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Lord Juugatsu

20150126 - Lord Juugatsu - A Devil's Playground Chapter 2 (4700) (L)

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As I mentioned on another post, I have this piece going through another writing group before it hits here, and they're really digging into it, so the gap between this chapter and the next one hopefully won't be 2 months. All feedback is welcome.

I have my own thoughts on this chapter, as well as thoughts from three others in the other group, so let's see how your guys' thoughts fall on this chapter.


Chapter 1 summary: Ashland city is moderately abuzz about a certain ‘flagpole corpse incident’. Gin Kurogawa, a business consultant, was walking home after finishing a meeting at his client’s workplace. He gets jumped by the Boltz, the gang whose member was carved up and displayed on the flagpole. After wiping them all out single handedly in an inhuman display of martial arts and strength, he stops by a criminal doctor, Selena Shenyuan to get patched up from the self-inflicted damage. An exorcist, Alexander Lord, sees the aftermath and strongly suspects that Gin is possessed by a devil much stronger than the normal possessions his organization sees.

Thanks in advance.

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There's interesting confict between Gin and "Mr. Hyde."  I like that they talk back and forth through notes.  It makes Mr Hyde more present, even though we know he's a monster of some sort.  You also do a good job of showing how "normal" Gin is, even though he's possessed by some sort of devil. It boosts up the creepyness factor.

 

You tend to repeat names a lot, mostly "Mr. Hyde." There were also several repetitions of "The flagpole corpse."  It was constant enough to start getting on my nerves.

 

Alex gives some interesting information both showing Gin is bad news, and that he's not as bad as some others that are possessed.  You also have a good set up with Gin seeing his apartment, and then Alex using those same things he saw before, like the window, when he escaped.

 

Really not a lot more to comment on.  I didn't notice any glaring grammatical errors or plot holes.  I'm interested in the story, and want to learn more about both Gin and Alex, as well as how Gin got his devil.  This seems to be more of a character story than a plot story so far, and I'm satisfied with what I'm reading, but I am wondering what the eventual plot will be, and what is the "call to arms" that will out Gin and/or Alex out of their comfort zone.

 

Looking forward to more!

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There’s a certain amount of stating the obvious, for example “If anyone was constantly loitering around the area, then it was possible they were the staking the place out, following Gin.” I would begin to find that annoying after a while. I think it’s important to let the reader fill in the blanks and ‘discover’ things for themselves before confirming, rather than stating certain things outright, but this example is short even of that, emphasising a detail that is really obvious. Don’t know if I'm explaining very well. You could just say “Gin wondered if his apartment was being staked out.

 

Gin’s interpretation of the graffito made no sense to me. How does it show sympathy for the rest of the city – and why would the local denizens want to do that? Is it not more likely to be the locals telling the rest of the city to ‘storm off’ – which hardly seems sympathetic?

 

“It was time to start navigating a dangerous part of the city.” referring back to my comments about stating the obvious.

 

“...it took care of evidence linking Gin to a crime” – again, obvious. The reader has already noted that, and you confirm it by mentioning fuel for Harry’s fire.

 

After two pages very little has happened, but there has been a lot of thinking about the very little. I don’t feel I'm learning anything about Gin. I'm trying to lay my finger on what it is about the story that is not engaging me. I think it’s the very serious tone. There’s almost no humour and, I think, the pacing is rather flat, lacking in tension. For example, there’s never any feeling of tension when he is walking to Harry’s place, even though you are describing him being suspicious about being tailed and then walking through a dangerous part of town, I never felt that there was any threat, danger, nervousness or exposure.

 

Reading through the second part of the submission, I was moved to think of an episode of CSi or one of those many, many generic cop shows. I couldn’t help wondering how many times in TV or movies I’ve watched some bunch of guys doing surveillance, even setting it up and almost getting caught. For me, it just wasn’t interesting.

 

If any of us want our writing to stand out and engage an audience I think we need to be thinking about USP – Unique Selling Point. I said this somewhere else in another critique and I look at some of my own writing or ideas and bin them for this reason. I accept that everyone is going to have familiar elements in their stories, but I think the way to deal with that is to get past the familiar mechanical things as quickly as possible, talk about them as little as possible and concentrate on things that we can make ‘unique’. This might be characters or perhaps setting, maybe plot if we’ve tagged a neat idea or combination of events.

 

The parts of your story I’ve been more interested in so far are Gin’s interactions with other people. The fight to a lesser degree, but the people in the office and certainly the doctor looked like promising relationships. I think characters bouncing off each other is where the real interest is going to come in most stories. Brandon’s settings and magic are interesting, but without the character interaction, it would be a lot less interesting, and Wheel of Time would be positively tedious without the character sparks.

 

I seem to be a bit negative this week – sorry about that, but obviously no point in me doing anything but talking straight.

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Appreciate the feedback. I'll be heading to work shortly, so I'll try to be brief.

In response to both of you simultaneously:
The general trend I've seen from feedback has been rather negative about the first half, that it was slow and uneventful. I could have something happen, but I feel like that would be superfluous padding to distract from the real problem, so I'll pass. What I'll likely be doing is cutting out the trip (and transferring absolutely relevant details as Gin's thoughts while eating breakfast or something in a much more brief summary), cutting to Alex's part, then close with Gin's return to his apartment instead. Cutting the trip also resolves Robinsiki's micro-scale comments (since those parts aren't present anymore), and gets the story through Act 1 a little quicker (something I've been thinking about, but none of my alpha-readers have made any real comment on except Mandamon, kind of indirectly).

More towards Robinski on the second half. I was a bit surprised actually, by your thoughts on the Alex's part. I can definitely see where you're coming from, but I've gotten mostly positive feedback on Alex's section. If I had to guess, it's probably more from the tension presented in people not as familiar with CSI/cop shows (I know the only one I've watched any significant portion of is Criminal Minds), and the other drawing point was probably more to do with the character interactions between Alex and Justin. So I do appreciate the food for thought, genuinely, but that part is probably going to mostly remain as is. Keep is straight though. All opinions help. :)

Regarding Robinsiki's comment on stating the obvious, It also seems to be a balancing act with trusting reader memory or laymen knowledge. I may have to wait until beta readers get a hold of the story to really evaluate, since I've seen comments swinging both ways where, at least once on the same paragraph, one person has trouble following it because I didn't spell it out enough and another thought I elaborated too much. Fun stuff. But, noted for now.

Regarding Mandamon's comments, I'm big on character dimensions/depth, and trying to really get into a character's thoughts, motives, personality, and so forth, and rather than trying to adjust them for the plot, I'd prefer to have the plot adjust for what the characters would realistically do with the information they have and their personalities. However, hold onto that thought regarding character story vs plot story, and occasionally let me know your thoughts on it as the chapters progress. As stated, I haven't had that kind of comment from any other alpha readers, while I've been sitting here writing wondering if Act 1 is too long. When I do another pass over, I can definitely try cut back on the repetition, I'll keep that in mind.

Both of you sort of touched upon the character interactions and elements being the stronger part of the story so far. I've gotten similar comments by some others, more so once the remaining 'secondary' main characters are introduced. Without trying to corrupt my alpha-readers with knowledge, or a path for the story, I do want to say that each character for the most part has their own interest/agenda with varying degrees of overlap that result in interactions. And it's something I'm keeping at the front of my brain as I write.

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Well said. Take what you want and discard the rest  : o )

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