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Mandamon

20141215 - Fruits of the Gods Ch2 pt2 - Ch3 (5216) - Mandamon

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Sorry folks, this is a little long, but rather than break up chapter 3 in two parts and give you half of chapter 2 and half of chapter 3, I decided to go for it.  If you don't want to read all of it, just give me feedback on what you did.

 

For those who haven't seen the first chapter and a half, Kisare and her sister Belili are slaves on the Aricaba plantation.  While burying a dead child under the magical Apple tree, they discover a mysterious box.  Then someone steals magical Apple slices from the house, and all the slaves are locked up to determine who is guilty.

 

And we're off!  All comments are appreciated.  I have a thick skin.

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At the moment, I only have feedback for the second half of chapter 2. I'll get to chapter 3 at some point soon, however. I'm also providing feedback as I read through on the first time and during a lunch break, so hopefully it doesn't come across as too scatterbrained.

As someone who has read a bit into the Babylonian mythos to a light extent, I do still enjoy the style of the names.

I stumbled a bit where Anu was picking the locks(?) on the manacles. A set of small metal pieces, long and angled sounds like lock picks, at least. The first time I read it, I was thinking something to the effect of a pry-bar or something. I'm still not 100% clear, though. After finishing that part, I'm just not entirely sure what was happening there, though I can't tell if it's Monday-fatigue or the story. I'd probably get a second opinion here from someone else because I feel I'm like one 'click' away from the scene working for me.

It seems odd that Anu and the others are pushing the three suspects out to the cold. I can understand the motivation of wanting the three of them to sort it out and being out in the cold will force a conclusion. However, from the slave owner side of things, I feel like if any one slave gets caught outside of the manacles, they'd all be punished because the chains which were supposed to keep them chained together were somehow bypassed and if one slave did it, then all of the slaves /definitely/ saw how it was done.

The fight came across very chaotically, which I found to be good, as none of them have experience fighting.

I don't want to hark on it, but it felt difficult for me to really tell I was following Belili's point of view until they were outside. I know one line that sort of worked against the Belili PoV (assuming we were following Belili while inside) was the line about Tia glaring at her and her not acknowledging it. I can see how the scene works there, but the wording feels like it's having its intentioned stretched based off the scene I'm getting in my head.

That kind of leads to a final, minor point before my lunch break ends: It feels like there's some wordsmithing that can be done throughout this to help out a bit with the clarity. It's far too micro for this feedback format, so I wasn't actively looking for anything, but I felt a vague presence that rearranging, trimming, etc. could be help a bit.

I might go back at some point soon and do a read of both parts of chapter 2 in one go since this feedback is based on just the second half (with the first half read ~1 month ago). As a whole, it was intense, I liked the chapter, and I pointed out some thing just so you'd have something constructive to work with.

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I'm new and first critique.

 

Feedback on chapter 2-3.

 

I'm a little confused -especially in the 'indoor' portion of the scene by who is doing what and has POV. For example "Aricaba-Ata seemed all-powerful to Belili, but she hadd heard other slaves,..." makes me think we are in Belili has the POV but the sentences after indicate otherwise.

 

I think you might need to clarify a little in some spots to make sure you 'hand off' the dialogue so we know who is speaking. So instead of 'she said' a few more direct attributions (if this is the right word) 'Anu turned her head and said..." - you do it but I think you might guide the reader a bit more just because there seem to b a lot of people involved i.e. "Lora pulled the chain forcing Anna to stumble and yell 'Hey you old witch!' before slapping Rita whose head rocked back ...'

 Not sure if this is clear.

 

The outside scene is clearer - perhaps because there are less people.

 

"Belili looked at the magical slice of Fruit in her hand, then quickly up at Tia.  The wet surface tingled against her fingers like a tiny lightning strike.  Tia was frozen, "

 

Unless you explained this magic in the first chapter this is confusing. I had no idea what happened here until a few sentences later. Also it seems to jar with the next section - which seems to indicate that the magic came from chewing the apple or from the juice - so where did the freezing come from? Again, if explained in chapter 1 then ignore.

 

"As soon as a slave's baby got his or her first hairs, they were bleached on a weekly basis.  Some slaves might have magical coloring in their hair, but there was no way to tell.  It was almost certainly death to steal Fruit, but it was immediate execution for a slave and their entire family for one to taste the source of the noble's power."

 

This is confusing to me -perhaps again becase of the chapter I missed but in any case I still don't see the relevance of the 'bleached hair' to the stealing fruit section.

 

That's it for now - firing this off during a break at work. It seemed interesting enough to keep me reading, though the alternate use of common things like 'blond' and apples was a bit unusual at first.

Edited by stormweasel
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Thanks from both of you!

@Juugatsu: I've had some others react with confusion to the tags in this section, so it's not just you.  I need to go in and clean up the POV.  I was getting tired of typing the character's names...

Similarly, there were also comments about the logistics of getting the three outside to solve their own problems.  More feedback on this from different eyes is great.  I'm still turning over in my head what to do to make this scene work better.

 

@stormweasel: First critique!  I'm honored.

Magic was explained earlier, to some extent, so I think that's where the confusion is coming from.  Tl;dr certain capital "Fruits" have magic juice and people with locks of certain color hair get magic powers from them.  Slaves have their hair bleached so they can't tell if they have any magical color.  Tia freezing was in the physical sense of standing still.

Thanks for the suggestion on the dialogue.  I'll mull over what to do with this part.

I'll be getting to yours tomorrow!  If you want to read the earlier chapters, send me a PM with your email and I'll send them.  Or just read from here on.  Whichever you want.

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I read chapter 3. Not a whole lot of commentary.

I noticed this time around 'Bel' being used in the narrative and the PoV was still kind of 'distant' feeling (not that any particular parts stood out). However, it was easy enough to follow it as being behind Kisare's PoV. If it was a book in front of me, I'd have gone back to a previous chapter following her PoV to see if it was consistent. I like that kind of touch to the narrative, personally. If it was all together as a book, I'd have probably noticed it a sooner which would probably help with the perspective confusion. I also think it's just that Kisare and Belili have been together 100% of the time so far, so their individuality is a bit lacking, at least in my opinion. I'm starting to get a good grasp on their characters, but this is three chapters in, so I've been with them for a little while now. I would expect, going forward, that more differences will probably pop up as they no longer have as clear of an 'enemy' to unite against. I also look forward to seeing more of the world as they go to flee.

Though on that note, I was on the fence with the bit of lore woven in as they crossed to plantation to the grove to get the box. It felt odd or strange. I'm guessing here, but I think it's because: A lot of the culture we've seen so far has been limited slave life on a plantation and their position in society, none of which has been /super foreign/, so much as just the caste system, rather than any major history or lore beyond what we've been told pertaining to the Fruit. Then we suddenly have the great Fruits being eaten by the bird of night as an cultural analogy for crescent moons and the introduction of Enta and Dumzi (presumably dieties, possibly associated to the moons?). It's nothing story breaking, but it just came across very 'bam' for me.

I also wanted to make the brief comment that I really like the hook that this chapter ends on. It's not a cliffhanger, we know what's in the box, we know Kisare and Belili are about to do, and yet it leaves me wanting to keep reading to see what's beyond the plantation boundaries and really get my heels into the world that's been hinted at so far.

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Thanks again Juugatsu!

I do try to keep a tight POV when I write, and as you noticed, I'm switching between the sisters every chapter.  Seems to be working...

 

I've had other comments that their personalities are too alike (or non-existent) at the beginning.  While they do grow later on, I'm wondering if its enough to turn off readers before they get to that point.  Hopefully not...

 

I also had some other comments on the "great Fruits" being kind of sudden or not fitting.  I think you have a good explanation for that here in that you're only seen slave life so far, and this is kind of thrown in there.  I'll certainly mess around with that part to make it smoother.  Not quite sure how yet.

 

Glad you/re enjoying it, though!  I'll post part 1 of Ch 4 next week, as that one is pretty long.

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I think as a whole, I enjoyed this submission the most out of the 4 Fruits of the Gods submissions that I've read.  There were some odd POV issues as others have noted, particularly early on.  As well as a few cases where I thought the characterization of Belili was a bit heavy-handed and/or out of place.  But in sum, chapter 2 ended with a rather exciting glimpse of Belili taking charge and using her abilities with the Apple, and chapter 3 helped push the story forward.  

 

To be more specific on my issue with the characterization of Belili, I felt that during Kisare's POV in chapter 3 she was rather quick to call her sister flighty and in some cases incompetent.  This came off to me as odd as directly before this Kisare watched her sister take action and kill Tia with magical fruit powers.  It also felt heavy-handed in that almost every mention of Belili by Kisare included a modifier like "flighty".  This came to a head for me when Kisare goes into pretty gruesome depth about what could happen if they were caught, followed by Belili acting 'meek'.

 

I'll also chip in that the world building with the two moons was well done and, to me, didn't seem out of place.  I believe this is the first chapter occurring at night that we've seen, so it's only natural for her to bring it up now.  It also tied into the epigraphs, which immediately makes them more interesting to me.

 

I also wondered a little about the logic of Anu in unhooking the three potential perpetrators and letting them out of their sight.  At the very least I would have expected one of the slaves to sit near the door and make sure they didn't just make a break for it.  Them getting caught unhooked seems like it could have bad repercussions for all the female slaves.  Overall though, that's mostly fridge logic for me.(or whatever the trope is called)

Edited by Sprouts
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Third critique, coming right up!

 

"It was impossible for anyone to take a bed" - rather clunkily phrased. Maybe, "no one could reach their bed"?

 

"It was to encourage 'discussion' to turn in the guilty party." Also clunky. Maybe, "It was to encourage 'discussion', to make the guilty party admit without needing the lash'. Keep in mind that these are only general suggestions. I'm not telling you how to write your book, I'm just pointing out how I would word it, if I were in your position. 

 

"Yes, the risk was worth it--if they weren't caught." This didn't sound right to me. I mean, of course it would be worth it if you weren't caught. The idea of a risk being worth it is that the possible reward outweighs the possibility of a more negative outcome.

 

As well, when they're all chained up and everyone's accusing each other, I thought it rather... cartoon-ish that with every new accusation, everyone's head turned to the accused. Not a big issue, just something that occurred to me.  

 

Those are the only problems I had with it. I hope the girls do something different than what the other slave did, or it would be quite illogical for them to make it. And I quite like that they found seeds in the box, it's very interesting. I am still looking forward to reading more. 

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Mark--thanks for the comments!  Good critiques.  I'm always interested in the feedback on someone reading multiple chapters at a time, as you don't forget quite as much in between.  Glad you're finding it interesting so far.

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No problem. I'm gonna get to the rest of them now, I was just finishing some work of my own. Be right back!

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