Mandamon

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Mandamon last won the day on February 26 2013

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About Mandamon

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    Complex and Unnecessary
  • Birthday May 26

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    Practicing and Teaching Karate, Reading, Writing, Gaming, Tinkering
  1. I think @kais pinpointed the things I had trouble with. We note a lot of the same things. My main problem was a lack of tension. I'm not sure whether to expect story about a robot attack or a story about a fancy party. Much better put than what I was going to say. This may be why I thought this was going to be a story more about E vs. U rather than E vs. robots (which I think it is?) This exactly. Right now, the events are kind of fractured. There's rivalry between E and U where I don't see why there should be any. I'm guessing this is an artifact from the original version. E rousts out party guests who are crashing as well as deadly robots. I'm not sure where I'm supposed to pay attention. Notes while reading pg 1: first paragraph is kind of clunky with repeating E's name several times. (Also, I have a villain with the same name in one of my stories and it's throwing me off...) pg 4: "debating whether the Goddess used magic or science to terraform their moon without any snark or shrieking" --I think you mean E and U debated without snark, but it reads that the goddess did the terraforming without snark and shrieking. pg 5: "reported catching glimpses of The Mindless Nine" --I feel like this should have a much bigger impact, if they are definitely doing something. On a differnent note I wonder if having so much information about the mindless nine early on diffuses the tension. I'll have to read on to see. pg 6: the confrontation with the aunt is a bit awkward. It seems more plotful than naturally ocurring that E blurts out about slavery. I'm also not sure what any of this has to do with the story yet. Something happened the night before, but there's not enough information to even guess. pg 8: the tension is off with H. as well. He's quickly caught. It says in the next paragraph that E finds more party crashers, but we didn't know they would be expecting so many. pg 12: I'm not sure why the aunt is so important, rather than E and U's parents. I'm also not sure at the quick change in supporting U to supporting E.
  2. I was sucked in while reading this, but then I love worldbuilding / exploration, although now I want to explore the world more rather than focusing on leaving it. I think because you've introduced a community who's figured out how to survive, when the epigraphs are showing how things died. It sets up a reader expectation that we're going to discover how to make the planet more habitable. On looking back, though, I agree with @shatteredsmooth about needing more of a focus on E's emotional reaction to T being gone. This was a bit of a change of pace from the first chapter. I didn't have as much of a problem with confusion, however, I think (ironically) because I grew up reading a lot of the old pulp sci-fi. This has a very similar feeling, even though it is obviously from a newer society. Second this. Also agree. Notes while reading pg 14: I love the reveal of the impossible lake. pg 15: "left you out there for it" --not sure what this means. pg 23: "“This is the equator on the sun side. It’s a strip, two miles wide, that stretches all the way across the planet." --Cool. If I remember right, there's actually a planet in one of the old Foundation books that works on this principle. pg 23: The last line is great.
  3. I guess I should add to this... I've done a lot of work with Worldbuilding over the years, so I could say I have some experience in that. I also have a good grasp of etymology related to Latin and Greek, which I use to help create a lot of the in-world names and naming conventions I use. I'm a mechanical engineer, so I know physics and science as well as more esoteric machine operation and construction. I've practiced martial arts since 2003, and I have a lot of experience with traditional karate, as well as how the human body moves (connected with my mechanical engineering knowledge). I occasionally run panels at cons about how to write/research fight scenes. Tangentially to writing, I've been on three Writing Excuses cruises, and I've learned a lot about networking for writers and have a large community of fellow writers I know. My spouse and I also run the alumni portion of the WX scholarships for the cruise every year, so if you want any more information on that, let me know. Coincidentally, they just posted the scholarship entry form for this year: https://writingexcuses.com/2019/01/16/writing-excuses-retreat-2019-scholarships/ I would HIGHLY recommend anyone who can to either go on the cruise or apply for a scholarship. There are 4 available this year, if you don't have funds to pay for a cruise. I self-published my first book about 6 months after my first cruise, and I now have 5 books self-published and a sixth coming out from a small press later this year. I can 100% say this cruise is the reason I'm writing as much as I am now. Feel free to PM if you need something.
  4. Ha! Great minds think alike, right? I'd do some wordsmithing on this one, simply since someone else thought it up before you. If you trigger a memory or feeling the reader isn't anticipating in a story, it can throw them out.
  5. Welcome to Reading Excuses, and congratulations on joining a critique group! This place has made my writing a thousand times better. Like @kais, I am critiquing for publication, so let me know if this isn't what you want. Overall, the writing technique is good, though there are some passive sentences. I like the hook of the demon inside the lady, but I need to know a LOT more about this at the beginning. Also, you pretty specifically mention a demon that I believe is limited to a certain game company. I've never heard the term elsewhere. You may want to adjust. To this point, there were about 9 pages of relatively boring travel before we got to anything that interested me. I think the first part could be cut down greatly into a page or two, and preferably, get the excitement of finding out the maid is hiding things from her very early on. Right now if I started reading a sample of this, I'd probably put it down before I got to the good part. I think the dialogue between the demon inside could also be pumped up. I was thinking it was just her talking to herself until near the end, when it's obvious there is a different personality buried in there. Notes while reading: Pg 1: The tense change between the italics and the rest of the text threw me out of the story. pg 2: The conflict in the italics gives way to a very slow intro. Any tension is gone for me. pg 3: There's got to be a good reason 22 marriage courtships have fallen through. pg 5: Lots of thinky thoughts here. Nothing has actually happened, 5 pages in, and I'm starting to skim. pg 6: "You had that opportunity once though. Before you shattered it into a million tiny pieces." --22 times? pg 6: "You can’t hide your feelings forever, She says. Sooner or later, you’ll have to let them out. You’ll have to let me out." --at this point, I'm hoping for a werewolf... pg 9: "but it is the sight of the contents that causes me to stop and stare in surprise" --Here's something exciting...which doesn't get followed up on in this chapter. I was sort of assuming the handmaid was abducting her for some reason. pg 10: "My cursed heritage, a gift from my father, screams as a clarion call from the mirrored surface, broadcasting to everyone in sight my tainted parentage." --also interesting. Having this sooner would pique my interest a lot more. pg 13: "Seven gold crowns" --do you mean silver? pg 13: "They are my children…" --Didn't understand this. pg 16: "her mouth opens in the preemptive gestures of a scream" --this would have more impact if I knew what Vathe blood was and why it's scary. pg 17: "daedric" --isn't this specific to a certain company? Might even be trademarked. I'd like to see more threat between the internal voice and the character. Right now it only gets interesting at the end, and I think it could be a really good hook for the start of the story. Something like "I struggled to keep my demon caged within me. If my handmaid only knew...etc, etc." Anyway, looking forward to more!
  6. Yes, I think this would help. I was going to suggest something like this, but wasn't quite sure about when I first read the piece. Now, I'm leaning more toward it to give E more immediate grief. Having the headband as a more recent gift might also help. Not sure if that's plot relevant or not...
  7. Lol. I was wondering about that. Overall, this was a quicker read, and a lot faster to get into the meat of the story. I'm still not completely on board with the end of the chapter. I feel it's still lacking something, or the order of things (listen, then stab?) is wrong. There's more urgency to E discovering T may not be dead, but still not the hook that I really expect. Maybe because it's stated earlier E stopped searching three years ago, so it's not given that urgency earlier in the story? I dunno, I'm rambling at this point. Notes while reading: Lots of references to "click." I'm not sure where it's a sound the beetles make, or something the avalanche mortar does, or what, but the word is repeated a whole lot. pg 10: "grip on one of the low, wind-bent trees " --I don't think you've described any vegetation so far, so I'm assuming a dune sea with no plant life. Suddenly having a tree by the rider throws me out. pg 10: Ah. The M's recognition of E works a lot better in combination with the headband. pg 11: "some chitinous impact" --with an insect? Is there something else on the dunes? Is the suit chitin? pg 12: "a maple species I’d engineered to grow" --Interesting explanation, but I'd still like their mention sooner in the story. pg 13: "Now back off and listen." --This helps with the ending, but now I'm wondering what the woman has to tell, expect the chapter ends. Also, she stabs E after telling her to listen, which is sort of weird.
  8. Yessssss. Will do.
  9. Thanks for introducing yourselves, @Severian4Scadrial and @Alderant! It's been a little quiet around here for the past couple months, but hopefully it'll pick up again. I think I have an introduction waaaay back in this thread somewhere, but @Robinski, @kais, @industrialistDragon and I are pretty regular with critiques and occasional submissions. I've just finished up the first draft of my latest book, so I may have something coming up in the next few weeks. Great to have some other viewpoints to the critiques!
  10. WorldCon hotels are open as of today! I've got my room, but several of the nearer hotels are already filling up. Just a hint, you might be able to find better rates on hotels.com if you get some of their "secret prices." One of our choices was less expensive through WorldCon, but was filled up. The other was cheaper through hotels.com.
  11. I really like this. The flow of this story I think is one of your best yet. I think E is a very compelling character. She (they?) has a compelling reason for what she does, but is not too likeable. The "Competence" and "Protagging" sliders are high enough to compensate for it. I have to disagree with this. I think it's necessary to make E's gender-nonconformity very clear. I also didn't have as much of a problem with infodumping as @Severian4Scadrial, but it did slow the pace of the story a bit. I think it you took a little away from the worldbuilding (as much as I like it) in this section and added a touch more emotional reaction from E to T, then the ending would have even more of a punch. Right now it's really good, but I think that last line could be an absolute punch to the gut. Right now it's close, but it could be bigger. Notes while reading: pg 2: "There wouldn’t be a lot of use for sentry work if your sentry died each time you sent her out." --lol pg 3: "Like Earth’s shadow didn’t oppress us hundreds of light years away" --I didn't quite get this metaphor(?). Earth's specter maybe? Or Earth's memory? pg 3: “Still, you know what they say about the dunes.” --what do they say? I feel like I'm missing the pun. Also, this is spaced out a bit from the last dialogue, so I had to go back and see how it connected to this sentence. pg 5: "I heard N’s hologram click from existence " --This is a really cool twist, but also I was confused. Was Nadia a hologram the whole time? I though she was physically there. What was the cyclone that spun up to E? pg 5: "not bothering to answer my sister" --ok, now really confused. What was the hologram, and is N still standing there? pg 7: Very cool worldbuilding setup for the planet. So there are other colonies that are doing better then? I had the impression that this was all that was left of the human race. pg 8: love the beetles. pg 10: "and a nice work scrolled across the faceshield" --lol. I would hate those suits. pg 11: "some rare fungus that Queen would never know." --I see what you did there... pg 14: Nice ending.
  12. Welcome to Reading Excuses! First off, it always takes courage to put something out in front of people, so well done! Developing a thick skin is useful in relation to critiques. We're all here to help, so although most of my comments here are negative, I'm noting the places where I think you can make it a better story--hopefully it will help you out. Here goes. Overall, there are bones of some good character interactions in here, but I think it needs some more development before it gets there. I don't really know anything about the plot yet. To your questions: a) I have to say, I'm not really interested yet, simply because I have no idea what's going on. Some people are discussing religions I'm not familiar with in a bar, and then some of the people go on a walk to their inn afterward and talk about magic. There's nothing really to hook me in yet. b ) The characters are not really unique so far, except for Ranar, as he asks a bunch of pointed questions. I don't know anything about the two other characters in the first part, except that they have different religions. If you include some descriptions with the characters or something else to tie them to a certain feature, it would be easier to remember them. c) I'm not really sure why this is a question. Is the city going to play a big part in the story? Right now all I know is that it has bars and inns, which isn't anything unique. also, there's quite a bit of grammar and sentence structure problems. This could probably go through another read through. Notes while reading pg 1: The sixth paragraph is pretty awkward, and is also the first hint of any action. "flared his temper as if it had a will of its own" --I'm not really sure what this means. "last comment was a well-traveled path the ruts so deep they were leading like reins" --Also not really sure what this means. especially why it would anger him if it's a common comment? End of page 1: I guess there's a religious debate in the city? And not a lot of people leave? I'm not really sure what's going on yet. pg 2: "bursted in anger" --"bursted" isn't a word. pg 3: "His name is - don’t smile" --Is his name supposed to be funny? I think I missed it. --edit: okay, you do start to explain this, but then never actually say what it means. I feel like I'm still missing a joke. End of page 3: There's a break here, and I think you're changing POVs, but I don't really know which character is which. There aren't a lot of descriptors for the characters except that one of them has a beard, and now I can't remember who it is. Maybe Ranar? Pg 4: I guess the joke is that Atu's name means peace? Still don't get it. pg 5: "Or maybe a rock" --I had to read this several times. Do you mean "rook," the chess piece? pg 6: the banter about healing is pretty good, but at this point I'm not sure where any of this is going.
  13. This is an interesting read, but I felt there were two points that made me pop out of the story: 1) There's not a lot of description of the "caddy" or what it does. Is it supposed to carry luggage? Is it a taxi? What's the deal with all the pipes on the back? I think one solid description of what it does and how it works would ground me better. 2) What is the MC doing? The story is about them triggering E's trap, but I'm not sure what it is or how the MC is trained for it. Is he just stealing the luggage? Is he people trafficking? I would guess the latter. But who is the MC and why is this a reasonable diversion before they go off to catch the slaver? You mention that they didn't have to tell the chief the plan changed, but it didn't really. They are still on their way. I think I just need a little bit more about the world to understand why this side trip is important vs. the one that the MC is supposed to be on.
  14. Well, despite the warning I read this on Christmas. Nothing too bad for me, though I'll agree it doesn't really fit with the season ;-) Overall, I was mostly confused while reading this. It took more than half the story to land on what was actually going to happen, and then it felt very unfinished at the end. Your spoiler iterations clear some of this up, but it wasn't in the story, so that won't really help while reading it. If you can somehow incorporate it into the story, it might work better. To your questions: 1) Confused during most of the story. I did understand what happened at the end, but I thought it ended abruptly (and yes, I know it's hard to continue after that point...). It also took a long time to get started, and I feel that space could be better used to explain some of the things I was confused about. 2) I did like the twist, however it came after slogging through a lot of technobabble, so it wasn't as rewarding as it could be. I think if the rest of this was cleaned up, it could be a very interesting story. Time travel has been done a lot, but this had some fresh things in it. Notes while reading pg 2: no idea what's going on in the second paragraph. in fact, most of this page is hard to follow. pg 3: "but I had to figure out ways to remove the gravitational and electromagnetic constants once they stopped applying.” --seems like there needs to be something else at the end of this sentence. pg 3: “I mean, sure I’ll throw you the notes, but good luck with that.” --luck with what? The sentences seem purposefully vague. end of pg 4: I was hooked when one guy said he solved time travel, but then they've been blathering on for 3 pages. Starting to lose interest . pg 5: “My heedless-of-consequences almost-girlfriend is attempting to abuse her relationship with me and my relationship with you to filch your time travel notes, yes." --what? we haven't heard anything about this until now. This is more interesting that the technobabble, but there's no buildup. Is Dr. C the girlfriend? pg 6: “I’m going to test the Grandfather Paradox.” --this is jumping all over te place pg 10: this seems to have landed on the grandfather paradox as the plot. There's a lot of extra incomprehensible stuff attached to it, though. This could be pared down a lot to make more sense. pg 11: "It took me two days to get out of the caves." --I guess he's traveled in time, then. pg 11: "for losing the present-day bet that they couldn’t." --there's a lot of these strange, unfinished sentences in the story. pg 11: "The first was accomplished a slight jab into her" --awkward sentence pg 12: "that was caused by the jab." You could probably just say this outright when it happens. pg 12: "A dead woman, from cardiac arrest." --yeesh. He is nuts. pg 13: “Yes, well.” Kay shrugged. “Sometimes I say things that I don’t really mean, you know? I mean, who pays attention to everything around them?” --I have no idea what's going on. pg 15: “No can do.” Kay sighed and sat down next to me. “Sorry, gramps. But that’s a good ol’ heart attack. Or cardiac arrest. But I’d hate to die alone, so I’ll just keep you company.” --ha, ok, good twist pg 15: "Grandma was first, and I just took over for her until I could get you. So two down. Two to go.” --don't know what this means. (Edit: here is a good place to explain some of those iterations...)
  15. I can see why you're having trouble with this. I think the story concept is good, but there's something about the execution. I also assumed A was a he, which was prejudice on my part, as this came near the end and I've been here long enough to know better. However, since many people will automatically bias that way anyway, why not just call out that A is nb, or female, or whatever gender? Then it's clear. Yeah, I think one of the problems I had in general was motivation. As @aeromancer said, we don't know how the weres work, so we don't know if they are violent or not. Several people randomly accuse others of wrongs, when they're not really the person who can do anything about it. Then the one person who has done something wrong--the neighbor--gets a sympathetic ending. As I said below, we get to the crux of the story rather late, and I wasn't really sure where things were going for the first half. You may be able to cut several of the first scenes and replace with more worldbuilding about the weres. I'm prescribing at this point, but maybe something like an attack between a were and a person, but then proof the person was the one who started it? This could tie into the attacks around the neighborhood. That is, after all, E's motivation for his wrongdoing, and giving us a glimpse of the attacks will help set up why he's covering things up. Did he kill someone? A pet? Cause property damage? I think the jail discussion was perfect. If you can bring out that emotion through the rest of the story I think it will work a lot better. Notes while reading: pg 1: This starts with a person with a dog they love/hate and nosy neighbors...I"m sensing a theme in your work. pg 2: "from across the round high top wearing a plaid button up shirt." --This sounds like the high top (whatever that is) is wearing a shirt. pg 4: 'I didn’t see you when I came in or I would’ve said hello" --wait, what? I'm not sure I know what's going on. pg 4: "Perspective students were lined up" --There's now been two scene cuts and I'm not sure what's happening. M might be a werewolf maybe? Or is just grumpy? pg 4: "sets foot" -> "set foot" pg 5: "nearly tore a whole" -> "nearly tore a hole" pg 5: "“You’re mean,” she said. “Welcome to reality,” --at this point, I'm sort of with the girl. I'm not sure what's making M angry. pg 6: "finishes reading" -> "finished reading" pg 6: "It was inability to control her anxious temper, and failure to afford her anxiety medication thanks to the government’s reversal of health care reform." --ok, here's something that finally explains part of what's going on, but it's not a big enough hook to draw me in, and it's 6 pages in. pg 7: "who hadn’t really done anything wrong" --except eat her favorite cookies she just bought? I mean this out everything that's happened would make me the most angry... pg 7: "realizing she nipped back a little too hard," --yeaaaahh...I'm sort of confused by M. pg 8: "She went around the other side of the house where Eddy couldn’t see" --Ooooh...Eddy is the neighbor. I completely missed that in the second scene. Probably my fault. pg 8: “Thank God we aren’t weres,” --This is sort of hanging like Checkov's gun on the mantle, but this is almost halfway through the story. This plus the title is making me confused. pg 10: “If you really care, find a way to help,” I agree with the sentiment, but the whole conversation seems very strained. It sounds like the girl is accusing M of bringing this new law to pass. pg 10: "so when M pulled up into her tiny, crushed stone excuse of a driveway and shingled cottage, she was in a good mood." --Eh? Is this sarcastic? pg 16: The discussion with T is very good and I think gets to the heart of the issue. But it's almost at the end of the story. pg 17: E being the were was surprising yet inevitable, but I also think I hated every one of the characters in this story, except for T and the girl with the wristband...