the Inconsistencies/Concerns and provided an example of how you can work on changing this throughout your story. Next, we come to the elephant in the room, which is Z herself, and this is linked to the previous two points. First, I don't understand why she uses so much Spanish when it's anathema. Hopefully by now, I've covered why that is thoroughly enough. Generally speaking, a character that would go so against societal law like this would be a rebel, not a "I want to fit in" kind of character. Second, there is nothing about Z to grip me into the story. She's a fourteen-year-old girl whose mom ran out on their family and whose dad is borderline negligent with his daughter. That's it. She has almost no emotion that comes through the story, no interesting quirks to make me want to understand her better, no internal dialogue to let me know her thoughts and feelings. And that's a problem, because buying into your MC is one of the surest ways of making a reader invested in the story. If the reader cares about the character, they'll naturally be more eager to see the journey that character goes through. Finally, I still see nothing about your world that is exceptional, that makes me really want to continue reading. It still reads as a kind of generic western fantasy setting, just one with Spanish names and Hispanic food. Your soul lanterns are the one thing that's different in the world (that I really want to like), but they're so underplayed that they're bordering on unnecessary. There's no intrigue about the lanterns, no personality. I'm guessing you're setting up Z to have a startling revelation when her soul lantern forms--but the soul lanterns themselves are uninteresting and not really integrated with the world culture. Those criticisms aside, I think Z is a much better "in" character than L. L has too much going on for the reader to immediately buy into, and definitely would work better after some introduction to the world. I liked that so much happened, and overall, the dialogue was miles above what was presented previously. This submission actually seemed to be going somewhere, with a specific slant in mind, and you have some excellent seeds for potential drama if you choose to pick them up--conflict between Z and her parents, conflict between Z & R, the emotional trauma and baggage of being an outcast, these are all really good, driving motivators that are very relatable to your target audience. I'd like to see you spend more time on the soul lanterns. Really dig in and tell us why these are a thing--what makes them something unique? They take shapes...but why does everyone have the same shapes? How do these soul lanterns integrate into society? Is the soul lantern a determining factor in a person's social class or profession? Is it an expression of their own unique personality or spirit? I really feel that you have the potential to tighten things up by focusing on this one thing--but right now, they seem to just be flavor in the world, and that's not interesting. Make it interesting. I'd also like to see you flex your showing muscles. Take some time, pick one segment of your story, and really try to dig into how the world looks through the character's eyes. How do the things others say affect them, mentally and emotionally? How might they react to provocation, on the inside? How are their thoughts all jumbled by their experiences? Focus only on the character, then submit that or get some feedback to see if it reads better. Good work. Keep it up. Every submission gets better, and that's what we want to see.
  22. Mmm...good point. I knew there was something off in there. I'll have to go back and clarify that. I've never actually read it. Hopefully it's not too similar in the long run. That's probably something I can clear up. Also something I can clarify. Thanks for the feedback @Mandamon & @Truthweaver!
  23. Yes, if you draw enough attention. There are defense mechanisms you can put on the Seamoth & Cyclops to help protect them, though.
  24. Ooohhh good luck with that. It only works if you can shoot them in the face. I mentioned those things scare the crap out of me, didn't I? So long as you're careful around the Aurora and stay close to the surface, you can actually avoid the reapers there so long as you stick to the side closest to the life pod. The area behind or in front of the Aurora, however, not so lucky. Also be wary of bone sharks. They're vindictive little jerks.
  25. Yeah, the grassy plateaus area I mentioned is pretty good for where you're at. You can tell when your base is damaged because you'll see holes like on the reactors in the Aurora that you have to repair, and if it gets too bad, your base will flood. There are a number of things that can either weaken or strengthen the integrity of your base--things like windows, corridors, etc. lower the durability of your base--and that can mean anything from attacks (less likely) to pressure or environmental hazards (more likely). Things that strengthen your base, like reinforcements (can be placed on every corridor type), bulkheads (interior sealable doors) and foundations help keep damage to a minimum, though if, say, you have a reaper leviathan or something big in the area you might need to repair occasionally. Small creatures are less of a threat to your base than pressure. Basically, the larger you make your base, the more likely to suffer damage it will be, so the more you have to bolster its durability. As to where you're at, you still have the Jellyshroom Caves to explore from the sounds of it, and you'll have to start branching out to collect things like rubies, lithium, silver, and other types of scannables (like Cyclops pieces!). Each zone has something you'll need in the long run.