Dalinar42

Pulsar: Chapter One

11 posts in this topic

I wrote a prologue to this chapter, but like I said before, you don't have to read it to know what's going on in this chapter. Tell me what you think and be as harsh as possible. I am not too attached to the draft. 

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I'll try and be harsh, but it will be hard because I really enjoyed this a lot.

 

I like the opening. In fact, if you dig through the posts and find my prologue, it is very similar. But I am rewriting mine to be totally different. The wayward thief being saved from a cruel crew leader is seemingly popular. So if you can rework the opening while keeping the crucial aspects, then that is something I would definitely look into. If not, then don't worry too much about it, it probably won't stand out as a cliche enough to detract from the story.

 

I have trouble with the way Kyd handles the fact he stole from a king that now wants to own him... I would run. Especially if I'm as fast as I was thinking I was mere moments earlier. For me to believe it I need to see something physically stopping him. 

 

I also have a little bit of trouble believing the scene when Jacks takes ownership of Kyd. I would tend to believe that telling a thief that your were going to steal something of theirs, wouldn't end well. Maybe if there was more of a threat than just telling them that you have guards I could believe it. And even if Keith believed Jacks, and thought there was a royal guard just outside, wouldn't any respectable hideout have multiple hidden entrances/exits? 

 

This is my biggest problem with this submission. A thief stays alive by lying and assuming everyone else is lying. So I don't see why Kyd believes Jacks is who he says/appears to be. In fact Kyd thought about how strange it was for a king to be in the slums, but didn't even consider the idea that maybe Jacks is a fraud.

 

I really can't tear this down very much. It is well paced, gives nice little hints of the magic (system hopefully to be well explained later) , has interesting characters, and maybe most of all I love the cast system and the way it is reflected in the physical structure of the actual city. Edit: hope this makes what I meant more clear: i.e.The rich and powerful on top, poor and worthless on the bottom. When I pictured the city I literally pictured this in the form of a really big building or maybe a cave haha- http://rtn.asia/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/B_226_CasteSystem.jpg

Edited by LerroyJenkins
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There are three very good things that I will change when I go back to revise this! I am going to keep Kieth the same because I need him later on; it was a conscious choice to make him a cruel leader. Originally, he was just someone that was employing Kyd, but didn't have any claim over him. I am going to change the way that Jacks convinces Kyd that he is actually offering freedom. Before, it's just an assumption that Kyd made, but you are right in that he would be more distrustful. There will have to be a good fight/flight battle inside Kyd's head while he is talking to Jacks. I'm also going to change the scene down in the lair. That still needs tons of work. Thank you for helping me figure out why it needed work, though.

 

Thank you so much for the positive review! I was a little nervous that it didn't make much sense because it was a  quickly written piece that I wanted to get in for this group. I do have one question for you, though. I didn't mean to pattern the city after the caste system in that link, but that's almost exactly how it is, isn't it? Wow! I might have picked it up somewhere subconsciously before, but I don't remember ever seeing that before in my life.

 

I will explain the magic system in depth in four chapters. It's not extremely important until then, but it will happen. Be warned that it is a little like Micheal Vey. When I came up with the magic system, I hadn't read Micheal Vey yet, but I was explaining it to someone and they were like "That sounds familiar." I was freaked out because I thought I had stolen someone else's ideas until I went and read the book. It's not too similar, but there are some ideas that should feel familiar if you've read it.

Edited by Arthur Dent
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Overall, I was engaged.  However, I did have a couple questions running through my head while reading (similar to the ones noted by LerroyJenkins above):

 

1) Why is Jacks down there in the first place?

2) Why does Jack decide to free Kyd and demonstrate the use of power to him?  Is he just bored?  I assume he has more important things to do since he's down in the slums and you say Kings never go down there.  Kyd bumped into him by accident, so I can't think Jacks was looking for Kyd beforehand.

 

I'm hoping these will be addressed in later chapters.  I don't need the answers right now, but they did pop into my head.  I assume Jacks has some plan behind it.

 

Kyd is happy that Jacks called him "son," but he seems to do this constantly, more as a nickname for Kyd than anything else.  I don't know why Kyd would read anything more into it.  You could just as easily have a homeless beggar on the street call him "son."

 

 

Some notes while reading through.  Most are grammar/typos.

 

Pg 1: "This feeling may"

--not in past tense

 

Pg 1: "By Theandolore's"

--sort of a strange curse.  By Theandolore's what?

 

pg 4: "Jacks demanded in the most commanding voice Kyd had ever heard. Immediately, everyone in the room started moving. Some moved to protect the company leader, "

--the wording in this section felt clumsy for some reason.  The next paragraph, about Kieth, seems unnecessary.  Also, the reader can tell the guards running away aren't loyal at the moment.

 

Pg 5: "cheep"

-cheap

 

Pg 5: business sense is a religious virtue?

 

pf 5: "We are not up for ransom, actually,"

--"actually" lessens the impact of the sentence, coming from such a powerful man.

 

Pg 5: "steel"

--steal

 

Pg 6: "Your welcome"

--you're

 

Pg 7: "only plants permitted within the city limits"

--This seems very strange.  Surely some people have gardens or potted plants.  For just a throwaway line, I want more explanation.

 

Interested to see more of this!

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I love how detailed you went into this critique! I have some editing to do, obviously, but I'm glad you still want to see more despite the editing. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

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I don't know if I have a whole lot to add that hasn't already been said. The story seemed to flow fairly well, I had a good image in my head without the story being weighed down heavily with description, and a decent image of how the society works for an intro. My ultimate issue was just that the narrative and plot felt forced. In a few different areas, you have Kyd thinking in the narrative (as a tell) about how he had to grow up and be patient, grateful, loyal, etc. with his employer/leader. H grew up in a slum full of thieves, tricksters, etc., which feels like a contrast to the traits Kyd felt he had. Then, in a third perspective Kyd himself comes across, in action, dialogue, etc., as an emotional, brash, and eager teen. So his character felt very torn to me. I won't harp too much on the specific reasons for it, as that's been addressed, but I wasn't feeling like it was just an unreliable narrator, so much as just a confused character (not trying to be harsh, so much as straightforward).

I have no problem with an unreliable narrator, and I'm employing it to an extent in my own story, but I go out of my way to make it clear early on by having different PoV's draw different conclusions from the same information (or different conclusion because they have different information), or fail to draw conclusions in some cases. Since this is right out of the gate, I'm not expecting unreliable narrator, so I'm just not sure how intentional it is.

Jacks presence in the slums was commented on by Mandamon, and he kind of falls prey to what I'm seeing as feeling forced. It seems as if Kyd was picked up at random, we don't know what he's doing there, and he just gives Kyd a room and a job. I can accept a bit of mystery of him, but I'd like to have some information, clues, or hints to go on, and all he's done so far as come across as a random, influential figure who decides to be a mentor to Kyd. I can guess there's more to Kyd, and it's possible there's something special about Kyd, but we start treading dangerously into cliché territory where any missteps could prove fatal in terms of holding the readers interest. I don't necessarily have enough information to say that just yet, but I'm wary at this point is all.

To sum up, I'd say the writing on a technical level is pretty good (pacing, balancing details, world building, action, and dialogue all work for me if we don't pay mind to the content per say), however the story has me wary and characters aren't selling me. I did see your response that you're working on this on a second version, so I would be down for seeing how it changes.

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I have some explaining to do, it seems. I need to change Kyd's character and explain why in the freaking world Jacks is down there to begin with. There's  very good and sufficient reason, but I was going to bring it into the next chapter. Do you think it would be okay if I put it there or would you like it in this chapter?

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Prefacing this post by saying that this is your story. I don't want to overstep my bounds and write your story, so I'll just dig a little deeper into what I feel is causing the reaction from us readers (at the very least, it's what I think is causing my reaction) regarding Jacks and mention a few things I think would work for me, and you can do what you will with that information.

As a reader, I'd say chapter one focusing on Kyd and not really explaining why Jacks is there is acceptable. However, for me, it doesn't really feel like Jacks is doing anything. You kind of lampshade that it's weird for him, as a King, to be there, but it's not so much that we don't know /why/ he's there so as it just doesn't feel like he was actually doing anything prior to Kyd.

To kind of expound on that: The first mention of him is when Kyd bumps into him to pickpocket him. Then we see him kind of show up and save Kyd, after some dialogue with him he decides to take him under his wing. They go to Kieth's place, 'negotiate', and then go an Inn where Jacks drops Kyd off before leaving. To me, it didn't feel like he was interrupted while in the middle of some task, so much as it felt like he was just loitering around. Except for the part where he leaves at the end of chapter 1, there wasn't anything that stood out and gave me the impression that he was doing something prior to the encounter with Kyd.

Now, for me, some things that would probably resolve that issue: It's up to you if you want to have Jacks reason for being there present in chapter 1; my impression of him so far is that he's supposed to be a bit mysterious. If it felt like he was inconvenienced or sidetracked from his original task, then it'd be easier to accept that he has a reason for being there, even if we don't know it. Then again, maybe helping Kyd in someway does help him progress in his task. There wasn't anything that stood out for me or seemed to subtly hint that Jacks was agitated, irritated, pleased, or amused with the event. The lack of clues from Jacks's demeanor left me (and maybe others) unable to really get a feel for Jacks as being in the middle of another task.

 

Although, if the mysterious thing isn't a trait you're particularly going for, rather than say a confident, noble, dominant king-like kind of personality, then you could just come on out and have the reason explained through dialogue. Ultimately, I'd say it depends on what you want to do with Jacks.

Does that help at all?

Edit: I would say, in general, the bigger deal you make out of it, the more important it will seem to the reader. If Jacks being down there isn't really that big of a deal, then maybe it doesn't need to be highlighted too much. If it is pretty relevant, than people pointing it out and questioning it will definitely build it up (so long as it isn't beating us over the head). That being said, you can also play around with that concept if you choose for different reactions, characterization, or for setting tones.

You can have a character or narration build something up and have it turn out to not be a big deal, and that might come across as kind of snarky, or have something big happen out of nowhere so it's significantly more surprising. Much like any writer's trick/tool, it's very possible also mess these kinds of things up, but that's what practice and feedback is for.

The reason I edited the post to bring that up is that feedback shouldn't shape your story. The feedback here has been pretty homogenous in terms of one or two negative things that stood out to us as we read, so it gives you an idea of where we're looking, and it's very possible for you as the writer, rather than 'fixing' it based off the feedback, to re-balance certain things so something else kind of takes the forefront. I.E., Mandamon and I felt like Jacks was out of place, but theoretically, if you didn't make such a big notion that a King in the lowest level is out of place, we probably wouldn't have questioned it. Just food for thought as an alternative response for the feedback.

Edited by Lord Juugatsu
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Please don’t take this personally, it’s not aimed at you, but frankly I'm getting weary reading epigraphs at the start of almost every chapter I critique on RE. I just lifted some books off my book-shelf in no particular order and none of them had epigraphs. I suppose I'm setting myself up here, as I’ve never done them before, but one day probably will, still, it seems like every submission has to have them and I really don’t know what they add half the time.

 

Straight away, I am predisposed to like Kyd, I think it’s his simple joy at running through the streets. In Paragraph 2 he says he can never be content, and yet in Para. 3 he thinks he’ll never live like the ‘high-ups’, these thoughts seems somewhat contradictory to me. If he’s that ambitious, why might he not be a high-up one day?

 

I notice a tendency in your writing to repeat words and phrases relatively close together. I find it quite distracting. In Para. 1 there's ‘feeling’, in Para. 2 it’s ‘level of the city’, Para. 3 ‘levels of the city’’ appears again, plus 'levels' shortly after.

 

“The pulsier was chasing him...” - there are various typos, I'm not going to pick them all.

 

I like that he is thieving even when he’s doing something else, but I'm puzzled why it doesn’t matter if he’s caught. I can see that it doesn’t matter to the job his crew are pulling, but wouldn’t he be punished? I expect that it would matter to him.

 

Para. 7 has the word ‘ally’ four times - and it's the wrong word, should be 'alley'.

 

“By Theandolore's”…what?

 

Ha-ha, I like that Kyd’s mark is the man who saves him – nice touch.

 

There’s an awful strong resemblance to Mistborn in the dynamic and the storyline here, and I'm kind of sceptical about Jacks suddenly offering a job to the first waif who picks his pocket. That’s what it seemed like to me anyway.

 

The fewer people who could recognise him...

 

What difference is he interpreting between ‘use’ and ‘utilise’, the same meaning in my book, they are synonyms.

 

“It was cheap...”

 

“...to steal my property,”

 

Is it perceptions that jacks was bending or motivations?

 

Also, narrow lane between buildings is an ‘alley’. An ‘ally’ is a comrade or friend.

 

I'm surprised there are only 4 levels in the city, from the mention levels get in the text I had thought there would be at least 6 or 7, because of the distance implied between them (that was my impression, anyway).

 

“...kept a close eye on the economic situation there...”

 

I think you’ve got a decent idea here, although I would try to address the considerable similarity to Mistborn. I like the tone of it and the atmosphere of the place, although there isn’t a lot of blocking (description of setting), which I think would enhance the atmosphere. Also, there is quite a bit of tidying up could be done in the writing. Polishing the language would go a long way to making it more accessible and flow better. I’d suggest at least running spell and grammar checker over it before submitting, as there are a lot of typos that could be eliminated easily to make a much better first impression.

 

My biggest issue with the story is why on earth Jacks chose to take Kyd under his wing. I would think this is something Kyd would have questioned more, as there seems to be no earthly reason for it. His father being dead seems to point to him being Jacks illegitimate son. If that’s the case it’s a very old and familiar trope, not wrong mind you, just unsurprising.

 

Reading the forumcomments now, as I would have expected, others have picked up on the typos, but seriously, if you’re in the market for criticism – it doesn’t engage the critiquer to submit work that is full of typos, repeated words, etc. that could easily be picked out and eradicated by using spell/grammar checker.

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Thank you very much for even taking the time to go through this! I will go through some day and try to fix all the typos, but I am a Gardener. If I go back too often, I get stuck. I have to keep going with the story, or I will get bored out of my mind.

The similarity to Mistborn is uncanny now that I step back and look at it. It's probably bbecause I was reading it at the time I wrote the chapter.

Bellow is the reason for Jacks paying Kyd any attention. Look if you want.

Jacks is reminded of himself in Its. He is a foreigner who grew up on the streets himself. He worked very hard to get where he is and sees a lot of potential in Kyd.

Edit: Thanks for the advice on the typo thing. I'll proofread my submissions for those after this week.

Edited by Arthur Dent
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Cool. I note the reason (in the spoiler) and, for me, he seems to make a real snap judgement on that, but I guess he goes to get his purse in the first instance. The proofread thing is a real easy win   : o )

Edited by Robinski
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