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Aspiring Writer

Reading Excuses - 11/23/20 - Aspiring Writer - SotU -The Vengeful, the Betrayed, and the Lost - Ch4-Ch6 (3417) - (L,V,G)

53 posts in this topic

1 minute ago, Snakenaps said:

I'm revising as I chat with you. I'm only about one chapter ahead of submissions, but I'm hoping to quicken my process unless school goes bonkers again (which it likely will). Twelve more chapters means I should have submitted everything in time for my birthday in February...but I'm honestly hoping to have all twelve ready for submission by the end of winter break. These are all longer chapters, so sadly my time of subbing more than one chapter at a time is at an end *dramatic sigh*

hmm, sad. Something similar is going to happen to me soon. Some of my later chapters are kinda large.

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14 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

hmm, sad. Something similar is going to happen to me soon. Some of my later chapters are kinda large.

It happens. I guess climaxes just require more pages. 

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12 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

"Every time we are introduced to someone it goes like this, “Q recognized them as X.” Maybe try to spice this up a little and introduce them differently. "

Suggestions, please. I'm turning a blank for that.

You can keep it the first time you used it but maybe the second time just say, "It was M." or "Who else could it be but M?" idk, get creative lol

 

12 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Well, there is actually a reason for that, but do you count Vamprah as a cool name? (I like her name, don't get me wrong, but... there's a reason I'm asking. All the other AoD have had non names except these two.)

I certainly feel like the name fits the description you gave her! Seems dark and gothic like a vampire lol or an angel of death. I feel like angels of death should have dark, dramatic names. I just thought it was funny that they all had names like that...but then there was M. It made me giggle a bit haha. It was like, "There was Vengeance, Skullcrusher, and Deathbringer!! Ooooh very scary!! ... oh and Tom, but we don't talk about him."

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Heh, well, after all the debate on this, I am interested to dip into the second submission.

Chapter 4 

(page 1)

- "more of the drug" - Calling it 'the drug' seems to me to make it less interesting. Names do have power, but this label is the ultimate in blandness, and means that I don't have any real feelings about it. Nicotine; cocaine; heroin; caffeine, these have weight, baggage, which your drug can have too if you give it some kind of identity. How does it affect him? (Specifically, because I know you made a general reference to this before.) What are the risks? Side-effects?

- "other than that, the place ran itself" - I don't quite get what this means. What do patrols have to do with running the place? Patrols are a security thing, surely, whereas running a place is an administrative function.

- "clothing somewhat glowing" - (a) I'm tired of doing to my split infinitive rant on here, so, I'll just say that sometimes it has its place, and sometimes it sounds like someone dropping a metal bucket. I suggest researching it; (b) Why does the thread glow? Sounds interesting, but if it's not explained I have to just go 'Meh' and move on.

- "there was a measure...‘cowered’" - Good line. It's possible to convey so much character in so few words if we just choose those words carefully.

- "He knelt down in from of him" - There was one of these in the first sub. If you use two unattributed pronouns in the same sentence it's entirely possible to read that sentence two ways. It could be Q kneeling in from of the beggar, or the beggar kneeling in front of Q.

- "“Anything I should know about?” he asked" - Okay, I can work out that this is Q speaking, but I do need to work it out, however many nanoseconds that takes my brain. The simplest of substitutions to say 'Q asked' (since it's been several lines since his names used) means there is no requirement for deduction at all. Just because the reader can work something out, doesn't mean you should make them.

- "when I act coy" - LOL.

(page 2)

- "He left him to suck his drug" - I won't mention it again. Just assume I'm bothered by any other instances that arise. 

- "walking with a purpose beyond their next meal. Someone was following him" - And not making a good job of it at all, if they are so easy to identify. Actually, sounds like they are not trying to conceal it. Walking purposefully dressed as a beggar would be a giveaway to anyone.

- "Q made a turn" - Here's quite a major issue which--now that I've seen it--can be attributed to a lot of areas back through what I've reader to date. I think maybe it was noted in the previous sub as a feeling of blankness, lack of depth, paucity of description. There's a vagueness to a lot of the actions. He made a turn...how, where, what? Did he turn on the spot in the middle of the street? Did he turn the corner of the building, into another street? Without knowing this kind of thing, the reader is left reaching, trying to fill in their own details and possibly making assumptions that are not what you intended.

- "A pair of hands suddenly grabbed his throat" - (a) I'm not doing my whole 'suddenly' rant again either, but if you take suddenly out, it happens more suddenly for the reader than if you leave it in: try taking that word it, it really works; (b) Hallelujah!! I'm pretty sure this is the first negative thing that has happened to Q in the Prologue and three-and-a-bit chapters. It's about time. I hope he does not get out of it easily.

- "Q punched him with his free arm" - hand is better, IMO. That's what we punch with (I know, but putting aside good boxing advice, which I think is to hit from the shoulder, etc.)

- "He landed with a crack" - This easily could be either one of them.

(page 3)

- "She was P" - Unclear. Is this her name, her ethnicity, her affiliation?

- "a green glowing thing" - Arrrggh! What kind of thing? Hulk? A force-field, a gaseous cloud? A piece of green rope? I don't know how to picture this.

- "Boundless" - What is this? Animal? Vegetable? Mineral?

- "keeping his arms back" - Vagueness again. Description, narrative; it needs to convey emotion, energy, passion, threat: whatever is appropriate to the situation. It needs to convey something. Here, for example, 'pinning his arms' has more energy and threat than 'keeping his arms'.

- "Which meant she was B" - Right, see this is good, but I think you should delete the first reference to B, which just confuses, and introduce it here for the first time. See before this, he hasn't reached the conclusion that she is B. So, one of these reference doesn't fit. I think it's the first one.

- "try to downplay it, but they wanted him dead" - tense issue: disagreement with past tense.

- "It was only a matter of time...job." - Good line.

- "B took out her gun" - So wait, what or who is Phil? Confused.

- "Q engaged his space suit" - How? In what way?

- "The spirit released him and flew over to B, lifting her over the shot" - This is way too slow. He has already fired the shot. This sound like the spirit just stops what it's doing, saunters over to B and lifts her up in the air. It takes too long after the shot is fired, IMO.

(page 4)

- " The spirit caught her before she landed" - See, this is better, because there's no unnecessary description of how it happens, it just happens instantly, in a flash In fact, it happens suddenly, but you've shown it happening suddenly, instead of telling the reader it happened suddenly. Good job here, IMO.

- "She cried out and gripped her hand, which had some blood seeping through her fingers" - As mentioned about, this is another good example of the description lacking drama and energy. Compare with 'She cried out, and gripped her hand, which had some blood seeping through her fingers'.

- "a small thrust from his Grav boots" - Science: gravity boots do not thrust. Those would be jet boots. Gravity boots, as sort of implied in the last sub, locally affect the forces acting on an object.

- "He raised..." - This paragraph describing the later stages of the combat, it sounds stilted. It sounds like neither of them is actually interested in the fight. Oh, she did that, so he did this. I need energy, danger, drama. Without those, I don't really care for the outcome of the fight, and there's not sense that Q is in any danger.

- "and kicked her off the building" - Again: repetitive, and therefore less interesting the second time.

- "knocking her out" - Okay, look this is going to be harsh, but this is way too simplistic. This is what kids say when they are play-fighting in the playground. 'Oh, I knocked you out. Oh, oh, but I get conscious again. No, I knock you out again.'

- "is where I start running" - Why? There's nothing to explain why he can fight off two of them, but this one he runs from? So, I'm like 'Oh, okay, whatever. I Donn't know why that happened.'

Chapter 5 

- "he is supposed to be able" - Tense error, present instead of past.

(page 5)

- "He was wrong" - He can't be wrong about hoping he could outfly it, because that does not imply he thinks he can.

- "he was close to people, causing R to hesitate" - Why? R didn't hesitate to possess the bystander.

- "He didn’t have to worry about running into people. He can’t choose who he possesses" - This doesn't make sense. If R can't choose why he possesses, anyone he came close to he might get sucked into.

 - However, it still only took him a second to leave a body he possessed, so it only delayed him; he was still getting chased by an invincible ghost" - To put it another way, it's bad form to use 'he/him' for different people in the same sentence. Here, he and him right beside each other refer to different people.

 - "meat shield" - Here's the vagueness again, big style. Imagine the Green Goblin grabs a 'meat shield' and flies off with them, Spidey is chasing. That hostage is going to be crying, screaming, yelling, puking, cringing: an absolutely plethora of emotions that all build the tension and drama. Here? The person is treated like a piece of meat, not a person. That's not a problem in Q's character, that's a problem within the narrative.

- "but he couldn’t keep this up forever" - Who couldn't?

- "Q took a risk and threw his shield at R" - I'm going to stop reading now, because--to me--there is a nasty undercurrent to this narrative and I'm not willing to read anymore. This is a person you are talking about, not a piece of meat. Maybe they were out walking with their family, taking their kid to a toy store, whatever. Q is completely heartless, inhuman, and I would just love it if he died right here. But that's not even the biggest issue. You see, you can write a heartless character like this, if the narrative recognises the horror of it: Grimdark, basically. But that is not happening into this story. IMO, the narrative is supporting Q's vileness.

What I'm trying to say is that not recognising that character actions have moral consequences will be utterly fatal to any story.

Summary (as far as I got)

- Vagueness in the language is an issue throughout, for me. It's frequently difficult to picture what is happening, and there's not feeling of excitement to it, like someone giving evidence in court. Dry, factual.

- Lack of investment: Case in point Q running from one spirit when he beat two before. Things happen without explanation. If you know why something happens, you need to show the reader or they will be confused, and that quickly leads to frustration.

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2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"when I act coy" - LOL.

Did not expect that.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"keeping his arms back" - Vagueness again. Description, narrative; it needs to convey emotion, energy, passion, threat: whatever is appropriate to the situation. It needs to convey something. Here, for example, 'pinning his arms' has more energy and threat than 'keeping his arms'.

Good suggestion.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"Which meant she was B" - Right, see this is good, but I think you should delete the first reference to B, which just confuses, and introduce it here for the first time. See before this, he hasn't reached the conclusion that she is B. So, one of these reference doesn't fit. I think it's the first one.

Yeah, complete accident. Fixed it the first time it was pointed out.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"It was only a matter of time...job." - Good line.

Hmm. 

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"B took out her gun" - So wait, what or who is Phil? Confused.

It's an- oh scud, I forgot to put the a there. It was supposed to say she was a Phil. It's a species.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"Q engaged his space suit" - How? In what way?

The spacesuit covered every bit of his body. (I don't know how much is in this chapter because I have made a lot of edits for things like this and I don't know how much you know anymore.) But he used it specifically to cover his face and give him extra protection.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"he was close to people, causing R to hesitate" - Why? R didn't hesitate to possess the bystander.

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

"He didn’t have to worry about running into people. He can’t choose who he possesses" - This doesn't make sense. If R can't choose why he possesses, anyone he came close to he might get sucked into

Q through someone into him, which is why he possessed him. And yeah, he can accidentally possess anyone. He has to touch them to be the case, he doesn't get 'sucked in', which is why he stays above everyone.

 

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm going to stop reading now, because--to me--there is a nasty undercurrent to this narrative and I'm not willing to read anymore. This is a person you are talking about, not a piece of meat. Maybe they were out walking with their family, taking their kid to a toy store, whatever. Q is completely heartless, inhuman, and I would just love it if he died right here. But that's not even the biggest issue. You see, you can write a heartless character like this, if the narrative recognises the horror of it: Grimdark, basically. But that is not happening into this story. IMO, the narrative is supporting Q's vileness.

This is from Q's perspective. It would be worse if he knew the crap he was doing and kept doing it.

Edit- also, because the next sub is going to make this clear, he is not the character your going to be following for the entire book, and the point of his character is to regress and then progress. 

Edited by Aspiring Writer
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8 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

This is from Q's perspective. It would be worse if he knew the crap he was doing and kept doing it.

Clarification desired.

He doesn't understand that what he is doing puts edges him farther away from "anti-hero" into "villain"? Does he have an inability to emphasize? 

Or do you mean that if he thought about what he was doing, he would become a full-on villain? 

Either way...I'm becoming convinced our protagonist isn't an anti-hero, but just a villain. I haven't seen any redeeming qualities so far - and that is six chapters too late. The problem with having a villain as a protagonist is that readers naturally hate villains...and protagonists are someone you are supposed to root for not against. Protagonists are supposed to be someone you like and can emphasize with, even if you don't agree with them. That's what made Breaking Bad so powerful - at the beginning you rooted for Walter White, but by the end, you found you hated his guts but wanted to protect characters like Hank. 

18 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

he is not the character your going to be following for the entire book,

It doesn't matter how awesome the other characters are if the one you start with convinces people to set down the book before you can introduce them. You won't be able to nail an agent, let alone a reader, to the floor and beg them to keep reading, that it'll get better, you promise. I seriously think you need to sit down and fix the broken foundations of your story before you spend more time building. A skyscraper - no matter how lofty its goals - can't rise on quicksand. I feel like we keep telling you this but you aren't hearing us. A writing group will do you no good if you are unable to listen to the concerns and advice of others. 

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2 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

Clarification desired.

He doesn't understand that what he is doing puts edges him farther away from "anti-hero" into "villain"? Does he have an inability to emphasize? 

Or do you mean that if he thought about what he was doing, he would become a full-on villain? 

Either way...I'm becoming convinced our protagonist isn't an anti-hero, but just a villain. I haven't seen any redeeming qualities so far - and that is six chapters too late. The problem with having a villain as a protagonist is that readers naturally hate villains...and protagonists are someone you are supposed to root for not against. Protagonists are supposed to be someone you like and can emphasize with, even if you don't agree with them. That's what made Breaking Bad so powerful - at the beginning you rooted for Walter White, but by the end, you found you hated his guts but wanted to protect characters like Hank. 

It doesn't matter how awesome the other characters are if the one you start with convinces people to set down the book before you can introduce them. You won't be able to nail an agent, let alone a reader, to the floor and beg them to keep reading, that it'll get better, you promise. I seriously think you need to sit down and fix the broken foundations of your story before you spend more time building. A skyscraper - no matter how lofty its goals - can't rise on quicksand. I feel like we keep telling you this but you aren't hearing us. A writing group will do you no good if you are unable to listen to the concerns and advice of others. 

This isn't a small detail or scene you're asking me to change (And I have taken your advice to change an entire storming chapter, so don't imply I don't listen), this is an entire character I have a lot of plans with, and changing his nature does change the story quite a bit. The plan I have for him is that he gets more bitter as the story progresses until he gets what he wants and then realizes he has no idea what to do next and has a life crisis. He changes and tries to do better, and we get to see some of his struggles at him trying to shrug of a lifetime of what you're seeing. His character spans very far into what I'm planning, and changing him is something I'm very reluctant to do. I can certainly make the narrative maybe emphasize his actions, I've already started working on that, but changing him will alter a lot. 

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16 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

This isn't a small detail or scene you're asking me to change (And I have taken your advice to change an entire storming chapter, so don't imply I don't listen), this is an entire character I have a lot of plans with, and changing his nature does change the story quite a bit.

Trust me, if there is one person who is going to understand that here...it's me. 

You wouldn't know this, but Ir started out as a fourteen year old girl with siblings who had died from a drought. A farm girl of completely different looks who ran away from her aging parents to chase dragons. It was a story where the BK was only the villain, and it ended in the dramatic death for both of them with Ir's soul trapped in a bracelet forever. She was bonded to a dragon and there was a magical sword and she was a damned Chosen One. Is that the story you are reading now, 13 years later? No, not in any way, shape, or form. I have torn this story to the ground eight times. And it came back stronger every single time, even though I cried, even though I lost so many characters and locations and stories I loved. Do you know how many sleepless nights I have had when tearing things down because they weren't right?

You do not have to change anything. I will not force you. I cannot force you. No one knows the story better than you. It is a part of you that you know more intimately better than anyone here. Anyone on this dang planet. What I want you to do is to consider all courses of possibility. And if this is the one you know is right, down to your soul...good. Because I have been wrong, I will be wrong again. If you know that this is it I will shake your hand and admire your conviction. Because what every story needs is someone who will fight for it. But think for a moment...what would happen if you pushed yourself father? If you pushed Q farther...what amazing, brilliant stories could you tell, that nabbed the reader from page one and never let go?

No matter what you chose to do...today, tomorrow, five years from now...keep writing, no matter how many people you butt heads with, no matter what tests come your way. Keep writing. Gods, keep writing. Don't ever let anyone take that away from you. Especially not some internet stranger ;) 

Edited by Snakenaps
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5 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

This is from Q's perspective. It would be worse if he knew the crap he was doing and kept doing it.

Edit- also, because the next sub is going to make this clear, he is not the character your going to be following for the entire book, and the point of his character is to regress and then progress. 

That's fair enough, but to be in one characters's perspective for four chapters and then find out they are not the MC seems kind of misleading to me. I feel like I would need some sort of flag to understand that, so that I knew I was not going to spend 300 pages with this character.

As usually, once I have 'blasted' out a critique, I start to calm down a bit. For all the flaws as I saw it, there were positives in terms of the pacing (no slouching around!), and Q did have personality in that voice. More than likely I will come back and skim through the rest with a light touch, as I'd like to have the option of continuing to read. I did not even linger to review the other folks' comments, which I will do now.

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12 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

but changing him will alter a lot.

Changing him would get you more critiques though. No one wants to read a book with as deeply unlikable a protagonist as Q. Why would we spend time critiquing when we don’t like the protagonist AND the fundamental issues are not being addressed? 
 

writing is HARD. And we have all been where you are, fighting against tearing our manuscript to shreds when we get our first really publish-level feedback. We understand. We deeply, deeply empathize. We want you to grow with us and be here long term. But those of us who HAVE been here long term, and do crits every week regardless of whether or not we sub, see a lot of the same issues over and over. Those who are really willing to listen and incorporate not just minor issues but large, structural issues, are the ones who stick around and who we like to really invest time in 

You are here. You are subbing. You have a completed manuscript that needs cleaning. We can help you, but only if you’re willing to let us. 

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2 minutes ago, Robinski said:

That's fair enough, but to be in one characters's perspective for four chapters and then find out they are not the MC seems kind of misleading to me. I feel like I would need some sort of flag to understand that, so that I knew I was not going to spend 300 pages with this character.

As usually, once I have 'blasted' out a critique, I start to calm down a bit. For all the flaws as I saw it, there were positives in terms of the pacing (no slouching around!), and Q did have personality in that voice. More than likely I will come back and skim through the rest with a light touch, as I'd like to have the option of continuing to read. I did not even linger to review the other folks' comments, which I will do now.

Your advice that the narrative didn't make more attention to Q's crap is valid, and I am working on that. He is a main character... he's just not the only one. In the book title, he is the vengeful. There are three characters I consider main characters in this book, and the title was the metaphorical flag.

Will certainly like seeing what you think of the rest. I can understand that might have been frustrating, and I will try and make Q's actions more in the center of attention, and you all have given me a lot to think about with changing him.

4 minutes ago, kais said:

Changing him would get you more critiques though. No one wants to read a book with as deeply unlikable a protagonist as Q. Why would we spend time critiquing when we don’t like the protagonist AND the fundamental issues are not being addressed? 
 

writing is HARD. And we have all been where you are, fighting against tearing our manuscript to shreds when we get our first really publish-level feedback. We understand. We deeply, deeply empathize. We want you to grow with us and be here long term. But those of us who HAVE been here long term, and do crits every week regardless of whether or not we sub, see a lot of the same issues over and over. Those who are really willing to listen and incorporate not just minor issues but large, structural issues, are the ones who stick around and who we like to really invest time in 

You are here. You are subbing. You have a completed manuscript that needs cleaning. We can help you, but only if you’re willing to let us. 

I address all issues you mention, tho I will disagree with some, especially as big as this. I have more than one book planned, and Q is a character which spans throughout, and he technically is a well-written character which makes this harder. he's not broken, just unlikable, which was part of my intent in the first place. And the fact I have some readers who are interested in him also gives me a lot to think about, as while you have been turned off by him, others have read hoping for more, which gives me mixed messages all around. There are people who like and root for a sadistic character like Cad Bane or Kenny Ackerman, and I am also one to some extent.

I have a manuscript that needs cleaning, but what we think needs cleaning may differ. And again, I listen, don't constantly make it seem I ignore you about everything. I take a lot of what you said seriously, and this is not a decision I can just make on a whim. You've given me a lot to think about, and I am considering options, but for now I do feel it works and that I should keep going and judge your further reactions, because you guys definitely have one idea where this is all going and it's not going there at all. You shared your concerns, and I am considering options, one of which is keeping it as is. I really don't want to basically surgically remove an important part of his character and end up making him more like kelsier, someone who is charismatic and likable until you get deeper into his hatred. 

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1 hour ago, Aspiring Writer said:

You shared your concerns, and I am considering options, one of which is keeping it as is. I really don't want to basically surgically remove an important part of his character and end up making him more like kelsier, someone who is charismatic and likable until you get deeper into his hatred. 

Ok, two big things: 

One, beginnings are very important. I personally dont think you have to cut the character, but consider why you have him as the one we are starting the story with. If we begin and see a character that we can empathize with, with the promise we will see them again, we are more likely to continue reading. Even if we have forays into characters who are not likeable or even despicable, we will come back because we were promised that we will see the one we like again. So ask yourself: is it really important to start with Q? Or could you begin with another character, another plotline? 

Two: let's talk about Zuko. He is a famous example of an "unlikable" villain who becomes a friend by the end of the series. But in order to do that, the writers had to do a lot of work. He is actually never that evil, despite being the antagonist of the first series, especially in comparison to other antagonists (like azula and admiral zhao) he also has admirable traits, and the viewer can empathize with his search for honor and self worth, despite his evil at the beginning. Now, I'm not saying that Q has to be anything like zuko, or even has to be redeemed. He can be what you want him to be. But if there isn't any traits about him that are likeable, I as a reader will simply not care. Sure, some people will like a heartless character with no empathy, but the majority of people will not. 

 

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2 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Ok, two big things: 

One, beginnings are very important. I personally dont think you have to cut the character, but consider why you have him as the one we are starting the story with. If we begin and see a character that we can empathize with, with the promise we will see them again, we are more likely to continue reading. Even if we have forays into characters who are not likeable or even despicable, we will come back because we were promised that we will see the one we like again. So ask yourself: is it really important to start with Q? Or could you begin with another character, another plotline? 

Two: let's talk about Zuko. He is a famous example of an "unlikable" villain who becomes a friend by the end of the series. But in order to do that, the writers had to do a lot of work. He is actually never that evil, despite being the antagonist of the first series, especially in comparison to other antagonists (like azula and admiral zhao) he also has admirable traits, and the viewer can empathize with his search for honor and self worth, despite his evil at the beginning. Now, I'm not saying that Q has to be anything like zuko, or even has to be redeemed. He can be what you want him to be. But if there isn't any traits about him that are likeable, I as a reader will simply not care. Sure, some people will like a heartless character with no empathy, but the majority of people will not. 

 

Well, technically you do. You start out with the first girl from the prologue, so we don't start with Q.

 

And yes, you've made your opinions that starting with a heartless character is a turn off for you, but I do have other people reading giving me a very different reaction, and I question whether a majority will be turned off or not. I can try and reduce the amount of ruthlessness we see from Q, that way he is more anti-hero. that will keep his character intact for the most part.

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Just a note. I know it can be hard to recieve critiques that dont agree with your thoughts. Trust me, I know. But there is no need to get so defensive. I think this is what is making most of the negative energy in this thread. I promise we are not trying to attack you or your work, so there is no need to defend. If you come in thinking this will be an echo chamber, you will be disappointed. You can feel free to discard everything everyone says, but please recognize that we are not trying to attack you. 

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29 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Just a note. I know it can be hard to recieve critiques that dont agree with your thoughts. Trust me, I know. But there is no need to get so defensive. I think this is what is making most of the negative energy in this thread. I promise we are not trying to attack you or your work, so there is no need to defend. If you come in thinking this will be an echo chamber, you will be disappointed. You can feel free to discard everything everyone says, but please recognize that we are not trying to attack you. 

I'm aware. I am more thick-skinned than that. The reason this is troubling is that I don't discard advice. What you say has merit, and I'm trying to decide what to do with it. I will say I don't like people implying I ignore them because of this one thing when I have made significant changes because of your advice. 

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9 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Your advice that the narrative didn't make more attention to Q's crap is valid, and I am working on that. He is a main character... he's just not the only one. In the book title, he is the vengeful. There are three characters I consider main characters in this book, and the title was the metaphorical flag.

That's good. That certainly would qualify as a strong flag. This seems a bit ridiculous maybe, but I think if the title was the first thing in that Word file above Prologue, I might have had it more in mind when reading. And maybe just a really clear flag for the reader on the first page of Chapter 1, something as clear in as (for example) 'Poor, dumb M, she thought this was about money, but it wasn't, it was about vengeance.' Telling has it's place. Sometimes, when you absolutely have to make sure that everyone, 100% of the readers, knows what happening, just come out and tell them. I know there are moments in Q's POV when he thinks, and talks, about vengeance, but I think I need to feel that from him, feel his anger (even thought it may be cold, rather than hot), maybe get a hint of why, a hint mind you. I think I would you play that key motivation up more in his POV and we would know (and be reminded) of what's behind his actions.

10 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I really don't want to basically surgically remove an important part of his character and end up making him more like kelsier, someone who is charismatic and likable until you get deeper into his hatred.

Good point, and I would not expect you to remove him. One thing that would help is if things were not so easy for him. Chapter 4 reads better in that respect, because he encounters difficulty with the first two adversaries then runs from the third (although I didn't understand why). In the first sub, things were just too easy for him, which actually adds to his unlike-ability, IMO, since we like to see people putting in the effort, earning their victories. I think you can still do this with the first encounter, just in his tone, his thoughts, without changing that much.

Another thought on 'flags': I mention about clearly flagging him as the vengeful one. Is the Prologue POV another of the titular beings? The lost, perhaps, or maybe the betrayed (I can see how either would apply)? Another clear flag on that (if it's the case of course) in her thoughts, 'she just felt so lost', would help the reader get into the promises of the story. 'Okay, I've got the lost one, then I collect the vengeful one in Chapter One, and it draws the reader into the longer arc of the story, and promises that the third one is still to come.

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23 minutes ago, Robinski said:

'Poor, dumb M, she thought this was about money, but it wasn't, it was about vengeance.' Telling has it's place.

That is a bit too overt, and from what I can tell from my other readers, they easily guess what the three are, it is fairly obvious to them. Saying it would just be corny.

 

23 minutes ago, Robinski said:

(although I didn't understand why)

he can't hurt Rest and Rest can possess him. There is no better option than run. Does that make more sense?

23 minutes ago, Robinski said:

In the first sub, things were just too easy for him, which actually adds to his unlike-ability, IMO, since we like to see people putting in the effort, earning their victories. I think you can still do this with the first encounter, just in his tone, his thoughts, without changing that much.

I have done a bit on that front. The first chapter I edited the battle scenes so he was being flanked and had to start crushing opponents, the second chapter I edited shows him being concerned about being hit by the ships, and in the third one he gets shot and minorly wounded by a soldier after being struck in the face, so he is getting a bit resistance than he did before.

 

23 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Another thought on 'flags': I mention about clearly flagging him as the vengeful one. Is the Prologue POV another of the titular beings? The lost, perhaps, or maybe the betrayed (I can see how either would apply)? Another clear flag on that (if it's the case of course) in her thoughts, 'she just felt so lost', would help the reader get into the promises of the story. 'Okay, I've got the lost one, then I collect the vengeful one in Chapter One, and it draws the reader into the longer arc of the story, and promises that the third one is still to come.

Well, the thing is I did. The whole paragraph on her wondering who she was and where she was is meant to be the lost thing. I don't want to be overt, because that feels childish, and from what I can tell of my reading group, people do seem to figure it out quickly, especially by the next POV. I know a lot of you groaned at me having a prologue, but there was a reason for it. So you get a small introduction to the lost character (Which I am very interested in what you all will think of. I'm sure you all will have very interesting suggestions for her.) you get to Q the vengeful, and then we get to the betrayed one. I think you just missed some of the flags somehow, I don't know, but it is there, and people have seen it as very obvious already, so adding more is going to be a little reaching through the book and slapping them in the face with it.

Also, why are you awake? I'm an idiot and came back from a party, what has been done to you to make you stay awake at this ungodly hour?

Edit- party is exaggeration. 

Edited by Aspiring Writer
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56 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

he can't hurt Rest and Rest can possess him

I didn't think that was clear at the point at which he ran.

57 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I have done a bit on that front. The first chapter I edited the battle scenes so he was being flanked and had to start crushing opponents, the second chapter I edited shows him being concerned about being hit by the ships, and in the third one he gets shot and minorly wounded by a soldier after being struck in the face, so he is getting a bit resistance than he did before.

That all sounds good.

58 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Also, why are you awake? I'm an idiot and came back from a party, what has been done to you to make you stay awake at this ungodly hour?

I live in Glasgow. It's now 10:44am. There are other places in the world you know. This is not an exclusively US group, by any means :P 

I was wondering why you were awake though :lol: 

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I didn't want to skew my critique, so I haven't read any of the other comments yet. Sorry if there are repeats.

First paragraph: It would be nice to be reminded what Q's drug of choice is called rather that 'the drug' if it's going to be a recurring element. 

There are quite a few qualifying words used. 'Nearly', 'almost' and 'somewhat' all soften the impact of the sentence. I'm guilty of these myself, so that's probably why I notice them. Note: probably :-)

"Peices of the man flew off." Hard to picture without specifics.

"Green thing lifted her" something to give me an idea of what to picture would be nice. Ie: A cloud, a blob, a figure

"His moment of victory over two AoD..." isn't G still in play? He was getting up last we saw him. 

Chapter 5: 

"Hoping to get lost in the crowd and lose him." Repeat

Meat sheild. Love the term, not loving the MC that uses one.

"His vision went black." The MC is disoriented so I understand the intent, but as a reader I found this paragraph hard to track.

"Hooking his arm where he heard..." hooking his arm toward where he heard?

Same sentence:

"Not stopping... didn't" double negative

"He had a metal..." lots of 'he' gets hard to follow in this paragraph.

"Q slipped a toxin" Sorry, I am having a hard time with this. Into his hand itself? A syringe? 

The fight scene that happens next feels jumbled. 

Chapter 6:

Not sure why the fingers gloves are flagged anothe strange part.

"He could barely fight three" Wheren't there four? G, B, R and M?

Not sure why the bad guys are discussing their hierarchy in front of Q.

A lot is happening! The fantasy elements being thrown in was a suprise. I'm still not attatched to Q, especially after using 'meat sheilds', so the fights left me cold. 

I like how the story is moving with clear purpose. 

Thanks for sharing

Edited by Sarah B
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8 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Not sure why the bad guys are discussing their hierarchy in front of Q.

That hierarchy is quite public. Q learns nothing that he can't figure out or already knows.

Edited by Aspiring Writer
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Quick notes: I read the first 3 chapters, just didn’t crit them because I saw a comment saying you’d already revised. Also, make sure to tag your subs with D whenever you submit something depicting drug use.

While I wrote my critique before I read the other comments, I’ve now skimmed through some of them and can perhaps offer some advice on how to deal with conflicting critiques, because that is going to happen as long as you’re part of any critique group.

Each reader here or wherever else you’ve received critique is telling you how they’ve experienced your story, so it’s not a matter of deciding which critiques are “right” and which are “wrong.” There are lots of reasons why you might get different reactions. In (rare, in my experience) cases, it might be a simple matter of somebody not being the right audience.

More usually, it’s a bit more complex with that. With each specific story element comes innumerable reasons why different people might resonate more or less strongly with different parts of the same character, plot, setting detail etc, and that’s where you as a writer need to drill down and make the tough decisions on how to address the problems that others are finding as they read.

One thing that can help you decide is looking at the volume of feedback you’re getting in one way or the other. If only one person says something and others disagree, then maybe you consider not making any changes based upon that comment, though that’s still a decision you make and own at the end of the day. When you have multiple people honing in on the same issue, you know it’s a significant barrier.

Sometimes the feedback you’re getting will present an obvious (not necessarily simple or easy) solution to the problem people are experiencing with the story in question – i.e. take an unlikeable character that people don’t want to read about and make them more likeable. Sometimes the solution is going to be a little more sideways: adjusting an earlier scene to make a character’s actions or a plot point more understandable. And sometimes there will be multiple things you can do to help smooth the readers’ experience; you may have several options and only need to make one of those changes to address a problem, or you may have several things that must be fixed to solve a problem.

In this case, you have Q, who has received a pretty unified reaction from RE. You’ve said that you don’t want to change Q’s personality significantly, so I assume you believe something in the story will not work if you do (although, sometimes radical changes to the story are the answer, so don’t write the possibility off just yet!); you’ve gotten feedback elsewhere that some people do like Q. So, what can you do to make Q more palatable who don’t like him while preserving what people do like about him, or preserving whatever he needs for the story to function? You’ve already identified a couple of options, which are to radically change his personality or to dial him back only somewhat. But you could also look at things like making his motivations clearer, which may may make him seem more interesting or sympathetic; you could change the fight scenes so that they feel like present a genuine danger. You could give us an entirely different character to start with especially since you already have plans for other POVs; he might be easier to swallow if readers are already invested in other characters. You could trim these first chapters into a single chapter so that they’re less of a barrier to entry. Etc.

Point is, you know you have a problem, so it’s time to figure out why you have a problem, and what readers need to keep reading. Fortunately, critique groups are a great way to do that, because you can literally ask us! What, specifically, do readers like about Q? What do they not like about him? Is that thing a minor annoyance or would it make you put the book down? What needs to change so you would not put the book down? What do you want to see more of? Same goes for all the other elements of your story. I’m being pretty general here because it’s not my story and I have to be, but you can ask specific questions in areas where it might form your decision.

Also, don’t worry about explaining to us why things are the way they are, unless you think it’s essential context to a question you might ask or a decision you’re unsure of. Whether or not the question/issue/etc. raised by a reader is explained or justified later in a book, they’re still giving you valuable information about how they’re experiencing the book now. It doesn’t matter if you have an excellent justification on page 106 if the reader doesn’t believe in your book enough to keep reading after page 52. In my personal experience, I’ve found it a much better use of my time to ask clarifying questions or float possible edits past my readers than explain things to them that I really should have made clear in the manuscript. And it leads to fewer frustrated critique partners. Even with the best of intentions, an explanation or justification for something in your manuscript can easily come across as arguing with readers about what they experienced and can discourage them from providing future feedback.

And yes: Revising is a lot of work. Addressing the feedback you get may take changing characters’ personalities, changing the ending, changing the beginning, overhauling the structure, or cutting characters, chapters, or subplots altogether. It means a lot of time and hard decisions and figuring out how to deal with differing opinions and contradictory feedback. There is just no way to avoid that if you want to get a saleable manuscript out into the world.

Onto the critique:

My biggest concern with the story to this point is that I am not engaged. Nothing in either the previous chapters nor this scene has told me what drives Q or makes him tick; he’s portrayed as effortlessly competent so I have no reason to wonder about the outcome of the fight scenes; he’s portrayed as an objectively horrible person and isn’t particularly enjoyable to be around, so I have no reason to root for him.

I also don’t have the context to appreciate the worldbuilding that is happening in this scene: What are the AoDs? Why does does it mean that they appear to be after him?

One of the things you can do to help address this is to give some serious thought to the pacing. The story so far has been almost continuous combat. This doesn’t allow for much in the way of changes in tone or feel, but more importantly it leaves very little room for character development or worldbuilding. At over 7k words in, I should have a solid idea of what drives the main characters and what their struggles are, and I don’t have that yet. This might (or might not) assist with making Q someone I to spend more time with, whether because I like him more or because he’s interesting for me to spend time with despite not liking him.

Another thing that could increase the tension is making the outcome more uncertain. At no point have I doubted the outcome; it’s always seemed clear that Q would prevail and he does this with relative ease. Even though he gets captured the end, he took on several of what we’re lead to believe were quite fearsome entities before being captured, killed creatures that he didn’t know could die, and it felt like he got captured as much because the chapter needed to end as because he couldn’t keep fighting.

As I read:

I assume Q’s coat must be made of some special material if he can just casually absorb being shot multiple times in the chest.

Okay, so the end of Ch4 was a fine line to end a chapter on, but not sure why a chapter break is needed if the next scene picks up immediately where the other one left off, especially since we’ve only had a single, relatively short scene.

First paragraph of Ch5: tense shifts from past to present in this paragraph before shifting back.

We’re getting almost no information on what’s happening around Q and the other combatants. I’d sort of assumed before that this was because he was in a somewhat isolated area, back-alley style, before, but now that Q is running through the streets it’s very noticeable. Surely they are other people observing and reacting to all this?

If the ghost needs to avoid physically running into people, can’t it just fly a few meters above the street and go at whatever pace it wants?

“How’d you find me?” Didn’t Q say that he spend almost all of his time between jobs on this planet? And one of the first things he did was went to talk to an established contact. He certainly does not seem to be making much effort to hide himself.

The dialogue between M and V at the end feels very “as you know, Bob”/infodumpy- too much time spent on laying out exactly who wants Q and what’s to be done with him, which surely the characters should know already;, and not enough emotion in the dialogue and the characters’ actions, if we’re supposed to interpret this as an emotional argument on M’s part.

Also puzzled as to why Q doesn’t even try to escape while they’re standing around talking about him. At no point during this fight does he seem convincingly defeated.

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10 minutes ago, Silk said:

Quick notes: I read the first 3 chapters, just didn’t crit them because I saw a comment saying you’d already revised. Also, make sure to tag your subs with D whenever you submit something depicting drug use.

Sorry, wasn't sure if the little I had was enough to warrant a label. Thought it had to be a little more indepth.

 

18 minutes ago, Silk said:

Okay, so the end of Ch4 was a fine line to end a chapter on, but not sure why a chapter break is needed if the next scene picks up immediately where the other one left off, especially since we’ve only had a single, relatively short scene.

I tend to like having sections, so one plot thing to the next, this being BD to rest chase. Would you advise against this or is it fine? 

 

20 minutes ago, Silk said:

If the ghost needs to avoid physically running into people, can’t it just fly a few meters above the street and go at whatever pace it wants?

It is. I'll describe that more.

 

21 minutes ago, Silk said:

Also puzzled as to why Q doesn’t even try to escape while they’re standing around talking about him. At no point during this fight does he seem convincingly defeated.

I was planning on adding an escape attempt after some of the first critiques. Assumed everyone would see there's no point.

 

Also, to your point on me responding to people... I feel uncomfortable with not saying anything, like that weird silence in the room. Even if it's to say I agree, It feels better.

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4 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Sorry, wasn't sure if the little I had was enough to warrant a label. Thought it had to be a little more indepth.

A passing reference like the one in this sub is probably fine, though it never hurts. I was thinking more of the first sub, which doesn't get in-depth but it is referenced quite frequently.

8 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I tend to like having sections, so one plot thing to the next, this being BD to rest chase. Would you advise against this or is it fine? 

It's definitely not to my personal taste, but it is definitely used in some genres, particularly thrillers I think, so I'd say it depends on where you see the book fitting structurally and in terms of genre.

12 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

It is. I'll describe that more.

Sounds good. This became apparent to me after Q realized that it couldn't choose who it possessed, but was not clear before then.

13 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Also, to your point on me responding to people... I feel uncomfortable with not saying anything, like that weird silence in the room. Even if it's to say I agree, It feels better.

Fair. This is one of the reasons I like asking questions, assuming I have good ones to ask. You'll notice whenever I get around to subbing that I tend to be pretty quiet in terms of responses unless I need more information, personally, but yes, it took some getting used to. One of the ways I've made it less weird for myself is just by tagging people to acknowledge their crits.

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1 minute ago, Silk said:

A passing reference like the one in this sub is probably fine, though it never hurts. I was thinking more of the first sub, which doesn't get in-depth but it is referenced quite frequently.

It's definitely not to my personal taste, but it is definitely used in some genres, particularly thrillers I think, so I'd say it depends on where you see the book fitting structurally and in terms of genre.

Sounds good. This became apparent to me after Q realized that it couldn't choose who it possessed, but was not clear before then.

Fair. This is one of the reasons I like asking questions, assuming I have good ones to ask. You'll notice whenever I get around to subbing that I tend to be pretty quiet in terms of responses unless I need more information, personally, but yes, it took some getting used to. One of the ways I've made it less weird for myself is just by tagging people to acknowledge their crits.

I was thinking of Fantasy/Sci-fi. Would you recommend against it? i tend to like ending chapters in a way that's satisfying and leaves the reader wanting more, or in a way that's impactful.

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3 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I was thinking of Fantasy/Sci-fi. Would you recommend against it? i tend to like ending chapters in a way that's satisfying and leaves the reader wanting more, or in a way that's impactful.

I can kind of see the merits of both ways here. It's definitely not something I've seen too often in straight up science fantasy. It was a great end to Chapter 4 and felt like a good place to take a break, but it DID make a rockier start to chapter 5 as I was expecting some time to have passed or something to have changed. That said, this might be fairly easy to tweak - Chapter 5 could be like 5 minutes later and he'd found a hiding spot that he's just now been flushed out of, or something along those lines.

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