Author Topic: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7  (Read 2292 times)


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July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« on: July 12, 2011, 05:46:57 AM »
Again, sorry for getting the chapter out so late.

As I mentioned in the email, most of the planet/system names are whatever I thought of just before sending otu the chapter, so they are all subject to change. And, if any technical aspects of things such as travel times or fleet sizes feel off, don't hesitate to mention it. I'm still trying to figure out what feels best while working with the plot.

And as always, any sort of feedback is useful and appreciated.

Brief Summary: Three months have passed, and the Troodons have a fleet and army ready to begin the conquest. Darkclaw leads the fleet to conquer three small star systems which will serve as staging points for the primary offensive.

Summaries of previous chapters: (there may have been a slight formatting error with the summaries in the email)

Chapter 3: The Troodons, before building their army, are ordered to raid an information station-essentially a giant library- on the edge of Galactic Alliance space to learn what they can about their eventual enemy. Darkclaw sends his subordinate Praetor Keeneye to lead the mission, and watches through a helmet feed. The station is captured without incident, and Darkclaw completes his mission. He relates this to the High Lord, who instructs him to set a course for a hidden station where they will build an army.

Chapter 4: Nayasar is overworking herself, and Felivas demands that she take a mental health day.

Chapter 5: Darkclaw and the Troodons arrive at Selixan Station, a station left by the Saviors, created to rapidly build an army for the Troodons.

Chapter 6: Second Scion Dalcon the Bright joins a mission to find out why all contact was lost from an information storage station three weeks ago. What he finds troubles him.
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.


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Re: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2011, 01:26:02 AM »
My only beef with this chapter is it seems a little to narrow. There's a sort of inevitablity about the whole thing where I don't think there's a chance the troodon's could lose. You upset it at the end, of course, but since there isn't much of a struggle for the first 4/5th of the chapter, I'm not to involved there's no real tension. You could fix it by creating more problems early on, or by putting in a lot of side references to the rest of the comings and going of the world. That way, it will still show off how powerful the troodons are, without running the danger of boring the reader.


At this point, I can only see two possible outcomes for Darkclaw's story. (1) He leads the Troodons without question until his eventual defeat. In other words, He's the bad guy. (2) he change sides sometime in the middle or early last act, because he's discovered some new information that puts the conflict in a different light or because he's betrayed by his own side.

I say this because he's a villanous POV, and those seem to be the main two styles of handling that sort of character. If there's a third option, awesome. You've tricked most readers. But right now I'm guessing #2, just because he's had so many viewpoints up to this point, that readers will start to emphasize with him. If so, you're doing a good job up to this point.

If you're going with option #1 that is, darkclaw stays evil the whole time then I think you need make sure readers don't emphasize with him too much. You can reduce his screentime, which makes it easier to hate him if you see the results of his actions from another POV, or you can make him more evil. If you really want him to be the bad guy, you haven't pushed him hard enough yet. He isn't creative or cruel, he's just intelligent and passionless. In a way, I feel sorry for him, because he's an emotionless tool of the High Lord that's forced to fight for another's ambitions.

Anyways, the main reason I'm saying all this is because you've given Darkclaw the most of any POV chapters so far, which makes me think he shouldn't be a standard "villain" character.


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Re: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 12:15:46 AM »
Finally got to this chapter.

I thought the various races were interesting. I'm not a sci-fi reader in general, but the descriptions of the Cytan and Zarian sounded cool to me. I also liked the hints given about Blackspine and seeing Shadowpath in action. Those two seems like interesting guys too. Seeing Darkclaw in action when he beheaded the President was cool, although I thought that scene itself was a bit cliche' - It's pretty obvious what's going to happen to the president.

Other than that, I pretty much agree 100% with everything Hubay said. I didn't feel anything during the chapter. It lacked tension because everything went according to plan. Aside from showing us the scene with the Zarian leaders and Shadowpath's abilities, much of the chapter could have been summed up in a paragraph or two. It read more like a report than a story.

The resistance from Raeth is the only real point of tension, but it comes right at the end. It's also heavily foreshadowed because Darkclaw keeps mentioning how effortless it will be to take that planet. So, when it happens, it really didn't surprise me.

But the biggest thing is this: Did I care? Darkclaw is an interesting character, but I don't think I care much about him. Like Hubay said. If he's downright evil, I need to really dislike him if he's going to be a major PoV character. But you don't seem to be going that route. The probleem is that he dosn't really arouse sympathy from me either. I feel distanced from him and not in a way that makes me want to get closer. Whichever way you go, I think he needs to be a much stronger and deeper character if he's going to be one of your major PoV characters.

The only other thing I wondered when reading was why the Cytan didn't try to get a ship out the moment they realized an enemy force was in their solar system. Do only the Trodoon have the technology for hyperspace travel? It seems like they would try to get a ship out super fast against such overwhelming odds. That might just be me though.

I guess in conclusion, if you deepened Darkclaw's PoV, it might work better. Your other PoV characters have been very engaging so far :)



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Re: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 06:13:43 AM »
Thanks for the feedback.

I get what you're saying about the battles in the chapter. I have been trying to figure out how to best describe the battles, as Darkclaw is not personally taking part, particularly for the ground parts-I'm fairly pleased with how I managed the depiction of fleet combat, though there wasn't much complicated stuff going on here.

And I am aware of the tension issues. I'm not quite sure what you meant about putting side references about the worlds, Hubay. I think doing that would be the best way to fix this, but I'm not quite sure what you meant. I need to demonstrate the Troodons's strength in this chapter, so I don't want to have problems occur early on, but I agree that I can ratchet up the tension a bit. However, this chapter should be the only one where battles are so simple, and where battles are the center of the chapter. But I would appreciate suggestions on how I could make this chapter more interesting without changing its events much.

Starting in the next chapter, I'm going to have Darkclaw dealing with issues not necessarily battle related, which will give him a conflict not directly tied to the fighting, and relegate the battles to tools to tell the story, not the story itself. It is a character based story, not a plot-based one.

The difficulty with writing Darkclaw is that he is an emotionless being. I am trying to keep him that way, while still making him engaging. Any suggestions on how to make him 'deeper' would be appreciated. And I will say that yes, he is the main protagonist, and that him being emotionless is crucial to his story arc.

Hopefully most of what I said made any sense. I stayed up too late again working on chapter 8....
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.


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Re: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2011, 01:18:23 AM »
I finally found the time to put together my thoughts on this one.

I'll agree with the others on the tension issue. Even before I read your comments, I realized this was supposed to set up how well the Trodoons were doing, so it becomes difficult to establish tension through that. One way might be to send other fleets off without Darkclaw, so we have to wait for the results, but that doesn't seem in the character of this story. Another might be to play up the possibility of other ships leaving; if Darkclaw is truly concerned about word getting out, that should be the primary focus of his attention throughout the battles.

Along those lines, what's to stop any old ship from showing up, realizing somethings going on, and turning tail? Something like that is hard to prevent... so I'd have Darkclaw worrying over it, and coming up with contingency plans, or something like that.

At the beginning, Darkclaw has learned "little that would be of tactical use". I doubt any library would have that little of information, especially for a race that knows little of the rest of the universe at all. What I would believe, however, is that he can't recognize the information that would be tactically valuable, and that which won't, so he's got to go through it all and try to remember it all. There should also be a lot of strategic information, loads and loads, which probably couldn't be completely covered in three years, let alone months.

Darkclaw thinks that the Alliance navy won't be able to resupply ships as quickly as his station, even though they have all those shipyards. I realize that Selixan station is large and cool, but first of all, one station, no matter how big, wouldn't be able to keep up with a variety of other shipyards, many of which are probably stations or planet-based (that is, have more or less equivalent resourced and manpower). Second of all, if it can crank out ships that quickly (and crew, but clones cover that aspect), Darkclaw should probably wait a bit longer and build up a larger force. Having them in hand is more valuable than replacements, generally speaking, although you'll want replacements eventually as well.

Darkclaw also thinks that they'll change the destiny of the galaxy in a few short hours. I wasn't thinking the planets were quite that close together, even through hyperspace. If that is the case, I would expect traffic between most planets nearly every day, so it would become quite obvious if some planets suddenly dropped off communications.

A passing reference to the high command being non-cloned made me wonder if the cloned troops have any special powers, either.

Praetor Keeneye asks about the Reathan system in the middle of the briefing. However, Darkclaw started the briefing by saying they were going to take Reathan, so that seemed odd to me.

After developing the detailed plans for the other two systems, Darkclaw just waves his hands and says, in effect, Reathan isn't worth even planning? No military commander would ever do that, especially not one that developed such specific plans for the other systems. At the very least, they'd say their plan is to come in close to the planet and bombard it.

Also about the planning, I don't know if we need the detailed plans given to us, plus all the battles. One or the other should be fine, with a summary or reference to the rest.

When they are ready to start, Darkclaw orders the crew to battle stations. Even if it only takes a couple hours through hyperspace to get there, that's too early. At most, they need to be in stations fifteen minutes early (maybe a bit more, if they have checklists to go through), so the call to stations should be 30 minutes or so before arrival. And if your hyperspace travel is such that you can get between systems in a half-hour or less, that implies it's a morning's jaunt to go visit someone (or bring in food, medical supplies, what-have-you), and I'd expect an almost continuous stream of people traveling. Heck, you could almost live on one world and work on another if that's the case (except perhaps for the power required for the ship to cover hyperspace).

The battles seemed a little drawn out, but I think that's because there was so much in a row. A short break to another viewpoint somewhere in there might be nice.

When Darkclaw was watching through Shadowpath's visor (or whatever), Darkclaw mentions seeing from the point of view of a shadow on the floor. Whatever the Trodoon abilities are, I was surprised that the technology seems to work with an effect like that.

Darkclaw with the President: I assume the energy sword was a regular weapon, and not the reason for Darkclaw's name? You set up the beginning with Blackspike's spikes not being as black as Darkclaw's claw, so I was half-expecting to see the claw come out. Also related to this, why did Darkclaw even have to go down to the planet? He could have communicated through a viewscreen if he needed to be personally involved, but he basically wastes time in a shuttle going down and coming back, plus finding where they are, all so he can just behead a guy and get the next one to cooperate? That's why moderately-high level henchmen are for, and Blackspine should have been able to handle it no sweat. Even if he needed orders from Darkclaw to do so.

The commander of the opposing fleet in the second battle (Zyan) did not use good tactics at all in his situation. Now, people do make mistakes, but assuming he could see the ships coming at him, and what they were doing, he should have had ships either going full-bore the opposite direction, or have his whole fleet scatter in an attempt to get at least one ship out and away to warn the alliance navy. In fact, you state that they noticed the stealthed ships already; they may think they have the battle in hand, but seeing stealthed ships appear should ring an alarm that says "send information about this to other systems". He really should have had at least a few ships headed out just in case when that happens. (In fact, that could be used to build tension, if Darkclaw shows up to see at least some ships headed away from him.)

By the time we got to the end, I was happy to see an unexpected patrol show up. They'll probably be wiped out, but if they were smart they'd do an immediate U-turn and head for reinforcements.


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Re: July 11-SkyhunterCommander-Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 7
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2011, 01:49:30 PM »
Details are a little fuzzy in my head since I read the piece a week ago, but here are my feelings on this chapter.

As the others said, having a character plot his moves in advance, then seeing them executed as planned can be boring : there is no tension (since we know everything), and no expected surprises.
You have 2 avenues to fix this:
* remove the strategy meeting - if we don't know what is supposed to happen, we can read and enjoy the action. The Trodoon might face no real threat, but there is still some interest, since they don't use the same tactics in every system;
* introduce some trouble in the plan execution - the heist genre is entirely about how a plan known well in advance will go awry once it's set into motion. The tension is not about how the plan unfolds, but more about what could go wrong and how the characters react to that. Having the Trodoon encounter unexpected reactions which could force them to change their tactics would be way cool.

Now, some minor points/questions:
* The first paragraph was very slow to read (lots of had here).
* The convention for naming planets within a system is to count every celestial body of interest in ascending distance from the star (ex : Earth is Sol-4).  You described the 3 planets in the first system as Zaria-1, Zaria-2, and Zaria-3. I very much doubt Zaria-1 is really the closest planet from the star (it could be, but it's very improbable). In the same vein, having a system with only 2 planets, both supporting life is really improbable. I think you meant to say "only 2 inhabited planets" on the last paragraph of page 4 instead of "only 2 planets"
* I also noted the part about the station building more ships than entire shipyards. Where are all the raw materials coming from?
* Dispatching 2 small ships to secure a planet when you're seeking to prevent people from escaping seemed odd. All it takes is 3 small ships for 1 to break the blockade while the other 2 are engaging the 2 Trodoon cloaked ships. This seemed like a major hole in Darkclaw's strategy here.
* Darkclaw dismisses the 3rd system as unable to defend itself, so it's obvious things will get wrong there. Having him do that is like raising a big red flag for the reader.
* Darkclaw's interrogations about what it would feel like to have emotions were a bit strange. Curiousness is an emotion in itself.
* Like cjhuitt, I was a little disturbed by Darkclaw riding along on the shadow scene.
* We've seen instant planet to planet communications here : this means that I can raise anyone on the other planets of the alliance in a matter of seconds. I'm willing to overlook the fact that no-one realized that communications had been severed by the cloaked ships, but when Darkclaw asks the ministers to surrender, he has to allow that message to be broadcast, meaning that anybody can communicate with the other worlds at this point.
* People tend to think about space battles as in 2D, while there is a third dimension to use. Darkclaw positions himself in an arc with some ships a little under the battle plane, but it's about it as the battles went. I would have liked to have the other commander put his forces all over the space, and not bundle them together where a hit on one ship might damage the surrounding ships. It made no sense for him to do that when he had a whole section of empty space to fill.