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ginger_reckoning

10.12.20 -ginger reckoning - ALITC - ch1 v2, ch2 (V, LS (mild)) (6000)

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Thanks again for all of the helpful feedback this week. After some consideration, I have decided to cut the prologue. Thank you all for the feedback on that chapter, and helping me to make it a better piece of writing, but I think it will serve a certain subplot better to just cut it altogether. I probably will include some kind of prologue, (probably a 1500 word thing from the POV of a protestor or something) but for now I think I will cut it. 

 
Also, sorry, I know this submission is more than 5000 words, but I wanted to keep things moving along. So I included the new chapter 1 and chapter 2, which introudces our other MC. The main focus of this edit of chapter 1 is to make H and F appears less juvenile than the first draft, and get into the action quicker. Also, how do you think A's characterization is affected in this draft?
 
One final point of interest. One of my main goals in writing is to portray women with diversity and accuracy. So if you identify as female, please let me know when I get something wrong. I understand that D in this chapter kind of follows some fantasy women tropes, so any feedback about that would be amazing. 
 
The second chapter does contain some violence, as well as some mildly suggestive dialogue, just btw. 
 
Thanks so much!
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Overall, chapter 1 is much better and I think just needs some adjustment on A's joking. Chapter 2...needs work S is also very jokey, like A, and reads a lot younger than his younger brother. There's another drawn out fight that doesn't really progress the story. I want to read more about A at this point, since he just gained an ability. Instead, we're following his (also) quirky brother who (also) has a power and is (also) learning about it.

D has an interesting last name. Is she supposed to be related to the one in the prologue, or is this a reuse of a name? In any case, she comes across as very male-gazey, which admittedly does fit with S's juvenile worldview, but comes across as a pretty trope-filled powerful-beautiful-female-who-somehow-loves-the-loser-guy-and-has-to-save-his-skin-all-the-time...

Considering the excellent work you've done editing the first few chapters, I don't see any problem in fixing this one up, and/or moving it a little later in the story to give A some more screen time. S may need to develop a little to be different than his brother, though.

 

Notes while reading

Chapter 1

pg 2: the rice practical joke is still...weird. F is also confused about it. Is there some cultural significance to rice? Especially 1 page into the book, this just confuses me.

pg 3: the desert/deserter joke is also...bad.

pg 4: I do like that A feels compelled to help, but I wonder if that's a personality thing, or if he is being prepared by a god or something.

pg 9: “Well, I suddenly crave the taste of human flesh,”
--This joke lands better (as did the spitting in the water), because it's situationally based. The deserter one is...alright, but a bad pun. I think starting with the rice joke, which really doesn't have anything to do with anything, sort of throws of A's personality, one page in, and then the reader has to come back to terms with it over the course of the chapter.


Chapter 2

pg 1: "Whatever it was, he found it hilarious."
--hmmm...another "funny" character...

pg 1: "like boulders that looked like ducks."
--I think having S be a quirky character right after A being a quirky character (and in the first draft, J being a quirky character in the prologue) is too much. Someone needs to be serious because the story isn't a comedy.

pg 3: "didn’t actually have a third hand"
--I got this from context. We already know there's magic in the world.

pg 3: "younger brother, A"
--aha.

pg 3: Lots of discussion about how a third hand works. I can imagine a telekinetic hand easily.

pg 5: I'm not actually that interested in a fight with a giant bird. I like a lot of POVs, but I think we need another chapter or two with A before we switch to someone else, especially since he just got a power and now we're switching to someone else developing a power.

pg 6:  "It was D.K., his girlfriend. I am a lucky man, S. thought. In more ways than one."
--1) interesting name, 2) why does he first regard this as "a woman" when it's a person he knows well and 3) where has she been the rest of the chapter? Surely he knew she was out here too.

pg 6/7 lots of male gaze with D.K. in these pages.

pg 7: "You’re not acting like yourself."
--The whole dialogue after this is very strange and stilted. Also, A is his younger brother? Because S reads as a lot younger than him.

pg 8: “Are we still good to go for tomorrow night?”
--Is this like a date, or what?
--ok, reading farther down I guess they're leaving? I don't know how or why that ties into him trying to kill Big Bird and why they can't just refer to it as "going away" or something. There's no one else out here to hear them.

pg 9: "when your stock barely survived each session"
--eh? Why is it different in captivity than in the wild? I would think they could control the variables better in captivity and there would be less...death???...while they're trying to reproduce? This species seems prone to extinction.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Chapter 2...needs work S is also very jokey, like A, and reads a lot younger than his younger brother. There's another drawn out fight that doesn't really progress the story. I want to read more about A at this point, since he just gained an ability. Instead, we're following his (also) quirky brother who (also) has a power and is (also) learning about it.

I think that making different voices is going to be one of my biggest challenges with this book. It's a bit hard for me at this point to separate character voice from style, but I think I will get better as I continue writing. (Or I hope, at least) They are purposely a bit similar, but I will try to separate them. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

-I think having S be a quirky character right after A being a quirky character (and in the first draft, J being a quirky character in the prologue) is too much. Someone needs to be serious because the story isn't a comedy.

I am cutting J's POV, so maybe that will help. But I still see your point. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 6:  "It was D.K., his girlfriend. I am a lucky man, S. thought. In more ways than one."
--1) interesting name, 2) why does he first regard this as "a woman" when it's a person he knows well and 3) where has she been the rest of the chapter? Surely he knew she was out here too.

pg 6/7 lots of male gaze with D.K. in these pages.

pg 7: "You’re not acting like yourself."
--The whole dialogue after this is very strange and stilted. Also, A is his younger brother? Because S reads as a lot younger than him.

D is J's cousin. The K family is quite large and significant, and is one of the reasons I made the K name memorable. 

As for the other stuff...this is another chapter I might cut completely. This is actually the third draft already, because I still don't think it hits right, which you've confirmed. Especially with trying to work out all the internalized misogyny and male gaze stuff, I think there's a better way to introduce S and D. (And maybe after another chapter of A)

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 Chapter 1: much improved! I especially like how you've tightened up the desert description. The sand river phrase was a nice touch. 

The rice joke is a little weird, it might work if you play it up a little more though. I agree with Mandamon though that it might play better  saved for later. 

The descriptions of skin tone feels a little awkward still. At this point, in this version, that's all I really know about F and A besides their home towns. It might be enough just to describe how they've never seen anyone like the old woman before. Although that could be problematic too...

Chapter 2

It seems odd that S would describe his own clothes as traditional and dress-like if this is what he always wears. The rest of the clothing description was very easy to picture though. 

The action was really solid and so was the description of S's power use. Its fun seeing someone before they get super powerful. Luke pre-Yoda :-)

DK comes off as very capable and a bit temperamental to me. Her mood seems to flip quickly from angered and hurt to doting girlfriend. Or it feels like she was just feigning anger as a manipulation? I hope not the second one as it would put me off DK pretty quickly if that's how she acts. 

I find myself drawn to the second set of characters more than the first. S and DK have a clear objective short term and a long term goal they are working towards so I'm rooting for them. 

Overall, very vivid story telling!

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I agree with @Mandamon that there's just too many quirky, "funny" characters. More diversity between A and S would really help to make the reader invested in both characters more.

I do like the first chapter better, but I feel like A still feels juvenile. I think the rice joke is a little unnecessary and confusing, and I honestly think taking it out entirely would be best. I think the bad jokes thing as a character trait is fine, but honestly I don't see why F smiles at the jokes and seems to like them so much -- I personally don't feel a lot of connection or interest to A because he still feels silly and young to me and, to be honest, he would really annoy me in real life. He does seem like a good person because he ran out in the storm and all, but it almost sounds like some of his charitable acts are just because he has to, so that makes me doubt if he's really a good person or not.

I think there is too much skin color description. Personally, whenever there's a lot of description all at once when a character is introduced, I skim it and then forget about it later on, making up my own image of them in my head over time. I think it works better to slip in little bits of description over time slowly, so the reader makes up an image of the character as they get more bits of description. Especially with DK, I think the description sounds like a guy ogling his hot girlfriend, which annoys me.

I agree with @Mandamon DK also doesn't seem to have a whole lot of character so far other than being the usual "badass girl saves her lame boyfriend" type. She just seems to be two-dimensional. We've only had one chapter of her, so it seems like maybe that could change... but as it is, she feels like a cardboard cutout that turns her emotions on and off for the purpose of the plot. I also feel like she's needlessly violent, like you're trying too hard not to make her sound "feminine" or "fragile," which basically does the opposite of that. I do appreciate how she seems to be in control, though.

I don't have a whole lot of line-by-line tips, just a lot of general things. Your prose is great and your descriptions are awesome, but try to trust your readers a little more -- don't put in such detailed description of action. Let the reader fill in some details. But the plot seems very great so far and I can't wait to read more!

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First thing I will say is: Hello all. This is my first week of reviewing your projects, so bear with me. I will try to keep things on a broader scale until I can hone in on the feedback you guys are looking for. Let me know if I am stepping across any lines, as I am very very new to this.

 

Ch 1: It seems like the characters here are lost but they don't really have that "lost in the desert" feeling. The dialogue seems too lighthearted for what I am imagining to be a pretty dismal situation. Characters that joke when under pressure are great and all, but the situation comes off as not that big of a deal to me. I'm not really sure the best way to address this, but I feel like a few changes could really push the atmosphere in that direction. Unless, of course, that is not what you are shooting for, in which case, I'd say you fell somewhere in between.

The banter between F and A pushes A's character, which I like, but I feel that H and F come off a little on the flat side. I think that characters telling bad jokes is usually fine, but when the joke comes off as confusing (i.e. the rice) maybe it is worth cutting all together. The other jokes are fine, I think. 

The woman in the desert still has me asking questions and I can't wait to get the answers to them, so kudos to you for that. Between it and the question of what will happen to A next after absorbing the light, I feel that making the second chapter a continuation of this would really push the reader into asking more of these questions, which I have always felt makes reading much more engaging. 

Ch 2: This chapter shows off some of the worldbuilding (i.e. unique ecosystem and creatures) which I am really enjoying. The combat could use a little tweaking as I feel that it is a little too specific in places, which comes off a little tedious. The dialogue between D and S also could use a little work. I felt that D comes off as too much badass desert girlfriend with not enough substance. 

All in all, i think that this is a pretty good start with a lot of potential. It is obvious that you have put a lot of work into the worldbuilding, which is always a massive part of any story, and it really shows in the final product. The characters could use a little more fleshing out, but two chapters is hardly enough to really judge this. A and S do come off as very similar characters, which does make since, as they are brothers, but I feel that they need to have more distinct differences. Even just little things like mannerisms can help this a long way.

And last but not least, I love the map. I am a sucker for a good map and you deliver.  It is hard to really know what everything is, but that is why we read the books, isn't it?  Specifically, it is hard to tell if the desert is a part of the city state, or is it its own sovereign entity?

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Welcome to Reading Excuses @sniperfrog! Thanks for the critique. 

3 hours ago, sniperfrog said:

Ch 2: This chapter shows off some of the worldbuilding (i.e. unique ecosystem and creatures) which I am really enjoying. The combat could use a little tweaking as I feel that it is a little too specific in places, which comes off a little tedious. The dialogue between D and S also could use a little work. I felt that D comes off as too much badass desert girlfriend with not enough substance. 

I'm glad you like the worldbuilding! And don't worry, I will definitely be tweaking S and D's characterization for this chapter. I will admit that I am surprised that multiple people mentioned about the combat being too descriptive, but I can see how that's a problem. 

3 hours ago, sniperfrog said:

And last but not least, I love the map. I am a sucker for a good map and you deliver.  It is hard to really know what everything is, but that is why we read the books, isn't it?  Specifically, it is hard to tell if the desert is a part of the city state, or is it its own sovereign entity?

I'm glad you like the map! I think (hope) that question will be answered in the next few chapters. 

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13 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

I'm glad you like the map! I think (hope) that question will be answered in the next few chapters. 

Sweet. I can't wait to find out what happens next. I look forward to reading more!

Also, don't worry about the combat thing. It is hard to get the balance of engaging the reader, but not boring them. It is one of the things I am the worst at, to be honest, so I can sometimes look into it too much.

Edited by sniperfrog
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I think this is mostly an artifact of the revisions, but there are a couple of things that are essentially said twice over the first few pages – that they were ambushed, that the dust storm means Teles. Minor but noticeable.

So… we’re supposed to be shipping Am and F, right?

P5 “If I didn’t…” Seems like the narrative is about to drop something important here before conveniently having Am notice something else. Not sure it’s a bad thing, per se, but it is noticeable.

Bottom of p6: “his features were a sharper…” delete the “a”

The revisions to chapter 1 are definitely an improvement: I was more engaged, I felt like I had a better handle on how serious the situation was, and the characters, especially Am, seemed less like kids.

Ch2, p1 “...having grown up in the Iy desert… traditional desert garb.” Another example of information that gets repeated. Am thinks of his brother by name in the previous chapter, where it’s mentioned a couple of times that he’s from the Iy, and now it’s repeated here as well.

“A large field of widely interspersed stones…” Ooh, I’m getting Western Australian Pinnacles vibes here.

“...so what else could it be?” Clearly the answer is “dinosaur.” :P

S has spent t he last couple of pages going on about how deadly these birds(/dinosaurs) are, but he seems remarkably unconcerned that this one is apparently on to him.

P3 “They were chosen by the…” capital T at the start of this clause should be lower case.

“…that would ruin the whole point, after all” Wait, what IS the whole point? I thought he was hunting, even if he’s using magic to throw rocks instead of his hands.

P7 “What was up with her?” This reads like typical banter to me. If she’s acting differently than usual, it would be helpful, I think, to have S pick up on something like a difference in body language, or tone of voice, or something similar. It’s always helpful to have cues like that before we’re explicitly told that something is wrong or different, IMO.

I’m not sure S has straight-up answered a single question during this interaction with D. She seems to let him get away with an awful lot. It’s not clear to me how upset she is with S, but she certainly seems to get over it and turn into the supportive girlfriend really quickly.

Much like the previous chapters, I feel like there’s some good stuff here, but it takes too long to get to it. The hook here is really the reveal that D and S are preparing to run away, and the stuff that happens up to that point seems to be mostly incidental. I’d prefer to see the chapter start with them making their preparations and grounding us a little more in the stakes (even just the emotional stakes – we get some hint of this as S thinks of both his father’s sons leaving home, but t hat’s it).

I’d also agree with those who have suggested that they’d like to see a continuation of previous chapters before starting with this one. Getting too many introductions at once can sometimes slow the narrative even when things are happening.

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8 hours ago, Silk said:

So… we’re supposed to be shipping Am and F, right?

That wasn't specifically what I was going for, but I am ok with that interpretation. I don't think F is ready to come out though, or that A is mature enough. 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

“A large field of widely interspersed stones…” Ooh, I’m getting Western Australian Pinnacles vibes here

Yep yep yep! I think this will be even more obvious pretty soon (Birdrock is based off of Uluru) 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

“...so what else could it be?” Clearly the answer is “dinosaur.”

:P

8 hours ago, Silk said:

Much like the previous chapters, I feel like there’s some good stuff here, but it takes too long to get to it. The hook here is really the reveal that D and S are preparing to run away, and the stuff that happens up to that point seems to be mostly incidental. I’d prefer to see the chapter start with them making their preparations and grounding us a little more in the stakes (even just the emotional stakes – we get some hint of this as S thinks of both his father’s sons leaving home, but t hat’s it)

Thanks, this is a good insight

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As an aside, if you're going to sub over 5K words you need to clear it with Silk in the submissions post. Best not to assume it's okay, even on low-sub weeks.

Overall

Chapter 1 was much improved, though I still have issues with the voice. Chapter 2 doesn't seem to have a purpose, and the characters read like fresh teenagers. What was the purpose of that chapter? What was the arc?

On 10/12/2020 at 7:45 AM, Mandamon said:

There's another drawn out fight that doesn't really progress the story. I

Yup. And i had no interest in it because I don't yet care about the character.

On 10/12/2020 at 7:45 AM, Mandamon said:

lots of male gaze with D.K. in these pages.

I was Not A Fan

On 10/13/2020 at 6:28 AM, ima willshaper said:

I think there is too much skin color description

I disagree on this. Get it out of the way and head that white default off at the pass. this is also the way character descriptions are going in traditional publishing, so you're right on track with it.

 

As I go

- Ch 1-pg 3: a lot of technical issues have been fixed, but the voice still seems off. We're supposed to get tension from their dire circumstances, but they're cracking jokes and that makes me wonder if they are really actually in danger

- Ch 1-still, the tension is better in this new chapter. I'm not sure I'd keep reading in a book store if I'd picked this up, as the stakes aren't there yet and I'm not really connecting with the joking characters, but it's much improved from the last version

- Ch 2-pg1: wait, is this a POV shift? Way too early in the book for that. If it isn't, how is this related to chapter 1?

- fair amount of redundancy early on with stuff we already know from chapter 1

- pg 2: I'm so confused. Why is he hunting? Weren't they trying to get out of the desert?

- pg 4: I don't have any buy-in right now. I don't care about this character or the hunting. Does this chapter serve the narrative? What is the arc? Why is it here?

- pg 8: “Then help me not to be,” he said  <-- it's not her job to make him less dense. Dislike

- pg 8: how old are these character? They read like maybe 12-14

- I remain unclear what the purpose was for this chapter

 

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