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About shatteredsmooth

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    Recovering Grammar Anarchist
  • Birthday 02/28/1988

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    Lake Attitash
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    I love speculative fiction, dogs, and cats. Aside from writing, swimming, hiking, biking, and kayaking are my favorite activities. Sometimes, I get ideas about triathlons and never follow through with them. I like growing my own food, but fertilizer feeds the toxic algae I want to keep out of the lake, so my garden doesn't always do that well.

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  1. I put my comments for this in with part 2
  2. I just read the two of them back to back, so I'm just going to post all my comments here. Overall: I love the team and the scenario you've created for the heist. Each character has a distinct personality, especially J. However, I struggled to keep track of all the layers of the plan and didn't understand why everyone was always talking about the plan. It almost felt like I put a puzzle together quickly and lost a third of the pieces in the process. Individual scenes seemed to work for me, but they felt rushed, so the whole thing felt like a blur in the end and I didn't understand how and why it all worked. I tend to like rapid changes between points of view, but these felt too quick even for me. Maybe you were trying too hard to cut this down to two installments, when what you really needed to do was add more. Perhaps it is meant to be a novella, not a short story. As I read: Part I: I got a little tripped up in the begining. It started with a bit of an info dump, which I shouldn't complain about since my last piece started with one. The narrative really starts with "This particular evening..." or a little later even. At first, I didn't have a major problem with the info dump, but then I kept thinking it was information that could have been incorporated other ways and I was still left with questions about the world. "Imperial Destroyer-class" I thought this was a Star Wars reference the first time I read it, but I know it wasn't. Just seeing the words "Imperial" and "Destroyer" side by side brought my head there. " these kind of situations" in "himself, blackmail" comma could be a semi colon "He put in back..." In should be it. Also, after the conversation with A, did G end up taking the book? I wasn't clear on this in the scene, and also didn't quite get what the purpose of him taking that one was. Either I missed something, in which was this books use wasn't clear enough, or it is a gun that was never fired. I've noticed a few times, you accidentally put "in" instead of "it" "A... finished his rapid reread of the..." Here is where I was starting to think the POV switches were happening too fast for me. I'd just be starting to get a sense of what was happening in one scene but before that piece fully came together, you were on to something else and I was frustrated. "Quiet dialogue and chatter" maybe use one of the words but not both? "So it seems that it wasn't..." The italics / internal thought don't really seem necessary here "Director's full plan" In the end of part 2, the Director made it sound like this was Julius' plan. "hidden only to himself" I'm not sure what this means "...can sell it because it's no longer..." Did you mean Can't? Why did J name the thief at the end of the first section Part 2: "better than from someone..." missing word? "Then I shall take my leave and see if I can as well." I had to read this line several times to figure out what J meant by the second part. I also was a little confused by the purpose of the conversation. It might be intentional, but I get very very annoyed at how J talks so much in one line, especially with lines like the "But why would I cone out here to.... Lord E shares 's trait of talking too much. "Don't worry, I've planned for...presently." Does he really need to say so much of this out loud? "Physical presence is a..." Something doesn't ring true to me about how closely everyone in this story adheres to rules and is therefore about to use that adherence to rules for their own benefit. Does nobody ever actually lie or cheat or break rules, aside from being undercover? "" I'm lost now. I don't understand the set up. I'm not sure what the point of the set up is and why Jules really had to do all this elaborate talking through out it. Ythe's action in the tunnel threw me out of the story. I'd seen the name mentioned a few times with the word synergist, but throughout, I never really understood what a synergist was, so when he was using his powers to get them out of the out of the tunnel, it didn't feel earned. It was too easy. It needs a better set up. "...stunt was overkill..." throughout the story, everyone kept acting like it was the Directors plan, but in this scene, I got the impression it was more J's plan. Another big picture note: In both this and Raise the Stakes, I got impressions that I should know more about the world than I do. I felt lost in the sense that I knew J and company were spies in some kind of Empire, and that there was some kind of magic system, but beyond that, I know little of what that Empire is, how it is organized, and how the magic systems work. I feel like these are later pieces in a series, and I'm expected to know all that, but I don't recall you saying that is what these are. The plot is self contained enough for a stand alone if you slow down a little, but the world building feels like it is the middle of a series and I should know a lot more than I do. I love the concept, and the unique cast. I just can't follow J's plans and plots and verbal swordplay.
  3. So, immediately after this scene, it switches to a revised version of the shoveling / dog drama scene from B's POV. The way the rewrite went, M and E do have a family drama arc that's a prequel to what happens between the two of them in the books, but B also has what I think is a more clearly defined arc. I tried to give M's POV and B's POV equal page time. I was almost going to include the next section with this, but I hadn't spent much (or any) time editing it, and didn't want it to end up being about the grammar of close third they/them/their. Yeah. It's a big thing in the books. I'm worried putting too much into this will bog it down, but at the same time, I don't want a lack of explanation to pull new readers out of the story. I'm not surprised. The books are all from E's POV, so... This is how E feels about M for sure. So in someways, its consistent with the book from E's POV, but I can see how it makes M less sympathetic. It's give me a lot to think about. Thank you! :-)
  4. That wasn't mentioned in the other version, but it is in the novel (E and M have a grandmother who is an elf). The elf grandmother has very pointy ears. To people with the Sight, E and M have slightly pointy ears. Important distinction to make in this story! E is M's maternal cousin. E is M's mother's twin brother's child. That is fascinating -- thank you so much for offering to share! If it's something sitting around in an easy to find file, I'd love to know. But if not, don't bother. I'm not 100% sure how that would fit in with the existing magic system and am probably not going to get that technical on the page. I already know M's limits even if I don't have a number or calculation to go along with them. I'm not sure how effectively I'd even be able to use it anyway because I have not been exercising my math skills enough in the past decade. Thank you for all the feedback. I'll be reading Heist this weekend.
  5. That is a really really cool idea, but won't work within the world M belongs to. I think I just need to ax anything remotely related to it's a wonderful life or take M out completely. And in that case, the jumping off the bridge would be the inciting incident. Maybe without doing something like a "no backsies" approach, in order for M to actually "succeed" Baily should never even go to the bridge at all... Thank you for the input.
  6. OK, that helps. Thanks!
  7. So, I haven't gotten this far yet in the revision, but I was thinking of maybe having Mel get to the bridge after Baily goes off of it and then pulling Baily out of the car. Or Baily drives to drive the car off of the bridge, but just crashes into the rail, gets out, jumps, and then Mel goes in after them. I'm not picturing it as a very big bridge. In the end, Baily lives and gets help, but it comes at a greater cost to Mel. Does that sound like a really bad idea? Or something that might work?
  8. I can see where you are coming from on this, but in Power Surge, my editor talked me into the capital thing, and since it is like that in Power Surge, that is how I was writing it here... The first time around there was more B on the page than M, but M was in my head more. So far, I've got this M section followed by about 10 pages of grammatical disaster 3rd person they/them from B's POV, another ten or so from M, and then that shifts back to B. Instead of quick switches, I am trying to spend more time on each character. The hope is that people will read this and then decide they want to read novel, and that people who liked the novel will also read this and remember I exist. If I ever finish revising and send it back, NSP is going to label it as part of the Evanstar Chronicles or in the "world of the Evanstars" or something like that. This would be one of those 0.5 books on Goodreads. I want it to be a companion to the novel but I feel like not enough people have read the novel for it to deserve a companion...I'm not sure if I am making any sense. *Pleads guilty to the info dump. I don't know why, but I love these things. I like writing them, and I don't mind reading them when they're kept to a couple pages, but I'm not revising for me. I'm revising for readers. @kais What do you mean by this? My brain isn't quite grasping it. Thank you both for the feedback. :-)
  9. Content Warning: Language, mention of suicide Hi All, I'm finally getting back into my usual revision habits, which generally start by writing new openings. I got some pretty mixed reactions to the original opening, though feedback became more unified with future submissions, especially about how the whole "It's a Wonderful Life" thing was overdone and not really working, so a lot of that is going away. As I revise, I'm trying to spend more time with each character before switching POVs, so this whole part of from M's. At one point, someone pointed out B's lack of agency. I'm working on that, but I think this is really M's story more than B's. Any and all feedback is welcome, but I would like to know if you got a clear sense of Mel's motives, and if the rules of the world seem like they are a little clearer. Thanks! Sara P.S. I did keep the pixies; they are too big a part of the Evanstar multiverse to keep out, but they're mentioned on the first page, so hopefully that works better.
  10. I agree with what @kais said but have something to add: ask yourself if you can think of another way to convey that information. Can you spoon it out in smaller doses, scattered throughout different scenes? Can it come up in dialogue without feeling forced? How important is that information? Will the reader understand later scenes without it? There are instances where you do need a scene like that, where the readers just directly need some info so they can get on with the story without getting lost, but often, there are more subtle ways to work in the info in. As a writer, it can be hard to make that distinction and one of the reasons why critique groups and beta readers are essential.
  11. Maybe...I have a completely new opening for the novella I've been sending, which seems to be taking on a new life as I get more intro revising and rewriting. It takes the story in a slightly different direction than my original opening, but in general that is what my revisions seem to be doing. Whether I send it or not is partially dependent on if I have time to go back and read it out loud one more time. I don't want everyone distracted with my errors, but I also don't want to take time away from moving forward with more revision.
  12. Thanks for these and the other links!
  13. Don't feel bad. You're probably right. I wasn't sure if this worked or not as B's end, and I'm not as attached to it now as I was a few months ago. I'm completely open to changing it, even rewriting or scrapping this alternate world thing, especially since it also seemed to fall flat and be too close to the film for @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon. If I get three readers who agree it doesn't work or falls flat, then there is definitely something that needs changing...or a complete overhaul. The reaction I got from everyone isn't how I want readers to feel at the end. This weekend I did a lot of work on the other two sections based on those comments: cutting some areas, expanding others, reorganizing, distancing it from the film, and trying to do a better job grounding it in the rules of larger world it is set in and more clearly establishing the ones that are relevant to this story. Attempting to focus it more. Hopefully as I continue, I can make a better ending.
  14. Umm Don't be an English major (says the person with an MA in medieval and renaissance lit). Ok, on a more serious note, write every day, read every thing you can, don't censor yourself when writing first drafts, ever, and never let people see that uncensored writing. It's okay if second and third drafts are horrible. Let people read those though, because you need their feedback to make those drafts better. Don't get too attached to anything you write because a lot of stuff is going to need to get axed, but don't actually ever delete anything -- just move it to a different file, a parking lot or grave yard or island of misfit toys words. Sometimes you need to run with an idea to get it out of your system knowing and then later let go of it so you can make it into something worth reading. Don't take short cuts or rush the process, because it never ends well. Write what you care about, what you are passionate about. Draft selfishly and revise for your readers.
  15. I just read through the thread for this. I'm open to critiquing any genre because in face to face groups and courses, I did learn a lot from critiquing across genre. Sometimes I got annoying when people complimented my characters and told me it would be better if I got rid of speculative elements and just wrote contemporary, but that's more what happens when you're the only fantasy writer in the room -- not something I'm worried about here.