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Robinski

Robinski - 190728 - TCC Chapter 04 - 4948 words (LVG)

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Hey all, hopefully there is not too much WRS me having missed a week through my own dough-headedness.
 
Chapter 4. Tagged accordingly.
 
Chapter Recap:
 
01 - In small town in British Columbia, Q and M close out the Not-All-That-Curious Case of the Stolen Art;
02 - Q and M decide on what to do next, all the options seem to have some issue or other. Q's ex-father calls;
03 - After some political machinations, we meet EM (the administrator) and TT (the scientist) who at Gen Ex Trick in Yellowknife, NWT
 
Cheers, Robinski
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Oooh I'm the first one this time! 

I didn't make any comments as I read the first part. I was very engaged with T's POV. The sections was oozing with tension and emotion. Initially, I was a little annoyed that it took so long to learn what M actually said to her, but I wouldn't change it because the emotion in the part, her reaction to what he asked, was so compelling. Plus, not knowing what it was motivated me to keep reading. Trying to figure it out before it was revealed kept me engaged. Plus, there were enough hints that I kind of already knew what he was asking. However, for some reason, I thought had been the topic of the phone call T had in the previous chapter...of course it wasn't. T didn't have a phone call scene. I was confusing G with T. They are very different characters, but there have been a lot of new characters introduced over the last two chapters, so I'm not surprised I'm struggling to keep track of who is who. 

With the second part, I did make a few notes as I read. 

Page 14

"What scared him was the cost of failure, the systematic dismantling of his entire life. Social standing..." I had to re read this a couple times. I got the gist of it right away, but something about the structure muddled it for me so I had to go back and reread. 

Page 15

Here, I'm starting to get lost in M's internal thoughts. It has a sort of stream of consciousness feel, but I found myself needing to back track and re-read to make sure I was following everything. 

Page 16

"Surprising he wasn’t dead already." Is M surprised this guy isn't dead because he knows the beasts are loose? I'm a little confused here.

Page 17

“As I knew they would when you outlined your plan. Don’t call again until everything’s fixed. I mean everything.” Wasn't the plan to let them out? I'm a little confused by this conversation. 

Overall, I was engaged with M's section. He's one of those characters I enjoy hating, and I hope he gets eaten by something or caught by Q & M and sentenced to a long time in jail. I thought most of the bits of his backstory were well integrated, but for the last few pages, I was following the gist of the story but getting confused on some of the specifics.

I'm looking forward to the next installment, but I'm also hoping that there are not more new characters and that we get back to Q and M soon.  

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I agree with @shatteredsmooth on the first section. Very engaging with T's thoughts. I got a bit confused in the next section trying to figure out exactly where everyone was going, and the logistics of getting the creatures out. Seems like there would have been more safeguards?

The only other quibble I had is that M could have remote-detonated the M.T.s, couldn't he? I get that he was trying to get to T, but wouldn't exploding them maybe finish her off as well? Or does he not have the codes?

 

Notes while reading:

pg 6: No comments so far. I think there's some more emotion added in the previous pages, which is good. I feel a lot more for T than I remember doing last time around. Her decisions are the wrong ones, but feel like she would have made them.

pg 7: "Why doesn’t M just do it himself?"
--I was getting to this point as well, so good job asking the question at the right time.

pg 7: "Suddenly she realised that he might kill her once it was done"
--Seems likely...which means she should probably do something about it.
--edit: ah, she is.

pg 9: "opening the goods lift door in the wall"
--I'm not really sure of the blocking here, and where the M.T. are going. Also, is T doing this with her own login now? What was the point of using the intern's?

pg 9: "Her walk to the elevator"
--Still not sure where she's moving vs. where the M.T. are moving.

pg 10: "the goods lift from Level Six arrived"
--ok, they are going to the same place. I was unclear.

pg 11: "Without exposition, Morton reached back inside the office and the goods lift door began to slide up"
--Again, not completely sure on the blocking here. T has to go operate the crate doors, because plot I suppose, then M is in the room she was in? Is there some other barrier between the control room and the lift?

pg 12: "a black figure was outlined in gold"
--not sure why the M.T. aren't also going after M?

pg 13: "That would be as good..."
--This is a very long sentence.

pg 13: "If only she had not tried to smuggle them out"
--ah, this at least gives a reason for how M thinks he will get away with it.

pg 15: "if the beasts actually were sighted at large in Y"
--Didn't they have head-explody collars? Can't they just kill them remotely once M "discovers" what happened?

pg 16: "H’s security officer"
--Do we know what this company is?

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Overall

Although I like the general narrative, I felt like both characters were over the top in this installation. M is a giant mustachio villain and T has a lot of panic and I don't know why, not really. I thought you did the homophobic slurs line beautifully, and there was some great dialogue in here!

As I go

- pg 3: woah. I had to read the 'five minutes later' paragraph three times. Because she's in that giant sweater and nothing else, and his reactions, there is some implied violence there and yet there isn't actually any and that's some pretty damnation fine writing even if it does make me squirm

- pg 3: the 'inhumane coercion' line is a bit over the top and melodramatic

- pg 4: oh wow there M. Pull out all the slurs. My favorite part though is that it is narrative refuted right there in the sentence with the addition of 'every other color of the rainbow.' That's excellent villainy writing, that is

- pg 5: 'face-sucking cold' is a perfect line

- pg 10: So.... is it that M is just threatening to expose her relationship E? Is that all this is about? Because it seems like a LOT of self hate and depreciation for a little infidelity. Not that I'm a proponent of infidelity, but I don't think I'd release monsters or whatnot over it, either. So if that IS what's happening, I might need more why.

- pg 11: I feel like I'm getting lost. I'm still not clear what she is doing, and I'm getting antsy

- I think the start of M's POV is a little too tell. It sucked the tension away.

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi, @Robinski! Glad to see we have some forward movement here.

But. I had some issues with this chapter.

The five minutes later thing doesn't work for multiple reasons. First, and foremost, it's jarring. I had to stop and go back just to make sure it happened. It feels like you're trying to emphasize how big this moment is to T by showing us her reaction first, which isn't necessarily a bad idea, but this is problematic because now I'm expecting something big and I'm disappointed when it's something I've seen a thousand times before. Blackmail about homosexual infidelity. Meh. Seems kinda tame especially considering this is the future and T probably should have realized there was a chance of getting caught. 

Then there's the fact that she mopes  for a few more pages about it and it becomes annoying, fast. Has this woman never experienced adversity or hardship? Did she not think about someone using this against her when she chose infidelity? She is a doctor at a high clearance facility is she not? I'm having a really hard time liking her.

 My second big issue is not revealing what M asks her to do until she's doing it. Once again, I think you're holding back information to build up tension, but what tension? We know about three things about T, one of which is that she's a doctor who oversees these weird animals, so it's not like you can surprise us with the reveal. And for half of her section I'm sitting here wondering if I missed something. This leads to re-reading followed by skimming. 

The bigger issue, though, is that you've now set a very--VERY--dangerous precedent: The unreliable narrator. With a tight third person POV, readers expect a certain level of knowledge to be passed along to them. Now though, for the rest of the book, I'm going to be wondering what the author (not the character but the author) is holding back. I've seen this type of story telling work before, but it's rare. Kelsier from Mistborn immediately comes to mind, but Brandon earns that reveal over the course of the book and only does it once.


I agree with the others about M's section feeling showy and lacking payoff. I mentioned this in Shatter's thread, but each section really should revolve around a specific scene, and I don't feel that in M's POV. It's more a string of internal musings that don't really clear up 1) why he blackmailed T and 2) why this particular plan.

A few more things I'd look out for: The string of big blocky paragraphs kinda feels monotonous after a while. You have a habit of making entire paragraphs out of short and choppy sentences, which works in some places but sometimes feels clunky since there are other sections where the syntax is very different. I'd also pay special attention to who, exactly, the subject of the narration is at any moment. I've noticed you rely heavily on the reader seeing a pronoun and defaulting it to the POV character. Yes, you can get away with this, but there were a few times where you said she and were talking about T but the actual paragraph told me that "she" was someone else.

EG: "E would know what to do, but that would drag her into this mess. She would not do that. This was her problem." It's not a big deal, and it's clear from what came before that T is thinking about herself, if you look back, but strictly speaking that bolded she is referring to E and not T. Very, very minor but in some instances enough to make a reader double take and lose the flow.

Wow. That was all pretty negative, which is misleading because I felt this was the strongest chapter so far. I didn't feel the need to make many line-by-line notes because I was mostly engaged throughout, and most importantly I feel like the story has FINALLY begun. Things are moving. There's mystery and suspense and characters I have feelings toward (mostly dislike but that's okay because I like Q and M). I'm actively excited to find out what happens next!
 

Edited by hawkedup
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Overall: There was some good stuff in this chapter. I liked T.’s emotional rollercoaster, as well as seeing the disaster unfold through T.'s perspective (it was pretty exciting), but I was concerned about having yet another POV character as well as knowing all the information of the mystery I presume Q&M are going to have to solve. 

 

POVs: I think I had this same concern the last time I read these submissions, but so far there have been a lot of point-of-view characters, without a real focus on any of them, or why the reader should care – something is happening in the facility and we’re getting to see it from several perspectives.

I feel this would work better in a visual medium as a sort of montage, rather than in a book. The titular main characters haven’t had much time to shine in this so far and personally I’d rather figure out what was going on along with them rather than having it all shown beforehand. But maybe that’s just me :)

 

Forward and back: I had to pause a bit at the five minute later part, where we start with the fallout of what M. had to say to T. and then double back to what has just happened. At first read it felt like we were skipping over the interesting part, where M. tells T. what he knows and wants from her and then seeing her reaction along with that. Instead we skip to the end and have T. brood on it.

 

Emotional: I liked the emotions the scene with M. and T. invoked. Powerful stuff, and it helps in quickly getting us invested in T..

 

Blackmail: I can sort of get why she’d go along with something to prevent her affair from coming out, but looking at it objectively it doesn’t feel a compelling enough reason to go along with M.’s plan – the cost to the affair coming out versus to cost of getting caught, or even succeeding in what she’s going to do, feels disproportionate.

 

Convoluted plan: M’s plan in this feels overcomplicated, and hinges from the very start on everything going his way. If T. had refused at any point, and just accepted what he had on her and faced the music, it wouldn’t have worked. For a man who has the kind of security access to scrub security feeds, wouldn’t it be easier to get T.’s credentials from the system or from her, do the work himself, use an android to open the gates, leave T.’s body for food for the creatures, and then scrub every security feed with him on it?

Additionally, the contact for M. at the end (the Old Man?) knew the plan was most likely going to fail because it was too convoluted – then why let M. go through with it?

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Sorry this is a little scattered. It's like I'm planning for a trip across the ocean or something! ;) 

 

5-minutes -- It's an odd little time jump, but it didn't bother me too much and I followed it fairly easily. I don't think leaving it as-is would be too bad. 

T's reaction is ... like @kais said I feel like there's a lot of melodrama going on here. It feels especially at odds with the controlled and ruthlessly pragmatic way T was behaving in the last part. It really felt to me like last time, that T had already considered this possibility, that she'd be caught somehow,  because she was ruthless and pragmatic like that. It feels odd to open with her being a crying mess and unable to get a hold of herself, and seriously contemplating suicide. (especially with M, in front of whom she last time didn't want to express any emotion at all.)  A little bit of panic, yes, but someone who can separate their emotions from their desire enough to apparently use sex to manipulate multiple people for career advancement to just fall apart over getting discovered? And this has never happened before, she has never thought of what would happen if she was caught in one of her assignations? I am having a hard time believing.  I want emotion and reactions, yes, but not necessarily more drama, if that makes sense? 

What if M discovered the other lady, maybe? The one with political power? Ehh, even then... I'm having a hard time coming up with something that would put someone like T into such a corner that capitulation was the only thing they could think of to do... Because it doesn't really feel to me like M has enough dirt on E to get her over a barrel like that. An affair with a mid-level scientist just doesn't feel that big of a deal. It's implied T's manipulated people her hole adult life, and here she is falling prey to like the most basic of blackmail? 

I think I want a bit more of T's plan to get back at M a little more spelled out maybe. I'm still not entirely sure how the intern's login is going to do anything other than just get the poor intern in trouble...

 I think I kind of agree with @Asmodemon that the T and M povs, while good, do take away from the idea that this is actually the Q and M story it's supposed to be. 

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Thanks so much for reading SSmooth,

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I was very engaged with T's POV. The sections was oozing with tension and emotion.

:D 

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I was confusing G with T. They are very different characters, but there have been a lot of new characters introduced over the last two chapters, so I'm not surprised I'm struggling to keep track of who is who.

Yup, certainly I can forgive that, and in Chp.3, T is very passive. I'll need to think on that. I feel what I want to do is make G's voice more distinctive, or set it apart in some way in that short POV she has.

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I got the gist of it right away, but something about the structure muddled it for me

Right. I took another pass at it. I think it's cleaner now. Thanks :) 

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Here, I'm starting to get lost in M's internal thoughts.

I've attempted to tidy up, and will go at again when I do my complete read through of this chapter, once I'm through all the cries.

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Surprising he wasn’t dead already

This is a reference to BR, and the MTs not having torn him to shreds already. I've edited to clean up and clarify, I hope.

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Wasn't the plan to let them out?

I edited earlier references to have M clarify the plan, but yes, you're right. This is an inconsistency, now fixed. Thanks :) 

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

He's one of those characters I enjoy hating, and I hope...

Awesome! And, we shall see...

On 30/07/2019 at 5:31 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm also hoping that there are not more new characters and that we get back to Q and M soon

Yes to the second, and er, maybeeeeeee to the first :unsure: 

Great comments, thank you for reading, some good fixes there.

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Hey hey :)

People have made a lot of the comments I had in mind, mostly that I was engaged almost the whole way through but didn't really understand why the plan was so seemingly convoluted. Oh, and the melodrama with T. I picture her as being a lot more savvy than I am with this dangerous business/politics stuff, and it was obvious to even me that following M's instructions wasn't going to go well for her. 

I will say that I thought many of the descriptions (about the beasts, or even T's breakdown when M first visits her) were wonderfully visceral. Sci-fi tends to feel a bit dense/abstract to me at times, so contrasting these foreign concepts with clear, powerful sensations does wonders for the story. 

I'll say that my largest comment was that I'm not entirely sure what this whole plan and the fallouts of it mean for the larger story with Q and M. Though I didn't get to read the first couple of chapters, so it's entirely possible that it's clear from the background you gave what this means to our main story. Still, I do wonder how much of this we need to see firsthand in order to get the general gist. If T and M here end up being pivotal characters, I think this chapter works, since we get good characterization of them both. Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure what the story gains from giving us a full 16 pages of an incident that Q and M could reasonably uncover at some point and that we would get the main gist of. 

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On 08/08/2019 at 2:21 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I picture her as being a lot more savvy than I am with this dangerous business/politics stuff, and it was obvious to even me that following M's instructions wasn't going to go well for her.

Good point. T might be more savvy with office politics, and the politics of science, but when it comes to blackmail, not so much. She's fairly quiet and not outgoing or confident, which I think comes across in the previous chapter, BUT, I think you make a good point here. I'm going to give T another thought or two about what the turnout with M might be in this situation.

On 08/08/2019 at 2:21 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I was engaged almost the whole way through but didn't really understand why the plan was so seemingly convoluted.

(a) Excellent :); (b) fair comment. For the most part, I'm not that bothered about the reader understanding what's going on in any great detail. The reader being a bit (but hopefully not too) confused at this point, I don't think (and I hope), is not to big problem, as I hope there is more than enough to concentrate on locally and more directly than the overarching plot.

On 08/08/2019 at 2:21 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I will say that I thought many of the descriptions (about the beasts, or even T's breakdown when M first visits her) were wonderfully visceral. Sci-fi tends to feel a bit dense/abstract to me at times, so contrasting these foreign concepts with clear, powerful sensations does wonders for the story. 

:D Awesome!

On 08/08/2019 at 2:21 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I'm not entirely sure what this whole plan and the fallouts of it mean for the larger story with Q and M.

Fair enough. There's really almost nothing to connect them at this point. I accept that. I hope it doesn't trip the reader up, but it's my job to keep them interested long enough to make a connection, of course.

On 08/08/2019 at 2:21 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

Though I didn't get to read the first couple of chapters, so it's entirely possible that it's clear from the background you gave what this means to our main story. Still, I do wonder how much of this we need to see firsthand in order to get the general gist. If T and M here end up being pivotal characters, I think this chapter works, since we get good characterization of them both.

Okay. If you want, I can send you the first couple of chapters (I presume you read Chp.3 in E's POV, without going back to check, sorry.) Fair comment again, and I guess I won't come out and tell you what happens, but I do take your point. I'll need to just let that ride at this point, and see how thing go down overall, reader reaction-wise.

Thanks so much for reading, Ace; much appreciated!

:) 

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