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Mandamon

20190415 - Facets of the Nether Ch 10 - 3221 words - Sub 9

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Hello all,

We're on to chapter 10, and almost halfway through! Back to E this week.
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. E trades herself for I and S takes I in.
The rest of the cast gathers at the wall, and meet the Eff. They learn some new things, then the chime stops as something comes through the wall.

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You've got some good things going on in this chapter. I'd say the most compelling thing is the idea you're working with - they definitely piqued my interest. There's also quite a good balance of dialogue to prose, which helps the pacing.

Here are some things that might help you improve on the next rewrite.

Chapter opening (first page) did not draw me in. It didn't immerse me in E's emotions/state of mind or her immediate surroundings. It didn't make me want to know what was going to happen next. I felt outside of the character - a step removed. 

Some sentences feel like they're trying to do too much, e.g. D's robe—E wouldn’t call her a majus, not anymore—drifted up in the air with each bounce, but her boots went high enough on her legs that none of her scaly skin showed. Exposition is crow-barred in and feels awkward to me. 

E was familiar with that skin. She had changed herself into a Ssn before, when they visited the insane Ari in Gloomlight prison. She'd unwittingly worn the skin of those who had subjugated the only remainder of her species. Is this a recap? Wondering why it is at the beginning of the chapter. Is it essential? Passive voice and repetitive sentence structure are the main problems with this bit, and they crop throughout the chapter. 

I like how D speaks. His phrasing makes him feel distinct. “Me, I can blindfold you if you wish. I can stop your ears and your nose. But you came voluntarily. Your brother, he did not." This is good. 

I’ll gather what information I can, and then I will free myself. She didn't plan on being here long, if she had any say in the matter. Her brother had been injured and was still shaking off the effects of the conglomeration of Ari in the Gloomlight prison when he was captured. E had come prepared, and of her own volition. She could do better. This bit is meant to establish her motivation, which is good, but it feels a bit distant from E’s emotions. I don’t really feel her compassion for her brother. I don’t get any sense of her emotional state, since we’re being told, not shown. Feels removed. 

The chapter is roughly 90% abstract (character thoughts, exposition, showing instead of telling, dialogue etc) and only 10% description. When we do get description, it often lacks specificity, movement, and sensory depth. I won't bang on about this since you're already aware of it, but I think this is one of the main reasons I don't feel as immersed in the story as I'd like to. 

When I'm reading this work it feels to me as though the author’s voice is stronger than the character’s voice. I don’t get much of a sense of who E is as a person - her attitude, manner, opinions, style, weakness distinctive traits, hopes, insecurities, burning desires, her unique way of thinking and experiencing the world. This is another main reason why the story is not compelling me as much as I hope for going in. 

 

I like the ending - what happens there is interesting and it does a good job of making me want to know what's going to happen next. The ideas in this story are definitely strong enough, and if you can make the characters more vivid and the prose more immersive then I feel like the novel will be vastly improved. 

Hope there's some useful stuff in there. 

 

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2 hours ago, Majestic Fox said:

Hope there's some useful stuff in there.

@Majestic Fox - Definitely helpful. Thanks!

2 hours ago, Majestic Fox said:

The chapter is roughly 90% abstract (character thoughts, exposition, showing instead of telling, dialogue etc) and only 10% description.

Agree. Hopefully this is the effect of a first draft. I usually layer more detail in there on the second pass.

2 hours ago, Majestic Fox said:

This bit is meant to establish her motivation, which is good, but it feels a bit distant from E’s emotions. I don’t really feel her compassion for her brother. I don’t get any sense of her emotional state, since we’re being told, not shown. Feels removed. 

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. I thought something was off in the first part of the chapter especially. I'm doing more tell than show. I'll try to adjust this on the next pass.

Thanks again!

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Overall

Oh, that went fast! I enjoyed the A reveals! E seems to have some plot blinders on throughout this, and I expected more out of her during the early imprisonment, but the tension holds well during the time with the two non-conforming As.

On 4/18/2019 at 4:15 AM, Majestic Fox said:

Chapter opening (first page) did not draw me in. It didn't immerse me in E's emotions/state of mind or her immediate surroundings. It didn't make me want to know what was going to happen next. I felt outside of the character - a step removed. 

I had this same issue

Overall though, nice chapter!

As I go

- pg2: why is E practically asking to be blindfolded?

 

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, kais said:

E seems to have some plot blinders on throughout this, and I expected more out of her during the early imprisonment,

Yeah, I think the first section needs to get edited quite a bit. Anything in particular you were expecting?

Thanks @kais!

Edited by Mandamon
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I don't have a lot to say about this. It went by quickly and I want to know what happens next, and am thinking a lot about the A's in the box, and how they could be helpful but also about what trouble they could cause.

In the begining, E did seem very optimistic about escape, and she seemed to stay that way, even though I got the impression that maybe she wasn't meant to, though i'm not sure why. Maybe when you do your next pass, up the emotion a tiny bit?

On 4/18/2019 at 7:15 AM, Majestic Fox said:

I don’t get any sense of her emotional state, since we’re being told, not shown. Feels removed. 

This ^^

Overall, what happens is working. But you're not getting the reader into the character's head enough here. 

One grammar note:

You're either missing a word or punctuation in the following "I've seen one the fabled nightmare beasts with my..."

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Thanks, @shatteredsmooth!

Yep, emotion is my bane. I'll make sure to concentrate on this section in my next draft to get in E's head more.

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I want to know what happens next, and am thinking a lot about the A's in the box, and how they could be helpful but also about what trouble they could cause.

Trouble incoming in a few chapters!

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I've spent most of this week trying to find a nicer way of saying this, but it really feels like E is holding an idiot ball this chapter. I'm not connecting with her, as Fox so eloquently outlined, and that's part of it, but more than just not connecting, she is just being really, really plotfully dumb here. From what I gather from the last book, she has prior experience with Ari containment measures, she saw the state In was in, she saw the boxes the LC brought in to the auditorium and the level of control they had over their pet Ari. I think she even noted the multiple auras on the collar at the first meeting ... how did she really think she could just waltz out of there? That they weren't going to treat her like an Ari? Last chapter she at least seemed to realize the futility of what she was doing, but here she seems to think everything is fine. I am feeling confused, disappointed in, and no little bit annoyed with E for being so all over the place and what I feel like is uncharacteristically naive. 

 

I'm also struggling a bit to see the point of the chapter. It's atmospheric, yes, but all of this info, we-the-readers have had from other locations/POVs already. That the LC are crazy fanatics whose motives are convoluted and violent, we've seen that. That they keep multiple Ari in boxes and torture them, yes, that's been gone over.  That their base is on the moon, again, we've already read that as well. Speculation, true, but informed speculation by main POV characters.  That there are many more than originally thought, they are well-provisioned, and they come from multiple species, again, already mentioned in informed speculation and treated as fact. That the Ari are conditioned into assassins, I feel like I've even read this before as well, even though I'm drawing a blank right now as to exactly where.  The two boxed Ari seem interesting to me, but I'm just not sure their introduction is enough to carry the entire chapter as it is currently. 

 

"the only remainder of her species" -- Like this. It feels like E is ignoring her own back story here. Because it's not just her and In. She has her family, and the other families she traveled with growing up (since i presume there's enough of a viable community to not worry about incest), and that's kind of an odd thing for her to be saying I feel like. Plus, if her group exists, who's the say there aren't other groups in deep hiding?  The tormented Ari might be the first real connection to her heritage and abilities she's ever seen, but the only remainder? Ehh, I'm not so sure of that. 

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8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I've spent most of this week trying to find a nicer way of saying this, but it really feels like E is holding an idiot ball this chapter.

Heh--no worries on my account. Call it like it is. I see what you're saying. I know I need to restructure this whole plot section to get E there in a different manner, but I'm not sure how yet. Maybe I can add some more useful information here when I do that.

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I feel like I've even read this before as well, even though I'm drawing a blank right now as to exactly where.

Don't know where. I think this is pretty much new.

8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

It feels like E is ignoring her own back story here.

Good catch. I think this ties into E not emoting enough.

Thanks @industrialistDragon!

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11 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I know I need to restructure this whole plot section to get E there in a different manner, but I'm not sure how yet. Maybe I can add some more useful information here when I do that.

For what it's worth, last chapter I was not as frustrated with her idea, because it seemed to me like she realized the futility/suicidal nature of what she intended. 

 

44 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Don't know where. I think this is pretty much new.

Huh. Maybe I guessed it somewhere along the way and just assumed I read it. Anyway, if the assassins thing and the boxed Ari are the new bits, then maybe the focus should be more on them for this chapter. That would certainly make it more interesting to me at least. 

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Sorry I'm tardy.

Chapter 10 

- (pg.1) - "Now, we have an eyewitness account of over twenty thousand people" - missing word.

- (pg.1) - "had turned from walking to become a sort of bouncing skip" - kind of wordy.

- (pg.1) - "She could do better" - suggest 'would', more positive. Also, Gloom Prison, because it's part of the title.

- (pg.2) - "but there was no other place to go" - don't see how this flows from the first part of the sentence.

- (pg.2) - "to walk one by one" - sounds odd to me, not 'side by side'?

- (pg.3) - "she ran in to" - into.

- (pg.3) - "until she began walking behind D" - suggest 'after', as D has already started walking.

- (pg.3) - "not nearly as free as she assumed" - confused; why would she assume she was any kind of free?

- (pg.3) - "What did I get myself into?" - I really don't think sh'e that naive. Her reaction is not coming over well for me.

- (pg.4) - "scrapes against the palm of her hand" - on, I think.

- (pg.4) - "An aura of colors swirled around it" - the manacles are plural so there's a disagreement here.

- (pg.5) - "the smooth surface around her neck" - this sounds like a flat thing, but isn't it a kind of torc, so like a ring or band.

- (pg.5) - "The manacles and collar constrained her every move" - really, how so? Surely she can still walk, turn her head, etc?

- (pg.5) - "was allowed to get her bearings" - really? But her captor is a maj, a knows that learning a place allows for portals, this seems a bit reckless

- (pg.6) - "neither her collar or nor her manacles"

- (pg.6) - "She longed to stretch her arms, but that was impossible" - right, I've missed something, the manacles are chained to the collar on a short leash?

- (pg.6) - "reddened skin on her neck" - suggest 'around', just to emphasise / complete the image.

- (pg.6) - "She'd quit banging on the door" - suggest 'given up', as 'quit' didn't convey the full strength of her despair. I thought 'quit' sounded casual.

- (pg.7) - "we are the ideal choice to handle the remnant" - This is a bit, meh, to me. Chance to use a more powerful word.

- (pg.8) - "the shock of each landing" - this puzzles me. If the 'G' is low, why is there a shock on landing, wouldn't it be more forgiving?

- (pg.8) - "I see you have found where" - well of course he sees it; he brought her here. Odd phrasing.

- (pg.8) - "still alive from the war?" - she's seen one of them already, surely.

- (pg.11) - "Have to gather more information" - this for me is rather cheesy, skipping the pronoun. I feel it's more associated with do-or-die situations anyway, although I'm not fond of it there either, like "Must stop bomb before it explodes. No time. Have to reach button!!"

Overall, I was not greatly enamoured of this chapter. N follows a lot of well-used rules of arch villainy. I imagine they have a curly moustache that they twiddle occasionally. Also, a lot of the prisoner stuff (chains, bed of stone, no food) I thought was par for the course, like the LC have bought a prison / lair from IKEA. I had no sense of wonder, or horror or even much in the way of discomfort. Personally, I think this one could do with some work, or, cut down and combined with something else.

<R>

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

I imagine they have a curly moustache that they twiddle occasionally

Lol

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

Personally, I think this one could do with some work, or, cut down and combined with something else.

Yep, might end up combined with E's next chapter.

Thanks, @Robinski!

Edited by Mandamon
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On 4/26/2019 at 0:02 PM, Robinski said:

like the LC have bought a prison / lair from IKEA

I love this description. 

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On 29/04/2019 at 3:44 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

I love this description. 

Yeah, it's in their Prijsköla range. Doesn't come with an Allen key though, in case the prisoners disassemble it from the inside... obviously.

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5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Yeah, it's in their Prijsköla range. Doesn't come with an Allen key though, in case the prisoners disassemble it from the inside... obviously.

Lol!

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