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Reading Excuses - 12/28/2020 - aeromancer - Bravely Defiant - (2322)

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Hope everyone had a happy holiday weekend. This is the prologue for a fantasy/steampunk novel that I've been working on called Bravely Defiant. No tags, surprisingly, given that is nothing more than about 2000 words to set the mood. I got the idea for this after reading far more David Weber in one sitting than I should have and just working from there.

This is meant to be the prologue to a more classically structured fantasy story - the character recovered at the end of the prologue is going to be the MC, and the plot itself is mostly going to be a quest, given the fact that the MC is a knight. I'm interested in your reactions to the story potential, the world, and the characters that have been introduced.


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Hi Aero, welcome back. Happy holidays to you too :) 


- I like the idea. I usually enjoy steampunk. Also, I rather like the title. Sets a mood that I could get into with no great difficulty.

(page 1)

- Opening is wordy and repetitive, IMO. can be cut way back. The illumination of the fields is a good image, and should be closer the first line, IMO.

- Got an issue with the premise of these fields. If they are full of copper and iron, that is a valuable resources, surely, that would have been harvested before any number of years go by. This is my thinking. Now, if nations are still fighting over the material, that would be one explanation, it just puzzles me the way it's characterised.

- Yeah, okay, you've sought to address this question, but I don't think the question is answered. I still have my doubts that this resource would be remain uncontrolled.

- Searching is a premise that will keep me reading.

- There is a looooot of word repetition. I guess it's just Draft #1, but just to flag that there is a lot of tidying and tightening up to be done, as is the way with these things.

- Saying this, love all the shuddering of metal plates, etc., I get the steampunk feel, even thought the description is pretty light.

- Oooft, some of the wording is pretty torturous, and repetitive. 

(page 2)

- Err, him talking to himself like that is weird.

- There's a fair amount of vagueness. (1) "Now it seemed the work they had put in had paid off" - But they haven't found the source of the flares; "this was going to be a lot larger than his initial estimate" - What is 'this'? Various other instances prior to these.

- "Tell her that operations have begun" - I'm not following this. He says they've been following a trail for two or three nights now. But they are still following a trail, they've haven't found anything yet, just more trail. So, I don't see how it is operations have (just) begun. Surely, they could follow these signs for another 2 or 3 nights and still not find the cause.

(page 3)

- "William would captain the J the following morning if they needed her" - This sort of thing has bothered me for a long time, ever since the analysis of Star Trek original series. In practice, the captain of a ship does not gad about all over the place in land parties and the like, he stays at the helm and send out his officers. The fact that Wm is captaining the tug is...hmph, I can live with it, because it's dramatic licence and all that, but the thought that he would the dodge back to the main ship...It smacks of him not trusting any of his lieutenants to do a competent job. 

- "she opened the chest with no lock" - Ha, yes, okay. Pandora's box. When I read box with no lock, for some reason, I assumed the lid was sealed, not that the box could be opened easily without need for a key.

- "agreed with his wisdom" - Huh? What wisdom? The thing about the box? I don't see how that applies to his current situation. It's not a box, or a safe, or a tomb or a cell, coffin, whatever: he's not opening a thing, so I didn't associate his (apparently random) thought with the present exercise. I just thought he was raving.

- Ship's spirit and the flower thing is a neat idea. I like that.

- "couldn’t at least look at the chest" - What chest? Where is the chest?

- "as the ship slowed to a stop" - Why did the shop stop without the captain's order?

(page 4)

- There's plenty of grammar and drafting stuff, but I'm managing to restrain my LBL inclinations.

(page 5)

- "By all the g...." - LOL, great oath. A bit long, but I like it.

- "having been done without his orders" - in the same way that it stopped, I guess.

- "such that it couldn’t be seen" - What couldn't be seen? There is a great need for grammar dust to be  sprinkled over this.

- "Wm inhaled and exhaled as he thought" - LOL, I mean I did presume that he was breathing. I guess this is meant to indicate him smoking.

(page 6)

- "A human who suffered that much damage wouldn’t die?" - Confused by the conversation here. There's a double negative at least, and then he asks a machine to draw a conclusion about a human, which it seems ill-equipped to do, in fact, he seem more likely to be the one to answer that question.

- It's confusing to have the spirit make a misstatement like that. It actually comes over quite heavily maid-and-butler, this part of the conversation, as these two must both know the range of the sprits capability. It's a really long way around to getting to the conclusion that the spirit draws. AND THEN HE SAYS HE ALREADY KNOWS! I literally slapped my forehead.

- "are you sure that’s wise?" - No it's not at all wise. This is exactly what Kirk would do, and that's why I find it so annoying. Good drama; poor leadership.

(page 7)

- "carefully made his way across the debris field" - confused: why don't they lower him straight down at the armour? That way, the hook is available for him to make a quick escape. This seems like more poor thinking on his part.

- "as he smoked his pipe" - I had lost most of my respect for him before this point, but this is crazy, IMO. He's in a potentially dangerous, at best unknown, situation and he is hampering his own reactions and concentration by continuing to smoke a pipe.

- "drew an electric torch from his belt" - Whoa, my immersion in the steampunk setting just went up in a puff. How does this with in then? Why can't he have a suitably steampunk lantern?

- "main guns would struggle to do this" - Really? I'd imagine a ship-mounted cannon could take limbs off a bug mechanical man without too much difficulty.

- The grammar around here...I know, first draft, first draft. Also, "did not recognise in the slightest", a certain amount of over-writing.

- "a weapon beside him, a long spear" - How did he fit that inside the suit, and what use would it be? It can't be identical to the one the giant was wielding, because surely the giant's spear must be 30 feet long.

(page 8)

- "I think he’s having a nightmare" - Eh? That implies to me he's sleeping, which seems unlikely. He is more likely to be delirious / feverish, I think.

- Hmm. Okay, interesting conclusion. I would have liked to know more. We've followed a trail to the end to be presented with the start of a new trail, but I am somewhat interested in who 'she' is.


I rather like the steampunk trappings, there are some good lines, but quite a bit of repair work required from a drafting viewpoint. Setting the aside though, because that's not the point at this point, Im not sure the story really grips me. I don't get a great feeling of threat, or of personal stakes. Wm himself seems to be interested in profit, which is not even slightly interesting as the stakes of the story. There may be some personal stakes for the young man, but we only find those out in the very last line.

I also thought that this did not present particular like a prologue. I get quite a strong feeling that the main narrative is going to pick up in the not too distant future from these events. So, bottom line conclusion, if I picked this up in a book store, I doubt I'd keep reading, and I suspect id put it back on the shelf, unless the cover was amazing, or the blurb spoke very clearly to me about what the stakes, motivation and character arc was likely to be.

Character-wise. I have issues with Wm., as noted. The spirit is quite interesting, and that's basically all we get. I think Wm. almost reads like a side character, although we do get a lot of his internal narration (which is given externally by speaking out loud, which is kind of odd. Although maybe he was speaking to the spirit? I did not get the impression to begin with, because the spirit had not appeared.)


Okay, I deliberately didn't read your post, as I wanted to be unaffected by it in reading. I'm not troubled that Wm is not the MC, not at all, but I think that the prologue should do more to introduce the world. I don't think there is enough world to grab onto. The trash fields are a good idea, but I want more. I DO NOT mean loads of exposition, but, if Wm. is not the MC, and we don't meet the MC to the end of the prologue, I think the word needs to be the MC for the purposes of the prologue, and we need to be immediately engaged, and start rooting for the world (in some way) as a replacement of the MC that we otherwise would be looking for at the start of a book.

Such are my thoughts. I hope they are of some use. Good to read something new from you. I do think it has potential, but I just don't know how much.


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I really like the tone and setting of this chapter! W and Ir have distinct voices. I pictured W as the generic white bearded captain smoking his pipe.

There were just some sentences that were a little long and muddled but overall, it read really well and I had little to no problems understanding everything :)

I could def see this as an opening for a show, you've given me a clear picture of the environment. I was kind of expecting W to die at the end, like the prologue of a game of thrones. But in that prologue, it set up stakes very well. this prologue is just telling us setting and sort of introducing the MC. that's why i was expecting something bad to happen in this chapter that would set up a problem. but then again, I'm easy to please and the lack of stakes didn't bother me too much. I was very interested in the world and curious to see where this was all going. After some edits and some higher stakes, this could be a great prologue!


I agree with @Robinski that it was pretty wordy and repetitive at some points.


Page 1

- good intro, I already have a firm grasp on the “steampunkness.” My only complaint about the opening line is that you said “through the air” twice.

-”as it got near the ground” I would say “as it neared the ground” 

-”a century early” would a century earlier work better?

-”but the tug was searching for something else” oooh yes, setting me up for something, i love it

-you introduced the character early enough and incorporated description of the ship/world with action of MC and that's great! I was worried I might be bombarded with loads of description but this first page works really well.

-”the deckhand manning the floodlight” for some reason, I was picturing W alone.


Page 3

-”W addressed the flower” I thought the vine was evil until he talked to it. I thought for sure something was gonna spray out of the flower.

-”shy, but didn’t like talking when it wasn’t necessary.” same, spirit ship, same.


Page 4

-oooh i love the abandoned-giant-armor-thrown-into-a-junkyard-which-tells-us-there’s-some-history-here-or-maybe-some-foreshadowing vibes. (were all those dashes necessary and did they make sense? No, but i'm sticking with it) okay but for real, I love when characters come across rusty relics or giant statues that are covered in moss or just flat out destroyed. For the same reason I love abandoned houses in real life. There is a history here and it’s interesting to imagine what these things looked like in their prime and to imagine why they were abandoned or how they got to this worn down state. Okay, rant over :)


Page 6

-”are you sure that’s wise?” NO, NOT WISE.




Page 7

-”following him as he smoked his pipe.”

-”there was a mechanism which had opened the chest was only partially working,” this sentence confused me. First, I think you’re missing a word, “the chest that was only partially working” but also the sentence is a little muddled. Second, Idk if “a someone in the center” works for me. I might just say “someone in the center” but then in the next sentence, you’ve repeated that there was a man in the center. Maybe just cut parts of that transition sentence and reword it so that it’s clearer and flows better into the next paragraph without repeating the “person in the center” bit.


Page 8

-nice set up at the end! I am curious to know what happens next with the MC.


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So I haven't read the other comments yet, so sorry if I repeat anything. 

Overall, I thought this was an interesting way to start a story. I am very curious to see what the giant armor thing was, and my mind goes to maybe this was a soldier of some kind. I'm really hoping he doesn't have amnesia, though. If he ends up not remembering anything, that will be a bit too cliche, I think. 

I also think that it was a little verbose, especially at the beginning. There were repetition of ideas, and just a lot of description of minor details. I think the faster we can get to the captain searching for something, the better. I just feel like a lot of stuff, especially at the beginning, could be shaved off. Besides that, I could easily visualize the setting, which was nice, and I really like the idea of the flower spirit controlling the ship. The start was a bit rocky, but the end of the prologue was strong. Excited to see more!

Opening the document now

Pg 1 I like airships

First paragraph “as the small boat” repeats the word “boat” here. A little clunky imo

“as it got near the ground” not really a critique here, but this seems like a very fantasy way to word it. I feel like this type of structure is used a lot in fantasy stuff, which gives a certain tone. Good job

“A century early” probably “a century earlier”

These sentences in the first paragraph seem to be a little run-on to me. And while I do like airships, I’m not really getting a hook here.

“almost shaking” lots of commas in this sentence. Makes it read more like a list, and pulls me out a bit

“machine spirit” hmmm okay this little tidbit is interesting…using spirits to power vehicles eh?

Pg 2 “something heavy” okay this is getting my attention. The first page didn’t get my attention very well

“what sane man” I would. Nice characterization, shows that he is careful and calculating

“a lot larger than his initial estimate.” I think you could end with “larger.” We already know what he estimated

“to the wind” nice, cements his carefulness

“like clockwork” again, I think this sentence could be separated into a couple smaller ones

Pg 3 Pandora’s box huh

“A glowing vine” I like this description

Ah, so the spirit is a flower! Or nature spirit or something. I like it

Pg 4 “w was no strange to “ stranger to

“right arm was complete detached at the” completely detached

Pg 5 This description of what she can sense is interesting, but a bit dry

“dying, you say” I thought she said it was already dead

Pg 6 “heh” I don’t get why this is funny

“belay that” I thought that belay meant to stop an order, but it seems like he is going to salvage it anyway

I’m liking the atmosphere

“I’ve failed” oooh nice and dramatic


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Overall thoughts: If William isn’t our MC, I think we need more information about the rest of the world in a prologue.  We get a good picture of the junkyard, some details about the sorts of tech we have in this steampunk setting, the existence of machine spirits, and some information about William and his crew, but there isn’t too much information provided about what’s going on in the world around it. 

There are a lot of little grammar fixes and wording adjustments that need to be made for readability, but where those are absent, the writing is smooth.  

Given where we start, I would likely continue reading to figure out where things go from here, but depending on how much of what we learn here is carried into the rest of the story, I might feel rather disoriented by a change in setting in chapter 1.

Pg 1:

The description in the first couple of paragraphs is good. We get a good, clear picture of the scene.  However, it could be tightened up a good deal.

“Wm hadn’t become … by not knowing … wind” The wording of this sentence would be clearer without the double negative.

Pg 2-3:

The amount of talking to himself that he does seems a little odd. 

Pg 3:

 “chest with no lock”  To me, this wording implies not that the chest can just be opened, but that there’s something other than a traditional lock keeping it shut. 

I like the description of the machine spirit.

“Just because you were cautious…” I assume this is referring to his earlier recited lines, but I think it needs to be tied to it a little more directly for that to come across clearly. The chest connection is there, but what he’s actually saying isn’t intuitive the way it’s written now, so it takes a few extra seconds of distraction from the text to put together.   I like the reference, but the wording needs to be fixed a little for it to be effective without being distracting.

Pg 4:

“Wm was no … mast”  (strange to stranger typo, but I assume someone else has also pointed that out) this is helpful in adding to our understanding of what the world is like - what’s normal, and what’s exceptional.

“The torso had…the first place.”  The structure of this sentence was confusing. 

“By all the gears…” I probably think far too much about the oaths and swearing in sci-fi/fantasy settings.  They always add curiosity and interest about the belief system that makes certain things worthy to be sworn by.  In that regard, this is great.  Depending on what you’re going for, it might benefit from some adjusting, though. The length of it implies more of a sense of awe than a quick, reactionary oath would, but I think if that’s what you’re going for (I think it might be?), it might be good to have the slow breath out before he actually speaks. Make him clearly shocked to the point of being dumbfounded, not just speaking by reflex (which would probably use some shortened form for efficiency).

Pg 5:

“Wm inhaled and exhaled as he thought”  I’d forgotten he was smoking, so this seemed odd.  Maybe he does something with his pipe here before the inhaling and exhaling so that we remember it.  Some fidgety motion or mouth adjustment (My knowledge of the mechanics of pipe smoking is pretty much nonexistent, so I have no thoughts for what would make sense, but I think it needs something.)

“been spared”  Would “survived” be a more fitting term?  In my mind, being spared implies some choice from whatever is doing the damage.  But we don’t know enough about how the machine spirits work to know what wording would make the most sense at this point, so survival may not necessarily be a relevant term either.  The current wording seems off, though.

Pg 6:

The conversation between Ir and Wm needs some adjustment.  Some of the wording is awkward, and we aren’t given any extra context.  Is Wm scoffing or sarcastic when he says a person damaged to that extent wouldn’t die? Or is he taking her at her word (which would seem odd to me)? Is her “No” exasperated or impatient?  Do machine spirits have those sorts of emotions?

“lower me. Alone.”  This seems…unwise.  And while he has already mentioned that he wouldn’t have gotten where he is without knowing when to throw caution to the wind, if he’s very aware that something (potentially something nearby) caused a lot of damage to the armor, this doesn’t seem like it should be a time to go off alone.

Page 7:

Leather undersoles- I assume that you mean the bottoms are leather?  This isn’t going to get him extra grip.  One of the reasons a lot of dancers use leather-soled shoes is because they aren’t sticky.  They get more spin and glide on floors.  On metal? He’d be sliding around like crazy unless there’s something else coating the bottoms. There’s a reason that most leather work boots don’t also have leather soles.

“slammed” to me implies either an attempt to destroy the thing or something accidental where he’s catching himself.  That might just be me, though. Slam immediately connects to slamming into something in my mind.

More talking to himself.  Is Ir here to be a potential recipient of his comments? 

“Seemingly …center” There seems to be a typo here, which makes the wording confusing.

Page 8:

The talking to himself again seems out of place.  Especially when we are about to find out that Ir is still there.

Edited by C_Vallion
Deleted random blank lines at the end...

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This is a super traditional and appropriately short prologue. Hence, I'm for it! (I know, I know, shocking!). There was some redundancy of words, some typos, and general wordiness, but that's all small potatoes editing stuff you can fix whenever. I think my only real hang up was the motivation for the captain to go alone into the wreckage. I think I need a touch more emotional connection to him/backstory (maybe just a paragraph) so I can understand why he's going alone into this particularly dangerous situation.

100% here for the sentient ship lady and her purple veins. That's a pretty visual and has a lot of potential for growth. I love the steampunk vibe and I adore air ships. If I caught this in a bookstore I'd likely just buy it after the prologue and take it home with high hopes. Nicely done!


As I go

- pg 1: redundancy on 'air' there in that first sentence. it's also fairly long so shortening it might give it more of that opening line punch

- I'm a big fan of air ships so the first paragraph has me well hooked

- some wordiness through here. I think an out-loud reading pass would clear it up

- pg 2: it's a little bit slow with the introspection, but as it is a prologue to a traditional fantasy, I think it's about right

- pg 4: was no strange <-- should be strangeR I believe

- pg 4: typos sprinkled about so I'll stop commenting on them. Should be easy to clear up with another pass

- pg 5: Are you old enough to have watched the classically 90s TV scifi Time Trax? Because I am getting a vibe (it was a favorite of mine)

- pg 7: I'm struggling with his motivation to go alone into the broken machine. I know we had the whole Pandora thing, but this just seems foolhardy. I think I could use a memory or something? Some bigger push that drives him to make these Goonies-type wanderings

- I really enjoy those last words


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Like the others, I really enjoyed this. Probably some of your best work so far! I'll also agree there were a bunch of redundancies and typos, but nothing that won't be cleaned up with another pass.

I was actually a bit sad when I read the captain won't be the MC and instead the knight/soldier will be. I was looking forward to looking over the shoulder of the world-wise captain and his plant spirit thing, seeing how the mysterious knight develops. Still, it could be good the other way too. I hope the captain will be around for more of the book.

23 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

If W isn’t our MC, I think we need more information about the rest of the world in a prologue.

Hmm...I actually disagree with this. I think we were given just enough to grasp the steampunky world and draw us into the book. Like @kais said, If I read this prologue in a bookstore, I'd probably walk out with the book.

Overall, though, very good job! I look forward to more of this.


Notes while reading:

pg 1: "tugboat descended," "small boat gently lowered"
--some repetition

pg 1: "machine spirit"
--I'm intrigued...

pg 2: Strong steampunk vibe.

pg 3: Was the flower growing in response to W's recitation? It seemed that way, but then it seemed it grew on its own.

pg 4: "hydraulic armor"

pg 5: "taking the appearance she used when she wanted to look human"
--can probably cut this since you then describe her as looking human.

pg 6: "somehow managed to get herself"
--so does the crew not know about the spirit? That seems unlikely.

pg 7: "It seemed identical...but W couldn’t tell for sure whether or not it was."
--This seems contradictory. If he can't tell, then it wouldn't seem identical.

pg 8: Nice ending.


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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Hmm...I actually disagree with this. I think we were given just enough to grasp the steampunky world and draw us into the book. Like @kais said, If I read this prologue in a bookstore, I'd probably walk out with the book.

It wouldn't stop me from reading the book, for sure.  But I might get disappointed when we get further in and the character I'd gotten connected to doesn't turn up. 
I like this opening as a reader, but my writing brain wants to be overly critical of what its key takeaway points are, since I know a lot of people are iffy about prologues.  I'd have to see more of the full story to figure out if it would make more sense to approach it a little differently.    And look forward to doing that further reading :) 


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You've packed a lot of tone and expectations in a short space, well done!

I don't read much stream punk, so maybe this is an accepted convention, but why would they have sails up if there is no wind and they are running an engine anyway? Sea going ships don't do this at least. Any comments I make.about ship/boat terminology are based purely on sea faring vessels. If this doesn't apply to airships, please feel free to ignor. 

Repetition of "pocketing the telescope" saying it and then describing it.

"There were signs that it had been disturbed." Since this is at the beginning of a paragraph, the 'it' isn't immediately clear.

"Like clockwork the crew followed his orders, and the ship..." it seems like this is referring to the tug, not the main vessel. As a rule, tugs are boats, not ships. To fit purpose, they typically have large engines for their size and are hyper buoyant in front so that they can effectively tow much larger vessels behind them without any problem. I'm having a hard time picturing how this translates into an airship style tug, but that may just be a personal problem. 

"W was no strange to man made..." no stranger

Fun to read, thanks for sharing!


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It's always hard for me to critique prologues because they rarely hook me but they also rarely turn me off a book but I'll do my best.

In this chapter, I was most interested in I as the sentient ship lady. Talking through the flower is also a great image, but I's powers and personality drew me in. Does every ship have something/someone like her? I was wondering how invested to get in case she only shows up in the prologue and isn't a feature of the larger world. 

If I had to identify one area for improvement, I'd say how the chapter closes out. I'm not sure if this is a one-line change or if more setup work needs to be done in the background, but the "I've failed her" is too general to key me into a specific character dynamic to be excited about. What does failing her mean for him and for the world? What makes this tricky is that our unconscious friend here isn't able to articulate all of this, but I still think it's necessary for the story to delve into more specifics here to get a bigger oomph. Whether that comes in a different line or something else happening that reinforces the danger depends on what the story wants to do with that dynamic. 

One question I had: We know that W doesn't recognize the tech, but does he recognize the culture the young man is from (either from appearance or uniform or something else)? I feel like this reads different if it's someone close to home having this secret giant mech vs someone from a faraway land he's not fully aware of. 

Wish I had more comments but like I said most prologues don't evoke much in me positive or negative. Best of luck with this story going forward! 


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I read it twice. Once for fun and once for nit picks.

Thoughts after the first read through:

It was a hard read for me. I’ll use the first paragraph as an example of why in the nit picks.

Other than my difficulty following the story, the bones are interesting. I like the mix of steampunk and spirituality of machines. 

The dialogue didn’t feel realistic to me. I’ll leave more detailed notes after my second red through. I was eager to get to dialogue in hopes the story would stick with me a bit better. But it did not. 

Anyway! On to-

Nit picks:

The opening line is loooong. The phrase “through the air” is repeated.  It does paint a nice visual but I think that same visual could be created with fewer phrases. In general, throughout this prologue I found the exact same phrasing or similar phrasing repeated from one sentence to the next.  

Also: Is the tugboat steam powered or wind powered? Usually things are one or the other. (Their are motorsailers but I *think* those engines are specially designed to run with the sails. So as I’m writing this I’m realizing my point is moot.) I guess it just made me head scratch to see it written as if both systems were on at the same time. But then again. The only steampunk I’ve read was a book with balloons for flight so... perhaps it is a staple of the genre that I haven’t encountered?

Second line: “great” was just used in the opening line and it’s use here stood out. Again, similar wording is repeated.

Third sentence: This one was just totally overloaded for my tastes. I’m dyslexic and have a hard time keeping context in my head. So the longer a sentence and the more phrases it has the harder it is for me to comprehend.  This third sentence has a lot going on. A “no man’s land” is formed. Then we learn it was formed during a war. A war that happened. hundred years ago. A war where lots of garbage piled up. Garbage piles that were half this and half that.  But that were composed of this metal or that metal.  All that in one sentence. It was too much for me to keep straight. 

Fourth sentence: same problem but smaller scale than sentence three.

I want to note that at this point I stopped reading on my first go through. I retried reding five times getting only a little farther each time before I decided to just skim and not try to keep track of everything. It took me four days to get through this piece beginning to end.

I don’t want this to sound harsh. I don’t mean it to be.

I’m saying this because there are just some writers I cannot read in print. It doesn’t make them bad writers, I mean they are published. It just makes me a sucky reader. But! I do know that when I get tripped up a ton, other people usually do too- they just don’t have the same anxiety about reading as I do (think of learning to drive a car and how anxious everyone is and cautious the first few times they drive. For me reading never became second nature. It doesn’t flow or feel natural at the best of times.) If I read something like this that constantly has me changing lanes I get all flustered. A better driver may be able to handle all the frequent and fast lane changes but their pulse rate also goes up a bit.

A sentence here or there that I have to read three or four times to figure it out- no problem. But sentence after sentence? It becomes too much for me. And this prologue was that beginning to end.

(And I know I have talked about being dyslexic on every review I’ve done. It is just such a big part of reading for me I cannot separate my dyslexia from what my reading experience was like.)

“And so the trail continues...” this paragraph of dialogue just doesn’t sound like someone talking to themselves. It sounds more like a way for the writer to tell the reader something. How does the captain know the distress signal came from someone going in just out of curiosity? On my first read through I thought the captain was talking about himself. On second l knew the captain knew exactly why he was going in (to find the person who sent up a distress signal) therefore it could only be a sentence about the young man they found. But as I read on and found this out it then didn’t make sense anymore

“Like clockwork” is cliche. Could be described in a way that doesn’t feel stale.

Paragraph that begins “a glowing vine.” This snapped me out of my skim for sure. Not what I was expecting, in a good way. Def peeked my interest. But note that in the last 2 sentences the flower blooms twice.

Paragraph beginning “But just because...” sudden change to second person was jarring but not in a good way. Is this missing quotes?

The last few lines: if the captain is kneeling over the young man. Why can Iris hear what he is saying but the captain cannot? This seemed odd to me. I also didn’t catch when Ir turned back into a flower and I thought the captain told everyone else to stay on the tug?

Overall, like I belabored before: it was hard to read, the dialogue didn’t feel natural. But it has a lot of really neat ideas.

Comments to address your comments:

my reaction to the world and story building- top notch! Very interesting. The characters: not doing much for me. they feel flat, like chess pieces rather than living breathing characters I want to invest in. I also wouldn’t have gotten that this was a fantasy novel from this intro. Yeah, machine spirits should have done it. But I kinda thought it was like an AI thing.


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I was very engaged in this and read through the whole thing without making comments. 

One thing I did find myself thinking about was that the opening felt a little repetitive. I think @Robinski already covered this though. 

It could definitely use a good edit to trim some extra and overused words, but at least to me that's a step for later on in the writing process. 

You set an interesting scene and premise. The concept of steampunk machines powered by a spirit is fascinating. The narrator was interesting. I learned a little about him and how he thinks, but I'm not entirely sure what his personal stakes are in this. Yes, there were some snippets of his personality, but the narration felt very distant. I was engaged by the premise and setting, but not the character. The first two things will carry through a prologue okay in they are interesting enough, as they are in this case, but if the narration continued to be this distant and didn't delve further into the characters, I would probably loose interest.

I am curious about whose POV the rest of the story will be from and how the prologue connects to it. 


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Hey, thanks for submitting, I really enjoyed your sub. I read this at work and am only now getting an opportunity to critique, so I won't be able to do a super long critique.

I liked the feel of the world and there were several things that got me interested in reading on. 

The spirit of the machine gave me some pretty cool vibes and I feel like there is a lot of space there that you can work in. 

The captain fell a little flat for me. He seemed very nonchalant and loose, with little concern for his well being. Isn't this supposed to be a dangerous mission? I could be wrong here.

It was easy to feel the atmosphere and tone. I really got the feel of the steampunk vibe and I can dig it, until the electric flashlight thing. I agree with @Robinski about the lantern or something different. I don't really know much about steampunk, so I could just be wrong about this. 

Overall, I would likely read another chapter of this before deciding to keep going or not. There is just enough to get me intrigued, but not enough in the characters here to really grip me. 

Thanks again for submitting, I look forward to seeing what's next. 


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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, " during the wars a century early," Do you mean earlier? I'm not going to pay much attention to grammar and such since you are after the big picture. 

Pg 1, "composed of nothing except" Unsure how this makes it half graveyard?

Pg 1, "collapsing it and then returning it into his pocket." I feel like you don't need this, as I think most people know that when you are pocketing a telescope, you aren't shoving it extended into your pocket.

Pg 2, "what we find on the end of it. What sane man" I don't think it's a man. A man can't just cut grooves through metal piles.

Pg 2, "Now it seemed the work they had put in had paid off." You could cut down your word count by simplifying several of your sentences. Consider: "Now it seemed their work had paid off." Eight words versus twelve, without the double repeat of "had." That's minor stuff though, and just goes with cleaning up a manuscript. 

Pg 2, " the crew followed his instructions," Is it normal for a captain to join the scavenger crew rather than staying on the main ship? Or is W unusual?

Pg 6, "Captain, are you sure that’s wise?" Completely agree.

Pg 6, "he smoked his pipe" If this man trips and has his teeth busted out by his pipe, I shall have little sympathy. Don't walk over unstable ground with a pipe in your mouth! 

Pg 6, "slammed his left arm" His arm??? 

Pg 7, "A new weapon, perhaps?" In which case, who let their new toy go without supervision? Unless they are still hunting it down?

Pg 7, "main guns would struggle to do this" This makes the ship sound more like a military ship rather than a salvage ship. 

Pg 7/8, " identical to the one that the giant knight was wielding" Is this steampunk Pacific Rim? Because I would absolutely read that.

Pg 8, " calmly checked the young man’s" Man, if only I had a measure of this man nonchalance. 

Pg 8, "He’s alive. Good." I'm unsure if W is talking to himself (which I do a lot) or the spirit.




On 12/30/2020 at 7:42 AM, Mandamon said:

I was actually a bit sad when I read the captain won't be the MC and instead the knight/soldier will be. I was looking forward to looking over the shoulder of the world-wise captain and his plant spirit thing, seeing how the mysterious knight develops.


On 12/30/2020 at 7:42 AM, Mandamon said:

Like @kais said, If I read this prologue in a bookstore, I'd probably walk out with the book.

I will also echo this. I'm a massive sucker for 1) steampunk 2) unshakeable captains (I hope he sticks around, maybe be the traditional mentor figure?) 3) magic. The last part raised enough questions (what is the machine for? Who is the dude?) that I want more.

On 12/28/2020 at 6:04 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

I'm really hoping he doesn't have amnesia, though. If he ends up not remembering anything, that will be a bit too cliche, I think. 

I second this. I've read very few satisfying amnesiac stories. I think the last one I enjoyed was a dude pretending to have amnesia to spy on these people. That was hilarious. But definitely few and far between.



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Nicely done! I’m very on board with this sub, and thought it was a solid start to a new novel. The level of worldbuilding was appropriate, the hook is there, and I have a reasonably good sense of W as a character.

I say “reasonably” because I don’t have much sense of W’s interactions with the crew or who they are, and I think that’s the one missing piece that could tell us a lot about him. The focus of this chapter is pretty narrow and I wouldn’t expect to see a ton of it here, but the fact that we get absolutely none definitely colours my opinion somewhat; I don’t think W is necessarily a bad person but definitely have the impression that his connection to his crew is only utilitarian rather than having any sort of relationship with them.

Having now read your post – also not troubled by the fact that the captain won’t be the MC, though as others have noted, I’d hope he sticks around in some form.

As I read:

First line, “it’s” should be “its”

“during the wars a century early” earlier?

“Like clockwork, the crew followed…” I’d be curious to get a sense of reactions from the crew, since W at least seems to think this is dangerous.

“Belay that… no sense in letting it go to waste.” Seems to contradict himself here – I took from the second sentence that he’s quite willing to attempt salvage, but that’s not what he said to the deckhand.

It’s interesting that none of the crew have been named or seen any focus. It gives the impression that W is not particularly attached to his crew.


I think there are a few places where the prose could be trimmed back, definitely, but figured it was too early to get into LBLs.


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19 hours ago, Silk said:


@Mandamon, Bef is shopping for one of these in the next session of DVRPG. So that he can not fire it...obviously.


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39 minutes ago, Robinski said:

@Mandamon, Bef is shopping for one of these in the next session of DVRPG. So that he can not fire it...obviously.

Lol. Of course. Bef will have an entire collection of unfired weapons soon, I imagine.


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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Lol. Of course. Bef will have an entire collection of unfired weapons soon, I imagine.


He did point one at someone in the last session...



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