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Mandamon

20190324 - Facets of the Nether Ch 6 - 4540 words - Sub 6

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Hello all,

Chapter 6, and we get Re's POV again. so let me know if his dialogue comes across well enough.  As always, let me know what you think. Reactions on anything/everything else is appreciated, from character notes, to description needed, to grammar and phrasing. 

Previously: E coaxed S out of his room after a strange chime went off. The maji are interested in S's new house. R got some information from a source, and M wants to restart the Society. R reveals the location of the Coalition's headquarters, but can't get there, and everyone is called to the Assembly, where the Coalition unveils an ancient being. E and R discuss the revelation, S visits the Eff in a private audience, and M continues recruiting.
 

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Over all: I think I'm suffering POV fatigue. I had a hard time staying focused on this chapter. I also feel like we've skipped back in time a little? Maybe that's because we're back in the assembly again. Maybe it's just WRS. I don't know. I feel like there are really neat things happening here, but I couldn't seem to get worked up about it. 

 

As I go:

At this point, if I was reading this in paper, I'd just be skipping the povs that I feel like aren't in the "main story" -- and right now that's anything other than S or E. M's sections are enjoyable, but I feel like they're clearly the B-story in this, and I feel like I'm being pulled in too many directions, so I just would find that, then decide later if it would be worth it to go back and read the rest (it's usually not, when I feel this way. Jane Lindskold's Firekeeper books I went back to pick up the POVs I'd skimmed/skipped, but I can't think of anyone else). 

Nope. Definitely don't like R. Don't like the way he talks, don't like the way he thinks, don't like his decisions. At. All. It's good plot information, but the vehicle is a pretty big turn off for me.

And then the E section right after that basically summarizes the R section and adds more interesting forward momentum to it. I'd've definitely skipped R in paper. If I'm being honest, there's nothing wrong with R from a critiquing standpoint other than my personal dislike, but the way his section is summarized in E's section makes both sections feel less useful. I kind of feel like having all these POVs overlap and summarize each other before they add new bits is starting to make me less interested in the story on the whole. It was part of the problem with earlier S sections too, I think maybe. They just kept rehashing things without moving forward (even though I know with S some retread is part of his character, I feel like maybe having it just be his sometimes thing, and not his all the time thing and not everyone's thing would make it not seem as bad?)

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First off, I'm jumping in cold, not having read your previous submission, so please take my feedback with as much salt as you'd care to pinch.

There are some interesting things about this... I appreciate that you've made an effort to differentiate your characters in the way they speak, and the  world building is layered in throughout. Those are good things, and there are others, but I'll focus on what didn't work for me in the hopes that it'll be more useful to you. 

My main problem is that your pyramid of abstraction is inverted. There is a massive amount of abstract (and often dry) exposition, whilst the description is pretty thin on the ground by comparison. This is most notable at the beginning of the chapter. Hardly any words are spent on setting the scene - on conjuring an atmosphere as experienced through R's unique lens. And when we do get description it often lacks specificity, movement, and tapping multiple senses. As a result, I did not feel immersed in the story. 

The other big thing that stood out to me was the lack of the compelling conflict, particularly in the first part of the chapter. It gets a little more compelling toward the middle and end, but not enough to win me over. Right now I'd say the conflict is level averages out at around 4/10, and I need at least 7 on either internal, interpersonal, external levels (ideally two or three at the same time). Not easy, but then writing is hard.  

I'll end on small, odd detail. 

Page 2. '..No one's seen a hint of 'em for so long, could be anything.'

This bit of dialogue (especially the end bit) has the feeling of clipped speech and struck me as realistic. It's a small thing, but good work is composed of little details like that. 

Hope the feedback didn't come across as too harsh. I'm sure you've got a compelling story here, which the folk who have read from the start will have a greater appreciation for than I do. 

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13 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

And then the E section right after that basically summarizes the R section and adds more interesting forward momentum to it. I'd've definitely skipped R in paper. If I'm being honest, there's nothing wrong with R from a critiquing standpoint other than my personal dislike, but the way his section is summarized in E's section makes both sections feel less useful.

 

13 hours ago, Majestic Fox said:

he other big thing that stood out to me was the lack of the compelling conflict, particularly in the first part of the chapter. It gets a little more compelling toward the middle and end, but not enough to win me over.

Thanks @industrialistDragon and @Majestic Fox! I've been feeling there was something off with this chapter, and these help me figure it out. I'll see if I can either cover new/exciting ground with R's POV, or remove it. Interested to see what everyone else thinks.

 

13 hours ago, Majestic Fox said:

My main problem is that your pyramid of abstraction is inverted. There is a massive amount of abstract (and often dry) exposition, whilst the description is pretty thin on the ground by comparison. This is most notable at the beginning of the chapter. Hardly any words are spent on setting the scene - on conjuring an atmosphere as experienced through R's unique lens. And when we do get description it often lacks specificity, movement, and tapping multiple senses. As a result, I did not feel immersed in the story. 

Yep, I totally agree. This is often a failing of my first drafts, where I get the plot ideas down but don't devote as much time to sensory details. Thanks for catching this. This will help me figure out where to layer that in later on.

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Overall

While I appreciate that there are only 2 POV characters in this chapter, I agree with @industrialistDragon that I have POV fatigue. I'd much prefer to stick with a character through a whole chapter, even two or more, before swapping. I especially miss Sa, as this always seemed like his story and he has been relegated to the sidelines. 

I'm wondering if this book wouldn't work well as an apprentice POV book? Maybe Sa, En, and one or two others? That would be a really interesting perspective and limit the POV numbers as well.

I loved the I is a POV reveal. Good emotion there!

I agree too that there is a lot of overlap in each chapter. They could be skimmed down and streamlined for better flow. 

But for a draft, looking good!

 

As I go

- pg 2: I feel like I've read all this before? Maybe? 

- pg 7: here we start to get to the meat of the chapter, but I think it comes too late. The part of him learning that his friend was an A would be better on page two or so, to keep the tension moving forward. There was too much talking before

- pg 8: I'm missing something. Why is he willing to trade one for the other? What is the motivation behind this? I think I need more emotional lead in here because right now he just looks like he turned villain

- pg 10: yeah I'd jerk my arm away, too

 

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Posted (edited)

Chapter 6

- (pg.1) - I find the epigraph unlikely. There must be thousands of documents that make no mention of the Ar. They are only one species of what was it 6 or 7 at the time? Thinking of today's political landscape. There must be documents at the UN, for example, that make no mention of North Korea (for example), or Israel (for example).

- (pg.1) - "R let his eyes roam the Assembly" - I do this too, but I'm trying to change it. This is very passive phrasing. Surely the really is that R is scanning the assembly quite deliberately, even if the conscious reason is not at the front of his mind.

- (pg.1) - "bargained directly with the members" - This rather beggars belief. is there no structure to the debate? People are just free to wonder around and bargain with whoever they like?! It sounds like complete chaos, and they are surely not presenting anyone buy themselves, so any proposals made have no weight at all. I'm really confused by whites going on here. 

- (pg.1) - "No one told whether they could..." - Something missing here 'told them' but I also don't understand the context: what plan?

- (pg.2) - "Yer'll be great" - I mentioned this form before, I think. Ugh. In my head 'yer' is used in our world as a replacement for 'your' in rough speech, hence why this doesn't make sense to me.

- (pg.2) - "There had to be other signs they were working behind the scenes" - This seems rather roundabout to me. I read this line as 'Surely that had been working behind the scenes.' So, why would he be interested in signs of this, and not just the fact itself? 'signs' seems unnecessary.

- (pg.3) - "to bargain in some way" - Now I'm confused between the previous attack and this new approach. Is he saying they wanted to bargain originally? I can't believe he's that naive. Why bring an 'unstoppable' drain if you want to bargain?

- (pg.3) - "scoundrels" doesn't seem to fit R's worldview. He's sympathetic tornados them at the moment.

- (pg.3) - "followed him to the chamber" - I find it very hard to believe that a lowly apprentice is allowed to attend such delicate negotiations. Are there other apprentices there? Feels a bit author ex machina.

- (pg.3) - "the hanging curtains" - Seems redundant: I've ever encountered a curtain that didn't.

- (pg.3) - "The other Assembly representatives weren't here yet" -  No, I don't believe this. What are all the rest doing? Gone to the WC? This is momentous and none of the rest of them are standing waiting to go. It feels like a very blatant engineering of a situation where they can talk to the LC without others present. I don't believe it. It would be more believable that the Sa mentor was chosen as sole negotiator because of their shared species, although that's also pretty unbelievable. Another option would be that the LC demand to speak to R's mentor alone first for some reason. I feel that's no less contrived than they rest of the reps being off tying their shoelaces or looking out fo the window.

- (pg.3) - "The other representatives, they have not arrived yet" - Surely this is blindingly obvious and doesn't need to be stated. Or, if it's just something to say to fill the time, surely they would say "As you can see, the other reps (etc.)"

- (pg.4) - 'noncommittally' - One word.

- (pg.5) - At the start of this page, there are a lot of different Sas names thrown around (at least three) and I can't keep track of them.

- (pg.5) - "sales pitch" - This does not sound right to me coming from the maj's mouth. It's practically human slang.

- (pg.5) - "mentor hadn't heard of him" - But the mentor said he was an old granny's tale, so this statement is incorrect.

- (pg.6) - Top of the page, one Sas stops another speaking. The snakes have no personality and no difference in physical appearance. In reading this section, I have no interest in them as characters, and I'm confused and not enthralled by what they are saying. There's no tension, no mystery and seemingly nothing at stake in this discussion because none of the other speakers are here. And it's ridiculous that the Assembly has no oversight of this at all. It's been a good ten minutes and no one has arrived, no guards, no officials, no speakers/councillors. I'm about ready to skip past the rest of this section.

- (pg.6) - "They had more than one A" - That was implied before. This is not news to me.

- (pg.6) - "Your apprentice, he knows the one called I?" - AHHH. Right. I think this this needs to come way up near the front of this unsupervised encounter, that would hold my interest. I feel that all the rest is padding it out to get to this bit. 'Kill your darlings', etc. If you'll forgive me, I'm going to make a suggestion :unsure:  If you had a ticking clock, whereby these two had sneaked into the room and were expecting the arrival of the Councillors any moment and looking over their shoulders, etc. there would be much more tension. Also, it would give a sound pretext to slash out most of the pussyfooting around on stuff like old nursery rhymes which is killing any tension. Then R, blurting in would be using valuable time. There's no sense of urgency. I feel it's like a chat over a cuppa at the moment.

- (pg.7) - Yeah, this is where all the tension and conflict are, in these last two/three pages of R's section. What comes before, for me, was unbelievable (because of the set up) and didn't feel relevant to the story. I read right through a page and a half after R brings up I.

- (pg.8) - "The sister for the brother" - Huh? This makes not sense to me. E is no less docile than I, in my estimation. Also, I do NOT believe this of R. He's been misguided and confused up to now, sure (disaffected is a better word), but I'm not invested in this change of behaviour. I don't have any evidence (that I can recall) of such a strong bond between him and I, and now he's going to sell out I's sister and I's close friend?! How will I feel about that? It's totally counterintuitive.

- (pg.8) - "Anything to get I back" - I just don't believe this of R. I don't think there's sufficient inciting trauma to basically change his personality (as I see it), and I'm rather afraid it's going to be the major conflict going forward. Now I'm worried about my investment in the rest of the story.

- (pg.9) - The next section starts with Maj A speaking, but E think of 'the Kir', then Maj C speaks. Should Or have the first line too?

- (pg.9) - "E felt herself feeling slipping away" - Typo.

- (pg.10) - trouble.” he ran..." - Typo 'He'.

- (pg.10) - I do like O's outspoken viewpoint. Excellent. 

- (pg.10) - "swiped a hand through the air" - I can't picture the gesture. Sounds like she\s trying to hit him.

- (pg.10) - "agreeing the councilmembers can be" - Two words. This is not a word.

- (pg.10) - When you describe R as 'E's mentor' it does not sound in E's POV. She would narrate as 'her mentor' surely?

- (pg.10) - "R, what's wrong?" - Ooooh, suddenly very interested. "as soon as the S pushed..." - I think this phrasing loses the momentum and immediacy. It's not a phrasing I've ever seen.

- (pg.11) - I love this burst of action, and the description of the S being used as offensive magic. Excellent. Would be great to see some more maj combat down the line.

- (pg.11) - "Yer didn't tell me yer are Aridori!" - Resubmit my comment about using 'yea' or 'yee' instead of 'yer' where it is used as the object. 'yer are' is super awkward.

- (pg.12) - "Because yer’re an..." - I know I'm harping on at this, but I know I'm not unique in a reading sense. I can imagine a statistically equivalent number of readers tripping over this every time it comes up in one of these strange, 'unpronounceable' contracted forms. 'Yerrer' is the closest I can get. I look forward to hearing the audio book :unsure: 

- (pg.12) - "on account o' he's a S too" - Ah, see this was not clear before. (See earlier comments).

- (pg.12) - "his eyes roved to(?) something far away" - Missing word? Or is it 'somewhere far away'?

- (pg.13) - "our objectives align" - This seems very cold and distant, dispassionate to come from R. Sounds more like O to me. I think this is underlined by the last line on the page, where Maj A says no chance but Maj C is thinking about the exchange.

- (pg.14) - I confess I don't remember R losing another apprentice to the LC. Puzzled.

- (pg.14) - I'm enjoying this interaction with the Sur, and having shared goals and then E giving him something to go back to the LC with.

- (pg.15) - "smug grin" - Again, I cannot imagine this of R, either the grinning in this situation or the smugness.

Overall

I can see why R's section was there at the start, and I believe it can work, but I had quite a few issues with it, mostly the logic / rationale / likelihood of the events in the way they were presented. I think that first bit needs work. The second POV worked much better, I think. usual details, but I'm left feeling tension, feeling progress and looking forward to the next chapter, Still, various ways this could have come over better, I think.

<R>

Edited by Robinski
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Posted (edited)

Bah, sorry. I think my COMMAND key is on the blink. Didn't mean to post what was a bunch of copied line headers before I edited it to this apology!

Edited by Robinski
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Thanks to @kais and @Robinski!

Yep, this section needs help. 

17 hours ago, kais said:

I'm wondering if this book wouldn't work well as an apprentice POV book?

Yeah, I'm thinking it's going this way. I'd still want to keep M in there, but R's sections could all be translated to E or Re pretty easily.

17 hours ago, kais said:

here we start to get to the meat of the chapter, but I think it comes too late. The part of him learning that his friend was an A would be better on page two or so, to keep the tension moving forward. There was too much talking before

 

14 hours ago, Robinski said:

"Your apprentice, he knows the one called I?" - AHHH. Right. I think this this needs to come way up near the front of this unsupervised encounter, that would hold my interest.

Yep yep. This will be helpful in slashing this section down and putting in more tension.

14 hours ago, Robinski said:

If you had a ticking clock, whereby these two had sneaked into the room and were expecting the arrival of the Councillors any moment and looking over their shoulders, etc. there would be much more tension.

1) Thank you for all the notes on how the political stuff isn't working and 2) this is an excellent suggestion and I'm stealing it!

14 hours ago, Robinski said:

"Because yer’re an..." - I know I'm harping on at this, but I know I'm not unique in a reading sense.

Especially with Re being a POV character now, I should clean up the lingo. The problem is I've used all this in the first book, so I'll have to figure out where to change so it's still consistent.

14 hours ago, Robinski said:

I just don't believe this of R. I don't think there's sufficient inciting trauma to basically change his personality

Interesting point. It's not a big plot point in the book, but is a side-arc. I feel like Re was almost a blank slate in the first book because he's in so little of it. If you don't mind, how do you see his personality, and how do you see this as a change? I have my own assessment, but don't want to taint yours ;-)

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34 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

If you don't mind, how do you see his personality, and how do you see this as a change? I have my own assessment, but don't want to taint yours ;-)

Heh, you want more opinions? Well, let me just reach into this here big sack...

I would go along with your assessment of R's personality in Seeds (I think), in that he had character traits being quick to judge (I thought) and quite bullish, tendency to fly off the handle, judge a book by its cover, and to be outspoken.  From recollection though, he was pretty dependable and reliable as a friend. I recall him and S being pretty comfortable, but that he also was friendly with I. I don't really remember his view of E all that well.

I thought he diverged from my image of him in this chapter in one fairly major aspect. I can see him getting riled about the A and the LC, and I can believe him taking a contrary view of what the LC might stand for. The thing that bothered me was that he was willing to 'sell' E out for I. Even if a logical part of the brain says that's a good idea, I would think the old moral compass would be spinning like billy-o, to the effect of 'This ain't correct. Two wrongs don't make a right. Etc. I'm not saying he would like it, but I just thought it would be a step too far for him. 

All this said, I haven't read the final version of Seeds (yet), so maybe it plays out differently than I remember, or emphasises things or falls heavier on certain individuals. I just imagined R remaining loyal to the group, and to the ideals, not ready to sell all that out, when he could surely see it would leave them broken as a group.

That'll be 5c ;) 

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@Robinski, I'll bring some change to WorldCon ;-)

Seriously though, that helps a lot to pinpoint where things are breaking, and I think you're right on him not selling out E. I'll have to do some reworking on his motivations or introduce something else to make him change his mind.

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Posted (edited)

Sorry it took me so long to get to this week!

I was much more engaged with Re this time around. He's still not my favorite character, but I never like every pov character equally in any book. What won me over with him was how reacted to I being Aridori. There was some betrayal, but also this strong need to save him anyway. The thing that bothered me about this was that he seemed a little naive. Did he believe they would actually let him trade one sibling for the other, that they would actually let I go?

In the second section, I reread the opening paragraphs a few times because I was struggling to orient myself. Throughout that section, I found myself having to reread pieces of dialogue to remind myself who said what.

Missing a capital letter: "...trouble." he ran a hand down..."

When E was feeling like an intruder, I was questioning if the scene should actually be from her POV since it seemed more about Ri and O, but a little further in to the end, I thought you made to write choice to keep it from E's POV.

"handful of arrogant blowhards" I read this part and thought it was O, kept reading, and realized it was Ri. I think this is a good example of how she has changed since the opening of book 1. At "lazy" my comment was "Ri sounds a lot like young O did in the pixie story"

When Re came bursting into the room, I thought for sure he was going to have the Life Coalition lackeys behind him or something. I was happy that he didn't. I liked how that whole exchange was handled with one exception. I did not really understand what E was trying to tell him about not being worthy of the form. 

I loved the last line of the chapter but it did feel more like something seen through O's eyes than E's. 

Overall, I was very engaged with this chapter, but hit a couple bumps when I had to go back and reread a few times. I'm starting to see some of the big pieces moving around and wondering how long it willl be before they come together. It already seems like Re has a piece of information that might be related to S's Nether voice.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter! 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

The thing that bothered me about this was that he seemed a little naive. Did he believe they would actually let him trade one sibling for the other, that they would actually let I go?

Good point. When I go to shore up this section, I'll address that.

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

At "lazy" my comment was "Ri sounds a lot like young O did in the pixie story"

Ha! Excellent. I'm glad this is coming across.

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I did not really understand what E was trying to tell him about not being worthy of the form. 

Got it. I can clear this up.

3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm starting to see some of the big pieces moving around and wondering how long it willl be before they come together.

About three chapters until things go off the rails. I'm really excited to see what you guys think!

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