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Lord Juugatsu

2014113 - Lord Juugatsu - A Devil's Playground Ch1 (V, L) (5493)

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I made a mistake and forgot to include "Ch1" in the original document filename/e-mail. This is the first chapter of my current story. I hope there's no issue with my sending this out Sunday night before I head for bed. My first opportunity tomorrow would be in the evening.

Thanks in advance for your time and feedback.

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Overall the writing was good here, and you have an interesting start to a story.  I'm still wondering who the POV will be.  You have four different voices in the first chapter alone, but I'm assuming Gin is the main character.

 

Gin's speech in his POV at the beginning seems a lot more relaxed than in the rest of the chapter.

 

Notes:

 

pg 2: I wouldn't say the passage about Gin's upbringing is infodumping, per se, but it comes across as very dry.  It just says: "here's something about the character."  So even though it was short, it made me want to skip over that part.

 

pg 4: "I’m guessing you’re all allies of that human banner I raised.”

--It took me a long time to figure out what this meant.  I think Gin's referring to the victim being dragged up a flag post?

 

pg 15: The last few paragraphs dealing with the Abolisher are similar to what I mentioned at the beginning of the submission.  There was one other instance that was the same way. It's a very short info-dump, or at least reads as a very long aside about something.  For me, it takes the focus away from the story.

 

 

I'm certainly interested in reading more.  However, you've already given me a lot of information on devils and possession and so forth, so I've been able to make an assumption as to what Gin is.  I'm wondering then whether the rest of the story is Gin doing horrible things, or people trying to stop him, or something else.  There's an antagonist in Gin, but I don't see any conflict for him yet.  Alex or Selena could be the protagonist, but I don't have enough information about them.

 

Looking forward to next time...

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Ha-ha, since this is my first review of one of your work I’ll say welcome to Reading Excuses! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to reviewing your submission. I blame Write About Dragons, Start Write Now, NaNoWriMo and Christmas. Anyway...

 

There is an interesting basis for a story here, and I like some of the ideas, the modern setting and the devil aspects. Magic is mentioned but not seen, so we don’t really know what it comprises, making it an intriguing prospect for future submissions. My main difficulty was the style and phrasing, which I found awkward, and I often tripped over the grammar. I think the style prevents any proper pace from developing. I also think the dialogue could be spiced-up, more charged and less serious and considered, it felt a bit laboured in places.

 

I hope these comments don’t come across too negative, I did enjoy a lot about the submission and I’ll certainly be reading the next one.

 

Detailed comments follow.

 

I found the discussion between the two women a bit blatant. It didn’t feel natural to me, like they were both wearing InfoDump t-shirts.

 

Why would Garfield call it “the club just outside the city,” why would he not just use its name? It comes over as maid-and-butler, not something he would say other than to convey the information to the reader.

 

I found the conclusion to the first section a bit stilted. Seemed to me there was a reveal there, but the style was very formal and rather wordy. And why does he need to learn high society etiquette for his work? Sounds like he was just in a standard professional setting, didn’t seem to be high society.

 

Waiting to ambush... who? ‘waiting in ambush’ is the phrasing I’ve seen before.

 

“...in an alleyway...” Sure others have pointed out, sorry or repetition.

 

Why “Yet the other week they had lost a brother.” like it’s contrary to the bit before about them being family? I felt like it would be better as “and the other week...”

 

Also, it struck me unusual that he calls the person approaching a mofo, but uses the formal term Asian rather than, for example, ‘chink’. If you’re going to badmouth someone, go the whole hog!

 

Finding the term ‘Boltz member’ awkward, I would certainly get it if you just said ‘Boltz’. When it comes to the combat, ‘Boltz member’ really slows things down. Another approach would be to give every Boltz a name instead of saying ‘Boltz member’, since clearly anyone not called Gin is a Boltz in this situation.

 

Seventeen men is a mob, how do they stay hidden?

 

The discussion between the Boltz analysing Gin’s behaviour felt a bid weird to me, like they are having a technical discussion rather than giving someone a kicking (or trying to). Would they really go through all that exposition and debate?

 

Why do they always run in one at a time, it makes no sense, a two or three-pronged attack would cause Gin some problems, surely? Also, does the knife point go ‘into’ Sammy’s throat?

 

Is the start of this section – the word “Doctor” – Gin speaking to her, or is she not really a doctor? If it’s Gin speaking, there is a lot of text between the spoken word and her reaction. If it’s her being a pseudo-doctor, it looks like dialogue.

 

“...copies she used as in place of an ‘Open’ sign.” (suggested)

 

A ‘jump scare’ is not a thing, is it? I’ve heard it used in movie reviews, but I’ve never seen it in print. It feels to me like ‘she stifled her totes amaze’.

 

I had to read “trying to re-adorn a stoic façade while working” three times to get a sense of it.

 

“...despite him being covered in blood.” Otherwise, it reads like she is.

 

Why does he start talking like “I shall swiftly wash”? Nobody actually speaks like that, so it’s rather hard to accept. He seemed to speak more casually on the first page, when still in the office. I'm not saying that he shouldn’t be well spoken, I just find the phrasing getting awkward in some spots.

 

I'm finding the tone of the piece a bit difficult. There was a good gangland ambush with some nice action and a decent bit of tension, but I felt that the wordiness of the prose hampered it, held back the flow. Also, my brain thinks it’s in Tarantino territory, but the dialogue could be snappier, I think.

 

Wait a minute, is he an android? I'm steered into thing that from this line “Inspection on the rear of this head is also requested.”

 

Bi-fold > bill-fold? It’s a North American term, so I'm not that familiar with it, but always thought the word was bill-fold.

 

I’ve been wondering about her profession, and the fact that she seems to be a lone woman in a very exposed situation. There’s a suggestion that previous clients have been abusive, up to a point, but it she’s working with low-lives, has she never been attacked and what means of protection does she have? I'm also intrigued by why she cannot work in a hospital.

 

The financial argument is a reasonable one, but not wanting to do the hard work is lame, just lost some sympathy for her.

 

I'm pretty sure you just trashed teachers and part-time nurses. How can you say those are not good jobs? That’s one way to read your phrasing in that sentence. I'm not sure if that’s what you meant, but in Barnesandnoble Land, a bunch of people just put your book down.

 

What do you mean by “I’m not selling myself to you” – I wasn’t clear on the implication of that.

 

To acquire her as a woman would be to imply that he considered her an item, so I don’t think you need to say “woman” and “item”, one of them seems redundant.

 

“...his lack of reaction made her want to use the Taser on him.” Ha-ha, like that line.

 

I'm more interested in Selena as a character than Gin at this point.

 

If the alley is lightless, how can Alex see all this detail that he’s observing?

 

I'm interested in the introduction of the idea of devils, that’s intriguing. The mention of magic is very offhand, but I can live with that. It’s an accepted part of society, that’s fine.

 

The discussion between Alex and Connor is very heavy on the exposition. I think it’s very maid-and-butler.

 

“He had received his orders...” There are a lot of instances where you drop the ‘had’, in the worst cases, like here, the grammar doesn’t make sense without them, or at least takes on a different emphasis altogether.

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Appreciate the feedback, both of you.

@Robinski: I have two alpha-readers going over the content before it hits here, mostly to try and work out odd phrasing that tends to end up in my first drafts, though as alpha-readers they're not super experienced. That is a point of concern I've been working on, so hopefully the later chapters improve there. I'm currently at work, so I'll be going through the detailed part of your feedback more thoroughly at a later time, but skimming through it briefly just now, some if it looks like good food for thought for me, while other parts look like commentary on intentional things (which means certain things are going as planned). Thanks again!

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You're always welcome - I call as I see and sometimes I get it wrong, I'll hold my hand up, as required.

 

I look forward to your response when you get a chance.

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Alright, Robinski. I just went through your feedback.

The grammar points were all pretty much a direct fix. Most of the points I ended up addressing were cleaned up a bit by trimming content. (E.G. Pretty much every instance where 'Boltz member' was used worked without 'Boltz member' even being there, I just removed 'good' from 'good job' in reference to Selena's parents having employment issues). Going back through the chapter there were also a few points I just took out. In terms of discovery/pantsing vs outline/planning, I've played around with both extremes, and this story is more along the lines of checkpoints for key events, and discovery writing in between. So there were some things that weren't entirely necessary this early on, and cutting out those bits also helped a bit with the info-dumping as mentioned by Mandamon as well. Where there's infodump, I tried to keep it brief, and now it's briefer.

 

I try to uphold the silent observer stance for feedback, so my responses to feedback are usually limited to changes I make, rather than providing additional information, since the story won't have me present to hold its hand. I welcome all feedback, and if it's 'wrong', then it's because I as the writer didn't make something clear enough, or the reader misread. Having multiple alpha-readers helps determine which it is.

I will say though, for better or worse, I've gotten mixed opinions on Selena and Gin based on chapter 1. I have one person who kind of liked both, but for everyone else, if they liked Gin, then they were iffy about Selena, or if they liked Selena, they were iffy about Gin. And it's not much of a spoiler, but over the next few chapters additional POV characters get introduced, as one of my personal objectives for this story is exercising multiple viewpoints and character voices.

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I like the poise with which you responded to my criticism - it certainly befits a self-styled nobleman! Also, I agree with and respect your stance on how to respond to a critique.

 

I'm looking forward to reading your next submission.

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