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About C_Vallion

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  1. So I assume that means that this is the week ten people will want to submit I'm sure we will manage to keep ourselves in order for a couple weeks. Enjoy your time away!
  2. I'll be sending over the document with the LBLs, but wanted to chime in on some of the thoughts here as well. I'd agree with this. I'm still enjoying reading, but feel like things are getting a little unfocused at this point. Can confirm. Though the 5 y.o.'s concerning behavior of choice at that age was throwing wooden blocks at other daycare kids... children are chaos at that age, and most will intentionally test boundaries in new environments/around new people. I also have a few related thoughts in my notes related to P's verbal capabilities not quite seeming to match his age. This was a big sticking point for me. Did they have a good plan in place for replacing r-plast with a non-fungus-based material in the next couple of years? Because if they were planning for the whole construction process to take 10 years (right?) before the issues they've been running into, what was their plan to deal with the buildings in A turning into man-eating-fungus structures while they still have their construction crews hard at work on section X? It didn't seem like the r-plast buildings were being built as temporary structures until they can manufacture non-fungus-based materials. But it's possible I missed something.
  3. Not this week, but I will be hoping to jump back in a few weeks from now. Used some of covid-quarantine to work on a short story, but it's not quite done yet. Hoping that telling people I'm finishing it up will get me to buckle down to get the last part of it together.
  4. I'm still doing most of my reading/commenting on my phone in google docs on school buses, so I will send over that document with LBLs and more detailed notes. I liked a lot of things in this. The fungus-pov did a great job of stressing the difference between how it views the threat of the colonists (a sort of confusing problem to be figured out, but not a real threat) and how the colonists view it (as a terrifying mushroom-monster). And I am always a little cynically amused that the poor fungus-being is just sort of trying to go about its life and adjust to the annoying unexpected creatures while humanity is fighting for its existence. I also really enjoyed F 's unconvincing "I have no emotional attachment to this baby. For real. But here's some stuff for them, and let me know if you need anything and..." Unfortunately, I'm still bouncing really hard off of J's pov. I like the idea of having a sort of antagonistic viewpoint from the admins, and proof of their incompetence in actually running the colony, but we spend a lot of time in J's pov to watch a bunch of incompetent people discuss things they don't understand. J clearly views herself as the mastermind behind the whole operation, but I'm not convinced that she would be able to hold her own if any real conflict broke out among the admins. She clings to her power, but I haven't seen any real sign that there's anyone interested in taking it away from her, or that they wouldn't succeed if they tried. There's a bit of conflict with M here, which is something, but even though M seems to be horrified by the ideas J proposes, she doesn't push back at all. J approaches the topic in a roundabout way as if to trick M into talking about something she'd get really angry about if approached bluntly (while also taking mental cheap shots at M), and once M picks up on J's idea, she is disgusted and mortified, but just...goes on with the meeting. Yes, specifically chosen. I was using this as a bit of a mental power play from J, showing where she thinks of herself in relation to the others. Maybe I've spent too much time among high school boys swearing to seem tough over the past couple months, but while this line does tell me about the way J thinks of herself compared to the others, it makes it even harder for me to take her competence seriously. And if she's not competent, the fact that the other admins are blindly following her reflects lack of competence on their part. And if none of them have any real grasp on how to lead the colony or deal with issues that arise, I'm not sure why we spend so much time in meetings with them. I want them to be a competent antagonistic force (even if they are clueless when it comes to actually creating a decent society in the colony), and I want to see J as the power-grasping mastermind manipulating them to her will (even if C is the real knowledge/power behind the title), but it's just not coming together for me. Really enjoyed the An section. Seeing the eye-opening moment of the different levels of society interacting is fun, and it's fun to see An out of his element in trying to manage the dispute. I also like the building materials discussion (surprise, surprise). And my suspicion that it could very well overcome F's work (sorry, F. I trust you, but you've all proven you're way out of your depth here. Otherwise we wouldn't have a story) to reconnect with the rest of the fungus to turn their structures into sentient homes is apparently enough tension to silence the nit-picky part of my brain that might whine about production methods and such.
  5. I read through most of this on my phone on a bus and made comments directly in the Google Doc, so I'll probably just send that over to you instead of copying over specifics. Overall, I really enjoyed reading through this, and as the others have said, I am fully onboard for seeing more stories set in this world. I also really enjoyed T's wry side-comments, especially the ones that ring so true to being a pet owner (even if said pets are massive0. There are a few places where I struggled to follow what was going on (during the time with M and in the flashback later on are the ones that come back to mind), but I'd have to read through it again while not on a bus full of shouting teenagers to determine how much of that was the text and how much was a distracting reading environment. I agree with @Silk's thoughts about it ending up being pretty easy to get L back at the end once T found her, as well as the thought that dialing up emotion would add a lot of strength to the story. Losing a pet is scary enough in a world where they're not also a means of survival. We see T missing L's warmth, transportation assistance, and general presence, but having a few other details about their relationship (what's a normal day for them when T isn't chasing after L? Is it the same for everyone in this region? How''s T/Li's relationship and life differ from M/Le's?) could really drive the feeling of L's absence home harder. Thanks for submitting! This was a lot of fun to read Edit: Forgot to mention characters/elements I found interesting. Through this story, we see 1. life for people in the unclaimed catlands 2. non-cat-people in the catlands 3. catlords are a thing. And really, I'd love to see any of those things fleshed out in some sort of story detailing what sort of challenges each of those groups face and what different aspects of this world looks like from the perspective of different groups of people within it. That doesn't narrow it down much, but ultimately I'm intrigued enough by the world that I'd probably enjoy any story that takes the idea and runs with it.
  6. Overall: I like the progress here, and S’s actively searching out answers a lot. I do think there are some things that need to be nailed down a little more clearly in regard to the religion and S’s view of it (shocking, I know), and about his relationship with C, but this is a big improvement on previous versions. I do think there are several places where things are dragging a bit due to some extra wordiness and vagueness. Instead of concrete details that would be useful in a second chapter, we’re getting hints at things in roundabout ways. Which I am 110% guilty of, but it was something that was tripping me up. Especially because roundabout explanations are bogging down some of the conversation. Pg 1: D’s name still feels far more modern-American to me than fits the setting. Also, would he be allowed in the female wing of the servant quarters? How much of the gender segregation is based in general human propriety, and how much is based in some sort of divine instruction? If there are religious ties to the gender segregation, I would expect the female wing to be off-limits to S. Or at least be a place he’s not comfortable just strolling into. “my thoughts went to you.” We could have probably gotten a little more of this in the previous chapter. At least in some urgency to get back. Or to ask Z if they’ll hurt anyone. I’m not sure how difficult it would be to show that he’s specifically worried about D there without a big info dump on who D is, but there might be a way to get that across with a couple lines of dialogue/thought. “after his marriage” Would be helpful to get a note here of when that marriage is expected to take place. “weren’t supposed to…” Without going into nitty-gritty detail, do they have reliable birth control in this world? Because if not, marrying off brothers and expecting them to not father children seems like an unreliable way to run things. Unless they’re a culture that is fine with infanticide or exposing male children born to the HR’s brothers? Pg 2: “caged away like a bird” this also feels a little off if both families involve actually want the alliance. I’d almost expect things to lean more toward the marriage and spouse being put on show as a “See how important this alliance is to us and how well we honor it?” even if they’re plotting betrayal in the background. And if the spouse is a person who they can turn into a tool for their use (putting their magic hand-crystals to use, for example), I’d think this would be even more the case. “she was still attracted…” could use a little more information around this. Even just defining the details in the paragraph here a little further. What their relationship used to be and what it is now, if that’s different. Or what he has felt all along vs. what she has felt all along if they aren’t on the same page. “head back to my room” again, in a place with strict gender segregation and strict expectations on royal brothers in regard to any potential accidental children, this seems like it would be frowned upon to an extreme or forbidden outright. And if that’s the cultural standard, there would probably be ways for people to have private conversations while visible to anyone who might otherwise gossip about what they might be doing in secret. Nit-picking aside, I like that S is actively trying to make plans to deal with what’s going on. Pg 3: A lot of the dialogue here could be trimmed down a bit and still get the full point across. Same with some of the exposition. I don’t think there’s too much to absorb to have it here, but the sentence structure and wordiness are interfering with it a bit. Do people use arrows to hunt snakes? Why hasn’t S talked to C about the RA before now if she’s from a place with more information about it? Pg 4: “His father told” do we know if his father is alive? The phrasing here makes it sound like this was a recent conversation, but I assume not, if J is HR? Might be helpful to call out the political structure a little better to confirm that the HR position is equivalent to some sort of priest-king or prophet-king (depending on his supposed role in the religious structure). As it is, I don’t have a good sense of how the political and religious lines intersect, or what is expected from S on either side of that. Pg 5: Is W staying in the palace? It seems odd that he would be surprised to find her there. Also, why is D the one to open the conversation? I’d expect most royal protocol to have servants (even the more elite/important servants) only speaking when spoken to. She might have had the appointment to study with C, but even then, I’d expect C to be the one to initiate that discussion when D got there. “D knew little …” this seems unlikely to me. She’s managed to navigate the politics and protocols to earn herself a place doing research with one of the HR’s wives. I don’t see that happening unless they know she’s politically aware enough to not be accidentally sharing royal secrets with other servants. Pg 6: “We’re not certain.” Same here, where her sharing the information sort of implies that she was the lead person in the process, not the friend who S shared the information with. And if S is concerned about what W thinks of his relationship with D, having D referring to herself and S with “we’re not certain” and “we’re not sure” is a big problem. The wording makes claims on his thoughts/opinions/person that she doesn’t have any place to make, and doing so in front of his betrothed seems especially rude/unwise. “in her expression” and “she was the youngest” not sure if these are referring to C or W Pg 7: “Why did she care…?” …because they’re betrothed? You could probably trim down this section (from here into the top of the next page) a good deal. Showing his mediating through conversation is going to be far stronger than explaining what’s happening. And it should be pretty much assumed that his ties to her family would include her family having more access to knowledge about what’s going on with the royal family. I don’t think that needs spelled out as much as it is now. Pg 8: “Lady C” would “Lady” be correct? If the HR’s siblings are princes and princesses, his wives should probably have more significant titles. With corresponding forms of address depending on how close she and S are. Pg 9-12: Main comments through here are that things could be trimmed down a little bit. The progress is interesting, but is getting bogged down a bit pacing-wise. Pg 12: Knowing that C has a red crystal before S asks her about it would be helpful. Otherwise the question comes out of the blue. He could probably even reference it when he sees the crushed one in chapter 1. To point us more in this direction from there. Also, isn’t this something S would know if she’s a member of his family? Seems like the sort of thing that would have been part of his education, since it’s tied into the politics, geography, and religion of the world. “as a status symbol…” but S and the others do use the powers in their crystals. What would it mean to just have it as a status symbol if it becomes inherent to their person? S mentioned above that he feels people’s emotions in his body. How are red-crystal users’ lives affected by their powers? Pg 13: Is S aware of any non-conventional purposes that the other crystals could be used for? If not, it seems odd to suspect the red ones of having special bonus features that the others don’t. I feel like some of the explanation of motivations could be cut back here. Most of it should be evident in their conversation and actions. You’ll just want to make sure that it doesn’t get bogged down in expositional description. Same into the next page. Why does he seem convinced that C isn’t on his side? I don’t think we’ve seen anything thus far to suggest that they might be at odds with each other. Pg 15: “A shiver ran down S’s spine…” I’m pretty sure this is the first hint of actual religious belief we get from S. Even in the introduction to the FCity, his awe is more about the physical majesty of the caves, and of the power that the FCitizen had. It’s not really awe or fear of the gods. All of that together makes me wonder what exactly S thinks of his religion, especially when his brother is supposed to be some sort of representative of the god(s?) in the world. Even here. Is he shivering because the thought of having a prisoner there taints the holiness of the place? If so, is J disrespecting the god by keeping a prisoner there? Is that thought what makes S shiver? Might be worth thinking a bit about how S thinks about his religion. How much of it is based on faith vs. moral laws vs. tradition, and how much he thinks of it that way (it will likely be a blend of the three). He might think of it in terms of faith, when it’s actually just that he likes the sense of tradition and structure it provides. Or he could be fully aware that he mostly values it for the moral structure it creates. Just some things to think about when working with a religious character (or a character in a very religious setting). Why does he have to get all of this figured out before his wedding? The closing paragraph is good, but I feel like it states things in far more definite terms than have been given to us previously. Especially in regard to the wedding timeline and his feeling that he’s really close to the truth.
  7. General note: if you could include the wordcount in the filename and the topic title, that would be a big help. I probably would have gotten to this last week if I’d known it was this short. Since it’s shorter, and you’re looking at putting it in a contest, a lot of my comments are minor grammar/text flow edits. It’s pretty smooth overall text-wise, but in a contest situation, you want to make sure you’re taking away any possible chance for the reader to trip over a word or phrase. Overall: I think my biggest general opinions are similar to the others’. I hadn’t realized J was also being hung. And it does seem like there’s a lot of time for L to be talking. I also agree that there needs to be more plot for this to feel like a full story. I like the overall idea of the setup, and it was a lot of fun to read. However, there is probably a way to push that idea into a story with a complete plot and arc, and it would do the concept much better justice to do that. Pg 1: “It was wiped…” Might want to reword this to avoid the passive-voice. And/or split it into two sentences. It’s a little clunky, as-is right now. “gut, before” shouldn’t have a comma. If we’re in the middle of the town square, would there be a clear line of sight to the sunset? “they wanted to be part of it even less.” Might want to make the implication a little clearer here. I assume you’re saying that they’re afraid of ending up next on the gallows if they don’t show up to watch, but what “be part of it” means could be made a little clearer so that it can hit home without the reader having to pause and think about it. “They would take their time” could also be made clearer who the “they” is here. It’s clear by the end of the sentence that it’s the nobility, but there’s a moment of confusion at the start there that could be avoided. “…drink wine, tell stories and be paid…” you and me both, L. Pg 2: Wondering about the name choices. (Besides, it wouldn’t be a proper critique from me without poking at naming conventions and/or religion world building) We got a “For the gods’ sake” on page 1, but L and J are both common names because they’re Biblical, and are going to carry a good deal of Judeo-Christian connotation. If you’re aiming for a more fantastical setting, it might be worth swapping out the names for something less tied to earth-as-we-know-it. Pg 3: Smelt should just be smelled Pg 5: I like the idea of the sentence break at the end indicating what it does, but it needs to be set up right for it to pay off.
  8. I'll have to try to call out what's going on here a little better when I do edits. Ideally, there should be enough in the most recent Ala- chapter (and in his plotline, once I've revised his early chapters) for the reader to have a good idea that these are the revolutionaries who Ras- has been trying to hide his connections to, and is afraid of. There should also be more implication that Le- is downplaying the more extreme actions the group has been responsible for. Specifically against those who support the king. In theory, the reader should get the idea that Is- is in more danger than she realizes, or that there is a real threat behind her paranoia, but that's definitely falling short here. Thanks for your thoughts!
  9. Pg 2: “first-year” should probably have a hyphen “far away from… As much as possible” Should both of these sentences be in terms of distance? The shift from how far to how much/how often feels a little odd. Unless I’m misreading the intention of the second sentence. Pg 3: “didn’t think” Is this her knowledge or her citing something someone else has told her? This line makes me wonder what the people in the colony think of how the biomass functions. It would make sense if a lot of them got the idea that it was outsmarting them and planning ahead. Ag isn’t a fungus expert, so having her assert that the biomass doesn’t think doesn’t convey as much weight as her citing that someone who is a fungus expert has assured them all that the biomass doesn’t think. “ruthless” Have we gotten any of the Gens impressions of the Admins before now? I don’t feel like I’ve gotten this sense of J from the Gens or from her interactions with the Admins. Everyone sort of just listens to her, so we’ve never seen a risk of her losing her control, and she’s never really been ruthless on-page. Pg 4: “that had ever happened” This is definitely the sort of thought processing and inner conflict I’ve been looking for from Ag all along. It comes across as a little out of the blue without the earlier build up, but I think once that’s fleshed out more, this (combined with where things are going) is going to be a big hit right in the feels. Pg 10: For the most part, the hesitation on the doctor’s part comes across as trying to figure out if he should be deferring to a specialist on a topic or deferring to a specialist-and-friend-of-the-patient to deliver difficult news, but I think there could be a little more clarification of that at the end of page 10 and beginning of 11. Just to avoid it coming across as inexperienced nervousness. Pg 12: “if he was just pretending” This thought seems out of character. I don’t think we ever got any sense of doubt in their relationship from her. Overall: This was a really strong chapter. I enjoyed it a lot (in the readers loving being in misery sense), and can’t wait to see how it plays out once the early setup of Ag’s conflict is fleshed out.
  10. Thanks for the thoughts, @kais. It's good to know that some of the things are hitting well, but I'll have to keep working on not bogging down the important parts. Through the first half of the book, she avoids acknowledging her fears/emotions/vulnerabilities to the point of almost disassociating from them. So her floundering in her grief/emotional processing a bit here is intentional. It isn't an ongoing thing, but when she falls back into old routines in the next few chapters, there should be a sense of imposter-syndrome attached to it where she knows she's not nearly as invincible as she likes to pretend. So we'll see how far I miss getting those details in order in the next few weeks.
  11. Overall: I like the progress here, and am enjoying the story. I think the biggest pacing note is that Chapters 9-10 are dragging a little bit. I wonder if that learning/training process could either be trimmed back or have some aspect to it that keeps it from just being E and A interacting on their own. Are there other interesting ghostly presences there that E could test their skills on instead of A, or maybe E does go too far and actually harm the ghost by pushing too hard at the magic tendril things? Or something else that lets us dig a little deeper into ghost-magic world in a fun way while E is learning? Other than that, I think the pacing worked well through here. D also seemed to react far more naturally to things than in the previous section. She still comes across as a little more confident/calm than the average person might seem when her mom has just been turned into a mannequin, but I think with the peril a little more distant, that doesn’t seem as excessive as it did in the previous section. Pg 1: Is this set in the same world as the ghost train story? Or do you get attached to the ghosts made of memory concept like I get attached to some of my magic system ideas? Pg 2: For someone who is extremely careful to get pronouns correct, the “I’m not entirely sure I would’ve listened” seems a little contradictory. How much research did E do here? What they have here seems like it would fit onto a page or two, not fill a notebook. “jolted” seems like not quite the right word here. “needed to cut right to the important stuff.” Again feels a little off when they took a page to confirm pronouns. Full-disclosure on where I’m coming from regarding pronouns (since I know others here have different experiences): It’s not as common now that I’m not actively working in an engineering office (though being a woman coaching a boys’ sports team brings it up now and then), but being a female engineer with a non-standard name spelling that is often misread as masculine, I am pretty regularly misgendered by people contacting me through e-mails before we’ve met in person. And while I’m absolutely aware it’s not the case for most people, it’s never bothered me much. I’m always going to do my best to respect that it does bother other people, and be considerate of that as much as I can, but it doesn’t hit home quite as hard for me. Probably because my experience with being misgendered has never had intentional rudeness behind it. Which I know is not always the case. Given that: If someone were to go out of their way to confirm pronouns for me (I’d certainly appreciate the consideration) then went on to be intentionally dismissive of my concerns in other ways, that would bother me far more than an accidental misgendering in the first place. I get that E is coming from a place where they’re going to be more sensitive to pronoun usage, but depending on what you’re trying to do with their character, you might want to downplay the “I don’t care if it’s rude, I need answers.” Tone. Or provide some consequences where that rudeness backfires and they have to learn to be more considerate and take conversation more slowly. Pg 3: “Photos of Sock-…” is this a place we’ve been introduced to? “slammed shut” slammed the book shut? Pg 4: Think we need a little more clarification here. M killed B and N because they enforced unsafe working conditions? Or M was responsible for killing the workers? M was a Fair- as well, right? If E has been researching the history around the accident/fire/etc. I assume they’d be aware of who the owners and their family members were. Does E recognize who B and N are? Do they know how M was related to B and/or N? If they’ve been looking into it, I imagine that would be right at the front of the information. Not sure who the “them” in “Some of them” is referring to. Pg 9: “expected his mother to materialize” Do we know who B’s mother is? Or where the vision is taking place? Is E recognizing M’s voice? I’m assuming M is B’s mother, but I don’t think we’ve gotten those details in-text yet. Also, do we know who As- is? Pg 10: And do we know who Al’s aunt is or what she taught him? Pg 15: “looming blizzard” With the heat/humidity of the day, is this more like a refreshing cold? Blizzard feels a little more threatening than I’d expect. And isn’t something I’d expect E to associate with A. Pg16: “As we crossed…” This paragraph had a couple clunky sentences. I think cutting “the door to open, and for” might smooth out the first one. Especially since they already opened the door. In the second, the “the same slightly….shop” is just really wordy. “she had still gotten snared by M…” Might be worth an added couple words to remind us who D is. Also, his name is spelled two different ways on this page (one r and two) “attic doors…vents” I think this detail just makes things more complicated while describing the room. I don’t think most readers going to immediately guess that the mannequins escaped into an attic, so eliminating the possibility feels unnecessary. Same with trap doors. I think confirming that there aren’t closets or back doors for M or the mannequins to be hiding in, or where the moms might have been hidden is thorough enough to get the point across to the reader that they aren’t there. I’m a little surprised they aren’t suspicious that M managed to magically get past the lock/door. That would have been my first guess. Especially since things were missing from the other part of the shop too. Does E know enough about ghosts to eliminate that possibility? If not, maybe they can mention the possibility and have De correct them. “fragment” shred? Snag? Scrap? Fragment doesn’t feel like a fabric-y term to me. Pg 17: Was Mx. R also turned into a mannequin? I don’t remember. Though it’s possible I was focusing on being concerned about the moms and forgot about their involvement, since we hadn’t seen them on-page in the sections you’ve submitted (I think). “teacups on the floor” broken? Or just placed there? If the latter, spelling out a word is going to require a whole lot of teacups. If shattered, and the pieces form the letters, there’s probably a little less dot-connecting. “this time next month…” I assume this was introduced in the first chapters? I don’t remember seeing anything about it in the previous submission. If moving/losing their apartment (or whatever is going on there) is a big emotional point or plot point for E, I think we need a reminder of how that fits into the story events. I haven’t gotten a sense of any “home is where the heart is, not where our stuff is” or “seeking out a place that feels like home” sorts of themes (there’s a bit of “home=family” but not having read the opening, I’m not sure how E’s relationship with mom is set up, if it implies an arc). Mostly this seems like a big detail to have not been mentioned for 7-8k words. Who do they think the message is coming from? I’d understood it as an angry, ghostly “Get out of here” (though that’s odd, since M is also gone). If they think it’s some other ghostly force trying to help, it might be worth giving us a hint in that regard. What dagger? Is this feeling of purposefulness of the monster hunting kit drawn out when we first see it? You may want to make sure that’s stressed early on. Maybe even as some sort of sense that the monster hunting kit wants to go out and hunt things, which startles E at first and makes them cautious of it. But when they come back to it now, it seems like exactly the right tool for the job, even if E isn’t completely sure why/how (and is still a little cautious of its intentions). You just want to make sure it doesn’t feel like a deus ex machina that can be whatever we need it to be in a few chapters. At the moment the “knowing it is important, somehow” feels a little plot-convenient. “Added weight” how much holy water is this? And are the stakes going to be that heavy? I’d almost suggest minimizing the physical weight of them. Stressing the mental/magical weight of them in E’s head. Making a point of that contrast. Also, is this energy different from the ghost-energy? Why is it still here when the other ghost-related things are gone? Pg 18: What abilities does D’s mom have as a psychic that other ghost-sensitive people don’t? E is able to see the ghost-magic. Is there more to it than that? I’m assuming some of this is explained at the beginning, but it may be helpful to get reminders through D and E’s planning/learning of what a proper psychic would be capable of that they aren’t. “a ghost and a dog” Has Al- had any input on what’s going on here or what they should be trying to do next? I’d imagine his opinion to be important on that front. Might be worth having them try to check in with him, even if he still needs more rest before he can provide any helpful input. Just to make sure they don’t seem like they’re forgetting one of their informational resources. I like the closing line
  12. Overall: I enjoyed this section a lot. I’m not sure if my noticing more grammar/flow sorts of issues was because I wasn’t jumping onto other things to whine about or if it just needed a little more proofreading than some of the others. Pg 1: “gripped…hand” this is making the first sentence a little clunky. Especially if it’s not hugely important which hand he’s using. Something feels off in the second sentence as well. Maybe the assumed subject in the first half, then the “it” in the second? Might flow better to keep the structure the same between the two spots. Might be worth specifying that they’re at the 1-year celebration. I had a moment of confusion about what N was celebrating. Not sure if that’s more due to WRS or being used to bigger time jumps between scenes than we had this time. “that had followed before” they had followed? There’s some extra wordiness in here that I don’t usually notice reading through your submissions, but it may just be being on high alert so close to the front. “…hoping it was too busy…” Ah. We get the party detail here. Might be worth moving it right to the front, though. “Nothing was nearly as tall” ? “highest” feels unclear to me here. I know it’s not referring to floating buildings, but at least to me, it implies “farthest removed from the ground”. Especially when combined with “soared” Pg 2: “now that the sun had set” “a proposition” This came across to me as N reading A’s comment as a proposition and not exactly turning it down. Might want to reword slightly if you want it to come across as A’s idea. Pg 3: “Sitrep” took me a couple seconds to figure out. I don’t think it’s a common enough abbreviation to go without explanation here. If it was introduced somewhere else, maybe, but it’s hard to refer to context when what’s going on around them is uncertain/changing. I might suggest cutting the “in a stray beam from the Admin building” phrase here. Or rework without “he saw” since were in A’s pov anyway. As written, I wasn’t connecting the “stray beam” with “he saw”, but with some description of how the HUD was flaring to life. “against the people” against feels off to me here, though I get not wanting to use toward twice in the same sentence. Maybe against the tide of people? Jigged also sticks out against the urgency around it. It definitely cuts tension a bit to be thinking of someone dancing a jig away from mysterious dangerous falling objects. Pg 5: “fingers had been going loose” Maybe something with a little less implication that the fingers were about to fall off… “regular use had been loosening up the joints over the past week” or mentioning that one of the joints had been jamming during training or something. Though I approve of the maintenance detail Pg 6: “Get it back u—" is this supposed to be “up” cut off mid-word? Might be better to go with a multi-syllable option. Or even just “Get it back—” It would be really hard to get cut off in the middle of saying up. At least in a way that’s perceivable in a chaotic, noisy environment. Pg 8: “Five meters across” Dang. Are all of the “trees” this size? Twenty-meter (need hyphen) “fifty mortar” fifty what? I think using “fifties” and such in their quick back and forth above is fine, but adding in the description here would be helpful to those of us unfamiliar with mortars. (It’s me. I’m unfamiliar with them) Pg 9: “trotting” seems less urgent than the situation would demand. Oh boy. I bet this wasn’t the post-celebration cleanup J was expecting last chapter….You know what? I’m sure it will be fine. Spores? Fine. Fungus-tree fallen into the city? Fine. All of it. Fine, fine, fine. Nice job on the action scene here. Even while distracting myself by nit-picking at little details, the tension held through. Pg 11: “a few” months felt vague, and made me pause enough to then wonder how they’re even defining months. This doesn’t really matter for the text, but I’m curious. I don’t remember anything being mentioned about moons or how long the year actually is or anything along those lines. “The V said they’d cleaned up…” nice try, though… Pg 12: Enjoying our bee study. Pg 13: Intestinal tract Pg 14: He rifled Baby’s progress ? I'm enjoying the whole "What? You think I care about the baby? I don't care about the baby. Nope. Not at all. It's J's baby." here Pg 17: But these were amber Where they had landed meant Even if he knows he’s probably been contaminated by the honey already, he seems too cautious to just eat some. At least without making some sort of formal study out of it.
  13. Way late to the party on this one. Hoping I'll be able to get to the second submission tomorrow. Overall: I am not usually one for ghost stories, so I’m not sure where the genre would land for me, but setting things around New England antique shops and mill disasters balances that out Pacing-wise, I think things start out well, but slow down a bit in the transitions from place to place later on. I know I take forever to get into a new location in my writing, so I’m sympathetic, but trimming those scene changes down will probably help keep things moving. I also wonder if going up to the office is necessary? Seems like the only thing we get from that scene is the fact that the mill accident is mysteriously important, but we then find out that E already knows a lot about that. Reaction-wise, I think we could get a lot more sense of urgency or determination from them. Especially as they’re getting out of the shop. Even if D isn’t visibly upset (which I’d expect E to be asking about if they’re upset), there could be a sense of impatience or efficiency implying that they’re in a hurry to find answers, even if they aren’t coming across as scared. Having E push for answers a little earlier could also have D provide the information that some of the things from the store came from the manor. If E makes the association between the ghosts and their own research earlier, you may be able to cut out the office scene, or streamline it a little more (having them specifically looking for information about the manor or the mill fire) to provide some additional focus there, which I think would help with the pacing in those chapters. Pg 1: “mom” is used three times in the first line. Might want to space those out. Also, the second one should be capitalized (it’s being used in place of her name), but not mom-instinct. Do you draw a distinction between mechanical and non-mechanical dolls earlier on? If not, that feels like an odd way to refer to it here. Also, the vintage-clothes-nerd side of me really wants to go to this antique store. After specifying the eras and styles of the other clothing in the shop, I’d like to see a similar note on the clothing this mannequin is wearing, since none of the individual pieces have a specific era associated with them. Pg 2: “mannequin’s arm stretched…” I assume this is the one they’d just mentioned? Might be helpful to clarify which one, since there have been several (maybe mentioning the flowy white sleeve on the arm?) “itched as if there were a coarse rope…” ? “like” seems off to me there. Also, “coarse” in my head would be more painful than itchy. Pg 3: Well, this feels creepy. I also want to go to the other giant antique store… “stolen”? or kidnapped? “when her racing heart…” feels a bit like a pov jump. Pg 5: “felt like lead” typo “waving its arms” Pg 6: I’m a little confused about who is saying what at the top of this page. Part of that is not knowing what names we might know from previous chapters, but I’m not sure if all of it is or not. A word like incorporeal stands out when you use it multiple times near each other. Might want to swap one of those out. There seems to be more detail in the description of D’s actions/reactions here than necessary. Especially the final line on the page “hands clenched into fists, she marched…” it just seems more intense than it needs to be. Or like it’s not quite conveying the right emotions. I’m not sure. Pg 7: Is she planning to do something with this cash? Or just make sure that nothing in the store does anything with it? Not having a good sense of how old the characters are, it feels weird to see her just grabbing money from the register. I also want to know how often she sees stuff like this. She doesn’t seem all that alarmed, but also doesn’t seem to be making an effort to explain anything to E. More marching. But it feels more angry than urgent, almost? If they need to get out quickly, I think we need to feel that urgency more clearly. She does a lot of stuff before leaving instead of just scrawling out a “Be Back Soon” message to stick on the door and locking it. If D is going to go through the full closing-up process, she could at least be explaining what she does know about what’s going on to E while she’s doing it. Pg 9: Ah. So she doesn’t know anything? Then why isn’t she in more of a rush to figure out what’s going on? She seems far less concerned than seems normal for someone whose mother just got turned into a mannequin Pg 11: What was the point of coming to the office if they don’t have anything specific to actually look up or any idea what they’re actually looking for? A whole room of records and miscellaneous paperwork is hard enough to navigate if you know exactly what you’re looking for. But looking for A or M’s names seems like a pretty impossible task. Should we know anything about the wool mill? I wonder if chapters five and six could be trimmed down to one chapter? I’m not sure what feels off about the pacing through there, but it drags a bit for me. I think it’s partly D not seeming very urgent or concerned about the situation and partly not being sure what they expect to actually find at the office. Pg 13: “Starts with…” This seems like an odd jump to make. If they’ve been compiling information about the people who died, wouldn’t they have the names memorized? Especially if they’ve spent a lot of time on the project? I get it being important to E, and am fully aware that there are dynamics around deadnames that I just don’t understand (I’m trying, and learning, but have a long way to go), but as someone who often had people just assume nicknames for me and insist on using them, E’s shortening the name here bothers me a bit. I know they’re trying to be considerate and respectful of A, but this seems like a big jump to make when they don’t really even know if this is the ghost they know as A-. Having the thought that they might be the same person is one thing, and I think having E plan to ask about pronouns next time makes sense, but based on the information we know, I don’t know if they can assume they’re the same person. It also feels a bit plot-convenient that the first Marg- they find is tied to the first A- they find. In 1910s New England, you could find a Marg- just about anywhere you looked (I just checked the census record of my town because I like genealogies and local histories, so I have shortcuts for these sorts of things). There were several M’s living on my current street in 1910. And I have no doubt many of them probably worked at the local mill building down the road. It wouldn’t surprise me if our own local mill fire (1907) ended up with someone by that name on the casualty list. I’d expect someone looking up information about New England ghosts to have a lot of M-s in their references. Just based on how common the name was. Having a location where one is tied to an A- narrows it down (A was a little less common at the time), but I’d like to see them get excited about a false alarm or two first. “Aunty just cleaned out this house” Dang it. Was there a haunted old New England mansion estate sale and no one invited me? Pg 16: Bones? What now? I'm just going to assume that there's a satisfactory setup for whatever this is about in the earlier chapters and leave it at that.
  14. The pain/nausea/emotional response to the smell is actually causing her trouble here, but paranoia and suspicion have her jumping to conclusions. Especially when the nausea and pain from her wound getting worse isn't too much different from the symptoms from the initial poisoning way back in the tournament. I should probably have something more solid in here to make her jump to her previous poisoning clearer, though. Thanks for your thoughts! Glad the scene seemed to work well for you
  15. Overall: As usual, this is enjoyable to read, and I like the direction the story is progressing. Two things I noticed on this one, though. 1. Ag, again (sorry). I like that she's been shaken/scared/something about what happened to D to have been driven to a choice about kids when she's been hesitant about it. But I don't really see the emotions about that on-page. Last time we saw her, she was hemming-and-hawing, and now she's lining up for a child. If we'd started in this section, I don't think anything in this scene would have told me that this was a big change in her mindset, so if she's doing it for D (whatever the more complicated reasons underneath that) that dedication or fear or whatever it is isn't as powerful as it would have been if we had a little nervousness or self-doubt or second-guessing here, even if she's determined to do it. 2. J's scene isn't hitting as powerfully as I feel like it's supposed to be. I think partly because it feels very meeting-y, with no one really speaking out of turn or visibly concerned even though the civilization they're trying to build is falling apart around them. It seems like a pretty relaxed environment. The reports aren't good, but they have ideas of paths forward, and with no one visibly upset, it's hard for the stakes/emotion of J's speech to hit home. Pg 1: What happened to Ag’s concerns about kids? Even if she has decided to go down that route after all (I assume what happened to D prompted a change), I’d expect a clearer indication of old reluctance/hesitation Pg 2: “watched a few kids…” lambs? Pg 3: “alpacas…” more resistant? Fungus dreams seem entirely unremarkable… Yep. Nothing concerning there at all… Pg 5: Had everyone on the ships been on sterilization hormones the whole time? What sort of side-effects is that level of constant hormone adjustment having? Knowing several friends who have had horrible side-effects from mild hormonal birth control, I can’t think that even some futuristic version of long-term hormone adjustment is going to be without side-effects. And do they expect bodies to just snap right back to “normal” fertility when they’ve spent their whole lives (or multiple generations) under the effects of the sterilization hormones? Still bothered by the fact that we’ve gotten almost no real emotional response or thoughts from Ag about wanting or not wanting kids except for vague hesitance. She’s clearly changed her mind here, and while it seems to be an attempt to give up some of her own fears/desires in favor of D (or because she’s worried she won’t have him much longer or just to distract him from his pain/trauma. Not entirely sure), that doesn’t have nearly the impact it would if we knew what her previous thoughts on the matter had been. She wants a kid now. Her primary goal in that seems to be to make D happy. But what is she giving up, or what fears is she facing to make that decision? Pg 6: “harnessing…for their own use.” Who is “they” here? Why the nod to Ah? Are we supposed to know this person or have any understanding of who they are? “Everyone was busy…running the colony itself.” I’m always a fan of wordplay of this sort, but this isn’t quite hitting right at the moment. I don’t think it’s quite clear what the distinction is between what she is doing and what the others are doing. Keeping things running is clear enough. But I’m not sure how the emphasis on “running the colony itself” is distinct from it. “not relishing the cleanup…” So, this, for example, I’d jot down under “keeping the colony running.” So what is “running the colony itself”, when J seems to still expect to be involved with said cleanup. Pg 7: Would the fungal remnants be enough to foul turbines this quickly? I know they haven’t been able to fully filter their water, but I remember them describing it as clear, so there aren’t stringy masses that would interfere like seaweed or something like that. If the remnants aren’t building up on the sides of the river, would it be building up that much more on a turbine? There are already a lot of hydrokinetic systems that work in unfiltered, free-flowing water (fish, seaweed, dirt, general debris, and all). Even if they have to clean the system more often, it seems unlikely that it would get fully fouled up. Pg 9: I like the idea of chickpea water use, but I think chickpea flour paste is supposed to be even better as an egg-substitute (though aquafaba is better for egg-white-specific things like meringues). Supposedly you can even make vegan omelettes/scrambled “eggs” with chickpea-flour batter, though I’ve never tried it. Pg 10: J is still the one in charge, but she doesn’t seem to have anyone pushing back against that. I’m still not seeing any real conflict for her when all of the other admins seem to go along with what she says and we don’t have a great sense of what her goals are or what’s threatening them (survival is there, but it’s not something she seems to have any emotional attachment to or real fear that she won’t achieve it) “Fortunately, that Gen…” this feels a little “As you know, Bob”. Especially when it’s been several months (?) since this event. “gave it two more seconds to increase the tension.” I’m not really feeling the tension that’s supposed to be here. “she needed them all to realize…” how is giving them extra time keeping them from drifting off to read e-mails? None of them seem all that concerned, really. Even Raj-, who is apparently worried enough to speak up and ask about it just sighs and adjusts her sari. Pg 11: “let her face show…” but are they shocked and outraged? I think there are just too many people and too many jumps in topic here for this to hit with as much weight as it should. We can’t focus in on the emotions of every individual person in the room when there are so many people. Going down a checklist of how different admins’ responsibilities are going feels inherently low-stakes even though it’s all going badly, but having some sort of shout-fest that would portray heightened emotions from various corners would be difficult to follow with so many voices and characters. It all comes across as a pretty standard civil conversation, and not zoning in on reactions makes the admins seem pretty unconcerned/detached. I’m having a hard time suspending disbelief in regard to J’s attempts to draw out pauses to increase the tension of the room. No one really seems to care that they’re in a life-or-death situation with fungus moving in to destroy them all.