kais

02/04/19 - kais - Dandelions, Chapters 2-4 (5066 words) (L)

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Any and all edits welcome. Changes since last time include: the visits are now only 30 seconds long and they come with a lot of nausea and unfocused vision.

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We're getting more into the plot. I'm glad M finally showed up, and I like the twist with her. However, I had some problems with the complexity of the plan and with the worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding: I really like the dragons as beasts of burden, but everything you show about them makes it clear they are a terrible choice, especially when the colony evidently has pigs, and maybe other mammals. Either you could hang a lantern on it, or maybe change it? That whole section pops me out of the story.

Plot: I didn't really understand the whole glassblowing ritual. I think it's the same problem as the dragons. I'm missing some piece of why this is a thing. We've mostly seen tech, and now this magic pops up without much explanation.

I like the characters in this a lot, however. The whole discussion in the carriage is good, though if you're looking for places to trim, you might be able to take some of the traveling time out and get them to the dock sooner.

Looking forward to the rest!

 

Notes while reading
pg 1: I like that the maybe princess is also a glassblower.

pg 2: The timescale of the dream works better. I still think you could deliver quite a bit of information in 30 second bursts over 20 years, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief for this.

pg 2: I do think O could have a better reason for turning down M's proposal. Xie doesn't really have anything to lose if xie accepts, and also gets to sell at the larger market.

pg 2: "branchwood" is sort of a weird name for a wood. Sounds redundant.

pg 3: “Do you care? Okay I mean, clearly you do, but should you?”
--I'm more interested in why O cares so much.

pg 3: “You and I worked for rich people long enough already."
--they did? Was this mentioned before, or is it WRS?

pg 4: "We travel out of End, which opted against figurehead royalty during colonization "
--Aha...this gives some explanation. I think you buried the lede here.

pg 4: “Yeah fine. You’re not wrong.” 
--ok, then O capitulates rather easily.

pg 5: do the dragons routinely eat people? That seems like there would be a lot of legal problems. I'm wondering why the two are so convinced they'll be eaten.

pg 6: "One of the soiled dragons went down under a powerful jaw"
--Really? And they're still used to pull carts? I would think they would find some alternative...I mean, we know they have pigs at least.

pg 7: I'm not sure juice poured over pig droppings would accomplish much?

pg 8: good end to the chapter

pg 9: "from the grass and juice"
--grass?

pg 10: "had also almost been eaten by dragons"
--which were the ones tied to the coach M came in. Again, if you can't even pick someone up without potentially getting them eaten, it might be better to walk...
I like the humor of the situation, but it's popping me out of the story too much.

pg 10: "how many hours had they spent together overall?"
--mathing...about 60

pg 11: "Wait, you share your mind with a princess? It’s not just me?”
--lol. Nice twist.

pg 12: “You know, that’s really a grey area if you think about it.”
--ok, starting to like M more

pg 14: This picks up a lot once they can have a conversation.

pg 16: "I need a bigger flame to make the tube"
--I have no idea what's going on in this paragraph.

pg 17: "It indicated disastrous consequences for the person inside "
--I'm still not sure what's going on. I assume they're talking about how to perform the ritual, but it feels like I missed an explanation at the beginning.

pg 19: "we have crash the coronation to even get access to the fire"
--I think I missed something else here? What's so special about a flame? Wouldn't M be able to make the right kind of flame if she's a glassblower?

pg 20: Intrigued by O's idea, but I'm having trouble with the complexity of the plot.


 

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25 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Either you could hang a lantern on it, or maybe change it? That whole section pops me out of the story.

Lantern it is!

28 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

We've mostly seen tech, and now this magic pops up without much explanation.

This is my perpetual problem with this anthology piece. I have a hell of a time writing future magic systems. I'll see how I can build magic into the world earlier.... and looking into this just now, it looks like I put a bunch of it into chapter one when I rewrote it after last week. Aheh.

41 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Was this mentioned before, or is it WRS?

WRS and some vagueness on my part. Will punch up.

42 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

mathing...about 60

LOL. Okay, good info to have!

43 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I have no idea what's going on in this paragraph.

I'll get this all smoothed out. Thank you for the comments! Hoping to get to yours today.

 

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On 2/4/2019 at 1:48 PM, Mandamon said:

Worldbuilding: I really like the dragons as beasts of burden, but everything you show about them makes it clear they are a terrible choice, especially when the colony evidently has pigs, and maybe other mammals. Either you could hang a lantern on it, or maybe change it? That whole section pops me out of the story.

I have something very similar to this in the notes I made this morning. 

On 2/4/2019 at 1:48 PM, Mandamon said:

I didn't really understand the whole glassblowing ritual. I think it's the same problem as the dragons. I'm missing some piece of why this is a thing. We've mostly seen tech, and now this magic pops up without much explanation.

 

The magic could just be really subtly hinted at earlier. Maybe when B comes into it in the first section. I didn't understand anything about the glass blowing, but the lack of previous magic wasn't the main reason. More about that to come.

 

Over all, I think the plot is progressing nicely, but with a few hiccups. You've got a nice but of humor, but a few things pulled me too much out of the story. The characters are very fun, so I think you are mostly achieving your goal.

As I read: 

Page 1:

"You could have just sent a ticket you know" This is O talking, right?

"been to, to meet" Grumping about the two tos together even if technically it is correct. 

"How long have you known...think this will work." I got a bit confused. Why does he think M knows exactly where he lives? The people who may or may not work for her showed up at the market, not his house.…maybe I am being to literal.

Page 2

"Xie had had the control for too long"] But before this O was implying M had the control.

"leaned over the side of the bed, and vomited" Because of all the description and internal thought, this felt longer than thirty seconds, and while the nausea is clear at the end, I didn’t get a sense of any discomfort during the vision itself.

"pushcart fruit vendor whose booth space O shared when the market ran, and debated." Confusing wording.

Page 3:

"because my illusions are slight..." Initial reaction: What illusions? I forget if this had been mentioned earlier or not. Maybe it was and I missed it. I suppose I should check. 

After, I did check, and it was mentioned, but very subtly and with no elaboration. I think going back to that scene and working in some of what B does could actually allow you to introduce the magic system and/or hint at it when they think about their past as errand boys. 

“Promise me.” promise what?

Page 4:

Tense shifts once or twice in first paragraph. 

Page 5:

"O lobbed first one, then two handfuls at the things, smacking two directly in the face" While I think this whole poop throwing thing is hilarious, it makes no sense to me. Why are they lobbing it if the driver finally got the dragons under control. I’m confused. This is just going to get the dragons going again and cause more chaos. I don't believe mr lion fern is that stupid. If you want to keep the dung flinging, maybe make it so the dragons don't stop?

Page 6

More confusion

"the unmuddied dragons lunged at their compatriot’s faces, smelling only the pig and opportunity" So dragons eat poop? A pig and pig poop smell different. I mean, my dog will eat rabbit droppings but he acts very differently when he smells a rabbit than when he smells its droppings. Dogs are obviously smarter than these dragons, but I feel like some piece of information is missing. Maybe I just don't know something about reptiles that I probably should know.

"...the other almost gleefully chasing behind" Yup – it's making things worse.

Page 8

But I need your help. I’m going to get us separated but to do it, we need to crash a coronation.” Interesting, but it makes me wonder why in the next chapter, they are still thinking M is a princess. 

Page 9

"out the window before he’d feel compelled to speak." I’m surprised he has been quiet this long.

Page 15

“In if you are" Something missing here?

"I promise you won’t be disappointed" What about cashing the note? Getting a change of clothing?           

Page 16

“You want to use the ceremonial flame as a glory hole?”This does get attention as a opening line…

"there was no bank on the boat to cash in O’s note" Ok addresses one of the questions I had earlier. Will they be able to cash this across the water in the other kingdom? I guess I don't actually need to know this answer to this yet. 

"A sleeve. A parchment [SC1] sleeve, if we’re being particular" I’m a little lost. Why need the flame and glass material if it needs to be parchment? OR is this not parchment as in paper but something else? 

Page 18

"Highly portable, hardy, a good source of vitamin C if you’re in a bind, and… Why are you staring at me?” I love how he keeps slipping into pitching things.

Page 20

“I’ve got an idea,” xie said, groaning. “But it’s really sticky and I don’t think either of you are going to like it.” Nice ending

I didn't point out too many of the things I like, I realize. I need to get better at that. However, I am enjoying this and think you've got some great personalities in the piece. 

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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5 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

But before this O was implying M had the control.

Ahahah typo. Urp.

7 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

What illusions? I forget if this had been mentioned earlier or not. Maybe it was and I missed it. I suppose I should check. 

I've pulled it out a touch more in the first chapter. I just don't have the space to really drag it out. Since it's not super plot relevant it may just need to stay subtle.

11 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

up – it's making things worse.

I LOVE IT

All little things and easy enough to fix, especially since some of it was dealt with in edits to chapter one. Thank you!

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On 2/4/2019 at 1:37 PM, kais said:

I have a hell of a time writing future magic systems.

I was thinking about this a bit, and while the background information on the scifi elements is certainly important for you as the author to think about and know, most of where it pops up in the plot feels pretty superfluous to me. I feel like you could probably just cut the words out of the story without much trouble or need for rewriting. 

 

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Whee! And here we are at next week.

Chapter 2 

- (pg.1) Good opening to the chapter, nice bit of conflict. POV throws me a bit. In the last chapter, we saw O having an attack from 'the outside' but, in the instance, was xie crossing over to see M, sort of flashing in and out, or was that something different? I ask because here of course we see what O sees.

- (pg.2) The vomiting really drives home, and ties down in reality, the physical impact of the dreams. Nice job with that.

- (pg.2) "fruit vendor whose booth space O shared" - Bit confused. There was a pig seller next door last chapter, but I don't remember anything about the stall being shared.

- (pg.3) "slight of hand " - It's 'sleight'.

- (pg.3) "some of the stuff he had me fetch him… " - Kind of awkward, and redundant, I thought.

- (pg.3) "but we make ends meet" - Who's 'we'? Also, why is O protesting so much about the prospect of getting rid of the intrusive visions and the vomiting? I'd have thought xie would be grabbing the chance with both hands, or at least be more accepting of it and positive towards it.

- (pg.3) "the opposite end of the round table" - The...? Which side of the round table is she on, or maybe she's at a corner :P 

- (pg.3) "You and I have worked for rich people long enough already" - I don't mind 'lazy' grammar in dialogue, in fact I thinks it's pretty much necessary to make it sound authentic, but this goes too far for me, because it changes the tense, or leaves it between two tenses.

- (pg.3) "You didn’t have to." - Lol, great quipping. I have a question though. I commented last time about how these two had a good, pretty clearly platonic (I thought) friendship going. In this chapter, there's a lot of talk about we that leaves me feeling they are partners, in some sense at least. I did not get that before.

- (pg.4) Again, there is just tonnes of we, we, we. I didn't think B would be going with xir. Is he? On what basis?

- (pg.4) "A glass fell from her hands" - There is only one glass in her hand. I think it would sound better (less vague and noncommittal) as 'The glass fell...'

- (pg.4) "barrelled down the road" - I don't buy this. Compared to horses, there's no way these are going to barrel. Even if they are unexpectedly quick, my comparison with with horses, clearly having much longer legs.

- (pg.4) "staring at an the admittedly" - Why all the imprecise/vague phrasing all of a sudden? Here, you could be talking about some other bizarre sight.

- (pg.5) "like a bad engine" - Define bad in this context. Throaty engines tend to be good.

- (pg.5) "lobbed first one, then two another handfuls at the things, smacking two directly in the face" - Awkward phrasing. It sounds like xie is throwing with two hands at once the second time, which is beyond clumsy if you've ever tried it.

- (pg.6) "The stagecoach driver (MISSING WORD) an obscenity"

- (pg.6) This is all rather farcical, and has a feeling of the comical rather than being in any way tense or conflict-laden.

- (pg.6) "dumped the entire contents over their heads" - Honestly, I don't care about any of this, it's beyond ridiculous. What's the point? It starts from a premise that I don't accept (dragons barrelling) and deteriorates from there.

- (pg.7) Confused about the vision. Please do not tell me that M is in the stagecoach. How can that be possible when she was a sea away during the night? I cling to the hope that is not what's going on here.

- (pg.8) "was M." - Ah, rust.

- (pg.8) For me, the whole thing with the dragons and the coach is kind of ridiculous. Of greater concern is my disbelief. Of course, perhaps M was on this continent the whole time, but everything that went before told me quite deliberately that she was not. So, I feel betrayed by the previous narrative. I feel like the tone of the story has changed with the whole Mr. Bean sketch with the pig poop and orange juice.

Chapter 3 

- (pg.9) "Ignoring her stained, torn clothes and worn boots" - Guess this refers to O, but sounds like it's M from the grammar.

- (pg.9) "smelled like fresh lacquer" - Isn't this because it smells 'of' fresh lacquer?

- (pg.9) "major upgrade from the grass and juice" - What about the pig sh1t, surely that's the predominant smell, or was at the spot they left, which this is an upgrade from?

- (pg.9) "the thin cushions on the interior benches" - This sounds to my like more tan two cushions, or at least two big cushions that cover the entire bench.

- (pg.9) "the only place food or drink might be kept" - This sounds really obvious, to the point of not being worth remarking on.

- (pg.10) "all three of them whacked their heads on the plywood ceiling" - I don't believe this. You're talking about a drop of at least a foot, I would think. Struggle to accept that the carriage would survive that.

- (pg.10) "come and get me" - Still don't believe that. M must have been too far away to sail that distance in a matter of what, an hour or two?

- (pg.10) "saw each other for seconds" - How many? A minute is 3600 seconds.

- (pg.10) "Of all the..." - I don't think this is the time or place to be referencing Casablanca. This feels way out of context to me.

- (pg.11) "we help you" - I don't understand why O and B are a 'we'. There's a assumption about him tagging along that I don't get. 

- (pg.11) "are pretty similar"- Every so often I make this comment. To me, this line loses a lot of purpose and effectiveness because it's  to definite, it kind of cops out. 'Pretty' and 'fairly' and 'quite' are words the weaken the context, I think, and leave the reader feeling unsure if the writer means it or not. The names are similar. That is an accurate, clear and positive statement.

- (pg.12) "that’s really a grey area" - Just to continue the last point, I think this is fine, because it accentuates how grey the area is, rather than diluting it.

- (pg.12) "stagecoach stopped moving" - This sounds like it happens instantly. I'd prefer to have it 'draw to a halt', to keep me feeling in the setting.

- (pg.12) "with you noting the dragon cannibalism"- How does 'noting' work here? I don't follow.

- (pg.12) "Met O here when we were six..." - Okay, so this is the answer to my question from Page 11, but which has been with me from earlier than that. However, this feels really forced in the present arrangement. I'd rather M asked 'Eh, and who are you and why are you here, exactly? This is between me and O, I don't remember inviting you into the carriage.' Oh, another point. I personally (because I'm a pedant, remember :lol: ) would take issue with calling it a stagecoach. I would say a stagecoach is like a public bus running a fixed public route from A to B, i.e. you can't hire it, and this is just a carriage.

- (pg.12) "She nodded. "I sleep with a bucket..." - missing quotes typo.

- (pg.12) I like them bonding a bit over the puking, nice touch.

- (pg.13) "You give away the secret then it isn’t any fun" - grammar. This doesn't scan.

- (pg.13) "Dead parents. An aunt raised me for a few years before she died, too. Now I uh, sell lion fern blood" - See, this is why I don'y buy the premise that they know nothing about each other. This takes about 5 seconds to say, maybe 4 seconds. They could totally exchange details about each other. 30 seconds per night for 20 years = 30 x 365.25 x 20 = 219,150 seconds => 3652.5 minutes => 60.875 hours, and they can't squeeze in a few basic facts? What on earth did they say then, during the 2.5 days they been together?

- (pg.13) "What is a lion fern?" - Thank you M! I believe I asked this last week, not we're on Page 13.

- (pg.13) "Xie milks dandelions..." - Lol, really funny deadpan line. I like it.

- (pg.13) "a lot of applications"- This conversation seems to have drifted way off topic.

- (pg.14) "the original colonists to the planet" - Redundant, imo.

- (pg.14) "I used to try to convince them that O existed" - So, M is addressing B? Seems odd.

- (pg.14) "Made it four months..." - No, wait. This just proves my point that there is not earthly way M could have got to End in the time she did. Also, the logistics of two eight-year* olds walking to four months are beyond unlikely. Food? Lodging? I don't believe it. * You seem to have abandoned the hyphenation of ages, which is accept syntax.

- (pg.14) "smell of salt immediately hit their faces" - Hit their noses, surely?

- (pg.14) "a spell" - A what? Since when was there magic in this story? Now I've got a problem, unless O / B react in the same way and deny / refuse to accept that magic exists. If magic is an accepted part of society, I would expect to be told that on the first page. Not only is there no mention (that I can recall) of magic being real until Page 14(plus last week's page count), but you've kind of reinforced that magic is not real by making B an illusionist with card tricks and rabbits in hats.

- (pg.14) "absent twins" - This confuses me too. Is the suggestion that they are biologically linked in some way? Maybe the next page will resolve my concerns.

- (pg.15) "but you have to be present" - I thought this should be 'we', because it's the twins, but then I see she's talking about B. This seems beyond coincidence. It sounds as it if has to be B specifically who assists, but I see no logical basis for that.

- (pg.15) Nice closing line for the chapter, naturally linked to the theme of the conversation and not shoe-horned in like some are.

Summary 

I had some issues with this chapter in terms of the logic of certain things tying together, but I still enjoyed the pacing and a lot of the dialogue. Good forward momentum was maintained.

Chapter 4

- (pg.16) "leaned against the white railing of the small solar ship. Moderate waves smacked into the sides of the boat" - Not you too! @shatteredsmooth had me going over this too. This description came from a place that historians or journalists possibly would not call a primary source, but I like the brevity and simplicity of its presentation. Bottom line, these terms are not interchangeable.

"Among sailing vessels, the distinction between ships and boats is that a ship is a square-rigged craft with at least three masts, and a boat isn't. With regard to motorized craft, a ship is a large vessel intended for oceangoing or at least deep-water transport, and a boat is anything else."

- (pg.16) I'm not following this and why there's someone in the tube. If the tube is made of parchment, why does M need a huge flame to make the tube. Surely the flame will destroy a parchment tube? This explanation is not clear. 

- (pg.17) "...for this, correct?” B asked."

- (pg.17) "the glass is solidifying" - What happened to the parchment tube? Is M intending to make a glass tube big enough to fit someone inside?

- (pg.17) How does the sleeve relate to the tube? Glass is malleable at high temperature, as you know. A person couldn't form a tube of glass big enough to fit a person, and this will happen in front of hundreds or thousands of people?!?! I'm completely bemused.

- (pg.17) "You really think you can unwind our minds" - Where's the explanation of the twins bit? I'm still confused over that.

- (pg.17) "but never in colors and smells and light" - Are there not colours in the dreams? This just felt a bit forced to me. How about sounds and touch?

- (pg.18) "You are a piece of my soul" - The twins thing, the twins thing. Are they related or not?

- (pg.18) "Aren’t you afraid we’ll lose, this thing" - Typo. Also, surely the whole point is to lose it. This comment confuses me.

- (pg.18) "the thick book on his lap" - Where did this come from? He had no luggage when they left on the spur of the moment. Oh, did M bring the book? Not clear it was her's, imo.

- (pg.19) "F used to talk about her and I think she may have visited once or twice" - Who is F, and visited where? Confused.

- (pg.19) "we have to crash" - Typo.

- (pg.19) "miracle" - Yes, I think this should have been questioned immediately that M mentioned it in the first place.

- (pg.19) "her plastic bin" - A bin is for refuse, surely? I don't know what it is that she using using as a bag or case.

- (pg.19) "not needing to check on the fire as long as xie can" - No. There needs to be a time specified. There must be a specific time that it takes to make a person-sized glass tube. 5 minutes, 9 minutes. M will know the answer to this, and I see no reason for her not to specify it here, rather than saying some vague and highly variable amount of time will do.

- (pg.20) "plants they bought to sacrifice and scatter" - Unclear who is scattering and why.

- (pg.20) Lol. Good closing line again.

Summary

It's a good story and I'm enjoying it. There are some small issues that are getting on my wick, but all fixable. There are also some large issues that I know are meant to make me incredulous, but I need to believe them when they come to pass. This life-sized glass sleeve makes me concerned for my credulity. But I most certainly am going to read through to find out what happens, so good job :) 

<R>

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Posted (edited)

On 04/02/2019 at 6:48 PM, Mandamon said:

Do the dragons routinely eat people? That seems like there would be a lot of legal problems.

:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

 

As usual, I could have saved myself a lot of typing and just said "I agree with everything @Mandamon says." :D 

Edited by Robinski
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Posted (edited)

As Assistant Lieutenant Sub-moderator (Part-time) Third Class, I feel I should point out, @shatteredsmooth, that there are three instances of 'O's name appearing in full in your comments. I'm sure the forum won't self destruct, but you might care to abbreviate them? :unsure: 

Edited by Robinski
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27 minutes ago, Robinski said:

As Assistant Lieutenant Sub-moderator (Par-time) Third Class, I feel I should point out, @shatteredsmooth, that there are three instances of 'O's name appearing in full in your comments. I'm sure the forum won't self destruct, but you might care to abbreviate them? :unsure: 

Arg, alright. I'll go back and check. I didn't mean to write the full name. Sorry about that.

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2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I didn't mean to write the full name.

I certainly never do when I do it... :rolleyes:

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On 3/11/2019 at 11:51 AM, Robinski said:

It's a good story and I'm enjoying it. There are some small issues that are getting on my wick, but all fixable. There are also some large issues that I know are meant to make me incredulous, but I need to believe them when they come to pass. This life-sized glass sleeve makes me concerned for my credulity. But I most certainly am going to read through to find out what happens, so good job

Thank you again! These remain very helpful as I go through the editor edits, to tweak the story. I've done a lot of work with the glass sleeve, so that it is now in three pieces and just has to be glued up. I think that should help a lot. 

now on to fix the last part!

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