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ginger_reckoning

12.21.20 ginger-reckoning Ek ch1+2 (vl) (3400 words)

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New work! Yay! You know, these little writing exercises can spawn some of the best stories. @Robinski did one following a Writing Excuses prompt and it spawned a whole book series!

Overall

I think this is a good starting sketch, and has a lot of material to work with. The pacing is really slow, and I think pivotal plot elements need to be brought out earlier (like the god tear). More specific comments below. The first segment had a good arc. I didn't get any really distinct voices but that's likely because I wasn't connecting with any of the characters. We have our BIG goal (DEMOCRACY) so now you just need the personal stakes and sub-goals, to make this a really dynamic chapter. I don't think it will take a whole ton of editing to get it there, so nice work on the draft.

As I go

- strong first line. I'm interested

- pg 1: She silently thanked each god ...<-- the impact of those first few awesome lines fades hard at this point. The pacing was great and then it just sort of got bogged down. 

You haven't won yet <-- super cliche. I'd be more fun if they saw the emperor's body first, maybe kicked it a few times. Had a drink, then the emperor groaned and they were all, OH NOES! (and then maybe someone got bludgeoned to death??)

- why is E arguing with him? Why not just bash his crystal face in and be done?

- pg 2: He is muting my powers <-- wait what now? I'm confused. I think we've got a lot of light worldbuilding elements all thrown in together now, with not enough time with each one to figure out what it means. Suggest instead giving each worldbuilding item the time it needs to shine, so we can incorporate it into our reader heads before moving on.

- pg 2: She pulled out her knife <-- why has it taken this long?

- I think all this chit chat from pages 1-2 could be condensed into a few paragraphs, wherein they just knife the emperor after her starts maniacally babbling. It would keep the tension going and not bog us down in so much evil villain mustachio twirling

- pg 3 is far too late to dismember the emperor (things said only in writing forums)

- pg 6: The battle is now officially over <-- I thought it was over from line one. This makes me feel like we could cut everything and start here

- pg 6: She was not the only leader <-- would prefer this earlier, as it gives the reader some grounding. Still looking for the conflict arc though. Her goal is to install a democracy, check. But what are the stakes? What's in it for her, personally? Why should we care about her or her democracy?

- pg 8: I'm adrift. So many new characters and I still don't really understand the world as much as I would like. Still searching for the through line for our main character, who I am genuinely curious about

- pg 8: the god tear is particularly interesting. I think a bit more about it early, and focusing the plot more specifically around it (or personal stakes/wants for our MC) would be a good hook

 

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I think this definitely has potential, but I was thrown off by the dialogue and the lack of specifics in the setting. Starting a book with the aftermath of a giant battle is hard because you're at the resolution of another story. All these people had heroic moments that we never saw and character building scenes, and now they're thrust on us. It's hard to make a reader care about them. Think about if the Star Wars story started right after the end of Return of the Jedi. There is literally no story that takes on that moment. Some books pick up a few months or years later, and the new movies are 30 years out, because that's the end of the story. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's going to be a challenge to boost the reader into caring about all these characters that have come together and had an adventure already.

I think this is why I had trouble with the specifics of the setting. We would have to get an explanation for every single thing that happens to make it worthwhile (Why is the emperor bad? Why was Ek chosen as a figurehead? Why is El the only one with her? Who is "he" who is muting the powers? What powers? Why is all the knowledge concentrated in the library, and why didn't they steal that first? Why are there no guards with the emperor...)

Yes, I'm being harsh on this, but as you're going for "writing xp" on this, I figured I'd make it bleed red...

Again, I think there's a hook in there, but this is going to be an uphill battle to make the story catch someone right off. I was almost into it on the first page before the MC had some terrible dialogue. That instantly made me question whether this was actually a space epic, or if it was a comedy hiding as a SF story. That would be a good twist, if that's what you're going for, to have a big dramatic moment, ending the battle, and then basically "You're an idiot" "no, you're a hyper idiot" "no, you're a mega idiot!" But then the story goes serious again and I'm just left confused.

So, there's some interesting material in here, but I think this would need to zero the focus in on one character to give the reader some stakes, and give a very definite personal goal, something a little more specific than "we need to set up an entire galactic government from scratch."

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: Starting line needs specificity. Just like what? You give the details afterward, so it might be better to say something like "I just freed the galaxy" or similar to bring the reader into the character and setting.

pg 1: "“Well if we’re idiots, I guess that makes you an ultra idiot,” “Cause you, ya know, lost.” 
--Erp, nope. I was actually getting into this as the aftermath of a huge space opera battle taking down a god-emperor and then...the MC opens their mouth. Unless you're going for SF comedy this completely derails the gravity of the setting you've just created.

pg 2: "He has something to do with it,” 
--he who? Both the characters introduced so far are female, yes?

pg 2: "The soldiers let out a cheer"
--these are the soldiers on high alert, high-strung even though there's no more danger, right? I don't think they would cheer.

pg 2: "And part of it had exploded."
--that is the least exciting way to say this.

pg 3: “But no one rules forever. I don’t need your stupid library. I’m going to bring a light to the darkness of your tyranny.” 
--yeah at this point, I'm sort of hoping the emperor pulls through. He seems a lot more competent.

pg 3: "El floated over"
--Is that all she's doing? She just sat there the whole chapter. She's planted as an equal with Ek, taking over the empire, but she hasn't been introduced or done anything. I don't even know why/how she's floating.

pg 4: "El floated up beside her"
--at this point, I'm just annoyed at her floating around. There's no description yet. Is she telekinetic? In a hoverchair? Missing her legs? An anthropomorphic speck of light with eyes?

pg 4: "turned her handless body"
--okay, so we know she's missing hands and has a shell? 

pg 6: There's lots of talk about people dying, but there's no emotional attachment because we know nothing about the resistance or the fight. I guess we're supposed to assume the empire was bad? Is the resistance less bad?

pg 6: "Can we truly say that our goals are worth even a single life?”
--I think you can definitively say that, yes, as you've voluntarily thrown many away to have this victory.

pg 7: “Wow! The throne room!” 
--This is like something said on a Saturday morning kid's cartoon.

pg 7: "And he had been G’s boyfriend, so he was off-limits."
--off limits for what? A relationship? Sex? Why is she thinking this now when everyone's gathering for a meeting?

pg 8: "We killed Asm...n"
--that's who killed him! (Sorry, WoT fan question for many years...)

pg 8/9: Also, I just realized I'm skimming to get to the end because I don't care about any of these characters and there have been about 10 introduced in the last two pages.

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Thanks for the critiques! I definitely get that starting at the end of a conflict "offscreen" will definitely be a challenge, which is partially why I am doing it. Kind of like trying to bench press at my upper limit. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Yes, I'm being harsh on this, but as you're going for "writing xp" on this, I figured I'd make it bleed red...

Yes, good. Please do. 

20 hours ago, kais said:

I'm adrift. So many new characters and I still don't really understand the world as much as I would like. Still searching for the through line for our main character, who I am genuinely curious about

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8/9: Also, I just realized I'm skimming to get to the end because I don't care about any of these characters and there have been about 10 introduced in the last two pages.

Yeah, I think this will part of the challenge of starting where I am. On my next pass, I think i'll just cut some of these guys to be introduced later. It is quite a bit. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

g 7: "And he had been G’s boyfriend, so he was off-limits."
--off limits for what? A relationship? Sex? Why is she thinking this now when everyone's gathering for a meeting?

I'm just deleting this on the next pass. It's a weird line, mainly just trying to call back to Ge.  

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "We killed Asm...n"
--that's who killed him! (Sorry, WoT fan question for many years...)

I only ever read the first three books, and its been a while. Is this the name of a character from WOT? 

20 hours ago, kais said:

pg 2: He is muting my powers <-- wait what now?

This is me trying to get my foreshadowing in early. I'll probably just save this for later. 

20 hours ago, kais said:

why is E arguing with him? Why not just bash his crystal face in and be done?

You know, that is an excellent question. For...plot reasons I guess? I'll take another look at this. 

 

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1 minute ago, ginger_reckoning said:
1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "We killed Asm...n"
--that's who killed him! (Sorry, WoT fan question for many years...)

I only ever read the first three books, and its been a while. Is this the name of a character from WOT? 

Yes, the question was "Who killed Asmodeon." It happens in book 4 and no one figured it out until it was told in book 14, about 20 years later!

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Oh, ok gotcha. 20 years? I'm constantly just staggered by the scale of wot tbh 

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3 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Oh, ok gotcha. 20 years? I'm constantly just staggered by the scale of wot tbh 

Oh geez, that was actually a guess, but I just looked it up. Book 4 published in 1992, book 14 published in 2013. 21 years!

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On 12/22/2020 at 1:04 PM, Mandamon said:

Yes, the question was "Who killed Asmodeon." It happens in book 4 and no one figured it out until it was told in book 14, about 20 years later!

I barely even remember this character from WoT. And dang it must have been a long wait for people who were reading them as they came out. I remember reading the entire series in middle school when I had nothing better to do with my time. 

Anyways, I'm here for actual comments. I think there's a lot of good potential here. In particular, I was interested by the tear and the destruction of the library, and how they fit into E's character and the larger plot. 

Other readers have mentioned that the pace is pretty slow, and the best way I can rationalize why is that it seems like the story doesn't have tight control over its characters. What I mean by that is that each character clearly has things they want to say, and the story's just sorta letting them blurt it all out. This means the events of the story end up falling to the background, and their words feel a bit weaker when it doesn't feel like there's anything pushing them to say what they are. The emperor's words, for example, don't really feel urgent to me. It feels like he's going on about whatever he wants to, and nobody's going to make him hurry it up even though they're here to kill him.

Yet at the same time, I also feel like I need more characterization from E and our supporting cast. This might seem contradictory with my above point, but I actually think it comes from the same place. We get a few glimpses of personality such as her feelings about the library that I liked, but I think we need more about her motivations and relationships to the other characters. I think if the story decide which dynamics it wants to focus on (class struggle, meaning of freedom, camaraderie, ect.), we can get stronger characterization of E based on what those ideas mean to her, and it will keep the characters more directed while also fleshing them out more. This is especially important for helping me keep track of the other characters, because right now it was a bit much for me. I need something to make each of them stand out, and the easiest way to do that imo is through E's view of the story's central dynamics. Like if E's core focus is on teamwork (just an example, not saying you should use this), we could learn how everyone fits into the team. If E's focus is on freedom, we could learn what E thinks freedom means to each of the people she's working with, and who will support her in achieving freedom and who will stand in her way. There are lots of options the story can take here. 

Good luck going forward with this story! :) 

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Comments.

(page 1)

- Good first line. You have my attention.

- It feels like fantasy so far, not SF. There is a monarch, guards are armoured.

- Good character stakes in the first few lines. She has a job to do, and it's clear what her objective is, and yet lots of scope to play with in terms of how she goes about that, and what it involved.

- I would say that resistance fighters are seeking to resist and invading force, whereas people overthrowing their 'natural' ruler would be rebels. I'm not saying resistance is the wrong term, I'm just saying that it sounds to me from the context more like they are rebels, on what I've read so far.

- Why, oh why, oh why do I read so many submission on RE where characters have names that start with the same letter? There's just not need for it, and I find it...distracting, and potentially confusing down the line.

- I'm not doing LBLs. But there are LBLs to be had. I just didn't want you to think it was perfect ;)  Seriously though, I think it reads pretty well, style-wise. 

- Don't understand what God's T is, even from context.

- "A soldier placed a hand on her shoulder" - Why? I don't follow. Why would a soldier try to stop her? I can guess, but I don't think it's clear. And yes, when she stands over him there are sparks flying and this stone thing. Seems like she's in immediate danger. Why would she put herself in harms way? Again, I can think of reasons, but they are not shown on the page.

(page 2)

- "He collapsed, the arm he was using to prop himself up on the throne collapsing" - Awkward repetition of 'collapse'.

- "She pulled out her knife" - Okay, so there's a nebula, and a space battle, and an android, but the use of knives pulls me back towards a fantasy vibe. Spaceships, and yet knives?

- "I know a human female with eight kids" - Don't start me on this...

- "children abused by servants" - This feels like a 'straw man' argument to me. Of course abuse is bad, but it's too easy to refute, and it sits in this short list of bad things like a...well, a straw man. "You are terrible: you're bad tempered, have terrible dress sense, you're greedy, oh, yes, and you're a paedophile."

- "Startled, she glanced behind her to see that they had gathered in behind her" - Awkward repetition of 'behind her'. Arrgh, I'm doing LBLs. Stopping now.

- "From up here in the center of the palace, they could see all of the massive ring that made up the rest of the station. And part of it had exploded" - (1) I'm not getting the perspective, how they can see everything 'below' when they are in the centre of a room. I don't believe they would have the angle of view to do that. Having said that; (2) If they are on an orbital station, depending on how gravity is generated, 'up' may not be the traditional idea of up. Finally; (3) kind of underwhelmed by the explosion. Good opportunity for some dramatic description.

- "Good luck ruling without comprehending that, your majesty" - Don't think you need this, it confuses, IMO. It's not a case of comprehending it, but it no longer existing.

(page 3)

- "sputtering w-mbat" - I instantly think of wombats, which are very cute. Not a very gritting swear at all. Kind of weak, given the tone so far.

- "Their faces were now inches apart" - Inches is so old world. Not very SF, but then neither are swords and knives.

- "yanked out her knife again" - don't remember her putting it away.

- Every time it says 'gemstone' I think if the Tear, not his head. A gemstone is more usually associated with a small object. I think the word 'crystal' (for the head) is easier to distinguish from the Tear.

- "E floated over" - I don't get this 'E' thing at all. No clue what it is. (Also, named spelled differently, typo.)

- "There was no more need for violence. The hard part was done. Now she just had to make things right, bring the galaxy back to its noble past. War and oppression, they were over now. For good" - Okay, now I know this is a fantasy. She is spectacularly naive.

(page 4)

- "She already had her black hair braided into a crown for this occasion" - Okay, I think I get it. She's the baddie, right? The new baddie anyway? The latest baddie.

(page 5)

- "a rare show of emotion for the e species" - I'd like the explanation that E is an alien sooner. Also, another name beginning with 'E'.

- They seem more upset about the loss of the library than any loss of life suffered on their side, which presumable was considerable.

(page 6)

- "are to convene in this room immediately" - Who's giving the others? I though Ek was the boss.

- "Her superiors would be here soon" - Eh? No, hang on. It was presented before the Ek would be the new supreme ruler. This is contradictory, or previous references are, IMO.

- "She had simply been chosen to be the face of the new movement, to act as the new “Autarch”" - Okay, now I'm really quite confused. So, they are actually going to have a council or committee of some sort to make the decisions, but they are going to retain the name 'Autarch'? That's ridiculous. The whole point of revolution is to change the system. How would anyone know they had one if they retain the olds system? How do the stop future abuse by a new Autarch who decides to slaughter the council and take over? This is bizarre, IMO.

Okay, as a keep reading this is, to some extent, explained, but I still think it's madness to retain the position. They should at least change the name.

- "To act against the wills of the other leaders would be completely against the spirit of the Resistance" - I mean technically, not so, because that would then be resistance against the new regime, so it still would be resistance. As they are now the establishment, they have nothing to resist.

- "arms strong enough to lift them" - Eh? Arms strong enough to lift his legs? That's a quick way to fall over.

- "Very few people in the D were aware of the existence of other planets" - No, you've lost me here. So who is doing all the fighting in these spaces ships? Where do they live? Who makes the space ships, and when they launch the new spaces ships, where to do the people on the ground who don't know about other worlds think they are going? I don't believe this at all. That's like saying that people on Earth don't know that there are other celestial objects in the sky.

- "Can we truly say that our goals are worth even a single life?" - :rolleyes: His tone it very preachy. I guess it's just coming from this commander, although Ek's internal monologue is also naive about his the world works. It just seems really unlikely from a soldier. My impression from everything I've seen is that soldiering quickly erodes any idealism in the individual. Just look at the survivors of any war and how they are treated by society afterwards, let alone the damage that it done to their psyche during combat. I struggle to be engaged by K's character, and by the commander.

(page 7)

- The en's perspective is much more realistic.

- "sick to my stomachs" - LOL. There is a strand of comedy, which does confuse me as to the tone of the story, but it's nice to laugh occasionally.

- I like the pace at which you are feeding in new characters. I think that is judge nicely. It works because it is realistic that commanders would arrive at different times due to practical considerations, and that two species (perhaps more closely allied than others) would arrive together for practical, but also for political reasons. And of course it gives the reader time to absorb new information at a practical pace.

- "And he had been G’s boyfriend, so he was off-limits" - Okay, now information is starting to come too quickly, I think. I like to have the personal relationship input at this point, but I hope there are not many more names to come. I don't mind repetition of the same names, like underlining how the sad hold their weapons. It's not a new name, but a new detail about a name I just learned. That's fine, IMO. I'm coping, but nearing overload.

(page 8)

- "the Convergence" - Whoa, whoa, whoa, the what?

- "Most people were conditioned to ignore them" - Why? This is flat out telling.

(page 9)

- "I tried to give it to A a few minutes ago, and it burned his hand" - No, hang on. This was not on the page. This has to be on the page to refer to it in the meeting, it's too important to just say it happened. This moment need to be foreshadowed.

- "the meeting happens. I’m still writing it, but I’m not including" - NO! Well, I mean, yes, keeping writing obviously, but I think this is the end of the chapter right here. This is a very dramatic moment. It's like Frodo accepting the one ring, and it would be a great place to end the chapter. You said yourself that the meeting is becoming boring, and I think you might be right. I would cut And's line, and the reference to him. Finish the chapter with "I'm the only one who can touch it." I think that sets up big tension and would pull the reader into the next chapter very quickly.

Overall 

I won't retread my various points of detail here. I think there was some unevenness in the tone, in terms of on one hand making references to child abuse (which is hardcore) then on the other having a quite flippant tone towards the mass destruction, it seemed.

The mechanics were pretty good, I thought. I thought the narrative itself was well paced, the dialogue often good, usually easily readable, and flowing well, even when I thought the content had issues.

Where I began to have structural issues was with the council meeting. The mechanics of it were good. I liked how the various species came together, introduced at a good pace, verging on overburdening the reader, but not quite reaching that point, I thought. I liked the feel of that, how they pulled up chairs around the throne It felt makeshift, on the hoof; they felt exhausted, tapped out, trying to get done what they had to so they could rest. I thought the creation of the mood was very good. My difficulties were with how some of the new information was introduced.

For one thing, I think there was a lot of new information here, at the end of the chapter. I'm not saying cut all or move most, but maybe just review and see if you need it all. By all means keep some, even most. I liked how some of the leaders were caught on the hop, like with them not controlling the whole station (which is entirely realistic), and not even know that the tear was a real thing, that was nicely done. What I'm saying is that there are a couple of bits dropped in without explanation that clanged for me, like why everyone ignores the En. That just confused me.

Comments above about the chapter, but I would strong recommend not going any further and ending with the client dropping the stone. I think that is the dramatic moment the chapter end needs.

Good job. There is a lot I like about this. It's a good, interesting pace start to a novel, and I certainly would read on. All my gripes are fixable. I look forward to reading more. The challenge is to keep it interesting and surprising, and not to fall into staid old obvious patterns of space opera.

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The act of critiquing, or actually just of reading itself never ceases to amaze me. I thought the pacing was fine (always something interesting happening on the page), was willing to make assumptions about most things not explained (for example that they had killed the Autarch's guards already), or accept them on the basis of learning more later (like the tear).

And now it's over to the writer, @ginger_reckoning, to make all those lovely decisions about how to pick all the comments apart and paste them back together :D. I would think you get quite a few experience rolls from this exercise. Well done!

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I thought the first chapter was a solid start. Plenty of action, and I understand why it matters as I'm reading. 

I'm get a strong StarWars/space empire vibe.

The second chapter felt slow to me, with a lot of world elements and characters explained in a very dense area of text. Not bad, just hard to track and harder to recall for later.

The MC's voice was a little confused, ranging from silly sounding cursing to very high handed and philosophical. The second reads more beleivably for someone who would be chosen as a figure head, unless you are purposefully bucking expectations. 

A few lines struck me as references to other works, which I am all for, but the tone doesn't seem to suport the parody vibe. The two that jumped out the most:

"Everything I do, I do for a reason." Oden

"Narfing" Pinky and the Brain

I am always up for a scifi parody, if this is where the story is going. It feels a little thrown in at this point though. 

Thanks for sharing!

May the Force (or the Swartz) be with you :-)

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Thanks for the comments!

14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Other readers have mentioned that the pace is pretty slow, and the best way I can rationalize why is that it seems like the story doesn't have tight control over its characters. What I mean by that is that each character clearly has things they want to say, and the story's just sorta letting them blurt it all out.

This is a hlepful insight. Thanks!

14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I think if the story decide which dynamics it wants to focus on (class struggle, meaning of freedom, camaraderie, ect.), we can get stronger characterization of E based on what those ideas mean to her, and it will keep the characters more directed while also fleshing them out more.

I think on my next pass that I will be amending her personality a bit to focus on certain ideals...I will be interested to see what you think. But thanks, this is helpful also. 

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

"She pulled out her knife" - Okay, so there's a nebula, and a space battle, and an android, but the use of knives pulls me back towards a fantasy vibe. Spaceships, and yet knives?

This blend of fantasy elements in here is intentional, to an extent. I'm hoping to get into this later, but it's mainly to highlight how far behind they are technologically from what you might expect. For instance, no laser/energy weapons. Or does this pull away from the story too much? 

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

"I know a human female with eight kids" - Don't start me on this...

Well, now I'm curious :) . Don't start you on what? 

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

"children abused by servants" - This feels like a 'straw man' argument to me. Of course abuse is bad, but it's too easy to refute, and it sits in this short list of bad things like a...well, a straw man. "You are terrible: you're bad tempered, have terrible dress sense, you're greedy, oh, yes, and you're a paedophile."

fair!

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

Okay, I think I get it. She's the baddie, right? The new baddie anyway? The latest baddie

:ph34r: 

6 hours ago, Robinski said:

arms strong enough to lift them" - Eh? Arms strong enough to lift his legs? That's a quick way to fall over.

Oh! Whoops, I meant the trees referenced before. Is there are better way to phrase this and keep the comparison? 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

For one thing, I think there was a lot of new information here, at the end of the chapter. I'm not saying cut all or move most, but maybe just review and see if you need it all.

I totally agree with this. I will be cutting and rearranging some parts for sure. It's verging on info-dump, i think. 

1 hour ago, Sarah B said:

I'm get a strong StarWars/space empire vibe

Thats what I'm going for! That and Dune, anyway. I was always frustrated that they never addressed the implications of killing the emperor (which they are actually amending a bit with mando, which I like) so I guess this is my way of venting that frustration 

1 hour ago, Sarah B said:

"Everything I do, I do for a reason." Oden

Like, from thor? I don't recall this part, but thanks for pointing it out! 

1 hour ago, Sarah B said:

"Narfing" Pinky and the Brain

Ha! I hadn't even thought of that, but totally! whoops

1 hour ago, Sarah B said:

I am always up for a scifi parody, if this is where the story is going. It feels a little thrown in at this point though.

I guess I'm going for more of a subversion, with parody elements. I think the inconsistency of tone is one the most obvious problems that everyone pointed out, so I will try to address it as I continue. I think that for me, as a writer, it is hard to get a serious tone because I worry it will become too serious and full of itself. And well, I'm just not a very serious person most of the time. So I think that will be another thing to put on my radar for this project. 

Gratitude to everyone, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

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18 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:
On 24/12/2020 at 11:55 AM, Robinski said:

"She pulled out her knife" - Okay, so there's a nebula, and a space battle, and an android, but the use of knives pulls me back towards a fantasy vibe. Spaceships, and yet knives?

This blend of fantasy elements in here is intentional, to an extent. I'm hoping to get into this later, but it's mainly to highlight how far behind they are technologically from what you might expect. For instance, no laser/energy weapons. Or does this pull away from the story too much?

Not necessarily, but what I would say is maybe make a clear statement about this early one. Not a telling one, maybe something like 'How was it they could fight among the stars, but still were reduced to stabbing their enemies with metal.' I know this is not right, but just to try and illustrate. The more I think about it, if they have some form of space drive, and have the tech to travel between the stars, it's hard to imagine that have not at least invented guns.

18 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:
On 24/12/2020 at 11:55 AM, Robinski said:

"I know a human female with eight kids" - Don't start me on this...

Well, now I'm curious :) . Don't start you on what? 

I said don't start me, darn it! ;) 

(It's an environmental thing. I know in some parts of the world (historically?) it's been a matter of survival to have enough kids to look after a person in their dotage and infirmity, but having more than two or three kids, in the developed world, is not a responsible thing to do, IMO.)

Spoiler


18 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:
On 24/12/2020 at 11:55 AM, Robinski said:

Okay, I think I get it. She's the baddie, right? The new baddie anyway? The latest baddie

:ph34r: 

If this is the case, I like how we see their original story like this, and almost probably root for them. Harbouring this suspicion as I do, it's a good motivator to read on, although it does then mean that I don't know, or perhaps have not yet met, the protagonist.

Interesting...<_<

18 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:
On 24/12/2020 at 11:55 AM, Robinski said:

arms strong enough to lift them" - Eh? Arms strong enough to lift his legs? That's a quick way to fall over.

Oh! Whoops, I meant the trees referenced before. Is there are better way to phrase this and keep the comparison? 

I think it's as simple as filling in what 'them' is, which is the vague bit. So, something like "with legs as thick as tree trunks and arms strong enough to lift those trees".

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16 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think it's as simple as filling in what 'them' is, which is the vague bit. So, something like "with legs as thick as tree trunks and arms strong enough to lift those trees".

Thank you! 

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

It's an environmental thing. I know in some parts of the world (historically?) it's been a matter of survival to have enough kids to look after a person in their dotage and infirmity, but having more than two or three kids, in the developed world, is not a responsible thing to do, IMO.)

Oh, you would hate it here in Utah, XD. 

I hadn't considered that aspect, but I think in this scenario it would be applicable. 

Edited by ginger_reckoning
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I read this a few days ago but didn’t get a chance to write my thoughts down. So here we go! :)

Also, I wrote a lot of this well into the night so excuse me for overthinking anything. Anddd I haven’t read the other comments so forgive me for repeating things.

 

Overall:

This is a nice chunk o writing! I did enjoy reading it for the most part and I got star wars vibes, which is good because that’s familiar to me. but I can see places where it dragged on a bit. I’m always trying to remind myself to question everything’s purpose in my own writing and making sure everything I put in is absolutely necessary, and I think, if possible, you could cut down the death scene of the emperor. 

I wasn't too sure of the tone. The story may not be taking itself seriously enough(mostly in the dialogue), or maybe it’s taking itself too seriously. I'm not sure. Also, with the things you’ve set up (tone wise) i assume there won't be a heavy focus on action in the rest of the story, especially starting right after an assumed big battle scene. 

I am always looking for things that are set up with foreshadowing and stuff and I think you have a decent amount of goals to work towards. You def left me with a lot of questions.

 

Page 1

-are they on a ship without gravity? How is El floating? But I thought Ek strode up the stairs, so there is gravity. Oh, btw, yes I picture this all happening on a ship. Throne room made me think of emperor Palpatine's throne room.

-”I guess that makes you an ultra idiot” seems a little disney channel-esque.

 

Page 2

-”He has to balance economics, cultural differences, wars, natural disasters… etc” this is a v good point. Thats always a problem with taking down empires, the rebels never really have a coherent plan for what's next, it seems.

-”Reasons you will never know, not now.” will she never know or just not now? Did he mean “not anymore”?

-”rest of the station.” ah, so a space station

 

Page 3

-”someone who doesn’t really exist?” ooh, interesting. I am curious to know what this means.

-”like a dinner glass.” this threw me off a bit, seemed like a very modern comparison. Are they eating dinner on glass 8000 years in the future? I was going to say are they “still” eating on glass...but my dishes are ceramic i think. But i think some people have glass plates. What did the plates look like when Anakin cut that pear in attack of the clones? But that was a long time ago so that's different. nevermind.

-”Then the soldiers cheered.” i'm having trouble grasping the level of seriousness you’re going for. I guess I could see something like this happening in star wars… idk cheering just always seemed sorta cheesy to me, especially in a serious situation like this, and this is their second time cheering too. but they did just “free” a galaxy so that would be a valid reason for cheering, but even then aren't they still on edge? Assuming they all were just in some sort of battle. Maybe i'm thinking too much into this… :)

-”it was over” was it over when they finally beheaded the emperor or was it over in the very beginning sentence? I just feel like this contradicts your opening sentence. What defines when a galaxy is free? I think the opening line would be more appropriately stated after they killed the emperor because usually that's when it’s really over.

-”She just hovered there, knowingly.”

Spoiler

iz9yva0oisi31.jpg.958e70bfc0f07a2cd2177fce1285ddb7.jpg

 

Page 4

-”All her troubles were over now. Right?” yeahh, ruling a galaxy is easy peasy lemon easy.

 

Page 5

-”El floated up beside her” ive been wondering what El’s purpose is. She seems to be some sort of comfort to Ek, but she hasn’t done a whole lot.

-”her spiral shell.” … is she a snail?

-”didn’t they?” she said.” this is a personal stylistic thing, but i would use “she asked.”

-”She clenched her jaw.” ugh, i'm constantly clenching my jaw. Unrelated to the story… but yeah its annoying lol

-“Er, so to speak.” i wasn’t clear on who said this

-”a rare show of emotion for the e species.” oh so she isnt human… I see now. Well now I picture El like Eve from Wall-e.

-”just…whoosh.” She imitated an explosion with her hands.” this is another personal preference, but I would do   “just...” She imitated an explosion with her hands. “Whoosh.” or something like that. 

-“Ever the optimist, my young friend.” i like this line for some reason. Adds character i think

 

Page 6

-”as thicccc as tree trunks and arms strong enough to lift them.” lift what? The legs or tree trunks?

-”He shook his head in amazement.” i've been on a “less is more” kick, so I don't think you need this line in here. The paragraph works fine and flows better into the next paragraph without it.

-”you were from another world, sir,’ she said.”   even here, i don't think you need the dialogue tag because i assumed it was just Ek and G talking

-lotta themes in that last paragraph, i dig it.

 

Page 7

-”followed by violent periods of unrest and anarchy.” yes, indeed, very wise

-lot of characters on this page. I think I was fine until the intro of A and R. Once you introduced R i was like ahhh this is too many people to remember at once. 

-”off-limits” feels too modern and teenagery. 

 

Page 8

-”We currently hold the tower, obviously,” this “obviously” makes me think he is a snarky little fellow. Is it normal to respond this rudely to his commander? 

-“transparent, featureless head.” I’m picturing like a glass noodle or something lol

-”Everyone jumped in their seats,” this feels unrealistic to me. It reminds me of something joe abercrombie said about his mom questioning something he wrote. along the lines of asking yourself, “Really? Is that how it really happened? Did the sky really look like that? Did everyone really jump in their seats?” the point being to keep it believable. I'm probably (most definitely) looking too much into this but that's just what it reminded me of. I see that you followed it up with “most people were conditioned to ignore them” which normalizes it so… forget what i said? :)

 

Page 9

-“Okay…” She said,” i think you can add a little more hesitancy before this. She gives it up too willingly after saying “i really dont think this is a good idea”

-oh i see now it's because she knew she wouldn't be able to give it up so she didn’t really care about handing it over. I was getting diff vibes tho.

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11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Oh, you would hate it here in Utah, XD. 

I hadn't considered that aspect, but I think in this scenario it would be applicable.

I expect I would :rolleyes:

I have no quibble at all with the line in the story :) 

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I'm definitely interested in reading more. It was different to have the story start at the end of the revolution instead of the begining, in a good way. There is a lot of work and chaos in the transition from the old government to the new, which creates plenty of room for plot, tension, and stakes. I can tell from your opening that your narrator has a secret, which will create good tension, and you dropped just enough info from the dying ruler to make me very curious. I imagine it is related to why no one else can touch the Tear. 
 
I liked the idea that she was just the face, not the sole leader, but I did not like how she was talked down to, especially when one person called her "puppet" . If they want her to be their face to the public and cooperate, you'd think they'd show her a little more respect. 
 
The narrator had a voice that was distinguishable from the rest, and some of the characters did talk different from each other. El was also fairly distinct. The A who got killed early on also had a distinct voice. 
 
There were a few lines that stood out to me as off. 
-"All her troubles were over now." That sounded pretty naive. One set of troubles was over, but why would she assume the rest would be easy? A transition of power like this is going to have plenty of troubles to come. And other interactions with people didn't make her seem naive enough to think that.
 
-"Great!...the sooner we can go and free my people and destroy..." Something about this sounded like it just didn't fit but I am having trouble articulating why. 
 
Maybe put a little more thought into how some off the different species talk and act when they're all coming together. That was the one place where I felt some of the voices needed a little more work. 
 
I'm looking forward to reading more! 
 
 
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On 12/21/2020 at 4:23 PM, kais said:

We have our BIG goal (DEMOCRACY) so now you just need the personal stakes and sub-goals, to make this a really dynamic chapter.

I agree with this. Personal stakes would go a long way. 

On 12/22/2020 at 11:05 AM, Mandamon said:

hink about if the Star Wars story started right after the end of Return of the Jedi. There is literally no story that takes on that moment. Some books pick up a few months or years later, and the new movies are 30 years out, because that's the end of the story. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's going to be a challenge to boost the reader into caring about all these characters that have come together and had an adventure already.

You're right that there really aren't many stories that pick this moment to start, but it has a lot of  potential. It felt a little refreshing to start at what is normally an ending. That was one of the things that drew me in. 

On 12/24/2020 at 6:55 AM, Robinski said:

What I'm saying is that there are a couple of bits dropped in without explanation that clanged for me, like why everyone ignores the En. That just confused me.

I agree with this and a lot of what @Robinski said in his overall notes. 

On 12/26/2020 at 1:50 AM, karamel said:

I got star wars vibes,

Me too!

 

On 12/26/2020 at 1:50 AM, karamel said:

idk cheering just always seemed sorta cheesy to me, especially in a serious situation like this, and this is their second time cheering too. but they did just “free” a galaxy so that would be a valid reason for cheering, but even then aren't they still on edge? Assuming they all were just in some sort of battle. Maybe i'm thinking too much into this

Agree. Later, there were other places, maybe in the council meeting, where some of the different leaders seemed a little too cheery, while others had a more appropriate serious tone. 

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Since you asked for goals/finished plots, I thought I'd use you to practice @kais 's chapter arc checklist. I need the practice :P 

Chapter One:

  1. A strong first line that moves the plot forward. Check.
  2. A strong end paragraph that hooks the reader right into the next chapter. Check.
  3. Every scene/beat does at least two things. Check? (character introduction, foreshadowing who Ek really is, minor worldbuilding)
  4. The chapter advances some part of the plot. Check.
  5. The POV character(s) interact with and advance the plot. Check.
  6. Each chapter has a beginning, a middle, and an end, acting as its own mini-story. Hmmm...this is the part I need practice on recognizing. Beginning...they arrive. Middle is the argument? End is decapitation? 

...

Pg 1, "metal corpses"

Spoiler

Star Wars Droids GIF - StarWars Droids BattleDroids - Discover & Share GIFs

Pg 1, "the warmth of pride" Hmmm, I am thinking then that E is not a common soldier. Leader of some kind?

Pg 1, "They had died for the greatest cause she could think of." I'm thinking very much of Mandalorian 2.15, since I just rewatched that yesterday. Did the soldiers think they were heroes for this brave sacrifice? Did they think it was the greatest cause? 

Pg 1, "they hadn’t died in vain" Good, compassion. I like compassion in a protagonist.

Pg 1, " set into a swirling nautilus shell," Then does Ek look strange too? Are they gods? I thought this was sci-fi...so maybe a modification?

Pg 1, " was instantly recognizable from propaganda" Does this mean all androids have a face of crystal?

Pg 1, "his eternally scornful gaze" Unsure what the Tear is...but I'm also a trifle confused here. Does this imply he had lived for a long time, or he literally can't change expressions because of his crystal face? Or both?

Pg 1, "a human can take the place of God" Theme of the book? 

Pg 1, " I guess that makes you an ultra idiot" 6th grade me says "Ooooh, buuuuuurn." Childish, but that may be what you are looking for for Ek's character. I don't know enough about her yet. 

Pg 1, " an errant strand of hair" So she doesn't have a shell for a head.

Pg 2, "collapsing" I know this is a first draft but the fact that you used collapse in the same sentence twice bugs me.

Pg 2, "So he knew everything" Hmmm, is she a spy?

Pg 2, "Something a human female is even capable of?" Racism? Check. Sexism? Check. 

Pg 2, "The soldiers let out a cheer." I might be biased against this from when I used to be on Reddit and read too many "and then everyone clapped" stories.

Pg 2, "His face... couldn’t smirk" This answers my earlier question.

Pg 2, " your majesty" I like how you kept it lowercase, to emphasize his sneer. 

Pg 3, "someone who doesn’t really exist?" I am intensely curious. On the other hand, her often childish remarks makes me worry she won't be a good ruler. However, this isn't a hard and fast rule. There is a monarch in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner who acts like a brat 110% of the time and I love him (but I would also like to smack him). 

Where did El go???

New Chapter, New Checklist

  1. A strong first line that moves the plot forward. She was just sitting so...I think you can push yourself farther in further drafts.
  2. A strong end paragraph that hooks the reader right into the next chapter. N/A
  3. Every scene/beat does at least two things. Might be too much of an info dump, without necessarily creating a solid foundation for so much info
  4. The chapter advances some part of the plot. Info on plot! 
  5. The POV character(s) interact with and advance the plot. Yes, but not as much as previous chapter.
  6. Each chapter has a beginning, a middle, and an end, acting as its own mini-story. N/A

...

Pg 5, "El floated up beside her," She returns...what is El?

Pg 5, "And she would do it for G" Friend? Lover? Spouse? Child? Mentor?

Pg 5, " floating at face-height" So El is short? I am very confused about her because she seems neither robot or human. Is she an alien with a very human name????

Pg 5, "species" Ah, see, knowing she wasn't human would have made life a lot easier right from the beginning. 

Pg 5, "I know how excited you were to finally get to see all those hidden histories" This was already said essentially...

Pg 5, "placed a hand on her friend’s shell" So is El only shell and eyeballs???? Originally I was picturing someone with literally a shell for a head.

Pg 5, "data-miners plugged into the main system, searching for clues" Clues for what? The big bad is dead, what are they looking for now? 

Pg 6, " I have just received a general message." I am assuming telepathy?

Pg 6, "Her superiors" I guess her short time on the throne is over?

Pg 6, "the face of the new movement" Ah, so a pretty figurehead...but will she be content as that?

Pg 6, "were aware of the existence of other planets" That's definitely something important to know.

Pg 8, "We have only thirty cycles" Until what now? The stakes are hinted at and then tossed so quickly aside.

Pg 8, "She put the gem back in her pocket." That doesn't save you from radiation...

Pg 9, "See? I’m the only one who can touch it" I would have liked to see the first one, since it appears no time happened between the chapters.

 

Overall:

I think this has good bones. Everyone else has mentioned the tone flopping between comedy and war, so check. A good trim, a bit of fleshing out...I'm curious to see where you might take this. I'm a little stuck on Ek's voice, since you asked about that, because, again, she switches between comedian and passionate rebel.

Thanks for letting me use you as a guinea pig for practicing the arc checklist. If you are interested in me continuing critiquing with Kais's checklist, let me know. 

 

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Yes, thanks @Snakenapsthat is a helpful format! You could definitely continue to use that format if you wish. 

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 1, "metal corpses"

  Hide contents

Star Wars Droids GIF - StarWars Droids BattleDroids - Discover & Share GIFs

this made me lol XD. 

Thanks for the critiques! 

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