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shatteredsmooth

Junk Junction Sub 9 (Ch. 13)_9302019_2063 words (V)

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Content Warning: Violence (fight: kid versus ghost)
 
Hi Everyone, 
 
I know I'm not going to really have time to look at this tomorrow, so I'm sending it now. The things M says when talking to the kids will seem like they come out of nowhere, but were set up in a  newer revised version of that chapter that had the book cyclone that you haven't read. 
 
I'm open to whatever feedback you offer, though I am curious if you can picture where things are and/or follow the action. I'm sure there are typos because my brain and eyes are more tired than usual. Don't worry about finding or marking those. 
 
I know I'm behind on subs, so I won't be offended if you skip this one. 
 
Thanks!
 
Sara
 
 
Last time:
Ch. 1-2: E's mom gets turned into a mannequin in an antique shop. A haunted doll helps E's and the shop dog escape the same fate. 
Ch. 3-4: E gathers supplies from Junk Junction and does research in a library. Then they venture out to find food and a psychic. They meet D, a 13-year-old psychic whose mom is missing. They think D's mom's disappears is related to E's mom and Mx.R getting turned into mannequins.  
Ch. 5-6: E & D do research in D's mom's office. D tells E more about the circumstances surrounding her mom's disappearance.  In the morning, the two kids return to the shop, only to find the mannequins gone and the phrase "come find me" spelled out with teacups. 
Ch. 7: E & D return to Junk Junction, only to find the mannequins missing along with an assortment of other items. They go to D's house, and find some of the missing items are there along with another message from M. 
Ch. 8-9: E & D get back to the office safe. A makes a mess throwing books around and finds an journal that leads them to believe M is trying to come back to life as something more powerful than a human. E learns how to more clearly sense ghosts and their energy. The next morning, E, D, and A leave for the mill. On the way, they discover a river full of bones presumably stolen from their graves by M in an attempt to find A's bones. 
Chapter 10: The group gets to the mill. A disappears. The moms aren't there. E and D are ambushed by a group of mannequins that M is controlling like puppets. They defeat the mannequins and escape.
Ch. 11: The kids hideout in the woods. We learn that M isn't 100% evil and that A was absent from the fight because he was caught in a memory loop. Kids camp out in a barn (this may get cut) and learn ghosts can't cross poison ivy unless they are in an object.
Ch. 12: E, D, and A go to the house that M lived in when she was alive. She is angry. Objects go flying. M makes the kids fall through a floor to a basement where they fight off a possessed Santa decoration. 
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Hey Sara,

Excited to read this one: we're getting near the end! :) 

9 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
set up in a  newer revised version of that chapter that had the book cyclone that you haven't read.

Okay, got it.

9 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
I am curious if you can picture where things are and/or follow the action.

Okay, noted.

9 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:
I know I'm behind on subs, so I won't be offended if you skip this one.

Never!

(page 1)

- "doll heads rocked back and forth" - Gah! Freaky. I'm picturing, but I don't want to!

- "M could almost bend reality" - Uncertainty and vagueness = bad. Can we have a positive, engaging statement, please?

- "all sung in unison" - I'll never get into this US mode. I would say 'sang'. Put aside cultural norms, 'sang' sounds much more in the present, don't you think. 'sung' is something that happened in the past, isn't happening in the scene, IMO.

- "collecting ticks" - Yuck; I'm certainly on edge in this scene.

- "To burst out of..." - Are they all chanting this at once? It's really wordy, but I like the chanting thing.

- "knowing them all down" - I know, I know, but just this one! 'mowing', obvs. Also, this seems just a bit too easy.

(page 2)

- "but they were locked" - Use the dagger to burst it open. I think they gave up too soon here.

- motheaten is one word, or at least hyphenated.

-"we had a hammer, a screwdriver" - confused. First they can't pick them up, then they can? How is it they manage to pick them up second time?

- "hinges of the door" - This is the dresser thing, right, not the cobwebbed door? Not entirely clear.

- "The inside It was full of chains" - rough phrasing. Of course it's the inside that's full: redundant.

- "maybe poison ivy" - vagueness less engaging, even if you said 'looked like poison ivy' it makes it more certain and therefore threatening.

- "affect them if they were in an object" - confusing grammar. I think 'they' and 'them' are different, but it's not clear what they are.

(page 3)

- "I just needed to see me one more time" - Huh? Not 'see you one more time'? Confusing.

- "put a and on A’s shoulder" - how does she do that?

(page 4)

- "rolled out of the stairs like an avalanche" - 'rolled' is not a sufficiently compelling word to describe an avalanche.

- 'lead' is stuff you put on church roofs (old churches, anyway). This should be 'led', two instances.

 - "thing that would hold a hand towel" - confusing and not compelling. This is an urgent moment, and I don't want to be distract be trying to figure out what is trying to take E's head off. How about just calling it a towel rail?

- "we would have just gone in that way to begin with" - Hmm, I feel this kind of undermines the last six/seven pages.

- "I took out my dagger out" - good form to finish the sentence with the most compelling word, I understand. 

(page 5)

- "but of course our moms didn’t answer" - Confused. I didn't think Mx.R was D's mum, I thought they were her aunt?

- "A giant net fell from the ceiling and knocked the sword out of my hands" - Giant net, oh, please no. This is super, super cheesy. It's a Scooby Doo moment, and that is not the tone of this story, IMO. Also, I don't mind you interchanging the terms dagger and short-sword, but the term sword is confusing, IMO.

- "net wriggled like it was alive" - This is better, but only if it is actually alive, and that we know it's not just a plain old net right from the start.

- "D had her eyes closed and her hands clenched around the net" - how does E know this with their eyes closed?

(page 6)

- "plastic turned to flesh and C fell to the floor" - Yay! This is a cheer moment!! :) 

- "I brought the blade up a cross the g/e cords twined around her" - it seems to me the 'correct' way to sever cords with minimum risk to the captive is to slip the blade under the board and cut outwards (at a suitable angle). I think it would be easier to accept that E was always trying to do this when they have time to cut, and only makes a slash if it's a moment of panic/urgency and there is not time to take the safe option. The reason being, of course, as you point out, the risk of cutting actual flesh and giving someone a serious and potentially fatal stomach wound. Being consistent about this through the story would make the use of the short-sword / dagger way more plausible for me.

- "tingle like it was starting as it started to go numb" - nope, nope, nope. Be specific, be positive, be certain: it's a bajillion times more compelling, exciting and stressful for the reader.

- "I would not, I would not, I would not..." - I like this triptych of phrases, and it seems a bit crude to suggest it, but I think a exclamation make, certainly for the last one, would drive this home!

(page 7)

- "saying things to her Mom too over the storm" - double to/o is really awkward to absorb in the reading. Also, can D be shouting or calling to her mom? I imagine it's noisy in the room.

- "Then, everything went silent." - You asked about description: it's been fairly good so far, although could always be dialled up a bit. Here however there is a chronic lack of description. There are a bunch of flying crocks (aren't there?) that should all fall to the carpet with a crash. Maybe dog stops barking. You haven't really described the noise, so you can't have the payoff when it goes quiet. Also, I think the sound should and does involve movement too, so things should become still, wind down, stop to stare. Also, surely with all the hullabaloo gone, little sound will intrude and become noticeable. Maybe Mx.R is gasping, the dog is panting, etc.

- "My Mom and MxR float behind her" - Eh? I'm confused. So MxR is human now, but mom is still plastic, I think, but how are they floating? Isn't D beside MxR? Why wouldn't D grab hold of them? I don't understand this bit.

- "D was holding her mom’s head and shoulders" - Huh? I say again, I'm confused, but I was right earlier. MxR is not D's mum, but there was a statement earlier that implied they were.

- Last line: Yeah, nice baiting, letting us see the prize, getting close, getting something, but not the win. I think this would qualify as 'yes, but'--sort of--in Reading Excuses terminology. 

Overall 

Good chapter. Various comments, but I like the pacing, the plot development / action. I think this will be strong when it's tidied up (see comments). There are unclear bits, but all easily fixable, I think. I believe the description can be dialled up in place, which will help drive the tension and the action. M isn't all that antagonistic when she has the exchange with A. I think that could be better; bring the stakes in and really ramp them up. Why not have her lay out her despicable plan here, so the reader knows exactly what is at stake when M whisks Mom and MxR away? I think this is the ideal time to reveal what M is going to do, so we can be worrying about Mom and MxR from here in to the final scene(s).

Good job, I enjoyed this one a good deal, now bring it home :D

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This was a bit rough, but I got the intent. I could picture most things, but @Robinski has a good point about the lack of specificity through the whole chapter. I also thought the final meeting with the two and M was a bit too easy. The giant net is...okay, but not great. Nets are also really vague in how they work and what they trap. Two points where I wanted more buildup were A's final meeting with B, and M's actual appearance. She's just sort of there, and we don't even know she's in a mannequin (that's floating somehow) until a few pages later. I'd prefer if we had even a general idea of what her powers were as a ghost/mannequin. Then you can show exactly how bad off the three are against her.

The bones are there, though. Looking forward to reading the last few submissions.

Notes while reading:

pg 1: “I was like you once, but soon you will be as I am now!” 
--ok, but it's kind of cliche...

pg 1: “To burst out of death’s cocoon like a butterfly will take great power"
--okay, M sounds like a bad fortune cookie.

pg 1: "They laid on the floor, once again ordinary toys."
--that was easy. Why was E so afraid then?

pg 2: "I expected it to just fly up and smack me in the face, but it never did. What was M playing at?"
--yeah, weird.

pg 2: "but didn’t seem to affect them if they were in an object."
--as in it can't make them disposses something?

pg 3: "That side of the cabinet was filled with human bones."
--ick. so the poison ivy on the chains is keeping ghosts away from captured humans (and giving them terrible rashes?)?

pg 3: "Green and purple surrounded the bones"
--is A not affected by the poison ivy?

pg 3: “I know.” He drifted back into his doll."
--I think the buildup between A and B needs to be a lot greater before this point. This didn't invoke the emotion I think it should have.

pg 4: "our family would still be upstairs "
--were they upstairs before? Or is this something that was changed?

pg 4: "thing that would hold a hand towel"
--a hand towel rack?

pg 5: “Is that C?” 
--Is this D's mother? Did we know her name? Probably WRS.

pg 5: "A giant net fell from the ceiling and knocked the sword out of my hands. I reached for it as we flailed the net off of us, and it flew across the room and stuck itself halfway into the wall. "
--confusing paragraph here. 1) I would think the net would be more likely to knock them down rather than just knock the sword out of their hands. 2) Which thing flew across the room--the net or the sword?

pg 5: "saw M floating above me."
--she's a ghost now, right? Not a mannequin?

pg 7: “I never meant to kill your friends,”
--that's....hard to believe.

pg 7: "A stood ten feet tall"
--Didn't know he could do this.

pg 7: "She was hovering a few feet off the ground, still in her mannequin,"
--ah, so she is in a mannequin. Need to make this clear earlier.

pg 7: last line: ok, I didn't know M could do that either.

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Overall

I think this chapter needs more meat on its bones. It has a lot of blocking confusion, and needs more emotion and description. Additionally, the ending left me feeling cheated since they did quite a bit and then everything disappeared. I feel like there has been a fair amount of that in this book, lead up with no gains, and so it's starting to be a bit irritating in terms of wanting to stay invested in the characters.

On 9/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Mandamon said:

but @Robinski has a good point about the lack of specificity through the whole chapter.

Yes, I agree on this as well

On 9/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Mandamon said:

I also thought the final meeting with the two and M was a bit too easy.

I also thought this

On 9/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Mandamon said:

Two points where I wanted more buildup were A's final meeting with B, and M's actual appearance. She's just sort of there, and we don't even know she's in a mannequin (that's floating somehow) until a few pages later. I'd prefer if we had even a general idea of what her powers were as a ghost/mannequin. Then you can show exactly how bad off the three are against her.

Ah yes this! I was thinking this too.

 

As I go

- pg 1: collecting ticks? Instead of the poison ivy?

- tension is very short lived on page one. I think this scene here could be better described and drawn out

- pg 2: oh no, the ivy is still a thing. So what is with collecting ticks?

- WRS: who is Ben?

- pg 5: expected a little more emoting over finding mom

- pg 6: deep blocking confusion here. I don't understand what is where and what is going on. How did our MC lose their sword? Didn't they have it on page one? Now they have to grab it? What all is flying? Who is in the room? What does the room look like? What does Mara-ghost look like?

- Lot of build up for having everyone disappear

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I agree with the others regarding the lack of specificity. Overall I knew what was going on, but I had to make a lot of logical jumps and untangle a lot of details myself before I got there and having to do work like that to parse a tense section can kill tension and immersion for me. 
 
The dialogue in this section is sounding particularly stilted to me. It almost reminds me of villains from an anime, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like the dialogue here isn't consistently stilted in the same way, if that makes sense? So if, say, M always talked like a fantasy anime villainess, that would make sense to me, but if she's sometimes like that and sometimes just awkward and stilted then it feels like it's not a part of her character and just awkward dialogue, if that makes sense? It feels unintentional right now to me, I think, and I think I want it to feel intentional, if the dialogue is going to be that way.

There was some good tension on the run through the house, with the items being thrown around, but the net just killed it for me. Where does a normal house even come up with a net like that? Like, up to now, the objects being used against the kids were either related to the ghost/mannequin connection, or something that one could imagine would be found in an average, lived-in house (maybe a hoarder's house, but still. House stuff. Toys. Yard decorations). But a net, at that size? 
 
The struggle to free the moms brought some of the tension back for me. I had a decent idea of the blocking, but it did get confusing in places. A sure has a lot more power now! 
 
I was confused about which ghost was doing what, though. Is the ghost of B the one blocking the basement stairway access while M is upstairs waiting with the moms-equins? Are they working together? It seemed to me that the bones in the dresser were B's bones? But if that's the case, why were the chains there? If they were M's bones, why was B around them? (If they were M's bones, why hasn't she done something more secure with them, instead of just shoving them in a basement where she then dropped the people who most want to get a hold of them?) I liked the scene with B,  I was just confused how he and the bones got there.  
 
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Ooh, I love the opening couple of sentences.

I do still feel like we're getting mixed messages about how powerful M is - she's getting tired, but she can also almost bend reality.

So, what is D doing while E is sword-ing all the toys?

p2 - sword becomes a dagger again.

p4 - "But we carefully stepped things" - this seems to be understating the danger of the apparent avalanche of cookware that is rolling towards them.

In general, so far I think I'd like to see a little more danger in this chapter. The last chapter worked well with the same kind of stuff happening, but I'd like to see things escalate as we move on and it hasn't happened yet.

Ah, perhaps the things that M is now throwing at our heroes (nightstands, metal rods, etc) could be that escalation, since she seems to have moved from trying to trap them to trying to kill them again. If that's the case, though, I'm not sure what triggered the change.

M's mannequin becoming more realistic is a nice touch.

On 9/30/2019 at 5:09 AM, Robinski said:

Also, this seems just a bit too easy.

Seconded. I think that's part of why I felt the tension could be higher in the earlier parts of the chapter.

On 9/30/2019 at 5:09 AM, Robinski said:

- "A giant net fell from the ceiling and knocked the sword out of my hands" - Giant net, oh, please no. This is super, super cheesy. It's a Scooby Doo moment, and that is not the tone of this story, IMO. Also, I don't mind you interchanging the terms dagger and short-sword, but the term sword is confusing, IMO.

I didn't have a problem with this, possibly because it becomes pretty immediately apparent that it's not just a net, but perhaps this could be mitigated by having it be like a slashed up old bedsheet, or something similar that could be found around the house. Now that my attention has been called to it, I do wonder where M got the net in the first place.

On 9/30/2019 at 5:09 AM, Robinski said:

Here however there is a chronic lack of description.

Completely agree here. Also, just in general, I'm finding that whatever has the focus of the scene is described really well, but the other parts of the scene tend to fade into the background even when they're still doing things. Robinski's example of how there should be falling crocks and whatnot is a good one. And what does Gremlin (for example) think of all this when he stops growling at the net?

Related, I think that we could use some clearer blocking at the point when E is cutting the cords away from the mannequins. Is she going for specific people first (i.e. D's mom) strategically, because they need her help? Is she just freeing whomever she can get to? How is she getting to them, scrambling over couches or can she cut the cords from in front of them or...?

On 9/30/2019 at 11:57 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 1: “To burst out of death’s cocoon like a butterfly will take great power"
--okay, M sounds like a bad fortune cookie.

A bit, yeah. I know there is now some setup to these lines that we haven't seen, but while I really like the idea of all the toys chanting things in unison, I do feel like the language could be finessed a bit.

On 10/6/2019 at 0:58 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I was confused about which ghost was doing what, though. Is the ghost of B the one blocking the basement stairway access while M is upstairs waiting with the moms-equins? Are they working together?

Seconded.

On 10/6/2019 at 0:58 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I liked the scene with B,  I was just confused how he and the bones got there.  

I felt the same way. I know B was mentioned in a prior chapter, but I think we could have used a little more setup to prior to him actually appearing.

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