Author Topic: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2  (Read 1172 times)

cjhuitt

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2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« on: July 19, 2011, 02:40:16 AM »
Second Son Chapter 2 (Mild Adult Situations)

In this chapter we meet Sancha and learn a little about her job.

In Chapter 1, Miki was summoned to join his family in meeting the Antuskian ambassador, who proposed an betrothal between his older brother Promhail and a princess of their land.
Caleb

hubay

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 10:28:50 PM »
I don't think I really commented on the last chapter; everyone covered what I wanted to say. You have very smooth, flowing prose, which I enjoy. The only hiccups occur in your POV thoughts/reflections, which sometimes feel a little clumsy. They don't just flow quite as well as the rest of the writing. But really, its all enjoyable to read. the bit where she realized she enjoyed kissing him was well done.

Almost instantly I liked her character more than the boys. I'm not quite sure why, but if I had to guess I think it's because she's so much more capable than he is. Miki, though still enjoyable to read, wasn't in a position of power – the entire time he's forced to be at everyone else's beck and call. Even though Sancha is working under several people, you see that she's quite good at it – even if her tutors are strict – and she has strong drive and ambition. These all make her very likable. Miki, though, just seemed like a goofball chafing under his teachers because he's young and wants to go sailing. At two chapters, of course, it's bad to make these kind of judgements, but readers will too so you should make sure he's just as likeable as she is.

I also like the small bits of the world you've shown us, and I'd like to know more about it. It's clearly a secondary world fiction, but I have to ask if it has any magic. Right now it reads like a K.J. parker novel, not in voice but certainly in setting – that is, it doesn't have magic but societies might have evolved a little different than ours so there's still room to experiment in worldbuilding. That's perfectly fine, and I've always enjoyed Parker's novels. But if you DO have magic – and I'm only saying this because it's secondary world fiction – than we should have seen it by now. Even if it's a very small magic, you should let us know it's there through conversations or rumors or legends, so readers know what they're getting into.

cjhuitt

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 01:43:59 AM »
hubay, thank you for the compliments.

Almost instantly I liked her character more than the boys. I'm not quite sure why, but if I had to guess I think it's because she's so much more capable than he is. Miki, though still enjoyable to read, wasn't in a position of power – the entire time he's forced to be at everyone else's beck and call. Even though Sancha is working under several people, you see that she's quite good at it – even if her tutors are strict – and she has strong drive and ambition. These all make her very likable. Miki, though, just seemed like a goofball chafing under his teachers because he's young and wants to go sailing. At two chapters, of course, it's bad to make these kind of judgements, but readers will too so you should make sure he's just as likeable as she is.

I do worry about this a little.  Part of this is due to a planned character arc for Miki (and Sancha's is less severe), but I'll consider this.  After a few chapters, we'll see what others think, but I might need to give Miki some purpose he's striving for in order to help readers identify with him.

I also like the small bits of the world you've shown us, and I'd like to know more about it. It's clearly a secondary world fiction, but I have to ask if it has any magic. [...] But if you DO have magic – and I'm only saying this because it's secondary world fiction – than we should have seen it by now. Even if it's a very small magic, you should let us know it's there through conversations or rumors or legends, so readers know what they're getting into.

Right now, there is magic in the world, but it doesn't really play into this story.  You may be right on the hints and rumors, and I originally had a few scattered in the early chapters, but they didn't seem to fit well with the scenes.  Since the magic won't come into play until a sequel (if there is one), I hope I can get by with threading those in later.
Caleb

hubay

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 03:21:58 AM »
Ok, I get that. I have some issues myself with Jhuz's story arc, because he seems to self-pitying and unactive in the beginning. If Miki does something interesting in the next chapter or two it'll be fine, i'm sure. Maybe have him try to pull a prank on one of his sisters during the ceremony? It would add a personal dynamic to the scene.

As for the magic, I can see it being a problem if it's completely unpresent in the story, if only because it will give readers a false impression of what your story's about and the second novel will confuse them. The only writer i know who got away with that kind of setup was Martin, and that's only because he puts it in the very beginning and the very end of the story. If you can pull that off, congratulations. But I have to think it will be hard to do.

Will777r

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 06:17:32 AM »
Great chapter CJ!

I have to echo with Hubay that the story flowed very well. It was rare that I stumbled over a sentence or got lost in the writing. I could picture the scenes very well in my mind.

I also liked reading from Sancha's PoV more than Miki's. I think it's because she has a clear goal that defines her motivations and actions. She desperately wants a mission. Everything else always goes back to that. I'm invested because I have to find out if she reaches her goal. Mike seemed to not have that same drive as a character, thus I didn't care as much about him when I read his PoV.

I was totally confused when the older gal spoke up and said she achieved her goal. It took me a second to realize it was all an enactment. That's not a bad thing. I just had to go back up and read again to realize it was a test. Once that clicked, I think I appreciated everything much more. You set it up well.

I don't have much else to say - I'd read more just to find out more about Sancha.

Will777r

cjhuitt

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2011, 12:11:54 AM »
As for the magic, I can see it being a problem if it's completely unpresent in the story, if only because it will give readers a false impression of what your story's about and the second novel will confuse them. The only writer i know who got away with that kind of setup was Martin, and that's only because he puts it in the very beginning and the very end of the story. If you can pull that off, congratulations. But I have to think it will be hard to do.

There are worse writers to aspire towards than Martin, in my opinion.  But you are right that it would be hard to do.  Right now I don't need to worry about it, because I'm not sure yet that I would write the sequel, or that the sequel needs magic.  It's just one of the ideas floating around in my head.  (Actually, in a file on my computer.)

I was totally confused when the older gal spoke up and said she achieved her goal. It took me a second to realize it was all an enactment. That's not a bad thing. I just had to go back up and read again to realize it was a test. Once that clicked, I think I appreciated everything much more. You set it up well.

I do think I could smooth that part out a little bit.  I have to avoid too much editing on that part right now, though.  Too much else to get worked up for various critiques, not to mention other things (like cramming for the Hugo vote).

I don't have much else to say - I'd read more just to find out more about Sancha.

That's very nice to know.
Caleb

akoebel

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2011, 02:13:26 PM »
Yes, this was a very enjoyable chapter, much more than the first one (which was fine by itself).

I liked Sancha's voice, and the fact that while very competent, she still lacks some skills for her chosen profession. This gives her some room to grow, which is good.

I agree with Hubay that I would have liked Miki to be a prankster - everybody loves a scoundrel.

A couple of points I noted:
* If Jorvail knows she's acting, how can she complete her assignments? He should be able to resist her. It would make more sense to have her practise on random people instead.
* The ministry (I suppose it's the Information Ministry) acts like an intelligence agency. Those rely more on covert operations than on any other means. Using women to extract information through seduction seems too overt for this sort of job (though you might have shown us a small part of the curriculum).

cjhuitt

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2011, 02:00:42 AM »
akoebel, thanks for your feedback.

* If Jorvail knows she's acting, how can she complete her assignments? He should be able to resist her. It would make more sense to have her practise on random people instead.

I think I need to work on the transition a touch more, but basically he was playing the role of her victim, so he was acting as the supposed victim should.  The trainees will practice on random people as well, but she's not to that point of the training yet.

* The ministry (I suppose it's the Information Ministry) acts like an intelligence agency. Those rely more on covert operations than on any other means. Using women to extract information through seduction seems too overt for this sort of job (though you might have shown us a small part of the curriculum).

Although James Bond movies keep trying it, I agree that it is a little overt.  In this case, however, her assignment was to convince Jorvail (in his role) to take her to the family gathering, where she was to gather intelligence on another family member.  Thus the seduction was one step along the way.  However, in the text it read like too much information, and since it wasn't important to the chapter or plot, I cut it out.  Some hints of that may come back with the next draft, as I take other comments into account and (as I mentioned) work on the transition between the scenario and the instruction more.

Of course, now that I say that perhaps I should make it more straightforward.  I'm open to people's opinions on this.
Caleb

hubay

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2011, 02:22:44 AM »
I think you could work a very quick explanation in, if you think it's necessary. You could mix it with her thoughts on using seduction as a tool.

Something like "It had taken her some time to get used to using her (sex/body/whatever) as a tool... blah blah something about her current thoughts. In this scenario, the man she was seducing wasn't even the true target – she just needed to meet his family to learn more about his uncle. That didn't make her feel any more comfortable about the seduction."

Idk what her thoughts on seduction are, obviously, but that makes a quick transition where you see her emotional state and quickly get more information on her job. It will make it flow more smoothly.

Asmodemon

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Re: 2011 Jul 18 - cjhuitt - Second Son Chapter 2
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2011, 02:36:09 PM »
Like the last chapter this one wasn’t bad, it certainly jumped out at me a little more than Miki’s, since instead of a tutor yapping Sancha is actively trying to accomplish something and she does that rather well considering. On the other hand this is a training session, which becomes clear pretty fast and is a set up to send her to a different kingdom, in this case Zandras, Miki’s kingdom.

I didn’t know what she was trying to accomplish when she was flirting, I guess I’d like to know her goal beforehand so I cheer for her when she gets closer to achieving it and worry if she makes the wrong move. Right now all I knew was that she was running a seduction, but not why, which didn’t make me feel as involved with her plot.

I wonder at Sancha’s insistence that she is ready for a real mission. Not that she wants one, I can understand that readily enough, but for a spy there should be a strict training. She did well in three practice rounds, but if all practice rounds are like this than all participants are acting; Sancha’s not really convincing anyone, since everyone knows it’s not real. It seems to me that this kind of espionage training is for novices and the next step would be to trick unsuspecting minor people for simple objectives.