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Robinski

Robinski - 190930 - TCC Chapter 0C (12) - 3546 words (L)

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Hello all,
 
Here we are again. Any and all comments greatly appreciated, if you have the time and inclination to read.
 
Chapter recap:
 
01 - In small town in British Columbia, Q and M close out the Not-All-That-Curious Case of the Stolen Art;
02 - Q and M decide on what to do next, all the options seem to have some issue or other. Q's ex-father calls;
03 - After some political machinations, we meet EM (the administrator) and TT (the scientist) who at Gen Ex Trick in Yellowknife, NWT;
04 - T is coerced by M into releasing the MTs. They are meant to kill her, but it does not go to plan for M. Now he has a problem
05 - Back with Q and M, they speak to R before going to meet him at the airport, but the plane crashes in 'unexpected' circumstances;
06 - Q and M are questioned at the sheriff's office then taken to the hospital to see R who they manage to speak to briefly before M appears and kills R;
07 - Q and M are in the frame for R's murder. M decides they should run. Car chase thru small town. They collect 80, 'borrow' N's plane and run;
08 - E discovers T's disappearance, is suspended by DM then goes to see the YK sheriff. He takes her to a kill site, but it's only animals, not T;
09 - After some chat about the past and Mor, Q dumps N's plane on the tarmac, QME are recovered by EMS and taken to hospital, where they escape;
10 - E runs the gauntlet of the press then releases the Vuls. Q and M progress to YK. Q gets a mystery call. K is on Q's trail and intends to make him pay;
11 - Q calls E and leaves her a message, the Five-Star gets wrecked by a bear, DM is travelling back to YK and speaks with TOM.
 
Cheers, Robinski
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This chapter seemed disjointed and almost disconnected from the plot. It's a lot of Q standing around thinking about things the reader has already learned, changing his personality while talking with TOM, then encountering some strange transformer version of a single mom. Then, finally getting, not to the place they need to be going, but somewhere...close? I hope?

I have no idea why TOM chose this moment to talk to Q, when he's evidently had the ability for some time, and I guess has just been sitting back and watching Q&M play Benny Hill will the local police? (Yakity-sax is going through my head, thinking back to the hospital, car, and plane chase...). And why does Q turn into a 9-year old boy when talking to TOM? As he says, he's done the work to get out from under him. I would think he would have had to learn to stand his ground while doing that.

Sorry to be negative on this one. This, added to the last chapter, is just making me itchy to have Q&M actually get to the plot of the story and figure things out. Battling genetically engineered monsters is a lot more interesting than a road trip through Canada in winter.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "They were passed by numerous vehicles, "
--passive...

pg 3: "one of the beasts had escaped. "
--Probably WRS. Does Q know what kind of creatures they're creating?

pg 2-3: There's a lot of thinky bits and explanation here. Not much plot movement.

pg 4: "owner of the Five-Star"
--who is this and why does it matter? I'm confused as to where they are and what they're doing. (Edit: Ah, I see from the summary above that it was the vehicle from last time that got wrecked. So probably WRS)

pg 5: "But what was this all about?"
--I feel like this paragraph is bringing the pace down a lot. Q is asking questions about things the reader already knows, and it makes him look far behind the rest of the plot. Contemplating refusing the "heroes quest" at this point in the story is a bit too late.

pg 6: "I mean what are we actually doing? How far is it to YK, even with transport?"
--pretty much agree with M here. They need to get on it.

pg 7: The convo with the old man is...weird. Like I'm not sure why it's happening now and not some time before this. 

pg 7: "Would you like to speak to her?"
--I thought J was in some sort of institution? Am I remembering that wrong?

pg 8: “Leaving was too difficult. I put in the hard yards, as they say. I earned this.”
--Q's demeanor here is really strange. He's actively working against TOM, but here is subservient to him.

pg 9: "you’ve got no right"
--I mean, pretty much agree with M again. TOM is obviously sowing some discord and Q has abandoned his usual sharp intellect.

pg 9: "A low table separated the rotated seat from a rear bench divided into three separate seats ..."
--What the heck is going on? Why is this vehicle stopping and opening up like a 1950's housewife version of Optimus Prime?

pg 10: "to the point that three more chairs near the back could flip up and lock into place."
--I am both very confused and want one of these vehicles.

pg 10: “I hope you nice folks can mend your fences. We’re a happy car, aren’t we?”
--is this the mother? Why is she in italics?

pg 11: "But you’ll need to work on that. It takes time, and you need to be very polite with it. It might feel like you’re giving in sometimes, but you need to pick your battles."
--this chapter has gone off onto a very weird tangent.

pg 12: “You got it, Mister Q.”
--Did...did Q just conscript a child to tell him how he's getting better at playing board games?

pg 13: "Where the heck had that come from?"
--yeeees...also wondering what happened to Q this chapter.

pg 13: "struggling with a sudden dryness in his throat."
--I mean, great, kindness of strangers and everything, but I'm not sure why any of this happened and why Q is suddenly all emotional.

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Overall

I think the first 3-4 pages could be readily cut/condensed to get to the meat of the story, which is the talk with Mor and then being picked up by the family. The internal monologues I think might be vestigial, in that they helped you get a feel for time and place and character, but are redundant for the reader at this stage.

I liked the conversation with Mor and knowing M has a secret is fun. I liked the scene in the camper/van thing as well. Q's sudden paternal side is adorable and the advice he gives to the young boy is great.

So this chapter, like several others before it, I think is just too exposition-y, too long, and not enough forward plot momentum, although there is more in this one than some others!

As I go

- the recap in the first few pages made me want to skim. It would have been fine at just a page I think, to get a flavor for Q's POV, but I felt like it dragged

- the internal monologue about M on pg 5 I think should be part that stays, because it's new information and gives us a deeper look at Q's personality

- pg 9, missing word: I know YOU wouldn’t want to hurt your daughter

- pg nine: Four dark-skinned faces  <--- ehhhhhh have we reliably been getting skin tones on everyone else? Could you use a bit more descriptive language?

- pg 11: frizzy hair <--- suggest something like thick, wavy, hair was in puffs (which is what pigtails that are round are called)

- pg 12: unclear what happened with the business card. Q gave a card to the boy? Why?

- pg 13: warring on her pale features <--- This should have come earlier, otherwise we default. But also I think you are setting up the assumption that this is a big-hearted (white) woman who adopted black children, therefore she would help even a strange man on the road with his daughter and not assume that Q was a pedophile or a human trafficker (both of which would potentially be more likely, but this IS Canada, where people tend to assume better of other humans). It might be worth it to go through that internal monologue because A) you already have a ton and B.) I think it would then make the marginal bias here Q's and not so much narrative.

For help with the descriptions, here is a great guide. The link is for skin tones, but they have a page on writing about black hair, eyelid folds, etc.

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So, I had a lot written about where the sense of urgency went, because I feel like it's mostly vanished and the story is just sort of glooping around in a gooey morass right now, but I don't think the whole long paragraphs amount to much useful critique here. Q feels oddly detached to me right now, and I don't think hanging a lantern on the questions around his motivation is quite enough to get over the problems they cause. 
 
Basically, I'm just so super ready to get to what feels to me like the point of the novel and start doing mystery stuff. The traveling, the introspection, like @Mandamon says, it feels disconnected from the rest of things. Like, is this a travelogue, or a conundrum?  Q doesn't even get to a satisfying conclusion to all his musings. He's already decided to see this through to the end, that's how he got here, after all. 
 
The talk with TOM is interesting, but I also don't think it's really ... doing a whole lot for the plot. TOM is using his apparently godlike powers to bend the rules of the world just to make a few vague threats. I don't feel particularly threatened by him, though, because, to me, all of the danger and peril so far seems like it has come from either Mor or Q&M themselves. It's like he's just randomly stopped Q and M in order to give the mommyvan time to arrive. 
 
The mom is giving me super creepy Stepford Wives vibes. Did TOM send her? Did she sneak his DNA with the hug? Are the kids remote-operated undercover androids?  I agree with @kais that the descriptions of her and the kids need a bit of work. They're not super cringey, but they could be a whole lot better. 
 
This twitter thread doesn't involve puffs, but it's a great visual reference. It's talking about styles, what is involved in maintaining them, and why people would choose a certain style, which could be useful to think about from a character standpoint. Iron_spike on Twitter: Black Hair for Non-Black Artists
 
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Hey, thanks for reading.

On 01/10/2019 at 4:59 PM, Mandamon said:

This chapter seemed disjointed and almost disconnected from the plot. It's a lot of Q standing around thinking about things the reader has already learned, changing his personality while talking with TOM, then encountering some strange transformer version of a single mom. Then, finally getting, not to the place they need to be going, but somewhere...close? I hope?

I guessed this is how this would go, in general terms, based on the last chapter. I have been through and edit before looking at the comments this time. I figured after last time this one would not find much favour, and so decided to save myself the time. I'm not sure I'll keep much of this at all. We'll see when I get into it.

On 01/10/2019 at 4:59 PM, Mandamon said:

I have no idea why TOM chose this moment to talk to Q, when he's evidently had the ability for some time, and I guess has just been sitting back and watching Q&M play Benny Hill will the local police? (Yakity-sax is going through my head, thinking back to the hospital, car, and plane chase...).

Hmm, certainly not the reaction I was going for.

On 01/10/2019 at 4:59 PM, Mandamon said:

And why does Q turn into a 9-year old boy when talking to TOM? As he says, he's done the work to get out from under him. I would think he would have had to learn to stand his ground while doing that.

Well, he's not really an aggressive sort, but that doesn't mean he has to revert to childhood. I will review the whole thing. Might be able to cut it almost in its entirety.

On 01/10/2019 at 4:59 PM, Mandamon said:

Sorry to be negative on this one. This, added to the last chapter, is just making me itchy to have Q&M actually get to the plot of the story and figure things out. Battling genetically engineered monsters is a lot more interesting than a road trip through Canada in winter.

No, it's what I expected. I think I can lose most of this.

On 01/10/2019 at 4:59 PM, Mandamon said:

Notes while reading:

Thanks for these. Probably mostly academic.

Thanks for reading.

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Thanks for reading @kais and @industrialistDragon. Much appreciated. Dropped the ball pretty badly on this one. I think most of it will go.

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So, I'm editing this these past two days and it's heavily cut. I'm verging on submitting it again, such was the poor shape it was in first time around. One point I should have made before, but was (rightly) off balance and defensive about, the mother in the vehicle is also a POC, hence there were 3 children and the mother, the 4 ---- faces regarding M and Q. The face that pale was M's, not the mom's. Untidy and unclear, but not the 'paternalistic' adoption scenario that seemed to come across.

This chapter is changing so heavily – and I suspect 13 (OD) will get the same treatment – that I might be left with a single chapter that I might ask your forbearance to read again.

Thanks for calling me on this one :) 

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2 hours ago, Robinski said:

I might be left with a single chapter that I might ask your forbearance to read again.

I was actually going to suggest that. I think having all the important points in 11,12, and 13 will make a nice, exciting chapter and get Q&M well on their way to their objective.

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So I just finished reading this...almost a month after you sent it. Oddly enough, I liked it. However, it's been a few weeks since I read the other chapters, so perhaps I was as disconnected as the chapter. I found myself not minding that nothing happened aside from nice imagery punctuated by M swearing. I might have felt different had I not had such a big break in reading. The comments the others made make sense in hindsight, but they weren't what was going through my head when I was reading. 

On to 13...  

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“...they could not rely on that lady’s aid again.” This sentence was a stumbling block – took me a minute to realize you meant “luck” here.

I’d entirely forgotten about the election fraud thing until Q mentions it on p2 (well, p14 of my copy). Actually, there’s something else you might be able to do to alleviate the “Q and M wander through the wilderness for a really, really long time” problem a bit – radio news! Service would be spotty in some of the areas they’re going through, to be sure, but not necessarily non-existent, especially since everything seems to be satellite-based anyhow. What kind of news reports might be coming in that could have some sort of bearing on the plot?

Does “Mom” never introduce herself?

p.16 on my consolidated copy, “...with these distracting calls” - given what I’m seeing in the comments this must be a remnant from an earlier version of this chapter in which TOM called. That makes sense, because otherwise this seems a bit odd to mention here.

Actually, now that I think about it you could probably give this chapter a closer look for remnants. There were a couple of moments that struck me as just a tad odd, like Q announcing at their roadside board meeting that TOM has probably damaged him after years of bullying. It might make sense for Q to say it or feel it, but not necessarily at this point in the text. If you’re looking to still give Q a bit of a kick in the pants/sense of renewed purpose/what have you, maybe you can tie it back to the bear incident? That sort of close call might give Q a jolt if you feel he needs one.

Really, though, any major comments I want to make about this section are the same as those I made on the previous one: I remain anxious for Q and M to get to what I’m still thinking of, despite myself, as the real story, and wish they weren’t so disconnected from the rest of the plot. This section also feels a bit like a “breather” section which I’m not convinced we actually need; we had some action in the last chapter in the form of the bear, but it didn’t feel like terribly consequential action.

I’m also starting to notice that Q and M rely a lot on the forebearance of strangers, and it looks like the next section is going to be more of the same in that regard.

On 10/1/2019 at 8:59 AM, Mandamon said:

a lot more interesting than a road trip through Canada in winter.

Oh, I don't know, I have some stories I could tell you... :P

On 10/1/2019 at 8:59 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "owner of the Five-Star"
--who is this and why does it matter? I'm confused as to where they are and what they're doing.

I think this is - well, I hesitate to say WRS because I have yet to figure out what that acronym actually stands for (stupid question?) - but it's a result of reading the chapters a week or two apart, yeah. I didn't have any problem with it.

On 10/1/2019 at 8:59 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 9: "A low table separated the rotated seat from a rear bench divided into three separate seats ..."
--What the heck is going on? Why is this vehicle stopping and opening up like a 1950's housewife version of Optimus Prime?

I had some trouble with this image too. I sort of waved it off as "fancy future tech," but yeah, I stumbled. And now, thanks to @Mandamon, I will never be able to unsee "1950s housewife Optimus Prime." Shame there's only a few days left 'til Hallowe'en. :P

It looks like a lot of the descriptive stuff @kais mentioned around racial signifiers has been cleaned up, enough so that I actually read right over it on my first read-through. Though that might be more indicative of a failure of this reader's imagination than anything...

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On 27/10/2019 at 2:03 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

So I just finished reading this...almost a month after you sent it. Oddly enough, I liked it. However, it's been a few weeks since I read the other chapters, so perhaps I was as disconnected as the chapter. I found myself not minding that nothing happened aside from nice imagery punctuated by M swearing. I might have felt different had I not had such a big break in reading. The comments the others made make sense in hindsight, but they weren't what was going through my head when I was reading. 

Okay, good, I think? I can see how this reaction fits with a lot of the others, about connection or lack, things happening or lack. But, what's happening now--I think--is that I'm getting a bit confused because I'm making chance to chapters after early comments, so some of the issues are already addressed in the versions of chapters I'm looking at reviewing the latest comments. In summary, I'm noting good stuff down to consider in the next draft, but also thinking that some of it is already folded into the latest revisions.

On 27/10/2019 at 2:03 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

On to 13...  

Cool beans! Much appreciated :) 

 

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4 hours ago, Silk said:

“...they could not rely on that lady’s aid again.” This sentence was a stumbling block – took me a minute to realize you meant “luck” here.

Hey Silk, great to have your comments, I'm bracing myself! (This one, yeah. I'll tweak it slight to reduce the distance between 'luck' and 'lady'.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

radio news!

Heh, it's in the next chapter, as you may have discovered by now.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

Does “Mom” never introduce herself?

I guess not. Maybe that's weird.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

these distracting calls

It's true to say that this could be odd here, and I can reword into something else. I left it as a reference to the calls from O/Man and M/Caller, and maybe even the (failed) call to E/M. I'm not wedded to it if it's not clear.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

If you’re looking to still give Q a bit of a kick in the pants/sense of renewed purpose/what have you, maybe you can tie it back to the bear incident? That sort of close call might give Q a jolt if you feel he needs one.

Hmm. Interesting. I'll look at that. Note taken.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

wish they weren’t so disconnected from the rest of the plot

Well noted!!

4 hours ago, Silk said:

I’m also starting to notice that Q and M rely a lot on the forebearance of strangers, and it looks like the next section is going to be more of the same in that regard.

Yes. There was N whose plane they borrowed, the trucker gave M a sandwich, Mom, there's a waitress, and an 'old' lady. Also, they are not the only POV chrs to experience this phenomenon (in coming chapters). I would not say it's a theme in the story, as such, but it's a thing in life that I notice increasingly as I get older. I always remember the line from the Rush (Robinski's favourite band) song Second Nature, 'Folks are basically decent, conventional wisdom would say. Well, we read about the exceptions, in the papers everyday.'

4 hours ago, Silk said:

Oh, I don't know, I have some stories I could tell you... :P

:lol:  This story is not at all inspired by the time my two girls and I spent a holiday driving across (most of) Canada from Toronto to Vancouver: 3 weeks, 3500 miles, some great stories. Also, have driven the route followed by QME numerous times, which doesn't help with the level of investment I give it in the story (at the cost of pacing), but I get more and more on top of that with each edit, I think. Have seen bears, but never  got out the car :o 

4 hours ago, Silk said:

I hesitate to say WRS because I have yet to figure out what that acronym actually stands for (stupid question?)

Not at all. It's Weekly Reader Syndrome, in other words the disorientation and/or forgetfulness of detail that creeps in after six days off the project before getting the next instalment. In other other words, basically exactly what you said :) 

4 hours ago, Silk said:

I sort of waved it off as "fancy future tech," but yeah, I stumbled.

It's reworded by now, as is much of what you are now reading at this point! If I'd been on the case I would have emailed you the latest version of these chapters, but I think you are through them by now.

4 hours ago, Silk said:

Shame there's only a few days left 'til Hallowe'en

:lol: 

4 hours ago, Silk said:

It looks like a lot of the descriptive stuff @kais mentioned around racial signifiers has been cleaned up, enough so that I actually read right over it on my first read-through. Though that might be more indicative of a failure of this reader's imagination than anything...

Yeah, that stuff was not good. It's all gone/changed, I think. It was not supposed to be a white mother and brown children, so that was just careless writing on my part. Ugh.

Great comments again, Thank you, Silk

:D 

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9 hours ago, Silk said:
On 10/1/2019 at 11:59 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 9: "A low table separated the rotated seat from a rear bench divided into three separate seats ..."
--What the heck is going on? Why is this vehicle stopping and opening up like a 1950's housewife version of Optimus Prime?

I had some trouble with this image too. I sort of waved it off as "fancy future tech," but yeah, I stumbled. And now, thanks to @Mandamon, I will never be able to unsee "1950s housewife Optimus Prime." Shame there's only a few days left 'til Hallowe'en. :P

I need pictures if this happens...

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15 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm bracing myself!

Aw, is it really that bad?

*glances at dissertation-length prior posts* Ahem. Don't answer that.

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

I left it as a reference to the calls from O/Man and M/Caller, and maybe even the (failed) call to E/M. I'm not wedded to it if it's not clear.

I more or less got your meaning, it's just a bit awkward with the last call having happened a fair bit ago in the text.

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

spent a holiday driving across (most of) Canada from Toronto to Vancouver: 3 weeks, 3500 miles, some great stories

You've probably seen more of Canada than I have!

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

so that was just careless writing on my part. Ugh.

It happens. That's why we have this group!

12 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I need pictures if this happens...

Haha, don't hold your breath, I'll barely even be home between now and Hallowe'en, let alone costume-making. Maybe next year?

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6 hours ago, Silk said:

Aw, is it really that bad?

*glances at dissertation-length prior posts* Ahem. Don't answer that.

No, no, it's good. Bracing like a good, clean Arctic breeze!! :lol: 

6 hours ago, Silk said:

I more or less got your meaning, it's just a bit awkward with the last call having happened a fair bit ago in the text.

Ah, right.

6 hours ago, Silk said:

You've probably seen more of Canada than I have!

Well, if you've ever seen a field, you've got the middle bit covered...

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On 10/30/2019 at 0:28 AM, Robinski said:

No, no, it's good. Bracing like a good, clean Arctic breeze!! :lol: 

Ah, right.

Well, if you've ever seen a field, you've got the middle bit covered...

I have been to "the middle bits," and this is 100% a fair point. A fact which I may or may not use to irk my friends and family who are from there at every opportunity. 

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