Shivertongue

08.03.2014 - Shivertongue - Wavepainter - Ch 2 (L, V)

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Wavepainter, Chapter 2

 

~~ IN WHICH we meet Necenna, an unreasonable task is given, some things are fixed, some things are stolen, and one thing is broken...

 

 

I will admit, this took a lot longer to finish than I had planned, and ended up being longer than I intended. The difficulty was in how to start it, primarily. It took me three different openings before I found one I was happy with, and from there things flowed a lot better. I'm particularly happy with how this turned out, for reasons I'll enumerate on later.

 

Enjoy!

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Once again, I really enjoyed this. The prose flows well, the setting is vivid and interesting, I care about the characters.

 

I was a bit thrown by the gravity-defying magic being a new thing. It may just be that I've forgotten how people reacted in the first chapter, but my impression was that that trick had been done particularly well, not that it was completely new.

 

I like the way that you're building the conflicts around the business side of art, the reviews, agents, managers, the fame and the finance. It's a great exploration of the wider consequences of what's going on here.

 

I ended up uncertain why Necenna went into the dressing room. Yes, she found the booze there, but the way that was described left me feeling like that was what she happened to find, rather than the booze being the purpose of going in.

 

The leg repair scene shows Necenna's character and skills really well.

 

Iain leading and then carrying Necenna away from the fight felt wrong to me. She's some kind of criminal/spy, he's an ex-artist and theatre critic. Shouldn't she be the one hauling him out of trouble? It reminded me of the first couple of Transformers movies, where even though Megan Fox is meant to be the capable one, Shia Labeouf is constantly taking her hand and saving her from the danger.

 

The reveal at the end was great, but something about the way it was presented didn't quite work. I'm not sure what - maybe it was rushed? I suspect that, if there's anything in what I've said, the others will work it out.

 

This is still one of my favourite pieces I've read on RE. Keep up the great work.

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I picked up on approximately the same things as andyk.  Overall, I'm really enjoying this and I love the city life and occupation detail you put in to it.

 

Pg 1:  I didn't understand in the first chapter than the aim of Kinetic's piece was to defy gravity.  Not knowing what the magic system includes, I didn't know enough to be suitably surprised by that any more than the pretty colors.
 
Pg 2: Eaza's speaking pattern is a little too constant.  I've used that same pattern myself in writing, but every sentence she says sounds like the same rhythm.  I would guess in a "native" speaker's pattern there would be more variation.
 
pg 7:  I had to look back at the first chapter to realize there were three sisters, not two.  I thought Necenna was the same one that showed up on the balcony in chapter 1 until you pointed it out.  She has a very similar reaction to Lemila at first.
 
 
I really liked the character building for Necenna about pickpocketing while telling the story.
 
I'm still not completely sure about how Painting works and what it can change or how permanent it is.  Also not sure why Lemila had blood on her, if she was changed to metal.  Maybe this is what andyk was confused about?  Both this and the thug with the skin Painted to be stone confused me for a minute, I think because I attribute "painting" to something on the surface, so I keep being surprised when it goes farther than that (i.e. the thug has stone skin).  I'm also really not sure how Influence connects to this, but it hasn't played a big part yet, so it hasn't been as much of a problem.
 
Looking forward to the next one!
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Oh man, that ending. For the entire chapter, my thoughts were along the lines of, "While this isn't as good as the first, it's still pretty damned good." But that alley chase was really fun and reeled me back in as deep as before. The fear that this is going to be a recurring thing--semi-bland exposition and questing, then a few pages of action--remains, but there are certainly worse ways. Flynt returns to mind and he lacked the grace for chapterly adventure.

 

I love Necenna's roguishness. While I'm still uncertain why Eaza wants the review, I also don't really care. We get to have our protagonists at cross-purposes, which is almost always interesting. It also seemed like Iain knew what she was about (i.e. that she was pickpocketing him) hence the sobriety spell. Good thing there's no such thing as too many rogues; I'd love to watch these guys try to out-gambit each other.

 

I'm also unclear on how Painting works. It seems like you're leaning on the hard side of Sanderson's Laws; are we due for an explanation of the system soon (i.e. in the next couple of chapters)? You write it well enough that it's not terrible, but it feels like the First Law is going to be kicking soon.

 

Great stuff. Can't wait for more.

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Thanks guys, this is some good feedback.

 

There is something I wanted to ask, and I wanted to wait so as not to influence anyone's response to the chapter. My personal issue with this chapter is that when I finished it, it was too long. The initial draft was at 6,200 words. I managed to cut about 300 or so before submitting, but it's still longer than I like.

 

After careful consideration, I'm leaning toward the solution of splitting it into two, with the first two scenes becoming chapter 2, and the third scene being expanded by about 2000 words and turned into chapter 3. Part of this is because, as mentioned, the chapter is too long for this story as is, and because the line at the end of the second scene, 'Necenna popped open the flask.' feels like a natural stopping point. Additionally, I think expanding the scene into it's own chapter will allow me to address and fix the rushed pace - which I felt as well - of the fight and the reveal, as well as allowing for conversation between Iain and Necenna that I originally cut, that answers several of the questions brought up in these responses.

 

My worry is that this means the thing that happens at the end of the chapter would thus happen at the end of chapter 3, rather than at the end of chapter 2. Just to be safe, I'll put the next bit under a spoiler tag.

 

My question for you then, is, in a story where a large portion of the plot is focused around a murder mystery, is this too late for the first body to be found? The projected length of the story is around 120k words, although I can't be completely certain of that, with something around 30 chapters.

 

Any thoughts on this would be very helpful.

 

Anyone who posts a review after I make this post, I'd ask that you weigh in on this as well. (And I do hope more responses are coming; the more feedback I get, the better. :D )

 

I'll provide more responses addressing some of the more specific comments a little later.

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With traditional Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries the writer can get away with not revealing the body for quite a while, as they build up the suspects, victim and circumstances first. I don't know how much you can get away with that fantasy readers, but I think you're OK doing two or three chapters of build-up before cutting to the chase.

 

If you're doing that you might want to think about details that might foreshadow this turning into a murder mystery, even if it's just small references to issues of crime and detective work.

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I think you're fine with three chapters before the mystery.  I wasn't expecting a body and was still learning about the world and characters enough to be entertained solely on that account.  As andyk says, you might want to scatter some clues just to alert that there will be detective work involved.

 

I can't remember exactly where, and it may be the line you mention, but I did feel a break in the middle of the chapter and was vaguely surprised that there was more.  So yes, I think you could easily split chapter 2 up.

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Agreed. I think James S.A. Corey does this really well actually, with a lot of stuff going on and only realizing the main thrust of the plot about halfway in. Granted, he also has a lot of events derailing the protagonists and drops a lot of hints that they're not doing what they should be, but it can work. Conversely, I can also see a prologue working really well at disclosing the actual theme. At this point, it's still an artistic choice.  

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I really enjoyed this chapter. There was plenty of activity and action in the second half, and it fairly clipped along at a good pace. I felt that there were some issues, noted below, but nothing show-stopping. I don’t think Spire was up to the quality /depth of many of the other characters in set-up or dialogue. I mention some confusion in telling the sisters apart, but Necenna came across really well. I was sorry for the outcome of the chapter, as I feel that XXXXXX (spoiler alert!) is a good character, full of flaws and a great source of conflict, but I understand why it had to happen.

 

I'm hoping that there are more submissions in the pipeline as I am keen to see where this goes.

 

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Comments on comments: I agree with Andy on the reveal. I couldn’t put my finger on it and so said nothing, but Andy has nailed that point.

 

On your question – I don’t think it’s too late at all, the story to this point is packed full of great characters and vivid description, I think it easily carries the reader through to this point.

 

On the length thing, I think you can easily cut out another 500 words without changing anything of the sense of the chapter. Some of the phrasing is a little wordy. Since you sent a Word file (you mad fool!!   ;-), I had a go and saved 120 words in the first four pages. I’ll email it to you to illustrate what I mean, but it’s pretty straightforward stuff, I think, example below, which saves 4 words in a 15 word sentence. I hope you don't think it's presumptuous, just tell me to can it if I've crossed the line.

 

Pulling out the cork of Uncorking the already-opened bottle, her eyes watered immediately at the intense aroma.

 

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Page 4 – So, Necenna is sister to Lemila and Fyla? There are a lot of female characters, in particular I don’t have a great sense of a difference between Necenna and Lemila, so far.

 

Also, you say there are two bottles of clannich, then refer to Mochlaggan (great name). This threw me – are these the same thing?* And a pint flask is a big bulky thing. I know I'm judging by current standards, but a standard whiskey bottle is 700ml – a pint is 568ml – I accept that your world may be different – but by my standards, and I suspect those of most readers who know something about whisky or drinking spirits, or even just volumes, she couldn’t get a pint out of a half-finished standard bottle of whisky.

 

This means that, either the bottle of whiskey is over a litre – which would be huge, or she takes less. If she took less, she could have it in a smaller flask, which would be much more portable. If this stuff is so valuable, taking such a large amount to Stenne seems unnecessary. And the absence of a pint of whisky will be massively noticeable, because she’s finished the bottle and started on the next one.

 

The short version of the above is that I wasn’t convinced by the treatment of her taking the whisky.

 

Page 5 – So, Muse = Lemila and Cenna = Necenna. I know you’ve heard this before in relation to Kinetic vs. Calum, but I'm struggling to keep the characters straight with only one name. Them having two is really confusing.

 

I really like the talk about gears as a personal thing, a part of Lemila’s anatomy.

 

This scene between the sisters is really enjoyable – I like the way Necenna calls her ‘bitch’ and yet helps Lemila – showing that siblings are often operating on the basis of mixed emotions. I don’t have any myself, but it’s still familiar as my wife has a sister – very authentic. Also, the shear techi-ness of scene and its juxtaposition of gears and human physicality are very effective. There’s even a hint of the risqué in reference to the movement of the skirt (probably my warped mind, forget I said that).

 

The reference to the shark attack is maid-and-butler – I don’t see that Lemila would say that since they both know about it.

 

Page 8 – I'm not quite sure where Lemila is – is she locked in the dressing room?

 

Page 10 – *So they call whisky clannich, but you describe it as whisky for the reader, so that the reader knows what clannich is?  Seems a bit awkward in the reading, somewhat confusing, I think.

 

Page 11 – Stenne refers to the difference in height between the sisters in terms of hands. Do you mean this to be the thickness of the hand? Not sure if you’re aware, but there is an actual application of the ‘hand’ as a measurement of height with respect to horses, but that is the ‘span’ of the hand from heel to thumb, taken as 4”, apparently. I think the result would be most people picturing a difference in height of “a few hands” being one or two feet, which doesn’t seem right if they are sisters.

 

Page 13 – Humour is a difficult thing to get right. For me, the “main-mainten- upkeep” gag is as old as the hills, and comes over as cliché, but others might laugh out loud. Also, you say “a bottle of cheap clannich” – what happened to the rest of the Machlaggan? And I like the way you put across her trying another pocket as she bumped into him.

 

Page 15 – I thought that line “You ruined my debut, and now you ruin my revenge,” sounded a bit comically villainous – I imagined moustache twirling.

 

Page 15 – I don’t understand the line “Muse,” Necenna groaned. “Not. Helping.” Muse seems to be used by different people to refer to different things – if it was explained in the first chapter, I’ve forgotten the correct used by now – I thought it was a person at first.

 

Page 16 – Ah, ‘muse’ is used as a curse, as in taking the deity’s name in vain. I'm not convinced about it because the word ‘muse’ is not particularly harsh, unlike many other curses, and the name of the son of God, which is quite a harsh-sounding word.

Edited by Robinski
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