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2.10.14 - Dark Matter Memories 001


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Hey everybody.
I'm writing a series of interconnected stories (or parts) that make up a larger epic (if I'm allowed to use that word). This is the first 1/4 or so of the first part. Please hold nothing back in your criticism. Thanks!

Some of these stories will have mild L,V,S, and/or D, but nothing too bad.

Edited by hawkedup
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It's an intriguing start. The conflict is clearly set up and there are mysteries to be addressed. That's a good start plot-wise.


In terms of writing style it was a bit exposition-heavy for my tastes. A lot of what's going on is directly explained, rather than shown through events, description, dialogue, or other aspects of the story.


There was some weirdly specific stuff around time and numbers, like 'exactly ten seconds' to open a door and all the counting of shamblers and the time to shoot them in the fight. It's a very calculating way for people to see the world, and seemed to replace getting into their emotional state.
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Thank you for your comments, Andy!


One of my biggest obstacles as a writer has always been overcoming the info dump. Was it so much that it took you out of the story? Believe it or not, most of the work on the working draft stage of this story has been trying to find a good balance between show and tell, which consists of me cutting a lot of just pure exposition. I shudder to think of my earlier drafts.


Sometimes I have to put information early so the payoff later is better, I understand that, but it's really hard for me to find where that line is. Maybe because I'm too close to it. So if you, and everyone, could look out for any points in my stories where the info dump becomes distracting, point it out? Like which paragraph, yadda yadda yadda? You have no idea how helpful this would be!


I have to be perfectly honest, I didn't even notice the use of specific numbers but even looking forward in the stories I see I use numbers a lot (not just in action sequences, either). I need to a- fix this or b- figure out why it works in the story and do it more! :D

Edited by hawkedup
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The infodumps did knock me out of the story a bit, but I'm very averse to anything even slightly info-dumpy, so I'd wait for feedback from others before worrying about it too much. I'll keep an eye out next time for specific places where it's a problem so you've got examples to work with.

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This has some potential, and I'm interested enough to read more.  The biggest things I see are lots of telling, instead of showing.  I also agree with andyk on infodumping.  The ones I saw were on page 4: most of the page, page 7: mid page, page 11, and page 13.


You actually get more reader interest by plopping something strange in front of them, and then outlining the general meaning while event occur rather than pre-loading information so they know what's going on.


The "cast in a movie" comparisons were also kind of weird.


The dialogue is a little stilted.  I think some parts may be too formal for the characters that are saying them.  You can streamline a little by taking out "he said"-isms when you have that character doing an action:

"Why am I not surprised to find you here?" the Historian asked, turning to the Jester.

-> "Why am I not surprised to find you here?"  The Historian turned to the Jester.


“Would you care for some tea?” the Jester asked, with a smile. He gestured for Maria to bring the Historian a cup. 

-> “Would you care for some tea?”  The Jester, with a smile, gestured for Maria to bring the Historian a cup.



A couple inconsistencies:

pg 2: "Then, at that very same moment,"

--it would be the next moment, if you've used "then"


pg 7: "Too bad it would be another half-hour before Jaime and his team could retreat. They had to wait until it was safe for them to slip between dimensions again, otherwise they could kill themselves."

--Then why didn't they go with Mu'pe?  I presume there's a reason, but I didn't catch it.

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Thanks for the reply Mandamon. I definitely see what you mean about the dialogue tags. As for the infodumps, thanks for pointing out the parts that you noticed most! I'll definitely mark them so I can pay special attention to them in my next run through. I have a lot of showing later and I'm trying to balance that early, but you're right. If it takes the reader out of the story, then it doesn't matter how much showing I do later because the reader will never get there!


The cast in a movie thing is specific to Jaime's personality traits and that is played with more later. He's part Abed. Let me know if it stays as awkward as you felt this reference was as the story goes on? Thanks!


On your final comment: What's going on there is that they have to wait a certain amount of time between slips and 43 minutes is generally considered to be safe (though I play with this a lot later). At the point when they send Mu'pe to Earth One, the team has only been in his dimension for about 10 minutes so therefore they have to wait the remaining 30 minutes before they can follow him.

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I have to say I really liked this.


I actually really appreciated the quirky movie cast element in the character description, it made me automatically make an association with how these people look without needing a mass of physical description. What isnt clear though is that this is Jaime's line of thought until it comes to him thinking on not casting himself. It seems more like the narrator is establishing the characters and then you switch to Jaime who gives an indication that these are his opinions but there is no real clarity on this. 


As Mandamon pointed out one of the things that confused me was why they had to wait before they could leave, you include so much information with regards to everything else but on this only part of the information is provided. 


In particular I really enjoyed the style, you kept a humorous edge with dialogue that made me much more appreciative of the characters development. I wasn't particularly phased by any info dumping as I felt you kept a good balance with action and dialogue. The story also kept pace so I wasn't clogged down in the story at any one time. 


What I did wonder was how the jester discovered Kara Howill, by accident? or is there a story to build out around this as well. Just seemed a bit odd that he would watch someone for 3 days without giving an indication as to how he came to know of her existence. 


Overall I think this story has masses of potential, It felt original and interesting. It was nice to read something that exists outside of the generic set up for sci-fi/fantasy if that makes sense. The different style of writing was a definite plus, it made the tale fresh and I didn't feel like I was reading someone trying to copy a notable writer. The style is your own.


Keep going!

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(Edit: He, he - these are just my comments on Jamie, more to come!!)

In general, I enjoyed this, and would like to read more. For me it has quite light hearted tone, almost cartoonish. The Sapphires sound a bit like comic book villains, laughing maniacally as they reek destruction, and killing children first, which seems to have no logic other than to make them seem unspeakably evil.

I feel that the fight should have more of an impact. I found the description of it rather bland. The group take down shamblers one after another in an endless stream – it sounds like a slaughter – but there’s no tension.

I found the movie references a bit strange. You might get away with one, but there are at least two or three, which as they cropped up again, threw me out of the story, it was a bit too ‘meta’ for me, as was the reference to science fiction. Having reader the others’ comments now, I see I wasn’t the only one.

I had no problem following the time line before they could jump back, but I think it would be better to reveal the reason why they can’t jump back (weakness?), earlier, to indicate what’s at stake.

Detailed comments below.


Page 5

‘...but we've heard of the Sapphires tearing up entire dimensions for less’ sounds like maid-and-butler dialogue that the reader is only hearing so that they get the information. If they have all heard of this then there is no need for Vibali to say it.

I don’t see a reason given for why Jamie is frustrated, as there’s no suggestion that they encounter any guards or any people at all until they get to the common room. I don’t see how either of them knows how many people there are until they reach the room.

Page 6

I'm not sure the sticky on the door makes sense. It may make the hinge unbreakable, but a battering ram would still be capable of breaking the door apart, surely.

At the foot of the page, why is it unsafe for them to transfer back? To me the lack of any explanation undermines the notion.

Page 7

There seems to be a missing word. ‘...the lesser monsters from (?????) would be showing up soon.’

If the lesser monsters always turn up, why would Viabli say that is was almost anti-climactic, given that she must know the monsters are coming.

Page 9

Every time a shambler is shot you use the term ‘take down’, it gets repetitive very quickly, and as a description of a beat being eliminated, isn’t very graphic or exciting.

I'm not quite sure what to feel when the reference to host bodies come in at the foot of the page, as I didn’t find it all that clear as to what was going on. Are you saying that the shamblers’ bodies belonged to humans?

Here now, at the foot of the page, is a reference to the reason why they can’t jump back until 43 minutes have passed, but I think it would have more impact if we understood this up front.

Page 10

How can Jamie see all dimensions at once? Surely, in some of them, there would be people in the alley. Would they look like shadows if they are not in his current dimension? One way or another, would that not be a huge distraction?

Edited by Robinski
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Thank you both for your comments!


A few things.


Some of the things you mention I specifically took out of these chapters because they felt like too much information. Hopefully I deliver the explanations soon enough and well enough that their omission here won't be too distracting.


I was watching the Sanderson lecture where they mention building reader trust. It's sort of what my entire mindset behind writing this book has been. Introduce early, pay off later. However, since I don't have a name for myself to let me get away with too steep a learning curve, I'm hoping to build even the smallest bit of reader trust early by omitting small things making the reader ask "Why?" about minor things only to have those answers within 10 or 20. That way the reader sort of has a sense of closure throughout the story. Does that make any sense at all?


Random tangent. Sorry.


Adding and adapting the other things you mention has, I can already tell, made the draft that much better. The explaining the 43 minutes thing earlier, for example, because it gives the chapter a little bit more of a ticking timebomb feel, but not too much.


Also, just wanna warn everyone. For lack of a better word, Jaime is very 'meta' and spoiler alert sometime later it gets to the point of a mental breakdown. It's at the base of his character and character arc. Once he's established, I hope it's a little bit less jarring to the reader. His primary job on the team is to study and understand the cultures of different dimensions, and he does this through studying what they consider entertainment or pop culture. I'm really hoping this character pans out, but yes, please let me know which and when the references work and when they are too much. I also don't want to lean on the references as a crutch.


So, give him a couple parts to warm up to, but if after so many submissions he still isn't working please please please let me know in no unscertain terms because I'll have to rework the character and I don't want to trap myself.


How can Jamie see all dimensions at once? Surely, in some of them, there would be people in the alley. Would they look like shadows if they are not in his current dimension? One way or another, would that not be a huge distraction?



Which part are you refering to? If I imply Jaime can see into all dimensions at once, that needs to be gone because he definitely can't do that. When they first slip into a new dimension, they don't know what is waiting for them on the other side. The tech they use to travel between dimensions makes sure it isn't depositing them in a wall or something. Maybe that's what you're talking about? 

Edited by hawkedup
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(So, comments on Jester now, sorry for the disconnect, I thought I was finished!)


It's right at the end of the first Jaime section "Where are you? Jaime wondered, staring down the alleyway, seeing all dimensions at once."


Having now read the remainder, I must say i enjoyed the Jester section more then Jaime. For me it came across with a superhero/villain kind of feel, not least perhaps because of the names (the Jester made me think of the Comedian in Watchmen for some reason). Vastly more powerful beings than those round them keeping out of sight as momentous events move towards an earthshattering conclusion.


The Jester's plotting sets up an interesting conflict that I look forward to developing, and I tihnk this is at the heart of why I found this section more interesting. Hopefully Team Magenta will be developed with some interesting traits and conflicts too.


I look forward to reading more!

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I better change that sentence. I was meant to be metaphorical but major fail.


Thank you for your comments! I originally started the book with the Jester chapter, but when Team Magenta showed up later to extract Kara it felt a bit rushed so I thought showing them going about an unrelated extraction would help solidify the characters later. Hopefully this worked!

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Wow, looking forward to reading them trying to extract Kara!


I think you're right to show them going through a standard extraction before a more meaningful and significant one, and I expect it will be more effective to see Kara in subjugation and understand what Magenta are up against before they go in. I think our first encounter with Magenta, as it is the opening of the story, could be a bit more exciting. I guess what I was trying to get at before was that I didn't get a sense that they were in any great peril.

Edited by Robinski
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