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ginger_reckoning

12.7.20- ginger_reckoning-ALITC: character spotlight (ch 10+12) (V, G?) 4800 words

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Heya, I stopped reading previously because of pressure of like and the struggles that I was having getting engaged with the character and the story. But, I'm glad to come back and see what's what. Also, interesting to read your comments in the email (Don't worry about email length, say what you need/want to say!) about seeing the issues and how you might tackle them :) 

Chapter 10

(page 1)

- "Just what she lived for" - I find this a bit contradictory with the opening line about her 'hating' waking up. It undermines her motivation, I think. Essentially, Ce is an engineer, or maybe a designer. Clearly, she is very committed to and invested in her task, the creation of this armour. As a result, (and as a fellow engineer, I empathise with her commitment to the project) I would expect her to hate going to sleep, but to love waking ups, because she can get back to her project, bright-eyed and alert.

- "several stories storeys above the main floor"

- "like small fishes" - good image.

(page 2)

- "told you to do" - Huh, I thought Ce was leading the project. Slightly surprised by this.

- I like the banter between the sisters. The dialogue is completely convincing, IMO. I like the pacing too. I'm skipping along through the scene, and would be reading at a good pace if not stopping to critique.

- "it was the reason she had stopped" - Stopped what?

- "She dismissed her protests on that point, however. She’d talk to her sister later" - Oh, good grief, not you too. I commented on this in AW's sub, I think. IMO, using generic pronouns in the same sentence for different people is awkward, and unclear. I think that when one changes character, clarification is required for the reader to be clear on who is being referred to. Okay, there may be instances when this doesn't follow, but I think that's the exception, not the 'rule'. Take the second sentence here. With the addition of the word 'sister', everything is clear, and flows more smoothly, IMO.

- "We’re very close to the all-clear, sir" - Sir?! You're going to have to talk me through that one. De is female, right?

- "Bug---s" - I remember this from before. The names--the surnames specifically--are...odd. I'm reading a story about armour and engineering and presumably battle or combat of some sort but the surnames are straight out of Beatrix Potter.

(page 3)

- "trying to banish thoughts from her mind" - This is weird. There's no background or basis for this thought provided,. I hope it's going to be justified or explained, because if not I'm either going to get frustrated, or I'm going to end up forgetting about it.

- "He had kind of been asking asked for that one" - There is good advice from various sources that vagueness and/or uncertainty are not compelling or engaging to the reader. Again, there are exceptions to any guidance, but this doesn't look like one of them to me. Is there are reason Ce need to be noncommittal here, really?

- "Mostly from the male engineers" - What is this supposed to imply? I don't understand. Am I to read this as leering? I don't get it.

- "which grew out in tight, black curls—in a short, neat tail" - Confused: how do you get a ponytail from short, curly hair?

- "ran her fingers through her hair" - Contradiction, and maybe it's legit. But, she's just explained that she doesn't care about her appearance, and doesn't want men looking at her. Then, she's sliding her fingers through her hair, presumably because she's unhappy with her appearance. I'm happy to read this as it sounds, i.e. she's lying to herself, but when critiquing, I'm never sure if it's unintended by the author, so, I err on the side of complaining :lol: 

- "Em is introduced" - I need more context. Where is Em? Are they in one of the sets of armour? Are they an engineer with a clipboard?

- "Em flinched, hunkering their head down and raising their arms" - This reads like a POV shift to me.

- "dark gray suit of armor over fifteen feet tall" - That doesn't seem like a suit of armour to me, but more like a jaeger.

- "hurled it across the room" - I've been picturing them in some sort of courtyard, i.e. open to the sky, like a compound. Not sure why.

(page 4)

- "She allowed herself to be taken away" - Okay, I have an issue here. I feel like I'm being dragged away from the action, which isn't a good feeling. I'm sticking with it, but I hope that's not how it plays out.

(page 5)

- "SOULS,” The automaton began" - I feel like every second sub I have to mention this. Inappropriate capitalisation. This his part of the same sentence, as evinced by the comma, so, 'the'.

- "The words disturbed her., but What did they even mean?" - Run-on sentence, IMO.

(page 6)

- The description of GR is quite tell-ing. Sounds a bit hooky to me. A quite enjoyed his description, which puts me in mind of some of the outlandish costumes conjured up by Jack Vance in his work.

- I'm enjoying the arc of the chapter. We get close to a relation then some bigwig comes in and 'stamps it out'. Hmm, suspicious :ph34r: 

- "Check the…financial department. I…think" - This is weird to me. The automaton is speaking all clipped and Hulk-like, which is in keeping with the way it's presented. Then, suddenly, it starts speaking like a normal person. That doesn't scan well for me.

- "Become Silent" - Feels over-written. Why does he not just say 'Silence!' It's more commanding and seems appropriate to the situation, and Gal's character.

- "He began to talk to them" - He talked to them already. Odd phrasing: not clear.

- "Em said something loud" - Same: odd phrasing. What did she say? Something she didn't mean to say out loud? Or, did she raise her voice? The phrasing here is too simplistic, to the point of being unclear.

(page 7)

- "black bangs and large lips" - I...what? This is weird. IMO, you can't just say 'large lips'. Are the full, pouting lips, does she have a broad mouth. Much more clarity required.

- "she jumped up at least a foot into the air" - I want you to stand up and do this, and then consider where it's a reasonably thing for her to do at this point. I'm interested to hear you conclusion.

- "rubbed them on the front of her uniform" - That's no way to treat glasses, and will not be at all effective in cleaning them. Do you wear glasses? Speak to someone who does. They are fragile, and expensive!!!

- LOL, I applaud you for ending a chapter on 'Yeah,' which really should not work, I think, but does because of the line before it , of course. The reader can read emotion, empathy and sisterly bond into those lines. Nice job.

(page 8)

Chapter 12

I presume there is another chapter in some other POV in between these?

- Again, I'm totally convinced by the sisterly relationship.

- "there was a pair of scissors in there" - I'm not clear on this urge of Ce's to hurt people. I'm not convinced by it, it seems a bit selective. She has these occasional thoughts, but she ran towards the device/creature, and she seemed to care for Me, seems to care for De.

(page 9)

- "There was a surprising amount of people" - number of people: they are individuals. Surprising amount of water; surprising number of people.

- "Its words followed her around like buzzing insects" - MAIN POINT: This is my big takeaway from this POV. This is miles ahead of the earlier chapters you submitted, IMO, but leans closer to the Prologue, the first thing that you subbed. The character voice in this submission is marvellously clear. It's engaging, interesting and completely believable, IMO. The scenes in the desert, they really cannot match this. The character voices were indistinct, kind of nondescript if I'm honest. They were not compelling, any of them, not for me. I could read a whole novel in Ce's POV, no problem at all. The older lady in the prologue: very strong internal voice, I thought, and quite engaging, interesting. The people in the desert, it's so crystal clear, the distinction between these voices, I think.

(page 10)

- "the founder of Keep" - I'm not really following this religious talk. There are a lot of names and phrases being thrown around, and I can't really latch on to any of them, because there are so many, and they all seem to intermingle, and I don't really get a chance to fix on anything. However, it does not feel like telling, it doesn't feel like info-dumping to me, it sounds like a real conversation, but between two people who know what they're talking about, know the reference points, when I don't.

(page 11)

- "I don’t make fun of Void" - How does Void relate to Mon? How do either relate to Keep ism? I just don't understand, and nothing in this section says to me that any of this matters to the story, so I'm really just skimming here. You mentioned that religions intrigued you, that's all well and good, but does any of this matter to the story? It's a decent hook that one sister believe one thing and the other doesn't, but unless any of this matters to the story, it seems like little more than window-dressing.

- " A dagger plunged into Ce’s heart" - I don't understand her reaction, because I haven't absorbed her belief system, I suppose.

(page 12)

- I thought the ending with her putting her face in her hands was quite effective. I see there is a plan for a bit more on this scene but, honestly, I'd be happy enough if the scene ended there. Then again, I don't know how the continuation will be, so this comment is neither her not there, I suppose.

Overall 

- I think my main response to this sub is in my main point above. I thought this was pretty good, and much more engaging than what has gone before in the desert.

Thank for sharing :) 

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25 minutes ago, Robinski said:

"several stories storeys above the main floor"

I did not know there was a difference between the two. This is a useful tidbit, thanks!

26 minutes ago, Robinski said:

"which grew out in tight, black curls—in a short, neat tail" - Confused: how do you get a ponytail from short, curly hair?

this is what I was imagining: 

Spoiler

hair.thumb.jpg.0a4c73decee43043314284015333ec05.jpg

Is there a better way to describe this? (actual question) 

28 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Why does he not just say 'Silence!' It's more commanding and seems appropriate to the situation, and Gal's character.

^^I like this a lot. This will probably end up in the next draft :) 

29 minutes ago, Robinski said:

That's no way to treat glasses, and will not be at all effective in cleaning them. Do you wear glasses? Speak to someone who does. They are fragile, and expensive!!!

noted. (I don't, btw, as you can tell) 

30 minutes ago, Robinski said:

I presume there is another chapter in some other POV in between these?

yeah, it cuts back to A and S for a chapter. Nothing that effects this sub too much. 

33 minutes ago, Robinski said:

The scenes in the desert, they really cannot match this. The character voices were indistinct, kind of nondescript if I'm honest. They were not compelling, any of them, not for me.

First off: thanks! Second off, this is actually very surprising to me because I thought these chapters were the weaker of the two. I guess it really does help to get an outside perspective. 

Once again, thanks for all the grammar tips and other things!

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5 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

this is what I was imagining

Okay, But I would not call that short tail. When I hear short ponytail, I'm thinking more like this...

Spoiler

Simple-Ponytail-Hairstyles-for-Short-Hair.thumb.jpg.337bc55cc7fe7d0311c96c74ca861b14.jpg

Which it seems to me would not work well with curly hair?

8 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Is there a better way to describe this? (actual question)

Well, I would not say the tail in your picture is short, and I'm kind of 50/50 on it being neat, not that it doesn't look good, but it's really more letting it hang out, it seems to me. 

14 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

noted. (I don't, btw, as you can tell) 

I breathe on mine, and rub them (gently) with the hem of my T-shirt. My wife uses glasses cleaning solution and a tissue.

17 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

First off: thanks! Second off, this is actually very surprising to me because I thought these chapters were the weaker of the two. I guess it really does help to get an outside perspective. 

Once again, thanks for all the grammar tips and other things!

I mean, it's just my opinion. I'll be interested to hear what the others think. I won't say any more than that, but if I was a betting chap, I know where I'd put my money. I think it comes back to what I think you are now seeing, in the people in the desert, they joke around, but they don't seem invested in their own situation, their internal monologue is not as convincing to me, and the banter felt a bit forced, in a way that these chapters did not. I didn't really know what the dessert people were trying to achieve, or why. I didn't get any real sense of what they believed in, or a sense of tension / conflict, etc.

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20 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Once again, thanks for all the grammar tips and other things!

You're very welcome. That's what we do :) 

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Overall

As a character sketch I enjoyed it. It's a good start to getting me invested in our MC. Some issues below and I've spent some time with each of your questions. Generally I think the writing could be tightened, as well as the narrative arcs, to make this snappier. If you ever want some aggressive LBLs with cutting and reformatting to show you what I mean, let me know and I'll mark up a chapter for you. It might help you see a method to trim the fat, thereby giving you more space for your characters to interact with their world.

 

Your questions

female POV

Disclosures -  I am not a woman nor female, however I was socialized as one so I feel qualified to comment here. 

Generally, I thought this worked. There are a few slip ups like the line below, but other than that she was a fairly convincing woman, though written much younger than 35 I'd say. She read more like early twenties. At 35 women tend to not be so...flighty/caddy/noticing differences as you have your character doing. They also tend to not be so into peer pressure and what people are looking at/thinking about them. 

She was very slender, and had black bangs and large lips <-- you have to watch these sorts of descriptions if you're writing a woman's POV. This is not generally how women see other women.

mental health

I don't understand what her condition is supposed to be. She wants to hurt people...is she a straight up sociopath? Why does she want to hurt people? Is this maybe just frustration at how people do things which leads to wanting to maybe smack them because they're too slow/stupid/disorganized whatever? I need more information before I can comment on this better I think.

knew she should care about the things her sister cared about, even if it was hard. <-- this reads more like autism (which is more neurodiversity, not mental health)

religion

One god, sevens day--these are direct parallels to Christianity and so this reads more as a 'shove it down your throat' sort of thing than an imaginative fantasy world. I like my fantasy religions to be either purposeful allegory, or Very Different. You're sort of inbetween right now so maybe try for one or the other?

In terms of offending - this is fiction. I'm deeply religious but I don't ever expect someone to cater to that in fiction. Let your imagination run wild. Build your best religion. If people get offended by a made up religion, they shouldn't be reading science fiction and fantasy 

chapter structure

They don't really arc, which is my major complaint in terms of structure. They mostly arc so I think its just the landing you're missing, the sort of tie-up at the end of each chapter. But that's easy enough to correct in edits.

info-dump

I didn't feel like there was an info dump. If anything I wanted more backstory as I was missing crucial information for a lot of it. 

As I go

- pg 1: They stood several <-- who is 'they'?

- pg 1: to the “One God”. <-- this is pretty cliche while also being vague. Unless you're going for straight Christianity metaphor, I'd give the god a name

- pg 3: well, flatter than her sister <-- as in she has less breast tissue, or smaller hair?

- pg 3, just before the explosion: I need more worldbuilding before the explosion. She makes armor, okay excellent. Why? Why does she do it? What is the armor for? A bit more worldbuilding would help me connect better to our main character

- pg 3: A reanimated automaton <-- this would have more impact if we knew these were a thing/threat in world beforehand. It just seems silly popping up right now

- pg 4: I'm adrift. Backstory needed. She makes suits of armor and one is semi-sentient and attacking other suits of armor that have people in them? Yes? This is like Neon Genesis Evangelion?

- pg 5: Reanimated constructs did this sometimes right? If you didn’t replace the spirit regularly, there was a chance that it would begin to redevelop its original personality <-- I am now deeply confused

- pg 5: It was an enormous hand made of pure white fire. <-- is it the author??? So many random things are happening all over the place with no foreshadowing or worldbuilding.

- pg 6: The Supreme Gifted are superheroes, yes?

- Finances seems really small scale noting the sort of galactic problem here with souls being merged and armor coming to life

- pg 11: +10 for use of singular 'they'

- pg 12: because I am juvenile apparently, I keep reading 'Monad' as 'gonad'

- pg 12: She friendzones him <-- I know this is just a note, but generally only men talk about 'friend zoning'. It's a very man-entitlement thing. As some meme once said, 'women are not machines that you keep putting time and kindness into until sex comes out.'

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4 hours ago, Robinski said:

This is miles ahead of the earlier chapters you submitted, IMO, but leans closer to the Prologue, the first thing that you subbed. The character voice in this submission is marvellously clear. It's engaging, interesting and completely believable, IMO. The scenes in the desert, they really cannot match this. The character voices were indistinct, kind of nondescript if I'm honest. They were not compelling, any of them, not for me. I could read a whole novel in Ce's POV, no problem at all. The older lady in the prologue: very strong internal voice, I thought, and quite engaging, interesting. The people in the desert, it's so crystal clear, the distinction between these voices, I think.

I 100% agree with all of this

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Thanks for the in-depth response @kais! 

35 minutes ago, kais said:

She read more like early twenties

That's good. She is supposed to be 20 while Gal is the 35 year old one. 

36 minutes ago, kais said:

This is not generally how women see other women.

Noted. One question: this character (M) is actually anorexic, and so she is visibly skinnier than normal. Is there a better way to describe this casually as one woman would see another woman? 

38 minutes ago, kais said:

I don't understand what her condition is supposed to be. She wants to hurt people...is she a straight up sociopath?

So, actually i was going for

Spoiler

Obsessive Compulsive disorder, with her obsessive compulsion being intrusive thoughts. She certainly thinks she is a psychopath (though not in so many words) but that is not strictly the case. 

 

41 minutes ago, kais said:

If anything I wanted more backstory as I was missing crucial information for a lot of it.

cool

42 minutes ago, kais said:

well, flatter than her sister <-- as in she has less breast tissue, or smaller hair?

The former. I *really* don't want to describe her bust, (the day I do that will be the day I describe an asian character as "almond-eyed") but also want to give a clue-in to her body type....but I will admit this sentence always seemd awkward to me. Is there a way around this? 

45 minutes ago, kais said:

pg 3: A reanimated automaton <-- this would have more impact if we knew these were a thing/threat in world beforehand. It just seems silly popping up right now

46 minutes ago, kais said:

pg 5: It was an enormous hand made of pure white fire. <-- is it the author??? So many random things are happening all over the place with no foreshadowing or worldbuilding

This is why I was so hesitant to cut the prologue, but I think in my next draft I will find ways for the MC's to encounter both of these before this moment. 

48 minutes ago, kais said:

I keep reading 'Monad' as 'gonad'

lol

49 minutes ago, kais said:

It's a very man-entitlement thing. As some meme once said, 'women are not machines that you keep putting time and kindness into until sex comes out.'

oh, totally agree with you there. This was mainly just a shorthand to me for "turns down his sexual advances because she is not interested in dating a man at this time". 

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16 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Noted. One question: this character (M) is actually anorexic, and so she is visibly skinnier than normal. Is there a better way to describe this casually as one woman would see another woman? 

Women can be pretty brutal. If these are interior thoughts, she'd likely just think She looked thin. Too thin. She was probably anorexic.Mostly because women are taught from early ages to compete against one another in the thin category. So even painfully thin women are often the objects of jealousy, even by otherwise well-meaning and delightful women. It's a social conditioning thing of Western society.

Also the thing that caught me was the lips more than the size. I don't know if I have ever noticed a woman's lips unless that woman was Angelina Jolie. And I A) like lips and B.) like women

 

16 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

The former. I *really* don't want to describe her bust, (the day I do that will be the day I describe an asian character as "almond-eyed") but also want to give a clue-in to her body type....but I will admit this sentence always seemd awkward to me. Is there a way around this? 

Women talk about their breasts, and the breasts of other women, all the time. They just don't talk about them like men talk about them. You could do it in cup sizes (something like: her sister had always had those nice perky Cs, while she'd been stuck with pancake As), or if she's happy with them because they don't draw as much attention, there's (Her sister had a chest that commanded attention in a room. She, mercifully, could still go out without a bra). Or to be silly and code it more, you could do (her sister commanded a room. She was a card carrying, proud member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee).

The thing to remember is that men tend to describe breasts in terms of shape, form, handfuls, nipple direction (perky, etc.). Women do it in terms of comfort, attention other women get, sometimes nipple direction (especially if its an age thing), or in silliness. I do appreciate your dedication to avoiding male gaze!

 

Edited by kais
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First off, I definitely agree with @Robinski and @kais that this chapter is much more engaging than the previous ones we've read. I think C is a much more interesting character, but just needs to be defined a bit better. The plot, even accounting for the skips, is more interesting to me as well.

-female pov critiques: I'll just second @kais on most of this. I also noticed a couple weird things with comparing bodies and such, but didn't have the right words to explain.


-mental health pov critiques: I think this is still unclear. I guessed at C being sociopathic/psychopathic, but the hurtful impulses seem directed at several different targets. Not that it couldn't happen like that, but I think for a book plot it needs to be clearer. To your explanation above, I don't think this works as OCD (though I don't know a whole lot about it), because the thoughts aren't obsessive, they're destructive.


-religion critiques: I don't think this was offensive, and coming from someone who knew enough about (Christian) church to fake it through a service if I was forced to go to one, the confusing discussions were right on par with how I regarded a "believer" speaking to me. I agree with Kais though, that this is very Christian in scope, and could easily be a different confusing made-up religion.


-chapter structure critiques: It's not really a full chapter so I can't see the full arc. I think it's on a better track than the first couple however. I'd like the "finance" hook to be a little bigger.

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "Just what she lived for. A break in the pattern of monotony, something different, something new. Deciding to face today hadn’t been too hard a choice."
--I think this is going for C struggling with depression, but "what she lived for" seems more like "oh boy I get to do this" rather than "finally something different." But it's a subtle point.

pg 1: "Especially then, a part of her thought. Another part of her recoiled at that."
--hmm...this is conflicting with above. I had assumed C was depressive, but this seems more self-destructive?

pg 2: “Neato mosquito,” 
--???

pg 2: "hadn’t enabled her, it was the reason she had stopped."
--I'm confused on this (since you do want religion critiques). Is void the thing C is going to rallies for? Is it a religion contrasting with her sister's. Also, stopped what?

pg 2: "His eyes didn’t linger"
--Not sure what this signifies. He doesn't consider her a superior? He doesn't like how she looks? He doesn't like women?

pg 3: "ramming one of her pens into it"
--okay, so...she's borderline sociopathic/psychopathic? Still not really clear on what her deal is.

pg 3: "Mostly from the male engineers."
--is there a reason to call out sexism here? Yes, it probably happens, but does it have a reason in the book? Otherwise it just reads as a weird male gaze thing.

pg 3: "A reanimated automaton! It must’ve gone rogue and escaped its containment barracks."
--A wait what now? I get there was a skip with a character being introduced, but they've gone from looking at suits to an escaped robot?

pg 3: "They lifted off the ground, rising up towards the creature. Several other suits of armor also took off"
--E is in a suit? When did this happen?

pg 4: "Floating in pools of black"
--her eyes are floating in pools of black? She should get that looked at.

pg 4: "That image did not bother her."
---Hmmm...this doesn't seem consistent (given, however, I'm not an expert on mental health). This tends toward self destruction whereas some of the other comments tend toward wishing harm on others. 

pg 5: "The words disturbed her,"
--but other violent thoughts didn't?

pg 6: "Check the…financial department"
--entirely likely, but certainly not the most thrilling of directions!

pg 7: "Too bad for her; they probably wouldn’t be having the test today after all. She had come for nothing."
--this seems odd. She was planning on coming anyway, and they could hardly know a rogue robot would disrupt the test...

pg 7: “Yeah,” C whispered."
--Is this implying that both C and D know of her destructive tendencies? Because it was also the heroic (and probably right) thing to do. I'm not sure this shores up the thread about her mental health so much as showing she is a hero.


pg 8: "ripping it with her teeth like a mongoose"
--so...just destructive in general? I'm having trouble grasping what she's dealing with.

pg 8: "Think about ways you can help them, instead of hurting them."
--so she has a therapist and this is a known thing. You might try reading through Dan Well's John Cleaver series. He does a really good job showing inside the mind of a (potential) serial killer.

pg 8: "They had to keep it locked; there was a pair of scissors in there."
--hmm...I think this is undercutting the issue again. She just showed she has the ability to control things, but then they "have" to keep the drawer locked, as if she can't help herself.

pg 10/11: Whoof. This discussion sounds like every time I talk to someone who consistently goes to a church. Especially the "this is a contradictory, but that's alright, becuase you're just supposed to get hope from it!"

pg 12: "Something about souls, and money? Finances? It was trying to warn someone?"
--now my own headcanon is that this was some poor accountant who died while trying to crack a particularly sticky money laundering scheme and keeps reliving the moment.

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thank you @Mandamon

On religion: So I live in Utah, and I will admit that the church scene is based off the couple of times I went to mormon church for friends. (and the conversations we had afterwards) I was kind of trying to lean into the Christianity thing to help make it a bit more familiar, because I thought the average western reader probably wouldn't know too much about monistic religions, but I guess I leaned into it too far. I'm guessing by your and kais' reactions that it's proooobably ok to go a little stranger? 

spoilered for mental health trigger warning:

Spoiler

on mental health: I guess I'm just trying to portray that she's fixated on violence in general. Her habits mentioned are, in fact, self-destructive tendencies such as cutting herself with a pair of scissors in the past. Should I be more up front with this? 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 3: "They lifted off the ground, rising up towards the creature. Several other suits of armor also took off"
--E is in a suit? When did this happen?

right, sorry, they are one of the pilots. I wrote a whole intorduction part for them, but scrapped it for this submission because I didn't like it and wanted to focus more on C. Btw, is it clear that they are flying using telekinesis? I don't think I ever specified it, but is it clear? 

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Okay, here we go! :)

Overall:

I can see the things you set up and I would be interested to see where they go. I think this chapter could definitely use some tweaking to really pack a punch and drive things home, but the general idea is good!

Female pov:

I honestly think the pov was good. I could relate to a lot of it and it didn't feel weird at all (except for the.. the lip thing, but you probs know that by now) I mean, she is just a person. I don't know much about the world and how gender is viewed, but i don't feel like a creepy old dude wrote it so that's cool.

Mental Health:

Didn’t get any mental health vibes. She just seemed like a sadistic sort of person. I mean we all have those thoughts, right? It's a french term translating to “the call of the void.” Where you are holding a knife and you think like, “wow i could stab someone with this. There is so much power in my hands” but you know that you never will (i hope)... or like when you are driving on the freeway and you think about how you could just cause a huge accident with the flick of your wrist.  That's the kind of vibe I got from her, not mental health.

EDIT: Okay! I looked it up! the call of the void is under the umbrella of intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts can actually be a symptom of OCD! wow. learning is fun!  

 

I commented on the religion in my LBL so i wont say anything here. Also, I don’t really know enough to expand further.

 

Page 1:

-”They stood several stories” who stood?

-”electric lights;” oooh are we at the dawn of the era where electricity exists?

“C didn’t worry about missing anything.” because there were lights? I mean I guess. You could still miss things even with lights though, probably.

-”possibly”

Spoiler

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Spoiler

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-”That accentuated the pattern of” what accentuated the pattern? The frown?

-”devotion to the “One God”.” this sounds condescending but idk if it was intentional

-”a part of her thought.” with the italics before this, i dont think you need to say that she thought this, we can assume she is thinking this. And in the next line you can just say, “a part of her recoiled…”

-“But they told me to—” I was under the impression that C was in charge here so when i first read over this, i thought C was dragging her sister down but it was D doing the dragging.

 

Page 2:

-”collecting her pens” Why were her pens on the railing? Is it important to the story?

-”that was just rude.” I feel like you could word this sentence a bit better. It sounds like something someone might say today and not in a fantasy/sci fi story.

-”looked up at D with amazement” why *glaring eyes and lips emoji* edit: oh cause she has a high position?

-”keep up with D’s long strides.” okay wait. I thought C was in charge and her sister was just visiting. Why would this guy be consulting D?

 

Page 3:

-”ramming one of her pens” ohhh so they do have a purpose. Also this just makes me feel like she has some sort of grudge against him.

-”a short, neat tail.” Do you mean a puff? 

-”Nobody stared at her… thank goodness” same. I, too, like not being looked at. I do not exist. *fades into the bushes*

-”first suit of armor” im picturing like samurai armor, though i know it's not right.

-”A reanimated automaton!” this whole scene didn't pack a punch like i think it should have. It kind of threw me off. Just seemed a little random to me. I mean, i know it’s supposed to be sudden… but it just didn’t hit me like I wanted it to.

 

Page 4:

-”ok” my gut is saying this should be “okay”

-”Oh sparknuts.” i loled. “Geewilikers, grandpa! The robots have gone rogue!”

-”She ripped her arm free and ran” reckless, aren’t we?

 

Page 5:

-”million years ago by tigers” oh this is in the future?

-”bullet hole.” not gonna lie, I read this as “butthole”

-”Something burst into existence” HOW CONVENIENT 

-”hand made of pure white fire.” g-god?

-”emerged from the hole in the wall,” no, not god. Superman.

-”beard were wavy, thick, and pure white.” no… god.

-also, award for most dramatic entrance goes to this guy.

 

Page 6:

-”He touched the metal” he said, “Shhh, sweetie, don't give away my secrets.”

 

Page 7:

-”black bangs and large lips.” those lips better be VERY large for her to comment on them. Okay, in all seriousness, I feel like this could be offensive so maybe use– actually, dont use anything. Just don't mention the lips lol i mean i guess you could say plump lips. Maybe. Or maybe lips accentuated with a liner that made them look bigger than they were? I get the feeling that no one really likes her so maybe C is judging her. Also, I would be more descriptive about the bangs. Like, “black bangs” is boring, but something like “obsidian bangs that had the sheen of glass” is much more interesting and gives C character, too! Or, ya know, whatever.

-”They laughed.” no one is phased by the giant mech that started yapping about finance??

-”What the--?” tip: if you are typing in google docs on a mac, you can press the option button and the dash button at the same time to get an em dash. You used to be able to just hit it twice and you would get an em dash but nooooo they had to make it more complicated.

-”She turned C around.” like she grabbed her and literally turned her around?

 

Page 8:

-”woke up in darkness.” oooh mysterious

-”ripping it with her teeth” i get the feeling you are trying to reinforce the OCD thing but it just seems like she is frustrated because of what happened in the lab

-”Today was a bad one.” would be? I mean it hasn't happened yet, right?

-”instead of hurting them.” sounds like the words of a future serial killer

 

Page 9:

-”if she were to throw a rock through it?” i'm getting edgy teenager vibes

 

Page 10:

-”walked inside, revealing a dim room,” this sounds off. Maybe it should be something like “the doors opened, revealing a dim room. Because the action of them walking inside doesn't reveal the room. I guess it does, in a way. But it just doesn't feel right.

-I really don't know enough about religion(christianity especially), but this doesn't feel that close to christianty (to me, an uneducated person). I mean they are both monotheistic… but my first thought wasn’t “Hey this is just like christianity!” but again, thats coming from me, one who knows close to nothing about christianity (i know, im an uncultured swine... about my own culture no less)

I thought it was cool that there are different incarnations of the god, slaying monsters and stuff. That's pretty badass. I think you could get more creative and add more to the religion. Like in a ballad of wraiths and ruin, the religion in that book was very interesting and something I had never seen! So yeah, get out there and spice it up!

 

Page 11:

-”A suit of armor, a whisp of pink” i feel like this should be italicized. And C shaking her head should come right after it and not in a separate paragraph. Up to you tho.

 

Page 12:

-”What had it said again?” It seems like she keeps asking herself this. Maybe just outright say it. Finances. Money. Souls.  It all meant something. It was trying to warn us. Of what though?

-be careful with “friendzone.” male concept. im not here for it.  

Edited by karamel
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thanks @karamel!

57 minutes ago, karamel said:

It's a french term translating to “the call of the void.”

I have not heard of this term before, but wow, it's very fitting for this character! (especially with her connections to V-ism) very poetic also, tahnks for sharing

1 hour ago, karamel said:

-”a short, neat tail.” Do you mean a puff?

possibly? I honestly don't know a ton about hairstyles, though admittedly that is probably something I should brush up on (pun intended)alright i'm looking it up and...naw that's not really what I had in mind, though it is close. 

1 hour ago, karamel said:

first suit of armor” im picturing like samurai armor, though i know it's not right

well i mean "suit of armor" is as specific as it gets, so you can imagine a samurai if you want. It would be pretty cool, too. 

1 hour ago, karamel said:

black bangs and large lips.” those lips better be VERY large for her to comment on them. Okay, in all seriousness, I feel like this could be offensive so maybe use– actually, dont use anything. Just don't mention the lips lol i mean i guess you could say plump lips. Maybe. Or maybe lips accentuated with a liner that made them look bigger than they were? I get the feeling that no one really likes her so maybe C is judging her. Also, I would be more descriptive about the bangs. Like, “black bangs” is boring, but something like “obsidian bangs that had the sheen of glass” is much more interesting and gives C character, too! Or, ya know, whatever

Thanks! Good points, and epic description of bangs 

1 hour ago, karamel said:

They laughed.” no one is phased by the giant mech that started yapping about finance??

good point

1 hour ago, karamel said:

”hand made of pure white fire.” g-god?

technically, yes! he gets his powers from one of the Keepers, who are powerful spirits worshipped as gods in this region. the hand is a physical manifestation of it, so yeah. 

1 hour ago, karamel said:

I thought it was cool that there are different incarnations of the god, slaying monsters and stuff. That's pretty badass. I think you could get more creative and add more to the religion. Like in a ballad of wraiths and ruin, the religion in that book was very interesting and something I had never seen! So yeah, get out there and spice it up

haHA! You might be happy to know that there is a google doc with backstories for all twelve of them :) 

1 hour ago, karamel said:

f you are typing in google docs on a mac, you can press the option button and the dash button at the same time to get an em dash. You used to be able to just hit it twice and you would get an em dash but nooooo they had to make it more complicated.

Thank you!!! this is super helpful! 

Thanks for all the other grammar and stuff too! 

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C definetly reads as a complicated and potentially very interesting VPC!

For mental health, I didn't get OCD at all. I'm not a mental health expert of any kind, but I haven't heard of or encountered OCD associated with violence directed outward like that. I got more of an autism with depression vibe, particularly from the mention of 'bad days". I agree with previous comments that some sort of frustration or violation of a ritual would bring home the violent impulses and make them seem less sociopathic. 

Fantasy religion: definetly strong Chistianity references, but the incarnations reminded me of elements of Buddhism, and the paint seemed more reminiscent of henna. Unless its relevant to the plot, you could dial back the explaination of doctrine if you're trying to lean away from tagging any one religion. 

Female POV: C focusing in on certain parts of female anatomy and only describing males in general terms did catch my attention. If it's not deliberate, it could be balanced by C also noting the males to the same level of anatomic detail maybe?

In case it's helpful,

For describing a person who is anorexic (anorexia nervous, not just doesn't like to eat), you could focus on how they hold themselves. Does they look tired? Weak? Are they hiding their body? Anorexia comes with body image issues, and can include seeing themselves as large even while being painfully thin. Anorexia is often also about control. Again, not an expert but the mental aspects may help make it clearer that this is not someone who is just very thin. 

It seems like you've taken on a challenge! May the writing XP points be bountiful :-)

Edited by Sarah B
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18 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

right, sorry, they are one of the pilots. I wrote a whole intorduction part for them, but scrapped it for this submission because I didn't like it and wanted to focus more on C. Btw, is it clear that they are flying using telekinesis? I don't think I ever specified it, but is it clear? 

Oh! Nope, not at all. I was assuming they were using power armor of some sort.

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13 hours ago, Sarah B said:

For describing a person who is anorexic (anorexia nervous, not just doesn't like to eat), you could focus on how they hold themselves. Does they look tired? Weak? Are they hiding their body? Anorexia comes with body image issues, and can include seeing themselves as large even while being painfully thin. Anorexia is often also about control. Again, not an expert but the mental aspects may help make it clearer that this is not someone who is just very thin. 

This is very helpful, thanks @Sarah B!

13 hours ago, Sarah B said:

It seems like you've taken on a challenge! May the writing XP points be bountiful :-)

Thank you (I will need them) 

 

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On 12/7/2020 at 3:54 PM, ginger_reckoning said:
On 12/7/2020 at 3:19 PM, Robinski said:

- "several stories storeys above the main floor"

I did not know there was a difference between the two. This is a useful tidbit, thanks!

Stories is american english, storeys is british english, so both work! :)

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So you asked for mental health POV critique. I have a lot of mental health issues. And I am a grumbling after reading this chapter. There were some relatable moments that hinted at anxiety and/or depression, but then there were the intrusive thoughts about murdering people. And you have to be very, very careful with this kind or thing...sometimes it's better to just not write it. 

The idea that mentally ill = dangerous and murderous is a huge problem and I'm a little worried you might be perpetuating that by implying this character's mental illness makes her want to kill people. 

And it's one thing to just have intrusive thoughts. It's another to need to hide the scissors so she doesn't murder her sister. This is he type of thing where I'd say if it is something you've lived through and need to see represented in fiction, then go ahead and write it, being as careful as you can be to not perpetuate the stigma. Maybe balance it out with a character who also has mental illness but does not think about killing people.  Otherwise, honestly, if you haven't lived it, I'd say please don't write a character who's mental illness makes her want to hurt people. Please don't contribute to a harmful stigma. Anyway, think carefully about why you want to show this specific kind of mental illness. If it is only for plot purposes, please consider changing it. However, if you have more personal reasons, I can understand writing it and keeping it. Just be careful. 

Regarding religion, I love it when fictional words have their own religions, and while I felt like there was a lot of information about religion in this particular chapter, I think you can get away with that in a later chapter assuming that by now, the reader would be fully invested in the story.

As a whole, I was interested enough to want to read more. I do think the chapter could be trimmed, and the voice could be stronger, but I was fairly engaged considering I jumped in without having read anything else in the  book. 

Here are some thoughts I had while reading:

"Most days...not been most days." Valid mood. Right away, I connected with C.

"especially then...recoiled..."I kind of snickered at this. An engineer wanting to see her creation go down in flame. But then I remembered the "human trial part" and slightly adjusted my feelings about this. I'm cool with characters who like things blowing up and don't care about people getting hurt. I'm not cool with mental illness being blamed for it. 

"slightly overweight" Can you use a more concrete, description here? Slightly overweight can mean different things to different people.

"ramming one of her pens..." So on my first read, this didn't really feel like an intrusive thought to me. It jut felt like she was annoyed at him and maybe a little evil. But after I read on and re-read your email, I started worrying this was what you meant when you mentioned mental illness because this is the kind of thing that perpetuates the stereotype that people like me are dangerous to other people. 

"He had kind of been asking for that one." I didn't get what he was asking for. 

"She really was crazy, wasn't she?" Who is thinking this? Something threw me off here. 

"They had to keep it locked; there was a pair of scissors." Again, this is another line that really bothered me because of how it implies mental illness = dangerous potential killer. 

"And everyone was just so sparking happy. How did..." Very relatable. I think this a lot, especially when I'm depressed. 

...make his own new religion..." this made me laugh. 

Even though it was a bit of an info dump, I was intrigued by the religion. 

Very grumpy at D wanting to "fix" C with religion, but I was mollified by C recognizing that wasn't right. 

The mind wandering in church was relatable, though I think it was labeled a little too strong. 

I feel like there is something missing in the second chapter, in-terms of arc and structure, but I'm too hung up on the bad mental illness rep to really think about it. 

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On 12/7/2020 at 9:53 PM, kais said:

She read more like early twenties

I thought so too.

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Overall:

I’ll echo the comments that I found these two chapters way more engaging than the first few you submitted. Voice was clearer, the sense of personal stakes was there, and while the big-picture sense of stakes maybe wasn’t quite, I think there’s probably an easy fix – see my comments about the finance bit below (and the fact that we’ve skipped several chapters is likely contributing as well).

My biggest struggle was reconciling what seemed to be a chapter with very scifi-feeling tech with previous chapters which seemed to be standard Renaissance-ish period fantasy. It may be, again, a product of missing some of the earlier chapters – maybe A and S were just in more remote areas? - but there needs to be some more setup on what level of technology is available, how common it is, and how magic and technology interact.

Female POV critiques: I didn’t notice much that was “off,” to be honest, though the devil is always in the details on these things and I freely admit that 10 months of pandemic-sized workloads seems to be affecting my ability to do close readings. I’ll second all the specific instances that others have called out (including “friendzone,” ugh). If you really had to call out someone’s lips specifically, perhaps “full” lips would be a less awkward descriptor? And yes, as someone pointed out, people who suffer from anorexia often take great pains to hide it. Signifiers that others have suggested such as fatigue, baggy clothes, etc. might help cue an astute reader that something is amiss but it’s certainly not something you can identify at a glance. C might think this of course, and I think that @kaishas the right of it in thinking that your POV character can be fairly blunt about her perception of other women and their physical features, but it’s most likely not going to be in a sexually objectifying way. The comment about making sure she’s looking at other genders in the same level of detail is a good one too, though of course the specifics of what she notices are going to chance depending on a bunch of things.

Worth keeping in mind, too, that the specifics about what your characters notice and how they handle body image will be different if you’re portraying a culture where body image doesn’t have the same cultural currency that it does in most Western cultures today.

Religion: No real comment here. I agree with those who’ve said it seems mostly Christian-like in scope.

Mental health: First I need to note that I do not have lived experience in this area. I haven’t done much research on the specific thing you’re portraying, and the research that I’ve done in other areas is somewhat stale. So, grain of salt definitely needed.

That said – this landed better for me than it did for some of the others. It was immediately clear to me that this was someone experiencing intrusive thoughts, along the lines of some people’s experience Obsessive Compulsive Order. (Please note that this is very distinct from sociopathy or psychopathy, which refer to an inability to care for or tendency to be downright destructive towards others, and incidentally used to be classed as different disorders but were I think folded under one cluster of symptoms in the DSM-V. Not that the DSM-V is at all perfect, either!) My understanding is that these can be violent, can come more or less out of nowhere, and can be very difficult to stop thinking about. But I don’t feel qualified to comment what’s portrayed here other than that I understood the intent.

And … @shatteredsmooth makes a very good point. This is going to be a very tricky line to walk because there is such powerful stigma associated with mental illness, in no small part because we’re saturated with media that portrays people with mental illness (as if it were one thing we could just lump together) as violent and dangerous. I understand the difference, academically, between intrusive thoughts and much more common things like anxiety and depression, but not all readers will.

To the extent that this worked for me, it was because it was clear to me that her thoughts were unwanted, and because C did not act on her intrusive thoughts or seem particularly likely to do so, except for when she approached the automaton. That said, do C’s intrusive thoughts need to be violent ones or can they be something else?

If you feel strongly about moving forward with C’s intrusive thoughts in their current form, a few suggestions:

  • It felt like the intrusive thoughts C was feeling, aside from mostly having violence in common, were a bit of everything and the kitchen sink. I don’t know if this is a common experience so more research would definitely be required before implementing this, but I wonder if her having a specific thought that repeated, or had some recognizable permutations, would make her read as less indiscriminately violent.
  • Relatedly, make sure you’re clear on what experiences you are and are not portraying. I noted a few comments from the others along the lines of “this seems more like…” and while co-morbidities certainly happen – I’m not a fan of the overly clinical language but it’s what I have – lumping too many things together is not going give you a respectfully portrayed character. Keeping the difference between mental health and neurodiversity top of mind is a good call-out too.
  • Can you assign her some specific coping mechanisms that can demonstrate that she is in control of her actions?
  • Content note on the next two bullets for discussion of self-harm:
    Spoiler

     

    • D’s comment about C’s “habits” felt overly stigmatizing. If C has engaged in self-harm (my assumption, more on that in a second) or harm on another before, this is not a very good way to address it. It seems more likely that D and C would bluntly address the elephant in the room in terms of whatever behaviours C’s behaving in that D doesn’t like – it’s a large part of both their lives, and being up-front is surely a better way for them to communicate about C’s needs. Plus, euphemisms like “habits” suggest that expressed experiences of mental illness are something that are inappropriate or bad to discuss, while also leaving us to imagine all sorts of horrible things that C might have done.
    • Regarding the scissors – I assumed that they were locked away because C was in danger of using them to self-harm and not harm others, because of the way she’s been handling her intrusive thoughts so far and because she’s not in prison, but that is certainly not evident in the narrative. You could potentially give us cues to this – scars, for example – but it might be worthwhile to just be explicit. The conversation between D and C might be an opportunity there.

     

     

  • My initial read of V-ism that it was fringe and maybe even kind of cult-y. The scene between D and C at the service makes me wonder if maybe that's not correct, but immediately having the impression that the character with mental illness was part of a cult definitely contributes to mental health stigma, IMO.
  • Sounds obvious, but research will be very important here, and not just around the actual experiences of people who live with this type of thing, but make sure you are very aware of the tropes regarding characters with mental illnesses in fiction, and make sure your character doesn’t fall into them.

As I read:

Start of this sub is giving me a considerably different impression of the time period than the previous subs did. “Human trials” and – funny though it may sound – “clipboard” were very jarring to read as I suddenly felt like I was in a much more modern period than the previous subs. Is there some setup that happens in the chapters we didn’t see that provides some ground work for this?

P3 “The engineers screamed and…” this description is hitting me a bit oddly. I think because it presents the folks in attendance as very uniform in their panic. Very minor, but a stumbling block nonetheless.

So I would not except a reanimated automaton to be able to talk or reason, but nobody seems surprised so far by the fact that that’s what this one appears to be doing. Bad assumption on my part?

P4, again, finding what seems to be a sudden transition from period fantasy to Evangelion-style scifi to be somewhat jarring (even though I’m assuming that the suits are powered by magic). Definitely needs to be some setup for the level of technology in the world, and how magic and technology interact, before now.

“...begin to redevelop its original personality.” I think the time to get this information is probably before automatons started running around having opinions about things, to provide more context around people’s reactions to this. And… is this common? If so, why was it allowed to happen in the first place?

Is our impressively-dressed friend who just burst through the ceiling the sinister caped guy from the prologue? I’m getting bad-guy vibes again. And he shut the automaton down, so...

“Check the finance department” feels like a bit of a let-down, tbh. At least all on its own. I really hope this mech didn’t come back to life just to warn me that Joe in Accounting was skimming 5% off the top.

“She knew he was only thirty-five…” Can I hit him? Please? (I am rooting hard for this guy to be an antagonist.)

So I had originally had the impression that C’s religion was fringe whereas D’s religion was fairly mainstream. If that’s a good assumption, though, it seems unlikely that C would be quite this ignorant of a more mainstream religion that people in her own family follow. To the extent that it feels info-dumpy, it was because I started with that assumption that D’s religion was a mainstream one and I couldn’t understand why C didn’t know most of this. I think I was also mentally coding it as Christian, and assuming some of the cultural ubiquity that comes with it. As a conversation between two people, it actually reads fairly naturally.

Edited by Silk
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Thanks @Silk, for this very in-depth critique! 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

To the extent that this worked for me, it was because it was clear to me that her thoughts were unwanted, and because C did not act on her intrusive thoughts or seem particularly likely to do so, except for when she approached the automaton. That said, do C’s intrusive thoughts need to be violent ones or can they be something else?

After yours and @shatteredsmooth's comments, I think in the next draft I will probably go ahead and just cut the violence altogether. While she will still have intrusive thoughts, I think that it would be good to just avoid the stigma altogether and have her thoughts be more similar to others I know with OCD. I think the main reason I wanted to go with the violent thoughts is that i thought they would be a bit more...idk relatable for the average reader? Because who doesn't want to just hit someone every once in a while? But I think you are absolutely correct about walking a thin line here, and perpetuating harmful stigmas about mental illness is the exact opposite of what I'm trying to do here, so I think I will mellow it out in general. 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

My initial read of V-ism that it was fringe and maybe even kind of cult-y.

So yes, it is a bit cult-like/counter religion, and thank you for pointing this out, I hadn't htought of that. I will go into it later in the book, but the way I saw it was like if satanism and the red cross had a baby. As in, they worship the big bad (oblivion) but do it by bailing out people's basements and running soup kitchens. But I can still see your point. 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

P4, again, finding what seems to be a sudden transition from period fantasy to Evangelion-style scifi to be somewhat jarring (even though I’m assuming that the suits are powered by magic). Definitely needs to be some setup for the level of technology in the world, and how magic and technology interact, before now

Noted. I think everyone commented on something like this (and then I had to look up what evangelion was, lol) so I will try to put some more references to this in earlier chapters. They definitely do not have this level of technology yet, they are just using magic to fake it. 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

Is our impressively-dressed friend who just burst through the ceiling the sinister caped guy from the prologue? I’m getting bad-guy vibes again. And he shut the automaton down, so...

It is Greg from the prologue. The classist jerk who said the thing like "they couldn't even rule without us" or something like that. He survived, and yes, is a main antagonist for the story. (the caped guy is N, actually) 

8 hours ago, Silk said:

(including “friendzone,” ugh)

I really wish I had just deleted this before submitting. Please trust me when I say this word would absoulely never make it into the actual manuscript. I used it mainly to code A's own misogynistic outlook for my own personal uses, but now I'm really regretting it. 

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1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Thanks @Silk, for this very in-depth critique! 

You're most welcome! I hope it was helpful!

1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

but do it by bailing out people's basements and running soup kitchens

I actually like this idea, on its own, it's the combination of the counter-culture/cult thing with a character who happens to have a mental illness, which happens to manifest as violence. I shifting C's intrusive thoughts to something non-violent will help a lot here. And, if there's room for it, possibly setting this this religion up a bit more so that it's clearly counter-culture as opposed to a cult. There's a distinct difference there, but not clear from the little information we have which one applies.

1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

(and then I had to look up what evangelion was, lol)

...you have my sincere apologies. :P

1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

It is Greg from the prologue

Oh yeah, him! Well then, I will go ahead and pat myself on the back for disliking him all along. And I get to continue to do so! Hooray!

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2 hours ago, Silk said:

Oh yeah, him! Well then, I will go ahead and pat myself on the back for disliking him all along. And I get to continue to do so! Hooray!

So, I will admit that I was a little surprised that nobody seemed to recognize him, though that is understandable since I frist subbed the prologue like...four months ago? I think? Anyway, one of the main reasons I was hesitant to cut the prologue was because I wanted to get the introductions for G and J, who--spoiler alert--both survived and have bigger roles to play later in the story. But anyway, how did it affect your perception of the character, viewing this chapter as his first introduction, versus now, with remembering the prologue? Do you think that this could work as his first introduction? 

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "She looked back down to her clipboard and frowned." If sister is just visiting, why does she have a clipboard?

Pg 1, "had to get up early every morning to paint them on" God, I'm too lazy for normal makeup. Having to get up every morning to do a very specific and probably complicated pattern would drive me bonkers. Does she use a stencil or is it by hand? Is it considered sacrilege if you cry and smear the pattern?

Pg 2, “Neato mosquito,” I think I'm going to have to steal this to go with my "No prob, Bob" I took from Steven Universe. Drives kids crazy.

Pg 2, “I would never do something so stupid.” Tell me how you really feel about your sister's religion ;) 

Pg 2, "hadn’t enabled her" Okay, not sure what her habits are, but I assume those would probably come up earlier since I know you are kind of skipping ahead to this chapter. That, or they'll come up later this chapter.

Pg 2, " His eyes didn’t linger." Not sure if this is supposed to suggest that he is not particularly respectful, or that she is not particularly eye-catching.

Pg 5, "Come with me." Her kindness towards this automaton endears her to me. 

Pg 6, "Money?" A word that encompasses much of the problems in the world. 

Pg 8, "using a marker to draw a line down her cheek." That answers my earlier question. Is there a better word than marker? Otherwise I think of Crayola, but that might only be because I teach kids. I don't wear makeup myself (outside of using an eyebrow pencil to give myself wrinkles for the 100th day of school), so I can't help you on suggestions. 

Pg 12, "mind started to wander." I stopped going to church around the age of eight or so, but I distinctly remember the boredom that comes with sermons. 

Hopping in on previous comments:

On 12/7/2020 at 2:54 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

this is what I was imagining: 

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Is there a better way to describe this? (actual question) 

While I think @shatteredsmooth covered pretty well needed carefulness of portraying mental health, I can actually add in a little bit of personal experience on this one.

Obviously, everyone is different and mental illnesses can vary in form. My friend of nearly six years (my roommate for four of those) was diagnosed with OCD for intrusive thoughts when she was very young. Hers are self-centered, not aimed towards others. Despite this, she is a happy-go-lucky woman prone to bouts of crippling self-doubt and depression...and the most giving, kind soul I've ever met. I can honestly say I don't think I have met anyone as naturally selfless as her before, who is willing to drop anything at any moment to help you. Who'll show up at your place at 3am when you panic or need to celebrate, or makes you a cup of tea before you need it, or knows there is something wrong before you even open your mouth. I would have never considered OCD if you hadn't said something. 

When it comes to writing the "other" I'd follow the advice age old advice of: talk to people who live that life, and find out what it is actually like. I made that mistake very early on with my severely visually impaired character J. Early versions of him carried some very dangerous and harmful stereotypes and it wasn't until I joined groups like the National Foundation for the Blind that I realized this. It was a rough awakening. 

On 12/9/2020 at 0:59 AM, Sarah B said:

I got more of an autism with depression vibe, particularly from the mention of 'bad days".

I definitely got a more depressive vibe. Not necessarily autistic, but autism is a huuuuuuuuuuuge spectrum that varies massively

On 12/7/2020 at 8:05 PM, kais said:

Women can be pretty brutal. If these are interior thoughts, she'd likely just think She looked thin. Too thin. She was probably anorexic.Mostly because women are taught from early ages to compete against one another in the thin category. So even painfully thin women are often the objects of jealousy, even by otherwise well-meaning and delightful women. It's a social conditioning thing of Western society.

Also the thing that caught me was the lips more than the size. I don't know if I have ever noticed a woman's lips unless that woman was Angelina Jolie. And I A) like lips and B.) like women

I'm going to echo this. I have to remind myself that sometimes the first thing that comes to mind isn't what I actually think but what society has led me to believe. 

When I notice someone who is very thin, I personally notice their collarbones jutting out and my first two thoughts are generally, "They look like they need a good meal" and "They look very uncomfortable to hug."

The lips caught me off guard too. Pretty much the only time I think of lips is when they are so injected with botox they look like balloons or they look like they've been doing the Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

On 12/7/2020 at 8:05 PM, kais said:

Women talk about their breasts, and the breasts of other women, all the time. They just don't talk about them like men talk about them. You could do it in cup sizes (something like: her sister had always had those nice perky Cs, while she'd been stuck with pancake As), or if she's happy with them because they don't draw as much attention, there's (Her sister had a chest that commanded attention in a room. She, mercifully, could still go out without a bra). Or to be silly and code it more, you could do (her sister commanded a room. She was a card carrying, proud member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee).

The thing to remember is that men tend to describe breasts in terms of shape, form, handfuls, nipple direction (perky, etc.). Women do it in terms of comfort, attention other women get, sometimes nipple direction (especially if its an age thing), or in silliness. I do appreciate your dedication to avoiding male gaze!

Here's generally my thought process towards breasts:

Big breasts: "Dang, my back aches just looking at her." My aunt's sister actually had hers surgically reduced because the weight was literally causing back issues.

Average sized breasts: Actually, I don't notice them. Maybe because this is the category I fall into?

Small breasts: "I bet they aren't even wearing a bra. I wish I could get away with not wearing a bra more often. God I hate bras, they itch." 

12 hours ago, Silk said:

I’ll echo the comments that I found these two chapters way more engaging than the first few you submitted. Voice was clearer, the sense of personal stakes was there, and while the big-picture sense of stakes maybe wasn’t quite, I think there’s probably an easy fix – see my comments about the finance bit below (and the fact that we’ve skipped several chapters is likely contributing as well).

My biggest struggle was reconciling what seemed to be a chapter with very scifi-feeling tech with previous chapters which seemed to be standard Renaissance-ish period fantasy. It may be, again, a product of missing some of the earlier chapters – maybe A and S were just in more remote areas? - but there needs to be some more setup on what level of technology is available, how common it is, and how magic and technology interact.

I'll echo Silk echoing everyone else. I personally am down for a techy steampunk-sci-fi-renaissance-era if you can lay the foundation on strong. I love tech and magic. I enjoyed these chapters, which you can probably tell by my lack of comments with confused questions. Good job, my dude. 

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37 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

So, I will admit that I was a little surprised that nobody seemed to recognize him, though that is understandable since I frist subbed the prologue like...four months ago?

This is why we have the "WRS" acronym! I suspect that's a large part of it, yes. Did we have his last name in the prologue before? If not, that might help.

I think that as an introduction to the character, what we see here works just fine. It pretty much gives me the information that I need to know: he's a powerful character, he's kind of insufferable, and he's proooobably (I say probably because if I'd picked this up off the shelf, I wouldn't be able to just message you with "I'm allowed to hate him, right?" XD) an antagonist. So, I don't think we're losing anything in terms of seeing G as he is now. What we do lose from the prologue is the sense of transformation. So sense of transformation is important, for the character for both G and J, or for the social/political milieu of the world in general, and can't be gotten across in other ways, then the prologue is more worth keeping around, IMO.

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