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Reading Excuses - 4/5/21 - aeromancer - Bravely Defiant: Chapter 3 - (5046)(V)

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This is the third chapter to my somewhat non-traditional but also very-traditional fantasy novel Bravely Defiant. This is the start of the inciting incident to finally get the plot moving, but it's also an excuse for some good ol' fashioned ship-to-ship combat. (Except, you know, steampunk. So not so 'ol' fashioned'.) I'm looking in feedback for everything, but here are three specific questions:
Is any part of the combat too 'over the top'?
Does any part of it take too long, especially considering that we're already 10,000 words in and the plot hasn't really started yet?
How are the characterizations for the characters who haven't really been around a lot yet?

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I get why this battle happened and its natural occurrence in the story, but I think it was too much at this point. It went on too long, and at only chapter 3 of the story, with no clear idea where the plot is going, it didn't do a lot for me. I will give you props for making the battle play out pretty cleverly, but on the first read, I was pretty confused as to what was going on (blocking.) On the second read, it made more sense and I could enjoy it more, but we need more to latch onto; to get invested in. I'm not invested in any of the characters, I only vaguely know their motivations and circumstances. I'm not yet invested in the plot either because I have no sense of global stakes and only a little sense of personal stakes for the MC. Right now, the story is held up solely by cool stuff--airship battles, mechanical knights, badass fighters, etc. But if I'm not invested in any of the characters or the story itself, then cool stuff isn't going to be enough. I want to add that I think this story is really cool and shows tons of promise, but we gotta get to the plot.

To answer your questions.

1. I don't think any of the combat was too over the top.

2. I think the whole battle was too long. I don't know how you would shorten it besides taking out a couple of try/fail cycles, or maybe reducing the number of enemies. The problem is just as you mentioned, we're at 10,000 words and the plot hasn't really started. The try/fail attempts of the MC and his allies would be a whole lot more compelling if I cared about any of them.

3. I don't think there was much characterization at all in this chapter. I think you did a good job with captain V, but he's no more explored than he was in the previous chapter. S is kind of just a vague, dark badass character. I- the machine spirit, I think probably was explored the most in this chapter, seeing as you show it being sort of detached and machine-like. The MC is observing what's going on and we can see how his though process works, but I don't get any sense of his personality from that.


As I read:

pg 1 - “Stand down and allow inspection. My men are...” I find this line is a bit out of place as a first interaction. I feel like the patrol would question the captain a bit more before telling him to stand down and allow them to search his ship. Or maybe declare themselves and mention why they're going to search him before demanding that they search for contraband.

pg 2 - Why is the kingdom captain so mad though? And why would C draw attention to himself?

pg 3 - The kingdom captain is a tad cartoon villainous.

pg 4 - I would like to get a better impression of how many people are fighting on the ship.

pg 5 - "...yanking the man forward and flipping the man over his own shoulder," bit repetitive.

"...crippling it for the fight and turning back towards the fight." Could probably exchange one of the "fights".

pg 6 - "One of the exploding shells hit an engine, creating a massive column of fire in the air, and the other sunk into the body
of the ship before detonating, blowing out the ship’s hull." 
If we're still talking about the one ship that exploded, then I think this is unnecessary. It's enough that we know one of the patrol ships got hit by some exploding shells and was taken out.

pg 7 - "There was a sharp click as Captain V’s blade extended, the blade extending and then swinging outward as if on a hinge as the hilt slid out,
such that the weapon now resembled a pickaxe." 
This action was difficult to imagine, and really only the part of it resembling a pickaxe made sense to me.

“You lot aren’t even worth salvaging.” Haha classic

"the other two Imperatorian ships shot forward, swooping around in a wide arc, moving to bring their own weapons..." a lot of blocking issues in this battle. It's hard to imagine the scenes going on, and I feel like attempting to describe them in detail only serves to make them more confusing. I think sticking to the key ideas and leaving the details to our imagination would make the scenes less confusing. All we need to know from this part is that the ships maneuvered to avoid the J H's weapons while also lining up the J H with their own.

pg 8 - "and the ship slowly pulled out of the drop, slowing down until it was hovering" You could cut out the repetition of the word "slow."

“...ninety percent capacity of standard capacity..." Could just be ninety percent of standard capacity.

pg 11 - Alright, I don't know if it makes sense or not, but I like the cleverness of the coal dust; the problem is that this fight is going on far too long. It can start off as exciting, but all the blow-by blows and clever maneuvers end up boring if they go on too long. At this point, I'm just skimming through, hoping that the story starts going somewhere.

pg 12 - “We’ll try the gorge. Dive down, take us below the bridge if you can.” What gorge? I'm having trouble keeping up with the setting as they move around.

pg 18 - 19 - Alright, finally getting to some plot. I'm really curious about this A character that C keeps mentioning. That's definitely enough of a mystery to keep the story interesting. But otherwise, I don't feel like the plot progressed much at all in this chapter. It was a very long fight scene, that though exciting and compelling at points, lacked weight because I'm not really sure what the stakes are at this point. There wasn't any emotional involvement.


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16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Is any part of the combat too 'over the top'?

It's knights with steampunk airships. Over the top combat is what I'm here for! I thought the combat section worked well overall (few nitpicks I'll get to). I liked the inventiveness of how V used the surrounding area to his advantage.

One thing about the fight that struck me as a bit weird was that the JH crew managed to clear out all of the boarding pirate crew without any casualties or major injuries on the JH crew's side. I would think they'd have to be massively more capable than the pirate crew for that. And that's odd, given that pirates are presumably not bad fighters. My takeaway is going to be that the JH crew are in a league of their own in terms of combat ability.

16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

Does any part of it take too long, especially considering that we're already 10,000 words in and the plot hasn't really started yet?

Yeah, there's a bit of an issue there. While I'm enjoying the action, it doesn't feel like there are wider stakes. I don't know where the plot is going, only that these characters are trying to avoid imminent death. I don't know if I can recommend a fix for this without knowing how the rest of the story plays out, though.

16 hours ago, aeromancer said:

How are the characterizations for the characters who haven't really been around a lot yet?

Well, Captain V is certainly very cool. This chapter really highlighted how capable and clever he is, which makes me warm to him as a character. His one-liners and general demeanour are fun, too.

Sa and Ir are not as interesting. I get that Sa is secretly a robot (or something), but I can't say I feel interested in whatever is going on there. Ir has an empathy gap that might be concerning if the crew didn't seem to have everything under control. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - if these are bit part characters, then it's good that I have a broad-strokes impression of them without wasting too much time on them. But if I'm supposed to be getting invested in these characters, I'm going to need a bit more to latch onto.


So, overall, it was a fun chapter that I enjoyed reading, but if I found this in a book I would be starting to wonder what the point was beyond cool airships.

As I go:

p1-2 - There are two captains here. You might want to introduce B by name right off the bat so that it doesn't risk confusing people.

p1-3 - There is a bit too much standing around talking before the fight begins. Some posturing and cool lines are good, but too much can feel like the characters are talking in circles.

p4 - 'We're a lot more experienced at this then you are' => than you are. Also, this line isn't as snappy or clever as most of V's other burns.

p5 - 'crippling it for the fight' - This reads as awkward wording to me. I usually take 'crippling' to imply more permanent damage.

p5 - For the bit where B and V are fighting, you give a fairly dry description of their fighting styles. It would be more exciting if you showed how both of them fight by describing a few moments of the combat.

p7 - I'm a bit surprised that the two other pirate ships are attacking, not running away. I would expect them to find an easier target that's less likely to get them killed.

p7 - Also, if B was the only thing keeping the other two ships from firing on them, why didn't V try to take him hostage? Seems like a less risky move than killing him outright.

p8 - 'ninety percent capacity of standard capacity' - You can remove the first 'capacity'

p9 - 'Another one of your plans, captain?' - This is so corny but I like it. Also, should 'Captain' be capitalised as he's being addressed directly?

p13 - 'It's guns fired' => Its guns

p14 - 'Physics took over' - this might be pedantic, but my brain sees that and goes 'but physics has been there the whole time!'

p16 - '... men were injured, from various degrees' => to varying degrees?

p17 - I don't think 'abhuman' is a word. If it's an in-universe thing, I think you need to signpost that, or it looks like a mistake.


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I'm with the others on the answers to your questions. I'm definitely here for the over the top steampunk fights, so fine on that front, but the fight did go on a bit long. You could probably take out one of the "cool moves" and save it for a later fight. Some of the blocking was confusing as well. I've made notes below.

As to characterizations, I think we get quite a bit on the captain, so much that I think this chapter should be in his POV. It's his ship at stake. All C does is think really hard and not talk to anyone, and it makes his character very passive this chapter. We don't really learn anything about him because all he's doing is noting the strategy used. There's still some weird talking-down-to-females as well, even if it's the machine spirit. If they've been in these sorts of fights before, I'd assume she and the captain have a standard reporting procedure on casualties.

In all, still enjoying this, but I agree, it's time to get to actual plot.


Notes while reading

pg 1: “No. I do not partake of tobacco.”
--I vaguely remember this from last week, but starting a chapter in the middle of a conversation is a bit hard to follow.

pg 1: Who's POV is this in? It's following the captain, but doesn't seem to be in his POV.

pg 2: "C asked, interrupting."
--this makes it sound like this is in C's POV, but he wasn't even mentioned until the second page.

pg 2/3: "“The one who is performing a petty attempt at bravado is not us and the ones who are refraining from slaughter are not your men."
--eh, this is a big long and bombastic and comes across as sort of limp, rather than being a good return quip.

pg 3: "But, now that I have and you’ve given the all-clear signal, we’ll have enough time.” the captain monologuing?

pg 4: "repel boarders!” 
--but don't they want to keep them there? I thought that was the whole point so the other ships wouldn't fire?

pg 4: "C knew that..."
--okay, I think this is still in C's POV, but he's only mentioned once every couple pages, so it makes for a strange sort of half omniscient perspective.

pg 5: "crippling it for the fight and turning back towards the fight."

pg 5: "One of the exploding shells hit an engine,"
--I think this explanation should be before the "ship explodey" part.

pg 7: "blade extended, the blade extending"
--also, has he taken a page from RWBY? Also also, why kill the captain if they were going to use him as a hostage?

pg 7: "C realized. And with B’s death, we have nothing to discourage them from raking us with fire until the ship is shot from the sky."
--exactly what I was saying above. Also, C is very passive this chapter.

pg 8: "have only been a few minutes"
--certainly seconds, not minutes. I think in less than a minute they'd be a smudge on the ground.

pg 8: "as the two warriors traded a message that didn’t need to be spoken out loud."
--unneeded because this was shown the sentence before.

pg 8: "back to the backsword"

pg 11: "flicked his wrist to dump the burning tobacco off his pipe down into the coal dust cloud below."
--I do admire the captain's chutzpah.

pg 12: There are paragraphs of thinky bits from C in this chapter, and I wonder if it would be more engaging if he spoke with someone instead.

pg 13: yet more situational explanation with the thinky bits. This would be better shown than told, or at least in conversation.

pg 14: "precisely 250 feet of rope" "Physics took over"
--I think something is a little off here. They'd need more than 250 feet of rope to snare the bridge before the rope pulled taut, and then when "physics took over" I was imagining the ropes tearing sections out of the ship and the ship flying up in the air in response. Unless this ship is a LOT bigger and heavier than a steel bridge, which I doubt. Might need some more blocking outlining in this section.

pg 15: "Mercenaries get paid up front. Salvagers get paid upon delivery"

pg 16: "blinked at the indifference"
--also, she's giving an efficient report. I'd expect a well-trained officer would do the same.

pg 16: "be more sympathetic to human injuries"
--why? stitches and a splint are very minor injuries. I don't think there's much empathy that needs to be displayed here, unless the injured men are within hearing distance and complaining about minor injuries from killing three ships. Also, the captain himself put his men in a lot of danger without telling them of the risky moves he was executing before doing so.

pg 16: "right torso"
--is there a left and right torso??

pg 17: "fused metal screeching and tearing apart"
--that's going to be problematic. Either his armor is scrapped, or if it's part of his body, it's a significant injury.

pg 18: "Not if it’s an airship. But a Knight, and a hidden one at that?"
--confused. So is he saying (thinking) that they shot a knight in the city instead of a ship? How would that work if Ir already figured out the trajectory?
Also, more thinky bits here, but then he says them a few paragraphs later. I'd rather he engaged with the other characters more.


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Initial thought before reading:

I’m probably the exception among the group in that I don’t really enjoy long battle scenes. I tend to skim them in most books.  Obviously won’t be doing that here, but it will likely color my perception of the chapter overall, and I would weigh others’ opinions on specific battle-related details over mine.

Overall thoughts after reading:

I agree that the fight is too long overall, though I would probably think that even if everyone else thought it was perfectly fine, just because of general reading preferences.  I’m still really excited about the setting and airships and want to see what adventures C is going to be going on from here, but it is a little frustrating to be this far into the story and still not have the attachment to the MC that I would like.

At the moment, I don’t care enough about C to be concerned about how the battle goes, and never really felt like they were in real danger through it.  The moment the first exchange had destroyed most of the enemy soldiers, I wasn’t afraid that the Good Guys were going to come to any harm.  And being in C’s perspective didn’t help since he wasn’t as actively involved with the fighting.  If we were seeing the battle through V’s eyes, I might be more concerned, because I’m more invested in him at this point, and he was more active in the battle. But I still don’t think it has as much tension as it could if there was a real threat of something going wrong.

Action is good, and it feels more is happening than in other chapters, but I still don’t have a good idea of what direction the story is going. Which is a problem at 10k words (feel free to turn this specific comment right back at me in a couple weeks when I’m back to submitting chapters for PoP and am wrestling with opening chapter issues).

The fact that I’m not generally as excited about battles meant that I also probably focused on more little nitpicky things than most people would, and there were a number of things that stuck out as making it difficult to suspend disbelief (they’re noted below)

1.      The sword/axe thing was probably the single biggest thing that seemed over the top, especially because I don’t get the practicality of it.  The two maneuvers at the end with the coal mine and the bridge could probably be close to that line, but I think would be fine and a lot of fun with details worked out

2.      I think the whole chapter is probably too long, but my opinion beyond that is probably not helpful since I almost always think battle scenes are too long.

3.       I think V is the main one who we get any additional characterization from.  The reveal on Sa is interesting, and I’m looking forward to figuring out more about what’s going on there, but I don’t know that I know any more about his character, per se. Just what he is. Sort of.  Most importantly we didn’t get anything additional on C, since he seemed to just be along for the ride for most of the chapter.


Pg 1:

“I will do no such thing.” This seems like a good way to suggest that you have things to hide. 

“Captain V’s eyes turned defiant” Might one say bravely defiant? Hmmmm?

Pg 2:

“You’re no foreigner.” I’m still a little confused as to why V had C stick around if he’s then going to try to keep any of the navy men from interacting with him.

Pg 3-4

“Enough time for-?”, “What-?” (Also “Let us be frank here – this ‘search’…” from pg 2): I only recently had this pointed out to me (from someone on RE, but I can’t think of who. If whoever it was comes across this, Thanks!). The sentence break punctuation for these should be an em-dash, not a hyphen.  If you’re using Word, the keyboard shortcut is Alt + 0151 for an em-dash.   If you’re not using Word, I’m sure a quick search could get you the right keyboard shortcut for it.

“You allowed us to board based on that…?”   The ellipses imply he’s trailing off, but this seems like a complete thought, so I’m not sure they’re necessary.

“…but even still,” I think this should be either “but still,” or “but even so,”.  Likely the latter. There’s also another en-dash that should be an em-dash there, but I’ll stop pointing those out from here. Just need to do a find/replace for hyphens and en-dashes.

When did C get a long knife? Did we know he was armed and I just missed it?

How is he keeping track of the guy’s sword (knife? It’s unclear what weapon is being thrusted) while flipping him over his shoulder?  Seems like a good way to get one or both of them accidentally stabbed. Also, the last place I’d want an unknown armed opponent is behind me.  Even for the time it takes to turn to engage again (also, isn’t turning to slash at the man’s arm — at which point, why slash the arm instead of just killing him? — going to turn his back to the other armed soldiers?).  Why not just slash/stab him from the front instead of adding a throw that exposes his back to his opponents?

Pg 5:

I was pretty sure daggers and long knives were definitively different. I’d have to confirm, but the impression I had is that a dagger is defined by being double-edged and a knife is defined by being single-edged.  But C’s is referred to by both terms here.

“B and V were trading blows with each other…” with each other is understood.

The sentence comparing B’s and V’s fighting styles slows things down a little and doesn’t seem necessary.

“Reinforcements”  Okay.  You mentioned having a half-dozen royal navy guys after the initial exchange.  So what are V’s crew doing now?  They cut down a bunch of the enemy in the first moments.  Are all of them actively engaged with the remaining people?  Did none of them see the lines and have the initiative to cut them?  If they’re used to this sort of battling, I’d assume someone would be manning the crane and keeping an eye out for this sort of thing at all times.  Either way, it seems odd for C to be the one to notice it.   And it seems odd for V to be both in the midst of the center spotlight fight and trying to command people elsewhere on the ship.  It divides his attention and puts him at a lot of risk.

“the lines weren’t even caught in it” What are the lines made of?  Are they just rope?  If airship battles are a regular thing, and methods of attack are similar, I’d assume that both sides would expect certain attack and defense mechanisms.  And for any cast-on lines to be reliable, I’d expect them to include some sort of metal cabling for these sorts of applications. Rope is all well and good for ocean-ship-boarding maneuvers, but I’d think the force rating for rope would make it really risky to use between airships.  And if it’s metal cabling, I have trouble imagining a crane powerful enough or blade sharp enough to cut through them that easily.

It seems to take B a conveniently long time to recover and return while V is giving orders.

Pg 6:

What is C doing while all this is going on?  He is part of the initial attack, but seems to be standing around after that. 

I don’t have a clear image of what V’s sword is doing.  If the blade extends and what he needs is extra reach, why go into pickaxe-mode, which reduces the reach by the length that’s folded over (for lack of a better term). Moving parts and hinges also seem like really problematic failure points from a force distribution perspective. 

“…impaled through the chest…” this wording, to me, implies stabbing, but the pickaxe idea implies slicing.  So I’m not sure what to picture here.

Pg 7:

“stabbed his pickaxe in the deck” This seems like unwise weapon-care. For this weapon in particular.  The amount of force that’s going to take is not going to be very kindly absorbed at the hinge-point.

Still unsure why C is still on deck through this if he’s standing around.  This chapter seems like it would make more sense to be from V’s perspective. Or to adjust C’s role in the fight.

“V rode out the drop…kneeling on the deck…” This posture seems likely to throw him to the ground when they jerk to a stop.  I’d think he’d have more control to brace for impact with a slightly-crouched stance to let his legs absorb the impact better.  (I probably wouldn’t have noticed this, but I spent part of this week working on impact absorbing jumps with the kids I coach, so it’s fresh in my mind)

Pg 8:

“…now less than one hundred feet above the ground.” Didn’t it say a few hundred feet a few paragraphs up?

“…withdrew his pickaxe…flicked it back to the backsword… somewhere in his coat.”  I have questions about how this works.

Pg 9:

V sure does have a lot of stuff in his coat.  I’m not sure what the flare guns are achieving if he’s also shouting orders to the crew.

Pg 10:

Well… goodbye, maps.    I like the idea of this, but am confused by the overall blocking of it and unsure how the flare gun would succeed in getting the coal dust dispersed in the air.  What’s propelling it out of the mine shaft? And how high is the risk of them blowing themselves up in the process here?

“oxygen-starved air”  If they’re far enough above the explosion to not get caught in it entirely, would the air here be oxygen-starved? Where’d it go? 

Also, as a general airship question (I don’t know how the genre deals with this), how do airship crews deal with sudden elevation and air pressure changes?  Wouldn’t they be used to low-oxygen atmospheres just due to altitude?  Do writers of airship-fiction deal with things like decompression sickness or anything like that?  It seems like that would take a toll on the bodies of airship crews.  But that’s more of a general question than one for your story in particular.

Pg 11:

I thought V didn’t know the area.  If the map they picked up was focused on wind currents, I’d think basic land details might be included, but it seems iffy to assume their ship will fit under a bridge they’ve never seen before.  Also, why are the other ships still chasing them at this point.  What do they think is worth the effort?

Pg 12:

“At least a hundred years” This brings up more questions about the condition of the abandoned town in the previous chapter. And how does C know this information if he’d only ever been there a couple times to get maps?

Pg 13:

The forces involved in this maneuver don’t quite add up to me. Good, solid cables (instead of wire) might provide some resistance, but they or some mechanism on the crane are going to give out before the bridge does.  I’d expected when V was talking about this that they would go under the bridge and swing themselves around it, using cables as an anchor to rotate around. This would raise new physics questions, but it seems like a more likely outcome than pulling the bridge down.

Pg 14:

How did they cut cables that were strong enough to not snap under the weight of pulling the bridge free?

C suddenly knows a lot more about standard airship setup than I would have expected based on what we have seen from him before.

Pg 15:

V’s instructions to Ir seem a little odd.  How would he have responded if Sa- had been dismissive of the injuries among the crew?  And, I mean.  V, himself, doesn’t seem all that concerned. Why’s Ir supposed to act more sympathetic than they are when she is the one who isn’t even human?

Pg 16:

More physics questions with Sa blocking a gun shell.  Even if his body can physically withstand the blast, the weight ratios and forces involved would have sent him and V both back through whatever was behind them, and he probably crushed V in the process.

Pg 17:

Was Ir unaware of whatever Sa is?

And isn’t Ir above Sa in the command structure?  Does he have the authority to question her like this?

I’d rather see C’s internalized thoughts revealed more through conversation and actions. And am still wondering if his PoV is the best option for this chapter, when he’s not doing a lot through most of it.

Pg 18:

His summary of what the knight is doing there and what must have happened doesn’t seem to match the urgency of telling them to run.  And if it is a ground unit, can’t they just fly out of range? Or follow the gorge and keep cover there until they have a clearer escape?

I like the urgency of the last line, but I think C’s explanatory paragraph right beforehand takes away from the tension of it.


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Who's surprised that I'm late? Anybody? *crickets*

As I go:

pg 1: It really seems like neither of them are trying to deescalate in the slightest which I find a bit odd. Are they both 100% confident they can win? Because otherwise I feel like they should at least try to talk it out.

pg 2: If they're fighting, I feel like they should get on with it instead of continuing to chat. If these interactions are important, it's pretty easy to have them happen before they decide to fight.

pg 3: I'm not sure I buy B admitting he's basically a pirate unless he doesn't have the legal backing he claims. I feel like legally backed thug organizations like corrupt knights/police draw power from acting self-righteous. Also, same feelings as last page about how they shouldn't be talking after they already agreed to fight.

-Okay I get why V was chatting but I really didn't get the impression that he was stalling earlier. I think he could definitely have more faux friendliness and try to distract B more before they agree to fight if he wants to buy time to ready the guns. 

pg 7: If killing all the guards puts them in danger, why not disarm and capture instead (B at least) so that the other ships won't fire? If V and S are as skilled as C thinks they are, it should be doable for them. If you want to continue the fight you could have the other ships eventually decide to accept collateral damage and fire knowing that some of their own will go down. 

pg 9: It's good that they're assessing the situation and letting us know that they're in danger, but to me this makes it even more confusing why they're approaching the battle the way they are. It seems odd they've survived this long if they engage in all-out battles whenever they meet any sort of resistance. It just doesn't feel sustainable to me. 

-Bro V I like you but you are not in a position to comment on lack of creativity right now 

pg 10: I really like that V is taking an approach besides straightforward fighting but anything involving exploding environmental stuff seems like it could go wrong very easily. I guess I just need it spelled out why they need to engage in such risky maneuvers since it seems like they didn't even try the obvious stuff (diplomacy, take a few shots to let them know it's not worth their effort and lives and then try to back away, ect.)

pg 15: It seems like the main point of the fight was to force into the open how military-inclined V and the crew is. If that's the main deal here, I'd like to see the story hanging this on a lamppost earlier and cutting down some of the fight, since it seems like the aftermath is what really matters more here. 

pg 16: Exclamation mark police here reporting that they're overused in this page. One of my quirks is that I really don't like exclamation marks and I think they mask generic statements by trying to force them to be urgent/exciting, and I feel like the dialogue here fits into that category.

pg 19: The hook here at the end is solid. We're starting to see C's past get involved here, which I think makes the narrative stronger when it's present and was missing throughout this chapter.


I agree with everyone else on the questions. The combat was good, the fight as a whole could have been shorter, and I'm interested in V but want more from C.

My main thoughts are questioning why both sides are acting the way they are in a way that makes me wonder about the worldbuilding. I feel like both government-backed guards and freelance(?) combat ships should really try to avoid these fights whenever possible since they're really good for nobody. I was wondering why they jumped straight to all-out battle, since that feels like a bad habit to get into and it didn't seem like there was any particular need. If I were B I'd try to feel these people out a bit and then let them go (and maybe track them) if it's clear that they're more dangerous than they seem. Not worth risking my life over. And after B and his crew get totally wiped I'd definitely be cautious about following them if I were on the other ships. There are potential reasons for why both sides could act this way, but I personally didn't see enough to make me feel like it was justified. Plus, C should know about the guards' habits, right? Why does he think they're risking all of their lives for something they really don't need to care about? 

I'm guessing you have the answers and I don't think they have to be too complicated. We just need a little more here and there to clarify motivations. 


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Same comments as everyone else I think. Bit too long with the battle, and I'd have liked to see more actual damage and/or plot progression. I still think it takes too long to get to this small plot point, and I've lost the significance of it between three chapters and WRS. I think we also need a bit more on the world stakes, since this would help clarify the plot.

Your writing, as always, continues to improve. Readability was just fine. Dialogue was stocky in a few places, but in others it flowed very nicely.


As I go

- pls 1-2: the dialogue through here is a bit stilted, it feels like

- pg 9: I was entertained for these pages, but now as I hit page nine I'm starting to wonder what the purpose of this battle is, other than self defense, and again wondering about that missing global arc

- pg 10: I do love the idea of igniting coal dust during an air ship battle!

- pg 13: I think the battle is going on a bit long at this point. I'd like to see some real damage or plot movement

- pg 18: I'm guessing that the knight reveal is our plot, but it's so far in now that I can't remember the relevance of knights or what this might mean for the plot. At this stage I could not tell you what the global or personal plots are.


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Posted (edited)

I like reading battles, but am not great at writing or critiquing them. I was very engaged thought the whole chapter, but while I thought the fighting was well written, it almost felt like it was there just for he sake of having a battle. The conversation between the captains escalated really quickly to the point where it was almost not believable. I guess they both just wanted to fight for the sake of fighting each other? Are the salvagers more like pirates? Was finding a ship to attack part of why they were out there? I feel like I am missing something in terms of the purpose of the battle and how it is moving the plot forward. Part of it might be WRS. 

It did end on a good cliff hanger though, which leaves me wanting to read more. 

On another random note, are all of  of the crew men aside from the medic/mechanic and ship spirit? If so, any chance of changing that? Unless you are writing historical non-fiction or historical fiction very closely based off a real event, I don't get why they are all men. 

Looking forward to finding out what happens next! 


Edited by shatteredsmooth

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I'm Trying to Catch Up on Critiques:

Pg 1, "No. I do not partake of tobacco." This is what I get for falling behind on critiquing. I have no clue who is talking. I actually pulled up the previous chapter to recall what had happened last.

Pg 3, "What game are you playing?" I feel like I'm watching two men hyped up on testosterone facing down for no reason other than trying to look tough. My first thought was, "What, are we doing comparing d*ck sizes? Are you even going to try to handle this peacefully?"

Pg 3, "Three of his men sprinted across the deck towards them." Honestly, I feel bad for both crews. People are going to die because neither captain even tried to come to an agreement. No briberies, no nothing.

Pg 5, "there were only half a dozen men left" Is this a salvage ship? Because at this point I would assume they have major wealth on board or they are like pirates and figure, "Well, if we take down the enemy, aren't they salvage" which, frankly, doesn't seem in character with the Captain. 

Pg 7, “You lot aren’t even worth salvaging.” Then why even bother fighting and risking your crew's life and killing others? I think I'm stuck on what Captain V gets out of this. What the entire JH crew gets out of this. 

Pg 8, "not as hard as he might have if not for S" Confused? What did S do?

Pg 8, "Nothing good" Again, why risk all of this then? Did I forget something from a previous chapter? If I did, my fault, I completely apologize.

Pg 11, "a curtain of black smoke and ash shot up around the ship" I was not expecting this, which caught my attention just as it was lagging. 

Pg 12, "Then we continue the fight,” Nothing for that particular, awesome maneuver? No payoff? Disappointed. My attention is starting to drift again.

Pg 14, " precisely 250 feet of rope," Why must it be so precise? What about 251? 249?

Pg 15, “Just perhaps not the kind of salvagers you’re used to.” So I suppose they are planning on salvaging those ships. Making themselves their own work. 

Pg 17, "brass armor," Why brass? They have guns and cannons. That means iron, which is much stronger, if not steel, which is superior in every way. 


Is any part of the combat too 'over the top'?

I didn't think so, but I recently read The Aeronaut's Windlass, which had crazy flying battles, so maybe I'm used to it? I thought the coal dust was cool but I wish it had had more of a payoff. 

Does any part of it take too long, especially considering that we're already 10,000 words in and the plot hasn't really started yet?

The battle in general. I tried to mark the parts I was flagging. As much as the Knight interests me, I don't know enough to feel particularly in danger and I feel like I'll be going into another overly long battle chapter next. 

How are the characterizations for the characters who haven't really been around a lot yet?

I'm going to tap out on this question because it has been too long since I've read the previous chapters and therefore I feel emotionally distanced and ineffective as a gauge. 


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