kais

05/06/19 - kais - Queen, Chapters 2-3, (4904 words) (L, V)

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Mostly looking for comments on world and character buy in. New POV next week!

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STANDARD DISCLAIMER: For demographic information, keep in mind that I am a white male nearing his thirties, married, with two young children, and come from a background of being LDS, conservative, and with a long history of chronic depression, so these things may color what I say during review. I try to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible.

Yay! I was looking forward to this.

Nitpicks:

Spoiler

Introductions

Chapter 1: Talks about plants dying in June.

Chapter 2: Talks about crazy meteorological phenomenon in June.

Chapter 3: Talks about small prey dying in July, with the predators dying out in August.

Timeline-wise, I'm not sure what you're really going for. The fact that chapter one starts with one thing, and then chapter two something else, and chapter three containing two dependent events, seems to be indicating that these events are subsequent. However, chapters 1 & 2 take place in June, while chapter 3 spans 2 months. That might be intentional--like I said, I'm not really sure what you're going for--but it might be more narratively consistent to go 1: May, 2: June, 3: July, 4: August (or June - Sept).

I'm not sure if that would work though, that's kind of something only you can determine. That's why it's in the nitpick section.

The AI

Quote

Four split seams and two broad tears. Suit compromised. Do not leave habitable zone until repaired. You are an idiot.

"Did your personality function trigger" E hissed into her suit.

At least one of us has to function.

E groaned. If TO was still around, in whatever mode, then she was alive. It wasn’t blasting readouts at her, either, so she was probably not on a luscious tropical paradise planet. There had to be sand inside the suit or over some of the sensors. And the personality function…ugh.

There's small bit to this section. I think it's generally fine as is, but it might read better if it were arranged like this:

Quote

Four split seams and two broad tears. Suit compromised. Do not leave habitable zone until repaired. You are an idiot.

E groaned. If TO was still around, in whatever mode, then she was alive. It wasn’t blasting readouts at her, either, so she was probably not on a luscious tropical paradise planet. There had to be sand inside the suit or over some of the sensors. And the personality function…ugh.

"Did your personality function trigger" E hissed into her suit.

At least one of us has to function.

It's not perfect, and I'm sure you could work it out a little more naturally in another revision. Just my 2 cents here.

Italicizing Thoughts

Quote

Bless maple trees and their stubborn desire to grow anywhere.

Should be italicized. Generally, direct thoughts of the character should be italicized, to differentiate between when the character has a direct thought and when the character is just generally internaloguing. This is even more important in Chapter 3, which starts off with a direct thought. Then you can add a line break between the thought, and the internalogue for a cleaner reading.

Blood orange

Unless this takes place in the Stormlight Archive, blood isn't orange. Blood is red--a nice, vivid red when exposed to oxygen and a dark, dark crimson when it's in your veins. A color like 'burnt orange' (which is a darker orange, mixed with a little brown) or even just saying 'dark, reddish orange' would be more apt descriptors if you want it to be a shade of orange. Blood red is perfectly acceptable, however, and usually indicates a deep, vibrant red.

Using 'god' as a curse

Keep in mind that this section is coming from someone religious, here. Generally speaking, if you are swearing by "God", as in the monotheistic, all-powerful being, you should capitalize it. Lowercasing it is generally disrespectful to religious readers (which sounds ironic considering you're swearing by it) and their beliefs because it comes across as trivializing or belittling. A perfectly suitable alternative is to simply add an 's', indicating either polytheism or a race of deity-esque beings, or just leave out the curse entirely. If your character isn't religious at all, then there's no reason to swear by a religion's deity.

Trendy slang

"Well that was all a hard nope" is very trendy slang. Modern, hip readers may understand this, but future readers or readers that don't use this same lingo may have difficulty with this. Further, adding "scientifically speaking" after this comes off unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) arrogant, especially considering that she's reacting to empirical evidence presented by her AI. Replacing this line with something like "That wasn't possible. Tidally-locked planets didn't work like that." carries the same meaning, without the trendy slang and arrogance.

EDIT: Also, describing someone as 'hot' is equally trendy. Stick to standard descriptors like 'attractive' or 'sexy' for the same effect.

1970s Earth pulp fiction

Unless the 1900s are fairly recent (and I mean last 100 year max), history wouldn't distinguish the 1970s as an independent era. They would simply state that it was the late 1900s, because beyond a certain threshold decadal tracking is just pointless. (For example, no one talks about the 1890s, or 1880s, we just use the 1800s, and specify the last century.)

Inconsistencies/Errors:

Spoiler

Tone

There's something about E's internal tone in chapter 2 that is really just...off. I think part of it is that in your use of simile for imagery--these kinds of things can certainly create a nice visual for a person who's seen these things, but for someone who hasn't seen them, they're completely not descriptive--and the further problem is that they're used in almost a cluster of description, and that makes the writing clunky.

Quote

"The ground no longer swirled like a budget funnel cake"

"thrashed like a flipped turtle"

"so red it looked like it was perpetually on its period."

Outside of this section, I find your tone is usually descriptive enough as it is, it paints a good imagery without overly relying on outside imagery for effectiveness. Just something to keep in mind.

Faceshield

Quote

"through the reflective plastic of the faceshield."

This is a very weird choice for a faceshield in a scifi setting--especially Queen, for a few reasons. First, plastic is a very poor material for electronic readout. It doesn't conduct electricity, and also doesn't conduct data via light. Second, plastic is great for many situations--environmental survival, however, is not one of them. Plastic erodes when exposed to certain chemicals, which if acid rain is a threat--yeah, good luck surviving with a plastic faceshield. It just doesn't hold up to necessity, which is why it might be used as a component within a suit (such as hard plastic plates beneath the outer layer for protection), but not in anything that would be exposed.

Plastic also scratches super easily (at a 2 on the Mohs hardness scale). This means the harsh, granular sand particulate will absolutely destroy E's faceshield, especially considering that she's been out there for 4 weeks. For this and many other reasons, glass--especially tempered glass--are usually the go-to standard (glass scratches at 4 or 5, tempered glass at 6 or 7 depending on its construction). Further, it'd make much more sense that in an environment where sand is perpetually an issue, the suit manufacturers would opt for something even harder, like sapphire-reinforced glass (scratches at an 8). The problem here, which you actually include later in chapter 3, is that the harder the glass is, the more brittle it becomes. Something like a drop to the ground might crack a sapphire-reinforced glass faceshield--the plastic, however, would actually more than likely be okay--plastic flexes and holds up to torque and tension much better than glass; it's the sand that would be more damaging to the plastic than the fall.

And that's probably way more information about glass and screens than you ever wanted to know.

Teeth Clicking

I get what you're trying to do, but I feel that the repeated mention of how she clicks her teeth is overspecific. Once you've established that she clicks her teeth to signal or instruct the suit, you can cursorily mention it (i.e. "she clicked her teeth, and xyz happened) or even just have her issue commands to the suit without any mention of the teeth clicking. When someone types a command into a keyboard, you don't talk about how their wrists bend to accommodate the keys, or which keys they press (generally, there are situations where this works for effect), you just say they typed something in.

Ponytail

Is this person kind or hostile to E? Because the first mention of them is how they're unpromptedly helping her to her feet--which suggests a certain level of care or acceptance. Then Ponytail starts going off about how they should just kill her and get it over with. If she thinks E should just die, then why bother helping her to her feet?

I'm confused

Quote

“Ember lunged again, stupidly, but before her first foot could hit the ground (and inevitably give out), a cool sheet of plastic pressed into her hand from behind.”

First: Never use parentheticals in this way in fiction. Parentheses indicate an aside from the author, and nothing is more immersion-breaking that being made aware of the author. You can achieve the same result by simply replacing the parentheses with commas or dashes. (i.e., "E lunged again, stupidly, but before her first foot could hit the ground--and inevitably give out--a cool sheet of plastic pressed into her hand from behind.")

Second: This part confused the crap out of me. I have no idea what's going on. Why did she lunge? Who did she lunge for? What is this sheet of plastic and where did it come from--especially considering that it comes from behind? How does she know it's cool, when she's wearing thermal insulated gloves? I just have no idea what's going on here.

Corn silk yellow

Again, this is a situation where your comparison is difficult to pin down. My first thought when I read this was that "corn silk isn't yellow, it's kind of closer to white". I had to do a google image search to see what the color you were trying to pin down was--and yeah, it's a kind of pale, silky yellow--unless it's green or white. Now, I lived on a corn farm for a couple of years, and I would never have called corn silk yellow--maybe a very, very pale yellow, but I think it's very dependent on the lighting and ripeness of the corn what color it actually appears to be. This comparison might work here for other readers--but it didn't draw the color you were looking for for me.

Here are some images my search returned for me:

corn-silk-750x500.jpg.35ce4b75ad5a166af023b3a916348dd9.jpg

corn-silk-ss-z.thumb.jpeg.7808babfd40484ed6c7ec73ec0177efa.jpeg

6025710719_f0fda76bc0.jpg.5bcce97b58588a2bb6d94b0769aa9ad5.jpg

As you can see, against a green stalk it can look yellow, or maybe green, but against yellow sweet corn, it looks white! (Which is the context I usually saw it, since I didn't pick the corn, just helped shuck it.)

Thoughts:

Overall, I'm loving what you've written so far. The surprise habitable zone, the surprise twist that T was working on a spaceship, all of these things set up a great story. I love the personality you've put into TO--it's kind of a sarcastic, snide personality that just gels really well with E's character. The return of THE FRYING-PAN by T gave me a good laugh--I love returning jokes, even when I don't get them the first time. And although it's a first draft and there is plenty of room for edits, I feel like the content at its core is solid, with believable, interesting characters (though Ponytail throws me for a loop--see above).

The one impression I had on finishing, however, is that I'm really unsure about this gender bit near the end of chapter 3. I'm not saying it's inclusion is wrong, or that because I don't necessarily believe in it, that it shouldn't be in there. I try really hard to divest myself of my own beliefs when I get into a story. The reason I'm unsure about this bit is because it feels tacked in. There aren't any other mentions of nonbinary genders up to chapter 3 (though I know this was an aspect in the early drafts), and it's not made a defining feature of E--despite it being so apparently obvious concerning her that the M are aware of it (or maybe they just got this bit of info from T--that would need to be clarified for me to find it believable)--so the fact that it's included feels tacked in to make a point, rather than being an organic part of the character.

And to be clear, I have absolutely nothing against it being part of the character--I might be LDS, but I understand the need for everyone to be represented in fiction. I've tried playing with things uncomfortable to my religiously-accepted, traditional views in my own story, though I'm sure more avant-garde writers might consider this to be a very small thing.

Part of the reason for this is that A) I'm really bad with all of this "gender fluid" terminology. Non-standard identifiers are very confusing and not reader-friendly to me, so I actually really appreciated making Ember identifyingly female. It makes it much easier for me to engage. B ) You do mention Queen being an "all women" planet. Now, I could be wayyy off base here (again, really bad with this terminology), but isn't 'woman' considered a gender, while 'female' is considered a sex? If you want to approach this nonbinary route, wouldn't it be better to say 'all female'--as in the reproductive system functionality--as opposed to 'all women'? Especially if E considers herself as somewhere in-between?

This all makes my brain hurt. I hope you understand what I'm trying to get at here. I feel like if this information is supposed to be a part of the narrative, I need it mentioned earlier. Even if you want to keep it simple (please keep it simple), you can use deviation from the standard 'woman' to describe E without necessarily deviating away from being referenced as 'she', 'her', etc. Even a line like "Biologically she was a woman, but she'd never really fit the mold society had meant that to be" earlier in the book would be sufficient to help reduce this kind of 'tacking'.

Anyway, this is quite the long critique so I'm going to leave it there. Great stuff. Looking forward to next week.

Edited by Alderant
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3 hours ago, Alderant said:

Timeline-wise, I'm not sure what you're really going for.

Aheh... my epigraphs are not finalized yet. Thanks for the month catch. I wanted each chapter to have a different month, leading up to the destruction of Earth (halfway through the book), then start chronicling the driving events of the story. They should read a little off, from a scientific standpoint, but not so much that they're wholly unbelievable. So yes, will edit.

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

Should be italicized.

There's an interesting delineation between internal thoughts and internal voice and I'm going back and forth on them at the moment. Stay tuned for possible italics upgrades in the future.

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

blood isn't orange

Ah but there is a blood orange fruit, which is what I was referencing, and the inside is a perfect color match to the sun I'm trying to describe.

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

If your character isn't religious at all, then there's no reason to swear by a religion's deity.

I'm not sure I entirely agree. That particular swear is part of the US common vernacular, to the point where I don't think most people even realize they use it. And while it wouldn't have any place if E was Thai, since E comes from the USA, it seems a fitting piece of voice. Other characters in this story will definitively not use it, as a way to delineate the different societies that make up the planet.

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

is very trendy slang

It is! And used very intentionally for voice. 

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

Unless the 1900s are fairly recent

I think it will be fairly recent. My goal was near future with this, although I haven't settled on an exact date. Will mull.

3 hours ago, Alderant said:

This all makes my brain hurt. I hope you understand what I'm trying to get at here. I feel like if this information is supposed to be a part of the narrative, I need it mentioned earlier.

So it is hinted earlier, but it's subtle. I appreciate the candor with which you're discussing this, so I'm going to spend some time here. 

E is not nonbinary, nor is she trans. E is intersex, which is an actual sex, not a gender, and a very real thing understood by medical science since the dawn of humans (or the dawn of medical science, anyway). Many intersex individuals are cis gendered (instead of trans or nonbinary gendered), but there is a long history of medical interference and assigning gender to intersex individuals, through surgery on non consenting infants, which then turns into a horror show when the doctor has guessed wrong. 

I wanted to explore what a true 'women only' society would look like, but subtly. How do you decide where to draw the line? Do you go by chromosomes, genitals, or gender identity? On this planet they've gone by genitals which means XY women with more or less 'normal' female genitalia, like E, would be around. There would be trans men, too, but that's a gender discussion, and not where we're going here. 

4 hours ago, Alderant said:

Even a line like "Biologically she was a woman, but she'd never really fit the mold society had meant that to be"

And so then the issue with this would be that it would work if we were discussing gender. Biologically, an intersex individual is an intersex individual. They have their own medical category. 

I understand this can be a bit of a leap for those unfamiliar with spectrum of biological sex. It's really fascinating if you dive into the literature, and, to a point, I am happy to answer questions about it, especially if they will help people interpret the narrative.

4 hours ago, Alderant said:

And that's probably way more information about glass and screens than you ever wanted to know.

OOh, this is quite useful! Thanks!

4 hours ago, Alderant said:

I just have no idea what's going on here.

LOL okay, I can try to clean the blocking. The parentheses will likely stay. They're becoming more popular in fiction these days, and I think I enjoy them for the voice aspect.

Thank you for all the feedback @Alderant! Quite thorough. 

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I though there was great tension at the beginning. However it was almost too tense, because neither character really got to say what they meant until one stunned the other. I'd like a little more communication to tell us what's going on. Alternately, if it's added to chapter 1, that may help balance out the tension. If you do add more, this may be a good place to seed a mention of E's biology, as @Alderant says. I didn't have a problem with the content, but it did come up sort of out of nowhere at the end of chapter 3. There wasn't really a reason to bring it up. If it was seeded with some tension in the first chapter, that might help.

Otherwise, I love the addition of the AI, and I'm really looking forward to an explanation of how the equatorial zone exists. One minor quibble: E says she ran simulations and (what I got from it was that) this zone wasn't possible at all. So the Me. have some other mechanism? Or were the simulations wrong? I would think if there was even a chance at better agriculture at the equator when first surveying the planet, then the colonists would have started there, rather than in the more inhospitable sections.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 3: "That was a long time to spoon a tree. "
--lol

Pg 3: "swirled like a budget funnel cake"
--Funnel cakes are not particularly expensive to begin with.

Chapter 2 thoughts: There's good tension here, but I feel like no one has a chance to say anything the whole time. Whenever one character speaks, the other cuts her off. Again, it's good tension, but almost gets into frustrating territory.

Pg 7: Wait--are the epigraphs about Earth, or Queen? I though they were about terraforming Queen at first, but now I think they're about Earth.

pg 8: “At least one of us has to function.” 
--Ha! Okay, that's a good payoff.

pg 9: "hissed into her hear" -> "ear"

pg 16: "“Gloves,” Original said, in a voice one would use on an injured puppy. “You can’t stay in that suit here. It makes you a target"
--I think there's a missing connection here. Is "gloves" meant to tell her to take off the whole suit?

pg 19: good ending line.

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I didn't have a problem with the content, but it did come up sort of out of nowhere at the end of chapter 3. There wasn't really a reason to bring it up. If it was seeded with some tension in the first chapter, that might help.

 

 @mandamon, if you are talking about E being intersex, I disagree with you. Between the pants issue and the character with a "man's name," I thought that was a perfect time to bring it up. Nothing that happened prior to that during which is would've come up more naturally.

The spaceship, on the other hand, did come out of nowhere, though I didn't mind too much because E seemed just as surprised as I did.

Overall, I am definitely enjoying E's voice. There were some sentences that were a little overloaded or clunky, but that is something you can worry about later.  There were more lines that made me chuckle in this section. The voice is definitely getting stronger on that side.  There was a little less moping about and more action. However, some of that also interacted with the grief and it didn’t quite resonate the same as it did in the first chapter, though that might be okay because it was so strong in the first chapter.

 The pacing worked. The word was interesting. The small strip of habitable land  on the planet reminded me of The Razor by J. Barton Mitchel, which was mostly set in a prison that was on a strip of land between between a very hot and very cold uninhabitable sides of a planet. The concept of putting a prison there was near, but some of characters weren't my favorite, so I'm not necessarily recommending it. 

Ending with the spaceship is a good hook to get me to read on, even if it did seem out of nowhere. As I read:

 Page 5: "Here though the wind was too strong and the sand too thick" Isn’t the air also not breathable?

Page 7: You wrote “sun guns” but I think you meant “stun guns”

Page 8:

The suit’s developing personality is making me laugh.

Page 10:

“not that the M… could see any of that through the faceshield.” You remind us of this almost every time E makes a facial expression. It’s getting a little redundant

“It was like having an LED light shined directly…How had she ever lived like this?” I like how the voice is developing.

Page 11

“Ember ignored TOPA. ‘None of us got clearance … hack lifelong camping inside a sandbox filled with beetle rust.’”  There was a lot packed into this. I loved the end of it, but I had to reread the whole thing a few times to figure out what E was saying.

Page 14

“The M… were terribly negotiators.”  Terrible?

I got a little lost with the blocking around “a cool sheet of plastic pressed into her hand from behind….Her helmet was off a moment later…”

Page 15

“Original jutted her chin towards the lake. ‘Submerged. Her request.’” In the lake? Wouldn’t that contaminate their water supply?

“wife’s bloated corpse being consumed—bite by bite, by whatever vertebrate lived in the impossible lake.” Ok, I guess if it got eaten the water wouldn’t get contaminated.

 

 

 

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Posted (edited)

On 5/8/2019 at 4:11 PM, shatteredsmooth said:
On 5/8/2019 at 10:39 AM, Mandamon said:

I didn't have a problem with the content, but it did come up sort of out of nowhere at the end of chapter 3. There wasn't really a reason to bring it up. If it was seeded with some tension in the first chapter, that might help.

 @mandamon, if you are talking about E being intersex, I disagree with you. Between the pants issue and the character with a "man's name," I thought that was a perfect time to bring it up. Nothing that happened prior to that during which is would've come up more naturally.

I don't think the issue is where it was brought up, but rather that it seems to come out of left field at the end of Chapter 3. I don't think it needs to be blatantly addressed in chapter 1, but I think there should be some more obvious hinting earlier to clue people in. Those familiar might pick it up, but for those unfamiliar, we require a little more set up for believability.

@kais Thanks for that explanation. That was enlightening--and thanks for your candor and polite explanation. I think I understand what you're getting at--so, perhaps during all her thoughts regarding T early on, T's acceptance of her being intersex could be a point of reference to set us up for that bit at the end of chapter 3? I think that'd be sufficient--it wouldn't have to be an overt reference, but rather just a comment about T accepting her or whatever, and then the conversation between E and A could naturally reveal that that, specifically, was what E's comment was about? Just a thought.

On 5/7/2019 at 4:24 PM, kais said:

LOL okay, I can try to clean the blocking. The parentheses will likely stay. They're becoming more popular in fiction these days, and I think I enjoy them for the voice aspect.

I think it's just that it was done in third person (I've seen it done in first person, and it works fine) that threw me off. But do you. If you enjoy it, do it. It's your book, not mine. :D

On 5/7/2019 at 4:24 PM, kais said:

And while it wouldn't have any place if E was Thai, since E comes from the USA, it seems a fitting piece of voice. Other characters in this story will definitively not use it, as a way to delineate the different societies that make up the planet.

Fair enough. It was just my two cents.

On 5/7/2019 at 4:24 PM, kais said:

OOh, this is quite useful! Thanks!

Glad it helped.

On 5/7/2019 at 4:24 PM, kais said:

Ah but there is a blood orange fruit, which is what I was referencing, and the inside is a perfect color match to the sun I'm trying to describe.

I'd actually never heard of a blood orange until you said that just now--but I think the inside looks more like blood than orange, which is probably why it's called that. If it works, it works. I'm just trying to tell you from a reader's perspective--It's like when I use colors beyond most standard ones, because I'm an artist and have a deeper color vocabulary than the average person.

Edited by Alderant
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2 hours ago, Alderant said:

I think I understand what you're getting at--so, perhaps during all her thoughts regarding Taraniel early on, Taraniel's acceptance of her being intersex could be a point of reference to set us up for that bit at the end of chapter 3?

 In the previous draft of this there had been an earlier reference and it felt forced. I liked it much better this time. However, if it is trying to appeal to a broad audience, then it might be better to leave a few breadcrumbs earlier like you and @Mandamon suggested. 

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This is much improved over the last version. I feel like the blocking in the sand scene could still use a little bit of clarification, though, as I still had some trouble placing the people and their body parts. The M acts more logically now, and the fight scene flows much better, although it still struck me as pretty awkward.

This still feels to me very much like a modern story, in structure, tone, subject matter, and the way the scenes play out.  If you will forgive a bit of advice, and as I know you're a discovery writer, I'd abandon the goal of referencing prior sff tropes for now and just focus on getting the whole story out into the world. I have a feeling that some of the things I'm hanging up on right now are conflicts between the desire to add specific references into the work and the work trying to find its own voice. Once it's all there, I feel like it'd be easier to reshape into something that has references, than as what seems to be happening right now. 

E has more of her own personality in this chapter, she seems much more like her own person. 

I'm still on the fence about the AI. It's still not reading quite "right" to me, though this chapter it's working for me much better than the previous one. 

I also got hung up on the modern jargon. It makes E read very, very young, much younger than I was picturing her from the first chapter. The near-near-future aspect of this chapter also threw me off. I think maybe because the setup in the first chapter is pretty generic, and almost none of this day-after-tomorrow near-future stuff really comes through in the text itself.  Maybe once the timeline gets more finalized, the near-future nature of this could be brought out more in the first chapter? So it could explain right away why an older person sounds young and real-world modern clothing is hanging around in wearable condition? 

One grammar issue: "embroidered (and unwinding)" -- It's unraveling. Bobbins and spools of thread unwind. Embroidery unravels. Or comes loose. Falls apart. Comes unstitched. Pulls out. Is worn away. Stitching breaks or is broken. Not unwinding. Like, I had to reread that sentence two or three times because my brain kept automatically replacing "winding" with "raveling." 

 

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On 5/8/2019 at 7:39 AM, Mandamon said:

I'd like a little more communication to tell us what's going on. Alternately, if it's added to chapter 1, that may help balance out the tension

I'm really at a loss with chapter 2. When paired with chapter one it's much more natural, but makes the chapter super long. It's not enough to really stand on it's own. I may need to find an earlier point to break chapter one so I can get the needed information across.

On 5/8/2019 at 7:39 AM, Mandamon said:

So the Me. have some other mechanism? Or were the simulations wrong?

This is one of the bigger plot points of the book so I'm hoping the slow reveal of it will work for people.

Thank you so much for the edits @Mandamon! I'm glad this is reading alright

 

On 5/8/2019 at 1:11 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

because E seemed just as surprised as I did.

Yes, this one is meant to be abrupt

On 5/8/2019 at 1:11 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I got a little lost with the blocking around

Check. Will edit.

Thank you for the comments @shatteredsmooth! Sorry about all those random typos. Oof.

 

On 5/9/2019 at 5:46 AM, Alderant said:

Those familiar might pick it up, but for those unfamiliar, we require a little more set up for believability.

I think this can be fairly easily managed. I'll go back through chapters one and two and see what I can seed

On 5/9/2019 at 5:46 AM, Alderant said:

was what Ember's comment was about? Just a thought.

Let's see what you think after this upcoming week's sub. N's POV gets into the nitty gritty a bit more. Oh also! Could I trouble you to go back and abbreviate all my character names? It's sort of a thing we do on the forum now, since a number of us are either published or are seeking publication, and Google crawls this site regularly.

On 5/10/2019 at 11:13 AM, industrialistDragon said:

I'd abandon the goal of referencing prior sff tropes for now and just focus on getting the whole story out into the world

I've pretty much abandoned it already. I'm just going to get the main thing written, then trope it up if I still want to later.

On 5/10/2019 at 11:13 AM, industrialistDragon said:

I'm still on the fence about the AI.

It isn't in the next few chapters so hopefully when it makes its next appearance it'll work better

On 5/10/2019 at 11:13 AM, industrialistDragon said:

Maybe once the timeline gets more finalized, the near-future nature of this could be brought out more in the first chapter?

I suspect I'll have a lot of Ch1 tweaks after the timeline is set. I'm still trying to figure out how near-future this is, myself.

On 5/10/2019 at 11:13 AM, industrialistDragon said:

Like, I had to reread that sentence two or three times because my brain kept automatically replacing "winding" with "raveling." 

LOL okay okay, edited. Thank you!

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11 hours ago, kais said:

Let's see what you think after this upcoming week's sub. N's POV gets into the nitty gritty a bit more. Oh also! Could I trouble you to go back and abbreviate all my character names? It's sort of a thing we do on the forum now, since a number of us are either published or are seeking publication, and Google crawls this site regularly.

Ah, yeah, no problem. I didn't understand that was why everyone did that. I'll see what I can do.

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Ha-ha! I've just learned how to do split screen on my MacBook to see the story and this window side-by-side!! Yay, I'm so proud. (This is why men should be made to read the instructions first... :mellow: )

Chapter 2

(Page 1)

- Chilling epigraph. just chilling.

- "An asinine threat... if she let go," - We really don't need this explained. I feel like a dummy now. The dialogue has a good punch, and I think anyone over the age of 10 will get the joke without the long explanation. I understand that it's so you can have the follow-up punchline about yelling at someone, but you can cut the explanation waaaaay down to something like 'Obvious, I know, but sometimes it's really nice to yell at someone.'

- "Her descent slowed" - I don't feel the risk of death here. I've got no feeling she's going to die.

- "lack of water" - sounds a bit lame. Water shortages, water rationing, government ban. I think there are ways to make this sound more dramatic and cataclysmic.

(Page 2)

- Not sure where the hand comes from. Is it the M's? Unclear. I feel like the blocking's off.

- "trying to be heard over the growing wind" - aren't they in a hole?

- "she wrapped it as well" - I didn't understand what was meant by 'wrap'. Like, wrap your legs around the tree? Could be clearer.

(Page 3)

- "The ground no longer swirled" - I did struggle to picture how the tree was stable amidst a sinkhole of sand. Even if it was still anchored 20m down (or whatever) surely it still would be whipped about in space around the distant fixed point, and still could be sucked into the hole.

(Page 4)

- "...smelled like crotch." - All round awesome paragraph. Boom. Take that, slontze.

- Oh!! Take that, slontze indeed!!! perfect time for a punch.

- "jackknifed and sprung sprang back" - tense: definitely 'sprang'. 'sprung' is past participle. I know this is the old 'divided by a common language' thing, but the whole world recognises 'sprang', whereas 'sprung' is listed as North American. I would like to think that any publishing house with any kind of world view would have editors that would default to the global norm. 

- Kicking at shins seems quite lame. Why would the M do that? That's like playground fighting, whereas her first counter strike seemed really effective.

(Page 5)

- G.S.O. - :lol: 

- "whack-a-M" - Lol. Character voice it is strong in this one...

(Page 6)

- ...which is why this "perpetually on its period", I thought, was a bit weak. Just saying 'period' rather than using one of the many, many euphemisms (got the painters in, code red, etc.)

- No! No, no, no. Don't tell us it's a stun gun! At the risk of citing myself as a reference (sorry), did you not think when Mort shot M o t h in the hospital it had more impact because I just said he shot her, but not what kind of gun it was? Because you don't say where Em was shot, it could be a real gun and still not fatal. I just thought the punch ending was kind of 'meh' because of the word 'stun'.

Chapter 3 

(Page 7)

- "predators swelled" - The numbers of predators swelled. The predators themselves may have swelled after they were dead, although bloated might be a better word?

- I live in mofo Glasgow: I need a 'Sun gun'. Oh dear lord, how I need a sun gun. :lol: 

- "and she really hated fungi" - ROFL. Is there such a thing as anti-meta?

(Page 8)

- I like the disorientation, very good.

- "Four split seams and two broad tears" - I know it's an AI and anything goes to some extent, but this sounds very imprecise for a machine mind. Complete lacking in quantification.

- "the suit’s interior computer" - I don't think it has an exterior computer, does it?

- "would restart as well" - Wait, what? There are two systems? Confused. If one 'lives' in the suit, where does the other one 'live'?

- "floated across the lake" - If the sail's up, it's sailing, surely, not just floating?

- "leaning unconcernedly against the mast" - Horrible word: must be about fourteen syllables. What's wrong with casually?

(Page 9)

- "hissed into her hear" - Typo, lol. It's almost my tea time. I'm going to go stuff my 'eat' ;) 

- "patchworked with her own shadow" - Now, how exactly does that work?

(Page 10)

- "pulp fiction paradise" - Lol, awesome phrase.

(Page 11)

- I don't get the rationale that qualifies them for Queen. Does that mean the Earth II is the sandbox full of Beatle rust? Confused.

(Page 12)

- "super secret" - super-secret. Compound adjective.

(Page 13)

- Presumably, ponytail is from Earth too, right?

(Page 14)

- "were terribly negotiators" - typo.

(Page 15)

- "hadn’t insisted upon dying alone." - This is a question.

- "in wrinkled clothing" - Surely this isn't the most notable characteristic of the clothing. I thought it was 'moth'-eaten, worn.

(Page 16)

- "Under a red sun, especially in the dunes, it looked like old mud" - Great description, but I feel like the whole world looks different, but maybe I don't get enough reminders that this sunny, lakeside scene does not look like a sunny, lakeside scene on Earth (I).

(Page 17)

- "It’s a man’s name" - I wouldn't have said so. It's more of a surname, surely?

- "all women planet" - I'd say all-woman, or maybe all-female is more scientific, no?

- "immigration and variation" - Another very non-scientific term for a scientist to use. Not 'genetic diversity'?

- "it was an anatomy requirement" - Grammar: anatomical?

(Page 18)

- "it’s about self survival" - Where to start... For one thing, this needs a hyphen, but for another, surely 'self' is redundant? And here's another: ultimately, survival is about sex (biological imperative) and sex is about (genetic) survival, no?

- "E rubbed at my face" - Whoops. Did this used to be first person by any chance?

(Page 19)

- Whoa, great last line. It's such a slap in the face out of nowhere that it's really believable, I think. Also, we don't know much about the world outside the fairly few facts we've had in narrative, so there's not a lot to remain consistent with, if that makes any sense.

Overall 

Good chapter, events trundling forward nicely. While there's conflict in this chapter, it's fairly localised and short-lived, unfamiliar individuals sparking off each other rather than a large story-spanning conflict. I'm presuming that we're starting to see that story-spanning conflict emerge however in terms of getting these ladies off Q, and putting Em in conflict with the establishment. I enjoyed this. I'm not sure what kind of questions it's posing yet, but I'm happy to go along for the ride and see what emerges.

<R>

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4 hours ago, Robinski said:

This is why men should be made to read the instructions first.

My (male) friend once told me: "If we read the instructions, then we don't learn anything." 

4 hours ago, Robinski said:

but you can cut the explanation waaaaay down

good call

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

surely it still would be whipped about in space around the distant fixed point, and still could be sucked into the hole.

Err... magic tree? No? Handwavium?

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Why would the M do that? That's like playground fighting

I played a lot of soccer and this is like... one of the most painful things I can think of. Maybe I shouldn't draw from sports backgrounds

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Don't tell us it's a stun gun!

LOL okay okay! Removing 'stun' from the equation

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

but this sounds very imprecise for a machine mind. Complete lacking in quantification.

Argh, agree.

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Horrible word: must be about fourteen syllables. What's wrong with casually?

LOL so no on the big syllable words then?

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

I don't get the rationale that qualifies them for Queen. Does that mean the Earth II is the sandbox full of Beatle rust? Confused.

What part are you referring to, here?

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Presumably, ponytail is from Earth too, right?

No aliens in this story!

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

I wouldn't have said so. It's more of a surname, surely?

This is a really interesting debate. I ran the name past my in-person writing group and it broke down among both gender and religious lines. Women thought it was a masculine name, men found it gender neutral or a last name. Every Jewish person at the table thought it was a highly masculine and somewhat douchey male name, non-Jews had no such association. I can always change it to Chuck or something if too many people hang up on it.

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

or maybe all-female is more scientific, no?

It'd be more scientific but not as accurate for how I want the planetary requirements to go. BWAHAHAHA

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Not 'genetic diversity'?

Ah, so she is actually talking about variability here, not genetics so much. I know people are hanging up here but I think I want to give it a few more chapters to see if people can parse the semantics given enough context.

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

Did this used to be first person by any chance?

Aheh... yes

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm not sure what kind of questions it's posing yet, but I'm happy to go along for the ride and see what emerges.

Hoorah! I'm glad it's not a burning trash fire! Thank you so much for the comments.

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On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

My (male) friend once told me: "If we read the instructions, then we don't learn anything."

That's a good line, but..

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

Err... magic tree? No? Handwavium?

I didn't get a strong sense that the tree was magic. It's not, actually magic, is it? I've got no sense there is anything magical / fantastical in the story and all will be revealed to be entirely explainable, scientifically. Handwavium I can accept, I just struggle a bit to picture the situation with the tree. I can accept it an move on though.

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

I played a lot of soccer and this is like... one of the most painful things I can think of. Maybe I shouldn't draw from sports backgrounds

It's fine

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

LOL so no on the big syllable words then?

No, really, this one just distanced me from what was a relaxed and relaxing image.

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

What part are you referring to, here?

"These types of ecosystems are supposed to be for people who can’t hack lifelong camping inside a sandbox filled with beetle rust." - This. So, should 'are' be 'isn't'? I.e. "Qu's type of ecosystem isn't supposed to be for people..."

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

No aliens in this story!

Yeah. Something made me think that ponytail was from a different place, or had come here via a different place. Can't see it now. No biggy.

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

This is a really interesting debate...

At the end of the day, I can accept a name as a name, it was just Em's comment that made me comment. No biggy.

On 15/05/2019 at 4:25 AM, kais said:

I'm glad it's not a burning trash fire!

Certainly not :) 

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