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hawkedup

06/10/19 - Turn of Ages 2 - hawkedup - 4100 - L

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Posted (edited)

Hey, everybody. So a little background here.

The Turn of Ages is going to follow multiple plot threads that take place in different parts of the world (Rossendar City, the "pueblos" and the Front) before coming together at the end of the book. 

The original plan was to start with L's first act and then switch to this chapter. The reason being is that I wanted to pepper in world building using an urban character/setting where the "old ways" were mostly forgotten before showing a rural setting where the "old ways" are more prevalent (as shown in this submission). 
 
After all of your comments on world building last week, though, I'm wondering if this chapter might not be a better introduction to the world. I think this switch might also help strengthen L's chapters, too, since they will be happening at a time when the reader has more information. I'm particularly keen to know if you guys agree with this assessment or not.
 
You DO NOT have to have read L's chapter to understand this one, though there are some obvious and intentional parallels between L's story and Z's story.

Please keep in mind that this is written toward a younger audience (I want to share it with my children as soon as they start reading for real) but I am hoping for an "all ages" type of story where anyone can enjoy it.

Thanks again!
Edited by hawkedup
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First, yes, this is a much better introduction to the world. We get the cultural sense you were talking about, and if you are aiming for a younger audience, this one is much more in that genre than the first chapter.

My biggest issue is the length. There is a lot of extraneous talking and description in this chapter. Getting to the inciting incident (discovering the demon is friendly) in the time that a younger person is still going to be untested is crucial. Right now, even I was skimming and I've read all of Wheel of Time... I think you could tighten this up into a really powerful and engaging first chapter.

On the positive side, I really like the soul lantern aspect and want to learn more about them!


Notes while reading:
Pg 1: This immediately has a much more Latinx vibe than the last entry.

pg 3: "There was a tall woman on the other side of the door"
--since they both know this woman, it's weird to introduce her by description than by saying who she is first.

pg 5: There's a lot of smalltalk and not really useful description in this. It could probably be streamlined a lot to bring out the important parts.

pg 7: "It was annoying. It wasn’t even an accurate insult. She still had one of her parents."
--yeah, that's just...weird. Not a very good insult?

pg 7: "After the theft was revealed, the pueblo turned ugly."
--yeah, but "orphan" still doesn't make any sense. I would expect something like "thief's daughter," or "betrayer," or something more related to what the town was upset about. They weren't upset her mother left--they were sympathetic. They were upset at the theft.

pg 10: "There were no guards to stop them, of course"
--why not?

pg 10: “Get out your dimmers,” 
--this is a cool in-world consequence!

pg 11: "The God King’s color."
--willing to accept this for now, but does no one else use blue at all? It seems like a a really strong aversion if it's the first think Z notices about the room.

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This was a lot better than the last submission. It had some really nice world building balanced with some action. The time Z spend with the father showed the relationship nicely, though I almost want a little more of that and a little less of her telling us background stuff in the begining. The first page is a little bit of an info dump. Could you open with making the food and intersperse some of the other world building throughout that scene?

The person coming to the door with news of the council meeting is a great turn of events. The evening definitely isn't going according to plan. However, the conversation between the dad and the women  goes on a while without any reaction from Z. I'd like to see her react more to this person before the conversation gets underway.

Z thinking about the lady's kid being an a-hole seemed like a change in voice. 

"would have chosen I as her own personal god." I'm looking for an if or but. If she..., then she would have... or would have chosen..., but....

"No,” Z replied." There was too much time between M saying something and Z replying. I got distracted by all the information that came between and forgot who Z was talking to and why.

I loved the end of the chapter, and the idea that this demon might not be dangerous like everybody thinks demons are. This definitely leaves me wanting to read more! 

On 6/9/2019 at 5:50 PM, hawkedup said:

I'm wondering if this chapter might not be a better introduction to the world.

This seems like a perfect introduction to the world, and I think it would make a great first chapter. Unlike the other one, this has a clear inciting incident. 

9 hours ago, Mandamon said:

First, yes, this is a much better introduction to the world. We get the cultural sense you were talking about, and if you are aiming for a younger audience, this one is much more in that genre than the first chapter.

I completely agree! 

9 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think you could tighten this up into a really powerful and engaging first chapter.

I agree with this too. I think in some places, the internal thought tells us too much or goes on a little too long. Think about what information the reader absolutely has to have now and what can wait until later. 

 

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On 6/11/2019 at 8:06 AM, Mandamon said:

They weren't upset her mother left--they were sympathetic. They were upset at the theft.

This is a good point, thank you!

On 6/11/2019 at 8:06 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 10: "There were no guards to stop them, of course"
--why not?

Small town syndrome. I'll see if I can make this clearer in 4.0.

On 6/11/2019 at 8:06 AM, Mandamon said:

does no one else use blue at all?

The color isn't a conscious choice (in almost all cases). It's like a group mentality thing. People know that the God King's color is blue and if they work directly for the God King then their lantern has a higher chance of being blue.

On 6/11/2019 at 5:11 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm looking for an if or but. If she..., then she would have... or would have chosen..., but....

I see your confusion. I'c is already Z's personal god and so therefore she doesn't have to make the choice. I'll make it clearer!

On 6/11/2019 at 5:11 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

This definitely leaves me wanting to read more!

Good to hear! :)

Thanks for reading and for the feedback! (For some reason it won't let me tag you guys.)

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Glad to read the next part of this :) 

(page 1)

- "destroying and killing" - odd pairing, I thought. Killing basically applies to live things, but destroying can apply to live people, animals and buildings. I think a more thought-provoking choice of words would be more effective here.

- 32 BGK is not immediately recognisable as a date. It could conceivably be a place or a location, at first glance.

- Why is speaking the old tongue anathema. Need an explanation of that. I don't see a reason to keep that reason concealed from the reader.

- I'm already thinking this is a better opening than L's POV. This chapter's opening is much cleaner, it introduces one idea at a time and, for the most part, explains them, drawing the reader in. I like that the GK is... (Oh, I see what BGK is now :) ) introduced in a neutral way, implied to be good.

(page 2)

- I like the opening. I like that you've set up a family-oriented situation, but with an undercurrent of conflict (mama's disappearance). I'm not someone who needs action from the first line. What I want is interest and engagement with character (or maybe setting) from the first line. Some people find that easier to do with action, but it's not the only way to do it, imo.

- I like Z's voice. I'm convinced she's a 14-year-old girl.

- "There was were always leftovers" - grammar.

- "the dawn hours" - I'm not convinced dawn lasts for hours, does it? Or is that my gruff northerner bias showing through my grizzled beard?

- Why do they need to touch the Chile when they're soaking it? This reads like you've researched it, so I've no reason to disbelieve, just not sure why they don't use an implement to avoid numbing of the fingers.

(page 3)

- "She had long hair" - Odd to describe the length of the hair and not the colour. I don't know how to picture her. Also, I don't know how to picture the woman because I don't know when "the turn of age" happens, or what it is.

- "tall, gnarled walking staff" - for me, there should be a comma between words listed to describe and item because traditionally there is a slightly longer pause between such descriptors, I would say.

(page 4)

- "There’s soldiers with them" - Grammar: There are soldiers with them.

- "still outwardly kind" - Eh, what? How's that? There was no indication that other were not until now. Why does no one else respect P? You need to explain that. Every character in the story knows why this is, so imo it's not right to keep that from the reader: it's frustrating.

(page 5)

- "Meet in thirty?" - Bit unclear. I presume she means meet at the hall in half-an-hour.

- "But she knew better." - Better than what? Unclear.

- "when he accepted a spot on the town council" - Nope, super confused now. How is it he's  on the council when no one respects him (apart from his family, I guess, and Es)? I would think that would make a council position untenable.

- "the the" - delete repeated word. Also, ah, I see about the lack of respect, but you need to explain why that is. It's not mysterious to hide it from the reader, it's frustrating. Okay, we know a little bit more, but  this is not the mystery at the heart of your story, this is background and--as I mentioned--everyone else in the story, in particular the POV character (Z, I presume) knows all about it, but chooses not to think about the details. Not really plausible, IMO.

- "my little avocado" - ooh, that is not a nice pet name. "most deplored nickname" - just by her, or by everyone in their society?

(page 6)

- "Go enjoy the fiestalike a normal kid" - How can she do that when everyone in town hates her? I just don't follow the logic. How is it she's got any friends when everyone in town hates her and her dad?

- "because she didn’t have friends" - But her dad must know that. No way he doesn't know that, so saying what he said is just cruel.

- "the tears to fall" - much more emotionally involving to say 'her tears', imo. Otherwise the emotion is kept at more of a distance, disassociating her from the tears.

- "two story home" - 'two storey', or is this an Americanism?

- "Her plan was..." - You don't need to explain this. Let the reader figure it out. I think most people would assume this was what she was planning. Spoon feeding the reader is not engaging, imo.

(page 7)

- "Out of all the children at school..." - very wordy sentence. This can be reworded to be more compact and to flow better.

- "the pueblo turned ugly" - I really should not have to be on page 7 before I lean this, IMO.

- "The only reason..." - two reasons are given. 'No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!' :P  Also, the thing about the term is not a reason not to kick someone of a Council. I'd suggest deleting the reference to the terms and just referring to the one reason, that there's no proof of complicity. That would be much cleaner, and therefore would impact more, imo.

(page 8)

- "But--"   "Just..." - Why do you use different punctuation in these two instances? I'm not seeing a difference between them. Seems inconsistent.

(page 9)

- "The rope on this side" - The reader doesn't really have a 'this side'.

- "hysterical desire to cut it" - Surely Z only needs to let her end of the rope go?

- "grouping up with these two seemed like her only chance" - That wasn't the case when she set out though, since she didn't know they would be there.

(page 10)

- "well-tended grass" - this is a compound adjective, should be hyphenated.

- "Not much else to do here for fun around here" - extra word.

- "feeling a strange sense of surreal euphoria" - overdoing it with these two adjectives. One is plenty. In this forms, it's duplication, imo.

- "When was the last time she had done anything besides study with someone else her age besides study?" - You've split the first clause in half with the second, imo.

- "There were no guards to stop them, of course" - Why 'of course'? I've been thinking since this scene started that being able to just wander into the house is ridiculous. Doesn't the mayor have any security at all? Even personal homeowner-style security? A door that gets locked? Seems a bit bizarre when they are having an emergency meeting like this.

(page 11)

- "the meeting area" - This makes it sound like an office or public building, but it's just the mayor's house, right? I think it would place us more in the setting if this was just the mayor's living room. It seems unlikely that a house would have a room only for meetings.

- "pulled from the dining table" - Ah, so its the dining room, not the meeting room. Also, pulled 'back' from the table? I can't picture it so well because I don't know it they're sitting around the table or have pulled the chairs into some other configuration. Ah, you go on to describe the set-up.

- "walking staffs or cains canes" - typo.

(page 12)

- "They all looked frightened" - They've gone from being on edge, to be being nervous to being frightened. I don't mind that, but it seems a bit one note that everyone is one thing at the same time, then another, then another, without variation.

- "get back to my regimen" - typo.

- "and Agent of the" - should this be 'an'? Also, no need to capitalise 'agent'. If you go around capitalising a bunch of stuff, it just ends up that nothing has any impact.

- "You may have heard of me" - Oh, dear G*d this is the most horribly insecure thing that any person in authority could say. I have just dismissed him as being an idiot. No, wait, it's Troy McClure, I remember him from such novels as I'm A Non-entity, Get Me Out Of Here, and Ready, Steady Snooze.

- The line will have the impact you're looking for if you just let us see Z's almost-gasp.

“By order of the..." - new paragraph.

- "I’m sorry, but, but... what?" - Need a comma between repeated words. Also, this dialogue sounds cheesy. All the stuttering and pauses. I've been happy with everything so far (barring minor comments) and the voices have been convincing and consistent, I think, but this scene / last page is not working for me. It's not up the same standard, imo. Have you read it back out loud to see how it sounds? That's a great technique for weeding out roping dialogue.

(page 13)

- "no way for us to make up the losses" - Huh? Do they charge people to go to the fiesta?

- "What kind of threat could we possibly be to anyone?" - does she not understand what quarantine means?

-  “I can’t reveal much, but I can say…” The general hesitated. “Nothing I am about to say can leave this room, do you understand?” - More awkward dialogue. He sort of repeats himself with 'say'.

- "go off on it’s own" - typo: its

(page 14)

- Can we assume that no one whose name we know said any of the lines that are untagged?

- "the silence that followed was tantamount" - wrong word, not sure what might have been intended.

- "Z reluctantly followed" - split infinitive. Maybe it's just me, the writing fraternity, certainly at our level, seems to have given up on this. I still think it sounds bad a lot of the time (I do occasionally do it myself). I think in this case, 'Z followed reluctantly' sounds much smoother, more direct.

- "hear them back here" - awkward repetition of the sound, imo. And then 'hear' is used again in the next sentence.

- "I know where it is" - Boom! That's a massive reveal, surprising and unexpected. nice job.

- "What? Know where what is?" - I really don't like this line. What on Earth else would he be talking about? I don't see how he can be referring to anything else, and Z is definitely not daft. I'm sure she would know instantly what he was talking about.

(page 15)

- "Why not?" - Good question. This explanation better be good.

- "written ORPHAN on every page" - I'm not a fan of the bold type here. CAPS should be plenty.

(page 16)

- "Her pinky interlocked with his" - This sounds like the finger acts of its own volition. It would be more engaging, especially at the end of the chapter, if she interlocked her finger with his, making it more like a personal investment of trust.

OVERALL 

This was a way more engaging chapter to start with. I thought the style was just as smooth as the other chapter, but that the content flowed much more cleanly, the ideas were introduced and general explained as they came up. There were other characters who were convincing, solid backstory, almost nicely delivered. I didn't like the gradual, teasing reveal of what her mother did. I'm not saying spill it all at once, but I think the way it's revealed is frustrating. Rather then doing it in a linear way, only giving one event in the chain at a time then stopping, you might consider showing the whole event, but going down through layers of detail vertically (if that makes any sense).

In summary, I enjoyed this chapter more than the first one, because of its clarity. I think that was the biggest problem with the last one we read, too much too soon not explained.

Good work here. Thanks for sharing :) 

<R>

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- Why do they need to touch the Chile when they're soaking it? This reads like you've researched it, so I've no reason to disbelieve, just not sure why they don't use an implement to avoid numbing of the fingers.

I'll have to check my wording. Their hands only touch the water when they pull a soaking chile out to clean it. The numbness mostly comes from the chiles themselves because they are as cold as the water. As for why no implement: It's simply because doing it by hand is far more efficient.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "my little avocado" - ooh, that is not a nice pet name. "most deplored nickname" - just by her, or by everyone in their society?

Really just her. He works on an avocado farm. 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Why 'of course'? I've been thinking since this scene started that being able to just wander into the house is ridiculous.

Small town syndrome. People keep their doors unlocked at night. Walls are to keep animals out more than intruders. That sort of thing. I'll try to clear this up.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Huh? Do they charge people to go to the fiesta?

Well they'd still pay for food and drink and lodging (if they come in from out of town) and there are carnival like games. I'll see if I can't throw in a line to clarify this.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Boom! That's a massive reveal, surprising and unexpected. nice job.

Thank you!

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

but going down through layers of detail vertically (if that makes any sense)

Can you elaborate on this? I'm very interested.

Thank you for reading!

Edited by hawkedup
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Hi Hawkedup, 

I definitely liked this more than the previous submission; it's a more clear, concise and overall enjoyable entry into your story. Z serves as a better gateway character, with a simple motivations (she wants to see the meeting) to help ease us into the story. I have never read a Latinx fantasy, so I'm definitely intrigued on how you continue telling the story and building the world from this particular thread. Mechanics-wise, I noticed you have a problem with run-on sentences—you have a lot that are in desperate needs of commas—and you tend to have single-line paragraphs that are not dramatic enough to warrant being such. I'd pay close attention to both from here on out.

Notes below:

(page 2):

-“You know how picky your family is about their posole. If you mess up the red chile, you’ll never hear the end of it.”—But aren't they his family too, if he's her father? Confusing.

-She loved the way it warmed her on a cold night—Added an a.

-There were always leftovers—Corrected was to were.

The day started out great.—I don't think you need to give us an indicator of impending doom. It suggests an omniscient narrator and saps some tension out of the story.

(page 3):

-providing enough light to see by—Corrected provided to providing.

-A fire burned in the iron stove for warmth—This is what I mean regarding single-sentence paragraphs. This is not important enough on its own.

“E,” Señora E said. “I’m glad you’re home.”—I'd change Señora E to 'the woman' to give P saying her actual name a bit more punch. Though I suppose if Z already knows her name, that wouldn't make much sense. Up to you!

Señora E,” P said, stepping to the side and gesturing for the woman to enter—I would change 'the woman' to 'her.'

(page 4):

“Also, I’ve asked you to call me A, at least when we’re not at the farm."—Can you reword this? It's clunky exposition. 

Señora E was one of the few people in the pueblo who was still outwardly kind to P and Z, which was strange since her kid was an cremhole.—I don't see how the kid being an cremhole has anything to do with her own treatment of them. 

(page 5):

and even though most of the the pueblo—Extra 'the'

(page 6):

I’ll find you after the council meeting is over, tonight, and we’ll spend all day together tomorrow if you want to. I promise.”—If he survives the next couple chapters, I will be genuinely shocked. 

(page 7):

“Oh, great, it’s the orphan girl.—Cheesy line. And as already pointed out, the insult isn't very good, either. Is there another way you can portray animosity between these two?

(page 8):

The friends Z had turned on her—I'd change to 'Z's friends turned on her'

(page 9):

“Oh my broken heart,” Z said. “It’s a deal.”

Z checked the knot.—This should be one paragraph. 

(page 10):

The rope on this side went taught—'Taut'

(page 12):

had walking staffs or cains—'canes'

 

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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.

Sorry for the late reply to this, I've had a few things on my plate. Keep in mind that I haven't read the rest of the comments here yet.

Let's dig in.

Nitpicks:

Spoiler

"I just got done talking" << I just finished talking. "Got done" is not only really bad slang, but it's a grammatical nightmare. But this is a nitpick.

Inconsistencies/Concerns:

Spoiler

 

Pg. 1

You're drawing unfavorable parallels to The Wheel of Time with "The Old Tongue" and "Winter's Night", as well as A Song of Ice and Fire. Be careful of this. Even if this wasn't intentional, anyone who's read The Wheel of Time would be instantly reminded of it because the Old Tongue is the main historical language of Randland (their equivalent of Latin). And I haven't read ASoIaF, but when I search "the old tongue" on google eight of my top nine results point to these two (with a heavier lean toward WoT). I would personally find an alternative--in my story, I had to change a name because of unintentionally drawing a parallel to The Elder Scrolls, even though I'd reached that name via completely innocent means. An alternative you could use, since you stated before that this is our world many years in the future, is "Old Spanish". It draws an immediate connection to our world, allowing you to use things on earth without needing to explain why they exist.

Second & third paragraphs << These need to be combined. The split is arbitrary and the first sentence of the third paragraph starts with a related and somewhat dependent conjunction.

Most of this page is one big long info dump.

Pg. 2

Now that we're out of the info dump, much better.

"There was always leftovers" << There were always leftovers.

"The day started out great" << Are we suddenly flashbacking?

Pg. 3

Quote

 

You could definitely use some revision and tightening of your sentence structure--a lot of your writing so far looks like it's intentionally trying to avoid blocks of text by paragraphing after every sentence.

Especially when the sentences are related to each other.

And you don't fully finish a thought before continuing.

It's tedious to read.

 

"There were other C in the area" << There were other Ces (plural). For example, we can have multiple Smiths and multiple Joneses. Or we can have one Smith and one Jones. But we never have two Jones, unless their name is Jone.

What is the "turn of age"?

Pg. 4

 

"Take all the fun out of it, why don't you." << A question, so it should end in a '?'.

I'd really like more of Z's internal thoughts, and not having her only pop in and being told why she's doing what she's doing.

I'm so confused. First you say she's near the turn of age, then she's unmarried and propositioned (for sex? marriage?) the dad, and now she has a kid? Please establish the character so I know what to expect.

Usually, a foreman sets the hours, not the person who is having the work done. I'm very confused as to this relationship between dad & Ab.

Pg. 5

I don't have enough of a sense of Z's character to really empathize with her plight. I should empathize--parents making promises and skipping out on time with the kids is something I can easily identify with. But I don't. I feel no connection to Z at all.

Not thrilled at this "calling people food" thing. Also, I hate avocados, so this doesn't read as endearing to me in the slightest, and if it really is the "most deplored nickname", he should know that it bothers her and not use it! That screams of negligent parenting.

Of course he leaves. Duty always come before children.

Pg. 6

Again, don't really feel like you've built up this character to have this emotional moment land very well.

Don't italicize Fiesta when you're not italicizing Winter Festival. Also, why are they calling it Fiesta and not Festival? The Festival of It sounds just as well as Fiesta, and is more consistent with the idea that the "old tongue" is anathema.

Household god? Does everyone have their own god? Or is this a lesser religion that the C family follows? Also, stating Z would have chosen it as her personal god when it is already the "official" household god seems redundant.

Pg. 7

Ugh. Don't tell us that it stings. Show us how it hurts. Instead of telling us "she didn't let it show how much it stung", show us that "she felt a pang in her chest, a flash of anger that she kept from her face" or something like that. Even though it's aimed at a younger audience, you should still be working on showing instead of telling.

"The friends Z had turned on her" << This is unnecessarily confusing, and a situation where you'd either say "the friends Z had had" (passive voice) or more simply "Z's friends had turned on her" (active voice).

Pg. 8

"Both of their mothers were on the town council." << That's redundant, since we just established a few pages ago that Ab was on the council.

"Like Hell!" << "Like hell!" Only capitalize if you are referring to the theological location.

Pg. 9

I don't really get here that R is an a-hole. He's just a bully. I definitely didn't expect a "I promised" line from a guy described that way before anything else.

"taught" << taut

Pg. 10

Why do we have a scene break here?

Pg. 11

"cains" << "canes" Cain is the person, cane is the shepard's crook-looking walking implement.

I'm not overly sold on this soul lantern bit. There's nothing interesting about it to warrant its continual mention, especially since a lot of people have the same or similar shapes and patterns.

Pg. 12

"I am General A K and Agent of the M C" << Reads better as "I am General A K, an Agent of the M C"

Accidental slip of of an anathema gets a raised eyebrow? That's....surprising. If there use of the old language is a subversive stab at authority, then this needs to be clearer much, much earlier on. Also, why doesn't 'pueblo' get a similar reaction?

 

Problems:

Spoiler

Okay...right off the bat we have a major problem. Your opening line seems to directly contradict your use of Spanish terminology. From Merriam-Webster:

Quote

Definition of anathema

1a : one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority
b : someone or something intensely disliked or loathed usually used as a predicate nominative
"… this notion was anathema to most of his countrymen."— Stephen Jay Gould
2a : a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication
b : the denunciation of something as accursed
c : a vigorous denunciation : curse

The main problem with this is twofold: one, to say something is anathema means that it is universally shunned and hated by society. It's a degree stronger than, but analogous to, taboo. So if it is truly such a strong denunciation, use of Spanish, it seems to me, would be widely skirted by society and only spoken in hushed corners where no one was listening. The second problem is that you're mixing "English" and "Spanish" within the same terminology. This is confusing.

For example: "the people of the pueblo" << If use of Spanish (the Old Tongue) was anathema, then who in their right mind would refer to themselves as "the people of the pueblo" and not "the people of the village" (which, coincidentally, is a really funny joke, but in a way that's detracting, rather than enhancing. You've literally named your society "the village people".)

Critique:

Before I say anything else, let me state that this chapter was far more interesting than the last. The pacing was better, and stuff actually happened, which is great. I didn't find myself skimming, so that's a big improvement. Excepting the pinky promise at the end (which is childish without a reason for teens to be using it), there was a lot less overall immaturity, which is much easier to read.

There were some problems. Most egregious being your use of Spanish--and the problem isn't that you use it! Let me make that clear. I have absolutely no problem with the way you include Spanish words and phrases within the text. Not italicizing them makes them feel organic within the terminology. Where it becomes a problem, is in this idea that the "Old Tongue" is anathema, yet no one bats an eye at its use. In fact, its use is so common that they call themselves the "pueblo" and refer to the festival as a "fiesta" and the worst they get is a raised eyebrow. This isn't anathema. Historically, anathema was one of the highest declarations a church could declare on people or ideas, second to heresy. It was basically outlawing an idea or person, claiming it was cursed and people could be punished or declared anathema themselves by just speaking to or helping a person so declared. It's a Really Bad Thing with Bad Consequences. If it's really so bad, so outlawed, than even a single use of the word should have consequences--especially when it's to someone as high up the chain as a General!

Another huge problem is you so much time telling us what is happening. Z feels more like a passenger of the story, rather than a main, viewpoint character. We never really know what she's thinking or how she reacts to a situation, unless the Plot demands we do, and then we get a whole bunch of info telling that says "she does this/feels this/did this thing because" so that the Plot can move forward. And as a reader, that's frustrating. I highlighted one part in the Inconsistencies/Concerns and provided an example of how you can work on changing this throughout your story.

Next, we come to the elephant in the room, which is Z herself, and this is linked to the previous two points. First, I don't understand why she uses so much Spanish when it's anathema. Hopefully by now, I've covered why that is thoroughly enough. Generally speaking, a character that would go so against societal law like this would be a rebel, not a "I want to fit in" kind of character. Second, there is nothing about Z to grip me into the story. She's a fourteen-year-old girl whose mom ran out on their family and whose dad is borderline negligent with his daughter. That's it. She has almost no emotion that comes through the story, no interesting quirks to make me want to understand her better, no internal dialogue to let me know her thoughts and feelings. And that's a problem, because buying into your MC is one of the surest ways of making a reader invested in the story. If the reader cares about the character, they'll naturally be more eager to see the journey that character goes through.

Finally, I still see nothing about your world that is exceptional, that makes me really want to continue reading. It still reads as a kind of generic western fantasy setting, just one with Spanish names and Hispanic food. Your soul lanterns are the one thing that's different in the world (that I really want to like), but they're so underplayed that they're bordering on unnecessary. There's no intrigue about the lanterns, no personality. I'm guessing you're setting up Z to have a startling revelation when her soul lantern forms--but the soul lanterns themselves are uninteresting and not really integrated with the world culture.

Those criticisms aside, I think Z is a much better "in" character than L. L has too much going on for the reader to immediately buy into, and definitely would work better after some introduction to the world. I liked that so much happened, and overall, the dialogue was miles above what was presented previously. This submission actually seemed to be going somewhere, with a specific slant in mind, and you have some excellent seeds for potential drama if you choose to pick them up--conflict between Z and her parents, conflict between Z & R, the emotional trauma and baggage of being an outcast, these are all really good, driving motivators that are very relatable to your target audience.

I'd like to see you spend more time on the soul lanterns. Really dig in and tell us why these are a thing--what makes them something unique? They take shapes...but why does everyone have the same shapes? How do these soul lanterns integrate into society? Is the soul lantern a determining factor in a person's social class or profession? Is it an expression of their own unique personality or spirit? I really feel that you have the potential to tighten things up by focusing on this one thing--but right now, they seem to just be flavor in the world, and that's not interesting. Make it interesting.

I'd also like to see you flex your showing muscles. Take some time, pick one segment of your story, and really try to dig into how the world looks through the character's eyes. How do the things others say affect them, mentally and emotionally? How might they react to provocation, on the inside? How are their thoughts all jumbled by their experiences? Focus only on the character, then submit that or get some feedback to see if it reads better.

Good work. Keep it up. Every submission gets better, and that's what we want to see. :)

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Oh, I thought I posted here already, so sorry! I agree with most of the others, that this is a much better introduction to your world, and I would have enjoyed reading this chapter first much more than the other.

I do also think that this still suffers greatly from a lack of integration between the bits of heritage that you want to incorporate and the world of the story. The inclusion of more non-English words is a great start, but I feel like they could be used more consistently.  Also there's the issue of italics. There is a little bit of controversy around the use of italics for non-English words, especially when the words are not foreign or unusual for the the character using them. Some places recommend using italics, some don't. I'm not entirely sure they're necessary here, especially for decently-well-known-to-English words such as "fiesta." Additionally I feel like italics may be working against your stated point of the novel, to show a world based on your heritage, since the purpose of italicizing non-English words is to point out their foreignness, or difference from the unstated "normal." 

The other main thing I noticed as I read was the apparent age of the characters. None of them seem like teenagers to me. They seem much younger, no older than 11 or so. When i read this, the tone of the prose and the actions of the characters lead me to believe this was a novel aimed at a much younger audience, a middle grade book. There's nothing wrong with being a middle grade book! I know plenty of adults who enjoy reading them (myself included). However, if the purpose is to write a novel aimed at teens, then I feel like this is missing its goal by a fairly wide margin.

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Hey, @hawkedup! I'm catching up on your story. I enjoyed this a lot more than the first chapter (more on that below) and I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

Page 3

There was nothing worse than accidentally rubbing your eye after peeling fresh chile.”

My mother-in-law makes hot pepper jelly, and she has learned this the hard way. More generally, I love your descriptions of the food and the joy Z takes in preparing it with her father. My grandfather was an Italian immigrant, and cooking and enjoying food together has always been a big part of our family traditions as well. These descriptions gave me a nice thrill of nostalgia, and I imagine they’ll do the same for a lot of other readers.

 

Page 4

“Señora E was unmarried”

It’s been roughly a billion years since I took Spanish classes, so I could be wrong, but wouldn’t an unmarried woman be Señorita?

 

Page 5

“Meet in thirty?”

This feels like an oddly modern phrasing.

 

Page 14

“He didn’t raise his voice, but the silence that followed was tantamount.”

I don’t think “tantamount” is the right word here. It usually means “equivalent,” like if someone said “Questioning an order from the G-K’s general was tantamount to treason.”

 

 

I like Z a lot more than I liked L in the first chapter. I remember finding L’s immaturity a little annoying, because it seemed so out-of-step with her role as a spy. Z doesn’t provoke that reaction, even though she’s acting believably for a 14-year-old, and I think that’s because (so far) she hasn’t been set up as anything more than that. Her behavior fits her role in the story, if that makes sense.

I think this chapter also makes a better introduction to the world. You’ve given us a good feel for the culture, with the food and the festival and some discussion of how local government is structured. At first, the G-K seems to be a benevolent figure, defending humanity from these vicious demons…and then a possible crack in that image shows up when we find out that two mostly defenseless kids have been hanging around a demon and not been devoured yet. This would lead nicely into L’s chapters and her organization’s quest to kill the G-K.

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Trying to play catch-up

Overall

I thought this was a delightful chapter. It could be fleshed out some, especially in terms of descriptions, but I loved the voice. I do not think, however, the voice is that of a 14 year old girl. It rings closer to eight or so maybe nine if you pushed it. Fourteen definitely not. Puberty changes a ton

However, if this age is particularly relevant and children age differently (and mature differently) in this world, that just needs to be established up front. I'd love to know more about soul lanterns immediately, since they are the major hook for me right now.

 

As I go

- that first paragraph really sets the stage and tone and I love it

- pg 2: at first I was going to comment that the voice was pretty young but then I saw fourteen as our protag age. I think the voice is still more 6-8ish, but not as off as if she was 25 or something

- pg 2: caution on the use of the word 'crazy,' which is being reconsidered especially in the literary world for ableist connotations

- pg 5: she's being treated more like 8ish here by the grownups, too. I'm curious about the soul lantern things. Most coming of age icons tend to center around puberty, so our protag would be well beyond the start of that. If this is following a more '16' as coming of age it would be fine but that might have to be established early just because the puberty coming of age is such a trope in fantasy that I think most would automatically assume it

- pg 5: 'my little avocado' BAHAHA love it

- pg 7: so here's another instance. A 14 year old girl would almost never think of herself as a 'child.' An 8 year old might, a six year old def would. The voice skews consistently in that 6-8 range so you might think about changing the age of your protag

- pg 8: 'hell' should not be capitalized

- pg 11: it occurs to me at this point that I have no idea what anyone looks like

- pg 12: 'their chins were literally on the floor' this voice is more 11-ish

- pg 13: I think this demon (or the more evil magic element it represents) should be hinted earlier. Right now it seems out of place and random

- pinky swears are very pre-puberty

 

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On 6/14/2019 at 8:24 PM, JWerner said:

I'd pay close attention to both from here on out.

Thank you, I'll definitely look into it. I'm trying to have the "voice" match the POV, but now I'm not so sure that I'm accomplishing this.

On 6/17/2019 at 2:24 PM, Alderant said:

unfavorable parallels to The Wheel of Time with "The Old Tongue" and "Winter's Night"

I'm sad that they come across as unfavorable since it was an intentional nod. WOT is my favorite series, and one of the many ideas from my "Ideas" file that came together to make this story was: "What if the Old Tongue from WOT was Spanish?" I'll see if any alternative speaks to me while I push forward.

On 6/17/2019 at 2:24 PM, Alderant said:

Your opening line seems to directly contradict your use of Spanish terminology.

I'm curious what your thoughts might have been if I hadn't included the word anathema. My defense is that while speaking the Old Tongue is anathema, specific words being peppered in as part of local vernacular isn't "speaking" the language. Sort of a small defiance without actually breaking any ecclesiastical law. Your reaction seemed to spill into the entirety of the chapter, though, so now I'm thinking a possible reword or simple deletion of the word entirely might be for the best. Like you said, I could spend some time showing how people who actually speak in the Old Tongue are treated. Thank you for taking the time to point this out and elaborate on it. 

On 6/17/2019 at 2:24 PM, Alderant said:

She has almost no emotion that comes through the story, no interesting quirks to make me want to understand her better, no internal dialogue to let me know her thoughts and feelings.

Thank you this is very helpful. In early drafts I feel like I do way too much internal dialogue and thoughts and you pointing this out makes me think I over corrected in this draft.

On 6/17/2019 at 2:24 PM, Alderant said:

I'd like to see you spend more time on the soul lanterns.

This is the plan. They play a huge role later and in the next chapter we see what happens to someone without a soul lantern, but I take your point and will see if I can make them more interesting earlier.

On 6/17/2019 at 4:44 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Also there's the issue of italics.

Right now my rule is: Italics if the word is specifically identified as a word from the Old Tongue like fiesta; No italics if the word has become common vernacular like pueblo.

On 6/17/2019 at 4:44 PM, industrialistDragon said:

They seem much younger, no older than 11 or so.

Thank you for this. I do want them to come across as seeming younger than contemporary teenagers, but 11 (or 6-8 as was also pointed out) is definitely not what I'm going for.

18 hours ago, The Kraken's Daughter said:

These descriptions gave me a nice thrill of nostalgia, and I imagine they’ll do the same for a lot of other readers.

Thank you! I was really hoping to elicit exactly this.

18 hours ago, The Kraken's Daughter said:

wouldn’t an unmarried woman be Señorita

Good catch. I thought I put in there that she was a widow but I must've missed it.

18 hours ago, The Kraken's Daughter said:

I don’t think “tantamount” is the right word here.

Thanks! I had a comparison originally I promise! lol

On 6/17/2019 at 2:24 PM, Alderant said:

What is the "turn of age"?

Generally about 40, though it hits some people sooner and some people later. (Let's say + or - 2 years.)

Thanks for all the feedback! Before I started submitting here, I was feeling really down about this story but I have new vigor going forward. Thanks again!

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4 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I'm sad that they come across as unfavorable since it was an intentional nod. WOT is my favorite series, and one of the many ideas from my "Ideas" file that came together to make this story was: "What if the Old Tongue from WOT was Spanish?" I'll see if any alternative speaks to me while I push forward.

The difference between a favorable nod and an unfavorable one comes from whether or not the nod seems to be a direct derivation. For example, I could reference in a story how in ancient history the world was saved by a tall, red-haired man (which is a nod to Rand). Directly taking something from another text, however, usually does the opposite in that it comes across as an author either trying to ride another author's work, or deriving from another author's work because they lack creativity of their own. And unfortunately, the way this was written, it comes off as the latter, not the former--you have Winter Night being an inciting incident (which is how The Eye of the World began), and the ancient language of your world is called the Old Tongue. Am I making any more sense? Being inspired by the Wheel of Time is great. My own book is heavily inspired by the Wheel of Time. But a good nod is a subtle one, not a blatant one.

4 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I'm curious what your thoughts might have been if I hadn't included the word anathema. My defense is that while speaking the Old Tongue is anathema, specific words being peppered in as part of local vernacular isn't "speaking" the language. Sort of a small defiance without actually breaking any ecclesiastical law. Your reaction seemed to spill into the entirety of the chapter, though, so now I'm thinking a possible reword or simple deletion of the word entirely might be for the best. Like you said, I could spend some time showing how people who actually speak in the Old Tongue are treated. Thank you for taking the time to point this out and elaborate on it.

A lot of my complaint would disappear, actually. My problem is the severity of the word 'anathema', and in my knowledge of history (keeping in mind this isn't my strong suit), even minor infractions of ecclesiastical law is met with severe retaliation--because it's kind of about control. If you allow people small infractions and acts of defiance, then you appear weak and unable to control your subjects. I'm not saying to change what you're doing--but I think you need some more concrete reasons why the people are showing this defiance (for example, they were taken over and its a secret thing they do among themselves to remember their culture!) And there's no better way to show this than through Z's own actions and thoughts.

4 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Thank you this is very helpful. In early drafts I feel like I do way too much internal dialogue and thoughts and you pointing this out makes me think I over corrected in this draft.

Glad it helped, haha. I always worry about being too harsh. From my (recent) experience, it might be better to err on the side of too much, rather than not enough. Easier to trim than create new content. That said, It's not necessarily about internal thoughts and dialogue as much as it is getting inside the person themself. Not just their thoughts, but their feelings, their body language, the way they physically react to the world around them. A boy touches a fourteen-year-old girl? That girl better react, either with disgust or heart aflutter. Boy falls and breaks his leg? Definitely should be seeing the panic of realizing what just happened, in addition to the pain. It's those kinds of intimate connections with the reader that tend to make the characters pop off the page--and it's something RJ does really well, almost to excess on occasion, so take some cues there. :)

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44 minutes ago, Alderant said:

The difference between a favorable nod and an unfavorable one comes from whether or not the nod seems to be a direct derivation.

I'll take this into consideration. I definitely don't want other fans of WOT to immediately think of my book as derivative, especially not on page one. 

45 minutes ago, Alderant said:

I'm not saying to change what you're doing--but I think you need some more concrete reasons why the people are showing this defiance (for example, they were taken over and its a secret thing they do among themselves to remember their culture!) And there's no better way to show this than through Z's own actions and thoughts.

Yeah I'm having a really hard time finding a balance with exactly how authoritarian the G-K and the Church should come across to the average person. Everyone (most everyone) considers the G-K a savior but more and more people are figuring out just how non-benevolent a leader he is. Not to mention the BIG TWIST (dun dunn duuunnn) that I have planned for later. I think you're right in that maybe I shouldn't use such a concrete word or at least clarify that while actually speaking the Old Tongue is illegal, small infractions especially in rural areas aren't punished. Thanks again for pointing it out and going into it.

46 minutes ago, Alderant said:

I always worry about being too harsh.

Yeah you don't have to worry about that with me. I worry about coming across as defensive, but I promise I will never harbor any hard feelings toward someone who is taking time out of their life to help me become a better writer.

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