Yados

01/02/16 - Yados - Blackhands - Lyan 1 (2,001)

14 posts in this topic

Sorry for the delay. I was out and stretched pretty thin and my cloud did not sync to my phone so the only thing I had on hand when I remembered it was Monday was an even rougher copy of this chapter.

Which reminds me: Guys, this is rough. 

I’m having problems with this character. I like the concept of a more heroic but beset foil to Till and once the two meet and the plot starts going, I’m set. But Lyan on her own is hard. This is my first try at a first chapter that I haven’t hated outright, but it’s still rough and also almost still a prologue. It doesn’t introduce much of anything aside from Lyan and some character framing and I should probably go back into it at some point and fill out world stuff because “generic market, thief, guard” isn’t that great by itself… at least not for a first chapter. But I think I kind of got a demeanor and voice and I started her slight later than this before so this feels a bit grounding? 

I don’t know what I’m asking for with this one. Buy in? I guess buy in. Character premise? I dunno. 

My alternate plan is to change her PoV’s to Roah from Till 4 and try to rework the plot. She’s more central and has more driving action, but she’s also kind of similar to Till and both of them are older and have disabilities and powers and cynicism… so I’m trying to get Lyan right instead. 

So yeah, thoughts are appreciated. Insight and attempts at direction especially. 

Thanks for the benefit of your eyes and brains! 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, so since it's a rough draft, I'll skip the 'as I go comments' and just give you some general impressions on buy in.

I'm still confused as to the whore name with Lyan being a guard. I don't quite see her mother's reasoning. That would need to be brought out more. I was most engaged with Lyan and the boy, which I thought was excellent and I really enjoyed Lyan as a character then. It sort of fell apart after that, and I got confused. The parts about her mother at the end seem a bit all over the place. 

So, do I like the character? For this chapter, yes. I'm curious as to her background, and I like her lawful good sort of attitude. I'd read more about her, certainly, especially if she was paired with someone morally ambiguous. That'd be a lot of fun.

It was a fun read, and I enjoyed it a great deal!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

p.1

At worst what you're doing here is retreading ground that is generally familiar, this particular sense of cynicism eating at the edges of idealism. I am, if you'll forgive the bizarre comparison, a little bit reminded of that episode of the Simpsons, where Marge becomes a cop, and she's going through the motions and seeing crime everywhere. But that's the worst of it so far; Lyan's telling this in a way that's novel enough for me to run with it. A little bit rambly, but I'd actually warn against cutting too deep on that. Some trimming would be good, but her train of thought getting lost as she wanders is entertaining enough that it's a good character point.

P.2

Yeah, not a particularly original scene by any stretch, but you're digging into it pretty well, and not using flash or gimmicks to try and distract from that; you're basically wholly relying on the character and her voice to create interest here, and it's more or less working.

P.3

But I think you're laying it on a little thick here, to the top of the page, and I also don't think the boy's dialogue is hitting the right age or social register. Only a couple sentences, but you can pull younger and lower class on this, I think, and maybe ease up on the first paragraph a bit.

P.4

Yeah, I'd ease up some a bit with the boy, a little bit too openly laying out info and I think a little too much surety. The segue into the news about the mother is pretty jagged, too. I think smoothing that will help a lot here.

P.5

Just a bit of clunk here, nothing I'm going to sweat.

So this works; I don't necessarily love the scene it's going over because yeah, it's a little bit done, but I think it works well as an introduction to the character. What I would say is, though, if this is the scene you go with, I would not open the book on this, I would do Till's first. The chapter from last week generally has a lot more novelty to it than this one, rough edges and all; I think if you can get someone on the hook for that, you'll have a reader better prepped to take a more conventional scene that is otherwise still well put together.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of this is introspective. The first couple paragraphs are fine, but after that point I want it to tie into something in the narrative, or I start skimming. The whole first page is "thinky thoughts."

pg 3: "Outland trash,” said the boy, because whatever hunger he felt was nothing compared to the certainty he was better than someone else, anyone else."
--nope. Don't believe this. If the boy is that young, and that hungry, he's not going to care about a made-up social stigma. He may just try to steal the bun and run because he's scared of her, but I doubt he would call her names.

pg 5: "But I wanted you to know what Lyan was like before the letter."
--this breaks me out of the narrative hard. It goes from a 3rd person story narrated about/by Lyan and suddenly makes us aware of the narrator as a different character, when they haven't been. This is actually what they talked about the WX episode from this week: "12.1: Variations on First Person"

Overall, buy in with the character? Sure, I guess so. She's an underdog, so pretty easy to root for.  Like @kaisa, I don't really see what the mother was getting at. Lyan's gainfully employed, if poor. I'll also agree with @neongrey this this isn't as good of a start as last week with Till.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I don't really see what the mother was getting at. 

I'm gonna play the contrarian here and say I felt this was so obvious it wasn't even worth me commenting on.

e: I'm also going to play the contrarian on that final line; I think it is a somewhat more effective (than it was in the prologue) usage of that narratorial thing you had going on earlier. I think if you keep it on about that level and keep it modestly sparing in usage, it works. Was too much in the prologue, I think, but this is better.

ee: one think I would caution is the substitution of fantasy racism for real racism that you've got going on here (I am, clearly, simplifying). I'd be wary of too close of a 1:1 map here. I think some of the handling is a little bit graceless as-is (see prior notes on the boy) but I don't think it's unsalvageable in either respect.

Edited by neongrey
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

- It's a little weird she'd be called a whore for wearing chainmail. I think that's where the metaphor starts to fall apart.

- Is it because she's wearing the mark of her oppressors? That may need to be explained more.

- Okay, her mother's words make sense later on, but the issue is they are confusing from the beginning. She's seen as a collaborator, so maybe something more along those lines?

- That said, I do like how she deals with the boy.

- The first person POV shift feels really jarring in the end. I liked it when it felt a little more focused on Lyan's perspective, rather than having another character tell me what Lyan was like. 

Edited by rdpulfer
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/3/2017 at 11:03 PM, kaisa said:

I'm still confused as to the whore name with Lyan being a guard. I don't quite see her mother's reasoning. That would need to be brought out more. I was most engaged with Lyan and the boy, which I thought was excellent and I really enjoyed Lyan as a character then. It sort of fell apart after that, and I got confused. The parts about her mother at the end seem a bit all over the place. 

On 1/4/2017 at 0:08 PM, neongrey said:

I'm gonna play the contrarian here and say I felt this was so obvious it wasn't even worth me commenting on.

On 1/4/2017 at 6:09 PM, rdpulfer said:

- It's a little weird she'd be called a whore for wearing chainmail. I think that's where the metaphor starts to fall apart.

Hm, okay so one for and two against. I meant the "whore" line to be a bit of irony because of the chain mail and sword, but also to drive home the betrayal her mother perceives that her daughter would sell out her ideals and rent her body and time for money (outside the walls is more of an agrarian barter system with a mix of extremely highly regarded property rights and communal shared labor and wealth... sort of a high regard for ownership of the tools to generate your livelihood and welfare, but an expectation that the fruits of those tools be given as needed rather than being accumulated to generate personal wealth or power) ... I think my first draft had a bit more about how employment and rent were seen as abhorrent beyond the wall. Working for someone just because they pay your money and then having to pay that same money back to eat and sleep and functionally exist being perceived from another perspective. 

I personally like it a great deal, but I understand it's kind of a charged word that could pull someone out. I'll see if I can lay it out a bit clearer without sacrificing flow. 

On 1/4/2017 at 0:08 PM, neongrey said:

ee: one think I would caution is the substitution of fantasy racism for real racism that you've got going on here (I am, clearly, simplifying). I'd be wary of too close of a 1:1 map here. I think some of the handling is a little bit graceless as-is (see prior notes on the boy) but I don't think it's unsalvageable in either respect.

I'm trying to hit fantasy xenophobia more than racism and make it clear (not here I guess, but clear throughout) that there are several different races and cultures within Quarantine and that the extreme xenophobia against those who have left and returned has been fostered to unite those people against an outside entity now that the wardens are gone and and with them, that dividing line between god and man. It was also part of the reasoning of allowing people to leave in the first place. 

Further, with both the afflicted ("magic people") and the outlanders and the whole high concept of human beings being exiled as unclean from a society of immortals who saw aging and dying as a curse/illness, I'm kind of trying to hit leper/xenophobe more than racism.

I understand how it must come across in a vacuum. I guess I'll tone down the boy a bit and see if I can add a bit of exposition that doesn't feel like an infodump, but at least might signal that this is something other than fantasy racism without nailing down what that something is yet. 

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm glad the character seems to generally scan. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Yados said:

Hm, okay so one for and two against.

I'm not against, I just think a little bit more world building is in order. I can attempt to infer the context, but having a better background of what a guard is and does and how that job is thought of in society would help a great deal. The explanation you gave totally works and makes sense, so maybe it just needs to be outlined more in text. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Double posted, and can't figure out how to delete the post. Sorry!

Edited by kaisa
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Yados said:

I understand how it must come across in a vacuum. I guess I'll tone down the boy a bit and see if I can add a bit of exposition that doesn't feel like an infodump, but at least might signal that this is something other than fantasy racism without nailing down what that something is yet. 

yeah, I don't think you need a ton, just a bit of easing here and you can work in the rest as you can go. A lot of it's stuff to mind as you go rather than something that's centered here.

I mean for my part on the whore bits, all I really needed to understand why there would be objections from that side was police+underclass; I don't need a lot to have it sold to me that ACAB is a commonly-held principle. If it's something else it's something else, but if so, then that didn't come through so much in the text.

Edited by neongrey
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Yados said:

I meant the "whore" line to be a bit of irony because of the chain mail and sword, but also to drive home the betrayal her mother perceives that her daughter would sell out her ideals and rent her body and time for money

I'm with @kaisa here that I'd like this context to be clearer, at least at the start.  The way it's worded now, my first impressions are that her mother is objecting to her clothes.  I found the comparison much clearer later in the chapter.

I also agree with @neongrey that I like the wandering narrative, and I hope you don't cut that too much.

Overall I had good character buy-in.  I like the idea of someone trying to help any way they can, even with very few resources.  I thought there were interesting reveals throughout, like her coinpurse being empty, and the fact that she sent money to her mother outside the walls.  She has a complex and compelling perspective on her current situation, and that makes the whole thing interesting.

Like everyone else, the last line thew me, but then I remembered your first submission on this story had really strong narrative voice, so I thought maybe it would work if you kept that heavy voice in your other chapters.

You had a few clunky sentences - let me know if you're interested in the specific ones I saw.  Since you said this is just a draft, though, I understand if it's not helpful.

For a "rough" chapter, I really enjoyed it.  Lyan's character comes across strong and interesting to me, even if it didn't feel that way to you writing it!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The character garnered plenty of sympathy. There's enough of a connection for me to feel bad about how she'll end up after the letter. I haven't seen that side of her, yet, but it's enough to hit me with a shred of dread.

Other than that, the atmosphere is somber. Draining and sad. I'm pretty sure that was the idea, so I'll put a plus there as well.

It is noticeably rough, as you've pointed out. There were a few parts here and there that lost me completely. I skipped those parts and began the next paragraph, and there was enough information for me to get an idea of what's going on. The parts that lost me were mostly in the first and last page.

I found it odd how the slur was "outland trash". It's a bit long and too on the nose. I'm surprised there wasn't a shortened slur, and was also thrown off a bit by the chain of events involving that term.

Specifically, Lyan thinks up that slur to accompany the shopkeeper's tone and expression. Then, afterwards, the boy repeats the exact slur that she thought. It counts as a coincidence, so it wasn't a bother, but it was something that caught my eye.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interested to see how you handle another POV. I must say my reaction going in is that Till easily is strong enough to carry the story by himself. I’m thinking of the advice given to new writers (often) to start with one POV and learn the trade, so to speak. So far, I’m thinking that’s a good idea here, but let’s see.

  • Why does she need to go through a pretence? My impression was that the hidden child could not see her coming. Why not just walk up and grab him?

  • “Outland trash,” said the boy – lol, nicely done, surprising yet inevitable.

  • I like the way that you echo the phrase about helping people, and how it’s slightly different each time. Another thing that strikes me about this section is that the language is less frenetic / lyrical / hard-boiled than in Till’s section – to the point that it could be a different story altogether. I don’t have an issue with that, I’m not sure how it would weave together over the whole story, interested to see that.

  • The introduction of Coil came out of nowhere and rather threw me, as I couldn’t figure out at first who he was. That could be smoother, or maybe just flagged a bit more in the lead up. You mention her family, but I didn’t snag on that. I guess I equated ‘family’ with her mother and didn’t go any further than that.

  • Another thing, Coil dying and her mother’s failings are not contrary things, so I don’t think ‘whatever’ is the right word there.

  • Nice reprise of the key phrase, but the narrator’s flat our statement at the end was rather jarring. Also, I’m a bit confused now about the arrival of the letter. I thought that L was recalling when the letter arrived, and that it was prior to her encounter with the boy at the stall, but it just arrived that evening. I see now that it’s clear enough. I think “Of course” threw me off. I think that needs to be clearer.

Another strong section. Am I now convinced that two POVs are necessary in the story? Not really. L’s a good character, but I think I’m still of the view that Till is strong enough to carry this story by himself. Dunno, jury still out. I’d like to read more.

Good job though, enjoyed this too. I like L’s voice and her character. She’s good and morale, but flawed and damaged, always interesting. Well done.

<R>

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

p.s. - On the whore thing - I have no problem with it, bit of tidying up maybe.

The boy - just make him a bit older.

I'm with @neongrey on the reaction scale - I wouldn't tear this to bits, I think it just needs the usual level of refinement and tightening up that any early draft does.

Edited by Robinski
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.