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Silk last won the day on September 20 2012

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  1. Generally speaking, I'm happy to have discussions, clarify critiques, answer questions, brainstorm, try to weigh in on whether a particular solution you're working on or a particular payoff down the line might work for me, that sort of thing. But I can't debate someone's story with them; all I can do is tell someone what I experienced and it's up to them to address it.
  2. Ideally, most if not all of your scenes will be doing double or triple duty to move the plot and build character, relationships, setting, etc. In this case, though, the first 6 chapters have provided a lot of action scenes, but not an overarching sense of plot thus far, i.e. the central conflict (even if in broad strokes) and why it matters. So being able to move things forward at the same time as establishing character and relationship is important, even more so here because it's something that I as a reader feel like I've been lacking so far in the first 6 chapters. True, but I am also going to have difficulty caring about the characters when I don't have the sense that they are going to be tested by the plot. Something to consider in moving the plot forward is how to provide more information to the readers even when the characters don't have the full picture yet. A beginning where the characters don't understand what is happening yet can certainly work if readers have a better understanding of the bigger picture, but right now we have characters with incomplete information and no way to widen the scope. Nobody has said that you can't start with an immoral character. What I've said, and an experience that others on this forum are saying they've also had (personally, I rarely read others' critiques until I've written my own) is that I find this character both a. unlikeable, which is not necessarily a problem, and b. if this were not a critique group setting, a barrier to continuing to read your book, which is a problem. There are multiple ways you can address that, one of which might be starting with a different character, one of which might be making this character more likeable. But there are other solutions, like giving us more reasons to care about him. It's even possible the solution might be leaving Q as-is, which is fine if you can reduce the other barriers that your readers experience enough to make putting with Q, in their taste, worth it. Are there really cool powers that some people might be willing to read for? Then let's see them more clearly on the page, enough that we can understand and appreciate them. Is a really clever, dramatic, or otherwise compelling plot that will drag us forward even if we don't like one or more of the POV characters? Then let's see it. Same is true in reverse - people might be just fine starting with an amoral character but will experience significant barriers because they can't sink their teeth into what the plot is. It's not that there is one true solution that everyone who is responding to your work thinks you should implement, but the fact that everyone here is experiencing your book in a similar way should suggest that there are things in your manuscript you should take a look at. We tend to avoid being prescriptive on here precisely because it is the writer's job to figure out how to deal with the advice that you get, which can mean a lot of different things. There are two major areas where I get frustrated reading people responding to critiques. One is when people start being argumentative. You've said that you "challenge" critiques. I try to assume everyone is acting in good faith, but when I read your responses to critiques it often does read like an argument. If you are getting advice that you really, truly don't think will work for your story, ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by responding to tell us that it won't work. Did somebody misread something? Maybe they misread it, or maybe you weren't clear enough. Does the information come up later? It may, but that doesn't mean it isn't a problem for the reader right now. Maybe it is something that can be foreshadowed, or a lantern hung on it, or maybe it really a minor thing that somebody could read over in a published book. But responding to someone to tell them why the thing they've identified isn't a problem, instead of drilling down deeper into why it's an issue for them or even if it's something that needs to be addressed in that particular moment - as most of us are striving to give the most complete picture of our experience of the ms that we can - quickly becomes off-putting, and makes me want to spend less time on my critiques; after all, if the writer frequently responds to say they already thought of that, do they really need my input? The second thing that often causes me a lot of frustration is watching people who read the advice but don't seem to want to take it, or when it seems like someone is only willing to address the easy fixes. I know you've changed things in response to comments on here - and that's great, I'm glad they were helpful. But when someone is only responding to the small or easy things I start to wonder why I'm spending time trying to provide advice or reactions on the big-picture problems. You've said things like changing Q's personality would be a huge change to the story and be a huge amount of work... but inevitably, I or someone else will identify something that will be a lot of work to change. That is literally impossible to avoid in the writing and revising process. You've also said on at least a couple of occasions that something will be addressed in later chapters, and I am sure that all things you do mention as "coming up later" will actually do so, but sometimes in order for the thing that comes up later to work right, it needs to be addressed structurally and systemically, and dismissing it as something that will be explained later reads as an unwillingness to do that work. It may be that I've totally misjudged your responses, and it happens! I hope that I have, and that you're taking this all to heart and finding it helpful. But I have no way to judge that other than by what I see here on the forum, and I'd be lying if I said it hasn't made me feel a bit hesitant about how I spend my time. So, while I won't claim to speak for anyone other than myself, perhaps my experience can help provide a little insight into why you're getting some pushback.
  3. Not at all! Looks like we have @karamel, @Snakenaps and @Aspiring Writer for Monday.
  4. I can kind of see the merits of both ways here. It's definitely not something I've seen too often in straight up science fantasy. It was a great end to Chapter 4 and felt like a good place to take a break, but it DID make a rockier start to chapter 5 as I was expecting some time to have passed or something to have changed. That said, this might be fairly easy to tweak - Chapter 5 could be like 5 minutes later and he'd found a hiding spot that he's just now been flushed out of, or something along those lines.
  5. A passing reference like the one in this sub is probably fine, though it never hurts. I was thinking more of the first sub, which doesn't get in-depth but it is referenced quite frequently. It's definitely not to my personal taste, but it is definitely used in some genres, particularly thrillers I think, so I'd say it depends on where you see the book fitting structurally and in terms of genre. Sounds good. This became apparent to me after Q realized that it couldn't choose who it possessed, but was not clear before then. Fair. This is one of the reasons I like asking questions, assuming I have good ones to ask. You'll notice whenever I get around to subbing that I tend to be pretty quiet in terms of responses unless I need more information, personally, but yes, it took some getting used to. One of the ways I've made it less weird for myself is just by tagging people to acknowledge their crits.
  6. Quick notes: I read the first 3 chapters, just didn’t crit them because I saw a comment saying you’d already revised. Also, make sure to tag your subs with D whenever you submit something depicting drug use. While I wrote my critique before I read the other comments, I’ve now skimmed through some of them and can perhaps offer some advice on how to deal with conflicting critiques, because that is going to happen as long as you’re part of any critique group. Each reader here or wherever else you’ve received critique is telling you how they’ve experienced your story, so it’s not a matter of deciding which critiques are “right” and which are “wrong.” There are lots of reasons why you might get different reactions. In (rare, in my experience) cases, it might be a simple matter of somebody not being the right audience. More usually, it’s a bit more complex with that. With each specific story element comes innumerable reasons why different people might resonate more or less strongly with different parts of the same character, plot, setting detail etc, and that’s where you as a writer need to drill down and make the tough decisions on how to address the problems that others are finding as they read. One thing that can help you decide is looking at the volume of feedback you’re getting in one way or the other. If only one person says something and others disagree, then maybe you consider not making any changes based upon that comment, though that’s still a decision you make and own at the end of the day. When you have multiple people honing in on the same issue, you know it’s a significant barrier. Sometimes the feedback you’re getting will present an obvious (not necessarily simple or easy) solution to the problem people are experiencing with the story in question – i.e. take an unlikeable character that people don’t want to read about and make them more likeable. Sometimes the solution is going to be a little more sideways: adjusting an earlier scene to make a character’s actions or a plot point more understandable. And sometimes there will be multiple things you can do to help smooth the readers’ experience; you may have several options and only need to make one of those changes to address a problem, or you may have several things that must be fixed to solve a problem. In this case, you have Q, who has received a pretty unified reaction from RE. You’ve said that you don’t want to change Q’s personality significantly, so I assume you believe something in the story will not work if you do (although, sometimes radical changes to the story are the answer, so don’t write the possibility off just yet!); you’ve gotten feedback elsewhere that some people do like Q. So, what can you do to make Q more palatable who don’t like him while preserving what people do like about him, or preserving whatever he needs for the story to function? You’ve already identified a couple of options, which are to radically change his personality or to dial him back only somewhat. But you could also look at things like making his motivations clearer, which may may make him seem more interesting or sympathetic; you could change the fight scenes so that they feel like present a genuine danger. You could give us an entirely different character to start with especially since you already have plans for other POVs; he might be easier to swallow if readers are already invested in other characters. You could trim these first chapters into a single chapter so that they’re less of a barrier to entry. Etc. Point is, you know you have a problem, so it’s time to figure out why you have a problem, and what readers need to keep reading. Fortunately, critique groups are a great way to do that, because you can literally ask us! What, specifically, do readers like about Q? What do they not like about him? Is that thing a minor annoyance or would it make you put the book down? What needs to change so you would not put the book down? What do you want to see more of? Same goes for all the other elements of your story. I’m being pretty general here because it’s not my story and I have to be, but you can ask specific questions in areas where it might form your decision. Also, don’t worry about explaining to us why things are the way they are, unless you think it’s essential context to a question you might ask or a decision you’re unsure of. Whether or not the question/issue/etc. raised by a reader is explained or justified later in a book, they’re still giving you valuable information about how they’re experiencing the book now. It doesn’t matter if you have an excellent justification on page 106 if the reader doesn’t believe in your book enough to keep reading after page 52. In my personal experience, I’ve found it a much better use of my time to ask clarifying questions or float possible edits past my readers than explain things to them that I really should have made clear in the manuscript. And it leads to fewer frustrated critique partners. Even with the best of intentions, an explanation or justification for something in your manuscript can easily come across as arguing with readers about what they experienced and can discourage them from providing future feedback. And yes: Revising is a lot of work. Addressing the feedback you get may take changing characters’ personalities, changing the ending, changing the beginning, overhauling the structure, or cutting characters, chapters, or subplots altogether. It means a lot of time and hard decisions and figuring out how to deal with differing opinions and contradictory feedback. There is just no way to avoid that if you want to get a saleable manuscript out into the world. Onto the critique: My biggest concern with the story to this point is that I am not engaged. Nothing in either the previous chapters nor this scene has told me what drives Q or makes him tick; he’s portrayed as effortlessly competent so I have no reason to wonder about the outcome of the fight scenes; he’s portrayed as an objectively horrible person and isn’t particularly enjoyable to be around, so I have no reason to root for him. I also don’t have the context to appreciate the worldbuilding that is happening in this scene: What are the AoDs? Why does does it mean that they appear to be after him? One of the things you can do to help address this is to give some serious thought to the pacing. The story so far has been almost continuous combat. This doesn’t allow for much in the way of changes in tone or feel, but more importantly it leaves very little room for character development or worldbuilding. At over 7k words in, I should have a solid idea of what drives the main characters and what their struggles are, and I don’t have that yet. This might (or might not) assist with making Q someone I to spend more time with, whether because I like him more or because he’s interesting for me to spend time with despite not liking him. Another thing that could increase the tension is making the outcome more uncertain. At no point have I doubted the outcome; it’s always seemed clear that Q would prevail and he does this with relative ease. Even though he gets captured the end, he took on several of what we’re lead to believe were quite fearsome entities before being captured, killed creatures that he didn’t know could die, and it felt like he got captured as much because the chapter needed to end as because he couldn’t keep fighting. As I read: I assume Q’s coat must be made of some special material if he can just casually absorb being shot multiple times in the chest. Okay, so the end of Ch4 was a fine line to end a chapter on, but not sure why a chapter break is needed if the next scene picks up immediately where the other one left off, especially since we’ve only had a single, relatively short scene. First paragraph of Ch5: tense shifts from past to present in this paragraph before shifting back. We’re getting almost no information on what’s happening around Q and the other combatants. I’d sort of assumed before that this was because he was in a somewhat isolated area, back-alley style, before, but now that Q is running through the streets it’s very noticeable. Surely they are other people observing and reacting to all this? If the ghost needs to avoid physically running into people, can’t it just fly a few meters above the street and go at whatever pace it wants? “How’d you find me?” Didn’t Q say that he spend almost all of his time between jobs on this planet? And one of the first things he did was went to talk to an established contact. He certainly does not seem to be making much effort to hide himself. The dialogue between M and V at the end feels very “as you know, Bob”/infodumpy- too much time spent on laying out exactly who wants Q and what’s to be done with him, which surely the characters should know already;, and not enough emotion in the dialogue and the characters’ actions, if we’re supposed to interpret this as an emotional argument on M’s part. Also puzzled as to why Q doesn’t even try to escape while they’re standing around talking about him. At no point during this fight does he seem convincingly defeated.
  7. Yeah, I was just going to say this. Nothing wrong with playing around with stuff in the public domain, but, especially with really well-known stuff like Lovecraft's work, it's really hard to cherry-pick; not an issue if you're setting out to write a Lovecraft-esque story, but if you're just looking to borrow one or two things it might be difficult to convince readers that it's not a Lovecraftian story, if that makes sense.
  8. Haven't read the sub yet (sorry! I will, swear!) but I have a SavageWorlds superhero character who can do this.
  9. Yes exactly. For every submission of yours, you need to provide at least one critique of another's work to participate. No hard and fast rule beyond that. That said, as @shatteredsmooth said the group definitely functions better when everyone does more than the bare minimum; we encourage everyone to participate as fully as possible, but we recognize that it's not always possible.
  10. Yep, Shard sometimes decides that it just doesn't want to ping someone in a post, @ symbol or no. No solution that I've found. Good to go for this week, then, just making sure you're aware and it's on your radar. @Snakenaps Seeing no objections, I think you're okay for this time. For context for our newer members: we generally try to stick fairly close to our 5000 word limit. Occasionally, when someone has a chapter that's close-ish, you'll see someone ask to submit something that's a few hundred words over if they really don't have a logical place to split it up, at which point we usually just do an informal vote in the thread here. 6200 words is well above where we'd normally ask someone to split, but November is generally a quiet month and comments from the rest of the group so far have said they're okay with it. But, be aware subs of this length are the exception, not the rule
  11. @Snakenaps Good to submit. Anybody mind if the submission is a little over at 5,500 words this week, folks? @Aspiring Writer, before you submit again make sure you're also responding to others' subs! (I know there have only been two others for you so far.) We ask that provide a minimum of one critique to another writer on here for every chapter they submit. The group only works if everyone participates on both ends
  12. To be fair, I read all the other ones...
  13. Hi there! I'm not sure what moderators you're referring to in particular, but as the moderator of the RE subforums I have no problem with the question being asked. We're a dedicated critique group and have all manner of craft-oriented discussions here (though I suggest the lounge thread for general discussion). No one is obligated to engage with a discussion they don't want to engage with, here or elsewhere on 17th Shard. Sorry folks, not sure how I missed these tags before. I can take a look at the threads in this forum and delete anything that needs deleting, but I only have moderating permissions here on the RE forum. Anything on Creator's Corner you'll have to request from the mods there. And I'm guessing that hiding the text in a forum post with a spoilers tag wouldn't affect the search engines, because they're only scraping for content, whereas a "hide text" thing on this forum is a visual formatting tool. Also, welcome @Aspiring Writer and @karamel to the group! Edit: to clarify on the font question, the guidelines suggest Times New Roman and Courier as they’re generally accepted standards (maybe they aren’t anymore?) but the actual rule is just to make sure you’re submitting in a legible font.
  14. Yep, it depends entirely on what you're looking for. As folks have noted, it's a pretty common experience to hit a point of diminishing returns when it comes to resubmitting editing chapters, but if there's nothing wrong with doing that if it's going to be valuable for you. If you think it's more valuable for you to get feedback on later chapters instead, do that instead. If you've made significant changes to a previous chapter that you end up not subbing, you can always mention that in your email/forum post if you think that context will be important.
  15. Yes, low tolerance for bigotry here. It makes us a better critique group. I've been here literally since the group was founded and this is still true! In solidarity, I'll add my name to the list of people who haven't read much Sanderson, certainly not much original Sanderson. I've read the Elantris, the original Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker and ... that might be it? Oh, books 12 and 13 of the Wheel of Time (I, uhh, never quite got around to reading Memory of Light). Nothing against Sanderson's work, there's just so many other books out there.