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Mandamon

20190211 - The Five Hive Plateau - 5005 words - Sub 3

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One more time around and thanks so much to everyone for helping to pull this into shape in such a short time!

I've included the whole piece again, but you don't need to read all of it. I've grayed out the sections which haven't changed much. It's still 5000 words, but a lot of that is also the same, so feel free to skim. Mainly I'd ask you to focus on:

1) Even more motivation in the beginning, and O's desire for recognition
  a few paragraphs on pgs 1-3, 239 words
2) L's scenes / K's unfamiliarity with males:
  pg 19-24, 1487 words
  pg 32-33, 387 words
  pg 34-35, 271 words
3) O's reaction to killing
  pg 26-28, 889 words
4) why the mother didn't sing when threatened
  pg 29-30, 546 words
5) sticking the landing at the end
  pg 38-42, 1186 words

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I think you fixed most of the issues I had with this, but the relationship between L and the mother still isn't entirely clear to me. It's clear L cares about  her, but I feel like I'm missing something, though I'm not quite sure what that something is. If the others don't feel this way, then it might just be something about my reading of this and not actually a problem with the story. 

As I read comments:

Page 3

"If he had been there—well, he wasn’t certain what he would have done, but he would have at least tried." ]Early in the story like this, new readers might not quite get what a maji could have done, though it is hinted that they have abilities. Maybe try something along the lines of, "he could have done something with the symphony to try and…" but worded better. 

Page 19 to 20: I like the description of L's room better. It seems more like that of an adult, sentient being that a child's. The  mention of surgical tools was a good breadcrumb for him later tending to the mother.

 

Page 20-22

I like L better here.  This version seems more like he could be one of the autistic students I work with in the tutoring center.

To me, L's behavior now implies he is too focused on one problem to see the bigger that one he probable doesn't want to think about or can't cope with thinking about. 

Page 23

"It now covered L’s lower body, gently pressing in." Like one of those strangling weighted blankets? Just the idea of those things makes me feel like suffocating, but that is my own brand of sensory issues.  I’ve heard those actually help some people. Or is this something else entirely? More like being suspended under water? Touching on certain pressure points? Not super clear. And where did O get the idea from? The friend that was like L? House of Healing? How did he know it was going to help and not make things worse, because I think it could've backfired as much as helped because not everyone with sensory issues, autistic or not, reacts the same to that stuff. It's not a bad concept if it is explained a little clearer. 

" seemed unprepared at best. The females must truly have little to do with the male of the hive." Does enough to address her lack of preparedness to deal with L 

Page 24

"This was being a majus" ]I’m really starting to think of the Maji as Jedi without all the restrictions of the Jedi code and a different method of powers…but a similar role only with the council having more power political clout or at least a sort of UN type thing. 

Page

"I will not be throwing up." The first italic was a little jarring since there hadn't been any, but the rest flowed well and this one made me smirk. This whole reaction, including this line, was a great fit for O's personality. 

"He had to move" Wasn’t he moving if he was following her?

"hulk" All I think of when I see this word is the MCU hulk.

Page 34 

— Why a dash?

Page 35

"...growling..." Kind of an odd  images. Growling feels a little awkward in this sentence, and seems to subdued for charging into battle. Growing, while something I occasionally do when frustrated, is more a backed into a corner scared or a very frustrated with something reaction. I think riding into battle atop your mate/lover/partner's (if that is what the mother is to him) shoulder requires a verb that might imply some kind of battle cry. 

"act of altruism save" Something grammatically wrong or missing?

"They held a burial for K and L's unborn sisters" The wording here made me think K was dead. The funeral was for k and it was also for l's unborn siblings, though I think you just meant the siblings?  Should it be K's and L's sibling? 

Overall, I think this is better. The arc is clearer. O's motives are clearer. I sympathize more with him in not liking the council even though part of me still might agree with them about interfering with the pixie stuff. The end does a good job setting up for him to become the type of character he is in Seeds. 

I am curious to see what the others think of the autism rep. I don't 100% trust my opinion alone. 

 

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Overall

Much improved and I think almost set to go. I made a few notes below. I do have a question though. Are we meant to see that Ori is pompous but the council is also bullish and pig headed? Is it sort of a both sides are grey deal? Because I want to get behind Ori at the end but his reasoning prior is problematic. Not sure how you were hoping the piece to land.

19 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I am curious to see what the others think of the autism rep.

If the stimm gets better explained, I'd feel comfortable saying he falls within a recognizable yet still accurate band of autism behaviors. Depending upon how much more you want to do, @Mandamon, you could show that Ori really understands by seeing the need for pressure from hitting the wall, and then deducing the blanket pressure of the air (which I think is implied, but could be pulled out more, too). This is a grey area because stimming is not inherently autism related. It generally comes from SPD, so you're weaving in a (very identifiable) comorbid into the equation. But the general population doesn't know how to tease those apart, and many autistic people do also have SPD so it makes sense. (As an aside, so many autistic people also have SPD that my kid's therapists insisted she must have it too because they'd never seen autism without it. That was a lot of fun. Ahh, small towns.)

As I go

- intro rework: ahh, I get a much better picture of O now! Yes, the pompous comes through.

- pg 21: the hitting the wall while writing-- you've identified the stimm but not the cause. Since he enjoys the equation he presumably doesn't need to stimm from that. Is it a reaction to their presence disrupting him? If so you might want to add something like 'when they'd first come in he'd just been writing, but now he stopped every so often to knock his hand rhythmically against the wall." or something. A stimm, generally, is a way to calm down from too much input, or to give input when too little is available. As you've presented the equation as enjoyable and what he prefers to be doing, reading the section had me immediately go back and search for the disruption, since, to me, knowing what inputs he likes tells me a lot about the character.

- I'm still confused as to why Kr doesn't know how to help La. If all males in the species are like this, shouldn't all the women know more or less how to help? Or is it just Kr, specifically, that doesn't know? If so might be worth a line with her indicating that everyone else seems to not mind but she's got places to be, or something. 

- I like the part where Ori considers diving into the equations. Shows us a bit more about why he is the way he is

 

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Thanks to @shatteredsmooth and @kais! Glad to hear this works better.

19 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I like L better here.  This version seems more like he could be one of the autistic students I work with in the tutoring center.

Yay!

 

19 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Like one of those strangling weighted blankets?

 

39 minutes ago, kais said:

If the stimm gets better explained, I'd feel comfortable saying he falls within a recognizable yet still accurate band of autism behaviors

Good points on the blanket of air. I wanted to include this to have a pointer to the general audience to show that L is autistic, especially since they might be more familiar with some of the associated comorbids (thanks for the word, kais!) from "Hollywood autism." I think it's working?

43 minutes ago, kais said:

you could show that Ori really understands by seeing the need for pressure from hitting the wall, and then deducing the blanket pressure of the air

Can definitely pull this out more. I think it was in my mind, but didn't get translated to the page.

 

46 minutes ago, kais said:

As you've presented the equation as enjoyable and what he prefers to be doing, reading the section had me immediately go back and search for the disruption, since, to me, knowing what inputs he likes tells me a lot about the character.

 

19 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

L's behavior now implies he is too focused on one problem to see the bigger that one he probable doesn't want to think about or can't cope with thinking about. 

Thanks so much for making these observations. This really helps me with writing this character. I intended him hitting the wall to be a reaction to the others urging him along when he wasn't finished with the equations yet. L is using that input to help calm down from the stress of having to leave his room, if I understand stimms right? 

 

20 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I sympathize more with him in not liking the council even though part of me still might agree with them about interfering with the pixie stuff.

 

54 minutes ago, kais said:

Are we meant to see that Ori is pompous but the council is also bullish and pig headed?

O has always been a sort of gray character. He does what he wants even if that sometimes isn't what's best for everyone else, so from the comments, I think this is getting across correctly.

 

Thanks again for everything--I think I can clear up the little stuff with a few words here and there.

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Man, I have had A Week. 

Basically I agree with @kais and @shatteredsmooth . L reads MUCH less problematically now. He seems like a competent adult or near-adult.

 

I like the extra reasons at the front, I think they really help! Unfortunately I feel like it's also getting a little bit flabby at this point, too. 

Thank you for having O realize he's not being chased specifically. :)

The hand-beating is still feeling a bit off, though.  It feels to me like it's still sort of... unattached (?) to any kind of reason for it. It almost seemed to me like he was doing it because he wanted to stop working on the equation but couldn't because it wasn't finished yet, and was thus experiencing an overflow of conflicting emotion/anxiety that he couldn't express otherwise. Which isn't bad, but it left me confused as to why the pressure vest helped. (As an aside, I think this confusion is partly because I've only ever seen the pressure vest in relation to anxious dogs, so it's a weird mental image for me personally. A little internet research says this is probably just a me-thing.) I think a little more clarity of the type kais was talking about  will probably fix it up. 

It still feels off that K doesn't know how to interact with L. I feel like I'm maybe having problems with the idea that pixies don't interact with males/males are secret clashing with the way K knows exactly where to go to find L, and tells O exactly why L must be saved. If the males are secret, then K must be in on the secret, and I feel like... shouldn't that come with, if not instructions on how to deal with males, then at least more direct interaction with L so she should be ... i don't know.. more familiar? with L's idiosyncrasies? But this might also be something to think about later, since I know you're on a deadline. 

I think I had other things I meant to write, but I didn't take notes as I was reading and I can't for the life of me remember what they word. Arg. 

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Thanks @industrialistDragon! I'll see if I can adjust things a little more tonight on the last pass. It's going out to newsletter members on Tuesday!

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Sorry I'm reading this out of sync with the other critiques. I hope these comments are still of some use.

I love the timeline, and reminiscing over stories past and present.

Page 1

- "They saw what he did." - What did he do? I didn't see it. Is it meant to be past tense.? Does it mean 'They had seen what he did?

- "refusing to send m where they were needed." - Why would they do that? Hmm.

- Decent tension and conflict on the first page. I'm on board. But then it's O, so of course Im on board.

Page 2 

- "pup" - Seems an odd sobriquet for a race with predominantly avian characteristics.

- "it would be something to share with the other m" - not sure what 'it' is. It's unspecific. Is it his success he would be sharing?

Page 3

- "It would show favor to one species over another" - But is this not an internal F conflict? So it's not an inter-species war, is it?

- "were on the outskirts of the carving" - This makes it sound like a town. Would they not be at the edges?

Page 4

- "But it was the warrior caste..." - This sentence felt self-evident to me, kind of not worthy of O's intellect, or the story's somehow. I feel a deeper analysis would be more appropriate.

- "But he found them when he walked at the docks" - Not sure what this is meant to convey. Is it in the sense of that's the only place he found them?

- "culling the other classes somehow" - Surely how they are doing it is not a mystery, is it?

- "his voice rising" - What about his voice is it that rises? Rather unspecific: it could be volume, or frequency, gruffness, etc.

- "on his right and left" - Whose left, O's or Z's?

- "stared him down, flanking her" - How do they flank her? It sounds like they all stand up and move close to her, which would be weird. If they don't move at all, also weird, because that means they've been flanking her the whole time. If it means in terms of their strategy, then 'flanking' I associate more with something you do to outmanoeuvre someone in an argument. Also, have the papers not been covering the desk this whole time? Seems weird only to mention it now.

- "time,” he " - small 'h'.

Scene 1 (summary) - Good conflict and very clear picture of the inciting incident. Some of the word choices tripped me up, but I think all my comments are just details.

Page 5 

- "O stumped..." - Stomped?

- The first few lines bother me. "Once outside sounds like it should be the first line, because stopping down the stairs comes after getting outside, surely? Repetition of 'stumped'. I feel you could (should) cut the first paragraph. I want to be straight into his emotion after the first scene, not looking around at the scenery. This is my biggest issue so far: it's like a slap in the face for the momentum of the story.

- "protected and helped" - I feel that 'helped' is too simplistic a word, and doesn't sit well with 'protect'. Think of 'protect and serve'. Words like 'aided' and 'supported' come to mind as being better than 'helped'.

- "if their ancestors led them by the nose" - Confused by this line. How does it have anything to do with that happened in Scene 1?

- "but now he looked upward," - This feel like a non sequitur. How does it have anything to do with his apartment? Also, "along the many floors of the tower" - 'along' is horizontal, surely? I get the 'but' now, because his new apartment's on a low floor. This bit just feels rather confusing, disjointed, to me.

Page 6 

- "He should start a club..." - Lol.

- The last line of this scene feels like a very sudden leap in thinking without any lead in from the line about the war-torn worlds of P. In summary, this scene seems a lot about describing surroundings and (political) structures and much less a sequel to the previous scene, which is what I was hoping for. I don't think this second scene drives on the story as much as it should. I want to see more of his thoughts about the immediate problem. I don't really care about where he lives, and I'm surprised he is so easily distracted by such thoughts, when it's all imbedded knowledge to him. What do you call a maid-and-butler scene when there is only one character?

- Do you really need a scene break here? Bearing in mind my comments above, one way to help what I was feeling would be to keep the same scene moving by having him walk to the portal, which would take all of a handful of words, and no break.

Page 7 

- "could just hear notes at the edge of his perception" - Very interesting. I did not know (or didn't recall) that. Makes sense given that portals are common.

Page 8 

- "They were a history" - The hives or the carvings? Not entirely clear, although I suspect it's the carvings. I'd rather not have to work it out.

- I'm confused about the logistics of the battle. It sounds like the pixie's descending on O are fighting, and yet you say they are 'an army' singular, so it sounds like they have not engaged the enemy yet.

Page 9 

- Yes, my confusion about the engagement continues. There is fighting going on of course, and yet these no description of the one army descending on O engaging the second army, or any mention of the second army descending from the other direction. Blocking alert.

- "Fighting was a means of communication, and so was the air around them" - The former, I can sort of see what you mean, but air in itself is not a means of communication (imo), it's just a medium, which needs to be affected by the means of communication, i.e. the larynx or drum or horn or whatever means of communication makes the air molecules vibrate to form the sounds.

- "twists of air"- What is a twist of air? I feel 'eddy', 'current' or even 'vortex' would be more descriptive and evocative.

- "He watched the ballet of death around him, in a circle of empty space" - Confusing. I couldn't follow at first, until I realised that I think this is O's perspective. I think it would be clearer to say 'from' than 'in'. 'In' makes it sound like the ballet is in the empty circle, which is contradictory of course. Whereas O is watching from the circle, I'm sure.

Page 10 

- I'm not sure I'm feeling all the much jeopardy from the battle. I like the line about O not knowing which side is winning.

- I'm lapsing into LBLs, I know, but "differences of the two parties fighting". Difference surely are 'between' two parties. I had to read it twice be sure I was taking the right meaning.

- "the chitinous places covering their skin had natural sharpened points" - 'places; should be 'plates', right? Also, 'naturally sharpened' sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. 'sharpened' sounds like a deliberate action, like a man-made thing, so not natural!

[End of Part 1] - It's taking me too long to critique. I'll put this up and  one back for another 10 pages very soon. Hope this is useful.

<R>

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On 18/02/2019 at 1:53 PM, Mandamon said:

It's going out to newsletter members on Tuesday!

Ah...

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15 hours ago, Robinski said:

Ah...

Heh--yep, it's already out to the public. However, I could still make a revision to it at some point. But if you're looking for priority, I'd go with the new book chapters.

Thanks for the comments, @Robinski!

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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

But if you're looking for priority, I'd go with the new book chapters.

Yeah, I was catching up from the back, but that has it's pitfalls. 

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