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shatteredsmooth

10/15/18 --Life Minus Me - 5100 words (L)

19 posts in this topic

Content Warning: Language, Suicide Attempt

Hi All,

This is the first quarter of a 19,000 word contemporary fantasy novella I plan to submit over the next four weeks. 

Some background:  Life Minus Me is a novella is set in the same world as my recently published novel, Power Surge. It takes place a few months before Power Surge. My editor at NineStar looked at it and said it needed a lot of editing, but if I change the tense, do another pass of edits myself, and send it back to her in Nov., she'd be happy to work with me on it. 

I don't have a contract, so I'm approaching this as an R & R. 

When I went through edits with her for Power Surge, that involved some content revision and line edits. I'm thinking the content of this story might need a little work too. 

So what I'm looking for?

 LBL's are greatly appreciated along with any other suggestions that don't involve scrapping the whole concept.  Feedback on dialogue, character, blocking and/or description is always helpful. 

To what extent does it feel like a standalone? To what extent does it feel like part of a series? 

Should I keep or toss the prologue? I have a love-hate relationship with prologues in general.  

Thanks! 

Sara

P.S. I know I am 100 words over the limit. 5,000 brought me to the middle of a chapter, which got me to trim down quite a bit. I got the submission from 5600 to 5100. So close, but I'm tired, and if I keep chopping, I might ax important words by mistake. 

 

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In general, I'm enjoying this. I've made lots of notes on LBLs, and blocking, etc, below.

I like the parts with M more than with B, simply because M has a goal in mind. There's a couple places where B's story wavers, especially with the flashback at the end. Basically it seems like B's life is as crappy as possible, so I'm looking for something else to define them.

This does feel like a standalone. The only part that seemed in part of a larger universe was all the talk about building weird tech with M and boyfriend.

I'd keep the prologue. It defines the whole story. I think it could be the first chapter, though.


Notes While Reading:
pg 1: "My cousin, E, who didn’t know what I was, or that they were from a family of people who weren’t quite human, dreamed the future organically."
--This sentence caught pulled me out as awkward. Probably needs to be two sentences.

pg 1: "The other half was about strangers"
--"were about strangers"
--Much of this paragraph is confusing to me too. You don't give any definition to the strangers, and so the "they" of the strangers keps clashing with "they" of E. You might need some more description around here.

pg 2: Good hook at the end of the chapter. As to the question of prologue or not, I like what this sets up, and as M. seems to be a main POV in the rest of the story, can it just be relabeled as chapter 1?
edit: reading into the next chapter, I think it's necessary so the reader undrestands what M is doing.

pg 3: "people’s thought’s" -> "people's thoughts", "pant’s pocket" -> "pants pocket"
"They own pet store" -> "They a own pet store "

pg 4: "I stepped out the door without saying bye"
--M sort of did; they had an exchange signifying M was going out, in any case.

pg 5: "ribs feel like they are" -> "ribs feel like they were"

pg 6: "I squeezed his right arm, but he didn’t react. Had he been forgetful lately?"
--Are these two things connected? Can he not feel his right arm for some reason?
--oh, ok, it is relevant.

pg 6: "I’d been to busy" -> "I’d been too busy "

pg 6: "weren’t getting hear" -> "weren’t getting here"

pg 7: There's nothing wrong with the description of the paramedic, but I'm wondering at the amount of detail. Why is B focused on this?

pg 8: "arrived and broke my connection with B"
--Why so the paramedics break the connection? Or do they just break M's concentration?

pg 8: "a stroke" -> "stroke"

pg 8: "flesh would" -> "flesh wound"

pg 8: The second paragraph rephrases what M says in the first paragraph, so the description of why she can't heal the stroke could probably be combined with the original statement in some way.

pg 8: "I didn’t have to back yet."
--Something missing.

pg 9: "a good mental health professionals" -> "a good mental health professional"

pg 8/9: I'm not sure why M didn't go back to the car. M knew this wasn't the night, so why run all the way out to the bridge?

pg 9: "his other grandchild (my cousin),"
--parentheses are unecessary with the prologue.

pg 10: "I tousled his hair. It was smooth, and even from a few feet away, and smelled like coconut. I never liked"
--How did M tousle his hair from a few feet away? What does the smell have to do with the movie? This paragraph is pretty jumpy.

pg 11: I'm not completely following the plan here. There's a lot of explanation, but it's all relatively vague and doesn't give me a good idea of what the plan is, thus doesn't have a really good punch at the end of the chapter.

pg 12: "I curled my teeth around my lip"
--Teeth don't curl (I hope). Maybe "I curled my lip under my teeth?"

pg 13: "was in the stores future" -> "was in the store's future"

pg 13: "I jammed my shovel into the snow scooping as much on the shovel as possible. Muscles in my back burn as I fling the snow as far as I can."
->
"I jammed my shovel into the snow, scooping as much on the shovel as possible. Muscles in my back burned as I flung the snow as far as I could."

pg 13: "snow blower was quieter, probably in neutral."
--Do snow blowers have a "neutral?"

pg 13: "one who is gifted with enough testosterone to be able to push"
--I understand this is from B's POV...put just to be nitpicky, I don't think testosterone gives endurance...

pg 14: "half the doctors words" -> "half the doctors' words"

pg 14: "They waddle deeper into the woods. I whistle, and Gannon chases into snow "
->
"They waddled deeper into the woods. I whistled, and Gannon chased into snow"

pg 14: "If I were trying to control another one"
--clearer to say "If I were trying to control one"

pg 15: I was beginning to wonder about the snow blower since it was brought up so much, but you cap this section off nicely with the reason.

pg 16: Is there a time jump here? Ah, yes there is. Took a moment for me to get it.

pg 16: "I called afraid panic will drive him to the woods" -> "I called, afraid panic would drive him to the woods"

pg 16: "paw wholes" -> "paw holes"

pg 16: "Tide bound" -> "Tide bounded"

pg 17: The flashback give some good character building for B, but does it need to be a flashback? There haven't been any others, and it seems out of place.

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Sounds interesting. The title is very bleak and poignant. LBLs sent by email.

Prologue 

- Why call it 'Prologue' at all? I would delete that word a name it in the same format as the other sections, like 'M: Ripples' or something like that, a memorable/suitable word from that section?

Is this it with the tense changed? I desperately wanted to change all of that first paragraph to Present Tense.

Why half the tragedy, why not all of it? That's like admitting defeat from the start.

Who's 'they'; we're just talking about E, aren't we? <Head slap> Okay, okay; I've got it. I fell into the old hetero trap here. Did you consider using 'xe', or some other pronoun? The problem I have with 'they' is that I personally (and therefore whatever statistical proportion of readers I represent) tend to need a clearer flag for the initial instance of 'they' as non-binary pronoun to not read it as a typo. While this may be my problem, it does become your problem (sorry!) when--through no fault of yours--I get confused in reading the opening of the story. Seems to me it's not ideal to rely on me and my statistical posse to have pre-knowledge of your or the publisher's oeuvre. Like I said, sorry!

- "Half E’s dreams were about themself or people they knew." - This line. This line here is perfect I think, becasue it is absolutely clear and unequivocal. Is there some way you can move it up to be E's first introduction? I think the key is the word 'themselves' replacing 'they' as the key word that flag E's nature.

I felt there was something missing between "...failed to solve." and the following paragraph where the action starts, a bridging paragraph or sentence between in the introductory paragraphs and the move to action. I think it's a blocking thing. Is M still in bed? They were resting.

- At the end of this section, I feel like 'save them' would be way more emotionally resonant and evocative than, 'stop it', which is very impersonal, logical and mechanical.

Assignment 

I don't think the Internet is the best phrase to land the 'I'm not technical' gag to best effect. I don't know how the Internet works, I bet a lot of people don't.

- There's inconsistency in the spelling of 'Bail' it seems like the 'non-e' version is most numerous, so I flagged the 'e' ones, of which there were four.

What time of day is it? Can we have a time check / light level check when M arrives, please?

- "then channelled energy into one of the runes I’d carved into the Jeep’s side" - Okay, this comes out of nowhere. I know there are mind powers, but this feels like something else. Suddenly, there is rune based magic. You asked about whether it mattered or was noticeable that this was another book in a series: I don't know if I would think that automatically on reading this, but I found this very abrupt. Having said this, I don't think I want this adding another strand to the start of the story. I wonder if you could add one sentence before M uses the runes, just so I know it's coming.

- The reason that I wanted the light level check before is that I felt it was night time, for some reason, and I wondered why a puppy was out wondering around in the dark.

- I like the short, bite-sized sections; snappy and engaging. I think they are pulling me through the story.

Strike One 

- "the business was already in debt" - I don't feel the stakes here. Partly I think because the situation isn't clear, in terms of what has happened, so you're speculating on an unknown.

- "They only wanted $5000" - Ooooh, this is straight out of It's A Wonderful Life, even down to the name Bailey!!! It's pathos out the wazoo, I'm just thinking it's a bit on the nose.

Alz. is a cause of dementia, so these two don't sit together, I think. Also, it's more direct and therefore engaging if you pick one. I'm guilty of doing this two, putting in two words because I can't decide, or want the perceived benefit of both.

I think this descriptive stuff about the paramedic feels way out of place, and needs to be in the next section. It feels wrong to introduce new details at the dramatic end of the section.

Weakness 

The bit where M thinks how she(?) could have saved C confuses me, and all the contractions together sound really crude to my ear.  Ane the rationalisation is bizare; it's so selfish.

- "one mistake and the person would be a vegetable" - Now this is a much more legitimate and understandable reason for not even trying. I'd like to see this up front, so I don't lose sympathy for M.

- bridges have piers supporting them, the pylon is the bit above the bridge. I am not a bridge engineer, but I am a Civil Engineer.

5bc4f1b27d2fd_ScreenShot2018-10-15at20_55_14.thumb.png.05a77a1c95a6bf0d79fccd924c5dba13.png

- "dozens of little pixies" - What? No. Seriously? No. I can't believe it. The tone of this story was serious, dark, there was mental illness, depression, a stroke, and now... pixies. Please tell me you're kidding and I'm missing some obvious joke. I've crossed over into a different story altogether.

- "Most humans mistook pixies for fireflies" - No, you've completely lost me. I've been reading the wrong story for the last 2,500 words. 

To me, the laptop is irrelevant if it's closed.

- Wait, who's M? Where did he come from? Did you mention him before? I don't think you get to use his name with us knowing who he is.

- "every time a bell rings..." - Yup, I knew it.

- "half-angel" - Huh? I only find this out on Page 10?

- "gestured for me to sit on his lap" - Who is this guy in relation to M?

- I think you've get real issues for anyone reading this story who has not seen It's A Wonderful Life. So much of this exposition is going to leave them cold and confused.

- "trying to test a blaster" - I literally have no idea what I'm reading now.

“What?” I asked in the tone I used when I couldn’t stand not knowing what dangerous thing he was about do[RD1] .


 [RD1]This made no sense to me in its original form.

- Ha, I just remembered that M is the boyfriend.

I don't think taking a person out of the world is a little thing.

- "Not unless someone with telepathic abilities works as a relay" - By far my biggest difficulty with the story is that I don't know what exists in this world, what is possible, what the parameters are, and the limits. I feel like there's too much going on, and I can't get a handle on the world's identity, its feel. Take the world of HP. There is magic, and it feels consistent, despite the fact that we don't really know where it comes from. There are machines, but they are infused with magic; they are not science fiction. Here, I don't know there is talk of space opera (blasters); of religion (angels and demons); of pixies and trolls (mythical beasts); of time travel (SF). I feel like I would have had a better idea of that if I'd picked up the book, looked at the cover, read the jacket quotes and summary, of course. So possibly I'm more disoriented now than I would be 'in the real world'

Strike Two 

- "I pushed the shovel in harder and flung the snow further" - This seemed unlikely to me. I know you've shovelled snow, I have some. Enough to agree how badly that saps energy and strength. I'm really not sure that after 20 minutes B will be able to go up a gear.

I've got no sense of blocking or space. T is on one side, and there is some other guy, and then there is J starting her blower within talking distance. How are all these yards so close togther? Where are the woods in the arrangement?

- "dogs more than people" - hmm. I like dogs, but this kind of reduces the stakes for me.

- Ju's appearance in the story, then departure are very sudden.

Summary 

I'm confused. I feel like I don't really have a solid reference point in the story. See my comments above about not really being sure what kind of story I'm reading. I think the references to It's A Wonderful Life will be completely lost on people who haven't seen the film, which is probably not an inconsiderable proportion of the potential readership. We then get to the dog section. I understand that B loves dogs. Loves dogs more than people? okay, but I can't relate to that.

If I had picked this off a shelf I would have put it back by now, knowing that it was not my sort of thing. The writing itself is easy to read, some mechanical crumbles, but it flows well enough, and was easy to read. Blocking issues with snow blowing, I have noted, but otherwise I generally had a picture, although there isn't that much description. My reaction won't stop me reading on to lend assistance of course, but I feel that my understanding of the world is really hampered by not having read your first work in this world, where I trust the set up is introduced and explained.

Hope this helps. LBLs in the mail.

<R>

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p.s. 

As usual, about 2 minutes after sending my comments, I start to feel guilty about being too harsh, or not saying enough about the positive side of things. I was pulled through the story by the ease of reading, so I had no issue with the style or much of the language (usual polishing things, of course). I sighed in various places (all commented upon), but it's not a long piece overall and I'll be more than happy to read the rest of it to see how it turns out. I had a decent feeling for M as a character, although I might like a bit more convincing on her motivation for intervening, just a through line on that. B certainly feels different from M, and does indeed feel broken. Again, I wonder if that might be underlined here and there, as I'm not convinced yet about her being suicidal. George Bailey is a wreck in the movie, and James Stewart's portrayal of that is exceptional, and carries the film of course. It's vital that the GB character's 'destruction' is completely convincing and I'm not there yet with B.

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The opening line is great; it's also inherently contradictory, which is either brilliant or unintentional. Did you use "was" on purpose?

"Nothing about time is fixed." implies everything happens in the present, but if the entire universe is past, that's also an interesting claim. Great tone in general.

Obviously a novella from the first page. Good. 

Feels like part of a series as soon as you reference plot-relevant events that happened in the past. I dislike the "highlight reel of last book" feeling, but it's part of modern literary convention, so you're fine.

I have no comments until strike two. This is wildly unusual. It's very rare for me to forget I'm editing and just read, and it means you've done an excellent job. It's tight, it's compelling, it holds my attention.

Strike two: This is hardly a criticism, but as a normal person with absolutely zero mental health issues and little/no attachment to my family, I cannot empathize with either character. This is a me problem, but it's why I'm not giving you much character commentary. 

M comes off as nearly omnipotent, and I sort of feel like she has control of the situation, and it's jarring to move from M to B. 

The amount of talking about E without actually introducing/dealing with E as a character is weird. 

The introduction of M as a hacker is also odd. Anyone who knows about hacking is going to be out of SoD. Maybe remove the mention of the dmv specifically or something. Isn't important enough to matter really, but thought I'd mention it. 

The payment problem is easily fixable. Talk to the company, they'll give you 45k back because they didn't want it. They're not about to just steal that. I'm not saying that this can't be the conflict, but the way it is explained gives me a great deal of contempt for both C and B, since I'd just go "oh okay awesome. Let me call them." 

All points are nothing more than my opinion. I like it quite a lot thus far. 

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Overall

While I think there's story potential here, I don't think it really started until page twelve or so. The pages before seemed like the wandering plotting I do when I do a first draft of a book (and the stuff that generally gets cut). There were a lot of typos (some of which I noted below), which should be easy enough to pick up with an out-loud read through, but what really got me was the lack of narrative through line. I think it's supposed to be keep the person from suicide, but thus far all the actions by our half angel person seem contrary to that goal. I also have deep reservations about multi POV in first person, especially in a novella. You have to have outstanding voice for that.

On 10/14/2018 at 6:29 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

To what extent does it feel like a standalone? To what extent does it feel like part of a series? 

If I had to pick I'd say series, because I feel like it's relying on information the reader should already have. And since I do not have said information, I'm lost.

On 10/14/2018 at 6:29 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Should I keep or toss the prologue? I have a love-hate relationship with prologues in general.  

I'd toss the entire first ten-twelve pages and start with the chapter with the dogs, which is where the hook is.

 

As I go

- pg 1: so the issue with 'they' as a pronoun is that you have to be careful to not use it too close to plural they, so as to avoid confusion. The paragraph about Erin's dreams gets really muddled and even I (and I'd like to consider myself pretty on the up and up with pronouns) had to reread a few times to figure out which they referred to what. The sentences like this either need to be rearranged, or you might consider neopronouns.

- at the end of page one I'm left with no clear direction as to this story. E has prophetic dreams? And who is our narrator?

- page 4: still unclear on narrative direction. Protag wants to save B from suicide why? Some sort of redemption arc?

- pg5: ahhhhh multiple POVs in first person is just... you have to have really distinct voices for the characters to pull it off, especially in a novella. I think we need more on both of these protags before the POV switches. Otherwise this is going to go the way of Supermoon.

- you've got tense changes on pg 5 that are inconsistent

- pg 7: unless I missed it, the first person to have their skin tone described appears to be a POC. Suggest checking the white default

- pg8: 'Cooper's a stroke', where the 'a' appears to be a typo

- pg8: why is this angel person running? Why didn't they help C? What was the purpose of going to the house if they weren't going to do anything? I am so confused

- pg9: okay but... this person is suicidal and it didn't occur to the angel person that maybe saving this person they care about from the stroke might help?

- 9: there are pixies? The world confuses me

- wait, the pixies work for the grandfather? And...why are there pixies? This world needs to be set up much more distinctly from the start, I think, because it's late in the game to be changing the genre from depressing contemporary to urban fantasy

- 9: you've completely lost me at 'grandpa is a demon hunter'

- 11: this is a terrible idea. One that might actually work... an idea for what? Keeping the suicidal person from killing themselves? But I thought they were already on the bridge?

- 12: I think the narrative arc actually begins on pg12, at this chapter. It's the first time I've had enough to connect with the characters, been able to get the stakes, and see a narrative path

- as far as I know, dog breeds are not proper nouns

and sunk into his own paw wholes. I assume you mean holes?

 

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Thank you @Mandamon @Robinski @mrwizard70 and @kais for your comments! They're all very helpful. 

I haven't read all the comments yet because I will forever obsess about this first submission before I even finish rereading the rest of the draft if I do. But my skimming revealed two people more or less positive with some suggestions and two completely thrown  confirming my fear that it would make no sense to someone not familiar with the world it's in.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm not ignoring your comments. I'm just refraining from responding to specific ones right now. 

P.S. I did read out loud, but that doesn't help me as much as most people. It's a long story. One I typed out in this response twice and deleted. :unsure:

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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There are a big bunch of interesting ideas in this section! However, I think that for me the number of ideas in the section is part of the problem, too. There's just too much going on that I can't find any solid footing to get an idea of the story. 

 
For the prologue, I'm not entirely certain what purpose it serves. All it did for me was provide confusion. The tone of it seemed so different to me from the other M chapters that I thought it was a completely different person talking. All the mentions of E in the prologue also threw me off. I expected her to be the next POV chapter or at the very least actively in the story. Instead E, who was the focus in the prologue, ends up just being a footnote in M's introduction to the actual problem.  Time travel was mentioned in the prologue, but I didn't see it pop up anywhere else, so I was confused about what was going to happen in the rest of the story. 
 
This felt very much like a stand alone story to me. I had trouble figuring out what was going on, but it didn't feel like it was because I lacked connections from previous stories. I was confused because I had difficulty figuring out what and who the story was actually about.   I've  never seen It's a Wonderful Life, so all of the references to it were completely lost on me, and that was about the only time I felt like I was missing information and connections provided from outside the story itself.  
 
There seemed to me to be a large amount of extraneous information included and I feel like it obscured the theme of the story.  Is it truly necessary to this story that I know the grandpa's profession, when so far he's done nothing except be a prop in a scene about something that seems completely unrelated to his job?  Would it make more sense to mention the pixies later, when they notify M of something, rather than add in this seemingly random factoid at a point when I feel like they aren't really germane to what's going on in the story? 
 
I noticed several instances where there were mix-ups with the pronoun-antecedent agreement within a sentence or set of related sentences. I feel like this is especially important to keep close tabs on when using the singular 'they.' I was more than halfway through this section before I figured out what was going on. 
 
This is a pet peeve of mine, but I noticed several instances where an apostrophe+s was used to denote a plural, and goshdarnit, plurals are not usually formed this way. An apostrophe can stand for omitted letters, or denote possession, but not a plural. This specific grammar typo aggravates me to no end, and I was thrown out of the story every time it happened. :unsure:

I also caught a couple artifacts left over from when the story was in present tense, but I think others have tagged most of them. 
 
I don't have a problem with multi-first-person POVs, but I feel like they need to be really obviously telegraphed in the text of a story. I often gloss over titles when I read (especially if I'm really invested in a story), so if the only indication of a POV shift is in the title, I can get really lost.  I had a lot of trouble telling B and M apart. To me they use the same words, describe things in the same way, reason through things similarly, and all of that makes it hard for me to tell them apart.
 
I do like both B and M, and I want to see where the story goes, it's just hard for me to hear what's going on for all the other things happening around them. 
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On 10/17/2018 at 7:39 PM, industrialistDragon said:

This is a pet peeve of mine, but I noticed several instances where an apostrophe+s was used to denote a plural, and goshdarnit, plurals are not usually formed this way. An apostrophe can stand for omitted letters, or denote possession, but not a plural. This specific grammar typo aggravates me to no end, and I was thrown out of the story every time it happened.

Sorry. That is one thing I don't think about one I type because I'm thinking too much about the story, not if my finger accidentally hit the ' when it shouldn't, and it is on the list of errors I can't always focus enough to "see" unless I am reading with big font and only a couple sentences on the page at a time...or I make the computer highlight them.

 I'll do a search in the doc for apostrophes and double check before I send out the next piece of this. 

On 10/17/2018 at 7:39 PM, industrialistDragon said:

it's just hard for me to hear what's going on for all the other things happening around them

I got this general impression from other people's comments too. I think maybe part of the problem was / is that I'm working on this  and the series of novels set in this world, which are from E's POV. M plays a big role in those books, but she is not the mc. Anyway, I think places / people M would talk to are popping up because in my head, that's where M would go and who would be there, but in the context of this story, it just adds a layer of confusion 

 

On 10/17/2018 at 0:23 AM, kais said:

- pg 7: unless I missed it, the first person to have their skin tone described appears to be a POC. Suggest checking the white default

Good catch. I'll have to work on this when I go back through the whole draft.

 

On 10/17/2018 at 0:23 AM, kais said:

9: there are pixies? The world confuses me

@Robinski got confused by those too. I'll cut them out when I revise the whole thing. They are part of the universe this is set in, but they aren't necessary in this particular story. When I wrote them in there, it was because in the general universe of this is set in, Mel uses pixies to spy on people. But when I look at this as an individual story, it doesn't really make sense to use them how I do. They either need to be a big part of it from begining (adjusted to fit the tone) or not there at all. I'll probably just eliminate them unless I come up with a way to use or portray them in a way that is more relevant to this story.

On 10/17/2018 at 0:23 AM, kais said:

pg5: ahhhhh multiple POVs in first person is just... you have to have really distinct voices for the characters to pull it off, especially in a novella. I think we need more on both of these protags before the POV switches

I have some ideas about how to improve this.

 

On 10/16/2018 at 3:10 AM, Robinski said:

I pushed the shovel in harder and flung the snow further" - This seemed unlikely to me. I know you've shovelled snow, I have some. Enough to agree how badly that saps energy and strength. I'm really not sure that after 20 minutes B will be able to go up a gear.

I have to disagree with you on this. Twenty minutes in is when I really get angry and start flinging the snow all over the place and my spouse gets really really annoyed, turns the snowblower off and tries to convince me to stop throwing snow around and go clean off the cars. Maybe I should note that the snow isn't necessarily going where it is supposed to. 

I'm not very big or strong, but I get a lot of snow every winter. B's shoveling scene is basically based off me shoveling during march blizzard that dumped two and a half or three feet of snow this year. 

 

Anyway, I'm off to take my dog to the vet to get his stitches out. 

I've got some great ideas about how to revise. :-)

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On 10/16/2018 at 3:10 AM, Robinski said:

I wonder if you could add one sentence before M uses the runes, just so I know it's coming.

I need to either add a strand to set up this and the pixies or not use them at all. I'm still pondering which is best. I think it depends on how tied I want it to be to the novels (which are about E)  and how much I want to distance them from that or connect to it, I think. 

 

On 10/16/2018 at 3:21 AM, Robinski said:

As usual, about 2 minutes after sending my comments, I start to feel guilty about being too harsh, or not saying enough about the positive side of things.

Not too harsh. I kept getting the sense there were some big issues with this, other than my editor vaguely saying it needed a lot of editing and rightly not liking how originally, I had M in past tense and B in present (because I wanted it to seem like B's story was through the lens of M being in their head, which in hindsight, really didn't make much sense). 

On 10/16/2018 at 3:10 AM, Robinski said:

- bridges have piers supporting them, the pylon is the bit above the bridge. I am not a bridge engineer, but I am a Civil Engineer.

I used the wrong word. This is the type of thing that my neighbor, who is used to be a Civil Engineer before switching careers and becoming a high school math teacher, would tease me about for weeks if it happened in conversation. It would've been something 

Me: "those thingies that hold up bridges. pylons?"

Neighbor: You mean piers?

Me: yeah, those things. 

Neighbor: Your a writer, and an English teacher. 

Me. I make up stories, and my classes have nothing to do with bridge construction. 

Neighbor: Laughs. <insert comment about me being to literal>

On 10/16/2018 at 7:57 PM, mrwizard70 said:

The introduction of M as a hacker is also odd. Anyone who knows about hacking is going to be out of SoD. Maybe remove the mention of the dmv specifically or something. Isn't important enough to matter really, but thought I'd mention it. 

I always mess things up when I have characters like this. He's a minor character in the novel, and he does more building weird things and making programs that track supernatural creatures. It might be better if I leave hacking out of his skill set since its not his main thing, its more engineering, weird psychics, and some programming). I need to look back at my notes and what he actually does in the books.

But I am curious if you have time to answer. What specifically about the DMV was a problem? I don't want to repeat this mistake elsewhere. 

On 10/16/2018 at 7:57 PM, mrwizard70 said:

The payment problem is easily fixable. Talk to the company, they'll give you 45k back because they didn't want it. They're not about to just steal that. I'm not saying that this can't be the conflict, but the way it is explained gives me a great deal of contempt for both C and B, since I'd just go "oh okay awesome. Let me call them." 

 

I explained this wrong. He fell for a scam. 

 

On 10/16/2018 at 7:57 PM, mrwizard70 said:

The opening line is great; it's also inherently contradictory, which is either brilliant or unintentional. Did you use "was" on purpose?

"Nothing about time is fixed." implies everything happens in the present, but if the entire universe is past, that's also an interesting claim. Great tone in general.

Obviously a novella from the first page. Good. 

Yay! :-)

 

On 10/15/2018 at 4:01 PM, Mandamon said:

I like the parts with M more than with B, simply because M has a goal in mind. There's a couple places where B's story wavers, especially with the flashback at the end. Basically it seems like B's life is as crappy as possible, so I'm looking for something else to define them.

This makes sense, and I have an idea of how to fix it. 

 

On 10/15/2018 at 4:01 PM, Mandamon said:

I'd keep the prologue. It defines the whole story. I think it could be the first chapter, though.

Hmm There are contrary opinions about this. I think parts of the story need restructuring, but I think I agree with you on this one, though as @kais suggested, I think I might make the snowy scene with the dog drama the first introduction to B.

 

On 10/15/2018 at 4:01 PM, Mandamon said:

Much of this paragraph is confusing to me too. You don't give any definition to the strangers, and so the "they" of the strangers keps clashing with "they" of E. You might need some more description around here.

Agreed. As you and other pointed out, I do need to work on the grammar around the pronouns. 

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I've got a few different ideas of how to revise this floating around in my head. I'm going to do some minor edits on the next part then send it for Monday. 

One of the problems I have with submitting things in pieces is that once I get feedback on one section, I want to go and revise the whole thing before I show people more, but I think its better if I wait until I have feedback on more of the piece before I dive in. So, I'm going to see what comments I get on the next few sections before I decide which direction to take the revision in. 

Thank you!! 

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5 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Me: "those thingies that hold up bridges. pylons?"

Neighbor: You mean piers?

Me: yeah, those things. 

LOL. Once an engineer, always an engineer.

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One does not simply hack into government websites. It doesn't work like that. You can brute force them, I guess, but that's the kind of thing the fbi kicks down doors over. Unless you are either on site or already in possession of a password, you need some serious hardware to break into even fairly basic stuff; hiding one's tracks is way harder than following them, especially when you're sending millions of signals directly at the tracker. Most hacks happen because a password is gotten, usually by purchasing it off an employee, and then that employee's account is given access to things it shouldn't be able to reach from within the system. 

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17 hours ago, mrwizard70 said:

Unless you are either on site or already in possession of a password

Ok, I might have had an explanation accounting for this part in my notes that wasn't on the page -- more related to something in a different story involving the same character, but it involves pixies, which are already causing enough problems in this story. 

Anyway, thank you again for coming back to explain. I appreciate it. :-)

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Alternatively, companies like LexisNexis sell driver's license databases and other identity data like that. You have to have a "permissible use" and it's just ridiculously expensive to buy the data libraries (legally), but they're there. One of the places I used to work had an account for both the driver's license/address database, and the SSN death database (You can find older versions of the SSN death database for free online, but the ones offered for money are often updated more regularly). Aiming to steal login info for one of those would probably mean manipulating insurance industry, collections, or legal/law office workers, which may or may not be any different than stealing login info from government workers. Brute-force hacking one of these probably has the same difficulties @mrwizard70 pointed out and it might not make a difference in what you're intending for the character, but options do exist.  

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On 10/20/2018 at 8:40 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Alternatively, companies like LexisNexis sell driver's license databases and other identity data like that. You have to have a "permissible use" and it's just ridiculously expensive to buy the data libraries (legally), but they're there. One of the places I used to work had an account for both the driver's license/address database, and the SSN death database (You can find older versions of the SSN death database for free online, but the ones offered for money are often updated more regularly). Aiming to steal login info for one of those would probably mean manipulating insurance industry, collections, or legal/law office workers, which may or may not be any different than stealing login info from government workers. Brute-force hacking one of these probably has the same difficulties @mrwizard70 pointed out and it might not make a difference in what you're intending for the character, but options do exist.  

This is a great detail, and hacking any of them would be vastly easier than hacking the DMV. The essential problem with hacking a DMV account is that government accounts do not have the users name/email linked to them. Anyone who has an account linked to a public email/ other accounts is much easier to hack for a variety of reasons. 

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Thoughts As I Go:

Prologue: ‘Time is like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff’ – Doctor Who. (Who else?)

I’m just drawing an issue here with your protagonist being okay with a cold shoulder for preventing a cousin from committing suicide. Nope. Sure, it’d be nice if talking worked, but that’s not always the case.

Now, this sounds strange typing this myself, but would you consider shifting the tense from ‘past’ to ‘present’ when your protagonist is reading thoughts?

This a good integration of exposition and character development. But the real question is, is her alignment CG or LG?

Notes, Overall:

The concept intrigues me to be sure, a divinely-gifted mostly-human working silently to fix the world, on small problem at a time. M is interesting, decent power spread, I can’t relate to her believing she deserves her cousin’s cold shoulder. I’d also assumes that the ‘angels’ here are more akin to the D&D variety (hence the Lawful Good / Lawful Chaotic joke). Mi works as a support character, so that’s good. I can’t say I can relate to B’s thoughts, but I also see how you wouldn’t necessarily want the reader to be identifying with some of those thoughts.

As a side note, I’d recommend taking a look at the book Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. It’s a first-person narrative of someone going insane and coming back, masterfully done.

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On 10/27/2018 at 10:13 PM, aeromancer said:

As a side note, I’d recommend taking a look at the book Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. It’s a first-person narrative of someone going insane and coming back, masterfully done.

Thanks for the rec!

 

On 10/27/2018 at 10:13 PM, aeromancer said:

I can’t say I can relate to B’s thoughts, but I also see how you wouldn’t necessarily want the reader to be identifying with some of those thoughts.

Yeah -- you probably don't really want to relate to B's thoughts. I don't want you to relate to them because I've had thoughts like that and don't wish them on anyone.  That's the tricky part about a character with mental illness -- it can really skew a person's thoughts and it affects everyone different. 

And my own mental illness unfortunately has weird affects on my writing, some of which I am starting to see in this story. 

On 10/27/2018 at 10:13 PM, aeromancer said:

Now, this sounds strange typing this myself, but would you consider shifting the tense from ‘past’ to ‘present’ when your protagonist is reading thoughts?

 

I need to go back and look at it / what the other stories Mel is in. 

 

On 10/20/2018 at 11:40 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Alternatively, companies like LexisNexis sell driver's license databases and other identity data like that. You have to have a "permissible use" and it's just ridiculously expensive to buy the data libraries (legally), but they're there. One of the places I used to work had an account for both the driver's license/address database, and the SSN death database (You can find older versions of the SSN death database for free online, but the ones offered for money are often updated more regularly). Aiming to steal login info for one of those would probably mean manipulating insurance industry, collections, or legal/law office workers, which may or may not be any different than stealing login info from government workers. Brute-force hacking one of these probably has the same difficulties @mrwizard70 pointed out and it might not make a difference in what you're intending for the character, but options do exist.  

Great info! 

I think M can get enough info about B just from social media, but this is definitely useful for me to keep in mind for future works Mi is in and shelved things I may revise. Also gives me a starting point info I do more research on this topic. Thank you!

On 10/22/2018 at 8:56 PM, mrwizard70 said:

This is a great detail, and hacking any of them would be vastly easier than hacking the DMV. The essential problem with hacking a DMV account is that government accounts do not have the users name/email linked to them. Anyone who has an account linked to a public email/ other accounts is much easier to hack for a variety of reasons. 

More good info! Thank you!

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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