The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:43 am

You mentioned the story is slow-paced, and it got me wondering, and I went to check. The previous, circa 2014 version of the story, was 219 pages long, with Times New Roman size 12 font. The last attempt at revising it, before I decided to rewrite the whole thing, stopped at 263 pages.
The current version is standing at 166 pages, and the gang hasn't even entered the installation yet. Holy crap, I'm scared.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:26 am

Heh, long isn't necessarily bad. And it's hard to tell what the pace is like before the story is finished. If it does turn up to feel bloated, there'll be plenty of time to tighten it up.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:04 pm

Starting on chapter 2:

The first three or so sentences of the chapter seem to flow a bit stiltedly. Might not be a problem.

"the blowing northeast wind" feels a bit oddly phrased. Maybe change it to "the north-east wind that was blowing" or just cut "blowing" entirely. (My spellcheck tells me "north-east" needs a hyphen, but I couldn't have figured that out on my own.)

Typo: "make it the weather unpleasant."

The description of their trip to the beach is just lovely in general. Their conversation continues great, especially the bit about beer. Just put ice in a bucket... I'm starting to get the feeling Chico has a tendency not to think things through. :)

"Felt the shock of the low temperature on his ankles" feels a *little* bit awkwardly written. "Cold" instead of "low temperature" might work better. As usual, just my opinion.

"leaving out their antennae" might be better as "leaving their antennae out".

Another interesting bit: Chico claiming that Débora used the word "crackers" when saying she didn't need a tan. I may be wrong (you know best what's going on in the characters' heads, after all), but as I interpret the scene, Chico isn't intentionally being a jerk but genuinely misremembering, because he subconsciously assumes Débora must have used an inflammatory term for white people. That seems consonant with the way a lot of people think of race and other sensitive issues, and is really fascinating.

Daniel's concern for his cousins going missing feels very true to life, and creates some low-key suspense. "It could’ve been a short while or a long while, but it felt like a long while to him" feels a bit blandly written, however.

"divination games" isn't really an expression in English. "Guessing games" would be more idiomatic.

"and the subject of going back home was brought back up. Before a decision was reached, Daniel got up suddenly." I think people can be too stringent about avoiding passive constructions at all times; they can be useful, and I think they work here, but at the same time, two in a row may be too much.

Again, Daniel searching for his cousins and panicking feels very realistically written.

The writing is generally very good, though some of it could be a bit more polished. (Though that might be an issue with the translation.)

"Daniel could’ve easily spotted them from where he was before, if he had looked close enough, but he didn’t see them." At the end of the sentence, "hadn't seen them" would be better.

A couple of typoes on page 25: "tower" should be "towel"; "what if he need".

A sentence I really like: "The four went on working amid swigs of beer."

I *like* Rita's trick for getting the clerk to pay attention to Carol. Even if I didn't know Rita was kind of inspired by Lisa, I could tell that she's got her smarts. :lisa:

You have some good writing in Carol's scene (I guess technically, every scene is Carol's scene, but you know what I mean). Her description of Rita is great.

"I went along my way to the front door, and, when I realised it, Rita was following me" I like the content of this bit, but the "when" feels odd. I'd expect something more like "then I realised, Rita was following me." Or maybe I'm parsing the sentence wrong.

Carol's awkwardness in talking with Rita feels very true to life again. Uncomfortably so. :) Wait, that hotel lobby, an assignation... this feels like a female, non-romantic version of Treasure Hunt. :D

"Summer" being capitalised feels weird, but that might be Carol's idiosyncracy.

"in the beach" should be "on". Likewise, "on Torres" should be "in" (unless Torres is an island, but I assume it's not).

Typo: "say people" should be "saw"

"but mostly because I never had it" might be better as "I'd never had it".

Typo: "when could a girl like me offer" should be "what."

I love Carol's honesty as a narrator. One language/grammar nitpick: "consented with" should be "to."

Grammar: "on the same class" should be "in."

"For being like that, he related to me" is understandable, but a bit unidiomatic. Just "Being like that" etc. would be better.

I like Carol's story of Maurício, especially the fact that he was a nice person and she still pushed him away.

"His best conclusion is that" should be "was".


Still enjoying this, I don't have much more to add to what I've said above. The characters are still good, and Carol is coming into her own as a character, not just a narrator; she's definitely complex and interesting. The writing is good, and there's a nice bit of suspense that progresses naturally. I'll keep reading and tell you how I feel.

The footnotes are cool, by the way. I feel I'm learning a bit. :)
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
Put me to the test;
I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:50 pm

c_nordlander wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:04 pm
Another interesting bit: Chico claiming that Débora used the word "crackers" when saying she didn't need a tan. I may be wrong (you know best what's going on in the characters' heads, after all), but as I interpret the scene, Chico isn't intentionally being a jerk but genuinely misremembering, because he subconsciously assumes Débora must have used an inflammatory term for white people. That seems consonant with the way a lot of people think of race and other sensitive issues, and is really fascinating.
Your interpretation is what I intended, Chris. As you pointed out before, Chico "tends to not think things through", and he kinda just says the first thing that crosses his mind. I made a tiny little amendment in the text just to make it clear his confusion is genuine, rather than malicious. Chico is a tricky character to write in that respect, and I do intend to get deeper into his mind and his heart as the story progresses. Suffice to say, we're yet to see the worst and the best of him.

As I mentioned in chat, the translation and typing here were particularly sloppy, and I'm making an effort to fix it as we speak. I hope to have an improved version uploaded shortly.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:01 pm

I actually didn't find that many language errors in what I've read of Chapter 2 so far; Chapter 1 was much worse in that respect.

Regarding Chico, and all the characters really, they are evidently multi-layered, and I can tell that we're going to see a lot of their different sides as the story progresses. So just keep going like this, it's shaping up to something great.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
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I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:24 am

This latest update is considerably larger than the others. We're up to chapter 5 now, which is the longest chapter so far, and, for me, one of the most fun to write so far.

I made some alterations in chapter 1, but nothing that makes a rereading necessary. I just realised that, in all these years, I never imagined the house having an external area with hammocks, so this has been changed.Also, Chico, Ralf and Eduardo didn't have any physical descriptions anywhere, and this has been fixed too--though Eduardo's description is only in day 5.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:16 am

Whoa, congrats on that burst of inspiration! Looking forward to reading more when I have the time.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
Put me to the test;
I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:55 pm

Finally got some time to keep reading!
... and to think that, had I done that, this story would’ve taken a very different path.
Not quite sure what this refers to, since Carol just told the story of how she got Maurício to get together with a girl who had a crush on him, which makes me think that it should either say "had I not done that," or she's referring to something else.

"eyeing Daniel with the side of her eyes"; I get what you're saying, but it's a bit clumsy. "giving Daniel a sideways look" or just "giving Daniel the side-eye" would be a bit blander, but more idiomatic and to the point. Up to you.

Your writing continues very fine, both in descriptions and in the scene of Eduardo apologising to Rita.

Typo: "pauses between the word".

Typo: "on the woman’s physical beauty of the amount of skin she shows"; I assume that should be "or." Also depressing and (from my understanding) true paragraph about sexual harassment.

I enjoy reading these guys' dialogue. The discussion about soap operas is fun and witty (in a natural way), and I really agree with Débora's opinion that fiction doesn't have to be badly written just because it's intended as escapism. Some great comedy as well, even though I don't know the soap opera they're parodying. Which shows that you succeeded.

Typo in a footnote: "It feature"

So, the writing is still good, and the characters are likable and make some hilarious jokes. Will continue.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:42 pm

That line was a translation mistake from me: it should read "if I hadn't done that", so your second interpretation is correct. She's pondering that, if she let the boy approach her, maybe she would be less interested in meeting Rita's friends. I think that point is not well made, though, so I'll end up revising that bit.

As usual, I thank you for the corrections and heads up on typos, and I'm happy the story is still fun to read. I do often wonder how those dialogue scenes would feel to read for someone not used to the characters, so if you think they're fun, I'm happy! I get carried away with writing that, because often the humour just naturally emerges from the situations, and it's always enticing to me to try to mix their juvenile and careless fun with their more thoughtful, opinionated discussions.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:32 pm

Ah, cool that I could help you catch out a typo.

At the point where I am, I'm starting to get the hang of the characters' personalities, and I'm enjoying their dialogue, so I think the characters are coming through the way you intended (for me, at least).
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I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:36 pm

Continuing from page 34:

Typo: ", staringdown at the place rested on her thighs", should that be "plate"?
“Okay, okay, Ralf, don’t explain yourself, never mind,” she disdained.
"Disdained" feels really odd as a "said"-style verb. "Dismissed it" or something similar might be better.

"dressing up in the beach", surely this should be "for the beach"?

Again, lovely place descriptions.

"already keeping up the chat theywere having since then": "since then" is unclear what it's referring to.

"Or maybe, at that moment, she didn’t do the right thing?" I think "hadn't done" would be better, since it refers back to an earlier moment. Very good paragraph, though.

"After all, had he wanted to drink, wasn’t it his choice?" I think "if he wanted to drink" would be better here. The way you've written it isn't incorrect, but it feels too formal for the narrative voice of a young kid like Ralf.

"was rather naive for many things": "about" would be better than "for." Again, very good sentence otherwise.

"wasn't only an invitation.": "just" would be better than "only." One of those weird idiomatic things where one word is much better, even though there's a synonym that means the exact same thing.


Didn't read much this time, but I'm still enjoying it. The writing is good, and I'm getting more of a feel for everyone's character for each page: primarily Rita and Ralf in this scene, but Daniel is great too. They all remain sympathetic, even when they disagree. I'll keep reading.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
Put me to the test;
I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:18 pm

Been busy for a while, but I'm happy to get back to this story.

"He couldn’t be responsible for anyone, maybe even himself." This sentence is good, but I'd change the last bit to "maybe not even himself."

"The only thing he did wellwas to study and get good grades in school and college, but that was just his obligation, wasn’t it?He didn’t deserve any praise or reward for that." Damn, that's harsh. Very well-written.

"mean to you" would be a bit better than "mean with you".

"guilty for that" should be "guilty of that".

"what are you thinking of that?" sounds a bit awkward in English. I'd change it to "what do you think about that?"

"stay reasonable" would sound better than "keep reasonable."

Heh, I actually know about rapadura! That bit and the whole discussion of the young kids' personalities made me chuckle.

Useful bit of background on why the kids are there.

A typo: in " !I’m", the space is at the wrong side of the !.

"and suggested Lígia to stay behind, on their own," This is a bit hard to parse; I originally read it as him asking Lígia to stay behind alone, which puts him in a completely different light. :) "suggested to Lígia that the two of them stay behind, on their own," might be better.

Débora's joke at the end of the chapter is hardly new, but still funny.

Continuing on "The Third Day":

I think "the shallows" (as a noun) is better than "the shallow." That said, I'm not a native English speaker, so the latter may also be correct.

Daniel struggling with his feelings for Lígia is an old story, but you make him sympathetic and relatable. You describe his attraction to her well, without coming off as creepy.


Still enjoying this. Not much happened in this section, but the narration continues clear and vivid, and I'm still enjoying reading about these characters. It's basically like hanging out with them, which is nice.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
Put me to the test;
I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:37 pm

I'm still grateful that you're still marching through the story and sending in the nitpicks. It's been quite a while since I did any more translating, even though the story has advanced quite a bit since then.

I know that I'll have to revisit the early chapters sometime, because I find myself catching little things about them. I realise their pace is slow (things start picking up a bit of steam in day 3, but only on day 6 things start getting more serious and plot oriented), but that's by design, as I think the reader should get acclimated to the characters and their dynamic. But, for example, the dynamic between Daniel, Lígia and Chico is something I was still developing back then, and there are things I feel should be tightened. Rereading the bit where he's watching her, I remembered that I wanted the descriptions to be a little cheesy and bad-fanfic-esque because we're getting inside his mind, and he's very immature and fearful, and I think this should be a little more obvious. Also, the bit that says Ligia is "beautiful without trying to be" could raise a few red flags, because there's this fetishisation of women who don't have a positive view of their own bodies (which is another means of censoring a high self-esteem), and that's something I mean to analyse more closely later on. The theme of self-image and the relationship towards one's body is very dear to me, and one I think should be tackled with more sensitivity in these times.

Also, really nice that you got the Rita Rapadura bit! I actually had that idea while I was writing the scene, so it was very spontaneous, and made me feel proud for being able to get inside Chico's head without having to make an effort. I confess he's a difficult character for me.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:01 pm

And I'm glad I'm providing something.

Pacing the opening of a story is one of the hardest things for me: I too like to start stories a bit slow, to develop the characters a bit before throwing them into the adventure, but other writers and critics will say that any slowness at the start is filler and should be cut. So I can't really offer any advice. You do know that I like the characters and their dynamic, so I certainly don't feel it's too slow.

The slight cheesiness of the description of Lígia did come across, and I decided it's okay, because it's from Daniel's POV. Also, good catch on "beautiful without trying to be": I don't mind it here (it is a bit of a cliché, but again, it's Daniel's cliché, not yours), but you are so right about how far too many female protagonists in fiction are dissatisfied with their appearance, even when they're described as looking like marble goddesses. It's like... you can't have a heroine who is happy with her appearance, because that would presumably make her vain and unlikable, but heaven forbid that she be average-looking, let alone ugly. So we get the standard "I have hair like midnight silk and skin like the blush of dawn showing through an alabaster shrine and wobbly polka-dot eyes, but I'm not, like, pretty."

You're probably right about Chico; I do think he's the character I've got the least of a sense of the personality of. So far, of course.
But if you're not convinced that I'm invincible
Put me to the test;
I'd love to lay this rivalry to rest!


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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:34 pm

c_nordlander wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:01 pm
Pacing the opening of a story is one of the hardest things for me: I too like to start stories a bit slow, to develop the characters a bit before throwing them into the adventure, but other writers and critics will say that any slowness at the start is filler and should be cut.
Well, personally, I discard any opinion or guideline that's offered as something absolute and invariable, because art is not a product with a practical utility, which you can make in an assembly line. Every work is different, and even in my music I try not to adhere to any "principles", because each one is a different beast. The truth is, I have no control over the feelings of the reader, and if one thinks the story is too padded out while another thinks it's perfectly on point, both are subjective assessments and are biased by their own preferences. If I were to accept any editorial suggestions, it would have to be from someone who understands my intentions and respects my subjective choices. And that's one thing I find invaluable in your output, Chris: your opinions have the weight of someone who's much more dedicated and serious about literature than I'll ever be, but you don't want to change the story into what you think it should be. And besides, if you were to take the role of editor, it would demand a much higher amount of effort and time, and it would be silly for anyone to expect that (for free, at least!).
c_nordlander wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:01 pm
but you are so right about how far too many female protagonists in fiction are dissatisfied with their appearance, even when they're described as looking like marble goddesses. It's like... you can't have a heroine who is happy with her appearance, because that would presumably make her vain and unlikable, but heaven forbid that she be average-looking, let alone ugly. So we get the standard "I have hair like midnight silk and skin like the blush of dawn showing through an alabaster shrine and wobbly polka-dot eyes, but I'm not, like, pretty."
I shuddered just with those examples you gave, but yeah, female characters are usually expected to be super beautiful, but docile. If she's too much in control of her life and her self-image, it means she can't be possessed, right? I remember the first time I came across this point wasn't even about a story, but about that One Direction song that has the lyrics "You don't know you're beautiful / That's what makes it beautiful". In other words, the girl is only allowed to be beautiful in the guy's eyes. How disempowering is that? If anything makes me a little worried about tackling these issues in this story is that, well, it takes place in 2002, and back then such topics were just barely being mentioned at all in our culture, so I need to balance the fact that these kids do have an above-average intelligence (which is part of what makes them "misfits", as is mentioned in the story later on), but their ideas are motivated by intuition and emotion, not because of the cultural climate. Back then, the word "empowerment" was unheard of, self-esteem was synonymous with arrogance, and sexism was just the prevailing law, not something to be combatted.
c_nordlander wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:01 pm
You're probably right about Chico; I do think he's the character I've got the least of a sense of the personality of. So far, of course.
I'm hoping that his characterisation will develop over time. I find it natural that he's a bit vague at first, as he's too insecure to show his feelings, even to his friends, but I don't want him to be devoid of personality. Damn, what a tough act to balance.
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