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Mandamon

20190527 - Facets of the Nether Ch 16 - 5462 words - Sub 16

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Hello all!
Back to S and I this week, and I hope this will address some of the issues that have come up previously! As usual, all comments are welcome.

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. We go back to E, who discovers the Coalition's headquarters, and meets some new, strange friends. Back to S and Co at the wall, who finally find out what the chime was all about. We drop in on M, who showed the new two-house recruits what's he'd been doing. Meanwhile, S and I go through the wall with WW, and find out what's on the other side. E learns about her species from the others, and fends off an assualt. Re observes one of the LC attack the Eff, but discovers a way to create a portal to their base.

NOTE! I'll be on vacation all this week, with limited internet. I'll try to check in as much as I can.

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I hope you are having an amazing time at the Magic Kingdom, and I expect to see photos on Twitter!

Overall
Good, solid pacing and good reveals. That second kiss scene was HOT and you can sign me right up for a novella where S and I go on their first date. The only thing I really took issue with (other than a few red flag social issues, as noted below) was the ending, which felt a bit deflated, to me. Otherwise, awesome chapter.

As I go

- pg 1: should 'ree' be capitalized?

- pg 1: dying over the kraken 

- I'd like to see more of this side of the N through Sam's eyes, like a few paragraphs at least of wonder and anxiety, before he remembers he is with other people

- pg 2: he leaned into S for a kiss, then we get a 'and afterward'. So did the kiss actually happen? The readers demand to know what Ari lips feel like! Does he taste of sadness and captivity?? Is he kind of not into it, and then S is like OMG HE DOESN'T LIKE ME ANYMORE????

- pg 2: 'fewer mushroom themes'--> DISLIKE. Need more mushroom themes

- top of pg 3: people are holding tables? Or tablets?

- pg 4: 'remember how I feel for you'. Reads stilted. S has EMOTION. Something more S, maybe, like "remember that I really like you."

- pg 5: oh. Woah. Hello yes, that was hot

- aeir/aem are cool neopronouns!

- pg 12: should we be able to guess what a 'pruner' is?

- pg 13: I laughed, loudly, at S's 'how do Ari reproduce, anyway?'

- pg 15: ghetto, or reservation? Suggest picking one word and staying with it because they both have very strong emotional draws for different groups

- pg 16: so the Ari...bred out mental illness? Or is it being established that they have actual violent tendencies that don't come from mental illness? This section needs some cleaning, I think. It sends up some red flags for me

- the ending might need a bit more punch. There was so much tension in the rest of the piece that I feel deflated at the end instead of eager to move to the next chapter. Could it end with an Ari-related reveal maybe?

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I enjoyed this chapter, and do hope that maybe we get to stay with S and/or I for another chapter, because I feel like it could slow the tension if we don't. I'm not ready to move away from these two after this. The chapter didn't really feel done.

I loved the internal struggle with S, and how he managed to break out of a panic attack when I lost control and transformed. Seeing that transformation carried some weight because of what we learned about I from the E chapter. Things are linking up well. If I were reading this as a complete book, I would not want to stop. 

On a technical note, I did notice a few places where a piece of dialogue ended with a period, but the first letter of the first word of the next sentence wasn't capitalized. Keep an eye out for those when you go back and edit. 

As I read:

I liked that the epithet was now from someone from this facet! 

The scissor door is scary, raises the tension, and gives me bad vibes about the building they're in. 

"All the effort that had gone into keeping his anxiety at bay was undone by that one touch." He shivered. He thought this. Then he had the panic attack. The thinking about everything being undone seemed like it came to soon. I want to see more of the attack before S started telling me about it. I'm not sure you even need this line, but if you really want to keep it, I'd suggest putting something like it further into the attack, maybe around when he is asking for help. 

"The noise of a hundred conversations...bored into his brain." I can relate to this. 

"The passed the last few blocks..." They?

I'm fascinated now that the Eff of one facet is other instance of another facet's Eff. Another thing that has me curious is from E's chapter, I know that the Ari need to absorb other Ari to live on for ages, but most of the Ari who absorb others seemed to do it to their other instance first, but the two Effs are old enough to allegedly need to have absorbed other Ari, but they never absorbed each other.  This gives me hope for I and E. 

 

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

That second kiss scene was HOT and you can sign me right up for a novella where S and I go on their first date.

Yup. :wub:

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

- pg 13: I laughed, loudly, at S's 'how do Ari reproduce, anyway?'

 

And now I want to know!

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

- pg 15: ghetto, or reservation? Suggest picking one word and staying with it because they both have very strong emotional draws for different groups

 

They do...is it possible to use a word more unique to the story's world that doesn't have such direct ties to one of those groups? 

 

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

pg 16: so the Ari...bred out mental illness? Or is it being established that they have actual violent tendencies that don't come from mental illness? This section needs some cleaning, I think. It sends up some red flags for me

This kind of pokes at something that has been nagging me about the Ari, but I'm not quite sure exactly how to explain it. Some of them are clearly insane, yes. The more insane they seem to be, the more prone they are to violence. I've been hoping that when you call them insane, you're not actually saying their mentally ill and not associating extreme violence with mental illness. But then I'm not sure that actually makes sense when I say it out loud or write it. Breeding out mental illness and blaming their violence on it are kind of red flags for me. Hopefully there something genetic or or unique to Ari physiology that makes them prone to violence? And that will become clearer? Or maybe something that was done to the Ari at some point?  

I'm sorry if my comment doesn't actually make sense. I don't think I'm fully pulling all the piece together in my head yet. 

The Ari are fascinating; I just hope they don't end up as something furthering a stigma. 

 

Anyway, this was a great chapter and I'm looking forward to reading more! 

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Thanks to @kais and @shatteredsmooth!

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

I hope you are having an amazing time at the Magic Kingdom, and I expect to see photos on Twitter!

Hope I've posted enough! It would be better if it wasn't 90-odd degrees and blazing sun every day... 

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

The readers demand to know what Ari lips feel like!

Haha! Noted. I'll pump this up a bit.

18 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I want to see more of the attack before S started telling me about it.

Good catch.

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

should 'ree' be capitalized?

It's another gender of the Nos. (the guardians). I'll see if I can make this clearer.

On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

should we be able to guess what a 'pruner' is?

Another Nos. gender. I'll clarify.

18 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

That second kiss scene was HOT and you can sign me right up for a novella where S and I go on their first date.

Yup. :wub:

Yay!

18 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

- pg 15: ghetto, or reservation? Suggest picking one word and staying with it because they both have very strong emotional draws for different groups

 

They do...is it possible to use a word more unique to the story's world that doesn't have such direct ties to one of those groups?

Thanks for bringing this up. I'll see if I can find something that isn't such a charged word.

18 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
On 5/27/2019 at 5:12 PM, kais said:

pg 16: so the Ari...bred out mental illness? Or is it being established that they have actual violent tendencies that don't come from mental illness? This section needs some cleaning, I think. It sends up some red flags for me

This kind of pokes at something that has been nagging me about the Ari, but I'm not quite sure exactly how to explain it. Some of them are clearly insane, yes. The more insane they seem to be, the more prone they are to violence. I've been hoping that when you call them insane, you're not actually saying their mentally ill and not associating extreme violence with mental illness.

Yeah, this is a fine line I'm toeing and I need to make sure I don't cross it in the way I talk about it. Basically, changing form leads to more powerful emotions that are much harder to control, and the Ari have dealt with it in two significantly different ways. What happened in this facet ties into that. It doesn't get a lot of development in this book, but I'm hoping to bring it up more in the next one.

Thanks again!

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12 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Basically, changing form leads to more powerful emotions that are much harder to control,

I wonder if you could sculpt this more into Sensory Processing Disorder--Sensory Seeking? If shifting sets off sensory seeking behavior and the input needed is not met it would just spiral into progressively more and more disruptive behavior. Since this is a Known Thing it might make it easier to write, and would give you a decent resolution option too, since occupational therapy is a great way to deal with it (give them some way to get input, via risk taking measures, obstacle courses, etc., in human children).

@industrialistDragon just had a conversation about this, actually. When you think of the 'boys will be boys' phrase, or 'she's rough and tumble,' those are coded phrases that are usually being used to excuse sensory seeking behavior in children (also sexism, but we'll ignore that part for now). In adults, the skydivers, the daredevils, have found ways to meet their sensory needs. But if you've ever seen a child in particular needing sensory input and not getting it, you get all kinds of socially inappropriate, and sometimes violent, behaviors as they try to fill the sensory need. Expand that out a bit and I think it would make a lot of sense for the Ari.

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6 minutes ago, kais said:

I wonder if you could sculpt this more into Sensory Processing Disorder--Sensory Seeking?

Ah--really good idea! I'll do some research, but I think this could work. Just need to make sure the methods I've got for the two factions will line up with known therapy, so I don't go off in the weeds.

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Comments.

(page 1)

- You've got the Lufs ending in 'vurns' but also 'vern' which doesn't seem consistent.

- The epigraph is pretty distancing. I don't really understand any of it, or at least can't relate to any of it very well, since its all beyond my ken. Four genders :blink: I'm moving on...

- Confused: being passing him grates on him, but he's more used to the being who live here? These things seem contradictory.

- "straightened into a smile" - To me, a smile is a curve.

(page 2)

- Emotion / romance / love - hurrah! However, "for a kiss" - this is very passive, compared with 'to kiss S'. I prefer the more active version, rather than leaning in to allow S to kiss him.

- Who said afterward?

- "Their guide’s head flaps fluttered between them and the broad building" - confusing imagery, sounds like the head flaps stretch over some huge distance.

- Repetition of 'words' close together, awkward.

(page 3)

- "some holding sheaf of scrolls and tables" - either 'a sheaf' or 'sheaves', presumably.

- "colorful and elaborate costumes" - do they all wearing clothing then? That in itself seems a bit unusual.

- "The noise of a hundred conversations conducted in squeaks, taps, and grating noises bored into his brain" - The noise of a hundred noises. I will always find repetition awkward.

- Oooh, changing in the open. Excellent conflict / action / incident.

(page 4)

- "He thought his heart might explode" - This is all great stuff. FINALLY, we get to see S fight back against his nature, take control.

- S gets his answer, but it's another question. This is not terribly clear / smooth.

- "one of Is' arms, pulling the razor sharp claws away from the dignitaries" - is this not singular, or is there more than one claw on each arm?

(page 5)

- "He pulled the razor claw toward his neck" - Awesome! But see here how 'claw' now is singular.

- "sharpened claw pricking his skin like a razor" - Hmm, the razor sharp claw is pricking his skin like a razor... I think there are too many razors around here.

- So this is a stand-up-and-cheer moment. Well done!! What emotion, what tension. It's got nothing to do with love, really imo, just sheer palpable relief. Great moment.

(page 6)

- "What did they do you?" - missing word.

- "I'll tell you later,” his head" - CAPS off.

(page 7)

- "in their ghetto" - Ooh, interesting.

- "Here, though, a group of the tripod-like purple P tumbled on some errand, or a trio of N scuttled past" - But this description of being has nothing to do with the use of space, which is what the previous sentence is about. There's a disconnect here. >>>> "devoid" - The connection of these ideas is kind of confusing.

(page 8)

- "He looked over to see how I was faring, but he was composed again" - The second part is not the converse of the first, so I don't get the use of 'but' here.

- "brightly colored patterns of aeir wings" - 'their'? Oh, no. It's another gender. I'm getting confused by all the difference pronouns. There are soooo many. This set here, the 'a' ones are difficult to pick out of prose, imo.

(page 10)

- "Fashion for a b/s" - Excellent, so immersive.

- "a she.” he whispered" - punctuation.

- "the next facet" - This is weird; the term is so loose and non-specific. I feel like they would have a more definitive term than 'next'. Also, it sort of implies there is a 'previous' or 'last' facet too, but that would imply a progression, which would raise the question why is one behind another? And I'm now in a dark room wondering what I started this train of thought.

(page 11)

- "Her claws shrunk and separated" - shrank.

- "You're an A" - nice twist, very nice, very in world and in setting.

(page 12)

- Wait, is WW suddenly female?

(page 13)

- "He is my other instance" - :o 

- "I am not jealous" - lol. This made me smile.

(page 14)

- "The houses of the m were her 'dears?"- That's not what I took, I presumed she meant the members of those houses.

- "many, many centuries" - comma.

(page 16)

- "Yes, I was. And you must know that P was as well" - I know this is in response to 'were you there', but a second question is asked about living through the war. I think it would read smoother if she answered that question with 'Yes, I did, and P did too'.

(page 17)

- "N's clawed feet were in sharp contrast to the E" - in sharp contrast to the E's silence, to the E's something, not to the whole of the E herself.

- "an A in shape again" - I didn't register this before. Isn't this the first time we've seen the true shape of an A, and yet I felt like almost nothing was made of it, little enough for me to miss it.

(page 18)

- WHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! The house of time? Wow. Really, I think this dialogue, which is absolutely momentous, needs to be split out from this paragraph.

Overall 

Great chapter. I was concerned this was going to be exposition / background / setting heavy and, while it was, you did a great job of also giving us tension, action, conflict, passion, emotion, etc. Good job.

There were some bits where it felt like there was a lump of exposition that I was keen to get past, but not too much. The ending is a massive wow moment. The H of T, I mean gosh.

Nice work :) 

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Thanks @Robinski!

Thanks for all the plurals and repetition catches. I must not have been proofing well while reading this.

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

do they all wearing clothing then? That in itself seems a bit unusual.

Eh, I need to elaborate on this.

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

This is all great stuff. FINALLY, we get to see S fight back against his nature, take control.

Yay!

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

"brightly colored patterns of aeir wings" - 'their'? Oh, no. It's another gender. I'm getting confused by all the difference pronouns. There are soooo many. This set here, the 'a' ones are difficult to pick out of prose, imo.

Heh--I'll try to clarify, I have a spreadsheet to keep track of all the new ones for this facet!

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

"The houses of the m were her 'dears?"- That's not what I took, I presumed she meant the members of those houses.

hmm..This might go either way. Either she regards the members as her pets, or the houses as her playthings...

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

"an A in shape again" - I didn't register this before. Isn't this the first time we've seen the true shape of an A, and yet I felt like almost nothing was made of it, little enough for me to miss it.

Can clarify.

10 hours ago, Robinski said:

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! The house of time? Wow. Really, I think this dialogue, which is absolutely momentous, needs to be split out from this paragraph.

Heh. Can do. I'm glad it had the appropriate effect, though!

 

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Sorry, this is pretty much just as-I-go. I had... issues. 

 

Okay, the opening scene with In going all brainwashed killer and S trying to wake him up is intense, yes, but I got some really worrisome vibes off it. "I'll make you hurt me" (so that the guilt you feel from my pain will make you remember you love me) just sounds so emotionally manipulative, I'm immediately reframing what I know of S around it, and not liking what shapes up.  It's pretty easy to take S's need for external help with his anxiety and turn it into a manipulator's need for everything to be about them. The trite, pat dialogue through this scene just seems to reinforce it -- S is just aping these emotions to get In to focus on him. In -- emotionally damaged, vulnerable, looking for guidance; S -- needy, self-absorbed, unable to express real emotions so relies on worn-out phrases... I know, I know I know I know it's not that but, oh, this scene just feels so repugnant to me!

Please think about word choice. Coming off of that scene above, where we are shown through actions and emotions that the Ari are emotionally unstable and prone to violence, then going straight in to "yes and we keep them in ghettos" is just really, really problematic. Really problematic. "emotionally unstable" is a go-to accusation to lever at anyone who the ruling group wants to control (whether women, or black people, or the non-neurotypical, or anyone else); and "prone to violence" plus "we put them in ghettos for their and our own safety" I really shouldn't have to explain. 

"rehabilitated" -- Riiight. paired with ghetto, and the removal of a "strain" of thought, and everyone's basically okay with it because we all know that Those People just can't be trusted to control their own emotions. Why even the Ari say so themselves! It's the Eff talking and she's Ari herself! I am pretty much done with this chapter, right here, since this is reading still really problematic for me. 

 

All right. All right. I took a little break. Maybe I'm reading too much into things...

"put in a special reservation," --- Then again, maybe I'm not. Is this referencing the Japanese internment during World War II, or the Trail of Tears and Native reservations? It's a yikes either way, and neither one is somehow better or more humane than outright genocide like I think this is trying to portray, and it's in no way mitigated by having a member of the oppressed minority saying these things, but I suppose I'm curious. 

"within their own species, culling the crazed creatures" -- So, this looks like a reference to minority-on-minority violence being used as a "reason" for the above internment of all members of that minority, so I guess that's a point for the Japanese internment source. It's still problematic. And then the added "crazy people are violent and must be killed for the betterment of society" stereotype on top of it just compounds the awfulness. 

"amenable to interaction with the other species," -- Wow, now there's a loaded phrase... 

At this point, I'm sorry to say I've run out of energy and skimmed the last couple pages or so. I'm still trying to rebuild my stamina from the Thing that Happened to me and I've just run out of processing power. This is, I think, the most problematic sub I've seen from you. It's just so all-over-the-place with what it's trying to reference, and the words that it's using. No one's reacting to any of these implications, and I would expect S, at least, to pick up on some of this WWII stuff, since I assume he's gone through a standard US high school education. I want to try to sum things up a little more, but I"m just plain outta juice. Please take @kais's and  @shatteredsmooth's advice and rework this. 

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@industrialistDragon, thanks for reading even though this was a slog.

14 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

"I'll make you hurt me" (so that the guilt you feel from my pain will make you remember you love me) just sounds so emotionally manipulative, I'm immediately reframing what I know of S around it, and not liking what shapes up.

Hmmm...this is definitely not what I intended. More that S is the one who knows him best and wants to redirect I from hurting others. I'm hoping the confusion comes from the lack of enough emotional reaction from both parties. I'll take a good look at this section and see if I can make it read better.

 

Question/thoughts for @kais and @shatteredsmooth, as spoons/time allows. I know this is a difficult subject:

I can certainly clean up the problematic word choices on how the Ari are referred to, but I'm wondering on how to show a species which is shown to have harmful members (with the understanding that this also been handled badly in our history).

I think phrasing this as Sensory Processing Disorder may help ground the harmful tendencies, rather than just labeling them as "insane."

Re. ghetto/reservation: I can clean up word choice, but I do want to show that the Ari were put in interment camps. Is the issue here that it happened/how it happened, or is it that I need to change the emotional reaction from the other characters to this event?

Basically, it was a Bad Thing that happened and not everyone has an acceptable viewpoint of how things happened. Any suggestions on showing the horror of this without offense?

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5 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Basically, it was a Bad Thing that happened and not everyone has an acceptable viewpoint of how things happened. Any suggestions on showing the horror of this without offense?

For me, two things:

1) Consistency. Pick an atrocity and stick with it. The word choices and phrasing had me bouncing around from one implied real-world horror to another and that got old really quickly. 

2) Emotion. Reactions: I need more of them. Especially from S, who should be making some real-world connections here. He is me, in this book, and I am noticing similarities. It makes me mad when he doesn't (or at least, feel like he should).  I feel like, the queen is trying to say that what she's doing, while bad, is so much better than genocide, and, on paper at least, she's right: some is better than none. But also, the extermination of S's facet's Ari happened thousands of years ago and has been treated as a distant historical event by everyone, up to and including In and E. I feel like In and E might not even believe in Ari, were they not living members of the species and feeling the continuing repercussions from the war. It happened to strangers. Ancestors, yes, but strangers. What the queen is doing is ongoing, happing right now, to her own people, some of which In and S have seen with their own eyes. It's more present. Yet they're reacting to the two things in similar ways. 

Changing things away from general "insanity bad violence" to something more logical and grounded will also help. 

 

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13 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

It's more present. Yet they're reacting to the two things in similar ways. 

Changing things away from general "insanity bad violence" to something more logical and grounded will also help

That's a great point! You're exactly right on how it's perceived in S's facet. I need to go back and adjust the attitudes of people in the new facet to deal with an ongoing relationship with the Ari. That will help me a whole lot when editing.

Thanks @industrialistDragon!

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Posted (edited)

On 6/5/2019 at 9:50 AM, Mandamon said:

I can certainly clean up the problematic word choices on how the Ari are referred to, but I'm wondering on how to show a species which is shown to have harmful members (with the understanding that this also been handled badly in our history).

 

I'm not sure if I'm answering your question right or not. I think in some context, you can still call the Ari insane. Insane works for their sort of disjointed thinking and having more than one personality living in one body. What I don't like is when you equate insane with violent and murderous. If their being  murderous or violent, just say that, or use a word that means that. They can be insane, and they can be violent. Maybe their insanity makes their violent nature worse and more terrifying. That's fine. If it is the way changing messes with their heads, than that isn't problematic as long as it is clear. Just be careful where you place the word insane. 

On 6/5/2019 at 9:50 AM, Mandamon said:

Is the issue here that it happened/how it happened, or is it that I need to change the emotional reaction from the other characters to this event?

How the characters react. Because they hardly react. If I were S, I'd be wanting to get I the heck out of that facet as quickly as possible. That Eff would be a monster in my head. @industrialistDragon explains it perfectly. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Also, I was thinking, this could be another opportunity to delve into S and what he remembers or has forgotten from his own world. Maybe he doesn't remember exactly what happened in his world, but he knows that something like it happened and it was BAD. 

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11 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

They can be insane, and they can be violent. Maybe their insanity makes their violent nature worse and more terrifying. That's fine. If it is the way changing messes with their heads, than that isn't problematic as long as it is clear. Just be careful where you place the word insane. 

Great explanation.

11 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

How the characters react. Because they hardly react. If I were S, I'd be wanting to get I the heck out of that facet as quickly as possible. That Eff would be a monster in my head. @industrialistDragon explains it perfectly. 

I'm actually really glad this is the issue and not the other side. I can change reactions.Retooling the history of a species is a lot harder!

15 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Also, I was thinking, this could be another opportunity to delve into S and what he remembers or has forgotten from his own world. Maybe he doesn't remember exactly what happened in his world, but he knows that something like it happened and it was BAD.

That is another excellent point. Thanks @shatteredsmooth! And thanks to everyone for the help on this. This should make the rewrite much better.

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