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a 'new' novel
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Reverie



Joined: 11 Apr 2004
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Location: Third-Person Omnipresent

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject: a 'new' novel Reply with quote

After a three-year hiatus, I've finally got myself cracking on a "new" novel again.

I say "new" because it's actually a rewrite of a really old project that I originally wrote back when I was in high school. It's gone through several evolutions since then (and a completely alternate rewrite, so this is the third and, hopefully, the last reprise), and now this is what it's come down to.

Critique is appreciated, although at the moment it's all fairly vague as far as the actual story goes, so it's probably best to not be overly critical if you can help it, as the next few chapters should shed more light on the story:

http://www.fictionpress.com/s/2927307/1/Seraphim_Ascent

I have always received the best kind of feedback from people here (looking at you, Rex!), so I figured I'd share. My biggest thing that I'm working on is trying to use less description and focus on the imperative detail. This cuts down on a lot of the unnecessary word count.

...herp derp.
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I . . . will . . . reply . . . sometime . . . when . . . not . . . rationing . . . brains.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rexfelum wrote:
I . . . will . . . reply . . . sometime . . . when . . . not . . . rationing . . . brains.

--Rexfelum


LOL it's okay. I'm on that same wavelength.

Or lack thereof.
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Evil_Sponge



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That title sounds vaguely familiar...did you post this before? I'll try to give this a look-see soon.
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evil_Sponge wrote:
That title sounds vaguely familiar...did you post this before?


I might have, actually. Many, many moons ago.
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, this chapter fits on a single screen in my web browser. C'mon! I stockpiled a lot of brains for this!

Oh, well. Time to type a massive reply that contains far more than is in any way necessary.

Reverie wrote:
My biggest thing that I'm working on is trying to use less description and focus on the imperative detail. This cuts down on a lot of the unnecessary word count.

Please define "description." Are you talking about extra terms, like adjectives, that would make the individual sentences in this prologue bulkier? Or are you talking about entire extra sentences, similar to the ones I have now read, which were removed from the prologue? I want more sentences. (Don't you know anything about me?!)

Reverie wrote:
Critique is appreciated, although at the moment it's all fairly vague as far as the actual story goes, so it's probably best to not be overly critical if you can help it, as the next few chapters should shed more light on the story

Story vagueness? Fine. However, once I'm done nitpicking word choice, I will tackle "vagueness" from a different angle.

You wrote:
the surreal growing mushroom cloud billowing overhead. The roof overhead crumbles

Repetition on "overhead." I'd say to get rid of the second one.

You wrote:
Accompanying at her side is a dog

"Accompanying" somehow strikes me as a bigger, friendlier word than belongs in this scene. Consider other verbs. (Also, something sounds a little ungrammatical to me there, but I don't know.)

You wrote:
the remains of what appears to be a deadly crash

You wrote:
indicating a heap of metal of what had once been some kind of aircraft

Wait. Two things: one, I again feel there's something wrong in the language in that first line. You usually talk about the material leftovers of an object that crashed, not the event called a "crash." You might either reword "remains," or reword "crash."

Two, the second line seems to conflict with the first. The small figure directs the dreamer to something crash-flavored, but we are already looking at the crash. If you are deliberately setting up a "look once, look again" scene, I'd note the two crash descriptions are nearly the same. If you are not, I'd advise rewording.

Now to make you hate me.

Vagueness. Let's talk vagueness.

You say that things are vague for story purposes. The scene is dreamlike, containing tons of referents that we know are meaningful ("A scarlet dress," "He whispers to the machine") but deliberately remain unexplained, and events rewind through time repeatedly. Fine.

I would submit, though, that the structure is too vague. I encourage you to make the dream-lattice holding all these words together more visible. (Ooh, I like that mental picture.) This can be done with a few small changes.

The first place I lose the structure is right at the beginning. I put a mental tentpole at "Each night plays the same dream," then another at "Each night rewinds, and relives the dream" (emphasis added, of course). The first thing anyone would assume is that the intervening text is the dream. But it is not! The subsequent story includes neither a "mushroom cloud" nor a "roof," but instead what appear to be logical successors to those ("The dusty remains of the city"). I would advise taking all the "intro text" and putting it together, then taking the mushroom cloud bit and making sure it flows into the next text.

On that front, the story goes on to note "The same dream again" right after describing a very different section of dream. Again, we thought we knew what the dream was, and then we had to mentally readjust, and now we are being told this is in fact the dream. Is your point "Ugh, I'm stuck in the middle of the same overarching series of nasty dreams again"? Then find other words to say that, and it'll be fine.

Then, yes, the reader would grasp the rewind-through-time pattern pretty quickly. However, I could see somebody continuing to get lost due to the transitions: "the dream all over again," "The first distinct memory," "The same dream again," "dream changes, rushing forward into a different memory." Would you consider just using the word "dreams" (plural) to describe these scenes, instead of "dream"? It would solve a lot, as the audience would be more quick to understand that "different memories" nonetheless belong under the umbrella of "the same dream(s)." And this would neatly solve the problem I stated in the last paragraph, too.

. . . Other than the question of vagueness, I'd suggest adding an entire additional paragraph. We got one paragraph of apocalypse, one paragraph of "dude, what, we are Norse mythology in robot form, when did that happen?", then one paragraph of apocalypse. Freyja appears orphaned. If you added another entire paragraph somewhere, not on an apocalyptic theme, the audience would better understand there is more to this story than bombed out worlds.

OH YEAH. I JUST CASUALLY TOSS THAT LAST SUGGESTION IN THERE.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

/buries head under the ground

But no, seriously... thanks for the feedback. I do appreciate it! Vagueness is something I should work on.

I have actually been considering on rewriting a condensed version of this dinosaur of a short story and incorporating it more into the prologue instead of the current one, because no matter how many times I try to rework/edit it, I'm not quite satisfied with it.

I would have something of higher intellect to add, but I am on the near-verge of passing out soon, so... maybe later!

Again, thanks a million, Rex.
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Evil_Sponge



Joined: 04 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reverie wrote:
because no matter how many times I try to rework/edit it, I'm not quite satisfied with it.


Yes, well, that will happen. Sometimes you need to just tell your head to stop arguing with itself and grudgingly shove the manuscript at an editor. That being said, you're not quite at that point yet.

But I think you're close.

I think the general flow and tone is about where you need it to be for a dream. The looseness of narrative is on the right track. Detail, however, needs some working on. I may not have Rex's love of as many words as possible, but I do agree that much more needs to be in here. This is the tough part with writing dreams...overall, they are vague and distorted things that leap around willy-nilly, but they still make total sense while you're in them. The need to have details and stay vague and fuzzy is a fine line to write.

I won't repeat everything Rex said, but I will add a couple things. The second paragraph and the four succeeding disassociated sentences could easily be melded together (but not necessarily into one paragraph) to form a clearer picture. As it stands, it feels like five different dreams. If this is one dream that's jumping back and forth chronologically, that's a fact that needs to be made clearer. If it isn't, then that needs to be clearer instead. That said, I wouldn't add much more detail to that section. Just enough to clarify the intent, but not enough to string the details together. I enjoy how the scattered images come together in the end; the pictures eventually coalescing into a full scene.

Freyja needs more. Doesn't have to be much, just a detail or two to tie that in with everything else.

I agree that it feels like we're walking toward the crash and then being shown that it's there. I would suggest not mentioning "crash" at all. Show us the carnage. The limbs over broken glass, yes -- perhaps a mention of a wake of twisted metal, or a trench chiseled out of the earth. A glimpse or two at specific parts of the "smoke and wreckage" of the dusty remains of a city. Perhaps a distinct trail of destruction? Then point to the cause of it all. I think the aircraft will have more impact if we don't realize this is a crash site first.

As with any critique by peers, it's your muse. Heed the suggestions you think will work and put the others on the back burner. Unbury that head and put it back to the grindstone. Because I want more
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did I do that again? Yeah, I think I did that again.

Reverie wrote:
/buries head under the ground

Reverie, once you are done with the logical reaction, I need to note that I liked your story snippet and wanted more. When I read the Spongy Evil One's bit here:

Evil_Sponge wrote:
But I think you're close.

I think the general flow and tone is about where you need it to be for a dream. The looseness of narrative is on the right track.

. . . I realized that he was emphasizing the same stuff I wanted to emphasize about how the writing was okay. My complementary compliments were subsumed into this:

Rexfelum wrote:
Story vagueness? Fine.

. . .

You say that things are vague for story purposes. The scene is dreamlike, containing tons of referents that we know are meaningful ("A scarlet dress," "He whispers to the machine") but deliberately remain unexplained, and events rewind through time repeatedly. Fine.

Really. The dreaminess and vagueness is going where you want it. I was writing to encourage you to get that vagueness heading in that direction more clearly. So, I can hope that you noticed I wasn't being ARGH THIS IS AWFUL I WILL NOT STATE A SINGLE PLEASANT WORD TOWARD YOU, but if you didn't then please notice this.

Also:

Evil_Sponge wrote:
The second paragraph and the four succeeding disassociated sentences could easily be melded together (but not necessarily into one paragraph) to form a clearer picture. As it stands, it feels like five different dreams. If this is one dream that's jumping back and forth chronologically, that's a fact that needs to be made clearer. If it isn't, then that needs to be clearer instead.

I read it through the first time in the manner that Reverie intended, I believe. So it did work for me as is, and this is definitely a type of writing that people have used well in the past. Sure, I suppose it couldn't hurt to be more clear.

Evil_Sponge wrote:
Reverie wrote:
because no matter how many times I try to rework/edit it, I'm not quite satisfied with it.

Yes, well, that will happen. Sometimes you need to just tell your head to stop arguing with itself and grudgingly shove the manuscript at an editor.

Heh heh, yes. Second-guessing forever. Relatedly, it's important to tell the difference between "I can't get the little details right" and "Wow, this is trash."

In other news . . .

I'm unfamiliar with the site you used. I just now went back and noticed a dropdown in the top right corner with two more chapters in it. Were those always there? Should I have been reviewing them? What the heck, reality.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jesus. Thanks, guys. I'm glad that I posted here, really. (And I'm not being sarcastic, either. I would have more to say but I am burnt out on... everything. And life. All of this week.)

Also:

Rexfelum wrote:
In other news . . .

I'm unfamiliar with the site you used. I just now went back and noticed a dropdown in the top right corner with two more chapters in it. Were those always there? Should I have been reviewing them? What the heck, reality.

--Rexfelum


Sorry, FictionPress can be kinda confusing. There are two chapters now, plus the prologue (which I tweaked slightly, switching over the dream sequence as I am unsure about starting out a novel with a surreal dream sequence). If this makes it any easier to navigate:

Prologue
Chapter One
Chapter Two

Maybe this will help! Still working on the third chapter, but got swamped by work.
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Evil_Sponge



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rexfelum wrote:
Evil_Sponge wrote:
The second paragraph and the four succeeding disassociated sentences could easily be melded together (but not necessarily into one paragraph) to form a clearer picture. As it stands, it feels like five different dreams. If this is one dream that's jumping back and forth chronologically, that's a fact that needs to be made clearer. If it isn't, then that needs to be clearer instead.

I read it through the first time in the manner that Reverie intended, I believe. So it did work for me as is, and this is definitely a type of writing that people have used well in the past. Sure, I suppose it couldn't hurt to be more clear.


So did I, actually. The writer's group I've been going to appears to have infected me Which is not necessarily a good thing.

Reverie wrote:
There are two chapters now, plus the prologue (which I tweaked slightly, switching over the dream sequence as I am unsure about starting out a novel with a surreal dream sequence).


You know what? Start the novel with a surreal dream sequence. Press onward, then change it if all your rejection letters mention that specifically. If there's one thing I've learned over the last couple months, it's that people are afraid to try anything daring with their beginnings. "Something that instantly grabs the reader's attention" has only one interpretation now: explosions. A conversation between friends, a guy lamenting the death of his wife; these are bad, and we should start of with an action scene instead.

Screw that, this is art. We should be creative with it. My attention was captured by the surreal dream. I vote keep.




P.S. sorry for hijacking your topic with a mini rant
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No worries. Mini rant away!
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Rexfelum



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WARNING WARNING YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE REVIEWED WARNING WARNING

I read the whole of the material as it is now posted. This story could be very good. I'm reminded of some really nice short stories I read in a science fiction magazine many years ago. Keep writing, keep enjoying yourself.

Alright?

When it comes to revision/editing, the first thing to note is it needs a proofread. I will not list all the spelling and word problems, just go at it sometime.

Then there are some larger word-based things that cause ambiguity. To list:

Prologue: "egg-shaped prison," yet "cylindrical barrier that confines her within glass"?
Chapter One part 1: is the "soft, barely audible hum" the same as "the bittersweet melody"?
"he could easily ignore the hum, just like how he could easily ignore that activity," so is the "activity" different from the "hum"?
Chapter Two part 2: "She retracted her hands back and clapped them together" would make unwanted noise, wouldn't it?
Chapter Two part 4: "she had to check the other tombs," so does she do that next or did she already do it?
"Something went snap! and he went limp," yet "his throat cut cleanly from one side to the other"? Also, his throat was cut, yet "he continued to laugh"?
"wielding . . . a dripping scalpel," yet "the scalpel was left discarded on the floor"?

Next, we get to content-flavoured issues. First, let me repeat that I like how it tastes. Once you are done imagining me licking the content, I should point out that what I like and what I dislike flowed together. This is a good thing: I enjoy the content enough that I feel it deserves improvement.

This first happens with Tejinder, right when we go from the Prologue to Chapter One part 1. I enjoyed Tejinder's scenario, but I thought it wasn't different enough. Like how Evil Sponge enjoyed the dream, I felt the Prologue could be at a healthy level of "dreamy" and, by contrast, part 1 could be more "anti-dreamy." To make an analogy, because I thought the Prologue was Shandala, I then expected part 1 to be Raimi. The Prologue was all "unseen hands caress empty faces," and this should have stopped afterward. But instead, part 1 kept saying things like "He never sought nor found comfort in it; neither did it offer any kind of solace." Tejinder is not Brooke Burgess, so he shouldn't narrate like him.

This made it even harder when I got to Chapter 2 part 3, when I suddenly discovered that Tejinder is more long-winded than anybody. And it's a strange "long-windedness," where he sounds like neither Shandala nor Raimi. I had no clue that this was in his personality. Either make him less long-winded so he meshes better with our first impression, or make the first impression more long-winded. (His huge blocks of text could be shortened and/or better broken up with descriptive sections.)

Next are Enid and David. Yay, they have their own voice! The narrative here is much better at communicating their attitude. My complaint would be with the Chapter 1 part 3 bit where you leave the action to feed me thirteen paragraphs of background:

"His hawklike gaze" is good, as it's still a part of the immediate narrative. "It had been eighteen years," fine. "Three years had past," fine, though that's "passed." "At first she blamed," fine, but we're going further away. "But Angeles no longer needed a government," this is pure background now and we are no longer in the action, which is fine, but has to be handled with care. "Alterations led the way," we've been reading for so long that the scene is gone. "Curfews were established," we've left the story completely and started into your notes file.

Eliminate at least those last two paragraphs of background ("government," "curfews"), cut straight to "David was the only one," and hand the background out more cautiously through the next Enid-and-David sections. You could also consider handing out the subsequent paragraphs ("Or, rather, he was almost the only one" and so on) at different times, too. It will enrich the later sections of your story. "Government," "curfews" will be especially easy to work into Chapter Two part 2.

Lastly comes Rey. I know we saw her earlier, but here is where I have my first concern: delete the "morgue" sentence from Chapter One part 4. Delete it with prejudice. And you might consider editing the "coroner" sentence to make it less blatant. Any idiot in the audience who doesn't understand what's happened will be informed by all the "tomb" and "hospital" language in Chapter Two part 4. And this is my way of saying that this was a successful scene that communicated what you wanted from it.

And then I have my overarching questions. I see that the mystery of the murdered man is presented (Chapter Two part 2), modified to a "murderous" man (part 3), and then mostly explained (part 4). Are we done? Is this all the mystery we will enjoy? Or will we continue to enjoy non-chronological-order explanations for events, even perhaps more from this same man? I must insist we keep the fractured chronology. Such an effective technique needs to be used well throughout your work.

Now write more so I can enjoy more.

Also, Tejinder is an awesome name.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LMAO fuck. It doesn't help that I have recently been marathoning Broken Saints again, so that would probably explain the contrasts. I HAD A FEELING THAT THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN and I should have known better, dammit! Although Rey is a far cry from Shandala, so that's a plus. (Actually, fun fact: Tejinder was originally inspired by a video game character.)

Also I should go to bed soon (work, olo), but I wanted to hop on long enough to say thanks for the good review! I am a good ways into the third chapter and have sixteen or seventeen chapters outlined, so hopefully it should help make the transition quicker and smoother. I need to work on it some more and hopefully I will soon.
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LadyGodai



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm checking out your story and I like what I see. Keep up the good work!
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! Augh, I can't believe how long it's taking for chapter 3 to write! It just hit me at the worst time, between the move and shit getting crazy at work... Hopefully things will begin to stabilize to some degree, and I'll be able to have some control to just sit down and write again.

Maybe this weekend, actually...
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Rexfelum



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take your time. Be well. Eat chocolate.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't have any chocolate, but maybe some blueberry juice and vodka is just as sufficient?

In any case, got Chapter 3 done... however shoddily written it might be, since it had been written periodically within the course of a lot of shit happening the past few months... Ahhh.
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Rexfelum



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cannot recommend that culinary selection. Instead, I suggest a blueberry muffin.

In this most recent chapter, I see that you are setting in for the long haul. It feels like the body of a proper book, and that there will be a lot more like this to come. Dystopia with a side of lost memories. I approve.

I wonder how long it will be until we see more like the intensely-dreamy intro, given how the themes differ. As I say, you could do a whole book like the present content, so I hope to get the dream-weird running again so that it doesn't get forgotten.

As it is, I definitely enjoyed the fact that the two paired characters each have their own weirdo to handle. That's great. I was concerned that Enid was about to become the sole center of the plot, but then I realized that David has so much on his hands too. Very cool.

I had very few concerns with the writing this time. Here's what I found:

"As the pain in his eyes and the rest of his body succumbed to the mercy of painkillers" -- I presume that these painkillers happened in the past (the flashback), because it is several paragraphs before he gets any now. However, this is a problem, because the audience expects him to actually get painkillers right now. It reads like a parallel narrative: the paragraph starts with him in pain, and hallucinating; it continues with him appearing to get present-day painkillers, and hallucinating. If you want to be clear the painkillers were in the past, then adjust it.

"he was almost consumed by the irrational dread to go out there. To leave this room ever again. To inhale whatever fumes that were carelessly exposed in this place, leaving him vulnerable to whatever past trauma had left him here." -- You lost me. "To leave this room ever again" sounds like fleeing things, not confronting things. And if there are fumes around that would require him to confront his trauma, then surely he wouldn't need to leave the room.

"Not only had he been promised a flourishing career" -- This statement has no following "but he was also promised X" statement. Maybe you meant to say "He hadn't only been promised a flourishing career."

From there on out, I couldn't see anything nearly as confusing. We know that Rey dropped the thermal blade at the end of the chapter, yet she still has it now; but we also know that there was an entire violent encounter we did not see, so that's alright. Don't forget to keep tabs on the body count. You know, for continuity.

--Rexfelum
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Reverie



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for catching the continuity errors, Rex. I had a feeling something was going to slip since this chapter took me forever to write that it's ridiculous. I will also go back and fix the other off things you pointed out as soon as possible.

Other than that... I find it terribly amusing that you were concerned about Enid being the center focus of the plot, considering that it does flip around a lot. I never did like stories where an entire story just gravitates around one protagonist, and there will be a lot of characters to come who will have their focal points than just the guys that have been introduced so far. Needless to say, I look forward to introducing them!
(For now, I am super excited to get to chapter 5, but I need to work on chapter 4 first, haha! Speaking of which, if you like the intensely dreamy content then some parts of chapter 4 should greatly appeal to you.)

In any case, I am hoping for things to smooth out soon. I am getting back into the swing of telling myself to get some writing done every day, which should make progress to run a lot smoother. I imagine the next chapter should be done soon at the rate I'm going!

Fun times.
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