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Mandamon

20181014 - Facets of the Nether - 1893 words - Sub 2

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Hello all - Here is the second half of the first chapter, which in retrospect I could have just submitted last week. Oh well--probably good to have a tighter focus on the beginning anyway.

This features two other POVs for this book, which I believe will have 5 total.

This also references both the first book and a side novella, so if you haven't read those, let me know how confused you are.

Anything/everything else is always appreciated, from character reactions, to description needed, to grammar and phrasing.

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I'm not so much confused as I don't care. Why do these people matter, and why does what's happening matter?

There's an overwhelming sense of urgency and immediacy that was not present in the last chapter. While obviously intentional, it's very jarring. 

I don't know anything about the society, so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be terrified or excited at the moment. 

I'm going to assume that there's nothing of substance going on to me only because I haven't read the previous books.

No grammatical complaints, no problems with the politics, and no character complaints because I don't know the characters. However, there appears to be no advancement of the plot at all in this chapter. We are informed things have been happening, but nothing specific actually happens. 

That's a very general complaint, but honestly, I got nothing. Good enough, in my eyes. 

Edited by mrwizard70
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So this feels like a completely different book than the last submission. That is good in the sense that it sets these characters apart from one another. However, if I was reading this as one chapter, the switch would feel jarring. When I read multi pov books, I find it easier if each character has their own chapter. I was much more engaged in the narrative and felt the balance between external and internal was much better. However, I really struggled to picture some of the characters, particularly in Msection.

I didn't really comment on the R one while reading. I like the back and forth between her and V, but I would have liked to stay with R just a little longer to get a better sense of who she is and what she thought the outcome of the interrogation was. 

"System Beast...bit like a giant arachnid..." With this description, I had a clear picture of the beast general shape, but I was unsure about the material. Was it metal? Wood? Flesh? Trying to figure this out distracted me from the scene. 

"furry snout" so G isn't human, but I can't picture what he actually is. 

"Gompt's friend group" something about this phrase seemed out of place in the setting I was picturing. 

"Festuour" The name for G's species means nothing to me in terms of helping me picture him, but maybe to someone who has read other books in this world, it would make more sense. 

I was left very confused about K, partially because I don't know what a System Beast really is. Is K some type of robot or AI that was a person? Does the person's spirit or something exist in the machine? Or is it just programmed to sound like them? 

When they say cycle, is that sort of like a year? In the first section I was thinking a month or a few months. In this, I'm thinking its more like a year. 

And the people in this society that M is trying to start up can do what S can do, only its not weird or scary to them like it is to S?

The reveal abut G's transition was well handled, but it also threw me out of the story, because I still have no clue what a Festuour looks like aside from the furry snout. I'm picturing a wookie with a long nose, and trying to picture the difference between a male and female wookie is taking me back to that horrible Star Wars Christmas special that aired once and was buried but still lurks on youtube. That is not what you want me picturing while I read your story. 

The last thing that I'm unclear about is who M is on the council. Is he a member? Does anyone suspect him of his society? And this society is different than the one that the guy being interrogated belonged to, right? OR am I confused about that?

Anyway, I can see how M and S's stories are going to connect. A little unsure about R's but I can wait and see where that goes. 

The last line of the M section was a good hook. 

Now, as you read my comments, keep in mind that I am not familiar with this world. Some of my questions, the like ones about the System Beasts and the Festuour might not be issues people who read the rest of the stories have. However, if you want it to be a standalone new readers could pick up, them take them more seriously. 

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Thanks to @mrwizard70 and @shatteredsmooth! I think a lot of the confusion comes from this being book 2. I'd like to see if some of the others who have read the first book have the same confusion.

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

When they say cycle, is that sort of like a year?

correct

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I was left very confused about K, partially because I don't know what a System Beast really is. Is K some type of robot or AI that was a person? Does the person's spirit or something exist in the machine? Or is it just programmed to sound like them? 

K is supposed to be an AI, based on a previous personality. I think I can clean this up some more to be clear.

16 hours ago, mrwizard70 said:

I don't know anything about the society, so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be terrified or excited at the moment.

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

And the people in this society that M is trying to start up can do what S can do, only its not weird or scary to them like it is to S?

The society is a little different. I think I need to put in some more explanation about this.

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

trying to picture the difference between a male and female wookie is taking me back to that horrible Star Wars Christmas special that aired once and was buried but still lurks on youtube.

Ha! Oh, that's terrible! I'll be sure to put in some more description...

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Anyway, I can see how M and S's stories are going to connect. A little unsure about R's but I can wait and see where that goes

Interesting! It's actually more the opposite. You'll see in the next chapter.

 

In any case, great comments about where you're getting confused. This will help me clarify these scenes.

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Overall

My main concern is the number of POV characters so early in the book. I know all the characters of course, so it's not as jarring as it could be, but I still find myself wanting to immerse with one before switching. I wouldn't mind a few chapters with Sam to get world footing, then bopping to Mand for a chapter, then R. That may just be me though. In general I am thrilled to be back in this universe!

 

As I go

- V is still alive? Oooooh.

- Is she remembering his rough hands...fondly? I'm not sure how fondly I would look back on that memory.

- I do enjoy the Mand sections more now that I've read the short.

- 4: so wait, why start the society again? Doesn't R or O hear two houses? They're not discriminated against anymore, right? So why start the secret two house society again?

- Aww, I love Gom! That transition scene was well done

 

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9 hours ago, kais said:

I still find myself wanting to immerse with one before switching. I wouldn't mind a few chapters with Sam to get world footing, then bopping to Mand for a chapter, then R.

Ok--based on multiple feedback looks like I need to flesh out the early parts into separate chapters.

9 hours ago, kais said:

so wait, why start the society again? Doesn't R or O hear two houses? They're not discriminated against anymore, right? So why start the secret two house society again?

Honestly, I'm not completely sure where I'm going with this plotline, but I really wanted M in this book. This will probably be subject to a lot of 2nd draft editing.

9 hours ago, kais said:

Aww, I love Gom! That transition scene was well done

Thanks! I'm glad I handled this well enough, based on you and @shatteredsmooth. I was a little concerned. I'm actually in the middle of taking a Writing the Other class on Trans and NB characters, so that's helped as well.

Thanks @kais!

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Comments.

- "R slapped V's cheek" - this sounded kind of weak to me, like a pat. I'm also weirded out that R is (seemingly ineffectually) torturing anyone. I don't feel the slap, I don't hear it.

- "treated and bound" sounds odd. I think the word 'bandaged' sounds more like medical attention.

- "unworthy to of"

- "At least they'd also shaved that ridiculous moustache" - this makes it sound like the shaving of his head was a bad thing in R's mind, because this expresses the shaving of the moustache as contrary to the shaving of the head.

- "R straightened, away from him, then mentally berated herself for showing weakness" - this first phrase sounds awkward, and I don't have much sense from it of the speed of the movement, the trajectory of the movement. Also, 'mentally' is redundant, I think we can easily assume it's internal.

- "the sensory deprivation of the blank gray walls, and the lack of windows" - phrasing seems a bit jumbled.

- Bit confused by the talk of S. Why would she feel the need to explain herself to V? Unless of course because the author wishes it!

- I don't remember enough about the first book to understand what R and V are talking about 'in her hand'.

- I really don't buy R telling V all that stuff about the Council. It's like she's confiding in him. Why would she do that in an interrogation, to someone she's just been torturing? If she absolutely has to say this, we should see her doubting and loathing herself for talking with this scumbag , for revealing such useful information to him. Unless, she is doing it on the basis that he is powerless to use it, or take any solace from it, and it's almost as if she is taunting him with it, a form of emotional torture: 'You could have been a participant in all that politicking if you had been a genuine Councillor and M-jus.'

- "At least that meant he was enjoying himself, if he was running into danger" - clause order here, for me, is less impactful than it could be.

- "she remembered his rough hands on her back last night" - Hmm, interesting! There's a slight coldness to the phrasing here, but I can believe that of her, as her feelings towards O seemed conflicted last time.

- "It lost you your seat, didn't you it?" - typo, and also how on earth does V know that? I don't remember them being so familiar.

- "We're got going to find him soon" - also disagreement between the LC, which she was talking about, and 'him'.

- I like the ending to the section; good impact and a nice shove into the next section, building momentum.

- Man > yay!

- There's a bunch of LBL grammar stuff here, but I'm not going there on this draft.

- "I'm starting up the Society again" - Ooh, but, I think you've really thrown away the impact of this statement for anyone who had read SoTH. I think this deserves to be led up to with some guarded conversation with his old friend, perhaps prodding and testing guardedly before coming out with it. I think the revelation deserves to be at the end of the section.

- repetition of "a hallway". Also, I think 'the hallway' would have a more personal ring to it, 'a hallway' sounds impersonal to me, and makes the place sound enormous.

- "He was normally the one to put others on edge, but this was...different." - I don't understand.

- "It's been over twenty cycles, you great oaf" - right, but G is capable of getting touch with him, surely? This sounds like G can't be bothered to make the effort and it's all down to M to make the move to contact.

- Ooh, I love the K machine, great idea and with a really poignant note given that their friend it gone. Also, 'trundled' is a real steampunk word. Excellent.

- I don't like the word 'shuttered'. That's something you do to this building, sure, but the society itself, I think, deserves a more graphic and dramatic word to describe its dissolution, if you will ;) 

- "They couldn't even contact each other regularly" - yeah, see this. So why is G giving M such a hard time? Sure, I'm certain he'll be guilty, but seems harsh to put it all on him. He didn't even know K had passed? I find that hard to believe.

- "for fear of letting the Society take up a presence in the minds of the other m" - 'letting' too passive for me. Also this sentiment deserves more oomph, I think. (Sorry @shatteredsmooth!)

- "A fellowship of m who could access two aspects of the Grand Symphonies had to be completely forgotten. Now it was." - Confused 'symphonies' plural?

- "It must have gotten worse." - This is a really obvious statement and rather redundant. Suggest cutting.

- "until his face was at standing height" - head height, I think.

Summary

I was rather disappointed by this section. R's behaviour seems out of character, and I think some of her actions are downright confusing and improbably, especially given how together she is professionally and personally.

In relation to M's section, which I am very excited is here, I think it's an opportunity missed. The reformation of SoTH is used as a throwaway line and so there is never really much drama around that, and the focus of that section, I think, becomes the the changes in Gr and Kr. Not that that's wrong, but I'd love the reformation to be the last line of the chapter, this would leave it hanging in the minds of those who have read SoTH. I appreciate some (many?) readers might not have at this point, but I think ending the chapter on 'I'm here to reform the society, are you in?' gives it a real getting-the-team-back-together vibe, which is always so satisfying, I think.

So good to be back here, and to be back with Man. Nice work.

<R>

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2 minutes ago, Mandamon said:
9 hours ago, kais said:

so wait, why start the society again? Doesn't R or O hear two houses? They're not discriminated against anymore, right? So why start the secret two house society again?

Honestly, I'm not completely sure where I'm going with this plotline, but I really wanted M in this book. This will probably be subject to a lot of 2nd draft editing.

Ah, but the two-house aspect was only one dimension of the society, as I remember it. The other, and the one that resulted in them being abjured by the establishment, I thought, was their willingness to take paths for the greater good which the establishment was unwilling to tread. I can see how that might come into play, but surely then it would be Man torturing the prisoner, and not R, who is more of a by-the-book sort of gal, in my head anyway.

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Great comments as usual, @Robinski!

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

R's behaviour seems out of character, and I think some of her actions are downright confusing and improbably, especially given how together she is professionally and personally.

R's always been more emotional where V is concerned. Though I think this leads into what the others have said. I think I'll need to separate each of the sections into a whole chapter, maybe attached to a later section. Or maybe this whole section will be cut and replaced by something else.

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

Bit confused by the talk of S. Why would she feel the need to explain herself to V?

 

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

I really don't buy R telling V all that stuff about the Council.

Hmm...good points. Again, I thin I either need to expand this or cut it. I figure that out on the second draft.

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

The reformation of SoTH is used as a throwaway line and so there is never really much drama around that

Good idea. I like moving it to the end of the section.

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

"It's been over twenty cycles, you great oaf" - right, but G is capable of getting touch with him, surely?

Yes, probably. I'll have to figure something more plausible for their separation, or play up the secrecy aspect.

 

This gives me a whole lot to think on, and will come in very handy when making edits. Thanks!

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Wow, this is the same chapter? I'm feeling like I might have a little bit of whiplash going from S to R, and then it's straight to M, and by that point I am definitely feeling some whiplash. I'd be fine with one extra non-S POV person in this chapter, but this feels like too many too soon.  

R seems singularly unsuited to being an interrogator; she keeps getting distracted by every little thought. Wasn't she a semi-career politician last time we saw her? Current administration notwithstanding, I feel like any politician who wasn't still in their first year could hold onto the thread of an argument and maintain a decent poker face in spite of some stressful questions and a few personal barbs, but R doesn't do that. I feel like R's composure just shredded like wet paper and then it's V in charge of that entire scene and that feels really weird to me. It's a nice way to recap what's going on politically, but it feels to me more like a conversation that's happening in someone's sitting room than an interrogation. 

It's fun to see M & co again, but I'm not sure how much I care about them right now. I feel like they don't have much to do with either of the first two scenes (which feel more urgent and related to each other, and which i'm more invested in, despite the fun cameos here and the oddness with R).

And I'm still not fully on board with the super-secret-ness of the super secret society. It reminds me of some of the ridiculous and silly super-secret antics that happened during the height of the Cold War, only I'm not really convinced there's a cold war going on in the Nether from what I've read (but I've only read what you've submitted here so maybe i'm missing things). 

Since I do have at least some of the prior stories under my belt, I had a pretty good idea of who the characters were and what's going on, but looking at just the text, I think it's a little sparse on the character descriptions and scene settings. It's particularly apparent in M's scene, I feel. 

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6 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I'd be fine with one extra non-S POV person in this chapter, but this feels like too many too soon.

Lol, @Mandamon, welcome to my world :D

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6 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

R seems singularly unsuited to being an interrogator; she keeps getting distracted by every little thought. Wasn't she a semi-career politician last time we saw her? Current administration notwithstanding, I feel like any politician who wasn't still in their first year could hold onto the thread of an argument and maintain a decent poker face in spite of some stressful questions and a few personal barbs, but R doesn't do that. I feel like R's composure just shredded like wet paper and then it's V in charge of that entire scene and that feels really weird to me. It's a nice way to recap what's going on politically, but it feels to me more like a conversation that's happening in someone's sitting room than an interrogation.

This is what I wish I'd said.

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Great points, @industrialistDragon. I've got a better idea on how to reorder this...

10 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Wow, this is the same chapter? I'm feeling like I might have a little bit of whiplash going from S to R, and then it's straight to M, and by that point I am definitely feeling some whiplash. I'd be fine with one extra non-S POV person in this chapter, but this feels like too many too soon.  

I think I just need to combine POVs so there's only one for the first few chapters.

 

10 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

R seems singularly unsuited to being an interrogator;

Yep, as @Robinski says, this is a good way to put it. I'll work on clearing this up.

10 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

It's fun to see M & co again, but I'm not sure how much I care about them right now.

 

10 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

And I'm still not fully on board with the super-secret-ness of the super secret society.

This is, unfortunately, what I'm leaning toward as well. I was sort of thinking about having M and G pop up at the end of every few chapters and slowly build something throughout the book. It may be better to just give them a whole chapter here and there instead.

Great comments from everyone! I think I may skip posting next week? Dunno. I have a con to sell books at this weekend, so I may not have time anyway.

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