Silk

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Everything posted by Silk

  1. Will do! Two things, off the top of my head: "Dance tempo" is not a very precise or helpful description, because anything can be "dance tempo" depending on the kind of dance. Slow waltz tends to be between 84-90 beats per minute while Viennese waltz can be 180-200 bpm and those are essentially variations on the same dance! Depending on the aims of the scene, you'd be better off listing a specific kind of dance or describing the actual tempo or kind of music in some way. I'm guessing "dance tempo" probably means fast because I think that a lot of people think that "real" dancing can only happen to fast music? But I'm never really certain what I should be picturing. The other one that stood out was when R asked Is who was leading (jokingly, I know) - but this question would have actually been answered by the time they've joined hands. The lead will offer their hand palm up and the follow will take/offer their hand with palm down because that's the most natural way to get into a frame. (Though to be fair, as a woman who does a lot of social leading... there is definitely a certain type of dude for whom this is their favourite question.) ...See, I told you it would be pedantic.
  2. Overall: So you’ll see this from my line-by-line comments below, but I am definitely hunting for the conflict here. I’m feeling a very strong need to move forward, not only in terms of how the chapter fits within the overall story (which I should have some idea of by now) but in the chapter itself. There are certainly some potential building blocks in here that could be interesting, but right now it feels like none of them go anywhere. For example: The duke of T shows up, but all he does is engage in small talk, and the protagonist doesn’t do anything to try to talk to him. R wanders around being inconsiderate, but he’s apparently just like that so nobody pays it any mind. Is apparently had a relationship with Ai that didn’t go well, but there’s no real indication of why that might be a problem for her now. All of these things are potentially interesting things that could be expanded on and go interesting places, but the chapter needs to focus on a couple of things that it can advance, so that we’re in a different place by the end of the chapter than we were in the beginning. Something else worth noting: previous chapters felt more like they were going to be intrigue-focused, whereas this one feels a little more romance-oriented. The book doesn’t necessarily have to be just one or the other; you might have a romance with intrigue elements, or a romance A plot and intrigue B plot, or vice versa on either of those, but you should have an idea of what you’re aiming for, since that will affect (among other things) how you want to set your pacing. A slower start might be perfectly fine for a novel with a strong romance line, for example, though I’d still recommend beefing up your internal and/or interpersonal conflicts to get us interested. In short: lots of good building blocks and I see plenty of opportunities for things to get interesting, but we definitely need more advancement/action on the stuff that is here and we don’t have that yet. As I read: “Who’s the dress for?” Is I just … carrying a gown around, or is R referring to the gown that she is presumably wearing? If the latter, wouldn’t she be expected to dress fancy for an event that her royal family is hosting? By page 4 I still don’t really understand the ceremony and its significance. I get that it’s in A’s honour, but not sure to what end. Edit: Ah, so it’s a coming-of-age ceremony. Cool. So, what changes as a result? Is it a change in the relationship between the sisters – and if so, why is that important, given that I think this is the first time we’ve seen A on screen? Is it a change in the political situation? If so, what and how? Etc. So… is this chapter setting up a potential romantic arc with M? The Duke of T’s arrival has been built up enough that I’m disappointed that Is doesn’t even try to talk to him. Didn’t she want to help him somehow? Can we see her subtly trying to steer the conversation elsewhere if he gets in some sort of trouble, or maybe been taken aback by how sophisticated he seems, or something. I don’t actually feel like I’ve learned much about anybody other than that Is once had a relationship with Ai, who is kind of jerk. Also… what are the relative ages/responsibilities of everyone in this scene? This very much feels like a “the kids stand around and gossip while the parents do politics” kind of vibe, but the Duke of T is of course an actual Duke and I think at least one other person in this scene was noted as holding actual title and not just being an heir. Also: I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that you were at least thinking of starting after this chapter, so I’ve restrained myself from excessive pedantry for the moment, but hi, hello, yes I’ve been a Latin and ballroom dancer for over a decade and if some form of this scene ends up staying in the book we should chat about some of the conventions involved. Finally: This is maybe reflective of the larger comments about the overall chapter's direction, but it definitely felt like the chapter just ... stopped, rather than ended.
  3. So @kais and @C_Vallion for Monday!
  4. Definitely, I think more of this would help. Probably a better solution than adding a scene. It did immediately make me wonder, but this is sort of undermined by the fact that MP is also in the database and can tell S is in there to boot, which is more suggestive of the database's security not being very good than it is of S's computer skills, to my mind. Also think this is a good idea. I sort of wondered about it too, because the comments about "buried in news feeds" made it seem like it was fairly widely known, but from your comments it seems like that's NOT the case, which it would help to understand.
  5. I am not genderfluid, so the usual grain of salt applies, but I think the thing to keep in mind here is that that a person who is genderfluid may shift between different gender identities regardless of what their body is doing or what sexual characteristics they exhibit (which is not the same as a change in personality, of course). What you described, both in the narrative and in your post just now, sounds more like a change in biological sex, where the body's physical characteristics shift. If these particular aliens change both biological sex AND gender identity, I think the point that @kais is making is that you need to be deliberate about communicating the fact that these aliens do both. One way of doing that is to remember that gender identity isn't going to be heterogeneous across the population. It may very well make sense that a race of sex-shifting aliens has a higher population of people who are genderfluid, but there still going to be people for whom that isn't true - there are going to people who have fixed gender identities regardless of what their body is doing. Yeah, so I think the issue (for me, at least) is that this didn't really feel like a change, per se. Threatening to start an investigation isn't really that, well, threatening unless we have the context to understand why it's a threat; and the revolutionaries already seem irritable and prone to squabbling (Ti in particular) and probably out to further their own agendas. I got the impression that Ti might be willing to kill Ek, yes, but not that Ti was more or less willing to do so than before.
  6. I did a very brief skim of the comments just now and it sounds like I'm pretty in line with the others: this is definitely better than the previous versions, but still feels like a lot information instead of action. The first scene of the sub is almost all interior monologue describing the politics, etc. Rather than having a scene where Is just thinks about this, if this is important then I think we need to discover it over the course of a more active scene (or scenes). “The risk of ever-present conflict…” This is one of the areas where the sub could really benefit from a little more “show” and less “tell.” All versions of this chapter so far have alluded to conflict, but we haven’t seen it. What if we walking in on nobles yelling at each other? On Is discovering one noble’s scheme to cut another? What if we see a scene of one of the nobles actually making that threat to call the king before a judge? Etc etc. (Similarly: your summary of the previous parts of Ch1 mentions ‘gossip’ about the Duke of T arriving. What if you just cut to the arrival and some of the kerfuffle that ensues?) “We can’t afford it right now.” It’s not enough on it’s own, I wouldn’t say, but this line is a good example of what I’d like to see more of: it’s not only characters having a frank interaction, it says a lot more about the precarity of the political situation than anything I’ve read so far. Up until this point I never would have had the idea that the nobles squabbling was more than a nuisance. “...and likely snooped through my notes…” Then why did she leave them where they could be snooped? If T and A have been tripping over servants why is their stuff still halfway through unpacking? Admittedly a touch of WRS, since I don’t quite remember who R is, I thought he was chief of staff or something similar… but even so, the fact that he’s not where he’s supposed to be and that they’re separating his stuff from A’s seems significant, but I have no idea why. I have pretty much the same comment about the last scene as I did about the first. It feels a little different because we at least have two characters in dialogue, but it’s still a very reflective scene whose purpose seems to be to give us information rather than move the story forward. To the greatest extent possible, your scenes should do both. One thing to keep in mind: It’s okay to trust your reader. It feels right now like the narrative is trying to prepare us for the story, rather than getting on with the business of actually telling the story. I’m sure there’s an interesting story here, so let’s see it! Jump right in, let the action propel us forward and feed us the information we need as we need it instead of trying to frontload. There’s a danger in going too far the other way, to be sure, but if you give us the characters’ actions, decisions, and emotions you might be surprised at how much of the rest we can fill in for ourselves. It sounds like you're already thinking in the right direction about finding a better place to start, so that's also good! Once you find that inciting incident - whether that is by moving forward in the timeline or identifying something in the scenes you've given us so far that kicks things into gear (think: what is the thing that makes everything change, how does it make everything change, and what do the characters do about it) - I suspect that things will start to come together for you. You already have very clear prose and have obviously thought a lot about the world and how it is put together. Those things will stand you in good stead once you get your starting point figured out.
  7. Overall: There’s certainly some interesting stuff here, I think, but at the end of the sub I’m left wondering how this chapter moves the story forward. Ti starts the chapter being angry and frustrated and,.. ends the chapter being angry and frustrated, and we’re not really in a substantially different place on p6 than we were on page 1. We don’t have enough information to substantiate the threat that Ek may or may not represent (aside from her obvious blunder) so even the “investigation” doesn’t seem like much except somebody venting frustration against a coworker. It definitely feels like there is the basis of a solid political intrigue here, but intrigue has to have a pretty delicate balance between too much information and not enough, and right now this is definitely falling on the side of “not enough.” Plus, I’d like to see somebody take more substantive action over the course of the chapter. As I read: “Fire was breaking out all over the station…” A bit of a nitpick but this sounds literal until I get to the next sentence. Why is G making a show of subservience to Ti if they all know Ti is not in charge? Not sure what it means to be “good at” being male or female? Is this just a reference to Ti being snappish, or is there some sort of cultural knowledge bound up in these aliens’ ability to sex change? Curious about the way the En work too. It sounds like they’ve maybe only recently attained sentience/the ability to think independently? “...humans and their permanent genders” it’s starting to seem a bit weird that Ti is so stuck on the En who decide to present as one gender identity. (See also all of the excellent points @kais has already made about sex vs. gender and sex-swapping aliens.) Okay, starting to have trouble keeping track of the implications of the various things that are being thrown out here. So the Bes think Ek is a god, fine. Are they same as the sad? It’d be good to have some sense of the actual stakes here. We know they’re voting, but have no idea what the consequences of the vote are rather than finding another figurehead – and since the vote may or may not be permanent and Ek has said she’ll abide by whatever decision is made, it doesn’t hold a lot of weight. “Who’s ready for an emergency meeting?” Okay, this is both hilarious and further convincing me that these revolutionaries do not actually know what they’re doing. If that’s what you’re aiming for I am now on board 100%. “Who programmed this?” I mean, fair question, but it sounds like Ti has encountered this thing many times before. His annoyance here reads as mostly performative, not convincing. Why is LN famous? It seems at last fairly common for the En to imitate the forms of their, um, masters (the language there is kind of uncomfortable, of course, but I suspect it’s supposed to be). So obviously Ti has his own agenda, and it’s good to see that sort of confirmed here, but I’d really like something more than vaguely ominous hints about it by now. “Background” is not terribly specific. If Ti is worried about what’s happened to Ek since things have apparently changed in the last two years, why not focus on that? “Background” sounds like, I don’t know, a standard criminal records check or something. Similarly the comments around Ek: “investigate her background” is a bit of a letdown; Ti is hardly making a specific threat, and I don’t have a ton of faith in the ability of any of these revolutionaries to follow through on it anyway. I assume that it’s supposed to be building off the reference in the (first chapter? Prologue?) along the lines that Ek did not actually exist, but again, that’s not a particularly specific threat: I don’t know what that means for Ek, or any of the other characters, or their cause, and I’m not invested enough in the character that I’m worried about a non-specific something bad that might happen to her later if someone apparently on the same side as her decides she’s a nuisance. I do get the sense that there are some significant things happening in the background of all this, which is great, but we’re far enough along that I would like at least some sense of what those things actually are.
  8. Not much to say from me. I think the changes that you’ve made work well and it certainly works as a first chapter for me. I’d agree that there isn’t an obvious place to pad it out – it ends at a good point and the arc feels complete. I do think it’s possible that beefing up S’s longing for a history could make the chapter potentially a little more powerful, especially for new readers who are only getting very glancing bits of S’s history, but I’m not sure how that would translate into a scene where actual consequential things happen, since it really doesn’t seem like this chapter is missing much. As it stands though, I think the why of S is doing this is clear enough, and it's a good punchy start. As I read: “She shouldn’t have been poking around in archival records, especially not restricted ones.” Could be WRS and I’m just forgetting some of her capabilities from previous books but if they’re restricted to that level, why does she have access anyway? Edit: The fact that MP is also in the database and can pinpoint who is viewing it with enough precision to send them a message also suggests to me that this restricted database has the security of a good strong piece of Swiss cheese. “…referred to by Y as his ‘love handles’” I like the sentence but the antecedent is unclear, maybe swap the order of this sentence around? It’s been a while since I read the previous version of this conversation so I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but this version of the conversation definitely feels more effective than the last time I saw it. I think perhaps S’s contact is being a little more up-front with the information provided? I like it. More information about the problem that the exploded planet poses too. All good here! “Want to come meet N and I for some grub?” Hadn’t they already made plans to go for dinner a few pages up? I assumed we were not, but I also have questions. And for the record, I really want to see how one "cauterizes" space. So far so good, I think. The mention of Pruitcu in the prologue intro was pretty glancing, but I'd expect that of an intro, where we're sort of primed to look for small connections to the rest of the story, so I think that's fine. The Pruitcu issue comes through through much more strongly here and as long as it does so reasonably strongly in the next chapter as well I think this will work fine. Forgot to mention but I noticed this too, I definitely think this chapter does a good job of tying in stuff from the prologue intro. I don't think these were in the original trilogy, were they?
  9. Quiet week so if you can get it out today I'd say good to go. And doesn't hurt to tag me for the last minute stuff, thanks @kais!
  10. Sneaking in way too late, as usual… I always enjoy scenes between Ir and the BK, and I like that the dynamic between the two of them seems to have shifted a little bit, with Ir finally asking some smart questions. However… I’m really not sure what she’s gotten out of the conversation by the end of it? It doesn’t seem to me that the BK has made any concessions, really, or provided her with any new information – and she doesn’t even feel better about her involvement with the dead spy, although the BK puts up a reasonably convincing argument - so what is it that pushes her towards staying on the contract? I also think that maybe the thing about name knowledge strengthening charms needs to be built up a little earlier, either as a red herring or an actual thing. Maybe this is WRS but it seemed to come a bit out of nowhere to me. I like the actual scene and would certainly be happy to read more of it, but I keep wondering why it didn’t happen earlier, if it’s important. I almost hesitate to say this, since I think that my comments have been coloured by your own complaints about I being a passive protagonist, but I’m really feeling it here. I am definitely itching for her to do something (not for things to be happening, they are and that’s good!) What would she have done if she hadn’t been summoned to the BK? During the days when she was waiting (?) for a summons, could she have tried to figure out what the BK actually wanted with her somehow? Conversely, could she have tried to go back to her old life – attempted to repair her relationship with her sister, or reached out to her restaurant friends, or something? It feels like Ir has gotten better about seizing opportunities that are put in front of her, but not so much going out and making her own. Having skimmed through the comments – I didn’t notice so much the scattered feeling others are mentioning while reading, but in retrospect I think that’s fair. I’d say @kais's comments about cutting the first and last scenes are probably good ones, as neither contributes much to the forward motion of the chapter. As I read: How big is a “unicorn-sized goblet”? Enquiring minds want to know! “...knowing names of bankers, businessmen, merchants!” I’m glad this is getting called out again, because it was only ever described the once (I think) and then dropped, and it does seem we should eventually discover where that’s going. I’m struggling a bit with Ir’s decision to continue the contract. She seemed so certain in the last chapter, and then here, she changes her mind – going back to status quo – without really getting anything meaningful from the BK, as far as I can tell. p12 “everything I knew was always regulated…” Don’t think that’s the word you’re looking for here. “Relegated” maybe? But even that doesn’t quite make sense in this context. More like “limited” which has its own, well, limitations. p13 “...die cranky and wrinkling” I assume “wrinkly”? Though I’m on board with the idea of using “wrinkling” as a verb in this context, honestly. P14 “voice pitched slight too high” slightly “No, an impossibility.” I mean, Ir’s just finished telling her family that maybe the BK isn’t so bad after all and nobody’s argued, so this romance doesn’t really seem all that star-crossed. Maybe WRS, but who is O? Ah, so he’s the charms person. Introduction seemed a little abrupt. “Used to be? When had she started thinking like that?” Nice detail here. “I hadn’t even known n-ks where a thing” this particular piece of dialogue jumped out, the tone of the book has been fairly modern but definitely not that modern. I like “whispers droned like honeybees”! Not sure the last little scene between her and the musicians is needed? It’s very short and doesn’t seem to move much forward – we already know the spring performances aren’t canceled. It could easily be part of a scene in a future chapter that focuses on the musicians, instead. o.O This made sense to me in the moment, in a "people are burned out by things being terrible in general" sort of way. I know I've beaten the drum in earlier chapters about the BK and his people not actually doing all that much to seem bad in the first place, but after the events of the last few chapters, especially for Ir's family in particular, I thought this worked okay here. I think I'm out of actually intelligent things to say but this mental image made me chortle.
  11. Works for me as well. Looks like we have @C_Vallion and @kais up for tomorrow.
  12. Aside from the fact that it’s had a good trim, I think this is pretty similar to the last version I read… which is to say I don’t have a lot of comments to add. I think this is a good length – the 9k version I read was fine, but a little much to digest in one sitting, whereas this version is totally doable. I certainly wasn’t bored by it, and N’s longing at the end comes through very nicely. As I read: “Y turned, started to vocalize some emotion that would have made them both uncomfortable…” Hah. “And they will never let me back planetside…” it feels a tad weird that N is talking about this so openly, though it makes more sense on realizing the Rs already know the story. It’s the only place so far where the dialogue feels maybe the tiniest bit infodumpy, but it’s important information and it definitely sounds exactly like the way N would complain about it if she was going to complain about it. Well, the introduction to C spaceport is uncomfortably vivid. Should I be grateful that I don’t actually know what toe jam smells like? (Yes.) “… a slender Terran gave her a toothy smile…” Is this App who N is talking to in the next few paragraphs? It seems that away, but the original description made it look like the person N waved at was passing by, not manning a storefront. “And you’re to comm me…” Why? She hasn’t even asked what N is using the balls for. It’s possible she’s inferred it but I still don’t get the need for monthly updates? Bottom of p14 “...bit back a smile.. whispered with a grin.” Trying to stay away from LBLs, but couldn’t help this one – both of those attached to the same piece of dialogue feels redundant. “since it was technically reserved for As, who did not exist.” Tee hee. “...that N could tell even from a distance” reads as if N is describing someone she doesn’t know or recognize. I assumed this was a reference to the abilities At develops in the original trilogy, so it didn't bug me. I wondered about this too, but I think it was a trap? Hah! I like this, but if you do that I think you should have N cotton on to the fact that it's G4 in the settee sooner, which I sort of thought even before this edit. I didn't have a problem with the previous version, but I like this MUCH better. It reads much more like plot-relevant info that happens to also hold the answer N is looking for, rather than N just stumbling across the exact thing that helps her (as far as this chapter goes) fairly local dilemma.
  13. Yep, I'd say I can do 1000-1200 words in an hour in the right situation (i.e. have a decent outline or am far enough into the draft to have discovery-written my way into knowing what I'm doing).
  14. Overall: This chapter read to me more like a study than a chapter. Is doesn’t seem to have any goals, other than the very broad one of “making peace among the nobles,” which seems to be as much her parents’ goal as hers. We don’t yet have an inciting incident, and I don’t have a clear idea of the kind of story this is going to be or the kind of conflict I should expect. Similarly, I don’t yet have a good sense of Is herself besides “born into a family of politicians, seems to be nice enough.” I didn’t read the last version (sorry! By the time my slow self got around to it you had already subbed this new version) but I wouldn’t say the information here is unclear, I’m just not certain why it matters, which is to say there’s no immediate connection to the situation at hand – except at the very end of the chapter when Is’s mother calls her in to help with paperwork. It’s certainly fine to slide some information into the chapter that will help build to later conflicts, but my sense is that there is too much of it here. To hold together, I think the chapter needs a lot more tension: a clearer inciting incident, sooner, and a better idea of Is’s personal goals (there’s more to it than “helping dad keep the peace” surely?) and how she fits into the conflict ahead. You asked about how to portray a character whose primary motivation is to keep the status quo, and I think that’s a fair challenge to ask about. I think the trick is going to be portray Is actively pursuing those interests and the ways they bring her into conflict with those around her. Aside from just helping her mother when asked, what is she doing on her own initiative – does she have to have meetings with people she doesn’t like, get into uncomfortable situations, go behind her family’s back, do something that goes against her beliefs or the beliefs of people around her because the end justifies the means, etc. Also consider Is’s personal stake in accomplishing the status quo: Is she doing this because she feels trapped by her/her family’s status and has no choice? Does she do it because she really buys into right to rule/responsibility of rule narratives? For love of her family? Etc. As for showing magic exists in the world, I don’t think you need to worry about that too much unless it’s relevant to what’s actually happening. Readers will have picked it up knowing it’s a fantasy novel, presumably, and if they’ve read the prologue they already know that magic exists and is not particularly well-regarded. It doesn’t seem that anything more is required for this chapter. As I read I like the opening lines. In the second paragraph, though, I’m a bit lost. It seems like we’re now referring to something specific, but there’s no antecedent other than the idea in the first paragraph? Why is O suspicious? Does she think Is is lying about the falcon? P3 “…something she only remembered to do when flustered” great detail here. I was interested when O came into the scene and seemed shaken up about something, but was disappointed when I realized it was all about politics that are – according to the POV character – very far away and irrelevant to our current situation. Is is kind of taking her time about responding to her mother’s summons… “The Duke of Tr arrived last night.” This is presented like a really significant piece of information, but 1. Even though I recognize the location from the prologue, I don’t understand how it changes things and 2. Especially if the place is so isolated, how on earth does the duke manage to show up – apparently – unexpected?
  15. @Snakenaps, @kais and @C_Vallion for Monday!
  16. I was thrown by the start of this chapter – Ir is wearing armor? I guess there’s some precedent for her job being shuffled around, but it seems like this would not be a great job to assign someone to untrained. Edit: Oh, she’s doing her naming thing again. I take it back. “...wondered if the guards on either side of her could see her steaming.” Interesting. Is she angry about something? Top of p2: “...few who wanted into the palace.” This sentence needs to be rejigged a bit, think; seems like there are some missing words somewhere but I’m not totally certain of the intent. It seems like Ir is doing this job more or less in the open now? That’s an interesting development. The fact that Ir almost missed this name makes me wonder – what if she was just a bit too slow on the uptake, and they’d already moved onto another name by the time she realized she needed to let someone know? Top of p4 – is this a scene change? Because of the page break I can’t tell. I’ m glad Ir has asked about what would happen to the ram, since I remember wondering why she didn’t ask the last time she uncovered someone whose name didn’t match. I kind of wonder about the “proceed directly to arrest and trial” portion bit of this, though; going by a fake name is suggestive, but it doesn’t prove the person in question has done anything wrong other than falsifying documents. The execution needed to happen eventually, and it’s a powerful scene. But it’s worth noting that this is the first indication of actual despotism we’ve had, whereas in just about every other respect it seems like the BK is providing a reasonable government – and as evidence of tyrannical rule it’s undermined a bit by the fact that the ram was planning to kill the king. All of which is to say that as important as this moment is, it doesn’t quite feel earned. IMO, to make this moment as powerful as it deserves to be, to really serve as a moment of awakening for Ir, it needs to feel inevitable – I think we need to have seen other, smaller injustices that Ir didn’t notice (willfully or not) that mean of course we were going to end up here eventually. I’m focusing on despotism/injustice, by the way, because that really seems to be what’s presented here, having gone (as far as I can tell) pretty immediately from suspicion, to apprehension, to trial and execution. BUT, if this is meant to be a reasonable move by the M government, I think the same principles apply. Was there an ongoing investigation, or trial proceedings, that could have been whispered about beforehand? What about consequences for previous people who Ir caught out (doesn’t all have to be related to a plot against the government) – could someone have lost their job? Got hit with a fine that maybe they couldn’t afford? Done a bit of jail time? Etc. I guess these last last couple of paragraphs are very long way of saying that while most readers could probably assume we’d end up here, the actual moment felt like going from zero to 60 in terms of what’s actually on the page. You know me, I’ll never use two words when twenty will do By the way, I don’t think it’s necessary to italicize the name of a restaurant. p13 “I shall see you…” seems unusually formal coming from Ir. I like the decisiveness we’re seeing from Ir in the start of this scene! That said… is this a scene about her demanding answers, or a scene about her having already decided to quit when she comes in? Because it starts off with the former and shifts to the latter. When P says she doesn’t have answers, Ir just lets it go and decides to quit (good!) and it’s like demanding answers was never on the table in the first place. If she just quits, fine. If you’re going to raise “getting answers,” I think she needs to decide to pursue that, or not. Good emotion in the temple scene. The way the last few scenes are laid out contributes to Ir feeling passive, I think. She sorta-demands answers from the palace and then quits. She goes to the temple, and by the end of the scene knows where she should go to get answers. And then we proceed to another rest scene, which is reasonable for Ir, but we’ve been primed by the last couple of scenes to expect her to do something, and then she doesn’t. Is the last scene needed, at least at this particular point? All that said, I really do think there is a lot to like about this sub. I’m noticing a lot of really evocative lines as the consequences start to come down and the emotional stakes start to crystallize. S’s radicalization is starting to become really apparent – definitely the revolutionaries do NOT seem good at what they’re doing, these two chapters reinforce that, but that seems increasingly to me like a deliberate choice. The execution scene falls in a good place in terms of Ir’s relationships with her palace friends. And something decisive was definitely needed from the BK after the pamphlets and the riots. Onwards!
  17. Overall: This chapter feels like it starts a few threads but doesn’t really finish any of them. J shares a bunch of information that seems to be poising the two of them more definitely for a romantic arc, but Ir doesn’t act on it or really even react to it; Ir goes out looking for S and T but they end up finding themselves, and Ir doesn’t have to make any decisions about what she’s willing to do to find them; S and Ir sort of have a fight but by the end of the chapter they haven’t ended up any closer together, nor any farther apart. There is, I think, good tension and lots of individual moments where the emotion comes through well, I just don’t feel like it hangs together as a whole quite yet. As I read: “It was both relieving and heartbreaking…” Took me a few tries to figure out what this sentence was referring to. Three days seems like quite a while to be locked down for some political leaflets. It makes sense, I suppose, assuming this lockdown is for the BK to deal with the security breach among his translators and not the leaflets, but if I’m right on that, it might make sense to have the characters wonder why they’re locked down for so long? “...couldn’t risk the lost allies when word got out.” Hoping this is referring to his shenanigans with his fiancee and not his eyesight, though it seems to me that the other family in question could circulate the information about the shenanigans no matter what J’s father wanted to do about it. “A spy called W” the first rule of spycraft is to not tell people you’re a spy. “...called him some word that should have led me to a guillotine.” Again I wonder how much of an actual despot the BK is supposed to be, or is supposed to be viewed as. He’s really not presented that way but occasionally one of the characters will say something offhand like this that puts him up there with the worst tyrants. “...a job as a musician and a steady paycheck.” Oh, right, this is fantasy. (...Sorry. I couldn’t resist. :P) That’s a pretty lengthy monologue from J. At the very least there are probably a few places where you could trim without losing any information (we already know he’s a musician now, for one thing) but more than that I want to see it broken up by something else – we don’t even see Ir’s reactions to all this information but even better than that it’d be nice to see them trying to do something. Can they be trying to find out what the heck’s going on? Can Ir trying to be getting word that she’s okay to her family? Something? P4 “thoughts of ...J… pushed into the dough.” I stumbled on this sentence. P5 “...a shuttering breath” should be “shuddering” in this context. Also, pretty sure I’ve seen this description once before in this chapter already – I had meant to note it then, but forgot. “it had been” … should probably just be “was” here? The rest of the description of the city is great though. “It would be best to stay off the streets.” Not sure why Ir is assuming this, necessarily – how much information would she have had about what was going on outside the palace? If it’s been several days I’m not sure the assumption that violence is still continuing would be the easiest one to make. “She had only been gone for a night” first scene says they’ve been locked down for three days. I get that Ir’s family needed to divide and conquer here, but leaving the youngest kid alone in the house seems like a bad move. “...for a rainbow of reasons” OMG new collective noun Either S is skulking around the jail because T’s been captured and she wants to free him or this is WAY too coincidental. S is being a jerk and I really hope Ir takes a chunk out of her. If not during this conversation than at some point in the future. I was a bit disappointed that Ir didn’t find T or even a lead to go on, especially since T just shows up in the next scene anyway. Last page: “She had seen for herself what those claws could when” should be “what those claws could do” I’m guessing. So recently in another thread, I saw @Sarah B make a comment about how you need to have a somewhat specialized needle to do stitches, because a common sewing needle won't puncture the flesh. Good cap to the chapter. Just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks here, but what if you reframed the actual conflict in this scene with S and Ir, so that rather than it being specifically about finding T, it's about Ir convincing S to leave the jail and get her wounds tended to? S has good reason not to want to leave the jail AND is already being unreasonably belligerent, so having Ir convince her to leave, however she does that, gives Ir a goal she can actually accomplish here, which hopefully takes away the frustration of T just popping back into the narrative in the next scene. Then you could always trim the bribery scene if you felt the need, so that it's more of a "Look, I tried and he's not there" thing than a failed attempt to actually find him.
  18. Late to the party, as usual. I’d already written this critique by the time I saw you were maybe scrapping-or-moving it, so here it is anyway in case it ends up being helpful for the “moved” version of it. As an “established” reader I had no problem getting into At’s POV and the narrative. I thought it was pretty well-paced and nothing felt overly info-dumpy. I do why readers new to the series would be having trouble grasping the arc, though, and honestly just in general I’d agree that the arc isn’t quite as impactful as it could be. If this chapter ends up getting moved to later in the book, more setup of At’s deep unhappiness and fish-out-of-water feelings might be helpful to new readers, and maybe taking a closer look at some of the actual problems At’s dealing with would help beef up the B-plot – which I do think is a good idea. I wouldn’t mind a bit more of a connection between S’s thread – which is given an extremely brief shout-out right at the beginning of the chapter and At’s here, since it’s not until the end of the chapter with GF threatening to whisk At off-planet that it becomes apparent they’ll presumably be on the mission together. I was also a bit off-put by the flirting between At and GF. Well, mostly by At’s response thereto. I kind of assume GF is a stereotypical pilot type who is conscious of At’s little crush and is having some fun at At’s expense. Unlike others, I didn’t really get the impression at any point that the narrative was pushing them together romantically, although yup some of the flirting was pretty overt. At’s reaction to GF felt a little … extra, though. Definitely the combination of “childhood adoration” and “childhood crush” is a pretty wicked one, but it’s been a while, At now has a lot more pressing problems than she did the last time she met GF, and she has a pretty stable relationship with E. Having At be this flustered was fun, but felt a bit extreme. As I read: I love how absolutely disinterested At is in the actual, you know, governance conversation she’s supposed be having right now. I’m sure this will not come back to bite her in the butt. “At considered fainting.” Hah! P3 “Walking towards to At” extra “to” here I think p5 “At turned all business.” This conversation seems to start out of nowhere, since the gs were just out for a walk and At waved at them – I actually didn’t even realize at first that they were close enough to have a conversation. And then At launches into a fairly loaded conversation with them about the ceremony without, as far as I can tell, picking up on any cue from the group that that they’re actually concerned about it. The rest of the conversation is good, just getting into it felt a bit rocky. “...all teeth and dimples.” Great line. “...if you took too many comm messages…” 1. I like GF. 2. To be entirely fair to At, I think this is the first comm message she’s actually taken. Bottom of p12, “after a brush with Es…” should be an apostrophe before the s on E’s name. So… why does going flying mean leaving the planet? Is it just because that’s the type of ship At has? Because I feel like they should be able to go flying on-planet also. “Have you tried not listening? You used to be really good at that.” I love her Wait, are we talking about retiring? I thought it was just a vacation.
  19. @Snakenaps and @C_Vallion for tomorrow. Any other takers?
  20. Ah, okay, good to know! Yes, I think so. I either need to be confident that they're competent enough to get where they are, or confident that they're supposed to not know what they're doing. Having the characters grapple with the fact that they're in over their heads, or their actions have consequences they don't understand, etc., would go along way towards establishing that confidence. Potentially, having something that makes it clear that they only took the A down in a stroke of luck/because A himself was somewhat incompetent, or hinting that there's something else going on that could help if that's the case. I think one of the other things that's making it hard for me to swallow that the character don't know what they're doing on purpose was the apparent relative size of the operation as presented in the fist couple of chapters. It made it sound like this is a pretty large group with multiple ships, etc. which doesn't necessarily suggest a lack of competence. Continuing to lead into the "revolution by committee" would help here, though, I think.
  21. Overall: I’m still really struggling with feeling like the main characters don’t actually know what they’re doing. Their original plan that T laid out really does not really convince me that their plan to take over the government would actually work. Also, I don’t have any sense of how they planned to to administrate the existing governmental structure for the next 30 days, or a new one afterwards for that matter. I think it would be one thing for them to realize they’re in over their heads, but I’m not sure if that’s the direction you’re going- if so, the character seem blissfully unaware of it. I also would have liked to see a little more forward motion by the end of the chapter. Ek has given her speech and inadvertently changed everything, which is a great way to keep leading us forwards, but then the characters spend the rest of the chapter talking about the old plan that will no longer work rather than working to formulate a new one that will. As I read: “So she knew the correct technique to ‘swim’ through the air.” Not a rhetorical question; I don’t know this offhand. So… does this actually work? I had the impression you actually had to have something to push off of or you just couldn’t get anywhere period. “She felt nauseous to be perpetuating the evils of the D in this way…” Wasn’t that exactly the plan? “...one blunder after another?” What were the other blunders? Ek keeps referencing G, often enough that I think I’d like to have a bit more information about this other character. Aside from the role G apparently played in the Resistance, it seems she was very important to Ek personally, but I don’t know how. While I sort of get Ek latching onto L N, since she saw L N after using the GT, wouldn’t passing this message on to the commander be, you know, entirely appropriate? “She had revealed ... to the entire galaxy.” There was a battle in the first couple of chapters involving multiple ships as well as people taking the space station where the ruler of the galaxy lived. I really don’t understand how the group’s existence could possibly be considered secret at this point. “She had seemed like such a perfect choice… competent, confident…” This is not really the impression I’ve gotten from Ek so far – neither from her own perspective nor from the way Gy treats her. I didn't feel the same confusion with this scene that it seems some of the others did, but this particular comment definitely struck me as off - it felt almost a little too off-hand, as if the character had a much greater understanding what was happening than I suspect she (or we, the readers) actually did. Yes! I meant to comment on this. It was a great line. Oh, yeah, this would help. He's much too deferential to her. I had sort of put it down to him being military and her possibly not, which would put her outside his direct chain of command, but still. Hah! Okay, fair enough, but yeah, these folks so far have not really been presented as an "ends justify the means" type of crowd - certainly not Ek. The others could potentially be more so, but we're so far not seeing it on screen, either in the way they operate or in tension between the characters. Yeah, the POV change wasn't obvious (to me) until a paragraph or so in. Worth noting that I pegged this as the inciting incident as well, much more so than actually killing A. Yeah, this is a a fair cop. I still have all kinds of questions about the GT and why Ek can just ... use it. Watching her attempt to ferret out some information (which was her original goal!) would have been helpful - especially since the implications of the scene seem, even with limited knowledge of the world, pretty consequential.
  22. Sorry I didn't get to the first sub of this chapter, but at least I can look at this version with fresh eyes, even if I'm a little late getting to it. Overall: I think this was a pretty serviceable start. There are some potentially interesting plot and character hooks for sure. I’m not quite bought into the characters’ voices and emotions yet – there’s definitely a narrative focus on the high cost of rebellion and war, but I’m not feeling it in a visceral way just yet. I think the old saw of “show, don’t tell” is applicable here – the characters do a lot of telling us how they feel, and I think that when you’re ready, this draft might benefit from a pass that focuses more on showing. What thing makes the characters hesitate when they know they shouldn’t? What’s easier than it should be? What hits them harder than they expected to? Etc. You’ll see this in my line-by-line comments, but by a couple pages in, I was getting the impression that Ek and her group really did not know what they were doing, and the rest of the sub did not do anything to dissuade me from that perspective. To really be on board with the story, I either need to be convinced that these characters are competent enough to pull off a rebellion of the scale that they’re doing here, or confident that their lack of confidence is a deliberate authorial choice that will lead us to interesting places down the road. I'm trying to decide whether or not I expect to discover that A is not quite as dead as he appears and will become a thorn in the characters' side in later chapters, or if this will be about the challenge of trying to transition to a new structure and whatever they find after A's death. I'm not quite sure which I'm being prepped for yet, which I think is fine this early, but if A does reappear I hope he becomes a more compelling victim, with some more passion or... something. As I read: “…at the bodies of the resistance fighters.” Are these Ek’s comrades – they’re referred to as “soldiers’ in the first line – or the imperial guards? It’s a bit ambiguous without context. So they’ve killed the ruler, but haven’t yet fully taken the station? Seems to me they’re counting chickens before they’ve hatched as far as claiming victory goes. Also, is this all one space station or are they taking multiple locations? Near the top of p2: “grunt” description repeated The crystal is still floating, and Ek can’t touch it? …A’s still alive, aren’t they. Edit: CALLED IT Okay, but more seriously, did they not check to make sure the A was dead? If it was that obvious to me it probably should have been more obvious to them. Ek’s dialogue sticks out a bit as being very modern, in comparison to any of the others, but she also just seems young. “…they could see the battle raging around them.” This really seems like it should be given more importance than it has been so far. In contrast with the A’s alleged death, they don’t seem to have any emotional connection whatsoever to the fight that has been referenced a couple times as happening around them. Even if they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion, surely they’d be happy to see it going their way, or regretting how many more people might die before it’s over, or something? It feels like the battle right now is being treated like wall art. I know that there is a narrative justification in that they’re waiting for special tech that can pierce A’s shields, but it still seems off to me that they’re standing around arguing with the A without doing – it seems – anything whatsoever to stop him from doing he wants. They don’t think they can kill him, but surely they could try, or attempt to bypass or take down the shields, or hack (?) the tear, or jam A’s abilities to connect to the station, or something. I’m really not all that interested in this philosophical debate between Ek and the A here. Partially it feels like standard villain monologue, and partly it’s because the A is trying to get Ek worked up around something you’ve already told us that she’s not planning on doing, i.e., ruling – she’s just going to be a figurehead while they supposedly transition to a new form of government. So A smirking mysteriously about how difficult it will be to rule doesn’t really do much for me here. It gets a little more interesting when E starts dismantling him, but I think it would be much more so if A had anything to say that I was actually invested in. I am a little more interested in Ek’s apparent secret. Wondering with the A is whispering it mysteriously, though. Especially since I’ve already noted that it doesn’t feel like there’s quite enough conflict here (even if this leads to good things later)… what if the A said it out loud where everyone could here? The end of the chapter makes Ek seem rather naïve, but much more deliberately so. And I do think that’s a good end to the chapter. “grunted” appears two more times on the first page of Ch2. “She turned GT over in her hand…” I thought the A destroyed this last chapter? P5 “A bit too late to voice these concerns…” Gotta agree there. It’s fine for Ek to be having regrets or wonder if she did the right thing, but this reads more like a conversation that folks would have gearing up for rebellion than after they’ve already gone through with it. “You have access to the T…” How did she get that access? Is it just a matter of physically touching it or? Because if it were some sort of mechanical/computational device, I would assume it had much better security than that. Okay, I got a good laugh out of Ek describing it as “sticky.” I hope that part stays. “Ek. How is that go?” Why is Gy asking Ek? He was there wasn’t he? Or was this supposed to be a rhetorical question? “No one outside of this station knows that A is dead.” That seems somewhat unlikely. This has certainly not been portrayed so far as any sort of stealth mission. I realize that the aliens might not have listened, but why, instead of hemming and hawing, doesn’t Ek just say that the GT shocks/burns people who try to touch it? “If word leaks that we’ve overthrown the D…” Then why do they need a figurehead? Come to think of it, if the plan is to go “radio silent” for 30 days, how on earth are they going to maintain the illusion that everything is a-okay? Happy with the hook at the end of ch2, a little annoyed that it took her this long to try it.
  23. “…mud-brown hair falls from Wren’s squarish as he” missing word after ‘squarish’ Who is A and why are they apparently leaning over JJ to read JJ’s journal? Boundaries, A, jeez! Edit: Okay, I’m glad JJ asks the same question. “Whatever sayings mean I will do anything for them…” I stumbled over this sentence. “I am a hopeless puddle of teenage crush.” I like the line, but this seems a little more self-aware than JJ has been presented so far. P5 “...if it doesn’t get it’s” should be “its” Okay, I like the reveal that L’s helper is JJ’s mom, but small how is this galaxy, exactly? “But gods, so I have questions.” Should this be “do I”? “Why did you not check it before…” A had started to seem a little manipulative to me before now, but at this point, I definitely do not like them. They spring a surprise stowaway on another student, except them to come up with a hiding spot on short notice, and risk getting into trouble to get the stowaway to said hiding spot, and are now complaining because the spot isn’t good enough? I am kind of hoping this ends with JJ telling A all the way off. “Why in the forty-nine hells…” I think it was 39 the last couple of times? Or does JJ just add another 10 hells every time JJ cusses? “…W and his goon’s eyes” apostrophe should go after the S “I have no boundaries.” This is going to end poorly, isn’t it. “Do you really want to tangle with me again?” This actually seems like information we should have had before. I certainly got the impression that JJ didn’t like W, but not that they had a particular history – and if you’re going to pay this much attention to JJ delivering W’s comeuppance, it feels like a bit more setup is needed I’m guessing that all of these characters are supposed to be roughly the same age? I’m getting a mid-teens vibe from JJ, but A seems older. Although I realize some of that is them being a snob. A note for later revision rounds: L’s name is sometimes spelled with one L and sometimes with two. I don’t think I have much more to say overall than is in the line-by-line comments. JJ’s voice seems pretty solid and I’m enjoying the narration. I am starting to wonder what L’s overall objective is – as in, where is she trying to escape to? How did the space school come part of her escape route? It seems very coincidental unless JJ’s mom specifically sent her here, which so far doesn’t seem to be the case. The pacing so far seems solid, but I wonder about wrapping it up in the next 3k words – it might be a tall order.
  24. This is definitely a better draft! There was more sense of immediacy and urgency and I had a better sense of the POV character. The worldbuilding that was provided felt more significant than the details we were getting before and did a better job of giving me a sense of how the setting worked, though there are still a couple of places where it felt unwieldy (I flagged a couple below) and there are still some places where some trimming could probably happen. Pacing-wise, this still reads to me more like a Chapter 1 than a prologue, I think partially because of the length and partially because of the focus on the relationship between the duke, the son, and T at the end of the chapter. It doesn’t necessarily feel like it is setting is up for immediate change. Since you asked about reducing word count – there are definitely still some areas where you could trim. I suspect you could (further) shorten the bit where T is pulling the duke out of the rubble – for example, you have both R and D discover that the healer is dead – and the scene at the end between D, T and the duke could probably be trimmed further as well. I did notice that every lull in the conversation between T and the Duke was followed by at least a few lines of description, for example, and you went back to the scene of people breaking through the ice at least twice. Some of the dialogue between Dw, T and the Duke could potentially be trimmed, depending on how important Dw is to the future story. And you can watch out for little line level things like repeated descriptions – wet coughs, shaky hands, etc. Might also help the give the prologue a punchier, more … erm, prologue-y feel. As I read: Good edit to that second line, that makes things much clearer. Bottom of p2 “Still hated him, sometimes…” all fine and good but take a look at clearing up the pronouns. The word “he” is thrown around several times and refers to different people at different points in the sentence; the intent is clear, but the sentence is a bit of a stumbling block. The worldbuilding on the top of p3 – this is good info, and feels more graceful than what was in the first draft. If not for the placement, I think you could get away with this here. But because the immediate situation is so urgent, it’s still somewhat conspicuous as an infodump. “There won’t be much help.” Again, good info, but I wonder at this. Would anyone presumably rushing to help even have enough information to decide that the duke is at fault for whatever happened here? In general, this version does a better job of hanging a lantern on the fact that the castle is emptier than normal, but I’m still a bit disbelieving that more people aren’t available and coming to help. P7 “there might be little possibility in saving him” should be “of” instead of “in,” I think P9 “How long had it been… Half an hour?” Has it really been that long? I didn’t get a sense that that much time had passed. If it takes so little for something as apparently innocuous as a sleep spell to be miscast and tear through a castle, and there’s such prejudice against magic users in this kingdom, then why on earth did the duke try to cast the spell before ensuring that his location was secured and anyone who might see it in action was briefed? “…had to be something useful that could still be done here.” Nice bit of emotional resonance here. Earlier T speculated that it might take an hour for someone to come from the village, and then that it had been at least half an hour or maybe three-quarters since the incident happened. Shouldn’t more help be arriving any time now? P14 “the kitchen servants were there…” “…no child should have to experience so young.” They don’t have regency plans in place? By the end of the sub there seems to be a sense that the duke is definitely dying but that’s not really clear to me from the narrative, since help has been sent for and the timeline seems to suggest it should be arriving shortly. It's clear that the duke has been badly injured but I'm not totally buying into the idea that his fate is sealed. I actually think past perfect worked in most of the instances where it was used because the narrative, which is written in past tense, commences just after the event happens that causes a lot of the things T is observing - the walls falling down, etc. Similarly the midwife's warning happened before the thing happens that causes all the chaos.
  25. Looks like we have four slots with @C_Vallion, @ginger_reckoning, @Snakenaps and @shatteredsmooth for tomorrow.