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ginger_reckoning

9.21.20-ginger_reckoning-a Light in the Chaos(v)(5190)

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Hello everybody! This is my first week submitting on Reading Excuses, so I feel very honored that you would take time out of your busy schedule to read my stuff. 

By way of introduction, I wrote the first draft for this book back in 2015. I got about a third of the way in before I decided that my current skill level was not doing the idea justice, so I decided to work on my skills before continuing. Anyway, 5 years later, I decided to just rewrite the whole thing from the beginning. So I am very excited to be putting this out there!
The working title is "A Light in the Chaos" though I'm not in love with that title (as it sounds like a self-help book) so it will probably change at some point. 
 
Included is the prologue, as well as a map I drew on photoshop for reference. I am not looking for critiques on the map. 
 
Content tags: Mild violence, Protesting. I understand protests are kind of a hot topic right now, but please understand that I am in no way making any connection whatsoever to any modern group that exists. 
 
My main concern for this chapter is that it takes too long to get to the "hook". Critiques along that line would be appreciated. (I also have other questions that I will include in the spoiler box, for after the reading.) 
 
Thank you so much!
Spoiler

Does the viewpoint switch work?

Can you tell that Ch is controlling him at the end?

 

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Welcome to Reading Excuses! Thanks for submitting--it's always hard to put your work out there for others to tear apart.

Overall, you have pretty solid prose. I think there's too much description and not enough tension in this chapter, but it's a good start. Is this whole thing a prologue? As in, are we going to be following these characters through the book, or other characters? The others will tell you that prologues are not really "in" right now, but it also depends on the book. In any case, just keep it in mind that you're not setting up characters we're not going to see for a long time (a prologue) or that these characters are going to continue through the book (which means this can just be chapter 1).

To your questions:

I didn't have any problem with the POV switch, but then I don't mind them. Others might object.

I suspected Ch might be controlling him, given that he's moving without meaning to, but I wasn't complete sure.

I think this may have too much explanation of powers and fighting. I'd like to learn more about the characters and their interactions rather than wading through a fight, assuming we're going to follow them the rest of the book.

As to a hook, I think this could work if we have more information about how bad the bad thing is. Right now I want to see what happened, but I can't guess what damage has been done or whether the spell fizzled and exploded, or half-worked and exploded.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: first line is good!

pg 1: "At the age of twenty-three, G. was a full-grown man"
--I think we can guess he's full-grown

pg 2: "Since the Quorum had long been down to five members"
--It's been sort of infodumpy, or at least over-explainy, since the second paragraph to here. Some of this could be broken up in favor of more motion to the story.

pg 2: “Yeah!” J. said, grinning. “There’ll probably be lots of girls there!”
--Generally 11yo boys who are interested in girls are in the "yuck cooties" stage at this age.

pg 3: "She hadn’t thought he’d tell them about this"
--she'd tell them about this? I'm not sure who "he" is referring to.

pg 3: "violet" vs. "violent" is a little confusing

pg 4: I like the description, but it maybe goes on a bit too long.

pg 5: "10 years"
--numbers are written out.

pg 6: J is really obsessed with girls, for some reason.

pg 7: “They wouldn’t even know how to run a country properly without our help,” 
--hmm...yeah, these two are not endearing themselves to me.

pg 9: Charm has female pronouns, but is one of the seven fathers?

pg 9: the bonding here reminds me a lot of Stormlight Archive.

pg 11: I think the combination of J saying the fight is boring, plus the fight going on for a few pages while describing different magic powers does actually make it a bit boring. I'm not really remembering the magic, and there's not much tension because I sure these three can handle the robots, if an 11 yo boy can take down four so far.

pg 12: J also uses (or thinks) a lot of big words. He could be very smart, but it also makes him seem older, like 14-15.

pg 12: "He had never tried anything like this before"
--I'm not really interested in more magic uses right now. I'm looking for more tension in the chapter.

pg 12: I keep reading "Al" as the abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence, rather than a nickname.

pg 14: "Doing so bumped the man’s finger as he drew, causing an errant line in the pattern."
--that's what I suspected. I was wondering why J didn't just swipe a hand through the drawing and smear it to defeat the bad spell.
 

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Thanks for the response! Yes, in fact these characters will not be seen for a while, so I think I will keep it as a prologue. The main point of this chapter was to introduce the main antagonist (aka the Chaos) and to introduce the magic system and politics. I can see how this would get very boring though, lol. I'll probably do another pass on this chapter to trim info dumping and streamline the action/character tension a bit. 

Quote

pg 2: “Yeah!” J. said, grinning. “There’ll probably be lots of girls there!”
--Generally 11yo boys who are interested in girls are in the "yuck cooties" stage at this age.

pg 6: J is really obsessed with girls, for some reason

pg 12: J also uses (or thinks) a lot of big words. He could be very smart, but it also makes him seem older, like 14-15

 Yeah, for these reasons I will probably age him up a bit. There were meta reasons why I wanted him to be 11 yo, but I think his character would make more sense as a young teen. I was trying to make it seem like he was interested because he wanted to set G up, but I can see how that didn't come across. 

Quote

pg 3: "She hadn’t thought he’d tell them about this"
--she'd tell them about this? I'm not sure who "he" is referring to.

That's just a typo. Supposed to say she. 

Quote

pg 7: “They wouldn’t even know how to run a country properly without our help,” 
--hmm...yeah, these two are not endearing themselves to me

good

Quote

pg 9: Charm has female pronouns, but is one of the seven fathers?

pg 9: the bonding here reminds me a lot of Stormlight Archive

The Fathers are actually genderless, so their pronouns are projected onto them. I considered using "parents" at first, but didn't like the way that sounded. Maybe I'll go back. 

Lol, I love SA, but when I read it the first time I was like "crap!" because of how similar it was to the SG in my story. I'm trying to kind of make it different by emphasizing the divinity of the fathers, but we'll see. 

Quote

pg 11: I think the combination of J saying the fight is boring, plus the fight going on for a few pages while describing different magic powers does actually make it a bit boring. I'm not really remembering the magic, and there's not much tension because I sure these three can handle the robots, if an 11 yo boy can take down four so far

pg 12: "He had never tried anything like this before"
--I'm not really interested in more magic uses right now. I'm looking for more tension in the chapter

noted. I'll see what I can trim. 

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I can see I'm not the first, but let me welcome to Reading Excuses. And now, for my critique. 

Thoughts As I Go:

Pg. 1 – A’s name throws me off a bit – it’s the name I’d expect from an Indiana Jones knockoff, perhaps, not from what A is described to me, though that might be my own prejudice talking, so pay it no mind.

Pg. 1 – This line of ‘still important, in a way’, seems to imply that A is some kind of paper tiger or puppet monarch; no one with any real power besides being a figurehead. But then it continues with ‘give orders’ and ‘make decisions’, so I’m getting a mixed message about her.

Pg. 1 – Steampunk walking carriages. I like those, so that’s a plus, but unfortunately not very indicative of the technology level if they’re discussing adding wheels.

Pg. 2 – G and J are mentioned in the same sentence as being A’s apprentices, yet G is apparently twice J’s age. While that’s technically possible, it threw me for a loop.

Pg. 2 – So A controls the Quorum, which controls … something E related, but I’m not sure exactly what. How much power does she have?

Pg. 4 – Perspective shift to an adolescent young boy. Is this going to be recurring? I’m now not really getting a sense of the age this work is meant for.

Pg. 6 – I really wish I knew what kind of government existed already if I’m being told that there are protests to shift it to a republic.

Pg. 7 – Reincarnation? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere interesting. The ‘can’t kill the protagonists because worse things will happen’ angle does pique my curiosity – it’ll require a better-than-average villain to deal with that flaw.

Pg. 7 – I very much doubt J is as required to running the country as he thinks he is. In fact, I’d guess he and G just agree to everything A says, so … how much power does A have again? I seem to keep circling back to this.

Pg. 8 – And now we’re onto necromancy. Which is used for animating horseless carriages, apparently. Please tell me that human souls aren’t used for transporting people from point A to point B and it's horse souls or something.

Pg. 9 – Isn’t Al not supposed to have Ak with her?

Pg. 11 – Thermal energy and endothermic energy is the same thing. If all that’s happening is that heat is being transferred, I can’t really see a distinction.

Pg. 13 – Why is J the only one who can figure out that its obviously a trap? No one throws a coup and invites three powerful mages to it unless they have the means to neutralize said mages.

Pg. 14 – Apparently not ‘too late’ if a bump can ruin the pattern

 

Overall: The general idea behind this submission is good, the execution is somewhat flawed. The character introductions need a bit of work; and if there’s a coup that’s occurring, I’d really like to know the stakes involved – who are these people and what powers do they have? What kind of world politics are we dealing with? I hesitate to say this, but I think this piece could really benefit from some exposition – not a dry exposition, of course, but more details would always be appreciated. Perhaps J could be lectured on world politics a bit by G or A? It certainly wouldn’t look out of place. There are also a couple plot holes (like the fact that only J realize it was a trap), but those could be solved as well.

I like the idea as I see it – political intrigue, powerful mages who can’t be killed because of the threat of resurrection, a rebellious population, and the potential looming threat of chaos – but I think it could definitely use some rewrites.

Edited by aeromancer
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27 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

g. 1 – This line of ‘still important, in a way’, seems to imply that A is some kind of paper tiger or puppet monarch; no one with any real power besides being a figurehead. But then it continues with ‘give orders’ and ‘make decisions’, so I’m getting a mixed message about her

 

28 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 2 – So A controls the Quorum, which controls … something E related, but I’m not sure exactly what. How much power does she have?

 

28 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 7 – I very much doubt J is as required to running the country as he thinks he is. In fact, I’d guess he and G just agree to everything A says, so … how much power does A have again? I seem to keep circling back to this

Thanks, I did not realize this. I guess I do need to establish their political background and power. The thought is that they are reincarnating demigods that used to hold absolute power, but are kind of phasing out. 

 

30 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 8 – And now we’re onto necromancy. Which is used for animating horseless carriages, apparently. Please tell me that human souls aren’t used for transporting people from point A to point B and it's horse souls or something

:ph34r:

31 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 9 – Isn’t Al not supposed to have Ak with her?

whoops

32 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 11 – Thermal energy and endothermic energy is the same thing. If all that’s happening is that heat is being transferred, I can’t really see a distinction

ok, so I have a question about this. Physics isn't my strong suit, but an endothermic reaction draws heat into it, right? So is that a correct term for what's going on here? Would there be a better term?

Pyrokinesis is supposed to be the power's opposite, in which someone transmits heat from their own body instead of drawing it in. I guess I need to explain that better. 

35 minutes ago, aeromancer said:

Pg. 13 – Why is J the only one who can figure out that its obviously a trap? No one throws a coup and invites three powerful mages to it unless they have the means to neutralize said mages.

Pg. 14 – Apparently not ‘too late’ if a bump can ruin the pattern

that pattern was the plan, but as you pointed out, GP relied too much on its strength-sapping aspect...the rewrite is going to be fun. 

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4 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

ok, so I have a question about this. Physics isn't my strong suit, but an endothermic reaction draws heat into it, right? So is that a correct term for what's going on here? Would there be a better term?

Pyrokinesis is supposed to be the power's opposite, in which someone transmits heat from their own body instead of drawing it in. I guess I need to explain that better. 

An endothermic reaction is when the product has more inherit energy than the reactants and thus takes in heat. Ice turning to water is an example of this - heat goes into ice and the ice melts. An exothermic reaction is the opposite - the product has less energy because heat was expelled. Water freezing to ice is an example of this - energy leaves the water as it turns to ice. It thus follows, naturally, as long as you're dealing with a closed system, that every endothermic reaction has an equal exothermic reaction - when ice melts, the ice undergo an endothermic reaction as it gains heat but the air around it undergoes an exothermic reaction as the heat from the air goes into the ice. This is where I was confused, because a character being able to draw heat into themselves is both an endothermic and an exothermic reaction - endothermic from their end as they absorb heat into themselves and exothermic as they draw heat from whatever they're dealing with externally.

If you've decided to delineate the power as the user's body, that's no cause for concern - there you have clear lines as to what constitutes exothermic and endothermic.

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Welcome! I'm a relative newbie here too.

My only addition to the comments above is that it feels like the story actually starts with the switch ot J's perspective. I don't mind the POV hop but since he is the youngest and seems to have things explained to him anyways, I'm not sure you need A's POV. 

I got a strong One Peice vibe from their power usage, very fun. The descriptions of powers took away from the action scene for me, but I think the actual movements and what was happening was very clear and fun to read. Writing action is no easy feat!

May the prose be with you!

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Welcome to RE! And ooooh I love a good map!

Overall

I think this is a good world sketch. Like many first/early drafts, it is more of an authorial sketch than the start of a book. BUT that is easy to rectify! I think some solid trimming is in order, especially cutting those first eight pages, getting right to the inciting incident, and laying down the overarching goal for our characters. Inciting incident and goals are the critical elements to a first chapter, while also investing the reader in the characters. This has all the elements except goals, but they're buried under fluff. A strong trim should bring them out more strongly.

On 9/20/2020 at 9:16 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

Can you tell that Ch is controlling him at the end?

Honestly no, because by the time I got there I was so disengaged that it was hard to focus deeply on the narrative. I kept skimming around for the goals of the characters to see who I was supposed to be connecting to.

On 9/21/2020 at 9:17 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

Thanks for the response! Yes, in fact these characters will not be seen for a while, so I think I will keep it as a prologue. The main point of this chapter was to introduce the main antagonist (aka the Chaos) and to introduce the magic system and politics.

If that is the purpose of this chapter, I'd recommend cutting it entirely. You can do all those things with the characters you are introducing in the first chapter, and more fluidly. As @Mandamon said, prologues aren't very popular with agents and publishers these days, and most won't even let you submit them. The idea is that it is either a chapter that can stand alone, in which case, it is chapter 1, or it's backstory that could be better woven directly into the narrative, so should be cut.

On 9/21/2020 at 9:17 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

The Fathers are actually genderless, so their pronouns are projected onto them.

If 'father's is genderless, why not 'mothers'? My point being that inherently gendered words cannot be genderless--they insinuate male default.

On 9/21/2020 at 10:34 AM, aeromancer said:

I’d really like to know the stakes involved

YES. Stakes are also missing.

 

As I go

- Those first two lines are a good hook

- pg 1: People still insisted she <-- too early for infodumps like this. I'd rather get into the narrative. this slows it down

- pg 2: Could she still handle all <-- yup, way too much introspection for an opening chapter. I'd cut all this and get to the action/inciting incident, whatever it may be

- pg 3: it sounds like the inciting incident is going to be something that happens at the party. Hence, I would suggest starting the narrative there or just before. These first three pages provide backstory but no solid hook yet

- pg 4: POV change: these are generally not recommended mid-chapter, especially for a first chapter. It is a good idea to give several chapters with one POV, especially at the start of a book, to get the reader invested before moving to another. At this stage I do not yet care about A, so moving me to J just makes it even harder to get involved in the narrative

- pg 6: it's hard not to skim at this point. I don't care about the groundwork being laid around the protestors because I don't yet care about the world or the characters. Their protesting doesn't mean anything to me because I don't know whether or not I care what they are protesting about

- pg 8: here is our inciting incident, definitely too late for a hook. I'd suggest maybe a page of them being at the party to give some world flavor then get right to the screaming. Give us the background info from these 8 pages in-world as we see the action unfold

- pg8: there's also a trend here of a character thinking something introspectively, then saying the same thing out loud. One or the other works, but both is redundant. Generally, them speaking is preferred to extensive inner monologue

- pg 11: an extended fight scene is also probably not great here. Again, I don't have enough character buy in or world understanding to know who to root for or care if one of the POV characters gets injured. Also, I don't know what the through-line is. What is the overarching goal of the POV character(s)? What are they fighting for?

- the end doesn't land for me, mostly due to the previous comment about not having a clear goal

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19 hours ago, Sarah B said:

I got a strong One Peice vibe from their power usage

I've never seen one piece, but I'll take it as a compliment! Thanks!

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Thanks for the response!

3 hours ago, kais said:

Welcome to RE! And ooooh I love a good map!

haha, thanks!

3 hours ago, kais said:

Honestly no, because by the time I got there I was so disengaged that it was hard to focus deeply on the narrative. I kept skimming around for the goals of the characters to see who I was supposed to be connecting to

that's fair. It seems like most critiques are based around lack of stakes and too much info dumping. I am definitely going to be reworking that in the next draft. Just a fun little note, I've already cut out two (!) pages of extraneous fluff. 

3 hours ago, kais said:

If 'father's is genderless, why not 'mothers'? My point being that inherently gendered words cannot be genderless--they insinuate male default

That's the heart of my struggle. A part of me says that society tends to misogyny, so misgendering them as male would make sense, another part of me thinks a religion led by genderless gods would be more open-minded. I'm torn. (And I still can't think of anything with the same guardian connotations that sounds good) 

3 hours ago, kais said:

- pg8: there's also a trend here of a character thinking something introspectively, then saying the same thing out loud. One or the other works, but both is redundant. Generally, them speaking is preferred to extensive inner monologue

oh my goodness, thank you for pointing that out! I reread it, and you are totally right. 

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Overall:

The prose is pretty solid (though once you’re ready I’d suggest a pass for some tightening as I think there’s some opportunity there) and we have a fairly solid sense of the characters. As for your questions:

I had no problems with the POV switch. I do think that J’s voice, in particular, needs a little bit of finessing, which I touched on a bit below.

It was clear that J was being controlled by some power beyond himself, but I wasn’t sure if that was Ch or the spell the general was casting.

I would say that your concern about taking too long to get to the inciting incident is on the money, and by the time we do get there I still don’t really have a good sense of why it matters—they’re attempting to overthrow a government that I’m not really sure I’m supposed to sympathize with, for reasons that I don’t understand. For this fight to really matter, I think we need to know that the sides are and their stakes in it, other than that the POV characters are currently in charge and will maybe go to prison if they loose. Is this a divine right of magic users situation? Are they being tyrannical about it? Is there a reason other than personal gain they want to keep their positions? What about the other side: what do they hope to gain by ousting the current government?

As I go:

P1 JK’s name sounds way too much like “curmudgeon” and I’m trying really hard not to judge him for it, but I can’t help it!

P1 The phrase “full-grown man” strikes me as a little odd.

So… this world’s governing body of magic-users allows eleven-year old children voting and decision-making power?

I think we’re taking a little too long to introduce the world and the characters as opposed to the conflict. At the top of page 3, the only real conflict we have so far that G doesn’t want to go to a party… but we still don’t know what this party is or why it’s important. We do have the information that A carries a lot of responsibility, but we don’t know what she’s using it for or what she’s struggling against. By this point I think we should be getting a better sense of the stakes.

Okay, just after I made this comment I read the next couple paragraphs about something dangerous. That helps, but we still don’t know what it is. Random monster attack? Rioters?

I’m also wondering how real this threat actually is. It could cause an evacuation, but A is willing to bring apprentices, one of whom is 11 years old, and not tell them about the threat, and worries more about polite words and politics.

I think the section with J’s POV needs a little finessing to really establish the voice. Right now it’s leaning heavily on signifiers like “bounced” (which comes up several times) and italics and feels like it hasn’t quite settled yet.

The conversation between G and J on p7 – so obviously there is some context that I’m missing here, and this early in the story I wouldn’t necessarily have it all, but my first thought is that “establishing a new government” doesn’t necessarily mean throwing the old government in prison. That this is the first place G’s mind goes makes me wonder what these characters have actually been doing with their positions of power. That, especially along with G’s comment about not knowing how to run a country properly, has kind of tanked the sympathy I felt for these characters.

Also p7, the general’s speech – I’m coming back to the fact that our understanding of the stakes and the conflicts is still pretty bare, and this speech seems like a good opportunity for some exposition, but the POV character isn’t paying attention because he’s bored. It feels like the narrative is withholding information unnecessarily.

P8, as J is thinking about the magic systems: This is the first time I’ve realized that “A...o” is not a person.

“...the screaming, glowing child was better than nothing.” Hah.

“Luckily, his connection to C gave him some protection…” what about all the people that he was supposed to be evacuating? Did they ever make it outside? We don’t actually see them leaving, we just see J leading them in the direction of the door before backtracking to confront the bad guys, and I’m assuming it would take some time for all those people to file out. And a little later you reference the crowd shying away from him, so it definitely seems to me that they’ve not all made it out.

Bottom of pg 11 “where all adult parties” should be “were’

Back on page 12, J is trying to get people outside again – but now he’s trying to go through a grate. Are they still in the building? Did he follow them outside and if so why are they trapped by a grate?

P12 – the dude in the white cape. This dude is totally thanking J because J somehow did things exactly according to the Evil Plan, right?

On 9/21/2020 at 8:55 AM, Mandamon said:

As to a hook, I think this could work if we have more information about how bad the bad thing is. Right now I want to see what happened, but I can't guess what damage has been done or whether the spell fizzled and exploded, or half-worked and exploded.

Agree.

On 9/21/2020 at 8:55 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 11: I think the combination of J saying the fight is boring, plus the fight going on for a few pages while describing different magic powers does actually make it a bit boring. I'm not really remembering the magic, and there's not much tension because I sure these three can handle the robots, if an 11 yo boy can take down four so far.

Yeah, the outcome of the fight was not in doubt. When the evacuation bit started, I thought maybe there was going to be a bit describing how these characters' powers could easily be used for violence but not other things, but then the evacuation itself didn't seem very difficult either.

On 9/21/2020 at 8:55 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 12: "He had never tried anything like this before"
--I'm not really interested in more magic uses right now. I'm looking for more tension in the chapter.

Agree. It felt like a major purpose of the chapter was to showcase all the uses of the magic system, but as a reader I'm not really looking for a demo; I'm looking for characters and stakes to hang the magic on.

On 9/21/2020 at 9:17 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

The Fathers are actually genderless, so their pronouns are projected onto them.

I mean, it's fine to have figures whose pronouns are fluid, but as @kais has noted, using "fathers" or any other gendered word is not going to accurately be able to convey these beings as genderless.

On 9/21/2020 at 10:34 AM, aeromancer said:

Pg. 14 – Apparently not ‘too late’ if a bump can ruin the pattern

And if the pattern was that delicate, standing openly in the middle of a crowded, chaotic room to do it seems like a poor plan to actually accomplish your goal, since there's no telling whether the chaos will land on you even if it's supposed to be focused elsewhere.

22 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

A part of me says that society tends to misogyny, so misgendering them as male would make sense, another part of me thinks a religion led by genderless gods would be more open-minded.

I mean, the society that we live in tends that way as a rule, but if you're building a world you can build it however you want. If their religious icons are genderless, then having an idea of how that shapes their language and their thinking could potentially be a powerful tool for grounding readers in the world of the story.

On 9/22/2020 at 11:45 AM, kais said:

- pg8: there's also a trend here of a character thinking something introspectively, then saying the same thing out loud. One or the other works, but both is redundant. Generally, them speaking is preferred to extensive inner monologue

Definitely. This was one of the things I was thinking of when I commented about tightening up.
 

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Thanks for the response! Those are all super good critiques, and I will probably incorporate most of them into the next draft. I just have one question:

3 hours ago, Silk said:

P1 JK’s name sounds way too much like “curmudgeon” and I’m trying really hard not to judge him for it, but I can’t help it

This was on purpose. Is it too distracting? 

And one comment:

3 hours ago, Silk said:

P12 – the dude in the white cape. This dude is totally thanking J because J somehow did things exactly according to the Evil Plan, right?

You're not entirely wrong! I'm surprised/glad you picked up on this. 

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25 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

This was on purpose. Is it too distracting? 

It was very noticeable when I saw it written out, and then I promptly forgot about it so I'm going with "no."

25 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

You're not entirely wrong! I'm surprised/glad you picked up on this. 

He definitely set off my spidey senses!

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Hello hello hello!

Thoughts as I go:

A better have hair as white as her name, otherwise I am going to be disappointed.

Pg 1, "Tonight that meant going to a party and smiling and shaking hands." Ah, the exhausting life of a pretty-much figurehead. As an introvert, that sounds like hell.

Pg 1, "The interior of the autocarriage" Steampunk or a similar subgenre? I am down.

Pg 1, " his hair was thick and pure white, not unlike wool, but less curly." Question: is this character black? White people don't generally have textured hair. To me, dark skin and white hair is incredibly striking, so I lean towards this. 

Pg 1, "Her hair—white with age, not heritage" I am happy. Also, you wouldn't know this, but I love not-20-year-olds MCs, despite the fact that I'm writing a book with one.

Pg 2, "Especially ones with extensive telekinetic powers. " I pity his parents.

Hey! I've noticed that you fall into a bad habit I myself do, or at least with J's section (haven't read farther yet). As @Robinski is excellent at reminding me, cut down on how often you say a character's name and instead switch it out for their pronoun. It helps the reader to become more immersed! 

Pg 5, "Cause everything was better with obelisks." Heartily agree. I like this kid.

Introducing the worldbuilding through J's eyes was smart and smooth. Much better than a dry wall of information.

Pg 8, "each creature was brought to life with the spirits of the dead" Dude, great magic system straight out of the gate. 

Pg 9, " A small icicle grew from the hem of her dress" Only one? Odd decor choice.

Pg 13, "BADBADBADBADBAD." Gods are not particularly eloquent. 

Got to say, I thought you were going to start the book straight out by killing J. I'm glad you didn't.

On 9/23/2020 at 1:11 PM, Silk said:

P1 JK’s name sounds way too much like “curmudgeon” and I’m trying really hard not to judge him for it, but I can’t help it!

I was trying to figure out if I was thinking that because I was tired or if it was an actual valid response. Apparently I'm not the only one with that thought process.

On 9/20/2020 at 9:16 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

Included is the prologue

I admit that I am sad that this is a prologue. Characters are an important part for me, and if I like a character in a prologue (such as J), then I get disappointed when they disappear immediately. It's like smelling brownies, tasting brownies, and then having it yanked away from me and I'm given cake. Like, I'm sure the cake is great, but now brownies are what I want. Now, if you were to suddenly jump from this to ten years into the future with an older J, I'd be like, cool, now my brownies have nuts in them. 

On 9/20/2020 at 9:16 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

a map I drew on photoshop for reference. I am not looking for critiques on the map.

Pity, because I'm going to critique your map.

Your map is rad.

Critique over. 

I don't really have anything more to add that hasn't already been said. I look forward to reading more! Keep submitting :) 

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Haha, this was a very fun critique to read!

2 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 1, " his hair was thick and pure white, not unlike wool, but less curly." Question: is this character black? White people don't generally have textured hair. To me, dark skin and white hair is incredibly striking, so I lean towards this

I think this will become more apparent as the book progresses, but there are only, like, 2 white people in this story. I don't think G would be seen as black, but definitely a POC. Alabaster actually is black tho. I don't think that ever came up.

3 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Got to say, I thought you were going to start the book straight out by killing J. I'm glad you didn't.

2 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I admit that I am sad that this is a prologue. Characters are an important part for me, and if I like a character in a prologue (such as J), then I get disappointed when they disappear immediately. It's like smelling brownies, tasting brownies, and then having it yanked away from me and I'm given cake. Like, I'm sure the cake is great, but now brownies are what I want. Now, if you were to suddenly jump from this to ten years into the future with an older J, I'd be like, cool, now my brownies have nuts in them.

Haha, I love this metaphor. I'm glad you like J! Unfortunately, it'll be a while before we see him again.  So I guess I yanked the brownies away :(

3 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Also, you wouldn't know this, but I love not-20-year-olds MCs, despite the fact that I'm writing a book with one.

*chuckles nervously* it's a good thing the MC is 19 then haha

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10 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

I think this will become more apparent as the book progresses, but there are only, like, 2 white people in this story. I don't think G would be seen as black, but definitely a POC. Alabaster actually is black tho. I don't think that ever came up.

I think that you should definitely bring this up, for three reasons:

1) Unfortunately, there's a thing called white defaulting, which @kais introduced me to. They can correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I understand it, it's when the writer and/or the reader assumes everyone is white unless something is mentioned. I got pinged on it because I didn't describe the skin colors of any characters except T and his children (although, granted, it's not like I'm writing an all-white book when most of the characters are animals). Unless something is hinted (like the hair texture), many people will automatically default to white since literature historically tends to be white-centric. I'm not the expert on this in any way, shape, or form, so please take this with a grain of salt and do your own research. 

2) It's tough to change your visual image of what a character looks like once you get too far into a book. Not an issue in the beginning when reader's are good at adapting, but it can be jarring once they become settled. Imagine if you had thought for an entire book a character was a redhead when it turns out they were brunette, but you were used to visualizing epic fight scenes with a feisty redhead. Some people can make the switch. Others are like, "I like redhead better. I'm going to continue to picture red hair anyway."

3) Representation is incredibly important and seeing that early on can make a book really exciting for many people. There's a growing call for it in literature. If you subscribe to Publisher's Daily/Weekly, you can see the big push right now (which will hopefully continue even after it is no longer "fashionable" to today's news). 

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10 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

*chuckles nervously* it's a good thing the MC is 19 then haha

I'm as guilty as it as you XD I don't have the life experience to be able to write an awesome forth year old woman kicking butt yet. I'm still just trying to learn how to write!

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Hey GR, I'm really interested to read your stuff. I think I will go straight to Version 3, so you get a cleaner 'first time' view of that from me. No point in me reading the old version, methinks.

Cool maps! Love a map.

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