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Mandamon

20190127 - The Five Hive Plateau - 5585 words - Sub 1

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Hello all!
Apologies for the length. I'm trying to get this story finished up by about the 10th of February and it's about 11,000 words.
This is intended to be an introductory novelette into the Dissolutionverse (my book series). I'll be offering this as a free download to my newsletter list.

What I'm looking for is:

-Is it enjoyable?
-Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear?
-Are the characters engaging?
-Does the story make sense?
-Anything else you think of (even down to grammar and line edits, if you want. I'm not picky.)

(One other point I forgot before)

-Would this make you want to read more of this series?

Edited by Mandamon
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This was a good read and thanks to the well-done pacing, I didn't really notice the extra length. I definitely found it enjoyable and was eager to keep reading past where it ended. The characters were engaging and I like O very much. At first, though, when you mentioned his crest I pictured him as reptilian until the feathers came up. Is he more like an anthropomorphic bird or a bird/humanoid hybrid? O remarking on growing a mustache confused me a bit.

The story, however, wasn't confusing at all. O had a clear goal and followed through on it and I understood his reasons for doing so. Nothing jumped out at me about the storyline itself, so I can't think of anything else to mention except that I'm looking forward to reading Part 2 :) 

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Overall

I'm thrilled to learn more about P culture! I'd like a few more grey areas in terms of the war, but I'm super on board for the sex dynamics it looks like we're about to get. Great start to a short!

Your questions

-Is it enjoyable?

Barring some quibbles, yes!


-Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear?

Yes but I'm very familiar with them, too.


-Are the characters engaging?

I really like this Ori. He never really clicked for me before but I like him young and a bit unsure. I'd read a whole book with him like this.


-Does the story make sense?

O's motivations for going into the war are a little shaky, as are his actions in the battle. Otherwise yes, it makes sense.


-Anything else you think of (even down to grammar and line edits, if you want. I'm not picky.)

See below.

 

As I go

- pg 3: this has some deep political metaphor. Here for it.

- pg 3: I think the paragraph that explains the difference between the warrior and other Ps could use a bit more fleshing out. That's what I want in terms of information, right there, to hook me, and it seems almost glossed over. Could they have a bit of dialogue about it maybe? Offer some examples? This is the place where I want to sink in, but instead I get a bit bounced back and started thinking about Klingons.

- pg 5: In Ori's musings about how no one understands how hard it is to have two houses, it would be interesting to see a tie in to the Society, or a bit more backstory here. I think this is a natural place for just a smidge more on the world

O desperately forced his crest down so he wouldn’t look like a juvenile, caught outside the hatchery after curfew <-- LOL I love this. Young O is such fun!

- pg 7: It occurred to me here, quite suddenly, that this P war is much like how the religion changed on Rapa Nui Island, from an ancestor worshipping religion to the Bird Man Cult. There's a lot of nuance to how that happened and it would be cool to see, not the same, but some additional information about why the warring class is upset. I think this is always what I've wanted from the P story line--the reason for the overthrow and for it to not be 100% black and white. It sure wasn't for the Rapa Nui people.

- pg 11: LOL and the hive destruction is just like the toppling of the Moai!

- pg 12: I'm confused by the battle. O goes there to help them but doesn't actively intervene for the 'good guys.' But then he sort of does? But then he leaves? I think we might need a more cut and dried exit from the battle if he really isn't going to get involved, or a directed involvement that's short and then he leaves.

- 18: ooh, male pixie! Sex dynamics!

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5 hours ago, Truthweaver said:

At first, though, when you mentioned his crest I pictured him as reptilian until the feathers came up. Is he more like an anthropomorphic bird or a bird/humanoid hybrid? 

@Truthweaver, He's more of a bird/humanoid. 

Glad you enjoyed it and that the story wasn't confusing!

 

1 hour ago, kais said:

I'm confused by the battle. O goes there to help them but doesn't actively intervene for the 'good guys.' But then he sort of does? But then he leaves? I think we might need a more cut and dried exit from the battle if he really isn't going to get involved, or a directed involvement that's short and then he leaves.

Good point. I was trying to go for O being an arrogant *insert word* like he usually is and putting his nose into something he doesn't understand. I'm not sure that really came across in the battle. Maybe I can put in something with him trying to help and only making it worse.

1 hour ago, kais said:

it would be interesting to see a tie in to the Society, or a bit more backstory here.

This might be too much to include. Behind the scenes, this is about 10 years after the society closed, and O would have been young when that happened. Since then, the members have gone around hushing things up, so it's not really a big thing anymore...Which is hard to put in a novelette.... K makes a couple comments, though.

1 hour ago, kais said:

I think the paragraph that explains the difference between the warrior and other Ps could use a bit more fleshing out. That's what I want in terms of information, right there, to hook me, and it seems almost glossed over.

Cool. I can add this in. I didn't want to infodump, but I may have gone too light.

1 hour ago, kais said:

this P war is much like how the religion changed on Rapa Nui Island, from an ancestor worshipping religion to the Bird Man Cult.

And now I have research homework... ;-P

Thanks @kais!

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6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Good point. I was trying to go for O being an arrogant *insert word* like he usually is and putting his nose into something he doesn't understand. I'm not sure that really came across in the battle.

I don't think it really came across. He seemed more naive than arrogant, and for some reason, the naivety was making it hard for me to believe he could be arrogant enough to think he should get involved. He really seemed young-- apprentice age young. 

-Is it enjoyable?

One it gets going, mostly. 


-Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear?

Very, though it is still fresh in my mind from Seeds 1, and I think it was better in Seeds 1.


-Are the characters engaging?

O is hard to pin down in this. His actions are arrogance but everything else shows young naivety and he almost seems sweet, but his decisions annoy me which makes his sweetness annoy me. I'm not sure I'm making sense. 


-Does the story make sense?

Well, I'm not buying O's decisions -- they don't seem to make sense to me and almost seemed contrived to be allegorical to modern politic issues about getting involved in wars. However, the council and the pixies themselves made sense. <crossed out 10 p.m.>

 

-Would this make you want to read more of this series?

Opening with the council scene did set up for this story, but it didn't exactly get my attention, either. If I had downloaded to see if I wanted to read the series, I don't know if I would've gotten past that part or not. I've read a couple snippets from the Dis universe on here, and I don't remember liking any scenes with the council that were in the begining of a scene. From a technical standpoint, I see why you started here, but I got bored and struggled to pay attention. 

Here are some notes I made going through that scene.

Maybe making more of a scene of O barging past the guards might help develop him a little more so I might care more while he argues with the council? 

"breaking into our meeting..." This line did engage me more than anything before it. 

"The council. we do attend..." There was something off about this sentence.

While I kept having to stop myself from skimming the dialogue, I did engage when O started describing the carvings of the different species. 

Onto the next scene:

The description of the grounds outside the council were clear and had some nice world building. 

"How unlike the war-torn homeworld..." made me think that he had already been to see the Pixies, but then when he gets there, its clear he hasn't been there.

In the portal scene, you did a good job introducing the neo pronoun. I liked how O didn't lie but didn't give a truthful answer to the portal attendant. If you want to show a little more arrogance, make me him seem a little more confident and less uncertain here?  

"It was a good thing he had decided not to grow a mustache" I am having a hard time picturing this -- it would be a mustache of feathers? 

 

I have more comments to type from my kindle, but I have to leave so I am going to post these for now. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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11 hours ago, Truthweaver said:

O remarking on growing a mustache confused me a bit.

 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"It was a good thing he had decided not to grow a mustache" I am having a hard time picturing this -- it would be a mustache of feathers?

@Truthweaver and @shatteredsmooth, this is a reference to Seeds, where he's much older and does have a mustache (which is made of feathers, yes.)

 

5 hours ago, Mandamon said:
7 hours ago, kais said:

it would be interesting to see a tie in to the Society, or a bit more backstory here.

This might be too much to include. Behind the scenes, this is about 10 years after the society closed, and O would have been young when that happened. Since then, the members have gone around hushing things up, so it's not really a big thing anymore...Which is hard to put in a novelette.... K makes a couple comments, though.

@kais, I've been doing some edits on the story tonight and I did end up including a few more sentences on this, as well as addressing your other notes.

 

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I don't think it really came across. He seemed more naive than arrogant, and for some reason, the naivety was making it hard for me to believe he could be arrogant enough to think he should get involved. He really seemed young-- apprentice age young. 

I think this might be what I want. He's about 25 here (vs. in his 60's in Seeds), so I was trying to go for naivete, with the arrogance to get him stuck where he shouldn't be.

 

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Maybe making more of a scene of O barging past the guards might help develop him a little more so I might care more while he argues with the council?

I can certainly do this to spice things up a bit more.

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Well, I'm not buying O's decisions

Hopefully the bit I added tonight makes this a little clearer.  

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4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Well, I'm not buying O's decisions -- they don't seem to make sense to me and almost seemed contrived to be allegorical to modern politic issues about getting involved in wars. However, the council and the pixies themselves made sense. <crossed out 10 p.m.>

I was thinking about this more while I was driving to and from class. I don't think it seemed contrived for a specific political message. It did seem to hint at something political, but more exploring an issue than straight out saying one thing or the other. I think that, on top of me not fully believing the decision sort of led me to a false conclusion. 

 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I think this might be what I want. He's about 25 here (vs. in his 60's in Seeds), so I was trying to go for naivete, with the arrogance to get him stuck where he shouldn't be.

 

OK, so I guess I'm not too far off then for age. 

 

Now that I'm back from teaching, here are the rest of my comments: 

"but portals were common...house opened one" I read this sentence a couple times. Didn't pin point any grammar errors, but something seemed off. 

"...Greens given to a turtle..." Wouldn't the greens just be gone if a turtle got them? I'd picture kind of bug leaving holes in greens.  

"O tugged the sleeves" This is one of the places where I felt like I didn't understand him being there. If it is set up a little better, this could be a great "oh <word for poop that starts with s> moment. Though maybe its too soon for that. hmmm

"If only the council had listened..." At this point I was starting to side with the council.

"applied for help. None came..." It wasn't clear to me in the begining that the Pixies had asked for help. I thought O had just seen something about the war and thought it was the maji / counsel's job to provide unsolicited aid. Knowing they asked makes a big difference. If this were clearer earlier, I would be more understanding of O's decision. 

"..winced as she was cut down...interested in help" I think he needs more reaction here. 

I did like the details about how he constructed his shield, loved the description of the dome, especially the part where he said the newspaper misrepresented it. 

"pull from the ground" Gravity? 

I cringed when he led pursuers to the gate and came inside running for his life while saying he was there to help. 

From here out, I was fascinated by all the world building. The pixie characters were fantastic! The dialogue between O and the pixie was just the right amount of awkward. 

"The Council is refusing to send anyone..." I think this was O talking but I had to reread to be sure. 


"Yet still barged in..." I love this character. Almost getting some Yoda-ish vibes. 

""...propagate." she said." either change the first period to a comma or just get rid of the tag. 

"They were hunched..." So if the pixie just called this new one a he, then why is O using they here? 

I am looking forward to see where this goes! It was off to a slow start but got much better near the end! Coming back to your question about whether or not it would get me into the series -- yes if I read through to the end. And if you clarify and spice up the begining a little more, then I think it would hook me. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

his is a reference to Seeds, where he's much older and does have a mustache (which is made of feathers, yes.)

 

I just went back and re read that part. I had completely forgotten about the feathery mustache, but the description in Seeds is very clear. 

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10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I'd picture kind of bug leaving holes in greens.

Ah--I may change this to a bug eating greens. I wasn't really happy with that analogy.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"If only the council had listened..." At this point I was starting to side with the council.

"applied for help. None came..." It wasn't clear to me in the begining that the Pixies had asked for help. I thought O had just seen something about the war and thought it was the maji / counsel's job to provide unsolicited aid. Knowing they asked makes a big difference. If this were clearer earlier, I would be more understanding of O's decision. 

Good reactions here. I was trying to show that the Council did have reasons for not getting involved, but I think I did miss out that some faction of the Pixie's asked for help. I'll clarify.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"..winced as she was cut down...interested in help" I think he needs more reaction here

This part has been greatly expanded.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"pull from the ground" Gravity?

Yes. I'm just not using the word.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I cringed when he led pursuers to the gate and came inside running for his life while saying he was there to help. 

Lol. Exactly what I was going for!

Thanks @shatteredsmooth! Glad you got into it more as it progressed. I'll keep working on the beginning.

 

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Over all: Man, I never think I'm going to have much to say, and then I write a book. It definitely has promise, but I'm not really sure the motivations are quite there yet, and the pacing is a little uneven and abrupt. I really am looking forward to reading more about the pixies, that seems really cool!

 

The questions:

--Is it enjoyable?

More or less. I didn't really get interested until K showed up, though. O right now is not a super enjoyable POV for me at the moment. 

 

--Are the characters engaging?

I like seeing K again! O is more puzzling/confusing than engaging right now, L has potential but nearly zero screen time in this section and everyone else is just walk-ons, so. ::shrug:: 

 

-- Does the story make sense?

Yes for values of "sense" that mean "follows a chronological order that is easy to ascertain." I question the logic and reasonableness of just about the entirety of O's decision-making process, and the pixies' bland acceptance of a O randomly appearing out of nowhere seems a bit off. So, if that's the definition of "sense," then it's closer to "not quite" for me. 

 

--Would this make you want to read more of this series?

Honestly not as yet. The back half might change this, still. However, so far, I've not seen the either the dangling hooks I'd need to really clue-in to the fact that it's part of a series, or the sort of amazing characters that would make me run to google to see if there was any more out there. 

 

As I go: 

Despite the talk of war this feels like a bit of a slow open. Council politics are inherently kind of boring, I think, and without more of a reason to care, it's not really grabbing me.

"intimidation display" -- Some odd, distancing word choices coming from someone describing a person of the same species as themselves. I wouldn't say of another human I was interacting with, "he moved closer to me and crossed his arms in an intimidation display," so it feels off. 

I am somewhat confused as to why O even thought the fighting was something in the maji's jurisdiction, much less that somehow one broadsheet article out of an apparent continuing trend of articles somehow merited breaking into a closed meeting of his superiors. Like, yo where's the fire my dude? I only know what I've read of this world from your subs here, but it seems like the non-violence policies of the one-house maji bureaucracy is well and firmly established (since wasn't the super-secret secret war preparedness mission a big part of the super-secret secret 2-house cabal story? Unknown unknowns and all that?).

I feel... sort of like this establishing information could be better delivered in a different way? Like, that's the main point of this council, yes? Get O to the battle while reminding readers of the basic world setup? So like, I keep picturing him as a grad student ranting to his fellow TAs over a huge pile of papers to be graded and endless coffee.. Somebody tries to get him to shut up with some variant of "put your money where your mouth is" and then he actually does... I don't know. That's probably not any better. 

Hmm... I think I'm just having a hard time with O's thought processes in general. Rather than seeming arrogant, he's coming across to me as rash, and possibly a little deluded. Naive, yes, but to me it feels like the sort of willful naivete of someone who feels entitled to special treatment, which I feel like is at odds with him ranting about how the maji get special treatment and won't help the little guy.  

...Yeah, the more I think about it, I think entitled, capricious, and callow would be the words I'd use to describe O here.

That's K from the other thing isn't it? I enjoy the interactions with her. (though, I think I missed the tie-in to the other story the first time I read this, partially because every other pixie O's interacted with so far has just been so blase in their reactions)

 

So, at the end, there's a lack of emotion and reaction that I think is endemic to your early drafts just in general, but I think also maybe here  there's a lack of ... foundation? I feel like I need to know more about what made O decide to take such a drastic step as to go awol on his job and/or studies, or at least stay in the N longer to build up more frustration with the bureaucracy... but at the same time, I also feel like if that's not the point of the story then I'd care much less about why he decided to go there if the story started when he'd already arrived, if that makes sense? 

 

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Thanks @industrialistDragon

12 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

So, at the end, there's a lack of emotion and reaction that I think is endemic to your early drafts just in general, but I think also maybe here  there's a lack of ... foundation? I feel like I need to know more about what made O decide to take such a drastic step as to go awol on his job and/or studies, or at least stay in the N longer to build up more frustration with the bureaucracy... but at the same time, I also feel like if that's not the point of the story then I'd care much less about why he decided to go there if the story started when he'd already arrived, if that makes sense? 

Interesting take. I think I've fixed the problems with the Council, but not the basic question of why O is there in the first place. 

12 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

...Yeah, the more I think about it, I think entitled, capricious, and callow would be the words I'd use to describe O here.

I mean, on the good side, this is what I intended for his character, so I think I've got that. But some readers have problems with connecting with him. He's supposed to be putting his foot in a problem that's not his own, and deciding he can fix another species' problem because he's that arrogant. I'll have to ponder on how I can show that in the first few paragraphs.

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