aeromancer

Reading Excuses - 12/3/18 - aeromancer - Heist! Part II (4687)(V)

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Heist - II is the conclusion to last week's submission. As indicated by the title, this is a 'heist' style story. I'm looking for overall feedback, but specifically on possible plotholes, viewpoint jumping, and pacing.

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I haven't read the first part of this story, so my comments might be a little off, just FYI. 

  • So first line, I instantly get the impression that J is sort of a noble, and that he also knows to fight/use a spear. 
  • "I couldn't have done it, obviously, because I'm here." This phrasing feels a little clunky, maybe "I obviously couldn't have done it, I'm right here." Just a suggestion.
  • "...extra security on auction nights, which meant that it was just thugs that were threatening him. It was hard to threaten him with that." Also a little clunky, maybe something like "...extra security on auction night, but they were just thugs." At least for me, 'just thugs' gets the message across that they're not very threatening.
  • I don't quite understand what Lord E means in his first line of dialogue. "hold him there." Is he talking to the mercenaries?
  • I'm liking the story, but the dialogue just isn't working for me. It's just a little clunky. I think it just needs some trimming and consolidating. 
  • "I expected better from someone of your caliber." So J is a sort of high-born nobleman?
  • End of first page. The pacing is great so far, thumbs up.
  • Imperial spy. I was right, and you did a great job conveying he was something of that nature in the very first line.
  • "black-and-blue-eyed spy" this feels like a little bit of a long description for the start of an action scene. Also I'm a little confused as to who that is, but I'm almost positive that's just because I haven't read the first part of the story. 
  • With the confusion of who's moving aside (Just from me not having read the first part of the story) the blocking here is a little confusing, but I think it just needs more description. I think you should just think, and maybe go through the motions yourself, of the action. If he was going to grab the spear, why not just grab it in the first place and maybe spin so the guard couldn't get him? Instead of giving the guard time to react while he raised it up with crossed arms, then completely switched his hand position, grabbed it and pulled? I don't know, maybe it's just me.
  • Just one more note on the action here, "sending the guard into him" makes it sound like he's pushing the guard away, maybe it should be "pulling the guard into him."
  • Wait? One of the guards has a spear at J's throat? I'm confused. Was the black and blue eyed spy J? This is again probably just because I haven't read the first part.
  • Ok, so J was the one attacking, but what do you mean by one of their own having a spear at J's throat?
  • "non-moving guard" feels a little bit unwieldy. Maybe 'motionless?' or 'limp?'
  • What era are we in? There are spears and mercenaries, but also smoke grenades? I get the feeling of a renaissance-ish time period, so maybe you should come up with a different term for a smoke grenade.
  • Wow, you really did a great job of communicating who J was in that first line. My first impression of him was 'nobleman not afraid of a fight' and with the mention of actual nobles here on pg. 3, that fits perfectly.
  • Couple simple spelling errors on pg. 4, such as using 'action' instead of 'auction' and "you aren't supposed to do that," instead of, "you aren't supposed to know that." 
  • Not exactly sure what Akrun's position is, but I assume you explained that in the first part. 
  • Another little spelling error, you used "...the ancient lessers of history." I assume you meant lessons
  •  "...slamming one of Lord E's personal guards in the throat, point-first." Based on the 'point-first' I would guess this attacker has a knife? Or is he doing it with his bare hands? Might want to clarify that.
  • Oh ok, the guard recovered, so it obviously wasn't a knife, maybe take out the 'point-first'
  • This action scene was very good and easy to follow, good blocking and description.
  • Great dialogue toward the end of pg. 8!
  • Pg. 9 "His fingers slipped, and the scholar fell." A little hard to tell who's slipping and falling. You've already established that the scholar is climbing, so maybe "His fingers slipped, and he fell."
  • Pg. 9 The dialogue gets pretty clunky again, but I think you've done a great job keeping the characters voices distinct and consistent.
  • Pg. 10 Extra-dimensional? I would guess something about this was mentioned in the first part, but if it wasn't, you might want to consider adding something about it, so that it isn't so jarring to readers. It caught me off guard and I suddenly found myself examining the whole story., looking for anything supernatural. It would be better to have that as the lens through which it is read to begin with.

Overall I liked the story! I don't think you need to worry about any of the things you mentioned. The pacing was great, and viewpoint switching wasn't a problem for me! The biggest issue I had was the dialogue. All of it except for the end of pg. 8 was very clunky and hard to follow. I'm not going to tell you how to fix it because I have no clue, but it just wasn't working for me. Other than that, just try for a little more clarity in general. Other than that it was great! Keep it up!

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I enjoyed it, but J doesn't need to cross arms to move the spear, it's cumbersome. Try with a broomstick and you'll see.

 

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Yay, part two!

  • Pg 2 "Then I will take my leave and see if I can as well." It took me a second to realize what J was referring to here, maybe this line could be clearer.
  • The action sequence here read well to me and I could visualize J's movements clearly, so good job! However, I see what the others are saying about how J moved the spear. It's a cool visual, which I liked, but the same result could be accomplished in a simpler way.
  • Pg 3 "By the way, why do you give your guards smoke grenades?" I found that the jump here to the next paragraph was a bit too quick. I was expecting to read J throwing the grenade down. Also, just out of curiosity, why do the guards have smoke grenades?
  • ...with his hand... You don't need this, since gesturing already implies that he's using his hand.
  • "I've informed all the guards..." How did E do this so quickly? Has a portion of time already passed since J's exit? Or maybe I'm just missing something.
  • Pg 4 "lesser paintings of some of the ancient lessors of history" I know what you meant here, but you might consider using another word besides lessors to keep the sentence from sounding repetitive. Maybe inferior paintings?
  • Pg 5 "A nest of iron beams..." I like the imagery here, very nice.
  • Also, I just wanted to mention that the POV changes read very naturally to me this time. The switches feel smooth and expected, so nice work!
  • Pg 8 The build up is great so far, especially in the scene where E is betrayed.

Overall I really enjoyed this. As @MistbornAlpaca said, the pacing was great and the POV switches were well done. I agree that the dialogue did feel a bit clunky in spots, but I could follow it and it didn't take me out of the story. Well done!

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On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

I haven't read the first part of this story, so my comments might be a little off, just FYI. 

I could send you it, if you want. A lot of things might make a lot more sense.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:
  • "black-and-blue-eyed spy" this feels like a little bit of a long description for the start of an action scene. Also I'm a little confused as to who that is, but I'm almost positive that's just because I haven't read the first part of the story. 

Heterochromia (having two different eye colors) is hardly infrequent, but it's usually missed because it's just a light shading difference. In J's case, he has two completely different colors! And one of them isn't a normal human eye color.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:
  • Another little spelling error, you used "...the ancient lessers of history." I assume you meant lessons

No, but Spellcheck agreed with you. I'm using 'lesser' as shorthand for 'lesser master' (such as, say, Salieri to Mozart). It's a bit clunky, I'll grant that.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:
  •  "...slamming one of Lord E's personal guards in the throat, point-first." Based on the 'point-first' I would guess this attacker has a knife? Or is he doing it with his bare hands? Might want to clarify that.
  • Oh ok, the guard recovered, so it obviously wasn't a knife, maybe take out the 'point-first'

Knife hand. Might've been more clear on that.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:
  • Pg. 9 The dialogue gets pretty clunky again, but I think you've done a great job keeping the characters voices distinct and consistent.

Yah, standard expodump problem. Still rough around the edges with those.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:
  • Pg. 10 Extra-dimensional? I would guess something about this was mentioned in the first part, but if it wasn't, you might want to consider adding something about it, so that it isn't so jarring to readers. It caught me off guard and I suddenly found myself examining the whole story., looking for anything supernatural. It would be better to have that as the lens through which it is read to begin with.

It was mentioned in the first part.

On 12/4/2018 at 1:45 PM, MistbornAlpaca said:

Overall I liked the story! I don't think you need to worry about any of the things you mentioned. The pacing was great, and viewpoint switching wasn't a problem for me! The biggest issue I had was the dialogue. All of it except for the end of pg. 8 was very clunky and hard to follow. I'm not going to tell you how to fix it because I have no clue, but it just wasn't working for me. Other than that, just try for a little more clarity in general. Other than that it was great! Keep it up!

Thanks! The dialogue might work a bit better if you read part 1, though.

 

17 hours ago, Ookla the ingenious said:

I enjoyed it, but J doesn't need to cross arms to move the spear, it's cumbersome. Try with a broomstick and you'll see.

Oh, a newcomer. Welcome to Reading Excuses, it's great to have more people around. Can't wait to read your first submission.

Also, the 'cross-arms' in a knife-disarming technique I've modified to work with spear. I've just done a bad job.

 

5 hours ago, Truthweaver said:
  • The action sequence here read well to me and I could visualize J's movements clearly, so good job! However, I see what the others are saying about how J moved the spear. It's a cool visual, which I liked, but the same result could be accomplished in a simpler way.

See earlier comment, long story short, yes but it's riskier.

5 hours ago, Truthweaver said:
  • Pg 3 "By the way, why do you give your guards smoke grenades?" I found that the jump here to the next paragraph was a bit too quick. I was expecting to read J throwing the grenade down. Also, just out of curiosity, why do the guards have smoke grenades?

That guard is Stan, he smuggled it in.

5 hours ago, Truthweaver said:
  • Also, I just wanted to mention that the POV changes read very naturally to me this time. The switches feel smooth and expected, so nice work!

Success!

Thanks for the feedback.

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1 hour ago, aeromancer said:

Also, the 'cross-arms' in a knife-disarming technique I've modified to work with spear. I've just done a bad job

I assumed the tip was right under his chin, so slapping the spear up is not what you want.

BtW i want to thank you. You gave me an idea for something.

Edited by Ookla the ingenious
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Overall: I feel like the first section of this would be much improved by some of the action and focus that's so prevalent in this second part. I feel like I would have liked to have had a bit more focus on the actual heist than all of the front-loaded information, and I would have liked to have had more time with the characters I'm supposed to sympathize with. As it is, I mostly feel for E, and agree with him, and am rooting for him, not any of the other characters. Much like the last submission with J, the way nothing ever goes wrong for him really neutralized a lot of whatever tension I was supposed to feel for the situation. I can't sympathize with someone who is completely perfect and apparently cares about nothing.

Technically this continues to show improvement and I only had a little bit of trouble with the blocking (which felt fairly complicated so that's really very good).  

 

As I go: 

I know this is supposed to be a tense scene, but I really don't feel much tension in it. Like the last story that featured J, I don't feel much of any stakes or danger because J himself is never worried and never has to struggle for any thing he or his team does. The team's plan works perfectly, every bit of timing is right, everything is in its correct spot at the correct time, the guards aren't a worry, the weapons are useless, every move anticipated and accounted for... so why even bother? Why not simply walk up and take what he wants if everything is so simple to predict and easy to pull off?

I"m still sympathizing most with lord E, who, besides being a terrible auctioneer just trying to retire, is apparently having his one close friend betray him and his reputation destroyed, and it feels like the good guys are enjoying rubbing his nose in his failures and their betrayals. Most of the good guys feel like arrogant, cruel jerks to me and I'm having a lot of trouble caring about them and their perfection. E is far more sympathetic at this point, and after watching him struggle and adapt, I want him to succeed and show these arrogant interlopers why he's lasted as long as he has. 

I'm not sure I care what happens after E is dead. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that they escape unscathed, with everything they wanted. I'm not particularly interested in the item they were after, because most of the characters haven't shown much interest in it other than the fact they were hired/assigned to take it. A heist with no danger and no jeopardy is just bullies stealing things. 

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This half did have some more action, and generally things connected and flowed, save where I made notes below.

However, like @industrialistDragon, I'm not empathizing with any of the crew. Overall, the job is too easy, and they're stealing this manuscript and killing a pretty dumb, but generally harmless guy to get it. Do we ever get a reason? I'd love to see something bad, or even just a setback, happen to one of the crew to give this a little more tension.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "I couldn’t have done it, obviously because I’m here.” , “I’m willing to bet you’re only here to have an alibi.”
--all this is fairly obvious.

pg 2: “Well played. It seems you’ve won against the thief.” 
--Lord E still seems pretty dumb. He's claiming whatever he can, no matter how it works with the evidence. It makes following all this a little confusing.

pg 3: "Finally, after minutes that seemed to be hours"
--they just stood there for minutes?

pg 3: "Always prepare for the worse" -> "Always prepare for the worst"

pg 4: "Am I really that predictable?”
--sort of.

pg 4: "but they were just jeweled objects, no actual history behind them"
--eh? Some of the most stories artifacts in our world are jewels. I guess these people don't like shiny things?

pg 6: "But I cannot simply reveal my hiding place. If you could leave, I shall be with you shortly"
--wait, didn't he bring A here to show him the manuscript?

pg 6: “Calm yourself.” “Wait, what does he want?”
--Lord E once again proving denser than stone.

pg 7: “Twelve – that’s a designation, isn’t it?"
--why do these people keep insisting on giving away any disguise they have?

pg 8: "Stanford, at your service, occasionally known as Six."
--seriously? Why not give out his address and phone number, too?

pg 8: "I don’t have it. You came too early, fool!"
--getting more annoyed by Lord E.

pg 9: "What was the point of undergoing your ridiculous training if this is going to happen to me.”
--huh? Maybe do better next time? Or have the obviously better person at climbing do it? A doesn't seem the type to blame training on his own inadequacy.

pg 10: “We got lucky that the manuscript was here.”
--This seems a very poor plan.

pg 10: "I take it this means that he wasn’t willing to cooperate with us?”
--is he talking about Lord E? or J?

pg 11: "“I apologize for bringing an abrupt end to this evening’s meeting"
--what were all these people doing while E was goofing off with A? He's also explaining a whole lot, and confirming his security is not foolproof to the people buying from him

pg 12: "we can’t let it be known that we were the ones who stole the manuscript." "From there – the solution is obvious.”
--I'm still not getting what they're doing.

pg 13: “What you do not feel is iocane extract. "
--Lol. If only he'd spent years building up an immunity...

pg 13: "Julius was in the crowd tonight, but that was out of disguise"
--what?

pg 14: You can't see it, but I'm squinting my eyes at J's explanation

pg 14: "You decided to inform the whole underworld of something that needs to be kept secret from the public."
--ok, I'll give him that. Lord E is a dumb as a bag of rocks.

pg 16: "reclaim that which was took" -> "reclaim that which was taken"
--also, introducing a new magic system on the last page of a short story is perhaps not the right place.

pg 17: Hmmm...I don't know if having Dark Eye be there is really necessary. The heist is done when they get out of the tunnel. I don't care about the secret boss.

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I just read the two of them back to back, so I'm just going to post all my comments here.

Overall:

 I love the team and the scenario you've created for the heist. Each character has a distinct personality, especially J. However, I struggled to keep track of all the layers of the plan and didn't understand why everyone was always talking about the plan. It almost felt like I put a puzzle together quickly and lost a third of the pieces in the process. Individual scenes seemed to work for me, but they felt rushed, so the whole thing felt like a blur in the end and I didn't understand how and why it all worked. I tend to like rapid changes between points of view, but these felt too quick even for me. Maybe you were trying too hard to cut this down to two installments, when what you really needed to do was add more. Perhaps it is meant to be a novella, not a short story.

As I read:

 Part I:

I got a little tripped up in the begining. It started with a bit of an info dump, which I shouldn't complain about since my last piece started with one. The narrative really starts with "This particular evening..." or a little later even. At first, I didn't have a major problem with the info dump, but then I kept thinking it was information that could have been incorporated other ways and I was still left with questions about the world. 

"Imperial Destroyer-class" I thought this was a Star Wars reference the first time I read it, but I know it wasn't. Just seeing the words "Imperial" and "Destroyer" side by side brought my head there.

"...it these kind of situations" in

"himself, blackmail" comma could be a semi colon

"He put in back..." In should be it. Also, after the conversation with A, did G end up taking the book? I wasn't clear on this in the scene, and also didn't quite get what the purpose of him taking that one was. Either I missed something, in which was this books use wasn't clear enough, or it is a gun that was never fired. 

I've noticed a few times, you accidentally put "in" instead of "it"

"A... finished his rapid reread of the..." Here is where I was starting to think the POV switches were happening too fast for me. I'd just be starting to get a sense of what was happening in one scene but before that piece fully came together, you were on to something else and I was frustrated. 

"Quiet dialogue and chatter" maybe use one of the words but not both?

"So it seems that it wasn't..." The italics / internal thought don't really seem necessary here

"Director's full plan" In the end of part 2, the Director made it sound like this was Julius' plan.

"hidden only to himself" I'm not sure what this means

"...can sell it because it's no longer..." Did you mean Can't?

Why did J name the thief at the end of the first section

Part 2:

"better than from someone..." missing word?

"Then I shall take my leave and see if I can as well." I had to read this line several times to figure out what J meant by the second part. I also was a little confused by the purpose of the conversation. It might be intentional, but I get very very annoyed at how J talks so much in one line, especially with lines like the "But why would I cone out here to....

Lord E shares 's trait of talking too much. "Don't worry, I've planned for...presently." Does he really need to say so much of this out loud?

"Physical presence is a..." Something doesn't ring true to me about how closely everyone in this story adheres to rules and is therefore about to use that adherence to rules for their own benefit. Does nobody ever actually lie or cheat or break rules, aside from being undercover?  

"You...set...me...up." I'm lost now. I don't understand the set up. I'm not sure what the point of the set up is and why Jules really had to do all this elaborate talking through out it.

Ythe's action in the tunnel threw me out of the story. I'd seen the name mentioned a few times with the word synergist, but throughout, I never really understood what a synergist was, so when he was using his powers to get them out of the out of the tunnel, it didn't feel earned. It was too easy. It needs a better set up. 

"...stunt was overkill..." throughout the story, everyone kept acting like it was the Directors plan, but in this scene, I got the impression it was more J's plan. 

Another big picture  note: In both this and Raise the Stakes, I got impressions that I should know more about the world than I do. I felt lost in the sense that I knew J and company were spies in some kind of Empire, and that there was some kind of magic system, but beyond that, I know little of what that Empire is, how it is organized, and how the magic systems work. I feel like these are later pieces in a series, and I'm expected to know all that, but I don't recall you saying that is what these are. The plot is self contained enough for a stand alone if you slow down a little, but the world building feels like it is the middle of a series and I should know a lot more than I do.

I love the concept, and the unique cast. I just can't follow J's plans and plots and verbal swordplay.

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On 12/5/2018 at 8:02 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I"m still sympathizing most with lord E, who, besides being a terrible auctioneer just trying to retire, is apparently having his one close friend betray him and his reputation destroyed, and it feels like the good guys are enjoying rubbing his nose in his failures and their betrayals. Most of the good guys feel like arrogant, cruel jerks to me and I'm having a lot of trouble caring about them and their perfection. E is far more sympathetic at this point, and after watching him struggle and adapt, I want him to succeed and show these arrogant interlopers why he's lasted as long as he has. 

I'm not sure I care what happens after E is dead. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that they escape unscathed, with everything they wanted. I'm not particularly interested in the item they were after, because most of the characters haven't shown much interest in it other than the fact they were hired/assigned to take it. A heist with no danger and no jeopardy is just bullies stealing things. 

I can't say this was completely unintentional, but not to the degree you describe. Now I feel like I want to flip it around, and try doing the story solely from E's perspective. Which probably isn't going to happen, as this was just an exercise I did to see how I could write a heist scene. Thanks for the feedback, definitely a unique perspective.

 

On 12/6/2018 at 11:16 AM, Mandamon said:

This half did have some more action, and generally things connected and flowed, save where I made notes below.

However, like @industrialistDragon, I'm not empathizing with any of the crew. Overall, the job is too easy, and they're stealing this manuscript and killing a pretty dumb, but generally harmless guy to get it. Do we ever get a reason? I'd love to see something bad, or even just a setback, happen to one of the crew to give this a little more tension.

Thanks for the comments. I know this sounds weird, but the team did hit setbacks - they just were never mentioned, which is the equivalent of it not happening. E is not harmless though, much as he would have you believe. I tried to hint towards that, but didn't do such a good job.

On 12/6/2018 at 11:16 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 16: "reclaim that which was took" -> "reclaim that which was taken"
--also, introducing a new magic system on the last page of a short story is perhaps not the right place.

Also a good point. There was a whole side scene about halfway through where it got introduced! -And that got cut because of the perspective-change feedback I got from Part I. I need to pay more attention when updating stories.

 

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

 I love the team and the scenario you've created for the heist. Each character has a distinct personality, especially J. However, I struggled to keep track of all the layers of the plan and didn't understand why everyone was always talking about the plan. It almost felt like I put a puzzle together quickly and lost a third of the pieces in the process. Individual scenes seemed to work for me, but they felt rushed, so the whole thing felt like a blur in the end and I didn't understand how and why it all worked. I tend to like rapid changes between points of view, but these felt too quick even for me. Maybe you were trying too hard to cut this down to two installments, when what you really needed to do was add more. Perhaps it is meant to be a novella, not a short story.

Hmmm. I think you've made a good point with the last sentence.

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

"Imperial Destroyer-class" I thought this was a Star Wars reference the first time I read it, but I know it wasn't. Just seeing the words "Imperial" and "Destroyer" side by side brought my head there..

Heh. I mean, that wasn't, but the numbers everyone uses refers to members of Wraith Squadron's original roster. (For reference, S is Runt, J is Face, A is Piggy, G is Grinder, and Y is Tyria.) Thematically, rather than personality wise.

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

"He put in back..." In should be it. Also, after the conversation with A, did G end up taking the book? I wasn't clear on this in the scene, and also didn't quite get what the purpose of him taking that one was. Either I missed something, in which was this books use wasn't clear enough, or it is a gun that was never fired. 

This was unclear, too. The only book that was removed is a book called One with Nothing, by A. (This is a MTG reference, incidentally.)

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

"Director's full plan" In the end of part 2, the Director made it sound like this was Julius' plan.

Originally was the Directors, swapped to J's.

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

"Physical presence is a..." Something doesn't ring true to me about how closely everyone in this story adheres to rules and is therefore about to use that adherence to rules for their own benefit. Does nobody ever actually lie or cheat or break rules, aside from being undercover?  

Technically, no, but people will but a placeholder for sale, i.e. sell a cheap statue through the auction, but really be selling a smuggled cache of weapons, or something of that nature. I dropped a line early on in Part I, but obviously this should have been made clearer.

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Another big picture  note: In both this and Raise the Stakes, I got impressions that I should know more about the world than I do. I felt lost in the sense that I knew J and company were spies in some kind of Empire, and that there was some kind of magic system, but beyond that, I know little of what that Empire is, how it is organized, and how the magic systems work. I feel like these are later pieces in a series, and I'm expected to know all that, but I don't recall you saying that is what these are. The plot is self contained enough for a stand alone if you slow down a little, but the world building feels like it is the middle of a series and I should know a lot more than I do.

They are. Saying it now. I find that working in only one world makes it easier for me to write stories, rather than creating the rules new for every short I do from scratch. The problem, of course, is what you are saying, i.e. there's way too much context that gets left out of stories. 

On 12/8/2018 at 1:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I love the concept, and the unique cast. I just can't follow J's plans and plots and verbal swordplay.

Glad to hear most of that sentence, and I'll work on the rest.

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On 12/5/2018 at 0:35 PM, aeromancer said:

I could send you it, if you want. A lot of things might make a lot more sense.

That would be great!

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I'm behind again, but this time in my defense, it's because I'm on Rapa Nui and have the world's slowest internet. However, the fact that the world's belly button has internet is a miracle in and of itself.

Before I get to the critique, I thought I would ask @aeromancer if you have read the Baru Cormorant books? I just finished the second one and it struck me that the writing style is very much like yours, just with a bit more polish. You might consider reading the first just as an exploratory exercise (the story isn't bad, either). 

 

Overall

I'm confused. I think maybe I need more time with the characters, or more emotion, or more voice differential, because I'm having a hard time caring about the events. Someone is stealing a painting, there's like a triple cross I think, and a lot of GOTCHA moments. Everyone appears to be male. After than, I'm not sure.

I think the complexity of the gotchas might need to be toned down in favor of more emotional reactions. that would help me invest in the characters more, for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

As I go

- solid intro line

- the first page reads pretty stilted, like a bad action movie sequence. I'm expecting some mustache twirling. Have you considered reading the dialogue bits out loud, maybe even acting them out? Generally I don't expect books to play like movie scripts. Movie dialogue is often too over the top for books

- 2: is there a reason these two keep ego stroking one another? Because if the plot twist is that they are secretly lovers and this is how they get their jollies or something, by over-the-top role playing, this book just became GOLD

- 6: everyone speaks exactly the same, in that formal, stilted English. I think changing up how people speak would go a long way to differentiating voice of the characters

- 11: I'm really lost. There are a lot of people and I don't really know what is going on

- 13: iocane extract? Bit of a Princess Bride reference?

- 17: "chew us out" doesn't really mesh with the formality of everyone else's English, though it does distinguish the character!

Edited by kais
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On 12/5/2018 at 10:02 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Technically this continues to show improvement and I only had a little bit of trouble with the blocking (which felt fairly complicated so that's really very good).  

Agree. Blocking is very decent.

On 12/5/2018 at 10:02 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Why not simply walk up and take what he wants if everything is so simple to predict and easy to pull off?

Also agree. There needs to be higher stakes and more screwing up. Perfect protags are boring.

On 12/6/2018 at 1:16 PM, Mandamon said:

I'd love to see something bad, or even just a setback, happen to one of the crew to give this a little more tension.

Same

On 12/8/2018 at 3:22 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Just seeing the words "Imperial" and "Destroyer" side by side brought my head there.

LOL this happened to me, too

 

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On 12/15/2018 at 4:59 PM, kais said:

Before I get to the critique, I thought I would ask @aeromancer if you have read the Baru Cormorant books? I just finished the second one and it struck me that the writing style is very much like yours, just with a bit more polish. You might consider reading the first just as an exploratory exercise (the story isn't bad, either). 

I have not, though (after doing a quick check) the book does look interesting, but I can't guarantee I'll read it. (Side note: It was classified under 'Hard Fantasy' as the genre. I mean, it's not recent, but I'm happy Hard Fantasy is becoming more of a thing, even if it doesn't build off of Golden Age Science Fiction.)

On 12/15/2018 at 4:59 PM, kais said:

I'm confused. I think maybe I need more time with the characters, or more emotion, or more voice differential, because I'm having a hard time caring about the events. Someone is stealing a painting, there's like a triple cross I think, and a lot of GOTCHA moments. Everyone appears to be male. After than, I'm not sure.

The painting is actually the one thing which isn't stolen. J pays for it and takes it. There's, well, a lot of double crossing, and a lot of GOTCHA moments, yes. (I like those, but I think a good lesson from the feedback is that maybe I should limit it to like one per chapter, if that.) And yes, everyone does appear to be male. (Spoiler: Someone isn't. Because I like GOTCHAs.)

On 12/15/2018 at 4:59 PM, kais said:

- 2: is there a reason these two keep ego stroking one another? Because if the plot twist is that they are secretly lovers and this is how they get their jollies or something, by over-the-top role playing, this book just became GOLD

Judging from everyone comments, if this gets resubmitted, Lord E will probably become the mastermind of everything and even get a scene where he gets to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose with two fingers and says 'Just according to keikaku'. (I am possibly joking on the last part.)

On 12/15/2018 at 4:59 PM, kais said:

- 13: iocane extract? Bit of a Princess Bride reference?

It was going to be tetrodotoxin, (that stuff is nasty) but last minutes swaps made it not viable, so I needed a substitute. And yes, Princess Bride. Because it's awesome.

On 12/15/2018 at 4:59 PM, kais said:

- 6: everyone speaks exactly the same, in that formal, stilted English. I think changing up how people speak would go a long way to differentiating voice of the characters

- 17: "chew us out" doesn't really mesh with the formality of everyone else's English, though it does distinguish the character!

Message received.

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18 hours ago, aeromancer said:

(Spoiler: Someone isn't. Because I like GOTCHAs.)

Just a word of caution: using the gender of a trans or gender non-conforming person as a "gotcha" is transphobic, homophobic, and just generally rude and in poor taste. Something more like a "breeches role" (where a woman dresses like a man specifically to get around some kind of societal restriction) has a deeper literary history, and, while not without its own issues, is generally considered less hurtful than other gender-related "gotchas." Anime's tradition of  "otoko no ko" is often hurtfully mistranslated and doesn't really map well to any one word or concept in English, so I wouldn't recommend using it as a basis for a gender-related "gotcha" without a lot of research. 

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