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JWerner

7/15/19—JWerner—Greek Confederates Chapter 3—5,863 words—L, V, G

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone,

Here's chapter 3. I tried to elaborate on the Greek+American culture bits, and if it falls short, please tell me so.
 
Summary of chapter 2: RL, while guarding a group of archaeologists excavating dragon fossils, is attacked by JT, leader of the BRs. He intends to get revenge on the M—feared federal mercenaries—that killed his daughter and other BRs years prior. He tells R that he wants her to scare frontier towns for some mysterious purpose, and she figures that he wants to use the dragon fossils as well. 
 
P.S. I made two big flubs. When B talks about compounding channels, she should be saying different channels, not the same. That was a major error on my part. Sorry. And I imply B was also a channeler right after A says she wasn't. That's really embarrassing; if nobody minds, I'm going to send a fixed version of this to the e-mail list. Sorry about that! If you have already read through it, please don't read through it again; just take me to task.
Edited by JWerner
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I did like the chapter overall! :) 

Strengths/parts I liked:

-I like how we get both a focus on the larger conflict in the world (scary people nearby the town) and something closer to JV's individual experience (side effects from the magic). Importantly, JV has an emotional investment in both of these, which is really important for getting me to care about. It reminds us that there's a bigger world out there without distracting too much from the immediate experiences of the characters

-The magic system in general intrigues me. Because the rules of this magic haven't been clearly established (unless they were in the previous two chapters), focusing on the limitations/consequences of the magic is more narratively interesting than it would have been to focus on the power of the magic itself. So far, I'm really looking forward to seeing what it brings! :)

-I like how we get hints about JV's past. She has a clear emotional connection to her uncle, which is important to situate her within the larger world. I felt satisfied for now with the little snippets we get from how she sees him, and I think the mystery about what exactly happened to him is healthy for the story.

Suggestions:

-Personally, I first got invested in the story by the bottom of page 2, when we hear about the death and start to see what it means to JV. The part before that didn't have a clear conflict for me to latch onto. I would recommend either trying to cut it down or go through some of those details after establishing the initial conflict of the chapter.

-The details that JV recalls about D at the bottom of page 5 don't give me a clear view of what those moments meant to JV. This seems like a really important moment for the chapter, and right now the details are spread a little thin and seem somewhat typical experiences for a character in this setting. I think focusing on describing one of those elements in more detail could make the moment feel more personal for JV. Alternatively, I personally don't mind not knowing much at all about D for now.

-Page 9 and the top half of page 10 halt a bit of the story's momentum for me. Page 9 gives us a bit of background, but doesn't give me a better understanding of JV's conflicts. The thoughts about money one page 10 were partially discussed before earlier, so I didn't get as much as I could have out of those sections. I will say that I did like the paragraph of JV thinking about the ranch because it gave us a better understanding of her past and therefore more insight into her current emotional struggles. 

-When AD enters the scene, it feels like the story is making it a bit too obvious how different and mysterious she is. In particular, the fact that she handles strong alcohol well seems designed to catch JV's (and our) attention instead of using specific personality traits or motivations to set AD apart from the other people in the town.  To me it seems like the main way in which JV and AD are connected is through magic, and I liked the part when they talk about the consequences they faced because of it. Putting more of the focus on that instead of AD's general mysteriousness could give me a better idea of who she is. 

-I didn't notice BL's presence as much as the story wants me to, I think. Because she plays such an important role at the end, I would like for her to have a larger impact in the conversation between AD and JV beforehand. 

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This could probably be edited down quite a bit. I didn't really get invested until near the end, once J starts tending bar and talking to the out of towners. Before that, it's just a lot of rustic life that doesn't progress things much. We know it's been a half year, and J sold the farm. Aside from describing townfolk, there isn't a lot else happening. The description of her injuries after taking the Channels is good, once we get there, but also doesn't need to take up that much space.

This is prescriptive, but you could probably cut everything prior to the bar scene, and have J fill in the relevant information in thoughts while B and A are asking questions.

I also might have figured out what's bothering me about the Greek/frontier, noted below.


Notes while reading
pg 4: some interesting things about the frontier/Greek fusion religion, but it's starting to drag about now. No one's doing anything except telling what going on, which true to a frontier town, is not that interesting.

pg 5: I think I know what's putting me on edge with the frontier/Greek mashup. It's too like the evangelical US south, but replacing one big beard in the sky with another. There's really no difference to actual western culture, just a name change to the deity. Actual Greek culture was so different from this that it's almost an appropriation--taking a name from one place and pasting it on another thing just so it sounds different.

pg 5: "the day after she’d been released from Doctor G’s care and went to see her uncle D’s body"
--Oooh...this is the girl from the first chapter. I did not get that until now.

pg 7: "“Yer pupil’s all mushy-looking and the iris’s gone all black to match."
--1) ew and 2) What happened to her eye? Was this something from the first chapter I'm forgetting? It's been a few weeks.
--Ah. it seems like this is an effect of the three things she drank at once. I still don't completely remember the connection to her eye.

pg 11: "thinking that there would be no consequences to drinking three different Channels at once"
--Right. That's what I thought.

pg 12: "After a half-year of studying recipes"
--oh, has it been that long since the accident?

pg 16: “A Spyglass, an Iron Knuckle and an Elixir,"
--Ah, so there was one that affected vision.

pg 17: B and A are the most interesting characters so far.

pg 19: Well, an interesting end to the chapter, but not a lot happened up to that part.

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Posted (edited)

So, is this the same character from the first chapter? I honestly can't remember. If it is, I actually like this much better as an introductory chapter for her. There's not as an abrupt shift between this chapter and the information in R's, and R I feel like is the stronger introduction to the world than the first chapter, the contents of which I have retained next to nothing. 

If this is a different character, then I would caution against having 3 POVs in as many chapters right at the beginning of a book. Too many POVs at the beginning makes me feel like I'm being yanked in too many directions too quickly.  I want to get settled in with a character and a setting, at least a little, before moving to something or someone completely different. I want to have enough time and story to care about the people I'm reading about and that can't happen for me when I get too many POVs thrown at me before I'm hooked into the world.

I actually liked the slice-of-life sections in the beginning, they provide good characterization and setting, however, I feel like they could probably do with being shortened or condensed slightly. It feels like a lengthy setup for not much of a payout when the chapter ends so abruptly and with such a different feeling from the beginning. 

 

As-I -go:

 

"a ball of wool the size of a human head" -- As a nerd aside, wool is a protein fiber and protein fibers are naturally flame-retardant and self-extinguishing. It takes a sustained and continuous, decently hot flame to get wool to really burn on its own. Additionally, drinking-strength whiskey is not a great accelerant, especially at room temperature. It'll provide a flash, but the flame it produces is easily extinguished and not terribly hot.  So, this wool ball would likely char and smoke quite a bit only around where the alcohol is burning, but once the alcohol is gone, then it would quickly extinguish itself, quit smoking and just sit there.  It definitely wouldn't be consumed by flames in the manner of an offering. It would also make the entire room smell like burned hair (and maybe rotten eggs). Wool is pungent when burned, lol.   

If you want a good material for burned offerings, plant-based fibers and materials are much more likely to maintain a steady consuming flame when exposed to small amounts of drinking-strength alcohol. if you want to see wool in action (I find the effect absolutely amazing), I found this really cool youtube video of a guy taking a blowtorch to a bunch of raw wool. I think it's so cool the way it just puts itself out when the torch isn't on it. Video link: https://youtu.be/Zp6v6Oa68BY

 

The greek elements are still confusing to me. I agree with @Mandamon that the mostly-Christian church with multiple Greek gods pretty much one-for-one swapped for Christian iconography feels very odd and continues to draw me out of the story. 

"rests in peace in Hades’ realm" -- for instance, this is not how the Greek mythological underworld works at all --  it's using Christian imagery but with Greek mythological names swapped in, and that is off-putting to me.

 

"Used to sell insurance" -- Trigun callout? Interesting. 

Edited by industrialistDragon
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Posted (edited)

31 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

So, is this the same character from the first chapter?

Yes.

31 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

The greek elements are still confusing to me.

Yeah, from the sound of everyone's feedback, it just isn't working. Not sure what to do with it for now, but I do not want to remove it outright. I'll give some thought on how it can be more believably integrated into the world.

31 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

Trigun callout? Interesting. 

Indeed! 

31 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

this is not how the Greek mythological underworld works at all

I think what you are capable of doing in Elysium is up for interpretation, though I agree that the idiom I used probably doesn't fit. 

Edited by JWerner
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On 7/18/2019 at 5:10 PM, JWerner said:

Yeah, from the sound of everyone's feedback, it just isn't working. Not sure what to do with it for now, but I do not want to remove it outright. I'll give some thought on how it can be more believably integrated into the world.

Before I get into my critique, I want to talk about this a bit.

First and foremost, I say do not remove it. It's interesting and different and you have the writing chops to make it work. True, it's not quite clicking with the people in this group yet but it's been a month since we saw chapter 1 and I feel that it's clicking more and more as you go. I think a lot of readers will be drawn to the story just based on the Ancient Greek aspect alone.

But where is the disconnect coming from? I'm thinking from three primary places:

1) Everyone is so used to standard westerns (either through novels or TV or movies) that when we read your story we see American Western novel first. Because of this, everything else feels like it's being layered on top of that. But what I think you are going for, and correct me if I'm wrong, is instead a world where Ancient Greece never faded away and instead spread across the globe culminating in the world you are writing, which happens to have a Rustic Frontier setting (NOT an American Western setting). 

2) Stemming from 1, part of the disconnect stems from the naming convention you are using. The cities are good, but everyone is named like they could be out on the panhandle today. They have names that have become cliche as American Western names. I think if the characters were named with an (evolved) Ancient Greece naming convention, it would help the readers get over the hump because they (we) would stop seeing American Western and start seeing New Athenian Frontier. 

3) Not only are you trying to tell a New Athenian Frontier story, but in 3 chapters you introduced this setting, a unique magic system AND some futuristic technology. I'm not saying you can't have it all, but with so much being introduced, it's hard for a reader to catch their footing in the setting, which in the case of this story, I think needs to happen first. This chapter does a GREAT job of helping us find traction, though, and I think you're on the right path.

Which brings me to my actual feedback for the chapter:

There's a lot I like about this chapter. The writing (with only a couple exceptions) was clear and concise. Considering very little happens, I thought it was paced well. I disagree about cutting the front too much. I actually really really liked seeing the town. Kinda felt like a Stars Hollow vibe. I was more invested than I was during the action packed chapters.

Gripes: 
- J is VERY passive in this chapter. Not just passive but for most of the chapter she is a passive observer. We get told so much information but most of the info doesn't affect J in any significant way. She doesn't make any decisions, she doesn't actively do anything that moves the story forward. Luckily, there is the illusion of progress with the selling of the farm, but really this happens off screen before the chapter begins. By the time we see that this decision was significant to her, the decision has already been made.
- The dialogue. I don't mind the colloquial speak (Though if these people's English evolved from Ancient Greek, wouldn't their accents, cliches and the like be different?) but I did notice that all the characters have very similar voices. With the exception of a heavier accent here or there, the dialogue doesn't really tell me much about the characters.

As I went:

1
- I like what you're trying to do with the description of the alter but it becomes kinda a slog by the end of the paragraph.

2
- "gray—or was it orange?—bottle" Is she color blind?
- "leaving lover" - Alliteration dilutes poignancy.
- "J watched it leave..." Need a stronger word than leave here.

3/4
- "And J knew she would." Awk. I'd cut.
- "hell or high water" Cliches should be more Greeky.
- Pretty big info dump here.

5/6/7/8
- "They’d never bake another venison stew..." I like all this but I'm still not sure I understand the nature of their relationship, but it is good character/world building.
- "“Lords, girl. Just a little drop of blood won’t kill ya, though I suppose cryin’ blood ain’t a good omen." I love this.
- This whole chapter is a significant tone shift from the first two. Personally, I like it so far, but keep in mind that you've at least momentarily lost the illusion of progression.

11
- Writing Excuses has forever biased me against getting a character description in a mirror like this. I don't remember the episode but they were talking about the "tells" of inexperienced writers (things that get agents and editors to put your book down) and this is one of them.
- "nothing to suit her mood" Is that what she wants? I feel like you meant to say something different than suit.

12
- I like what you have so far, but over halfway into the chapter and J hasn't done anything proactive. There's not even any internal struggle about something she might have to do coming up.
- "He didn’t press for more, as it was an open secret that there was a hand-bow beneath the bar." I love this.

13
- I don't mind run-on sentences (big fan of David Foster Wallace) but this one loses its thread about 2/3rds in and just becomes awkward.
- "sounded like he was trying to swallow half a dozen boogers from the back of his nostrils" Gross. Awesome.
- The anecdote about the chicken is cute, but it breaks the flow of the narrative. Could this be incorporated into dialogue?

19
- No more comments after page 13. Good hook (literally) at the end.

Good work! Looking forward to Chapter 4.

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I was thrown by how long this takes place after J's other chapter. If her first one is a prologue, I'm wondering if it would be better to have this follow right after the prologue. That would give readers more time to invest in J as a character and get to know a portion of the world. On the other hand, part of me was wondering if J's prolouge actually needs to be there at all...

One thing this chapter doesn't do, but could or should do, is finally give readers a sense of how the Greek influence came to be in this world. The scene in the temple is the perfect place to do that, but at the end of it all, I still don't understand how the Greek stuff came to be in this world. 

 

"The strength of approach her friends again..." Should this be "the strength to approach?" 

Speaking of friends, I was very confused by this whole thread. Had the friends stopped talking to her because of the her injuries? Because she looked maimed? I don't get it. The line "...who'd been keen to forget her after...That Evening was what she referred that awful day to, and turned away." If so, they are pretty bad friends and I really don't want her to get them back. Or did something else happen? Does this thread about the bad friends need to be there? I found it a little distracting. The wording in that sentence I just quoted is also a little confusing. 

"..with barrels for arms and a dried..." So when i first read this, I thought you meant he literally had barrels instead of arms, like he lost his arms and the prosthetics were some kind of barrels. But the dried prune part kind of indicated the whole thing was a metaphor. Still, consider rewording. 

"...pride for avenging her uncle's murder. But the sight had unnerved her friends." Two things about this line. 1. When she hears about the black night sighting, she starts thinking about revenge, but here it says she already killed the person who killed her uncle. So she already got her revenge. 2. This does confirm why the friends stopped talking to her, and it just makes me hate the friends. Me hating the friends distracts me from figuring out what the actual plot is going to be. 

The chapter seems to pick up more when the strangers get to the saloon, and the end of the chapters works well for me. 

On 7/17/2019 at 11:55 AM, Mandamon said:

This could probably be edited down quite a bit. I didn't really get invested until near the end, once J starts tending bar and talking to the out of towners. Before that, it's just a lot of rustic life that doesn't progress things much. We know it's been a half year, and J sold the farm. Aside from describing townfolk, there isn't a lot else happening. The description of her injuries after taking the Channels is good, once we get there, but also doesn't need to take up that much space.

This is prescriptive, but you could probably cut everything prior to the bar scene, and have J fill in the relevant information in thoughts while B and A are asking questions.

I mostly agree with this, but I would still keep the part in the temple and try to use it as a way to shore up the world building. 

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Overall

For reference, this is on the revision, not the original.

Overall I was... confused. What was the arc to this chapter? What did it add to the forward momentum of the story? Was it just a backstory/info dump chapter? I felt like there was too much dialogue and not enough tension. The tension that I think was supposed to build in the temple never did because I didn't have enough buy-in.

I think if you cut maybe half of this chapter out, that would help. Then perhaps some streamlining of the worldbuilding with a specific look at tension elements. I think the story is in there, it's just too padded out right now to be easily accessible.

On 7/17/2019 at 8:55 AM, Mandamon said:

I think I know what's putting me on edge with the frontier/Greek mashup. It's too like the evangelical US south, but replacing one big beard in the sky with another. There's really no difference to actual western culture, just a name change to the deity. Actual Greek culture was so different from this that it's almost an appropriation--taking a name from one place and pasting it on another thing just so it sounds different.

I deeply agree with this. Also Greek culture was very, very gay, so I'd expect to see elements of that everywhere. 

 

As I go

- pg 5: Leading with 'you have nothing to worry about' doesn't seal any tension for me. I'm trying to figure out why we are getting so much discussion about things we don't need to worry about

- pg 5: 'Blacknight' doesn't mean anything to me so again, tension isn't building

- pg 8: the chapter is wandering. I can't figure out what the arc or the through line is. It is hard to keep from skimming

- pg 15: still unclear what the point of this chapter is

- pg 19: it looks like the inciting incident starts on page 19? Wait, no, it doesn't seem to lead to anything else

 

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Comments.

(page 1)

- "The entire congregation stood to their feet" - redundant, saying the same thing twice.

- "for a different patron god" - 200 different coloured sashes?! Some of those must be very similar, easy to confuse.

(page 2)

- "like it was a leaving lover" - grammar made me go 'ugh'. I know there's a western parlance, but the narration is in a neutral voice, I think. In which case, I'd suggest 'departing lover' or 'lover leaving', so as not to divorce the noun (lover) from the determiner(?) (a).

- "the size of a human head laid" - tense: lay.

- "That’d be a lotta dead sheep" - there's a lot of explaining this point. I got it after 'sheep's stead'. It's important to trust the reader to understand. I'll admit I tend towards being a bit obscure sometimes, and not explaining quite enough, but that's because I'm trying not to over-explain, which costs words and is a reader turn-off, imo.

- "meager smoke" - disagree: as I recall from science class, hair burns like a mofo, and the addition of whisky will only power that reaction. Big flame.

- "The thought brought her little humor" - sorry, I'm pounding the line-by-line stuff here, which is not necessarily helping, but... surely it's 'brought her little amusement'. I don't think humour is what the recipient feels, it's what the source puts out. Could say 'found little humour in it'.

- "The congregants’ collective behinds descended back down into their pews" - For me, this is really over-written. They sat down.

- I like what's going on with J. I'm interested in the background information that I'm getting, but it's slow. J is the course of interest and conflict because of her ailments, imo.

- When I read 'reflux', I'm thinking acid indigestion.

(page 3)

- "his congregation collectively silently lifting their heads" - Oooh, double adjective? That's way awkward.

- "a letter from the front" - the front of what? I don't recall any mention before about there being a war on. Seems very abstract.

(page 4)

- "nobody in town ever seemed to know exactly where the war was being fought" - This vagueness turns me off. We know pretty much nothing about this war, so why should I care about it? What are the stakes?

- black knights kind of bothers me, because there's only one 'k' on the page, so it seems like a conflation of 'black' and 'nights'.

(page 5)

- I feel like we've never really had much basis for the fear of the BKs, other than being told to fear them. What are their crimes?

(page 6)

- Ah, so this is J from the early chapter? But did you cut that, or is there a time jump that I don't remember? Suffering a bit from WRS, I think. Her vengefulness is interesting, and when her eye starts bleeding, oooh. Ah, wait, I've been tripped up by a line on Page 1. It's 'nowadays J it was hard for her to make out colours'. I thought she was old, because of all the infirmity, the stick. My bad.

(page 7)

- "hanging above their hands" - above their heads?

(page 8)

- "I humbly placate myself" - That's not what 'placate' means, but it's okay for a character not to know grammar.

- "droll deliver" - delivery. Also, seems she also doesn't know what placate means. Going back to the last point. While characters can talk wrong, it's not great for the reader to engage with.

- "without turning his back from" - grammar. This means he's got his back to the lettuce, and doesn't turn his back away from it.

- "We could use the competition" - What?! No!! No business person said that EVER. If they're the only place in town the last thing they want is another eatery to take trade away.  I gotta way I'm starting to lose patience with this chapter.

- "trying not to lose the frantic rhythm" - if they're chatting away, that's not frantic to me. Frantic to me is playing ping-pong. I didn't get a sense of frantic. Frantic in a kitchen is bad, it implies lack of control, imo.

- "an impatient process" - the process isn't impatient, she is. The process would be frustrating, or something.

- What on earth does it matter which side the rail is on? It's good description of hero problems with mobility, but it doesn't matter, it doesn't affect the story, so it's just holding the story back.

(page 9)

- "to the other bars and delis" - but I thought there was no competition? Seems inconsistent.

- "She pictured a bird..." - This description felt really quite tortured to me. Why would she imagine this? She's on the ground, she'll never be off the ground in this way.

- "That Evening was what she referred that awful day to" - don't understand.

(page 11)

- "a pair of foxing novels" - What is a foxing novel? Confused.

- "disgustingness" - this is really not a compelling word, imo. The repetition is clumsy, for me.

- "drinking three different" - I'd forgotten about this. Maybe consider calling it out much earlier in the chapter?

- "did nothing to suit her mood" - Not the right word, imo. 'assuage' would be right, but not really in the tone of the story. 'relieve' would be fine.

- "hole-in-the-wall equivalent" - equivalent of what? Did you mean example, or type?

- "There was just enough tables" - 'were just enough tables'. Okay. That was the last straw for me this time around. I'm not going to mention any more grammar in this one. It's just too rough for that kind of pass. I always start out tagging grammar, because I think it's useful, but maybe not this time around. Sorry.

- "punched drachmas" - so, there are coins attached to the wall? They must be tiny. Seems like a odd decoration: you'd need to stand right next to them a peer closely to see the detail. I've seen bank notes attached to bar walls, numerous times, but never coins.

(page 12)

- "some shut-eye" - Shut-eye?! Really?! Ouch, she's joking, right? She says shut-eye to the girl with one eye? I think I'd take a swing at her.

(page 13)

- First paragraph has a sentence over five lines long. Real confusing. Main point though, there's good advice about ending your sentence or your paragraph with the important words. So, in the case of the two women, her head being slumped is the powerful bit, surely, not the fact that she's wearing a bandana. And why not just call it a bandana, instead of a strip of cloth tied around her head, which is way wordy?

- This bugs me. J is chatting to the cobbler, then the woman butts in, then back to the cobbler, then she starts things about a chicken, and it's all seems so random and I can't see how any of it matters, and none of these thoughts or conversations actually finishes. And then it's actually called out as being stupid and implausible, a chicken as governor?!?!?! Of course it is, you really, really, really don't need to explain that to the reader, and if J needs to ask herself if it's stupid and implausible then... I just don't know what to say here.

(page 14)

- "ply my eye out of me" - :huh:  What? This makes no sense to me. Did you mean 'pry'?Why would she think that was the point of the comment? It feels like this weird response in only in there so that we can hear the answer "Spoon would be easier". I feel this is aiming for smart/snappy/sassy, but it's got to make sense if its going to work, imo.

- "surmounted from where the sound of her kicks phased through her side of the bar-counter" - This makes no sense to me. Surmounted is wrong: it's 'surmised'. What are kicks? How are they phasing? What does it mean?

- Character is tough because they can down a strong drink is a big western cliché for me. I feel like it's low hanging fruit, and yet, somehow I feel it fits the tone of the story, since we've already got the Greek and US culture mash-up. I don't feel that the story is grim and gritty. I find a lightness to the tone that this sort of thing seems to fit with.

(page 15-19)

- Well, I whipped through to the end when the action started, so that was good. The dialogue between B, A and J was okay, although all the 'ya's got a bit tiresome after a while.

- There's some confusion at the end where B is nodding to one another but A's not there, but then L aims at the two of them.

- Cliffhanger ending? Meh. Is that the end of the chapter? Certainly I'd keep reading for the reason. If you're going to perpetrate a cliffhanger, go all in, an d I think you did that. If you do it all the time, we'll have a problem though.

Overall 

Frustrated by the writing issues. I'm thinking this is first draft, quite a lot of fixing to be done. It was really slow at the start: took me at least six pages to get any momentum. I do like the potential of this potion and brewing stuff, but I have concerns about how there is also this stuff with batteries going on at the same time.

On the Greek US thing, I got no inkling about the background, which I was expecting from your intro. The burning question I have is how did this happen? Who decided that the people of the US remaining after... whatever, were going to abandon Christianity and start following the Greek Pantheon? How did they go about ripping up the constitution (which I presume they've done?) Surely there were religious wars with those refusing to put aside their faith. So many questions, but I'm feeling now that there isn't going to be an answer.

I hope this is useful.

<R>

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On 18/07/2019 at 11:45 PM, industrialistDragon said:

As a nerd aside, wool is a protein fiber and protein fibers are naturally flame-retardant and self-extinguishing. It takes a sustained and continuous, decently hot flame to get wool to really burn on its own.

I defer to the Chief Wool Nerd. Hair I've seen burning was all in sustained flame.

On 20/07/2019 at 11:53 PM, hawkedup said:

It's interesting and different and you have the writing chops to make it work.

I agree with the first two points, but I'm not convinced about the third. I think it can work, but you have to provide a completely compelling rationale for why and how this happened. I'm not saying you have to put it in the book, but you have to be utterly convinced that you can provide a compelling case for it if you get into a debate. And, most importantly, you have to do a sht-ton of research to make it a completely convincing Greek-based culture. I think @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon have nailed a form to the shapeless discomfort that I was feeling. Greek names tacked onto straight western culture. I mean, where to the hydras come from, the harpies? It just doesn't hang together yet, IMO.

I think the way to convince me is to read a book about Greek daily life and then come back to this story. There is no shame in having a great idea, but needing to develop more skills in order to write it. And also, simplicity and clarity are very compelling for a reader, but the more clutter there is in terms of themes, ideas and departures from 'the norm' the harder it gets to deliver a clear and compelling piece.

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