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Sarah B

11.2.20-Sarah B-PlagueShip-(2,300 words) Chapter 2 (L)

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Hello All!

Does chapter 1 still need work? Yes, yes it does. 

Am I subbing chapter 2 instead? Yes, yes I am. 

Thank you for all the comments for chapter 1. It's going to take me some time to sort out exactly what to do with that chapter, so I'm going to leave it for now and loop back around later. Possibly, I'll wait until after nailing down the ending 2nd/3rd draft to make sure there's some symmetry between them. 

So here is chapter 2. I'm not sure what the threshold is on language warning, so I added a mild language tag just in case. This chapter is not original to draft one, but a sort of aftermarket patch to hopefully smooth out some issues :-)

Edited by Sarah B
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I think this chapter gave some good information, but there are some specifics with the disease I don't quite get yet. I'm also not really sure about the A's choice to basically commit suicide? Like, why are they sabotaging the one place where they're still safe? Do the others have any idea of where they would go instead, especially since the other species seem to be carrying the disease?

However, this was a better intro for Ar. than the first one I read.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "It was like going glare blind on the ice"
--nice analogy

pg 1: "left the S struggling to catch up to the other young Kinds."
--Which begs the question of why the S are the ones to care for the A.

pg 2: "Idiots trying to break out of Quarantine was enough stress, thank you."
--indeed!

pg 2: "wrapped around his arms and neck"
--is A "they" or "him?"
--"made them easy to spot"
--ah. "Them."

pg 3: “That was easy, anything else?”
--D wasn't actually looking for help when they got there, just looking for A.

pg 3: "The Artist"
--Is this the other A with Ar? First it sounds like D doesn't know them, then it sounds like they do.

pg 3: "But it was too strange a sight for their hosts"
--Also, this seems a  bit weird for a collection of alien species. They're put off by a lot of fingers, but not by silicon life forms?

pg 3: "approached the bench, eye level for once"
--who is sitting and why does that make them eye level? Is D very short?

pg 4: "wiping out the A home world only a day after colonies fifty worlds away"
--one, I'm glad it's called out that this travels faster than it should and two, why does it arriving on the S homeworld matter (or any other world, for that matter) since it only affects A's?

pg 4: "so far out as to not have been affected"
--except it was just mentioned that the disease travels faster than light, so why would it have not affected farther colonies either?

pg 5: "but at least now we can move forward"
--did something change?

pg 6: "It doesn't surprise me that YOUR students would use it though." 
--D has students? I'm surprised any stay around them that long...

pg 6: "Not alone, and there's no like minds to buffer for me."
--good detail

pg 7: the middle part of this page is hard to follow. I think it's a retrospection on what the two had been doing, but it sort of drifts in and out of it without much signal.

pg 7: "since every S carried the Z"
--ah, so the other species carry it, but just don't suffer from it.
"to be involved in finding a vaccine"
--yeah, doesn't seem like a great idea if they're not actively working on it.

pg 8: "Next time if F wanted something broken, they were going to have to work for it."
--I'm not quite sure what they're doing. Are they fixing something? Making it harder to break? How will this stop the others?

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Hello! I read the revised version of Chapter 1 before diving in.

I think what I'm thirsting for most is a little more explanation of what the A look like. What color are D's...weavings? Do the A have hair or are they like a walking, twisted up silicon mannequin? Are their eyes woven too? I feel like I can wait on some information (Do they eat? How do they reproduce?) but I am having a tough time nailing down exactly what I should be imagining. What do the S look like, for instance? I love non-human characters, so I'm excited about such different lifeforms, especially for the protagonist.

I am a trifle confused if D uses he/him pronouns or they/them, since both chapters appear to jump back and forth.

I am curious about the Tide. Great name, by the way. Curious to see if this is like a god, a collective consciousness, or something like the Force. 

9 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I'm also not really sure about the A's choice to basically commit suicide? Like, why are they sabotaging the one place where they're still safe? Do the others have any idea of where they would go instead, especially since the other species seem to be carrying the disease?

 

Yeah, I was wondering this myself. I mean, screwing around with the space station that is keeping you alive seems like a poor idea. It's one thing to try to steal a spaceship, it is another to start breaking important pipes. 

Curious to see where this will go! 

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I like that we see some more of why PS is such a bad thing! And it's interesting that it seems like being "dull" is a genetic thing, rather than a choice, which I assumed. 

Do they know about viruses in this universe? Because viruses are not alive and not tech...

I'm a little confused about some aesthetic things:

What are the surroundings like? What do Sa species look like? What is the central commons where they meet Ar like? Do they wear clothes at all? Reading it, I felt a bit detached from what was going on because everything seems to be "floating" if that makes sense. But that could just be me. 

I agree that this is a better introduction for Ar. I also like the little details about the other forms and the varying mental strengths. Good stuff!

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Overall: I think my biggest issue here is still a lack of information. I don’t still don’t fully understand the situation, or the stakes. Obviously a plague is bad, but there are lots of questions around why the A would want to escape from (or plain sabotage) their containment, what the relationship between the A and the S actually is, why waking PS would be any sort of solution to the plague problem, and whether there’s any threat of anyone other than D being able to actually do this.

I probably don't need the answers to all of these questions right away, but it's hard to fully invest when so many things don't quite make sense.

As I read:

P2: “A’s recently scared arms” probably “scarred”?

The encounter with IG seems somewhat rushed. I get that it’s only remarkable to D because they don’t see new people that often and is presumably setup for later encounters, but it feels transparently so, because the scene doesn’t actually accomplish anything else.

If the artist is so absorbed in their telepathic rant that they’re not paying any attention to the things D says out loud, why does A say loud that something’s come up? A appears to be talking to the artist and not D here.

P3: third paragraph on the S homeworld, check the spelling of S there. The paragraph is also a little confusingly worded; I had to read it multiple times before it tracked.

P4 top paragraph has a couple instances of “its” that should be “it’s”

“Who’s hands” should be “whose”

“It doesn’t surprise me that YOUR students would use it” I am 100% here for A dragging D.

This conversation between A and D feels significant, but I still don’t have the context to fully appreciate it. I have a reasonable guess as to why A and D think that waking P would be a bad thing, but no idea why anybody else thinks it’s a good thing. How does this help with the plague situation?

Top of p6: DRAG THEM, A

“A seemed like their own thoughts” missing word here. “A seemed to like” perhaps?

“Especially since every S carried the Z” this makes me wonder again why D was working close to an S guard without any sort of PPE, if this is the case.

I’m starting to get confused; I thought Z was the disease but D’s inner dialogue towards the bottom of page 7 is making me doubt that.

More and more, I’m getting the vibe that the A are actually prisoners of the S. The S insist on being involved even though they’re apparently a danger to the A because they carry disease and the A want to escape from them?

In the last couple of paragraphs: is this D deciding that F has committed more sabotage, or D deciding to make it harder for F to do so?

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Little late, sorry about that.

Overall

I'd say this chapter can likely be cut. It seems to be primarily backstory/exposition/info dump, and does not appear to have an arc or to progress the narrative. It's a good writing exercise for sure, as it helps you get a feel for the world, but it isn't engaging to read because there's nothing and no one to connect with. 

It may help to outline each chapter (either before or after writing) so you can see if your chapter has an arc to it (fitting the events to a beginning, middle, end arc). If you can't do it, or there isn't actual plot movement in a chapter, it's either not a complete chapter, or it just needs to be cut.

On 11/8/2020 at 1:28 PM, Silk said:

I don’t still don’t fully understand the situation, or the stakes.

Same

 

As I go

- pg 1: scientists is not a proper noun

- pg 1 is all info dump and not a strong way to start a chapter. I'd suggest cutting and trying to find a way to work that information in organically

- pg 4: four pages in and there have been a handful of dialogue lines at best. The rest is just info dumps and narration. The arc of the chapter is not clear. What is it's purpose? How is it moving the story forward? It's really hard to stay engaged because I keep being given backstory and not the actual story. I can't care about the backstory until I know what the stakes are and am invested in the characters

- pg 7: even the dialogue through here is just backstory. Nothing is moving the plot forward

 

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Sorry for being a bit behind the times on this.

(page 1)

FORMAT!! Please indent the first line of every paragraph, apart from the first of each new chapter or section.

https://www.shunn.net/format/

- "typical for the S" - I could be WRS, but I don't really remember, or haven't retained, the distinct character of the races, what their interrelation is, etc.

- "proud of the comfort provided to their guests" - It doesn't sound like D is comfortable, and from their perspective, maybe the guests would not be either.

- Why is scientists capitalised? They're just scientists.

- "as dead of a living world as D had ever seen" - I tripped over this a couple of times before I got the sense of it.

- "catch up to the other young kinds" - So, what is the significance of being a young Kind? What makes them young? Young compare to what? I just don't remember if this was in the first part I read, I'm afraid.

- "The rolls were different now" - roles.

- I'm a bit confused. Are there no other old races likely to step into the power vacuum left by the Al?

(page 2)

- "recently scared arms" - scarred.

- "were still in the T" - Was this explained in the last chapter? Is there any reason it Can't be explained?

- "Like being in a different room" - different to what?

- "air of the pol" - inconsistent capitalisation of 'pol...'

- "D startled and turned to face the voice" - Startling is something that is done to someone by an external force, person, occurrence. You don't startle yourself. 'D flinched', by comparison, is a reaction that starts within D themselves, which is why I think it works in this context, where 'startle' doesn't. I don't know the proper technical explanation, but I know it doesn't sound right.

- "see one of the It" - WRS alert. I think the It are siblings, maybe? I can't remember their relevance though.

- "D looked back over this new Al" - 'back' does nothing here, doesn't serve any function.

(page 3)

- "there was no trade that used shapes that small and delicate" - Meaning G is small and delicate? Well, there is a trade, the oldest profession, but maybe that doesn't apply in this setting.

- Okay, I'm not comment on grammar any more, there are too many little niggles and issues. It's a draft, Robinski, move on.

- Oh, I like the bindings, that speaks to some real social issues and tensions, discrimination, etc. This is the first hint of tension / conflict in this chapter, I think.

(page 4)

- "when the first reports of Z" - What is Z?

- "before Z hit the S" - I don't understand. I can't get it from context. Oh, wait, I've remember, it's a virus? There's no harm in just coming out a saying it. This part is not a mystery.

- "only slightly better than dying of the Z" - I don't really feel much tension around this plague, much in the way of stakes. The m/c and his race, it seems, are not at risk? The m/c is S, right?

(page 5)

- "It’s coming" - they're an engineer, they have no role in finding a cure, surely?

- "“Who did it?” - Need dialogue tags here. I don't know who's saying what.

- "particular influence on the T" - What is the T?

- "It doesn't surprise me that YOUR students would use it though" - Why would A say this if they don't know what the word means?

(page 6)

- "why don't you stop them" - I just don't understand what's going on. I don't understand the interrelation between the species, and so comments like this, quick fire exchanges of dialogue leave me lost. I don't understand why anyone is doing anything, and I don't think it's communicated by the story.

- "Before they get tired of waiting" - Who gets tired of waiting, why?

- "Once they wake up P" - the sleeping being.

- "I need to find the answer" - The answer to what? Why now?

- What race is D then?

(page 8)

- "Not with F determined to break what D had built" - Wait, what? When did we learn it was this F person that did the sabotage? There's not mention of them previously in this chapter. I'm so confused.

Overall 

There is something very blank about the place (which I know you've described), but I think it bleeds into the narrative and the feeling of the story to the extent that it feels insubstantial, like a draft with the detail to be filled in later. There is a real lack of richness to the setting that I can't help feeling makes events feel a bit like a dress rehearsal by actors who's character is concealed.

And because I don't understand the relationship between the species, their aims and goals, I end up not understanding why anyone does anything. Okay, a few things, but I don't see any driving motivations for any character that is going to last the length of a novel. I really don't see any promises at the start (from what I remember) for what kind of story this is.

In this chapter, essentially, nothing happens. It is entirely people talking. And because I really don't understand anyone's motivations (not properly), I don't care about what they are saying, really. I kept reading, kept hoping for understanding, clarity, but it never came, I'm afraid. It's just too unclear to me, and I'm really struggling to stay engaged, because I'm not sure I was engaged in the first place.

D does have a pretty strong character, which is good, but because I don't see a personal motivation, not a strong one, I'm feeling rather adrift from it all.

Sorry not to be more positive.

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On 08/11/2020 at 9:28 PM, Silk said:

it's hard to fully invest when so many things don't quite make sense

Yup, this.

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On 10/11/2020 at 5:15 AM, kais said:

I'd say this chapter can likely be cut. It seems to be primarily backstory/exposition/info dump, and does not appear to have an arc or to progress the narrative. It's a good writing exercise for sure, as it helps you get a feel for the world, but it isn't engaging to read because there's nothing and no one to connect with.

And this.

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@Mandamon

Great notes, thank you! 

The suicide part is still an issue for multiple readers. In short, no one is actually suicidal, but to D they seem to be. I am trying to write D as an unreliable narrator, and it's not working out very well. This is a skill I would love to have, but I still need to work on at a craft level I think. 

thanks for reading!

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@Snakenaps

Thank you for your critique! It's great to know what visuals need work. 

I was trying to be clever with the Sa but it didn't work out. By describing Bast*** as "a Sa word" I meant to show that they were human, but call themselves something different.

Sab** = Sapien = homo sapiens 

It's a shame that didn't work out, but I think it was one of those things that was better in my head :-) 

Thanks for reading! 

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On 11/4/2020 at 7:53 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

 

Do they know about viruses in this universe? Because viruses are not alive and not tech...

Good point. They are aware of viruses. I had assumed that having seen so many alien biomes, they would consider Viruses to be alive since they nearly meet the qualifications by our current definitions. This is a really unnecessary confusion point though and it makes much more sense to just change the line :-)

It's good to know what parts need more fleshing out,

Thanks for your careful reading and your comments!

 

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On 11/8/2020 at 1:28 PM, Silk said:

Overall: I think my biggest issue here is still a lack of information. I don’t still don’t fully understand the situation, or the stakes. Obviously a plague is bad, but there are lots of questions around why the A would want to escape from (or plain sabotage) their containment, what the relationship between the A and the S actually is, why waking PS would be any sort of solution to the plague problem, and whether there’s any threat of anyone other than D being able to actually do this.

I probably don't need the answers to all of these questions right away, but it's hard to fully invest when so many things don't quite make sense.

 

All good points. I definitely have a flow of information problem. 

 

Thank you for reading!

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@kais

Yeah, I'm not loving this chapter either. I thought it was a necessary evil, but maybe there's another way around it. 

Thanks for reading!

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On 11/14/2020 at 10:49 AM, Robinski said:

 

FORMAT!! Please indent the first line of every paragraph, apart from the first of each new chapter or section.

https://www.shunn.net/format/

My bad. Sorry about that. I am wrestling with Scrivnr but I will check more carefully next time. 

 

I've either missed or forgotten what WRS means... nope, I've not nothing. I have a general idea from context though. 

 

On 11/14/2020 at 10:49 AM, Robinski said:

 

- "there was no trade that used shapes that small and delicate" - Meaning G is small and delicate? Well, there is a trade, the oldest profession, but maybe that doesn't apply in this setting.

 

Ha! Ok, I had not considered that. Not really applicable here but that's a good catch. 

On 11/14/2020 at 10:49 AM, Robinski said:

 

Overall 

There is something very blank about the place (which I know you've described), but I think it bleeds into the narrative and the feeling of the story to the extent that it feels insubstantial, like a draft with the detail to be filled in later. There is a real lack of richness to the setting that I can't help feeling makes events feel a bit like a dress rehearsal by actors who's character is concealed.

 

Good notes. Thanks for reading!

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8 hours ago, Sarah B said:

My bad. Sorry about that. I am wrestling with Scrivnr but I will check more carefully next time.

It's cool. I'm also wrestling with Scrivener as a newbie these past two months. I really like it, but some thing are less natural than in Word, I think (although that might just be 30 years of experience speaking).

8 hours ago, Sarah B said:

I've either missed or forgotten what WRS means... nope, I've not nothing.

Sorry, Weekly Reader Syndrome: def. tending to forget details, names, etc. due to the seven-day gap between submissions.

8 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Not really applicable here but that's a good catch.

Yeah, it's not really a problem. When I had the thought, I didn't feel strongly about it being 'incorrect'. I think the line is fine.

My comments about setting: they sound quite harsh reading back. I'm not expecting a richly described setting, I didn't mean to suggest that. It's not the kind of story were you're going to describe in huge detail flecks of corrosion on the copper coupling of a sinuous, pearlescent plastic hose, for example. I was just trying to get across that there is so little description of setting that, essentially, I have no visual image in my head while reading, or only a very hazy one.

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