Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
aeromancer

Reading Excuses - 3/22/21 - aeromancer - Bravely Defiant: Chapter 2 - (4524)(V)

12 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi all. This is the second chapter to my somewhat non-traditional but also very-traditional fantasy novel Bravely Defiant. The setting, as some of you may have noticed (and if you didn't, you're going to), is heavily inspired by Arthurian lore. The beginning of the story is meant to be more of a slow burn, seeing as this chapter has a heavier emphasis on the setting and characterization, not to mention that there's a bit more being fleshed out to C's backstory and just how he ended up that way. Given that, what I'm looking for especially is for your impression of how the story and characters are establishing themselves, especially personality wise.

And, lastly, for those of you who are more familiar with Arthurian lore, how exactly do you see this story playing out?

 
Edited by aeromancer
added tags
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! I know I’m a bit late to the party, but this setting strikes me as very cool, and ‘Arthurian legend but steampunk’ is a great pitch. And I’m not even that into steampunk. I did have a few questions as I read about what exactly their tech level is (what is up with the guns shattering wrists? Why are people with airships still using swords?) but you are probably aware of that. 

In terms of plot, this chapter did have the feel of ‘let’s go on a side quest so we can flesh out the world and characters before the plot starts for real’. I didn’t mind that, though, because the things being set up seem interesting.

C is obviously troubled by stuff from his past, but ready to get on with things. He seems to be struggling with a mild case of culture shock, but he’s a decent enough guy that I’m sure he’ll manage. I think I would be more invested in his character if there were a bit more specificity about what past stuff he’s troubled by, but generally, I like him. 

S is supposed to be cheerful - I assume that came across more strongly in the first chapter, because here, the most memorable conversation with her is her fretting about being accidentally rude to a foreigner. So she comes off as considerate, if a bit awkward and maybe insecure. If those are layers being added to a cheerful and bubbly character, then I’d say it’s working. 

The other characters are still broad sketches. Sar seems like an archetypical tough guy (note that he and S both have two-syllable names starting with S. If Sar is going to stick around, you might want to change that.) The captain’s line at the end was cool. 

I’m not any kind of Arthurian Legend buff, but from my general knowledge understanding of the stories, the knights team up and go on a quest for a macguffin, right? And questing stuff would mesh well with airships, so if I were going to guess, I’d say that’s where this is headed. Not sure what the macguffin will be. Assume S will be joining the party. Not sure who else will be coming along. 

As I read:

pg1 - ‘this was the first time C was actually seeing’ => the first time C had actually seen?

pg2 - ‘I was at one point’ you could clarify this by writing ‘I was a knight at one point’. I had to scroll back to check what question he was answering here. 

pg3 - S’s ‘Come on?’ is unnecessary and confuses the flow when C responds to her previous comment. 

pg4 - ‘I think they’ll can see us’ grammar

pg5 - ‘The mining town was abandoned, but not abandoned because of ruin’ The second use of ‘abandoned’ is redundant. Also, are ANY towns abandoned because of ruin? Isn’t it generally the case that ruin happens because of abandonment?

pg6 - ‘alright,” => ‘alright’,”

pg8 - just a random thought, but this secret closet room that you have to shut yourself into sounds like a great way to lay a sneaky trap for adventurers

pg8/9 - C’s weird blue glow he’s so intent on hiding is very mysterious. I am curious!

pg10 - ‘capitol city’ should be ‘capital city’. Capitols are buildings. Capitals are cities. Also, namedropping Camelot here makes for some good intrigue :) 

pg11 - this noble lady from An. sounds very suspect. I reckon something’s going on

pg13 - If the map room is such a treasure trove, why not take as many as they can carry? The maps will go to waste otherwise, right?

pg15 - ‘too injures to take place in a battle’ => take part?

pg16 - ‘for a few second’ typo

About S’s dialect - are you going for Scottish? Because conventionally, ‘cannot’ => ‘cannae’ (one word), and ‘do not’ => ‘dinnae’. Obviously you can choose not to follow conventions, or invent your own fantasy dialect, but be aware that it looks weird as is (to me, at least). 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall

I was very engaged for the first seven pages. The more dialogue that crept in though, and the more S got treated like a child, and the more condescending our main character became, the harder it was to concentrate. The world building through this story thus far is spectacular and very rich, and I enjoy it. The dialogue lags in places, and I don't like how the C/S dynamic is shaping up, or generally how she is treated. If you had another female character it would be different, but since there is only one, she has a bit of a burden to shoulder.

I am not at all familiar with Arthurian legends so will bow out of that question. Generally though, I'm always 'on board' for an airship adventure.

 

As I go

- pg 2: The honor is yours, I’m sure <-- LOL I'm sure

- pg 5: We haven’t used it for centuries <-- solid world building. And the narrative is flowing nicely. I'm well hooked. I'm enjoying the voice in this chapter, too

- pg 7: Though I don’t think it would hurt to tone it down from time to time <-- I continue to not care for C

- pg 9: You can nae be serious <-- I'd like a bit longer discussion of the map room before this. I too want to be overwhelmed

- pg 10: If the town is abandoned, why not take armfuls of maps and sell them or something? Weird to just walk away

- pg 11: that Sh-y <-- what are we in? Third omniscient? 

- pg 11: when I say you really don’t understand my situation <-- it's like C actively does not want me to like him

- pg 11-12: I think the narrative would move better if this dialogue got cut back through here. The narrative was really moving until the extensive talking in the map room

- pg 12: That’s the strangest timing for advice I’ve ever received.”  <-- and the most condescending

- pg 12: But just one map, alright <-- A) why is she asking permission? Neither of these men outrank her and B.) no one lives there so RAID THE PLACE

- pg 15: Captain, he’s too injured to take place in a battle <-- but can still go adventuring? Ehhh. Inconsistent injuries

- pg 15: crossing her arms over her chest <-- why is she acting like the child they keep treating her as? She was competent in the first chapter

- pg 16: fixed-position forward guns you see <- while I am interested in the world right now, I don't feel any threat from this ship or the upcoming battle because I don't care for C and have no real feel for his motivations, or the global arc of the story

- cute end line

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

Hi! I know I’m a bit late to the party, but this setting strikes me as very cool, and ‘Arthurian legend but steampunk’ is a great pitch. And I’m not even that into steampunk.

Glad to have you aboard, then. And, yes, that's basically the premise I use when describing the book, except I use 'Arthurian legend, but steampunk, but also mecha', except we haven't gotten up to the mecha yet. (Give it a chapter...)

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

I did have a few questions as I read about what exactly their tech level is (what is up with the guns shattering wrists? Why are people with airships still using swords?) but you are probably aware of that. 

I'm not sure I want to definitively say it, but in a broad nutshell, the Kingdom is roughly around the Renaissance in terms of technology (1600s), the Southern Republics are Early Industrial age (1800s). Luin and Al-Andalus are slightly behind the Kingdom in terms of technology, close to the Late Middle Ages. The Drives that they use to power airships, however, are basically magic, so there's that. The Kingdom's gunpowder and rifle technology really isn't that great, so they rely on their weapons for the most part, especially since they have shields that can block rifle fire.

As far as the gun, that's a flare gun based off the original Very flare gun, which had a 1" barrel. If you're unfamiliar, in pistol caliber, that's a 100-caliber round or roughly 25mm. To clarify, if you tried firing a round that powerful with one hand, you'd shatter your wrist. If you tried it with both hands, you'd shatter both your wrists. But, since it's a flare gun, it doesn't have the kickback a pistol would have. And if you're wondering why C didn't noticed it was a flare gun, it's because C isn't very knowledgeable about guns.

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

C is obviously troubled by stuff from his past, but ready to get on with things. He seems to be struggling with a mild case of culture shock, but he’s a decent enough guy that I’m sure he’ll manage. I think I would be more invested in his character if there were a bit more specificity about what past stuff he’s troubled by, but generally, I like him. 

I'm glad this is working! Unfortunately, since the entire plot is driven by C's past failure, I can't just give away all of it. That said, the specifics of just what happened will be given after the next major plot point.

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

S is supposed to be cheerful - I assume that came across more strongly in the first chapter, because here, the most memorable conversation with her is her fretting about being accidentally rude to a foreigner. So she comes off as considerate, if a bit awkward and maybe insecure. If those are layers being added to a cheerful and bubbly character, then I’d say it’s working. 

That's around where I want her character to be. I'm going to go back to the first chapter and flesh out her medical skills a bit, but I'm glad to see the characterization works.

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

I’m not any kind of Arthurian Legend buff, but from my general knowledge understanding of the stories, the knights team up and go on a quest for a macguffin, right? And questing stuff would mesh well with airships, so if I were going to guess, I’d say that’s where this is headed. Not sure what the macguffin will be. Assume S will be joining the party. Not sure who else will be coming along. 

Yes, basically. The macguffin here is the Lady of the Lake, or more specifically, the quest is to the Lake where the Lady resides.

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

pg11 - this noble lady from An. sounds very suspect. I reckon something’s going on

Nope, sorry. This is actually ripped wholesale from Arthurian legend. Aglovale was a knight who ended up marrying a Moorish princess (he met her while on a quest for the Holy Grail, or something), so I incorporated that into C's backstory.

On 3/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, RedBlue said:

About S’s dialect - are you going for Scottish? Because conventionally, ‘cannot’ => ‘cannae’ (one word), and ‘do not’ => ‘dinnae’. Obviously you can choose not to follow conventions, or invent your own fantasy dialect, but be aware that it looks weird as is (to me, at least). 

Yeah, I actually need to figure this out. Originally Sh was supposed to have a Scottish accent, but this was thwarted by the fact that I have no idea what a genuine Scottish accent is, so I decided to just have her slip into a light brogue every now and then. The funny thing is that her other name is based after Charlemagne, so technically she's more Frankish than anything, but giving her a French accent would add some stereotypes to her character that I'd like to avoid. More's the pity considering that the reputation the Franks had in the Middle Ages would have been fine, so I'm kind of stuck here until I get a better idea.

Thanks for the feedback!

 

21 hours ago, kais said:

Overall

I was very engaged for the first seven pages.

That's good.

21 hours ago, kais said:

The more dialogue that crept in though, and the more S got treated like a child, and the more condescending our main character became, the harder it was to concentrate. The world building through this story thus far is spectacular and very rich, and I enjoy it. The dialogue lags in places, and I don't like how the C/S dynamic is shaping up, or generally how she is treated. If you had another female character it would be different, but since there is only one, she has a bit of a burden to shoulder.

Not as good.

Let me discuss the female characters first, because that's really a more significant issue and one I'm not really able to do anything about. This book is heavily inspired by Arthurian lore, and Arthurian lore, being your standard ye olde fantasy from the Middle Ages, doesn't exactly have a cornucopia of women to choose from and those that do exist within the lore are usually either trophies, shrews, or witches; and that's at best. Not to mention that, the crew of the Jenny notwithstanding, I restricted myself to only using character that I could base in Arthurian lore, and that is actually basing them in the lore, rather than just taking the name and rewriting the character. To that end, there are thirteen named Knights of the Round in the book (yes, that number is by deliberate choice) and only two of them are female (one of them being the current High Queen and the other is based off Merlin's apprentice Nimue). The rest of the female characters fall between abysmal choices, or decent choices, but too closely related to people who are far more important (cough Percival cough). The crew of the Jenny can have more females characters, but it's currently sitting at a score of 2-2 (Sh + Ir vs. Ve + Sa) or 1-1, depending on how you want to count. (That is to say, Sa is as much of a male as Ir is a female, and that's all I'm saying about either character for now.) Long story short, unless something drastically changes, the number of female character in Bravely Defiant is going to be the same number of female characters in Lord of the Rings.

As for the other problem - my intention was to have C come across as distant, a mark which I obviously failed to reach. Sh is meant to be a naturally cheerful person who tries to help people, which is supposed to come into early conflict with C who is just looking to be left alone for the most part. If it's not too much to ask, could you please clarify what exactly you picked up on? Given my lack of female characters, I would really hate for Sh's character and relationships to turn sour, though I suspect a large part of your response may boil down to just stripping large portions of the dialogue away. (Which I probably need to do anyway.)

Thank you for the feedback! It's responses like these which is why I submit to this group.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Overall, this is still very intriguing. I like the story, and the steampunk setting. I had some problems with some plot incidentals in this one (see notes below) and how C's character is evolving, much like Kais says. There's bits of backstory, but nor really enough to catch my interest or make sense, and it really just makes things more confusing at this point. It seems like C's disgrace might be connected to his mentor running off? But I'm not sure.

On 3/22/2021 at 11:13 PM, kais said:

The dialogue lags in places, and I don't like how the C/S dynamic is shaping up, or generally how she is treated. If you had another female character it would be different, but since there is only one, she has a bit of a burden to shoulder.

I'll second this. I forgot to comment below, but at the end, the captain has to tell her how to be a doctor and treat incoming wounded at the end. I would think she would know that. Also, the "I don't want to offend you" dynamic with her is really weird, when C doesn't seem offended at all.

 

16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Yeah, I actually need to figure this out. Originally Sh was supposed to have a Scottish accent, but this was thwarted by the fact that I have no idea what a genuine Scottish accent is, so I decided to just have her slip into a light brogue every now and then. The funny thing is that her other name is based after Charlemagne, so technically she's more Frankish than anything, but giving her a French accent would add some stereotypes to her character that I'd like to avoid. More's the pity considering that the reputation the Franks had in the Middle Ages would have been fine, so I'm kind of stuck here until I get a better idea.

Thanks for the feedback!

Tagging @Robinski for this one, since he is Scottish...

 

On 3/22/2021 at 11:13 PM, kais said:

- pg 12: But just one map, alright <-- A) why is she asking permission? Neither of these men outrank her and B.) no one lives there so RAID THE PLACE

Thirding this. I think everyone has said it in comments and it seems strange to just leave all this behind.

On 3/22/2021 at 8:21 AM, aeromancer said:

And, lastly, for those of you who are more familiar with Arthurian lore, how exactly do you see this story playing out?

I am familiar with Arthurian legend, especially to the point where most of it was made up in the late renaissance, so I'd be a bit careful about being "true" to history with it.

16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Let me discuss the female characters first, because that's really a more significant issue and one I'm not really able to do anything about.

You can TOTALLY do something about this. This is a retelling of Arthurian myth with steampunk airships, guns, and mechs. You can make ALL the knights female if you want. Make the names female variants if you want. Make the old king a queen and the ursurper a male. You can switch all of this around if you want to do it. So no, there is no barrier to you having effective and competent, strong female characters in this story. If Hamlet can be turned into a Disney movie with talking lions, you can write more female Arthurian characters.

16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Long story short, unless something drastically changes, the number of female character in Bravely Defiant is going to be the same number of female characters in Lord of the Rings.

This is an extremely dated view of current SFF trends and will likely lose you readers, if this goes on to get published (and I do think this story has great potential to it). So I would really have a think about HOW you want to retell an Arthurian narrative and what things need to mixed up for modern audiences.

For example, I've been seeing "Legendborn" pop up a lot recently, which is a YA Arthurian-based fantasy with a black, female, southern US lead:

https://www.amazon.com/Legendborn-Tracy-Deonn-ebook/dp/B084GB4YZQ

 

Anyway, I can go on about that for a while, but I'm happy to help you out with worlbuilding/characters if you need some tips on having a more balanced cast.

 

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: Well, Sa is suitably mysterious. It's close to being over the top, but not quite.

pg 3: "It took a second for C to realize the machine spirit was addressing him"
--except she specifically called his name. Why didn't he recognize that?

pg 4: “Normally we’d lower this thing a little faster"
--I mean, yes, it's hist first time riding in the crane, but is it really that unknowable? It's easy to see how the contraption works, and C knows what it's supposed to do. Is he scared of heights? Fast movement? I'm unsure why he's having this reaction.

pg 5: "letting the stillness chase away his motion sickness"
--Ah, I guess this is the reason he was having trouble? But didn't he come from driving a giant mech thingy? Why is he having trouble with a moving basket?

pg 6: "“I keep trying to make you feel comfortable...You seem to have a very different culture "
--I haven't really seen much of a difference in culture, nor have I seen S making C uncomfortable. This might need to be drawn out more if it's a thing.
--S also goes on a bit when C says there isn't a problem. Is she trying to prove something?

pg 7: "you’re a little too foreign to me right now.”
--I don't see this. Maybe if C made some comparison with northern/southern culture as to why he thinks they're foreign?

pg 9: “Oh, it’s an elevator!” 
--so is this something where C knows it as a different term? Why didn't he just say it was an elevator?

pg 12: “-it’s entirely my fault,”
I feel like this whole thread isn't strong enough. We get some good explanation for C's mentor leaving, but I don't know enough about what an Explorer does or how he was disgraced to see that it was/wasn't his fault. This section seems like it's equating his mentor hooking up with this lady to him being disgraced, but I don't think that's in.
--Also, why are they just leaving all the maps there? Aren't they worth a lot? Is someone else coming for them?

pg 13: “I mean, it’s not like there’s going to be anyone else who’s going to be coming, right?”
“I don’t see why not. But just one map, alright?”
--Yeah, I don't believe that for a second. If no one else is coming, I'd be taking ALL the maps. and why just one? Is there some reason C doesn't want them taken? This is really useful information they're just leaving here.

pg 15: “Captain, he’s too injured to take place in a battle!”
--wait, didn't volunteer to crank the elevator back up? He doesn't seem very injured.

pg 17: "I don’t want to get myself tied in place,” 
--can't he tie a rope to the rail and the other end to him? That's usually what's depicted in steampunk/airship sort of stories.

Edited by Mandamon
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

On 24/03/2021 at 5:47 PM, Mandamon said:

Tagging @Robinski for this one, since he is Scottish...

Thanks for the tag, Mandamon.

I would like to read this, as I would like to read and catch up on all the critiquing here on RE, but I have other critiquing I need to do first...(as you know, Mand :ph34r:).

Ergo, I will get to this, hopefully within the next week. I might even prioritise it, @aeromancer, due to the Scottish component ;)

Before actually reading it though, as you would expect, there are loads of different Scottish accents, but I'm happy to work with 'generic Scottish' for the purposes of a more broad-brush approach. It will not however bear any resemblance to Trojan Scottish, as essayed by Gerrard Butler in 300, or Australian Scottish, per Mel Gibson in Braveheart. As for Russell Crowe in Robin Hood...I dunno, but I would not want to get into an argument with Russell anyway, so will bypass that one.

Edited by Robinski
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall:

I like the characters well enough, but they don't wow me enough for me to feel like this slow burn approach is the best one. My reaction was more "these characters are pretty cool so I hope they get to do more exciting stuff soon" rather than their personalities themselves causing me to turn the page, if that makes any sense. I think part of the reason for this is that I'm still not entirely sure what the story wants to be about, really. I could tell in chapter 1 that getting the map was a diversion that was going to end up throwing the main plot into C's face, but now I feel like I need to have a better sense of direction. If the rest of the story is going to be heavily focused on the relationships between C and the rest of the crew I think a lot of the scenes here make sense, but I didn't get that vibe so I was wondering what the point was for a lot of the chapter, pleasant as it was to read.

C's backstory is in a weird place for me. I simultaneously feel like we get too much and not enough. Not enough in the sense that there's not enough character hook there for me to be invested, and too much as in I don't understand why this secretive guy is telling S some pretty important parts of his past after not knowing her for very long. What I really want is the story to force C to reckon with his backstory in moments where he doesn't want to, and I don't think pleasant conversations are the best for that. 

Good luck editing! :) 

As I go:

pg 2: What exactly is he wary of? If S is loyal to V then I'm not sure where the concern is coming from. 

pg 5: Everything up until now has been entertaining, but I'm not sure how much of it is necessary. Maybe because I don't have a great sense of what this chapter's going to be about. I feel like there's going to be some problem gathering the maps but I'm not sure what I should be looking out for. 

pg 6: what do the southerners use instead of coal? And the fact that it's several centuries out of date by southern standards makes me feel like they should be more advanced than they seem to be, considering that we use coal power today (at least in the US where I live... though not really out of necessity, I'll admit).

-I'm not sure what new info we're getting from this convo. We already know S is chatty and easily embarrassed (mood btw). 

pg 7: Not sure we need to chat with S in the first place; definitely don't think it should be two whole pages. Take it as a compliment, since it means you were so good at setting her up last chapter we don't need this now. 

pg 9: I feel like there has to be some wrench in C's plans coming up, right? Everything so far has been pretty smooth for him. 

pg 10: I think S' question about him not wanting to stay exposes a hole in the story: that C is really aimless right now. Intentionally so, to be sure, but I'm not sure how much longer that stays interesting. 

pg 11: I know I said before that we need more on C's backstory but considering how reserved he's been I'm not sure why he's sharing so much with S.

-Yeah for someone who doesn't care to talk about it it seems like he's talking about it quite a bit. And it's not like S seems to be pushing him on it either

14: C doesn't seem surprised by the patrol in any capacity, so I feel like it's something he should have mentioned to them if he knew it was a reasonable possibility. Of course, this could be solved if he explains that they normally don't patrol this far out or something like that. 

 

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall:

The writing flows well, the characters come off as mostly natural (barring that interaction with Sh and C in the mining town,) and there is enough tension in these scenarios to want to keep reading. Great work! I think the main issues come from moments of pacing where it feels like the characterization is unnatural in the scene. I had a few nitpicks about why certain things were the way they were, but no major issues. I'm definitely engaged with this story and look forward to reading more. Though I agree with other commenters:

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I like the characters well enough, but they don't wow me enough for me to feel like this slow burn approach is the best one. My reaction was more "these characters are pretty cool so I hope they get to do more exciting stuff soon" rather than their personalities themselves causing me to turn the page, if that makes any sense. I think part of the reason for this is that I'm still not entirely sure what the story wants to be about, really. 

C's backstory is in a weird place for me. I simultaneously feel like we get too much and not enough. Not enough in the sense that there's not enough character hook there for me to be invested, and too much as in I don't understand why this secretive guy is telling S some pretty important parts of his past after not knowing her for very long. What I really want is the story to force C to reckon with his backstory in moments where he doesn't want to, and I don't think pleasant conversations are the best for that. 

 

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Overall, this is still very intriguing. I like the story, and the steampunk setting. I had some problems with some plot incidentals in this one (see notes below) and how C's character is evolving, much like Kais says. There's bits of backstory, but nor really enough to catch my interest or make sense, and it really just makes things more confusing at this point. It seems like C's disgrace might be connected to his mentor running off? But I'm not sure.

 

On 3/23/2021 at 4:13 PM, kais said:

The world building through this story thus far is spectacular and very rich, and I enjoy it. The dialogue lags in places, and I don't like how the C/S dynamic is shaping up, or generally how she is treated. If you had another female character it would be different, but since there is only one, she has a bit of a burden to shoulder.

 

On 3/23/2021 at 10:50 AM, RedBlue said:

In terms of plot, this chapter did have the feel of ‘let’s go on a side quest so we can flesh out the world and characters before the plot starts for real’. I didn’t mind that, though, because the things being set up seem interesting.

As I read:

pg 1: While this first paragraph is funny and descriptive, I was tripping over the prose a bit and had to read it twice.

pg 2: Don't really get why C needs to be wary. Because S is imposing?
Haha, love S. Though, I find it a bit strange that C would ask who exactly S is.

pg 3: I don't see why Sh thinks S is threatening C. It didn't sound that way to me. Just sounds like S is sort of a jerk. Ah good, at least C doesn't see it that way. Disregard my comment.
I feel like I missed something here. Is I- the machine Sp-?
She accepted a small gun with a large barrel  Haha I love this visual.

pg 6: You lost me at the apologizing fest. Why are they apologizing then? I could see it making sense for the characters, but does it help the story?

pg 7: Wait, does C actually think Sh has a cheerful personality? I think it's sarcasm, but hard to say. That's not what I got from Sh at all. I was more reminded of a character Carrie-Anne Moss might portray.

pg 9: Apologies if I missed the answer to this question. But why are all these important maps in this abandoned mining town?

pg 10: Has this Ag- character been mentioned before? I feel like they must be C's mentor of sorts, but he mentions the name to Sh like anyone would know them.

11: Okay, so we find out who Ag- is. Forget my earlier comment.

12: I don't get why Sh would go so far as to ask the captain to turn back for C after only knowing him for a few days.
“Did you just…?” Sh- blinked as she registered the comment. “That’s the strangest
timing for advice I’ve ever received.”
“Shall we leave, then?” C said, holding up his wind map.

This interaction feels strange and unreal.

13: I like the captain's response to C randomly mentioning this Ag- character. Feels much more natural.
It's not necessarily a problem, but the captain already saved C's life. Why should he feel compelled to offer C any extra help?

14: I like the worldbuilding with the Queen, that definitely hooks me.

18: haha I liked that ending line. Definitely left off in a situation that wants to be explored.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/24/2021 at 1:47 PM, Mandamon said:

For example, I've been seeing "Legendborn" pop up a lot recently, which is a YA Arthurian-based fantasy with a black, female, southern US lead:

https://www.amazon.com/Legendborn-Tracy-Deonn-ebook/dp/B084GB4YZQ

Thank you for reminding me of this one!  I'd stumbled across it recently and forgot to actually look it up and search the library for it. 

Overall:

I like the setting and world, and I like most of the characters.  The jury is still out on C.  He seems sort of standoffish and distant, which is going to bother me until I see some reason to excuse it.  He obviously has a past that he’s still dealing with, but I don’t think I’m going to be sympathetic to that until I know the scale and significance of the things that he’s facing.  It probably doesn’t help that I’m not usually a huge fan of the sort of brooding character with a mysterious past.

One general note is that a lot of conversations or descriptions seem to have more time spent on them than necessary, which makes things feel drawn out and meandering at times.  The flare gun description. C’s motion sickness. The usage of coal and whether or not that’s normal or outdated. The elevator mechanism. If they’re vital for us to know here and now for this chapter, more description is good, but when they don’t even use the flare gun and the motion sickness doesn’t become relevant, I think they can be trimmed back to keep the pacing up.

It seems like most people have commented on the female character situation, so I won’t add too much on that front except to second the comments that I don’t see any reason not to do a gender swap on some of the knights. Or to have more female members of the crew.   You mentioned that you’re focusing on basing the characters in the lore, but that can be done with a female variation of the name.  Some will probably be easier to swap than others, just because of general gender behavior assumptions, but there’s no reason for your world’s gender norms to match those of our world.  They just have to be realistic and consistent within the world. 

Knights being male in the original legends (and in history) make sense because of general masculine physical strength assumptions and gender roles where the men do the fighting.  But if we already have an airship doctor/mechanic (assuming you’re continuing to include that aspect. I hope so. Even if it’s not delved into.  The world needs more female mechanics.) of some sort who is female, Arthurian gender roles are already becoming irrelevant.  When the world you’re setting up is fine with a female doctor/mechanic, I don’t know why they’d restrict knighthood to men.  Especially when the knights are piloting mechs, which makes the physical strength aspect far less relevant. 

If your keeping with Arthurian lore is the only reason for not having more female characters, you’re going to be putting yourself in a difficult spot, because you’re going to be putting a ton of weight on the statement that those characters are making about women in general.  Without even touching on the question of what modern interests and expectations are for publishing compared to the example of LotR.

Continuing on to comments:

It’s quite possible that I’m overthinking things, but while skimming back through my notes, I realized that the tone of some of the comments could come across as smart-alecky, which I definitely don’t intend.   There are a number of things that will be relatively simple fixes, but are currently clashing with my ability to suspend disbelief about the world, so I’m just trying to poke a little at spots where I’m having trouble with some of the details. Especially because I really like the world and setting, so I really want to see it be as cohesive and well-rounded as possible.

Pg 1:

The first paragraph seemed a little clunky to me. I got what was going on, but it seemed a little jumbled.  I think partly because the opening sentence came across to me as them actually docking there, so when it jumps out to the surrounding area then back to there not being a place to dock, it messed with my image of how things were going.

Pg 1-2

So it talks about the crane being set up to take two down, and C and Sh are planning to go.  The following comments about Sa seem irrelevant if that decision has been made already.  Why do they go on to talk about adding a third in? And why is Sa- the one making the call on whether things might be risky or not?  Isn’t that something C- would have a better idea of if he’s been there before?  If there would be any concern about safety risk, I assume they’d want to keep their doctor on the ship unless she has some skills that would be especially helpful in the task. Or some special interest that makes her insist on going (ruined town related, not looking out for C- related. He seems well enough to not need a doctor following him around for medical reasons).

And if Sa- isn’t going with them, why is he standing here? Just to be large and intimidating?

Pg 2-3

I’m not sure what to make of the interaction between C and Sa.  C seems to be defensive, and I assume that it’s partly because of the secrets in his past that he’s keeping hidden, but since I don’t have a clear idea of why he’s defensive and wary, or to what extent he has reason to feel vaguely threatened by this random very large guy on the ship, it’s sort of just coming across as him being superficially rude and standoffish, which aren’t engaging traits for me.    If he has specific suspicions about Sa-, and I knew why Sa- put him on edge, and felt like it was justified, there would be more tension there.  But without knowing what he’s being defensive about, it feels a little off. 

I also didn’t get the sense of any of it being threatening, despite Sh’s comments.  I get the sense that they don’t like each other, and they’re being sort of standoffish, but didn’t get the idea that either of them were moving past that to threatening.

Pg 4:

Why is the flare gun in her bag?  Shouldn’t it be in some sort of holster so that it’s at hand in case of an emergency? Not to mention the risk of accidental firing.

Pg 5:

“…not because the town itself collapsed…” If it’s been quite a while since the coal ran dry, there would still likely be deterioration.  Weathering of houses. Animals moving in. Squatters taking up residence (assuming there’s any food source available).  If no one is taking care of anything, neglect is going to do a good deal of damage.

Pg 6:

“Stuck my foot in my mouth again”   How?  The apology conversation seems odd to me.  I haven’t seen enough cultural differences to give weight to that part of it, and I don’t have a good sense of why Sh is so set on helping C.  Wanting to be generally helpful, I can see in her character, but why is she so set on helping him when he seems uninterested in being helped.  His dismissiveness is also irritating (for similar reasons to the standoffishness above.  It’s implied that it’s because of his dark, mysterious past. But if I don’t know anything about that, it’s hard to be sympathetic).

Pg 8:

“A thick layer of dust covered most of the floor and furniture, save for a trail…” Did everyone just leave all of their stuff when they left?  How long has it been since C was here before?  From what he’d said, I’d assumed it had been quite a while.  [note after checking back: I’d taken the trail in the dust as an indicator that someone else had been there more recently, and that they were at risk of running into them. Or of the map being missing. And expected Sh’s flare gun to come into play in some sort of altercation when they were caught.  I was a little disappointed when they didn’t really run into any trouble during their adventure here.]

If it’s supposed to be better hidden, wouldn’t they make sure to clear the dust out better when they’ve been through?

Mysterious blue glow? Count me in!  This is the sort of detail that I want to see in regard to C hiding things.  Making vague comments about a past failure (and related defensive pessimism) is far less engaging to me. At the moment, these couple of lines are the thing about him that I have cared the most about.

“…was swiftly cut off by torchlight as C lit one up a moment later.”  Where’d the torch come from?  What’s he lighting it with? Torches in small —likely flammable — spaces seems risky.

Pg 9:

“…walls were covered…a few buckets…”  This is not a good way to store maps.  No drawers or flat files? No shelves to stack rolled maps?  Stored in buckets on ends?  No humidity control? These things are going to be falling apart. How long have they been here? And who built the secret map room? Why in the mining town?  Is there any reason they have a secret room instead of just a library that had proper storage?  A locked room or vault off an archive? 

An abandoned secret elevator that no one is doing any maintenance on seems like a recipe for disaster. And if there’s no other way in or out, it puts anything inside at risk if the mechanism fails.

Pg 10:

“Ag‘s.”  The map is Ag’s?  Are all of them his?  And if C took over for him, are they now C’s? This goes back to the above question of who built the room and why it is where it is.  Though if it is a sort of record room specifically associated with the knight-ly role that Ag or C have, that would at least provide some explanation for why C wants to keep most of them there.  I hadn’t gotten a clear idea that C has any sort of responsibility for or ownership of the maps, but if some (at least one) had been Ag’s, maybe he would?

Pg 11:

“I remember it like it was yesterday.”  This makes it seem like it’s been a really long time, but I hadn’t gotten the impression that C was all that old.

I think the conversation about Ag would be more impactful if we knew more about C and what he perceives as his failure.  Right now, he obviously sees Ag- as the ideal example of the Exp‘s knight, and is comparing their accomplishments.  C makes it very clear that he thinks he’s failed to meet the standard that Ag- set, but when we don’t have a good sense of what it means to be the Exp‘s knight, or of what has actually happened in C’s past, it makes it hard to know if we should agree with him and be sympathetic or if he’s just whining and cynical.  We don’t need to know all of it, but we need enough of it to stay engaged with his character and motivations.

Pg 12:

“…it’s not like there’s going to be anyone else who’s going to be coming, right?” This goes back to who made the secret map room with the secret closet elevator access.  It seems like a lot of work and a lot of information to be just abandoned. Who technically owns them?  Or owned them?  And why would they have left them there?

Pg 13:

“Sh didn’t have to use her flare gun, much to her disappointment.”  To my disappointment as well.  I’d expected them to have more trouble tracking down the map they’re looking for. But everything seemed to be quite straightforward.

“…tell him he has excellent taste.”  in maps? The phrasing of that one seems odd. I’d also sort of thought Ag- had made the map (trying to tie together context of what it is that the Exp’s knight’s responsibilities are)

Pg 13-14:

The conversation about the captain offering help just stresses how little we know about C’s history and what he’s trying to do without providing any additional helpful information to grab onto.

The shift in conversation from C describing the queen to V assuming they’re here for his ship is a little sudden.

“…the choice is not up to you.” On one hand, C- seemed to be fine enough to go on his map-search adventure. So it seems odd that Sh is getting defensive about his physical health now. Also, he’s not armed in any way that I know of, so what is anyone expecting him to do in a battle?   But I’d expect V to have more respect for his doctor’s opinion on the matter of patient health. 

I’m also not sure why she demands to stay there. Especially if it’s not part of the normal routine.  As it is now, it makes her seem a little childish (especially with the dramatic sigh before turning to go) when I’d expect her tendency toward wanting to be helpful to be most useful in preparing to treat anyone who might get wounded. 

Pg 17:

I like the final line.  It definitely further solidifies my appreciation of the captain :)

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still loving the world building in this story. 

I do have to agree about the female character issue. For me, the main problem is that both female characters cater to the male characters around them with very little of their own motivations except to take care of everyone else. I like S, but she feels a bit needy with her eagerness to please C. S and the ship taking orders from the Captian doesn't bother me. Everyone on a ship takes orders from the captain, but how the female characters interact with everyone else becomes that much more important.

"C had his doubts." Repleated line, multiples within a few paragraphs.

"Thank you." C said. "I think." Read strangely to me. Maybe because "C said" interrupts the thought?

"New guy" sounds modern

The rope split into four: I think you mean visually it looked like it split into four? Litterally splitting even a large rope into four seems like a very bad idea. If you want to go nautical here, the four smaller ropes could be spliced onto themselves into loops and then shackled to the larger line. Or use tackle. Both were very old world and are still used.

"A few buckets were scattered around the room, holding rolled up maps within them as well." (As well as what?) I was picturing barrels here, but I have to agree that this does not seem like a good long term storage plan for paper maps. Are they paper? Leather is another option. 

Maps were incredibly valuable, good maps decided battles. I can't imagine the aero pirates leaving a treasure like that. 

"The sky wasn't cloudy that day." POV shift

I like the grumpy captain, the ship and I want to like S.

C still feels a little blank to me. He feels so very much like "this is the hero" but I don't feel drawn to him. You brought up LOTR in earlier comments, to me C feels like Strider/Aragorn but without the danger and mystery when he was first introduced in Fellowship. I don't doubt for a minute that C will do the hero thing, in a heroic way. And right now there's nothing really in his way. Perhaps that's why I'm having a hard time connecting with him. He's not unlikable.

Very ready to read about an airship battle! Here's hoping the peace talks go poorly :-)

Thanks for sharing

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a whole lot to add that others haven't already said. The world building is fascinating. While I like S being kind of perky and awkward, I do think it headed too far in the direction of making her seem childlike. I like her, but I don't like how C sees and treats her. 

The arthurian lore caught me off guard. It's a neat idea to combine that with airships, but the way it came in surprised me enough that it pulled me out of the story for a moment. I suppose that wouldn't happen though if this was something I picked up off of a shelf having already read the blurb.

Walking through the town was interesting, but I also felt like there wasn't a lot of tension. Though I suppose you make up for it at the end. 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more! 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a whole lot to add that hasn't already been said, but I did do a little research:

On 3/23/2021 at 6:29 PM, aeromancer said:

Long story short, unless something drastically changes, the number of female character in Bravely Defiant is going to be the same number of female characters in Lord of the Rings.

You might find this fascinating: http://lotrproject.com/statistics/

According to this, a whooping 62 of 472 characters are female. 18% of all characters. That is not a good reflection upon your marketable audience. 

Out of curiosity, I did a bit more research to figure out where we land today. This is about movies, but still, you might find it interesting (I personally find it depressing): https://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2019_Its_a_Mans_Celluloid_World_Report_REV.pdf 

I also highly recommend listening to Writing Excuses, Season 11, Episode 22

This isn't to say that you have to make half of your cast female (although, as a woman, I'd be appreciative if more than 18% of your cast is female ;)). But it is worth thinking about that, if you have a limited number of any sex/ethnicity/culture/etc, you really need to make them count. 

In the vein of "it's a retelling, you are free to change things up", @shatteredsmooth once recommended me Once and Futurewhich is a sci-fi, female protagonist, LGBTQ+ retelling. It's still sitting on my "to be read" pile but I'm still on hold at the library to get my hands on a copy. Popular book! I mean, hell, how much does Cinder reflect the originally Cinderella story? You've got great worldbuilding, so I vote run with whatever makes you happy. 

On 3/23/2021 at 6:29 PM, aeromancer said:

Yeah, I actually need to figure this out. Originally Sh was supposed to have a Scottish accent, but this was thwarted by the fact that I have no idea what a genuine Scottish accent is, so I decided to just have her slip into a light brogue every now and then.

The inconsistency of her having an accent and then it getting dropped, back again, etc, has been driving me nuts. I'd definitely work with Robinski to get this ironed out. My internal voice fluctuates horribly. 

You've got a fascinating world and I'm curious to see how this continues to go. Keep writing! :) 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.