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07.13.2014 - manaheim - Redemption's Edge - Ch2 (L)


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Sorry If I'm about to repeat exactly the same stuff I said last time on this chapter - it's been a while.


I like your writing in general. It flows well and you have distinctive characters whose personalities come across well in their behaviour, dialogue and appearance. That's all good.


But I struggle with the change of tone here. I know that this chapter represents a big change in both Candace's situation and her view of what's real, but it feels too much, or perhaps just the wrong sort of shift. The first chapter is grounded, gritty, realist if a bit exaggerated in tone, something firmly in the noire realm of modern urban fantasy. The afterworld Candace enters, its appearance, the characters within it, its events and the tone in which it's described, it all feels like something out of a film from the 1950s, despite the presence of more modern cultural references. If your heaven fitted the tone of your mortal world better, or if there was more whimsy in the first chapter, or if Candace brought more of the starting genre with her in her attitude, behaviour and perceptions then it might work, but for me it's currently too jarring.


On a practical note, I'm not sure how many of the people attracted by chapter one of this book will still be interested once they get into a second chapter that feels so whimsical.


So overall, nicely written, but I think there's a quite fundamental problem with the way the story develops here.

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I agree with @andyk. The characters are all dynamic and you can tell a lot about who they'll be and how they'll act, just from the word choices and description. But the jump in tone is...difficult to swallow.


*Note* I'll work to remove my beliefs as a whole from this story, but I want you to realize I do have strong beliefs, so I want you to know because they've slanted my view of your story and my review.


The change from the first chapter, serious, flirtatious, possible heist, danger, virtuousness found in crime–is all undermined by your second chapter. People seem surreal, their tones widely ranging (ex. Peter, Paul and the elevator man). Seth and Candace are well researched, each with measured thoughts and reactions. But the elevator man and Paul...seem more like they've been pulled from a comedy and placed in a gritty book. Candace's reaction to either of them would be, I think, much more aggressive, well before finding out what they want at the end of chapter 2.


As a reader, I would have stopped reading your book at this point. Much of it has to do with my POV, but also deals with how whimsical it became in chapter 2.


I'm struggling to be thorough in this review. I was very, VERY, surprised by the direction you took in this second chapter. I felt...a little cheated. Like I'd pick up a book, expecting one thing and I got another. My expression might have been comical when I started reading this chapter this morning :)


Hope you know, I'll keep reading and offering critiques. Paul is a well written character, though I find the idea behind reimagining the apostle this way...distasteful.  


So, I hope you'll keep working through the book and that this review helps. And I hope I haven't come across as overbearing. Just trying to be clear cut and honest so you can make whatever changes you want.

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Thanks guys. I completely understand what you're saying but I doubt I'll be able to change it. I've had a number of people (not everyone, but maybe 1/4) react similarly to how you are reacting. 3/4 of those people got another 2 chapters in and were like "Ok, I get it, don't change it." That may well be a fundamental problem as some may put the book down right at Ch2. My HOPE was it would be enough of a "Whoa... what the hell?!" kind of thing to keep them interested and reading along... but maybe not.




Anyway, I'll keep posting 'em up and we'll see where we get. :)


Endurant... you're not the target audience, unfortunately. I don't say that to exclude you, but the simple fact is that anyone with strongly held beliefs is going to have a few issues with the book. I put quite a bit of effort into being respectful of Christianity, but I'm obviously and deliberately interpreting it differently to suit my needs. Though, actually, Paul may be the most extreme case of my interpretations.


Still, I hope you'll stick with it. It's always interesting to hear the reactions of folks who have firmly held beliefs, since I most obviously do not fall in that camp myself.


Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Much appreciated as always.

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I also noticed the change in tone.  it didn't bug me as much, but I did notice it was there.  However, I was also put off by attitudes of the inhabitants of heaven/purgatory.  I don't have particularly strong connections to the Christian religion, but I had a similar reaction to what I find wrong with most ficton about most heaven vs. hell or heaven interfering with daily life.  Whether you believe it or not, heaven, angels, apostles, what have you, are placed in a situation where they are morally beneath some humans, which is opposite to their description.  Thus you've set up a strawman argument where humans can justifiably wage a war against heaven and win because they can be morally superior.  Thus you potentially negate the concept of a heaven or afterlife.  

My opinions, of course, but this is the sort of mental spiral I go into whenever I watch something like Dogma or Constantine, or even playing Diablo.

Compare this to Good Omens, which also concerns both an angel and a demon and lots of religious stuff, but they are concerned with the flawed actions of humans that will bring around Armageddon, not the actions of either Heaven or Hell.  Suddenly it becomes about (flawed) humans making their own choices.


--Not sure if I'm actually making sense with all this rambling, so I'll get off the soapbox now...




Some general comments:

pg 1: "A skinny elevator operator appeared from inside the lift"
--I was confused here, as I first thought Candice was already inside the lift...
pg 3: "What the hell is this guy rambling about?"
--some of the internal thoughts seemed unnecessary, telling instead of showing.
pg 8: "twelve-and-one-half feet, square."
--would she know this offhand?
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Thanks for the comments.


I don't get what you're saying with angels and saints and whatnot, but then... this is intended as a fantasy. This is by NO MEANS my take on what Heaven and Purgatory are like. Nor is it who I think Paul would be or how he would act. Nor St. Peter. Nor anyone.


I don't understand the seemingly angry reactions. I don't recall people being nearly this put off in the last run through.


Perhaps I should -not- post any further chapters.


Again... Thanks for taking the time to read it.

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I think that you should keep posting another chapter or two at least.


Keep in mind, reactions are reactions, that's why we're putting ourselves out here on this forum. If something's getting a different reaction then you were thinking, it's good to know, if nothing else, because it aligns what we think we're putting out with what readers are seeing. That's invaluable knowledge. 


Maybe you should take these two chapters past a couple other people too, if you can find some good readers, to see if their reaction is the same.

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I've probably had about 20 people read these chapters. None have reacted like this. A couple have said "Wow, that was a major change in tone from 1 to 2..." but none have had such a problem with it to either put the book down or react as folks here have.


What's really odd to me is several folks here have read the previous iterations and not had this kind of response.


I'm honestly at a loss.

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I think I actually said about the same thing last time, though not at length:


From March 17th: "I agree with andyk that the tone is still inconsistent.  Whatever your religious (or not) bent, I think people would have trouble accepting saints encouraging murder.  Wouldn't they instead coerce them to do better with their lives?  Even Batman doesn't kill, and he's a pretty dark character."


But please don't take these reactions as "I hate your book."  These are (hopefully) constructive criticisms based on the personalities of the few readers on this forum.  It's what we thought of while we read it...our reader reactions.  

I'll repeat what I said the first time you submitted these chapters:  KEEP WRITING.

You may have better responses when posting chapters 3+.  Often the first couple chapters of a book end up getting thrown away entirely or vastly changed.  Let us see more of the story, get more into in, and then decide whether to keep posting or not.

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Totally get the reader reaction thing, and I appreciate it. I was just thinking along the lines of "If these guys have this reaction to the book, then odds are good they're not in the target audience... mainly because no one else has reacted quite this strongly." (or the book sucks... whichever. lol)


It'd be like making my wife watch Star Trek and asking her what she'd do differently. Her answer would be "Everything."


Anyway, I'll mull it over. Maybe I'll post up to Ch5 and see if anyone's head explodes before that point. :)


Thanks again.

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Last time I read this I did not have a great many comments - again, I haven’t reviewed those going into this re-read. Sorry about the delay, by the way, I’ve been prepping for going into the ‘Write About Dragons’ course with some of the other RE-ers.


Also, I’ve recently watched a couple of vids on critiquing (MRK and Brandon on WaD), and I feel the need for an (open) apology up front. I know I mention grammar and language stuff, which are really not the main preserve of alpha-reading, but (1) I can’t help it; (2) I think it does help; (3) I’ll try double to make sure I cover the wider focus issues that are the point of critiquing in the first place; (4) I can’t help it.


So, after re-reading – I still enjoyed this chapter. I have some comments, but I think it works pretty well. There are some descriptions that maybe feel a bit long, and I think there are sections, paragraphs and words that could be pruned to improve flow (I’ve not long ago listened to the WE Brevity podcast!), but I like this chapter. I think it’s still stronger than the first one.


Detailed comments below, but I'd also like to give my reaction to the 'reaction' debate. I'm not a religious person, if anything I think I'm agnostic (which is a cop out, I suppose), but I always try to respect the faith of others (I hope). I guess this means it's easy for me to say I had no issue with your second chapter, but I do think that Mandamon's point is a good one. So far, it's really only Paul who we know anything about in terms of his character. I'm thinking that, if we spend the whole book in the company of a saint who displays values or character traits that are no more enlightened than those of an untidy and (apparently) flippant human, then it might become an issue. If he's the only one 'up here' who plays against type, I would think he will stand out like a sore thumb. However, there is plenty of time for Paul to display his true values and depth of character, he obviously got where he is for a reason, and I can accept that at this point.


I don't have much issue with the change of tone - maybe I'm tone deaf - but I'm not sure how gritty the first chapter was, that's not an impression I took away. Like the others, I'm keen to read more. I think it's too early to make conclusions about the whole story (not saying anyone has done that), but I think there are some points of caution to be aware of.


Kudos to Endurant for reading on despite his concerns.


If you do decide to pull it after 5 chapters, maybe we could have the hole thing up on Alpha Readers thread so this inclined to read on could do so?




Page 1 – two ‘very’s close together.


Page 1 – ‘Furrowing her brow...’ sounds awkward to me.


Page 2 – Not sure I understand the tassels on invisible strings allusion.


Page 4 – I like the elevator man, he comes across well, but I'm stuck a wee bit on the image of him. Was he a hippie first time around? I have it in my mind he wasn’t. His tone and smart uniform seem at odds with his hippie-dom.


Page 7 – There was chat before, as I recall, about the length of time it takes Candace to realise where she is. If it really was a dream, I think I could accept her not tagging it sooner, but I think it’s strange that she has not reached that conclusion (albeit disbelievingly), or is not at least considering the possibility (incredulously, no doubt) by the point at which she sees the grail and the shroud.


Page 8 – How does she know it’s 12.5 feet square? Six feet is a height benchmark for humans, so a person could estimate 10 to 12 feet easily enough, but why the half?


Page 8 – I like Paul’s character. I'm a rock fan, so all the reference work well for me – John Bonham’s signature is a nice touch that might send some youngsters off to Google to investigate Zeppelin, which is no bad thing! I find myself wondering at certain points in this section if the rock thing and the disorder is laid on a bit thick in place. Also, I found that I had forgotten that the music was playing by the time he says he’ll turn it down. I also found myself thinking that Paul’s rock stylings almost seem more suited to the hippie elevator attendant.


Page 9 – I really don’t like ‘err’. I think the ellipsis serves as the ‘err’ or ‘hmm’ or whatever.


Page 9 – Quibble aside, this exchange really works for me. I like the dialogue and the pace of Paul’s delivery.


Page 10 – ‘Where am I?’ – I’ll restate it – I know she’s disoriented, but from some of her dialogue up to this point, she’s clearly not stunned, therefore I'm not convinced by her not a least starting to consider the outlandish possibility that she’s in heaven, even if it’s just dream heaven.


Page 10 – Still liking Paul – his ‘I know you’ ‘speech’ works well for me.


Page 13 – I'm sure it’s down to me being a heathen, but I'm not quite sure what else Candace would call Peter, I think you might mean ‘Saint’?

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Going through these comments again as I edit Ch2... Robinski... you dead-on nailed the JB reference, which was surprising. The only other person who got that was the guy that suggested I put the signature on the poster in the first place.  You also caught the cup and the shroud, which I don't believe anyone else has figured out (or at least they didn't comment.)


Nice eye. :)


Anyway, thanks again, everyone.  Off to work I go... :)

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