CommandanteLemming

2014/09/15 - CommandanteLemming - Haruwin, Submission 2 (L)

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Due to some of the positive feedback on got on this one, I decided to stick with it for another week - although "Millenial Reign" is definitely coming back next week, as this one needs more time to marinate and I've had enough of a break to get back to the main project. 

 
Anyway, last week you met two grad students (Praxedes and Tacitus) researching history in a trippy alternate reality where the Selk'nam tribe in South America has survived to become a prosperous modern nation (the gag being that their reality was created by a wiki-based internet game).
 
This week I did a little more "concept art". It's not directly after the last scene but close, and I'm submitting it to get thoughts on whether you like this direction as a potential plot. I've gotten feedback both in the direction of acknowledging the constructed nature of this world and playing it off the real one (which is what I do here), but also suggestions that I just stay inside the world and use it for social satire. 
 
This probably isn't my best work, but I do like the "Adah" sequence and it gets me where I'm going. I definitely would appreciate input if anyone has thoughts on how to portray chatroom conversations and online activity without being clunky. That was a struggle here.   
Edited by CommandanteLemming
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Haruwin! Cool, excited for this chapter.

 

I still felt a little inundated with all the proper nouns, especially in the beginning. I like the setting, but pronunciation is a factor in how much I fictional worlds (like "Ichin'K'onip'nam”, c'mon man, it's too early for that :P) Haruwin and Praxedes are fun, memorable names, and easy to say. They're also the only ones I can remember from the story at all. Food for thought.

 

I'd stay inside the world as much as possible. The footnotes are directly from you to me, which is jarring. I'm not sure what direction the meta-narrative is going, but I know the piece is conceptual so not a big deal. It is a lot of fun, though; honestly, this is exactly my kind of fiction. I love when the real world and a fictional place blur together, so for me, the more real it can feel, the better.

 

Chat rooms are hard, but I think you have to commit to the medium if you're going to portray it. I've only seen it a handful of times in fiction, and I didn't care for it, but I appreciate it if it's more authentic with different voices/typing styles with the characters. It seemed like everyone chatting had the same voice. Plus there were way too many characters--five or six different people I think? I began to read it as just infodump and not dialogue. Ultimately, I think if you ask five writers about this, you'll get eight different answers, so I wouldn't stress it too much.

 

Some minor technical things: I would hyphenate "move-in" since otherwise that sentence is a bit clunky. You've also got "she replied quizzically" which is a really awkward adverb use. The rest is really inconsequential given the concept art nature of the piece.

 

Otherwise, I enjoyed it! Like I said, this is right in my wheelhouse, so with some real polish I would definitely be up to read more stories from this world.

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Lol - I threw the long name in for an unseen background character just to see how people reacted. I guess I got my answer :-)

In the actual game, "Ichin'K'onip'nam" would be a pretty short name for an Ona Yagichite but I can take SOME literary lisence.  

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I like this. It's well written, the setting's interesting (I didn't have time to read last week's submissions so it was all new to me) and I thought you got the ideas across well. I don't think the footnotes are necessary - there's enough context around the words for readers to just go with them.

 

Like Jagabond said, there's probably too many voices in the chatroom and they aren't terribly distinct from each other, but other than that it's all solidly done. I was just wondering what the plot was going to be and then it reared its head in the new girl and the weirdness around her, so that was moving things along at a decent speed.

 

Curious to see where this goes.

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First off, don't take this the wrong way, but I like this more than "Millennial Reign."

 

I'll disagree with the others on the footnotes.  I could go for a whole book of this, with the tongue-in-cheek references the whole way.  But then, I tend to like goofy stuff like this, and footnotes remind me of Terry Pratchett, which is always a good thing.

 

To your questions, I didn't mind the chatroom that much.  You'll never get colors in anything printed, so I would drop those.  I didn't really have trouble following, as their screennames are printed right there.  The voices were a bit similar, but unless these become important characters, they don't need to be that distinct.  If you want a reference to published material with chatrooms, Lev Grossman's "The Magician" series has some of it, I think in the second book.

 

I like Praxedes, and she gets some more characterization here.  You start to get into some story ideas near the end, and I'm more convinced now that this strategy might work, if you play it as a completely open parody/satire of Principia Moderni where the worlds collide.

 

I don't know if you could ever sell it, but I think it could be a pretty funny/cool book.

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Regarding points mentioned by multiple people:

 

Thanks for the chatroom feedback, I will definitely work to make the voices more distinct, as I'm planning to eventually use this chatroom to illuminate the stupid "strategies" that led to real historical events in our world. On the number of voices, I'm definitely going to have to work on that one - the real chatroom on which this was based was an assault on the eyes to read. There were usually about 15 people talking over each-other, often mixing multiple games along with random other insertions - so painting that anarchy without getting out of hand is something I need to think about.

 

On footnotes: I'm getting mixed feedback on those - I think they work best when they are comedic rather than just info-dump, so I'm going to experiment with that and maybe with substituting endnotes. Because it's satirizing historians, I kind of like that it's copiously footnoted. But we'll see.  

 

@Mandamon No offense taken. You've seen mostly what I consider the "worst parts" of Millenial Reign - it speeds up considerably later. But I've also found (by shopping this through a decidedly un-SFF in-person group) that people who hate Millenial Reign have the strongest positive reactions to Haruwin (not implying that you hate it - but I got a really interesting response from one guy who really does not like Millenial Reign) . I want to show this to one of the guys who thinks Millenial Reign is brilliant because my guess is that he will hate it.   

 

@Andyk - Glad you like the writing, always interesting to get feedback from readers, as I usually get the most props on what I think is my worst stuff (maybe I should write while sleep-deprived more often...or not...). And glad you think inserting Anna works. 

 

@Jagabond I definitely have to give thought to names and how straight to play it compared to the actual game - especially as the naming conventions for in-game Selk'nam got pretty twisted and unpronouncable (I had a running gag where upper-class Selk'nam kept adding syllables to their names as a way of making themselves sound important, in the same fashion as European royals added more given names - by the end of it I had royals whose names took up entire lines of text). That and you ended up with a lot of people with first names like Icarus, Aethylthryth, Scholastica, Atticus, Perpetua, etc.  Painting the place without inundating readers with proper nouns is going to be a big challenge. 

 

Thanks!

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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First of all, I just joined the day before yesterday, so I did not get to read your first submission.

Overall, I really enjoyed the read and I am thrilled to know what happens next. I liked the writing style and the interesting setting.
I also liked the Nirvana joke a lot. :)

I also thought that you depicted the chat quite well. I only thought that people were writing too well. In my experience, it's rather rare to find people in chats who write more than one sentence and also care about punctuation.

There not really many things that stuck me as odd. However, there were a few (minor) things that broke the reading flow and the immersion a bit for me - and I'm being a bit nit-picky here:

* I thought that Praxedes' reaction after closing the notebook was too comic-book like. (When she was slapping the couch) It felt too forced and I rather felt reminded of Donald Duck comics :)
* I thought it was weird that Adah should start gossiping about Jonah and then immediately stop. It didn't feel natural to me for her to stop before really having said anything
* When Anna said "I don't live in the storming dorms – and what the storm is a dorm-mother? You must have me mixed up with someone else – I'm sure I just crashed here to sleep off the booze. I'm really, really sorry, I...”" I thought her reaction was very sudden and very vehement. (She was very sleepy/hungover just a heartbeat ago) Maybe it's her nature to be so aggressive, but it made me dislike her a bit
* I thought it was odd that Praxedes would say "I assure you that if you came here to party, you're at the wrong school." From what I read before, I didn't expect her to be the type that cared about people partying. I'd rather have expected her to berate Anna for her foul mood/language

Btw.: I read the story the first time on my mobile this morning and I didn't see the footnotes. I got the context anyway. When I reread it just now I read them for the first time. I think they are not a bad idea, but, personally, I like them better if they're in an indirect "encyclopaedia style". E.g. this sounded rather like a note to yourself, because of the first person perspective: "Selk'nam in my timeline were not given surnames"

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@molah Thanks for chiming in and welcome! I definitely agree that the "Donald Duck" reaction needs to go - honestly it's only still there because my last pass edit was so late at night that I was too tired to come up with an alternate reaction :-P And I can see that I need to work a bit more on the back and forth about booze and such, especially defining Prax's attitude on such things. As for Anna, I'm not sure you're supposed to like her - she has some pretty serious anger issues - still trying to decide whether I want her to be sympathetic at this point. 

 

Also since Adah's Jonah comment came up - how many people picked up on what I was doing there? Genuinely interested in what people thought was going on.

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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I see you did not yet have the time to incorporate any of the changes we discussed experimenting with. Just to make sure - we still do need to figure out a bit more about Anna, and redirect her towards her proper country of origin. Feel free to contact me whenever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haruwin! Cool, excited for this chapter.

 

I still felt a little inundated with all the proper nouns, especially in the beginning. I like the setting, but pronunciation is a factor in how much I fictional worlds (like "Ichin'K'onip'nam”, c'mon man, it's too early for that :P) Haruwin and Praxedes are fun, memorable names, and easy to say. They're also the only ones I can remember from the story at all. Food for thought.

 
Not even Anna Malihi? Interesting... That should have been memorable enough. It might change, though...

 

 

 

 

 

First off, don't take this the wrong way, but I like this more than "Millennial Reign."
 
I'll disagree with the others on the footnotes.  I could go for a whole book of this, with the tongue-in-cheek references the whole way.  But then, I tend to like goofy stuff like this, and footnotes remind me of Terry Pratchett, which is always a good thing.
 
To your questions, I didn't mind the chatroom that much.  You'll never get colors in anything printed, so I would drop those.  I didn't really have trouble following, as their screennames are printed right there.  The voices were a bit similar, but unless these become important characters, they don't need to be that distinct.  If you want a reference to published material with chatrooms, Lev Grossman's "The Magician" series has some of it, I think in the second book.

 

Agreed!

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@Tal "I see you did not yet have the time to incorporate any of the changes we discussed experimenting with. Just to make sure - we still do need to figure out a bit more about Anna, and redirect her towards her proper country of origin. Feel free to contact me whenever."

 

Yeah - did not get a lot of editing time on this at all. My brain burned out on Haruwin and flipped back to Millennial Reign and started piecing elements of THAT together - this is the problem with having a writer's brain. But I guess the entire point of working on Haruwin was to have two projects to alternate so that one could marinate while the other was working. 

 

I'll PM you with some other thoughts on Anna - I'm thinking on directions to take her that keep her consistent with both her character as she came to me and her location. Making significant alterations to her persona is going to take some "marinating" and research time, and I can't re-write her until she comes to me more fully formed. 

 

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Also since Adah's Jonah comment came up - how many people picked up on what I was doing there? Genuinely interested in what people thought was going on.

 

I assumed that was a reference to Jonah and the whale?  But I wasn't sure the context, even as a joke, inside this story.

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For those that want the answer, here it is. For those that don't, I'll make it clear eventually. 
 

There is no such thing as an "Alternate Track Officer in International Admissions" - she never actually agreed with Praxedes' comment about her handling diplomatic kids, and noted that the students she handles don't go through "the normal timeline".

Adah is an angel - more specifically an angel in charge of helping people see the consequences of their actions. So, she's the one causing all of the dimension shifting. The "Jonah" scenario is a reference to the biblical prophet Jonah - one of Adah's previous assignments. His situation was "fishy" not in the sense of being sketchy, but in the sense that it required a literal fish.

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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Love the alternative sports - I'm an NFL fan (cheesehead), so that struck a chord with me. I also like the extrapolation of the Penguin-Lilly. This style is reminding me a little of Jack Vance, although he would certainly not have dropped the F-bomb. He very big on cultures and setting - I like to think of him as a kind of Asimov-Bill Bryson mash-up.

 

Sports fans never forget to eat - major inaccuracy!!  ;-)

 

LemmingGrrl says: whose damnation idea was it to have all our major powers begin with U? Ha ha ha, well all those countries have names involving United or Union, which is kind of interesting in itself, don't you think?

 

What's a guanaco?

 

She slipped off one of her moccasins and started beating it against the back of the couch as she yelled, “It's...just...a...storming...game!”  -  What a wonderful line - love it! If I owned a pair of maccasins, I would probably have done that myself before now.

 

I really enjoyed the sparky encounter between Prax and Anna. Their different characters really shone through, I thought you nailed the tone of the dialogue. I felt I had a clear picture of the party animal and the dorm mother / geek. It's conflict, and yet it's not clear how the relationship is going to go, which is good.

 

Whoooaaa!! Head trip - they're both Lemming?! Okay, I'll admit it, I've had a couple of beers, but this is good stuff. I'm really enjoying this. It's packed with detail, I find the characters well drawn and interesting, and the layering of the game with the alternate reality is all very meta, a bit surreal, which I love. Me having just re-watched Twin Peaks for the Xth time probably doesn't do any harm.

 

I must say, given the choice between Millenial Reign and Haruwin, I know what I'd most like to see more of, and it's Haruwin (in case you were wondering).

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@Robinski 

Glad you liked the head trip :-) Figuring out where to go after the head trip, and how far to rewind before the head-trip is the fun part. 

 

And you'll get to see more of this as well as Millenial - the goal is to have two projects going so that one can marinate while the other is on the stove, so to speak. Two weeks working on Haruwin really made me want to get back to Millenial and helped me figure out the next few chapters. I figured a few more weeks working on Millenial and I'll know what happens to Prax and Anna. Millenial is the main project but you'll definitely see more Haruwin. 

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