Mandamon

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Everything posted by Mandamon

  1. Hello all! (and I'll say hi to several of you later today...) This is the first part of what will be a novelette-length cyberpunk story, intended for an anthology...if I get accepted. To do so, I need to show a writing sample of 1000 words, which I'd like to pick out of this selection. So, all the usual requests apply. Tear it apart and let me know what I need to fix. ALSO, please let me know what you think will work for a 1000-word writing sample. My default is to submit the first section, up to "They've got a holo-man," but let me know if you think a different section is stronger. Thanks! UPDATE: If you're interested about the companies or the types of personalities they employ, DM me and I can send the webpage for the universe. Not sure if I can share it publicly.
  2. Hello! I am waiting in an airport with nothing to do, so you get a very quick turnaround! Good chapter with some nice character development, but I feel like it doesn't have a lot a movement. There was a search in the last chapter, and then there's another search in this one. You may have changed some stuff around, though. I also felt like the tension was off a little. There's the creepy message, the creepy doll, and the creepy joker, but then nothing really resolves with any of them. They just sit there and be creepy. E and D don't wonder why they're there after determining they aren't ghosts. So someone must have put them there, right? With the fire alarm going off it sounds like someone is in the house with them, but I don't think that's the case either. I don't really have a good idea of what's not working, just that something isn't. pg 1: first paragraph: Had to figure out where they were. I saw you changed the end of the last chapter, so that's probably where my confusion comes from. However, the beginning of the chapter isn't really catchy. It's just a list of equipment. pg 3: I'm not sure the reticence to leave the bike shop really works at this point. E is already "on the quest" so to speak, so talking about "refusing the call" sort of takes out any tension that was there. It doesn't do a whole for building their character either. pg 3: "D bit into her lower lip" --hopefully just bit it, but not *into* it. pg 4: "The moment ended when she did hand signal to turn and then turned into the driveway." --is this is different turn than the one they did last paragraph? The blocking is a little confusing here. pg 5: "but there was a message written in teacups and toys" --that's...rather creepy. pg 6: "I thought it was safe to assume D’s mom had also been turned," --That's not what I was assuming at all...I just thought the mom was maybe captured. I suppose it makes sense, given the rest of the story, though. pg 6-7: good descriptions of being uncomfortable with hugs. pg 7: “That wasn’t there yesterday,” --Ick. Also creepy. pg 8: also a good description of feeling non-binary. pg 9: "the more I expected the doll to move at any minute" --yeah, that doll is creeping me out!
  3. Hey @Silk! Hope you're having fun. We've now landed from the first leg of our flight, and I'm honored to be your first critique in (insert time...) Yes, guilty on that. Making up names seemed like a fun thing to run with, but I may have gone overboard. Yep, that's one of the reasons I wanted to pass this through the forum. I feel like the back half is falling down a bit. I'm planning to expand on this in the rest of the story, but I may need to add more here as well to bring the reader in. Giving some more of why they're fighting might help. Interesting...hadn't considered using the end, but that might work well. Thanks! Eh, I think this part fell flat. The implant's doing basically everything so he can slip through the asteroid unnoticed. Being able to breathe vacuum was supposed to be facetious, but I may have missed that mark. Thanks again! Looking forward to that song! ;-)
  4. Aha! I shall see your lack of response and raise you a quick reply! Annnndd...doing this on a plane half on my phone, so I don't have good page numbers... The stuff in the hospital really propels things forward and starts connecting things. I'm not convinced the scene in the jail accomplishes much, though. As far as I can tell, Q&M plan to be separated, but that doesn't actually gain them any information. The police flex their muscles (figuratively and literally...), show that they're not letting Q out of their sight, and are going to accompany Q to the hospital, but that could probably be done in transit with the same effect and less words. Notes while reading: "Michael Buble tickets" -- So this would be the "head in a jar" tour? I assume this is WRS from everything, but I don't remember why they're dragged into the sheriff's office. --edit: I went back to the last submission, because I just couldn't remember. Looks like Q asks to go give an explanation? Then why are they manhandling them into the building now? -The argument between M&Q seems almost forced, as if they're trying to be put in separate rooms, though I don't think that's the intent. I think it's that the argument comes up very abruptly, without much of the nagging banter the two usually have before it's all-out shouting. "His strategy with M might have backfired a little" --Ah, so it was a pre-planned argument to separate them? Why? "And I have very little idea about his beef." --lol. I'm choosing to take this a certain way, whether you mean it or not... ;-) "paid the price with her sanity." --This is the ex, right? Was sanity in question before? I don't recall that. Should I know who Mer is? We know R., but I don't remember the other name. "he was a perfect gentleman until a trim backside walked in." --delightfully ungendered! "Let's pretend he wasn't carrying a book." --was he? Did we know this? What kind of book and what does it have to do with anything? "Too easy" --As I recall, last time this part strayed into being a bit too much. This time I don't think it's enough. Neither M or the officer really follow through on threats, and M's display to dominate him doesn't really land for me. Maybe just a little more posturing? The whole exchange is a little scattered as well. The office yells random things about giving him info, but M doesn't really know either, so there's not much actual information in this section, and I'm wondering how much it ads to the story. "The trick was staying on the right side of the bars." --yeah, I'm really not sure why the two are even in the police station. They were also trying to investigate, and the lady who took them there can easily verify they wanted to find out about the crash. The obviously don't know anything, so I'm not sure why the police are chasing this dead lead rather than another path. Ah. Then K gives lets out that R is awake and wanting to talk. So why all the charade to get started? Much easier to just tell Q they want to come along to learn, and they'll delay him if he doesn't. "tensed involuntarily at the name" --interesting. So Q knows about the company, presumably from the old man? patient because of his chest bandage? Why? Good ending to the chapter! Was M the gunman before? at any rate, still interested in the story. From what I recall, this last section is much clearer than the last time around.
  5. Overall, this was good, and I'm glad to see it starting to develop the world some more. The existence of the train vs. the town helps place the tech level a little better. Like @kais, I have some issues with the setup, though. For example, Mom's social status with the group. She's sort of accepted as "one of the teens," and then there's some weird power play with how much control she has over them. Especially with her absence and deliberately hiding from her daughter (for some reason?) She doesn't have a lot of leverage, and so the normal mother/daughter/friend reactions seem strained and a bit unreal. The whole flashback/POV change in the middle isn't working at all though. It's very confusing because there are head hops back to Z while the mother is telling the story, although the story is in Z's POV. I think it can be cleaned up pretty easily, just needs some editing. Looking forward to where this is going though, and I would love to see more of the mom further along in the story (right now it seems like she's going to stay where she is?) Notes while reading: pg 1: “You’re like a week from hitting the turn of age. Haven’t you ever broken a bone before?” --Hmm. A couple issues with this. First, is M addressing the mother? Second, it seems a pretty disrespectful tone for one who has just saved her life, and for an elder. From what I've seen so far, there is general respect to those older than you. I'd expect this as a comment more between teens. Third, if someone's near the turn, wouldn't they naturally be more concerned with keeping themself from getting injured? pg 1: “And, no, I’ve never actually broken a bone before.” --Possible, but unlikely, if she's trained as a soldier. I've broken several bones practicing martial arts and I've never been in a real fight. You do give reasons for it below, but it stretches my belief a little. ribs, toes, and fingers are very easy to break and not much you can do about them. pg 2: "He looked just as surprised by this news as she felt." --also surprised. Wouldn't small-town people generally know what was going on, especially with career choices? pg 2: “You know you’re being catty to a teenager, right?” --yeah, the attitude on M isn't really working for me. I would think at least fear and hesitancy for an outcast like Z's mother. pg 2: “You do use that line a lot.” --who uses which line? pg 3: “We just need to go about a mile right now,” Mama said. “I can make it.” --on a broken leg? Really? pg 3: "she disappeared for a year." --I would think this would be higher up on the list of things to ask about. pg 4: “I’d say about a mile or so shy of thirty." --What time of day is it? I was imagining it was midday, but maybe I'm mistaken. At any rate, 30 miles would take something like 10-12 hours to walk, if you take their speed at about 3 MPH. pg 5: “Do you always abandon your only child?” --Yeah, the 'tude really isn't working for me. I just don't believe there would even be that much acceptance of the mother as one of the crew. pg 5: "At first it wouldn’t budge" --repetition with the sentence above. pg 6: "Sub, below. Terra, the earth." --This doesn't quite work for me with the knowledge they already have. R already guessed they were trains. Thus the big revelation that the trains pass underneath, on the tracks that are clearly below ground, doesn't really work. pg 9: "on the day they came for her mother." --Ah. we've gone to flashback. There needs to be some sort of break here to show that we're switching from Z's POV to Mom's. pg 10: "When Mama revealed this fact, Z tried very hard not to look at M or R." --Er, we're jumping back into Z's POV while still telling the story that only mom knows. It's making my head hurt. I think this either needs to be all in quotes, so that is actually telling the story, or needs to have a very clear break to show were going from Z's POV to Moms, and then back. It's also a pretty long infodump. Could get away with it as a story, but it might still need to be edited down to the relevant facts. pg 11: "U served a second tour" --and now we're back in mom's POV again... pg 12: “It scared me. --missing a quote pg 12: "friend of Misery" --Has this been defined? It's popped up several times now and I'm confused as to what it is. pg 12: “Papa knew,” Z said. “He visited you?” --we already covered this a few pages back. pg 15: "Are these two kids your... friends?” --Is there a problem with this happening? This whole exchange is weird, like mom doesn't want Z to be social or something. She's been basically unavailable for however long. She should expect her kid to have new connections. Even with that, actively stopping her kid from gaining friends seems bad, and I don't see a reason why she would. pg 16: “Well, then... of course you can go.” --I don't think mom has much leverage to "let" anyone do anything. pg 17: “Afraid so,” R said and spoke no more." --This is an odd aside that doesn't go anywhere. As such, it seems like a very author voice statement like "hey, this book is really important to the story." If I was accused of something I didn't do, I'd want to get to the bottom of why. pg 17: Good last line!
  6. I think we're resuming. What do you think, @Silk? I have a cyberpunk thingy I have decided to submit to an anthology that I need eyes on, so I would love a spot if possible.
  7. A lot of us are meeting IRL at WorldCon in Dublin Ireland!
  8. This ended up better than I expected from the beginning of the chapter. Things started a little slow, especially with all the joking around, but soon got into things and ended with some good revelations. Now I'm wondering where these kids learned how to fight? Has that been covered in other chapters, or is it just WRS? I think the beginning could be tidied up a bit, but overall this was an enjoyable chapter. pg 1: "This was six months ago, at Zulma’s fourteenth birthday party." --So is this a memory, or a flashback? It's a little strange, just sitting at the beginning of the chapter. pg 4: I like the banter on these pages, but it is going on a bit long. pg 9: "Not that he would have gotten the chance because in that moment, M burst out laughing, followed by R, and suddenly--for reasons Z didn’t fully understand--everything was okay again." --I'm...not completely sure why they were laughing either. pg 9: “Do you think it will happen again?” --Think what will happen? Talking about sex? I'm not sure where all this is going. pg 10: "soul knife gotten bigger" --As in it was still forming, or the whole thing got bigger or what? I still don't know enough about the soul lanterns to understand what this means. pg 12: "But you know the God King is good." --They keep saying this like he's not actually good. Again, I don't really have anything to judge by. We don't know anything he's done or what laws he's enacted, or if he's killed anyone or... Is it just religion that says he's good? pg 14: “There’s another demon in the area and--” She looked at the pulsating egg. “--I think it’s coming for the egg.” --Ah. That's not what I was expecting. Interesting. pg 15: “It comes!” --I guess they've been trained in fighting? I can't remember if this has come up before. In any case, this last sentence seems a little off given the rest of their speech. Maybe "It's coming" or something like that? pg 15: "flared the light of the respective soul lanterns" --interesting. Also didn't know that was a thing. pg 17: "alerted to her maneuver due to her battle cry." --this is the second time the demon has been alerted by a battle cry in two pages. Also, where did these fourteen year old learn to fight like a commando team? pg 18: “Mama! Mama! You came back!” --Also was not expecting that...
  9. Got a bunch done on the plane, and now's the first chance I got to comment with an internet connection! Another good chapter. I think there's some more action in it this time around. Things have been a little slow with Q&M wandering around Canada--there was more action on the E/T/M side. But this chapter starts to get things going. I also like that there's more background about both Q & M. Nice to see them developing in character. Notes while reading: pg 3: "technique approaching tenderness—most unsettling" --I mean, they are designed to serve people. Why would an android not be able to massage and help relax people? pg 3: "had made him look shifty during his questioning by C’s sheriff the next morning," --wait, what? What is he being questioned for? And how does he know it made him look shifty if it's not happening until the next morning? pg 4: "R arrived today" --I think this is where the jump in timelines gets confusing. R is the security guard M found in the last chapter, right? Except he's already contacted Q&M in the chapter before that. pg 4: “I don’t know how you’re not taller" --was this talk about her parents taken from the last chapter or am I having flashbacks to the first time I read this? pg 6: "It sounded like a really good dinner" --lol pg 7: "he had his own missing person, two in fact." --There's more development of Q's life in this chapter than I remember. Good. pg 8: "a man called M took the boy away" --Oho! I know that part's new. Very nice twist. pg 9: "Creston ideal" -> "Creston was ideal" pg 9: "It served the North American Federation right for dispensing with driving licenses." --nice worldbuilding touch. pg 10: a bit of a drag in tension on all the driving descriptions. pg 12: "It’ll keep schedule, right?” --what will keep schedule? pg 14: “She’s feisty; I like her,” --lol (Also good on more background for M, above)
  10. (Got some critiquing done in the airport waiting for the plane to Ireland!) Overall, I thought this started to really get into the story toward the end. The beginning of the chapter was still pretty slow. I think the research could still be spread out some more so it's not as much of an infodump. The characters do sound more kid-like, but I think it might be a detriment to the story. They start going off on theory after theory connecting the mannequins to all sorts of other stuff, with little proof. It's probably accurate, but it makes the story scattered. I was on board with ghosts, or even ghosts possessing mannequins, but now we're off on old gods and aliens, and I'm ready to settle on one type of antagonist. Anyway, I'm assuming things will go down at the mill. What's the length of the story? I'm feeling this almost as a novella now, because I can start to see an end pretty quickly after they get to the mill, unless something else complicates the story. Looking forward to more! Notes while reading: pg 1: "harcovers" -> "hardcovers" pg 1: “And that one goes to a staircase that will bring you out the back of the building.” --Is this pertinent for some reason? pg 1: "then ran over the bathroom." --That poor bathroom! I hope it's ok... ;-) pg 2: "Mom couldn’t stay a mannequin forever." --I mean, there's nothing so far that says she'll even turn back. pg 2: "There was only one couch in the office, and since it belonged to D’s mom, I was going to let her sleep on it." --D, or her mom? pg 2: "The plan was to make the pizza people think she went home and then quietly spend the night in the office." --I mean, how much do the pizza place employees really care? pg 3: all the stuff about getting/eating pizza, and then doing research, is pretty slow. Could probably cut a bit to get to the point where E finds out why the mother is at the factory. pg 4: I think the stuff about ADHD could be doled out a little better too. Right now it's sort of an infodump pg 4: "My attention felt slime slipping through my fingers." --?? pg 6: There's a lot going on here, between the factory, aliens, old gods, old girlfriends, book vs. internet research, a murder investigation...It just feels like a lot in a page or so and it's jumping around a lot. pg 7: "A’s doll, which was staring up at shelves and occasionally wobbling one way or another, didn’t help." --I would say so. I'd have trouble sleeping with that thing toddling around. pg 7: "I did a few searches about ancient aliens. Aliens made me think of science or superhero movies, and how many times Mom had watched Marvel movies with me." See the comment above. We've gone from a mannequin and a doll to old gods being aliens. There are some huge jumps in here. pg 9: "probably because it was hours before it was scheduled to open." --or, you know, because the owner is turned into a mannequin and hasn't opened shop. pg 10: “Maybe they went back to where it started. Her factory.” --This still doesn't answer how they disappeared from a locked room. pg 11: "It’s a little haunted, but the ghost is harmless" --Can something be a "little" haunted?
  11. I agree with @shatteredsmooth on the first section. Very engaging with T's thoughts. I got a bit confused in the next section trying to figure out exactly where everyone was going, and the logistics of getting the creatures out. Seems like there would have been more safeguards? The only other quibble I had is that M could have remote-detonated the M.T.s, couldn't he? I get that he was trying to get to T, but wouldn't exploding them maybe finish her off as well? Or does he not have the codes? Notes while reading: pg 6: No comments so far. I think there's some more emotion added in the previous pages, which is good. I feel a lot more for T than I remember doing last time around. Her decisions are the wrong ones, but feel like she would have made them. pg 7: "Why doesn’t M just do it himself?" --I was getting to this point as well, so good job asking the question at the right time. pg 7: "Suddenly she realised that he might kill her once it was done" --Seems likely...which means she should probably do something about it. --edit: ah, she is. pg 9: "opening the goods lift door in the wall" --I'm not really sure of the blocking here, and where the M.T. are going. Also, is T doing this with her own login now? What was the point of using the intern's? pg 9: "Her walk to the elevator" --Still not sure where she's moving vs. where the M.T. are moving. pg 10: "the goods lift from Level Six arrived" --ok, they are going to the same place. I was unclear. pg 11: "Without exposition, Morton reached back inside the office and the goods lift door began to slide up" --Again, not completely sure on the blocking here. T has to go operate the crate doors, because plot I suppose, then M is in the room she was in? Is there some other barrier between the control room and the lift? pg 12: "a black figure was outlined in gold" --not sure why the M.T. aren't also going after M? pg 13: "That would be as good..." --This is a very long sentence. pg 13: "If only she had not tried to smuggle them out" --ah, this at least gives a reason for how M thinks he will get away with it. pg 15: "if the beasts actually were sighted at large in Y" --Didn't they have head-explody collars? Can't they just kill them remotely once M "discovers" what happened? pg 16: "H’s security officer" --Do we know what this company is?
  12. Overall, I enjoyed this more than the first two chapters, now that we're into the story. My main issue was there was a lot of exposition and telling which could be smoothed out by another draft. I think this is where you're feeling it's dragging. Spreading things out a little would up the tension. We've basically been told that A needs to help E go fight the thing in the mannequin with M, who A has a grudge against. There's not much left to reveal... It depends on whether this book will be about gearing up enough to defeat the Big Bad, or whether it's about the characters learning what they're up against. But we've already been told most of what they're up against already. pg 1: Holy expository sentence! Can probably cut the first sentence down since readers will have just come from chapter 2 pg 1: "his wife’s disappearance" --maybe "Mom's disappearance," since this is from a young POV. pg 1: "and maybe a psychic" --I don't have enough worldbuilding knowledge yet to determine whether a psychic is real or not. I assume so, since the mannequin thing is true, as are ghosts, but I don't know if this is a known, respected profession in this world. pg 4: "I couldn’t stuff A’s doll far enough..." --has the doll been moving or speaking? We haven't seen anything from the doll the rest of the chapter. pg 5: the list of paranormal titles makes me think this is the "hidden history" style world where no one knows that magic/paranormal stuff can happen. pg 6: "sometimes, rumor had it that she would invite the child workers over for tea parties." --That's not creepy at all. Also, this paragraph is a bit infodumpy. I get that it's a summary of a news article, but it's also not as engaging to the reader. pg 6: "One kid had reported her to the police" --might want to do a little research on whether this would be something that actually got reported/paid attention to 100 years ago. Yes, the police didn't do anything, but would the paper even have picked it up? pg 7: "the doll was in it with him, pointing at a little neon sign hanging in the window above the pizza shop." --It's now sort of reassuring that the creepy doll is still inhabited by the ghost... pg 8: "assuming he, she, or they weren’t a complete fraud" --could probably just use a generic "they," especially since this is repeated further down the page. pg 9: "Aunty Rs’s" --I....don't actually know a gender neutral term for a parent's sibling... pg 11: “Did you call the police?” --uhhh, especially after three days... pg 11: "my stepmom died three years ago.” --it took me a minute to figure this out, as it came right after telling about her dad. Was this her Mom's new wife? I assume if she didn't know her father, then she wouldn't know her father's second wife. pg 13: "What pronoun should I use for you?” --I get the sentiment, but that would really not be the first thing out of my mouth watching this event. pg 13: "I didn’t know there were other choices, but in my bones, back when I had bones, I knew I was neither boy nor girl.” --Again, I like the sentiment, but A latches on to a completely new pronoun that they didn't even know existed in a couple seconds. I'd think they would need to think about it at least. pg 13: “The unknown entity could be a number of things." --we've gone from wondering if M was in the mannequin to knowing she's in there along with Something Else in the space of a few sentences. I think spreading the realizations out a bit would help the tension.
  13. Overall, I think this is well written and there's a good core to it, but I'm not hooked yet. We have a very stereotypical medieval society, with Victorian mores, which makes sense when you compare it to WoT or SA, but it is a strange combination. You say this is for women, but aside from most of the characters being female (which is great), they seem to have to overcome the same gendered problems as our society, even though they seem to be in charge. The inciting incident is, I guess that the queen is sick? Some more reaction or thought from L would help make this a bigger issue. Since this is about the ruling class, I'd like more information about how it works, and what this council of women is doing running things instead of L. Notes while reading: pg 1: “Go ahead and go back up to the keep" --repetitive, especially for the first paragraph. pg 3: Slightly slow to start, but I'm enjoying the banter. pg 5: "H-Highness,” the man said cautiously" --okay, I knew she was a noble of some sort, but not royalty. pg 6: "you’re not even casting the good bits—just the parts below my knees!" --lol pg 7: "clearly trying to get an eyeful of the two women" --there's increasingly more of woman as objects, the farther I get into this, which I get is the point, but it's also reinforcing that steriotype. pg 8: "the young men’s eyes went wide with shock" --And this. This is a medieval-style story, but with very staid, victorian sensibilities. I'd think "working class" men would be a lot more coarse than embarassed. pg 10: "feeling a deep exhaustion settling from her head into her chest" --I'm not sure why. She's been quite feisty so far and hasn't said or thought anything about feeling tired. She also just voluntarily walked three miles. pg 13: "Ever since the Cataclysm, womankind has been at the mercy of things beyond our understanding." --eh? As in specifically women have been targeted? pg 14: I"m starting to get a bit of description fatigue, especially with the explanation of the fortress. The characters have been introduced, but I'm not yet hooked. pg 16: “Mommy’s helping wif the Queen,” --I thought L was the queen? pg 18 “It’s not mine to lead yet, Matriarch,” -- I'm confused. Who's queen and who's leading the country? pg 18 “Mother’s still the Queen" -- is that the tall woman? She hasn't been introduced and sort of faded into the background. pg 18 “we’re not here to bicker. The Queen’s illness..." -- ok, glad she's introduced, but I have no idea who these people are or what their function is if there is a queen, a daughter and son, and a clear line of succession. pg 19 “She’s not well.” -- they already said she was ill. pg 22 Ok, by the end things are a bit clearer, but I'm still not sure who the other woman are.
  14. Well, I think the concept is good here, but as @kais says, There's no setup to the whole premise that mannequins turn people into more mannequins. If it was a simple concept like "bears eat people" then you can assume the reader will pick up on the idea easily. But this is a very specific fear that evidently turns out to be true. So a MG reader (I assume) will need some setup of why this is a thing and what this game is the mother plays, and how it works. Right now we know nothing, and then E. starts assuming things about mannequins and dolls, and I'm very quickly lost. Having that setup will help my other issue, which was that nothing really happens until halfway through chapter 2. We're just dawdling around a junk shop. There's not even a specific reason they're there, except that mom is looking for junk. And there's definitely no word about "we're worried about mannequins so be careful in this junk shop" from mom. Notes while reading pg 2: "assuming we made it that far without getting turned into mannequins." --This makes me think they've been turned into mannequins in the past. pg 3: "Junction Junk always smelled like sawdust and mothballs." --Is the name reversed in this sentence? pg 5: "but Mx. R always put dresses on him to defy cultural gender norms. --I know this is mid-grade, but there are several of these very obvious callouts. can it be more subtle, or is this the usual for MG? pg 5: "I’d never seen anyone turn into a mannequin, but I wasn’t going to take any chances" --ok, so they haven't been turned into mannequins before. I'm sort of confused about the premise, since we're getting through the first chapter. it's so far about things that don't happen rather than things that do happen. pg 5: "Whether this was real or just a game" But E has a very specific solution for it. So is it something E's mom told them? If so, I'd think they would say something like "Mom told me this is how to avoid..." pg 8: "She didn’t need to hear my answer to know it. I wouldn’t believe her. That was the type of question I could only answer for myself." --Hmm...Again, this seems to be about things that don't happen. I'm left a little turned off by the first chapter because I can't really pin it down. I'd think it would be even worse for a kid, since they are looking for a quicker resolution. pg 10: “Do you know where the treasures are?” --For an MG book, nothing of note has happened yet, and we're 2500 words in. I'm losing interest, and I'm not a kid. pg 11: "If people could turn into mannequins, then could dolls move? Or be haunted? What if a ghost possessed it?" --I'm still very confused why E is obsessed with people turning into mannequins, with no experience or proof. pg 11: "Are we proof that ghosts and monsters and magic are real?" --Buuuuut....I'm not seeing any proof unless that one doll did move. "We" as in the whole collection of dolls, is not giving any proof. They're just sitting there. pg 12: "The supernatural was scary, but I wanted it to be real." --Why and Why? I feel like I'm missing something. pg 14: "was real. Mom’s game was real, and she’d lost. She had looked a mannequin in the eyes and became one." --This section is definitely creepier, but we haven't heard anything about Mom's game. Does she actively try looking mannequins in the eyes? Does she challenge E to do it as well? Though I'd think if she thought it was real, the putting her child in danger like that is rather irresponsible. pg 16: “Are you a ghost?” --wait, what now? What possibly led E to that conclusion?
  15. This chapter reads a lot better than the previous one. I don't have experience with autism, but this still feels a lot more real to me. I can get into why Z acts as she does and what drives her. She's a much more 3D character, and it's interesting for me to read how she expresses herself. The only part I had a little trouble with was the kids talking about why they need to go off to tell the God King about the egg. There was some deep rationalization of religion and social repercussions, when I'd imagine young teenagers just saying "Hey--we should go tell the highest authority about this!" and completely skipping over the fallout for their families part. Overall, I'm a lot more drawn in with this POV than the others. This seems like the real meat of the story. Notes while reading: pg 1: I like the expression cataloging. pg 2: "After what we just learned about soul lanterns? Somebody has to know the truth so they can do something about it.” --WRS, but I'm trying to remember what the big secret is. Something about soul lanterns are bad? (Edit: should have read your summary above!) pg 4: "Papa just lied to me, she thought." --About searching for a deserter at the front instead of the demon? It took me a couple reads to follow this. pg 7: "I thought I heard wrong the first time, but… " --I'm not sure what's going on here. Is this really the time for what? Pg 7: "but you calling Z..." --oh, this is M talking. I was very confused. This diversion into Z's name takes the focus away from what's going on. pg 9: “Bottom shelf under the books,” --so I guess there is actually wine down there? pg 10-11: This is a great conversation on ableism and owning yourself. pg 15: "And since he always does things for the greater good… some of his laws have to be..." --This is some heavy rationalization for teenagers...Maybe 17-18 year olds, but I'm not sure I believe 13-14 year olds coming up with this. pg 16: “We go directly to the God King himself!” --I thought the God King was on some other plane or something? Or maybe I'm remembering wrong. pg 17: "Everyone raised their soul lanterns, the things that were secretly killing each and every one of them," --ok, this is what I thought they learned last time. Pg 19: Good ending to the chapter. I'm definitely drawn in to read more.
  16. Overall, I though this was cleaner than the last chapters. I had some confusion over who B is compared to R from chapter 2, but it's not that relevant to the plot right now. Also not sure why B seems squeamish of doing what she's doing. Also, was there some meaning to the church burning down and not the surroundings? I did like expansion of J's character, and getting to follow along in her POV for two chapters. We get to see a lot more of her personality, and the meeting with A gives a lot more depth rather than just saying her friends left her. There's a bit of the idiot plot, where the Person In Charge won't let the Rational Person call in the Troops. Some more expansion of why the city is so much more technologically advanced might help. Starting to shape up. Looking forward to more. Notes while reading: pg 1: "The White Viper" --Oho. I guess now we know who the other half is. pg 2: "As of now, this town’s property of the Great Rider himself" --Wait, so did J get to both halves of the W.V., or is B actually R? pg 3: "when she managed to mount the saddle, she looked almost nervous." --ok, not sure what's going on. pg 3: "Then unseen knives stabbed the flesh of her left hand and she screamed, dropping the weapon. Above her, A started in her saddle, and saw J" --I read this first that A had stabbed J, then relaized it must just be J's condition. pg 6: "his little name-plaque started with a B" --Did J just not read the rest of the name? pg 8: “I can’t read all that well, ma’am,” --OK, I guess this is why she didn't read the name-plaque. pg 9: "Do ya know what else the tabloids call Scylla," --do we ever get the answer to this question? pg 13: "This is gonna work, she thought." --highly debatable...
  17. I didn't actually think about it being human, just that they were strongly ascribing "he" to another of the monsters, for some reason. I was thinking that meant it was smarter, or had more personality, or something. But yes, I was confused about whether the person killed was a "he" or the thing in the cage was a "he."
  18. From what I remember of last time, this was a fairly solid chapter and I think it's gotten better. The beginning definitely works better and introduces a good air of menace and suspense. Makes a good mystery for how this will connect to Q&M. Like @Ace of Hearts and @industrialistDragon, I had a problem with the "bi" line. I have a couple suggestions below. I think it does reflect what E would do, but the phrasing needs some work so it doesn't convey the wrong idea. I really like the hybrids, but @Ace of Hearts does bring up a good point of why this is happening when they already have androids. I assume they could modify the body to be just as dangerous as the hybrids without going through the genetic engineering aspect. Of course this creates problems with the plot, but I assume you can come up with some suitable hand-wavyness for why androids won't work (more expensive, can't program right behaviors, etc...) Notes while reading: pg 8: "E had decided to be bi at university, where she had discovered that women still had to fight for what they wanted using all means at their disposal, even against each other." --Some problems with this sentence. Maybe "E had decided to pursue bi relationships" or "E had decided to let the bi side of her out in university" or something like that. I don't think she decided that she suddenly liked women. pg 12: "Deep down, she was glad about her decision to reassign T. It would be hard to let go, but it would free her of this compulsive desire." --There's a lot of these side comments in this area. I think it's good, but even more show rather than tell on E's emotions would increase the tension. In fact, the sentence before this works a lot better than this one. pg 14: "thousands of miniscule nanomachines carrying a microscopic load of C4X that would rush to meet at the creature’s neck..." --Life, uh, finds an explosion... pg 16: "They shared an interest in history that, in the outside world, was declining now that they didn’t teach it in grade school." --*shudder* pg 17: The ending has some good tension, but the last line is sort of confusing. Because E distinctly refers to whatever is in the enclosure as a "he" it makes it seem like the last line is referring to him. However, I guessing this is actually referring to a person this creature has killed? In any case, I am confused.
  19. This could probably be edited down quite a bit. I didn't really get invested until near the end, once J starts tending bar and talking to the out of towners. Before that, it's just a lot of rustic life that doesn't progress things much. We know it's been a half year, and J sold the farm. Aside from describing townfolk, there isn't a lot else happening. The description of her injuries after taking the Channels is good, once we get there, but also doesn't need to take up that much space. This is prescriptive, but you could probably cut everything prior to the bar scene, and have J fill in the relevant information in thoughts while B and A are asking questions. I also might have figured out what's bothering me about the Greek/frontier, noted below. Notes while reading pg 4: some interesting things about the frontier/Greek fusion religion, but it's starting to drag about now. No one's doing anything except telling what going on, which true to a frontier town, is not that interesting. pg 5: I think I know what's putting me on edge with the frontier/Greek mashup. It's too like the evangelical US south, but replacing one big beard in the sky with another. There's really no difference to actual western culture, just a name change to the deity. Actual Greek culture was so different from this that it's almost an appropriation--taking a name from one place and pasting it on another thing just so it sounds different. pg 5: "the day after she’d been released from Doctor G’s care and went to see her uncle D’s body" --Oooh...this is the girl from the first chapter. I did not get that until now. pg 7: "“Yer pupil’s all mushy-looking and the iris’s gone all black to match." --1) ew and 2) What happened to her eye? Was this something from the first chapter I'm forgetting? It's been a few weeks. --Ah. it seems like this is an effect of the three things she drank at once. I still don't completely remember the connection to her eye. pg 11: "thinking that there would be no consequences to drinking three different Channels at once" --Right. That's what I thought. pg 12: "After a half-year of studying recipes" --oh, has it been that long since the accident? pg 16: “A Spyglass, an Iron Knuckle and an Elixir," --Ah, so there was one that affected vision. pg 17: B and A are the most interesting characters so far. pg 19: Well, an interesting end to the chapter, but not a lot happened up to that part.
  20. Wow--that sounds rough, and...prescriptive!
  21. Why? Real question. I'm not really sure how long a "generation" is anyway, and then on top of that I don't know if they change the definition because people don't live as long and so on and now I have no idea. 15 years? 25? 35? Do they have kids earlier?
  22. Honestly, I don't think this will add anything as a prologue, and may just dilute the story. It could work as an interlude, but again, I don't think I really learned anything from this that I didn't from reading the other chapters you submitted. Is this before the story starts? At the same time? Do any of these people feature in the story? There were soem big infodumps in here that could easily be shown in the other sections I've read. I think starting with a few chapters of Z is a good idea and would bring across the concepts in this section just as easily without seeming forced. Ah. I though that name sounded familiar. I really like the soul lanterns and the tech/magic mix. However, I think the apathy comes more from the way it's presented. Just having a worldbuilding element isn't interesting. Anyone can come up with a really cool idea. On the other hand, having a character that you are invested in make an amazing discovery about a worldbuilding element can really make a story snap. So I think readers will be more invested in the worldbuilding aspects once we have a good character to see them through, which in this case is probably Z. Notes while reading: pg 3: "This last was directed at the soldier..." --I thought all the description after this was for T., not for this random soldier, who has so far gotten the most description of any character. pg 4: "more afraid of what that might mean than the chance of a demon attack." --Even after reading the stuff that comes after this, I'm not sure what this means. I still don't know anything about the soul lanterns, and I also don't know how bad a demon attack is, so the comparison at the moment doesn't mean much. pg 5: "If the girl’s soul lantern really was gone, that meant she had become what was called a shadow..." --ok, you explain here, but it's basically an infodump. Can this be shown instead? pg 5: "R. knew the medic" --We've been given a whole bunch of names already, and I don't think most of them are needed. We also get these strange long descriptions of random people. Does R. for some reason take notes on people's appearances? pg 6: "though everyone knew " ...Bob. pg 7: "we have seen in generations" --using this term where people only live about 35 years is kind of confusing.
  23. Yeah, see I don't even know about this. From 2005: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cookie-monster-changes-his-tune/
  24. Like @Robinski, I think this is much improved, but still has some issues. Overall, this is definitely better. I think there's a lot in the extra parts you added that can be tidied up to get this back to the original wordcount. A lot of the interactions with the students is awkward, and doesn't really add anything. I'm still not fully on-board with the Greek/frontier culture mashup. Aside from the names, the big city basically sounds like Chicago. I'm waffling between wanting more worldbuilding to explain it, or less so that I don't have to worry about it making sense. Last, J's motivations are still too scattered. He wants to kill her for being involved in his daughter's death. He wants to hire her. He's been tracking her, except this whole dig was a set-up, which means he knew exactly where she was and could have done this at any time. I think when this gets cleaned up, you could also solidify his motivations. Notes while reading: pg 3: I don't know that the "small talk" with the grad students really adds anything. pg 4: This part is better, learning about the difference in tech levels, but this whole section could be tightened up. pg 6: "one six-shooter bow" --Not sure what this is. like it rotates a chamber around to then fire arrows from a string? My engineering mind is baffled over it. pg 8: "Her words cut off as he smashed his palm right into her nose, which broke with an audible snap." --His attack seems to come out of nowhere. pg 9: "But why would a university professor know a wanted criminal," --This adds some good tension pg 10: “I’ve been searchin’ for ya for a while now.” --but he knows the professor. We all know he knew she was here. pg 11: "J’s ten-year-old daughter had died in those flames, and the city-folk Confederates had rejoiced, thinking that it would sap all the fight from him. ---I feel like this would be have more impact shown than told. pg 13: "Ya gotta earn yer pay." --There's a weird mix between them casually talking, J attacking for revenge, and him testing her abilities. It's too big a mix of motivations for their meeting and it makes their interactions jumbled. I can't figure out what J will do because I'm not sure where he's coming from. pg 15: “This was all set up in advance...." --hmmm...Yes, it works as motivation, but it clashes with J tracking her down. I think a more solid single motivational throughline will clear this up a lot. pg 16: "She didn’t buy that; there had to be more to this deal," --especially for all the work he went to. pg 18: The bloody handshake is pretty cliche.