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shatteredsmooth

Mindless Nine Sub 3_3196 words (LVG)

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Content Warnings: language, violence, some gore
 
Hi All,
I'm not going to ask about buy-in because I know that will only be fixed with changes in earlier scenes. I do have a few other questions.
 
  1. Where do you have trouble following dialogue and/or action? 
  2. What needs more description?  
  3. I've had trouble showing my characters' reactions in the past. What do you think of E's reactions in this part of the story?
  4. I feel like something is missing from the end, but I'm not sure what it is. Do you have any suggestions?
Of course, feel free to comment on anything else. 
 
I'm sorry for my atrocious grammar. I'm trying to pay more attention to the sentences, but the past few weeks, I've been having a harder time with that than usual. I think I need to read more, but life and deadlines haven't allowed me to read much.
 
Thanks!
 
Sara
 
P.S. I still want to change the title of this piece, but am coming up with 0 ideas. If you find yourself struggling with a title, what do you usually do?
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I will get to yours tomorrow. Until then, here's my thoughts on titles:

Titles are kind of my bane. I struggle really hard with coming up with titles and usually just use an interim "Book 1" or "Story" until I've settled on what I want the story to tell (and rewritten my concept about fifteen times). I like titles that are relevant to not just the themes of the story, but also to the events, but other authors (Brandon Sanderson, for example) pick titles that center around a pivotal object or idea in their books. I think I've settled on my book title being called Shattered Expectations, because that's a huge theme in the first book of my epic fantasy series, The Elaandran Crisis (which, if you read the original submission, you'll also recognize that title has changed), but other ideas I'd come up with were Flames of War, Identity Lost, and so on.

On the video game I'm making, I'd used a theme of darkness for a really long time, so for quite a while I called it a variation on that: Darkened High, The Darkening, etc. It wasn't until I really sat down and really dug into what I wanted the game to be that I changed the title to its current (and permanent) one, The Tunnel, because a tunnel is a recurring theme and level in the game, as well as a metaphor I've used for my depression in the real world (which is, coincidentally, what the game is about).

Hope that helps or gives you some food for thought.

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Overall
I'm left wondering what the actual arc is for this piece. Is E supposed to come to terms with killing people? The end made it seem like E enjoyed killing, then the sister convinced them it wasn't all fun and games and then the went merrily on their way. Is that what you were going for? I didn't feel like there was closure in the ending, and I'm left with too many questions, such as:

- if the aunt was to be a major plot point, why did she not get more airtime, especially at the party?

- what is the purpose of murder bots if people can still walk willy nilly through the castle when they are on a rampage?

- why did E not get deeply suspicious when the sister's room was untouched?

- why would E every think that U had done all this, especially with U's reactions?

- why does E think a knife will work against murderbots?

- why was the sister not able to overpower a frail old woman?

- what was the point of the parental death?

- why is there magic in this world if it doesn't really relate to the story? Reader expectations not really met on this front

As a suggestion, your writing is strongest in cozy social situations. You might consider turning this piece into straight intrigue at the party, no running around the castle and no big battles except maybe at the very end. Set up this emotional arc through royal party dialogue and emotional dissonance. I think it would make a stronger story and the reader would be more invested, since the party is really where I think most of us had the most investment. Give us some scenery, some world building, some political drama between siblings and the burden of ruling. Give us the pain of E not being able to rule, and the corresponding guilt that a sister that loves ladies and gowns has to bear the burden when older sibling would prefer she be able to stay carefree. Give us super shade by the evil aunt, and demeaning dialogue to U, and conspiratorial dialogue with E. Maybe a coronation ceremony where you raise the tension up up up, then everything falls apart. That would be amazing.

17 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
  • Where do you have trouble following dialogue and/or action? 
  • What needs more description?  
  • I've had trouble showing my characters' reactions in the past. What do you think of E's reactions in this part of the story?
  • I feel like something is missing from the end, but I'm not sure what it is. Do you have any suggestions?

Action and description

The blocking was wonky for a lot of this. I need more description all around, to make much sense of why things are happening

Reaction

E remains fairly cold in all chapters except the intro one, where the party reactions were good

End

Suggestions both above and below.

 

 

As I go

- pg 3: a knife doesn't seem like a decent weapon against bots at all. I am unconvinced

- oh, now there is a blaster. Where did that come from? What happened to the knife?

- I appreciate that the father is also dead. Less fridge-ish, though still a little o_O

- pg 6: how do they know it isn't U's blood? Confused

- tense change, bottom of page seven

- wait, so U is in the secret room doing... what? Watching the consorts be tied up? And Eld person is with U? Or following E? I'm very confused on blocking and what is happening

- pg 10: so the aunt is the villain and was trying to get E to think U was? I have no idea what is happening right now, because U being the villain was never forecast and made zero sense. I also don't know enough about Eld to be concerned about her actions. 

- pg 11: agreed that the E and aunt fight paragraph needs work. You should block it a bit more, and season the narrative before it with more about the aunt. Since she is only described as an old woman, and no one has shown any real emotional attachment to her, I don't understand why someone doesn't just kick her in the shins and topple her or something

- that 'coming to terms with killing people' arc did not land, and the last page feels rushed and forced. 

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Well, I was trying to put together my thoughts on this one, but @kais has really sized things up well. You can count me as a second on basically all the comments above.

2 hours ago, kais said:

I'm left wondering what the actual arc is for this piece.

This exactly. I'm wondering what it all was for.

2 hours ago, kais said:

As a suggestion, your writing is strongest in cozy social situations. You might consider turning this piece into straight intrigue at the party, no running around the castle and no big battles except maybe at the very end. Set up this emotional arc through royal party dialogue and emotional dissonance. I think it would make a stronger story and the reader would be more invested, since the party is really where I think most of us had the most investment. Give us some scenery, some world building, some political drama between siblings and the burden of ruling. Give us the pain of E not being able to rule, and the corresponding guilt that a sister that loves ladies and gowns has to bear the burden when older sibling would prefer she be able to stay carefree. Give us super shade by the evil aunt, and demeaning dialogue to U, and conspiratorial dialogue with E. Maybe a coronation ceremony where you raise the tension up up up, then everything falls apart. That would be amazing.

Uh. Yeah. Pretty much all this would be a fantastic story. especially shade from the aunt. I had a lot of problems with E basically beating up an old lady to win the day. I think the physical side of this is the part that isn't working, and developing the social side will help a lot.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "The pieces of the suit hissed as they came apart "
--why would E take off the suit? It seems kind of dumb while they're in a war zone.

pg 2: "She’s always been bitter about losing heirship"
--hmm...unless she's become a whole lot more suspicious at the beginning, this seems like a big jump. And if she is that much more suspicious, I wonder why E didn't say something about it while they were on alert from the mouse bot. Wouldn't Aunty be the primary suspect?

pg 4: The parent's deaths are much more jarring this time.

pg 4: "What did I miss? How did I not see this coming?"
--Wouldn't they be raging against their aunt, who has seemingly murdered her sister?

pg 5: "They plowed ahead towards U’s main chamber"
--Why are they doing this alone?

pg 6: "paying homage to evidence that their sister didn’t hate them"
--something's not right about this, but I don't know what. Maybe that they're stopping to have this realization now?

pg 6: "The scent was strong enough so that at each fork or split"
--that's some strong perfume.

pg 7: "The sequins on his toga reflected what little light there was in the tunnel."
--a little confused on the blocking. Wouldn't E's eyes have adjusted by now? Also, if just the sequins reflected the light, how can E see his face?

pg 7: This is a really large tunnel in the back of U's bedroom...

pg 8: "could probably down the tunnel."
--Missing a word.

pg 9: I'm not really feeling the deception with Aunt E. I'm not sure of the reason. Maybe because U is acting too sincere? She's not trying to fight or give E a warning?

pg 11: “Wouldn’t you take power back if you had the chance?” 
--Eh, this is a pretty generic reason. Maybe the queen did something to her and she's been holding a grudge? Or she really likes the castle? Anything mroe creative than this.

pg 11: "after a few minutes, E. had El. pinned with a blade to her throat."
--Yeah, not working because it's not specific, and way too short. You might read the knife fight from the end of Dune. It's very tense!

pg 11: "Please let her stand trial.”
--I assume there's some larger justice system in place than their now-deceased parents?

pg 12: The end is a bit of a let-down. Everything is wrapped up, but I want some better resolution with E and U. Maybe something about what E saw in U's rooms?

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@kais and @Mandamon everything you're saying sounds right.  

When I read 

8 hours ago, kais said:

I'm left wondering what the actual arc is for this piece.

I couldn't' immediately think of what I meant E's arc to be, which is a Big Problem. 

Maybe I've been focusing on all the wrong things and trying to make this story something it isn't. I think you've been telling me this all along, and I half listened, but then went back to doing what didn't work in previous draft. 

Thank you. 

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Posted (edited)

@shatteredsmooth

I agree with a lot of what's previously been said--especially the part about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Some of the most interesting writing in this project has been when you've dug into politics. Some of the most boring has been the action scenes. The fact that you're unsure of E's overall arc is a problem, but I think a more fatal problem is that the writing doesn't seem focused at any junction. In part 1, we start with an infiltration-heist, then we have a celebration where E is out in the open as U's sibling. Then dinner. Then a sudden attack, followed by an even more sudden reversal with a character that I thought wasn't important. The line in part 3 about El being there with U the entire time, and E's subsequent "Okay! Here's my villain!" was blatant. There was no build up, nothing to be suspicious of, no willingness to believe El wasn't a villain all along, to make the betrayal properly punch.

I think the story itself has workable material, and your work shines best when you are able to focus on the drama. For example, the celebratory/religious scene in part 1 was beautiful; I felt engrossed, wanting to know more! The world really popped for me and I was able to visualize the scene--but then there was nothing from that I could draw on later. The dialogue at the dinner was great, the drama between E and U believable...until the bot showed up, and the focus shifted from the drama between E and U (which was never suitably resolved by the end) to this sudden bot invasion. I think this whole story can still work, but I think the focus needs to be more on the characters and the turmoil between them, than on physical action and the bots. As it currently stands, everything seems to just be filler until the bot invasion, and that makes the resolution fall flat.

A couple of worldbuilding questions I had throughout this adventure--

Why isn't hacking a thing? If society has advanced to the point that bots are widely used, why aren't there protections against someone usurping control of the bots? Why is the CSO only a soldier, in a high-tech world? One would think they would have gained some extra knowledge in engineering and basic hacking, or would employ those with that expertise. I don't understand why the only solution to a robot attack is "shoot the thing".

Why is the only threat E would consider ever in the form of a bot? There aren't rebel factions or disgruntled citizens within this society? Combat training is usually something more suitable to fighting people, not robots.

I really want to know more about this civilization. I feel like the focus is on a "bot invasion", and that the worldbuilding and drama are just scaffolding to support this idea; the scenes are there just to get us to the drama at the castle. All the interesting bits, the pieces that immerse me into the world, are just thrown by the wayside. I love that the flashback occurred to reveal what happened, but this black skull thing seems like nothing more than a macguffin to force E out of the throne. That's okay, but I just want more of what's going on here to back it up. I never fully understand why this black skull thing is so bad--it's just E gets a black skull, so they can no longer be the leader, and no one ever really comments on it outside that purview.

I guess what I'm saying is...don't scrap what you have entirely, just because something here didn't work the way you wanted. There are good things here, but I feel that it needs some more focus and decision. If you want the focus on the bots, make it about the bots. If you want it on the characters, make it about the characters, and let the bots just be part of the world. I think, if you had a greater amount of page time to devote to everything, what you have could work on a broader scale, but with the limitations you have in making this a shorter story, you really need to zero in and focus on one idea. I'd love to see what you make of this piece, though, regardless of which direction you go. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

Edited by Alderant
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7 hours ago, Alderant said:

I think this whole story can still work, but I think the focus needs to be more on the characters and the turmoil between them, than on physical action and the bots. As it currently stands, everything seems to just be filler until the bot invasion, and that makes the resolution fall flat.

This makes sense. I think this is the direction I'm going to take it in. I had this vision of some pulpy robot-fighting romp for this story, but as usual, it started turning into something different, and by trying to pull it back to my original idea, I made a bit of a mess.

7 hours ago, Alderant said:

I think the story itself has workable material, and your work shines best when you are able to focus on the drama. For example, the celebratory/religious scene in part 1 was beautiful; I felt engrossed, wanting to know more! The world really popped for me and I was able to visualize the scene--but then there was nothing from that I could draw on later. The dialogue at the dinner was great, the drama between E and U believable.

:-) Thank you!

 

7 hours ago, Alderant said:

I really want to know more about this civilization. I feel like the focus is on a "bot invasion", and that the worldbuilding and drama are just scaffolding to support this idea; the scenes are there just to get us to the drama at the castle

 

7 hours ago, Alderant said:

If you want it on the characters, make it about the characters, and let the bots just be part of the world. I think, if you had a greater amount of page time to devote to everything, what you have could work on a broader scale, but with the limitations you have in making this a shorter story, you really need to zero in and focus on one idea. I'd love to see what you make of this piece, though, regardless of which direction you go.

 I've never actually written a story this length before. The longest short story I've written was about 7500 words, but most of my shorts tend to either be flash fiction or  between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Genre-wise, this was also a little outside my area of expertise. With a few exceptions, my best writing is usually contemporary fantasy. Figuring out what I can do with a length and genre I'm not used to writing in has been a challenge, but I'm learning a lot from it. I appreciate you and everyone else taking the time to help me navigate this. 

 

Last night, after reading @kais and @Mandamon's comments, I was up until after midnight writing a dinner conversation between E, U, and Eld about minimum wage, paid vacation, and guard armor that was layered with more personal drama between the siblings, and have plans to expand the ceremony. I think I might be heading in the right direction. 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Last night, after reading @kais and @Mandamon's comments, I was up until after midnight writing a dinner conversation between E, U, and Eld about minimum wage, paid vacation, and guard armor that was layered with more personal drama between the siblings, and have plans to expand the ceremony. I think I might be heading in the right direction. 

Thats great! :D

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2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Last night, after reading @kais and @Mandamon's comments, I was up until after midnight writing a dinner conversation between E, U, and Eld about minimum wage, paid vacation, and guard armor that was layered with more personal drama between the siblings, and have plans to expand the ceremony. I think I might be heading in the right direction. 

Awesome!

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Here are my dry read comments (apologies if some of this has already been covered):

0  Dang. Looks like I missed a lot. Robot dragons? Awesome.

1 - 2  This was probably explained earlier, but why are E’s pronouns plural? With today’s political climate I’m assuming it’s a gender identity thing.

3  The statue’s eyes shifting was a great detail. This in addition to the very tangible discovery of E’s mother sucked me into the world even though I did not read what came before this.

4  “They couldn’t bring their parent’s back, but they could avenge them.” This is great. E had already shown me they could be proactive, but this line solidified it for me. Good job.

5 What kind of perfume?

6 “... their breath caught on thorny vines of emotion snaking through their throat.” I love this.

The tapestry and hidden wall hiding the hallway beyond is a great detail.

Okay the perfume smells like lilac. Cool. Small prescription, put this detail/description when the perfume is first mentioned and then here say she followed the scent of lilac. Should make the moment more immediate and the reader will feel more connected, more in the know.

7 I’m a little confused by the logistics of this hallway at this point. I guess I assumed it was a secret passageway but it no longer seems that’s the case?
8 - 12 Not much to say here. I felt a little bit lost since I don’t know what came before but even so the scene played out well enough.

Besides some technical issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this excerpt. There were times when I didn’t feel like I even needed to have read the previous chapters because the chapter was so immediate. Reminded me of Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. The sheer momentum pulled me on. This is something I struggle greatly with in my own writing so kudos.

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Ack, okay I'm going into this not having finished the last submission, but here goes. I've read the summary notes, of course.

(Page 1)

- Recap: okay, I think I've got it.

- "a smoking gear" - like a cog wheel kind of gear?

- Dialogue's a bit clunky here.

(Page 2)

- Why is 'heart' in quotes? Why would Reem say it like that, instead of just straight?

- The getting the people to safety thing is rather abstract. Do we ever see the people? Why/how are we invested in getting them to safety?

- "The pieces of thetheirsuit hissed as they came apart" - make it personal to En, that way it's more involving, I think.

- "They chockedon their first breath" - choked.

(Page 3)

- Whoa, fairly substantial disconnect. Seems like it would be quite a long way from the throne room to sleeping quarters?

- Where did the blaster come from? The implication previously, I thought, was that they were only taking the knife.

- Lots of typos, not noting them individually.

- Had we seen En's mother in the story before? I don't think we had, just the aunt. That seems odd, and doesn't help me invest here in the death of a character that would be really important to En, but who I haven't seen in the story (I don't think), unless you've revised that since the first submission, or I've forgotten.

(Page 4)

- Decent description of En's pain at mom's death, the breathing stuff.

- Same again. Had we seen father before? I don't remember so, in which case this death is kind of abstract. I don't really feel it.

- "giving into grief" - 'giving in to grief'. The action is really giving in, so in to needs to be two words.

- "their parent’sback" - OMG, FFS, no apostrophe, it's a plural.

(Page 6)

- Too many sentences starting 'En did this...', 'En did that', En jumped up'.

(Page 7)

- "someone stepped out" - But doesn't she know who it is? This is weird, this late in the story, for it to be a no one, and for her mind to try harder to identify him.

- "inhales" - This is NOT a noun. 'Inhalation' is the noun. Have you ever read this in a published novel you've read. Can you imagine and actor saying it on screen. Brad: Oh, Angelina, every one of your inhales sends my into raptures. 

(Page 8)

- Confused: so are the spider bot and the roach bot members of the Nine? They're not given anything like their due as the titular villains of the story. It feels like they are just some random bots wandering around.

- "But was it her blood or someone else’s?" - This is the third or fourth time this question has been asked in different circumstances. I think it's being overused. The question has not been answered once and so, by this point, I don't really care.

- Confused: En gives no notice to Eld suggestion that Ul is the perpetrator. Why is that? Why would they not acknowledge the suggestion, even if they don't believe it?

- Wait, now En just flips to believing it's Ul, with no internal consideration, no struggle to decide who's right and who's lying? I find it hard to follow, and I'm not given any thoughts to help me invest in what's happening here.

(Page 9)

- "hadn’t even managed to hit the person she was trying to defend herself from" - It's not clear whether this is a reference back to the time that En saved Ul's life by killing her attacker, but I think that's what is being referenced to?

- Now we do get some internal monologue, but its flipped back to En thinking that it's Eld who is the baddy. The problem is that each time En flips on who the baddy is, their thoughts are phrased like they totally believe it's that person, then they totally believe it's the other person. There's never any doubt, any questioning, which is what there should be to make this situation convincing.

- Now I'm totally confused. Does En have their gun on both Eld and Ul?

(Page 10)

- Confused again. the spider-bot's been blown up before? But not in this story, right?

- "Make your sister do it, and I’ll happily go meet the Goddess" - This doesn't make sense. Why would she happily go? How does shutting off the Nine fulfil Eld's aims? Don't understand.

(Page 11)

- Eld is an old woman, but she's blocking and kicking and grappling and holding her own with a youngster? I don't buy it. Then she's been kicked in the ribs. That's going to lay her out for minutes, maybe even break a rib. There's no way she just jumps up and starts grasping. Not believable.

- "You wouldn’t know" - Of course Ul wouldn't know, she didn't kill them. This is a kind of nothing comment.

- "sunk to her knees" - tense sounds wrong. I know it's a US thing, but any readers from any other country in the world will think this is a mistake. If you say 'sank', that is universally understood.

(Page 12)

- I like the punching, 'stunning' and shooting.

- You don't put fingers 'in' someone's neck to check the pulse. On or against.

- What? That's the end? It's so... unsubstantial.

Overall

The typos make it really quite difficult to focus on the story. There are so many. I know it's been a number of weeks since I read the first section, in which the sisters' relationship is set up, but I'm just not sure I care that much about either of them to be bothered all the much about the outcome. It still feels insubstantial to me. 

The Nine are almost completely irrelevant, which is really disappointing. They are the title of the story, but they are completely irrelevant to it. They have no identity, they are not fearsome. It could have been some random bots of unknown original. It could have been the palace bots turning inexplicably rogue: in fact that would be more interesting, I think.

The ending is terribly brief, like an after though. It has no weight.

There are elements of the m/c's character that are interesting, but they're not given any development, so I don't really care. En is really quite blank as a character. I don't feel that En is invested in anything, really believes in anything, so why should I.

Really, I much preferred your work on Intertidal which has real depth and strength of character, or Oomph which again gives us an m/c we can believe in, and wild, spacey antics that are fun. In Life Minus Me, I believed the character's despair, their stress. This, there's just nothing for me to care about, it's kind of mis-sold by the title, and the ending is very cursory.

I know it's harsh, but there's no point in me pulling punches. I really don't think this is a short. I think it's a novel or novella, where you can spend the time to develop the character's feelings, conflicts and give the Nine some personality, make me fear them, or it goes in the trunk. Sorry, I just don't think it's missing the skill and heart and feeling that you've brought to other works of yours that I've read. :( 

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On 21/05/2019 at 8:37 PM, Mandamon said:
On 21/05/2019 at 5:54 PM, kais said:

I'm left wondering what the actual arc is for this piece.

This exactly. I'm wondering what it all was for.

Me too. As usual I was rather grumpy in how I put that across, apologies again.

 

Titles:

- The Shattered Throne;

- Broken Palace;

- Killing For My Sister;

- Attack of the Killer Bots! (hmm, maybe not...);

- The Enemy Within (been used several times before, but could allude to the palace bots turning on them (per my earlier suggestion), but turn out to mean the aunt); or

- Family At War (could allude to the sister, then transpire to mean the aunt)

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I implore you, in the future, look through your submissions and fix the spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. There were far too many and I will echo Robinski's point about being taken out of the story by them. While I have not read the entire story (just the last two parts) this one in particular I did not feel myself getting invested in. E runs through the castle(?) which is notably abandoned until they get to this control room, at which point their aunt appears pretty much from nowhere (it is only until she speaks that she's even mentioned as being in that room) and knocks her out. U, judging by her dialogue, is not particularly emotionally invested in what is going on around her. I also noticed a particular focus on blood; lots of wondering 'Is this X character's blood, or someone else's?' 

When it ended, I was thinking, 'Really? That's it?' Because the scope of it does make me feel as though it has the potential to be a full novel (or at least a novella). Something that focuses a lot more on court politics could be very interesting. These last two parts just felt like a lot characters running around and accomplishing very little to me. Nobody changed, nobody was seriously hurt. I did not feel like there were any consequences. E is faced with the woman who orchestrated their parents' deaths, and spares her? I don't buy it.

As for your own questions, here are my thoughts:

  1. Where do you have trouble following dialogue and/or action?—I don't have a lot of trouble with either, but you skip a lot of the action. In your previous submission, you had a fight with a mechanical dragon that lasted one sentence. Here, you had E fight her aunt, and you basically skipped over it with 'a few minutes later...'
  2. What needs more description?—Again, the action scenes. Also, your protagonist is desperately in need of a stronger characterization, characterization that makes more sense. For instance, I found it very difficult to believe that someone with this great of a martial responsibility would almost cry at the sight of a childhood bedroom. 
  3. I've had trouble showing my characters' reactions in the past. What do you think of E's reactions in this part of the story?—E wasted a lot of time. Again, the bedroom scene; they take the time to stop and reminisce when they think their sister is still in danger. Kinda screwy priorities there. 
  4. I feel like something is missing from the end, but I'm not sure what it is. Do you have any suggestions?—Lengthen it. It was truncated and ended in what seemed like a blink of an eye. I did not come out of it feeling like much was gained or saved. Neither E nor U (who was pretty quick to make an apology) were all that much affected. What happened of consequence? A bunch of unimportant characters were saved from mechanical monsters. You need to have something happen that is of weight to the characters. 

In summary, write the story as though the things happening actually matter to and affect the characters. Focus on your strengths—politics and world-building. Expand the scope of the story and write more believable characters. And please use spell-check from now on. Thank you. 

Here are my notes from reading this week's piece. 

pg 2:

"“She was unhurt, but didn’t say where she was going..."" Replace unhurt with fine. I have never heard anyone describe someone as 'unhurt' in a serious context. 

"The pieces of the suit hissed as they came apart and fell to the floor around E." The entire suit came apart? Like in Iron Man 3? Well, that's counter-intuitive. What if someone wants to suit back up again? 

pg. 3:

"Thick carpets and tapestry muffled an explosion as E followed a trail of bloody footprints through the royal sleeping quarters." I think floors and walls would be much more likely to muffle sound. 

pg. 4:

"Her shade was probably screaming about defiled hair as the Goddess dragged her to the afterlife." Her what was screaming? Has this been explained? Also, this Goddess does not sound like she is very hospitable to departed souls. 

"Father’s face was untouched and his hands still gripped the black hilt of a purple metallic blade." Aren't most blades metallic? Or have I missed something? 

pg. 5:

"Not a single shoe appeared out of place on the hulking pyramid of boots and heels in the room’s center." I moved 'hulking.' It's an adjective, not a verb. 

pg. 6: 

"They hadn’t been in their sister’s room since they moved into the Guard Barracks. Their eyes burned." It's just a bedroom, though. As someone who returned to their old childhood bedroom after eight years and had never been in combat, I seriously doubt that E would react this way. 

"E’s hands curled into fist and their breaths caught on thorny vines of emotion snaking through their throat. They fell to their knees, paying homage to evidence that their sister didn’t hate them, and to the memories of a family that would not be reunited in this lifetime." This is somewhat purple-prosey. I would truncate this somewhat. 

"E leapt to their feet and faced the rear wall." I feel like this is a sudden emotional about-face. I'd suggest adding a transition between this paragraph and the last. 

pg. 7:

"E stood in the dark, waiting for their eyes to adjust." They don't have a flashlight? 

"E opened their mouth to ask him if he was okay and how many other people he was with, but he held a finger up to his lips and beckoned E on. E followed him around the corner." I honestly think this was the best part of the chapter. It felt genuinely tense and mysterious. 

pg. 9:

"Aunt E shouted, “E! Help!”" This sentence is Aunt E's introduction in purpose. It's out-of-nowhere; she's not even described as being in the room when E enters.

"It was probably safest to play along with E charade until R and J freed K and L." What charade? How does E know this is a charade? They just ran into Aunt E. Also, as a reader who's been led to believe that U's been the bad guy and then it's suggested at the beginning that this Aunt E is the bad guy, I have absolutely no idea what Aunt E's game is supposed to be. 

"“With my own two eyes, I saw her lock you out of the system. She obscured the Nine from your sensors.”" Bolded part sounds cheesy. 

pg. 10:

"“E, no.”" If this is supposed to be a tense moment, U is severely undercutting all of it with her lack of exclamation points. This is true for most of her dialogue in this scene.

"Pieces of metal rained all over the chapel, bouncing off of the heads of statutes without damaging them." I find that highly unlikely. 

pg. 11:

"It wasn’t the first time that spider had been blown to bits, but maybe this time, E and the guards could get to the pieces before they vanished." What? Is this spider-bot already known to the guard?

"Aunt E bared her teeth in a rabid smile." I would just say 'grinned.' Or 'grinned evilly.'

"“Shut down the #, or I will melt your brains worse than your bots melted my mother’s.”" That's not threatening. First of all, E's mother was killed. Aunt E having her brain 'melted worse' does not hold up as much of a threat. Also, "Help me or I kill you" is a counter-intuitive threat. You are not giving the threatened person any incentive to help. And E will be in the same situation if Aunt E refuses to help or dies.  

"E sidestepped as Aunt E’s left hand stabbed towards their gut." This action comes out of nowhere. It would help to show us what E is thinking and/or feeling when they are attacked.

“Tell my why you did this and I’ll kill you quickly.” So E was going to kill their aunt anyways? E is not a good negotiator. 

pg. 12:

"E looked at the glint of light off of their knife, a blade that would avenge their family in a minute." Replace with 'soon.' 

"Aunt E lunged at E. The two grappled, and Aunt E was surprisingly strong for someone E thought sat around and pushed papers all day, but after a few minutes, E had Aunt E pinned with a blade to her throat." Don't skip over the whole fight! Show us what happened! Inquiring minds wish to see! 

“E, stop.” U rushed back into the room. “Don’t kill her." This reads like some pretty casual pleading not to kill someone. 

pg. 13:

"I’m sorry for ignoring you and being so cruel.” Well, that was easy. 

 

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16 hours ago, Robinski said:

Really, I much preferred your work on Intertidal which has real depth and strength of character,

I'll have to try and finish that story this summer. I lost track of the plot with that story, and the setting / mc's relationship to the setting was making it almost too personal, so I had to set it aside. I re-read pieces of it a few days ago, mostly to remind myself what I could do and then I went back to Mindless Nine and wrote a few E/U and E/U/Eld scenes that dig more into the characters and world. 

Thank you for mentioning that and the other works of mine that you did like. :-)

15 hours ago, Robinski said:

- Killing For My Sister;

 

I like this one!! 

2 hours ago, JWerner said:

Something that focuses a lot more on court politics could be very interesting.

This is definitely the direction I'm taking it in. 

 

I almost think part of my problem with this is that I set out to write one type of story, and when the story turned into something different, I kept trying to pull it back to my original bad idea when I really should've just let it evolve. 

 

@JWerner @Robinski thank you for reading, and I'm sorry about my typos. I'm very behind on submissions, but I will get to yours soon. 

 

On 5/23/2019 at 7:10 PM, hawkedup said:

Besides some technical issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this excerpt. There were times when I didn’t feel like I even needed to have read the previous chapters because the chapter was so immediate.

I'm glad you liked it. Thank for diving in even though you hadn't read the rest.  

 

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8 hours ago, JWerner said:

Because the scope of it does make me feel as though it has the potential to be a full novel (or at least a novella). Something that focuses a lot more on court politics could be very interesting.

Yes, agree.

8 hours ago, JWerner said:

I have never heard anyone describe someone as 'unhurt' in a serious context.

Lol, excellent point. I dropped my iPad on the floor yesterday and my wife called upstairs, 'Are your alright?' I did not reply, 'Yes, I'm unhurt.' :lol: But it is a word that used 

8 hours ago, JWerner said:

Well, that was easy.

Yes, I go back to my comment about the ML9 not having any real weight.

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6 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I re-read pieces of it a few days ago, mostly to remind myself what I could do and then I went back to Mindless Nine and wrote a few E/U and E/U/Eld scenes that dig more into the characters and world. 

Thank you for mentioning that and the other works of mine that you did like. :-)

I do that too sometimes, just read a few pages without an agenda, just to remind myself why I wrote something, especially something that I've 'finished' (got to the end of).

And on ML9, for me it's not the characters that are problematic: I thought they came across well enough, it's other aspects of the story where the weaknesses lie.

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