kais

12/06/2020 - Kais - Pruitcu - Prologue (L) - 2158 words

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L for some swearing that is always present in these books

Long time no sub!

This is a draft zero prologue to book FIVE in the Ard series. It starts a new trilogy, and my goal is to make it accessible to new readers as well as entertaining for old ones. All of you will be missing some backstory, as the world continued to evolve over the last year in the Patreon, so even if you’ve read the first four books, there’s still some events you’ve missed.

Since this is draft zero and I’m still working on the plot, what I most want to know is:

NEW READERS: Is this engaging enough to continue to chapter one? Is it too confusing?

SEASONED READERS: does the prologue have enough new information to keep you interested, even though a lot of it is recap for new readers? Are you excited about a Sal's POV? Is the tone consistent with the other books?

I don’t think I’ll be regularly subbing this book for a while, but I’d like to do the first few chapters just to make sure it’s headed in the right direction, both in plot and tone. 

Thank you all!

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Well, okay then. Here we go.

(page 1)

- I have an awful memory for details, so expect me to forget things that other people remember.

- I don't remember who Sal is. Should I?

- "Yesterday it had exploded" - POW. Great line. Not even so much the explosion, but it taking the whole system with it: ouch!

- Ohhhhh, I remember who Sal is, because you just told me, but with that reminder came various fragments of memories or earlier stuff. Them being imprisoned together, right? Her and Y? By the Ng, right? One of my favourite threads.

(page 2)

- "space edition" - LOL.

- Not doing LBLs. There are things I would comment on, but I'm not doing that at present.

- "perpetual smell" - This doesn't mean bad. I'm not sure what it means. Unclear.

- "clicked her tongue twice" - I don't remember this. She doesn't speak? I thought she did.

(page 3)

- "stuffed with parsley" - Okay, cooking objection. I don't think you would stuff a leg with just parsley. That would not work very well practically, I think. I think it would be more likely to be parsley mousse, for example. Often, using leg meat, a ballotine would be a more practical approach, as the leg isn't really hollow, unless deboned, I suppose, which seems like a lot of work. (I'm knee-deep in Masterchef: The Professionals, and haven't missed a series for 10 years. I like my cheffing!).

- "inability to speak" - yeah, okay, I sort of remember this now. She did try to speak before, didn't see? And managed some rudimentary noises? Maybe I'm conflating this with something else.

- "salamander-tinged parsley" - Eh? But the salamander is the main ingredient, so this is back-to-front. And the word 'tinged' has no place in cooking.

(page 4)

- "PR-----IANS" - That's really awkward.

- "I DO KNOW THAT E’S REACH...WOULD NOT HAVE REACHED" - Awkward repeated word use.

- I don't remember who MP is.

- This page, the message and Sal's reaction in thought is pretty heavily info-dumpy. Gets rather dry after a few lines. I mean, it's interesting, but I can't help feeling that--when characters do this--their voices start to sound the same.

(page 5)

- "her girlfriend At" - again, this feels really tell-y, and sells Ne waaaaay short.

- "Now, three years later" - Massively recappy, in a really 'Previously, on Ard...' way.

- Nicholas and me

(page 6)

- "I don’t want another adventure" - Good line. I like Sal's voice, and I like her plight. I hope her POB is going to continue through this book. Unlike Y, I feel like she has personal stakes. Unlike, Ne/At, she is dealing with issues on a personal level, not on a solar systems level, which in many ways is more compelling.

- "easily four times the size of the and eight times as tall" - The size includes the height. The size takes in all three dimensions. Oh, and love the name of the ship. Very much evocative of Ringworld/Known Space ship names, which I always enjoyed.

- "and planted trees from dozens of worlds, and a few sickly-looking birds busy aiming their excrement on at every alien head" - I'm enjoying this enough that the LBLs are getting quite frustrating. Good sign! I know, I know, Draft 0, but still, (a) what else would the trees be? Not necessary; (b) definitely aim 'at' something, although you could 'draw a bead on' a target.

(page 7)

- "His skin was a dark umber brown, thick and non-translucent" - His skin was thick? This is usually a metaphor for not being sensitive--as I know you know--but used here in a physical description, it's just odd. I understand that there is context here, and that Ard's skin is translucent, and I guess that's her perspective, but it's heard to pick that up from what we've read already. Not sure a new read would pick up the translucence before now.

- "Sal didn’t really understand the difference between those and the beige ones, but did admit, they fit a lot better" - Ergo, she does see the difference.

(page 8)

- "but I think I do want this" - Yup, this is satisfying to me. Happy to follow Sal on her journey and read her as a main POV. It seems to me that the flip-side of that--oh, all right, the corollary--is that we do not need any Y POVs in this story. I think that would detract from Sal's POV, him being rather overbearing; brash; alpha male etc.

- This puddle thing, I don't know how to picture that. I vaguely remember something about this when Y was buying a ship, or components, I think in Book 4(?), and him dealing with such a creature, but I think I need more explanation of this. And if I need more explanation, you can bet a new reader will not pick up how to picture a puddle as a sentient being.

- "went off in search of a puddle to place an order" - This is hugely regressive. Is it not table service, is there not some kind of automated ordering system?

- "pointed at his feet again, then pointed to the ceiling" - I don't get it. "Do you know how to fly?" - Okay, maybe they have this shorthand all worked out, but I don't see any way that, pointing at feet then the ceiling says, 'I want to go on a mission in the ship.'

(page 9)

- "Sal gave him a scrunched-nosed smile" - I like this. I like seeing emotion from her, and I hope to see her a Y getting lovey dovey. I don't mean a sex scene, I mean affection/love. I say that because I remember some of the pretty horrific scenes from their meeting and escape. I think a recap, not in detail, but to give the emotional flavour of the time, would be very beneficial to the new reader. Otherwise, they will not be as invested in Y/Sal as previous readers are, IMO, and that would be a shame.

- "When you find our puddle, double my whiskey order. We need to start stockpiling again" - (a) I'd say something like 'Make my whiskey a triple; (b) I think there's a mixed message here. I sounds exactly like he has ordered a glass of whiskey to drink, not ordering a bottle, as from a shop, to take onto the ship. This is restaurant, not a shop, right?; (c) as a Scotsman, I continue to resent the use of 'whiskey' in these stories, and not 'whisky'. :P 

Overall 

- Very good. By the end, I felt right at home. I wouldn't mind same better, more colourful and engaging description, but I like the emotional weight of being in Sal's POV. I like her voice, and would be happy to follow her as a main thread of the book, I believe that is s promise that has just been made to me, so I will be unhappy if that is not the case.

- Good job. Nothing major. Starting a new book with a fresh POV and different character imperatives is an excellent plan, IMO.

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Hi, (basically) new reader here. :) 

There were definitely a lot of concepts here that pulled me in, the main ones being the race(?) relations with the genocide history, the powers, and how our friend Sal deals with both in relation to each other. I'm not sure how much of that is those being the most fleshed out vs. personal preference, though. 

For me, I think I'd continue reading on because there's a lot of interesting material and it's clearly well-written, but I wouldn't say I'm totally hooked. When I read a prologue, I typically assume that the character isn't going to be a main PoV character, but here I wasn't quite sure in this case because there's a lot going on, narratively. Typically my favorite one-off prologue characters have a clear motivation and a singular strong emotion shining through that is present from start to finish, whereas Sal's feelings and motivations feel a bit more muddled. I think Sal's situation here could be centered around a singular dynamic here, whether that be a goal, question they want to answer, relationship, ect. Right now there's too much for me to focus on, especially if I'm not going to be following this character again for a while (but even if I am going to be focusing on her I still feel this way to a lesser extent). This is prescriptive, but I see a lot of potential to set the focus of this chapter in the first paragraph. I do like the jump from paragraph 1 to 2, but I don't know which character dynamics to follow. 

This also hits at my other main comment here, which is that Sal is living in the past for a lot of this chapter, and it feels a bit expository as a result. I think if the chapter simplifies its focus it can get away with less exposition and instead mention foreign concepts without explaining them and the reader will be able to recognize that they aren't expected to know what they mean yet. I don't feel like I need info dumps this early in the story so long as I understand what the character's basic deal is, even if that means I don't know why she feels the way she does. 

I'll offer these comments about centering a dynamic and reducing exposition about the past both if Sal is going to the the main character vs. a one-off prologue PoV, but I think it's stricter if Sal isn't going to be a main PoV character because then we really don't need to know much about her. 

Good luck editing! 

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Well I haven't read your other stuff (yet) so I guess I'll do the "New Reader" run-through

Overall: In answer to your question, yeah I do think it is a little confusing. There were a lot of proper nouns and a lot of what I'm guessing was recap from the rest of the series, which made it a bit hard to follow. However, the premise itself seems interesting (talking trees? sentient planets? some kind of historical mystery in space? count me in) so if I saw this in a bookstore I would probably just go look for the first book. 

as I go: 

first paragraph: this is very dense 

"yesterday it had..." Oh ok cool! nice hook

"tramp I'm wearing Shoes..." is there supposed to be a period between tramp and I'm? or I'm guessing this is the name of the tramp? Or is it a thought? a little confused here

"S rolled up her" this whole paragraph just feels like summary. 

pg 2 "whiskey on his breath" nice line 

"X years of freedom" is this a roman numeral, or just a placeholder? 

"remained wisps of bipeds" were they once quadrupeds? could they become quadrupeds? the way this is worded is a bit confusing to me

"eleven generation enslavement" oooo this is interesting (in a horrifying way)

"s clicked her tongue" what? is this a code? 

"salamander legs" sounds yummy, in a weird futuristic way

pg 3 "genetically-tinkered" oh

pg 4 "hir" I'm guessing this is a specific pronoun and not a typo

Once again, this page feels like a lot of summary/exposition. All interesting stuff, but it's a lot to take in. 

pg 6 "entire moon of k" why is this highlighted?

pg 8 "I want to uncover" I don't know a lot about this character, but I do think this is a good hook for the rest of the story. 

 

 

 

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Yay! Excited for this!

Fortunately I remember a bit more than @Robinski so I fell right into things. Remembered all the characters right off the bat.

To your questions:

Does the prologue have enough new information to keep you interested, even though a lot of it is recap for new readers? I think the inciting incident is great and definitely enough to make me want to go on another Ard adventure. However, especially with seeing some confusing from new readers, I think you might actually want to take out some of the explanation. Like Robinski, I thought the top of page 5 was a big infodump, and I'm wondering if the place and character names just come across as confusing and something new readers won't remember anyway. Could you introduce just a couple concepts at a time, and spread out the infodumping until it's absolutely needed? I think this stands very well on its own without much backup. Introduce S, Y, N, their relationship, and S is searching for history about her heritage and you're good to go for new readers.

Are you excited about a Sal's POV? Yes! I only made one note on this, in that if S has still refused to change her voicebox, there is going to be a lot of italic direct thoughts in here, and a lot of explaining how she gets concepts across (see my confusion on pg 8). I all here for a person who uses different speech methods, however, I wouldn't want italics as a crutch to get information across, and I'm worried about challenges in communication.

Is the tone consistent with the other books? Definitely. No problems there.

Also, this is a prologue??? From Kais???

So I'll parrot back the same questions as usual...Does it need to be a prologue? Is there a big skip in time after this or change POV, because I'm looking forward to S adventures with Y and N...

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "That was how far back the records went"
--Now I'm wondering what changed to make this happen...

pg 1: "nine sentient species"
--that's a lot!

pg 1: "exploded"
--oops.

pg 1: "luxury tramp I’m Wearing Shoes"
--Lol!

pg 2: "from his head to his face"
--or his back?
--also, the paragraph of description is a bit strange. Like S is thinking about Y, but I don't know why.

pg 2: "They still whispered, even in the middle of space."
--Interesting. I don't remember her hearing them in the books.

pg 5: I feel like this is a bit of an infodump at the top of the page. Yes, we need some placesetting especially if people are coming into this book several years after reading the last trilogy. I think we need the information, but maybe a little more elegantly? This is the first chapter, so I want to be drawn in more by the new story, even if I don't clearly remember the last one.

pg 6: "I don’t want another adventure"
--Ha, S channeling some Bilbo.

pg 8: "I want to uncover my history"
--I'm a bit worried about the amount of italics definite thought that will be in this is S doesn't talk and it's all from her POV.

pg 8: "pointed at his feet again, then pointed to the ceiling."
--I had to read this passage a few times and I'm still not sure what this signifies, especially because it was in relation to Y's feet before. I know what S wants, from the story, but I'm not sure how Y is figuring it out.

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I’ll do some lbl, but i’ll try to focus more on the contents rather than specific details.

 

Overall:

-There’s a lot of information and unfamiliar names in the first chapter–hell, even the first page– and none of it really stuck in my mind. I always glaze over names and technical information like that at first. Though, I guess that's to be expected with any work that you read for the first time. I think you did a good job of hiding the exposition in some places but a lot of it still just whoop went over my head. Let's just say there was a bit of a learning curve that i was not expecting.

-I was super interested in learning about the planet that exploded, you really hooked me with that, but then there was all that talk about Y and more word building and a glimpse of the history of Sal’s species and that's where I started to lose interest.

-I really liked Y, and his interactions with Sal in the last few pages, it all seemed wholesome. 

-this doesn't really feel like a prologue to me, it feels like a first chapter sort of. The whole point of the chapter was to get Sal to take action and go and investigate… or reconnect with old friends… so that she can find out more about her people and that sounds interesting! I’d read all about that. 

I feel like prologues should be snappy and eventful and draw me in, but this didn’t really do all that. I would definitely read on though! I am interested in Sal’s story but this chapter was a bit confusing with all the terms and loads of info and it took me out of it. I think a lot of the information in this chapter can be spaced out further into the story, I don't need to understand everything all at once.

 

Page 1:

-”Yesterday it had exploded,” this is where my interest was first piqued

-”luxury tramp I’m Wearing” this confused me a bit, i think there should be a comma before the tramp’s name... also i had to look up what a tramp was.

-”She shouldn’t have been thinking about… at all” why not? Sounds like a cool planet to me! edit: okay, this is where i got confused and thought you were talking about the P planet first mentioned, but its a different planet, right? Yes. i think.

 

Page 2:

-”thick pinky-yellow,” you mean, like his skin was thick? Can a color be thick?

-”in as much as she understood his view” i had to read over this line a few times. It feels a bit unclear.

-”trees, well. They still whispered,” i feel like this should be one sentence. Also, is she hearing things? Isn't space a vacuum? I guess trees don't talk either so… nevermind :)

-”clicked her tongue twice.” like, “tsk, tsk.”? *wags finger* edit: i got it now… cause she cant speak… makes more sense now.

 

Page 3:

-”salamander legs stuffed with parsley.” ew, parsley. Also, i thought Sal said this at first but now I realize that Y said it.

-”out loud even if she’d wanted to,” oh, can she not speak out loud? Interesting ← this is where i realized the whole, “no talking” thing was literal.

 

Page 5:

-okay, i'll be honest, I glazed over a lot of information until this line, “TO ATONE FOR THE PAST.” the whole paragraph before this didn’t keep me engaged, with all the people mentioned that I don’t know or care for yet. I get the point of the paragraph– to tell us that all her friends became generally successful or are doing things while Sal has nothing going for her, I think. But yeah there was just a lot of info for me.

 

Page 6:

-”a smell that reminded her of the old…” I assume this is an old ship of hers, but the reference lacks the emotion for me that I feel it should have. It might help if you just use what it actually is rather than the specific name of the tramp/ship. 

 

Page 8:

-I guess i'm uncultured because i had to look up what “blowing a raspberry” is lol

 

Page 9:

-”double my whiskey order.” #relatable

Edited by karamel
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Thoughts As I Go:

Pg. 1 – I don’t know how to pronounce this planet and the first thing that pops into my head is ‘fruit-chew’ for some reason, so that’s the pronunciation I’m going with.

Pg. 1 – I assume you’re using the broader version of ‘sentience’ here to refer to any animal with the suspected neural capacity to feel things.

Pg. 1 – As far as ship names go, this is rated at least an 8/10, possibly a 9.

Pg. 2 – I feel like more context is needed here in regards to S’s backstory if you want a first-time reader to understand it.

Pg. 5 – Didn’t the planet blow up? That’s not survivable under normal circumstances unless you’re half a solar system away. Even a satellite in orbit couldn’t survive that, under normal circumstances. It takes a lot of energy to destroy a planet and once it does the fallout is … somewhat sizable. Really depends on how exactly the planet blew. Not that I have experience.

Pg. 6 – Does he literally have enough diamond rounds to buy a solar system? And how much is that exactly? Just curious.

 

Overall:

Well, I always like the hook of exploding planets, given my Star Wars nostalgia, so this is a good hook for me. I’m also (somewhat) familiar with the earlier books in the series if I was reading this as a prologue, I’d move to the next chapter. That said, there’s nothing really that exciting about the it so far. The payout of extra information for S and possibly other ‘genetic kin’ like her is a personal motivation, and like I said earlier, I’m pretty sure everything involved in that planet is dead, so I’m not sure whether is going to be a grand space opera like the previous series was or this is going to be on a smaller scale of S finding herself.

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On 12/7/2020 at 0:55 PM, Robinski said:

- I have an awful memory for details, so expect me to forget things that other people remember.

- I don't remember who Sal is. Should I?

@Robinski I was going to preface mine with the same thing, and I don't really remember S either. 

It's been a while since I read the trilogy. I did not read the collection of shorts. And when I read the trilogy, it was one of those read each book in one or two sitting things so I do not remember quite as much as I would had I critiqued. I remember A, E, Y, and N, but many of the other characters are fuzzy. 

With that being said, here goes my crit:

Through the first paragraph, I was thinking, "okay, it's a planet, so what? Why do I care."

Then I got to "Yesterday, it had exploded" and I was like, yes, I care now. I want to know all about the exploding planet. 

"I'm Wearing Shoes, Dammit" You make the best ship titles. 

"her boyfriend..." Was not expecting a m/f couple in the first chapter in one of your books. 

"determined to die with contraband in his hold and whisky on his breath" okay, now we have voice. 

"survived several wars, a genocide, and the perpetual smell of Y's coffee... The trees, well. They still whispered, even in the middle of space." More good voice lines. 

"A and E will explode my head..." LOL

I want a "gassy bean bag chair"

"N...went off in search..." You left a letter off of his name. 

"before you fly us to..." I loved the exchange between A and Y here, how so much was conveyed without her saying a word. 

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this. It does clearly set up for a plot, but I feel like there is more backstory than anything else, like the narrative was trying very hard to remind of important things I may have forgotten, or to quickly fill in new readers. I'm okay with info dumps like that eventually, but want to be invested in the character first and in this, I felt a little like the backstory was overshadowing the character.  I'm not fully invested in S yet. Sometimes the voice was strong, made me laugh, and pulled me in, but other times it was distant. 

On 12/7/2020 at 6:51 PM, karamel said:

I feel like prologues should be snappy and eventful and draw me in, but this didn’t really do all that. I would definitely read on though! I am interested in Sal’s story but this chapter was a bit confusing with all the terms and loads of info and it took me out of it. I think a lot of the information in this chapter can be spaced out further into the story, I don't need to understand everything all at once

I agree. 

On 12/7/2020 at 2:08 PM, Mandamon said:

However, especially with seeing some confusing from new readers, I think you might actually want to take out some of the explanation. Like Robinski, I thought the top of page 5 was a big infodump, and I'm wondering if the place and character names just come across as confusing and something new readers won't remember anyway. Could you introduce just a couple concepts at a time, and spread out the infodumping until it's absolutely needed? I think this stands very well on its own without much backup. Introduce S, Y, N, their relationship, and S is searching for history about her heritage and you're good to go for new readers

100% agree. There is too much. 

And an old reader who forgot a lot, it actually hurt more than it helped. It made me focus too much on trying to figure out what I remember and what I don't, which prevented me from immersing myself in the story. 

 

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I'll count myself as a new reader, I don't think I was here for any other parts of this story. If I was, I am very sorry but I forgot. 

The ship's name thrown in with all the other proper names was pretty confusing. At first read, I feel like I'm getting maybe 10% of these names and facts from not being able to link the others to anything. 

Blowing up a planet on the first page is very Hitchhiker's guide :-) That line is what's pulling me through. 

"Like her and Nic." I had to re read this part to sort out which was her sort of boyfriend and which was the relatively new person....maybe?

"She, like her genetic cousin E..." sentences like these are leaving me in the dust as a new reader. I'm trying to grab the facts that seem the most important because there is a lot to process. 

And whispering trees has me hooked again.

The long blocks of history and names were tough to get through but the parts where things are happening were a pleasure to read. 

By the end, I want to read more. By the end I am also hoping that some of that is going to be repeated, or I didn't need to know it because there is no way I've retained it all. 

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It’s been a while since I read the original trilogy, and I’ve gotta admit I have not yet read book 4 ☹ too many things happening! But with that caveat out of the way, the tone seems consistent to my view, I’m enjoying S’s POV and interacting with N and Y in from that perspective, and yes I would definitely like to know more about why this planet just up and exploded thank you. There was only one paragraph that struck me as a little infodumpy, which I have duly flagged below.

Comments are light because draft zero and I’m dreadfully behind, but as I read:

“three planets had repeated mention, and P, the most,” draft zero and all but I stumbled on this sentence.

“…buried under news reports” Uh, does a planet hosting nine sentient species just up and exploding one day really get buried?

I love the way you name your ships.

“She shouldn’t have been poking around in archival records” that’s the fault of whomever left the restricted records open for people to poke around in, I’d say.

“He had five fingers and toes…” is… is S a bit of a xenophobe? Because that’s the vibe this comment gives me.

“Survived several wars… and the perpetual smell of Y’s coffee” hah.

“When they’d all managed to return to A…” this is the only bit of recap that strikes me as a little infodumpy.

This “OH HAI I SAW YOU IN THE DATABASE” has me envisioning this secret database with Google-Docs-style notifications of who is viewing it.

I am suspicious of the timing of this message. I know S was in the database because of the explosion, but this seems to me (from what we’re getting) to be information that P could have provided at any time. SUSPICIOUS I say.

I am getting an absolute kick out of N being described as so … pretty. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, but I am just delighted with N and his midnight blue ringlets.

Bottom of p7 “galactic incidence” should be “incident”

The (I’m assuming) yes/no tongue clicks made sense on the comms, but now that she, N and Y are all face to face, surely S has more sophisticated ways to communicate than being stuck with yes/no questions?

On the other hand, I do love this “we’re at the ‘wordless communication’ stage of our relationship” dynamic that comes across so very clearly in the last page or so.

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

And the word 'tinged' has no place in cooking.

I... I kind of assumed this was code for drugs, for some reason. Should I have assumed this was code for drugs? 

On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

I think you might actually want to take out some of the explanation

This is a good call, I think. Obviously my opinion is coloured because I've read the first trilogy, but I think this is part of why that one paragraph struck me as infodumpy: how much do we actually need the information we got? 

On 12/7/2020 at 3:51 PM, karamel said:

Page 8:

-I guess i'm uncultured because i had to look up what “blowing a raspberry” is lol

I'm not sure this makes you uncultured...

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Okay, wow, thank you to everyone who came out of the woodwork to comment on this draft zero vomit!

Sounds like I'm trying too hard to get readers up to speed in the first little chapter here. I can easily take out some backstory. I'm a bit stuck, and would love some thoughts on how to get through the following issue. This is clearly not a prologue. It is a chapter one. We all know this. However it's going to be called the prologue as while the books sell broadly, their primary cheerleaders are the lesfic community. I cannot have a chapter one with a heterosexual pairing and no f/f and keep my readers. Hence, the prologue designation.

So in chapter one we move to our primary pairing (though S is a POV character throughout). I need enough backstory on S's relationship to the primary pairing that people aren't lost between the prologue and chapter one. Your thoughts (especially from new readers) on how much I can cut and what can stay to ease the chapter one transition would be fantastic. Thank you!

Now, on to specific responses.

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On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

Them being imprisoned together, right? Her and Y? By the Ng, right? One of my favourite threads.

Yes! She and Yor are a fan favorite, which is why I think I can get away starting the book with them. I think.

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

Okay, cooking objection

Noted and edited. A chef, I am not.

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

I don't remember who MP is

Ah, yup. Okay good to know. Xie is major player in book three but if you don't remember, I need to jog reader memory.

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

This page, the message and Sal's reaction in thought is pretty heavily info-dumpy. Gets rather dry after a few lines. I mean, it's interesting, but I can't help feeling that--when characters do this--their voices start to sound the same.

yup. On it. Cutting down.

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

I hope her POB is going to continue through this book.

yup! She's my only major character who hasn't had a proper arc so she's the most interesting, for me. My plan is that her POV will alternate with E/A

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

His skin was thick?

It was a poor word choice on my part. Edited

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

is that we do not need any Y POVs in this story

He's not planned at all. I do like to show a different side of him through S though. I think it will give more depth to his character, seeing him through her eyes. He's generally a bit softer around her, which I enjoy

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

And if I need more explanation, you can bet a new reader will not pick up how to picture a puddle as a sentient being.

Ah good call here

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

When you find our puddle, double my whiskey order. We need to start stockpiling again" - (a) I'd say something like 'Make my whiskey a triple; (b) I think there's a mixed message here. I sounds exactly like he has ordered a glass of whiskey to drink, not ordering a bottle, as from a shop, to take onto the ship. This is restaurant, not a shop, right?; (c) as a Scotsman, I continue to resent the use of 'whiskey' in these stories, and not 'whisky'

LOL! Okay have edited (but not the spelling. Have to keep you on your toes somehow)

On 12/7/2020 at 9:55 AM, Robinski said:

I wouldn't mind same better, more colourful and engaging description

Yup! This is usually later edits but I plan on it.

Thank you so much for these! Glad to see it's hitting a lot of those same 'trashy' space opera beats that made the original popular. Onward!

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On 12/7/2020 at 10:13 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I think Sal's situation here could be centered around a singular dynamic here, whether that be a goal, question they want to answer, relationship, ect.

This is a really good point and I'm making notes to make her motivation sharper in the next pass. I think just a few sentences will do it, early on.

On 12/7/2020 at 10:13 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

I don't feel like I need info dumps this early in the story so

I've removed the major one, so I think that will help a lot.

On 12/7/2020 at 10:13 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

but I think it's stricter if Sal isn't going to be a main PoV character because then we really don't need to know much about her. 

She's definitely a POV character. I'm hitting an issue which I detailed in my first response post. If you get a minute to comment on it I'd really appreciate it. And thank you for this feedback! It's very helpful

 

On 12/7/2020 at 10:30 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

so if I saw this in a bookstore I would probably just go look for the first book. 

Well, that's not horrible. I've taken out some of the infodump and clarified the main through like for S so I'm hoping that helps. there is definitely a space opera learning curve here so I'll be mindful of that in next round edits.

On 12/7/2020 at 10:30 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

or I'm guessing this is the name of the tramp

Tramp is a class of ship in this series. Hrm. This might be something that clears itself up but I've got it on my radar

On 12/7/2020 at 10:30 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

or just a placeholder

Sorry yes, placeholder. I'm ignoring the timeline right now. It's complex. I need my own wiki

On 12/7/2020 at 10:30 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

I'm guessing this is a specific pronoun and not a typo

Oh yeah, you're in for a real pronoun 'treat' in the first book...

On 12/7/2020 at 10:30 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

entire moon of k" why is this highlighted?

Sorry, the highlights are continuity checks for me later

Thank you so much! It looks like it worked okay, especially by the end. Taking out some of that infodump should help.

 

 

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On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

I think you might actually want to take out some of the explanation

On it!

On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

I wouldn't want italics as a crutch to get information across, and I'm worried about challenges in communication.

Noted. She's pretty adamant on not using sign or voice, so I think she may end up using telepathy (which she's always mostly used) and also ship interfaces. I'm still figuring this out. I did want her to have really developed a lot of eyebrow and pointing language with Y, because you know he'd be fine with it. Big challenge and all.

On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

Also, this is a prologue??? From Kais???

Errr. See my first response post. It's a sneaky prologue that is actually chapter one so as to not alienate my lesbian fan base.

On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

Like S is thinking about Y, but I don't know why.

Whoops! Missing transition there

On 12/7/2020 at 11:08 AM, Mandamon said:

I know what S wants, from the story, but I'm not sure how Y is figuring it out.

I wanted it to be unrecognizable by the reader, but this seems to be tripping people up. I'll add some clarifiers.

Thank you so much! Glad this has that fun vibe still

 

On 12/7/2020 at 3:51 PM, karamel said:

I was super interested in learning about the planet that exploded, you really hooked me with that, but then there was all that talk about Y and more word building and a glimpse of the history of Sal’s species and that's where I started to lose interest.

Okay, looks like I need to note stakes for S earlier and cut some blabbing

On 12/7/2020 at 3:51 PM, karamel said:

okay, this is where i got confused and thought you were talking about the P planet first mentioned, but its a different planet, right? Yes. i think.

Ahh okay. I can clarify that for sure

On 12/7/2020 at 3:51 PM, karamel said:

But yeah there was just a lot of info for me.

Check. I'll have to see if I can trim

Many thanks! Some really good points in here that will help me clean.

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On 12/7/2020 at 6:26 PM, aeromancer said:

is ‘fruit-chew’ for some reason, so that’s the pronunciation I’m going with.

OH YES because that is 100% what I based it off of because I am terrible with naming things. Bonus points to you, sir!

On 12/7/2020 at 6:26 PM, aeromancer said:

As far as ship names go, this is rated at least an 8/10, possibly a 9.

Bonus to me!

On 12/7/2020 at 6:26 PM, aeromancer said:

That’s not survivable under normal circumstances unless you’re half a solar system away.

Solid point and I'm going to try to poke the text to be more clear about looking for out-of-system survivors

On 12/7/2020 at 6:26 PM, aeromancer said:

I’m pretty sure everything involved in that planet is dead, so I’m not sure whether is going to be a grand space opera like the previous series was or this is going to be o

If it's enough to get you to chapter 1, I'll take it. My hope was personal stakes for S, grander for the other POV characters, though I'm not sure I can manage that yet. I've added a bit more to the personal stakes thing and I hope that clarifies S's direction at least. 

So glad you commented, @aeromancer! Thank you! 

 

On 12/8/2020 at 5:08 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I want a "gassy bean bag chair"

Really???

On 12/8/2020 at 5:08 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

And an old reader who forgot a lot, it actually hurt more than it helped. It made me focus too much on trying to figure out what I remember and what I don't, which prevented me from immersing myself in the story.

Check! Next edit will have a lot of deleting. This isn't a true prologue however, see my first response post. But I think I've got enough feedback now to target the most problematic areas. Thank you!

 

On 12/8/2020 at 11:42 PM, Sarah B said:

By the end, I want to read more. By the end I am also hoping that some of that is going to be repeated, or I didn't need to know it because there is no way I've retained it all. 

Okay, good info from a new reader for sure. I've cut some of that backstory, and tried to highlight more of S, so I'm hoping that streamlines it a bit more. Thank you so much! It's hard to jump into something cold for sure.

 

 

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1 hour ago, kais said:

So in chapter one we move to our primary pairing (though S is a POV character throughout). I need enough backstory on S's relationship to the primary pairing that people aren't lost between the prologue and chapter one. Your thoughts (especially from new readers) on how much I can cut and what can stay to ease the chapter one transition would be fantastic. Thank you!

If the main purpose of the prologue is to establish S's relation to the main pairing (A and E, right?), what would help me the most is putting A and E in the emotional spotlight of S's mind. Right now I care less about knowing specific details about what happened between S and A+E and more about how S sees them as people generally and how that relates to: 1. what she's being asked to do and 2. her own motivations as a person. Right now, what I think this means I don't need to know as much about how the three of them relate to the sociopolitical context (as interesting as I find it). So long as we know that people want them for something, the personal connection will stick in my head better than worldbuilding details right now. I think that setting details are best left to be viewed through the lens of our main pairing since it will be easier to telegraph arcs and hint at payoff through our main pairing's reactions to the info to justify the input effort required. 

Anyways I tend to be biased towards this technique of grounding SFF stories through interpersonal relationships while not explaining too much of the setting but I do think it would work here. 

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10 hours ago, kais said:

yup! She's my only major character who hasn't had a proper arc so she's the most interesting, for me. My plan is that her POV will alternate with E/A

Yippee

10 hours ago, kais said:

I do like to show a different side of him through S though

That's a really strong strategy, IMO, otherwise I think he would tend to dominate S, like not in an overt way, just with his large personality.

10 hours ago, kais said:

but not the spelling. Have to keep you on your toes somehow

 I hope you got that that was tongue in cheek. When I read whiskey here, my brain goes straights to memories of Dublin WorldCon, which is nice :D

Edited by Robinski
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I'm, like, biased on this, you know this.

Thoughts as I go:

Heehee, ho ho, it's S!

Pg 1, "It had writes up on the nine sentient" Write-ups?

Pg 1, "Yesterday it had exploded" Whoops, I don't think it was supposed to do that.

Pg 1, "It hadn’t triggered any alarms" I thought this odd until I realized the explosion likely destroyed any alarms. 

Pg 1, "I’m Wearing Shoes, Damnit" In a society that has a tendency not to wear shoes, I'm intrigued. 

Pg 1, "her boyfriend/lover/it’s complicated" Good summary.

Pg 2, " to die with contraband in his hold and whiskey on his breath" This feels like coming home for me. I feel like I'm mentally settling into a squishy chair that knows my butt well and I'm like, "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, this is the life."

Pg 2, " ‘love handles, space edition.’ I slapped my forehead while laughing. Should this be in ' ' or " " ???

Pg 3, "I’m certain it's A'sfault" It is, it's.

Pg 4, "SINCERELY," Hmmmm, the story truly begins. We have our invitation to adventure.

Pg 5, " probably the planet, to lead" I can't tell if this is setting off my clunky radar or my "Latin verbs go at the end, just like this" radar.

Has it been four years since her freedom? Or five? 

Pg 6, "WE CAN PAY YOU." I don't think that is going to work.

Pg 6, "WE CAN PAY IN INFORMATION." Oh, but that might. 

Pg 6, "YOU WILL NEED SOMEHWERE SOMEWHERE TO LIVE"

Pg 6, "WE ARE OFFERING YOU THE ENTIRE MOON" Dang!!!

Pg 7, "I don’t want another adventure." You just keep telling yourself that, honey.

Pg 9, " We need to start stockpiling again." How do we survive this adventure? Booze. 

My overall reaction: 

Spoiler

 

 

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On 12/10/2020 at 2:47 PM, Silk said:

is… is S a bit of a xenophobe?

I'd say yes, in as much as any Ard is. But also that's the species marker I use for subspecies versus the 'pure' Ard species. As long as it isn't too trippy, I think it'll stay in.

On 12/10/2020 at 2:47 PM, Silk said:

Should I have assumed this was code for drugs?

LOL no drugs, sorry! I've edited

On 12/10/2020 at 2:47 PM, Silk said:

how much do we actually need the information we got? 

Unfortunately the answer is 'you need it all,' but clearly it needs to be presented in a different way. The info dumps in the prologue it appears, were not enough to launch us to chapter one. Which means I need to install more backstory before we get to (what was) the major movement chapter. I think this just means A and E can't appear for a number of chapters, as I'll have to reintroduce the world via new/side characters to get readers up to speed.

How the heck do people write extended series with the same lead characters??

Thank you @Silk! Good edits! The prologue is a lot tighter now for sure.

 

On 12/11/2020 at 5:21 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

what would help me the most is putting A and E in the emotional spotlight of S's mind.

This is a great idea! I think I'll have to move A&E back a few chapters though, because it looks like there is too much world to cover, first.

On 12/12/2020 at 1:44 AM, Robinski said:

my brain goes straights to memories of Dublin WorldCon, which is nice

WE WILL DRINK WHISKEY/WHISKY AGAIN, SIR (though by then I might also be a sir so that'll be amusing)

On 12/13/2020 at 3:14 PM, Snakenaps said:

Has it been four years since her freedom? Or five? 

ERRRRR timeline not yet set...It's been ISH number of years. More than one but less than ten. 

On 12/13/2020 at 3:14 PM, Snakenaps said:

How do we survive this adventure? Booze.

I don't adventure without booze. I don't know about you.

Thank you, @Snakenaps! Nice typo catches, too. Looks like tightening this chapter will help a lot, and I'll just stop trying to feed into A/E and work on the inciting incident.

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6 hours ago, kais said:
On 12/12/2020 at 9:44 AM, Robinski said:

my brain goes straights to memories of Dublin WorldCon, which is nice

WE WILL DRINK WHISKEY/WHISKY AGAIN, SIR (though by then I might also be a sir so that'll be amusing)

I will drink whisky/whiskey with you if you are stuky-pawed Ne, a Nug, or a Ris, which would be even more...amusing?

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