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CommandanteLemming

Reading Excuses 9/30 - Commandante Lemming - Millenial Reign, Out-of-Order Chapter (L)

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Well I was going to skip this week, but y'all said you wanted material so I'm throwing some old stuff in the pipeliine. 

 
For those that haven't seen this story - I'm following young journalist Nina Constantinos through a near-future world where she is covering the election of a new pope for a TV news network. My villian is her editor/boss, Priscilla Davis, and for our purposes here you also need to know Dan Dragovich, the fatherly host of a primetime news show who doesn't get along with Priscilla.
 
This is a bit different from my normal, as I'm jumping out of sequence. But, since I've gotten some feedback for too much set-up and not enough action/plot, I wanted to share the first big plot twist and see how you think I can get here from where I am. I pre-wrote this several months ago, and I've essentially been discovery-writing my way toward it. Between where I am and here, I'm going to need to establish that Priscilla seems to be consciously manipulating the news content on the network, that she's subliminally encouraging Madison's alcoholism, and that she's running Nina ragged trying to test her. 
 
For those who know the story, I'd be interested to see how far away you think I am (or am not) from connecting the dots, and how much set up you think this does or doesn't need.  I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but for those who care, the main plot is going to have less to do with the pope and everything to do with the internal tension at WWN and how that affects the society that views them - the the story is going to take place over about 18 months following this event, and will include several interconnected news stories.  
 
So, I guess this is more of a "consult on the larger story" than "this week's chapter". Since this is an older scene, it lacks some of the complexity of the plot, but it shows where the whole Rome angle is going. 
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hmmm... no comments? Weird.

 

I found the piece really entertaining and immediately engaging.

 

My only comment was a total nitpick, which is that carbonara sauce is not really a "red sauce".

 

Maybe you're thinking marinara?

 

Thanks for the read.

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I really enjoyed this submission.  This addresses a lot of the issues brought up earlier with pacing and too much build up.  As to being out of order, I was honestly expecting this to be much later, from your explanation.  This could technically come right after your last entry.  Nina's only been in Rome a few days, and you give a good explanation for what she's been doing.  I'm satisfied.

 

We also get a much better picture of Dan.  I mentioned before that he seemed to be raging against Prissy too much, but this section makes their relationship a lot clearer (along with Madison's)

 

I'll second manaheim's nitpick.  Marinara is a red sauce.

 

One more thing, which may potentially upset the plot a little.  I'm pretty sure (though I may be wrong) that when a new pope is elected, all the voting cardinals are sealed in the Sistine Chapel until the voting is concluded, whether it's a day or a two weeks.  So, you wouldn't really have a portion of the voting cardinals eating out at a restaurant.

 

That aside, this makes me more interested in the story again--I'm interested to see more.

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Thanks for the comments - I'll definitely fix the carbonara thing - it was an edit mistake. I looked up what carbonara was, and it's a pretty standard issue dish, so originally Dragovich ragged on her for ordering "basic spaghetti". I think I changed it to "red sauce" on a later edit without double checking. 

 

On the election thing - I actually wrote my undergrad thesis on the process of electing the pope and attempting to data-model the conclave process. So I know waaaaaaaaay too much detail about that. What you're witnessing at the restaurant is one of the "prattiche" ("practices"), informal meetings of cardinals that take place around Rome BEFORE the election. That's where most of the politicking happens. They all try to get candidacies organized before they get locked in, because once they get locked in the first ballot happens pretty quick. Most Vatican journalists scramble like crazy trying to get notes out of the prattiche, because that's how you figure out who the candidates are. You're actually going to see at least one more prattiche session, and a lot more politicking once they get locked in. 

 

Actually Cardinal Giovanni Benelli said to have bragged about engineering the 1976 election of John Paul I over dinner at his favorite restaurant - so this is based off an actual event. 

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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Oh, ok.  I didn't realize this was before the election had started.  I keep assuming this is farther along in the story than it is!

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Sorry for delay - too much on plate - big weekend of catch up required.

 

I like the opening. I'm beginning to feel at home with your style – in fact, I have I have for the last couple of submissions. It feels familiar, and it’s pretty distinctive. I am enjoying the characterisation. None of your characters is boring; they all have a clear and distinctive image that, I think, manages to avoid caricature – or at least make them so bold and bright that you go beyond it (if that makes any sense).

 

I like the ‘idiot Americans’ line – no offence, of course!!   :-)

 

And the navy seals line is great – starting to like Dan a good deal. I'm not sure if the rat poison analogy comes across all that fell, after reading it I felt it hadn’t scanned right. I mean, the waiter would never bring a guest rat poison, and why would Dan even think in those terms? I think something unpleasant but non-fatal might fit better there.

 

“...get off her feet.”       ALSO, “You can’t do that “,     ALSO, “...fresh-off-the-farm...”

 

I'm a little confused – did Nina judge Madison? I didn’t think she had.

 

Ha ha, enjoyed the reveal of Cardinal Fletcher – nicely done, directing me away from the possibility before confirming the fact.

 

So, I'm done. That was a good chapter. I thought it clipped along, plenty of activity, development of the situation. The style and characters were consistent, good balance of dialogue, narrative and description, I thought. To me, it would be good to get as quickly from your last in-order chapter to that one. I didn’t feel that I was missing anything significant in between the airport scene and that one. We got a bit of a flashback comment here and there about things that had happened in the interim, but I really didn’t feel the lack of any intervening commentary.

 

Now reading the thread comments, on the pasta thing, I thought the squid ink was usually used to colour the pasta, rather than make the sauce. I think it’s clear it’s in the lead up to the election. Other than that, good stuff, looking forward to reading more.

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