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Robinski

Robinski - 190701 - TCC Chapter 01 - 3690 words (LSr)

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Posted (edited)

Hey everybody! I'm just going to dive in. Apologies to Silk, but the slot's still there, dang it!
 
So, now that this second novel in my future P.I. series is complete in first draft (as of April), I would like to pass it through that sharp and reinforcing filter that is Reading Excuses! Some of you 'old stagers' have read this first chapter three times before (June '17, Jan. '18 and Feb. '18), sorry, but if you're willing to give it another go I would be grateful. I am very much interested in fresh eyes on it though. While it is the second novel in a series, it is designed to be self-contained, so those with no prior knowledge of Q&M should have no problem absorbing it, I trust!
Tagged L for Language (always); and Sr for sexual references.
 
Chapter 1 - EXT, night: How appropriate on July 1st that we find our protagonists north of the 49th parallel...
 
Many thanks for any and all comments. Nothing specific, just everything and anything :) 
 
Cheers, Robinski
 
p.s. - Sorry I'm a bit behind with my critiques. I'll be catching those up over the next couple of days now that other deadlines are behind me.
Edited by Robinski
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SO EXCITED

Overall

I adored this. It's cleaned up near perfectly and it was a delight the whole way through. The only area I thought could use something is the very end. The last line doesn't have the kind of punch I was hoping for, since M's like just before it is killer. But other than that? Perfection. Please tell me we get the rest?

As I go

- pg 4: totally hooked. Love M, as always

- pg 6: the voice through these pages is just fantastic

Great art always seemed to need rescuing from something or other. I just really love this. Sets the tone, the voice, and the plot, all in one go

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Not much to comment on here--it's very clean, but looking forward to getting into it again. 

Notes while reading:

pg 4: "while she was stuck doing the leg work, and with a rebuilt leg!!"
--lol

Pg 7: the fight with the wolves seems even more tense than last time around. Good!

pg 8: "apart from the ladies, of course."
--and the gents? Or has that been retconned?

pg 9: "anyway, elitist isn’t my type."
--so still bi, then? Getting mixed signals from Q.

pg 13: There could be a little more clarity in the section where Q is scooting the chair around. It took me two tries to understand the blocking.

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I honestly don't have a lot of things to comment on this. It always was a tight, neat chapter, and it's only gotten better since I read it last. 

About maybe the only thing I could think is maybe working some people descriptors in for M and Q. G is described well, and M&Q's clothing is described well, and there's age and home town for M, but there's not a ton on the bodies inhabiting Q&M's clothes. I have enough descriptors to be willing to let the rest happen in another chapter, but I'll want them relatively soon. 

"Ko Worldview" -- This made me lol. My Minolta XG-1 and I appreciate the idea of a world where that brand gained ascendancy.

"vault/scamper/skip/hop" -- love the word choices here, and I love how sarcastic M sounds.  

"Homo sapiens as Lunch" -- Thank you for the wolf lampshade, and I also lol'd at the lesson name. Some of M's logic around deciding if the wolves are cyborg or android is a little confusing to me and I feel like if I was reading it the first time I might maybe have trouble figuring out why that distinction mattered. I don't know if it needs rewriting or trimming so much as maybe shifting some of the sentences around or maybe making the idea that the bot-killer device won't work on things with meat-parts more apparent? It did make sense eventually and was a tense scene throughout, though.

Another lol at the last line. I do appreciate apologetic furniture.

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The page numbers correspond with your file so 3 = 1 and so forth.

3/1 
- The Writing Excuses cast and Stephen King have forever biased me against the word "finally". To see a book start with it, I instantly doubt the author. Most readers won't have watched 50 hours of Brandon Sanderson lectures online, though, but I hear editors hate the word, too. 
- I like the name M. Haven't seen it before. Simple. Elegant.

- Redundant. Within half a page you tell us the same thing 3 different times: 
a] she plodded in uneven steps down the snowy bank between looming, half-seen trees
b] she picked her way slowly down through the woods
c] she descended the forty-degree bank
- These could be combined into something much stronger.
- "conscious of putting a strain on her reconstructed leg, even though it felt totally normal" - I like this. It's a good way to tell us a lot about the character with very few words so when we start learning more about her we have, ahem, a better leg to stand on.
- "but they didn’t do her toes any good" - Why would they? No warming socks?
- "against her better judgement" - I see you shooting for a Douglas Adams moment here and it really almost works, but it doesn't really click unless this descent is completely involuntary.
- "its bark crinkled under her gloves" - Cool world building.

4/2
- "spectral fruit trees, outlined by the light from the house" - Confused. Is there light coming from the trees themselves or are they just being illuminated by light from the house?
- "Kodak" - Earth tech.
- "whispered to her in the voice of her handset" - Confused. Does she have on an ear piece or is it whispering to her through the case from her pocket?

- "But we’re gonna take you down." - Clear concise mission statement and direction early. Good.
- When did she unfocus?
- Confused. First you say she can only see the black fence but then: "Its lighted top floor windows glowed gold in the darkness, beckoning to her out of her wintry hell. Even from here, she could see a grey-haired man with a glass in his hand..." 
- Page ends with a pretty significant info dump. It doesn't work for me for a couple reasons. 1] Most of this could've easily been shown to us through her action. 2] And I really don't like meeting characters in a flashback like this. I feel like it halts the narrative and lessens the actual character introduction.

5/3
- Redundant. When the branch gets her, she hisses (I'm assuming this is the type of hiss where you suck in air through your teeth otherwise her breath catching later doesn't make sense) and then she sucks in chill air. And then her breath catches only to be expelled all at once. I'm sitting here trying to imagine it in my head and I get the hiss and I get the exhale but the rest doesn't feel natural. Part of this is because when I think of breath catching, I think of a big moment or reveal.
- "She storming hated Canada" - Stronger as a new paragraph.
- "breath caught again" - This time it actually works because it's an extremely emotional moment for her. 
- The emotional moment is misplaced, though, and I don't like that it happens to set off yet another block of infodumping. I get that this is sequel so I'm holding out that this information will be important in this chapter. If not, I wouldn't put it so early in the narrative.

6/4
-  Awkward. The part about the wolves feels really disjointed, primarily because I think the quick flashback interrupts the tension rather than heightening it, which I think is what you were going for.
- Why doesn't she have a weapon? This seems like an oversight.
- I'm starting to lose the strain of the narrative. We keep getting away from the tension of the moment.
- "Zapping-the-storm out of android operating systems since 2043." - I love this, though it's diluted by the thoughts around it.

To be continued...

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Posted (edited)

Sometimes your work is hard to critique because it is so good! I loved M's voice, swearing, and appreciation of guns. I love her spunk. I was amused by Q focusing on the quality of the furniture while getting shot at. 

Was M actually a convent girl at one time? Or was this just pure sarcasm? I assume I'd know if I had read book 1.

On the last page, the last time you say Q's name, you spelled  it as "Quick." 

The last line made laugh out loud. 

Oh, and I hit post, then realized I forgot something. 

I was a little doubtful about Q thinking he wouldn't recognized if he is as well known as the art dealer implies. A mustache really isn't much of a disguise. But the others didn't comment on this, so I might have just misunderstood something. 

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Posted (edited)

I like this a bit more than the last excerpt with Q, because it's a lot more clear-cut this time around what he's up to and what he wants. Moth didn't quite seem like a 14-year-old to me based on some of her own inner dialogue (and I've noted one offender down below), but it's not a huge issue. Overall, I don't have much to say because this was written pretty damnation well, though I do think that towards the end, G fell into a bad villain cliché that made it impossible for me to take him seriously and was an easy indicator of his imminent defeat. I know their fight hinges a long on Q's pass-phrase, but I think if you could rewrite it to put Q in more immediate danger, the tension would be considerably amplified. 

Notes below:

(pg. 1)

-The warming gloves Q had bought her in town were all very well—I feel like 'warming' is a bit redundant. That is, after all, what gloves do. 

-She let herself stumble the last few metres and clutched the thick trunk of the last tree; a paper birch, she thought from the way its bark crinkled under her gloves.—Personal grammatical suggestion. 

(pg. 2)

-All because Q’s finely-chiselled face fit the storming story, he gets the easy end of the deal; again!—I have trouble believing anyone, especially a teenage girl, would describe anyone's face as 'finely chiselled.' Also, delete the bolded hyphen; hyphens after adverbs ending in 'ly' are incorrect. 

(pg. 5)

-She storming hated Canada, storming hellhole.—If TV Tropes has taught me anything, it's that a Precision F-Strike goes a long way. I would try to conserve that ammo and delete one of the bombs in this sentence. 

(pg. 6)

-She shuddered as someone tickled her grave with a feather.—I would rephrase to 'she shuddered as though someone had tickled her grave with a feather.

(pg. 7)

-She flung off her $179 super-gloves—That's all? That sounds pretty cheap for 2099. 

(pg. 13)

-“Too bad you didn’t bring him along, he could have told you this is Heckler & Koch 56M-3 laser pistol; the most effective, publicly-available laser pistol on Earth.—Expository dialogue that comes across as clunky to me. 

-“This pistol will shoot you with two hundred Watts, double the power of a surgical laser and enough to stop you caring about anything very much.”—This guy is falling into the bad cliché of the villain who spends so much of his time talking that it allows the hero to take him out. In the immortal words of the Ugly, "When you have to shoot, shoot! Don't talk." If Q would at least acknowledge this, I think it could alleviate the cliché. 

(pg. 14)

-The barbecue lurched and crashed onto its side as M planted her feet apart, unzipped her parka revealing a white-on-black...—I would replace the bolded word with 'to reveal'. 

Edited by JWerner
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Thank you so much for reading yet again!

On 03/07/2019 at 3:25 AM, kais said:

Please tell me we get the rest?

Yep, it's all there. I might be subbing till Christmas, but I'm game if you are, and slots permitting.

On 03/07/2019 at 3:25 AM, kais said:

The last line doesn't have the kind of punch I was hoping for

Ha-ha.  I added the last line in response to a comment last time around. Previously, it has ended on M's line and Q's action. I'll consider again. might punch up Q's line. Might drop Q's line.

Much obliged. Glad this is in decent shape. Following chapters are more set-y up-y. So I won't get overconfident :rolleyes: 

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Thanks for reading, M.

On 03/07/2019 at 1:22 PM, Mandamon said:

Not much to comment on here

Good, I was hoping this opener was in decent shape by now.

On 03/07/2019 at 1:22 PM, Mandamon said:

the fight with the wolves seems even more tense

Awesome.

On 03/07/2019 at 1:22 PM, Mandamon said:

Or has that been retconned?

No. I forget to call it out sometimes. He's still kind of in denial, or maybe actually ha not even got as far as denial, just feels the way he feels, I've added this to the line "...the ladies, of course, and the dwindling small cadre of men he would deign to consider friendship with."

On 03/07/2019 at 1:22 PM, Mandamon said:

Getting mixed signals from Q

Hopefully the addition above will rebalance the signals.

On 03/07/2019 at 1:22 PM, Mandamon said:

There could be a little more clarity in the section where Q is scooting the chair around. It took me two tries to understand the blocking.

I've added a handful of words, which hopefully make that a bit clearer.

Many thanks! :) 

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Hey, ID, thank you so much for reading again.

On 04/07/2019 at 1:46 AM, industrialistDragon said:

working some people descriptors in for M and Q

This is an excellent point. I've fallen into Book 2 syndrome, I think, because I know exactly what they look like, and so does anyone who read Book 1, but of course that ain't everybody. I will do this, thanks :) 

On 04/07/2019 at 1:46 AM, industrialistDragon said:

My Minolta XG-1 and I appreciate the idea of a world where that brand gained ascendancy

:D And to think Kodak used to rule the world. How are the mighty fallen, but yes, I enjoyed thinking that they might rise again. Actually, from their website, it looks like they are still pretty active, just not as dominant, as ubiquitous, as they used to be.

On 04/07/2019 at 1:46 AM, industrialistDragon said:

how sarcastic M sounds

Oh, yeah 5d22e524c0604_thumbs-upsmall.jpg.20eed7fec12ea49e8b6d7d3f85febcb3.jpg

On 04/07/2019 at 1:46 AM, industrialistDragon said:

I feel like if I was reading it the first time I might maybe have trouble figuring out why that distinction mattered. I don't know if it needs rewriting or trimming so much as maybe shifting some of the sentences around or maybe making the idea that the bot-killer device won't work on things with meat-parts more apparent? It did make sense eventually

Right. I'll take another run at that section. <10 minutes later> Okay, I've added a sentence which hopefully draws her thoughts together before she proceeds.

Thanks for that. Great comments :) 

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Thanks so much for reading again(?), Ssmooth.

On 05/07/2019 at 11:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Was M actually a convent girl at one time? Or was this just pure sarcasm? I assume I'd know if I had read book 1.

Yes, very much so. That is where she starts Book 1. It's canon :D 

On 05/07/2019 at 11:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

you spelled  it as "Quick."

Oopsy daisy - thanks.

On 05/07/2019 at 11:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

The last line made laugh out loud.

Aarrgh. Looks like I'm actually going to have to make the hard choice on this keep last line / cut last line thing!

On 05/07/2019 at 11:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I was a little doubtful about Q thinking he wouldn't recognized if he is as well known as the art dealer implies.

This is a good point. He's by no means a well known figure. As you say, if G had met him somewhere else, the addition of a moustache would do pretty much nothing to hide his identity. Really, it's probably more of an author affectation for humours effect than of any real concrete benefit on a practical level. I'll keep this in the back of my mind, but roll with the fact that no one else (so far) has comment on it. I appreciate this feedback though; great attention to detail! :) 

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Hey Hawkedup, thank you so much for reading, really interested to get some new eyes on this.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

biased me against the word "finally"

Interesting. I'm not wedded to it, so I've cut it. I'm happy with how that first sentence looks now. Good comment.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

Simple. Elegant.

Excellent. There's a whole background to it from Book 1, but glad it works on a primary functional level.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

Within half a page you tell us the same thing 3 different times

Fair enough. I've noted this for the next full edit.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

I like this. It's a good way to tell us a lot about the character with very few words so when we start learning more about her we have, ahem, a better leg to stand on

:lol: It flows straight out of Book 1, so was really keen to get a handle on someone coming fresh into Book 2 would engage with the main characters. This is super valuable feedback. Thank you!

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

it really almost works, but it doesn't really click unless this descent is completely involuntary

I've tweaked the wording. I think it works better now.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

Does she have on an ear piece or is it whispering to her through the case from her pocket?

Earbud. Good catch, now edited.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

Confused. First you say she can only see the black fence

Good point. I have tweaked to refer to her view of the path ahead (i.e. at ground level).

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

Page ends with a pretty significant info dump. It doesn't work for me for a couple reasons

Interesting point. I respect that view. I tried to mesh it into her thoughts about the cold, which it arises logically from, and then segue back into the present station with Q in the house. In that respect, I think the narrative flows into and out of it smoothly, BUT that doesn't change the fact that it's a bit of a dump: guilty as charge. I was trying to give the (new) reader some background. Ironically, I think it probably works better for those who have reader Book 1, as it's a call-back to events that they experienced. So, it's working against the intention of including it!! Really appreciate you commenting on this; very helpful.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

I'm sitting here trying to imagine it in my head and I get the hiss and I get the exhale but the rest doesn't feel natural.

Cool, I will review.

On 05/07/2019 at 2:08 AM, hawkedup said:

The part about the wolves feels really disjointed, primarily because I think the quick flashback interrupts the tension

Right. I will take another look at it. Noted for next full edit.

Thanks very much for the first instalment. Much appreciated :) 

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7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Really, it's probably more of an author affectation for humours effect than of any real concrete benefit on a practical level.

This makes sense. Since this was my first time reading, I wasn't sure how widely known his face was. I almost wasn't going to mention it al all, but then I added it at the last minute. So if the others didn't comment on it, then it's fine as is. 

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Hey, JW, thank you for reading. You've read Q before? Huh, I do not remember that!

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

G fell into a bad villain cliché that made it impossible for me to take him seriously and was an easy indicator of his imminent defeat

Interesting, and fair comment. Certainly I was writing this as the end of the previous case sort of thing, so it's jumping in at the point of G's demise. I doubt the reader will think Q is in any real danger, but I'm all for keeping the tension up, so I will take a look at this.

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

That is, after all, what gloves do.

Ah, these are supposed to be 'tech gloves' with active warming (as it were). I've referred to them as self-warming.

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

a paper birch, she thought

On re-reading, yes, I'm happy with the correction.

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

Also, delete the bolded hyphen

Much obliged for this one too, I learned something today. I'm usually the one moving about insufficient hyphenation, so this was a good learning point :) 

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

Precision F-Strike

Lol, yes, fair comment. I've changed the second F-bomb to 'b-l-o-o-d-y', as I want to retain the rhythm of the sentence.

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

she shuddered as though

Yup, I'll take this one too (with a slight tweak). 

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

That sounds pretty cheap

It does, doesn't it? They're now $479.99. This is a numismatist in-joke, as Canada withdrew the penny from circulation in 2012 and transactions now are rounded to 5c. Although, I wonder if that applies to digital transactions or only cash ones? I can't remember, I haven't been to Canada sine 2017. Interestingly (I think) the case for withdrawing the penny was that it cost 1.6c to produce. Another interesting fact, the Currency Act (of Canada), stated that the penny was only legal tender for transactions up to 25c, i.e. if you handed a trader 30 pennies they could tell you to go raffle yourself (Scots expression, you get the gist).

Sorry, huge digression.

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

Expository dialogue that comes across as clunky to me

Yeah, I was treating myself to a Dirty Harry homage. On the basis that you're the only complainant so far, I think I'll keep it for a little longer :) 

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

villain who spends so much of his time talking

On 07/07/2019 at 5:13 AM, JWerner said:

If Q would at least acknowledge this, I think it could alleviate the cliché

I like that. I've tried an additional line. I think it fits.

Much obliged for the comments. Very helpful, thank you. :) 

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6 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Since this was my first time reading

Huh, really? I'm all mixed up on my time lines. I should have clocked that from your comments, of course. Don't worry critiquing will get easier :lol:  The next couple of chapters have more issues, I'm sure!

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