aeromancer

06/09/20 - aeromancer - From Depths, I Call (L,V) - 5544

12 posts in this topic

First things first, I apologize in advance for making you all read the song on page 11. I know it's terrible, and that's because I'm an author, not a lyricist, but I really needed a song there. So, for the time being, just ignore the song and pretend it's mediocre. It is meant to be slightly campy, but ... well, not that campy.

Background: This submission is the first part of a short story I've cautiously entitled 'From Depths, I Call". It takes place on the world of C, where all the humans are nocturnal and thus the language and habits have been adjusted accordingly. The world itself is low fantasy, and the story follows the protagonist ZG, and his emotion manipulating companion, a one-of-a-kind creature named Tempter. This submission doesn't have any actual violence, however, given that the story deals with suicidal impulses, I applied the tag. Depending on how well this is received, there might be more submissions of later parts of the story. 

Reading Notes: This is the second Z&T story I've submitted to RE. The first one got mixed reviews (in the sense that part of it was liked and part of it wasn't). This one shouldn't require any previous knowledge of the first story, but I might have botched that, so feel free to ask for clarification if you need details. Additionally, if you, at any point, decide to stop reading this, I'm fine with that decision - this isn't exactly suitable for all tastes.

What I'm looking for is twofold: I want first impressions of all the material, and I also want to know what themes you picked up in the story. And, as mentioned on RE, there are some minor mystery elements, though the real goal here isn't to figure out whodunit, but more of the how at this point in the story.

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I'll say that I definitely enjoyed this overall! :) 

Let's start with what I liked. My main investment at this point in the story is R's character. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be, but I started tracking her after her reaction to T, which was distinct and helped both characterize her and establish how she fits into the world. The fact that she tries to recruit Z more or less out of the blue also makes her stand out. I also thought T's emotion-reading ability was used well. It was established early on so I didn't feel cheated when it was used to de-escalate the tension when Z talked about R being a witch. I also liked how it helped put key info out into the open. 

Now let's get into suggestions. Right now, I feel like I need a bit more from Z. I'll say that I don't really understand what Z is up to as a seeker, but right now that isn't my primary question and I don't think we need more explanation at this point since the story does quite a bit of explaining worldbuilding elements to us already. Instead of wanting to know what Z does, I'd like to know more about why he's doing it. We know little about his personal motivations, and I think it's important for the story to establish why seeker work is important for him even if we don't completely know what a seeker does yet. This can come in little moments. For example, one of the backstory elements I appreciated was learning that Z's mom taught him basic medical care. Sprinkling in details like that, but about why he's doing what he's doing, what T means to him, what his ambitions are, ect. will help me become invested in his character. 

Also, there are a few moments regarding magic that are worth talking about. The magical song and T's ability to manipulate emotions were both told to us in a way that halted the story, and I think there's the opportunity for characterization. Filtering the song entirely through Z's opinions of the type of magic, for example, tells us more about Z instead of it feeling like we're being explained to. Also, I'm a bit confused about both powers. The song is supposed to only affect the mind, right? So how can it stand in for sleep, which helps with physical as well as mental exhaustion? As for T, I'm not entirely sure what his "manipulating emotions" ability can actually do. Can he only share emotion from one person to another, or can he actively create/suppress specific emotions in people? The latter case feels too broadly powerful to be interesting to me without specific restraints.

Phew, now let's talk about themes. The main one I noticed was a focus on outsiders and how they fit into the world around them. If this is a key theme, I'd recommend playing it up more by giving us more hints of Z's backstory (which I'm assuming is nomadic). I also got the sense of different outsider groups needing to band together when things get tough, since Z and R work together despite seekers and witches seemingly not getting along. 

Good luck revising! :) 

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@Ace of Hearts Thanks for responding.

7 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Instead of wanting to know what Z does, I'd like to know more about why he's doing it. We know little about his personal motivations, and I think it's important for the story to establish why seeker work is important for him even if we don't completely know what a seeker does yet.

This is a good point, but it's also a tricky one. It would go against one of my purposes to explicitly state his motivation - my intention is that the reader draw it out from the text. Not to mention that he has very little motivation at this point in the story - he's a Seeker, yes, but for what's happened so far, him being a Seeker isn't really that relevant to most of the choices he's made. His motivation isn't that complex either, a simple version of it might be 'I want to help', but it's the how he helps that makes him unique.

 

7 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Filtering the song entirely through Z's opinions of the type of magic, for example, tells us more about Z instead of it feeling like we're being explained to. Also, I'm a bit confused about both powers. The song is supposed to only affect the mind, right? So how can it stand in for sleep, which helps with physical as well as mental exhaustion?

I can do that easily enough. Z doesn't have a very high opinion of magic, though. Respect for its power, yes; opinion of it, not as much.

The song lifts mental exhaustion - a feeling you might get if you do a mental task repeatedly. Say, something like study intensely for six hours straight or be preoccupied with various decisions and dilemmas. The 'twelve hours of sleep' was slight hyperbole. It was more in reference to what twelve hours of unneeded sleep could do for you. There are songs which help for drowsiness too, by the way. The weak ones are just magic caffeine, but the stronger ones can remove the need for sleep almost entirely with no ill effects, albeit only for a few days. It will also not help for physical exhaustion, as you've noted, but most of the physical exhaustion you feel from a lack of sleep is psychosomatic anyway.

8 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

As for T, I'm not entirely sure what his "manipulating emotions" ability can actually do. Can he only share emotion from one person to another, or can he actively create/suppress specific emotions in people?

Yes for the sharing, no for creating and most certainly no for suppressing. He is a tempter after all - all he can do is inflame emotions. (Similar to a Rioter from Mistborn, actually.) He can 'create' emotion in someone if he's sharing an emotion from somewhere else, but Tempter is incapable of organically generating emotion to put into people. He has to draw them from somewhere.

 

8 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

The main one I noticed was a focus on outsiders and how they fit into the world around them. If this is a key theme, I'd recommend playing it up more by giving us more hints of Z's backstory (which I'm assuming is nomadic). I also got the sense of different outsider groups needing to band together when things get tough, since Z and R work together despite seekers and witches seemingly not getting along. 

Yes! This is one of the main themes. (It makes me happy to know I've written cohesively.) Seeker are nomadic, although for the most part it's not a choice on their part, it's just how things work for them. The 'banding together' theme wasn't intended as much, though. (Also, Z and R getting along is the exception rather than the rule. Generally, Seekers and Witches hate each.)

The main sense I'm getting from you is that you'd really like for Zasha to be fleshed out more as a character, also that the exposition needs some work. I should be able to do that. Thank you for your comments.

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The time and love you've put into your world building really shows. It feels like there is complex cultural interplay going on which is interesting. 

I would have loved to see more of what the town looks like, to get a sense of culture, tech level, and type of town it is. 

For themes, I mainly picked up in the Outsiders/Knight errant elements. It seems like an 'Us vs. Them' element is likely to come into play along with 'seiged by monsters'.

A few other things if you like, but feel free to ignor:

1st paragraph: "But now he finnaly..." this phrase seems to shift tense from the rest of the paragraph.

"Like all denizens of C...." There are a few lines of exposition that stand out to me in the first 1/4 of the story and feel like I'm being told something. 

T's entrance with the guards: This felt a little forced and the explaination given didn't really add up to me since it seems like T could have just as easily followed back the way they came. It seemed like maybe there was another reason for him to barge in at this point, but as a reader I don't see why.

The song: I completely get that the music is an important elelement and will likely come up again. If you don't want to include lyrics though, I really don't think you have to. The Phantom of the Opera, the book the musical was based on, had some very compelling descriptions of the music but not a single lyric. 

Scalpel: this seemed out of place with the rest of the healing going on. Maybe a surgery knife, but scalpel invokes a more modern feel. Again, I don't know if this is useful, but some minerals like Obsidian can be brought to an incredibly sharp edge and were used for percision cutting long before anyone could get a metal blade edge that sharp. 

As someone who hasn't read the first story, I didn't feel left behind at all, well done!

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Well, I enjoy reading about T again! And I also really like R's character. She seems to know what she's doing.


As to your questions.
1) I want first impressions of all the material, and I also want to know what themes you picked up in the story.
--I don't have much of an impression of the story yet because not a lot of plot has happened. There's a lot of worldbuilding for a short story, if that's what this is, and it tends to drag down the pace. I do pick up the "us vs. them" that the others did, and I think this was a pretty big part of the other story as well.


2) there are some minor mystery elements.
--I guess the people committing suicide? It comes in on the last page, so it's not really a big element in the story.


I'm not sure the whole song in the middle really adds anything, and there are a lot of places where things are explained multiple times when once will do. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen for the whole submission, so I'm wondering if the next part has a lot more plot in it and this is mostly setup. There isn't really a mystery so far that I can see.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "cross" -> "crossed"
--also several other missing words and grammar problems in the first paragraph...

pg 1: A lot of the description could be cut down considerably to make it flow better. e.g:

"“Hhh.” T, his W creature companion, made a slight vocalization that was neither a comment nor a question, but at times served the creature as either. The W was flying around the forest, alternating between being behind him or flitting ahead of him."
To
"“Hhh.” T's slight vocalization was something between a comment and a question, though Z sensed it was in agreement. his W companion flitted both ahead and behind as they walked through the forest."

pg 1: "can you sense any emotions right now?"
--he's asked this three times in one paragraph.

pg 2: "his eyes were nocturnal"
--there's a lot of this too. The wrong word or action. His eyes are not active only at night...it's that his sight is adjusted for the dark.

pg 2: "even in the middle of night during full moon"
--wouldn't this be the brightest time they are active, if these people are nocturnal?

pg 3: "thirty more minutes of walking to get to S.F., but he made it in ten."
--Why is he running at three times his walking speed? I thought he deduced there wasn't any immediate danger?

pg 3: "I’m seeking sanctuary.”
--from?

pg 4: "I called you because I’d hate for you to be left behind.”
--Which makes me think it wasn't the reason, but I don't know what it is. Showing off the creature?

pg 5: "silently bemoaning the turn of events"
--is T bemoaning, or Z? Unclear.

pg 5: "who was making no moves against R"
--yes, I'm confused by all the hubbub about T landing on her shoulder. He seemed to have no ill intention.

pg 6: "“Seekers don’t use moon’s light. Every set of hands helps, except for his.”
--confused on this. Can he not move objects? Build walls or clean? 

pg 7: "but this Seeker is offering to add fresh ones"
--yeah, I'm unsure why the guards can't come to this same conclusion.

pg 8: "Most of the able-bodied men who should be helping repair the town"
--again, so why aren't the guards letting in anyone who can help rebuild?

pg 8: "You can have the capacity of reading emotions a three-year-old could notice.” 
--lol

pg 9: “Even to save people’s lives, there are wrong ways to go about it."
--I feel like all this is in response to the last story? In any case, there are a lot of words devoted to telling exactly what R does--to the point of it being strange so much time is devoted to it.

pg 11: "her power of song flooded into the pair of them."
--So...why do you need a song here? This whole section seems inserted into Z and R's walk to the hospital. K practially forces it on them. I'm not yet sure why this is here.

pg 12: "The powers of a..."
--and then a half-page infodump. Do we need to know this information now? What does it have to do with the story? Can the information on the Gr. be spread out so we learn it a piece at a time, if it's necessary to the plot?

pg 14: "because he had that fanatical belief"
--does anyone call themselves a fanatic?

pg 14: "The soldier flinched at first..."
--I don't think we need nearly this much explanation of how emotions are transferred. We can gather how it works, and I'm willing to accept that Z has a greater tolerance against them, as he's trained as a religious figure of sorts.

pg 17: “My faith is strong enough to let me withstand pain.” 
--and then there's another explanation. At this point, I'm waiting for story to happen.

pg 19: "be satisfied in what you accomplished.”
--he...hasn't really done anything yet.

pg 20: "T can transfer emotions to other people..."
--this feels like the fifth time this has been explained.

pg 21: "You think there’s something here in Seventh Ford that’s making people want to take their own life?”
--okay, I think this might actually be the start of some plot. I'm judging by the first story that this one is a similar length? If so, we're already about halfway through and nothing has really happened yet.

pg 21: "Shadowlings don’t use moon’s light...A memory surfaced, unbidden"
--I feel like we should be able to figure out what he's remembering, but I have no idea what it is.

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Thoughts as I go:

P. 1. A tight bank in the river. Not sure that makes sense. A curve? Don’t forget past tense on ‘cross.’ A few other grammar mistakes, but I’m sure you’ll notice them on a subsequent edit. And Robinski will probably delight in explaining them ;)

I felt this was a slow opening. Could probably condense it into fewer sentences.

P.2. Beginning to get into the meat of the story. Interesting dialogue between creature and girl, highlighting both setting and character.

P. 3. “He yanked the staff up with T leaping off it and flaring his wings to avoid getting tossed.” Again, could condense this. The sentence means almost exactly the same thing if you excise “to avoid getting tossed.”

I now realise Z is a boy not a girl. Oops, my fault.

P. 4. I feel like you could heighten the “good character who is only trying to help doesn’t get aid from those he’s protecting” feel here. Could be like a Geralt of Rivia vibe.

Also I don’t understand the contention. They claim he’ll be dead weight, but surely giving him accommodation won’t take hands away from work? They might even be glad he came, because it’s an extra pair of hands. The only feasible cost is food, which they’re offering him anyway. I get the feeling this is perhaps related to him being a Seeker, which possibly prevents him from working – if that’s the case, you should let us know before he speaks to the guards.

‘Gritted,’ not grit. Tense seems to be an issue.

The young woman sounds so much like a guardsman that Z thinks she is one before seeing her?

P. 5. Ah, the young woman is the witch, and the guard was speaking to her. That was not apparent.

P. 6. Finally get an explanation for why he was refused hospitality. Something to do with moon light usage.

P. 7. Again mentioning lack of supplies… but they’d already offered him food.

P. 8. Clunky dialogue starting “Yes, this village’s crop of fighters.” Again, could be abbreviated/condensed.

P.12. Strong D&D Bard references.

P.21. The last line. I feel T wouldn’t have vocalised the meaning behind Z’s lie – that he knows who it is – unless the beast is more malicious than I’d assumed. I feel he just blurts out the emotion.

 

Themes: Good person maligned by uncaring society

Unlikely friends

Mystery doesn’t really feature that much, except towards the end.

Faith and goodness can overcome evil.

 

I greatly enjoyed the idea of T. An emotion-reading (and blurting) companion? Imagine if Z had a crush on someone. Many incredibly embarrassing possibilities to explore!

In fact, loads of interesting, immersive things going on there.

 

So, to sum - a slow start. Issues with tense and grammar (I didn't list them all; I assume a general edit will find them). I feel like you could have tightened up your sentences and paragraphs. I enjoyed the world. There's a lot going on there that can be built upon. However, I don't think you focused on one overriding theme to drive the entire story. The themes which I listed above all felt slightly tangential.

My two cents! Definitely want to read more.

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Posted (edited)

Not much to add that everyone else hasn't said already, but here's my opinion and answers to your questions.

My initial impression was that there wasn't much going on. Since Z kind of rushed over, I expected some action when he arrived, but aside from the minor clash with the guard about entering, there wasn't much that carried on that initial momentum. Since there wasn't much going on, I didn't really pick up any theme yet, maybe faith/belief? nor did I feel like there was any mystery or suspense since the hook was introduced at the end rather than the beginning. Repetitions of words and names made it a little slow to read.

I really liked all the characters, especially K. Her personality was completely different from the serene and distant descriptors used to describe her, and I wasn't sure if I felt it clashed or if it worked, but I did like her: she seems interesting, and I'd love to find out her story. The only one I didn't much feel for was Z, because I didn't know anything about him--what he was doing there, where he was going, what he wanted. He rather felt like he was quite passive and being pulled along. Things were happening, but I didn't know why. Kind of felt like an introductory worldbuilding piece where readers find out how the magic works; the treatment scene does that very well. I did enjoy the worldbuilding and would like to learn more about the differences between identities such Witch, S, and G. I would read on if there was a little more explanation or hints as to what the characters' intentions are. 

PS: as a real side note, commas are used in dialogue if a speech tag like 'said' is used. A period is used if there's no speech tag. I used to do that and wish someone had just casually mentioned it to me earlier. 

Edited by Lost Owl Needs Tea
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I don't know how helpful my opinion will be, but here we go:

As a musician myself, I thought your music-based magic was interesting, and I liked how two of your magic systems seemed related (at least in that both had to do with emotions).

Some of the phrases you used, like "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," were a little jarring to hear, since this is obviously not an Earth setting, and you'd already set precedent for different culture-based vocabulary like "leech's apprentice."

I also felt a bit lost for the first eight or so pages, which I normally wouldn't mind, but with short stories I always feel like there's more of a rush to get to know everything. I really liked your end, though; it's an excellent transition to your next part.

I'm sorry I can't do an in-depth break-down; unfortunately, I'm pressed for time. I hope this helped -- or at least gave you something to think about. Good luck continuing!

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Hi Aero,

I'll send you LBLs by email, just to keep this post clear of anything very minor. Interested to read more from you, and more from these characters.

(page 1)

- "knowing that the town was close by" - We already know by this that he's on the outskirts, so, this felt a bit repetitive to me.

- The description of Te, I start to think, is really convoluted and wordy, but by the end I'm chuckling, because there are so many touch-points for what the creature looks like that it becomes amusing. I liked that.

- "Z creased his brow" - I've mentioned this somewhere else this week. I feel like these little body ticks and responses are more natural than someone thinking deliberately of doing them on purpose before they happen. I feel that they are naturally instinctive. To me "Z's brow creased" (using this as an example) is more natural, more like reality. I'm not saying I would not crease my brown on purpose, but I don't think I word form a thought that would register in may head (i.e. like narration) while doing it.

(page 2)

- My Glasgow group had a discussion about formatting this week, and so it's in my head, otherwise I probably wouldn't mention it (sorry), but I see you have double space, of course, but then there is an addition paragraph spacing?

- "his eyes were nocturnal" - This implies to me that his eyes are only active at night. He can still see during the day, right? And then "but the forest was still filled with shadows" - I'm not sure what the point is. So, despite being nocturnal (and presumably seeing in the dark), he can't see into the shadows?

(page 3)

- "but he made it in ten" - I'm not really sure why he goes running to the village. He establishes that it's not urgent, because there's no fear, but he runs anyway. I don't really follow his logic.

- "skidded to halt" - I feel that running people don't actually do this, not adults anyway. This is the sort go things a kid would do, IMO.

- "we need every useful pair of hands we can get" - So, they're saying he is not useful. But not why.

(page 5)

- "T doesn’t like witches" - Confused. I thought it was Z who was accused of being a witch, but I seem to remember he is not one. Does this mean the woman is a witch?

(page 6)

- "I know he’s a S--ker" - I think you need to assume that someone is reading this story who has not read the first one. I'd say it is especially the case with shorts, but also good practice with novels, to reintroduce key background aspects. Even if someone has read the first story, it may have been some time ago. I don't remember what a S--ker is, or what's special about them, or how they are considered by society, so all these references are kind of frustrating, because everyone gets it apart from me.

- "don’t use moon’s light" - Don't use it for what? That doesn't mean they can't do things. He could bandage the injured, he could be a lookout, fetch and carry, do all sorts. I still don't understand the prejudice.

- "even when his beliefs permitted it" - So, he's allowed to lie about some things? Seems a bit odd, but I'll roll with it.

- "they undoubtedly didn’t" - Didn't what? I don't understand.

(page 7)

- "Come on, wolf" - What or who is wolf? I don't understand.

(page 8)

- I like the town wounded analogy. Nicely done. The only bit I thought undercut it a little was 'a few houses in a shambles'. This to me means a bit untidy, in a bit of a tiz. My house is a shambles, it needs a good tidy. I just the effects might be more dramatic, or everyone would be in a shambles.

- "this village’s crop of fighters..." - Loooooong sentence without punctuation.

(page 9)

- "throwing shade at me" - What does this mean?

- "threaten innocent women" - Did this happen? is it s reference to him sitting on her shoulder? Didn't seem threatening, although the guards overreacted.

- "would make you better at talking to people" - LOL.

- "to know why you would have a grudge against Witches" - But I don't.

- "shouldn’t matter to you right now, should it?" - What's a sha-she? There just seem to be more and more things I don't understand being introduced, without any of the existing questions being answered.

- "What kind of work do you want me to do?" - I thin maybe linked to my difficulty of not understanding a lot of things about the world, is the fact that we have lost Z's internal monologue. It's there at the start, when he's alone with T, but once we get top the town, it's all dialogue with R and we don't know what he's thinking, therefore we don't know why he does or says anything, or how he feels about what she says, really. It's harder to be invested with events when one is held at a distance by not being allowed in MC's head.

(page 10)

- "from her use of moon’s light" - but what is she using it for? I can't tell. It's difficult to see what magic does. There's been no obvious use of it that I can see.

- "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" - I don't know the world, but this is a very Earth-based expression, IMO. I popped out of the story for a second. I think you explained in the notes that this was a colony world or some such? But there seem to be no other trappings of Earth civilisation, and where did humans get magic from?

- "he who pays the piper" - I think I'm quibbling too much about these 'human' phrases, tbh, but they do make me wonder...

(page 11)

- "since no one is paying..." - ...however, this is a great line, so it does kind of win me over.

- "but please allow me to play just one song" - I thought this discussion was over. It's little jarring to still be in it when I thought they were walking away.

- "my lack of payers" - Giving or receiving?

- Honestly, the song is not bad, I thought       . I found that I could 'sing it' as I read, so the lyrics can be made to scan, reasonably well. My only real issue is rhyme and rime. Rime is a type of frost, nothing to do with music. Assuming that 'rime' is a typo, there is still the issue of repeating the same word as the the rhyme for, well, rhyme. Rime is then repeated a second time (three over all) in the next line. That is awkward from a lyrical viewpoint, but--honestly--for a song made up on the spot by K, this isn't at all bad.

(page 12)

- "any sword apprentice into a tactical master" - Since the effects are purely mental, I would suggest that the swordsman would not be able to master all the physical aspects of exterp swordsmanship, because they would not have the strength or muscle development, the muscle memory, of a true master. They would still be limited to the mental aspects, would they not?

- "she’d no doubt cobbled together the lyrics in minutes and used a basic tune for it" - Per my comment above, I think the lyrics sound a bit like that, and so it's entirely appropriate!!

(page 13)

- "With a few deft strokes of her lyre...sleep." - This sentence here is short, simple, and completely clear. And it also has a poetic ring to it, that really helps to emphasise the message. The paragraph or two before this are really quite wordy, and long-winded. I think you can cut a lot of the stuff before. This one line makes the message completely clear.

(page 14)

- "fanatical belief" - Really? He doesn't really behave fanatical, IMO.

- I'm two-thirds of the way through this first part of the story, and I don't know what it's about. I don't really know what Z's goal is, I don't really know what the stakes are. Is it just about protecting the village from the beasts? I don't get much sense of threat.

You mention it's a whodunnit, but I don't know what 'it' is yet. It doesn't seem to have happened. It almost feels as it we're marking time, waiting for something to happen, as Z does not seem particularly invested in what's happening, or anything else.

(page 15)

- "blew himself away" - This is weird. Sounds like he shot himself.

- "Suddenly the pain stopped" - This is out of POV. Z doesn't know the pain has stopped, he can only make a judgement from D's reactions that he sees. So like 'D relaxed: the pain must have stopped', for example.

- "attention was to the witch" - I feel that the capitalisation is inconsistent.

(page 16)

- How is it that R explains to D what it is that Z & T do? How does she know? I'm trying to recall if he's explained it to her, but I don't recall it.

- "Thought you lot were useless. Suppose that every rule does have exceptions" - See, I don't know that rules. So, a normal S--ker can't share emotion? What do they do then? Why are they perceived as useless?

- "Just a bit different in execution, because my circumstances are different." - How, and how?

(page 17)

- "If they get damaged" - Is it not normal practice to change the bandages anyway after, what, 24/48 hours, when there is an infection?

- "I used T to share some of it with you" - This has already been explained a couple of pages ago. This feels repetitive.

- "Do I recognize that voice…?" - Who's line is this?

- "look towards Z, who shrugged" - So who recognised the voice? Confused.

(page 18)

- "HA'A" - Great name.

- "rock-hard muscle all the way through" - Hmm, well apart from organs and bones, etc.

(page 19)

- "I haven’t done much" - This is true. I still don't know why he's here. What is the arc of the story? Where does it start? There is no mystery to solve yet, so how can it be a whodunnit? I'm perplexed.

- "seeping out light into it" - Something counterintuitive or contradictory-sounding here.

- "You do not want to get involved in this" - Get involved in what? The shadows have been mopped up. what is there to get involved with? Still confused about what the story is.

(page 20)

- "T doesn’t have a choice" - This feels vague to me. I feel a more compelling way to put it would be 'it spills overs', 'T can't contain it', something like that. This phrasing is quite weak, passive.

(page 21)

- See, this is the story here, I think. This is where the arc of the plot starts, IMO. Everything that has come before now is incidental. I've been presuming this is a short story, is that right? If that's the case, we really need to have the plot starting on page one or two. I need to know why I'm reading from the start. For a short story, this is really late for the plot to make an appearance. Considering the plot itself, we've seen no signs of this suicidal behaviour before now, so it's not as if we've had anything to puzzle over before now.

- "A memory surfaced, unbidden, in his memory" - 

- "I just got to the city tonight" - It has been a town for most of the story.

- "already knows who it is" - We didn't even know what the mystery was until page 20. This implies to me that Z has been an unreliable narrator for pretty much the whole first part, because he knew something was wrong, which the reader didn't, and we were really never in his thoughts so we didn't know what he was thinking.

OVERALL 

A bit frustrated from not knowing what the story was, and from all the information that apparently was withheld by the main character during this first part. I don't really know what a S--ker is, either this one, or a proper version of one (I think?). I've sent LBLs separately by email, which I hope are of some use. Also posted in Craft Nook in relation to dialogue tags as part of the previous sentence, since I've run into this twice now in recent times.

Thanks for sharing.

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Overall

The ending was interesting, but I felt like it took too long to get there. Most of the story lacked any kind of arc or motivation of our MC. While the worldbuilding was great and I had a much better feel for Temp this time, I still felt adrift in what the purpose was.

Themes...darkness vs. light, beauty and youth, power and crones, these are what jump out to me. Also something to do with outsiders, but I'd need more plot to really settle on what theme that might be.

 

As I go

- pg 1: I feel like I already know Tempt better in this sub than last time. Solid description

- pg 2: his eyes were nocturnal <-- I find this confusing. Can eyes  be nocturnal? I feel like that word doesn't fit with eyes. Maybe 'were adapted to the night' or something?

- pg 4: I was content with the worldbuilding until here, but now I really need stakes/motivation for our MC to stay invested in the story

- pg 7: still not sure what our MC wants or what the plot is

- pg 8: some insane maniac <-- note, while these words may very well be in character, they are becoming less desirable in publishing (ableism)

- pg 14: at this stage this is more of a character sketch I feel like, than a story. I still don't know what the arc is or what the MCs goals are, but the worldbuilding is nice and I am enjoying that.

- pg 17: the guy with the cut arm just got up and walked out!? With that much pain???

 

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Posted (edited)

 

On 6/9/2020 at 0:05 AM, aeromancer said:

his is the second Z&T story I've submitted to RE. The first one got mixed reviews (in the sense that part of it was liked and part of it wasn't)

I don't believe I read the last one. I remember the last time you sent something, I was overwhelmed with work and never got to it. Anyway, I didn't have any issues with having not read the other. This feels like the start of its own story, not any kind of sequel. 

On 6/9/2020 at 0:05 AM, aeromancer said:

I want first impressions of all the material, and I also want to know what themes you picked up in the story.

My overall impression was that not much happened until the end. I didn't know what Z's motives were. He had no real goal and no agency. He just kind of stumbled into a situation. 

As far as themes go, there seemed to be something about the importance of faith, about false stereotypes and assumptions, and some symbolism about light and dark. 

Most of the world building was really well done, but I agree with @Robinski that it wasn't really clear what a S--ker is. One of the strongest parts of the worldbuilding was how you introduced the witches. A lot came through in the dialogue with out any major info dumps. 

I'm not sure about the mystery element since T claims that Z already knows who did it.

T is one of my favorite elements about the whole piece. He's adorable and adds some humor. 

I liked the song, but the person who sung it seemed to come out of nowhere. 

The last line made me want to read on. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Posted (edited)

Since you want impressions, I'm going to ignore any grammar mistakes unless something is so bad I can't figure out what the sentence is saying (which I doubt will happen).

Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "using his curiously-headed staff as a traveling aid" I wonder what the top of the staff looks like?

Pg 1, " single tail ending in a sharp blade," If someone doesn't get stabbed by a lizard tail, I may be disappointed.

Pg 1, “Concern. Faith. Relief.” What does T's voice sound like? Is it smooth, silver-tongued, tempting? Or is it gravely and low? High pitched and squeaky?

Pg 2, "The top had three equidistant bars jutting out," A description! I wonder if Z has ever used his staff for a coat rack? 

Pg 2, "flaring his wings to avoid getting tossed." Does T just sense emotions, or does he eat them?

Pg 3, " a spear covered in silver-leaf" Hmmm...silver to fight the beasties?

Pg 3, "we need every useful pair of hands we can get" Ouch. So Z's job isn't very useful after an attack. And apparently he doesn't count as a useful pair of hands. Boy can run, but I don't think he'd be very good at doing the carpentry this town seems to need.

Pg 5, "were a dark red or a rusty brown" Blood?

Pg 5, "she’s in no danger right now" Until that blade tail wraps around her throat...I wonder why T doesn't like witches? Do all of his kind hate witches, or does he have a personal grudge?

Pg 6, " that doesn’t like witches" So T has a grudge. That answers my question.

Pg 6, "don’t use moon’s light. Every set of hands helps, except for his." Interesting...I wonder exactly what they mean by moon's light?

Pg 7, " he wants to be there" Why does T want to be there, then?

Pg 7, "we don't have the supplies" I would have assumed that by supplies they meant food, except I know they have enough food to send him on his way. Clean water is probably not a concern from the fords. Don't have bed space?

Pg 9, " I was some insane maniac who preferred it when people died." Ouch. Witches sure do have a reputation.

Pg 9, "I am one of the good ones." Interesting...so the good Witches are all a part of one singular group? Or is it more of a title a Witch can earn? Obviously there are few if Z can pick out her name.

Pg 10, " right next to the riverbend" Beasties don't like water, or running water? That explains why a village would be built between two fords.

Pg 11, "She glowed faintly from her use of moon’s light" I wonder what powers the moon can grant?

Pg 11, "He inclined his head to show respect" Since Z is showing respect, I am going to revise my earlier assumption that she was also a Witch. Magical bard, maybe?

Pg 11, "I can play you a song that will let you work far longer than you should." Okay, so the light can be used to affect others. Can be used on oneself?

Pg 12, "Their songs were both versatile and powerful" Hold up, is K then a part of a guild? How many different types of light weaving are there? How long do the effects last?

Pg 16, "there’s barely a moon in the sky" Page one said that the moon is almost full. Whoops.

Pg 17, " don’t use the power of moon’s light." Can anyone? It doesn't seem so...

Pg 20, "Please don’t tell me that you encountered any other kind?" I wonder how many kinds there are...

Pg 22, "already knows who it is." Nice cliffhanger! I want to keep reading!

I haven't read your other Z&T story, but I enjoyed this. I don't need a lot of action to get me into a story, as enough interesting worldbuilding is enough to keep me reading for at least a couple of chapters into a new book. I'm currently into Chapter 7 in a new book I'm reading and barely anything has happened, but I'm enjoying the world and characters and there's just enough questions and answers to keep me around.

So, for me, was this a slower beginning? Yes. Would I have read the next chapter? Yes. I have questions (How did Z meet T? What exactly is a S----r? What exactly is R? Who is H? What do the guilds do? What else can the light do? What are the beasties? Do people become blinded in the light of day? Is there something special about the staff? Why can't Z use the light? Can anyone use the light?) and if I didn't start receiving some answers by Chapter 2 or 3, that's when I might get frustrated. 

My favorite character was T, and I felt I needed to get to know Z a little more before I decide whether or not I like him. I'm unclear on both his profession and his motivations, and he doesn't have as strong as a personality as, say, H, who whams you with personality straight out the gate. 

I'm not great at picking out themes (I BSed my way through themes in English class, much like finding meaning in art), so I'm just going to nod along with what the others say. 

Edited by Snakenaps
Came back and finished.
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