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20170116 - The Seeds of Dissolution - Ch1 - Mandamon - 2063 words


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Hello all,
Here is the first chapter of a novel I plan to self-publish this year. This is in the Dissolutionverse series I write, but doesn't require any prior knowledge.

What I'm looking for:
Are you interested in the character and hook?
Is the character's situation coming across right?
Any other confusion with events / setting / plot.


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Hey there @Mandamon,

It's good to see a submission from you!

I gave your chapter a quick read and have a few thoughts.

Yes, I'm interested in the characters and problems. I would definitely read the next chapter. There were some moments that felt a little bumbling--a first or second draft type wording stuff--but overall, it worked well. I felt like some of the sentences were a little repetitious, like you were spelling out things the reader could infer just fine. I'm not going to go through and LBL it because I think you'll work them out naturally through revision work.

I felt a little weird with the setting, having read some of your other work. Like, I felt like I needed something in the protag's background building to suggest that this is sci-fi/fantasy. Except for the weird dimming and the mysterious reason he won't go outside (which could be fantastic or normal), I'm not feeling the genre well, so that jarred me a little while trying to settle into what kind of world I'm in so I could start hypothesizing and wondering about what the problem could be.

Hope you sub more!

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I liked this first chapter. I definitely want to read more of this.

Epigraph: The epigraph made me think this was going to be a secondary world fantasy story, but then the first paragraph quickly turns that idea on its head by having Sam work on his laptop during a power outage, and a little later you reveal it’s set in Charleston, on Earth. For me this dichotomy worked really well as a hook.

Sam: My first impressions of him as POV character are very favorable. He’s sympathetic and he has an interesting and relatable problem he has to deal with, his agoraphobia. I can’t recall the last time I read a story with an agoraphobic main character.

Big mystery: The big mystery of the preternatural cold that disables all electronics is really drawing me in. I love a good mystery, and it instantly seems to turn the setting into a post-apocalyptic world. I’d like to see more of that, but I am guessing Sam is drawn through the circle into a secondary world?

At any rate, I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

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- I'm not sure I like the epigraph, because it starts out on Charleston. I think this might hang a lampshade on the magical elements a little too strongly for my taste. It might be better to start without the epigraph altogether.

- I like the interactions between Sam and his aunt (or great-aunt) Martha. Both characters seem really well-developed.

- Okay, I'm hooked. I definitely want to see more, and I'm really liking Sam's personal struggles against whatever is causing this. 

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Ah, we meet again, chapter one.


Much improved! Better flow, awesome tension, and the characters are rounder. Still some choppy bits, but that's to be expected and can be cleaned up readily. Glad to see you subbing again on the board! I have to figure out when to jump over to my new WIP, too, since eventually ATD needs to go to my editor.

As I go

- having the benefit of reading this before, I find the epigraph conflicts with the first line. If we assume that the events in Chapter one are Sam's doing (as the epigraph would have us believe), is it the reading of the book that triggers it? The book reading seems to calm. Is he reading sheet music maybe? A book about a famous musician? Even in the first full paragraph, I'm not sure what the 'trigger' is as alluded to in the epigraph

If he opened it, it wouldn’t be like he was outside. Took me three readings to figure out what you meant here. Might want a sentence before it to help draw out this meaning

His aunt wanted him to go to a real college instead of one online, but he needed more time. Then he could get out of the house again. Suggest one additional clarifying sentence in here. Still reads a little to vague, even on second readthrough

- page three: aunt versus great aunt... wouldn't age be a giveaway?

- page five: the tension is building a lot faster and clearer in this version, and Aunt Martha has become a bit spooky. Love it

- with that said, her death feels a little overdramatic. Her frailty seems very sudden. Earlier it felt implied that she sort of knew what was going on, then her character seems to change to fragile old woman. They don't have to be mutually exclusive, but might want to ease one into the other

- the descent (ascent?) into the other world happens with much more fluidity this time

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Great comments everyone--thanks!  I was debating whether to submit the first 2 chapters, as chapter 2 clears up some of the our world/secondary world pretty quickly, but it was just over 5000 words.

Looks like I need a little work on the epigraph to ease the reader in. @Asmodemon had the reaction I intended, but others did not. Glad you and @rdpulfer liked the agoraphobic character--I'm really want to get that part right.

@kaisa, the epigraph is only referring to the part where Sam takes the heat of the fire and the hole appears in the air. Seems like I need to clarify that as well.

On Aunt/Great Aunt - yes, age might be a giveaway, but depends on age of the parents. Also, it may be a Southern thing, but my family routinely dropped the "great" in aunts and uncles, which always made it confusing to me growing up.

I'll post the second chapter next week. I'd be interested to see if it clears up people's confusion (@krystalynn03) with genre and suggestions on how to bring that into the first chapter.


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Hee-hee. You guys are going to have so much fun. This was my first encounter with Origon Cyrysi and still lives large in my memory.

Those were the days (but these also are the days...)

Can I make a pre-order for my copy now?

Edited by Robinski
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27 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Hee-hee. You guys are going to have so much fun. This was my first encounter with Origon Cyrysi and still lives large in my memory.

Those were the days (but these also are the days...)

Can I make a pre-order for my copy now?


I may actually have pre-orders later this year O_o

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9 hours ago, kaisa said:

I'm going to have to start a shelf just for RE books!

I need to do that too! I already have one of Andrew Knighton's short story collections--he was on here a while ago.

5 hours ago, Robinski said:

How flipping cool would that be? So far I have two compact Bill Tracy volumes, this one will be bigger!

Over twice as big! I'm going to start working with the artist early on this one, probably after this draft is done.

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Oh! Hello modern era, I did not expect you to visit.

You described how the aunt pronounced "house" and "out" near the beginning of the fourth page, but it looks like you took out the word "out" from her dialogue at some point.

Anyway, on to the story itself. The beginning, with its emphasis on cold, made me think of ghosts. When the character's aunt showed up, I was certain one of the two was actually dead.

The mentions about the collection kept by this viewpoint character was odd enough to think of something more ominous. For a time I had the impression that the viewpoint character was a killer of some sort who was haunted by victims. The Tell-Tale Heart sprang to mind.

In the final two pages, though, I figured out that it wasn't such a dark story. Not dark in the way I'm thinking, at least, since the aunt is unquestionably dead.

I'm expecting him to arrive in another universe that's less modern. Wild speculation on my part.

Overall, it starts with a very creepy tone. The tone leaked into my impressions on the genre and the viewpoint character's personality, and I'm now unsure of how dark or light the rest of the story will be.

Good overall hook. If it turns out to be a fantasy, I'd guess it's a very high stakes fantasy. From how the chapter ends, I'm almost certain that this entire universe froze over.

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Thanks @Vreeah! Fixed the sentence with "out." It somehow got deleted...

Let me know how the switch from chapter 1 to 2 works for you. Some guesses are in the right direction, but not completely right--no ghosts, though! I can see how the cold would make you think that. It's a different sort of energy drain.

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I just read this to prep for reading your new Chapter 2 and thought I'd give my comments.  (I think I read that right, that you're resubmitting Chapter 2 soon - if not, I'll read your old Chapter 2 before I read Chapter 3!)

I have to say I had mixed feelings about the epigraph.  I like how it prepped me for interpreting the sudden extreme cold as a new manifestation of magic.  However, it felt a little awkward.  It didn't have the usual dramatic flair of epigraphs - it read very much like a textbook - and I was confused if Sam was actually reading those words once you mentioned that he had a book.

I'm definitely interested in the hook, both with the situation and the character.  I'm a little sad that Sam was sucked out of the world so fast, and I don't get to watch him struggle against the environment more.  Otherwise, I think Sam is really interesting.  I'm excited to get to know him and see how his fear of the outside affects him.  And the way he's super obedient to his aunt feels like he's got some submissive tendencies.  I thought his situation came across well.  I like his collection of outside "relics."

My biggest point of confusion/disbelief is about Martha's death.  It made me confused about Sam's relationship to her, since he didn't seem upset about her death.  And I assume she died of the cold after reading the whole chapter, but at the time, the way you describe it, it seems like she might be dying of natural causes, due to being frailer than she lets on.

A few specifics:

His room had boxes with books...
There's so much going on in this sentence that I had to read it twice, but the reveal at the end came across nicely.

This far south it should only get this cold...
A little repetitive considering the beginning of the previous paragraph.

If the power outage kept up, he couldn’t log in...
Again, enough going on that I had to read twice.

He snuck a glance up at his aunt, but she only watched...
The aunt has officially made the turn towards creepy.

...suddenly aware of how much willpower she had to keep going this long.
Against the cold, or her age?

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