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Mandamon

20190217 - Facets of the Nether Ch 1 - 4285 words - Sub 1

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Hello all,

Here is the beginning of the sequel to The Seeds of Dissolution. I subbed this back in December, but this is quite a bit different. There is also a "Dramatis Personae" before the first chapter which should bring you up to speed if you haven't read the first book.

Reactions on anything/everything else is appreciated, from character reactions, to description needed, to grammar and phrasing.

I'd also like to know whether the "Dramatis Personae" works, or whether it sounds too pompous, or if it works at all.
 

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Overall

This read pretty well, and I don't have a lot of comments. I do feel like S has regressed a lot, and we're back at the start of book one. I'd like to see a bit more growth on him, even as we recognize all the horrors he went through in book one and how they affected him. Even if it's just a bit of introspection about how he could go out if he had both the twins, but not without one, or something akin. I expect him to be reeling from what he did, and losing his memories is a great touch, but I also want to see some touchstones of his growth over book one, too. 

I remain, as always, very excited for where this book will go!

Dramatis personae

I generally love these, although the format of yours is much longer than I've seen before. In sci fi I feel like they're usually species, age, gender, some identifiable characteristics. The ones you have given are probably too long for people to read at first pass. I'd suggest cutting them down.

 

As I go

- pg 5: a lot of redundancy on 'what was the sound?' Suggest switching it up to things like 'did you hear that?' and such

- the 'new house' is more or less a reveal, even for your seasoned readers. I'd suggest leading more with that idea, like S contemplating his new house. 

 

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Thoughts As I Go: Just as a disclaimer – I haven’t read SoD, but I have read the Dramatis Personae

Pg. 4 – Is S talking to himself deliberately, or out of habit?

Notes:

Well, my thought section was a bit sparse, mostly because a lot of what is being discussed between characters are things which happened within the last book. While I can’t really comment on that, I can only say that if I did know what everyone was referencing, I might have found it repetitive, but honestly I can’t say for sure. I’m curious as to what the chime was, as the characters just seem to treat it like an alarm clock and wait for it to shut off, but I’d expect otherwise from characters using a sound-based magic system.

That aside, it’s a good note to start on, I feel like I have a good idea about what’s going through the character’s mind and what direction the plot is going to go. If I was looking this over, I'd probably read it. (One of my bad habits is starting book series mid-series.)

1 hour ago, kais said:

Dramatis personae

I generally love these, although the format of yours is much longer than I've seen before. In sci fi I feel like they're usually species, age, gender, some identifiable characteristics. The ones you have given are probably too long for people to read at first pass. I'd suggest cutting them down.

Seconded. Star Wars is name, job, race, planet of origin, such as Luke Skywalker (human Jedi Master from Tatooine). I did appreciate it because, as mentioned earlier I haven't read SoD, but I'd agree with kais's points about them being too long.

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I am very happy to catch back up with Sam, and like this version of the first chapter much better than the last version not just because I've now read book 1, but had not yet read it when you sent the first version of this. I like that the entire chapter is from Sam's point of view. I love his internal monologue about thinking everyone hates him, that he is being selfish etc because I do that all the time. You also somehow manage to make it cute and sad when he does it. The chapter had a clear arc -- getting out of the house, and I am curious about the strange ringing and how Sam almost unconsciously made changes to the bird's notes. 

The memory problems are almost making me think something about the timeline shifted because he sent the drain to the past -- the result of some sort of time paradox -- by going to the nether he ensured the drain that drove him away from Earth showed up there, and by actually sending the drain and completing the loop, he lost a piece of his memory. Someone please let me know if this theory is way off or illogical. 

I agree with @kais about how Sam seems to have regressed to where he was at the start of book 1. 

21 hours ago, kais said:

I expect him to be reeling from what he did, and losing his memories is a great touch, but I also want to see some touchstones of his growth over book one, too. 

 

He had made a lot of progress in book one. I can see how the trauma of what happened could undo some of it, but I'd think in some ways, it might also lend him a little more strength or awareness. Maybe. 

 

19 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Star Wars is name, job, race, planet of origin, such as Luke Skywalker (human Jedi Master from Tatooine).

Yes! I love how Star Wars did those Dramatis personae things. If you think the summary of the last book is necessary, you could include a one page of what happened last time, which I think Jim Butcher always did in the Dresden Files. With the Dramatis personae as long as it is, I might skip it even if I had read the whole series. 

One grammar note: "Now unperturbed by the noise now it was gone." I think there is a word missing. 

This was it for now. I'm looking forward to more next week! There is more next week, right?

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Thanks to @kais, @aeromancer, and @shatteredsmooth! Great comments as always.

21 hours ago, aeromancer said:
22 hours ago, kais said:

Dramatis personae

I generally love these, although the format of yours is much longer than I've seen before. In sci fi I feel like they're usually species, age, gender, some identifiable characteristics. The ones you have given are probably too long for people to read at first pass. I'd suggest cutting them down.

Seconded. Star Wars is name, job, race, planet of origin, such as Luke Skywalker (human Jedi Master from Tatooine). I did appreciate it because, as mentioned earlier I haven't read SoD, but I'd agree with kais's points about them being too long.

 

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Yes! I love how Star Wars did those Dramatis personae things. If you think the summary of the last book is necessary, you could include a one page of what happened last time

I like the suggestion to break this up between a quick summary and quicker introductions. I think there was enough going on in the first one to have a summary. At any rate, I'll cut it down.

 

21 hours ago, aeromancer said:

I’m curious as to what the chime was, as the characters just seem to treat it like an alarm clock and wait for it to shut off, but I’d expect otherwise from characters using a sound-based magic system.

Good point. They do discuss it a bit later, but I'll see if I can bring it up earlier.

 

22 hours ago, kais said:

I'd like to see a bit more growth on him, even as we recognize all the horrors he went through in book one and how they affected him. Even if it's just a bit of introspection about how he could go out if he had both the twins, but not without one, or something akin.

 

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

He had made a lot of progress in book one. I can see how the trauma of what happened could undo some of it, but I'd think in some ways, it might also lend him a little more strength or awareness. Maybe. 

These are great points. I think I went a little too far in regressing him. He does come out of it more or less once he gets out of the apartment, but I can take this section back a little and let him show his growth more.

 

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Someone please let me know if this theory is way off or illogical. 

Er, no, not completely illogical! I still haven't decided how far I'll go with this part, but in any case, it will probably be in book 3 (and later!)

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7 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Er, no, not completely illogical! I still haven't decided how far I'll go with this part, but in any case, it will probably be in book 3 (and later!)

If that is the case then my reaction was probably what it should be. 

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I agree with the statements above that the Dramatis Personae was a little long, but not having read one before I can’t say too much. I enjoyed how he seemed to have returned to how he was in the beginning of SoD, but he seems to be a little worse. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been out side in a Tenday, because it has been a month. At that point, or even five days, I think someone else would come to help.

 

Notes as I read:

 

Page 3, Paragraph 3

Wouldn’t he be used to C (MC?) being out. I got the impression from the first book that he would be spending most of his time away.

 

Page 4, Paragraph 7

Is this because of his house, or because of what he did? I don’t think that being of a different house would cause this reaction.

 

Page 5, Paragraph 1

So it’s not his house, and I don’t remember this from SoD.

 

Page 6, Paragraph 8

Wouldn't that make the loss easier, not harder. 

 

That's all for now, 

Atium

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These are mostly just "as I go" comments. This is much improved over the previous version! 

 

I love dramatis personae! I find them to be the most useful appendices in fantasy books and I use them often when they're provided. I think the blurbs here are a bit long, though. S's for instance, ends up describing a lot of concepts that, well, aren't the person. I feel like those concepts are better tackled in the main text, or in a separate glossary or "what happened before" section if necessary, while a dramatis personae is for keeping track of who's who, and who's related to whom. I'm not overly fond of the trailing off into the next person, either. When I use these sections, it's usually for a quick reminder of social or political connections. I sort of end up asking myself "who is this guy again and why doesn't he like that other guy?" when things get complicated in the text. I just need something quick and basic to jog my memory. I don't want to be reading an entire page or more just to figure out a single relationship for a single person, and for me, I feel obligated to keep following the trail of ellipses until I get to the end. The ellipses seem like they're is implying all of the entries are part of one big paragraph that's just split up a bit for readability. This section is so bulky, I'm not sure I'd use it a whole lot. I know a couple of the series on my bookshelf have dramatis personae in them (or at least, person sections of the glossary); I'd be happy to scan them for you if you'd like some comparisons.

 

S is reading a bit older now, so it's not as much of a shock when he remembers In (still a little bit of one for me though. Oh, my! *fans self* ;) )

This is also reading as better integrated with regards to the previous-book-info recap. 

"his best friend" -- Uh-huh. My dude, my friend, buddy. Let me tell you about this river in Egypt -- it's called DE NILE. I look forward to someone calling him on that.

Still a little meandering at the beginning, but by the end of the chapter, it had a good bit of momentum and a nice hook. I got pretty into it so I don't have much more written. 

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Thanks @Atium and @industrialistDragon!

On 2/19/2019 at 7:51 PM, Atium said:

but he seems to be a little worse. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been out side in a Tenday

Yeah, I think I'll have to pull back on this a bit. Glad to see you around again!

 

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

When I use these sections, it's usually for a quick reminder of social or political connections. I sort of end up asking myself "who is this guy again and why doesn't he like that other guy?" when things get complicated in the text.

Perfect. That tells me exactly what I need to do. I might still do a quick plot recap before, not sure, but I'll definitely cut this down to just the connections.

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

S is reading a bit older now, so it's not as much of a shock when he remembers In (still a little bit of one for me though. Oh, my! *fans self* ;) )

Lol--glad I got this reaction! There's more of this later.

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

his best friend" -- Uh-huh. My dude, my friend, buddy. Let me tell you about this river in Egypt -- it's called DE NILE. I look forward to someone calling him on that.

Ha! Yeah, i waffled over this. I don't want to call E and I his GF/BF for some reason. It feels closer that that already to me. Dunno. I'll have to ponder.

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I have the perfect opportunity that I've been waiting for to delve into your submissions (having woken at 3am...:angry: ). I've been looking forward to this :) 

Dramatis Personae 

- (pg.2) - "Some changed were required" - typo.

- (pg.3) - "He was murdered by A" - and yet he's a supporting character? Interesting.

- (pg.3) - "He was the designer of the SBs" - One of the designers? Chief designer?

- (pg.3) - "Only a handful of people are still living..." - Excellent. The plan is working!! I think 'Society' is still my favourite of your works.

- (pg.3) - "when it is in session" - Surely he still presides over it when it is not. If something happens when the assembly is not in session, he is the go-to guy, isn't he? So, this bit seems redundant.

- (pg.3) - "They seem to be able to create Ds" - Seems to me early comments seem to be certain about this. I didn't realise there was any doubt remaining. Also, "and have an unknown objective, save that they want to “bring peace and promote life.”" - Phrasing: I feel like this sentence is awkward to decipher. For me, 'save' doesn't mesh with the sub clause about the objective. I think it would be smoother if it read 'their objective is unknown, save...'. I think putting 'unknown' next to 'save' makes it easier to parse.

- (pg.3) - "the F--ing Hands" - It's me, not you, I'm sure, but I've never thought of Sass having hands, I think because of their reptilian characteristics.

In summary: I too like DPs, and I enjoyed this one. Not too long for me. The main characters get the most attention, of course.

Chapter 1 

- (pg.4) - Just love the epigram. To open on O's voice is perfect, for me, as he was always my favourite character. Sage words too, the set the scene very effectively, I thought.

- (pg.4) - "the sound went on and on" - Very smooth and involving introduction. I feel like a adjective is needed to reconfirm what's happening to the sound. Is it a 'dying' (i.e. continually reducing) sound? The phrase 'stabilised into' makes me think it changed somehow.

- (pg.4) - "like specs of salt" - This is an awfully specific simile.

- (pg.5) - "sitting here in the dark"- I feel like I should know this before now, having been here for a page. We've seen the birds, but there's no indication of darkness in the room.

- (pg.5) - "Probably the chime" - Again, I'd like to know what it's doing. 'Probably that irritating chime.'

- (pg.6) - "as his hands clenched around E’s hands" - Repetition of hands is awkward, I thought.

- (pg.6) - I really enjoy this little recap. Well judge in length/detail, and well placed in the narrative.

- (pg.6) - "other man's skin" - I don't think of either of them as men. What age is S again?

- (pg.6) - "he had cowered behind a crate" - I still like my had, and I think there is a place for them, especially here in underlining that S is thinking back to past events.

- (pg.6) - "That infernal chiming sound" - Good. I think the more times you mention the chime (within reason) the better win these opening pages. I don't think there is any harm in annoying the reader by constantly mentioning the chime. It's supposed to be annoying, after all.

- (pg.6) - "grandmother? Aunt?" - Ah, no. This is a problem for me. I can totally accept that he doesn't remember her face, but he's got to remember their relationship, surely. I get no sense that he's losing his faculties. he just be able to remember the generation that his gran (right?) came from, imo. Also, I found it curious that S didn't even think about the fact that he's lost his parents, when he thinks about loss, and also thinks directly about the fact that E has lost her parents.

- (pg.7) - "find him" - Curious that she doesn't use I's name here, I thought.

- (pg.7) - "he hummed along..." - Nice detail. This is the sort of little accent that really puts the reader in the moment, I think, and embeds the symphony in the narrative and the setting.

- (pg.8) - "even if most of the m don’t" - This last bit is just verging on maid-and-butler for me, I think. I thought the first two parts of the statement are fine (even though they both know this information), but it was this later part that stretched it too far.

- (pg.8) - "I know that too, even if I don’t understand how" - This sounds to me like she doesn't understand how she knows it, but I don't think that was your intention (was it?). I wanted 'how' to be 'it'.

- (pg.8) - "Told you? Where? When? Who it is?" - 'Where?' seems like the absolute last question someone logically would ask in that situation. Why? How? surely are more prominent and pressing issues than Where? and When? Also, the last question > grammar. E doesn't have a speech inflection, that I can remember, does she?

- (pg.8) - "I hurt someone" - Ooh, ooh, ooh, what if he sent the drain back in time to his gran's house and captured his own self?!?!?! No, I'm sure that's not it.

- (pg.9) - "unperturbed by the noise now it was gone" - This seems so self-evident that it's not worthy of mention.

- (pg.9) - "The waning light" - Oh. This is the first statement about the time of day, I think. I had imagined that it was morning, for some reason.

- (pg.9) - "wood, or iron, or gas" - Wood and iron are a specific material and element, but then gas could be anything. It seems out of step with the other things in the list. Even if he doesn't think oxygen (for example), he might think air, I think, rather than just gas. Is it just me? The only time I use the term 'gas' is in relation to natural gas (fuel).

- (pg.9) - "done experiments with" - Maybe it too soon for line edits (Oops, too late :unsure: ), but I feel that 'experimented with' flows better.

- (pg.10) - "talk with the others" - What others? I feel like E would be more specific than those, given her steady, analytical approach to things (I think?).

- (pg.10) - "lip curled up, letting anger wash" - This sounds like his lip is in control.

- (pg.10) - "That's why she's gathering us together" - Hmm, so E knew this and kept it from him when she arrived.

- (pg.10) - "reconstruct the location for..."- 'of', surely?

- (pg.11) - "being an chull" - I noticed that someone said (above) that they were put out (my phrase) that S did not seem to have progressed. Got to say I disagree. It seems to me that, while he's still suffering from his anxieties, it's not so crippling, and he's much quicker here to realise that his behaviour is impacting adversely on his friend. I think that shows progress. I'm happy with that. The issue will arise if the anxiety gets too much in the way of the story, and the character developoing.

- (pg.11) - "S rushed forward" - Eh? No; he's already holding her hands, he's right there, doesn't need to rush forward. Maybe he leans forwards, reaches forward?

- (pg.11) - "He checked her pulse, but it was still strong" - This is unnecessary. It implies part of the sentence that isn't there. It implies that he think her pulse will be weak. Because  you don't say that, there's nothing for 'but' to play against.

- (pg.11) - "some part of him that always looked for anything"- Or 'was always looking', which I think would be even better to flag this unconscious prejudice, although he's just acknowledged it, so no longer unconscious! 

- (pg.11) - "than just he and E"- I think it's 'him', isn't it? Take away E from the sentence, and I think it has to be 'him'.

- (pg.12) - "city of the I stretched out behind it" - Somehow I don't picture him close enough to the window to get this perspective. E has been pulling him to the door--also he lunged toward her, further away from the window--so, it seems to me, he's pretty far from the window, and surely would only be able to see air/wall, not the ground.

- (pg.12) - "He was breathing shallower" - Sounds like he's doing that on purpose, compared to 'His breathing was shallower'. And, isn't it 'more shallow'?

- (pg.12) - "then brushed a hand down his cold cheek"- This rang odd to me, because although he feels his neck is cold, she's the one touching it, so it starts to sound like her POV, imo.

- (pg.12) - "I know what you've been going through, S--, but Inas may not have a lot of time" - I feel like this line could have the punch increased (being at the end of the chapter and all) if she used his name.

- (pg.12) - "pushed the door to MC's apartment open" - Again for punch / directness, I feel that when you separate 'door' and 'open', you lose the momentum and the immediacy of the action, compared to 'pushed open the door to MC's apartment...'

- (pg.12) - For me, those last couple of short sentences, are kind of melodramatic. There's drama in the sign of I, the unknown sound, the unknown house, the 'misplaced' drain, even going to question V again, but we end on S's insecurity. I was somewhat disappointed and underwhelmed by that as the ending of the chapter. It doesn't feel like the most dramatic thing going on. 

Overall 

I enjoyed this as a reintroduction. Keeping the number of characters down lets me focus on the scene, and I like the number of callbacks you've used and where you've used them. yet there is enough new material to (re)involve me in the situation. I think this is an effective first chapter and establishes decent early momentum. From experience, I have little doubt that you will keep this going. I think it's one of your strengths.

Looking forward to the next chapter.

<R>

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Thanks @Robinski! Going to keep reading through the feedback. Good catches as always. Your feedback is always very helpful!

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