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shatteredsmooth

11/26/18 - shatteredsmooth - LLM new opening (2924) (L)

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Content Warning: Language, mention of suicide 
Hi All,
 
I'm finally getting back into my usual revision habits, which generally start by writing new openings. I got some pretty mixed reactions to the original opening, though feedback became more unified with future submissions, especially about how the whole "It's a Wonderful Life" thing was overdone and not really working, so a lot of that is going away. 
 
As I revise, I'm trying to spend more time with each character before switching POVs, so this whole part of from M's. At one point, someone pointed out B's lack of agency. I'm working on that, but I think this is really M's story more than B's. 
 
Any and all feedback is welcome, but I would like to know if you got a clear sense of Mel's motives, and if the rules of the world seem like they are a little clearer. 
 
Thanks!
 
Sara
 
P.S. I did keep the pixies; they are too big a part of the Evanstar multiverse to keep out, but they're mentioned on the first page, so hopefully that works better. 
Edited by shatteredsmooth
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13 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I think this is really M's story more than B's.

This ties in a lot to what I'm talking about below. If this is going to be more M's story, then I think the setup and the conversation with E fits better. It just wasn't jiving with my impressions the story the first time around.

The world is clearer, certainly, but you might need to separate the information out a bit more. Right now it's all clumped at the beginning.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "Most people called her M."
--I like the intro to the world, but it's a bit of an infodump. We don't get a good hook into character until this sentence, but it's a non-sequitor, coming after everything else.

pg 2: "the steering where" -> "the steering wheel"

pg 2: The whole first section is very infodumpy. If this is intended to be a companion for the book, I can see how it would be a reminder of events, but here it just reads as off. Depends on who you intend the audience to be.

No other real issues technically, but unless E. is going to be a player in the rest of the story, having a chapter than focuses so much on them with M might be misleading. It ties into the book nicely, which leads to the same question of whether this is supposed to be read only by those who've read the book, or who are going to read the book.
It's a good setup for M wanting to act, thus the rest of the story, but we don't see anything from B's POV, except for a few stray thoughts at the end.

I'll have to see more of what you've changed. It does get me into the world better than last time, at maybe the cost of infodumping.

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Overall

It's better, and I have a much better grasp of the world this time around. Unfortunately the plot still seems disjointed. Every time I thought I was getting the hang of it there was a turn and I was lost again. Maybe too many characters introduced too quickly? Maybe just a bit more family buy-in? But yes, definitely making good progress!

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I'll have to see more of what you've changed. It does get me into the world better than last time, at maybe the cost of infodumping.

Per usual, I agree with Mandamon

 

As I go

- elf isn't a proper noun, and neither is angel. Capitalizing them seems weird here and jars me from the the story, which is rough so early on

Except they weren’t two separate worlds.I don't think this lands quite the way you want. How about Two worlds. Problem was, both existed in her world, or something like that?

- ...lived a double life in a messy multifaceted world where she tried her best to make it a better place, whether it was by supporting the people she loved or helping strangers find peace. She tried, but she failed more than she succeeded. This seems redundant since most has already been stated

- Most people called her... This doesn't seem relevant. If most people call her that, why doesn't the narrative?

- that first part feels a little too info-dumpy, to the point where when E is introduced it seems to come out of nowhere. It's a better intro, but we might need more emotional buy in to family if we're going to care about E. Right now I barely care about M.

- pg 8: It took me three reads to realize M is hearing E's internal monologue

 

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On 11/27/2018 at 4:26 PM, kais said:

elf isn't a proper noun, and neither is angel. Capitalizing them seems weird here and jars me from the the story, which is rough so early on

 

I can see where you are coming from on this, but in Power Surge, my editor talked me into the capital thing, and since it is like that in Power Surge, that is how I was writing it here...

On 11/27/2018 at 10:23 AM, Mandamon said:

It just wasn't jiving with my impressions the story the first time around.

 The first time around there was more B on the page than M, but M was in my head more. So far, I've got this M section followed by about 10 pages of grammatical disaster 3rd person they/them from B's POV, another ten or so from M, and then that shifts back to B. Instead of quick switches, I am trying to spend more time on each character. 

On 11/27/2018 at 10:23 AM, Mandamon said:

It ties into the book nicely, which leads to the same question of whether this is supposed to be read only by those who've read the book, or who are going to read the book.

The hope is that people will read this and then decide they want to read novel, and that people who liked the novel will also read this and remember I exist. If I ever finish revising and send it back, NSP is going to label it as part of the Evanstar Chronicles or in the "world of the Evanstars" or something like that. This would be one of those 0.5 books on Goodreads. 

I want it to be a companion to the novel but I feel like not enough people have read the novel for it to deserve a companion...I'm not sure if I am making any sense.

On 11/27/2018 at 4:26 PM, kais said:
On 11/27/2018 at 10:23 AM, Mandamon said:

I'll have to see more of what you've changed. It does get me into the world better than last time, at maybe the cost of infodumping.

 

*Pleads guilty to the info dump.

I don't know why, but I love these things. I like writing them, and I don't mind reading them when they're kept to a couple pages, but I'm not revising for me. I'm revising for readers. 

On 11/27/2018 at 4:26 PM, kais said:

Maybe just a bit more family buy-in?

@kais What do you mean by this? My brain isn't quite grasping it. 

 

Thank you both for the feedback. :-)

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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17 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

What do you mean by this?

I need to care more about the family, and how protag feels about the family. Basically I need more emotion. Not necessarily sloppy emotion, but if protag doesn't really care, then I can't, either.

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2 hours ago, kais said:

I need to care more about the family, and how protag feels about the family. Basically I need more emotion. Not necessarily sloppy emotion, but if protag doesn't really care, then I can't, either.

OK, that helps. Thanks! 

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Thoughts As I Go: The opening few paragraphs read like a character bio, especially the sixth paragraph.

-I also don’t remember M being an elf, was that added? Also, does she have pointy ears? (It’s a pretty standard trope, so just wondering.)

-pg. 2 – I remember doing an energy conversion calculation in a short story I wrote for the rough amount of calories it would take to cure people from wounds. I can try dredging it up from memory if you want.

-pg. 2 – paternal or maternal cousin?

-pg. 5 – I’m slightly happier with this version of M’s relationship with E.

-pg. 6 – The foreshadowing is a good addition, but maybe it’d be a bit better if it didn’t intrude into M’s conversation so much?

-pg. 6 – the pronouns are an issue, oddly enough. If I was a first time reader (and didn’t know that B prefers ‘they’ as a pronoun) I’d think E was referring to the pair of them (both B and C), then get confused later.

-pg. 9 – I’m calling out M again. First rule of being a civilian first responder to an emergency – do not put your own life in danger under any circumstances. (Second rule is call 9-1-1. Yes, that’s the second rule.)

 

Overall: This is a good introduction, and I don’t have a lot of the same complaints I had on the first LMM submission. That said, I think B and C have a little too much focus, as I mentioned earlier.

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11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

-I also don’t remember M being an elf, was that added? Also, does she have pointy ears? (It’s a pretty standard trope, so just wondering.)

That wasn't mentioned in the other version, but it is in the novel (E and M have a grandmother who is an elf). The elf grandmother has very pointy ears. To people with the Sight, E and M have slightly pointy ears. 

11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

pg. 2 – paternal or maternal cousin?

Important distinction to make in this story! E is M's maternal cousin. E is M's mother's twin brother's child. 

11 hours ago, aeromancer said:

pg. 2 – I remember doing an energy conversion calculation in a short story I wrote for the rough amount of calories it would take to cure people from wounds. I can try dredging it up from memory if you want.

That is fascinating -- thank you so much for offering to share! If it's something sitting around in an easy to find file, I'd love to know. But if not, don't bother. I'm not 100% sure how that would fit in with the existing magic system and am probably not going to get that technical on the page. I already know M's limits even if I don't have a number or calculation to go along with them. 

I'm not sure how effectively I'd even be able to use it anyway because I have not been exercising my math skills enough in the past decade. 

 

Thank you for all the feedback. :D I'll be reading Heist this weekend.  

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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I was out of town most of last week so i'm just getting caught up, sorry!

Overall: I think this is a much better introduction to the story, and I do like giving E more of an active role in the events. I understand more why M is so gung-ho on saving B now, but I'm wondering a bit if the focus of this part of the story isn't off, especially if the rest of it is similar to the first version. Like, this is shaping up to be mostly about M and E, and B is more just there to put the M+E relationship into higher relief, whereas in the first version it was mostly B and E was the superfluous one. I'm concerned that by the end of this section I'm expecting a family drama between M and E, and if I end up with a B section later on, I'm going to be really lost for why it's there (which is sad because I really liked B and their dogs-first approach to life :)

 

As I go:

This is me giving the side-eye to science and reason leaving no room for religion. Plenty of scientists are devout. One does not preclude the other. Plenty of cryptozoologists would argue the supernatural precluding the scientific, too, but I'm willing to give that one a pass since it's a pretty well-established trope. 

I'm a little confused as to why E is being kept in the dark about the family's heritage if M and so many other members apparently have been read in on the extra-human parts, and E is have real consequences to possessing extra-human abilities. But, maybe that's something from the other books?

This whole opening page is reading very stream-of-consciousness and slightly info-dump-ish to me, and I feel like it is disjointed and a little repetitive as a result.

yeah, no. I think M's being the jerk for meddling, not E for asserting their boundaries. Asserting boundaries is a healthy and brave thing to do and right now I'm feeling for E and I think M's out of line. I feel like M is coming off as much less sympathetic to me in this version, mostly for the way she keeps thinking E will get "fixed" and then somehow E will be grateful for M's meddling. To me, M seems like she thinks she deserves E's continued friendship and is entitled to mess with E's life uncontested, and I really don't like that.  

I like the foreshadowing with B, but I'm just not as interested in their conversations and the uncle's stroke as I was in the first version. I'm far more invested in E at this point. 

 

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On 12/5/2018 at 7:42 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I'm concerned that by the end of this section I'm expecting a family drama between M and E, and if I end up with a B section later on, I'm going to be really lost for why it's there (which is sad because I really liked B and their dogs-first approach to life :)

So, immediately after this scene, it switches to a revised version of the shoveling / dog drama scene from B's POV. The way the rewrite went, M and E do have a family drama arc that's a prequel to what happens between the two of them in the books, but B also has what I think is a more clearly defined arc. I tried  to give M's POV and B's POV equal page time. I was almost going to include the next section with this, but I hadn't spent much (or any) time editing it, and didn't want it to end up being about the grammar of close third they/them/their. 

On 12/5/2018 at 7:42 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I'm a little confused as to why E is being kept in the dark about the family's heritage if M and so many other members apparently have been read in on the extra-human parts, and E is have real consequences to possessing extra-human abilities. But, maybe that's something from the other books?

Yeah. It's a big thing in the books. I'm worried putting too much into this will bog it down, but at the same time, I don't want a lack of explanation to pull new readers out of the story.

On 12/5/2018 at 7:42 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I'm far more invested in E at this point. 

I'm not surprised.

The books are all from E's POV, so... 

On 12/5/2018 at 7:42 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I think M's being the jerk for meddling, not E for asserting their boundaries. Asserting boundaries is a healthy and brave thing to do and right now I'm feeling for E and I think M's out of line. I feel like M is coming off as much less sympathetic to me in this version, mostly for the way she keeps thinking E will get "fixed" and then somehow E will be grateful for M's meddling. To me, M seems like she thinks she deserves E's continued friendship and is entitled to mess with E's life uncontested, and I really don't like that.  

This is how E feels about M for sure. So in someways, its consistent with the book from E's POV, but I can see how it makes M less sympathetic. It's give me a lot to think about.

 

Thank you! :-) 

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