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Mandamon

20190624 - Facets of the Nether Ch 20 - 5990 words - Sub 19

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Hello all!

Second to last entry! It's almost at 6000 words because I added a few in edits (of course). This one focuses on everyone who wasn't in last week's chapter. I could probably split this into two, but I sort of like how everything rolls up to the end. Let me know what you think.

In addition, I'd like to know if the timeline on M's section of the chapter makes sense, and if you can fit it into what is happening in the rest of the book.

Alright, rip it to shreds! As usual, all comments are welcome.


Previously: E coaxed S out of his room after a strange chime went off. The maji are interested in S's new house. R got some information from a source, and M wants to restart the Society. R reveals the location of the Coalition's headquarters, but can't get there, and everyone is called to the Assembly, where the Coalition unveils an ancient being. E and R discuss the revelation, S visits the Eff in a private audience, and M continues recruiting. Re manages to meet with the coalition, learns E and I's true species, and confronts E. E trades herself for I and S takes I in.
The rest of the cast gathers at the wall, and meet the Eff. They learn some new things, then the chime stops as something comes through the wall. We go back to E, who discovers the Coalition's headquarters, and meets some new, strange friends. Back to S and Co at the wall, who finally find out what the chime was all about. We drop in on M, who showed the new two-house recruits what's he'd been doing. Meanwhile, S and I go through the wall with WW, and find out what's on the other side. E learns about her species from the others, and fends off an assault. Re observes one of the LC attack the Eff, but discovers a way to create a portal to their base.
Meanwhile, S and I explore the new facet with WW, and meet the ruler of that facet. M and co start work on the Device, and E learns more about the L.C. S and WW go to a new House, and Sam learns about a surprising ability. We switch to R and Co, who are infiltrating the LC's headquarters, where they come across a room of surprising artifacts.

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Overall

I don't actually have any grumbles about this chapter. The pacing was great, the tension held, and I had a deep sense of wonder through it all. Mand's timeline does work, although the middle snippet might make it drag a bit longer than needed. I'm still not convinced his POV is necessary in this book, although I think he'd make a great constant epigraph. 

I really liked S's part and how he has grown. I definitely wanted more of that. E's is sort of meh right now because I am still trying to feel out the Ari and their 'brutal nature' which remains slightly concerning to me (I know you already have notes about that so I won't belabor the issue). I also still picture them like Odo's people from Star Trek, but with claws. 

I want to know what is coming through the Drain!!!

 

As I go

- pg 4: I like the explanation of why they call it dimensional tearing a lot

- pg 9: oooh, I like the idea of this whatever being stolen

- pg 14: yes, keep reminding us of S being backing into a pillar. HERE FOR IT

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I had some issues with this section. So this is just as-I-go stuff.

 

I'm catching more word-level editing issues here than in other sections. Nothing terrible, but awkward and repetitious some. 

So, I'm feeling some major disappointment with M's section. The "building a doomsday device" is fun, but I feel like I was expecting a different climax to his sections. For so much of the beginning, M is focused on putting the band back together, and I was all-in for putting the band back together -- seeing old friends, meeting new ones, finding a new home, making everyone work together, all that great interpersonal stuff. But then, it swaps to the BUT WHAT IF IT'S A CONSPIRACY sections and I don't meet new people, really, I just get one new name and some stuff that's supposed to be portentous but isn't, really, because everything M talks about has been portrayed as fairy tales and impossibilities in the text.

Then a little later I felt like eventually I could get behind watching M slowly going crazy as he prepares to show them, show them all, a nice good descent into super-villainy (because to me, nobody but a super villain would come up with a plan like that). But then, it swaps to here, where it's a summary of building a grand device and now I'm just tired. I do not care about his device, or his danger -- it's remote, and feels to me to be largely unconnected to what's happening to the other characters in this book.

Ordinarily, I would like a "build a thing" story -- finding the parts, testing, learning from failures, etc., but I'm not even getting that. It's mostly a summary. I feel like maybe, M just needs a single unifying theme here, so I can get on board. Is he putting the band back together, slowly going crazy, or building an impossible thing? If he has to have all three, maybe he needs his own book, and not be the b-plot in this one?  There are so many POVs already and I'm just not sure if knowing where the superbaby comes from is really all that vital to what I've seen of the other story... 

I also don't really know what this device looks like. it has arms, and a central spinny part but not much else. 

Yes, if M's storyline has any bearing at all to the other one, I think I'd really be more interested in it if it was hinted at sooner and more often. 

The S & WW stuff is also interesting, but I'm not feeling much from it. No real sense of urgency or danger. I feel like I'm reading the beginning of a different book, not the end of the one I've been reading from earlier pieces. 

Moving on to E's part, I have mostly forgotten what E was doing and why I cared. Some of it is WRS, but some is not. Everything's hopped around so much that I've never had a chance to get really invested in any of the characters. Weren't they just fighting? Z and P against E? Why are they now being friendly towards her? 

I feel kind of cheated I didn't get to see the assassins in action, even a little, as they were breaking free.

"These people were completely psychotic. // ...there was no way she was letting them loose" -- This is problematic, E passing judgment on her own people like this, and in this way. E makes me feel very uncomfortable when she decides that an oppressed slave race she is a part of is inherently too violent and "psychotic" to continue living. Without even thinking about treatment, help, meds, anything. Nope, just "Ari are inherently evil and should not exist I must get rid of them, even though they are my own people." This has massively problematic implications. I know they are unintended, but they are still present and have an effect.  It's like, here she is, this "good" girl from an oppressed, enslaved, minority species, raised away from her culture and domesticated into the majority culture, experiences the way the culture treats her people when they are living as themselves, experiences the culture her people manage to have despite all that, then decides that they're not good enough and have to die or be contained away from the rest of society.  I don't... I don't have words to really describe how uncomfortable this makes me feel. I don't know that rooting the Ari issues in real world problems will help this issue here. There's a lot of unconscious bias in having E, specifically, condemn the enslaved Ari. As they are now, the Ari are already a minefield, but I feel like this could be a really big one. 

I'm quite frankly rooting for Z and P at this point and would not shed many tears if they ended up killing E. 

So, the not-quite-a-drain is pulling the superbaby off course? That's really neat. 

 

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On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

So, I'm feeling some major disappointment with M's section. The "building a doomsday device" is fun, but I feel like I was expecting a different climax to his sections.

Hmm. Interested to see if others feel the same. His plotline is very much pantsed, which is not my usual.

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I don't meet new people, really, I just get one new name and some stuff that's supposed to be portentous but isn't, really, because everything M talks about has been portrayed as fairy tales and impossibilities in the text.

I do feel like I need to introduce the others they've found, but I've also got a lot of characters as it is and don't want to dilute characters...

So...is there a specific reason why fairy tales coming true is not working for you? I ask because as I think about this, that's pretty much all this series is about so far. The Ari coming back, the Drains, the DIss, so on. Is there some reason this one isn't working?

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

M just needs a single unifying theme here, so I can get on board. Is he putting the band back together, slowly going crazy, or building an impossible thing? If he has to have all three, maybe he needs his own book, and not be the b-plot in this one?

 

On 6/24/2019 at 3:50 PM, kais said:

I'm still not convinced his POV is necessary in this book, although I think he'd make a great constant epigraph.

Hmm...that's fair. I'll see if I can weed this out in editing. I really like writing his POV, but it does make the book longer. I wonder if I can turn this into a side novella if it end up not working?

 

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Everything's hopped around so much that I've never had a chance to get really invested in any of the characters.

Probably need to reorder some chapters.

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I feel kind of cheated I didn't get to see the assassins in action, even a little, as they were breaking free.

Good point. I can add this in.

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

"These people were completely psychotic. // ...there was no way she was letting them loose" -- This is problematic,

 

On 6/24/2019 at 3:50 PM, kais said:

E's is sort of meh right now because I am still trying to feel out the Ari and their 'brutal nature'

Yep. This whole throughline is going to get a good cleaning on the next pass.

On 6/24/2019 at 3:50 PM, kais said:

I want to know what is coming through the Drain!!!

 

On 6/27/2019 at 10:27 PM, industrialistDragon said:

So, the not-quite-a-drain is pulling the superbaby off course? That's really neat

Glad this part is working. Looking forward to what you think of next week.

Thanks @kais and @industrialistDragon!

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

is there a specific reason why fairy tales coming true is not working for you?

Reaction and lampshading and a stronger on-page theme.  From what I've read of this series as a whole, I've gotten a lot of "this is a thing that can't be true/is a fairytale" and not a lot of characters wrestling with that kind of long-held cultural idea being false on paper. There's just a lot of acceptance and treating it like a non-issue, then moving the plot current-book's along. No one's filled with wonder, skeptical, disbelieving, having a crisis of faith, trying to reorganize their worldview, rewriting science, or anything that I can see very much. They're all like "well, okay. let's move on." If "Fairytales come real" is a theme, then I feel like it should be brought out more fully across all the POVs. O comes the closest, but he's just sort of fobbed off by everyone else like "Oh, he's always doing silly stuff like that" 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I wonder if I can turn this into a side novella if it end up not working?

YES. It would be good. Reduces the character count on this book, gives more room to get to know M's own characters and motivations. I would definitely read it. 

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3 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

There's just a lot of acceptance and treating it like a non-issue, then moving the plot current-book's along. No one's filled with wonder, skeptical, disbelieving, having a crisis of faith, trying to reorganize their worldview, rewriting science, or anything that I can see very much. They're all like "well, okay. let's move on." If "Fairytales come real" is a theme, then I feel like it should be brought out more fully across all the POVs. O comes the closest, but he's just sort of fobbed off by everyone else like "Oh, he's always doing silly stuff like that" 

Great response! That will help me work on the edit.

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On 6/24/2019 at 6:50 AM, Mandamon said:

on M's section of the chapter makes sense

I was a little unclear about this, but I think I might have figured it out. Initially, I thought M's story was progressing along the same timeline as everyone else's. Then when his group started hearing the chiming in this section, I thought he'd only just caught up to the others. Then, I backtracked that thought and thought this was a different chiming that started after S went to the other facet. When I finished reading, I went back to my original theory. The chiming M was hearing in this was the chiming other characters heard through most of the book. S hasn't been in other facet long enough for it to be anything else, right? I think this would've been clearer to me if I had read this whole book straight through over a few days instead of over the course of weeks. When nothing comes through M's tear, it is because whatever they were trying to reach is actually going through the void R and the other Maji created. Am I understanding it right? 

The one thing that had confused me about the time line was this: "In Poler, located in the opposite corner of the Nether, no one could hear it except for them." Until I read this line, I was thinking the chiming was referring to the one the other POV character's heard until they met the other facet. This line made me question that for some reason.

Aside from not being 100% sure if I am getting the timeline right, I don't much to critique. Everything does really feel like it is coming together and I can't wait to read the end. Granted, I suspect that the "end" is really going to be some cliff hanger that will leave me impatiently waiting for book 3.

"I trust you,"...and leaned up for another kiss." Can you add more detail about the kiss? This feels too brushed over. 

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Am I understanding it right? 

Yep, you got it. His timeline occurs over a longer period of time, and the chimes they hear are the same as the ones the others do.

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Until I read this line, I was thinking the chiming was referring to the one the other POV character's heard until they met the other facet. This line made me question that for some reason.

Ah. Can fix this. Thanks.

1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Can you add more detail about the kiss? This feels too brushed over. 

Absolutely! Always up for more.

Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

Edited by Mandamon
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Okay, I purposely saved this penultimate submission until the last one was available too, as I wanted to read straight through to the end. My apologies if that threw out your note harvesting / editing process!!

So, breath bated (check), tenter hooks in belt (check), reader expectation checklist updated and pencil sharpened (check). Let's go :D 

(page 1)

- "much of our advancement has languished" - I feel that this is too specific, suggesting certain individual projects have languished, but possibly implying that others have not. I thought it may be better to frame this in all-encompassing terms.

- "I am reminded of what wonders" - Conversely, 'what wonders' sounds like a question, and that the wonders are unknown, so how can M be reminded of them? Surely he is thinking about specific wonders of the past, so they will be well known to them and this phrasing could be more specific, simply 'reminded of the wonders'.

- "like a giant bowl where the depths were around" - I don't know what this phrasing means.

- "Where, according to M’s notes" - Why is this a separate paragraph? Reads odd.

(page 2)

- "three more additional gates" - is one of these not redundant, unless they've already used some additional gates, and these are indeed more additional gates... it stills reads awkward.

- "What in blazes is that?" - Confused, surely he has been in the Imp and was hearing the regular sound that everyone else heard? How can he not know what it is? Or, wait... is this POV so far behind the others in time? I had not clocked that, or maybe I just forgot.

- "harder to reign in" - rein in

- "She was pointed at" - 'pointing'?

- "vibrational energy" - surely this is just kinetic energy, is it not?

- "epicenter as being on other side" - suggest. Or, much cleaner, 'detect epicentre on other side...'.

(page 3)

- "Then we carry on..." - Wait, surely they did not cause the tone?!?!

- Ah, okay, it is the timeline. Oooh, this is the penultimate chapter and it feels like we're going away back to the beginning. That's a bit of a blow to momentum and sense of urgency, also plot progression, maybe even stakes?

(page 4)

- "Some inner clock in his subconscious was ticking down" - Yeah, okay, but it's not really enough to get my nerves jangling this close to the end of the story. Only one chapter after this one!

- "remember to use some caution" - Excellent speech, well said G.

(page 5)

- "lowered a set of goggles" - Should he not do this before the switch is thrown, as they don't know exactly what the effect will be? Also, should they not all be wearing goggles?

- "a month’s worth of my pension fund" - financial services quibble!! And forgive me if this is just a drafting thing, and I'm teaching my 'grandmother' to 'suck eggs', but typically, the monthly payment is called a premium. However assuming G is claiming his pension, as he is an old codger, if I recall correctly,  I assume he's drawing his pension. I dare say he is taking a fixed amount per month, but I would think that the fund itself--the principal--although being drawn down, would still be attracting interest. The point I'm trying to make very clumsily is that I don't think it's right to refer to the fund in this context.

(page 6)

- "changing key each day" - how is the key changing,? is it rising? This is significant, I feel. I need to know more: it's an opportunity to increase the tension and 'ticking clock'.

- "The days spent until the fuse was ready" - I don't think this is right. Spent how? 'They spent the days it took for the new fuse to be made and delivered...'

- "the thing was basically finished" - vague is not compelling/engaging.

- "pushed his glasses up, and looked over" - I'm bad for this, but why is there a comma here? It hampers the pace of reading.

- "natural resonating frequency was higher, too" - If this frequency is abnormal, how can it also be natural? Is it not then unnatural?

- "the chime rang all day" - I'm trying to remember this happening in S's POV. Does this represent events in M's POV having overtaken events in S's POV, because I don't remember the chime ringing all day.

- "the finer portions of the device" - This is not a scientific or even and engineering word. How about 'elements'? Components?

(page 7)

- Confused: how does M know that the fuse is arriving, i.e. when to go upstairs? I'm presuming he didn't hear the doorbell.

- "followed a set up tubes" - set of tubes?

- "They'd adjust the startup" - adjusted? And why the comma before 'so'? Sucks out the pace of the sentence?

(page 8)

- "the flow of the current" - isn't 'flow' redundant, as current by its nature is intrinsically a flow? Also, 'the' is redundant. Seems to me this can easily be shortened to 'the current'. Ah, especially since 'flow' is repeated in the same sentence.

- "The glow in the middle of the arms" - suggest 'between the arms' for precision and flow.

- "burned his eyes otherwise" - this is connected to him using the goggles, but it's so far away from him pulling down the goggles that they are disconnected, and it sounds odd. 

- "on the other side of the machine from him" - redundant.

- "It was a report" - oooh, tell me this was a description in Moo's report.

- This is good tension, everyone shouting stuff, no one quite sure what's going on.

(page 9)

- Like the description of the phenomenon, really quite gripping.

- "as it flung itself across the room" - Nooooo! This is a scientist's perspective. The arm of the machine does not possess it's own energy so it can't fling itself. Surely it's the energy of the breach, or the other dimension or the energy from the machine that propels the arm.

- "embedding halfway into the dirt of one of the walls" - Halfway is not compelling, because I don't know how long the thing is. It's way more gobsmacking if you say 'embedded three feet deep in the wall' (it doesn't matter which wall, that's just unnecessary words).

- "was near G and K in an instant" - It's much more immediate to drop this. Why does he have to move? Just have him speak.

- 'stolen from us' - Harrumph. This is annoying. I feel like I was promised a transcendent first encounter and now it gone.

(page 10)

- Don't like the first line, kind of boring. Why not go straight to the second? I'm sure there's a way to incorporate where S is and what he's doing while still opening with his dialogue and his action.

- "a higher key that rung almost" - rang is the past tense of ring, rung is the part participle. Use of the past participle in place of the past tense always sounds terrible to me. I would say 'the bell had rung at noon', 'the bell was rung at noon', but surely it has to be 'it was noon, and the bell rang'? Otherwise, what is the word 'rang' for?

- I feel like I want more tension, more jeopardy in this scene. I think this is only because of where I am in the book. I am not feeling the stakes at all. Insufficient conflict / tension / danger.

(page 11)

- Confused. He grabs at stone, but feels parchment?

(page 13)

- "He seemed happier than he had since E rescued him" - something off here.

(page 14)

- I don't think you 'have' a smile. You have a cold.

- "Nevermind" - never mind: two words.

(page 15)

- "They'd need an ambassador" - I feel like this is a hint, or a promise to the reader.

- "After they found out..." - Surely this is a fragment, not a sentence.

(page 17)

- "Flakes of rock sifted down from the ceiling" - typo? The material that is made of fragments or particles is the thing that is sifted, it doesn't do the sifting. Was this meant to be 'drifted down'?

- What is it she's shifting? Unclear.

- "The music was fracturing above her" - Does this mean way above her head, in the cave? I think it needs to be clearer, like, 'Somewhere far above her, the music was fracturing.'

(page 20)

- "The center of things was through there" - This is super, super vague and therefore not compelling.

(page 21)

- There should be a really compelling moment between R and N, but its not nearly satisfying enough. The dialogue is underwritten (R's threat is low-hanging fruit), there's no spark, N doesn't say anything (lost opportunity), there's no tension

OVERALL 

I think there are paving issues. The fact that the second last chapter in the books starts with a montage is seriously problematic from a pace a plotting viewpoint, IMO. There's plenty that I enjoyed here. S's scene was good, but needs more tension. E's scene was good, but need to more tension, more stakes, pore conflict, IMO. M's scene, well, I'm not sure what you do about it, but I think it really does have issues.

I know you've said before that you tend to put a lot of the tension and conflict in on second draft, so I'm not going to bust your proverbials over it too much. What I do like is that we check in with all the POVs in this chapters (to some extent or other) and that we see them starting to come back together, which is good. As a general comment, I think the most significant issue I have is a lack of investment in the end of the world as portrayed on the page so far, but I've said that on previous submission too.

<R>

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Thanks, @Robinski! The LBL catches are very useful as always.

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "vibrational energy" - surely this is just kinetic energy, is it not?

*dons engineering nerd glasses* Technically, I'm referring to a type of kinetic energy which is specifically vibrational.

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "natural resonating frequency was higher, too" - If this frequency is abnormal, how can it also be natural? Is it not then unnatural?

*gently pushes up nerd glasses, which had been sliding down my nose* The natural frequency is the one that a substance responds to and if you hit it correctly, you can start a destructive resonance. It's also the way to tune a system to respond/recoil the way you want

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

- Ah, okay, it is the timeline. Oooh, this is the penultimate chapter and it feels like we're going away back to the beginning. That's a bit of a blow to momentum and sense of urgency, also plot progression, maybe even stakes?

Yep yep. Agree. I really like M's timeline, but I'm afraid it may be a darling that needs murdering, whether to turn it into epigraphs or a side novella or something...

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

There should be a really compelling moment between R and N, but its not nearly satisfying enough. The dialogue is underwritten (R's threat is low-hanging fruit), there's no spark, N doesn't say anything (lost opportunity), there's no tension

Yeah...I think the ending is missing structure from sections I missed earlier, so it doesn't have enough to build on.

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

What I do like is that we check in with all the POVs in this chapters (to some extent or other) and that we see them starting to come back together, which is good.

Great. @shatteredsmooth liked this as well, so this is something I can build on.

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

The fact that the second last chapter in the books starts with a montage is seriously problematic from a pace a plotting viewpoint, IMO. There's plenty that I enjoyed here. S's scene was good, but needs more tension. E's scene was good, but need to more tension, more stakes, pore conflict, IMO. M's scene, well, I'm not sure what you do about it, but I think it really does have issues.

Yep. I'm getting some good ideas on where I need to build up tension and character background earlier in the piece (especially for the LC members). Very good comments and it will help with the next draft immensely!

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7 hours ago, Mandamon said:

*dons engineering nerd glasses*

:lol: 

7 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Technically, I'm referring to a type of kinetic energy which is specifically vibrational.

<Dofs cap to fellow engineer> Much technical nerdy ensues...

8 hours ago, Mandamon said:

*gently pushes up nerd glasses, which had been sliding down my nose*

<tugs cap forward slight to disguise a modicum of disgruntlement> "Good sir, I assure you I am at least passingly aware of the principle of resonant frequency..." Just thought it sounded a bit... orf.

8 hours ago, Mandamon said:

but I'm afraid it may be a darling that needs murdering

Ah, heh, now then... let's not be hasty. I'm sure a little judicious pruning, a tad of light recasting, would suffice :unsure:

I didn't manage to get to the last chapter yesterday, but that just means spreading the fun to today!

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