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This is chapter 3 of Cliffton book 1. It's based on a story I wrote during LJ Idol (which is here, if you're curious). I was never happy with it, and once I started developing Brendan as a character, it was super apparent the voice was wrong, too. As always, concrit is appreciated.

If you're reading Cliffton for the first time, here are the previous chapters so you can catch up:
1 | 2




"Teacher, I've finished." I step back from the board. "May I go now?"

She looks up at the board. I will not make farting noises in class, one hundred times exactly.

"Yes, Master Murdock," Teacher sighs.

I don't wait for her to say more. Instead, I run out to the yard. Kalen. Where is he? He should be easy to find. Blonde hair stands out. The other kids know it, too. What if they hurt him while I was gone? I don't see him anywhere. My stomach starts to ache.

Then he's here, tugging my sleeve. No wonder I didn't see him. He's covered in mud.

"Kalen, what happened?"

He's crying so hard he can't talk. Hugging my arm. Sniffling. Shaking.

Kalen's so smart he's in second year with me instead of first like other kids his age. Mother says it's so they don't have to split us up. We've always been closer than twins, but I know the real reason. Kalen's good at everything. Better than me.

Better than me at everything except making friends.

The crowd of boys nearby is pointing. Laughing. I start to get mad. Real mad, the scary way. I can't see right. It's like nothing's really real. Like I'm watching the playground on neurovision.

"Which one of you hurt Kalen?" I yell at the boys. I don't remember walking over to them.

No one answers. They're not laughing now. Good. Let them be scared. Hurt, like they made my brother feel.

"You better tell me now, else I'll beat you all." I can do it, and they know it.

They all point at once. Braddock Kingston. I punch him in the nose, hard. Crack. I feel and hear it as his nose breaks. The other boys just stare as I walk away.

Kalen's still crying like the tiny child he is when I come back. I punch him, too.

"That's for not sticking up for yourself."

Blood runs from his nose, but he doesn't wipe it away. He's still just looking at me when I hear Teacher's voice behind me. "That's enough, Master Murdock. You're suspended for a week."

I'm still so mad I barely feel it as she pulls me inside by my ear.

* * * * *

"Father'll whip us, won't he?" Kalen holds a cloth to his bloody nose.

Mother just shook her head when she came to fetch us. Father won't be so kind.

"He'll whip me for sure. Only thing you did wrong was not fighting back. Father won't whip you for that. If he tries I'll tell him I already did."

"I'm never going back there, Brendan."

"Everyone has to go to school. And it'll get better. I'll help you."

"How?" Kalen sniffles. "Nobody likes me. I'm too different. Too small. Too smart."

"You just need to show them they can't push you around," I say.

"But they can," Kalen whines. "They're all bigger than me. It's never a fair fight."

"That's why you've got to find a different way to beat them." I'm not smart like Kalen, but I've got an idea.

"Like what?" Kalen looks hopeful, at least.

I think for a minute. "What if Braddock got some Itching Nanites in his lunch? Or if someone reprogrammed his Science Robot to sass Teacher?"

"I'd get in trouble!" He's smiling, though.

"Only if he told on you to Teacher." I smile too. "He probably wouldn't. Same reason you didn't. We're supposed to be fighters. A fighter can take care of himself, wouldn't cry to Teacher. Once they see you're one, they'll leave you alone."

Kalen's quiet, thinking.

"It can't hurt to try, can it?" I ask him.

"Guess not." He throws his arms around me. "Thanks, Brendan. You're the best brother in the whole world."

* * * * *

The anger bubbles up inside me as I stare at Kalen's back. My fists clench up all on their own, and I have to will them to stop. Have to force myself to take deep breaths and relax, because I know what'll happen if I don't. If I get too mad, I'll mess up - always do when I get too mad.

Now that I know where my brother's been going when he sneaks out at night, I wish I didn't.

All I wanted was for things to be the way they were before. We've always told each other everything. Shared everything. I looked out for Kalen, taught him how to fit in and made sure he was never left out. Now Kalen's the one everyone likes, and he doesn't have time for me. No time to help me with my studies like he used to do. No time for Robot Scrabble, Tank Yahtzee or the dreams we used to whisper when we huddled under our blankets at night.

I've known all along he was hiding something. All the girls look at him, fascinated by his pale hair and eyes, his tall, lithe body and easy charm. Kalen never gives them a second glance, doesn't even notice. Never really notices me anymore, either. He's constantly tinkering with those robots of his, but does he ever make them shoot anything? Not even once. It's not natural.

Now I know, though. That's not all he's been hiding. Not even close.

When Kalen started sneaking out, I knew he must be meeting someone. Knew he didn't care for girls and I figured maybe he liked boys instead. His perfect friends at school wouldn't like that too much, would they? What I never understood was why he wouldn't tell me. Why he wouldn't trust me. And that hurt more than anything - still does. Only now I understand.

I was right about one thing. Kalen's meeting a boy, if you can call the person standing in front of him that.

Even if I weren't looking at him from across the fence, I'd know he was from the Other Side. People here don't look like that. Kalen's taller than Father already, taller than everyone in tenth year, and this guy towers over even him. He's freakishly long and lean, the planes of his face angular in the weak glow of the lamps that light the border.

Can't hear their words no matter how I strain my ears. Guess the words don't matter. Kalen's being a traitor does.

* * * * *

"These marks will have you waitlisted a year or more." Father's lips are pursed, his eyes colder than a winter sky. "You have to do better, or you'll be lucky to be enlisted at all."

I bite my lip and keep silent. It's not like I don't know this already. Not like I don't try to do better.

"Why can't you be more like your brother?" Father shakes his head. "Kalen always gives it his all."

Rage washes over me, and I know I'm supposed to try to fight it. Only I kind of don't want to, because the anger's all I have. It's with me all the time now, lurking just below the surface. But I don't want to be a monster, don't want to lose control. So I grit my teeth as the edges of my vision go fuzzy. Father keeps talking, but I'm no longer hearing his words.

Kalen always gives it his all.

Of course he does. It's all I can do not to laugh in Father's face. I nod at the appropriate places and promise to do better, as if I can without Kalen's help. Meanwhile, I focus on keeping my breathing even, making the world stay real. Losing my temper won't help. Father's not the one I'm really mad at anyway. I keep telling myself that over and over until he's finally done talking and I'm dismissed.

Kalen always gives it his all.

I can't get Father's words out of my mind. Can't shake their annoying cadence as I retreat to my room and close the door.

* * * * *

"Ashlynn Farrell likes you." I curse myself for my stupidly obvious statement. Every girl likes Kalen.

"So?" Kalen doesn't even look up from the robot he's working on.

"Half the kids in tenth year want to date you," Rage rises like bile in my throat. Guess we're not talking about a girl anymore at all. "The rest want to be you. And all you care about are your stupid robots and those weird insurgents you keep sneaking out to meet. What a fucking waste."

"How did you - " For once, I've got Kalen's undivided attention. "You're not going to tell anyone, are you?"

My stomach clenches up with anger. Of course that would be his first thought. Never mind what I think of what he's doing. Or how it could ruin what little chance I still have at a fighting career.

"Don't worry, little brother," I snarl. "I won't tell anyone you're not who they think you are."

Apparently, that really is all Kalen cares about, because he relaxes immediately. Too bad my stomach doesn't.

"Why the fuck would you do that, though, bro? You have everything a kid could want - perfect grades, popularity, a guaranteed spot on a fighting squad. Why would you risk it all?" My whole body feels hot, and I know I'm going to lose control if I don't get out of here soon. I turn and head for the door.

"It's not about what I want," Kalen calls after me. "Haven't you ever wondered what we're fighting for?"

I'd ignore him, maybe, but something about his tone stops me. "No, and if you had any sense, you wouldn't either."

"It's just... the Other Side - they're people too." Kalen actually sounds sincere. "They're people just like us."

"Whatever, bro," I snort, because it's either that or smack him. Kalen's got everybody else fooled, but I know he doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. Only there's passion in his voice, and that's what makes me maddest of all. It's bad enough being second to school pals I know he only tolerates. But somehow he cares about those... those people on the Other Side more than me, too.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Kalen's got that defensive, entitled tone, and that means danger for me.

"Who the hell are you to talk about people, Kalen?"

Just like that, it's like I'm seeing him through some kind of weird rounded lens. It would be so easy to let the rage swallow me up. So easy to drown in it. Then I wouldn't have to think about this anymore. Wouldn't have to wonder why my brother trusts one of them over me. I could just be the monster and let the monster be me. Monsters don't have brothers, and they don't have to care.

I don't want to be a monster, though, so I fight with all I have to keep control. It's harder every day. Kalen may be clueless, but even he can see I'm struggling. I can tell by the fear in his eyes. Oddly enough, I think that's what brings me back.

"It's all just a fucking game to you," I finally choke out.

"What else is it supposed to be?" Kalen's watching me like I might explode at any moment. I really might. "Why do girls and dances matter when there's a War out there? A War I'm forced to fight, whether I believe in it or not."

"People matter, Kalen." I throw up my hands, but I'm starting to feel calmer. "For a genius, you can be so fucking stupid. I see the way you are - keeping everyone at arms' length, even me. Stop acting like you're better than me just because I want friends. You can't just go through life alone and have it be okay. No one can."

"Brendan, those people at school aren't my friends. They'd turn on me in a second, given the chance."

"I used to be your friend. Now you don't need me anymore." My knees feel weak. Guess the monster's gone for now.

"You're still my friend." Kalen's voice is dull, unconvincing. "You're my brother. Nothing can ever change that."

* * * * *

I sit in my hard metal chair, palms sweating and back straight as a board. Proud young men in uniform grin at me from posters on the shiny metal walls. The lights are hot against my neck as the recruiter smiles and asks for my name. When I give it, the smile freezes on his face.

"Murdock." He looks suddenly ill. "Like the boy at the fence last week?"

My heart stops for a moment, and all I can do is nod.

"No relation, though, I'm sure." His smile is back, but it doesn't reach his icy blue eyes.

"I - uh." I'm pretty sure the look on my face is all the answer he needs, but I have to say something. "Is there any chance I can take his place? I'm still on the waiting list."

"Family members of terrorists are ineligible to serve." The recruiter's eyes are hard, like Kalen's on the day he died. "Both your draft numbers will be reassigned to new candidates."

"B- but, I've always been a loyal citizen," I stammer. "It's not my fault!"

Only I know that's a lie. I remember the night he came home, flushed as if with fever, eyes burning bright.

Listen to me, Brendan, he pleaded. It's just not worth it - all this death. I have to stop it, and I know how.

Shut up, Kalen, I said. That's crazy talk. The War brings us life. It's treason to speak against it.

All those times I wished he'd talk to me, and when he did I wouldn't listen. Didn't take him seriously. If only I had, I could have saved him, maybe. Could have saved myself.

A group of Security Robots appear out of nowhere, surrounding me. I scream and thrash as their cold pincers bite into my flesh. Before I know it, I'm lying in a heap on the pavement outside the building, watching their metal backs as they leave me there like trash.

They're the last thing I see before the rage rises up in me again, threatening to overtake me. This time, I let it.


(Next chapter is here)

Date: 2012-11-06 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
That last line, dude. That literally just makes the whole piece for me. The whole time Brendan is obviously struggling to keep his rage in check and then he finally lets take hold of him. Because you know he's absolutely lost everything he's cared about at this point.

I think even after seeing this piece, I still really, really like Brendan. Even feel for him. It's hard to compete when your sibling is perfect, y'know? And then said perfect sibling still fucks everything over for him? Yeah, I'd be pissed, too.

Good job. :D

Date: 2012-11-06 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
You know what's weird? I got to the end and was like, "I don't know if I really addressed Brendan's anger issues enough in this." I had to go back and look to see that yes, they were mentioned like every 5 seconds. Weird how much less effort it is to write emotion for an emotionally honest character.

I like him, too. His anger issues really aren't his fault and yeah, Kalen's obviously a trigger but hell. Kalen makes me kinda angry, too. And Kalen pretty much fucks up his whole life. And keeps fucking it up later. It's hard to blame him for his rage and the bullshit he learned by living in his bullshit society.

Thanks, glad you liked. :)

Date: 2012-11-06 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alien-writings.livejournal.com
I felt way bad for Brendan in this piece because competing with a perfect sibling or even one who is just less fucked up (in the parents' eyes) than you? It sucks.

And ugh at the fake way Kalen's all "you're still my friend." He totally screws Brendan over, doesn't he? It's pretty terrible, because Brendan just loses everything.

This was a good rewrite! :)

Date: 2012-11-06 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Being constantly compared to anyone and found lacking really sucks. :(

Funny thing is when I originally wrote that conversation from Kalen's POV I didn't think it was as fake. But now I see it was. And yeah, Kalen pretty much screws everyone over. Everyone.

Date: 2012-11-06 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pleasekillmel.livejournal.com
You are officially a meany pants because the more you write Brendan the more I like him.

Date: 2012-11-06 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Awww. I've felt bad for killing him like a million times but I can't take it back. Kinda wish it were Kalen instead, but Kalen wouldn't have given up his life to save CallaBot anyway. Even if he had, I guess it wouldn't have the same emotional impact. But yeah, I hate that he's the one who dies too. A lot.

Date: 2012-11-06 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pleasekillmel.livejournal.com
Yah, that would be a pretty major rewrite. Unless....the characters all ganged up on you and changed it. Then you'd be helpless but to kill off a different character. *nods*

:)

Date: 2012-11-06 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis42.livejournal.com
As many times as I've threatened to write Devin out of the book, it should probably be him. :-p

Date: 2012-11-07 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
I refuse to let that happen. =p

Date: 2012-11-07 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
You know I couldn't anyway. :-p

Date: 2013-02-04 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tai823.livejournal.com
Whoo hoo I'm finally getting off my ass and actually reading / responding! Go me!

The first thing is reading along and going "Wait what?!" when it said that Kalen died. That kind of came like a... like a left hook, honestly. I'm not saying it's a bad thing - it actually makes me think "HOLY CRAP WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FENCE" because damn that's one hell of a potent surprise.

I know you said a few times that you struggle with Brendan's POV, but honestly, he has a very strong and very clear voice. I can feel his rage and especially his devastation at Kalen's betrayal. In fact, you did an awesome job of showing his sense of betrayal from two perspectives - that Kalen betrayed their cause as a soldier, and that Kalen betrayed him as his brother. I love that balance of "serve the cause" and personal pain, because it shows so much about his character and makes him entirely human too, which makes it very easy to relate to him.

I love the smooth transition between different time periods, from childhood straight through to a week after the fence. You throw in enough clues and markers that the reader can figure out what "time" it is without bogging down in exposition.

I think the only crit I really have is that when Brendan is angry at Kalen, he keeps calling him bro, and that feels... unnatural almost. Because he's so angry and bro is such a personal term, that unless he's saying it in a cruel or ironic manner it just doesn't seem right. That was really the only thing that tripped me up.

The first and last sections are my favorite - everything in between is great, don't get me wrong, but if you put the first and last side by side, holy shit are they powerful. The transition is really smooth, Brendan's rage and pain growing and growing, but if you look at just the first and last it's like this shocking "holy shit look how wrong everything went" and I love it. The fact that he tried so hard and always come in second-best to his perfect brother and then gets denied the only thing he wants because Kalen screwed everything up? That broke my heart. Seriously. And though I still love Kalen, I want to kick him in the nuts something awful right now.

Date: 2013-02-04 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Yesssss... thank you for reading and responding and yay. :D :D :D

Unless you want spoilers, I will plead the fifth on what happened to Kalen and the stuff at the fence and all that. You will get to find out some of that in chapter 4 and (I think) the rest of it in chapter 8, which is what I'm editing next time I have edit time.

I'm getting a better handle on Brendan's voice as I go, I think. One thing is I have to know most of what's going to happen in a scene before I can hear his voice well. He's a man of action. :D Oh, and I have mentioned this before 5346537547423 times but Devin talks over him. A lot. I have a 4k-ish Brendan chapter near the middle of the book I'm going to have to gut because Devin wouldn't shut up the whole time. So irritating.

Thank you so much for telling me his voice works for you here. And the time skips, because I am very time-skippy and I have at least one friend it confuses.

Good point on the "bro". I'm going to have to go through all of the stories and see how often I've done that now. Thank you!! :D

"Holy shit look how wrong everything went" is kind of the best summary of this book as a whole I can think of. Plot? Not sure it has a whole lot of plot. Things going horribly wrong? Yup, we've got that in spades here in Cliffton (which isn't even really called Cliffton).

I'm sorry I broke your heart, but I'm glad I did, too. And if this is the last time you want to kick Kalen in the nuts... well, let's just say it probably won't be. ;-)

Date: 2013-02-04 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tai823.livejournal.com
*laughs* No spoilers for me! I'm enjoying wanting to know everything. You're a damn tease with your writing! (and I say that with much love and admiration)

With the amount of time-skipping I do, it would be awfully hypocritical of me to say to you, "NO IT DOESN'T WORK CHANGE IT". That said, it's also really refreshing to see someone else who does it! A lot of people I know write very linear and while there's nothing wrong with that, it's cool finding a kindred spirit.

Any book that can be described as a "Holy shit look how wrong everything went" novel is definitely my favorite kind. Because happy endings are for chumps. ;)

Date: 2013-02-05 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winters-queen.livejournal.com
Oh wow, it's heartbreaking that last part. To realize that things could have changed, might have changed. But in the end, all it did was reinforce the old fail safe and not only did he lose his brother, but he can't enlist because of a familiy member's action. That he wouldn't be seen as an equal when he's been training for it all his life.

The last line clinches what he's been trying to avoid the entire chapter.

Date: 2013-02-05 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
You summed that up really well and I'm glad it worked for you. Brendan generally tries really hard and somehow Kalen manages to screw it all up for him without even realizing what he's doing.

Date: 2013-02-07 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tatdatcm.livejournal.com
The transition from protector to the one left out in the cold is awesome here.

I really, really like Brendan and you've done a really great job summing up his main issues in this chapter. Not only do you sketch a great picture of Brendan, but you add to Kalen's character at the same time, because even though it's through Brendan's eyes, it's an honest portrayal of Kalen too.

His conversation with Kalen about the girl who likes him kind of reinforces what I was saying in my comment on Chapter 1.

Date: 2013-02-08 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Yay! I really, really like Brendan and it sucks because he gets a totally shit deal in this book. I'm really glad this chapter worked for you. :D

I have the hardest time with Kalen's voice in this book. He doesn't really want to talk, which I guess makes sense. Despite my tendency to babble at you in comments, I can relate to that. It's a lot easier to get an accurate picture of him through the other characters' eyes sometimes.

I definitely see what you're saying about his cluelessness regarding girls. Calla's sooooort of an exception in that he has a crush on her, but that would probably make him even more clueless, if anything.

flow and pace

Date: 2013-03-11 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Okay, I'm sure I'm going to have a ton of comments again. You're probably going to hate me by the time I do this with every chapter. ;)

I just want to mention that I LOVED every scene in this chapter. They were great little vignettes of Kalen and his brother and showed some character development over time.

But the main thing I was looking at while reading was the flow from one chapter to the next so I'm going to comment on that first while it's fresh in my mind (I'll get to all the stuff I liked later).

I can tell from the comments that the time skips are kind of stylistic thing. I've used it before in stories but after reading this I'm going to rethink that for the one WIP I have. It was a lazy choice on my part because I didn't want to figure out what happened between the major scenes.

The first scene in this chapter works fine even with the other chapters. It comes off as a flashback. I kept expecting the next section to be from the character's POV as an adult but that doesn't happen until the end. Although the scenes are great they slow the storyline down. The action is supposed to take place after the bombing but there's all this build up for a new character and very little action until the end.

Then OMG there's that throw away line about Kalen that had my heart racing and my head spinning. I read the comments so I can kind of guess at where you're going but it was a real shock coming from a new reader. My first thought was if Kalen dies then the option 1 I told you about in my comments for ch. 2 would not work because it would get the people completely invested in Kalen's story only to have him killed off a couple chapters later. That would be devastating and piss off a lot of readers. Option 2 would work much better because you only see Kalen as he's ready to blow himself up.

But knowing he's not really dead (I assume) changes that opinion and leaves me with not a fucking clue how to plot out the beginning, lol. I'll have to reserve judgment after reading some more chapters.

I've been thinking about the flow still, though. A storyboard or timeline might be helpful for figuring things out. You could think of it as BB (before bomb) and AB (after bomb) and mark out each scene. So like ch.1-sc.1 would be like 3 months BB. Scene 2 would be 1 1/2 months BB. Ch.2 would be, what, 1 week BB (or days, whatever it is). Ch.3-sc.1 would be like 10-11 years BB. So on and so forth. Then plot them on a graph and see how they are all over the place.

Anyway you've got it starting at 3 months BB jumping to year zero in one chapter. Then jumping back to 1 week BB for an entire chapter. Then jumping way back to 11BB working steadily up until 1 week AB (which up until this point is the latest we've seen in the story).

I think this is as much about pacing as time flow. If the majority of the action takes place after the bombing you can't slow things down with a bunch of stuff that happens before--way before in some cases.

There's nothing inherently wrong with jumping around. I think it could work but it would probably be better if the chapters were short, one time period and moved between them at a steady pace. I think. Obviously I'm no expert. I'm just going with instinct as a reader of this kind of story (I read a ton of YA dystopian shit).

flow and pace part 2

Date: 2013-03-11 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
What I think (again read with a grain of salt) would work to get some of these scenes into the story is start with the first two but don't separate them, have them flow one right to the next. Like have Father get them from school and be even more pissed he had to leave his job to do it. Show Brendan protecting Kalen even more. The emphasis on Kalen's "weakness" and inability to defend himself says a lot about his character and makes his resistance to fighting in ch. 1 make a lot more sense. Then skip to Brendan in the recruiters office but have him sitting there alone sweating and being really nervous and thinking back on how Kalen has basically screwed up his life because of the betrayal. Kind of set the scene then have him fall back into another flashback of finding Kalen with Devin/Wes at the fence. Or skip that scene and add it into the scene where he confronts Kalen (the one that starts with them talking about the girl). Skip the one about his grades or have the recruiter mention it or something.

I think that would pace out better. Of course that totally depends on what you do with chapters 1 and 2 and what comes after. So I'll probably change my mind. I'm just throwing out things that come to me while I read.

I'm trying to keep in mind when the bulk of the story takes place. I only know after the bombing but does it start with right after like Brendan in the office a week later or is that kind of a flashback in itself. If the story progresses pretty linearly from the bombing (seeing how it affects each character) then what I said would work. If the bulk happens months after jumping forward then even my idea would slow the pace down because you want to get to the action. Flashbacks can be an effective tool to reveal information but you can't bombard a chapter with them. A few here and there.

Some of the information in this chapter could even be reworked to be a flashback Kalen has about his brother and what happened between them.

Anyway, just some things to think about. I'll come back to the flow/pacing probably every chapter because I'm not sure it's working as is. It feels more like a set up for a short story where stuff has to be condensed. I get that feeling since that's mostly what I write with my fanfic and I've used this technique to keep the word limit down. But this is a novel and should expand on the action, not skip parts.

Ugh. I feel like I've taken over as your editor without even being asked and then I'm plastering this up on your LJ for everyone to see. I really, really want to help, though. And I don't want to sound all demanding and bitchy. I really want to work with you to make this the best book it can be. Maybe it will save some professional editor some work later on. Or they might just tear it all up again because I suck as an editor, lol.

Re: flow and pace part 2

Date: 2013-03-12 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Please, please, please. Play the editor all you want! I am loving this and the only reason I'm not already bombarding you with squillions of long-winded replies to all your amazing crit is that a) I'm taking time to let bits of it process and b) my meds are making me really tired and possibly a little dumb. But I am so appreciating this and I'm ecstatic that you're taking the time to do this.

You are absolutely right that this chapter sorely needs worldbuilding. I will admit i get so stuck in my characters' heads that sometimes I miss the fact that there is stuff outside of them. Devin's chapter got the most worldbuilding of the three because he doesn't get out much and therefore things "out" were noticeable and and interesting to him. But now that you've pointed it out, it seems so obvious that chapter 3 screeeeeeams for some worldbuilding. Thank you.

I really, really am going to come back soon and have more comments to your suggestions, particularly the structural ones. I've been thinking in particular how I could rework chapter 1 and have some thoughts I want to share. Overall, I do think the first three chapters are choppier and skipper and then things become more linear as I go. I need to figure out ways to make it feel like less of an abrupt shift.

Please, please please don't feel you're imposing. Your comments are thought-provoking and amazing. And if you get to chapter four, please rip it to tiny bits because I've never been happy with that one and it needs help.

More later, I promise!

Re: flow and pace part 2

Date: 2013-03-12 05:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I accept the job as first editor. :)
I will continue to take my duties seriously and comment with honesty and thoroughness.

That sucks about your meds. Hope you feel less dumb in the morning. I stopped taking my one pill because PMS was over and now I feel crappy. I felt so damn good while taking it. Not a lick of PMS or my normal spiral into the depths of crazy-town. It's the happiest I've ever been so when I stopped taking it... I've just felt blah. Wants to cry and beg my doctor to let me take it all the time. I don't see him again, though, until May. I've got plenty of pills if I wanted to take them every day. It's very tempting but my husband is afraid my body would get too used to them and then they wouldn't help with the crazy PMS.

I'll probably get through chapter 4 tomorrow. I started reading it today but got distracted by Jack (my 2yo) and something else that I can't even remember now. I think I was jotting down names and separating scenes in my novel. Then my other kids get home at 3 and 4 and all hell breaks loose. They give me no peace until they are in bed. I'm looking forward to it, especially since you want me to tear it apart.

Re: flow and pace part 2

Date: 2013-03-13 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Ugh, I have crazy PMS too which is apparently actually PMDD. It also lasts for 7 days out of my very short cycle (23-24 days) so it's difficult to predict in time to medicate just during that period of time. Which is why I'm on an SSRI all the time now. And I think I forgot to take it yesterday, whoops.

What do you take for your PMS? If it's something like Xanax or another benzodiazepine, most docs won't let you take it all the time because it's physically addictive and you'll also build a tolerance pretty quickly. If it's something like Prozac or another SSRI they probably will let you. Of course there's other stuff besides those two kinds of meds, but those are both really commonly use for anxiety.

Re: flow and pace part 2

Date: 2013-03-14 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I'm on Wellbutrin and Abilify every day. And now I take Paxil for the PMS. I think I was on Paxil once by itself a long time ago but it didn't help. Much different when combined with the other meds.

The doctor gave me a 90 day supply because that's what my insurance will cover and the pharmacist warned me about the interaction with the Abilify and seizures (which is also a concern mixed with the Wellbutrin as my doctor explained it). When I explained they were only for 1 week each month she said that was much better. All 3 are really low dosage though. I'll wait until May and see what he says.

I have a feeling I'll be looking forward to that time next month just for all the happy feel good. It literally was the happiest I've ever been.

what I liked

Date: 2013-03-11 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Okay, I said I'd come back to the things I liked.

That would be almost EVERYTHING about these scenes. I especially loved the first scene. It was just the right amount of showing and telling about the history of Brendan and Kalen. It sets up a relationship of trust and caring that makes you wonder for the future: Does Brendan stay loyal and at Kalen's side? Do they have a falling out because of Kalen's attitude about the war?

It's pretty obvious from just this small scene that Brendan is a natural fighter and takes it seriously. He's an Alpha male, a protector, honorable (in his own mind). Kalen is small, weaker, bullied and ostracized by his classmates which Big Brother takes offense to. I love the fact that Brendan punches Kalen, too, for not sticking up for himself. He doesn't treat Kalen like he's weak and a baby like the other kids. He wants him to be strong. And I would assume that's why Kalen turned into the boy we meet in the first chapter who is smart, observant, self-confident. I also LOVED that Kalen didn't cry after getting hit. He just accepted the criticism of his behavior and went with it. It shows he's already grown some--from crying over being bullied to accepting a punch in the nose for being a wimp.

I think my favorite part was the teacher hauling Brendan back inside by his ear, lol.

I like scene two in it reveals more about the kids' homelife. That Kalen is afraid of their father but Brendan is not. It's the difference in their personalities again and it comes out really well in the writing. I think, though, it would work better combined with scene one (as mentioned above). Like get rid of the throw away line of mom being there and instead having them sitting in the principal's office waiting to get picked up and discussing what will happen to them. Then have the dad pick them up. Really show the kind of person he is and what they'll have to grow up with. That kind of abuse will shape a person completely. But they will react to it differently. Brendan will probably use it to fuel his obsession with being a soldier, being the best fighter so he can one day stand up to his father. Kalen would most likely try to be perfect to avoid conflict. At least that's what I get from the two scenes.

Although I like what scene 3 reveals I think it could be cut and parts of it added to the other scenes. It's mostly just Brendan ruminating on his brother and slows the pace down. Most of the information could easily be parts of the other scenes. I really, really like how it starts though. It's a contrast from the end of the 2nd scene where he's kind of being tender with his brother. Then right away he's pissed at him. It shows that something has shifted in their relationship over time. Although the time jump is significant and threw me at first.

Scene 4 is great in that it shows some world building (I'll talk more about that later). You get some glimpses into their society and it sets up the growing tension between the brothers with the dad's preference of Kalen. Or at least that's Brendan's interpretation. Kalen would probably have a completely different one where he thought his father loved Brendan more because he was a competent fighter and had a future as a soldier (which is like the most proud thing to do in their society). But it's a short scene just tossed in there.

(more)

Re: what I liked

Date: 2013-03-13 11:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I'm really glad you mentioned the abusive dad because I tend to forget the influence that has on Kalen's and Brendan's personalities and character development later. One of the characters has an abusive parent (sense a theme here? whoops) and while I think that's only mentioned once or twice in the book it's really clear to me how it's an influence on that character's personality.

Calla, Wes, and even Devin tend to talk about their pasts a lot more in my head than Kalen and Brendan do. I think it's because Kalen and Brendan have been raised by nature to be more action-oriented (even though Kalen's pretty passive throughout a lot of the book), so the stuff I get from them tends to be a lot more in the moment. Whereas the other three will be all "and that reminds of this time when blah blah blah". It's weird.

And the dad really does prefer Kalen and I think mostly limits his abuse to Brendan. I'm not sure if this is because Kalen becomes the golden boy or because Brendan willingly takes the abuse in Kalen's place but I think (a) it's a little of both and (b) Kalen basically does not appreciate this. At. All. I don't think he's even aware of what Brendan goes through because he's very absorbed in how hard it is to pretend to everyone else his whole life to be something he's not.

And all of this is depth that hasn't come out in the story yet so I'm glad we are talking about it. Because this obviously is going to add depth to their roles in the story and their relationship with each other. Also, there are times when Kalen and/or Brendan behave similarly in some ways to my other character with an abusive parent and oh, okay, I kind of get it now.

Re: what I liked

Date: 2013-03-14 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I can picture the conflict between Kalen and Brendan better now. Now I see it more like maybe Brendan started out being the good big brother trying to protect and help Kalen but then he realized Kalen got more attention from their father (attention he perhaps wanted) and that Kalen was completely unappreciative of what Brendan was doing for him. So then the anger builds. I can see it then fueling the soldier side of him to try and impress his father.

Some really good tidbits to work into the story. Revealing it slowly through flashbacks and their general attitude towards each other would be a good way to go. Then have it finally explode where they ave to deal with it.

A couple questions that popped into my head for background stuff: What does Kalen and Brendan's parents do for a living? Was their father a soldier or a techie or something else? Was their mom more loving? Was she abused in any way? Did she ever try to stop the favoritism and abuse on the boys? That could effect the storyline for them, too. Nothing that has to be shown in the book but things to consider.

more of what I liked

Date: 2013-03-11 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
(continued)

What I think would work better (here I go again) is have the recruiter come into the room, introduce himself and start talking to Brendan like a regular recruit. I think the line about him not being related to Kalen and Brendan realizing the recruiter actually knows sets up the rest. Then the recruiter could talk about his past grades and how he just barely squeaked by to be considered as a soldier. Just when Brendan is relaxing then the recruiter could spring it on him that family of traitors aren't allowed to serve which would be even more devastating. Since Brendan thinks Kalen died it could set up some internal guilt, too, that he's sad his brother is gone but pissed as hell for him ruining his life.

Scene 5 (I think) leaves me a little conflicted. It's the one I liked the least. I liked how it started with the talk about the girl then Brendan letting Kalen know he's on to him about his secret friends. The anger issues Brendan has really come to light. What I had issues with was how Kalen talks about how the other side is people, too. Which pisses Brendan off but later one he mentions that people matter (referring to people on their side). It comes off as really hypocritical which is fine, it works for his character but it would work better if Kalen mentions the hypocrisy or even Brendan realizes how it sounded.

I love the ending of this scene the best. The flatness of Kalen's remark about them still being friends is perfect. It shows that Kalen has changed, too. That everything has changed (as it happens when we grow up). I like that it seems he isn't as bothered by this change as Brendan. It gives Brendan depth and makes you wonder about Kalen... if he's really like the boy we met in ch.1 who seemed caring and altruistic.

BUT I think this scene should be combined with elements of scene 3 and then used as a flashback in the last scene to keep the sequence of events rolling in some logical fashion. Unless, of course, you want it to be all over the place and then I'd have to reevaluate my idea of the flow to find something that really works (and read more chapters to get a feel for the rest of the story).

Also, Brendan's voice was great. He sounded like a very conflicted, angry, confused young man. But one that still has other feelings--he loves his brother a lot but has been betrayed which leads to the conflicted feelings. He cares about people but can't think of those on the otherside as real people because it would probably break him. He uses his anger to fuel his need to be a fighter. I can imagine, without being in the army, fighting, Brendan is going to have a hard time. I picture his character spiraling out of control with nowhere to aim his anger and end up causing himself (and others on both sides) a ton of pain (emotionally more than physically). He'd become a loose cannon in a war that has no point.

Re: more of what I liked

Date: 2013-03-13 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Oh oh oh. I just had the best idea. So you know how I just babbled forever about how Brendan takes the abuse for Kalen and Kalen doesn't get it and blah? THAT'S what Brendan's flashback chapter should focus on and it should probably be near the late-middle of the book where some of his rage really comes up as a major plot point.

THIS chapter should focus on mostly the present with some flashbacks interspersed. I'm not sure if I should still start it with the scene of them as kids or move it to the flashback chapter.

Re: more of what I liked

Date: 2013-03-14 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I'm answering these in the order they appear in my inbox so they might overlap or contradict each other as I read more of the comments.

That sounds like a great flashback scene. I'll be looking forward to that reveal.

This chapter could be right after the bombing (the recruiter scene) and he could flashback to when they were kids when he's thinking about Kalen being dead. It would be kind of sad--show that he really did love his brother--but after he doesn't get to be a soldier it will really make their conflict seem more real. The reader will want to know how they got from that caring older brother when they were kids to wanting to kill each other in the next chapter. Then you can slowly reveal that with flashbacks using the other scenes (and maybe some new madeup ones of their past).

That could work effectively.

world building

Date: 2013-03-11 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Told you I'd touch on this again.

I feel, that into chapter 3 there should be more world building. Especially in a dystopian novel. We get glimpses of how things are on each side but they are like tidbits. I want more. Quit teasing me already!

I know from reading that Calla's side is a patriarchal, misogynist society where woman are basically property and good for only a few things. This I can picture easily because, although I didn't live through it, this world existed not to long ago. But I want to know more about how her world works. I LOVED the job titles in the first chapter. I want to know some of the male jobs. I want to know what their houses look like. We know there are arranged marriages. How do those work? What kind of tech do they have? How are schools run? Calla mentions going into teaching little girls. Are the sexes segregated? Why does Calla have such a different opinion even after indoctrination? What happened to her to? Is it that she just sees things differently or do most women not accept the status quo but have no way or inclination to change things?

Obviously those can't be answered in the chapters I've read. But they are things to think about.

As for Kalen's side... there's more opportunity to expose the world since all 3 chapters take place on his side and 2 of them are from the POV of people that live there. I love what's been mentioned like the festival and games and movies. It's a little glimpse into life. Those work fine like that because they aren't really important to the plot. But the fact that this side is heavily military and obsessed with war I want to know how that works? What kind of schooling do they get before they are soldiers? What happens if they don't have an aptitude for fighting? Are they forced to fight anyway? (I kind of assume because of things Kalen said.) Do girls fight, too? (I think they should have the same training as the guys.) What are some other choices for the young fighters? How does their leisure time relate to their schooling/training.

From Calla's chapter I gather there isn't a lot of time for leisure on her side. From Devin's chapter I can see they don't have a lot of frills. Things are utilitarian. But that Kalen's side is into the fun stuff. Do they train hard and play just as hard? Something to keep the masses minds off of the war and to keep the soldiers' spirits up?

I want more and more details. I know this is hard being from 1st person POV especially when you are trying to keep them in character. Funny thing is we get the most world building in Devin's chapter when he's the least likely to give details about his life.

There's also the flow/pace to keep in mind since I hound about that with every chapter. There has to be a way to add more world building to the first few chapters without screwing it all up. Chapter 3 has a lot of good information about their lives from how things are when they are kids to the way people join the military. That could maybe be extended to add a few more details about the military and how they train and recruit. Maybe Brendan could mention how hard he's been training, how his whole life has been leading up to being in the army. It would make Kalen's betrayal more significant.

I think world building is kind of one of those things authors (probably especially new ones) skimp on or forget because in our minds we can already perfectly picture the world we're writing in. We forget that the reader only knows what we tell them. I've had to force myself to describe settings more and build up what the lives of my characters are like. It's not as hard in my novel since it's set in contemporary times but I'm still lacking in parts. It's supposed to take place here in the Pacific Northwest and I've done nothing to capture the natural beauty that is here.

world building part 2

Date: 2013-03-11 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
You want the reader totally immersed in the setting which happens when they can accurately picture the world. This is especially important in books that take place in other times/settings than our reality. I was thinking about this earlier in relation to the ages of the characters and your reasoning for not having Devin mention their ages. I think the problem I'm having (and this could just be me, other readers might not have this problem) is that when no information is provided my mind creates it's own set of details. Like I assumed in ch.1 that Kalen and Calla were around 17. Now if you go and tell me later on they are really 19 my mind is going to have a hard time replacing the image I've already come up with.

I had this happen in a book I read. For some reason I got a picture in my head about a certain character. I could perfectly picture her. But then the author ruined it by saying she looked completely different than what I thought. But the rest of the book I could NOT think of her in terms of the actual written description. Eventually I gave up and in my head she looked the way I envisioned and I changed the descriptions in the book to fit, lol. That seems to be how my mind works. Despite you telling me Devin and Wes are 20 and 21 I still picture them as 19 because that's what I initially figured. That's how I see them now. It's going to take me a lot to shift gears and see them as older. Although I understand your reasoning for leaving it open.

The same thing applies to the world building. With a lack of setting depiction and information about their societies I've already came up with my own ideas which may or may not mesh with what you have in mind and could throw me off later one when things are suddenly changed on me.

Again, some things to think about.

And, also, I really, really hate these character limits in comments. LJ needs to do something about that. Ugh.

Re: world building part 2

Date: 2013-03-13 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
For future reference: Kalen and Calla are 17, Brendan is 18, Devin is 21 and Wes is 22. Wes and Devin get described some by Brendan the next time they appear and Devin gets described even more by Calla in her next POV chapter because his appearance is relevant to her.

I'm trying to figure out a good way to allude to ages in chapter 2 without Devin having to come out and say them. He mentioned how long he and Wes had been living on sidea. They moved there right after dropping out of Multiversity, which was in Devin's first year and Wes's second (near the end of it, since the immediate motivating factor was Devin sucking at interviewing and getting assigned a profession he hated). So maybe there's a way that can come up somewhere in the chapter? I just feel like Devin would never just come out and say "we're this age" unless it was relevant to whatever was going on at the time. Calla and Brendan would probably both be more likely to do so, and also at least it's clear in their chapters that they're just finishing something like high school?

Re: world building part 2

Date: 2013-03-14 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Kalen and Calla also speak like teenagers. I could tell right away they were supposed to be around 17. It's hard to tell age based on things like schooling because you never know in a future fic what their school would be. They could go every day of the week, only until they are 13 or up until they are 25 or something. But it's a good hint that she says she is done with her schooling and moving on to be an adult and isn't ready.

I think the problem with Wes and Devin is they don't act their ages. Especially Wes so there's no real clues to suggest the age.

There could be something like when Kalen comes over/leaves where Devin thinks how he's 4 years older than the kid but Kalen might be smarter than him (way smarter?). Something that impresses him that Kalen does at such a young age.

I'll have to think on some subtle ways to add it in. It's not really important to worry about right now... something to put on the list to figure out later, yeah?

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-13 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Okay, here we go, but the toddler is down here now so my thoughts might be kind of scattered until he leaves for daycare.

I need to figure out more of the male professions. I do know that they are assigned based on an interview at the end of the first year of Multiversity, except in the case of the very wealthy, where they are influenced by the "pull" the various families have.

This isn't addressed enough, probably, but there's a smallish elite upper class that kind of lives by its own rules. I think most of them tend to be people who have become wealthy through tech, so some of them are probably pretty creepy. A fair number of them seem to be naive (and eccentric) scientist types as well. The only place I have ever written about this in my canon so far is a story that takes place way later in book 2 and is written mostly as a hallucinatory fantasy from another character's POV although I'm convinced there's an element of truth behind it.

But anyway, in the wealthy upper class, the rules kind of don't apply. Some of them are naive, eccentric types who allow or even encourage their kids to go to public school and Multiversity (the rich don't have to go to it since they can choose to work in family businesses) to see how "normal people" live, etc. Women tend to have volunteer jobs, like teaching music and other man-wooing skills to other rich women.

Education is segregated to an extent. Instructors are mostly women and teach girls-only classes about "girl stuff" like how to be good wives. They also teach co-ed classes on "general" subjects like language and stuff. For males-only subjects like math and tech, the Instructors and classes would be all male. And dammit, need to find my charger.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Interesting society. I like it. Definitely develop this even if it's just for your own sake. It will probably aid you in Calla, Devin and Wes' characterization. They will have had very different experiences growing up.

How do Devin and Wes each feel about that way of life. You said they didn't like their jobs (does that come up later because I totally want to know what they were), but since they are guys they wouldn't have had the oppression like Calla. Do they feel that was unfair to girls or are they so indoctrinated by the society that they see her as second class? Or did they used to think that way but over the years of being in sidea they've changed their minds and feel bad for what Calla has gone through? Were they ever matched by their parents in an arranged marriage? You mentioned that was another thing Wes hated (the social constricts of relationships) for obvious reasons. Being forced into an arranged marriage with a girl would be a very good reason for him to want to leave sideb.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Wes and Devin talk about their feelings on it some in a future chapter. Their experiences were both somewhat atypical growing up so they're a little weird overall.

I keep forgetting to say the marriages aren't exactly arranged. But if I explain it it's kind of a spoiler.

Wait, did I say Wes hated the social constructs of relationships? I'm confused because that's totally not a Wes thing. Although I'm not sure he's been in many relationships. Also, for what it's worth, I think he's bi. Although I'm not sure that comes up in the book(s) at all.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 02:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I was thinking more in terms that he's expected to marry a woman. If he was just gay that would be an issue.

I think what you said was he found sideb's definition of relationships confining. As in people weren't free to love who they wanted. If he's bi that could change things a little but I don't think it really matters if he's in love with Devin. Unless he flirts openly with both girls and guys and then Devin has a reason to be jealous of girls, too.

I didn't suppose all marriages were some kind of arrangment but kind of thought maybe they were common amongst the common people (that sounded weird). See, that's just what I got from the first chapters. Calla made it sound that way. Which could be fine to set up a reveal later on about how things really work. A few hints that there's more to it than a simple arrangement could be added in before the reveal for effect.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 12:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
As far as I can tell, there's no social stigma against men being gay on their side. It's just women who don't get a choice. And Wes is kind of "ooh, shiny" about anything pretty so it's hard to tell what's flirting and sexual interest and what's not. The only person he really wants to be with is Devin, though.

Calla's backstory chapter explains a lot more, although it might need to be modified to make it clearer how the marriage process works. I will have to figure out what little hints I can add in along the way.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 04:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
That's a cool fact about their world--the whole gay thing. Stuff that has no point being in the book but is really interesting to know. After the books are published you can blog about all these little things that didn't make it in. :)

I really like the idea that men have all these choices about all aspects of their lives (including sexual freedom which is sorely lacking in today's society--in practice anyway) but woman are stuck in like the 1800s or something. Well, except for the rich people who have always lived by their own set of rules through all of time. Stupid rich people.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
It was really weird. Most of that all came from when I wrote Calla's backstory which was... during NaNo, I guess? I did fake!NaNo, oops. But anyway all this stuff just like spilled out and I was like "whoa, where'd that come from?" I'm not rabidly political about women's issues so it surprised me but it's really helped me understand a lot about all of my characters from her side.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 09:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
See, that is how I do my character studies. I do it from their POV but it's just whatever they say their backstory is. In their own words. It's been really fun to do.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-13 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
(continued)

Okay, I got my charger and so yeah, what I was saying is that the upper class does have more time for leisure. And the naive scientist type portion of this leisure class really are naive because all military/surveillance tech is overseen by the government and outsourced piecemeal to the different tech companies. So, say the government wanted to build a really nasty device that screwed with people's minds. They'd task different tech companies with building different components and none of them would know what those components would be used to build.

I'm not clear on how the upper class came to be, but you're either born or marry into it. Even the servants for the very wealthy only come from a specific set of families -- they're technically considered a subset of the upper class, because even though they are servants, they have more privileges, freedom, and leisure time than the rest of the society.

A LOT OF THIS IS NOT IN THE BOOK ANYWHERE. Well, there are some details about the upper class having more freedom and being a little "different", but I have so much of Wes/Devin/Calla's side already built in my head and it's just not in the book anywhere except the little bits that are starting to come out the farther I get into the rewrite. Although it might be okay that these details aren't coming out too much at the beginning since most of the action of the book takes place on Brendan/Kalen's side anyway. Spoiler.

You're correct that Brendan/Kalen's side (sidea?) is more of the "work hard, play hard" type. They do have movies ("vids") and neurovision on sideb because those are good ways to numb out and distract the mind, and that side is a lot more mind-centric. I assume the less intelligent ones are the ones who are put into whatever actual military they do have on sideb.

On sidea, there are a lot of video games (like SimFighting, which Wes is obsessed with) and VR and leisure activities focused on fighting. They also have a lot of sports, although sideb also has some but as you'd guess they are less physical (this comes up a bit in chapter 11).

Sideb does have some other "leisure" activities in that young girls are expected to learn at least one skill to entertain a man (singing, dancing, etc). The well-off have a lot more options in this area because they can afford private lessons and instruments and have actual free time. Everyone else is kind of limited to things they can learn for free in public school.

I do really like your ideas for adding depth to this chapter and bringing it more into the present. And I think I'm pretty on board with doing that at this point and making Brendan's flashback chapter happen later (which I already blabbed about in another comment).

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
These are all great details for the world building. It's great to have them written down to refer to later when you need them. They will shape the characters, too.

See, your worldbuilding isn't bad, you just didn't add any of it into the story itself because you were focused on the characters. Now, in the next rewrite/edit you can start building their world up because you'll mostly have the characters down after this one. Kind of like layers of an onion except you aren't peeling them back, you are adding them in.

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
My worldbuilding for Kalen/Brendan's side needs work. As I go, I've been getting a few more details every time. And hahaha, I wonder how many times I will be rewriting this. :)

Re: world building

Date: 2013-03-14 02:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
As many as it takes.

But whatever you learn here you'll take onto your next project which, hopefully, won't need as much rewriting because you'll know how to world build better and stuff like that.
Edited Date: 2013-03-14 02:45 am (UTC)

Re: flow and pace

Date: 2013-03-13 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
So we've talked about the pacing some in the comments for chapter 4 and here are my thoughts so far. Most of the action of this book takes place after the bomb, but the entire "action" takes place over the course of a year. Which may mean the pacing of the book is too slow -- I don't know. But it's a coming of age story coupled with "wtf are we doing here" type stuff and it takes everyone a while to find their feet. And then they might stumble around a bit after that, too. They're kids/young adults in a really screwed up situation who have clearly bitten off more than they can chew, which I think despite the shittiness of chapter 4 you can at least get an impression of now.

There are flashback chapters for Brendan, Calla and Devin. Calla's is around the middle of the book and Devin's is near the end. Ideally, I'd like to end up still having a Brendan chapter that's mostly flashback although I'm open to moving it later in the book. Like, there's a place in the middle of the book where knowing more about his issues with Kalen and the extent of his rage could be more useful. Actually, there's a couple places -- Kalen brings up Brendan's rage issues to Wes in a chapter I'm going to be rewriting soon, but no one's really seen them besides Kalen at that point (unless you count Kalen and Brendan fighting in chapter 4, but Calla blames them both for that). And then there's another place in the late middle of the book where Brendan's rage is an important plot point, so that's another possible place I could move his flashback. I'll have to think about that. And it's hard to talk about without giving too much away, oops.

So one possibility would be for me to keep only the first two scenes here (combined into one as you suggested) and then make the rest of the chapter take place in the here and now.

Oh, and I do have a timeline I made in Excel although I have to see if it's changed any during the course of my rewrite and needs to be updated. But writing out of order, I found I really needed one. :D

Re: flow and pace

Date: 2013-03-14 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
But it's a coming of age story coupled with "wtf are we doing here" type stuff and it takes everyone a while to find their feet. And then they might stumble around a bit after that, too. They're kids/young adults in a really screwed up situation who have clearly bitten off more than they can chew...

This is the basic plot of a lot of dystopian novels. The kids always bite off more than they can chew. Sometimes in ridiculous portions that seem absolutely asinine when you really think about them but I'm usually able to look past it for the adventure and romance part of the book.

I'm looking forward to more chapters and seeing what happens next.
I'm totally not getting any reading in my book done today. I took 2 1/2 hours to do lice treatments (on 2 of the girls) and then I finally ate around 4pm (first time today) and then I decided I deserved some fun of editing. I can't believe I just said editing is fun. I am so weird sometimes.

Ooooh, timelines... those are usually helpful. Definitely need to work on mine. I think the first half of the book takes place in 2 weeks then the rest over the next 2 months which is stupid for pacing. I'm going to need to fix that, too. (I should probably be taking notes for myself.)

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