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Zay Wolfe

07-23-18 - zaywolfe - The King of Trash Island - chapter 3 (3892) L

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Content Warning: Language

 

Believe it or not, there's no gore or violence in this submission, just language. Feels weird lol

 

I hope you guys like it. I don't specifically have something I'm worried about this time. Just hoping it flows well and is enjoyable.

 

Thanks a lot

 

Zaya

 

Previously: Ronen is a scavenger of thrown away electronics and lives on Trash Island. He found a mysterious trunk that was taken from him by Toad and Wart. They got into a fight and they hurt his leg pretty bad.

 

[Also] Sorry about the botched subject line. It's the result of hours of revision and submitting at 2am X(

Edited by Zay Wolfe
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Overall, I enjoyed this submission. The dialogue is fairly stilted, especially in the longer conversations, but the plot is progressing. I had some issues with the setting and worldbuilding below, but the main character's choices feel real. I would like a little something more at the end. It sounds like he's just going to ignore A's reasoning about buying the trunk, and with a bum leg, that seems like a really bad idea. Some sort of rationalization from his POV would help.


Notes while reading"
pg 2: "I saw W hobble over to T’s place wearing a pink lacy bra. I made a mental note of the event for latter taunting material."
--careful with this. Are you saying they're gay and that's worthy of taunting? or that W crossdresses and that's worthy of taunting? Or what?

pg 2: "The cold winter wind blew against my slick skin and sent shivers down my spine. Even though it was uncharacteristically hot"
--There's a cold wind, but it's hot?

pg 3: "He was always a nice man, but now it was different."
--But A's treated him before, right? I didn't get a feeling of their relationship changing last chapter, but maybe I missed something.

pg 3: "the thought of them reopening was a pressing fear"
--show this.

pg 3: "The great oddity was they were relatively normal"
--I mean, two farmers caring for animals is not that strange.

pg 4: "gripping the roof "
--what roof?

pg 4: "Something screamed and I saw something white dart away."
--repetition of "something" makes this very vague.

pg 4: "looked at me with a befuddled look."
--repetition again. Also, why is she befuddled?

pg 4: "Trash Island wasn't known for its population of women and despite Margaret's age, many talked of her beauty"
--first, why? Can women not pick up trash? Second, this is a lot of male gaze. This is the first female we've encountered. Is there a reason why?

pg 5: "eying us oddly"
--again, why?

pg 7: "My brain twisted as he said the foreign words"
--He's known A for a while. I would think he's heard some Arabic before.

pg 8: "I don’t think I've even seen a sheep outside of some pictures on the net."
--but he saw a goat today.  Does Don not have sheep too?


pg 9: "and substitute almonds"
--like fake almonds? What are these?

pg 9: "I heard all the pine trees died off decades ago "
--Pine trees will grow just about anywhere, and like acidic soil.

pg 9: "They were made from soy and hardened until crunchy."
--Ah. Ok.  This seems...like a lot of effort for nuts. If they could grow hydroponic zucchini, then what about nut trees?

pg 12: "I bet you could be pulling in three times what you do.”
--is he just laying around now? I thought he spent a lot of time searching for components?

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I enjoyed this submission. My comments, generally, are on details, and I have sent you LBLs separately, which I hope are useful and constructive.

I like the emphasis on hard work, that was great, more on that below, and also I was pleased the Ad doesn't have a 'magic' quay, which would have been contrived.

Some more substantive comments below (copied from the LBLs, but embellished a bit here and there).

 - "I saw W hobble over to T’s place wearing a pink lacy bra" - Lol. Intriuging and greater character 'colour'. This is the very definition, I think, of not going for low-hanging fruit (pun intended!!!). Great character building.

 - In the first couple of pages or three, I found it a bit hard to follow when he was out spying on W&T, and when he was back at home, because of the looking back perspective of part of that first bit. Not assisted by me forgetting he was in a vehicle, and getting confused over looking out the window (which made me think he was at home).

 - "I found some nice hydroponic ones at the store" - I'm struggling with this concept of them going to the shops. Where are the shops if the island is a big dump? I feel like I don't have a very good sense of the geography the island, or if and how they travel off the island. How is the island shop supplied (if there is an island shop), and by whom?

 - There's a lot of talk about foreign this and that. I'm trying to decide how it sits. I feel a bit uncomfortable about it, and whether it's a healthy perspective, when the US is such a melting pot. Ad is making a traditional dish, but is it fair to refer to it as foreign. Is Ad not an American national? Is he a foreigner? Surely not if he is fighting in the US army, which is my assumption.

 - Hmm. I'm not sure what the LotR reference brings to the story. I doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I don't get it.

 - The word 'postulating' doesn't feel like it's in R's voice. Doesn't seem to fit with my image of him.

 - "Through hard work, my boy,” he said flexing his arm" - Lol, but actually I really like to see this message. I see people around me who I would love to shake and say the same thing to. Some people have no idea.

 - "Tomorrow I would return to T&W's..." - The ending didn't quite land for me, I was confused. Does he have the gold? Or, is he going to try and steal the trunk? Surely he can't bargain until he's got the gold or he'll alert them abnd they might change their minds about the amount as time passes with him 'mining' the gold.

Nice job. I feel like the story is flowing along, stuff is happening, the pace is consistent if not breakneck (which is okay with me as long as we get some quick/exciting sections to keep up momentum.

<R>

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Again I'm sorry for my business. Home hunting and moving has been consuming most of my time along with my 3 boys. It's been difficult to find something in our price range that's still livable. Things should settle down by the end of this next month when we can finally move.

@Mandamon I definitely need to go back over some of the dialogue, particularly A's. I think it's because his dialogue is so important to the plot, especially in the longer sections, and I've condensed it too much.

"--But A's treated him before, right? I didn't get a feeling of their relationship changing last chapter, but maybe I missed something."

I think this is because I spent too much time in the first chapter doing exposition that I failed to show the characters before the main events happen. It's clear to me the writer, but it's not framed right in the story. Really, the previous chapter is the first time you see them really interact, so that's a mistake on my part. I think just fixing the 1st chapter and showing their relationship before the inciting incident will fix a majority of issues.

"--Pine trees will grow just about anywhere, and like acidic soil. "

I don't really feel like that's fair. While they like mildly acidic soil of 5.5ph, if the whole continent is bare of plant life it should suggest itself that the ph has fallen much lower than that. Maybe to the typical 3.5-4ph buffer zone. The idea was that excessive acid rain has stripped the soil of alkali to a disastrous level. But, I don't think R actually knows much about how the process happened, so I think it's out of character of him to start disusing the complex issue of soil acidification and its effects. If it's confusing maybe I can pull back on the destruction and make pine trees one of the few surviving plant life.

@Robinski

 - "I found some nice hydroponic ones at the store.

I can definitely see what your saying. They get most of the shopping done off island by crossing bridges to the mainland, maybe I can work this into the story earlier.

"- There's a lot of talk about foreign this and that. I'm trying to decide how it sits."

I agree, but I couldn't really think of a better word. I tried to word it as "foreign sounding" to not outright say it's foreign, but it's probably too little. If you have a better way of wording it, I would love suggestions. Mostly, I wanted to hang a lantern on his use of his parent's language to better show the positive change in his character without just telling it. If you have any suggestions here at all please don't hold back.

"Hmm. I'm not sure what the LotR reference brings to the story. I doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I don't get it."

I think I was trying to show how R desires to see nature. It helps later on to explain some of his choices. But maybe it is out of place. Do you think there's a better way to work it in?

I'm sorry if I can't reply to every point. All feedback is going to be used. I'm actually linking to these threads right in the chapters so when I do the next revision I can come back and re-read all this. I really appreciate all the work you're doing for the story.

 

 

 

Edited by Zay Wolfe
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Back for more

Overall

I have growing concerns about A. From the 'good moderate Muslim' comment from last week, and now the MC finding A's language strange and his food weird, I feel like A is more a poor caricature instead of a fully fleshed person. Also, since this is dystopian so therefore the future, how come our MC has not been exposed to other cultures. As a person now, in the USA, we have plenty of exposure to at least general cooking traits from around the world, if nothing else. I don't see that reflected here, making the time period look more 1950 USA than something in the future.

I also have deep concerns about this bra thing. Will withheld further judgement until I see how it plays out.

On 7/23/2018 at 0:47 PM, Mandamon said:

--careful with this. Are you saying they're gay and that's worthy of taunting? or that W crossdresses and that's worthy of taunting? Or what?

I noted it below as well. Raised my hackles immediately. It'd be a better moment if our MC saw that scene, and it helped him humanize the two antagonists. 

On 7/23/2018 at 0:47 PM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "Trash Island wasn't known for its population of women and despite Margaret's age, many talked of her beauty"
--first, why? Can women not pick up trash? Second, this is a lot of male gaze. This is the first female we've encountered. Is there a reason why?

Uh, apparently I completely missed this line when reading. Went back and found it. Also nope. I agree with @Mandamon. Women are perfectly capable of picking up trash and in a place like this, where people spend their lives, either you have a huge queer population or you've got a relatively even ratio of men to women because people want companionship and families and such. Third, if the woman is known for her beauty, we'd better at least get a decent description because 'beauty' as a word means relatively little. If she's known for her beauty because she's the only woman on the island, that would be a plot point worth exploring.

On 7/25/2018 at 11:41 PM, Robinski said:

I'm struggling with this concept of them going to the shops. Where are the shops if the island is a big dump?

Same. I need more layout because all I have for a mental picture is heaps of garbage.

On 7/25/2018 at 11:41 PM, Robinski said:

There's a lot of talk about foreign this and that. I'm trying to decide how it sits. I feel a bit uncomfortable about it, and whether it's a healthy perspective, when the US is such a melting pot. Ad is making a traditional dish, but is it fair to refer to it as foreign. Is Ad not an American national? Is he a foreigner? Surely not if he is fighting in the US army, which is my assumption.

YESSSS this. I also noted it below. The 'otherness' seems blatant and unnecessary.

 

On 7/29/2018 at 2:49 PM, Zay Wolfe said:

The idea was that excessive acid rain has stripped the soil of alkali to a disastrous level.

Dirty secret about acid rain- it increases soil fertility because it is full of nitrates and sulfates. Also, pines love acidic soil, so they'd thrive in this environment. If you want to say the soil became acidic so it killed some trees, I'd need a region of the US. For instance, paper birch does poorly in acid rain, and that grows in the northeast. Sugar maple would doo poorly in extreme acid rain, and that's the northeast, too.

The trouble here is that it would have to be a part of the country that could realistically GET acid rain. To get it you have to be downwind of industrial areas. The west coast doesn't get acid rain because it's downwind of the ocean. So really it's only the northeast of the USA that gets acid rain due to the factories in the midwest.

If you're in another country though, we can talk geography for there. But basically, use my fungi or insect suggestions below. Much more realistic. 

Source: the silviculture professor I'm married to who had a really fun time ranting about this. 

On 7/29/2018 at 2:49 PM, Zay Wolfe said:

Mostly, I wanted to hang a lantern on his use of his parent's language to better show the positive change in his character without just telling it. If you have any suggestions here at all please don't hold back.

Confused. Whose parents? Whose growth are we trying to show?

As I go

- if the protag is going to taunt someone for a perceived cross-gendered clothing item, I've lost all empathy for the character. Like, flat out, that would get me to put down a book and never pick it up again unless the MC was purposefully supposed to be an absolute arse

- at this point, I'm starting to really wonder about the through line of this narrative. What is our MC's main goal? What is driving the plot? There doesn't seem to be a direction, just sort of wandering. I need more sense of purpose by chapter three, or I start to wonder why I'm still reading. It could be fixed with just a few lines, really, but I need to know why I should care about our MC, especially if he's insulting people based upon their 'gendered' clothing choices

- ding ding ding! First female character!

- this is my wood scientist face, frowning. The pine trees died when the soil became too acidic? Pine is a genus, not a species, comprising thousands of species. Plenty thrive just fine in acidic soils. Pine nuts are produced by many pine species, not just one. You'll need to either be more specific with the species (and thus pick one that does in fact have soil acidity problems) or change your cause of death. Pines don't generally occur in warm climates so you could make a sweeping statement about climate change or something, I suppose. It'd be easier to have an insect get them all though, or an insect + fungus

 

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3 hours ago, kais said:

Dirty secret about acid rain- it increases soil fertility because it is full of nitrates and sulfates.

:o 

3 hours ago, kais said:

- this is my wood scientist face, frowning.

Uh-oh... 

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