Sorry for ignoring your story for so long. I’ve not had the proper relaxed space/time configuration to read and comment. Today I have created this space again. The positive thing here is that having to catch up a bit there will be quite a bit to read for me. Lately I have been reading fiction again, properly published stuff, the strange thing about that was that I was wondering how they ever got their books onto shelves. Not that what I read was badly written but it never managed to get better than ‘enthusiastic hobbyist’ level, with a lot of good ideas and good will but a sorely lacking execution. So if you ever are to critical about your own writing go and read some published stuff out there and you will see that in many cases what you are putting together beats books that are selling very well right now.
So. Where were we?
I remember our protagonist fleeing from the burned out hotel getting saved by our enigmatic alien friends…
About Kurt’s magical charm, it would seem to me that our protagonist should be a bit more aware of the extent of Kurt’s abilities as he has witnessed him influencing his way past tricky situations and has quite obviously infiltrated the human camp without drawing the wrong kind of attention to him. The anxiety of not personally going to save his son is perfectly understandable though.
What I like is how quickly the situation changes with this chapter. It was clear that Kurt was hiding something, that there is a full blown Alien resistance is a bit unexpected but it works so far. Another thing I notice is that despite only introducing a few new characters the perspective on the story does change rather dramatically. Right now I am wondering what other things might be hidden from sight, what the military knows and what the fuck they did to this planet. The strange powers of the aliens are also an interesting point of speculation, although right now I am wondering how our Earth could have strong armed its way into this earth so effectively when the planet seems to be populated by rather effective telepaths. Because so far you as the author have never broken plausibility and have followed up strange events exploring them to a sufficient degree that I as a reader believe that you know what you are talking about. Thus the strange things that happen right now enhance the mystery of the story instead of ruining immersion. The effort placed into making the setting plausible pays off in situations like these. Well done.
As always I have questions in my mind and not two paragraphs later the answers come. :-D
The description of what happened is very good. You seem to have found a way to paint a picture that carries the emotional background with it very effectively. Despite not being overly long Kurt’s tale carries the weight of an epic story of its own and I could imagine an entire book filled with his side of the story until he meets Jake.
What does work less well is the shocking revelation of the newspaper. With all that has happened so far and the signs and implications you worked into your yarn the appearance of General Sanderford is a bit of a ‘No shit, Sherlock?’ moment.
A few thoughts on that. Having Jake reacting less surprised but more crestfallen would work better here I think. The reader has probably already reached the rather bitter conclusion about the ‘technology deal’ so Jake doing the same would make sense. This would be a good moment for him realising how bad the situation actually is and how great the guilt of the military might be.
Another thing here is General Sanderford, for some reason I had expected to feel a bigger impact at the revelation that he is obviously the head of the disaster. So far he has been painted in a rather sympathetic light, most of the negativity carefully focused on Maxwell. Yet when he is seen there shaking hands with the locals I am not as shocked as I should be. It is OK as it is but I think that this bit could work better. It might even be more effective if it was revealed much later that Sanderford is or might be the mastermind behind this action. But frankly I have no idea how to implement that.
Very good chapter.
The thing I like most about your writing is that you seem to have worked out a way to present your readers with mysteries and explain the questions that come to mind shortly after. Despite posing a mystery and explaining most of it you still leave enough uncertainty and problems in there so that the tension remains untouched.
In a way your exposition has a rhythm. You bring new information carrying various mysteries with it, as you explain it the reader starts to wonder about many things, so does the protagonist. Then you explore these questions. Often in a back and forth way, either a conversation or a monologue that does not resolve everything but instead presents possibilities and the problems that arise with them.
Once the point is reached where the most glaring questions are answered or some plausible theories are laid out what remains is just the pure problem, which carried the tension.
What is so cool about that is that in this way the exposition that you present does not appear like the descriptor necessary to set the scene so that exiting stuff can happen, the exposition is part of the exciting stuff. It is engaging and I as a reader can feel clever for having come up with all my own questions (while not noticing the questions I did not ask because they are all part of the back and forth).
Furthermore with it you constantly remind the reader without ever breaking the fourth wall that you really, really know what you are talking about. Thus you not only keep up the tension but you also actively strengthen the suspension of disbelieve.
This I think is your greatest strength as a writer (followed by your knack for emotional scenes) keep working on it, because this is pure gold.
Funnily enough, as a reader it seems to me that you know extremely well what you are doing.
Good flow until the reach the apartment. It might be me but the conversation with Carver does not quite work. I know what it is supposed to do and it gets the job done but the feeling is a bit off. The flow of the conversation is a bit awkward.
Once Carver gives and let’s go of the radio the flow is much better.
The escape sequence is incredibly tense.
As is the mind duel between Kurt and the guard at the end of the chapter. Lots of tension there and knowing the rules of drama that prod authors all over the world to go for the worst case scenario whenever possible it was not even clear if they would make it past the gate in time.
The only thing I would point out here is that the chapter ends with escape and freedom. If you had stopped earlier when they were still driving towards an uncertain escape you would keep up momentum to drag the reader into the next chapter.
And right now I have to abandon your story for something is trivial as food.
But then this time there is another chapter waiting for me.
#9594406, By sunjumper National Novel Writing Month 2012
sunjumper 3,340 posts
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