Villainous - Chapters 1 & 2 - AviatrixAway - 5/28/2018, 4602 (D, V)

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you for any critiques that you might share regarding my first sub here. I'm interested in everything, but most of all I'd like to know if the characters and the story are compelling. Thank you!




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Sorry about that! Apparently I left 17th Shard open and my toddler decided to type a windy message :3. I did read your story though and will work on a real response this evening. :rolleyes:

Update: Just wanted you to know that JOrville lost his mother, I did read your story, but I am trying to shield him from the fallout by getting everything planned and done for him. Thank you, sorry for the delay. I'll come back sometime this Saturday to post my thoughts.

Edited by QuirkyGrandpa

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Hey, congrats on your first sub, I only have two under my belt so far but this is a great group of people. Glad to have you.These are my comments on the first chapter. I will edit in the second one later as i am out of time for now. 

-opening is as bit confusing. It’s a little too shifty I don’t feel like is any coherent sense of events

-The shift in the character’s voice is odd, snark to self-important megalomania, maybe that’s what you are going for, but it feels a bit odd.

-top of page two: did the use of the patois make her feel relief and hunger? Also, how does relief make you feeble?

- Salt-patterned, did you mean the salt from sweat has made marks on her skin or something else?

- Not sure why the cage was built for her. is there something about unpainted cinder blocks?

-Has time passed in the scene change? If so I don’t get the sense that any has.

-ok so months have passed in this new cell. Maybe use something like “The slit in the bottom of M’s door opened with a whir, once again.”

-Once again between pages three and four I am having trouble following what is going on. If you are trying to a disjointed feeling you might have gone a little high and right, making it difficult to follow.

-M M, might one to just say she said, it sounds weird otherwise.

-her heel is in his back? Are her legs wrapped around him? I thought they were on the floor.

-Her reaction feels odd. For a megalomaniac she is taking failure rather well, I would expect more rage.

-the paragraph that begins with “Why am I still alive?” is that next quotations M or J? it throws off the rhythm of the conversation.

-“Capacity for to do.” Should be one or the other.

-concern for the ends regardless of the methods, I like that really sets off the villain vibe for me.

Overall I feel that chapter one has a rough beginning. It’s a little too disjointed and its tough following clearly. It does clean up in the later half and you start getting a better sense of character from M.


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Welcome to Reading Excuses and congrats on the first submission!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this. Your writing style is very readable, and it's very funny. You'll notice before I was confused for most of the first chapter. I think it had some funny bits as well, but it was very overshadowed by the fact that I had no idea what was going on until the end. However, the second chapter was great, and had me laughing!

Honestly, I'd scrap the first chapter entirely. The second one is gripping, funny, and gives us pretty much all the information the first one was lacking. Looking forward to more!


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "I know"
--Sort of a strange starting sentence. Sounds like we're in the middle of a conversation.

pg 1: "She lashed out as the figure muscled her to the floor and pulled a musty bag over her head."
--Wait, what? She was just having a conversation or something, and now is getting attacked. I need some sort of transition.

pg 1: who is the guard? The one that attacked her. I think I just need some blocking/description to set the scene.

pg 1: "Of course she didn’t trust him"
--same thing here. This is like the second half of a paragraph, except we never got the first half.

pg 2: "Her shade would await Omega’s, the arrogant arm of the law who’d thwarted her, coming upon him like a lightning bolt as he sauntered toward eternity."
--okay, I'm sort of enjoying this just on the fact that the writing is good and flows well, but I have absolutely no idea what's going on.

pg 2: "It was like the hole she’d come from"
--But we don't know what that was like, so we have no comparison. You describe it afterwards, but that first sentence pulls me out.

pg 3: "a squat robot used metal tongs"
--and now I'm thrown again. I was thinking this was historical, or secondary world, but now it sounds like scifi? I need some setting in here to ground my expectations.

pg 3: "Then people, nameless and faceless, came."
--actually, or figuratively? At this point, I don't know what to expect.

pg 4: "Rolling eyes of unrelieved onyx"
--like, her eyes are completely black?

pg 5: I'm starting to get the hand of this now, but you could probably start when the man comes into the room. Everything before that didn't add anything to my understanding.

pg 6: "but he’d come back over and over,"
--I think we need a larger break here to denote lots of time passing. Otherwise when she cuts him off, it sounds like the same conversation.

pg 7: "It’s been the policy of the organization that I work for, and it’s recently become national law, that supervillains are not to be killed."
--Okay, here's the 'thesis' of your story, so to speak, but it's buried seven pages in. This needs to be a lot closer to the top to set the scene.

Pg 8: Chapter 1 was rocky to get started, but now it has, I'm enjoying it. I think we just need a clearer idea of what's going on, earlier.

pg 9: Now this is a good opening. Much better than chapter 1.

pg 11: I'm still with you on this chapter. It's really good, and you almost could cut the whole first chapter without losing anything...

pg 12: "Never start a relationship with a grad student when you’re the occupying force on her campus"

pg 15: the cat is great.


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Yay! I'm so glad you came over to the dark side!


Generally, I'm intrigued by the story and look forward to reading more. I found the first section of the first chapter really off-putting though, and if I'd picked this up in a bookstore I'd have likely put it back. I think you should consider cutting that first section and leading with the second, as it makes me much more interested in M. 

The henchmen, on the other hand, were more immediately appealing (if not somewhat inconsistent). I like where their story is headed, especially if they continue the sort of not-entirely-serious bit (interpretive dance! WOOO!)

But anyway, great first sub! Looking forward to seeing more from you!

As I go

- oof, that cold open sentence is really adjective heavy

- the second paragraph confuses me--I think it's hopping too much. The 'she fought weakened and blind' part, especially, seems at odds with the rest of the paragraph

- page one: 'probably' talking about self in third person? Aren't they definitely doing so?

- the last paragraph on the first page confuses me, too. Are there typos? Or is that just how this person talks?

- our protag is just really over the top. Is that intentional?

- finishing the first segment, and I'm more put off by our protag than anything else. I haven't been given anything that would drive me to empathy for her, and since she doesn't appear afraid of anything, the stakes don't mean much to me. Unsure at this point, but I wonder if this whole first scene couldn't be cut and the narrative started later in the piece?

- page three: yes, I already like this Mes much better!

- page four: her letting out that laugh as they gas her basically does the trick of that whole first section. You could definitely cut it all and lead with this segment

- page five: I think I have personality whiplash. I see what you're going for, but I think you might want to keep some of that vulnerability, maybe just in M's thoughts, when she starts attacking. Because I've lost that connection now I had with her at the start of this section

- page six: She hadn't taken his hand.... woah woah! This was a neat scene! I wanted more of it! The summary doesn't seem to have a transition, and is abrupt. Suggest drawing out their first scene, then maybe summarizing follow ups. The summarizing kills the good momentum you had going

- page seven: You were spared because you're special doesn't tell me as much as something like You were spared because that whistle you do through your teeth melted the president or something akin. 'Special' makes it sound like a bad superhero origin story. Specifics!! Specifics would be awesome

- page eight: those last few lines don't really feel like a chapter end. I think you might want something with a bit more kick, like why he wants to listen to her monologue. I also can't tell if this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or not. 

- page ten: LOL I love the henchmen

- page eleven: only six months incarceration? Seemed like a lot longer

- page thirteen: why are they so quick to think she's gone good? With all the talk of how evil she is, couldn't this just be an extended ruse?

- page thirteen: the point where she offers to give up the coordinates to her lair would be a better place for them to realize she might be good after all. Better shock value

- page fifteen: the narrative dragged a bit as they made their escape, and then sped up so fast at the end I didn't know what happened! Suggest maybe reworking the flow in these last two pages.


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15 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Honestly, I'd scrap the first chapter entirely.

Yup. I could get behind this as well. As always, #iagreewithmandamon


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Alright, everyone. Many, many thanks for your critiques. Your wishes have been answered. The first chapter is gone as though it never existed. 


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Welcome! I'm a little late on this one, and it seems a lot of what I felt was already mentioned by the others. I'd been planning this post for a while already, however, so I wrote it up anyway. It's good to get the editing juices flowing every now and then. Sorry if there's any repeated comments, and welcome to the group! 

(Oh, also I had the first chapter critiqued before you cut it . . . :rolleyes:)

Overall: In general, I thought the prose was mostly clear, and the story drew me in right away. To be honest, the first chapter left me a little disinterested around the middle, as I enjoyed Mesmer much more when she was the 'boss of the show.' I think this is part of the reason I liked the second chapter much more, though I also found the situation and flow of this chapter to be much more interesting. As Mandamon mentioned, the necessary information imparted in the first chapter seems to be present in this one as well, and in a much more enjoyable format. 

I would second (third?) the decision to cut the chapter entirely, unless you plan to switch between Mesmer and the henchmen's POVs. (Even then, it might be better to lead with the Mort/Steve chapter, then write a Mesmer chapter from a slightly different angle than the current one.) Whatever you decide, I'm interested in the story, and curious as to how you're going to play around with what seems to be a comic-book styled world. (Are all the super powers the same as Mesmer's? Did she name her ability 'patois' or is there some sort of classification system . . . ) Really excited for your next submission, and glad to have you along for the ride!

Page by Page:

   Page 1:

  • I know you're trying to get the feel of motion in the first paragraph, but "I know" was a confusing starting line
  • Also I have no idea what that first paragraph of dialogue meant
  • Why is she getting attacked? Are they transferring her? Also, the "weakened and blind" seems to contrast the image I got from the first paragraph . . . intentional?
  • "Patois" is a made up word in this context, right? Took me a second to realize it was her power, but that's just me for you :mellow:
  • "Believe" might be a better word here than "trust"
  • I love how she calls them "weaker-willed specimens"
  • "seek to me so" sounds strange . . . then again, she's obviously crazy, so I'll refrain from calling her out on grammar mistakes

   Page 2:

  • I was very confused throughout the first half of this page, not feeling the character as much here
  • "Clumsy fingers..." I thought this was a very evocative paragraph. Short, but powerful.
  • At some points you make her sound weak and on the brink of death, at others she has "steady hands" 

   Page 3:

  • That last line made the whole sequence worth it. Really brought the character out!
  • The mention of robots surprised me, for some reason . . . maybe I've been reading too much fantasy
  • "little accident with the first guard?" Not the one in the first scene, right?
  • The tense of this last paragraph is confusing . . . is she simply reliving what happened in between the two scenes or is the story flashing forward through time?

   Page 4:

  • My favorite parts so far has been when she laughs. And this one is especially awesome.
  • Is she could hear through the door, that means they can too, right? Is everyone wearing earplugs?
  • Mostly your prose is very clear and easy to read. Sometimes phrases like "rolling eyes of unrelieved onyx" pop in, and are slightly jarring, imo

   Page 5:

  • The blocking here isn't clear . . . Is she on top of his chest? Then how is her heel digging into the small of his back? It took me a second read-through to come up with the position of her legs straddling his midsection, thereby allowing their noses to be almost touching and her heel to be between his back and the floor.
  • I'm mildly intrigued by his immunity to her powers. Then again, I've never seen them work, so maybe she really is just crazy.

   Pages 6-7:

  • The dialogue flows, as does her motivations for talking. I like how you're hitting on the classic villain monologue trope. 

   Page 8:

  • My opinions of her are shifting . . . I liked it better when she seemed more 'in control', even in a clearly uncontrollable situation.
  • There were sparks of things I loved in this chapter, but I found myself too busy trying to figure out what was happening to fully appreciate them. It needs to be pared down to the bare bones, and even that might not be necessary to the story. Hard to tell, at this point.

   Page 9:

  • This wide angle that slowly zooms in through the paragraph is great for this story. I like this opening much better.

   Page 10:

  • The cat drooling on his fingers was a great image :)
  • (This is me from the future, congratulating on the nice piece of foreshadowing in "She has a hidden hangar.)
  • Their personalities are on-point. I could read pages of their conversations!

   Page 12:

  • I feel the contrast here was made a little stronger by us knowing that she fought against 'going good' in prison, so presumably Jones did something right. Other than that, however, I agree with what the consensus seems to be. The first chapter isn't inherently necessary to the story, so far.
  • Also, this line "That woman doesn't cry for help. That's as unlikely as her going good" added to their fearful reactions did arguably more for characterizing Mesmer than most of the first chapter. This chapter is vastly better, and is successfully pulling me along.

   Page 13:

  • I finally understood who 'Omega' was, from the first chapter. Much more clear, here.
  • That pause when she gives up the island lair got an actual laugh out of me :D
  • Again, I'm loving the ways these henchmen interact. Really excited for the rest of the story now!

   Pages 14-15: 

  • "Or, you know, every day" -- Gold!
  • They seem to be talking a little too much for two villain-associates in a base that has just been revealed to the United States Government. Consider paring the dialogue here, even though it hurts me to say that. 
  • I love the cat, as well. If it's not overused, it will turn out to be a great comic reliever.
  • Also, this last line was much better than the previous chapter's. It calls back to the beginning, reinforces Steve's personality, and is vastly more interesting.

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Hello again, and welcome (again) to Reading Excuses! Always delighted to read a new author *rolls up sleeves*

Chapter 1

I'm kind of confused who's doing what to whom, at first, which is not ideal in the opening of a story.

"Save the patois" - I'm not convinced this is correct usage of patois, which--according to Word--means 'the dialect of the common people of a region, differing in various respects from the standard language of the rest of the country', unless of course it is a specific magical (for example) term. >>> Which I see that it is, okay, my bad. Carry on :) 

If the guard is wearing earplugs, they don't seem to be very good, unless he spoke because he saw her lips moving, but she has a bag on her head. Hmm.

"Your minds will be splayed" - Not flayed? Splayed seems an odd word here.

"You’re so helpless that you seek to me so, as well" - I don't understand the grammar here.

"relief and hunger left her feeble" - I get the hunger part, but how does relief leave her feeble?

"in burst of wrath and glory" - missing word.

"screaming her vengeance upon the pitiable souls who brought her to destruction" - Okay, she's the baddy. Her POV is a bit one-dimensional.

The use of the term 'zip ties' places this story firmly in the present day, or some technologically equivalent (or more advanced time). However, there are no other identifiers with which to date, or even to 'genre' (not a verb!!) the story. So, I'm still not sure what I'm reading. Now, if I'm reading a book that I've purchased, I now what kind of story it is, but--presently--I can't really tell from reading.

"like cleaning chemicals and last moments" - This is a fantastic phrase, nicely done, loaded with pathos.

"Mortar bulged between unpainted cinder blocks, speaking of quick construction" - excellent detail, nicely done again. I must say this second scene (counting the new location as a scene change) is superior to the first (so far), which was a bit generic.

"something started to scream" - something, or someone?!

"It consisted of something that an imaginative person might call goulash" - The word 'it' is not your friend. The words 'it' or 'that' or 'this' are interlopers that leach out opportunities for description, and pave the way to unclear narrative. Here, I presume 'it' means 'the meal'? It's not entirely clear. This is how these pernicious words disrupt clarity.

"and it would’ve turned white in that time" - Eh? By that token, her hair would have turned white in the equivalent amount of time. >>> Which I see it has. Fair enough. 

Right, I'm at the top of Page 4. I'm in no doubt whatever that I am reading the POV of a bad person, a villain, as implied by the title of the story. Why should I care? Is she the protagonist? At this point, I don't know why I should be interested in her thoughts. They are very bleak, depressing and negative. I'm into hard putting-the-book-down territory here.

"toward the cinderblocks that shielded the heavens as she called seven different kinds of agony upon the head of this foolish, this unfortunate man" - I don't understand the grammar here. If he is being shielded, then there's no agony on him, surely?

Lol. I like the man's first line of dialogue.

"Let’s try again" - Lol.

"a while" is two words in both cases here, since they are noun phrases. 'awhile' is an adverb (as in, Stay awhile, why don't you?).

"break their word" - I think.

I think this first chapter is redeemed by the interaction by M and Jones, which I enjoyed. I think it had some real feeling to it. I think you could slash this chapter though, into a... prologue!! (Gasp, wash my mouth out with soap!!). All the stuff that comes before M&J's discussions could be encapsulated in two or three (good) sentences, I feel.

Chapter 2

'verdancy' would be the word, I think. 'verdancy' appears not to be a word. Grammar in the second sentence is really awkward with all those commas.

I'm kind of confused by the word 'pilot' as the actions sound more like those of a commando. Also, pretty sure tigers would not pick all the flesh off the bones of a kill. I think other, smaller, creatures (hyenas, etc.) would move in to take what a big cat would leave. Did you research that at all? I'm not an expert.

Do cats drool? I've never seen or heard of that. These details seem minor, but you will alienate caring-loving readers if you get that stuff wrong.

It's a novel setup, and I'm enjoying the situation you've created. The dialogue between the two is rather awkward, and I think could do with another pass or two. Some of it readers a bit info-dumpy, a tad maid-and-butler. Other parts are okay. I appreciate it's not an easy thing to describe what's happening on a screen through dialogue without it sounding maid-and-butler, but I think you're heading in the right direction.

If man-eating tigers was going to be a thing, why would the gas only be 'drugging', why not poison gas? Those two aspects seen contradictory.

I'm not sure 'masterfully' is the word. It takes no effort at all to master pacing.

I like the moment with the stomping of the foot revealing the secret trapdoor. There are some nice moments, but I'm struggling a bit to get my head around the characters of the two. It seems like S is the 'straight man' (in a comedic sense), the rather cynical voice of reason, and M is the extravert, artistic, emotional one. There's just something that I can't quite put my finger on. I will try harder!

One of the issues, I think, is I am not entirely convinced by their motivations, and their loyalty to the supervillainess. Another, I think, is that their voices sound similar; they are not especially easy to distinguish.

I don't how S captured the cat.

Ah, there's another character point. I'm not getting much emotion from them. More from M, certainly, but not so much from S.

Is that the end of the chapter? To me, it felt kind of incomplete, and I didn't have a clear idea of where the story was going, or what I was going to continue into. To put it another way, I didn't have a strong urge to keep reading. To large extent, I think that's because I'm not particularly invested in any of the characters, to the point that I would care what happened to them. I think the issue is that I don't really feel the stakes for either of the chaps, or the villain. 

Sorry not to be more positive about this version. I think it's an interesting setup, and has potential, but I think it needs some work, perhaps mostly on the characters, which some attention to the pacing, maybe.

I hope this is helpful :) 



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2 hours ago, Robinski said:

Do cats drool?



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Just now, Mandamon said:


I stand corrected. Thank you!


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5 minutes ago, Mandamon said:


I also did not know this.


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4 hours ago, Robinski said:

I stand corrected. Thank you!

One of our cats drools all the time when he's sleeping!


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Overall, it is an interesting piece, I love the concept, and I am very curious to see where it's going, but initially, I had some trouble getting into because I wasn’t really sure what sub-genre I was reading and what kind of time it was set in. The voice sounded like it was going to be epic fantasy or fairytale, but there were hints at a contemporary setting, and later, a future one. It wasn’t until the Omega guy came in that I realized this was sort of a super hero satire from villain’s POV thing. I suppose if I was picking this up as a published book, I’d have read back cover copy, or a query if I were an agent, but the title alone didn’t hint at this. It could have been a fairy tale villain or something more metaphorical. I need to be grounded in the world a little sooner than I was, and am almost wondering if you should just start with the second chapter, but with more detail. I am hesitant, though, to suggest you cut the first one since I don’t know where the book is going. If it is mostly about these two guys, then I don’t think you need the first chapter, but if it is alternating between them and M, then you there might be more value in keeping her opening. 

Either way, I think both chapters were a little too bare, and need to have just a little more in them to give the reader context and cue them into what kind of world this is happening in.

Here are some notes I made as I read:

"Her shade would await Omega’s, the arrogant arm of the law who’d thwarted her, coming upon him like a lightning bolt as he sauntered toward eternity" 

  • This line was a bit confusing. First Omega sounds like an agency, then it is a he. And I'm not understanding the sauntered to eternity part. 
  • I’m interested so far – but a little uncertain. The voice kind of sounds like epic fantasy, but there are hints, like lines at concerts and zip ties, that make me think contemporary.

Mortar bulged between unpainted cinder blocks, speaking of quick construction, and a drain pierced the unpainted cement floor. 

  • Is this description supposed to hint at sound-proofing? I was kind of expecting foam to be involved. But maybe that would be invisible to M, on the other side of the blocks and mortar?

In the back of her mind, something started to scream. Just in case anyone was listening, she started to laugh.

  • A little confusing.

"squat robot" made me think future, not contemporary. 

"Then people...shut that off" This whole section, starting near the end of three and going to the middle of four had me completely confused. I didn't know what was happening in what order, and it just yanked me right out of the narrative. 

Shortly after that was one of my favorite lines comparing something to a tentacle. :-)

Page 5 "I'm not afraid" to "Well treated" That long piece of dialogue for the guy was confusing and felt forced.

Page 6: 

talking inanities In the section where he comes and talks to her, you rush it too much. If you could give just a few more snippets of dialogue, the change would be more believable, and I would be more grounded in the world.

Page 7:

When J explains why he was there I reacted “Ah – okay – this gives me more context now. I know the title was villains, but I didn’t quite know how literal to take that until now. Trying to figure out the kind of world I was in has been pulling out of  the story. “

Page 8:

 “she remained half aware during the session. They kept repeating the same phrase, but she couldn’t remember what it was.: I don’t fully understand these sessions. Am I supposed to? Not understanding isn’t making me want to read more though, it’s just annoying me.

The end of chapter 1 set up for the kind of book where the whole story or part of it is framed by someone telling another person something, so I was a little surprised when it switched characters and through them, showed M’s story moving forward. I’m glad the interview isn’t acting as a frame. I was just thrown because it seemed like it was going to.


Chapter 2

Overall it was easier to follow than 1, but I still wanted a tiny bit more. However, the opening paragraph didn’t really work. It sounded too much like M’s voice, but the chapter wasn’t from her point of view.

It drooled on his fingers.  I’ve Never seen a healthy cat drool…

At first, I thought the two guys were from the same agency as J, but by the end of page ten, I realized they were the only two people of M’s that hadn’t deserted the hideout.

On page ten, I didn’t understand what you meant by “the occupying force on her campus”

“True Nation” on p. 12 sounds kind of creepy, and makes me think USA is actually the villain place, though that may stem from the current political climate…still, anyplace naming itself true nation seems arrogant and dystopian. And since the story is being told from the side of a villain, well, then that would make even more sense of the nation isn’t nice. I like it.

p. 14 “realize my superior worth and loyalty” I was having a hard time figuring out if Mo was serious or sarcastic in this section.


p. 15 and... And what?

Also, you use the phrase “two men” a lot on the last page.

The last line of the chapter was great! I wasn’t sure if they were going to another of M’s hideouts, or that of another villain. That was the good kind of curiosity that made me want to read on. 


I know I had a lot of comments, but I did like the story. I just needed a little more of something to ground me in the world. 


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On 6/2/2018 at 5:02 PM, Mandamon said:

One of our cats drools all the time when he's sleeping!

OK...I made a comment about the cat thing too, then saw the discussion on it. I had thought cats only drooled if they were sick. I guess I'm wrong. 


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On 6/2/2018 at 10:09 AM, Robinski said:

So, I'm still not sure what I'm reading. Now, if I'm reading a book that I've purchased, I now what kind of story it is, but--presently--I can't really tell from reading.

Good to know I wasn't the only one thinking this! I didn't look at any of the other comments until after I posted mine. 


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On 5/30/2018 at 7:55 PM, Mandamon said:

Honestly, I'd scrap the first chapter entirely. The second one is gripping, funny, and gives us pretty much all the information the first one was lacking. Looking forward to more!



On 5/30/2018 at 8:11 PM, kais said:

Yup. I could get behind this as well. As always, #iagreewithmandamon

I third this, unless I read the rest of the book and find out we were all wrong and actually want a version of it back. 


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Hello and welcome to Reading excuses!

I really enjoyed this piece! I enjoy superhero stories that deal with the logistics of what the heroes would mean for the world, and I usually like villainous POVs so this is right in the sweet spot for me.

I didn't find Ch1 as confusing as most, however I do enjoy a good story-within-a-story setup (at least, when it doesn't turn into a crazy recursive acid trip (looking at you In the Night Garden, grumble)). Though I also agree that the second chapter is much better put together than the first. If the story continues in more of a forward direction from here, I'd probably agree that the stronger opener would be with the henchmen. Mes' chapter, if it's needed, would probably be able to be worked back in later on. 


My main question out of the first chapter is why, if her power is verbal, Mes isn't gagged or muffled somehow. Earplugs are a good fallback, and gas is effective, I'm sure, but earplugs also impair the guards' ability to react to other dangers, and gas is indiscriminate -- it'll affect anyone who breathes it. A ball gag or muzzle would pretty effectively prevent her from speaking, and it's not like they seemed too concerned with treating her respectfully...

I found the second chapter a more difficult for me to get into, to be perfectly honest, but it's also more coherent than the first and has a stronger, more easily identifiable plotline and setting.  

"from whence " -- Sorry, a little pet peeve. "whence" actually means "from where," so the extra "from" outside the word isn't necessary. I love the elevated vocabulary Mes uses in her rants and speeches. It's a really nice contrast with both the other characters and her more normal thoughts/dialogue.

I really enjoy the humor and the cat in the second chapter. I don't have a lot to add to the comments that have already been made beyond that though. I was fine with the ending f the chapter. It's not a cliffhanger but there's enough forward motion in the story that I'd keep reading past that point. I don't know that it needs to be spiced up a ton, but if ch2 becomes ch1, the ending would probably need a bit more seasoning. 



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