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Mandamon

20220523 - Of Mycelium and Men - 6055 words - Sub 17 - Mandamon

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Woo! This is the end of the first book! Part 12 comes in right about 6000 words. I know there were some comments last time about things not completely coming to a head, so let me know what you think of this. I will say this is a much different story structure that what I usually write, and it's been a fun experiment throughout!

Some other context: the second book in this series will be coming out about 6 months after this one, and there is already a short story written (in the Distant Gardens anthology) that occurs about ten years after this ending.

So let me know what you think, and as usual, any and all comments are welcome: plot, setting, character, grammar, etc.

Thanks for all the feedback!

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Alrighty, I have thoughts. My first thought is, I am not even a little qualified to have thoughts on this. I am brand new here, and this is the first I've read of OMaM, so please feel free do disregard everything I say. Still, I have thoughts, so I'm going to proceed.

First, quick fixes. Grammatical stuff that won't take you long to look at. I cannot stress enough how minuscule these concerns are. Keep in mind, I'm not your editor, and I am not even that educated in editorial ways, so again, feel free to disregard.

P. 6 
"Agetha said. Even though he would have been considered an adult back on the ships." (I would use a comma here instead of a period. "Agetha said, even though he would have been considered an adult back on the ships." I'm no editor, but the period feels... Jarring? I don't know.)

P.15 "He nearly jumped as a person walked behind him, reaching for the ‘thrower he wasn’t wearing." (The apostrophe in front of 'thrower' is facing the wrong way. I think. Sorry, ids that a thing? I feel like it should match the one in 'wasn't' because now they look like single quotation marks.)

P.20 "Rajani gasped suddenly and Jane jerked her head to the other Admin." (I'd cut the suddenly. I always cut suddenly, because it always feels a bit out of place. Ultimately, it's your call though, if you think it fits, it fits.)

Alright, now for the larger fixes. 
This part was good, but... it felt like an epilogue. I (Without knowing what action preceded this) feel like we already received the end of the story, and this part gives me the vibe that we're tying up loose threads. And that's not the problem. The problem is that it goes on for some time. It just feels a bit long for an epilogue, you know? I want it to be quicker, more punchy. There's a chance that's just me, but I just like to finish a story pretty fast. I usually want to finish a story in one go after the climax, so I would be annoyed if I thought I was done, but I still have another 26 pages to go, you know?

Also, the time jumps. There was just so many! Four time jumps feels like too many for one chapter. I feel like you could have: a ) tried to make it all happen around the same time, so we don't have to keep track of all the jumping, or b ) cut a few of the sections. You mentioned you have a sequel and another sequel, but try not to feel the need to shove all the characters back into their starting locations of the next book if you've already written it. (I'm not saying that's what you're doing, because as I stated earlier, I'm not qualified to have such thoughts, but still, it's something to consider.) 

And best for last, the good things.
Firstly, the writing was good. Not just good, excellent. The story carried me without me even thinking about the fact that this is the first draft of an unpublished book. It felt smooth, and the dialogue felt natural. I can tell that you've been writing for a while.


Secondly, I loved the scene where Anderson is walking through the market, and seeing things. (Although it could have done without the sex workers, unless that's part of his arch or something. Again, I don't know very much about this story.) But that scene with Anderson's book and everything was great. That is what I want to see in an epilogue. It felt like this scene kind of carried the entire part.

Thirdly, the scene with the babies. I don't know if you've showed babies eating their parents before, but if not then what a way to go out! It's just so creepy, and awesomely so! It sets your world apart, and it adds a layer of mystery that makes me want to see more. And that's only slightly undercut if we've seen these babies before, I still think it made a good scene.


In conclusion:
It's good. I like it. You're probably looking at me like I'm insane right now, because I got the totally wrong impression from something, but we do what we must because we can. So keep working, look over the whole thing, and see what you notice. Because you probably want to scream something like: WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGE BANANA ON PAGE THIRTEEN! I'VE BEEN SETTING THAT UP THIS WHOLE BOOK! or something, but we'll call it legal. I probably missed a few important things, and got the wrong impression from some irrelevant things, so I'm sorry. Hope this was helpful in some way, shape, or form. 

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Thanks @Bondsmith-Edgedancer!

Yes, not an excellent time to start in, at the last chapter of a 90k word book, but thanks for the feedback! I always appreciate catching grammatical errors,

A lot of the things you're missing are obviously things that have come before in the story. This will (hopefully) be coming out in September this year, so you'll have a chance soon to read the whole thing soon!

Glad the writing came across well. I am always looking to improve my craft, and even though this is a first draft, I've been through it 3-4 times.

The time jumps are something specific to this book. I can see how they would be pretty jarring coming in cold!

19 minutes ago, Bondsmith-Edgedancer said:

the scene with the babies.

Ha--yeah, this is sort of a metaphor, as interpreted by the local intelligence on this planet. It saw spaceships land (the parents) and the crew (the children) come out of it and cannibalize the ships for parts. But yes, the intelligence is rather creepy, and I'm having fun with the interactions in the second book.

Thanks again!

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Ha--yeah, this is sort of a metaphor, as interpreted by the local intelligence on this planet. It saw spaceships land (the parents) and the crew (the children) come out of it and cannibalize the ships for parts. But yes, the intelligence is rather creepy, and I'm having fun with the interactions in the second book.

  Is it weird that makes it even cooler? 

I'm exited to be able to read your book at some point!

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1 hour ago, Bondsmith-Edgedancer said:

  Is it weird that makes it even cooler? 

I'm exited to be able to read your book at some point!

Oh hey, I should probably promote this in here. I have a Kickstarter beginning June 1st to fund the first year of my publishing company! @Silk, @shatteredsmooth, @Robinski, and @kais are all participating as well. So if you interested in the books coming soon, check it out! You can set the preview to notify you when then campaign starts.

I'll post this in the lounge as well...

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spacewizard/64225743?ref=3jrf0s&token=3f3611d0

Kickstarter header2.jpg

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Overall

The last beat is great, and fitting to end on. Loved it. This was a great wrap-up chapter and I have no complaints. It clearly sets up expectations for the next book. My main issue remains that I feel like a vital component of sci fi, particularly hard sci fi, is missing. I don't think the stakes raised sufficiently in the final third, like there was a missing plot element that got left out. Army command having more impact, seeing that impact, might just do it.

As I go

- pg 4: this definitely feels like an end of book one wrap up section, which is just fine. I still feel like this book didn't really manifest a final arc though

- pg 11: Ah, the making of an angry young man to plot with in Book 2

- pg 16: I'm confused that he doesn't do more to find the author. I like the arc but I still think he should at least try, or we get more on why he physically can't do more

- ZOMBIES,

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3 hours ago, kais said:

The last beat is great, and fitting to end on. Loved it. This was a great wrap-up chapter and I have no complaints. It clearly sets up expectations for the next book.

Whew! I was worried about this part, but I'm glad the end is landing well, even if the tension is missing in the last third. Much easier to add another arc in the final third than have to rewrite the whole ending.

3 hours ago, kais said:

I still feel like this book didn't really manifest a final arc though

Just did some rewrites to part 5 today. I think I need to add a whole "rebellion" plotline with the Gens or Vagals which hopefully will up the tension throughout.

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The confrontation between Ag and Ph feels almost a little too quick. The strain in their relationship has gone mostly unspoken and has actually only appeared on screen a few times, so Ph’s comment here feels like a lot. Especially since it’s the first thing he says to her.

Having said that, the bottom of p6 makes this feel like almost like a rehash, an argument that the two of them have had before (even if we haven’t seen it). Maybe worth hanging a lantern on if that’s the intent.

P9: The emotion here is good, but yeah, definitely solidifying my thinking that we need more from Ph/Ag on their relationship before this.

“And now I’m with the Vs and we act as a family” whoops. Toxic workplace alert. I mean, uh…

“With this, she might have room for something else.” Nice.

P13 “It was no wonder the Ads had holed themselves up…” Not sure this is a problem that needs fixing, but this made me realize that I don’t really understand where the Vs stand in relation to the building Ad/Gen conflict or how sympathetic they are with either.

P17 “…whatever Ch did to keep everything flowing smoothly.” Heh.

P18 “But you didn’t read the brief, did you?” Heh. Again.

Is bowing a thing in this culture? I don’t think we’ve really seen it before now.

P24 “It was inevitable, as it had with every other species…” This paragraph is properly ominous, but also grammatically broken. “As it had with every other species…” has no antecedent and I think that’s what tripped me up here.

WELL. That’s a fantastic endcap.

Overall: First things first – I know you actually finished drafting a while ago, but it’s always worth saying. Congratulations on the completed draft!

In terms of stuff happening, I thought this felt like a pretty good endcap. There are a couple of places, specifically the argument with Ph and the bit with Dr. H at the end, where I wanted a bit more sense of finality, but instead felt like we were actually opening up new conflicts. Obviously they are setting stuff up for the next book and that’s fine, but I also wanted to feel a bit more like we were winding this book down.

For the Ph/Ag scene I think that’s more about getting the build right in the sections leading up to this, rather than the scene itself; I just didn’t feel sufficient build up to that point to make this section feel like an ending, rather than a beginning. For the scene with Dr H… it’s a bit tough to articulate, but I think it needs to feel more like it’s about J rather than the new weapon. Her arc so far seems to be “burgeoning despot” and that aspect of it just feels a little understated.

Hopefully there is something in there that is at least somewhat helpful. And, worth emphasizing, I really have enjoyed reading this draft. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product!

5 hours ago, kais said:

I don't think the stakes raised sufficiently in the final third, like there was a missing plot element that got left out.

Yep, feeling this too. I think I've mentioned it in earlier crits.

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Very excited to finish this book after much time wondering how the pieces would come together and end!  Also excited to see the kickstarter go live and I love that so many authors on this forum are a part of it, you can count on one additional backer from me!  Some thoughts on this section:

Overall I thought ending with a slightly cryptic but very active Bio section was a great call.  It definitely leaves me wanting to pick up the next book to find out what shenanigans the Bio has in store for the colonists.  Definitely could benefit from some more tension rising and/or big reveals in the last third of the book.  I think some kind of ongoing unknown mystery that gets resolved in the last section can do wonders for making a book ending satisfying.  As usual your writing is exceptional and the characters feel so alive and unique.  Comments by section as I read:

I liked the Z and Ji section, but it took me a good while to remember who Zhu is since he was such a minor character that I don't think we have really seen since they were back in sanitation on the ship?  Maybe another mention or two of him along the way in Ji's sections would keep the name fresh in my mind.

The Ag and P conflict didn't land for me.  I guess it is because we have only seen her guilt, but none of the acting out or frustration from P in previous sections.  It just felt kind of out of the blue to me.  The scene itself was believable and well done, but not seeing the last 10 years of P's life meant it had less emotional impact for me.

I liked the An section where he checks on SVG, but was VERY surprised that his reaction to his friend's disappearance was to sit down and write rather than try to find his friend and mentor.  I would have expected him to turn that Radian upside-down to find out what happened to his friend.  Maybe if there was a note left for him where SVG leaves him the shop and asks him to pursue his passion as a writer would have made his reaction fit better for me.

I love J so much, but was surprised at her lack of prep here.  Coming from the world of corporate politics I see so much of her as a version of people I have worked with.  At the very least I would have expected her to ask C to summarize the brief for her and explain WHY she should take this unusual meeting with a Generational.  What happened to her concerns about being overthrown?  Is that all ancient history now?  It seemed to kind of flash up and then disappear.  Someone in a position of authority for a long time like J would certainly be slacking over time as she gets comfortable, but never underestimate her desire to APPEAR informed even if that means putting more and more weight on her support staff to do the leg work.

Ending with the Bio section was really a great way to end.  I wish we had seen more of this experimentation and proactive progress from the Bio sections in the second half of the book!  This has the potential to be a huge hook for readers.

Great job!

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Thanks @Silk and @Warmacky!

On 5/25/2022 at 7:17 PM, Silk said:

The confrontation between Ag and Ph feels almost a little too quick. The strain in their relationship has gone mostly unspoken and has actually only appeared on screen a few times, so Ph’s comment here feels like a lot. Especially since it’s the first thing he says to her.

Good comment. I'll see if I can add a few more notes to this.

On 5/25/2022 at 7:17 PM, Silk said:

Not sure this is a problem that needs fixing, but this made me realize that I don’t really understand where the Vs stand in relation to the building Ad/Gen conflict or how sympathetic they are with either.

Ah, good point. I think adding the new B-plot will give me a chance to add some more about them.

On 5/25/2022 at 7:17 PM, Silk said:

WELL. That’s a fantastic endcap.

Yay!

On 5/25/2022 at 7:17 PM, Silk said:

but instead felt like we were actually opening up new conflicts. Obviously they are setting stuff up for the next book and that’s fine, but I also wanted to feel a bit more like we were winding this book down.

Yeah, I think that's a potential problem for this book. The original vision I had for this is almost an continuous narrative through 60+ years on this planet, so I had some trouble figuring out how to make this ending definite. I'll ponder on this one.

On 5/25/2022 at 7:17 PM, Silk said:

I think it needs to feel more like it’s about J rather than the new weapon. Her arc so far seems to be “burgeoning despot” and that aspect of it just feels a little understated.

This didn't quite sit right with me either, but I wanted the scene in here. Great idea to turn it back on J and make it more about her.

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

Very excited to finish this book after much time wondering how the pieces would come together and end!  Also excited to see the kickstarter go live and I love that so many authors on this forum are a part of it, you can count on one additional backer from me!

Awesome! Thanks so much for catching up and reading along!

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

It definitely leaves me wanting to pick up the next book to find out what shenanigans the Bio has in store for the colonists.  Definitely could benefit from some more tension rising and/or big reveals in the last third of the book. 

Cool. I think this will be supported better by what I have in mind, but it sounds like it's working in some part.

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

Maybe another mention or two of him along the way in Ji's sections would keep the name fresh in my mind.

I can easily add this in. Thanks!

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

The Ag and P conflict didn't land for me.  I guess it is because we have only seen her guilt, but none of the acting out or frustration from P in previous sections.

Similar comments to Silk on this one. Good direction for me to add a bit more in.

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

Maybe if there was a note left for him where SVG leaves him the shop and asks him to pursue his passion as a writer would have made his reaction fit better for me.

Great idea! This works well, and I think I can tie it into some other things.

10 hours ago, Warmacky said:

What happened to her concerns about being overthrown?  Is that all ancient history now?  It seemed to kind of flash up and then disappear.  Someone in a position of authority for a long time like J would certainly be slacking over time as she gets comfortable, but never underestimate her desire to APPEAR informed even if that means putting more and more weight on her support staff to do the leg work.

Good catch. I think putting more emphasis on J in this last section will even this out.

Thanks again, everyone!

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Late again, with not much to add, so I'll just say, "Congratulations and well done!"

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