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Mandamon

20190401 - Facets of the Nether Ch 7 - 3868 words - Sub 7

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Hello all,

There were some issues with the chapter last week, so hopefully this one will show what it was setting up for. Let me know what you think of the revelations this time around!
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. Re manages to meet with the coalition, learns E and I's true species, and confronts E.

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Posted (edited)

Chapter 7 

- (pg.1) - It's nice to be reunited with the Gr, however I thought that the chapter title  was rather bland, and the epigram does not exactly wow and drag me into the chapter. It's a very gentle a passingly interesting introduction.

- (pg.1) - "he couldn’t be sure they’d walked down any of the same ones as when he came before" - Wordy and hard to follow, I thought.

- (pg.2) - The conversation about the expedition is a wee bit maid-and-butler, on the edge, I thought. I sounds a bit staid, slightly forced. 

- (pg.2) - I like the suggestion of straying into emotional territory when E puts her hand in S's, but then it seems to be a moment still born, certainly in S's mind. But, E steers the conversation back there, but again, rather than answering from the heart, or revealing anything meaningful and an emotional level, S pushes the idea away, it seemed to me. I'm not expecting grand romance on MRK levels (I just finished Shades of M&H, after it sitting on my list for years, so my thinking might be coloured by that!), but it's an area which is pretty much completely shunned in the Nthr stories, it seems to me. I feel I can pretty much count the instances where such things are 'dealt with' on the fingers of one hand. There is a potentially very intriguing dynamic at work between the three young people, and it's something I occasionally wish was given a wee bit more space to grow.

- (pg.3) - Ooh, ahh. Now then. This cut to the other side of the encounter with the Gr is super awkward. Surely there are going to be a substantial number of readers who did not read Journey, or not by the time they read this, who are going to be left all at sea by this. There is a very exciting showdown scene, packed with tension and action, and we just left past it to more introspection. I think this is problematic tonally. 

- (pg.4) - "as the anxiety welled up in him" - He's just so weak, so needy. It's not engaging in a main character, and I think it's almost worse when we see him from the POV of others, especially E, because it accentuates his weakness. We just passed a scene with the meeting where (I think, I don't remember all that well) S saved the day, used his initiative and was proactive, wasn't he? I would seriously consider trying a version of this story where you incorporate the same scene from Journey here. Maybe you could use a different POV, or look to trim the one you have. An interesting exercise is nothing else, but more than that, I think it would really add to S's character. It's not exactly that I'm disappointed by how little he's moved on; I can see he's consistent with latter stages of Seeds, but he's starting from such a low base. I'm getting frustrated with him again.

- (pg.4) - "Z would welcome her back" - Ah, bit confused about the context, the why.

- (pg.4) - Hah, as if calling my bluff, the tender moment comes out at the end of the section. That's good, but I don't think the romantic (feels odd even using that word, given that we never really see the extent of S's feelings for E, even in his POV) tension points at that moment happening, and we are in her POV as well. I think it's a tuning issue, maybe. I mean he seems so blasé about it. It's not that I want him to be all nervous and awkward, but his reaction to the kiss seems out of tune with his baseline state.

- (pg.5) - Hmm, and we've jumped again. I'm feeling this chapter very disjointed.

- (pg.6) - I'm not clear what they're searching for here. Is it still I's location, or is E registered missing now and they're searching for her?

- (pg.6) - "he one that had such a vastly more complex progression of chords that than the other materials" - Suggested for flow (and a typo). Kinda wordy, I thought.

- (pg.6) - "And the iron" - With each bar that he finds, locating the next one is a decreasingly difficult achievement, by simple probability. It would be a more interesting and worthy test if the rods were rearranged each time.

- (pg.6) - "Bu I can't do" - Typo.

- (pg.7) - "a repeated trio of notes "

- (pg.7) - "Like someone jerking a chair" - This is great. I'm really enjoying this discovery scene. It moved S forward as a character every bit as effectively as all his nervous vacillation holds him back.

- (pg.8) - "white an olive" - Typo.

- (pg.9) - "one hand reaching out to take it" - Suggested for clarity and flow.

- (pg.9) - "backwards" - Very cool and effective analogy.

- (pg.10) - "The m were staring at him, wide-eyed, gaping" - Hypen required; compound adjective. Also, I think this moment deserves a bigger impact. It's huge!!

- (pg.10) - As the titles of particular people, I do believe that M C and M A, maj should be capitalised.

- (pg.10) - The discovery in the end is a little underwhelming. A new house!!! And only one proponent of it, but there must be others. And it's a hole new type of house, is it not? So how many other houses might there be that no one knows about? A whole new set of houses?!?!

- (pg.11) - Another POV hop. This chapter is very disjointed.

- (pg.11) - "...the day before. It would ring again..." - Part of same sentence, First sentence not complete.

- (pg.11) - "some errand to corner R" - Typo.

- (pg.12) - "He's falling apart" - I really don't get that from S. He doesn't seem any worse than at the end of Seeds to me. Certainly not on the edge, I think.

- (pg.12) - "didn't know whether most of them were true" - Something awkward about this 'whether any of them were true' is clearer, I think.

- (pg.13) - "Letting her know she was no longer welcome near him" - I'm really quite confused about R's emotions / position now. I didn't get this sense from him really.

Overall 

There's lots of good stuff in this chapter, but also quite a bit that felt disjointed. I enjoyed it, but could have enjoyed it a good deal more. Uneven is a word that springs to mind. There are momentous moments like discovering a new house, but it seems lost among other moments that feel shoehorned in. The plot is progressed, but the POVs feel scattered. Might they not sit together or one or two be combined somehow? I don't know. Plus the big gaping hole around the Gr encounter. I hope this helps.

<R>

Edited by Robinski
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Over all, I agree with a lot of what @Robinski says (except that part about S -- I think he's at about the right level of anxiety for this chapter, since he's affected by his anxiety, but managing to cope, so it's not holding things back unreasonably), and "I enjoyed it but I could have enjoyed it more" is pretty much exactly how I felt. 

 

As I go

It feels like there is a lot of walking-to-meetings in this book... 

I really like the tie-in with Journey, but I feel like I got cheated out of the best part when this narrative skipped the meeting with the avians. I feel like, either the meeting should be there to the same extent as the walk to and from it, or the whole thing should be summarized -- or even scrapped -- since right now the avians seem to not have much to do with the plot of this current book. (Much as I am enjoying the discussion happening around and about them.)

I agree that there's a lot of jumping around this chapter, too. It feels very disjointed to me

I also agree with @Robinski that the relationships have felt a bit tepid in recent chapters. There was some real heat between E and S (and the In of S's imagination) in chapter one, but ever since, it's just kind of fizzled.  

I feel like E is out of character in this chapter. I didn't take her for the angsty, anime-style self-sacrifice type, from what I've seen of her so far.  I'm having a hard time believing her sincerity in this chapter, and I feel like she's coming off as needier than S.

I think this is connected, but I'm a bit confused as to what being a "linked instance" actually entails. From what I've seen, it's just another way to say "sibling" -- that is, there's nothing In and E have done that I haven't seen attributed to plain old human siblings or twins, with or without a setting that involved magic. I love weird psychic connections, and I really wanted to see how different Ari really were. E and In give a great insider POV to highlight where and how they differ from the human shapes they're ultimately only emulating. I'm not really seeing that here.  

Basically, I'm not buying that E, even being raised in human culture, is reacting to the potential loss of a sibling and/or potential suicide in what I feel like is a purely human fashion. Clearly being linked has some sort of special connotation to the Ari, the concept having survived literal millennia of persecution and secrecy.   Maybe it was in the other book more, I don't know. But I feel like if there was anywhere to showcase that Ari aren't just "humans, but cursed with awesome shapeshifting powers," then this stuff around linked instances would be it. 

The part investigating S's power I enjoyed, though I feel like I still had a bit of trouble grasping just what his power is. I had a bit of trouble following the chain of logic that got the two mages to their conclusion as well. I'm a little concerned that it being a largely academic segment following two other largely academic segments diminishes its importance in the scheme of things. And I think this is the most important section of the chapter.

To be honest, the last segment with E I ended up skimming. 

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12 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

It feels like there is a lot of walking-to-meetings in this book..

Lol, @Mandamon is the Aaron Sorkin of RE! (I'd take that :) ).

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On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

There is a potentially very intriguing dynamic at work between the three young people, and it's something I occasionally wish was given a wee bit more space to grow.

Interesting comment, and thanks for pointing it out! I'll take another look at that exchange.

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

This cut to the other side of the encounter with the Gr is super awkward.

 

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I really like the tie-in with Journey, but I feel like I got cheated out of the best part when this narrative skipped the meeting with the avians. I feel like, either the meeting should be there to the same extent as the walk to and from it, or the whole thing should be summarized -- or even scrapped -- since right now the avians seem to not have much to do with the plot of this current book.

Yep. I had a lot of trouble putting this chapter together. I knew the two stories would overlap timewise and I'm trying to make it satisfying enough in this book, while not completely spoiling Journey and also making people want to read that novella. Not an easy task and it obviously need some more work. I'll have ponder this section.

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

I would seriously consider trying a version of this story where you incorporate the same scene from Journey here. Maybe you could use a different POV, or look to trim the one you have

This might help...

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

"And the iron" - With each bar that he finds, locating the next one is a decreasingly difficult achievement, by simple probability. It would be a more interesting and worthy test if the rods were rearranged each time.

I thought about that and then forgot to put in it! I'll change it.

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I had a bit of trouble following the chain of logic that got the two mages to their conclusion as well.

I'll try to clear it up. Thanks for the catch.

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

The discovery in the end is a little underwhelming. A new house!!! And only one proponent of it, but there must be others. And it's a hole new type of house, is it not? So how many other houses might there be that no one knows about? A whole new set of houses?!?!

This gets more development later, but I'll see what I can do about making it more satisfying here.

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

There's lots of good stuff in this chapter, but also quite a bit that felt disjointed. I enjoyed it, but could have enjoyed it a good deal more.

Yeah, I think I may need to break this one up into a couple chapters.

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I feel like E is out of character in this chapter.

 

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I think this is connected, but I'm a bit confused as to what being a "linked instance" actually entails.

Thanks for catching this. There is some explanation on this in three chapters, but I think you have the right of it that there's not enough emoting that they're separated.

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

But I feel like if there was anywhere to showcase that Ari aren't just "humans, but cursed with awesome shapeshifting powers," then this stuff around linked instances would be it. 

Yes, that helps. I'll see if can work that in.

Thanks @Robinski and @industrialistDragon! I knew this one needed work, but you highlighted a lot of where I need to focus. Much obliged!

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Sneaking in under the wire again, as I do.

Overall

Loved the bit with S's new house. E is really inconsistently written, and I think you could cut the whole R piece at the end. I think it actually slows tension instead of building it. Otherwise though, I think the pacing in this went well and it is building nicely. It reads like you've found your feet now, in this book, and we're chugging along nicely.

On 4/3/2019 at 0:37 AM, Robinski said:

There is a potentially very intriguing dynamic at work between the three young people, and it's something I occasionally wish was given a wee bit more space to grow.

Seconded. This is a fairly unique relationship and I would love to see a bit more of the dynamic. Not drama, mind, but evolution of feelings and such.

On 4/3/2019 at 0:37 AM, Robinski said:

but the POVs feel scattered.

I also feel like this is a consistent issue. Fewer POVs, and longer ones that are kept, would help a lot

On 4/4/2019 at 5:43 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I really like the tie-in with Journey, but I feel like I got cheated out of the best part when this narrative skipped the meeting with the avians. I feel like, either the meeting should be there to the same extent as the walk to and from it, or the whole thing should be summarized -- or even scrapped -- since right now the avians seem to not have much to do with the plot of this current book. (Much as I am enjoying the discussion happening around and about them.)

I agree with @industrialistDragon

 

As I go

- pg 1: I'm confused. They know there is a top to the Neth, but then say no expedition has been successful? Where are we in relation to your MG novella?

- E's jealousy seems to come from nowhere. There was no hint of it in book one. I think it needs to be foreshadowed WAY earlier, like in a POV chapter maybe, right at the start, for this to make sense. It could work (though oddly I'm less engaged in their three way relationship if it does become a thing, because I like how seamless it is now), but I think it needs groundwork first

- pg 3: oh, we're talking about Av now? Wait, when did that character get re-introduced? Do I have WRS?

- pg 4: yeah, the snippet of jealousy doesn't really work with the sweetness of the kiss later on

- pg 9: the overlap thing is fascinating and well explained

- pg 10: definitely like the idea of S being in a new house, instead of having All The Gifts. Nice twist

- pg 12: 'S needs him to come back.' E is all over this place this chapter, and not consistent at all. This is the most POV she's ever had in one of your books, I think, so might just be needing to figure out her voice

- the bit with E and R at the end feels unnecessary

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Thanks @kais!

think from this point you're going to see a lot more of the dynamic between the three, in a sense, as well as longer POVs. As you say, at this point I'm finding my feet. I will probably end up combining 3-4 of the early chapters and taking out some of the parts that don't work.

9 hours ago, kais said:

They know there is a top to the Neth, but then say no expedition has been successful? Where are we in relation to your MG novella?

Yeah, I need to work on this a lot. Timewise, Journey ends about 10 days after this one starts, so I need to figure out how to reference it correctly.

9 hours ago, kais said:

E's jealousy seems to come from nowhere. There was no hint of it in book one. I think it needs to be foreshadowed WAY earlier, like in a POV chapter maybe, right at the start, for this to make sense. It could work (though oddly I'm less engaged in their three way relationship if it does become a thing, because I like how seamless it is now), but I think it needs groundwork first

Great points. I'll work this in.

9 hours ago, kais said:

'S needs him to come back.' E is all over this place this chapter, and not consistent at all. This is the most POV she's ever had in one of your books, I think, so might just be needing to figure out her voice

Agreed. I'm really excited for you all to read her later parts in this, starting with chapter 10!

9 hours ago, kais said:

definitely like the idea of S being in a new house, instead of having All The Gifts. Nice twist

Great. Glad this works.

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I have only skimmed some of the comments, and am late with this, so I didn't make an as I go marks, just general reactions to each scene:

1: Nothing really happens here. It’s Sam being anxious, walking, telling stuff and over hearing it with little reaction. I’m also unsure what this other species appearing is. That just seems to come out of nowhere, like we’ve switched to some different problem. It might make more sense if O was saying it, but I get that might not be idea since this book does seem to just focus on the apprentices. 

2: The kiss with S was cute, and the decision making process worked, but would be better with a little more shown emotion. The way the scene opened, with more of the overheard conversation, was not working for me. I found it hard to follow. If there hadn't been something emotionally important going between S and E, it might have worked. I was starting engage with E here, and then it ended...so far, this chapter has a very fragmented feel.

Overall thoughts about Sam up to this point: In general, Sam seems like snippets of anxiety in this book. He doesn’t do enough. He is anxious and recapping and reacting and being led around. He is too passive, and while he was one of my favorite characters in Seeds, I am really struggling to engage with him here,

4. I was also fairly engaged here, but also wanted to linger in some of the emotional beats just a little longer. 

 

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Posted (edited)

17 hours ago, kais said:

E is really inconsistently written, and I think you could cut the whole R piece at the end. I think it actually slows tension instead of building it.

I agree with E being inconsistent. Maybe that is one of the things that was tripping me up in this chapter. 

 

On 4/4/2019 at 8:43 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I really like the tie-in with Journey, but I feel like I got cheated out of the best part when this narrative skipped the meeting with the avians. I feel like, either the meeting should be there to the same extent as the walk to and from it, or the whole thing should be summarized -- or even scrapped -- since right now the avians seem to not have much to do with the plot of this current book.

I only read the last chapter of Journey, so to me that whole conversation just seemed out of nowhere and confused me. But now that I know what it is, I can kind of understand why it was there. Still, I think @industrialistDragon makes a good. If it is going to be in there, there needs to be more of it. Make it part of the narrative and not something vaguely referenced to in the middle of E internally making a big decision. 

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

his cut to the other side of the encounter with the Gr is super awkward. Surely there are going to be a substantial number of readers who did not read Journey, or not by the time they read this, who are going to be left all at sea by this.

One of those readers here. 

 

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

I think it's a tuning issue, maybe. I mean he seems so blasé about it. It's not that I want him to be all nervous and awkward, but his reaction to the kiss seems out of tune with his baseline state.

I think he does need to react more to it. 

 

On 4/3/2019 at 3:37 AM, Robinski said:

There are momentous moments like discovering a new house, but it seems lost among other moments that feel shoehorned in. The plot is progressed, but the POVs feel scattered. Might they not sit together or one or two be combined somehow? I don't know. Plus the big gaping hole around the Gr encounter. I hope this helps.

This is more or less how I feel about it as a whole too. 

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Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Nothing really happens here. It’s Sam being anxious, walking, telling stuff and over hearing it with little reaction. I’m also unsure what this other species appearing is.

Yeah, that seems to be the consensus for this chapter. I have a feeling several of these last chapters will be spliced together.

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

The kiss with S was cute, and the decision making process worked, but would be better with a little more shown emotion. The way the scene opened, with more of the overheard conversation, was not working for me. I found it hard to follow. If there hadn't been something emotionally important going between S and E, it might have worked. I was starting engage with E here, and then it ended...so far, this chapter has a very fragmented feel.

Great comments. I think this will help me pinpoint what to change.

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Sam seems like snippets of anxiety in this book. He doesn’t do enough. He is anxious and recapping and reacting and being led around. He is too passive, and while he was one of my favorite characters in Seeds, I am really struggling to engage with him here,

Also very helpful!

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Make it part of the narrative and not something vaguely referenced to in the middle of E internally making a big decision. 

Yep. I'm going to have to figure out how to do that without just recapping the last chapter of Journey..

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