kais

08/26/19 - kais - Queen, Chapter 9, (3815 words) (L)

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There have been a lot of deep edits to the book thus far, and more to come. I’m not quite ready to start resubbing parts, but I would very much love feedback on this particular chapter. It’s also fine if you’ve read nothing of the story thus far. I’m after raw emotion here, not really anything else.

I know it is out of sequence with what you have already read, and you have plot elements missing. Mostly I’d like to get reactions on E’s interplay in the chapter, without any type of explanation or preamble from me, and see how it bounces off all of you before I tackle edits on it. The book as a whole has been green lit so once it’s complete it’ll go out—I likely won’t be able to sub it through chapter by chapter here, unfortunately. If anyone thinks they might be up for some alpha reading though, I’d be much obliged!

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8 hours ago, kais said:

f anyone thinks they might be up for some alpha reading though, I’d be much obliged!

What would the timeframe be on an alpha read?

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@shatteredsmooth well it’s not drafted yet. Once it is finished probably would need it in a week or so after. 

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10 hours ago, kais said:

@shatteredsmooth well it’s not drafted yet. Once it is finished probably would need it in a week or so after. 

OK. I'm interested in reading it, but whether or not I'd be able to do it would really depend on how many student essays I have to read whatever week you have it ready. 

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The pacing and tension in the chapter were good. E's interaction with A is a little strange. It went from complete hostility at the beginning to maybe some sexual tension at the end?
I did really like E showing up the inspector, but I was sort of lost as to how a genetics test proves anything about new Earth. I thought this was referencing something in an earlier chapter that I missed, but then A seems not to know about it either. Maybe a little more blocking of what's on the tablet vs. what E is doing to show even more competency?

Oh, and even if this is something from a previous chapter, maybe a few words on how many are in the shuttle? It felt like new people were popping up all the way through.

 

On 8/26/2019 at 10:16 PM, kais said:

Once it is finished probably would need it in a week or so after. 

As to Alpha reading, I may be able to take a stab at it, but not sure if I can read the whole thing in a week.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "Either they’d all been lied to about the planet, or they’d been lied to about physics, and Ember seriously doubted the latter."
--This might be a good place to add a line or so about emotion from being lied to.

pg 2: "that made E’s arm hair bristle."
--this seems like a weird thing to bristle, but ok.

pg 2: "but A put a hand on her shoulder"
--There are a lot of times A physically stops E when she could just say a word or two. Not necessarily bad, just noticing.

pg 3: "A man with dull beige skin"
--this sounds like he's a pair of khakis.

pg 4: "Ed tapped the screen of the tablet and glared."
--for all his face turning purple, the words here (even with a curse), seem strangely calm. Maybe an exclamation point at the end?

pg 6: "N shot her a warning look. K flicked the back of her chair."
--There are a lot of people on this ship that keep appearing out of nowhere.

pg 7: "More concerning"
--Really? Than the gun?

pg 7: "She coughed, bringing up phlegm and nearly gagging."
--this seems extreme for simply seeing that another type of sexual organ exists...

pg 7: "that could lead to a male on Q."
--Ah, she doesn't know yet. I'm probably missing something intervening chapters, then. Still, the reaction is extreme.

pg 9: I like the listing of steps. Shows E as very competent handling this sort of thing.

pg 9/10: I'm a little lost with what E is showing on the screen and how that ties in with new Earth. Maybe something in a previous chapter I'm missing, but I don't know how E's swab test links to anything.

pg 12: "not made me blow my...cover"
--Ok, evidently she's posing as a (male) agent somehow? Is this supported by previous chapters or something new here?

pg 14: “I’ve just never seen someone… disappear before."
--not sure I'm getting this. I didn't think E acted much different than usual. 

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Comments!! Glad to be bag to this story. Where the heck were we? Oh, yes.

(page 1)

- If new earth never existed, how did it rise? 

- "the remains of half-formed dream" - singular/ plural disagreement.

- "one-storey building" - I don't care if you don't want LBL. Read the Robinski T&Cs, you get them whether you like it or not ;)  (Are you glad to be back yet?)

- When E thought colony I thought the pres. Does the impossible equatorial base count as a colony?

- "could feel the resistance against the ship" - in an aircraft, you tend to feel it move, I think. What does resistance feel like?

(page 2)

- I like the lying line, but I'm still trying to figure if I  understand it. It may be hard WRS too, but doesn't the temperate strip qualify under these criteria?

- Okay, I remember now that E hasn't been the temperate zone, and it's N that has.

- "If they want some of us to come out of the flyer, you stay here" - the first part doesn't mesh with the second part, imo, from a logic viewpoint. How does it follow: if they want someone to come out, you stay here? These are not mutually exclusive.

(page 3)

- "Aye, aye, Captain" - two instances on this page: I'm convinced there's a comma needed in between.

- "industrial press" - lol

(page 5)

- "You only got coordinates once you cleared the atmosphere" - Hang on the sentence before says the location of the worlds is controlled, so how do you find the world and get into the atmosphere if you don't get the coords till you get in the atmosphere?

- "Visas didn’t even get issued to NE" - to me, this is phrasing the indicates NE has applied for a visa and it is issued to 'them'. 'visas for NE' I reckon is much clearer.

(page 6)

- "not going to endear me to you" - wrong way around:  should be 'endear you (the AI) to me (E)' - i.e. the AI is the one that needs to be endeared to E.

- What is a little colony duck? Don't understand.

(page 7)

- How is the penis random? Didn't we establish that this unexpected settlement didn't follow any of the rules of Q? I guess I'm still conflating the POVs of E and N to some extent, and the fact that N has been here for longer. This guy however has been male from the start of this conversation, but I suppose he's the first man E has seen in along time.

- "An anatomical male, nonetheless" - Should this not be 'no less'?

- "I sign an execution order for today" - Problem: I don't understand that set up of this unexpected settlement. Who has authority, who gives the orders, what is their system of governance. How big is it? I think this has been an underlying issue for me since it was introduced. I don't understand how  it fits into the world, or what its own organisation is. Things like this phrase imply strict governance and the rule of law (authoritarian, but still law), yet I can't bring myself to consider their society as organised because the whole place just seems incredibly transient. Why would anyone come to the planet for a 'conference' when all the coordinates of planets are so tightly controlled? I've forgotten what the conference is about, but wasn't it something incredibly prosaic? I forget.

- "The words slipped out" - it's just one word.

(page 8)

- "We’ll just go a bit from the ship" - What does this mean? I'm really struggling with this section. It's unclear to me what St is asking them to do, and it's unclear what their goal is here. Now, the M's goal probably was made clear in the last submission, which I forget, but there's no excuse for St to be unclear. 'You will accompany me to the security office where you will be questioned.

- "N might be dying" - Confused. If they've excepted her, she'll be dead, surely.

- "Use it in a faculty meeting and men took you more seriously" - But there are no men on Q... right? In the faculty meetings? Why would E reference this? It just confuses me.

(page 9)

- Ray? Test, what test? I'm soooooooo confused.

(page 10)

- "before she pushed OR pushing a palm-sized rectangular tablet pushed into Ember’s hand" - grammar. The tablet didn't push itself.

- "All said fundamentally the same thing" - I don't know what they're saying, and I don't know why it would make a difference. What does E need to take a test and the M don't, and what is the significance of the result of the test? Why does the test make him not want to shoot E any more? I don't understand.

- "mouth dropped open" - I'm sorry, I've just plain forgotten what it is about E that would make his mouth drop open, assuming I new in the first place. 

(page 11)

- Bit confused. She's seen shipments like this, but would not ever see the manifest of contents, just check the actual boxes for plant pathogens?

- The sudden jump to talk of fungi confuses me. What's the connection?

(page 12)

- "Name me one terraformed planet that grows roses" - I feel like I don't know any of this. For all I know they grow roses on any number of other planets. And I don't see how she knows this to be the case. 

- Oh, uh, right, but why does he care? What's the difference to him?

- "breaking out and knocking on" - Again, why does he care? He's got nothing invested in whether someone does that or not, does he? I don't really understand Ed's motivation.

- "jiggle" - What? That so does not sound like N's voice at all, to me.

(page 13)

- "can’t go back to the m camp now" - Huh? Why not? E's with the m.

- Ray again? What is going on?

“You sure about them?” he asked, lip raised in question. “You got all of them?” - no clue what this means. Sure about them how? Got them? How?

- "You’re a pain in my chull..." - this line, it's so awkward and forced. Really didn't like it.

(page 14)

- "We’ve come as far as we can. N has to do the rest" - Eh? What? That doesn't seem right at all. Won't someone be suspicious if they just sit there? What is the context for them even being here at all, if they were making a normal trip. Won't others ask questions, even though Ed / Ray has been browbeaten into going away? How is N supposed to know they are there, in A's assessment? I feel like the chapter needs a different ending, like E rejecting A's statement. That would give the story more momentum than this ending.

Overall 

There is a certain amount of WRS in my reading, but also a fair amount of frustration about things I feel are inconsistent or unexplained or illogical. All in all, I had something of a challenge with this chapter and I think it can be much better at taking the story forward in a much more tightly coherent way.

Hope that helps! :) 

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On 26/08/2019 at 4:35 PM, kais said:

I’m after raw emotion here, not really anything else.

My reaction was very like @Mandamon's. I'd love to alpha read for you, but I don't see me being able to read it in a typical week, and a I have novel to read for GSFWC, so I'll bow out, unless you're really jammed. Let me know.

Strangely, although there were a lot of things that confused me, I didn't feel there was a gap in the arc of their movements. Weren't they travelling the secret settlement anyway, or am I confusing E with N again?

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Sorry I'm a bit late getting to this. The return flight home really kicked my butt.

First of all, re: alpha reading: I would love to offer, but I suspect that the one-week timeline will be very tight for me, too. Keep me posted as to when you have a complete draft, I guess, and I'll see what I can do. I might be able to squeeze it in if it happens to fall on a week when I don't have any freelance deadlines.

So, I took you at your word in terms of reading out of sequence: I haven't read any other part of this one yet, so keep that in mind. I do suspect it's doing the story a disservice.

That being said I find I'm in agreement with most of what's been said here already. I think the pacing and tension of the chapter are very solid, and E. showing up the instructor was a delight to read. And I thought that calling him by the wrong name

When E. first reacts to the inspector and his body parts, the visceral reaction felt personal, i.e. she was reacting so strongly due to past experiences. Reading on, I see it's more that encountering people with that particular biology is rare in this area of the galaxy and that's why it's a shock, so that might be a worldbuilding thing that I'm missing out on. I second @Mandamon's comment that her reaction does seem a bit extreme if that's all it is, though. 

The genetics test made perfect sense for me, in that I assumed that it's more about E. demonstrating authority via her "male" privilege than proving anything about NE specifically. I actually think this is a great scene, but making it a little more explicit might help. This is the kind of nuance I read for all the time, but probably not every reader does.

One other thing:  the narrative does state that she has to act quickly--which makes sense since she seems to be operating on a premise of "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance" here... but then she takes the time to read the manifest. We get several paragraphs around what's in the manifest and some worldbuilding stuff before getting back to the action of the conversation. Now, the worldbuildilng stuff is actually very helpful, it's just a tad oddly placed since it leads to a few paragraphs of reflection immediately after the character stating that she has to act quickly. Couldn't she just have read the manifest beforehand? It's also a bit narratively convenient that the inspector doesn't seem to be terribly competent.

God, the reference to him "package checking" her makes me squirm. Which is a GOOD thing for this scene, but ... are you sure we can't slap him around some? Just a little?

Heh. I like calling him by the wrong name. Nice little power play there.

So the inspector just leaves E. with her crew? I know that he's in a high state of befuddlement right now, but given the tension that seems to exist between the various genders (and/or settlements, I still haven't quite parsed the relationship between them all) this seems awfully trusting of him.

Seconding @Mandamon in that new people seem to be popping up all the time. Again, haven't read the previous chapters, but honestly thought at first that this was just A., E., and the inspector. Likewise, the need to rescue N. came a little bit out of nowhere. Presumably also mentioned on prior chapters, but it would make sense to see that sense of urgency reflected earlier in this chapter, too. If nothing else, we have this jerk holding things up, and the ruse with the genetics test is presumably a decision that E. does not make lightly; knowing or being reminded earlier that there is a character in danger might help readers stick with E. as she makes the decision she does.

I was quite shocked that the crew didn't already know this about E., incidentally, since genetics tests are apparently a big thing in this world.

The last thing I stumbled on was at the very end of the chapter, when we go from needing to rescue N. to N. suddenly needing to rescue herself while the crew waits. Aside from making me feel like I missed something, it sort of deflates the otherwise very well-written urgency that we see at the end of the chapter around her rescue.

A few little things:

Bottom of page 2, starting with "You can debate me later." Not sure if it's E. or A. speaking here.

P4: Love the "cherry plum" descriptor.

P13: "R. left with a curt nod." E. has been referring to him by the wrong name in dialogue, but now is doing so in her thoughts as well, despite referring to him by the correct name just a few lines up. It could be that she is just very, very done with him, but it reads like a mistake.

Top of P14: A. says, "I've just never seen someone..." It took me several tries to parse this sentence.

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So I read this a while ago and was engaged enough that I didn't make any notes while I read. I didn't post right away because I wanted to think about what feedback to give, but often, if I don't do things right away, I forget to do them.

As far as emotion goes, I felt like that built as the chapter went on. There seemed to be less in the begining, but more towards the end. 

The line about E noticing a bulge in a guys crotch stuck out to me enough that it is still in my head. I think it felt off to me because it's not something I recall ever really noticing on guys unless they are wearing something super tight, like tights because they are in a ballet or speedos at the beach or a swim meet. 

On 8/28/2019 at 1:09 PM, Mandamon said:

I did really like E showing up the inspector, but I was sort of lost as to how a genetics test proves anything about new Earth.

Same. That interaction was great, but I wasn't sure what exactly they were testing for. I kept thinking it was to somehow prove E was a colonist, not an M, but I didn't quite get how a DNA test could prove it.

On 8/28/2019 at 1:09 PM, Mandamon said:

Oh, and even if this is something from a previous chapter, maybe a few words on how many are in the shuttle? It felt like new people were popping up all the way through.

Yeah -- even if I had read the previous chapter, a reminder about who was in the shuttle might have been good. 

On 8/28/2019 at 1:09 PM, Mandamon said:

E's interaction with A is a little strange. It went from complete hostility at the beginning to maybe some sexual tension at the end?

I didn't think too much about this until I read @Mandamon's comment and thought it sounded right. However,  I honestly felt like I needed to know what their previous interactions were to comment on how they interacted in these chapters, and I'm not sure how much of that has or has not changed. 

 

 

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On 8/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, Mandamon said:

E's interaction with A is a little strange. It went from complete hostility at the beginning to maybe some sexual tension at the end?

sorry about that. There have been a lot of edits to the early chapters so I think this part works better now. I'm doing my first pass edits on the completed manuscript now so I'll note this and clean it for sure

On 8/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, Mandamon said:

Maybe a little more blocking of what's on the tablet vs. what E is doing to show even more competency?

yup, this was my fear. Not overt enough. I've hung a bigger lantern on it

On 8/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, Mandamon said:

maybe a few words on how many are in the shuttle? It felt like new people were popping up all the way through.

Ah yeah, it's well covered in the previous chapter but I'll mention it again.

On 8/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, Mandamon said:

his sounds like he's a pair of khakis.

THIS WAS EXACTLY MY INTENTION

On 8/28/2019 at 10:09 AM, Mandamon said:

not sure I'm getting this. I didn't think E acted much different than usual. 

Argh, okay. There was a lot of coded action in her 'acting' so if it's not coming across I'll have to think on how to make it more overt. Thank you so much @Mandamon!

 

On 8/29/2019 at 0:14 AM, Robinski said:

Problem: I don't understand that set up of this unexpected settlement. Who has authority, who gives the orders, what is their system of governance. How big is it? I think this has been an underlying issue for me since it was introduced. I don't understand how  it fits into the world, or what its own organisation is. Things like this phrase imply strict governance and the rule of law (authoritarian, but still law), yet I can't bring myself to consider their society as organised because the whole place just seems incredibly transient. Why would anyone come to the planet for a 'conference' when all the coordinates of planets are so tightly controlled? I've forgotten what the conference is about, but wasn't it something incredibly prosaic? I forget.

Ah yes, apologies. This has (hopefully) all been cleared up in edits.

On 8/29/2019 at 0:14 AM, Robinski said:

All said fundamentally the same thing" - I don't know what they're saying, and I don't know why it would make a difference. What does E need to take a test and the M don't, and what is the significance of the result of the test? Why does the test make him not want to shoot E any more? I don't understand.

There's a bunch of coded gender play happening in this section, which is why I wanted to sub it through here. How hard you all bounce off it tells me how much I have to pull it forward. It seems really blatant to me, but then, so did early versions of Foxfire too. So thank you for this!

On 8/29/2019 at 0:14 AM, Robinski said:

I feel like the chapter needs a different ending, like E rejecting A's statement. That would give the story more momentum than this ending.

check and check! Can do!

On 8/29/2019 at 0:19 AM, Robinski said:

Weren't they travelling the secret settlement anyway, or am I confusing E with N again?

Ah yes, this was the next chapter to be subbed, chronologically, but I was going to start resubbing from the start because I've changed so much. Thank you for the edits @Robinski!

 

On 9/2/2019 at 10:11 PM, Silk said:

The genetics test made perfect sense for me, in that I assumed that it's more about E. demonstrating authority via her "male" privilege than proving anything about NE specifically. I actually think this is a great scene, but making it a little more explicit might help. This is the kind of nuance I read for all the time, but probably not every reader does.

Ah yup. It went over some people, so I've made it a bit more clear, but not super overt, because I like it a bit undercover.

On 9/2/2019 at 10:11 PM, Silk said:

Couldn't she just have read the manifest beforehand?

Ah yes. So everyone tries to get her to and she refuses over and over due to wife issues. Hopefully it makes more sense with context.

On 9/2/2019 at 10:11 PM, Silk said:

The last thing I stumbled on was at the very end of the chapter, when we go from needing to rescue N. to N. suddenly needing to rescue herself while the crew waits. Aside from making me feel like I missed something, it sort of deflates the otherwise very well-written urgency that we see at the end of the chapter around her rescue.

I've changed this to A saying they have to stay put and E saying no and storming out to save N. So I hope that adds to the chapter in the way people were hoping! Thanks @Silk! Good to see you in crit action here!

 

 

On 9/4/2019 at 8:44 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

Same. That interaction was great, but I wasn't sure what exactly they were testing for. I kept thinking it was to somehow prove E was a colonist, not an M, but I didn't quite get how a DNA test could prove it.

I've explained this a bit more to help.

On 9/4/2019 at 8:44 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

I honestly felt like I needed to know what their previous interactions were to comment on how they interacted in these chapters, and I'm not sure how much of that has or has not changed. 

A lot has changed so it should be better now, but I'll need alpha reader comments on it more than likely.


Thank you to all who offered to alpha read! I'm trying to get through edits fast so I can give you all more like two weeks, if possible. Here's hoping!

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On 9/5/2019 at 7:04 PM, kais said:

I've changed this to A saying they have to stay put and E saying no and storming out to save N. So I hope that adds to the chapter in the way people were hoping! Thanks @Silk! Good to see you in crit action here!

I've missed doing this! Might have to stop sleeping altogether to keep it up, though...

Good luck with the editing! The two weeks would probably make a huge difference to my ability to do an alpha read, if you can manage it.

Edited by Silk
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7 hours ago, Silk said:

The two weeks would probably make a huge difference to my ability to do an alpha read, if you can manage it.

Well I'm halfway through the first full edit so there might be hope? Maybe? The front part of the book is in a LOT better shape than the back though, and I think I need like a whole additional plot element added because it feels too thin? IDK I NEED HELP

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E muttering to the AI and nobody noticing at all during the initial interview seems a little plotfull but otherwise it was fine. I understood E going into "guy mode" no problem. I am always available for alpha reads. 

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