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hawkedup

9/10/19 - Turn of Ages 09.5 - hawkedup - L

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This is the complete chapter, including a revision of last weeks' submission based on your feedback. I didn't fix the train stuff, but I muddied it up so hopefully it isn't as distracting.
 

If you don't have time to read the revision, no problem. I put a break at the end of page 10. From there forward, it is fresh submission (2,000 words).
 

Thank you for reading and critiquing!

Edited by hawkedup
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The beginning of the chapter reads much smoother. Just had a few comments, below.

The rest of the chapter is very interesting. As I suspected, they get a ride in the train, so I assume things will move to the "front." I felt like there was a lot of skipping over meetings and confrontations that would be good to know about, as the way you did things rushed things along quite a bit. We don't even know if the others are alive, after whatever questioning they went through. I suspect they are, but you're using worldbuilding I don't know about (inquisitors) to move things along and it doesn't feel earned.

That said, I do like that we get to a new revelation, even though I'm confused about it. Now I'm wondering what the God King is and how much the general population knows about the title? parasite? person?

Interested to read more.


Notes while reading:
pg 4: I'd still like a better description of the width and height of the tunnel. They're spending a lot of time walking to the alcove--were they sleeping on the tracks? Is there a platform? It feels like the tunnel is pretty large.

pg 6/7: the descent into panic reads a lot better. It still describes everything but is a lot shorter and punchier.

pg 7: "the frode"
--what is this?

pg 8: "blorst, blorst, first"
--I think I get this? She's losing words? It's still sort of confusing and hard to follow. The slashes actually work better for me. I don't know of an easy way to do this though...

pg 10: "plain white candle"
--this is better and doesn't cast as much importance on why it is a candle. I'm still curious since this seems to define a personality, but I'm willing to find out after the crisis is past.

pg 11: "shoulder into it"
--into what?

pg 11: "Magnetized?”
--Is this common enough that a kid (even R) would think of it as a solution? If there was a (I assume) big heavy metal door, I'd just first assume it was stuck or rusted.

pg 11: "Blue, she thought, like the flame of my soul lantern."
--hmmm...this is starting to attach significance I don't know about again. I seem to recall blue is connected to the God King or something? But what color are the others' lanterns naturally? We were told earlier that M's turned red when she was angry, but I don't know what color it changed from.

pg 11: "give me a ticket for loitering"
--this seems...unlikely. Is giving out tickets even a thing?

pg 11: "fell fell to the ground" "she felt unconscious "
--typo, and is "felt" supposed to be "fell?"

pg 12: "It’s been two years since that... ordeal with the princess"
--glad we're starting to see a connection. But is this the deal that happened earlier in the book, setting it two years ago, or is this the original thing where the princess went comatose (?) WRS starting to kick in. Basically just wondering if the plotlines are congruent.

pg 13: "so old he should have been on his deathbed."
--interesting. I'm very confused by everything that's going on, but willing to wait it out a bit longer to find out.

pg 13: Mother/General G is kind of confusing. Did we learn she was also a general? can't remember.

pg 14: "as strange as it sounded to be comparing a skin color to food."
--ehhh...I'm not sure hanging a lantern on this makes up for it. I don't know if I'm qualified to judge though.

pg 14: "Z understood to be a lie immediately"
--I like how she understands this.

pg 15: "I know about the demon egg and the message it played for you."
--this is...an interesting technique. It gets rid of a lot of confusion, but almost seems like cheating. I would have liked to see some of how they got the information, to justify it.

pg 15: "she knew the woman could be no other than--"
--wait, she did? How does she know this? I almost think all this is moving too fast. It gets rid of a lot of tedious "who are you" discussion, but again, almost feels like cheating.

pg 16: “I… don’t know what you mean,” 
--I'm with Z, though I hope an explanation is coming.

pg 16: "because it isn’t unique. Only one type of person has a soul lantern like that.”
--If only one person has a lantern like this, then isn't it unique by definition?

pg 17: "are a potential host for the God King.”
--ok, that's sort of what I was suspecting? Except I still don't know enough about the world. is the God King some sort of parasite? Do normal people know this? From everything previous, I was assuming it was a post you trained for. Of course, all this can be answered later. It's just that this is the first time "host" has been thrown into things, which brings up a much different set of connotations.

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Sorry I haven't responded on the train thing. I've been struggling for time with critiquing this novel for my IRL reading group. I'll build a response on that into this critique.

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1 minute ago, Robinski said:

Sorry I haven't responded on the train thing. I've been struggling for time with critiquing this novel for my IRL reading group. I'll build a response on that into this critique.

Don’t even worry about it, man! I 100% get it. No apologies necessary!

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So, comments:

(page 1)

- "that these “fits” you wrote about are not malicious in any way" - this implies that the fits are acting in a malicious way, so are kind of sentient, or someone deliberately is send them to attack Ma. 'Harmful' is a more passive word.

(page 2)

- "The entire tunnel was vibrating!" - I would quite like this sensory input on page one, to have the immediacy of the train right at the start of the chapter, considering it was right at the end of the previous one.

- "Get away from the tracks!" - Excellent urgency. Even thought that train is not loud loud, Ma knows it will be down on top of them really fast.

- "it’s only a matter of minutes before it passes" - So, this is the nitty gritty again of the train. I like how you've dealt with it up to this point, and I like you are quoting concrete (approx.) timescale. I just need to advise you on what that is...

Okay, (1) I'm not a railway engineer, so this is going to be really seat of the pants, and is going to be really approximate, and only to give a flavour; (2) it's a really complex subject depending on train performance, load, number of carriages, etc., in other words (3) it's only going to be sufficiently convincing to engineers and scientists, maybe even train enthusiasts such that they convinced enough not to question it!! :) 

The number of variable is pretty bewildering, and I'm not going to go anywhere near those (see first link below, which is where the graph images come from). The second link below is an actual train braking distance calculator, but I can't quite get my heard around it without reading the paper behind it, which is pretty massive, so not going there! ;) 

I find that graphs tend to tell at least a thousand words, to paraphrase the old saying, so lets stick to them.

https://www.arema.org/files/library/2011_Conference_Proceedings/Simple_and_Efficient_Train_Braking_Algorithm_for_PTC_Systems.pdf

http://railsigintl.com/tools/BDist/

5d79f8b2bcf9f_ScreenShot2019-09-12at08_44_22.thumb.png.9b25f5828553368c74ef0e778861b5db.png

Distance to Target (DTT) seems to be about the speed you want a train to be going at a certain point (signal). This graph show deceleration from three different speeds at current position. None of these speeds is high. The actual speeds seem to be ~43, ~34 and ~31 mph. I'm pretty sure a train will still mash a human body at 43 mph, so lets consider that as the starting point. For this train, which I think is a big freight train, so very massive with lots of momentum, is taking almost 3 miles to come to a halt.

I gather that your train is much shorter, 3 or 4 carriages? But the engine has the same braking 'power'. Even so, I just don't see that the thing can come to rest in much less than a mile (so 1,728 yards). But, the train itself is maybe 150 yards long? It still puts the back of the train a fair distance away. 

I think trains go slower in tunnels, for safety and risk reasons. The train above in the graph that is doing 31mph also seems to stop in 3 miles, which implies to me it is not braking at the the same rate as the 40mph train.

5d79f8aa0c0a5_ScreenShot2019-09-12at08_44_54.thumb.png.7801d20f5f8f2271efeed00c9b98b7be.png

The second graph shows the train stopping from 40mph in 38 seconds. I think that suits, but it's the distance that's bothersome. I think in the end, as long as the train isn't stopping on a sixpence, that you play up brakes screeching and the train travelling some distance (at least 300 / 400 metres, it probably will be believable enough, even for readers who know enough to question it.

(page 3)

- "tromped behind him" - still too slow, for me. 'stomped', 'paced' would sound a bit faster.

(page 4)

- "No way the train is going that fast" - okay, I'm not doing the research on this, but obviously the suction is real. I suspect it does happen at low speed too, but would it pull someone off their feet? I'm willing to go with it. There's also a kind of sonic boom as it comes out of the tunnel. (Not applicable in this case, I presume).

(page 5)

- "is going to leave her soul light shining" - Now, did you say you'd changed it so her light doesn't coalesce before the train passes, but has done before now?

(page 6)

- "clack-clack" - I think it could do with a few more instances of clacking on the pages preceding the train arriving, just to keep the stress up. I know it's balance, but I think it could be tipped more towards the train. At least one on each page, I would think, then increasing.

(page 7)

- Z's thought really are rambling. Some of them are good, but others distract me from the tension of the situation. The drawing feels like a slow, relaxing thing, and therefore out of context here, to me anyway.

- "clammy and wet with perspiration" - clammy and wet are kind of mutually exclusive, I think.

(page 8)

- "(Mama) [No my girl" - The different brackets, I'm not quite sure what they're doing. Kind of confusing.

- the paper is a neat idea, I see how it connects to the pad now.

- "blorst" - what on Earth is this? And the backslashes? There is punctuation all over the place in this chapter. I'm trying to decide if I like it or loath it. Part of me definitely loathes it, bit it's the other part I'm worried about ;) 

- "She opened her eyes just as the train passed" - I wonder if I'm too close to this now. If the train is travelling at the lower speeds shown in the graphs above then maybe it could take that long to reach them. I need to do the math. Let's say the train is travelling at 40mph, fast enough to mash someone up if it hit them, probably fast enough to be noisy depending on the type of tracks. 40mph = 18 metres per second. Let's say they've been pootling about getting into position for 5 minutes = 300 seconds. So, the train would need to be 5,400 metres away travelling at that speed. Can they hear the train in the tunnel when it's 5.4km away?! That seems like a loooong way to me. If it was me, I'd be editing down these first eight pages to get them down as tight as possible so it really feels like they are not going to make it. There's still quite a bit of raffle, it seems to me.

- It's way better definably, but I'm not totally satisfied yet. Sorry for prattling on, but I think a good proportion of engineers will scrutinise this pretty closely. Now I'm off to see what happens once the train is past them :) 

(page 9)

- "cut into three sections--cars" - Forgot this: fewer cars, quicker deceleration, I think. That's good.

- "Her soul lantern is about to coalesce" - Oh, okay. I'm not sure I know what this is. Foreknowledge would have been good. It's good tension though. Also, I'd suggest that R is more likely to be less wordy when shouting urgently. Wouldn't he more likely shout 'It's going to coalesce'? We already know what 'it' is.

- Oh, wait. It's the difference between soul light and soul lantern? In my mind, those are pretty much interchangeable terms, hence my confusion.

(page 10)

- "ear splitting shriek of metal on metal" - I like this description. I think before it started almost immediately that the train passed? The problem I have here is that it sounds like the clacking is almost gone. So, when the train is past, the clacking disappears really fast, but when it's approaching it takes eight pages to get there. I think there is still a pretty large inconsistency in that.

(page 11)

- "it’s probably some sort of mechanism" - This goes without saying, I think. Also, I don't think it's clear that she's talking about automatically. But anyway, why would it only lock if something happened? Surely it would be locked all the time, for security reasons, if the God King or senior staff use it?

(page 12)

- "it’s blue flame" - 'its' obvs.

(page 14)

- "To Z’s eye, she could not tell" - These two expression don't work together, IMO. After the first one, normally would come a definite statement, e.g. "To Z's eye, the thing was solid gold." OR just the second expression, e.g. "She couldn't tell if it was solid gold, or not."

- "Wait,” he said. “She’s awake. Look.” - This is wordy phrasing, compared to just "She's awake," which feels like a more natural thing to say.

- "strange as it sounded to be comparing a skin color to food" - And yet she compared the person's skin colour to sickness, doesn't that seem strange to her too?

- "The flap of the topcoat hanged unbuttoned" - There was an instance of this earlier and I wasn't going to bother but this should be 'hung'. Sorry, I really don't intend to be arsey, I just think it sounds bad. Here is the extract from the Oxford Dictionaries online...

USAGE - In modern English hang has two past tense and past participle forms: hanged and hung. Hung is the normal form in most general uses, e.g. they hung out the washing; she hung around for a few minutes; he had hung the picture over the fireplace, but hanged is the form normally used in reference to execution by hanging: the prisoner was hanged. The reason for this distinction is a complex historical one: hanged, the earlier form, was superseded by hung sometime after the 16th century; it is likely that the retention of hanged for the execution sense may have to do with the tendency of archaic forms to remain in the legal language of the courts.

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/hang

(page 15)

- "now bathed in plausible deniability" - I don't understand. Surely there's nothing to deny, and no way to deny it. The woman knows the story. How is there any plausible deniability?

- "could be no other than" - This was pretty melodramatic, IMO. Bit over the top phrasing, like dah-dah-DAHHH.

(page 16)

- "sitting on it backwards" - What is this? Is she trying to be cool? Down with the kids? I never liked this, it's so posy. The only instance I can think of it being useful is for a gunslinger to get a clean draw in a saloon, although they then have the back of the chair between them and their antagonist, potentially.

- "Not like this candle" - the same sentence there is reference to 'that candle'. Sounded a bit weird going from this to that, when repetition of the same word can add good emphasis.

- Nice thought about her having the best S/L ever. I like that, good voice for her age, and really builds the tension for this reveal.

(page 17)

- "or who teaser he back when" - 'teased', typo.

- "Out with it already!" - It's a good reveal at the end: I did not guess that, but I think Z's internal monologue just before the reveal really gets in the way of it. It's like we have to wait for her to say hurry up before the General can say the thing. It's clunky, IMO.

Overall 

Good chapter, I like the changes to the earlier sections although it still have my issues. The scene in the train is good. There are hints that they are in trouble, and yet Z is being well treated. Then the reveal: boom! One thing struck me as odd, which was that I never understood why the train screeched to a halt after the scream. I'm still thinking it hit someone, and yet they must have seen Z's S/L flaring. So, who screamed out?

Good work, IMO. Another edit could really nail it, I reckon.

<R>

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Overall

I thought this flowed a lot better. You cleaned up the smaller stumbling blocks in the first part. There are some awkward phrasing issues in the second but nothing that a good edit pass wouldn't fix. 

The end is a great hook, although moreso because I have read cut chapters with what this lantern does for Z. It might not be as good a hook without that information, so I wonder if we couldn't have a bit more earlier about the god kings and what they do to their hosts? Like the kids are afraid of it or something and tell spooky stories about it? Or maybe it was there before and I have WRS.

 

On 9/11/2019 at 7:00 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 14: "as strange as it sounded to be comparing a skin color to food."
--ehhh...I'm not sure hanging a lantern on this makes up for it. I don't know if I'm qualified to judge though.

I had the same concern. I think this is where a sensitivity reader would need to be hired to comment

 

As I go

- pg 1: 'away' is repetitive in those first few paragraphs

- pg 3: I like Z's thoughts on her mother's lack of smile a lot

- pg 8: wow the panic attack is so good. I go on the journey completely with Z. The description is perfect

- pg 10: this is actually a great place to start a new chapter if you want. Good tension, good pacing, great end hook!

- pg 13: Maybe it was her grogginess, but she stared at that soul lantern for too long. <-- I don't understand this sentence. What is it trying to convey?

- pg14: Te Saint  <-- typo

- pg 14: I do appreciate that you hung a lantern on the food-based skintone description

- ohhhhhhh nice twist at the end!

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56 minutes ago, kais said:

I had the same concern. I think this is where a sensitivity reader would need to be hired to comment

This was more of a nod to this group than anything since you guys helped me fix so many sensitivity issues. :) 

1 hour ago, kais said:

The end is a great hook, although moreso because I have read cut chapters with what this lantern does for Z. It might not be as good a hook without that information, so I wonder if we couldn't have a bit more earlier about the god kings and what they do to their hosts?

That's a good idea on how to do it! My original plan was to cut in POVs that explained stuff about the world (like L's chapters) so when the same aspects came around in Z's POV the reader would have that "Ohhhhh..." moment, but now I'm not even sure I'm going to have other POVs at this point.
 

On 9/12/2019 at 6:04 AM, Robinski said:

So, comments:

Wow! So much to take in! Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with the train issue. I honestly had no idea the sound in a tunnel could be so complex! 

On 9/12/2019 at 6:04 AM, Robinski said:

Surely it would be locked all the time, for security reasons, if the God King or senior staff use it?

Crap. Looks like I have to hang another lantern. Hopefully something cooler than a candle.

On 9/12/2019 at 6:04 AM, Robinski said:

One thing struck me as odd, which was that I never understood why the train screeched to a halt after the scream.

I must've worded something wrong because there wasn't a scream in addition to the screech. Just the sound of the train stopping.
 

On 9/11/2019 at 8:00 AM, Mandamon said:

I felt like there was a lot of skipping over meetings and confrontations that would be good to know about, as the way you did things rushed things along quite a bit.

I haven't decided if the others should go with Z to the Front or not. In the last draft, they didn't, but they also weren't as big of players before either. Hm...

Thanks for reading and critiquing, everyone! It's been most helpful.

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20 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I must've worded something wrong because there wasn't a scream in addition to the screech. Just the sound of the train stopping.

It's probably me. I have a bad habit of making assumptions before I get to the end of the sentence (sometimes).

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