September 5, 2018 at 4:05 pm #46556
I know that school has ( or is days away) from starting for us, but it has been on my mind to put this out there and ask if there is any willing soul who might be able to look at my book, Resistance. It is not a proper novel (its only 22,000 words). The basic synopsis is about a resistance movement caught between a rising dictatorship and a failing government. Well, that is the overarching synopsis of the series, but a complete synopsis for book one can be found Here. I am going to attach it via google docs. And the story can be found on google docs Here.
let me know if there are any problems accessing it.
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 5, 2018 at 4:06 pm #46557
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 5, 2018 at 4:27 pm #46566
I’d be happy to look at your novella (and can access it fine)! What feedback or critique are you looking for?
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and MargaritaSeptember 5, 2018 at 5:02 pm #46572
@taylorclogston, just anything in general. My novella has only been edited (partially) by my siblings and a friend. I am totally open for any critiques that may be found.
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 5, 2018 at 6:33 pm #46597Jane Maree@jane-maree
I wish I could help but I’m not going to have time for this, sorry. 😭
Writing Heroes ♦ Writing Hope // janemareeauthor.com.auSeptember 5, 2018 at 9:30 pm #46624Josiah DeGraaf@josiahSeptember 5, 2018 at 10:51 pm #46645Rachel Rogers@scribbles
I read the first three chapters (all I have time for right this minute, sadly)… I really like the use of present tense! You do it well, and I like the snappy feel it creates, especially within this genre. Also the part that I read seemed to flow well. One thing I’d suggest as a possible thing to work on is not shying away from emotions. For instance, there’s this sentence:
The heartbreak I felt that day was like no other pain I’ve ever felt.
This is a somewhat distant way of referring to the kind of pain your character would have felt at the news she received. Perhaps instead you could liken it to the next most-painful your character experienced and make the point that it was even more heartbreaking than that. Or, even better, you could have her remember how she reacted physically (e.g. did she drop to her knees sobbing? stare blankly, unable to process? scream? etc.). This option both (1) vividly shows emotion to the reader and (2) gives insight into the character herself/what kind of person she is/how she reacts to things.
For what it’s worth, showing emotion in a way that the reader can feel, instead of just telling the reader what happened, is something that’s really hard for me sometimes, particularly with the hard emotions. Also, sometimes events in a story don’t necessarily need the emphasis of doing anything more with it than relating the event and moving on. However, finding out her brother is MIA is shaping up to be a major motivation for Rebecca’s character, so it would probably be good to zoom in on that moment a little and really focus on it as a way of setting up that motivation.
I hope some of that is helpful! 🙂 (And hopefully *crosses fingers* I’ll have time to come back and read the rest of it soon. Feel free to tag me and grab my attention if I forget!)
Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.September 6, 2018 at 4:09 pm #46689
@scribbles thanks that definitely helps
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 8, 2018 at 6:51 pm #46936
So I have a little experience with at least some of the subject matter of your story =P I work in a factory, and we had a yearly safety inspection just a few weeks ago! Imagine that :-} Caveat that I’m mostly focusing on structure and plotty stuff and not so much character or prose or theme.
We first have the head of Quality Control go through each department with the checklist our external auditors use, and then the head of the plant goes with the actual external auditor once we believe we’re up to code as best as we can. Because big issues are immediately addressed (and this is the case for other manufacturing plants in the area; every few years someone literally goes through the wringer at the paper mill and they’re back up and running in just a couple weeks) usually our fixes are just making sure walkways are clear, pallets aren’t stacked higher than they should, that everyone has their proper paperwork on them at all times, etc. The biggest impact it has on my personal department is that whenever we have an extra or scrap part it is supposed to be properly labeled and packaged to be returned to the warehouse or recycled. We basically never do this because it’s much handier to throw all the extra parts in a bin and grab one when we have a missing or rejected part instead of labeling the scrap and then putting in a formal request for like three little additional lenses to go in a kit comprised of 1600 pieces. So stuff like this is generally the extent of our “fix it before inspection” stuff.
That said, the inspection scene in your story seems really fishy. Someone I wouldn’t expect is assisting inspection, and things go wrong that seem like they really should have been sorted previously, and then the explosions happen conveniently on inspection day. This points the reader to believe Rebecca was set up by her workplace as a scapegoat to take the fall for whatever went wrong. I was sure Sandy was going to be a spy who destroyed the reactor; he really has the trappings of the “gruff mentor with a heart of gold” archetype.
You have your inciting incident roughly 25% of the way through, so good placement, you definitely don’t want it any later than that. We have an issue in that Rebecca wants to go on her adventure and the World wants her to go on her adventure. There’s not much tension here. Since the World (in the form of the Resistance) has all the power in this, the most orthodox way to handle it would to make Rebecca not want to leave and have Tyler convince her by telling her that Patrick might still be alive, and then when Rebecca goes to the base, she is told that Tyler might have stretched the truth, putting tension in the future between them. If you want to keep Rebecca so positively agential she should be told by Tyler she needs to be smuggled out of the country for her safety, and have her convince him to let her join the Resistance instead, leaving her to prove herself to him and them later on.
Nothing happens from Rebecca’s arrival to her assignment at RING. She should be having to deal with leaving everything she’s ever known behind, having a difficult time adjusting, solving some kind of problem and making a new one. If nothing plot-related is happening all this time, we need tension in other forms.
Rebecca being told her brother might still be alive is weirdly lifeless considering how much emotional reaction different events have caused her. We literally open the story with a nightmare leading to an outburst of tears and clutching her dead brother’s belongings to her, but when she finds out he might still be alive she’s just like “well that’s cool!” and goes about her day.
The connection between Tyler and Maria is so blatant you’re not only insulting the reader’s intelligence but making Rebecca look like an idiot. If Tyler has connections inside the Resistance there is a 100% chance someone else would have put two and two together before now, and if Rebecca can see this laid out before her and brush it off, I don’t have high hopes for our daring protagonist =P
The thing with novellas and short stories is space is at a premium. Longer works have some leeway in “fat,” scenes which are juicy but don’t contribute much (like having a few base description scenes), but in a shorter work we’re expected to pack the story with dense scenes which fulfil specific purposes and don’t stay a moment too long. I think up to the inciting incident you do a pretty good job with every scene pushing something forward, after that we get a lot of “let me show you around!” which feel like “fat” scenes to me. Or we’ll have entire chapters like Twenty-Five where she gets up, gets dressed, has breakfast, learns Randy and Molly are dating, and that’s it. Unless we’re setting up Rebecca is jealous of Molly and that’s one of our subplots, there’s no point to this chapter, and even then there’s a lot of fluff leading up to it.
The drone thing is pretty cool, she has a neat job =P But when she says “Suddenly, I notice something,” we have no idea what that actually means. Pretty frustrating.
When the shutdown happens, this flags Maria as a villain to the reader. She is directly and secretively antagonizing the protagonist in her job.
The next part is puzzling. We didn’t get to hear or see any details of the thing Rebecca found, so them saying “it’s a POW camp” makes me immediately wonder how the government could have kept something like that so secret and why they wouldn’t do something more subtle like repurpose a prison (or, you know, use an actual prison). Rebecca is not cleared as a field agent as far as we know, so she should not be sent on this mission. This would make a great opportunity for a “well I’ll do whatever I can to get on this mission!” thing. As I was talking about before, the structure would work better if Rebecca was the only one really convinced (maybe with a true believer like Tyler to back her up who no one else really believes) her brother is alive while her friends and commanders are like “You have to let him go, Rebecca! Do this for the living and stuff, not for the dead, it’s what your brother would have wanted I guess!” You do have the third act start roughly at the 75% mark, so good job there.
I really don’t like the actual attack. I can’t believe they’d just kind of announce themselves to the enemy. They really had no better plan than stand out in the open and trick the enemy into opening the wall? You know, Molly really deserved to die, she shouldn’t have been trying to protect a noncombatant like that =P Not to mention we see none of the actual mission, Rebecca just looks at the wall and then goes home to an apparent mission success. You have the proper story beat of Rebecca needing to make a sacrifice, but there’s no character growth along with it and the “sacrifice” didn’t come by her choice, but she gets the reward for it anyway.
You have a big, scary moment when Rebecca is told the government is asked to hand her over, very nice on this. This is a far greater point of tension than anything in the story to this point, and it made my heart race when I read it! Sandy being the traitor was really weird, though. The few bits we’ve seen point to him being the secret person to rescue Rebecca in this scene, not to be the traitor. You have pointed to Maria being suspicious, though; she’d be a better choice here.
Last big picture things: You have way too many chapters. At the very least make sure a single scene isn’t broken up into multiple. You should be keeping an average chapter between 2500-5000 words long. There’s definitely leeway there, but we’ve got some like sub-500-word chapters and they don’t seem to contribute much while at the same time breaking flow. People like Dan Brown get away with really short chapters by putting a cliffhanger (even if it’s usually a fakeout) at the end of each chapter, so I guess you could try that out if you really want to keep the short chapters. For meaningless comparison, my 30K novella has thirteen chapters compared to your 22K novella having forty-six.
You would improve your flow quite a bit by removing adjectives like “slightly” that don’t commit to the things they’re attached to. A confident protag like Rebecca needs confident words! Compared to your narration, your dialogue seemed fairly weak. I suggest copying out pages of dialogue-heavy scenes from books in or adjacent to your genre like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The City of Ember and then rewriting them in your own words. This helps me a great deal to improve my own dialogue when I take the time to do it!
On a final note, the worldbuilding seemed vague, and I mostly point this out because this is an issue I have too so I might not be the best person to give advice on it =P I was questioning why the government was seen as oppressive (we hear they are tyrants, but all we see for most of the story is that they sent an “Inquisitor” to rightfully shut down that horrific death trap of a factory), what exactly the Resistance is fighting for, and how they are allied with the government on the other side of the wall (it sounds like they are the government?)
In any event thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read your story! I hope something here was helpful :-}
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and MargaritaSeptember 8, 2018 at 7:40 pm #46939
@taylorclogston, WOW thank you so much! this is exactly the kind of critiques I need. I could see and tell that there are things that need to be fixed, but it’s hard for me to see them. I have not really had someone, other than myself as a writer, edit it. How coincidental is it that you work in a factory. On that note, how did I do with the whole factory stuff? And if I may ask, what is a typical factory day/ inspection day for you? I know one of my biggest flaws is my tendency to generalize and lead the story rather than show it. What are your thoughts on the characters? Were they relatable or at least somewhat believable?
With Chapters, should I shorten the number but make the chapters themselves longer?
Again thank you for your input.
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 8, 2018 at 8:11 pm #46941
@taylorclogston, What are ways that I could fix the whole inspection scene, attack, and world building? Using futuristic America I kinda thought I could get by that one I guess.
Alos, I am concerned about my word count. It is so small and I am afraid that if and when I reduce the chapter size the word count, and thus the book will get smaller and smaller. Are there ways I could flush out the detail in areas that it needs more?
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm #46942
You’re welcome! I’m worried I came off as too harsh or negative, but I’m glad to hear it was helpful :-}
The big “realism” point I noticed was Rebecca seems to have a very important job but is only given a tiny office, and she also seems to have advanced quite a long ways for a factory worker. I can’t speak for other companies, but around where I live and work you don’t tend to have internal mobility. When we need a manager or someone like that we hire someone with a college degree in project management or something like that. People hired on the work floor don’t tend to move to administrative roles because getting competent people on the work floor is really hard. I literally work ten feet from a lady who would probably make a great officer worker (ex-attorney’s secretary) but has instead worked one machine for over thirty years. Another lady used to be an RA nurse but has now worked for over ten years in an assembly line. I myself spent two years as casual and then part time on a table and now have run one machine for the last three years. On the other hand both our floor managers and the shipping manager we deal with came to us from other companies and only worked a few days on the floor to accustom them to the particulars of our plant.
Inspection days aren’t much different than regular days for us. We’re given a reminder to work extra hard and clean and quiet and to not volunteer information but only answer questions when asked. Sometimes the inspectors don’t even come to my subsection, they just look over from the walkway and then go to one of the more important subsections. In five years I’ve never been asked a single question and never had my station or machine personally inspected. My company’s kind so they provide a good lunch for the inspectors and usually a dessert table or something for the employees on inspection day. A plant like Rebecca’s doesn’t sound very clean or safe or nice so I don’t imagine they do the same =P (for the record, I work in automotive light manufacturing:
I run reflectors through a machine that puts down a silicone seal, I stick a lens on it, wait for it to dry, and then test the seal to make sure it’s waterproof. I do mostly the bumpy one in the middle (900 BackUp Surface Max), the second from the left (600 Clear) the one on the right (900 Red), and sometimes the pain-in-the-rear ones on the left (M4V Red, always loves coming apart before it dries because the lens is always warping from the annealing process that lets us have clear and red on the same lens))
Anyhoo, that was a bit of a detour =P It’s not often I get a chance to talk about my job >.>
For the characters, it just seemed like we had a ton considering how short the story is. I don’t think we needed to meet as many as we did. If this were a longer story you’d probably just have more room for more characters. As it is I was having a very hard time remembering who was who and who was important. I was rooting for Sandy until he betrayed Rebecca =P Molly’s death might have been more impactful if we’d gotten to know her better, and Rebecca really needed to have something to fight for and definite stakes.
As for the chapters, I do recommend just condensing a lot of your chapters together. There are times we will have one or more chapter breaks in the middle of a single scene (like a conversation) and there’s just no need for that. Maybe cut it back to only a new chapter when there’s a change in time or location, and then work from there? It’s also okay to have multiple scenes in a single chapter, usually broken by a “***” in between them.
(off topic, you may be the only other INFJ I’ve seen on here =P)
EDIT: Written before reading your second post before this one. Writing another reply.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Taylor Clogston.
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and MargaritaSeptember 8, 2018 at 8:20 pm #46945
@taylorclogston, yeah I wasn’t always an INFJ or I never took the test before, but being an introvert is relatively new. I enjoy being with people, but I tend to hang towards the outskirts of a group or stick to myself. Thanks for the factory info, I guess I did go a bit far with it. I probably could cut a lot of the minor characters like you said. the reason I have some of them is that they come in and out of the second and third book in the set. Back to Rebecca’s job, would it be possible to have her come in from a different factory in order to maintain the role?
INFJ, Child of God, wannabe author, writer, dreamer, fan of DR. Who, Star Wars, NCIS-LASeptember 8, 2018 at 8:23 pm #46946
I don’t really know what to suggest for a “fix” because I don’t really know what you’re planning going forward. I can reiterate what I felt the story was pointing to–It seems like Rebecca was meant to be a scapegoat. If that wasn’t the case, then she needs to be willfully covering up stuff at the plant or just defeated and dejected because she tried to change things to “save” the plant but no one higher up was willing to support her because in years past they always skated by on a non-Inquisitor guy who could be bribed but now because of the accidents the government is sending their own inspector. Or something =P And as for the explosion, remember that in fiction everything happens for a reason that relates to the plot ;P The explosion is necessarily important. Right now it kind of seems like it’s just coincidence, but the reader 100% will expect it is relevant to the plot and probably to the Resistance.
As for the attack, I’m afraid I’m not knowledgeable here. You should ask around for some good books with boots-on-the-ground special ops action scenes. I haven’t read more than the first book of Divergent, but the series has a reputation for these kinds of scenes, I think, and Hunger Games has a bunch too. This is kind of coming from nowhere but the Artemis Fowl books have a lot of absurdly weird high-tech (albeit magical, but usually tech-based) heist and mission scenes at their cores. At the very least, the reader expects Rebecca is going to be in some crazy danger and have to use her unique skills to save the day in at least some small way.
I already talked about decreasing the number of chapters above, and again, I don’t mean remove the contents of the chapters, but combine existing chapters together. I have many fewer chapters than you but not many fewer scenes, and they’re just a lot longer than yours are. If I broke up my scenes like you did my 30K words would probably be sixty or so chapters instead of the thirteen they are now, but the words would still be there.
Adding detail is a big struggle for me too so I don’t know how well I can give advice. Maybe try to use more sensory information? Pay especial attention to what Rebecca would be noticing and internalizing. More than anything, try to add more tension to scenes! Ideally Rebecca should be having to make some kind of decision and risk or give up something, even something small, in each scene. Yearning is the heart of human drama!September 8, 2018 at 8:31 pm #46948
(The intra-extra axis is a weird one, definitely. I love being around a small group of close friends for a few hours or maybe sitting at the edge of a group and just listening to other people enjoying being around each other but after a while I just need to retreat and be by myself =P A friend some years ago said I was a “quiet person who talks too much” and that really just depends on who I’m around, but generally I think the intra part is accurate.)
As for Rebecca’s job, I think the important bit here is identifying why she has the job. I don’t think having her come from some place else really fixes the issue because she still had to get that initial job somehow. Maybe she applied for this different position and showed she was capable of it and got it, but since the society frowns on individualism this kind of put a target on her? Maybe she’s even filling the boots of a person who tragically died in one of the weird factory accidents. This would definitely go a ways toward showing she’s got guts, is driven to do stuff, and makes her losing her job more meaningful.
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