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Jon Dixon
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Hi everyone. I've finally got a first draft I'm sort of OK with for the first few chapters of 'The Perfection Engine', my adult fantasy novel. No-one's seen this until now, other than the very first page (which Harry very kindly gave me some excellent feedback on which I've incorporated) and a short passage from about halfway through which was uploaded some time ago as part of another Harry-inspired critiquing offer! 

There's lots still to be done with it, I know, on the macro and micro level, and I have reams of notes for the eventual second draft, but I don't want to pre-empt any possible responses from the assembled expertise here by listing them! 😀 It'll be interesting to get confirmation of those faults as well as ones that I'm sure to have missed! For the same reason, I won't give a 'blurb' or a synopsis, so that it stands by itself as an introduction to the book... although some of you may have seen the elevator pitch or hook on others threads.

The big question, of course, as with any first chapter, is whether you're interested and intrigued enough to want to read more! Particularly as this one tends to introduce and hint at future characters and narrative threads rather than hurling the reader straight into action. I'd also like to know if the protagonist is someone you'd want to spend a novel's worth of time with.

I know it's fractionally longer than generally expected at around 3,300 words. Sorry about that. I'd love to know what people think - good, bad or even - worst of all - indifferent. Thanks in advance!


Comments
  • Hi Jon, 

    Thanks for sharing your opening. I've made comments on the document itself which I hope will help. I've only commented on the first few pages but the feedback could be applied for the edits throughout.

    Your writing is good and fit the style of story however the prose could be tightened and also the choice of sentence construction could be edited to make the narrative more immersive. Little things such as for example: 

    "She eased the lockpick forward, felt the subtle give of metal against metal as the second pin was lifted, changed the tension of the wrench to match and felt the pin set into place." 

    You are telling us what Membra is doing but if you tweak it you can put us into her mind, such as: 

    "The pick eased forward inside the lock. Under her guidance it moved slowly. The intensity hardened at the back of her neck. Just half a twist to the right. A fraction more until the familiar click and the second pin lifted. The tension in her neck melted."

    Just one way to do it. Also shorter sentences help to increase the sense of tension. You also have lovely descriptions but I feel there are in the wrong place.

    I hope this helps and good  luck with the edits!

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    • Thank you very much for the excellent feedback and suggestions, which have certainly confirmed some of my own worries. One of the main things I want to achieve in the eventual second draft is to improve the psychic distance in just the way you've identified above. In answer to a question in your kind annotations to the document, I'm striving for  a mix of 'cinematic' and 'character' viewpoint throughout the book, but with Membra as the sole viewpoint character. Thanks again for such useful feedback. It's much appreciated. Much to think about!

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    • I loved your first posted piece; Looking forward to reading soon.  

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      • Thank you, Donna! (so sorry - I thought I'd replied to you earlier!) :)

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      • Hi Jon - this is my first attempt at feedback, being new to the site, so I'll keep it short - but I really enjoyed reading this. The opening is terrific, hooking you in, and to answer your question, yes, I liked the protagonist and would like to find out more about her and her history.

        The first point I found myself pulling out of the story was at the top of the second page, where you gave me the Remembrancer’s Quarter, the Straits of Charne, the Wolf's Teeth, the Reavers' Sea and the Palace of the Syndic all in the space of 5 lines. For me, that was too much strangeness in one go - could you space out the introductions a bit more?

        I really liked the "urchin" memories, but wondered if it was a bit too much of a diversion - there was a danger of it feeling like a slightly clunky insert. So it's material I'd keep, but perhaps think about how and where it's worked in.

        I hope that helps. I think you write beautifully - prose that was a pleasure to read. Good luck with the editing!

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        • Thank you, Sue, both for the kind words and the useful feedback. You're right, I think, about the world-building aspect and the 'inserts' being too intrusive; it's so tricky, I find, to set up characters who will become crucial to the story at this early stage, particularly their relationship to Membra and her back-story. It's such a fine line between giving them the weight their importance to her merits while retaining the focus on the 'present'.

          I always knew this first chapter was going to be a 'set-up' rather than a 'dive in'... but I still have some way to go to successfully achieve that. The action really starts in the next chapter with the 'inciting incident'!

          Thanks so much, again, for taking the time to read and feed back!


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        • I enjoyed this. As a "set-up" rather than a "dive-in" it starts with some great action. Introducing Membra dangling from a rope certainly hooks you in better than if you'd introduced her on the ground being offered the job. I struggle with how to introduce backstory without interrupting the present day flow. I think it works having the memories and then her jolting herself back to the present and even asking herself why she keeps thinking about the past. I am new to all this and loving reading people's different styles but don't have huge amounts of writing expertise or experience to feedback with. As someone who loves reading though, I know what I like and this is something I would be interested in reading as the character and her situation are intriguing  and exciting. 

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          • Thanks Kate. That's really good to know. And feedback from the reader's perspective is quite as valuable as that from other writers. It's that fresh, objective eye that can spot the issues in a piece where the author is blinded by familiarity or reluctance to delete one's own hard work! :)

            The book I've found most useful in making sense of back-story is Lisa Cron's 'Story Genius', and I'm trying my best to follow her approach in how I deal with Membra's past. I'm still struggling with the whole 'flashback' issue; some seem to think that flashbacks are to be avoided at all costs, some embrace them, some have whole chapters devoted to them, some incorporate them into the ongoing narrative as reported speech or inner thoughts... Decisions, decisions! 😣 

            Thanks so much for the feedback, and for your time!

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          • Membra needs a back story, like domestic abuse, as if crime is her escape. It reminds me of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken.

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            • She does, indeed, have a back-story. Though not the one you mention. There are the first hints of it in this chapter, I hope. 

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              • I’ve always liked those fantasy fictions with a lion and witch in the cupboard.

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              • Hello! Thanks for sharing. I read through the chapter, and it is engaging, well-written, and kept my attention, so great job! I do have some thoughts:

                1) It becomes pretty clear she doesn't have any arms or legs, which makes using the word "climb" and the starting the story halfway up the rope really confusing. Maybe you have a way that she was able to climb, but as a reader the simple reference to a harness wasn't enough. I found it pretty jarring as I tried to think about how she would climb a rope. Which then led me to thinking about her profession. I know you try to say she has developed ways to get around her disabilities, but the disability is so extreme it seemed really unbelievable. Even the difficulty she had in unlocking the window and getting it open, an integral part to the scene, made me wonder why she would be chosen for a "job" when presumably an able-bodied person could climb a rope and unlock a window much faster. You tell us in the first page that the climb took her an hour. In a ruthless profession where time is of the essence, what is the thing that makes people hire her instead of another thief? You may have an explanation for this, but it's not adequately explained to overcome my initial hesitation, which breaks my ability to suspend disbelief. 

                2) The lock-picking is interesting and a good way to describe her actions and give us a perspective for the character's ways of compensating for her disability, but also confusing. You yourself make the point--who would put a lock on an eighth floor window? And more, who would put a five-pin pin and tumbler style lock (which is clearly the style she is picking) on an eighth floor window? (this wouldn't happen today, and the story is set in an older time, no?) Also, in my experience, the easiest way to pick a pin and tumble style lock is with constant tension. Unless the lock is brand new, it's worn enough that constant tension will give you that lip and each pin will catch on it as you scrape it up. Adjusting the tension mid-picking usually just results in all of the pins coming back down and starting over. 

                3) philology - just so you know, this word is strange to Americans. We use it in a more narrow sense. According to Wikipedia, Brits use it more generally to mean etymology, classical languages, etc. But when I hear it I think of Nietzche and Tolkien, more like a cross between linguistics, semiotics, and historical criticism. Just a note. 

                4) I found the paragraph about the sweat confusing. You say "Like so much else, this tendency to sweat at any exertion was something she had learned to live with." But we all sweat when we exert ourselves. Perhaps just make more clear that she sweats a lot? But do you also want a character who breaks out in a hard sweat at ANY exertion (not the nicest characteristic)?

                5) "born to" in the excerpt sounds weird to me. You can be born to an activity, colloquially, like born to run, born to ride, born to be free, but it sounds weird to say it for a job. Born to a job? It almost makes me think of born into, which implies some sort of forced nature, i.e. slavery. I think you can just say "born to do" which is clearer. 

                I hope this helps! I know how nerve-wracking first chapters can be and I know getting any criticism can suck. The above is just my reaction to the text, and I hope it gives you some take-aways. Like I said at the beginning, despite the above you did keep my attention, and it was well-written, with lots of great imagery. Sometimes a little too much description and probably too much backstory for a first chapter. Maybe think about moving some of this about or cutting out some of the anecdotes and just telling us the information we need. 

                Good luck!



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                • Hi Benaduca, and thanks so much for such a detailed response. It's really useful, in that it speaks to one of the main concerns I've had about the book, and one of the main dilemmas I'm facing as write it.

                  Membra is a difficult protagonist to write, as her situation is so unusual. The key thing for me has always been that she should have full agency.

                  I'm fortunate that I have an 'expert advisor' and role-model for such ability in a friend who has a similar disability to Membra's and generously provides feedback on the feasibility of her activities and valuable insight into at least some of the aspects of Membra's emotional life that I cannot ever experience.

                  Having said all that, there is, of course a MASSIVE chasm of initial disbelief to bridge for the reader. I'm horribly aware of that, and it's up to me to build that bridge, of course. Membra's situation inevitably requires more explanation of how she's doing things than would a more conventional protagonist. And there's the rub. Too much description and the book becomes about 'how Membra does things' rather than about 'what Membra does', which isn't the point at all. Too little explanation and the reader is jarred out of their immersion by unanswered questions (as you were here). It's such a fine line to tread, and I'm still very much working it out.

                  So I do know how Membra climbs. It's a technique that was arrived at through many back and forth interchanges between me, my friend and a mutual acquaintance who's an expert rock climber. There's no real world example(!) but in theory we think it could work - especially if we allow Membra, as a fictional lead character, a small element of 'heroic exceptionalism'! To fully explain her technique would take two or three paragraphs at least and the use of technical terms that perhaps only climbers would be familiar with.

                  I'm still working on how much of the technique needs to be explained, and in how much detail, to enable the suspension of disbelief without impeding the flow of the narrative. Obviously, I haven't yet got it quite right yet, so that's really useful to know. Thank you! :)

                  There's a good reason for Membra being chosen for this particular job, which will become apparent as the plot unfolds. I'd hoped I'd set that up with the references to how strange the job was - with the hugely inflated fee and the secrecy - but that obviously needs more emphasis. It's also mentioned that commissions which require her actual, physical thieving skills are a rarity; normally (for obvious reasons) she's hired for her more bookish skills - research and 'information-mining'. And she rather resents that. Part of Membra's character is that she refuses to let her disability stand in the way of what she is (what she's 'born to'!). She was, and still is, a brilliant thief. And she'll do anything and everything she can to prove that to the world; it's part of her coping mechanism. Again, perhaps I need to make that clearer. 

                  Excellent expert feedback on the lock-picking. Thank you! I'll address that technical aspect in the re-write as well as clarify why the lock is as it is (the whole job is really a precursor to the main plot device, of which which the reader, and Membra herself, is currently unaware).

                  Also, good to know the different meanings for 'philology' between the UK and the US. Thank you!

                  The over-heating is a physical phenomenon that many amputees (acquired or congenital) experience, for precisely the reason that Membra postulates. It's there as a detail of verisimilitude and also to introduce the reader to Membra's 'need to know' - a key aspect of her character. I shall clarify that further, perhaps, if I retain the moment.

                  Good point about the 'born to' - it's meant in the sense that thieving is seen as a vocation rather than a profession (hence Membra's need to prove herself to still 'be a thief' even after her amputations make that profession more difficult for her). I shall see if there's a better wording that makes that clear and removes the suggestion of 'force'.

                  I'm certainly going to look at your last observation about description and back-story, which has been mentioned by others and confirms my own worry on that!

                  Thanks so much again for the critique. It's really useful and suggests lots of areas for improvement. It's much appreciated!

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                • Brilliant concept, enjoyable writing.  Where's chapter 2?  While agreeing with some of the critique points (slightly too many new names/places) I found I didn't worry too much about the others (climbing, for example, once I'd been introduced to the harness).  All, I would say are minor and can be rearranged, reinserted etc.  On  a really trivial note 'rack' as in tidal rack is usually written wrack  as it refers to destruction or wreckage, flotsam and jetsam etc. I fancy it's all optional though.  All the best with this 

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                  • Thank you, Jaye. That's really encouraging! I think the general consensus is that the explicit 'world-building' is in the wrong place and needs re-visiting. And I'm going to try and add a bit more 'technical' detail into the description of Membra's climbing technique - hopefully in a way that still keeps the focus firmly on narrative. Thank you very much for pointing out my silly error on 'rack/wrack'. D'oh!! 😳 

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                  • Hi Jon, I'm attaching a revised & edited copy. Here are my main thoughts on your wonderful story.

                    Feedback Summary:

                    I enjoyed reading this story, it’s very well written. The most intriguing thing in it is how Membra manages to climb and pick a lock, without limbs and why a high window is locked from the outside. But this is a fantasy world, so anything goes… It heightens my suspense and expectation, not my disbelief.

                    The name Membra did not do anything for me at first (I didn’t like it) but after learning that she has no arms or legs, I can see the connexion, and I think it works. I like her from the very start. I’m with her.

                    The setting is good and the intertwining of setting and character is done well. The story flows well.

                    I tend to write in short sentences and paragraphs, so my immediate tendency is to separate sentences with full-stops rather than commas or semi-colons. It’s a personal style, but I think that in a fantasy world, where the reader has got to pay attention to one idea at a time to understand that world, it might be better to separate some sentences with full-stops, and make paragraphs shorter. It helps the reader to organize new concepts & ideas in their mind, and understand the new world, one idea at a time. The full-stop allows a pause and a change of idea.

                    I don’t have a problem with the exposition and backstory while Membra is working on the lock. It wouldn’t work on a crime novel (or any other commercial fiction) where fast-paced forward action is required, but in this story we are in a fantasy world and this story has got a literary feel to it. The exposition rather enhances the story, giving it context, and backstory creating tension and suspense. We want to know who Membra is, where is she living, and what happens next.

                    I’m hooked & curious to see what you are going to do with this story.

                    I must say that fantasy is not my preferred genre, but literary fiction is. This piece has got that literary quality to it that combines art with craft and appeals to the pleasure of reading.

                    Hope this is useful.

                    Looking forward to reading further.

                    Donna

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                    • Hi Donna, and thank you very much for the kind words, and for the feedback. Particularly thank you for taking the time to add such detailed notes to the document, all of which are extremely helpful.

                      I'm really glad you came to like Membra's name in the end; I did wonder how many people might twig its derivation(!) and worried a bit about it myself! But she's been 'Membra' to me for so long now that I'd really struggle to think of her by any other name! 😃 

                      I'm still a little unsure how early I need to start giving the reader details of the setting for the novel; in my head, Draffe, the city in which Membra lives, is a very important part of the overall 'feel' of the book (and, incidentally your description of  a 'medieval high rise city' is pretty much spot on). But whether I need to describe that as much in this first chapter I'm still a bit unsure... I'm inclining towards pruning the 'geography lesson' in the fourth paragraph right back, or even removing it completely. The temptation is always to set the scene completely as early as possible, and I think I have to avoid that as much as possible.

                      I'm very relieved that the exposition and seeds of the back-story worked for you - the whole plot, as well as Membra's internal journey through the book, is driven by events from her past, and both Evaldi and Steeltooth (both briefly mentioned here) are key players in both the past and - at least in Evaldi's case - the present. Karven, too, is an important part of Membra's life.

                      I recognise my tendency towards long sentences(!) and that is certainly on my list of things to address in the editing! Your inline suggestions are all splendid! Thank you.

                      I'm hugely gratified that the piece spoke to you as a 'non-fantasy reader'. I know this will never be 'literary fiction'; I don't presume to have the skills to write that! But I enjoy reading literary fiction as well as other genres, and I do think that there are aspects of that style / genre that can be valuable in any book. My (perhaps optimistic) aspiration is that this, even though it's fantasy, should have a slightly 'literary' style and tone - if only because its protagonist is a highly literate and extremely bright individual who was brought up in a library, and who therefore tends to express herself in that way! 😃 

                      Thank you so much again for your feedback. It's much appreciated!

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                    • Ooops! Just noticed a typo in first lines of my edit: "hunt" should be "haunt".

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                      • Hello, I thought I posted this, but I can't find it in the thread. If I did post it somewhere, then I'm sorry for spamming at all. 

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                        • Thanks for the notes, Harrison. Good to have that imput to add to the mix for the future edit! Much appreciated.

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                        • I've come late into this. The opening certainly hooked me! Once again, many have provided such quality feedback, that I consider that I have little to offer. I tend to go for the "feel" of a piece of work and how I consider it will engage me, rather than the technicalities. Despite many courses, I obviously have much to learn!  I know, editing is so hard, but I repeat that you have the makings of an engaging book. I sense the type I would have read on an inter-continental flight, and cancelled meetings upon arrival in order to reach the end. Good luck

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                          • Many thanks, Roger!

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                          • Jon, the opening line, the quote, grabbed me instantly. That is a great hook.

                            The immediate descriptive work was wonderful; I was there, as I should be.

                            Such a great start, until the fact she was limbless jerked me back. I need to know how she climbed, a harness was not good enough for me as I can't picture her pulling the ropes with her teeth, assuming that is what she was doing.

                            I'm struggling, Jon, because after reading another few paras, the question about her disability are still in my mind. May I ask, why does she need to be limbless? Can't she just be legless? Maybe you have a reason I haven't seen yet.

                            'Another gust shook her and she shivered at the emptiness below her,' Perhaps cut the 'her.'

                            Okay, we've just left the plot to go into backstory. I didn't want to go back just now. I was involved with still hanging on the rope.

                            Your writing is beautiful, Jon. Such colour and descriptive excellence. Now back on the rope working on the damn lock = good. No. We've gone into her thoughts. Waa! Can't we give her arms and hands? Being legless is enough of a handicap.

                            Okay, finished. What great writing to this lover of fantasy. But. I wrote these comments as I read, that's obvious. It's a stretch for me, Jon, sorry. I'm still hung up on the impossibility of it all. Just can't picture it regardless of your wonderful descriptive work. Perhaps some of that work could be directed to more description about how she accomplished these feats, but then the grunt of the story would be lost in detail.

                            For what my unqualified comments and opinions are worth, give her arms.


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                            • Thanks for the honest feedback, Robert, and I'm glad you enjoyed espects of the read! 😀 

                              There are good reasons why Membra is limbless - both in-story and 'real world' - and I don't think that can or will change; I've lived with the character and her 'purpose' for so long now I feel I have a responsibility to her (and to her real-life inspiration) to keep her true to herself. That said, I am aware that it creates one hell of a chasm across which the reader has to suspend their disbelief. For some it works, for others, like yourself, it doesn't. 😔 

                              A lot of research and - more importantly - authoritative advice from experience has gone into working out how she does what she does and to give her the same agency as a more conventional protagonist might have. But when it comes to conveying that I'm still trying to find that happy medium between the level of description needed to explain step-by-step exactly how she accomplishes things (which, as you say, risks interrupting the story and making it all about 'how she does stuff' rather than 'what she does') and giving just enough description to allow the reader to be able to accept it and carry on.

                              Obviously, I still haven't got that right. Back to the drawing board...

                              The back-story is also proving problematic to some, at least in this first chapter, and I'm working on addressing this. The tone of the book is intended to be a bit more reflective than action-packed, and the seeds of Membra's past hinted at here are critical to her journey so need to be planted early. But one of the problems with starting the book 12 years after the story really begins (though neither Membra nor the reader know that) is having to feed in all that information without info-dumping. So (for now) her memories and flashbacks are unavoidable, I think, as she (and by association, the reader) slowly start to make sense of her life and the who, what and why of her situation.

                              Oh well. It's still very much a work-in-progress. And may well turn out to be a 'Marmite' story, even when it's completed!

                              Thanks for the useful feedback.

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                            • You are always welcome. You explain it as a difficult task getting it to look how you wish, the balancing act. Good. Let's just wait and see how you handle it. I'm sure you'll get on top of it. If you live and love the story, it will get itself told. Rob

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                              • Hi there :) 

                                This is the first time I’ve done this and really don’t know how much help I can be - but here goes:


                                I really enjoyed the chapter. It was not that far off reading and already published book. I like the world your trying to portray and found it very interesting to have an amputee character.


                                I agree with some of the criticisms read earlier, perhaps the sentences can be too long at times - and I only recognised it because I do it also. But it would be really unfair of me to say that happened often, it was only on occasion. However, some amazing people before me have already broken that down.

                                I would really like to know more about Membra. Chapter one is always the hardest because you want to know everything, that’s what pulls you in.

                                I found the Keshite priest interesting - really hope there’s more about him later. I would like to know where he’s from, what he does, who he’s priest of (although at risk of sounding mildly like the song “as long as you love me” I’ll stop).

                                I also enjoyed your descriptions of things. Although again I feel that too much was said about the area and I got confused. However, that’s possibly a reflection on me rather than you.

                                I actually really enjoyed going back and talking about Steeltooth. I felt that made her realistic. If I was picking a lock and scared of heights, I too would be thinking about anything other than heights and picking locks - let alone if I had to do it with my tongue.

                                I would love to see more description on how she got up there. I feel, part of the interest in the character is how she is doing these amazing things despite having lost so much. But you may be about to say to me “ellie, I have something up my sleeve for chapter two, so hold tight.” In which case, shall do.

                                For a few moments while I was reading, I wasn’t sure if she had arms and no legs, then I thought she had legs and no arms and finally came to the conclusion she had neither. So maybe at the very start, the word “all” could be inserted, to say she had lost all her limbs. But it’s a tiny detail, and to be honest it’s still probably a reflection in me.

                                To be very clear though, if I’d managed to write that whole chapter I would be so pleased with myself. It was AMAZING. You’re gifted and have great ideas. Also, I wish I could think of that many different words - I don’t think I saw any times that you repeated yourself with the same word. It was easy to read and I want to know more, which I think it’s the most important take away.

                                Please post another chapter! It would be great to see what happens!

                                Also thank you for putting up with my feedback - I’ve never been on or part of an online forum, I hardly even comment on my own pictures on Facebook. But I don’t want to be deadweight either.

                                Hope something helps amongst all that - please keep writing it I’d definitely read it.

                                Ellie

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                                • Thank you so much for the feedback, Eleanor!

                                  I'm really pleased you liked the chapter, and I completely agree with what you and others have said about needing more information about the 'practicalities' of Membra's life. It's a fine line to tread between giving the reader enough detail to be able to visualise her activities and providing so much information that the book becomes more about how she does things rather than what she does. That would run counter to my intention of writing her as much as possible as if I was writing a perhaps more conventional protagonist.

                                  It was really kind of you to take the time and trouble to comment, and I'm really grateful. It always helps to have feedback; you can never have too much, I think.

                                  Thank you again!

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                                  • That’s an absolutely excellent point - you don’t want to focus too much on how, you’re right. It’s genuinely going to amazing when your finished, I’m sure of it.

                                    Having worked with adults with learning disabilities for close to seven years I think I can get stuck in the mindset on how they, or even I, could enable any activity they wished to do. So I’m even more excited for more material!

                                    If I can even write a little bit like you I will be happy - it really was very good :) and also I’m so impressed with how great everyone is at taking feedback - they really are a great group of people. 

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                                  • Also I’m very late to the party, apologies 

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                                    • No need to apologise at all! Feedback is always welcome, at any time! Thank you again. 😄 

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                                    • A bit late but I read this the other day and it really hooked me. I had already read the elevator pitch, so I knew a couple of things before I started, but my most generic feedback was: I liked it! 

                                      So, contrary to what someone above mentioned, I really liked how you jumped straight into the physical world-building and I appreciated how it was all very engrained in the action. The whole "to the east", "to the west" descriptions worked really well for me, but I am a very visual person, so I could really picture it as it went. There came a point where the world-building in between each locking pin felt a bit exhausting, and I did wonder if I could keep up the pace if the whole book was like that (though I was aware that I doubted it would be, the thought crossed my mind).

                                      I would agree that the "urchin story seemed to me the least relevant to that moment in time, but I liked how it gave a picture of the character in her youth. Some bits about the systems and organisations mentioned I found a bit confusing, but it's the sort of detail that in fantasy, if it confuses me, I make a note of it and wait for it to be mentioned again so I cn link back to what I already read.

                                      But the overall feeling is definitely: I'm hooked with Membra. I'm hooked with the world and withe her situation, and I'm itching to read what's about to go wrong. I look forward to read more for sure!

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                                      • Thank you for the kind words, and I'm really pleased you liked it. I'm very happy that you felt hooked by Membra and her world. that's great to know! I posted a short snippet of a later chapter a short time ago, and I'm hoping that I'll have further excerpts ready for posting in due course, hopefully introducing other characters and maybe revealing a bit more about the repercussions of Membra's strangely over-compensated thieving expedition! Thanks again for reading this, and commenting. It's much appreciated!

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                                      • Hey just gave this a read! Nice stuff, loved the vivid imagery that you painted throughout and definitely intrigued enough about the character and what is happening to want to read on! Could never compete with the detailed feedback provided by others, all I would say is I found it perhaps a little bit too much information to take in all in one go, so maybe you could break things up a little.

                                        Oh and Love the opening quote by the way, very clever way of setting the scene! Ended on a good moment as well, as definitely curious as to what happens next!

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                                        • Hi David. Thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, and I take your point about the level of information! Thanks for noticing the 'quote', too! Membra having been essentially brought up in a library, and being a voracious and wide reader, I thought it would be fun to have every chapter introduced by a short passage from some fictional book or other from her collection... as you say, to hint at what's coming in the chapter.

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                                          • Not a problem! :-)

                                            And I think that would be a great idea! Really clever way of setting the scene and providing us with more insight into Membra ! :-)

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                                          • Hi Jon, Thanks for sharing your work with us.

                                            I enjoyed reading the first chapter. I got the name Membra. It made perfect sense to me. Is it a nickname or a name. Just curious.

                                            I think the story moved at a good pace. It was easy to read and the imaginary world worked for me. I feel like the way you describe the scene around Membra fits in well pace wise with the fact that she is suspended high in the air in a precarious position. I feel like you have plenty of time to revisit that in the story.  I can see that you did a good deal of research. It's amazing how much we learn when we are writing. One main comment is that I think some of the flashbacks slowed it down a bit and maybe there is another way to work in the information which I know that you need to get in there.  

                                            Great job. Looking forward to reading more.

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                                            • Thank you so much, Nancy! Although, this is an older posting, and this chapter  will probably not be the first in the book now. I've had a bit of a rethink and changed the ppoint of view to first person, as well as moving the beginning of the book to twelve years or so before this scene occurs! 

                                              So although this scene will probably appear in the final book, it won't be the first chapter or be quite the same. 

                                              The new beginning of the book is here: https://community.jerichowriters.com/page/view-discussion?id=731

                                              It's really good to have your thoughts on this chapter as it is, though, and I'm very grateful that you read it! Again, thank you so much! 🙂 

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                                              • Your welcome. Thanks for the update. It's funny. I got an email about the post, and that's how I knew about it.

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