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hawkedup

09/30/19 - Turn of Ages 10 - hawkedup - 4500

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Previously -

Z, R and M have found a "demon egg" which revealed to them a secret: People are dying of old age decades before they are supposed to.

They are on their way to Rossendar City to bring this information to the God King when they encounter Z's estranged mother who saves them from a demon and shows them a secret train tunnel that will help them get to the city faster.

However, a train carrying important officials passes and stops when Z's soul lantern flares and finally takes its first form: a boring candle. 

Z wakes up in an interrogation room on the train. General Y reveals that Z is one of the anointed--someone who can serve as a host for the God King.

Notes:
- We are now into Act 2 and I'm really starting to get hit with that whole Impostor Syndrome thing. Doubting myself and the story. I'm particularly afraid that splitting the plot into two (temporarily) is going to make people disinterested.

As always, thanks for reading, and don't be gentle!

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I'm very interested to see where this goes now that our troupe of young heroes has encountered the military.

(page 1)

- "breaks" > brakes.

- "at least a layer of skin (or more)" - this felt awkward to me. So, what, two layers in some places, but one in others?

(page 2)

- "grackle" - Huh, I had no idea what this was. That's me learned something today. I did look it up, and the indication (from Wiki) is that these are not birds of prey. 

- "it’s its prey" - delete apostrophe.

- I don't buy Z thinking she's crazy. This major calling out, it doesn't work for me. Clearly she is not, she's on a train, she's felt the touch of these people, the cuffs are real. This thought, doubled a redoubled by several separate lines; I don't see why she would think that. She demonstrated a good grip of reality when presented with the idea of a demon egg (I seem to recall), but this is the thing that makes her doubt her sanity? Meh.

- "It moves unnaturally fast because" - Hmm, this makes my palms sweat. If the train is travelling beyond it natural means, there is a question of the brakes not performing adequately to stop it. I can see you're calling that out with al this jerking around, which was starting to bug me, because if a train is driven properly, that should not happen.

- Repetition of 'anyway', twice in two lines.

(page 3)

- "wasn’t on P’s list of expressions" - excellent detail.

- "Your training will start in the morning" - It's probably me WRS, but I don't remember Z being accepted into any programme.

- "It didn’t matter if that they had her handcuffed to a chair" - They do; it's not in doubt.

- "A host?" - Ah, yes. Okay, I would not have forgotten that without the reader gap.

(page 4)

- "Despite the scars on the insides of her thighs" - Was the self-harm highlighted before? I don't remember this. Maybe just WRS.

- "What won’t hurt?" - Huh? There doesn't seem to be any reference to anything hurting. Perhaps a remnant?

- The 'as (sic) someone' thing is awkward, for me. We're in a moment of tension and reveal, but what I'm concentrating on a some kind of weak wordplay.

- "and wildly curly hair that looked like" - hair is mentioned above, so this is kind of awkwardly repetitious.

- "examine every corner of any room" - Hmm, but we didn't see her doing this before, so this feels rather retconned into the scene. I'd prefer to see her doing this earlier, so it's foreshadowed.

(page 5)

- "one of the more nefarious organizations" - I'm not convinced 'nefarious' is the word. It means wicked, evil and immoral, but surely it's working for the good of the war. How would this fit the GK's image? it just seems excessive. Also, the sentence containing that phrase, it kind of jumbled, IMO: Z doesn't know if she reacted, then the Inq bit, then we're back to her cursing her slip, although she doesn't know if she reacted.

- "Left, R would have said" - really? I don't remember a lot of quipping.

- "hard to remember how they had come off" - Eh? I don't understand. Also, this whole paragraph seems to wonder between one thought and another; I found it quite difficult to read.

(page 6)

- I'd say 'sleepover' was one word.

(page 7)

- "silence felt awkward and she felt obligated to add more" - something missing here.

(page 8)

- "There was a woman behind her!" - But the woman who came in with Agent S was announced at the time they entered. This feels like repetition.

(page 9)

- So, is it mind space or mind scape?

- "There was a woman in the room!" - Yes, what? I'm confused.

(page 10)

- "the one the probe showed you" - I don't remember this. What probe? Maybe it's WRS.

- "demon egg" - Oh, right.

- "trying to focus on the woman" - But previously she couldn't focus on C. Has something changed?

- "his attention back to the girl" - This is not in Z's POV.

- "sort of compulsion" - Huh? How is this a good thing?

(page 12)

- "Where are my friends?" - This throws me for a loop. How does she know they are not on the train, and how does she know her mum is? As a zinger, this just leaves me confused.

- "in the opposite direction of the train" - Wait, the train is going away from the city now? Was this referred to? I feel like I would have noticed this happening if it had been on the page. I'm kinda confused again.

- "M had made ogling the man’s biceps" - this seems way-out of character for M. I'm really not sure I believe this.

(page 13)

- "being attractive, almost to a fault" - I'm not really interested in all this who's attractive stuff. It does not seem important in their present situation. On RE sometimes they refer to being in the POV of the character whose stakes are highest and that seems clearly to be Z at this point, and indeed most points.

- "Take these two to the GK" - okay, I take that back, but I had to get through the attractive stuff to get to this.

(page 14)

- "the girls had had to convince him that it might be true" - That he was a FoM? Confused by the phrasing here.

- "stopped to make camp" - how are they travelling? I've got no sense of their surroundings.

(page 15)

- "He knew at least part of the situation between Z and her own mother." - should this be M, because he's drawing the comparison?

- "as if behind those eyes there was not just clockwork" - This whole metaphor is weird. Why would he liken her to a machine in a way that sounds like it's supposed to be complimentary? It's really not.

(page 16)

- "A smile broke on to his face" - IMO. Otherwise, it sounds like the breaks on his face like a ship on rocks.

- "the mostly barren landscape" - uncertainty and vagueness is not engaging. Do you need this, can't it just be barren? If not, why is it not barren, something is being held back from the description.

(page 17)

- Totally bamboozled by this last scene. These people do not behave like hostage and captor. Hostage doesn't seems like the right word. Where are they from?

- I think part of the problem is all the tension has been around the kids being at odds with the apparatus of command, but now that (seems to be) is gone, there's a tension something of a vacuum. This handler guy, whose motivations I have no idea about, seems just dropped in to add a threat now that the major threat is gone. It feels quite artificial to me. I think we actually need this scene quite a bit earlier, or to see him earlier and understand his motivations so that you can use him where you need him with proper effect. Mostly now, I am just confused and feeling a bit narked at this guy popping up from nowhere. Because I don't know anyone in the scene, it's difficult to feel any investment in what they are saying.

Overall 

I enjoyed the first scene of Z meeting the inquisitor, questioning by the general, etc. After that, I'm kind of tailing off. I think R and M's scene could be more affecting, more powerful, and the last scene doesn't carry any weight for me. I'm hoping we're back with Z in the next submission. I don't understand why she is moving away from the front; it feels like she's moving away from where the interest and action is. It feels like she's going backwards, but at least she's doing interesting stuff. My main concern is where the tension is going to come from, as I have no investment in this handler guy, and the person who does not behave like a hostage, but seems to cooperate with him quite amiably and without reluctance.

<R>

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On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

So, what, two layers in some places, but one in others?

That's what I was going for, implying that it actually broke the skin in some places. I'll be clearer in the next draft. This is also the pain she is feeling you mention later.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

these are not birds of prey

Good catch! This was a remnant. Original it was a falcon but thought carrion eater was better image. Fixed!

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

I don't buy Z thinking she's crazy.

I was going for "hoping" she was crazy but I must've missed the mark. 

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

Hmm, this makes my palms sweat. If the train is travelling beyond it natural means, there is a question of the brakes not performing adequately to stop it. I can see you're calling that out with al this jerking around, which was starting to bug me, because if a train is driven properly, that should not happen.

A remnant from before I read all the train statistics you provided! Thanks for the flag.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

Was the self-harm highlighted before?

A few times but always in passing. This was the most obvious--so far.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

How does she know they are not on the train, and how does she know her mum is?

She knows her mom is because they tell her she is but she doesn't know whether her friends are on the train or not.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

Wait, the train is going away from the city now?

The train is going to the Front, which is in the south. The city is to the north.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

- "M had made ogling the man’s biceps" - this seems way-out of character for M. I'm really not sure I believe this.

Was going for Rico thinking she was ogling more than she was actually ogling. Will make sure its clear this is, at least mostly,  in his head.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

- "He knew at least part of the situation between Z and her own mother." - should this be M, because he's drawing the comparison?

Yep!

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

Why would he liken her to a machine in a way that sounds like it's supposed to be complimentary? It's really not.

No, it really isn't, and it would probably hurt Z's feelings.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

I think we actually need this scene quite a bit earlier, or to see him earlier and understand his motivations so that you can use him where you need him with proper effect. Mostly now, I am just confused and feeling a bit narked at this guy popping up from nowhere. Because I don't know anyone in the scene, it's difficult to feel any investment in what they are saying.

Noted.

On 10/1/2019 at 0:33 AM, Robinski said:

I don't understand why she is moving away from the front; it feels like she's moving away from where the interest and action is.

Once the train stops, Z is *at* the Front. R and M are the ones moving away from the Front, toward the city.

Thanks for everything, @Robinski! As always, the chapter is leaps and bounds better after your comments!

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Seems like @Robinski came to a lot of the same conclusions as I did, especially on the train's faulty brake and accelerator, and what was going on in the last scene. 

I enjoyed Z's POV, barring some of the notes I have below. She seems to be on a hero's journey. The other POVs I'm confused about. We haven't been given enough information to tell where R and M are, and I have no idea what that last scene adds. There's a lot of new stuff coming into play as we go into Act 2, and I feel like some of it hasn't been properly set up in Act 1 to pay off here without confusion.

On 9/29/2019 at 11:14 PM, hawkedup said:

I'm really starting to get hit with that whole Impostor Syndrome thing. Doubting myself and the story. I'm particularly afraid that splitting the plot into two (temporarily) is going to make people disinterested.

Keep going! This is definitely the hardest part to muddle through. Also called "the great swampy middle" by Jim Butcher. I think the split in POV can work here, but there needs to be some more shoring up of reasons and worldbuilding. Nothing that can't be fixed in the next edit. I'm still greatly enjoying the story, and want to find out what happens.

 

Notes while reading

pg 2: "almost knocking the air out of her lungs--again!"
--this train must be going really fast, and braking really hard. I've traveled across Europe on trains. Granted, I knew how to brace myself, but I don't know if I would have been thrown around this much.

pg 2: "It moves unnaturally fast because--well, anyway"
--ok, spoke too soon, but now I want to know why it moves unnaturally fast...
--and really, the acceleration is the problem, not the speed. Who ever is driving it has a lead foot...

pg 3: "She had known that was how the God King lived for generations, passing his essence on from one host to the next,"
--hmmm...I feel like if this is common knowledge, the reader should know it by now, too.

pg 4: "What won’t hurt?"
--what is this is response to?

pg 5: "and she had to think hard to remember how they had come off"
--cool

pg 6: “But, I… I’m not a spectral.”
--Do we know what a spectral is? Or is this WRS on my part?

pg 7: what actually happened in the memory? We get a vague mention of shadows, but I feel like there should be something more concrete for a memory/flashback

pg 8: "some spectrals were able to convert the light of their soul lanterns into mage fire."
--so are all of those in the corp spectrals? I'm confused on classification.

pg 11: The questioning was interesting, and raised a lot of cool points, but I feel almost like we're in a different story. There's a lot of new stuff going on, but Z acts like it's stuff everyone knows.

pg 12: "The four of them now moved northward along the road"
--wait, M and R didn't get on the train at all? Or the train made a stop later and they got off?

pg 12: "had failed miserably the one and only time they tried to do something non-platonic."
--that's...a very strange and sterile thought from a teenage boy.

pg 13: are the bluecoats the same as the mage corp?

pg 13: "Take these two to the God King and let them deliver their message and package"
--very confused on who is where. Z and her mother are on the train, which I thought was going to the front and the God King. Except M and R got off the train (or never got on?) and are going the other direction, but this should be the direction they originally intended, if they were going to meet the God King... Are they still near the original place where they went down in the tunnel? It says they were moving along a road. Where is it?

pg 14: "sat against the tunnel wall while the two bluecoats ate near the rails."
--okay, so they are in the tunnel. Then why did it say they were traveling along a road?

pg 15: "situation between Z and her own mother"
--do you mean between Z's mom and M's mom? unclear.

pg 16: okay, now I'm completely confused. I have no idea who these people are.

pg 17: we haven't seen either the hostage or the handler before, have we? If we have, then keeping their identities hidden is frustrating. I'm not sure why they're there, what they're doing, or why this is a POV at all.

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13 hours ago, hawkedup said:
On 01/10/2019 at 7:33 AM, Robinski said:

Wait, the train is going away from the city now?

The train is going to the Front, which is in the south. The city is to the north.

Oh, so is there are fork somewhere, or a triangle? I've sort of assumed in my head that the pueblo is in the west and they were travelling east to the capital. Obvs, both capital and front could be east of the pueblo, and therefore north-south travel would be required between the capital and the front.

13 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Was going for Rico thinking she was ogling more than she was actually ogling. Will make sure its clear this is, at least mostly,  in his head.

Right. It seemed a very definite statement from him, I though, so I presumed he was stating a matter of fact.

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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:
On 30/09/2019 at 4:14 AM, hawkedup said:

I'm really starting to get hit with that whole Impostor Syndrome thing. Doubting myself and the story. I'm particularly afraid that splitting the plot into two (temporarily) is going to make people disinterested.

Keep going! This is definitely the hardest part to muddle through. Also called "the great swampy middle" by Jim Butcher. I think the split in POV can work here, but there needs to be some more shoring up of reasons and worldbuilding. Nothing that can't be fixed in the next edit. I'm still greatly enjoying the story, and want to find out what happens.

Yes!! Keep going. I am interested. I am kind of hoping for some more action, but I can do people talking in a room as long as there is tension / are stakes. I know there was a fair amount of concern originally about the number of POVs, but I think it's different when we've come to know the characters together before they split, as in this case. If there are particular things that make you think that readers might become uninvested then at least you can tackle those  if they get flagged in crit. If it's a vague feeling of imposter syndrome then I definitely get that too.

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

--Do we know what a spectral is? Or is this WRS on my part?

Spectrals are the magic users of the world.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

--so are all of those in the corp spectrals? I'm confused on classification

Everyone in the Mage Corps is a spectral. Every spectral is supposed to be in the Mage Corps. There are unregistered spectrals in the world, people who don't want to give up their families and the like, but being caught is... very bad.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

--wait, M and R didn't get on the train at all? Or the train made a stop later and they got off?

The train stopped. Everyone got on. The others were questioned before Z woke up. R and M then got off the train with their bluecoat guards and started heading north (the same way they were traveling to begin with). Thanks for flagging the confusion here. I'll make sure this is all much clearer in the next edit.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

are the bluecoats the same as the mage corp?

No. Bluecoats are elite soldiers but not magic users.

10 hours ago, Mandamon said:

It says they were moving along a road.

That's on me. I had them on the road originally but then thought it would be better if they continued to use the tunnel.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

Oh, so is there are fork somewhere, or a triangle? I've sort of assumed in my head that the pueblo is in the west and they were travelling east to the capital. Obvs, both capital and front could be east of the pueblo, and therefore north-south travel would be required between the capital and the front.

Ah, I see the confusion. I'll be more clear in the future, but no the pueblo is one of a few along a main road that goes North and South connecting the capital city in the north (where the God King is) and the Front in the far south. So the kids left the pueblo heading north. Encountered the train heading south. Now Z is going south and R and M are still heading in the same direction, north, as before.

Thanks for the help @Mandamon! Very helpful as usual!

Edited by hawkedup
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Overall

I thought this was a very engaging chapter. Splitting the POVs off at this point makes sense, and I am invested in all of them enough to be okay with it. I think it is a good place to broaden out the world and I'm excited now to explore it from several different perspectives, whereas originally all the POVs just caused fatigue because I didn't care about anyone yet.

I'm looking forward to reading more of this!

11 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Keep going! This is definitely the hardest part to muddle through. Also called "the great swampy middle" by Jim Butcher. I think the split in POV can work here, but there needs to be some more shoring up of reasons and worldbuilding. Nothing that can't be fixed in the next edit. I'm still greatly enjoying the story, and want to find out what happens.

I agree with all this. Middles are hard, but I think you can make this work for sure.

As I go

- pg 3: wait, her mom is on the train? I'd expect a lot more reaction here, because I just assumed they'd all been left behind or killed. Isn't Z the only one they actually care about?

- pg 4: wait, why does she have scars on the inside of her thighs??

- pg 4: wildly curly hair that looked like Z’s when she didn’t take care of it or brush it every single day <-- should be edited. has a bit of implicit bias around black hair being wild or unruly or in need of taming

- pg 8: I like the explanation of battle mages!

- pg 9: wow this uh, sort of mental memory rape the guy is doing is not okay. I'd like to see Z panic a bit more here

- pg 15: was not just clowork, but an entire factory <-- typo on 'clockwork'

- I like the ending!

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5 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Ah, I see the confusion...

Ah, okay. Yes, just a bit of set up on this would be useful. Also, I had assumed the train came from behind them (for some reason)! So, yes, all that direction of travel stuff would be useful.

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