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Aspiring Writer

Reading Excuses - 11-30-20 - Aspiring Writer - SotU The Vengeful, the Betrayed, and the Lost - Ch7-9 (4453) - (L,V,G,S?)

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Again, the S? warning is nothing, it happens between chapters and is barely referenced, there is no description of any kind.

Anyways, new POV, really interested in what you think. 

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Well, I definitely like V a lot better than Q, but I'm still not that involved in the story. Overall, I feel like I'm missing context. What organization does V belong to? What are "the enemies" she's fighting. Why? Everyone seems to be royalty or a god, but I don't know of who or what. Why would you deploy someone who can end a fight singlehandedly when there are already troops present? Whose troops are they?

Whereas the first few chapters with Q seemed to be all action, with not a lot of character building or plot, the first two chapters here were character interactions, but still didn't further the plot. Then we go back to another action sequence, but again, I don't have context for it. I think there are some interesting ideas here, but I haven't seen anything that actually holds them together yet, and we're now 9 chapters in.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "tapped" ->  "tap"

pg 1: "and his irises were pure red instead of his entire eye"
--instead of his entire eye being red?

pg 1/2: Discussing the events that happened last chapter isn't really engaging. I want to know what happens next.

pg 2: "He is far better than I expected"
--annnd...once again we're talking about how great Q is.

pg 2: "Her skin color went back to normal"
--except she can change her appearance, right? So what is "normal?"

pg 4: "This was you a few hundred years ago"
--sort of maid-and-butler here. It is clarified later that V loses memories, but it's still sort of awkward.

pg 6: Ch7: I'm not sure what this really adds to the story. We get introduced to V and her wife, but they mostly stand around the whole chapter, and either the last chapter or trivialities are discussed. There's nothing to move the plot forward.


pg 7: "She noted her scythe, which was leaning on the wall near the mannequin."
--I've seen some other sentences like this as well. It's just a description tag, but it doesn't actually do anything. She notes her scythe, but what about it? This is partially why the last chapter dragged for me. There are a lot of plain descriptive sentences that don't actually add to the story. They're just window dressing. One of the best pieces of advice I've begun to incorporate in my writing is to make every sentence do (at least) two things, like describing something as well as furthering the plot, or building character, or something else.

pg 8: "He started picking up the dust from the room with his space powers, bunching it into a ball next to him."
--Is there something more specific than "space powers?"

pg 9: still not a lot happening. V got a message she has to go back to work.

pg 10: "As she made her way to the shuttle, she noticed a figure wearing red standing near it, a purple cloak hanging on one side. As she got closer, she realized it was R.B."
--This sort of sentence construction also drags the story down. Several different things happen at once, but they are each given their own thought. Instead, you could say something like," When she got to her shuttle, R.B. was already there, her purple cloak hanging to one side.
--also, do we know who R.B. is? I feel like most of the characters here are thrown in with a name first, but no description of who or what they are.

pg 10: "I’m your mother-in-law."
--Ah. I feel like that could have been anywhere in the last eight pages, when C was introduced and talking about her mother. Then there wouldn't be this need for another introduction.

pg 11: Ch 8: Again, I feel like there is something going on, but it's not actually on the page.V is going on a mission, I guess? But the whole chapter is just her getting to the shuttle. We get introductions for three characters, but without some plot or movement attached to them, I'm struggling not to skip to get to something with more import.


pg 11: "Consumed souls"
--This has been mentioned several times, but I don't know what it does.

pg 11: "but they were outside the command chain."
--Then I find it hard to believe that a captain wouldn't know that.

pg 12: "the enemy side," “The targets," "The enemy line"
--who are these people and why is V attacking them? We didn't get an explanation for "the mission" and now I don't know what the side are. I don't even really know to what sort of organization V belongs to. I don't have much context for anything that's happening.

pg 12: "Instead of fear, these people looked at her with awe."
--again, the POV character is only regarded as The Best Thing. It doesn't give me any reason to sympathize with them.

pg 12: "increased her Consumption of souls for speed"
--So does it give her just any powers? where does she get souls from? Whose souls? Does she feel anything about consuming them? Are they destroyed in the process? Answers to some of these would make V a much more interesting character.

pg 13: "Absorbed the souls that were still there"
--okay, so I assume these are actual souls of sentient people. Does V have any problems with that?

pg 13: "around a few thousand standard souls and was constantly using them"
--has she killed that many people just now? This is a terrible person.

pg 13: "In a few minutes, she cleared the area"
--so why are the soldiers there?

pg 14: "Why was there a child there?"
--really? She's concerned about one child when she's constantly killing and (I presume) destroying the immortal part of countless beings?

pg 14: "She just healed"
--getting tired of all the POV characters being functionally invulnerable.

pg 16: "After a while, they’ll be back to their normal lives. It’s a small spate, nothing overly traitorous and we did kill a good portion of them."
--uh...really? so the greater part of a city or town or country or something was killed and everyone's just going to pretend it didn't happen?

pg 16/17 well, here's a little bit of debate about how absorbing souls is bad, but it doesn't satisfy me. It's a strawman argument. V is blaming M (who has appeared out of nowhere) about killing someone for their soul, when she's been doing the same for the whole battle.

pg 17: Wait, why did V run into M's ship? It doesn't help that we don't know what this fight was about. V wanting to know details about a different mission doesn't interest me at this point. I want something specific. V went somewhere, killed a lot of people, Was Awesome and Invulnerable, and then was so consumed with curiosity she hid on a ship? I feel like I'm missing a lot of context.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I'm not sure what this really adds to the story. We get introduced to V and her wife, but they mostly stand around the whole chapter, and either the last chapter or trivialities are discussed. There's nothing to move the plot forward.

Must everything move the plot forward? The chapter is building their character and relationship. And I doubt you'd care about plot if you didn't know anything about the characters.

 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

well, here's a little bit of debate about how absorbing souls is bad, but it doesn't satisfy me. It's a strawman argument. V is blaming M (who has appeared out of nowhere) about killing someone for their soul, when she's been doing the same for the whole battle

One is consuming the souls of enemy combatants she already killed. Another went out of his way to kill someone for their soul.

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37 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Must everything move the plot forward? The chapter is building their character and relationship. And I doubt you'd care about plot if you didn't know anything about the characters.

Basically, yes. This chapter only deals with characters and doesn't do enough to keep my attention.

 

37 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

One is consuming the souls of enemy combatants she already killed. Another went out of his way to kill someone for their soul

I didn't get this as being a big distinction while reading. They're both killing and eating souls. When they do it is rationalization. However, we don't have a reason for the fight, so I can't apply any other rationale to it.

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1 minute ago, Mandamon said:

I didn't get this as being a big distinction while reading. They're both killing and eating souls. When they do it is rationalization. However, we don't have a reason for the fight, so I can't apply any other rationale to it.

The reason for the fight was mentioned in the previous chapter. It's a civilian uprising that she has been ordered to take care of.

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5 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

It's a civilian uprising that she has been ordered to take care of.

That's not a reason.

A reason would be: the citizens of X city/town/world have been repressed/killed/put into slavery/etc by Y power/kingdom/space empire/etc and are rising up because some young hero person has thrown off their chains/insert inspirational action.

I don't have any of those details. Why would I care about this uprising? I don't even know who they're uprising against.

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Just now, Mandamon said:

That's not a reason.

A reason would be: the citizens of X city/town/world have been repressed/killed/put into slavery/etc by Y power/kingdom/space empire/etc and are rising up because some young hero person has thrown off their chains/insert inspirational action.

I don't have any of those details. Why would I care about this uprising? I don't even know who they're uprising against.

There is a reason, but it's kept secret from her. That's why she wants to know what's happening to the targets.

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7 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

There is a reason, but it's kept secret from her. That's why she wants to know what's happening to the targets

But it's also kept secret from me.

I think all the great backstories and reasons for this story are in your head, but I can't yet see them on the page. I'm trying to get you to show me in the book why I should keep reading. Right now, I'm not interested. Honestly, I wouldn't read this if I found it in a store right now, but I can see it has some potential. I critique on this forum to help out other writers.

Think of this forum as the first inkling of what wider readers would question about your book. This is your chance to rework things so those questions don't come up.

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Just now, Mandamon said:

But it's also kept secret from me.

I think all the great backstories and reasons for this story are in your head, but I can't yet see them on the page. I'm trying to get you to show me in the book why I should keep reading. Right now, I'm not interested. Honestly, I wouldn't read this if I found it in a store right now, but I can see it has some potential. I critique on this forum to help out other writers.

Think of this forum as the first inkling of what wider readers would question about your book. This is your chance to rework things so those questions don't come up.

Some books don't start answering questions for a while, the introduction being a sort of slow burn. You brought up the questions, yes, but others might be interested in answers while you get annoyed at not getting them fast enough. I hear you, but I'm not sure how much is a problem of preference or writing.

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50 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I hear you, but I'm not sure how much is a problem of preference or writing

Trust me, as someone who's written 12+ books and published many of them, it's a writing problem.

You can get a second, third, and fourth opinion from other published writers on this forum if you want.

The point is, if you want feedback on your story, you need to actually listen to it. A good writer takes in critiques without defensiveness. You may not agree with all of it, or even any of it, and you may not use all of it, but generally if more than one critiquer makes the same point, you should listen to it. If a writer with more experience makes a point, you should at least consider it. I wouldn't have become the writer I am now without listening to others. You aren't going to be able to explain what you "actually" meant to a random person who picks up your finalized, published, book. No, they're going to put it down and give you a low review, or worse, just forget about you. I'm assuming you want to learn to be a better writer and eventually publish books by being on this forum. If so, you would do well to listen to what the others on here are saying. We're all trying to help each other out.

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1 minute ago, Mandamon said:

The point is, if you want feedback on your story, you need to actually listen to it. A good writer takes in critiques without defensiveness. You may not agree with all of it, or even any of it, and you may not use all of it, but generally if more than one critiquer makes the same point, you should listen to it. If a writer with more experience makes a point, you should at least consider it. I wouldn't have become the writer I am now without listening to others. You aren't going to be able to explain what you "actually" meant to a random person who picks up your finalized, published, book. No, they're going to put it down and give you a low review, or worse, just forget about you. I'm assuming you want to learn to be a better writer and eventually publish books by being on this forum. If so, you would do well to listen to what the others on here are saying. We're all trying to help each other out.

You mean how I listened to changing the second chapter? or altering Q's character? I do listen and consider, that doesn't mean I won't disagree and ask questions, especially when it looks like you might have missed something. A writer needs a level of both arrogance and humbleness, humbleness to listen to other but arrogance not to let them walk all over him and to make the final decisions for himself. I have listened to many suggestions, even those I defended against. Thank you for your help, please stop implying I'm ignoring you when there have been many examples of me caving in, plus, your the first and only post, as of yet I haven't seen if this is everyone's reaction, so yeah, I'm going to question it. Your not infallible, just like I'm not.

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "'Get to it,' she snapped" I worry that this new POV character is going to be as abrasive as Q, but I'll withhold judgement for the moment. I mean, I'd be annoyed if someone woke me up from my nap too.

Pg 1, " his irises were pure red instead of his entire eye" Confused. Does this mean species P have solid red eyes?

Pg 1, "You’re not even trying." Trying what? To scare the employees worse or to pretend to be happy? Or something else?

Pg 1, " I barely have a week of time off" V's motivation: to actually relax. What's going to do wrong to prevent that?

Pg 2, "we would just bring C in and hunt him again?" Who? What is C? Some kind of spiritual tracker?

Pg 2, "Didn’t want to waste the souls." Powers supported by souls? Nice. Where do the souls come from? Random people, criminals? If she didn't want to waste them, that hints at a touch of humanity. How many souls does it take to fight? If Q was so important, why was she unwilling to use souls on the risk of losing Q? What is she willing to use souls for, then?

Pg 2, "He’ll be executed publicly" Lies ;) 

 Pg 2, "Now I believe we are almost at your quarters." Rather on the nose, unless they've never been on this ship before? I mean, I never say to my best friend, "Gee, we're almost to my apartment!" when we've both been there a million times. Pretty sure both V and E have been here before.

Pg 3, "I see you only a few times a year." Talk about a long distance relationship.

Pg 3, "Her skin color went back to normal" Normal as in chocolate colored? Confused.

V is already more intriguing and empathic than Q. She's hard on the outside, but soft for her wife. Assumablely, she's good at what she does (fight?) but not perfect (got beat by Q). She has a weakness (her wife) that is relatable (most readers have felt some kind of love) with a good, if-temporary motivation (have a good time with her wife). 

Pg 4, "I’ve explained this before" If you've never heard of "maid and butler" dialogue, this is a perfect time to learn.

A quiet chapter. Not much happened, but it was a rather breath of fresh air compared to action action action. Plently more allusions with no explanations, but at this point I think proper re-introductions might be in order for many things. Having a reader intrigued and wanting more is good. Having a reader confused and feeling like everything is happening around them without involving them is not good. Points for giving description on setting.

If I'm rooting for Q to hang, then I'll be disappointed if C dies.

Pg 7, "She quickly wore her mask" Wait, hold up, I thought the mask earlier was metaphorical. Apparently she actually wears a mask. Why? What does it look like?

Pg 8, "his space powers" With all of your creativity and vivid imagination, I know you can do better than "space powers."

Pg 8, “Morning requires the sun to be up.” Okay, this chapter is moving incredibly slowly. I'm skimming now. You've shown understanding (although maybe not intentionally?) of "In late, out early" but not here. 

Pg 8, "your break is ending early." Something is happening? Finally?

Pg 9, "It’s just a small resistance. Nothing the local forces can’t handle." Resisting what??? The only thing I've seen worth resisting is a bit of poverty (the beggars) and Q, who is a thief anyway. And if the local forces can handle it, then after 400 years you'd think V knew when to shut the door and say, "Shove off, I'm on break with my wife." You don't call in the special forces for a protest the local cops can handle.

I have no clue what the scene with RB was supposed to signify besides, "Look, V's mother-in-law is also a god and wants to be called by her first name." I can already hear Kais going on rants about arc and purpose from when my chapters have fallen in this same hole.

Pg 11, "The shuttle opened to a rain of plasma fire." Good getting in late.

Pg 11, “Um, what’s your rank?” What??? He knows her name, shouldn't he know her rank? I mean, shouldn't everyone know the AoD's rank? Why does it matter anyway???

Pg 12, "she walked between the now slow-moving bolts" So she's willing to use souls to speed up instead of finding cover, but not fight Q?

Aaaaaand nothing is a struggle. Again. You've lost me. There's nothing satisfying in watching a character I have minimal emotional attachment to just wipe out enemy soldiers fighting for...????... with complete ease. I'm skimming, because this is just a play-by-play of her destroying everyone with no worries other than how many souls it takes when people are constantly dying around her. I mean, when I think finally she's at a disadvantage, she just...heals. 

Pg 15, "Pretty sure the local forces can handle that without you." So why are either of you there????

I'm struggling to figure out why whatever M is hiding must be important. Like, why should I care? Doesn't threaten anything as far as I am aware. Despite M's rudeness, V isn't worried about M or the J overthrowing her command. Haven't seen any hints that she doesn't trust her government. 

 

2 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

as of yet I haven't seen if this is everyone's reaction

Well, pay close attention to this reaction: the only reason I am critiquing this is because @Mandamon guilted me into one last try. Right now, I think you've got your walls up so high that we can't truly help you, but I also believe you have the strength and intelligence to improve if you stop treating this writing group like "them vs me." There's a difference between letting people walk all over you and violently swinging any time someone tries to help. Changing the little things won't fix your big issues. I did not want to critique more, because, as I have mentioned before, I believe that your time (and mine) is better well spent fixing the foundations on this open gushing wound rather than continually sticking brightly colored band-aids on it. I don't want to help you slap on band-aids, I want to help you learn how to stitch up this story until you have something so gorgeous that there won't even be a scar.

Instead of asking, "Why should I listen to this person?" maybe you should try instead of, "How can I improve my characters/plot/pacing?" I know you are already doing so - you were trying to listen to Sanderson's lectures, even if they were anxiety-inducing. If someone has a problem is XYZ, why not ask (whether you believe they are right or wrong), "Do you have any resources that can help me learn to get better?" Because no matter how good something can be now, it can always be improved. Look at Sanderson: a $6 million dollar author who is continually fighting to improve himself and his work, even though all he would have to do is pump out the same old things to continue making the big bucks. I'm willing to help you with resources, with education. I replied to the Lounge with some alternatives to Sanderson's lectures, remember? 

When it comes to @Robinski, @kais, @shatteredsmooth@Mandamon, and @Silk, when they speak, you take notes. Why? Because they have the experience to actually know what they are talking about. Because they've lived in your shoes, and mine, and have more experience than either of us have in our pinky finger combined. Does this mean that they are always correct? No. But 98% of the time they are, especially when they are all saying the same things. I am not saying worship them, I am saying to be mindful, because the last thing you want to do is alienate the best teachers here. I am here to learn. You are here to learn. Let's learn together, yes?

Edited by Snakenaps
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4 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Must everything move the plot forward?

Yes. If it doesn't advance the plot in one way or another, why is it in there?

4 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

There is a reason, but it's kept secret from her. That's why she wants to know what's happening to the targets.

That's fine, but the reader still needs to know the reason. Otherwise why would we keep reading?

3 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

I'm not sure how much is a problem of preference or writing.

These are the same problems multiple, published writers on this forum have pointed out over and over. If you don't want our help, why post at all? I can tell you straight up if you responded to an agent like this they'd drop you faster than you could blink. Same with any publisher that isn't a vanity press.

2 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

your the first and only post, as of yet I haven't seen if this is everyone's reaction

Because many of us aren't willing to crit your work anymore. Your defensiveness is deeply off-putting, much like your characters. Is it credentials you need or something? Mandamon is a successful published author with reviews from major journals. I'm agented and also published in both fiction and nonfiction. My science fiction has won awards and been an Amazon bestseller multiple times. One of my books broke the top 200 of books on Amazon across their entire catalogue.

We are saying the same thing. We are not hobbyists. This is not an echo chamber like the Creator's Corner. We know what we are doing in the SFF world, at least enough so to help guide new writers to help get them through the gates of publishing/agenting. There are significant problems with your writing, and you are too defensive about critiques.  

Now, if publication is not what you are seeking, and you are writing just for your own pleasure, this is entirely different. We would critique differently if so. If that is the case, please let us know and we can adapt accordingly. Giving helpful readability tips for personal, fun writing is very different than trying to help someone get a manuscript in shape for eventual submission.

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1 minute ago, kais said:

Yes. If it doesn't advance the plot in one way or another, why is it in there?

To Develop characters, which is another way of moving the plot, in a sense. You can have chapters that focus on different things, like character, world-building, that kind of stuff. It's not like it has no purpose.

 

3 minutes ago, kais said:

Because many of us aren't willing to crit your work anymore. Your defensiveness is deeply off-putting, much like your characters. Is it credentials you need or something? Mandamon is a successful published author with reviews from major journals. I'm agented and also published in both fiction and nonfiction. My science fiction has won awards and been an Amazon bestseller multiple times. One of my books broke the top 200 of books on Amazon across their entire catalogue.

We are saying the same thing. We are not hobbyists. This is not an echo chamber like the Creator's Corner. We know what we are doing in the SFF world, at least enough so to help guide new writers to help get them through the gates of publishing/agenting. There are significant problems with your writing, and you are too defensive about critiques.  

Now, if publication is not what you are seeking, and you are writing just for your own pleasure, this is entirely different. We would critique differently if so. If that is the case, please let us know and we can adapt accordingly. Giving helpful readability tips for personal, fun writing is very different than trying to help someone get a manuscript in shape for eventual submission.


I challenge suggestions, but I do cave in when I see it will improve things overall. And the reason I'm defensive is that, three subs in, I get a suggestion, I decide I don't think it would be for the best, and you all start saying that I never listen to you despite me having listened to previous suggestions. I'm immediately told my character is highly unlikable and uninteresting, something none of the other people I have reading the book have said, giving me reason to pause and not just blindly listen, something you seem to expect me to do.

Yes, you guys have credentials, but that isn't why I don't think your suggestions are right for what I'm doing. I consider them all equally, I don't just disregard it. Me responding means I'm not disregarding it, because then I wouldn't respond, I would just not do it.

And it kinda does feel like an echo chamber. You all have decided certain things are wrong and can't be done, like how I can't start with a fairly immoral character. I plan on publishing, and I take your advice gratefully. Whether or not implement advice should be my choice, though, and It feels like you are just wanting me to blindly listen, as any time I have voiced concerns, I have been dog pilled for not listening, despite me keeping an open ear with plenty of other suggestions. I have heard your other suggestions and taken them to heart. 

*Sigh* Anyways, I think I'm only going to do one more sub here for this book, which does answer a lot of things that have been referenced. I've planned on working on a fantasy series, so maybe I'll sub that eventually. Perhaps that will be more to your liking.

 

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36 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

To Develop characters,which is another way of moving the plot, in a sense. You can have chapters that focus on different things, like character, world-building, that kind of stuff. It's not like it has no purpose.

 

 

I challenge suggestions, but I do cave in when I see it will improve things overall. And the reason I'm defensive is that, three subs in, I get a suggestion, I decide I don't think it would be for the best, and you all start saying that I never listen to you despite me having listened to previous suggestions. I'm immediately told my character is highly unlikable and uninteresting, something none of the other people I have reading the book have said, giving me reason to pause and not just blindly listen, something you seem to expect me to do.

Yes, you guys have credentials, but that isn't why I don't think your suggestions are right for what I'm doing. I consider them all equally, I don't just disregard it. Me responding means I'm not disregarding it, because then I wouldn't respond, I would just not do it.

And it kinda does feel like an echo chamber. You all have decided certain things are wrong and can't be done, like how I can't start with a fairly immoral character. I plan on publishing, and I take your advice gratefully. Whether or not implement advice should be my choice, though, and It feels like you are just wanting me to blindly listen, as any time I have voiced concerns, I have been dog pilled for not listening, despite me keeping an open ear with plenty of other suggestions. I have heard your other suggestions and taken them to heart. 

*Sigh* Anyways, I think I'm only going to do one more sub here for this book, which does answer a lot of things that have been referenced. I've planned on working on a fantasy series, so maybe I'll sub that eventually. Perhaps that will be more to your liking.

 

It literally has nothing to do with the story. I actually think it's an interesting story, and I want to see what you do with it. Its imaginative, and it's obvious you've put a lot of thought into the world building. 

But Its stuff like this^^^^ that makes me not want to do critiques anymore. It has nothing to do with the storyline. Sure, I dont particularly like q, but that's just my preference.  IT IS ALL ABOUT YOUR REACTIONS THUS FAR. everytime someone has brought something up, you have tried to argue against that point. THE ABOVE POST IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS. I dont want to critique because I know you will just argue whatever points I bring up. It appears this is the general feeling of everyone on this forum at this point. You've already been lectured a lot about this, so I wont say much, but please please please please please just stop and think before you post to argue someone's points. We dont care if you've caved or not, or even if you implement any of the changes we suggest. That's all up to you. We do care when you try to argue with us because it makes us feel as if our time has been wasted. 

I think this story has a lot of promise. But I doubt you will see many people critiquing any of your work until your attitude changes. 

And no offense, but you subbed this in the creators corner, where you are friends with many of the people there. Im guessing this is where the other readers you are referencing are from. Thats a bit like trying to get critiques from your family. That's what makes it like an echo chamber. They will just repeat the things you already think about it. However if PROFESSIONAL EXPERTS repeat something, it's worth taking a look at. 

 

I will ignore your response if you quote this post to argue against it. 

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37 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

And it kinda does feel like an echo chamber. You all have decided certain things are wrong and can't be done, like how I can't start with a fairly immoral character. I plan on publishing, and I take your advice gratefully. Whether or not implement advice should be my choice, though, and It feels like you are just wanting me to blindly listen, as any time I have voiced concerns, I have been dog pilled for not listening, despite me keeping an open ear with plenty of other suggestions. I have heard your other suggestions and taken them to heart. 

Ultimately it is up to you, but if you feel so strongly about this, this might not be the writing group for you. What works for one person may not fit another, and that's okay. There may be another match out there that suits you better. It's kind of like dating, no? There's no harm in realizing there is no chemistry and that you can find your perfect match elsewhere. 

Again, up to you, but I compiled a list of writing groups that you may be able to better suited audience at:

Absolute Write Water Cooler 

Critique Circle

Chronicles

TheNextBigWriter

DestructiveReaders (and other writing groups on Reddit)

Scribophile

Critters Writers Workshop

The Internet Writing Workshop

There's also a million Facebook groups as well.

 

Happy writing! 

 

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24 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

Ultimately it is up to you, but if you feel so strongly about this, this might not be the writing group for you. What works for one person may not fit another, and that's okay. There may be another match out there that suits you better. It's kind of like dating, no? There's no harm in realizing there is no chemistry and that you can find your perfect match elsewhere. 

Again, up to you, but I compiled a list of writing groups that you may be able to better suited audience at:

Absolute Write Water Cooler 

Critique Circle

Chronicles

TheNextBigWriter

DestructiveReaders (and other writing groups on Reddit)

Scribophile

Critters Writers Workshop

The Internet Writing Workshop

There's also a million Facebook groups as well.

 

Happy writing! 

 

have you personally posted in these? If so, mind telling me a bit about them?

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5 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

have you personally posted in these? If so, mind telling me a bit about them?

I have not personally, mostly because I was never looking for a writing group. I stumbled into this one completely on accident, because I was a fan of Mistborn and Writing Excuses. But I can tell you what I've found about each group:

Absolute Write Water Cooler  - With over 68,000 members, this is a large and highly active community. Here you can find threads on every genre imaginable, as well as discussions about freelance writing, the publishing industry, pop culture, writing prompts and exercises, and much more.

Critique Circle - Feedback should be a vital part of any writer’s process, and this is exactly what Critique Circle offers. This members-only site allows authors to post stories in exchange for feedback on other people’s writing. You can also find storyboarding tools, writing prompts, workshops, name generators, games like hangman, and much more.

Chronicles - As the world’s largest Science Fiction and Fantasy online community, Chronicles offers writers the opportunity to get together and discuss the latest books, news, and pop culture in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy world. This is an active community with thousands of threads that include genre-specific challenges, workshops, critiques, and even publishing and industry information.

TheNextBigWriter - This is an international forum where writers can receive feedback on their writing and support on every other part of the creative process from drafting to publishing and marketing. The critiques are often thorough and many come from published authors. Keep in mind that there is a monthly cost associated with the membership, but it might be worth it to be able to bend the ear of published authors.

Scribophile - One of the largest communities in the world, Scribophile offers workshops, tutorials, and critiques for authors in just about any genre imaginable. While it is free to join, only users who pay for a membership get access to all their features.

Critters Writers Workshop - The ultimate goal of Critters is to help improve your craft, not only by having your work dissected by other members, but also by learning to dissect your own work (by, of course, dissecting others). The value of the latter is often overlooked by beginners.

The Internet Writing Workshop - A set of mailing lists (groups) that communicate in English by email. A community where writers can submit and critique written works, a forum to discuss and get help on all aspects of writing, and a public service educational organization, staffed by volunteers and free of charge. The Workshop is open to all styles and genres of writing: literary fiction, genre fiction, poetry, children's writing, essays, newspaper articles, scripts, you name it. Members do not need to be published writers, only to be serious about writing and about wanting to improve. Because some of the posted material may be controversial or adult in nature, all members must be 18 years or older.

Reddit (warning for content, this website is really screwy in certain circles):

r/writing — for general writing purposes.
r/writingprompts — for user-submitted writing prompts.
r/destructivereaders — beware, if you don’t like harsh criticism this may not be the best fit. But if you are willing to endure it, you will come out a better writer at the end.
r/worldbuilding — user submitted fiction worlds.
r/fantasywriters — for anybody interested in the fantasy genre.
r/characterforge — the place to be for character building.
r/writerchat — for those interested in talking with fellow writers.
r/selfpublish — for anybody interested in self-publishing.
r/logophilia — “the love of words and word games,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find here.
r/freelanceWriters — for anybody interested in a career in freelance writing.
r/books — because reading is just as important as writing if you want to be a successful author.

I avoid Facebook for everything except for model horse auctions, but I found 22 Online Writing Groups on Facebook

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6 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

Must everything move the plot forward? The chapter is building their character and relationship. And I doubt you'd care about plot if you didn't know anything about the characters.

Ideally, most if not all of your scenes will be doing double or triple duty to move the plot and build character, relationships, setting, etc. In this case, though, the first 6 chapters have provided a lot of action scenes, but not an overarching sense of plot thus far, i.e. the central conflict (even if in broad strokes) and why it matters. So being able to move things forward at the same time as establishing character and relationship is important, even more so here because it's something that I as a reader feel like I've been lacking so far in the first 6 chapters.

6 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

And I doubt you'd care about plot if you didn't know anything about the characters.

True, but I am also going to have difficulty caring about the characters when I don't have the sense that they are going to be tested by the plot.

5 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

but it's kept secret from her.

Something to consider in moving the plot forward is how to provide more information to the readers even when the characters don't have the full picture yet. A beginning where the characters don't understand what is happening yet can certainly work if readers have a better understanding of the bigger picture, but right now we have characters with incomplete information and no way to widen the scope.

58 minutes ago, Aspiring Writer said:

You all have decided certain things are wrong and can't be done, like how I can't start with a fairly immoral character.

Nobody has said that you can't start with an immoral character. What I've said, and an experience that others on this forum are saying they've also had (personally, I rarely read others' critiques until I've written my own) is that I find this character both a. unlikeable, which is not necessarily a problem, and b. if this were not a critique group setting, a barrier to continuing to read your book, which is a problem. There are multiple ways you can address that, one of which might be starting with a different character, one of which might be making this character more likeable. But there are other solutions, like giving us more reasons to care about him. It's even possible the solution might be leaving Q as-is, which is fine if you can reduce the other barriers that your readers experience enough to make putting with Q, in their taste, worth it. Are there really cool powers that some people might be willing to read for? Then let's see them more clearly on the page, enough that we can understand and appreciate them. Is a really clever, dramatic, or otherwise compelling plot that will drag us forward even if we don't like one or more of the POV characters? Then let's see it. Same is true in reverse - people might be just fine starting with an amoral character but will experience significant barriers because they can't sink their teeth into what the plot is.

1 hour ago, Aspiring Writer said:

and It feels like you are just wanting me to blindly listen,

It's not that there is one true solution that everyone who is responding to your work thinks you should implement, but the fact that everyone here is experiencing your book in a similar way should suggest that there are things in your manuscript you should take a look at. We tend to avoid being prescriptive on here precisely because it is the writer's job to figure out how to deal with the advice that you get, which can mean a lot of different things.

There are two major areas where I get frustrated reading people responding to critiques. One is when people start being argumentative.

You've said that you "challenge" critiques. I try to assume everyone is acting in good faith, but when I read your responses to critiques it often does read like an argument. If you are getting advice that you really, truly don't think will work for your story, ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by responding to tell us that it won't work. Did somebody misread something? Maybe they misread it, or maybe you weren't clear enough. Does the information come up later? It may, but that doesn't mean it isn't a problem for the reader right now. Maybe it is something that can be foreshadowed, or a lantern hung on it, or maybe it really a minor thing that somebody could read over in a published book. But responding to someone to tell them why the thing they've identified isn't a problem, instead of drilling down deeper into why it's an issue for them or even if it's something that needs to be addressed in that particular moment - as most of us are striving to give the most complete picture of our experience of the ms that we can - quickly becomes off-putting, and makes me want to spend less time on my critiques; after all, if the writer frequently responds to say they already thought of that, do they really need my input?

The second thing that often causes me a lot of frustration is watching people who read the advice but don't seem to want to take it, or when it seems like someone is only willing to address the easy fixes. I know you've changed things in response to comments on here - and that's great, I'm glad they were helpful. But when someone is only responding to the small or easy things I start to wonder why I'm spending time trying to provide advice or reactions on the big-picture problems. You've said things like changing Q's personality would be a huge change to the story and be a huge amount of work... but inevitably, I or someone else will identify something that will be a lot of work to change. That is literally impossible to avoid in the writing and revising process. You've also said on at least a couple of occasions that something will be addressed in later chapters, and I am sure that all things you do mention as "coming up later" will actually do so, but sometimes in order for the thing that comes up later to work right, it needs to be addressed structurally and systemically, and dismissing it as something that will be explained later reads as an unwillingness to do that work.

It may be that I've totally misjudged your responses, and it happens! I hope that I have, and that you're taking this all to heart and finding it helpful. But I have no way to judge that other than by what I see here on the forum, and I'd be lying if I said it hasn't made me feel a bit hesitant about how I spend my time. So, while I won't claim to speak for anyone other than myself, perhaps my experience can help provide a little insight into why you're getting some pushback.

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17 minutes ago, Silk said:

Ideally, most if not all of your scenes will be doing double or triple duty to move the plot and build character, relationships, setting, etc. In this case, though, the first 6 chapters have provided a lot of action scenes, but not an overarching sense of plot thus far, i.e. the central conflict (even if in broad strokes) and why it matters. So being able to move things forward at the same time as establishing character and relationship is important, even more so here because it's something that I as a reader feel like I've been lacking so far in the first 6 chapters.

True, but I am also going to have difficulty caring about the characters when I don't have the sense that they are going to be tested by the plot.

Something to consider in moving the plot forward is how to provide more information to the readers even when the characters don't have the full picture yet. A beginning where the characters don't understand what is happening yet can certainly work if readers have a better understanding of the bigger picture, but right now we have characters with incomplete information and no way to widen the scope.

Nobody has said that you can't start with an immoral character. What I've said, and an experience that others on this forum are saying they've also had (personally, I rarely read others' critiques until I've written my own) is that I find this character both a. unlikeable, which is not necessarily a problem, and b. if this were not a critique group setting, a barrier to continuing to read your book, which is a problem. There are multiple ways you can address that, one of which might be starting with a different character, one of which might be making this character more likeable. But there are other solutions, like giving us more reasons to care about him. It's even possible the solution might be leaving Q as-is, which is fine if you can reduce the other barriers that your readers experience enough to make putting with Q, in their taste, worth it. Are there really cool powers that some people might be willing to read for? Then let's see them more clearly on the page, enough that we can understand and appreciate them. Is a really clever, dramatic, or otherwise compelling plot that will drag us forward even if we don't like one or more of the POV characters? Then let's see it. Same is true in reverse - people might be just fine starting with an amoral character but will experience significant barriers because they can't sink their teeth into what the plot is.

It's not that there is one true solution that everyone who is responding to your work thinks you should implement, but the fact that everyone here is experiencing your book in a similar way should suggest that there are things in your manuscript you should take a look at. We tend to avoid being prescriptive on here precisely because it is the writer's job to figure out how to deal with the advice that you get, which can mean a lot of different things.

There are two major areas where I get frustrated reading people responding to critiques. One is when people start being argumentative.

You've said that you "challenge" critiques. I try to assume everyone is acting in good faith, but when I read your responses to critiques it often does read like an argument. If you are getting advice that you really, truly don't think will work for your story, ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by responding to tell us that it won't work. Did somebody misread something? Maybe they misread it, or maybe you weren't clear enough. Does the information come up later? It may, but that doesn't mean it isn't a problem for the reader right now. Maybe it is something that can be foreshadowed, or a lantern hung on it, or maybe it really a minor thing that somebody could read over in a published book. But responding to someone to tell them why the thing they've identified isn't a problem, instead of drilling down deeper into why it's an issue for them or even if it's something that needs to be addressed in that particular moment - as most of us are striving to give the most complete picture of our experience of the ms that we can - quickly becomes off-putting, and makes me want to spend less time on my critiques; after all, if the writer frequently responds to say they already thought of that, do they really need my input?

The second thing that often causes me a lot of frustration is watching people who read the advice but don't seem to want to take it, or when it seems like someone is only willing to address the easy fixes. I know you've changed things in response to comments on here - and that's great, I'm glad they were helpful. But when someone is only responding to the small or easy things I start to wonder why I'm spending time trying to provide advice or reactions on the big-picture problems. You've said things like changing Q's personality would be a huge change to the story and be a huge amount of work... but inevitably, I or someone else will identify something that will be a lot of work to change. That is literally impossible to avoid in the writing and revising process. You've also said on at least a couple of occasions that something will be addressed in later chapters, and I am sure that all things you do mention as "coming up later" will actually do so, but sometimes in order for the thing that comes up later to work right, it needs to be addressed structurally and systemically, and dismissing it as something that will be explained later reads as an unwillingness to do that work.

It may be that I've totally misjudged your responses, and it happens! I hope that I have, and that you're taking this all to heart and finding it helpful. But I have no way to judge that other than by what I see here on the forum, and I'd be lying if I said it hasn't made me feel a bit hesitant about how I spend my time. So, while I won't claim to speak for anyone other than myself, perhaps my experience can help provide a little insight into why you're getting some pushback.

I'm... argumentative by nature. I like to debate things, it's entertaining to me, and Find it energizing/engaging. It's both gift and a curse, for a lack of better phrasing, and I've try to improve upon my instinct to discuss things. I assumed this would be a place where I could have discussions, and clearly, I was wrong. I don't plan on messaging back on any Subs I post except for an opinion on a solution to a problem they pointed out. I have taken your guys' advice and it's been in the back of my brain for the past few weeks, turning over time and time again as I wonder what I could do while keeping it intact. My arguing is partly me trying to understand the complaint and to see how valid it is in case you missed something (That one is partly do to my not typing what I'm thinking and not realizing it's not there and being confused). I don't plan on subbing this after the next one, and I don't plan on responding to your critiques any longer.

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

 I assumed this would be a place where I could have discussions

Generally speaking, I'm happy to have discussions, clarify critiques, answer questions, brainstorm, try to weigh in on whether a particular solution you're working on or a particular payoff down the line might work for me, that sort of thing. But I can't debate someone's story with them; all I can do is tell someone what I experienced and it's up to them to address it.

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15 minutes ago, Silk said:

 

Generally speaking, I'm happy to have discussions, clarify critiques, answer questions, brainstorm, try to weigh in on whether a particular solution you're working on or a particular payoff down the line might work for me, that sort of thing. But I can't debate someone's story with them; all I can do is tell someone what I experienced and it's up to them to address it.

True. I'm sure there are ways to take the topic and debate it, like benefits of doing something rather than that or something along those lines, which would be an interesting conversation, but I see what you mean.

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6 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 7, "She quickly wore her mask" Wait, hold up, I thought the mask earlier was metaphorical. Apparently she actually wears a mask. Why? What does it look like?

Okay, I'm really sorry, but this is nagging me. 

Quote

She had a black mask that covered the lower half of her face up to her nose, with an intricate white design painted on it.

That was in the previous chapter. I just wanted to point it out, it's keeping me from sleeping, and I have to wake up early tomorrow.

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7 hours ago, Aspiring Writer said:

That was in the previous chapter. I just wanted to point it out, it's keeping me from sleeping, and I have to wake up early tomorrow

Thanks for pointing this out. With the introduction of so many different characters with so many powers last week, this one little detail flew over my head since a possessive spirit grabbed more of my attention.

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Diving back in on the basis that a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and I'm interested in the debate.

(page 1)

Chapter 7

- "blocked it from reaching the co-pilot, causing him to squint" - Why would her blocking the light cause him to squint? He would be in her shadow.

- "mentally rolling her eyes" - Awkward. Why doesn't she just roll her eyes? Sounds like she doesn't care about his feelings. Rolling her eyes, in her head (as it were), is really quite awkward. In other news, I like her voice, her lack of patience with others. Good character trait to create conflict.with those around her.

- "and his irises were pure red instead of his entire eye" - I don't quite follow. So it's normal for the entire eye to be read? That seems very abnormal.

 - Once page in, and I still like her voice, also the easy relationship she has with her assistance. The fear she strikes into others is fun too. I'm picking this up here anew after ducking out of the last sub, so this is my introduction to V, for what it's worth.

(page 2)

- "He surprised me" - It's a bit surprising that, given how scary she is to everyone else, this assistant of her's seems to have carte blanche to speak to her however he wants. She almost seems deferential to him. it's surprising, but it makes me think there must be hidden depths to this relationship . He does not talk to her like an assistant to a boss.

- "their quarters" - Repetition of 'quarters' is kind of awkward. E says it's her quarters, then she thinks of it as their quarters. A bit contradictory.

- I'll note this again, when you have sentences that have more than one person referred to by the same pronoun (she/her in this instance) it's awkward to tell who is who. Much clearer to use the name's more. I've done some LBL (line-by-line) comments in the Word file and will email it back to you, just to illustrate what I'm talking about.

- "reminded her of chocolate" - Beware of colour-coding people of colour. There is guidance on this to avoid causing offence. It can be found easily enough by searching on the Net. Coding POC by food colours is offence to some people.

- I'm curious how V knows it's C, if C has changed her appearance totally, and apparently can change her species?!

- "enjoying the pleasant scent" - What is the scent? When there's a gilt-edged opportunity to add to the immersion of the reader by providing input from another sense, I'd advise you to take it. It really does add a dimension to the scene if the reader can imagine using another sense than sight.

- Not sure I follow why V is annoyed with the kiss. Was she expecting C to throw her on the ground and ravish her? Also, wow, C is really condescending.

(page 3)

- "a peck on the cheek" - Nom really confused now. She's annoyed with a kiss on the lips, but a kiss on the cheek makes her feel better?

- A bigger issue for me is the inconsistency in V's response to those around her. Everyone's terrified of her, but her assistant speaks like her boss, and V turns into a pussy cat under the gaze of her friend. Kind of undermines her reputation for dominating everyone else, but I'll play along for now.

- "As I believe your lovely wife pointed out" - Oh, okay. That explains much of what was puzzling me. You don't need to keep everything from the reader. Mixing it up can involve just coming out and revealing stuff straight away. For example, I don't think this scene would have played much differently if E had just said, 'Your wife is waiting for you," when they were approaching the quarters.

- "large of amounts of gases" - So, how is the illumination produced?

- "Her skin color went back to normal" - Ooh, another skin tone alert. What is normal skin tone? I'd make it clear here that you're referring to C's normal skin tone. In fact, I wouldn't use the word 'normal'; maybe something like 'C's habitual alabaster', or whatever it is.

- "She blushed, embarrassed" - Who did?

(page 4)

- "One of the mining families is about to go under" - Why? Where? How does this matter? How does a family go under? I presume it means their business will go under.

- "fear does more to increase tensions than it does lessen them" - No kidding. V comes over a bit dense not to know/realise that.

- "was that her?" - LOL, unexpected.

(page 5)

- "Some things don’t go away." - Hmm, we've just been hearing about how a portion of V's memories go away. The argument seems a bit circular.

- "calm the shaky waters" - Odd phrasing. I'd say a more typical phrase would be 'rough waters', or some such.

- How do you distinguish a dark square and a dark line? The description of the is not especially evocative.

(page 6)

- The last line is weak to end the chapter on. I get that it's a fade to black moment, but it needs to have more of a kick to it. It doesn't need to be suggestive or lascivious, but just to evoke something more in terms of implying the passion that follows (presumably). For example, by way of illustration, something like 'V engaged the privacy screen so that they would not be disturbed until morning' works better, I think. It implies movement of the narrative on to the next day, and also that they will be doing something that they don't want to be disturbed in. I think that's different from what sounds more like a security angle (no one entering).

Chapter 8 

- Okay, the last chapter was passingly engaging in terms of the relationship between V and C, but nothing else happened. There was some dialogue, personal tension between them. Okay, we learned a few details about the political situation, but there was little to engage my interest in the overall plot.

What is the story about? What are the themes? What are the ideas, the mysteries, the conflicts that I am supposed to be picking up on, and intrigued to wind how they play out? In the same way as for Q, V's motivations are largely hidden from me. It's frustrating. 

(page 7)

- "was only wearing a coat" - How would the maid know that if V was wearing the coat?

- Style: "She looked at what C got for her" - I'm still trying to get to the bottom of why the narrative leaves me pretty cold. I ramble on about it in my overall notes below, but here is an example. Every word on the page needs to word as hard as possible to engage the reader, preferably doing multiple duty in terms of proving colour, information, maybe some background, foreshadowing, etc. This sentence here is just one example. These words do very little. You don't need to tell us that V looks at the package, the reader is going to assume that without you saying it. So, if you replaced this with 'She opened the package' we can move quickly on to what is inside, which is the interesting bit. I feel like there are a lot of sentences and clause like this, that add very little. I know this is polishing stuff, but if you have it in mind when writing it makes editing easier.

(page 8)

- "He started picking up the dust from the room" - I'm losing patience with this chapter. I am literally reading a chapter about someone dusting a room. 

- "Morning requires the sun to be up" - Manifestly untrue. Morning starts at 00:01, technically.

- "putting up some resistance" - Resistance to what? Is there are war on? I might have missed this in the bit I skipped.

- "this is taking up some of my break" - E said her break was ending early. "No, it was not mentioned" - contradicts what he said before.

(page 9)

- "You know you don’t mean that..." - There is very little happening in this. Very little of these exchanges is moving the plot forward. I get some personal stuff, that's fine, and I do like a chapter full of personal interaction, I don't mind an interlude from time to time, but these exchanges feel...shallow to me, in the sense that there is nothing surprising here, wife doesn't want her wife to go, wife is doing her duty. Fine, but it doesn't take a whole chapter to tell this, can be wrapped up neatly in a paragraph and still convey the emotion, the personal baggage.

- "she said defensively" - This is not convincing to me. This guy is a servant, but they are being all deferential towards. These are feared and powerful women. The fact they they are so placating and timid around a male servant is not a good look from a gender viewpoint, IMO.

- Accuracy in phrasing: "The sun is starting to rise" - The sun doesn't start to rise, it is moving continuously across the heavens. I guess you could say that dawn has begun, but this sounds to me like the sun is stationary, and then starts to move at a particular time. Something simple like 'The sun is rising' gets over what I think is awkward phrasing.

(page 10)

- "This is your week off" - got to say this sounds kind of ludicrous to me. Superheroes and super-villains (not sure which these are) don't get holidays, annual leave or weeks off. 

- "You’re also a god" - I'm coming back to what is described previously as shallowness. Comments like this are made as throw-away lines. They don't have any power because, IMO, they're not backed by any depth of character, or action, showing us that someone has the power and influence. 'Don't put yourself out, mother-in-law. I know you're a god, but it's fine. I'll finish my holiday later.' I've got to say it reads kind of like a soap opera this chapter, and doesn't engage me with the characters because nothing important is happening.

(page 11)

- "She walked back into the C building, and V boarded the shuttle" - I would encourage you to look at the last lines in chapter of the books that your read and study what they are doing, the impact that they have. This last line, and the one before, I think are pretty weak. They don't grab me and push me into the next chapter. It's like the chapter just stops. I'm not saying have a cliffhanger every chapter, that would be a whole other issue, but the reader needs a zinger, or a hanging thought, something with a bit of punch to make them excited for the next chapter. I'm just not getting that.

Chapter 9 

- "V Consumed souls" - Wait., where do these souls come from? Do the people fighting just fall over an die? Maybe this is covered in the bit I skipped, in which case, my bad. But this line seems kind of flippant to me. This is verging back into the difficult we had with Q, in that there seems to be no cost to V in using her ability. I feel again that we're going into a scenario where everything is too easy for her.

- I get some description of the outpost buildings, which is okay if a bit cursory, but I don't understand the context of the setting. Is it desert like Tatooine, ice like Hoth, are we in Mirkwood, the plains of Rohan? Need a little more context in order to picture the scene. With visual context of setting it hard to conjure an image, I think the reader's mind tend to just play events across a beige background, which lessens the impact of those events, IMO. I think this is another aspect of lack of depth. Almost like reading the skeleton of a story.

- "They technically outrank everyone" - Tense and narrative voice issue. This is present tense, and so lands with a clang. Narrative should be consistent.

- "they were outside the command chain" - I....don't know what to do with this. How on earth does that work? They work for gods, but have no rank? I'm lost. Also, this guy is a solider, a commander: his discipline is shockingly bad.

(page 12)

- "can’t use much deadly force" - Similarly issue, I feel that this is a throw-away line about deadly force: can't use much, just a little bit of deadly force. It kind if undersell the concept of deadly force.

- "she increased her Consumption of souls" - Again, don't not where this power is coming from, and it seem limitless, therefore is less engaging.

- "Consuming souls for strength" - just this one? Also, number of souls are limited. How many does she consume at once? Lot of unknowns.

(page 13)

- "got out of" - How? This is what I'm talking about lack of style, or colour, of description.

- "The enemy saw her and started shooting" - The enemy saw her before, because they were aiming at her. This is a continuity issue. Why did they not shoot her straight away, never mind calling a retreat?

(page 14)

- "to knock out the rest" - Said it before, this phrasing about knocking people out, at best it's unrealistic. If you smash someone in the head with a weapon or bludgeon, you are not going to be able to judge it precisely enough to cause a little unconsciousness, especially not when hitting multiple people, many people, by the sound of it. There's very grim stuff happening, but it's described in a kind of simplistic way that is not convincing, I'm afraid. I find it hard to be engaged by the combat.

- "a little Mackie girl" - What is this?

- "She tried to sound as unthreatening as possible" - I don't buy this. This hellish destroyer of souls goes all gooey-eyed over the first child she see? It feels really inconsistent.

- "a middle-aged Mackie male" - What is this word? Well, I know what it is, it's a Scottish surname, pronounced 'mack-y'. Are you looking for the word that was the name of the French resistance in WW2? That's Maquis.

- "She just healed" - Too easy, no stakes, no threat. Not interesting, or exciting.

(page 15)

- "Before she could ask what he meant" - But it's completely clear what he meant: they're just kids. What other way is there to interpret that?

- "She ran to meet him" - It's the unevenness in tone. One second she's slaughtering people by the dozen, then she's mooning over a child then, giving up all poise and undermining her rough, tough image, she runs to meet a man (or male god). He some self-respect, for goodness sake.

- "during my time off" - Still kind of weird, and unlikely. 

(page 16)

- "nothing overly traitorous and we did kill a good portion of them" - I'm sorry, but there is a severe nativity about the deception of the situation on the ground here, the politics of oppression, rebellion and the like. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly, but watch the news, if you can find any that isn't about COVID. Al Jazeera and Russia Today are good for reporting things happening in the rest of the world that Western stations never mention. Or, read back about real conflicts in our world. The situation in Syria, parts of Africa. real conflict is complicated, and it most certainly doesn't get wrapped up in a couple of days. Without plausibility there's so little weight or depth to this episode that I don't really get anything from it.

- "They were prisoners" - I've got not time for her taking the morale high ground after slaughter dozens, or hundreds. Also, "Needed a few souls" - One person has one soul, so he'll need to kill quite a few more.

(page 17)

- "ran into M’s ship" - And nobody saw her with the door still open? Seems unlikely.

- See, that's what I'm talking about with last lines of the chapter. This one does what the previous ones did not, it promises me that there is going to be investigating, intrigue, sneaking about, and almost certainly more conflict.

Overall 

- Style: it's important. It's a tool that we should be using as writers to keep the reader engaged. With style comes authorial voice, which is important for building a reputation and a fanbase, for being known in the industry, or at least to being remembered, according to what I've heard, and gleaned from study. Do I remember you mentioning somewhere that this is your first novel? Style and voice are things that come with practice and experience, and more practice. Description, and how you play with imagery, the pictures you conjure in the reader's mind, is a significant part of voice, I would say. I feel that the description is lacking in what I've reader so far.

- Character voice on the other hand is present. I think there's a tendency for some of the main characters to sound similar, but there is definitely a voice there. Not so much yet on the narrative side, I think.

- My biggest problem remains the simplicity of it all. it all happens so easily for these people. Also, none of them are even remotely likeable, so I don't know why I would read on. Who am I supposed to care about and why? What is the goal? Here, at the end of Chapter 9, is the first real hint of some mystery that might carry the weight of the plot forward for any number of pages. Before that there is very little that promises any kind of longer arc, characters trying and failing and trying again.

- Sorry to be downbeat, but I think this has a long way to go to be a novel that would be anywhere near being in a position to market professionally.

Nonetheless, good luck with it. There is a lot of hard work involved in any novel, and any novel is a big learning experience. If it's not then I don't think we're going it right.

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