aeromancer

Reading Excuses - 10/29/18 - aeromancer - Raise the Stakes! Second Draft(D)(6527)

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My submission is kind of long this week. In fact's it's my single longest submission yet, by around 1000 words. I wanted to keep it short, but that didn't happen, and while it is long enough to split into two submissions, I didn't really feel there was a good halfway point to do so. TL;DR - It's long, I'd like for you to read it anyway, if it starts dragging, feel free to drop it, but give me comments. This is the second draft. I've replaced the side character to a side characters, altered the setting a bit, and apply the comments from last time. Again, no actual drugs in this submission, but gambling is a vice, and V and G are both taken.

Now for the notes on all the games mentioned. Note that I just know about these games and techniques from a theoretical standpoint, so please don't actually try any of this, thank you.
Spoiler

Blackjack: One of the more famous casino games, it’s relatively easy to come ahead. The casino must bet according to specific rules which make it most likely to win, meaning that a very specific strategy can beat it with a slight edge. Unfortunately, players tend to ‘overbet their edge’ (basically, the casino can’t run out of money, and you can so once the negative tips too deeply in your favor you lose.) Don't do that. 

There’s also a technique known as ‘card counting’, or tracking the card of the massive multi-deck deck the casino uses. (This is why casinos shuffle every so often, to prevent this.) Using this can give you a slight edge (again, due to betting systems and the fact that some casinos will pay extra on Blackjack.) J uses both these techniques to his advantage. Don't count cards, because a casino WILL notice and WILL kick you out.

Craps: A simple enough dice game, played on even stakes. Two six-sided die are thrown by the player. A roll of 2,3,12 is a ‘loss’. A roll of 7 is a ‘win’. Any other number means you roll again, rolling until you hit the same total as the first roll, or a 7. Hitting the same total is a ‘win’, hitting a 7 is a ‘loss’. If you roll 7 aside from the first roll, not only is it a loss, but you must also give up the dice to the next player.

There are side bets that players can make on the player rolling, but that's not important for the story, so we'll ignore it.

J is cheating using an odd method. It’s never explicitly stated, but he secretly smeared the dice with a thin layer of a clear substance using some sleight of hand. This substance gets sticky when warmed, like from being held, but quickly cools to become smooth. The die stops when it hits a sticky side, especially when rolled on felt. J is simultaneously heating up both low sides or the high sides, preventing a 7 from ever being rolled. (Yes, this is a real cheating method, but DO NOT USE IT, unless you do not value your kneecaps. And even then, please don’t.)

Siege: I invented this game! (That’s why it’s weird and not explained properly.) J does not cheat in this game, but it’s really not hard as long as you’re good at palming, and/or using loaded die.

Also, while it may seem otherwise, aside from one roll, all of J's roll was determined by a random number generator. By which I mean this:

Spoiler

IMG_20181029_192345.thumb.jpg.bae81b706435c9f5a492cc3e88bdcd91.jpg

And, as stated previously, discuss game theory with me at your own peril.

Edited by aeromancer
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Wow, I haven't been a first poster in ages.

Overall

I remain confused as to the purpose of this story. What is the item our protag has to get? Why does it matter? What happens if he doesn't get it? Why do we care about these games?

While parts of the narrative were entertaining, I think it would do better rearranged to run chronologically. I also found the end highly anticlimactic and would have liked more of a 'battle', in word play or otherwise, after Luck was caught cheating. 

There were a bunch of typos and such that I didn't flag, but be aware that they are there.

Overall though, much better than the first time around!

As I go

- wait, what tense are we in here? You're flirting with several versions of past tense and it's making it hard to read

- pg 1: the narrative said the room was happy with him, but then at the end of page one they're mad? When did the transition occur?

- I think you mean 'several scars on,' not several scars around, unless they're floating around him or something

- page three: the narrator appears to be a character in this story. Is that what you're going for? POV is the narrator?

- I find N's manner of speech really draining. The bravado makes me want to punch him. The narrator's voice is fun though

- pg 12: I would have enjoyed the first part more if it came after the second part. Nella's attitude was very off-putting, but I'd have been much more amiable to it had I know it was a ploy. Is there a reason you didn't lead chronologically?

- page 15: I was game for the first dozen or so pages, but I'd really like a through line at this point, I think. Why does J want to play this person? Why does it matter? What are the stakes? These should be defined by this point.

- 16: side eye at a woman being warned about letting her emotions rule her

- 19: it's hard for me not to skim through the game stuff since I don't know what the stakes are or why I should care. But I'm also not a gambling person so I don't know if I'm your target demographic either

- 23: she visibly cheated and just... laughs when caught and concedes? That is really anticlimactic

 

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22 hours ago, kais said:

I remain confused as to the purpose of this story. What is the item our protag has to get? Why does it matter? What happens if he doesn't get it? Why do we care about these games?

The protag has to get a maguffin. More specifically, he works for someone who wants the maguffin for reasons he's not being told. Why does it matter if he gets the maguffin? Well, it doesn't matter to the reader, which was brought up last time, so this is why I threw in the counter-wager of losing an eye. As for the games, well, they're games. Everyone loves games.

Yeah, I have no idea how to set up stakes. I mean, I read a good amount of this kind of literature, but I kind of skip to get to the good parts (AKA the math.) But I think I did a better job then last time.

22 hours ago, kais said:

Overall though, much better than the first time around!

Yay! I did.

22 hours ago, kais said:

- page three: the narrator appears to be a character in this story. Is that what you're going for? POV is the narrator?

I think it was supposed to be third-person during the opening, following J until the game started, then following C. That in it of itself sounds complicated now that I'm writing it, and I probably didn't stick to it as often as I liked.

22 hours ago, kais said:

- I find N's manner of speech really draining. The bravado makes me want to punch him. The narrator's voice is fun though

- pg 12: I would have enjoyed the first part more if it came after the second part. Nella's attitude was very off-putting, but I'd have been much more amiable to it had I know it was a ploy. Is there a reason you didn't lead chronologically?

I mean, I originally I did have it the other way, then this stray thought entered my mind of wouldn't it be better if we started 'in media res'? See, if I start off by telling you there's a ploy, then I have no reveal. But if I don't, I have two reveals, the first being the answer to the executioner's riddle, and the second being that N isn't actually that, well, actually I'm at a loss to describe him other than 'hyper-aggressive fool'. Did it work? I am pleased to know that I managed to hit exactly what I was aiming for, but I will question the wisdom of leading with such a punch-able character. (This is also why I need to use 'narrator' for the opening, there's really no other way to sugar coat that.)

22 hours ago, kais said:

- 16: side eye at a woman being warned about letting her emotions rule her

Your warning is noted. I don't intend to turn C into some damsel-in-distress swooner or someone who flies off the handle at any provocation. However, C kinds of needs to be the emotional one of the group (A isn't getting a POV and J needs to be absolutely calm) because I need someone to give tension to the game at the end, though, if anything, she's the straight man (straight woman? I mean I think everyone knows the term as straight man) in this situation.

22 hours ago, kais said:

- 19: it's hard for me not to skim through the game stuff since I don't know what the stakes are or why I should care. But I'm also not a gambling person so I don't know if I'm your target demographic either

- 23: she visibly cheated and just... laughs when caught and concedes? That is really anticlimactic

Long story short, much like yourself, I do believe you aren't in the target demographic for this. I appreciate you taking the time to review this, especially since this isn't your cup of tea. Thanks. And, yeah, the ending isn't exactly climatic. I mean, there is a subtext to the entire game that J and A are playing, but that would take at least a page of direct exposition for something which isn't even that great.

But I also like understanding, and being understood, so I'll try explaining A's reaction to being caught cheating and get slightly sidetracked. (I warned you about dragging me down the game theory hole.) There's an old saying in sports which I heard attributed to John McGraw (though in any event it's not something he'd disagree with even if he didn't say it): "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'." (No, I'm serious, that's a thing.) In other words, it was expected of players who wanted the win to do everything in their power to get in. Cheating means something very different to a player rather than a designer. For instance, takes the infamous Black Sox Scandal in 1919, where eight players took bribes to fix the World Series by losing deliberately. (It should be noted that one of these players, the legendary 'Shoeless Joe' Jackson, accepted money initially, but returned it and played to win.) These eight players were banned for life from baseball, and stripped of their respective achievements they already amassed. That is what a player considers cheating, because it goes against the grain of the game. Something like, saying, superfreezing baseballs so they sink short when the other team hits 'em, the classic 'hidden ball' trick to tag players on base out, or just straight up plonking is considered dirty, but understandable. (Now I note that 'plonking', aka deliberately hitting the batter, is throwing a 145g ball at around 40m/s at a human being. You will receive a 1-game ban. Unless you're Jose Ureña, who got a completely deserved 6-game ban.)

Here, we have two cheaters playing each other. At that point, it's just a contest of who's better at not getting caught, (which is why I have C acting as the second). Which is what's happening. It's very clear that A manipulated the dice to roll a five. And, fortunately, A is a decent enough of a human being to admit when she gets caught.

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Similar comments and concerns to @kais on this one. It's a lot better, but still drags.

11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Long story short, much like yourself, I do believe you aren't in the target demographic for this. I appreciate you taking the time to review this, especially since this isn't your cup of tea. Thanks. And, yeah, the ending isn't exactly climatic. I mean, there is a subtext to the entire game that J and A are playing, but that would take at least a page of direct exposition for something which isn't even that great.

This is definitely in my demographic, and I also thought the numbers weighed down the story. And if I'm not the demographic, then who is? few people will  enjoy a story that doesn't have a good/climactic ending.

11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Here, we have two cheaters playing each other. At that point, it's just a contest of who's better at not getting caught

This is the heart of the story, and I think it needs to be brought out more. it has nothing to do with the actual rules, since they're both cheating. So show us instead their emotions and how they're going to one-up each other. I'd read the heck out of that.

 

Original writeup...

Overall, this is a lot better than the first version, and you've got some good emotional tags with the game, but the whole thing runs long. It could probalby be cut down to half or 3/4 of it's length and still achieve the same effect.

Also, are you planning to tie this in with something else? I like that there is visible worldbuilding in the background, but there might be a few too many calls to something outside the story. It makes me wonder more about those things and if they're more interesting than this story.

Last, I'd really get rid of all the numbers, or all but a couple. I don't really care what the numbers are, as I don't understand the game. I had no idea what happened when they rolled at the end, but you got the point across that the lady cheated, and J found her out. You could do that with taking out all the numbers, and just show the dice roll where she influenced it. Then the story is shorter and snappier, but we still get the same emotional impact. This same thing happens in most of the story.

I still enjoyed it, and kept reading it, but if I came across this story "int the wild" I'd probably skim through the rest of it once I got to all the game description.

 

Notes while reading
pg 2: "Ah, a lost"
--loss?

pg 3: This intro is a little long for a short story. It could be cut down to get to the inciting incident sooner.

pg 4: "what his foe had maneuvered him into doing"
--technically true, but this is kind of weak, and makes me like N even less than I already did.

pg 5: "But you’ve already lost the riddle game"
--huh? He has?

pg 5: "shown a violent shale of pale blue"
--I have several problems with this statement. Can blue be violent? Do his eyes change color? If not, then do his eyes always look violent?

pg 7: ‘The single tense of ‘agents on assignment’ is ‘dead man with no backup’
--cool line

pg 8: "The tale of a fee was fiction, the emblem was what counted"
--why? Are they and the concierge both in on it? Why this facade when there's no one else around?

pg 9: "falling to the floor to regain her balance"
--that's...not how you regain your balance...

pg 9: "not make that"
--now

pg 10: I like the banter, but I'm not really sure what's going on, and I'm almost halfway in.

pg 11: "turning his two blue eyes to his natural heterochromatic mix of blue and black"
--Is this where the violent blue eye comes from?  I'm assuming J is going to become N...

pg 11: "Our job is to bait him.” 
--okay, but I'm still not sure of the objective of the story.

pg 12: Wait, we're back in the first timeline now? There needs to be another ellipsis.

pg: 12: "I would hang you, and then cut off your head"
--okay, this explains why they said he lost, but why didn't they stop after the first riddle, then?

pg 13: "My name is J"
--so why all the pretense to start if he's just going to say who he is?

pg 16: "Why is it that I got stuck with him"
--I thought we were in J's POV?

pg 16: Why were the dice appropriate?

pg 17: lots of numbers in here that don't really matter to me.

pg 18: I'm glad you cut the description of the games short, but I'm still skimming over the numbers you throw out to tell who wins. Can you describe the winning situation without using numbers but emotion, thus making it more exciting?

pg 20-22: I'm basically skimming any description of numbers to get to the part where you show what it means for the players. That's the part that's interesting, and it's done pretty well, but diluted a lot by listing all the numbers. I think you could take them all out and get the same effect.

pg 24: The ending is fine but I'd rather just hear the story rather than being taunted with it.


 

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Have you read No game No life? or watched the netflix gambling high school series?

There are lessons in both of those. 

 

Your introduction *cannot* be this dramatic, because of the escalation problem. 

Your characters must carry the story. Money is obviously a non-issue for everybody involved, so it doesn't provide tension. You describe why people dislike this guy in gruesome detail, but I don't like him either, so why should I care? In fact, the only character I remotely empathize with is the "companion" which is derogatory enough already. 

Don't have your characters magically solve riddles that would be difficult for the reader in one guess, it makes the reader feel bad.

If the reader doesn't know what's happening and you haven't established that this is a mystery from the pov of a character who doesn't know what's going on, they'll quit reading.

appropros?

They were playing games I knew and understood moments ago. Why do they play this game I've never heard of in the moment that's actually important? Is this book going to be about gambling or not?

Your characters are a little one dimensional but have solid fundamentals. Your writing is tense and clear, but you need to figure out the plan for this work. 

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Thanks! Addressing the points...

On 10/31/2018 at 10:59 AM, Mandamon said:

This is the heart of the story, and I think it needs to be brought out more. it has nothing to do with the actual rules, since they're both cheating. So show us instead their emotions and how they're going to one-up each other. I'd read the heck out of that.

I do see this. There is kind of a 'game within a game' which is just hinted at (C isn't experience enough to see it.) I'm looking to redo another old submission right now, but this will probably get resubmitted.

A lot of your notes translate to, roughly, that I have serious flow issues, though I am very happy that you broke down the issues, rather than just pointing it out. This will make it much either to work with.

On 10/31/2018 at 10:59 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 24: The ending is fine but I'd rather just hear the story rather than being taunted with it.

Sorry! I do this a lot, especially since I have a tendency to prioritize worldbuilding above basically everything else, so I leave threads all over the place. As it happens, that particular story would make good fodder for another submission in terms of two people playing games, so you might actually get that story.

Thanks.

 

19 minutes ago, mrwizard70 said:

Have you read No game No life? or watched the netflix gambling high school series?

No to both. I have read Liar Game, though, but that's apparently an obscure title so you've probably not even heard of it.

21 minutes ago, mrwizard70 said:

Your introduction *cannot* be this dramatic, because of the escalation problem. 

Your characters must carry the story. Money is obviously a non-issue for everybody involved, so it doesn't provide tension. You describe why people dislike this guy in gruesome detail, but I don't like him either, so why should I care? In fact, the only character I remotely empathize with is the "companion" which is derogatory enough already. 

I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'dramatic' introduction, could you explain?

Also, yes, money is a non-issue. The amounts are never named, and the eventual stakes have nothing to do with money. As it happens, I dislike the idea of gambling with money altogether.

24 minutes ago, mrwizard70 said:

Don't have your characters magically solve riddles that would be difficult for the reader in one guess, it makes the reader feel bad.

My fault for not specifying. C doesn't solve the riddle in one shot, she knows it beforehand. That puzzle is actually the archetypal puzzle of plurality puzzles (i.e. puzzles which rely on the solvers realizing that their are larger-than less-than amounts specified within the language of the puzzle.) When done correctly, they're very fun, but I dislike that particular one because there are highly creative alternate solutions you can use for it. I just threw it in because it was the first short puzzle that came to mind which had a degree of difficulty. 

29 minutes ago, mrwizard70 said:

They were playing games I knew and understood moments ago. Why do they play this game I've never heard of in the moment that's actually important? Is this book going to be about gambling or not?

This short story has literally nothing to do with conventional gambling, so no. True gambling is chance. Here, both players are attempting to use victory strategies with a 100% chance of victory by bending the rules of the game they're playing. However, for J's plan to work, he needs to be playing a game with the ability to raise the stakes to an absurd amount, even when he was losing.

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On 11/2/2018 at 2:10 PM, aeromancer said:

Thanks! Addressing the points...

I do see this. There is kind of a 'game within a game' which is just hinted at (C isn't experience enough to see it.) I'm looking to redo another old submission right now, but this will probably get resubmitted.

A lot of your notes translate to, roughly, that I have serious flow issues, though I am very happy that you broke down the issues, rather than just pointing it out. This will make it much either to work with.

Sorry! I do this a lot, especially since I have a tendency to prioritize worldbuilding above basically everything else, so I leave threads all over the place. As it happens, that particular story would make good fodder for another submission in terms of two people playing games, so you might actually get that story.

Thanks.

 

No to both. I have read Liar Game, though, but that's apparently an obscure title so you've probably not even heard of it.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'dramatic' introduction, could you explain?

Also, yes, money is a non-issue. The amounts are never named, and the eventual stakes have nothing to do with money. As it happens, I dislike the idea of gambling with money altogether.

My fault for not specifying. C doesn't solve the riddle in one shot, she knows it beforehand. That puzzle is actually the archetypal puzzle of plurality puzzles (i.e. puzzles which rely on the solvers realizing that their are larger-than less-than amounts specified within the language of the puzzle.) When done correctly, they're very fun, but I dislike that particular one because there are highly creative alternate solutions you can use for it. I just threw it in because it was the first short puzzle that came to mind which had a degree of difficulty. 

This short story has literally nothing to do with conventional gambling, so no. True gambling is chance. Here, both players are attempting to use victory strategies with a 100% chance of victory by bending the rules of the game they're playing. However, for J's plan to work, he needs to be playing a game with the ability to raise the stakes to an absurd amount, even when he was losing.

these are great points. 
RE: dramatic intro. I thought this was a full novel and so misconstrued everything. This level of tension is fine for a short story. Instead let me explain it this way, you introduce this extremely tense situation and conflict and then back off, which felt weird. Think not about how you or I feel discussing this, but how the reader feels. 

RE: Opening in general. It serves no purpose except to increase tension. Would flow better if you played the story straight as far as time goes.

RE: Gambling. I thought, even though the final scene, that they were gambling. You need to both explain your game better and make it less wordy. Additionally, why isn't it about gambling? I figured you were going to build into a novel about people who were superhuman because their luck was absurd, but honestly, I have no idea where this is going. There are lots of great themes in this if you make it about gambling, and literally no action if it isn't about gambling. 

 

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Overall, this is more streamlined from the first version, which I appreciate. I like A as a character, she seems very interesting and her powers are intriguing. However, I feel like much of this could be cut, condensed, and streamlined further.  I also feel like it suffers from a lack of stakes, if you'll forgive the pun. J/N is always in control, he never messes up, he never loses his cool, he never has to even bother to tell his assistant the plan, because ultimately anything she or anyone else does is inconsequential, both to the story's plot, and J/N's plan. It feels like he could have just walked in and taken the thing he wanted, and unfortunately, I don't find that kind of lack of suspense compelling.

 

As I go:

I am really confused as to why "the room" is subject to so much anthropomorphism in the first paragraph. Is there an AI watching things that would it matter so much as to whether "the room" liked this guy or not? 

 
I am very confused as to the setting of this story. Is it the real world or a fantasy one?  The room medals confused me because, as far as I know, casinos in the real world don't work this way, which makes me think it's a fantasy or alternate reality setting, but then craps and blackjack are real-world games, and explained with real world rules and strategies, so I'm left uncertain how to parse the background of what's going on.
 
Tunics and cloaks and capes and suits and no one bats an eye... The clothing described confuses me because there are these costume elements next to modern elements and I'm just wondering is this a costume party? Some kind of special event where the mask and capes would go unremarked? Why does J/N remove his coat early on, but the other man has his own outerwear on in the gambling scene? Three-piece suits are very real-world-modern fashion, but cloaks and tunics are standard fantasy elements, and I can't get a handle on any kind of internal logic in the setting, which makes it difficult to follow what's happening or why.
 
I think this would work better ordered chronologically. I am very confused by this time- and setting- and character-jump. 
 
Yes, now that it's clear, I would really appreciate at least some of the "1 hour ago" section at the front of this, to at least explain what's happening. "in medias res" is a fine way to start a story, but I feel like it needs to be balanced with enough information to quickly and solidly establish the setting and what's at stake. 
 
I'm having a hard time seeing the purpose of this grift. First J/N stated it was to bait a specific person (the cloaked man?) and now he's asking a completely different person for a heretofore unknown item?  I would really appreciate the shape of the grift laid out somewhere near the beginning, so that I know what to look for and can root for the characters as they go about it. Most of the heist, thievery, and sleight-of-hand stories I've watched or read have laid out at least the bones of the plan early on so that the reader is aware of what's happening and can feel the tension and suspense when the plan goes awry. Here I barely know what the characters think or feel, let alone what they're doing or why they're doing it. Without any anchor point for my interest in the characters, the game minutiae just seems dry to me. 
 
The POV shifts are very confusing to me. I don't mind the nameless narrator in the beginning, but then that narrator seems to be abandoned and the story seems to shift to limited third with the POV character seeming to change at random and that makes it very hard for me to stay invested in the story. 

The bit with the light bulb is good! I like the way it illustrates A's power without giving out a concrete explanation of it. 

And, like @Mandamon and @kais, once the numbered dice rolls start, I'm skimming. I don't care about the numbers, I care about the people, and by extension what the people care about. But, I'm not getting from this section of the story what J/N cares about, I'm just getting numbers and a a dry win/loss tally. This would be a great section for some commentary by the narrator from the beginning, and if the narrator was the one relaying the action, there would be no need to shoehorn in a strange POV to get both sides of the dice game.
 
 
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17 hours ago, mrwizard70 said:

RE: Gambling. I thought, even though the final scene, that they were gambling. You need to both explain your game better and make it less wordy. Additionally, why isn't it about gambling? I figured you were going to build into a novel about people who were superhuman because their luck was absurd, but honestly, I have no idea where this is going. There are lots of great themes in this if you make it about gambling, and literally no action if it isn't about gambling. 

It's kind of gambling, I guess. The concept behind this is 'How do you beat someone who can't lose a game of chance at a game of chance?' It's not gambling, so much as changing the meta of the game so that chance isn't being used to win.

 

Now, on to the new comments:

4 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Overall, this is more streamlined from the first version, which I appreciate. I like A as a character, she seems very interesting and her powers are intriguing. However, I feel like much of this could be cut, condensed, and streamlined further.  I also feel like it suffers from a lack of stakes, if you'll forgive the pun. J/N is always in control, he never messes up, he never loses his cool, he never has to even bother to tell his assistant the plan, because ultimately anything she or anyone else does is inconsequential, both to the story's plot, and J/N's plan. It feels like he could have just walked in and taken the thing he wanted, and unfortunately, I don't find that kind of lack of suspense compelling.

Rah and boo, then. I am glad that I managed to improve, but hearing that the story lacks stakes is kind of problematic. I will see what I can do, but there's kind of a problem, in that J needs to have everything planned out to a T beforehand. The idea was that C would provide the stakes, because she had no knowledge of anything. And that plan kind of  backfired, judging from what you said. I will see what I can do.

4 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I am very confused as to the setting of this story. Is it the real world or a fantasy one?  The room medals confused me because, as far as I know, casinos in the real world don't work this way, which makes me think it's a fantasy or alternate reality setting, but then craps and blackjack are real-world games, and explained with real world rules and strategies, so I'm left uncertain how to parse the background of what's going on.

 
Tunics and cloaks and capes and suits and no one bats an eye... The clothing described confuses me because there are these costume elements next to modern elements and I'm just wondering is this a costume party? Some kind of special event where the mask and capes would go unremarked? Why does J/N remove his coat early on, but the other man has his own outerwear on in the gambling scene? Three-piece suits are very real-world-modern fashion, but cloaks and tunics are standard fantasy elements, and I can't get a handle on any kind of internal logic in the setting, which makes it difficult to follow what's happening or why.

(waves hand) S T E A M P U N K needs no explanation. I will admit to ludicrously cherry-picking for the setting, but I've seen far worse from steampunk. Also, J/N removes his jacket just to annoy people by standing out.

4 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I think this would work better ordered chronologically. I am very confused by this time- and setting- and character-jump. 

I keep getting this. Noted. In the event I do submit next time, it'll probably be in a better chronological order.

4 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The bit with the light bulb is good! I like the way it illustrates A's power without giving out a concrete explanation of it. 

Yay, success!

Again, a lot of people have commented on the numbers, and rereading it, it's hard to juggle all the tallies in my head without the dice in front of me, so I notice the point. I'm just not sure I want my narrator POV to comment on the game, though, so that's probably not going to happen either. Thanks for the comments!

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So this is really late. I was completely obsessed with my NaNoWriMo (which I finished last weekend....) but I finally read and commented on this. I haven't read the other comments yet. With the other draft, I disagreed with a lot of the comments, so this time I figured I'd type mine in word before reading anyone else's. 

 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this.

 I think the way it was split into present, past, and present worked, or it would work if you made the front section just a little clearer. I liked the overall execution of it and the way it build suspense, but I did find myself having a hard time keeping track of who was who. OK, the only one I really had a good handle on through out was the guy in the dealer garb. I followed the one he was doing the rhyme thing with but close to the end, I lost track of that guy in the dialogue. I could not grasp the companion, and the other woman in the scene also seemed fuzzy.

 

The middle section did a good job introducing the characters, their personalities and relationships to each other. They really came to life there, which got me engaged with the story.  There names for who or what they worked for, but I didn’t really know what that meant in the context of this world, however, that didn’t really stop me. I was willing to wait for more.

 

The only world-building thing that really bugged me was I couldn’t quite grasp a point of reference for how the period in the book’s world might compare to one in this world or how modern the world was. I don’t need to link up exactly to reality time, or at all, but the fact that I couldn’t fully get a sense of how “modern” or “old fashioned” the setting was did take me out of the story a little.

 

I loved the game at the end. It moved quick enough to keep me in suspense, but I didn’t get confused about it either.

 

However, riddle part in the beginning completely lost me.

 

As I read:

 

p. 1

 

“wearing a tacky pseudo dealer look…”   I cannot picture this look at all

 

“is really” I think you were in past tense, so should it be  “was really” ?

 

p. 5

 

But you’ve already lost…” I’m also lost. I don’t understand how / why he lost the riddle game.

 

P. 8

“…tell you if she was if she was.” Repeated phrase. I also got a little confused in this conversation.

 

P. 11

“Our target is…” I think you are missing a comma or two here.

 

“…hang-on, Juicy enough, I…” is there a reason for the capital J? I don’t like “juicy” in that sentence, but I’m being picky. I not a big fan of the word in general when it’s used for anything that isn’t food, though plenty of other people have no issue with it.

 

P. 12

“No! Why does that work?” I’m totally lost with this riddle game, the answers, the rules, the winning and the losing…

 

P. 13

“Your opening was well played.” She already said it was masterful. This is a but redundant. I also have no clue how or why it was well played.

 

P. 14

“…are out ‘weaker’ half…” out should be our. 

What makes witch born not fully human?

 

P. 15

“…placed in on…” extra word

 

P. 17

“Pair 6, pair 5, one 3.” I’m guessing there is a reason for the way some numbers are spelt but not others. This line might not be the best example, but I kept thinking all the lower numbers should be spelled out.

 

P. 18

“…five games where…” I liked seeing the games through C’s eyes. It was a good way to explain it to readers without it feeling like an info dump because it felt more like she was just trying to follow / make sense of it for herself, not just for the reader’s benefit.

 

P. 20

‘“Let me think for a moment.” Cl… saw J… concentrating….” Having C right after the dialogue made think she was talking, but the context made me think it was J.

 

P. 24

“who know how” knows

 

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