kais

01/28/19 - kais - Dandelions, Chapter 1 (4180 words)

7 posts in this topic

Second attempt.

 
So this… thing I have here is just over 12K, which is the word limit (submitting in 5K chunks, of course). Hence I’m all ears for any crit, but if you want me to add something I’m going to challenge you to also suggest where/what I could cut to get it in. The first page, in particular, I think could be cut down.
 
My goals for this piece included the following: 
a) trope-filled
b.) fluffy and fun
 
LBLs or generalized comments welcome. I’m especially interested on thoughts on the neopronouns and if you would prefer a different set, or even they/them/theirs. I’m not married to the ones I used, and this is going in an anthology where pronouns are expected to be different, but I haven’t settled on which set works best yet.
 
Thanks! 

(and warning for @Robinski - there's a market scene. Please forgive me!)

 

Edited by kais
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After reading Seeds this weekend and  @Mandamon's sub yesterday, when I ever I saw your O character's name, my brain kept replacing it with the other O character. If I had read this first, it probably would've been the other way around.  This isn't actually an issue that warrants any change. Just an observation.

I have some general comments here. I'm also going to email you LBL's. I the story it once on my kindle and was having a hard time pin pointing what was bugging me, so I started reading again on the computer...deleting things with track changes on since you said you are pushing the word limit. I like deleting things. My deletions are mere suggestions. Please don't be offended by them and feel free to ignore them if you disagree or find them too prescriptive. 

Overall, I think this is off to a good start. The characters are interesting, there is an established through line, and the end definitely left me wanting to read the next part. I love how much detail you put into the dandelions , though on my first read, I thought that section in the market felt repetitive. And while there was a lot that seemed excess, I also didn't quite feel like I had a strong enough grasp on the world. 

I think the first section needs the most trimmed and the end needs the least trimming.  

You asked about pronouns. The first time I read the opening scene, I thought there were three people in the room: O, M, and an unamed person with a neo pronoun. In the LBL's I'm emailing you, I made suggestions for how to fix it. From the middle of page two and on, the pronouns worked fine for me. Personally, I like they/them better, but have no problem with the one's you chose. Neo pronouns do make it easier when editing for clarity. 

A couple as I read notes from the first scene:

"who could eat any food they wanted to because they still had enamel on their teeth" For some reason this made me think contemporary fantasy, though in hindsight, it doesn't really imply that. However, in this section, the only thing that hinted at a secondary world was the name of a kingdom and mention of city guards. At this point, the world could go in many different directions. That's okay for now, though if you do cut some of the things I suggest on the first couple pages, maybe drop a couple more hints.

Page 3

...whispered loudly. “Endless.”  This paragraph I see its purpose but it screams cliche 

"I don’t drink, you see, because these amazing plants take my full attention. Come" This doesn't really make sense to me. 

"and a cloudier version of the blood dripped from the ends." This caught me off guard. I am having trouble getting my mind around bleeding dandelions. I keep going to picking dandelions and the stuff coming out the stem looking like milk.

Page 4

"HPLC " what is this?

Page 5

“Pass. At that price by weight it’d be cheaper to import plastics from Earth.”  So far, most the description has been on the product, and the man with the barrel's face. This earth reference is the most concrete world building bit I've had. I get there is some technology because O making latex from dandelions and there is the purity sheet, but otherwise, a lot of it undefined still. I was okay with that in the opening scene, but by now I want a better grasp.

With all the focus on dandelions and little details like people’s skin, I’m only getting fragments of the world,  and I didn’t notice them all on my first read through. I can’t picture this market at all. I’m only seeing O’s product and this barrel dudes face.

"Fantasies" seemed like an odd word to describe the visits. 

Page 6: "the women waved her off" This should be xir, right? 

"Xie reached out a hand to the woman’s pants, and the woman sidestepped with a glare." I'd glare too. 

"Orin had made no sales today and the crowds stubbornly remained slow and thin." I sympathize with this from my days selling jewelry at craft fairs. From here on out, I was more engaged, maybe because I finally had a way to connect with O.

Page 7

". It made really really good rubber..." This makes me wonder if he had a way to sell this other than the market.  I’m having a hard time  grasping the significance of this because I still don’t know much about the world.

"...people bartering for a fat piglet. " This and the manure did give me a farmers market feel, but that could be present in a number of different worlds.  

"a mutation the original planetary colonists hadn’t had" Much needed detail about the world, grounding it a little more in the future?

You haven't described anyone's clothing yet, other than M's night gown. I want to know what people wear in this world. I know they were pants and sequins get stuck to them, but so far, I don't recall much detail about what kind of pants. 

Page 8

“I hate you.” The dialogue with B is good. I was reading without stopping and getting a better sense of O as a character. 

"Knew he paid in notes and not credit, even for big orders." Good world building detail! It's coming together more, but I am still missing too much for this point in the story...unless you are trying to just make the reader fill in the gaps. 

Page 11

“Oh. F......" Great dialogue. World building is filling in more quickly now and doing so organically. 

"The brick lane" I would've like to have known this at the begining of the market scene since I wasn't trying to figure out what street and space between stalls was like for most of the scene. I was picturing all dust and mud. 

Page 12

"...Left for women, right for men. Forehead for everyone else..." Well done confirmation of gender identity and culture surrounding it... though part of me is annoyed that each gender has a different greeting, even if it does acknowledge a non-binary one. 

 

The last three pages read smooth and I was too engaged both times to make comments. The end definitely left me wanting to read on. 

I think I'll have better overall feedback to offer once I've read the whole piece.

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I enjoyed the characters. O seems rather hopeless, but maybe meeting up with M finally will help. I also liked B as the roomate. He adds a much-needed foil for O.

11 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

when I ever I saw your O character's name, my brain kept replacing it with the other O

Lol, I was doing that as I was writing this up!

I think there's some problem with the setup, saying they haven't been able to trade information in the last 20 years. I think what was happening was O was disoriented and couldn't get across any information? If so, that could be clarified. One minute might be too long as well. I'd sure as heck figure out a way to transmit information in that time, especially if I knew it was going to happen every night.

The sequence goes on for three pages as well, so I think it could be cut down to really show how quick it is and why O isn't able to give any specific information out.

I don't mind the pronouns. I like Xie better than They, simply because it stands out a little more.

I also thought the setting was more medieval in the beginning, until they started talking about plastics and colonies. A few words here and there could place it quicker.


Note while reading:
pg 1: "one minute was just not enough to get any information across."
--My scientific mind immediately goes to planning out an information exchange in that time and how much you could transmit in 20 years...unless there's some inhibitor to their natural function while they dream.

pg 2: “Ridiculous. I don’t even know where you live. I don’t even know your last name.” 
--Again, I'd think they would have at least traded this information over 20 years.

pg 4: Oh, that sales pitch...oh my.

pg 4: "version of the blood"
--Wait, what blood?
"dandelion blood"
--oh...instead of sap, I guess?

pg 5: "Latex from lion fern, sir.”
--That's a very egotistical dandelion...

pg 6: "like their brain was peeling from their skull, settled in."
--pronoun switch here.

pg 7: "had made no sales today and the crowds stubbornly remained slow and thin."
--Ugh. I hate bad sales days.

pg 10: "If it’s M tell her to shove off until we get the order finished.”
--Eh? How does this work? Does B know about M? But O doesn't have any information about her...

pg 12: "I take electronic communications and carrier pigeon, if you prefer.”
--lol.

pg 13: "O pointed to xir forehead."
--Cool custom.

pg 13: Did O not twig to the lady's name? I did...

pg 14: “Maybe M is trying to get me to Met.?”
--Again, I think we need more information on how much O knows.
"Think about it."
--Ok, so at least O got that part.


 

Edited by Mandamon
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10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

At this point, the world could go in many different directions

This was intentional. I liked the idea of a slow world reveal but if it bugs people I can always change it.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

This paragraph I see its purpose but it screams cliche

Gay cliche or market cliche?

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

This should be xir, right? 

yup! Can you tell O has had like four different pronouns at this point?

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

You haven't described anyone's clothing yet, other than M's night gown

This is a relatively easy fix to do that I don't think should add too many words. Check.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

though part of me is annoyed that each gender has a different greeting, even if it does acknowledge a non-binary one. 

Gendered greetings are so standard in many parts of our world that it seemed... not quite right to ignore them on a colony planet. Who knows what culture colonized it first!

Thank you for the feedback! Will get to the LBLs tomorrow likely.

 

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

If so, that could be clarified. One minute might be too long as well. I'd sure as heck figure out a way to transmit information in that time, especially if I knew it was going to happen every night.

Ah, I was wondering about this. I've clarified that there's disorientation and nausea for a good part of it, and have shortened the time to thirty seconds. I've also made the first interaction a lot more rushed. Hoping that helps.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

A few words here and there could place it quicker.

Okay, that's two votes for this. I've stuck in a mention of solar farms early on. Might do another little thing as well.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pronoun switch here.

Probably about 400 more of those, too, since I keep going back and forth. Ugh. Why are pronouns so hard? Hey @shatteredsmooth can we call an enby conclave and just vote on a standard set, please?

Thank you as always, @Mandamon! Good edits to hit.

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9 hours ago, kais said:

Gendered greetings are so standard in many parts of our world that it seemed... not quite right to ignore them on a colony planet. Who knows what culture colonized it first!

It makes sense to include them for that reason. Fiction or real life, I just grump about this stuff. I need to get out of my bubble and be more open minded to people's culture. 

9 hours ago, kais said:

Why are pronouns so hard? Hey @shatteredsmooth can we call an enby conclave and just vote on a standard set, please?

LOL It would be an endless debate that might never reach a resolution. Language will settle on something sooner or later. But it does it make it hard for us writers trying to help that process along. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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On 1/29/2019 at 11:52 PM, kais said:

Gay cliche or market cliche?

Market cliche. Anything sales related cliche. 

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1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Market cliche. Anything sales related cliche. 

Oh that's fine then. Exactly what I was going for.

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