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hawkedup

9/2/19 - Turn of Ages 09 - hawkedup - 2200 - L

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Z, M and R have learned a troubling secret and are on their way to see the God King. On the way, they are attacked by a demon and saved by Z's mother, who vanished a year ago. After a shaky reunion, they take shelter in an underground railroad tunnel.

Everyone has a soul lantern. Usually during puberty, the soul lantern coalesces. It takes a physical form, a representation of the person's personality. The secret Z, M and R learn is that soul lanterns are tied to some sort of virus that essentially cuts a person's lifespan in half.
 

This is only the first half of the chapter, but I think there's a lot to unpack. I'm particularly interested to hear what you think about THAT part. You'll know what I mean when you get there.
 

-------------------


PS - I know I'm late on critiques, and I'm sorry. I have READ everything from last week, but what with the funeral and all, I had to do all my reading on my phone while traveling in the car, and I'm sure I don't have to tell all of you how difficult it is to properly comment and critique while reading that way. Life has thankfully regained some semblance of normalcy, though! Thank you for being patient and for continuing to read/critique my stuff!

Edited by hawkedup
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Nice progression. There's a lot of tension and anticipation here with the train coming, and it leads to a surprising yet inevitable conclusion we're all waiting for, that they get to (or have to) ride in the train.

Sooo...is THAT part the attack or the lantern coalescing? Because the attack takes up a good portion of the chapter, and I really like some parts of it. I think the last half gives a lot better impression that the first half, which is lacking in some emotion. Because the lead up is also pretty long, but sort of scientific and sterile (from Z's POV) it loses some of tension that could be there. When she loses control, we get a lot more from it.

And if THAT part is the lantern coalescing...I think it could have a much bigger impact. Right now I just don't have enough to get the significance. Is the type of lantern the significant part? That it happened at all? How it happened? I'm left sort of confused and thinking I should know more than I do.


pg 1: Very cool epigraph. Makes me wonder who Z's parents are communicating with to help her out.

pg 3: "if that was why people always told her that she should smile more"
--lol. I see that's a problem in this world too...

pg 3: "if it was going fast enough that the wind in its wake was strong enough to yank you off you’re feet--well, it would have passed us by now. And we’d be dead, alcove or no"
--you're -> your. Also, R isn't completely right. I get that he's never seen a train before and probably doesn't have an engineering degree, but he's written as "the smart one."
so...I haven't done the calculations of course, but the wind (I believe) is a function of the size of the tunnel vs. the size of the train. Depends on how much air it displaces, as to how much it's going to suck people after it, not just the overall size. Also, you can hear stuff a long way away in a tunnel. 


pg 3: "far right of the alcove"
--I'm not sure where they're placed in the tunnel. Were they camping right on top of the tracks, or is there a platform to the side and then another alcove farther on?

pg 4: "Four lights, all different colors"
--have we been told what colors they are? I don't feel like we have, but might be WRS.

pg 5: "She could already feel it happening, felt herself crossing the brink."
--I want a lot more detail on this. I feel like she's having some sort of anxiety attack, but then she just starts talking. What is happening? What does she feel?

pg 6: The stream of consciousness distraction is a much better way to describe this, but I still don't get a lot of emotion from Z. 

pg 6-7: This part is better, but I'm afraid that all the emotion in this section comes so much after all the other description that it starts to get lost. This is where we really see Z's attack, her mother's resolution, and how it passes. There may be too much ahead of it, diluting it.

pg 8: The coalescing is cool. I like the description of how it happens.

pg 9: "A yellow flame burned atop a plain white candle."
I feel like this should have a lot more impact than it does. I can't remember what a candle signifies. She's a scholar? Is that important, or just that she has a coalesced lantern now? Or that the virus has taken hold on her? This goes back to the problem where I don't really know what the soul lanterns do or how they work. YOu make a point to tell us this above, in the intro, but I want the story to show me what it means.

pg 10: “The train,” R said. “It stopped.”
--I figured they were going to end up taking the train in some way or another. This is a good "surprising yet inevitable" moment.

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13 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I know I'm late on critiques, and I'm sorry

Don't give it a second thought. Life is happening to you, and not in a good way. Some things come before writing. We'll still be here.

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Comments.

(page 1)

- I'm nonplussed by the epigraph. It feels like we're past the point of this being all that relevant. Also, we don't know whose POV it's in, and it's backward looking.

(page 2)

- "bricks rubbed against each other" - If the tunnel is made of brick, the bricks will have mortar between them, so they won't be rubbing together. Also, if the mortar holding the bricks in place is disintegrating to the degree suggested, then some bricks will be falling out of this tunnel structure, I think. When you lose bricks from an arch structure like this, it's unlikely to last very long without at least a localised collapse.

- At the end of the last chapter, the last line was 'woken by a train'. This chapter starts with Z not knowing what's going on. This feels kind of like a POV cheat, and I felt frustrated at the start of the chapter. 

- "pair of clothes" - just fresh clothes, I would think.

(page 3)

- I'm not getting enough sense of urgency in them clearing the tracks. They are joking around, but if the train is travelling that fast they will not have this amount of time for chatting. It's an opportunity for real stress and danger, but I'm not feeling it because of all the stuff about people waking up and packing. The end of the last chapter implied imminent threat, so I'm feeling ripped by the cliffhanger at the end of the last chapter.

(page 5)

- "frenzied alarm" - for reasons above, I'm not feeling frenzied alarm at all, not feeling any urgency. I suggest researching this subject more fully. I know it's different in a tunnel, but as a professional transportation engineer, I am aware of the dangers of working not he railway. Rail workers can be in huge danger and this is why safety system are so stringent and work on the railway so highly controlled. Take a look at this link ( https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-if-you-are-on-the-railroad-track-you-can-t-hear-a-train-coming-If-so-how-does-this-happen ). It's not describing your situation, but I am positive that they do not have the kind of time they are taking to get out of the way of this train. At best, they will have a handful of minutes.

- "is the tunnel structurally sound" - It really is not. Professional engineer here: it's not.

(page 6)

- "Clack, clack, clack" - there's not sense of the train getting louder or closer.

- I skimmed the big mass of text with no punctuation. I guess you're going for stress and breathlessness. I'd rather have the sound as the focus, but I'm not feeling as much as I think I should in terms of physical signs of the train. And the time. Way, way, way too long, as noted above.

(page 7)

- "hated being touched, she hated anyone in her bubble" - But she held M's hand, seems a bit contradictory.

(page 8)

- Sorry, I'm going again on the train. They heard the train in the last chapter and we're on Page 8, after casually rolling up bedding, walking to the alcove, and the thing that stresses them out is the darkness first, it seems. Sorry I'm droning on about this, but this is not convincing for me, and that makes me skim and rush through the chapter to get past the bit that is frustrating me.

- The stuff about the pull is good. Could maybe be a bit more description of her feeling movement, clothes flapping, more concrete 'showing' signs of the train's passing.

- "is about to coalesce" - This is a good, exciting, unexpected thing to happen at the end of the chapter, in a moment of stress. My difficulty is that I've forgotten what this means. Would I have remembered if not for WRS? Maybe. 

- "she saw light flare" - The last person mentioned was Ma, so at first I thought it was Ma who saw the flare, just for a moment.

- "it was still dark" - confused, because it wasn't totally dark when the train was passing, and it wasn't dark because of the lantern, so how can it 'still' be dark?

- Also, there's nothing about the noise of the train receding, or the pull having stopped, or other stuff like that, other physical cues and sensations to put me in the moment.

(page 9)

- "It stopped" - Train time again. To be going fast enough to make all that pull and noise, the train has to be travelling at a good lick. Here is an extract (top hit on 'search engine' from the Minnesota Safety Council "An 8-car passenger train moving at 80 miles an hour needs about a mile to stop." Okay, our train does not have 8 cars, it has 5. The shriek didn't come from our group, I'm presuming it came from someone else in the tunnel? For the train to react to having hit someone, it is going to be a long way away before it comes to a halt, surely far enough away that there must be a good chance they are not able to tell that the train has stopped at all.

Overall 

I would have enjoyed this chapter just fine, BUT, the significant barrier to that was the logistic and mechanics of the train. As a transportation engineer, I just don't believe them, and I'm afraid that undermines the other perfectly stuff in the chapter, for me. I liked the tension of the train approaching, it's a good stressful, exciting situation if the pacing of it meshes with the mechanical side. Also, the coalescing... I wonder if there is a way to drop a very quick reminder for the reader. I think I remember that Z doesn't have an S/L at all. I had forgotten that in the stress of the train passing, I think. This can be a really good chapter, I think, if it's representative of real world mechanics and physics of the train.

Thanks for sharing! :) 

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I've enjoyed all the chapters you sent so far, but this one is the one I was absolutely the most engaged with, which in turn made it hard to comment on. I was completely caught up in the moment, of the sounds and how you described that completely overloaded feeling. It felt so real and visceral and maybe reminded me a little bit of shopping carts in a busy grocery store (a sound that can short circuit my brain and make me panic a little or just freeze for no reason I can understand). 

The epithet also worked really well as a set up for this. 

One interaction in the begining of this chapter that I got tripped up on was the one between Z and M about mornings. I'm guessing M thought Z was being sarcastic, when Z obviously wasn't. However, M's reaction seemed a little harsh and out of nowhere. 

I loved the line that starts "Time did that thing where it seemed to stop...." 

I loved how as the spiral went on, many of the sentences were longer and longer. You did a great job making the voice match the internal state. 

The moment with Z's mom and the charcoal and paper was nice. Though I kept thinking Z's mom was going to pulled into the train because she got up to stop Z from running. I was glad she didn't.

And then just when it seemed like everything was going to be okay, the soul lantern coalesced and the train stopped, and I really wished you had sent the whole chapter. 

I thought this was well set up for. You described the shaped lanterns getting covered and Z's orb being the only one left visible. 

I'm looking forward to reading more. 

 

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On 9/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robinski said:

- At the end of the last chapter, the last line was 'woken by a train'. This chapter starts with Z not knowing what's going on. This feels kind of like a POV cheat, and I felt frustrated at the start of the chapter. 

I noticed this too and forgot about it pretty quickly.

On 9/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robinski said:

I'm not getting enough sense of urgency in them clearing the tracks. They are joking around, but if the train is travelling that fast they will not have this amount of time for chatting. It's an opportunity for real stress and danger, but I'm not feeling it because of all the stuff about people waking up and packing.

Another good point that I didn't sop to note and quickly forgot about. 

On 9/3/2019 at 2:11 PM, Robinski said:

"An 8-car passenger train moving at 80 miles an hour needs about a mile to stop."

Unless the train took so long to get to them because it was already in the process of stopping over the course of a mile? But then I guess it wouldn't have been moving so fast when Z finally saw it. 

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11 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Unless the train took so long to get to them because it was already in the process of stopping over the course of a mile? But then I guess it wouldn't have been moving so fast when Z finally saw it. 

Yes, good point. In that situation I would think the brakes would have been squealing as it passed them.

That would give them a chance to see in the windows, perhaps, because of the slower speed under deceleration. Then again, that would perhaps mean that the steam wouldn't work, if it was someone else being almost hit by the train. 

Edited by Robinski
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On 9/2/2019 at 5:55 PM, Mandamon said:

Because the lead up is also pretty long, but sort of scientific and sterile (from Z's POV) it loses some of tension that could be there.

This was supposed to come across as her fighting back the attack by trying to keep a level head. I'll try to make it more concise or clearer. The meat is the attack and if the tension is drained by then, I definitely did something wrong. Thanks for the note!
 

On 9/2/2019 at 5:55 PM, Mandamon said:

I think it could have a much bigger impact.

Good point. I was going for the subversion but now I see I didn't build up expectation to the coalescence enough for there to be anything to subvert.
 

On 9/5/2019 at 8:07 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

It felt so real and visceral and maybe reminded me a little bit of shopping carts in a busy grocery store (a sound that can short circuit my brain and make me panic a little or just freeze for no reason I can understand).

That's so real. Can I steal it? lol (Not that there are shopping carts in this world.)
 

On 9/3/2019 at 0:11 PM, Robinski said:

Take a look at this link

Awesome, thanks!
 

On 9/3/2019 at 0:11 PM, Robinski said:

I would have enjoyed this chapter just fine, BUT, the significant barrier to that was the logistic and mechanics of the train

I asked for the help of a badass cool guy engineer who said yes so hopefully this won't be an issue in the final draft. :)
 

On 9/5/2019 at 8:07 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm guessing M thought Z was being sarcastic, when Z obviously wasn't. However, M's reaction seemed a little harsh and out of nowhere. 

Think I can squeeze in a line to show that M realizes it is too harsh to undercut the tripping up aspect of the moment?
 

On 9/5/2019 at 8:24 AM, Robinski said:
On 9/5/2019 at 8:13 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

Unless the train took so long to get to them because it was already in the process of stopping over the course of a mile? But then I guess it wouldn't have been moving so fast when Z finally saw it. 

Yes, good point. In that situation I would think the brakes would have been squealing as it passed them.

I appreciate you trying to find the logic in the logistics here, but... no. It's simply my lack of train knowledge. The train doesn't hit the breaks until after the coalescence flash.

Thanks for reading, guys! 

I was thinking, at the worst moments of the attack, actually showing that Z loses language ability. Some ideas I had were jumbling up words, using the wrong words, and messing with punctuation. Just for like one "sentence" right before her mom steps in. What do you think?

Edited by hawkedup
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Overall

I was caught up in the train and panic attack and didn't stop to write down observations. I think for a panic attack it worked very well! I'm not sure it worked if you were trying to describe SPD in terms of sensory avoiding. You'd need a sensitivity reader for that who shared the diagnosis, which I do not (nor does my kiddo, so I couldn't ask her, unfortunately). But as a non-SPD person, it resonated with me and I understood it, so I think that was very well done.

Did Z's soul lantern finally mature there at the end? Was that it? And it was the train catalyst and having the mother back and doing an old sensory exercise that did it? If so, that's a cool thing and I'd be very interested to see the next chapter, for sure.

 

On 9/2/2019 at 4:55 PM, Mandamon said:

I can't remember what a candle signifies

me either. Are we supposed to know?

I do agree that the urgency to clear the track doesn't come across very well at the start. But there was so much urgency later I completely forgot about it. Generally, I think this was a solid chapter, although @Robinski's brick and train comments are spot on as well.

 

As I go

- pg 1: the epigraph might need to note that the fits caused by overstimulation are kid specific, since SPD isn't autism, just a common comorbid

 

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46 minutes ago, kais said:

Did Z's soul lantern finally mature there at the end? Was that it? And it was the train catalyst and having the mother back and doing an old sensory exercise that did it?

Exactly that!

55 minutes ago, kais said:

Are we supposed to know?

I don't know at this point, honestly. The significance is mentioned in the POV chapters I submitted before that have now been cut from the manuscript, but Z wouldn't know what it meant so I haven't mentioned it in her POVs. It's explained almost immediately in the second half of this chapter, but I'm not sure how much foreshadowing I should do at this point.

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32 minutes ago, hawkedup said:

It's explained almost immediately in the second half of this chapter, but I'm not sure how much foreshadowing I should do at this point.

If it's almost immediately explained then I wouldn't worry about it at all. I can wait a few paragraphs for sure!

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8 hours ago, hawkedup said:

asked for the help of a badass cool guy engineer who said yes so hopefully this won't be an issue in the final draft. :)

Ahem, that doesn't sound like any engineer I know... I've found an online tool for train braking calculation, just trying to figure out how it works! I will get back to you on this :) 

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