kais

3/01/2021 - Kais - Pruitcu - Chapter 4 (L) - 5662 words

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This used to be three chapters, which were condensed to this one and then a shorter one (that follows in two weeks). As such I think it still might need cuts. It was always meant to be more of a character investment chapter, as we don’t yet have much backstory on Yorn and Nick as we do on Sal and G4. It was also meant to be a fairly major arc for Sal in terms of taking charge, but her character is so mild that I’m not sure that comes across (especially for new readers). 

All thoughts welcome. If you’re bored or if you feel like it doesn’t properly arc or push the plot, I’d like to know that, too. Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

Pg 1:

The opening sentences had me thinking this was Y-‘s PoV. Until we get to the “because T- ate the fruit of trees…” line and I got thrown off.

Pg 2:

“…took a bite of the ‘glass’…”  Do you have a comparison of what the hardness/texture of the “glass” is like?  And how “liquid” is the lemonade? Does it have any real lemon-basis? Or is it entirely artificial but made to imitate the flavor of lemonade?  If you leave it sit too long, is the liquid going to make the glass soggy?  I assume it would have to have some sort of disintegration when exposed to liquid for it to be digestible.  What sorts of “inks” does the printer work with.  Is cellulose the main volume of it, a sort of carrier that has nutrient and flavor extracts added, to be combined in different ways? I assume different species are going to need different nutrients, so that seems like an important thing to be able to swap out.

Ultimately, the whole food printing thing takes me back to my materials science classes.  And I have questions. Most of which, I’m fine passing off into the “Future tech. Don’t worry about it” category, but which my curiosity still wants answers for, even if I don’t think they’re vital for the story.

Pg 3:

“There almost to. No.”  -> “They’re almost to” ?

“Did we not have our fill…” this sentence is a little clunky/confusing.   As is “Assuming they haven’t left Ei- orbit…”

“I,’ he jabbed his thumbs into his chest…”  I know I probably overuse em-dashes, but this seems like it needs them.  The commas aren’t quite right.

Pg 4:

“wetness formed in the corners of his eyes like…” I like this species contrast detail.  Being reminded that Sal-  is more familiar with st- than with tears.

“I’d like to ask follow-up questions.” Lol.

Pg 6:

“breaking news, peace talks…” Hm. Who would have guessed that a planet blowing up might cause some political troubles?

Pg 10:

The image of all of the files appearing all through the space is fun and dramatic, but it seems like 1- a really inefficient way to actually sort through information. I can’t even keep track of too many browser tabs.  Having them take up physical space might make it easier to mentally process what is where, but having them all appearing and talking at once just seems overwhelming and unhelpful. And 2- it seems odd that she would get even the previews that she does if they’re all restricted.

 

Pg 16:

“She tapped to accept, though the fee…” Heh.  Always a bad idea.

Pg 17:

“typed Ma- Pi-“  Yeah.  That seems likely to go badly.

“Aggression Talents…” I have no idea what just happened or what this means.

Pg 18:

“You are both very nice but you talk a lot” If I had a nickel for every time I’d thought this…

Pg 19:

“Y- started to get up”  He’s strapped into his seat, right?

“This is me not captaining…” I assume this is in reference to Sal- being in charge at the moment? It wasn’t entirely clear.

 

Overall:

I like having a little more background on Y- and Nick. And I enjoyed the chapter as a whole, and wasn't bored.  But I also like character investment chapters.  So I don't know if it will feel slower to other people.  

In regard to Sal- taking charge, I see far more of Y- intentionally stepping out of the way for her to go on her little adventure than her actually stepping up.  Which I think is makes perfect sense for a milder character (I’m sure you’ll be surprised that I like mild characters :P at least when done well), but I think it would come across better if he actually knows what she’s planning to do. 

Right now, it comes across a little as him sort of humoring her as she sends them all on this adventure, but she has obviously not filled him in on the details.  Which seems slightly deceptive on her part, and could come across as a little patronizing on his (maybe?).  

Ex. 1: Taking the ship for a little adventure? “Sure, hon.”

I think the fact that he’s putting her in charge of the ship could say a lot about the trust and respect that he has for her goals.  But that doesn’t come across as well when he doesn’t know what those goals are.  So it sort of comes across as her tricking him into letting her run things.   She is in charge, but she hasn’t yet proved that she should be in charge in that way.  Especially when Y- is sort of stepping back into command then intentionally backs down at the end.  Is that a circumstance where she’s capable of leading? Once things have gone wrong? Or is that somewhere where his stepping up is ultimately going to be less likely to get them killed? 

She can still be the one in charge without being the one sitting in the captain’s seat.  And he can still be deferring to her goals and plans without just sitting by and letting all of them get dragged into danger.  And I think having Y- fully aware of what he’s getting into, being reluctant about it, but agreeing because it means a lot to her says far more than the current setup.  Depending on what you’re intending to do with the characters.  If she is a little more deceptive/manipulative, then yeah. This makes sense.  But that needs to create more problems when Y- finds out how much she wasn’t telling them about where they were going/what they were doing.

Ex. 2: Taking the ship for a little adventure that’s going to be difficult for all of us, and puts us in circumstances that we probably aren’t really going to want to get involved with?  “I don’t like it. But I know you well enough to trust your judgment, so I’m in, and am going to try to support you however I’m helpful.  By doing what I do best while you do what you do best to accomplish what you’re trying to do.”

Edited by C_Vallion
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Overall:

The last S chapter had a really good hook, and to me it felt like this chapter didn't capitalize on it until page 20. For me, I noted two major comments: slow pace and lots of references to stuff I don't understand having not read the first three books. I think the slow pace comes from the fact that there's a lot of different stuff going on here, but none of it is important enough for the story to do a deep dive into, making it all seem unimportant. Which means I think the issue I have might be in the presentation rather than the events themselves. I don't see how each scene here connects to S' larger goals, so it's hard for me to be invested. Though even if framed properly, I do still worry about what's being covered here. Let's take the J system bureaucracy as an example. It's presented as a roadblock S needs to pass, but it really doesn't matter that much so we only get 6 pages on it and then drop it. But if it doesn't really matter, then why do we even need 6 pages on it? I honestly feel like it could be a summary blurb and we wouldn't miss much. Though again, I do think clearer framing will help this. Why does she want these files so badly? Is she hoping that they'll lead her to other people of her species? 

Plus, most of the stuff in this chapter ends up being overridden when the planet P pulls them in, crushing S' plans and throwing them all into danger. To me, this feels more like a hook to a chapter rather than a resolution to one. 

At this point I'm just thinking out loud, but when I think back it seems like the chapter arc wants to be "S struggles to get the files she wants and then eventually gets them." If that's what it's going for, I need 1. more clarity on why this matters to her so much 2. a clearer idea of what's standing in her way from getting them and 3. a conclusion that makes her do something other than pay with someone else's money to get the files she wants, since it feels like she didn't really earn them herself. That being said, if the files aren't important in the long run here I'm not sure this needs to be the arc. I'm more interested by the planet pulling them in, so I'd be happy if the rest of the chapter were cut down and we got to focus on that instead. 

As I go:

pg 2

-"did you also have to fly your spaceship against gravity both ways to attend school?" lmao. Also this makes Y seem older than I originally thought. I was originally picturing 30s (he's a human, right? So human years apply) but this comment makes me think more 45+ like he's a cranky dad/grandpa figure to N 

-I don't really see a hook for this chapter yet so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be focused on. I was more engaged last S chapter this far in. 

pg 3

-How long has it been since the long At/N prologue? Feeling a bit disoriented trying to keep track of everything. 

-I think knowing that we're heading for Ard should be on page 1. If you want the banter we could get it internally from S. It took me a bit too long to get my footing. Maybe it was in the last S chapter and I should have known, but reminders don't hurt. 

pg 5

-What's an Eld? I don't mind not knowing things but I feel like I should know what this means, since it's being used as an explanation all on its own. 

-blegh lots of sexual assault metaphors for what Ard is doing. I really feel like I need to understand this better than I do. 

pg 6

-I get that the document is probably supposed to be dry and thorough but I had a hard time getting through it. Any chance we could get the summary instead? If I were a reader I'd honestly just ignore it anyway and infer any info from the following dialogue 

pg 8

-So S' thing is about finding her people? This sounds familiar but it's been a while. I think this motivation could be clearer at the start. 

pg 11

-Okay I think I have a clearer view on how things stand... sorta. The summary paragraph at the bottom of the page helps. 

pg 14

-I think this would be a really cool moment if I knew what an Eld was. Are they just political figures? Something more? Since there's only three of them I know they're special. 

pg 15

-I do like how much we understand about Ye immediately. The bureaucracy sounds like a huge headache 

pg 16

-I'm a bit less engaged now that it's just an AI here with S. Less room for fun character interactions. 

pg 18

-S explaining herself to N and Y here is the moment I feel for her most this whole chapter. 

pg 20

-P pulling in the ship is a great hook. Now I'm invested. 

 

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Similar thoughts to the others. I think the first 5-6 pages are good for developing character, but it goes on a bit. Could be cut down to get to the point of the chapter.

S taking command is...questionable. It seems more like she's putting everyone in danger and then refusing to tell why or what she wants, and everyone's fine with it. Why are they not asking more questions?

The parts with the computer are funny, but I also question why a computer would be set up to spread files all over the place. Seems like it wouldn't be useful for getting information

Once the ship started getting sucked to somewhere else, I got very interested. I think cutting down on the comedy with the computer and having S give at least one reason for what she's doing will drive the reader to the hook better.

Sounds like this will be a fun ride!

 

Notes while reading:

Pg 1: I like the epigraph. Good costs.

pg 2: “Did you have to fly your spaceship against gravity both ways to attend school?”
--this is awesome.

pg 2: "ever" -> "every"

pg 3: "There almost to" -> "They're almost to"

pg 3: "had it play ‘I am unhappy’"
--lol

pg 5: I like the banter, but it's maybe getting a bit long.

pg 7: "YOU SAID I WAS A PRIORITY"
--hmmm, yes, but does that extend to kidnapping a 1/3 of the rulers of a planet without asking questions? I mean, maybe allow a few for that much.

pg 8: "You’re allowed to have secrets"
--yes, but again, when it starts to affect 5 or more people, maybe a little pushing is relevant...

pg 9: "Do we have clearance for this?...N stopped talking."
--hmmm...having some believably problems with S. continually asking for no one to question her. For most things fine, but she's potentially endangering people and breaking into classified documents, which could have serious repercussions. I think questioning that is pretty important.

pg 10: "Text fragments of news reports..."
--why would opening files be so chaotic? Wouldn't the computer system know to display them in an orderly fashion?

pg 12: "Better not be pivotal plot points."
--lol. Meta-Y.

pg 17: "turning the tongue into a miniature laser pistol..."
--this is a very strange computer system.

pg 19: "The yellow line was a parabola"
--sooo...did S pull them somewhere strange with that telekinetic pull?

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I love Sa and her voice in this chapter. Y & N had some funny lines, but some of the banter was a little too much. There seemed to be a lot of information P in this chapter but I felt like I'd heard it before. I'm not sure if it is because it was in that first prologue you submitted a while back and got moved to here, of if it is actually repeated. But going into this chapter, I already knew P was born of A and had gotten blown up. The refugee stuff was new, and I was interested in how the person on the comm was very anti Ard. If there was more significant new details in some of the images S was looking before they got redacted, I may have missed it. But I think it more or less just confirmed there was another Ard evolved Neek-like species, which we knew from G4?

The  most interesting thing that happened was that we learned they were getting pulled of course and heading to P without A and E. 

As I read:

"Terrans ate the fruit of the trees instead of the trees themselves" I love this distinction 

"enjoyed the look of crystallized sugar in his beard" Nice detail and shows a lot of her feels for him very concisely  

"spaceship against gravity both ways" Is this a dig at the 'walk uphill both ways' line? I'm not sure it really lands for me. 

"sparkle of cellulose across..." based on the G4 chapter, something tells me this won't go over so well when they arrive.

When they start arguing about the lemonade, and the line about deprogramming the printer and all that, the banter was losing me. 

"(UN)WILLING(???)" This was hilarious

"BODY PARTS....follow up question" I also snickered at this. 

"...made me think of planets having babies..." This felt a little too rambling 

"Sounds like "fruit chew" " Well, know I have an idea of how to pronounce it. 

"S glared. N stopped talking." I like the power S has to get him to shut up when necessary

"The compute refused" oh no 

"I love you. Please don't get us killed." Great last line! 

On 3/2/2021 at 1:07 PM, Mandamon said:

--sooo...did S pull them somewhere strange with that telekinetic pull?

I am wondering this too.

On 2/28/2021 at 11:14 PM, kais said:

It was also meant to be a fairly major arc for Sal in terms of taking charge, but her character is so mild that I’m not sure that comes across (especially for new readers). 

S seemed completely in charge from the begining of this chapter. In fact, S seemed in charge since the gassy bean bag chair chapter. In this book, I do not think I have seen S not completely in control of Y and N. S is ruling this ship. 

This chapter was fun. Some of the banter could be trimmed. Some of the research could possibly be trimmed a little. I don't think it really had an arc or beat. It was more laugh a bit and have some world building chapter that does end with a good hook because things are clear not going according to S's plan.

Granted, this is the type of thing I might complain about in a critique but also might not notice or would just sort of breeze if I was just reading for fun and not thinking too much about it.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I am gonna be an echo here, sorry about that :)

Pg 2

-”and took a bite of the glass” why tho? Is the glass… tasty?

Pg 6-7

-sorry, i skimmed the article

Pg 8

-”WE HAVE TO GO TO PRU” why tho

-”could have been on pru” what does she hope to find? The planet is blown up

Pg 9

-”why are we in e-level files?” if these files are so precious, how is she able to have access to them?

Pg 10

-”requires clearance” ohhh so some things are protected

Pg 14

I don’t think im clear on what an eld is or what their purpose is so im confused as to why Sal would want to bring one. I get that its for information but i dont see how that would help the people who had their home blown up. Sal doesn’t know why Pru blew up but does she know for a fact that no one else knows as well?

Pg 17

-you can just type in anyone’s name and where they come from to pay for things?? 

-”aggression talents did have their uses” what?? Did i miss this explanation?

Pg 18

“WE ARE GOING” alright! It’s laid out nice and neat! I know exactly what she is thinking and why she wants to go. I feel like this comes in a little too late though

-”the chair, which was the Alu- standard issue” stuff like this is nice for world building, but it’s falling flat for me. I dont feel like I need to know this. The Alu- word means nothing to me. This is just my opinion, but I feel like there’s a lot of instances like that that don’t do much for me

-”he barely fit” HOWEVER, this sentence is great! I get a clear image of Y trying to squeeze into this chair, and i love it!

-”ready when you are, Lover.” does the “L” need to be capitalized?

Pg 19-22

-i loved the character interactions on these pages. I've been a lot more engaged since like page 18.

-”if you let Y spike your lemonade” that sounds good D: i want some!

-”secreting concern” ew lol

-”I never take on dead planets without gods” I feeeeel like I knew that At was a godlike being...but i cant remember so this caught me off guard. I was like “At is a god??” at first

-ah, okay, they are being pulled because of the stuff Sal did earlier, okay, that makes sense.

 

Overall, I enjoyed the banter but I agree that some of it can be cut. 

These were my thoughts before i knew that their course was being altered because of Sal’s earlier communications:

This chapter in general can be cut down a lot, imo. I don’t feel like I learned anything valuable, or anything progressed the story. I thought Sal had already decided to go to Pru and Y and N were okay with that. I don’t remember if she wanted to go pick up At and Em before this chap but that could easily be said in a sentence/paragraph. This could most definitely just be me not fully understanding everything and/or missing points that will be important later, but as a completely new reader, a lot of this stuff goes over my head. I do love the characters though, and I do want to know what happened to the planet and where this story is heading exactly.

But after learning that her actions led to them going off course, I changed my mind a bit. I love getting to know the characters and seeing them interact and everything but I also want to feel a sense of progress. This is only her 2nd POV but her motivations weren’t concrete in my mind. It did get explained further down in the chapter so that helped, but that could definitely come in earlier.

I really liked the last few pages, their banter was nice and the tension was increasing. I think just simplifying this chapter and clearing up Sal's motivations would make it way better! :)

 

Edited by karamel
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Okay, edits have happened! I've taken out almost 1000 words, which I think will help a lot. The front and middle banter has been blocked into one and shorted to about a quarter of what it was. The end banter remains since it looks like that paired well with the tension. We now get to the 'we have to get At first before we go to Pru' by the second page. 

I've clarified what an 'eld' is. Thanks to the new readers for pointing out that I had not defined that. 

Spoiler

SHE IS AN ELD. THE ELD ARE THE RULERS OF AR-M.

I've clarified why Yord and Nick are okay letting her take the lead and not asking too many questions (though now they do ask few more)

Spoiler

“Okay,” Nic drawled. “I’m not being very clear and coming off pushy. I’m sorry. Yorn flew us into Risan cutters and had the Mmls torch N-k’s forests. Ata-nt flew us to Ar-um where we also all nearly died. I served on like, six different eld councils when we were still on Ard-m, which, while it didn’t put anyone else’s life in jeopardy, was a bad decision. It’s your turn. I agree. That doesn’t mean you can’t let us help.”

I got rid of all the holo stuff and now they just get a bunch of redacted files and that one holo that half-plays. Sal does tell Nick that Ata gave her codes to the Ard database.

Nick has a good mid-chapter summary for those lost

Spoiler

“Right. So, Ard reproduces, which makes sense but also I hate. One of those offspring recently blew up, the other failed to thrive. That about cover it? And we’re going to the blown up one?” 

I've added a definition for what an "Aggression Talent' is. Sorry to the new readers. Made that too subtle

Spoiler

“Aggression Talent? I believe you’re banned in the Ju-n System since we still allow active weaponry, but that might have been suspended with the current emergency. And yes of course there are survivors. Some were off world and we have them in refugee care but why are you bringing eld here? How? Are you cleared for that? Did you discuss it with the Ap-A council? Pru couldn’t authorize this alone. We’re a system you know, and not all featherless bipeds. And if you didn’t get clearance from the Ap -A you’ll be in violation of Agreement 78.55 that prohibits Ard interference in the Juq-n System. Did you even apply for a visa? If you did, were you honest about the Aggression Talent? We don’t need you telekinetically firing every laser gun in spitting distance just because you can.

It's my hope that this makes what Sal does with the holo laser gun clear, and also then ties into why the ship gets pulled off course. I also clarified the action:

Spoiler

Again she tried to swipe it away. Again it evaded, turning the tongue into a miniature laser pistol and firing little holo lasers at her with a pew pew sound.

A weapon. Fantastic. As irritatingly categorical as the Ard Talent structure was, the borders were delightfully grey. If it looked like a weapon, or Sal’s mind interpreted it as a weapon, she could manipulate it on a cellulosic level through microkenesis. She grinned, grabbed at the cellulose connection from the holo, through the computer, to whatever database it was connected to, and gave a hard, telekinetic tug. 

Thank you all for the help with trimming. With the epigraphs I often forget what information is redundant, and having new readers is critical for knowing what basic world stuff I need to define again. This chapter is much stronger now!

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Posted (edited)

I thought the overall arc of the chapter was great, but it definitely drags in parts. I think some of the banter can go.

I also wondered whether the chapter might benefit from shuffling the middle bits around – I thought the order felt a bit off in parts. There were points at which I wasn’t clear about whether S was planning to go to Ard, or straight to Pr. Then, by the time S realizes she’s stepped into a diplomatic mess vis-a-vis Pr, I’m already invested in her going to Ard… which makes the diplomatic stuff less effective as a setback because that’s not where she’s going. I wonder how this chapter would work if S actually decides to go to Pr first, backtracks when she realizes the can of worms (heh) she’s opened and decides to go back to Ard to retrieve At, and that’s when it’s revealed that Pr has its own ideas about S changing course, thank you very much? If nothing else it'd maybe give readers a more intuitive explanation for why the planet is pulling them to begin with to glom onto in the short term.

As I read:

P2 “There almost to.” I think this is supposed to read “They’re almost to,” but if not, I have no idea what this means.

Also, kind of surprised they seem to be going to Ard and not to P?

What did lemonade ever do to you?!

Maybe WRS because it’s been some time since I’ve read the original trilogy, but I’m sort of lost on the “shoes” thing…

So Y just isn’t going to ask about the bodies? Because if I were in Y’s position and just heard that, I would also have followup questions.

…huh. Did N always talk this much?

“The J Tourism Board has suspended V tours…” Because of course there are tours. Also, the information in the article is helpful but I think it goes on a little too long.

Should I recognize the name of the planet L? Because I definitely do not.

“Why are we in e-level files?” Why is he just asking now?

“N yelped and jumped away from the display…” Seems like an overreaction? She’s not even showing the dead bodies!

Oh… it was it was because it was loud?

Priutcu seems to be really well-established, so I’m wondering again how the initial discovery of an entire planet blowing up got buried at first.

S’s interaction with the volunteer line: She thinks she’ll get there in three days? Is she going to Ard, or P?

And S encounters… Bureaucracy. Serves her right :P I like the idea, but I think this would be more compelling if S didn’t discover it until she was already en route to the Pr.

P15 “making the holo projection of her beak wobbling…” should be “wobbles” I think?

“Do not come here…” Yy wasn’t nearly this firm a moment ago when S asked if she was welcome.

“Bill to MC, general account.” While hilarious, banking security can’t possibly be this abysmal, can it? No verification at all?

Y is taking this really quite well…

I giggled at the thought of spiked lemonade.

“Eyes secreting concern…” Speaking of concern, if his eyes are ‘secreting’ he’s either crying or in need of a physician.

“mouth staying resptively shut” respectfully?


 

Edited by Silk
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Late again!

From your earlier comment, it looks like most of the things I noticed have already been fixed :-)

A couple things to add: I'll echo that the first paragraph or two the POV felt a little off.

I loved the start and end of this chapter, but I caught myself skimming durring the parts describing how they were searching for files, while S was detailing all the times she tried to contact the others, and reading the files. I'm sure this is all good and important stuff, but as a new reader it didn't click for me. 

"What is a plane?" Didn't get this line

I liked the part where Y eats the glass. This may not have been the point, but it made him seem to me like someone who is travel worn and has learned better than to waste things. 

Aggression talents: this seems interesting, I'm happy to read that you've added explaination for it. 

Thanks for sharing!

 

 

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