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ginger_reckoning

12.28.20 ginger_reckoning ek 1+2 DRAFT 2 (VL) (4365)

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Looks like I'm up first!

First of all, this version reads much easier. I appriciate all the effort you've gone to to restrain the character intros and world building into bite sized pieces :-)

A few small things:

"The floor was strewn with..." I am not the grammer guru by any stretch, but I don't think you need the comma in this sentence. 

The word 'surge' is repeated in close proximity in the beginning. 

The section 3 time skip is a little confusing. It feels like significant time has passed because they are having 'boring meetings' about the tech they used, but some of the dialogue indicates that this is just a few hours later.  

The foreshadowing in this version is great, I love the way you placed hints to make the reader curious without making it seem like we've just missed something. Nice work!

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So I read it twice, once for the for enjoyment and then again for nit picks.

 

My thoughts after the first read through: 

  • I love space opera! 
  • I love female protagonists!
  • I love humor!
  • quirky side kick with a dry sense of humor!!!

Honestly, it checks some of my most sought after boxes when reading fiction. 

The idea is most excellent. What happens after the big bad is defeated?

My only wonder is why the figure head at all? If they are going to be radio silent as much as possible while they gather world leaders to set up a democracy- why do they need a figurehead? I feel that the key to that answer is that not all the worlds were part of the resistance and the resistance just killed their god. But that was not really said in the chapters, I’m just guessing.

As to whether it makes sense, yes. There was only one point that I was pulled out of the story and had a wait-what? moment. Otherwise the writing was smooth and easy to read. And fun, very fun. 

Nit picks: I ask questions but am not looking for answers. I am only indicating a spot where I, as a reader, had questions.

  • The first sentence bothers me a bit because the rest of the chapter kinda proves that didn’t happen. But, I totally get this may be intentional. I get the feeling that this is the point: let’s begin where most stories end.
  • The intro of Ell was the one point that pulled me out of the story. I was like- wait? Now someone is floating? But that was quickly cleared up. That said- a smoother intro might be in order especially since the rest of the writing is so clear and wonderful.
  • The two characters with E names is also a bit hard for me, but that is my dyslexia speaking. It is also strange to me that an alien creature like Ell has such an English name.
  • “Merely a floating head” really though? Cause she is kinda my fav character after reading the first two chapters and I take objection to Ell being called “merely” anything. 

There are several nouns, throughout both chapters, that I wonder about. They seem to be the names of species or cultures but they are not capitalized. 

“A flash of light to her left.” Fragment sentence

 

“... would the next tyrant would wrong to take it back by violence?” Typo here, I suspect.

The whole discussion about violence and not liking it making Ek a good person- I found it very patronizing. But, perhaps that is what G is suppose to be like? In either case I major eye rolled and put G on my characters I don’t like list.

I found the board meeting scene properly boring. But not so much that I’d want to put the book down or anything. It was very realistic with just one nitpick- it wasn’t very organized as far as what they were suppose to be talking about when. But I could see that happening if everyone is dead tired and trying to rally. But I’d think they’d talk about what still needs doing before patting themselves on the back about how great xyz did. I have been in way too many meetings in my day and have had scattered brained bosses and very organized ones. So I guess the questions I’m left with is: who called the meeting? Who is running/ leading the meeting? And is that character suppose to be uber organized or scatter brained? It seems like G is leading the meeting- so is he more of a soldier than a middle management? Or is he suppose to be a natural leader and uber with it? Cause right now that meeting scene was a hot mess of running around with heads cut off wondering what to do now.

Overall- most excellent chapters. I love the premise.

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Glad to read another draft of this!

Overall

Oh wow, much improved! This is by far one of the fastest and strongest edits I've seen on the forum from a new writer. Well done! Some quibbles below, and I still don't like the tone of the dead god, but I think this has real promise and I look forward to watching it grow.

 

As I go

- this first page is pretty solid. Strong start and good hook. Much better this time around for sure!

- pg 2: “Jeshu Kris, he’s alive <-- is this supposed to make the reader think of Jesus Christ?

- pg 2: if my government had just been overthrown and people were trying to steal some magical artifact of mine, I'd have much stronger words than 'you idiots.' The guy is supposed to be dying or at least damaged. I want some emotion in his words, some power because he's apparently been used to wielding it. Some passion.

- pg 2: the continued idiot name calling makes everyone seem like they are in junior high school. it works for our protagonist because she reads young but the god shouldn't be so juvenile

- pg 3: She glared down at him. This would be more powerful if she didn't respond and let him threaten. her response is more info dump and just ages her down again. She defeated him. Just shut up and wait for the whatever to arrive so they can penetrate his force field and do the killing blow

- pg 3: How do you know that? <-- I'd prefer if she just shot him here. It'd be a great moment after he was so sure she wouldn't kill him. Then all the rest of the dialogue could be a weird magic echo or something that only she can hear and further erodes her self esteem

 pg 4: What, no witty retort, human?” He asked. <-- juvenile. I can't take him seriously as a threat or a god when he talks like this

- chapter 1 end: great edits! It reads much more smoothly now. Just a few hiccups but really, I thought this was very solid. I'd definitely keep reading if I picked this up in a bookstore. Nicely done!

- pg 5: But he would have to admit that even the most merciful of gods could destroy a demon.<-- I don't understand this line. Is there a typo in it??

- pg 7: I'm not certain what that first little interlude in chapter two accomplished. It had a bit of key information but I think all of that could be mashed into one powerful paragraph, which would keep the momentum going

- reading on to the second interlude in chapter two, I think this would be a much better start to the chapter.

- pg 9: sat back, thinking... I was on board with the committee meeting infodump because of the amusing attempts to take the tear from E. Starting here, where E turns introspective, it's too much information. I don't want more backstory at this stage, I want to see them fail to take the tear from her with tongs. E is kind of irreverent and it's her actions that tie the plot right now so I want to watch her interact with it, not listen to a committee meeting

- pg 10: She wanted to do something <--- yes please

- pg 10: Suddenly, she was someplace else. <-- this has a lot of potential but is too vague. 'Sometimes', 'somewhere', 'someplace' are all very vague words that don't give us any information. It's a lot more powerful to give concrete information. "Suddenly, she was face down in a bog.' or 'Suddenly, she was starting at a giant jellyfish, her lungs burning for air.'

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I generally read far more fantasy than sci-fi, so I’m sure that colors a lot of my opinions here.  Especially for the second part.  Also, I tend to get rambly when I have Thoughts, so I apologize in advance for that. This is the first RE submission I’m commenting on, so I haven’t figured out how I’ll want to structure responses long term.

Overall thoughts: I enjoyed things up through right before the meeting scene.  It was interesting and made me want to read more.  The writing was smooth and readable, and there were very few parts of the dialog that felt clunky.  I want to see how things pan out for this new government, and there are a good number of world building elements that I want to learn more about.

The meeting scene just had too much going on for me to absorb it all, so I don’t have much to say about that here except that I think the information sharing and character introductions need to be done more gradually.    More specific thoughts below.

Ch 1

Pg 1

Opening line: For some reason, my brain got caught on “freed” vs. “free”  I don’t think it would have been quite as distracting if somewhere else, but it was a little jarring in the first line because my brain expects an adjective. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the contrast of the “Just like that” here and the implication that the conflict has been going on for a long time that we are given later on.

 “…flanked by the remaining soldiers.” I think switching “the” to “her” might be a good way to clarify gender right up front (as well as to imply that she has authority over them, if that’s what you’re going for).  We might be used to -a endings tending toward being feminine, but those things seem to get turned on their heads in sci-fi/fantasy settings.

“his eyes were wet”.  I think this would convey more significance if there was some additional detail.  In general, I think we’re going to assume that military commanders aren’t prone to breaking into tears in front of their troops, so it seems like it should be a bigger deal, but it's just dropped in here.  Maybe Ek a looks away a little awkwardly. Or very intentionally doesn’t, because she thinks it would be disrespectful to acknowledge the emotion. Or something else, depending on what she thinks of him or vice-versa.   We can assume that he’s experiencing some complicated relief/grief after the long conflict, but a few extra words could do a lot to give us some information about him or Ek or their history. 

“the library.” I like that the library is an important thing to gain control of, but it might be good to call out what it is they find there that’s valuable. Records? Valuable artifacts? Some other resource that will show us something unique about your world?  Maybe something closer to “after that, the library.  We need those _”

“Gy gestured forward” could again use a few extra words to give us more color.  Is he angry? Just relieved to have all of it over with?  Doubtful and wanting to confirm the death?

Pg 2

“stared at them with sapphire eyes.” Saying that it’s the sapphire eyes staring blankly, instead of “him” might emphasize the lifelessness a little more. (considering what then follows, this may or may not be what you’d be going for.)

“I’m just surprised that it actually exists” I like this.  The fine lines between myth, propaganda, general public understanding, and reality are always interesting to me.

“Jes- Kr-”  This, to me, is suggesting that we are in a setting where swearing by some translation/transliteration of Christ is relevant, which (to me) is implying that some form or variation of Christianity is still familiar enough to the culture at-large for using it as an oath to be relevant.

“You’re all idiots.”  This feels like a rather mild insult following the assertion that they’re trying to take the place of God.  And the reference to the A-ch as God again brings back the question of whether J-K is a relevant oath.  Ek’s response feels a little childish, which doesn’t seem to be what we want from our protagonist, but could be intentional.

Pg 3

“don’t believe in killing.” There’s likely a stronger or more specific replacement for “killing”

Pg 4

“someone who doesn’t exist.” Are we supposed to be working with a familiar definition of existence here? Even if this is referencing some deep dark secret of Ek's, I'd think that by most readers' standards, having one of the main characters be accused of not existing would seem odd.

“While they talked, and began celebrating” Talking seems like an odd thing for them to be doing.  Also, how much celebrating is appropriate when the next scene tells us they still have a lot of fighting left?

“Her black hair braided into a crown for this occasion.”  The opening implies that Ek fits somewhere in the military hierarchy, and that she was involved with the fighting to some extent, but hair braided into a crown seems impractical for that.  I don’t know of many crown braids that are going to stand up to being stuck into a helmet for combat.  And we hardly want our potential figurehead to get accidentally killed during the takeover by not being properly armored.

Ch 2:

Pg 5:

“the thunder of the gods”: Again back to the religion questions (I am prone to these. Sorry about that) We finished the previous chapter with sitting down on the Throne of God, but we’re now referring to multiple gods.  Are we (or Ek, anyway) looking at the world from a polytheistic or monotheistic perspective?  If her beliefs contradict the former A-ch’s claim to deity, that should probably be pointed out.  If she believes in one set of gods, and he had set himself up against them as some single God, she would probably have stronger feelings than calling him an idiot.  And she’d probably feel less guilty about killing him. Depending on what her beliefs actually state.

“Ek shook her head … ‘a little sacrifice on our part is worth it.’”  I think the points of “we’ve had this conversation a hundred times already” and “A bit late to voice these concerns.” Are key here.  If they’ve already discussed it so often, they hardly need to do so again, and if they would, this doesn’t seem to be the time or place to hash it out.  Second guessing herself? Sure. Admitting that things were worse than she had expected? Sure. But the question of parents doesn’t seem like a productive point for her to bring up if she’d already gone through that direction of thought and had decided that the sacrifice was worth it.  

Pg 6

An added detail to help us place Ge, maybe?  A sister? A friend? A mentor? Some clue as to her relationship with Ek would be helpful.

“’Yeah’ … ‘Then I can take a nap.’”  I’m still not quite getting a good read on Ek. A minute ago, she was appropriately grieving the losses of war that she is in many ways responsible for by making herself part of the revolutionaries’ plans. The curiosity about God’s Tear makes sense, though the conversation transition is a little sudden.  But her attitude in this conversation seems very detached and casual. Especially the thought of taking a nap when she was still processing some very intense second guessing of her choices a minute before. 

This feeling is exaggerated even more in the next scene.  Even if she wasn’t their first choice to be the figurehead, they had to have gone through with choosing her as a second for some reason, and she willingly followed through with their plans.  The thought that she would be entirely unprepared for the “boring” things that followed seems off unless they had some reason to choose her that we aren’t yet aware of.  And if that’s the case, I think we need at least a small part of that reason to be revealed before the meeting scene.  At this point, her attitude during the meeting makes her seem like she’s inept and/or neglecting all of her responsibilities. Which doesn’t exactly make me want to root for her. We need some reason to believe that choosing her for the position wasn’t an entirely ridiculous decision. 

For a revolution to have been in the making for hundreds of years, with multiple groups organizing it, they aren’t going to pick just anyone.  If the person isn’t entirely capable, and things go wrong, things generally don’t go well for remaining parties within the revolutionary group.  Choosing her as a "compassionate face" is one thing, but they’re betting their lives, their families’ lives, and the futures of all involved on Ek.  And at the moment, I don’t trust her as capable.

Pgs 7-11

Ultimately, I think there’s just too much going on in this scene for me to get invested, and my lack of familiarity with sci-fi may be partly to blame for that.  My brain has trained itself to absorb ridiculous magic systems without trouble, but for whatever reason, alien races and the related descriptions sort of just make it stop accepting new information.

Even beyond that, though, I think there are too many people we don’t know talking here, and the conversation is going in too many directions.   If Ek is bored by the conversation and the details aren’t as important as the characters giving them, then I think some of that can be fixed by something along the lines of “Alien A was talking about X, as they always did.  Their defining physical features contrasted those of Alien B, who was responding in this species-defining way” 

If all of the details in the conversation are vitally important to the plot, I think it’s more important to pick the ones that are most vital to share here, and to find ways to introduce others in future chapters.

I’m also not sure that it’s helpful to repeat the event of the Tear shocking someone who touches it.  It certainly doesn’t make sense for Gy to encourage them to take it, when he was just shocked by it a few minutes before.  They spend almost half a page arguing and then having the one character get shocked, but what new information does it provide?  Maybe the Tear leaves some mark that Gy can show them to prove that it’s not safe for them to take it if they don’t trust his word?   

I do like the last bit, though. I enjoy seeing characters stumble into accidental magic use (or in this case, science use, I suppose, depending on what exactly the God Tear is and how you draw those lines in your world), and like watching them try to navigate the results.

All of that being said, I would certainly be glad to read more, but would be skeptical if I ran into another section like the big meeting scene.

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Okay then, Take 2 :) 

Chapter 1

(page 2)

- Prelude to first comment: Wow, this is a lot cleaner. Nice job.

- "I guess that makes you an ultra idiot" - I want my M/C to have better lines than this. As comebacks go, this is pretty weak, IMO. Low-hanging fruit.

(page 3)

- "That this is easy somehow?" - In the spirit of every word should be contributing something, this doesn't.

- "an entire people in darkness forever" - But it's not just one people, it's just been explained that it's dozens of races and hundreds of cultures.

- "broken as bits of metal and glass floated outwards" - I think they must be too far away to see individual bits of glass and metal. I think a wider term like 'debris' would be clearer, and more realistic. Similarly, I don't believe they'd be able to see charring.

- "The field is down" - Which field? I mean, I guess his personal field, but since we're focused on the external, the ring itself, for a moment my brain was still thinking some field around the station.

- "who isn’t even alive" - Hmm. Now then, he was referred to as an android, but that is a very narrow description. The more important question is what level of Artificial Intelligence is housed in the android. It must be A.I. to rule a galaxy, surely. Therefore, the question is, does A.I. live, is it alive? A lot of arguments would support that it was.

- "She doesn’t believe in killing" - I struggle with this. How has she been fighting for all these years? This does not seem believable.

(page 4)

- "She continued her work, silent" - I'm kind of disbelieving that Gy has not said anything for about two pages. Not a very involved commander.

- "begin to pull off" - Quite wordy and not that satisfying. I expect when she plants her foot that the head will just come clean off in one satisfying movement, but it doesn't. 

- "and the gemstone came free" - This still sounds like the Tear. A different phrase, something like 'chunk of crystal', would distinguish it from the Tear, IMO.

- "walked over to the throne" - Continuity issue. The android was slumped against the throne and she was cutting his head off. She does not need to walk to the throne, she's right beside it.

(page 5)

Chapter 2 

- "on her finger tips" - fingertips.

- "would the next tyrant would wrong" - typo.

- "Is it worth it to them?" - I don't buy this. She sounds like a different character from Chapter 1. She has been fighting for years, according to previous comments. To me, this is the sort of conversation to have at the beginning of a far, or resistance.

- "you’re going to be making decisions" - This is the same problem I had before. There is no way they are going to let her make decisions. The point was that she will be a figurehead, controlled by the council of nations/planets/races, surely? They are not going to defeat a tyrant and then freely set up another one with NO QUALIFICATIONS or authority to have that position.

- "But you can’t question every single decision for how it might affect some hypothetical. You can only decide based on the feelings of your own heart." - No, I don't buy this either. Every decision has to be made based on some kind of judgement about how it will affect theoretical, practical and hypothetical situations. Politicians must always make decisions based on facts and weighing up their own conscience, of course. Foot a mouth disease breaks out in the UK (as it did back in the....2000s?). You have to slaughter all the cattle, but do you order all the cattle in the UK slaughtered, just the region of the outbreak, all over Europe, the world? What are the hypothetical effects of any one course? Of course you must consider the hypotheticals, it's all you can do.

- "that she shouldn’t have killed the A" - What happened to her argument that he wasn't alive?

- "to be our compassionate face" - See, she's the 'face', she's the front, not the decision-maker.

- "But I’m glad you aren’t making actual decisions for us" - There is a real contradictory thread running through the logic of this situation. I don't know what's going on now.

(page 7)

- "core of that sentiment” E said" - missing punctuation. 

- "first joined the Resistance" - inconsistent capitalisation.

- "Thanks for that I super long report" - typo, and super-long should be hyphenated, IMO.

- "while the rest of the people" - What 'rest of the people'? Who are these people?

- "which seemed poetic to E" - Not a fan of telling people this. Deleting this bit allows the readers the satisfaction of seeing this metaphor for themselves.

- "they said cheerily" - this is the tag for the previous sentence.

- "the Convergence" - The what?

- "That brings us right to the core of the problem. But before that" - Something rings kind of farcical in my ear. 'Here's the very most important thing, so lets not talk about it.' I start skimming to get to the important bit.

(page 8)

- "G cut in, “E. How did that go?" - He knows exactly how that went. This phrasing sounds like he doesn't know anything and wasn't there. If he says, 'Tell us how it went' (or something like that) it allows for his foreknowledge.

- "for the station itself” E said" - Punctuation missing again, typo, I presume.

(page 9)

- "And even thought the library was destroyed" - typo.

- "there were only three planets we were unaware of, bringing the total up to eighteen" - I don't know what this means, I have no context, I feel.

- "A was saying that there were dozens of species and hundreds of planets" - I don't know what the baseline for this conversation is. How many planets did they think there were?

- "E sat back, thinking" - you don't need to tell us when a character is thinking. We're in their POV, any internal narrative is their thought process. These words don't serve any function. You could tell us she's considering something specific, but we'll see that from they thoughts that follow in the narrative so, again, I'd argue these words serve little or no purpose.

- "it could prove disastrous" - Why?

(page 10)

- "That means we can expect eighteen official representatives to arrive here in thirty cycles for the Con" - Wait, what? But they don't know what the convergence is. They said so about a page ago, and no one has explained a sudden discovery.

- "At that time, we will announce the new government" - This also does not, IMO, seem compatible with Ek being appointed Autarch.

- "She wanted to do something" - This does not seem like any useful kind of agency though, if she does not know what to do.

- "If word leaks that we’ve overthrown the D" - But they've won the space battle, all the soldiers know that.

- "It was slick and smooth" - I thought it was sticky?

- "luminal messaging only" - What is this? The only reference I can see online is to "a chemical that exhibits chemiluminescence".

- "Or make it disappear?" - Make what disappear? Unclear.

- Well, then ending certainly came on suddenly. A classic cliffhanger, but I thought it was done well, because I didn't have time to feel it coming. I definitely would read on to see where she ended up.

Overall 

Well, the first chapter was much better, smoother and quicker. A few issues as noted, but a good start. The second chapter slowed thing down. It's still people in a room talking, and somehow I felt less involved in the conversation than before, because much of the description of the different races seemed to be cut, so I didn't feel like a was getting to know them, but rather that is was being ignored by them. It's still people in a room talking. Yes, there is a good ending, and yes, of course it's fair to have a sequel chapter after the first one, one to gather our thoughts. it looks like we're going to be plunged back into action or mystery in Chapter 3, and I didn't have much time to get fed up with the chitter chatter.

I had some mechanical issues with contradictions, and lack of clarity in places, but generally very good and I'm keen to read more.

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21 hours ago, Valerie said:

The two characters with E names is also a bit hard for me, but that is my dyslexia speaking.

I also don't care for this. I'm not dyslexic, I just think it's questionable from a style viewpoint, and could easily lead to reader confusion if moving between different POVs, or even just different scenes. My perspective is, you can use any of 26 letters, why would you use the same one twice?

21 hours ago, Valerie said:

The whole discussion about violence and not liking it making Ek a good person- I found it very patronizing.

Agree. You've expressed this thought much better than I did :) 

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I'll echo the others that this was an amazing rewrite in such a short time. Good job! Unfortunately, it's let me see some of the worldbuilding issues a lot clearer ;-)

My main issues:

I'll third the statement that a lot of the lines are still way too juvenile. "Ultra-idiot" just does not fit in this sort of story, talking to a dying god-emperor.

I'd really like more information on why Ek was chosen. The resistance seems to have no clue what they're doing and who they are choosing to run a galaxy.

The emperor destroying the library...just doesn't work for me. He's either caring for the many species (as he says), in which case no way is he going to destroy the means of continued support, or he's actually a evil overlord suppressing everyone, in which case why is he going on about how the resistance won't be able to care for everyone? He's just going to say, "Bwhahahaha, everything will crash and burn now!"

The meeting part of the second chapter is slow, and could probably be sped up, but also gives some interesting information, which, again, I have some issues with. Like...how was this government even functional? The species don't know about each other? How is trade accomplished? Who does know about all the species--because someone has to, even if it's the emperor and the ruling elite, someone has to keep the machine running.

How does the convergence work? Like, a bunch of species show and say, "who are you," and then...what happens? Why are they converging if they don't even know that other species exist?

I have many questions.

Now, I am not saying this is bad and all these questions need to be answered, but I would like a little more clarity now on what exactly is hidden to which people, and how was the government running before. I hope there's also a really good reason coming for why things haven't fallen apart until now.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: A lot more impactful emotion in the first couple paragraphs.

Pg 1: This is a lot better, compressing to the important emotions we should feel at the end of a long campaign and a victory. I think this setting is still going to be an uphill battle, but this is already working a lot better.

pg 1: "She had simply been chosen"
--I'd like a little more on this to help it land. You're not going to "simply" choose a new emperor of the galaxy, even if they are a figurehead. Was she chosen for looks? Charisma? She has a background in political science? Why was she chosen and not one of the actual leaders? What's wrong with them?

pg 2: “So it literally glows,” 
--what does? The emperor? The crystal? The metal?
--Ah, I think this is answered when she grabs the gem. This could be clearer.

pg 2:  “Jeshu Kris, he’s alive,” 
--ehhh...I'm going to call foul on this one. Using even a corrupted curse from one religion on Earth means I instantly place this as hundreds of years in the future of our Earth. If that's what you want, fine, but giant space empires are usually so far in the future that most Earth trappings are left behind.

pg 2: "I guess that makes you an ultra idiot,” 
--still not on board with the humor in this. I think it's just too juvenile for the rest of the tone.

pg 3: "What? How much did he actually know?"
--So this suggests there is some hidden reason why she was chosen to lead...

pg 3: "Good luck ruling without comprehending that"
--I think this is presented a lot better, so much so that I now have an issue with it (of course). He's presenting himself as a capable ruler that cares for dozens of different species. Yet he destroys the method a new government would need to keep that care going. So he's dooming the galaxy out of spite? This seems inconsistent with what he demonstrated earlier.

pg 4: “How could it serve someone who doesn’t really exist?”
--ok, interested in what Ek's secret is...

pg 4: "There was no more need for violence"
--ehhh...except there's going to be a lot more violence because the whole empire is going to collapse in on itself without all the linking information between all the moving parts...

pg 6: "they haven’t listened"
--They who? We have the emperor, who's the face of the previous ruling class, but I have no idea who all was helping him (and presumably now running the remains of the miltary).

pg 6: “And for all those parents?”
--Do what now? What parents? What children?

pg 6: "Means you really have a soul"
--eh? So is she an android too?

pg 6: "I like that you have heart"
--hmmm...so they chose her simply because she can put on a good public face? I suppose that's good, but I still wonder why none of the other leaders are taking the role.

pg 7: "And now that she’s gone"
--okay, now there's a bit more explanation. She wasn't chosen. She was the second choice, which makes a little more sense. Maybe a hint of this earlier?

pg 7: “Nice,” Ek breathed out. “Then I can finally take a nap.” 
--Eh? No. Now begins years and years of intense negotiation over how the new government runs...

pg 8: "We have only thirty cycles until..."
--So there's a ticking clock in here, but I don't know if it's a good thing, or a bad thing, or a terrible thing.

pg 10: "was saying that there were dozens of species and hundreds of planets.”
--Wait, so these people don't even know the extent of their own government? I feel like this is an incredibly important point, which makes the library destruction an even worse idea. They're a space-faring race that can't determine which planets are sending messages and goods to other parts of the empire? I'm not saying this point is necessarily bad, but something this big needs to be unpacked a bit (lot) more.

pg 11: "to arrive here in thirty cycles"
--ok, I guess we know what that is now. So did these people just rule autonomously except for meeting once in a while? That doesn't seem to mesh with a single ruler.

pg 11: "If word leaks that we’ve overthrown..."
--Now I'm just wondering how this empire works at all. There's no communication between different parts? Surely the emperor could send messages to different places. Won't they be concerned if they don't hear anything?

pg 12: Good ending.

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One of the changes that helped me out a lot here are solidifying Et's place in the group and establishing something that sets her apart as a pacifist at heart in the middle of a revolutionary group. That idea has a bunch of potential and that's one of the major hooks for me. I'm expecting to see this idea develop and lead to more clashes with the rest of the gang in the future. I also liked knowing that she was the second choice. This is especially helpful since we get some "chosen one" vibes since she's the only one who can touch the Tear and the emperor seems to know quite a bit about her. A chosen one who was never supposed to be chosen is another dynamic that I really like, and is the other main hook that I'm reading the story for at this point. 

I found the meeting to be a bit slow as well, and for me it's because it doesn't really advance the two dynamics above that I took personal interest in. The end of an early chapter like this is especially important for setting up an arc, and I think it's the story's chance to show what it's really going to be about. There are real concerns raised in the meeting, to be sure, but nothing that I could see kicking off a major conflict or arc for Et. Ideally, I'd like to see a conflict forming here that draws on Et's personality. One of the main concerns that the characters talk about is the lack of knowledge they have, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with Et in particular since her thing seems to be acting as the face of the party and showing compassion. If it's important to hash out those details but they don't relate to Et directly, I think it's okay for the story to summarize it for us. Either way, I think there needs to be something related to what we know about Et pushing her forward in the story since right now it feels mostly like bigwigs talking and her listening. 

One final note: I was able to get a clearer view of the side characters this time around, though some of that could be already knowing them from the first draft. Good job! :) 

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Posted (edited)

Notes while reading:

Page 1

-”as thick as tree trunks and big as logs” what's the difference between tree trunks and logs? Aren’t logs just tree trunks not in the ground? Yes, I googled it and a log is just a trunk that's not rooted in the ground. hm, then I wonder if there is a better comparison for his arms.

 

Page 2

-”jeshu kris” i read this as jesus christ but in like broken english 

-”Tattered white robes” you used this wording at the beginning of this page and at the end- bit repetitive

 

Page 6

-”you chose G. and now that she's gone” much better intro of G! I'm more curious to learn about what happened now. Makes me think that maybe G and Ek were related and this is like a lineage thing. 

-”her pure black eyes” i think it would sound better to just say eyes. “Pure black” feels like it has been used too much.

 

Page 8

-”’intriguing,’ T said.” so I noticed that Ell said “intriguing” a lot and I thought that added to her voice but now T has also said it in the same fashion and it doesn't seem unique to El anymore, just repetitive.

 

Overall:

Very strong start compared to before! This is definitely much better. Though, I was a lot more engaged in the first chapter than the second chapter. I sort of glazed over some of the meeting when they were talking about communications and such. But the ending was good! I am def curious to know where she is and why the crystal transported her somewhere else. I think it might be better if you gave us a bit more about where she transported to at the end. its like the classic problem of ending a chapter with, "She opened the door and gasped." rather than telling us specifically what made her gasp.

Most of my problems were just with the repetition of some phrases and also some of the dialogue was still adolescent sounding (i.e. "ultra idiot") but yeah, overall, everything read well and I would read on!

Edited by karamel
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Pg 6, “Then I can finally take a nap.” I feel this to my core. 

Pg 9, “Tongs!” This got an out-loud laugh from me.

Dang dude, if only my own revisions had such a fast and obviously-improved turn around time. I found Ek much more sympathetic this round, a character that I connect with more and can totally root for. I echo those who mention the "ultra idiot" lines and I know that you have a wicked sense of humor and can do better. I'm going to push you there. I have a little less trouble with El's name, mostly because I assumed she was given a nickname that was easier to pronounce than her full name, which explains why she has a human name while everyone else has an alien name. I don't know if that was actually your plan, but that's what my brain did. I'm curious to see if Ek is happy to remain figurehead or pushes for more.

I think your first chapter was especially strong, but the second one saw a massive improvement as well. I'm really curious to see where you take this. 

 

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Thanks everyone for the critiques! Sorry I've been really bad at responding this week, I moved apartments this week and things have been pretty hectic. Anyways, without further ado: 

On 12/28/2020 at 6:00 AM, Sarah B said:

The word 'surge' is repeated in close proximity in the beginning. 

On 1/2/2021 at 10:16 PM, karamel said:

”Tattered white robes” you used this wording at the beginning of this page and at the end- bit repetitive

On 1/2/2021 at 10:16 PM, karamel said:

“Pure black” feels like it has been used too much.

Yes, thank you. I read over it and saw there were a lot of places where I repeated words or phrases...I guess that's what you get when you edit at hyperspeed at 11 at night

On 12/29/2020 at 9:41 AM, Robinski said:

"I guess that makes you an ultra idiot" - I want my M/C to have better lines than this. As comebacks go, this is pretty weak, IMO. Low-hanging fruit.

Based on everyone's reactions, I think it's time for me to let this line go. Goodbye, old friend 

On 12/28/2020 at 4:49 PM, C_Vallion said:

Even beyond that, though, I think there are too many people we don’t know talking here, and the conversation is going in too many directions.   If Ek is bored by the conversation and the details aren’t as important as the characters giving them, then I think some of that can be fixed by something along the lines of “Alien A was talking about X, as they always did.  Their defining physical features contrasted those of Alien B, who was responding in this species-defining way”

Thanks, this is good advice. I think everyone basically agreed that the meeting was super boring, so I think that in the next go-round I will just try to focus on Ek and her own emotions/feeling like she should do more/feeling out of her league. (instead of all the infodump details, that is) 

On 12/30/2020 at 9:30 AM, Mandamon said:

The emperor destroying the library...just doesn't work for me. He's either caring for the many species (as he says), in which case no way is he going to destroy the means of continued support, or he's actually a evil overlord suppressing everyone, in which case why is he going on about how the resistance won't be able to care for everyone? He's just going to say, "Bwhahahaha, everything will crash and burn now!"

That is a good point, thanks. Something to consider 

On 12/30/2020 at 9:30 AM, Mandamon said:

Like...how was this government even functional? The species don't know about each other? How is trade accomplished? Who does know about all the species--because someone has to, even if it's the emperor and the ruling elite, someone has to keep the machine running.

hopefully this will become clearer in later chapters, but it's basically tyrannical, feudalistic turtles all the way down. Officials and things are in on the secret, but the average human

 thinks the autarch rules the world, not worlds 

On 12/29/2020 at 9:48 AM, Robinski said:

I also don't care for this. I'm not dyslexic, I just think it's questionable from a style viewpoint, and could easily lead to reader confusion if moving between different POVs, or even just different scenes. My perspective is, you can use any of 26 letters, why would you use the same one twice?

Hmmm. I will admit this not a problem I anticipated. If I had her name as simply LN, would it still be readable? Or is that too weird? 

On 12/28/2020 at 4:49 PM, C_Vallion said:

Again back to the religion questions (I am prone to these. Sorry about that) We finished the previous chapter with sitting down on the Throne of God, but we’re now referring to multiple gods.  Are we (or Ek, anyway) looking at the world from a polytheistic or monotheistic perspective?  If her beliefs contradict the former A-ch’s claim to deity, that should probably be pointed out.

that is a good point, thanks. Ek is a follower of weird future Hinduism, which will definitely come up later, but it might be good to poitn it out early as you suggested. 

On 12/28/2020 at 3:56 PM, kais said:

“Jeshu Kris, he’s alive <-- is this supposed to make the reader think of Jesus Christ?

Yes. That's why I included this, so I can reasonably have "sivah" appear later :'P 

Anyways, thanks again! Sorry if i didn't specifically call you out, but I appreciate your input nonetheless. 

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30 minutes ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Hmmm. I will admit this not a problem I anticipated. If I had her name as simply LN, would it still be readable? Or is that too weird? 

Not weird at all. That's more interesting, IMO, than the 'Anglicised' form. If you call her (them?) LN to start with, and get that established, maybe then you could move to Ellen as a convenience, used by certain 'humans' from time to time.

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I, too, like the LN. I mean, if we can all read and love R2, why not LN?

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Sorry I'm a bit late with this one. 

I enjoyed it more than the first version and don't have a lot to say.

My only complaint about the first chapter is the line about"all her troubles were over now." It makes her seem way too naive and kind of ruins the chapter. I think ending with the sentence before, with her sitting on the throne, would be better. 

The meeting was much smoother. My favorite exchange in that part was the one that starts with "G looked back out of the Cradle" and ends with "...just a poor substitute." There was a lot of emotion in it and said a lot about the relationship between the two characters.

I loved the part of about being surprised about all the meetings. Very relatable. 

You end on a very suspenseful note. Looking forward to reading more! 

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Sorry I didn't get to the first sub of this chapter, but at least I can look at this version with fresh eyes, even if I'm a little late getting to it.

Overall: I think this was a pretty serviceable start. There are some potentially interesting plot and character hooks for sure. I’m not quite bought into the characters’ voices and emotions yet – there’s definitely a narrative focus on the high cost of rebellion and war, but I’m not feeling it in a visceral way just yet. I think the old saw of “show, don’t tell” is applicable here – the characters do a lot of telling us how they feel, and I think that when you’re ready, this draft might benefit from a pass that focuses more on showing. What thing makes the characters hesitate when they know they shouldn’t? What’s easier than it should be? What hits them harder than they expected to? Etc.

You’ll see this in my line-by-line comments, but by a couple pages in, I was getting the impression that Ek and her group really did not know what they were doing, and the rest of the sub did not do anything to dissuade me from that perspective. To really be on board with the story, I either need to be convinced that these characters are competent enough to pull off a rebellion of the scale that they’re doing here, or confident that their lack of confidence is a deliberate authorial choice that will lead us to interesting places down the road.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I expect to discover that A is not quite as dead as he appears and will become a thorn in the characters' side in later chapters, or if this will be about the challenge of trying to transition to a new structure and whatever they find after A's death. I'm not quite sure which I'm being prepped for yet, which I think is fine this early, but if A does reappear I hope he becomes a more compelling victim, with some more passion or... something.

As I read:

“…at the bodies of the resistance fighters.” Are these Ek’s comrades – they’re referred to as “soldiers’ in the first line – or the imperial guards? It’s a bit ambiguous without context.

So they’ve killed the ruler, but haven’t yet fully taken the station? Seems to me they’re counting chickens before they’ve hatched as far as claiming victory goes. Also, is this all one space station or are they taking multiple locations?

Near the top of p2: “grunt” description repeated

The crystal is still floating, and Ek can’t touch it? …A’s still alive, aren’t they.
   Edit: CALLED IT

Okay, but more seriously, did they not check to make sure the A was dead? If it was that obvious to me it probably should have been more obvious to them.

Ek’s dialogue sticks out a bit as being very modern, in comparison to any of the others, but she also just seems young.

“…they could see the battle raging around them.” This really seems like it should be given more importance than it has been so far. In contrast with the A’s alleged death, they don’t seem to have any emotional connection whatsoever to the fight that has been referenced a couple times as happening around them. Even if they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion, surely they’d be happy to see it going their way, or regretting how many more people might die before it’s over, or something? It feels like the battle right now is being treated like wall art.

I know that there is a narrative justification in that they’re waiting for special tech that can pierce A’s shields, but it still seems off to me that they’re standing around arguing with the A without doing – it seems – anything whatsoever to stop him from doing he wants. They don’t think they can kill him, but surely they could try, or attempt to bypass or take down the shields, or hack (?) the tear, or jam A’s abilities to connect to the station, or something.

I’m really not all that interested in this philosophical debate between Ek and the A here. Partially it feels like standard villain monologue, and partly it’s because the A is trying to get Ek worked up around something you’ve already told us that she’s not planning on doing, i.e., ruling – she’s just going to be a figurehead while they supposedly transition to a new form of government. So A smirking mysteriously about how difficult it will be to rule doesn’t really do much for me here. It gets a little more interesting when E starts dismantling him, but I think it would be much more so if A had anything to say that I was actually invested in.

I am a little more interested in Ek’s apparent secret. Wondering with the A is whispering it mysteriously, though. Especially since I’ve already noted that it doesn’t feel like there’s quite enough conflict here (even if this leads to good things later)… what if the A said it out loud where everyone could here?

The end of the chapter makes Ek seem rather naïve, but much more deliberately so. And I do think that’s a good end to the chapter.

“grunted” appears two more times on the first page of Ch2.

“She turned GT over in her hand…” I thought the A destroyed this last chapter?

P5 “A bit too late to voice these concerns…” Gotta agree there. It’s fine for Ek to be having regrets or wonder if she did the right thing, but this reads more like a conversation that folks would have gearing up for rebellion than after they’ve already gone through with it.

“You have access to the T…” How did she get that access? Is it just a matter of physically touching it or? Because if it were some sort of mechanical/computational device, I would assume it had much better security than that.

Okay, I got a good laugh out of Ek describing it as “sticky.” I hope that part stays.

“Ek. How is that go?” Why is Gy asking Ek? He was there wasn’t he? Or was this supposed to be a rhetorical question?

“No one outside of this station knows that A is dead.” That seems somewhat unlikely. This has certainly not been portrayed so far as any sort of stealth mission.

I realize that the aliens might not have listened, but why, instead of hemming and hawing, doesn’t Ek just say that the GT shocks/burns people who try to touch it?

“If word leaks that we’ve overthrown the D…” Then why do they need a figurehead? Come to think of it, if the plan is to go “radio silent” for 30 days, how on earth are they going to maintain the illusion that everything is a-okay?

Happy with the hook at the end of ch2, a little annoyed that it took her this long to try it.

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