Mandamon

20180430 - Journey to the Top of the Nether - Part 5 - 4815 words - Mandamon

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This is the start of the third part of the novella. Again, this cuts off mid-section, so a little abrupt.

Previously, the group rode in the balloon until their fuel ran out, and then anchored the beetle to the wall. They climbed for a few days, but the beetle hit a snag. They met another crew climbing up the wall, and started climbing together. After an accident that took one of each of the crews, the four remaining climbed through the cloud layer to find a giant waterfall forming the clouds.

Looking for all comments as usual... Thanks!

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Looks like I'm the first! :D

I'd just like to preface this by saying I haven't read the previous parts, so if my comments are off or confused that's what's going on. 

  • I like the Brandon-esque epigraph at the beginning and I feel like it really sets the adventurous tone of the story.
  • I'm assuming both the fading walls and whatever these people are was explained in previous parts.
  • I don't know what age the main character I get the impression she's probably a teenager, and that's how she acts, so if you're going for that good job!
  • What age range is this story for? It feels like mid-grade.
  • It feels to me like they all adopted the name of The Nose much too quickly, but it could just be me.
  • Very good descriptions of mechanical functions and I really get a feel for where they are in space and time.
  • The rivalry between W and the main character feels very much like an elementary school rivalry, which if you're going for mid-grade and the main character is a teenager I think it works great!
  • At the end of page 9 it says, "Later that day, we all had to admit W was right. He made us." I'm kind of confused here. Maybe it was explained in earlier parts, but I think it's just a typo of some sort. 
  • I'm also confused on page 13 when it says "lightening after lightening." Maybe I'm just reading it wrong but I'm not quite sure what you mean.
  • I'm a little confused as to how they're hooked onto the beetle. A little more description might be nice.
  • On page 16, "I carefully did not jump up and down and cheer, not only because the tree was not that wide." This is a little clunky. Maybe something like, "I made sure not to jump up and down, and the width of the tree was not the only reason."
  • Okay, on page 18 it clears up how they were hanging off the side of the beetle. It probably mentioned that earlier and I just missed it.
  • Why didn't they think of strengthening the legs earlier? I would imagine they would've thought of that earlier.
  • I'm almost all the way through, and I'm actually starting to sympathize with W a little. I don't know if that's me, or something that you were planning, but I think it adds a good touch, being able to like the main character and W at the same time, while still being able to understand the main character's frustration with W.

Overall, good job!! I really like the adventurous tone, and your voice! 

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Darn it but I am going to get back on track and no pesky paying job is going to stop me!!

LBLs sent separately. As usual, Im afraid there is some crossover between the comments here and the Word comment. There is bonus material in both sources!! ;) Sorry that means going through both. I guess they are maybe 90% the same... :rolleyes:

Looking forward to seeing where things go now that we're in this new landscape. I'm moved to think there is a slightly Niven-esque tone to the discovery or big, massive artefact-type things, à la Ringworld--which is awesome. I knew there was a reason I was enjoying the story :) 

There's been a lot of chat about emotional investment, and I must admit it's not something that's been front and centre in my concerns. We have a teenager who is kind of discovering their place in the world. While they are all hormones and moodiness, I think also there is an emotional immaturity that lends itself to the suppression of emotional expression, to some extent, certainly to the point of not knowing how they feel about something things. Honestly, I have not been greatly bothered by the emotional level of things. I still feel invested in the story.

This said, it's good that emotions are coming to the fore a bit more now, with the reaction of Nat to Wal, and over Part's demise.

"Your daughter also has a good mind" - Hmm, it's not exactly rocket science to think about going around something like this. I'm sure all the adults thought the same.

I really don't like the capitalisation of 'the accident'. I actually think it cheapens it, that it has more impact to leave it hanging. The caps feel like air quotes to me; tacky, immature.

"Mom brought out her telescope again and looked left, then right" - But wait, which side of the waterfall are they on? Or are they underneath it? I don't think the blocking is entirely clear as to how they relate to the water fall. If they aren't underneath it, then how would they pass to the otherside from the one they are on? I see they are under it, but I'm still struggling with where the deluge went, I think :unsure: 

"I was glad I couldn’t see the ground from here" - I think, throughout the story, there might be just a little more mention of the height, and the fear, even involuntary. It was present when things were going wrong, like dropping things, or people falling, but I think it could be accentuated in those instances. Then again, maybe I'm reading as a adult.

"We and the three nets were all hanging off the side of the beetle" - I wonder if they could not consider ditching some of the weight they are carrying. Could they refill their water bottles once above the waterfall by lowering them on ropes? They might find niches that they could store some bottles in, to pick them up on the way back. Or indeed store some of the supplies in the niches. Maybe that's too complicated. I'm just saying they might give a thought to what they could drop here, or leave tied to the wall.

"From 'girl' too 'daughter' to 'Nat'..." - For me, this is excellent character development and insight, and it's really rather sweet, how the cynical teenager has 'thawed' into a good kid who wants to work hard to impress her elders. Very satisfying :O)

"it made a stronger metal" - Whoa!!! The maj actually change the metal itself, at an atomic level, like from steel to titanium?! That is so cool.

"So our rations are running out" - This is a good note. Have been expecting it, tbh, but it still has impact.

"I have tried to make a portal every morning" - I feel that this has been overlooked in the story so far, the getting back down, and that this is something we should have known about long before.

"Inside? That’s impossible" - Why? Weren't there other localised variations of the light within the wall?

I thought this was a satisfying section. I like that they have encountered a mystery (the lights) and that draws me on to read more. I thought there were some nice character notes in this section too, and we can clearly see Nat maturing before our eyes. I like it. I will say, as I have noted, that there are a couple of places where I think the adults are made to look rather stupid, because Nat's suggestions are not exactly earth-shattering. If, for example, mom were to nod when congratulating her on a good suggestion, it might imply that mom (or the man) had thought of it too, but still was impressed that Nat had had the same thought independently.

Nice work. More please!!

<R>

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@MistbornAlpaca, thanks for plunging into this halfway through! I think a lot of your confusion is indeed from missing previous submissions, but you have some good points, too.

 

On 5/1/2018 at 6:40 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

What age range is this story for? It feels like mid-grade.

Yes, it is. Glad it's coming across right!

On 5/1/2018 at 6:40 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

I'm a little confused as to how they're hooked onto the beetle. A little more description might be nice.

Thanks. I'll make this clearer.

On 5/1/2018 at 6:40 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

Why didn't they think of strengthening the legs earlier?

Yep, this is a bit of a problem. I need to figure out a way to support this.

On 5/1/2018 at 6:40 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

I'm actually starting to sympathize with W a little

Lol, that's good, but you might think differently if  your read the previous section...

 

Thanks @Robinski as always--your LBLs are very helpful.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm moved to think there is a slightly Niven-esque tone to the discovery or big, massive artefact-type things, à la Ringworld--which is awesome. I knew there was a reason I was enjoying the story

It is a bit. I love Niven, and discovering more about a planet-sized wall was what inspired me to write the story!

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

There's been a lot of chat about emotional investment, and I must admit it's not something that's been front and centre in my concerns

Yes, these generally take a backseat in adventures and mysteries, but I wanted to make sure there's enough to connect to the characters. Glad it's working for you.

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

which side of the waterfall are they on?

I can clear this up. The're more or less in the middle.

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think, throughout the story, there might be just a little more mention of the height

I agree. I'll make to put this in on the next edit.

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

The maj actually change the metal itself, at an atomic level, like from steel to titanium?!

I was thinking correcting the carbon content and making a higher strength steel, but same concept...

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

I feel that this has been overlooked in the story so far, the getting back down,

Also something I need to add in. Thanks for the catch.

 

3 hours ago, Robinski said:

Weren't there other localised variations of the light within the wall?

This might be clearer later on...

 

Thanks again to both of you!

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So, I just finished reading the story up to here. As someone who loved reading Jules Verne as a kid, I'm finding this super nostalgic in the best possible way. Some thoughts that I've had as I read:

-How technologically advanced are these races? I'm guessing victorian-era-esque.

-I could be wrong, but I'd guess that for most kids these days, the word "Nether" brings to mind the hell dimension from the game Minecraft. I'd be interested to hear why you chose this name.

-This setting is just really freaking cool.

-They're drilling into the wall? I'd be worried that it was holding out something on the other side (vacuum, whatever causes the light of the lightenings, lovecraftian horrors, etc.). Since it seems like they know about space and pressure vessels, I'm surprised none of them are worried about this, too.

-How are they going to get down? My first thought was cutting the balloon into four parachutes and using those. They'd also be useful in the case of an unexpected fall.

-Holy crap! Did P and SA really just die? Didn't see that coming.

Okay, I think that's it. Here are my thoughts as I go (I'm doing this on my phone, so no page numbers. Sorry :/)

-"my first smile since The Accident." I agree with Robinski here. While I like that N is referring to it obliquely, even to herself, she thinks of it as non-accidental: as the SA (and W to a lesser extent) killing P. Personally, I would have her refer to it as 'since Partino.'

-"Unless he falls off the wall and then the beetle has to carry even less." Ha! I like N.

-"We and the three nets" this phrasing sounds awkward to me, but I'm not sure how to make it sound better.

-"an image of a body, arms outstretched" while it's not strictly necessary, a verb (falling, plummeting, etc.) after 'body' would be nice.

-"If she fell off, we would fall just like Partino and Wailimani’s assistant. I think my heart skipped a few beats, and an image of a body, arms outstretched, flashed through my mind. I gripped the black metal of the beetle’s shell." This scene is super tense. However, there are ways to make it more so. Basically, research has shown that the human mind finds a large number of short sentences more exciting than a small number of longer ones. As an example, you could change it to: 'If she fell off, we would too. Just like Partino. My heart skipped a few beats. An image of my body plummeting, arms outstretched, flashed through my mind. I gripped the black metal of the beetle’s shell.'

-"With the earplugs in, I only heard a buzzing in my head when I shouted." Unless Etanela hearing is significantly different from humans', she should still be able to hear her own voice.

-"we all had to admit Wailimani had been right. He made us." Nice. I'm liking the character of W that you're setting up, and am hoping he gets redeemed in N and M's eyes by the end.

-"Now there was a little less jerky than the day before." Is this saying that some has gone missing? If so, I would say that more directly. As it is now, I assumed that they had eaten some, so there was less than the day before.

-" 'Yes, was hoping to find more like that,' she said." Should be " 'Yes, I was' "

-"carrying much of our supplies when he…fell" Put a space between the ellipses and 'fell'

-"The original idea was for the majus to make a portal." Ah, that answers that question.

-"We must find some platform away from this crystal surface." rust! I love how tense this is getting!

-"There were little white lights all around us!" Then, later, "The little white lights were all around, just under the reflective surface of the crystal." This confuses me. Does it mean that the lights are only in the wall, but are above, below, and to the left and right of the beetle?

-Gaah! You can't leave me at a cliffhanger like that! What are the lights?

Overall, I'm really liking this story, and the last few parts have really raised the stakes. I'm enjoying the character dynamics, and the setting a lot. I can't think of any complaints that I have, I'm just excited to see where the story goes.

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@Paracosmic_nomenclator thanks so much for reading through! Sounds like I'm hitting a lot of the buttons I set out to (Jules Verne, tension, sense of wonder). Your running commentary is very helpful.

I'll answer the other comments more in depth soon...

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I think I like this section the best out of the ones so far. I have a decent amount of buy-in for the main character, and she's emoting much more believably now... or there's enough going on that I no longer mind as much the relative lack of buy-in. In any event, I enjoyed this part! 

 

"With the earplugs in, I only heard a buzzing in my head" -- Agree with @Paracosmic_nomenclator on this. A chunk of wax would muffle outside noises, make them sound blurry and indistinct, but you'd still be able to hear your own voice fairly clearly, and fairly loudly, because you get feedback from like, the bones in your face and your inner ear and all kinds of stuff like that. Recording studio headphones can actually counteract the feedback you get from your own body when you talk, and it is a profoundly disquieting experience until you get used to it. Or at least, it was for me (I had to actually take off one ear of the headphones it was distracting me so much).   

 

I agree with @Robinski about the capitalization. It's unnecessary 

 

Maybe I'm making it up, but didn't they mention at some point having a halfway point with their rations? I feel like they, being experienced explorers who planned well, would not be so caught off guard by the dwindling supplies. I feel like they should have made more of a deal about the point of no return for supplies, and deciding to keep climbing anyway... Like, relying on only one way to get back seems unusually shortsighted? What were they going to do if the majus was injured or died? Pretend that wouldn't happen? I'd totally believe that mom and the majus decided to push past their safe-return-supply window (with or without informing N), especially if that was far lower on the wall than they expected, but I have a hard time believing they'd just let everyone go at full rations until they got so low and then be like "well, I guess now we starve. Might as well climb until we die, lol."

 

 

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Overall

This was my favorite chapter thus far, and it looks like others have echoed that as well. I liked our protag a lot in this one and really enjoyed her emotional ride. The pacing was good, the descriptions and wonder were good, and I snagged very few times. Nice work!

As I go

- epigraph: the idea that the walls are decaying with white rot fungi has me more hooked than anything else. I'm going to write this fan fiction and YOU CAN'T STOP ME!

- page two: I enjoy vindictive mom

- page six: love the idea of them riding the drill! especially piggyback!

- page 7: he made us? Is this sentence missing something, or am I confused?

- page 13: wait, they have 4-6 days left of rations and no easy out with the portal? Why aren't they turning back, especially with a kid in tow?

- page 15: oooh! Top of waterfall thing!!

- I like the end!

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Thanks to @Paracosmic_nomenclator, @industrialistDragon, and @kais!

Sounds like everyone agrees on The Accident, earplugs, and rations/portal/time spent climbing. I'll clear those sections up.

 

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

I'm guessing victorian-era-esque

Got it in one.

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

the word "Nether" brings to mind the hell dimension from the game Minecraft

Yeah, it's unfortunate. I named it before Minecraft was a thing, and didn't think to change by the time I published Tuning the Symphony...

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

They're drilling into the wall? I'd be worried that it was holding out something on the other side

I think I mentioned this somewhere near the beginning, but I'll highlight it more. The wall is really really thick (and they're only drilling holes a few feet long)

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

How are they going to get down?

Noted. I need to bring in portals earlier.

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

Did P and SA really just die? Didn't see that coming

Yay!

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

he human mind finds a large number of short sentences more exciting than a small number of longer ones.

Will edit this.

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

I'm liking the character of W that you're setting up, and am hoping he gets redeemed in N and M's eyes by the end.

*rubs hands evilly*

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

Does it mean that the lights are only in the wall,

I'll make it clearer, but the next section should help as well.

19 hours ago, Paracosmic_nomenclator said:

Overall, I'm really liking this story, and the last few parts have really raised the stakes. I'm enjoying the character dynamics, and the setting a lot. I can't think of any complaints that I have, I'm just excited to see where the story goes.

Thanks so much for reading all the way through! Next week's submission should be interesting...

 

11 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'd totally believe that mom and the majus decided to push past their safe-return-supply window (with or without informing N), especially if that was far lower on the wall than they expected, but I have a hard time believing they'd just let everyone go at full rations until they got so low and then be like "well, I guess now we starve. Might as well climb until we die, lol."

Good points. I'll try to push this earlier in the story and give a better explanation. I think introducing the safety net of the portal earlier will help.

8 hours ago, kais said:

- epigraph: the idea that the walls are decaying with white rot fungi has me more hooked than anything else. I'm going to write this fan fiction and YOU CAN'T STOP ME!

Lol--I'm eagerly awaiting this! Though read through the next section first...

8 hours ago, kais said:

wait, they have 4-6 days left of rations and no easy out with the portal? Why aren't they turning back, especially with a kid in tow?

Yeah...I'll fix this.

 

Thanks everyone!

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