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12/19/16 - Dreamt and Lost - Ch 2 ver M (3041 words)


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Hello everyone!

This week, I've sent along an alternate version of the second half of chapter one, as well as chapter two.
Like version M of chapter 1, I've put more focus on displaying Ellis and Sofia's background and personality. Please let me know how well it shows, and if anything is too far past moderation.
Last time, in the first half of chapter 1, Ellis and Sofia were introduced. They are sentries guarding the front gates of a cavern nursery—there to prevent the children's new dreams from escaping to the rest of the world.
I hope you enjoy!
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pg 1 could probably be cut down, or come after the conversation with the veteran.  As it is, I sort of skimmed it to get to where something made more sense. This is just a
list of strange changes.

pg 4: "seven-yr dreamgarb "

pg 4: "Ellis noticed how Sofia looked upward with narrowed eyes at some point while he was blinded by his restoration."
--How can he see if he's blinded?

pg 6, top: The end of this chapter is very vague. Is someone actually spying on them? Why? Or is it a coincidence?

This part of the chapter still feels very insubstantial--and yes, it's about dreams--but I'm having trouble keeping focused on the narrative. For chapter 1, there needs to be a definite hook that draws the reader in, not just fighting strange objects with little or no risk. I guess they're at risk of losing their jobs, but neither one really seems concerned by the prospect.

pg 6: "Sofia pretended to stretch her arms."
--why pretend?

pg 7: "Anything unresolved by night went into their journal, so it could be saved for another day."
--As in dreams?

pg 8: Ellis and Sofia seem very immature, especially to be guards. They're very peppy about everything.

pg 9: "If your hair was a slight skip lighter"

pg 9-10: Mostly skimming. I don't know any of these places or things or why they're important to the story.

pg 11: jacarandas - I hope this tale has something to do with the story...this isn't adding much.

pg 12: "Where's your sister?" / "Your sister is in danger," / "She'll be fine," 
--The tension never really forms here. The guard somehow found Ellis, but doesn't know where Sofia is. Shouldn't he be just looking for Sofia? Ellis seems completely unconcerned her life may be at risk.

Overall, there's not a lot of tension here, and not a lot to drag me in. I really  like the concept--fighting dreams, but there needs to be something very concrete in the first and second chapter to get the reader engaged. Right now it's very soft and fluffy, and Ellis and Sofia don't have very strong emotions one way or the other. They don't seem to care about keeping their jobs, or even whether one of them gets sick.

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I'm at the same place as @Mandamon. The story doesn't seem to have a plot, and so we're wandering through it. Without a plot its next to impossible to keep tension, and even when tension forms, you seem to inadvertently kill it only a sentence or two later. I think it might be best to lay out the story and figure out what the through-plot is, then write down the sub-plots. Then figure out how each chapter is going to advance both the overarching plot and any sub-plots. 

Still love the concept!


As I go

- is the fade in on the first page just my copy? Intentional? 

He felt the changes he made to the dream, which stood out like knots on a string: reduced size, absence of water, gauntlet shape, and controllable growth.  Clunky and confusing

- by the end of page one, the word 'roots' is highly redundant

- up until the last paragraph of the first page, I'm not really invested in the imagery. I'm having a hard time imagining it

- page four, and I'm still not sure of the point or direction of this chapter

- bottom of page four is when we hit the meat of the chapter. Suggest cutting everything until maybe two paragraphs before this, and starting chapter there. Otherwise, it's just narrative wandering

- Actually, I take that back. Start the chapter here: "It's an eye!" Sofia shouted. Good tension hook

- gah! And then it ends! Tension held for like half a page. 

- page eight: still looking for direction or hook

- tension happens again: "Your sister is in danger," the nurse said, then dies almost immediately after with "She'll be fine," Ellis said, standing up. 

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I like having fun with the format, but I'm not sure what's going on with the fade.

I really feel like you're outright saying too much of what's going on for this to really feel appropriate to this being some sort of dream magic. Feels like wasted potential here.


This is okay, though the dialogue is a little prosaic.


Dialogue seems a little bit like it's retreading what I recall of last chapter, too.

I'm gonna call out a specific line here though: "Back when he and Sofia lived in their parents' cottage, they were always left with figments to play with, and that led to a lot of fond memories."

This line kind of pulled me up short. It's such a perfect example of a bit of prose that just does not have any life to it at all. It's a procedural point a to point b sentence and you're you're not doing with it. Like ok. Ellis has some fond memories of playing with the very stuff of dreams. And that's it. What am I, as a reader, supposed to do with this?


I mean I dunno. It feels like you don't know how to take advantage of the concepts you're working with; it feels like you want to actually do something much more mundane than the enviromnent you're placing it in calls for. This dialogue would be appropriate to, like, a high school hallway.


I mean maybe I'm being a bit too hard on this? Hoping it would be something it's not? I dunno. This page is all right so long as I look at it by itself and try not to conceive of what a battle against nightmares with weapons of dream would be like.


I'm not sure what the chapter accomplished beyond a general day-in-the-life sort of series of vignettes though.


This honestly reads like it's out of a completely different story. This is... pretty bog-standard stuff, and I'm never super into characters who are all 'combat! eff yeah!', but, I mean...


Yeah, I mean, I don't love this, but if I wasn't reading this in conjunction with the other stuff, I'd be fine with it.


Kind of expository but not so as to make an issue for me; it's fairly contextually appropriate.

I mean straight through to the end, I'm all right with this-- some repetition of the same issues, like with the dialogue, but nothing worth going on about-- but this just does not feel like it's at all a part of the same story as the rest.

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- I like the description of Ellis using his gauntlets.

- Cornias' entry feels very . . . random. Like he's just there and gone.

- I feel like we should actually hear Sofia talk about twins being opposites rather than Ellis tell us about her saying that. It feels a little bit like cheating.

- A lot of the dialogue feels very expository, especially during the conversation with Rima.

- Ellis' lack of concern with the nurse's revelation is also out of place.

- Overall, it's certainly a fun world, but it's one where I'm still getting my bearing. 

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Nothing like the holiday season to remind you that the year is coming to an end.

Thanks for all the analysis, comments, and critiques!

A common problem you guys noted was the tension breaking. I've focused mostly on that this week, though I'm still unsure of exactly which solution I'm going to finalize.

Tomorrow, I'll be presenting one particular method, which is a rearrangement of the following chapters. I want to see if presenting certain bits of information in a different order will maintain tension more effectively.

Another big problem is that I seem to be a bit too vague, and losing a couple of you guys as a result. Hopefully tomorrow's submission does a better job of making sense.


@kaisa & @neongrey, oh yes, the fade was intentional. I didn't make any changes yet to the first page (first two pages, I think, when they're double spaced) so I decided not to throw in a big repeat. In hindsight, that was a bad idea, especially considering how new readers might be heavily lost upon picking it up.


Fingers crossed for next time. I hope you all had or are having a happy holiday!

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  • 1 month later...

On we go.

  • “Otherwise, I think we picked the wrong day to be mysterious visitors from a faraway land." - "Why would they suspect us? If we meant to spy on them, then we would already be doing that. No need for an invisible eye in the sky." - "People see strange things and, oftentimes, I'm sure they might think other strange things are related." - "That's a shame. I'd hate for this to be the third job we lose this month.” – This is very tell-y for me, verging maid-and-butler, if not well into m-&-b.

  • Otherwise, I’m not good a rereading stuff so soon, so I didn’t go into the alternate Chp1 much.

  • “How are we supposed to become real knights” – This doesn’t have much impact, because we don’t know what real knights are. Okay, I guess it’s something to be aspired to, but what do real knights do, where do they work, what are the rewards like?

  • I only counted two questions. And then there are three questions that we’ve never heard before, which kind of undermines the fourth question rhyme.

  • Some of the dialogue doesn’t ring true to me, it’s often quite tell-y. I say it about once a week, but I would strongly recommend reading your dialogue out loud which I think is a reliable way to decide if it sounds convincing or not.

  • “Makes it so we need less lanterns overall” – FEWER!!!!!!!!

  • Cor’s reasoning for the gate guards made little sense to me.

I wasn’t bowled over by Chapter 2. I felt like there was information coming in cold and without great impact because things were explained in terms of other things which I had no knowledge of. Also, questions and answers were very direct, asked and answered without any partiality, if that makes sense. I was going to say that the adults in this story behave like children, but actually, I think the issue is that the characters don’t display hardly any emotion. It’s like there’s no or very little fear or anger or excitement.


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