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20150323 - Robinski - The Mathematical Bridge - Sub #1 - 3437 Words


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So, you might encounter some tracked changes. I’ll apologise that I haven’t edited this since the first draft was finished, so you’ll likely encounter some typos too – sorry. Also, I’ll apologise for the style – in case you find yourself in need of an apology to accept once you get into it. It’s deliberately a bit flowery, with the intention of evoking something of the setting, but also because I like that shtick.


I hope you find something to enjoy in the story. All comments gratefully accepted. Please don’t feel obliged to highlight the typos, but if you do, all to the good. If you want to track comments and suggestions in this Word file and email it back to me, then have at it, but I will be more than happy with any observations that you care to put up on RE.


Thanks for reading.


Cheers, Robinski

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Well I quite enjoyed it. Though I needed to read it twice to work out what was going on (I missed the most of hints about his ability until the shop girl turns up), that was more the fault of me speed reading the first time through. 


At least in the short dose of Chapter 1, I don't mind the style. Sure it might be a bit flowery, but its chapter 1. It's allowed to be. I'd imagine whether it'd get annoying at all would really depend how subsequent chapters go.


The one thing I was slightly confused about was the year in which this is set. Is it October/November 1920? Are the events of November 1920 the two meetings (of Judith, and of Tom and Harry), and the consequences of them?


Upon reflection, that seems to be what's indicated, but if so, I feel you could really do with some form of visual break after that paragraph. I found I just strung the two paragraphs together when I read them, but that last paragraph feels like it needs to be considered for a few moments before going on. Then on next paragraph, starting with 'From the perspective...', we are both on a different day and a different location to where we last read of Blacklake, though the absolute last thing was more exposition. Additionally, with having some sort of section or chapter break at that point, the first part still contains some really interesting tidbits you just throw in there, which I find intriguing.  In the 2nd to last paragraph of what would be that first section (starting 'Despite his appearance of desperation...'), we find out about his ability 2/3 of the way through, though its hinted at earlier. You also introduce 'her', and her legacy, along with 'those creatures', on top of the 'events of November 1920'. Provided I'd actually read those last two paragraphs properly, and so have the opportunity to consider those thoughts, I think that'd quite nicely intrigue the reader.


Then, turn the page, and your introduced to how his ability will effect the story telling, and your introduced to the new scene nice and neatly, now wondering what happens in November 1920, and wondering when you'll let us know about 'her' and 'those creatures'. 


Now just thoughts as they come on the rest of it.


Hmm... Sabine... 'her'? or just 'those creatures'. Are the creatures monsters? Figurative or literal?


Hmm, is he one of these creatures, or is he just a normal person with an ability. Does he consider himself and those like him monsters, or are they truly something different.


I enjoyed the conversation with Blacklake, Tom and Harry. Made me think of Sherlock, though it's obviously different.


Hmm... creators.... again with the, is he a monster, or does he view himself as such due to his ability, and how he gained it. Are Sabine and Tarquin his creators? What about 'her'? Torments?


Oh and continuity error? 'He turned his thoughts instead to Friday.' Wasn't it Saturday from further up?


My final thought would be that the paragraph beginning 'Blacklake regretted his parting shot' could maybe work better as a final paragraph for the section. Though I guess the questions posed are not ones to be soon answered, and that rather those posed in the next paragraph, returning his thoughts to that of Judith, will likely better segue into the next chapter. I guess then, that from 'His own work for the day...' feels slightly more incidental rather than being super important at the present moment. I would wonder if it would work better making reference to that when he meets her again, presumably with the topic of his painting of that day coming up again.


Anyway, that's all from me. First time posting here, so hopefully this is constructive. I guess feedback on my feedback would be nice (Am I doing it right?). 


I look forward to what comes next!





EDIT: Also intrigued by the title. Mathematics is an area of interest for me, but I don't yet have any inkling of it's relevance to the story. So curious to find out about that.

Edited by Haelbarde
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- I really like the vivid picture you paint of this character, especially in the first couple pages. I especially liked the bit about someone dropping change into his box of oils while he is painting.


- The style of the prose seems to evoke the elegant, matter-of-fact tone of classic literature. This is really a strength, but even so, watch out for unnecessary words and passive voice. Some of this might just be because it's a first draft. 


- The period is questionable until Page 4, when you actually gave a date, albeit in the past.. Up until then, I could tell it wasn't set in present day, but I really wasn't sure when it was set until this time. It might be a good idea to work in some more period-specific elements in the description beforehand.


- I liked the footnote. That shows a well-research sense of legitimacy. Just a word of caution: I think footnotes only work in fiction if they are done consistently. They definitely shouldn't be overdone, but there should appear every so often throughout the work.


I hope this helps! I'll try to go into Word and make some corrections later this week! 

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@Haelbarde: Welcome to Reading Excuses - delighted to have your comments. There's no right or wrong way to comment, I would say, although you will find various guidance online suggesting what is right and wrong, in a reading group situation anyway. I have a tendency to nitpick and grammar check, which I frequently have to apologise for, then again the other online writing group I am a member of (Start Write Now) tends to welcome an element of proof reading (up to a point!!!).


In short, your comments were excellent, I thought, clearly carefully considered, telling me what worked and what didn't, but also overall impressions. Very constructive.


I'm glad you're intrigued, that's good, thin line between that and confusion of course, so pull me up if you think I've crossed it.


I'll check the day continuity, entirely possible that is an error, I will review.


I'm also happy with your suggestion and will consider them when I edit - which I haven't done to this story yet, other than some tweaks just before I submitted.


Much appreciated, again welcome and glad you're looking forward to the next submission!

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@rdpulfer: thank you for your comments, very helpful indeed. Delighted that the character description worked for you. I will be interested in how you bear up under the style as we go forward, assuming that you are able to keep commenting, of course!


Fair comment on the date, which Haelbarde also comment on - I think you are both right - that's something I will get in up front to set the context from the beginning.


Good point on the footnotes too. I can't remember off the top of my head how many more there are, but I could probably drop in one every few pages because I do agree with your observations, but probably didn't have it in mind at the time.


Fair comment on Passive Voice also, it was only in 2014 that I really took up the cudgel against PV in my writing. This story pre-dates that, so it will probably be drenched in the stuff - I'll try and weed some of it out in my weekly edits - although Dan Wells did say that no PV whatsoever was the mark of a new (inexperienced) writer - everything in moderation, I guess, as my old mum still says.


Great comments, thanks again.

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Made notes on your doc and emailed - sorry but was the quickest way and done during lunch break at work. I'll be buried for the next 3 weeks in prep for some tradeshows and after that hope to crit more people's work. I only lifted my head up for this because you have been so generous with your critiques on these forums.


Awesome work.

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@stormweasel: I very much appreciate your comments, and you taking the time in what sounds like a really hectic period for you, you're too kind. Hope it goes well and you can find the time for your writing again soon. I do look forward to reading more of your stuff. And I'm much obliged for the tracked comments too, which will be valuable I'm sure.

@rdpulfer: thanks so much for tracking comments in the Word file, above and beyond since you commented here too.

I'll look at both your comments at my leisure, right now I can hardly keep my eyes open. Must be forum lag - time for bed (as Zebedee would say).

Edited by Robinski
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I sent tracked changes in the word document, but I thought I'd post a thing here too.


I really enjoyed the first bit of dialogue.  With his first exclamation, Rutland gives me a good indication of his personality...
I have some extra history, having read the first part of this with Sabine and Tarquin, so I remembered that he had some abilities.  That said, it was still a little confusing until you laid it out.
Like Haelbarde, I also noted the date.  I couldn't remember when the first part took place, but I thought it was significantly earlier.
Even though this is pretty "flow-y" and flowery, I think it works well here, possibly better than in Waifs and Strays.  It takes about 5 pages to get into it, until we really learn Rutland's condition.  You might give a hint earlier, although I was happy enough reading without knowing the supernatural side of it. I think you said you were doing three of these stories, so I'm excited to be reading more.
Rutland's personality is solid, and it's easy to follow along with his actions, even while not liking him.  That said, not a lot happens in this first section.  You're set everything up well, so I want to see action or some payoff in the upcoming pages.  Nothing is driving Rutland, and he's currently an observer, so I'm drawn in right now by the prose, and hope to be rewarded with some twist or development.
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Thank you Mandamon, very kind of the you to comment here in addition to  - greatly appreciated.


Good comments, as every, and very valuable from your enhanced perspective of having read the first story.


(1) I like your point about Rutland being an observer, and an idea popped into my head as to how to put a bit more pressure on him from the beginning, which I think would dial things up a bit.


(2) I think I will take you guys up on the point about revealing his powers more explicitly from the start and trying to address that confusion.


You mention three stories. I actually have 6 planned. My idea was to set a series of stories in places my wife and I like to holiday, or have visited. So, Rutland (smallest county in England) was the first story (Tontine Inn). This is Cambridge, where my wife's grandfather was Curator of the Museum of Anthropology. He was also an explorer, very interesting chap (FYI  >  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._T._Paterson).


I have another novel written on a cruise ship (To Sail Beyond Sleep), but Blacklake doesn't feature in that (Tarquin does) - I guess it's a prequel. Then I intended a story in Cornwall, which I have written a few pages for, and a finale in Venice.


I'm sure I will have finished all of these by the time I'm 94!!

Edited by Robinski
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