Shivertongue

7.21.14 - Shivertongue - Wavepainter - Ch1 (L)

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As I doubt any of you remember, the original first chapter of Wavepainter was submitted quite some time ago. It has since been heavily reworked, and so I thought it time to resubmit. I don't remember if anyone currently here saw the original, so I'm eager to get a new input.

 

And if you had input on the old version, however long ago that was, new input on this revision is welcome. :)

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I really like this. The setting and magic are interesting and well built up. There's a good blending of description and narrative so that it never feels like we're short of details to envision events, but without becoming bogged down in extended descriptions or backstory. The characters and their conflicts are interesting.

 

The only problem I had with it, apart from a couple of minor typos, was that you seemed to shift between referring to the character on stage as Callum and as Kinetic, using one for a while first, then the other, then shifting back again. This disrupted the flow of the story for me as I had to double back and check that this was still the same character.

 

But on the whole, really liked it.

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andyk nailed it. I really struggle to find ways to improve upon this.

 

You've got interesting characters, an interesting magic system that makes sense but is grandiose in the best way, and abounding conflict. The prose, though it could be tighter, is solid. To be truthful, if you had another 285 pages of this quality, I imagine you wouldn't have any trouble selling it.

 

In fact, that's the only thing I'm worried about. You've made a grand entrance; now you have to consistently meet or exceed this, something that even published authors struggle with (City of Dark Magic comes to mind). Beyond that, it's pretty much just the fact that Iain prefers whiskey--because of course every disillusioned character drinks it. Minor stuff.

 

Truly well done and I eagerly anticipate the next installment.

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 I'm noting up here that I did have to read through this quickly. I'll try to find time to reread it later, but here are my thoughts.

 

Well done on the conflict between Lain & Callum (who is also Kinetic, right?). There's a lot of bitterness between them and tension. I'm curious to see where it goes.

As I was reading, I got bored with the balcony scene because it told a lot about his feelings and emotions towards one woman, then it just abruptly shifted to another woman. But it didn't tell me much about what I wanted to know about Lain's reason to be there. I thought for a while that he was the artist at a noble's estate. But it turned out that Callum was the artist and Lain was there to watch him. I was looking forward to Lain performing his art, given his knowledge of it.

 

I'd like to know how powerful the players are. Lain and Callum lead the art market, but are they playing for something more? Or just to be the best?

 

Also, side note, in the conversation regarding a leg being metal I was thrown off. Maybe include something about how it became metal. Or, at least, whether this is something that commonly happens to people. I had to reread that section a couple of times, because I didn't get it. This wouldn't stop me as a reader, curiosity is good, I just think you could give readers a better perspective on it at this point.

 

Good job building visuals in the beginning.  

 

Looking forward to reading more.

 

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Very nice worldbuilding.  You write description very well.  I like the hints dropped in while you build it up during the first chapter.  It gives me the feeling of a 1900's- 1930's era steampunk setting (steampunk because of the metal leg and contraptions on the stage).

 

 

Two things that seemed odd:

 

1) cigarettes.  I don't know why particularly.  This is obviously an alternate world, but they have many things we do such as alchoholic drinks.  I don't know why cigarettes crossing over seems strange, except maybe I've never seen it before.  If so, congrats!  The jazz mentioned later on affected me the same way.

 

2) Seems others had the same reaction here.  I'm assuming Calum/Kinetic are the same person.  It's strange that Iain always refers to him as "Calum" and everone else as "Kinetic," even when speaking to each other.  I'm not sure whether it's a first name/last name thing, or Iain has a different form of address.  Add to that I'm familiar with the engineering definition of "Kinetic," which also messes me up.

HOWEVER, we get a good transition with this later on (pg 14), sort of hanging a lantern on how Iain always addresses him differently.  I'm satisfied.

 

Like Endurant, I didn't catch that Iain was reviewing the show until he sat down.  I thought he was just another artist, watching the show, though it seems like he may have been on the stage as well, in the past.

 

I'm still a little hazy on how exactly Influence and wavepainting work.  Are they permanent changes?  Are they only used for art?  Perfectly reasonable to still have questions after the first chapter, so I'm looking forward to the answers.

 

I liked this a lot, and I'm eager to see the next chapter.  You've set up a good tension between Iain and pretty much everyone around him, and drawn a lot of questions to his past.  I'll echo jParker: now the other chapters have to be as good as this one!

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I hope you don't object, but since you've provided a Word file, I thought I would put comments into it, which to me is easier to follow. I will also post impressions here too though.

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I hope you don't object, but since you've provided a Word file, I thought I would put comments into it, which to me is easier to follow. I will also post impressions here too though.

 

Oh, that is more than fine. That's the reason I provided a Word file as well, in fact. Anyone who wants to give me a version with commentary, I welcome it. :)

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Anyone who wants to give me a version with commentary, I welcome it.

 

You will rue that statement - I promise you   ;-)

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You will rue that statement - I promise you   ;-)

 

Feh, I went to art school. Y'all ain't got nothin' on me. :P

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LOL

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I’ve emailed you tracked comments which go into some detail, but I’ll post some of the main points I had below. In summary though, this is an excellent opening chapter, I'm happy to echo what others have said. I'm very keen now to read the rest of your book, and I hope that we’ll get it all posted her in due course.

 

Is it finished? If so, you might want to consider putting on the Alpha Readers thread (or not), but either way, I would happily read the whole thing.

 

When I read that Calum was going to make Becsi beautiful, I got a bit nervous. Beauty is, of course, very much in the eye of the beholder. Who is to say she wasn't beautiful before? Is he only going to transform her into some stereotype of conventional beauty (or obvious beauty as Ross Geller would say!!). I must say you did an excellent job of confounding my reaction.

 

I still held my concern when you described her getting taller, fuller-figured, hair 'blonder' - if you'd stopped there I think I would have had a problem, but you didn't, and that was the clincher. The thoughts that I'm left with are, what exactly has he made her into? Is she a wavepainter now, or do other people in this society have the ability to 'fly' by using their Influence? I have loads of questions, and that’s good, because I will need to read on to get the answers. I think there are a lot of promises to the reader in here, and I'm looking forward to you meeting them (I hope).

 

I think the magic was very well described, really impactful, great energy, not a mechanical process but an emotional and physical experience. Also, I thought the pacing of the chapter was very good, building nicely through the personal interactions introducing the characters, to a magical crescendo (literally), and then a bitter after-note of conflict to propel the reader into the next chapter. Very well done.

 

I found the ending very engaging. You could have finished on the upbeat and exciting note of the audiences adoration of Calum, but that would have been less satisfying than the ending you provide, which gives us a conflict to focus on. In Iain, we seem to have a protagonist with purely negative associations at the moment, confirmed in his reaction to Calum’s triumph, which is to go off a condemn him in his review. I like that, I'm not even sure if Iain is the protagonist or the antagonist, as Calum doesn’t seem to have done anything other than be wildly successful. Clearly, there is more to it, however.

 

More, please!

 

---------------------------------------------------------

 

Page 1 - The opening line confuses me a little. Does it mean 'success must be certain' or 'the chance of success must be guaranteed' - i.e. the availability of a successful outcome is guaranteed? I'm not sure that the promise of success can be certain.

 

Page 1 - Kudos on adopting the Scottish ‘variety’ of whisky (as opposed to the Irish whiskey) - a Glaswegian doffs his cap.

 

Page 2 - Wicked opening line of dialogue (okay, 2nd), it's absolutely crammed with backstory. Lemila obviously knows him well, no need for pleasantries, and she comes right out with a veiled criticism right off the bat. I'm completely hooked.

 

Page 2 - I've pretty much weaned myself off listing physical attributes to described characters, but it so often sounds like just that, a list. There's a touch of that here, but I think you get away with it because you are describing a beautiful woman.

 

Page 4 - Lemila speaks very formally. I've got no objection to that, she seems to be well educated, not against the law, but sometimes it verges on sounding like a legal submission or a news report - like "debacle did little to halt".

 

Page 4 - I think the tension in Lemila and Fyla’s arrival is implicit - does it need to be stated explicitly? Their sparring is very spiteful, I'm undecided if it’s a bit melodramatic. I'm almost expecting them to start pulling each other's hair.

 

Page 5 – “If my husbands caught you looking at me like that…”  I love these little pearls of strange that you cast out in passing. Even if it's not significant to the story, it's great colour for your world, very effective strange-and-familiar.

 

Page 6 - This section bothered me. Iain's behaviour hasn't been rude up to this point, in my mind, but 'swiping' and 'chewing' sounds crude. Main issue was that he did not stop the man and allow his companion to choose something before eating himself. Not chivalrous - I would expect her to be unimpressed.

 

Page 8 - I finding Iain’s manners towards Fyla interesting. Are they together, or has he just walked off and left her? If he has any romantic inclination toward her, experience tells me he'll need to up his game if he wants to get anywhere. From what happens next, clearly she trailed along behind him into the auditorium, but it's written in the previous section as if he just left her standing. He needs to respect her more. There's a danger that she becomes a pretty object, who speaks her lines when required, but otherwise does not get in the way - danger.

 

Page 12 – I think there is confusion in the description of who climbs the platform and who stays on the stage. I was thinking one thing then another before it was clarified later in the scene, I think that needs to be tidied up, certainly at the first reference.

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Feh, I went to art school. Y'all ain't got nothin' on me. :P

 

Yeah, a friend of mine went to Cleveland Institute of Art. His critique stories are the best.

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Yeah, a friend of mine went to Cleveland Institute of Art.

 

Oh man, you've totally blown his cover (C.*.A......, shhhh).

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Finally getting to this. Please forgive the delay. Crazy week at work.

This was a woooooooonderful story. I love love loved it. A couple times I had to stop reading and was doing whatever I could to get back to my desk because I was really enjoying it. That doesn't happen much for me.

I did have a few questions and some minor tuning thoughts, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I love what you're doing here. I hope you find these useful.

I also haven't read anyone else's comments yet, so I'll be curious to see how my thoughts line up.

---

The woman having a steel and brass leg was very interesting. The whole concept of the magic system was very interesting, and I love how you wove it into various elements, such as the sketch on Calum's throat. Very creative and immersive.

Your characterizations of people is quick and complete. I get a really good sense of people very rapidly, and they are all very distinct. It's wonderful.

I imagine you'll tell us at some point, but I find myself wondering why Iain isn't helping Lemilia. It seems like he can. It seems like he likes her. It seems like he is genuinely concerned that she will get screwed by Kinetic. So why not help her? I feel like you need to give us a little something there, otherwise he seems like a jerk.

On Page 1: "In the crowded ballroom behind him, the musicians continued to play "

There are a significant number of foreign names used in this chapter. A few of them in a book gives us a sense of an alien world, which is cool, but I think you have gone so far as to have enough to be distracting. In some cases, it's outright confusing... where you give us a proper name of something that flew by, but I have no sense of what it was so I find myself struggling to picture it.

Specifically this line... "A charm of goylae flittered past, stony scales catching the moonlight as they zipped and squeaked through the air. "

Another example... ", the higher classes of the melange of culture that was Ourzoballa"

You also have quite a few proper names of things and portions of the setting and whatnot. Some of these I feel like asking "Do I really need to know the name? It's distracting and if I have to remember all of this... well.. I'm probably going to give up on the book."

I actually thought he was on a ship in the beginning.

Whisky and cigarettes: These things bothered me a little bit because they felt very "our world".

On Page 1: "It was a feeble brew , but he would be the first to admit that his standards were" (referring to whisky)

Whisky is not a "brew". That's usually a term used to describe beer. I'm not a big drinker, though, so maybe i'm wrong here.

I would go through the entire section and look for weak words like "Almost" and cut them.

You have a lot of "it's" where you should have "its". Example... "Catering to the higher classes of society, Lailualu Hall rarely offered it’s guests anything but wine."

You use "Iain knew Calum" twice in one paragraph on Pg1/2. In the first case, I'd say just strike it. Since Iain is narrating, his statement makes it clear that he knew something. In the second case, it might be more powerful to say "That was Calum." to show the reader that Iain knew.

On Page 3 you have two "as she did" in the same paragraph.

On Page 4, the interaction between Lemila and Fyla was awesome and venemous and hysterical. Loved it.

On Page 5, "Fyla snorted, crossing her arms, the diaphanous sleeves fluttering. “If my husbands caught you looking at me like that…”

In a world where multiple husbands is apparently not that extraordinary and not taboo, her reaction to his behavior feels very much like one coming from a two-person-only relationship system (what the hell is the word for that...?) Anyway, seemed odd.

On Page 5, "The corners of his lips twitched into a smirk, welcoming the change in topic "

This read to me like the corners of his lips were welcoming the change.

On Page 6, "“Nothing more than gaining additional exposure,” Iain said, shaking his head to banish the unease that had crept into his mind. “Build mystery, and you get people talking.”

I think you covered his feelings on this already in his thoughts just prior to this sentence. I think you could strike the thoughts and just use this sentence and run with it.

On Page 6, "Lailualu Theater was the largest on the southern end of Ourzoballa, and tonight it was filled to capacity"

From this point on the setting starts to throw me. I had to go look back, and sure enough you mentioned it was a ballroom before... or at least I think that was the room he is now walking into. You then use these two terms (and two different names) seemingly interchangably. It just threw me off so I wasn't sure what was going on.

On Page 7, Loved the interaction between Tharle and Iain. It said a lot about their characters and relationship in a very tight space.

On Page 8, Iain seems to slip into something of a Sherlock Holmes style speech pattern. "“Based on this information, allow your thoughts to pierce through the haze of drink clouding your mind and make a reasonable hypothesis.” ... "“Brilliant deduction , Tharle,” Iain said"

On Page 9, "Dark grey slacks held up by a pair of plain black galluses and a pair of faded, brown, thick-soled boots completed his ‘common man’ appearance. Calum believed it helped him connect with his roots, "

I think this flirts a little bit with a POV issue. If you change "believed" to "claimed" I think it addresses it and says more about the characters.

On Page 11, "This was what the man had meant. "

I had no idea who this was referring to or what he had meant.

On Page 12, Given Calum's reputation, I was a little surprised that he was speaking loud enough to be heard when whispering things to his canvas. Particularly where it seems like those things would take away from the showiness of what he was doing. Also, in a setting like that it would be pretty hard to hear a whisper unless they were forcibly making it loud.

On Page 12- loved the fabric pooling at her feet.

On Page 13- I was a little unsure of how specific Iain was being about how the light was sinking into her flesh. In time I deduced that he just knows how it works and was telling us, but as an observer it felt a bit over-aware to me.

On Page 15- When Tharle squeaked. I thought this was BRILLIANT. Given what we know of this guy, the reaction seems a real insight into how sucked into the performance he was and how surprised he was. Very VERY nice. Also funny.

On Page 15- "The audience erupted into pure noise ."

This was a little odd for me. I know what you're saying, but usually it's erupted in applause... or cheering... so I wasn't entirely sure if everyone was hissing, banging pots and pans, or what...

---

Oh I meant to mention (and now reading other comments, was reminded). I was a little confused by the Calum/Kinetic thing as well, but didn't realize it until later on. I thought it was a different person.

I also had to reset my interpretation of what Iain was doing throughout his note-taking. I think we do need to know a little sooner what he's up to.

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(Admin powers, activated! Merging manaheim's posts!)

 

Okay, so, I thought I had typed out a response to these, but it turns out I didn't. Bad Shiv. 

 

Thank you all for the comments, this is all really good feedback. Just want to address a few specifics...

 

First thing, it's pretty clear that I wasn't clear enough on the fact that Calum and Kinetic are the same person. Looking over the chapter, I can see it's confusing, and that it's never made directly obvious that Kinetic is the stage name of Calum. And as a result of this, it's not entirely clear that while Iain refers to him by his birth name, the rest of the world uses Kinetic. 

 

Second, regarding Robinski's remarks on Iain relationship with Fyla... wow, that was not the intention at all. xD I don't know if it felt that way to anyone else, but the fact that it did to one person means it's a thing I need to take care of. This is good, though, as I know exactly what areas need trimming now. The whole section between Iain and Fyla is actually an artifact from an earlier version of the chapter, in which the conversation with Fyla happened before the confrontation with Lemila. After I moved and completely rewrote the latter, I didn't think to make adjustments to the former.

 

Lailualu Theatre/Hall - It's supposed to be "Theater." I changed it from Hall, but looks like I missed a few spots.

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