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Old 03-18-2012, 05:48 PM   #301
Ink Asylum
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Oh geez. Mass Effect 3 totally blew everything else out of my mind.

Let me figure out where we stand.
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Old 03-18-2012, 05:50 PM   #302
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Before you begin discussing it, I'd like to stress that my entry is NOT intended to be anything more than an interesting story, as well as an exercise in "improv writing"(as I refer to the act of crafting and developing a story/plot as it is being written). That said, I do have a good idea of the general direction of the plot and where I want it to go, I just feel more comfortable "improvising" and letting the specifics of the plot evolve on their own.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:49 PM   #303
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Thank you, spambot, for reminding me to deal with this thread. I'll make sure to download Dork's story tonight. How about we read Dork's work and start commenting on it on Friday the 30th?

Crittias, will you have something for us to review by that date?
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:03 PM   #304
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Thank you, spambot, for reminding me to deal with this thread. I'll make sure to download Dork's story tonight. How about we read Dork's work and start commenting on it on Friday the 30th?

Crittias, will you have something for us to review by that date?
Sounds good. And yes, I'll have something ready.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:22 PM   #305
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Sorry for not responding in so long, but with a pregnant wife I just forgot about this.

Dork, I read your story, but will need to go over it again before remarking.

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I think that's fine. But I also think it deserves a mention. Instead of having a father figure, or even a grandfather figure, she has a great-grandfather figure. It's unusual enough to address, even if it's just a short paragraph or a few lines of dialog.
I had a big plan about her grandparents (both died when her mother was very young) and was going to explain it eventually, bit maybe I need to move it forward. Do you think I still need to mention her father?
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:01 PM   #306
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REMINDER TO ALL: My story is in a thread on this site in this part of the forums. It's not something you DL.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:20 PM   #307
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Is this thread still on, or have we abandoned it? It's late night on the 30th, and no one has yet commented on mine.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:33 PM   #308
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Sorry. I've been slacking. I need to set aside some time to read it in that thread you linked to. I'll do it this weekend.
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Old 03-30-2012, 10:28 PM   #309
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I'm dreadfully behind, as I've said before. I belatedly sent comments to Ink awhile back and will do the same for everyone else...I just won't be able to discuss things in the thread. I'm still on Blue's story, so a few stories behind.
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:41 PM   #310
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I read it. Here are my comments.

First, a few disclaimers. I'm familiar with the Oblivion/Morrowind universe, but not completely versed in all of its specifics. Also, I'm usually not a fan of stories with lots of imaginary terminology and created languages. It's merely a matter of taste: I'm not judging the story based upon that criteria, but I'm sure it affects my take on things.

Overall I really enjoyed the storyline. You have an interesting, conflicted protagonist that you "push down the stairs" on a regular basis. Your other characters are well-described and your settings are great.

I felt like a lot of your chapters are very short. I would like to see more. More exposition, more action, more background info. There's room to flesh out this story.

There are some spots where things seem to jump, and ignore facts from previous passages. For instance, From Chapter 3 to Chapter 4: what happened to M'Na's injuries? I thought he had broken ribs? Suddenly he's fighting with his new trainer? Also, why would he sweare fealty to a complete stranger? How has his new master proven himself worthy? The current story doesn't give us any legitimate reason. Again, this leads me back to the request for more fleshing out of the existing story, to fill in the gaps, and slow down the pace a little.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'm happy to discuss further if you have specific questions.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:09 PM   #311
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Alright, everyone where are the comments on Dork's story? It's not long, it's quite good, and it deserves your attention. I urge everyone to find 20-30 minutes to read it and provide some feedback.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:46 PM   #312
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Yeah, I was wondering what was taking everyone so long.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:38 AM   #313
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Sorry for the delay on this. No excuses, just procrastination. Here's my thoughts:

As a writing exercise it's fine, but if it were a full-fledged story it jumps around too quickly from important scene to important scene, and the chapters themselves are short and hurried. Again, if you just want to practice technique and plot-building that's not a problem.

You have good technique, and when you take the time to flesh out a scene you evoke some great images, but there are a number of times you miss opportunities to do so. At other times, though, you rely too much on cliched lines like "her decision would change her life, as well as the life of the clan." Foreboding text like that isn't necessary if you can convey the gravity of the moment naturally, through tension and actions.

Reading some of the other advice in the thread you linked, I agree that you need to be very wary of turning M'Na into a Mary Sue. He has a lot of the hallmarks already: an orphan, an outcast in his tribe because of something he can't change, natural talent and skill in roguish ways, the plot falling into his lap.

It's easy to cross the Mary Sue line without realizing it. The best way to avoid it is to make your character have to actively work to move toward his goal, and to have him fail due to real weaknesses he'll eventually overcome. Also, when you have someone interacting with your character, are they treating him differently than they would someone else in a similar situation?

The scene where the mentor rescues M'Na from thugs then recruits him on the spot because he sees potential in him set off a lot of warning bells. It tells us there's something special about M'Na instead of showing us. It would have been better to have the mentor save him in a less flashy way, perhaps by noticing his intent and stopping him from engaging the Orcs at all, giving him some advice, then leaving. Make M'Na take the initiative and try to convince the mentor to teach him more, perhaps following him around and showing his persistence and what skill he already has.

For a full story the twist happens to quickly and comes out of nowhere. It should be something built up to over much of the story, if the mentor/student relationship is supposed to be important. M'Na and the reader should both have time and reason to trust the mentor before his betrayal is revealed. Also, we'll need some reason to understand why the mentor didn't just leave M'Na to die. Why risk taking him along?

It's a good start, and if you're just doing this as an exercise then you don't have to go back and revise it, but it you want to make it a larger story it will need some work.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:43 AM   #314
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Yeah, It's mainly an exercise, but I also am just writing it because I found the idea interesting. I'm not really intending to do anything serious with this story, it's just fun for me. Thanks for the advice, though--I'll definitely take it into account.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:18 AM   #315
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Crittias: I'm over halfway through your work right now, and figured I'd get some of my thoughts out before I forgot them.

Before I get to the end, is this a complete book or the first part of one?

For starters, I'm really enjoying the read. The characters are interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. I'm reading it on the subway, so I may miss some details that would answer some of the concerns I have. Such as, when does this story take place? Is it an alternate version of the present, or a decade or two in the future?

The way you link some of the chapter transitions with mirrored fictional references (Superman, Wizard of Oz, Moby Dick) is jarring and awkward. They just don't flow naturally into or out of the rest of the scene. I like a good echo cut, but in this particular story I think you could do it more subtly by ditching the fictional references and matching the tone or topic itself.

I just got past the introduction of Synch, and that part really fell flat for me for a couple reasons. First, the high degree of levity feels out of place. I'm not sure the heist needs a wacky character, but if it does tone down the wackiness. The Most Interesting Man In The World gag is already stale. I think you can win me over with this character later, he has a lot of potential, but so far it seems squandered on easy jokes.

Second, Aiden knows this guy well enough already that Crow's info-dump about his history and abilities feels very forced. I don't know if Crow lampshading that after the fact helps or hurts, but I think on revision you can edit down the biography, or find a way to drip-feed it more naturally into the story.

Speaking of Aiden, I don't know much about the guy yet, is that intentional? He has access to a lot of money and he's the mastermind. Outside of that, he's an enigma. He also bounces around a lot between being a skilled professional, and being panicked and gobsmacked. I don't buy that he could've gotten to where he is without being more calm and unflappable, or that he has any chance of pulling off the kind of heist he's organizing. Bickering with Crow, who's also mostly a mystery, doesn't help. By this point in a heist story I think we should've learned more about both of them, and how they know each other. Maybe a prologue focused on the two of them before they start recruiting?

You should do more with the recruits you have so far. For the most part Aiden and Crow have collected them quickly and then stuffed them in a mansion, where they've sat around twiddling their thumbs. Is there anything they can be doing as part of the heist in the meantime? If not, you should probably space out their introductions more, bringing them into the story only when they're going to be needed, the way you have for Synch.

I think you're spending too much of the story on completing Herman's recruitment, which is contributing to the previous issue. There are too many steps to that process for someone who isn't the main character. I would take the corporate break-in and tie that into the actual heist. Let Viktor build a chip for Herman, and have the need for a surgeon be the only hiccup in that plan.

One last note for now. While I may get to the reason later, so far Paula's parallel espionage is oddly devoid of purpose. As such, the beginning parts of it weren't as compelling as what Aiden was doing with his team. Are her initial encounters with Ben important later on? If not, I think you can trim down her introduction, maybe to the point of only having her show up right before Sonya attempts her break-in.

Ok, that was a lot more than I thought I was going to write. Like I said, I'm really enjoying it so far, I'm just bringing up the constructive criticisms first.
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:17 AM   #316
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Thank you for the early feedback! Your comments are all on-point, and mostly due to the fact that this manuscript is a NaNo manuscript, so it was developed on the fly, without much preplanning whatsoever. I'll briefly address each of your concerns/questions:
  1. This is an incomplete manuscript. I'd say it's about 80% complete.
  2. The story takes place in the near future.
  3. The mirrored chapter transitions was a means to keep myself motivated day to day during November. I'll likely lose them in the editing process, as they did indeed feel forced during my initial reread.
  4. I like the corniness of Synch, but I'll take your suggestions under advisement. Any infodumps you find in the story will get parsed out better during editing. Many times, I'm infodumping to inform myself as much as anything else.
  5. Aiden was initially supposed to be the calm, cool, collected career criminal/businessman. Then when I started writing the story, he ended up whiny and incompetent. I've retouched a few of his scenes, but now he's schizophrenic. I agree, a stronger backstory for him, including a motivation, will likely fix the issue.
  6. Pacing is a definite concern. I'll have to rearrange some scenes and chop some of the tedious sitting-around-the-mansion stuff.
  7. The chip that they steal from Buenos Aires has a terrible side-effect on Herman (not yet written, just hinted at). That's why I need them to steal it: if Viktor built the chip, it would work correctly. I'll think about ways to punch up Paula's purpose. Ben does come back into the story later.

Thanks again!

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Crittias: I'm over halfway through your work right now, and figured I'd get some of my thoughts out before I forgot them.

Before I get to the end, is this a complete book or the first part of one?

For starters, I'm really enjoying the read. The characters are interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. I'm reading it on the subway, so I may miss some details that would answer some of the concerns I have. Such as, when does this story take place? Is it an alternate version of the present, or a decade or two in the future?

The way you link some of the chapter transitions with mirrored fictional references (Superman, Wizard of Oz, Moby Dick) is jarring and awkward. They just don't flow naturally into or out of the rest of the scene. I like a good echo cut, but in this particular story I think you could do it more subtly by ditching the fictional references and matching the tone or topic itself.

I just got past the introduction of Synch, and that part really fell flat for me for a couple reasons. First, the high degree of levity feels out of place. I'm not sure the heist needs a wacky character, but if it does tone down the wackiness. The Most Interesting Man In The World gag is already stale. I think you can win me over with this character later, he has a lot of potential, but so far it seems squandered on easy jokes.

Second, Aiden knows this guy well enough already that Crow's info-dump about his history and abilities feels very forced. I don't know if Crow lampshading that after the fact helps or hurts, but I think on revision you can edit down the biography, or find a way to drip-feed it more naturally into the story.

Speaking of Aiden, I don't know much about the guy yet, is that intentional? He has access to a lot of money and he's the mastermind. Outside of that, he's an enigma. He also bounces around a lot between being a skilled professional, and being panicked and gobsmacked. I don't buy that he could've gotten to where he is without being more calm and unflappable, or that he has any chance of pulling off the kind of heist he's organizing. Bickering with Crow, who's also mostly a mystery, doesn't help. By this point in a heist story I think we should've learned more about both of them, and how they know each other. Maybe a prologue focused on the two of them before they start recruiting?

You should do more with the recruits you have so far. For the most part Aiden and Crow have collected them quickly and then stuffed them in a mansion, where they've sat around twiddling their thumbs. Is there anything they can be doing as part of the heist in the meantime? If not, you should probably space out their introductions more, bringing them into the story only when they're going to be needed, the way you have for Synch.

I think you're spending too much of the story on completing Herman's recruitment, which is contributing to the previous issue. There are too many steps to that process for someone who isn't the main character. I would take the corporate break-in and tie that into the actual heist. Let Viktor build a chip for Herman, and have the need for a surgeon be the only hiccup in that plan.

One last note for now. While I may get to the reason later, so far Paula's parallel espionage is oddly devoid of purpose. As such, the beginning parts of it weren't as compelling as what Aiden was doing with his team. Are her initial encounters with Ben important later on? If not, I think you can trim down her introduction, maybe to the point of only having her show up right before Sonya attempts her break-in.

Ok, that was a lot more than I thought I was going to write. Like I said, I'm really enjoying it so far, I'm just bringing up the constructive criticisms first.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:02 PM   #317
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This is an incomplete manuscript. I'd say it's about 80% complete.
Ok. Just wondering how much of the book involves building the team and how much involves the actual heist.

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I like the corniness of Synch, but I'll take your suggestions under advisement.
Like I said, he could grow on me. So far, I'm up to him introducing himself as the doctor to Herman's wife. If you do one thing, ditch the Most Interesting Man bit. Avoid any kind of pop reference which hasn't been proven to stand the test of time.

Here's an idea I had. You have a character who can be a perfect mimic, yet you miss the opportunity to trick your audience with him. Instead of having Aiden flip out about Synch, have them bring him into the story while already in his surgeon persona. The reader will just think he's a splinter-enhanced specialist like all the others. Wait until after he's done his surgery to reveal to both the other characters and the reader that he's even more special. As a bonus, you make Aiden look more clever and competent.

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Aiden was initially supposed to be the calm, cool, collected career criminal/businessman. Then when I started writing the story, he ended up whiny and incompetent. I've retouched a few of his scenes, but now he's schizophrenic. I agree, a stronger backstory for him, including a motivation, will likely fix the issue.
I think you should transfer some of his freakouts over to Crow. He already acts put-upon most of the time. Being neurotic about unexpected twists fits his personality more than Aiden's.

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Pacing is a definite concern. I'll have to rearrange some scenes and chop some of the tedious sitting-around-the-mansion stuff.
If anything, at least delay Sutter's introduction until he's integral to the plot.

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The chip that they steal from Buenos Aires has a terrible side-effect on Herman (not yet written, just hinted at). That's why I need them to steal it: if Viktor built the chip, it would work correctly. I'll think about ways to punch up Paula's purpose. Ben does come back into the story later.
Tricky. It just seems like half the book is about recruiting Herman. Unless he's more important than he seems to be, that ends up being a lot of build-up for whatever the side-effect ends up being. Is there no other way to work that into the story?
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:22 PM   #318
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Instead of having Aiden flip out about Synch, have them bring him into the story while already in his surgeon persona. The reader will just think he's a splinter-enhanced specialist like all the others. Wait until after he's done his surgery to reveal to both the other characters and the reader that he's even more special. As a bonus, you make Aiden look more clever and competent.
I like this idea. I'll give it some thought, but it could definitely work.

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I think you should transfer some of his freakouts over to Crow. He already acts put-upon most of the time. Being neurotic about unexpected twists fits his personality more than Aiden's.
That's exactly the plan. Just hasn't completely happened yet.

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If anything, at least delay Sutter's introduction until he's integral to the plot.
Easily done.

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Tricky. It just seems like half the book is about recruiting Herman. Unless he's more important than he seems to be, that ends up being a lot of build-up for whatever the side-effect ends up being. Is there no other way to work that into the story?
Not sure. I think I'll finish the manuscript first, then consider whether or not I should shift/change the chip abduction. And yeah, Herman ends up being important. I might even move his scene to Chapter One at some point, to show the reader he's kinda the main character, rather than Aiden. Again, not sure yet.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:31 PM   #319
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I like this idea. I'll give it some thought, but it could definitely work.
Remember, the best heist stories surprise the reader just as much as they do the mark, if not more so. Never pass up an opportunity to play with an audience's expectations in this kind of story.

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Not sure. I think I'll finish the manuscript first, then consider whether or not I should shift/change the chip abduction. And yeah, Herman ends up being important. I might even move his scene to Chapter One at some point, to show the reader he's kinda the main character, rather than Aiden. Again, not sure yet.
As the Mythbusters are fond of saying: Well, there's your problem. I had no idea that was the case. If Herman is supposed to be more important to the plot than Aiden you'll definitely need to make some changes. I think you might want to ask whether Herman should be that important or if your natural focus on Aiden means something. Is this a story about a grounded pilot who gets another chance to fly? Or is it a sci-fi heist about a group of individuals who have oddly splintered minds?

For one thing, without that chip and without a ship to fly, there's nothing for Herman to do beside sit around in a wheelchair and stop his wife from shooting everyone. He doesn't come up with plans, he doesn't know much about tech, he can't use his special ability to aid anyone until they actually move on to the heist. All he's done so far is save his son from being crushed by a falling rocket and then say "Yes" to Aiden.
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Old 04-16-2012, 02:04 PM   #320
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Is this a story about a grounded pilot who gets another chance to fly? Or is it a sci-fi heist about a group of individuals who have oddly splintered minds?
Interesting. It definitely started as the second, but migrated to the first. That might be because I never fleshed out Aiden's character. If I can give him an interesting motive/backstory, perhaps the story could refocus on him, and Herman could fall back to a secondary character.

Good food for thought. Thank you!
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