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JWerner

06/10/19—JWerner—The Scarlet Saber, Chapter 2—5701—(L, G)

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Posted (edited)

First off, I apologize for this chapter's length; I did try to cut down as much as I could and I considered omitting the third scene to use as the start of chapter 3 instead, but this chapter wouldn't have ended on as strong a note, in my mind at least.
 
My re-write of chapter 1 caused me to revise a significant amount in this chapter, in some cases I think for the better, but for the worse in others. I'm definitely interested in hearing all of your feedback.
 
With that, I hope you enjoy. And if not, feel free to tell me so in the most brutal of fashions. 
 
Tuesday edit: I be fool. I forgot to include a summary.
 
In chapter 1, while on the road to a town populated by reavers, sword-wielder L encountered three of them. She kills two, sustaining a wound to her left shoulder in the process. Sensing that the remaining reaver, P, may not be a threat, she orders him to lead her to his home town. 
Edited by JWerner
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@JWerner Can you resend it as a .doc? I have issues reading PDFs and if I try to convert it to read on Google Docs it completely jacks up the formatting.

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Alright. Good stuff. Jumping right in.

1
- This opening feels too formal considering the tone of the rest of the story that I've read so far.

2
- "And he was always left to deal with the mess." I'm a big fan of starting sentences with conjunctions. But this one doesn't work very well."
- Isn't petrified wood brittle?
- "The hut was one room large..." Awkward phrasing.
- G pops off the page way more than L or P did in the previous chapter.

3
- Does the young man not have tattoos?
- As he's thinking about how he's safe because he's the doctor I'd like him to base this on past experience.

5
- Why would the blade be rusty but the hilt polished? I can't imagine anyone treating their knife this way.

6
- Maybe this is sexist, but do men wear shawls?
- Capital It will always be Pennywise.

7
- A lot of interesting sounding stuff is happening off screen.

8
- So this was a good opening. At 8 pages it didn't feel like it dragged and I never skimmed.

8.5
- "with on" Dropped word.
- I feel like L is a weathered veteran type of person who would be beyond blisters.
- (Later she isn't given anything by G for her feet.)
- Once again, interesting stuff implied to have happened off screen.

9
- I still don't like the mental logs. Even under the best of circumstances such a thing is a crutch, and without some type of recording device or notebook, it's even worse.
 

12
- I have a hard time believing that someone who understands multiplication would have this much trouble with numbers. Having trouble believing there could possibly be that many people is one thing, but with the numbers themselves? Nah.

14
- I'm digging it. This chapter feels well put together, and so far I haven't seen any glaring overarching problems. The dialogue definitely flowed smoother here than it did when it was included in the first chapter a few submissions back and the world is more visceral. 

16
- I don't think he'd say poop here. Feels out of character. Something more medical?
- If it's so rare how is he reliant on it? And why can he give it away?
- What happened to the overly talkative P? I feel like he'd have actually gotten worse once he was around someone he knew and liked.

17
- Why does she so readily give her name to G?

Overall I think this was a strong submission. The pacing was good and most of the problems I found were minor. I'm more interested in the story now than I was after reading Chapter 1. You'll notice some gaps between my comments. That's because I was so engrossed in the story. Kudos because it's not like me to give up the critical eye for pages at a time. My biggest thing is that so much cool stuff happens in the form of exposition. I want to SEE it happen.
 

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No worries about the length. It didn't feel that long while reading it, which is a good thing!

 

Page 2

“it was considered peculiar if someone wasn’t bled at least once a week”

I’m not sure exactly what this means. You’ve already specified that fights aren’t uncommon, and adding this right after implies it’s talking about something different. Do you mean bleeding as in bloodletting to treat an illness? Or death, as in “bleeding out”?

 

Page 12

“Wooden stakes jutted out of the face of the hill in no particular pattern, human and

hound skeletons impaled upon them.”

The description of the town in this paragraph is great. I can picture what it looks like, and I appreciate that you’ve included other sensory details, such as the smell, as well.

 

Page 19

“G knew it was too dangerous to perform life-saving maneuvers on a man with a stab wound.”

I mean, I don’t see how it could possibly make N any worse…

 

Page 20

“one of them carrying the knife that had been used to stab N, still dripping with blood”

Back on page 5, you mentioned that the blood had been “carefully” wiped off the blade, so it shouldn’t be dripping here.

 

You mentioned keeping the third scene here instead of moving it to Chapter 3 because it made a stronger ending for this chapter. I think that was the right choice. The ending as it stands is quite suspenseful. I imagine L is going to swoop in to save G and P, but I want to keep reading to know how it happens.

 

I also like the character of G. To be honest, I feel more emotionally invested in him than I do in L. Based on the hints you’ve shown us of her history, I can understand why she’d close herself off from other people, and I appreciate that you don’t want to give away everything about her at once. But I feel like she’s a bit too mysterious and unapproachable. It’s harder to like her than it is to like G and P.

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Thank you both for your critiques! The continuity errors are honestly really embarrassing, considering that I went through this chapter several times before submission. But I'm also glad you both like G! I was afraid that I sapped personality out of him in the edits. 

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G is easily my favorite character so far. Do you have big plans for him?

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Posted (edited)

Overall, I enjoyed the chapters. I was pulled through and didn't stop to make too many comments. Showing G packing up then switching to L being almost to town created some good tension, though it deflated a little too quickly when she arrived and he was still there. If they at least caught him in the middle of packing or something, it might have been a more gradual resolution of it. 

There wasn't much tension in the scene where he was stitching L up. Is there a way to build a little more tension there? I'm being a little prescriptive, so feel free to ignore the following: C gets back early, what if he was scheduled to come back that night anyway? That would make everything more tense from G's POV. He'd be wanting to rush, maybe reluctantly treating L. It would make for a more tense scene. Also, when he did show up with his crew ready to do some damage, it was kind of a surprised but not a good one. I'd rather be waiting, dreading that moment, knowing it was inevitable than have it come when I thought things were okay for a minute.

When G was treating L, it seemed like he studied her would a little more than the other guys. I don't have much medical knowledge, but it seems like all he does is cauterize and stitch and that's it. Maybe that is all the medical knowledge available in the time period, butI think that piece of it could be a little more developed. Aside from that, I loved G! He had a great voice and loved his perspective on the town of outlaws. I was also wondering how and why he was there. Was he on the run from someone or something else?

The prune juice thing made me laugh.

A few as I read notes:

"Good luck, friend." Why did he call this guy friend? I know it might be a saying, but it doesn't strike me right for this. 

"L wasn't sure..." This scene break didn't have a # but one of the others did.

"After my father died--runs--D came..." Either this sentence is missing something or I'm not getting something. 

 

I'm looking forward to the next chapter. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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22 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"L wasn't sure..." This scene break didn't have a # but one of the others did.

Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out Scrivener's compiler function. Also, could please you edit her name and D's name below? Thank you. 

 

23 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

. I'd rather be waiting, dreading that moment, knowing it was inevitable than have it come when I thought things were okay for a minute.

I get what you're saying; I might try to add a quick scene like that in, though I'm afraid of making this chapter absurdly long.

Thank you for the critique! 

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41 minutes ago, JWerner said:

Also, could please you edit her name and D's name below?

Done. Sorry about that. I forgot the change it after I copied the lines. 

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Posted (edited)

Glad to read another submission and see where this is going!

I think I'm the opposite of the other posters. I enjoy L's sections much more than G. I thought the first section dragged a bit, and could be tightened up to increase the tension.

On 6/11/2019 at 6:05 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

There wasn't much tension in the scene where he was stitching L up. Is there a way to build a little more tension there?

I had this problem with both sections. We don't really need "doctoring" blow-by-blows. You can say that you treated them and maybe throw in a few things like heating up steel for cauterization and cleaning the wound. Especially if you're not personally an expert in the field, giving general details lets people create their own scene in their head.

The world is starting to come together and I want to see more of it, and especially learn more about where L is from.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "thin layers of petrified wood"
--uh, this is basically rock, if you are referring to the same substance we have on Earth. Thin sheets would be first incredibly hard to cut and second very brittle.

pg 3: "While G considered it a waste of water, and knew that he could probably get away with letting the blood dry"
--so basically he's a pretty terrible doctor.

pg 4: "a flask of disinfectant made from fermented gellegmite onto the wound until it frothed."
--this is what hydrogen peroxide does, not alcohol. Obviously, this is your creation, so it can do whatever you want, but it seemed weird.

pg 6: the continued discussion of step by step treatment is getting a bit long. We know who the patient is, we know why G is scared. Talking about the situation more is starting to decrease the tension.

pg 6: "The fact that he was the town’s only doctor had kept him alive for many years now,
but he was long past his prime."
--We already know this. It can be cut.

pg 8: This first section had some good worldbuilding, but could be cut way down and get the same information across with more tension.

pg 8: "New journal entry, she logged"
--where? Does she have some internal recorder?

pg 9: "her left arm severed at the shoulder."
--so this is recent? I would think she would be much more off-balance if that was the case.

pg 10: "Which I ought to be doing about his home"
--indeed. She seems to be...not very good for a former general.

pg 11: "two-foot distance she’d mandated"
--that's really close. An adult arm is about three feet long so this is in easy touching/grabbing distance.

pg 14: "“Forgive me miss, but did you lose an arm on your way up here?”
--That's a weird and intrusive question. Does it look like she just lost her arm?

pg 16: "living here hadn’t hardened the boy."
--He must have had a lot of protection. I don't really see any other way.
"And both of them had enough muscle between the two of them"
--ok, so he did.

pg 19: "too dangerous to perform life-saving maneuvers on a man with a stab wound"
--what's he going to do? Die more?

pg 19: "Dozens of scarred raiders grinned at him,"
--where did L go? Surely she saw this group of people coming.

 

Edited by Mandamon
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Overall

L's line is moderately engaging, and I liked her backstory. I'd like to know more about her. The Dr's is still really generic and I didn't feel any threat from the goons until the very end. There's also a lot of very generic feeling going on here, and I find myself wondering what sets this story apart? I also don't remember what the through line is, but that may just be WRS.

On 6/12/2019 at 9:47 AM, Mandamon said:

I enjoy L's sections much more than G. I thought the first section dragged a bit, and could be tightened up to increase the tension.

I completely agree with this. The Dr. is still generic. L is starting to have a voice.

 

As I go

- oooh, nice epigraph

- unsure how walls could be made of petrified wood that was sliced thin. How was the slicing done? I have tech questions

- 'with nary an explanation' makes it sound like we're in a fairy tale

- the sentient intestines that are moving of their own accord are very weird

- pg 4: he poured that much disinfectant in the wound and the man didn't scream? He must already be dead

- pg 5: we keep hearing about all the things the thugs will do, but we never see anything. We don't get words or actions, we're just told. This leads to lack of tension. I feel no threat from the goons (who have tribal tattoos and that strikes a very bad chord)

- pg 7: the chest plate out of pelvises is the first showing we've had that makes me feel like the goons are dangerous

- pg 7: fun fact - paper yellows with age with air and light exposure due to the lignin. If it was in a sealed pack, it wouldn't yellow

- pg 8: wait, why is he leaving now? What was the catalyst?

- pg 10: L's backstory is much more engaging

- pg 14: I think I would like L's journey to the do's more if I hadn't had the dr's POV yet. He could reveal his backstory as he stitches or something and that would have a lot more tension

- pg 17: why would 100 bastards hurt? I don't follow the analogy

 

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@Mandamon and @kais, thank you muchly for your critiques! I'll make more edits accordingly to improve. 

On 6/12/2019 at 6:47 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 2: "thin layers of petrified wood"

This is a re-occurring point here, and my best explanation is that the walls were just ordinary wood in older drafts, and I forgot to edit out the part about them being thin. Boring explanation, I know. 

2 hours ago, kais said:

we keep hearing about all the things the thugs will do, but we never see anything

Aye, I see that. What I think I'll do is restore an older scene of P going to the store, and show some raiders being mean and nasty therein. Though that will definitely extend the chapter beyond 6000 words, which I'm wary of.

On 6/12/2019 at 6:47 AM, Mandamon said:

"While G considered it a waste of water, and knew that he could probably get away with letting the blood dry"

A: Could you edit out his name, please? Thank you.

B: I agree with you. He's not the best doctor, but he's certainly the best for miles. 

2 hours ago, kais said:

who have tribal tattoos and that strikes a very bad chord

That definitely was not my intent, though it'd be easy to replace that element with something else to make them visually distinct. I'd hate to offend, so I'll look the tattoos over again. Thank you for bringing that up.

Again, thanks to you both! Much appreciated.

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8 hours ago, JWerner said:
On 6/12/2019 at 9:47 AM, Mandamon said:

"While G considered it a waste of water, and knew that he could probably get away with letting the blood dry"

A: Could you edit out his name, please? Thank you.

Done! Sorry, I usually catch these.

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Posted (edited)

I'm glad to be reading another chapter of this, especially one that's had the benefit of a good edit. Sometimes, first chapters can be the most difficult, and following ones can be more in rhythm and progressive, so I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

(page 1)

- Interesting epigraph, but why is it on a page of it's own? I should come before general chapter text, I suggest. Why not review examples in books on your shelf? This was odd to me. Also, I didn't get a sense of numbers attacking the lord. It's a good idea for an epigraph, but I think it lacks punch, scale, description. It's hard to picture the scene.

(page 2)

- "was probably happening outside" - Vague words like 'probably' are a turnoff, I think. It's more engaging for prose to be more direct and positive, assertive, if you like.

- "weren't uncommon" - Similar to the above, negative phrasing is less engaging than positive phrasing (i.e. fights were common).

- "if someone wasn't bled" - This sounds more like a medical procedure, as in bleeding to let out the poison, use of leaches, etc. Also by someone, do you mean each individual person? Phrasing not the clearest.

- "The hut was one room large" - this is redundant for me, and phrasing sounds odd. Not needed, imo.

- Actually, I have a lot of issues with this sentence. I feel there's a lot of redundant stuff in it that just clutters it. "The hut was one room large, with a cook pot to cook his food in, a bed opposite the door, and his a thigh-high surgeon’s table for his patients, which stood against the adjoining left wall." Covered large already. We know what a cooking pot does, no need to tell us. Doesn't matter where the door is. The surgeon's table will be the correct height for the purpose, no need to tell us that. How is the wall adjoining? Does that mean it is shared with another building? Not clear.

You describe what's in the room, but the description is very basic. I don't know anything about colour, feel/texture (i.e. materials), smell, light levels: all the things that allow the reader to picture a place. I'm not saying write twice as much, I just think the description could be more effective.

(page 3)

- "latched shut with a deadbolt" - In that case, it's bolted shut, surely?

- "pounded on it from the other side"- Again, this is redundant. Obviously they are not pounding on it from his side of the door. I'm not going to mention any more of this redundant phrasing because there's too much to read to stop on every page (I imagine there will be more!). My message would be to ask if something it necessary as you write it. If it's obvious, leave it out. Readers get pretty tired of being treated like they're dumb pretty quickly.

- "he would have felt dirty in turn" - This sentence confuses me. He seems to know about sanitation, so he knows it's not a waste of water, surely, otherwise his patients could get infected from a dirty table. His thought doesn't help to convince me about his abilities.

- "But as the only person with medical experience in CP" - You've said this already, no need to repeat. Or, at least rephrase so it sounds different.

- "refused to divulge his knowledge" - good detail, like that, and enjoyed the line about the teeth.

- "definitely, stabbed" - What's this comma for? Strange. Suggest delete.

(page 4)

- "burrow their way..." - Nice bit of gruesome alteration there :) 

- "bright orange color" - I'm not medic, but I cannot imagine it's necessary for a blade to be that  hot. It it's orange, is that not forging temperature? I'd suggest researching that, but I'd tend to skip details that either cannot be confirmed or aren't relevant. He heats the blade to sterilise it, fine, move on, imo.

(page 5)

- "looked like that all the blood" - typo/grammar.

- "It was definitely a process" - I don't know that this means: a hard process? I don't follow.

- "needed their help" - I got no sense that they ever thought he needed their help: they never offered any.

(page 7)

- "out of emotion" - Grammar: this ain't it. What emotion, there are lots. "Twisted, rabid emotion." - I know, but you still haven't said what emotion: anger, lust, jealousy, fear.

- The name CP is a bit odd, or rather, it's odd that some places are generic fantasy names, but CP is not, and even Star is something else. Generic fantasy names, to me, don't convey any sense of setting or world-building, because they mean nothing to the reader. I've been there myself, making up names for places. I think it's more interesting and rewarding for the reader if they have a basis in setting or world, language, something that the reader can identify with.

- I think the Lig--- town is spelled differently in this two instances, but same place, yes?

(page 8)

- On one level it's weird that Outpost is a city, but then the reader can surmise that it used to be an outpost of very little, but grew into a city. This kind of goes to illustrate my point above.

- "Walking with on feet that" - extra word. Also, sentence structure around here not great. First one is not a complete sentence, imo, and the second one is a run-in, imo. There are ways to break these rules effectively, but I'm just not sure it's happening here.

- "barraging her with an avalanche of questions" - Heh, classic mixed metaphor here. Would he not barrage her with a barrage of questions? Just sounds kind of messy.

- "they tended to hound you" - I don't feel all that engaged with L's supposed blood-soaked background. It's pretty much standard for hard-bitten antiheroes these days. I know we've seen her in a fight but, I don't know. I think it's telling not showing and I think that always will be less effective. The "been fighting half my life" line, for me, was rather jaded, verging on cliché. I mean, so what? Say you're 30, you've been fighting for 15 years, why do I care? Im sure there are plenty of others who have been the same.

- "wrinkled old hag" - What L? That line doesn't land for me, because it's clearly untrue, is it not?

- "brain damage" - You've indicate that the italics identify something by way of a twist. I'm trying to keep references like this in mind in order to judge later how I feel about the whole thing when it's revealed.

(page 9)

- "Probably eaten" - This is a great bit of world-building, I think. Subtle, better than telling us about ribvs, which I don't know, and can't picture.

- "he obliged her" - You said they were 10 minutes away, but then it sounds like P talks for at least 10 mins with all the info he gives her.

- "--runs--" - I don't get it: what's this?

(page 11)

- "two-foot distance" - That's very little if it's a cordon sanitaire to prevent him attacking her. His fist could reach over that distance and pop her one. I think it should be further.

- "that's a kid's story" - I don't know enough about the world to buy into this properly. It doesn't really carry as much impact as it should, I think. Compared for example if this was set on Earth and she was from Atlantis.

(page 12)

- "overpowered or killed" - These two things are not equivalent and opposite. I think maybe 'and' would be better than 'or'.

- "A wordless half-hour dragged by" - you said they were ten minutes away: continuity.

(page 13)

- "outermost part of the town's perimeter" - The perimeter is the our edge. This feels like saying the same thing twice, imo.

- "yet even more desert" - again, one of 'yet' and 'even' is redundant.

- If it's only a foot wide, it's not a drawbridge, it's a plank. You would never design any kind of bridge to that size, imo.

- Why does the brothel have a 'moat'? Confused.

- "fist-sized hole" - I'm not sure what the tone of this story is. It comes over all hard-bitten and gritty, although I don't really feel that, then there is a broadly comic moment like this, which feels odd to me. P as the shambling fall guy feels like he's from a different story.

- "old and wrinkled" - I did not get that sense from the scene with G before.

(page 14)

- "noticed her for the first time" - I really don't buy this, she's standing right there and G is incredibly nervous of violence after what just happened to him. He's going to notice someone with a sword right away, probably before he notices P, imo.

- "did you lose an arm on your way up here?" - I don't buy this either. He's enough of a medical man to know that if sh'e just lost the arm she would not be able to walk around as nothing had happened.

- "Come on in" - For a man about to run from the town for his life, he gives in awful easily to treating her, isn't seem to thin about it much at all, or put up much resistance.

- Hmm, POVs - I'm trying to decide how I feel about an other POV shift so soon. I hardly feel like we've been in L's POV at all before we are back in G's, and practically in the middle of the same scene. I don't see a good reason for switching. Who is the main character of the story? How am I supposed to know? I would suggest trying to write and good story well in one POV before hopping around in multiple POVs.

- "at the earliest" - Weird way to describe age. What is the point of that?

- "a fair amount of silver hairs" - Grammar. It's 'fair amount of silver hair' or 'fair number of silver hairs', otherwise you've got singular / plural disagreement. I don't mind characters talking with poor grammar, but it bothers me when it's narrative.

(page 15)

- "pilfered through the chest" - wrong word: 'pilfer' means 'to steal'. Clearly he is not doing that as he has G's permission.

(page 16)

- Two people 'starting' at each other is weird and repetitive.

- "She seemed in no particular rush to explain." - I just don't understand enough about the world, so these references and sense of surprise and shock don't really land. Why should I be amazed at someone knowing what a prune is? I don't have enough set up.

- Also, prune juice. If G uses it regularly (ha-ha, see what I did there?) he's going to burn through his supply very quickly. How does he replenish his supply? Sounds like he can't, in which case. He'd run out in a matter of weeks, would he not? Physiologically speaking, I don't think a couple of drops in ones tea is going to have the desire effect, is it?

- "Two by midday" - Does he mean patients? If this is such a violent place, I would have thought that would be quite low, but certainly not unusual. All you would need is two people fighting to have two people in need of medical attention.

(page 17)

- "And both of them had enough muscle between the two of them" - grammar. This is repeating the same idea. You only need one of these, they don't work together. In fact, they're contradictory. 'Both of them had enough muscle' means that one of them had enough muscle on their own, whereas 'had enough muscle between them' means that neither had enough muscle on their own. Maybe both had half enough muscle.

(page 18)

- He's stitching her wound with twine? Surely that will get infected in a New York minute? Do they not have cat gut or something like that? Maybe not.

- "she is paying" - She said she would. Why would she bother saying she would if she wasn't going to? Why not just threaten him to treat her? I wasn't convinced by him doubting she would pay initially.

- She's heading for the door, but she's staring at him? That doesn't sound right, like she would need eyes in the back of her head.

(page 19)

- "too dangerous to perform life-saving maneuvers on a man with a stab wound" - Huh? But he's dead, what's the down side going to be? He can only die once, might as well try to save him. Not good logic here.

- "still have time before C gets back" - I thought G already had decided to leave? This seems to present a different situation, or maybe I'm reading it wrong.

(page 20)

- "slice off [missing word?] bodyguard's private bits here" - like 'your'?

- How can you make a crutch out of one shin (bone)?

- "any chance you could take these guys? I'm afraid I’m making a case for us swapping names right about now" - Half the town?!?!?! That's not a reasonable question to ask, imo. Also, I don't understand the line about swapping names, because everyone knows who they are, so there's no premise for that to be funny.

Overall 

I'm still missing huge amounts of background on the world, so I cannot understand why it is the way it is, and why some statements are significant. I can't invest in things like F being a mystical place, or prune juice being this amazing elixir, because I have no context.

The characters are not as engaging or immersive as they could be. I don't feel any personal connection to them, certainly not to L. G was fine, rural sawbones in trouble. I think it's the lack of description, or rather the description there is not really pulling its weight, or rather showing that the character have weight.

The tone, I feel, is rather uneven. I mention above where I thought that stood out. I don't feel the grimness, only occasionally glimpse it, I think, but I just don't feel it's driven home.

Sorry to not be more positive, but I think this needs more work. I think maybe it would be a benefit to read some stuff that is in a similar vein, to see how other authors convey the sense of grime, and violence, and hand-to-mouth existence.

POVs - I'm really not a fan of having more than one, when the central POV is not on screen for very long, and isn't grabbing me by the throat and dragging me through the story.

Hope there is something useful here. I'd be interested to read this after some more revision.

<R>

p.s!!! - Sorry, pretty heavy on the negatives again. I do like the doctor as a character, I think he's go good potential to be the more compelling of the characters on screen. I do like the set up, but I'm frustrated at not having a clear picture of the world. I like a good deal of the dialogue, some bit's not so much. The pacing, for me, is good (notwithstanding POV changes). There are positive here, and I think the story has potential, I just think there is more work to be done to get there.

Edited by Robinski
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6 hours ago, Robinski said:

why is it on a page of it's own?

I have less than an elementary understanding of Scrivener's compiler function. 

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

I just think the description could be more effective.

That's definitely something I ought to pay more attention to.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think it's more interesting and rewarding for the reader if they have a basis in setting or world, language, something that the reader can identify with.

I can see that. It's something I tried to do in my second book, which is more grounded.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "--runs--" - I don't get it: what's this?

Real-world slang for diarrhea. 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

I don't buy this either. He's enough of a medical man to know that if sh'e just lost the arm she would not be able to walk around as nothing had happened.

I didn't convey well enough that this was a half-hearted attempt at a joke on his part.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Huh? But he's dead, what's the down side going to be? He can only die once, might as well try to save him. Not good logic here.

This has been a re-occurring criticism, so I obviously need to amend it. 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Also, I don't understand the line about swapping names, because everyone knows who they are, so there's no premise for that to be funny

I'd explain the joke, but then it wouldn't be funny. Hence, the joke sucks. Will amend. 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think this needs more work.

Yup, I'd agree there wholeheartedly. I'll take yours and everyone's criticisms into account—on the mechanics, pacing, characterization etc.—and use it to improve this chapter and the next. Though a lot this has me thinking I probably ought to re-edit the whole draft (mostly for mechanics) but also for story-related elements. My revisions to chapter 1 caused me to rewrite a lot of the plot in this chapter (95% of the third scene was written in the week before submission) and chapter 3 will have to be pretty much entirely rewritten, because the original has a fight scene that I don't buy anymore, and I'm positive the rest of you won't either. Therefore, I might take some more time to edit this and make it more interesting, and in the meantime submit some stuff from my second novel, which has a basis in real-world mythology and history that I think will be a bit more relatable—character and setting-wise. 

I might change my on that mind on that, but for now, thank you all for your critiques! I appreciate them, because I finally feel like I belong to a group that has insights on how to improve my work.

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6 hours ago, JWerner said:
13 hours ago, Robinski said:

"--runs--" - I don't get it: what's this?

Real-world slang for diarrhea. 

Yeah, it the was context, I didn't read it as that because it was just that one word sitting on its own.

6 hours ago, JWerner said:

I belong to a group that has insights on how to improve my work.

:) We're here to help!

6 hours ago, JWerner said:

my second novel, which has a basis in real-world mythology and history that I think will be a bit more relatable

Sounds interesting.

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Over all, I also had difficulty feeling much of a threat in this chapter. The end confrontation was good, tension-wise, but for most of the rest I struggled to stay interested. I thought L's parts were better than the doctor's. His felt sort of jumbled, like I couldn't get a handle quite on what he wanted or why. He wants to leave, yes, but why hasn't he gone already? Surely the big boss guy has been away on multiday raids before, and surely, if the doctor's been here that long working under the conditions shown here, he's lost patients before, too. I'm not really convinced things are suddenly goading him into action. This sort of just seems like more of the same for him. 

I also noticed the way the goons are coded. The tribal tattoos paired with the violence and criminal natures and descriptors like "swarthy" Is really problematic.  From this and last chapter, it appears to me that the tattoos are being used to highlight the uncivilized, unintelligent, and violent nature of the men, and that is highly problematic. The idea that tribal tattoos means a person is more likely to be unintelligent and violent has real world consequences; the Maori in New Zealand often still today face discrimination issues based on just this stereotype. That is not to say these men can't be tattooed, rather I'm saying that the description of the thugs and goons deserves more interrogation. If the tattoos are indeed necessary, then how can they be described to avoid the implication that comes with the "violent, tattooed tribe" stereotype?

I noticed some timing inconsistencies. At one point L says CP is ten minutes away, then a few paragraphs later, she says she's walked for half an hour without reaching it.

I am finding it difficult to believe the stupidity of the villagers in this story. Even in ancient times people knew about things, ideas, and cultures outside of their own immediate environs. Medieval Europe and ancient Rome both had extensive trading networks that spanned most of the continent. Could the average villager get Chinese silk or lychee fruit delivered to their door the way the average person today can? No, but they would have likely heard of those things, enough that they'd be able to talk about them at least. Whether all the things they heard were true, however, is a different matter... 

L and the doctor both have this thing where they act surprised when the villagers or P behaves in a way that is anything more than baseline human and that really turns me off of both of them. It feels condescending and belittling to me and I become uninterested in what else is happening to them.  Paired with L reading to me as some kind of pale-skinned apocalypse-elf type, and everyone else being described with words that tend to be used with darker skin-tones, L is beginning to feel problematic on her own to me. She keeps making these references to how great and "civilized" her  home is, and she keeps talking about how the place where she is now is so "uncivilized" and then being surprised when the people she's interacting with display the most basic markers of a functioning civilization... and it just starting to feel really colonialist to me. Again, that's not to say that L can't think poorly of her surroundings, but rather that the way that L (and to some extent G), our POV character, describes the things she sees, and what words the author uses to convey that information to the reader, needs to be carefully considered. How can L convey her unhappiness without resorting to implication-laden stereotypes as shorthand? 

 

On 6/13/2019 at 8:28 PM, kais said:

I have tech questions

I also had questions about the use of petrified wood; it's not wood anymore, it's stone.

 

On 6/13/2019 at 8:28 PM, kais said:

If it was in a sealed pack, it wouldn't yellow

 
Going to have to disagree, here. Direct sunlight will definitely make just about anything fade! However, it's entirely possible to have ink fade on paper, and paper oxidize over time, due to any number of factors involved in the piece's creation and storage beyond just exposure to light. Factors that can affect the longevity of a work can include storage methods and storage materials, and temperature and humidity and age and what went into the paper and how it's made, additives like sizing and the sort of pigments used in the ink, the stability of said pigments, even how often it's been folded ...  Given the general griminess of the world, I'd guess this is at the low end of the quality-and-durability spectrum, and since this appears to have been stored in poorly-cured leather of some sort for many years, I'd imagine all kinds of reactions have taken place. It's a bit odd to be faded, but not impossible. I'm a little more surprised critters haven't eaten it, to be honest, or that the leather hasn't degraded and damaged the map. 
 
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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

The tribal tattoos paired with the violence and criminal natures and descriptors like "swarthy" Is really problematic.

Yeah, I clearly see now I need to go back and fix the tattoos first; I really don't want my work to have any kind of negative racial undertones. I don't know where you got 'swarthy' though; I never used that word. The only word I've used to describe skin tones thus far was 'pale.'

1 hour ago, industrialistDragon said:

I am finding it difficult to believe the stupidity of the villagers in this story. Even in ancient times people knew about things, ideas, and cultures outside of their own immediate environs.

I always envisioned this story as being post-apocalyptic; they are ignorant because there's nobody left alive to teach them. C's Point is pretty much an island in an ocean of nothing, apart from the S, which they attack on the regular. Though I did a poor job of conveying that. 

Thank you for your critique! I appreciate it, because I really don't want to release crap into the world. 

Edited by JWerner
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34 minutes ago, JWerner said:

I never used that word

Ah, I apologize. Sometimes I get confused. 

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Just now, industrialistDragon said:

Ah, I apologize. Sometimes I get confused. 

All good. It happens.

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The idea that tribal tattoos means a person is more likely to be unintelligent and violent has real world consequences; the Maori in New Zealand often still today face discrimination issues based on just this stereotype.

There is a style of tattoo that it referred to as tribal, but which is--as far as I am aware (I know a bit, but am not an expert)--completely different from actual tattoos used by tribes such as the Maori and Polynesian peoples. Not that this is a clear distinction drawn in the text it has to be said.

depositphotos_72058365-stock-illustration-set-of-tribal-tattoos.thumb.jpg.1b1be3257e6f5eca228d7927bf8d9e97.jpg Polynesian-tattoo-of-Dwayne-The-Rock-Johnson.jpg.e65cb2f8e32f800c922513a5cae115a0.jpg 2016-07-14t095704z_1557913544_lr1ec7e0rmuv4_rtrmadp_3_france-bastilleday.thumb.jpg.41758d35ea70837184c5b2ebfa90e7c1.jpg

Edited by Robinski
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14 hours ago, Robinski said:

There is a style of tattoo that it referred to as tribal,

Yes, those "tribal" tattoos with the spiky designs and single color reached the height of their popularity in the 1990s, and while they are not direct copies of Pacific Islander designs, they are strongly influenced by the Pacific Island designs. There was a big "back to nature" push in the '80s and '90s that bolstered the interest in all things "native" or "tribal" and a lot of people pulled imagery and stereotypes from cultures they had no connection to and knew nothing about without examining why those things existed how they did (sound familiar? It should). The spiky, one-color, geometric designs are a direct offshoot of this interest in "native" cultures, but stripped of the significance and meaning those cultures had for their original designs. That's not to say that the modern designs are inherently problematic! They're mostly aesthetic at this point, and far enough removed from the source that some of the sting has gone out of them, I think. They're not entirely controversy-free, either, but that's besides the point.

My issue wasn't with the fact that the men are tattooed, it was that the tattoos, plus the men's behavior, plus the way they are described that adds up to a problematic stereotype that affects a culture for whom tribal tattoos do have deep meaning and significance. The men can still have tattoos, but why they are tattooed, and how the tattoos and the men are described in the text needs to be more closely examined.  

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8 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

They're mostly aesthetic at this point, and far enough removed from the source that some of the sting has gone out of them

I must admit I read it as 'protagonist is accosted by thugs who have tribal tattoos because they think it makes them look tough and threatening, but which have no wider cultural significance other than to reference a Westernised society that is ignorant of the designs' origin'. I totally accept that "swarthy" is problematic.

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Posted (edited)

On 6/15/2019 at 9:00 PM, JWerner said:

I have less than an elementary understanding of Scrivener's compiler function.

I haven't gotten to this yet, but I've been using Scrivener for years for Shattered Expectations. I'm hardly an expert, but I'd be happy to give you a few pointers if no one else knows it better.

Edited by Alderant
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