Silk

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Everything posted by Silk

  1. Overall: This reads like a very reflective couple of chapters. Which is fine, in and of itself, but I’m becoming increasingly anxious for some of the setup to start to pay off, as it feels like we’ve been in stasis for a little while now. There are also a couple of particular scenes that don’t seem to serve a purpose other than breaking up I’s time with the musicians. That said, I do like the way her relationship with the musicians is portrayed. P1 “no water to slick of his coat” should be “off” I’m not too sure what this first scene accomplishes aside from giving the BK the chance to look ominous and imposing. The only information we get is confirmation of the structure in the north, which has already been adequately set up to allow us to assume that it’s a plot point and not merely a rumour. P2 “Two days after the M’s” remove “the” P2/3: “If she was unable to pass…” Has it actually been suggested that if she doesn’t do a good job pretending to be a musician – not if she just decides not to or whatever - that the BK will renege on the contract? Or is this I worrying about things without having a firm basis for it? It’d be helpful to have it presented more clearly either way; at the moment it feels like new information and is a bit jarring. The scene between I and S also doesn’t seem to change much. I tells S that she did the thing she said she’d do, and that she’ll continue to not do the thing she said she wouldn’t do, and it doesn’t seem to change or move things forward. It doesn’t really feel like a “rest” scene either, because while there was tension in the previous scene it was also all internal conflict: I feels guilty about what she’s doing but seems to be in no danger of actually being caught. “What’s this note?” More likely you’d be drilling someone on phrases (play this set of notes) or specific rhythms (say/clap/play this) than individual notes, especially if you’ve been doing it for any amount of time, and especially if you’re working on percussion, where you’re working with individual pitches a lot less than other instruments. Oof. 21 siblings seems like way too many siblings. Wait, is J able to read emotions, or manipulate the p14 Why is Ir suddenly doubting that she’s been hired to find spies? What’s changed to make her doubt her opinion here? On the mundane horses: Nice detail here.
  2. What's this? Silk just posted a critique actually on time? What sort of weird alternate world are we suddenly in? I do want to note before I get into the comments that it’s been a while since I’ve read anything I would call grimdark, so keep in mind that I’m not your target audience here. As I read – prologue While I don’t have anything against prologues personally, I’m leery of the combination of prologue and POV of apparently dying person. Taken together it seems like a signal to readers that we shouldn’t engage too much with the characters or events on the page right now, that they only exist to provide information for what’s to come. The revelation that A has of these two important characters is not very impactful, since I have no idea who they are or what they mean. S is a surname, I guess? I can reason my way through this one, but was initially a bit confused as to who S was. As I read – Ch1 Bottom of p2, V names the Blade, but in the first scene with O and M they noted that the Blade hadn’t told V its name. Was he lying to them or is this new? If the latter, we should see it called out explicitly. It’s worth keeping tabs on the types of devices you use to provide information to the reader. This is the second “POV character eavesdrops on a conversation” scene we’ve gotten in as many chapters. “You were not supposed to be here.” Isn’t this his house? Why would she or V’s father assume that he just wouldn’t come home until it was convenient for them? I had some trouble with references to the knife going into M’s throat “just over the shoulder” as “over the shoulder” would communicate to me that the knife went, well, over its target and missed. I understand the intent is “just above shoulder level” but it was a stumbling block; maybe “just above the collarbone” or something similar? I am not getting much emotion from V in this scene, considering his father has just died. I think it would be fine for V to be in shock and detached from it, but the narrative would need to sell that if that’s what you’re going for. Overall: Having read the first chapter, I’m still not convinced that we need the prologue. I appreciate that it’s setup for V’s discovery of the blade in the first Ch1 scene, but I don’t think it gives us much that we can’t infer – for example, M’s comment about the blade maybe being a twisted remnant is enough for us to assume that’s a bad thing. I think this is a better place to start Ch1 than the last version in terms of “in late, out early” but what I’m missing, this time around, is a sense of engagement with the characters. I got more of that last time, partially because we spent more time with V, partially because we got a better sense of character dynamics in the first scene with V and his friends in that version than we do in this one. In this version of the chapter, we have so much happening at once that it’s hard to invest in any of it. V and his friends are leaving, but we have less of a sense this time why that’s important to them; in the meantime, in the second half of the chapter, we’re introduced to 3 new characters, two of whom end up dead shortly thereafter, plus a revelation about V’s father who we didn’t know anything about anyway. I didn’t have any problem with the fight scenes themselves – they seemed clear enough, and I appreciate the fact that they were quick and to the point (which is sort of a strange thing to say about a fight scene, but a fight scene that drags on too long can get very dull very quickly and is also not terribly realistic), though I thought the insta-death of both T and V’s father was a little convenient. Or maybe it was just that not only did they both die very quickly, but V seemed very quick to accept that they were both dead, whereas it would be a very normal reaction to want to confirm that was someone was dead, whether you hoped they were or hoped they weren’t. That said, in my opinion what makes a fight scene exciting is not the scene itself, but the narrative tension that supports it, and we don’t have that yet. I don’t really have a good sense of why I should be rooting for V or rooting against any of these other people, except that he’s our POV character and the others aren’t. I think there’s a happy medium between this version and the one you subbed first, where you focus more on the moments of change (or just prior to) as you do in this chapter, but spend enough time that we feel grounded in the characters and the world before the knives start flying. I kind of wondered about him just going along with this too. I could see if if he was presented as so shaken up that he just grabbed onto the first person who offered him a kind word - shock is one heckuva thing - but we're not getting the emotion yet to frame it this way. Extremely tempted to bust out into an "IT'S RAINING MEN" parody here but sadly, "assassins" doesn't scan. Good call here. You are making a promise by having events go down this way.
  3. Overall: I think my biggest issue here is still a lack of information. I don’t still don’t fully understand the situation, or the stakes. Obviously a plague is bad, but there are lots of questions around why the A would want to escape from (or plain sabotage) their containment, what the relationship between the A and the S actually is, why waking PS would be any sort of solution to the plague problem, and whether there’s any threat of anyone other than D being able to actually do this. I probably don't need the answers to all of these questions right away, but it's hard to fully invest when so many things don't quite make sense. As I read: P2: “A’s recently scared arms” probably “scarred”? The encounter with IG seems somewhat rushed. I get that it’s only remarkable to D because they don’t see new people that often and is presumably setup for later encounters, but it feels transparently so, because the scene doesn’t actually accomplish anything else. If the artist is so absorbed in their telepathic rant that they’re not paying any attention to the things D says out loud, why does A say loud that something’s come up? A appears to be talking to the artist and not D here. P3: third paragraph on the S homeworld, check the spelling of S there. The paragraph is also a little confusingly worded; I had to read it multiple times before it tracked. P4 top paragraph has a couple instances of “its” that should be “it’s” “Who’s hands” should be “whose” “It doesn’t surprise me that YOUR students would use it” I am 100% here for A dragging D. This conversation between A and D feels significant, but I still don’t have the context to fully appreciate it. I have a reasonable guess as to why A and D think that waking P would be a bad thing, but no idea why anybody else thinks it’s a good thing. How does this help with the plague situation? Top of p6: DRAG THEM, A “A seemed like their own thoughts” missing word here. “A seemed to like” perhaps? “Especially since every S carried the Z” this makes me wonder again why D was working close to an S guard without any sort of PPE, if this is the case. I’m starting to get confused; I thought Z was the disease but D’s inner dialogue towards the bottom of page 7 is making me doubt that. More and more, I’m getting the vibe that the A are actually prisoners of the S. The S insist on being involved even though they’re apparently a danger to the A because they carry disease and the A want to escape from them? In the last couple of paragraphs: is this D deciding that F has committed more sabotage, or D deciding to make it harder for F to do so?
  4. Yep, I'd say this makes sense.
  5. Looks like we have @sniperfrog and @Snakenaps up for tomorrow.
  6. Not a lot to add about this chapter in particular; it seems like a solid chapter as far as establishing a relationship between J and I, but definitely felt like a stepping stone. You probably have some room to trim here, too. Skimming through the comments, I'd agree with those who have suggested that Ir is pretty terrible at secrets. There were two important slips in this chapter, I'm hoping the narrative capitalizes on them. Most of my comments at this point are more a general reflection of where the MS seems to be at, at this point: I’m starting to become very conscious of the fact that a lot of what we’ve had up until now is essentially setup. I don’t quite feel the text is dragging, but I am very much ready for an Act II. As much as I like the portrayal of the Ms as, you know, actual people who have opinions that differ between them and don’t fall neatly in line with the monarch’s opinions on everything, I keep wondering why basically all of the musicians, and pretty much all of the other palace staff that we’ve spent any time with, are Ms as opposed to people from P. It just doesn’t seem terribly practical to import an immense number of foreigners to do what seems like almost all of the BK’s work. Not to mention, the musicians are universally presented as one people, the Ms, when presumably they belong to a bunch of different peoples that have been, ahem, collected under the banner of the BK. Of course this is going to be coloured somewhat by I’s perspective, but with that many foreigners in one place especially, I’d expect to see things like friendly (or unfriendly) rivalries between different countries (it takes a long time to stamp that sense of identity out), different regional perspectives, etc. Again, not so much something that’s specific to this chapter, but it’s been niggling me for a little bit, and a chapter like this where you have so many people together might be an opportunity to bring some things like that to the fore. And it might offer an opportunity to complicate I’s loyalty further – some of the people who are technically enemies because they’re under the BK’s rule will have gone through the same experience that she did. And any decent revolutionaries would look for opportunities to exploit a potential weakness like that
  7. Okay, well, since I'm not double-posting any more, I'll just put my comments on the prologue in a new post: I love the first sentence! That said, I feel like the second sentence actually takes away from that great first description. I think less is more here. “until they were long righted. And they would be, soon” the past will soon be long righted? Minor stylistic thing, but it’s awkward phrasing even though the meaning is clear. I’d consider deleting “long.” I felt let down when I got to the end and realized that that was it. In those couple of pages, I was engaged because I had just enough information to keep me reading… but then I didn’t get any sort of resolution, or to see any of the debate that there was apparently so much riding on. I don’t think that we need an explicit resolution to the question of whether Z gets what she wants, but I wanted to get closer to the moment of decision than the prologue ultimately brought us. As others have noted, at the end I didn't really have a sense of why this was important, other than Z thought it was.
  8. Hey, if I can submit songs to this group, you can submit poetry It’s been a solid decade since I’ve critiqued anybody’s poetry, so take my comments with a grain of salt, but I’ll give it a go! And, I wanted to ask since your email mentioned slam partners, is this intended to be slam poetry, specifically? This definitely does not read like what I would call slam poetry, which is a very auditory, performance-based form of poetry, so I’m not critiquing it as such. (But, maybe there’s a regional difference in what’s considered slam poetry?) Onto the comments: There’s something very powerful about the way this piece frames death and dementia as both a loss and a type of creation or becoming. I found some of the later stanzas, in particular, quite striking. My biggest comment is around drawing a clearer connection between the idea in the opening (water rushing in a seashell) and the rest. It’s a very distinct image to open on and certainly a ready metaphor, but the rest of the poem doesn’t really come back to it, and it feels like a missed opportunity. I wondered about the line “I wasn’t there.” It stuck out because it’s the only place in the poem that seems to be mourning the narrator’s absence from their grandmother’s life; the rest of the poem seems to be very much about bearing witness, so this feels somewhat contradictory. In the second stanza on the second page, there’s a tense shift in the last two lines. It’s notable because it’s the only place in the piece (I think) that does that. I debated whether or not to note it because I’m not sure it’s detracting from anything, but by the same token it’s not adding anything either, at least in my experience of it. The four-line stanza near the bottom of p2: “eho board” is probably “echo board.” Finally: I wonder if there is room to play around with the line breaks at all. It’s a good way to play with emphasis and would also serve to break things up a bit – yes, the lengths of the lines are reasonably varied, but with a handful of exceptions, the lines are broken up pretty consistently by clause. All that being said: I love the core idea here, and this reads like something very close to a finished piece. I haven't had a chance to read the fiction piece yet, so I'll update with those comments once I have.
  9. Overall: I can’t say much that I haven’t already said in the comments below. Really it comes down to: I think there are a lot of good moments in this arc, but the timing of the arc itself feels off, for two reasons: I need more information on/investment in the family dynamics for the family scenes to really pay off, and I have no idea how this family arc fits within the context of the larger story, which I still don’t understand in any meaningful way. As I read: On S being so happy that A is back: Similar to my comment on the previous chapter, I’m not totally getting the emotional impact that I think you’re shooting for, and I think it’s partly because I have no idea what A’s leaving means to any of these characters. Except for the parts when he’s directly thinking about them, and even then only to an extent, A doesn’t read like someone who is really missing his family a lot, nor does the chapter with S read like A’s departure left a significant hole in his life. We need a better understanding of what these characters have lost by being apart before we can rejoice that they’re together. I’m also not particularly invested in this “S runs away” plot. I had no idea why he was doing it to begin with, he’s thinking about it in a very casual sort of way, so it doesn’t feel like anything significant. It’s just a thing he’s going to do after he goes to dinner with his long-lost brother who he may or may not have expected to see alive ever again. Bottom-ish p1, ch4: “They stood in front of their house…” S has been so purely in his head for several paragraphs that I forgot anybody else was there. Are they just standing outside and grinning/scowling manfully into the night? “He couldn’t be that different, right?” If this was a point of contention for this family, then yeah, I’m coming back to the idea that we would have needed to know this before this big reunion for this to land. “...but he had gotten tall!” Remarks like this suggest to me that he was away longer than three years, or maybe that he ran away quite young. There are suddenly a lot of people to keep track of in this scene, some of whom we’ve barely met and some of whom we haven’t met at all. “I honestly thought I’d never see this place again…” Did he think that when he went running off? If so, he must have had a pretty compelling reason to join the army in the first place. Top of p5: Not sure what is meant by “elevated” voice. Does that mean he’s projecting his voice? Also, I’m now assuming that dad being a passive-aggressive jerk is the reason A left. Ch 5, bottom of p2: The phrase “he marched with a quicker step” shows up at the end of two paragraphs in a row. Ah. So yes, knowing that he was leaving to get away from an emotionally abusive father and that all that about never seeing this place again was a feature not a bug… would have definitely been good to know. I keep coming back to the idea that for this whole family conflict to land, we really need to have had at least some of this information going on. It’s not that it’s particularly hard to follow, but the changes we’re observing in the family dynamics here would be more meaningful if we had a baseline to compare them to. Wait, A and S are just going to go along with this “arrest” thing? Hmm… I’m not sure how I feel about the way the chapter ends. From where I sit, it looks like another obstacle that is preventing us from getting to the main story. An appropriately timed B plot can well and good, but I don’t even know what the A plot is yet. For a counterpoint: I understood this just fine, but it DID also strike me that the description itself ("not very nice to listen to") was pretty vague. A more specific description - tone of voice, glaring at the appropriate character, etc - might help get the point across. Yeah, I missed any irony or sarcasm there.
  10. Overall: I’m starting to get a better sense of the characters, which is good! I’m not totally feeling the emotional impact of the family reunion, though. I’m getting that it’s fraught because he took off without (I presume) telling them, and possibly more than he realizes because he doesn’t know his brother’s run off yet, but I think I need a better sense of the family dynamics before we get this scene. I’m figuring out the context just fine, but it’s not having the emotional impact that I suspect you’re going for. Also, I’m not inattentive to what’s going on here, but I feel like we’re still taking too long to get to the story. This feels almost like a “rest” scene that you’d want to include after a period of high tension, and instead we’re just getting started. Not only that, but while we’ve had our inciting incident in the previous chapter with A, we still don’t really understand what changes as a result, for either the characters or the setting. Last general comment, which I’m making mostly because in the opening of the BR chapter you refer to them as soldiers several times: I’m still having a hard time believing that these folks are soldiers. That may be partially because we’ve yet to see them in a military context (which, in and of itself, is totally fine), but also, the group doesn’t seem to function as a military unit. I’m assuming they’re all the same rank and of course they’re without a CO here, but surely they’d have military training to fall back on in a crisis. If nothing else, I’m sure they’d have orders to regroup at a specific rendezvous point (even if that point was “the nearest outpost” or whatnot). As I read: (chapter 2a) Not sure if this is meant to be a whole chapter or a scene tagged onto a previous chapter – I didn’t quite get your description of where it was supposed to be placed, I think – but this scene reads like something that could easily be summed up in a quick montage. I’d assumed from the previous chapter that they’d hoped to follow the bird back to water, so the only new information here is that there’s a bird that is acting strangely, which really isn’t enough to carry the scene. Can whatever plot thread the bird is related to be foreshadowed in some other way? Or even in a few lines of summary, though that might feel cheap. (chapter 3) So the town that they find happens to be A’s hometown? This could be WRS but I’d had the distinct impression that A thought they were some ways away from this particular town, so them just suddenly stumbling into A’s hometown doesn’t seem totally credible. This is would be pretty easy to fix by noting in the earlier chapters that A knew they were nearby, and could potentially provide a bit more emphasis on A’s relationship with his family before (I presume) the reunion happens. “He still didn’t know why this dove had deviated from that pattern…” this seems very understated. It’s one thing to deviate from a standard flight pattern and quite another for a bird to literally lead a group of people to a place of safety. Also, if there are that many other birds around, would he still be able to pick it out? “I kind of doubt that some doctor would let us…” As established, A is from here, so why would they doubt him? It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to suggest staying with A’s family even without this remark. “...without any announcement, carrying a body. Typical.” Two reactions here: 1. LOL. 2. “Typical” seems… alarming. “Actually, I don’t care” Welp she’s my favourite now. Although I am wondering a bit about the title of “mother,” if she’s a physician who no longer runs an orphanage. “I’m technically still on duty.” Really? You’ve been wandering through the desert for days with no orders, no commanding officer, and no idea where the rest of your colleagues are. Unless this is meant to be read as an excuse for not stopping for dinner? This was clear enough to me, but I DO agree that it seems like a pretty fragile lifeline. Especially since they're leaving the shelter they barely managed to find at the hottest time of the day. I definitely think we need a better sense of their desperation up to this point to make it believable, especially since "hey we should follow that bird" is not going to be an obvious solution to everyone.
  11. It looks like we have @Snakenaps, @Sarah B, and @PiedPiper for tomorrow.
  12. No worries, it happens! Pretty sure I've done it myself.
  13. Congrats @sniperfrog!
  14. Overall: I know you’ve been around a couple of weeks now, but welcome again! It’s always exciting to see a new member’s first submission. There is some good stuff here. I enjoyed the way the friendship between V, M, and O is portrayed in particular. There is a LOT being set up in this chapter – V being assigned a new mentor, V and his friends leaving the village, the woman with the red hair, and finding the sword. I wonder if you’d be better off to focus on one or two of them and introduce or expand on the others in later chapters. Finding the sword seems to be the inciting incident so that’s where I’d be inclined to start, personally. And if it IS the inciting incident, then I think we need to get to it sooner. Something to think about when you’re ready to do a line editing pass: consider how you can vary your sentence structure. One of the first things I noticed was how many sentences started with “V was/was not” or similar. Many of your sentences are also simple sentences (which I don’t mean as a pejorative, I mean short sentences containing only one clause) and pretty much all of them start with the subject, so there are some other places you could look to vary your sentence structure in future drafts. Another thing I noticed was sentence fragments – there are two or three, for example, in the last paragraph on the bottom of p1. Nothing wrong with using them occasionally, but they lose their impact when used too often. It’s worth noting that all of these stylistic did improve in the later pages of the draft, although I do think that it’s something to watch for throughout. As I read: “Killing a man cannot be as hard…” I’m 100% expecting an arc where he learns that killing is hard and horrible now. The tone of the dialogue is at odds in some places with the tone of the narrative. The narrative is generally pretty formal while the dialogue shifts from from formal to very modern and informal and back again. “O and M were lounging… him with…” at this point, “him” could refer to either O or M. “You can just keep your hood up.” I have the impression this is a pretty small town, so that doesn’t seem particularly feasible. “All it really did was make him look like he had to…” I mean, it’s a great line but it does seem a little odd to have the POV character think that about himself. “O and M are going to come along.” Wait, have they actually discussed that at all? It seems like the three of them had vague plans to still be together after the ceremony, yes, but I don’t think they actually discussed V being sent away anywhere specific, which seems to be new information. The storytelling thing in the inn goes on much too long. Nothing wrong with using an in-world storyteller to convey some information, but it’s transparently an infodump and 2-3 pages of it is too much. I have to admit that I skimmed most of it, because by this point I was basically just looking for the one or two things this would tell me about our protagonist, who’s been pretty clearly set up from page 1 to be a prodigy/chosen one type. I’m all for fantasy tropes, but V wandering almost directly from storytime to significant dream to finding the sword is frontloading them quite a bit, and it makes the story feel a little disconnected. That said, you’ve already presented us with a pretty good reason aside from the dream for V to go into the woods: His father isn’t asleep and that’s apparently unusual, which I personally find much more compelling than an odd dream. I don't understand why V doesn't seem to be more worried about it. V mentions that if the wrong people find out about the sword he’ll be dead. It’s good that there’s some stakes here, but I’d like to have a better understanding of why having a sword like this paints a target on V’s head. Personally (and I'll note here that I am NOT lesbian or bi), I was split on M's representation. I'm glad to see explicit representation and I thought it was presented in a way that gave us a very firm idea of the character. In fact, I think M is the character I'm currently most engaged with, because you managed to convey so much about her in the relatively short time she was on screen. I am always a little bit leery of hyper-sexualized women characters especially ones who aren't straight because that CAN fall into all sorts of nasty tropes, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it either, and refusing to portray gay characters as sexual can be a phobic trope in its own right. I think the takeaway here, other than realizing that some readers will feel a bit wary when encountering characters like this until they acquire a certain level of comfort with the story, is, at some point in your writing or revision process, it will probably be worthwhile to consider M's position in the overall story. Is she the only explicitly bi or lesbian woman in the entire story? Does she end up as a "buried gay" or otherwise punished by the narrative? If so, that would be another indication that there are some things you should adjust.
  15. You may! Any other takers for tomorrow?
  16. “...D was not a standard A.” Oh, this line is so much more effective with the additional description. P3: “… when the conduit brushed his exposed left arm…” Pronoun slip here – both pronouns in this sentence. And another near the top of p4: “D laid his left palm…” Also p4 “Which saying wasn’t much” – “wasn’t saying much,” I suspect. “What about the Z? Did it get in?” If it’s that dangerous, surely they would have some way to visually or technologically monitor the environment for whatever contaminant was causing the concern? And, especially if the answer to the above is no, I still don’t know why D does not appear to be wearing any PPE whatsoever, against either the superchilled fluids they’re working with OR dangerous biological agents. There’s definitely a greater sense of urgency than there was in the previous draft, but it still doesn’t read as too far out of the ordinary, and definitely not the kind of immediate emergency that would suggest that it’s appropriate to disregard stuff like PPE. To be fair, I do get the sense that D maybe has some implants that protect them against the cold to some degree? Not so much the plague, though. Also, immediately following the above on the bottom of pg4, pronouns again: “D checked over his hands…” p5, “Protocol requires full hazard gear…” The time to be raising this would have been before D entered the facility. Also surprised that there doesn’t seem to be any decontamination process as D leaves the area. Overall: this draft was a big improvement over the last! It felt like it started at the right time this time, and I had a more solid footing in terms of the worldbuilding, the description of the various characters, and so forth. The encounter between D and F also felt much more like an altercation than straight setup (my current understanding is that the general needs D to action their plan, which is why the plan hasn’t, in fact, been actioned yet). We still haven’t seen what I’d call an inciting incident yet, since things still don’t seem to have changed (the general’s sabotage does not actually seem to be news to D or increase their sense of urgency) but this feels like a much stronger opening. I’m still shaky on the direction of the actual plot, especially on the connection between the A tanks and why PS is needed to lead the A out of this plague, why the general thinks sabotaging their way out of a plague is a feasible solution, why PS is being framed as a big bad. I think I understand some of D’s reticence in that the activation of the PS would wipe out independent thought among the A (D being a possible exception?) but it feels like there is more to it than that. Of course I don’t expect to know everything in the first chapter, but PS seems to be like the node that’s drawing the rest of these disparate threads (the plague, the cure, the A, the sabotage) together and it’s the plot thread I understand the least. As far as description of the space itself goes, the description of D’s immediate surroundings was much better, but the space as a whole is still mostly a blank slate. I have no idea what kind of facility we’re in or what the scale of it is. Finally: I’d also second the comments that we know basically nothing about D themselves, as far as goals/desires/what actually drives them, which if anything is even more important with a character who is not particularly likeable. Also, quick note for @ima willshaper: There was one reference where you forgot to edit out a full name in your post so I made a quick edit to abbreviate it.
  17. This is going to be a hard balance to strike because the situation is serious, but D's nature is to be flippant about risk. Something to work on for sure. I wondered if this was the case. Is there a nervous twitch or thought D can have? Something they'd rather not think about? I don't think you actually need much - just a couple subtle hints to cue the reader that something is Up, rather than having D seem totally cavalier. I think having D kitted out properly to whatever job they're meant to be doing would also help. Yep, and I don't hate them or feel so far that it's necessarily a chore to spend time with them, so all good. I think I noted the switch happening around p3 and don't recall noticing many/any pronoun slips after that so hopefully that helps narrow it down!
  18. Looks we have @sniperfrog, @ginger_reckoning and @Sarah B up for tomorrow. Quick reminder as we have a number of folks who've joined recently to keep your submissions to the upper limit of 5k. This will be especially important as it looks like we're heading into another busy period; critiques suffer when the volume becomes overwhelming!
  19. Overall: Definitely some good stuff here! I certainly have the sense that the world is well fleshed out, although I don’t always feel like I quite have the information to follow along with the information that we’re getting, and I’m definitely intrigued by the potential hive mind thing and the way our friend in the tank is being floated as a potential solution to… something. I’m really not sure on what the something is, though, as I really don’t see how a hive mind solves a plague, so a little more information here might be warranted. I wasn’t quite clear on the sense of urgency I should be feeling. The information we’re getting about the situation the characters are in, especially TD, suggests that they’re facing some pretty immediate and implacable threats, but I didn’t get that sense from from the POV characters, both of whom seemed to treat everything that was happening as fairly matter-of-fact. I’m also curious as to why the narrative starts where it did. It’s certainly good setup with some sense of the stakes, but nothing in this chapter seems to have actually changed. As I go: Top of p2: “He backed away from…” having a hard time who is doing what here; it reads like the guard taking the actions, but I think it’s actually TD. If TD knew he was going to be fixing a system that would expose him to superchilled fluids, why didn’t he wear something that afforded him adequate protection? A couple pages in, I f eel like I’ve gotten a reasonably good sense of TD’s character, but I’m not particularly sympathetic towards him. “...spew liquid turned gas that was lethal…” and again I wonder, if it’s so lethal to the S, then why isn’t there some sort of containment system or protocol (not necessarily technological) to handle it? Having the guard in the room if this stuff is so deadly to them seems ill-advised. At some point on page 3, TD’s pronouns seem to have shifted from he/him to they/them. “If D had a spine…” Another paragraph where I’m having difficulty picturing what’s going on. What is D doing that they might have broken a spine? And if D doesn’t have a spine, I guess they aren’t human? “Well, we don’t die today.” So D was in danger from this malfunction as well? I hadn’t gotten a huge since of urgency from D so far. “...before any of that mess could fall on them.” Hah. Fair! P4 I think this is the first indication we’ve had of sabotage. Would be good to see this a little sooner, or to have the scene start closer to this revelation; the scene was starting to drag by the time I reached this point. P4 “...the one silicon based in the alliance?” Slicone-based species? Missing word here. “T was a political type.” At this point, I like the way you’re slipping in minor details about the world, but at this point, I’m starting to feel a little lost with it. The details are great but I don’t have enough to hang them on. Is “political type” a subspecies? An occupation? Bottom of pg 8: “There are more ways to die that from…” should be “than” P10 “there just wasn’t any president” …precedent?
  20. Hmm. I actually think you've gone some way to address this in the newer version of the chapter by adding more description just in general; in this version, the fact that A was described as dark while the other characters didn't have much description at all in this version would make it easy to assume that the remaining characters are white (which unfortunately is going to be the default assumption of a lot of readers anyway). Aside from that, I think what makes this scene potentially problematic is that Al, the one character who clearly isn't white, is identified as such by the rest of the characters discussing that she's obviously Not From Around Here (which can be exoticizing/othering). I think the other thing I'd suggest is that when you get to the second chapter, make sure that D is as clearly described as the other characters so that it's as clear that she's white as it's clear the others are not.
  21. I think this is mostly an artifact of the revisions, but there are a couple of things that are essentially said twice over the first few pages – that they were ambushed, that the dust storm means Teles. Minor but noticeable. So… we’re supposed to be shipping Am and F, right? P5 “If I didn’t…” Seems like the narrative is about to drop something important here before conveniently having Am notice something else. Not sure it’s a bad thing, per se, but it is noticeable. Bottom of p6: “his features were a sharper…” delete the “a” The revisions to chapter 1 are definitely an improvement: I was more engaged, I felt like I had a better handle on how serious the situation was, and the characters, especially Am, seemed less like kids. Ch2, p1 “...having grown up in the Iy desert… traditional desert garb.” Another example of information that gets repeated. Am thinks of his brother by name in the previous chapter, where it’s mentioned a couple of times that he’s from the Iy, and now it’s repeated here as well. “A large field of widely interspersed stones…” Ooh, I’m getting Western Australian Pinnacles vibes here. “...so what else could it be?” Clearly the answer is “dinosaur.” S has spent t he last couple of pages going on about how deadly these birds(/dinosaurs) are, but he seems remarkably unconcerned that this one is apparently on to him. P3 “They were chosen by the…” capital T at the start of this clause should be lower case. “…that would ruin the whole point, after all” Wait, what IS the whole point? I thought he was hunting, even if he’s using magic to throw rocks instead of his hands. P7 “What was up with her?” This reads like typical banter to me. If she’s acting differently than usual, it would be helpful, I think, to have S pick up on something like a difference in body language, or tone of voice, or something similar. It’s always helpful to have cues like that before we’re explicitly told that something is wrong or different, IMO. I’m not sure S has straight-up answered a single question during this interaction with D. She seems to let him get away with an awful lot. It’s not clear to me how upset she is with S, but she certainly seems to get over it and turn into the supportive girlfriend really quickly. Much like the previous chapters, I feel like there’s some good stuff here, but it takes too long to get to it. The hook here is really the reveal that D and S are preparing to run away, and the stuff that happens up to that point seems to be mostly incidental. I’d prefer to see the chapter start with them making their preparations and grounding us a little more in the stakes (even just the emotional stakes – we get some hint of this as S thinks of both his father’s sons leaving home, but t hat’s it). I’d also agree with those who have suggested that they’d like to see a continuation of previous chapters before starting with this one. Getting too many introductions at once can sometimes slow the narrative even when things are happening.
  22. My username on the Nano site is Raethe, and anyone is welcome to add me, but no guarantees I'll participate.
  23. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the sense of urgency I should be feeling for these characters in this chapter. The actual information we’re getting seems to suggest they’re in bad shape, because they’re lost in the desert hauling an injured person (and seem to be really light on supplies?) but the tone suggests that they’re just taking a short jaunt through the desert on a particularly hot day. Similarly, it’s not all that clear from the tone that the injured party is in imminent danger. I wasn’t sure until halfway down p3, when Am mentions the need to find a doctor, what the extent of this person’s injury was. I’m also wondering how long they’ve been out here. If it’s been a while, they should probably be in much worse shape than they seem to be here; if it hasn’t been, I’m wondering how they got so lost. “Unit 304…” Oh, so they’re a military unit? I definitely did not have that impression – the only other hint of that so far was the earlier paragraph about uniforms. The way they interact with each other seems pretty loose, not what I would expect from a military unit, and they (Am in particular) read as fairly young. Honestly, until the comment about the uniforms I’d assumed they were wandering teenagers who’d gotten into a brawl or something. Having read the chapter through, I find myself wondering why this isn’t the prologue. This reads like it’s setting our protag up with the abilities he’ll need to face whatever the inciting incident is in the next chapter. I think @Mandamon is spot-on about cutting down some of the introductory stuff at the beginning – the banter between the group draws out how long it takes to get to the actual point of interest (the cave) significantly, and the humour isn’t strong enough to carry the narrative that far. All it really needs to do, I think, is to establish Am’s sense of humour. I’d also agree with most of the group that knowing who Al isn’t necessary. Really what this chapter is telling us is how Am gets the abilities that (I assume) he’ll manifest in later chapters. All of the other information that we’ve received from the prologue really doesn’t contribute to our understanding; all three POV characters are (as far as we know) dead, and the cultural context has clearly changed between now and then… which means we will need a greater understanding of the current cultural understanding and what lead up to it in future chapters anyway. I’d definitely second @Sarah B's comment that Am felt like a rehash of J from the prologue, as well as @kais's comments about needing more description of the people. Their comments re: skin colour and the way that’s presented are excellent to take into consideration too (i.e. try to avoid only describing skin colours, etc for characters that aren’t supposed to be read as white, as this makes those characters stick out as “different” solely due to the colour of their skin).
  24. Seconded. This makes a huge difference. In related news, it looks like we have @ginger_reckoning and @Sarah B up for Monday.