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Feb 3 - Kuiper - The Wasting Room


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The Wasting Room is a story I'm currently working on, and at the pace I'm going I expect the final word count to put it in the novelette range.  I've plotted and outlined the broad strokes of the story, but I'm still trying to get a feel for the pacing and characters while effectively building the world.  I appreciate feedback on anything you find notable, good or bad.

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I'm certainly pulled in by the first chapter.  Even though the reader knows almost nothing of the POV character's description--even gender--you've shown how this person operates and how clever he/she is.  Very Sherlock-esque in deduction, with magic thrown in.


There isn't much description of anything but people, but the dialogue, or monologue, is almost rich enough to make up for it.  I'd like a little more detail of where the main character meets up with Eril.


Still no name to the main character by the end of chapter 2.  I'm guessing it's a male (from "oaf"), but I could be wrong.  


Overall, this is very good, and intriguing.  I want to read more to find out more about the main character.  Looking back, he/she seems to find Lord Rolondo by accident, so I'm not sure where this is going yet, except that the murderer is the next target, to get the ten bottles of aether.  I'm willing to read a few more chapters to find out what else is going on in this story.


I didn't have any problem with the pacing, and you paint very effective character descriptions, solely with their actions and words.


Looking forward to more!

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I enjoyed these first chapters, I think there’s an interesting story here, and you reveal just enough about the special powers that are prevalent to make me want to read on, and I will do, but I had a significant issue with the dialogue which in several places, for me, sounds very unnatural.


There are long tracts of conversation that, in the ‘real world’ of human interaction would be much shorter and less wordy, probably with some of the ideas remaining in the mind of the speakers. I appreciate that this might make the conversation longer, but I think that is the reality of conveying that amount of information verbally.


Detailed comments below, written as I read. Apologies for the grammar points, but there were a couple that broke the flow as I was reading.




Chapter 1 - Page 1


I like the first paragraph, it captured my attention, nice flow to it, and first page flows from that, extending the idea, so far so good.


‘A lowly...’ fooled me, I thought there was a word missing. I don’t mind the name, but its first appearance tripped me up at first for that reason.


Page 2


‘...making it a trivial matter for me...’ I think.


I'm having a bit of trouble with the ‘tail’ being unnoticeable after his mark has cut down an alley. Is he not the only other person there, and would that not make him noticeable purely because of his presence, regardless of how anonymous he looks?


Page 4


There reference to burning aether sounds rather like burning metals in Mistborn, and why would you burn aether when it is air, would that not break it down, leaving nothing to manipulate?


There’s a fair bit of word repetition in the last few lines, which is quite distracting, several ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ and then two instances of ‘aether’ used close together.


Page 5


I don’t find the conversation between the two criminals very convincing. They converse in very melodramatic language. It’s like listening to a stage play, so when words like ‘ugly mug’ (Page 6) come along, they sound out of place.


Also, the supplier (or the thief) of the aether sounds incredibly naive. Not impossible of course, but I think it makes the encounter less convincing. It wouldn’t take much addition for the buyer to reveal to the thief that some ‘heavies’ that the thief had hired to watch his back during the exchange had been done away with, so he needn’t expect them to burst in a save him, for example.


Page 7


Vanity and pride sound similar, so I presume you mean Baritone has pride in his abilities, rather than being vain about his hair.


Cleverer rather than ‘more clever’, I think.


Chapter 2 - Page 9/10


The discussion between Eril and the protagonist is very ‘maid-and-butler’, i.e. it feels like the discussion is only taking place so the reader can hear these facts. It sounds like they’re reading from a guide book or historical text, a rather blatant info dump, to my ear anyway.


The above point dominates this conversation, but once past it, I rather like the interplay between them. ‘Like I said, I came here because I need information. Knowing everything is your job.’ is nice line.


Another dialogue problem, linked to previous comments. Eril’s speech about Rolondo took 75 seconds to read. People just don’t speak like that. It’s like a lecture.


Their closeness and the tactile nature of the encounter make it feel quite sensuous, but the dialog is completely out of step with that.


In summary, there are things that I enjoyed here, but I feel that the dialog needs a bit of an overhaul. I'm keen to read more though, to see how things develop. I like the anonymity of the main character, which is intriguing, and Eril has a sassy tone about her which I also like.

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@Mandamon: After reading the chapter with Eril again, I agree that there may be too much left to speculation regarding the protagonist's identity. My intention was to avoid giving the protagonist too much description since these details, for the most part, simply don't matter for the story I'm trying to tell. However, lack of information can also be distracting, and perhaps leaving the protagonist's gender up for question is going a bit too far. As a side note, the original draft of the story actually included Eril and the protagonist addressing each other by name, but after I decided that the nature of their relationship was such that they would probably be inclined to avoid addressing each other by name in a public setting.

@Robinski: I agree that the dialog is a definite weak point, both in terms of the characters' language and diction choice seeming somewhat unwieldy (during the eavesdropping sequence) and the info dumps (during the meeting with Eril). As the story isn't yet complete, I'm still figuring out some of the characters, and there may be significant changes in character voice in subsequent draft. I'll definitely go over the portions you highlighted in detail during the revision process.

For future stories, I'll consider writing a more substantial amount and then going back to revise for dialog and character building before I begin submitting. In this case, the first two chapters actually represent a fairly significant portion of the story (roughly 1/3 at the rate I'm writing) so I wanted to get feedback sooner rather than later about what was working and what wasn't. Based on your feedback, it sounds like I was able to do most of what I set out to achieve in the first couple chapters, so thanks very much for taking time to read and critique.

Edited by Kuiper
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  • 3 weeks later...

I just got around to reading this one, and apologize of the tardiness of this critique. I also apologize in advance for how wordy it will be but we're all writers and this is my first critique, so sue me for over typing a bit.


First off I'd like to say that it was very intriguing overall, and based of these first two chapters, I would love to fallow the story further. I enjoyed the idea that the opening paragraph presented, and really loved the quick reference to the whole air adept theme of eavesdropping that would come later with the line "Hone this craft, and you’ll be able to pick out minute details even in the midst of a sea of noise". I would say that the first paragraph gives me the feeling of being an outside observer, and for some inexplicable reason I was picturing your protagonist as viewing the foot traffic from a distant window until you mentioned that he fallowed the fake lowly. 


Now the fact that you don't mention gender, or any other physical trait of your protagonist in chapter one, did not interrupt my experience of your story in the slightest. Although I would warn that if it had turned out to be a female character it would've interrupted my visualization of the story. I would've liked an indicator of some sort early on, because many people(myself included) assume male unless proven female.


You did a great job of portraying your protagonist as an expert with all the hints dropped form his analysis of the lesser criminal named Rolondo. In chapter two I would like to have at least a small definite indicator of gender, though the question of whether or not they appeared to be lovers lead me to believe that the protagonist is male.


As far as their dialogue goes, I wasn't off put by anything in the way of their speech. I think that there are characters that you give distinct dialects for world building purposes, and there are those that you want to be quickly and easily understood. I would suggest that you have a reasonably common character have a special way of speech, but I would keep your main characters speaking nuances to a minimum or else you'll risk confusing your audience or interrupting their view of the story(plus it would get tedious to have to remember to throw in an "aye" or what not every time you have dialogue).  I would think that readability trumps a slight deepening of the setting, even if it means using sparse modern nomenclature to effectively convey the characters thoughts and opinions in an efficient manor. 


Once again I would like to say I want to see more of this. I'd like to add that I was rarely aware that I was reading because I was caught up in the experience of the story, which is an awesome thing to be able to do.

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Just catching up on my last week's homework before the new week starts. :)


I gotta say... this was really slick. I was pulled right into the story and really enjoyed the read. I just pretty much blew right through the whole thing without getting bumped out of the story more than a few times.


I really enjoyed the interaction between Eril and the main character.


I did find some of the first parts a little jumpy at first. The first person present tense thing always makes me feel like things are a little rapid fire. I just think I don't much care for that type of perspective/voice... but even with that, I started got involved enough in the story that I didn't notice after the first few pages.


Some minor technical nits...


You use the word "quite" several times.  4-5, I think, and in one case you use it twice in two sentences. You also use "very", "clearly" and some other similar words that don't contribute much and can probably be stricken.


In the section with the two voices talking about bottles of aether... you say bottles mostly, but barrels once.  I assume it's just a slip.


One more thing I wanted to mention was along the lines of originality... you're "burning aether". I can't help but think of mistborn with this. Also you have "adepts" propelling themselves through the sky on air... and you have the four elements in play. This rings a lot of Avatar (Nickelodeon's cartoon serial).  Not that you can't do stuff that has been done before, but it just caught my attention so I figured I should mention it.


Still... all very enjoyable. I have very few comments because I just thought it was very cool.  Looking forward to the next installment.

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