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 c_nordlander » Sat Mar 13, 2021 9:23 pm

Up to p. 89:

Carol's shocked reaction to Eduardo giving her the pendant is quite realistic, and I'm glad Eduardo stopped her from getting too panicky about it (because I've been in situations like that myself). I would never have got the Jânio Quadros reference, so I'm glad you explained it, because the joke made me laugh. "I did so because I wanted so" sounds like the perfect translation.

I feel like Daniel is showing a lot more layers of his character in this chapter. Their conversation at the snack bar hit very close to home for me. Yeah, Dani, I can relate to that feeling of people around me trying to tell me what to do, with all the best intentions for sure, but never giving me a moment to decide what I actually want. I like that Lígia spoke up for him.

Nice to see Débora talking with Rita, too. The feeling of there being a gap between "child" and "older teen" (even if one is only a couple of years older than the other) feels realistic: I definitely saw things from Rita's perspective when I was about her age. Again, very well-written interactions and dialogue.

Will keep reading when I can.


Grammar checks:

"in a fighting game" is a bit off. "At" or "playing a" would be better.

"makes poor Rita mad for talking shit about her." "for" should be "by."

"I get no will to introduce any girls to you" sounds really odd (possibly that was the case in the original Portuguese, too). "Desire" rather than "will," maybe?

Missing word: "how would approach them"
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by SirMustapha » Sun Mar 14, 2021 2:40 pm

I have to admit I do a little cheer every time you saw how relatable those scenes are. ;D

I suppose Dani does get quite a bit of the spotlight in this chapter (there's more before it ends), but I really liked writing that scene, not just to expose his reluctance, but because of the "bro attitude" of his friends trying to encourage him to get lucky. It's interesting to see where's the limit that separates helping a friend overcome their insecurity and pushing them to the point of discomfort.

(just now, remembering how Lígia stands up for Daniel, I believe I have to take a deeper look into her characterisation throughout the story, because she's just such an absolute sweetheart all around--at least I see her that way--and I don't wanna fall into the trap of the "perfect girl" or anything.)
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:09 pm

I like it, because it's clear that his friends want to help him, but sometimes, people don't need to be helped.
SirMustapha wrote: Sun Mar 14, 2021 2:40 pm (just now, remembering how Lígia stands up for Daniel, I believe I have to take a deeper look into her characterisation throughout the story, because she's just such an absolute sweetheart all around--at least I see her that way--and I don't wanna fall into the trap of the "perfect girl" or anything.)
If it's any help, I don't think she is. She's nice, but like a regular person.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:19 pm

Final part of "The Fifth Day":

The little conversation between Rita and Débora is nice. It not only shows a lot of Rita's personality, but also how her development, listening to Débora and learning to take things less seriously. And her swearing at the end is funny.

Emergency driving lesson... made me tense, which is good. It's all well written. I like how Carol's narration doesn't show Daniel's thoughts, only his outward reactions.
Spoiler
It's possibly that you could cut the driving scene a bit shorter: the bit where Eduardo tells him how to park the car at the house feels a bit long, now that the tense bit is over. But that's just my taste; feel free to ignore.

"The road seemed to end in complete darkness, which was the street to the lagoon." I know what you mean (I love that effect when near the sea at night), but I think it could be a bit more smoothly written. (This is a stylistic nitpick by the way, not a grammatical one.)

Rita being upset over the event is again appropriate, contrasting with the more happy-go-lucky attitude of the older characters. All in all, the last few scenes of the chapter advance the plot nicely.

I'm interested to see where the ending scene of the chapter is going.

Still good, with nice characterisation of everyone and a decent bit of tension in the driving scene. I'm pretty impatient to see what will happen with the ants plot, but that's a good sign; it means you've caught my interest. So I'll be happy to keep reading.

Caught a few grammar problems, but I'll communicate those to you later.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by SirMustapha » Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:52 pm

Thank you again for the commentary, Chris! Your thoughtfulness really helps me put things in perspective.

I think you have a fair point with the length of the driving lesson. I'll have to check it again, but you're very accurate regarding the things Daniel experiences.
Spoiler
I have mentioned in chat that I might end up doing changes to the text, but, as far as I can tell, it's nothing plot related, so it's not like you'd have to reread the thing to get the differences. It's mostly in the characterisations, the way they speak and act, and maybe in some minor details of how the events happen. I can assure you that, in the chapters that have been published so far, no significant changes will be made. The following chapters, yeah, those might demand a bit of work, which is why I haven't posted anything yet. I've been rethinking some of the character arcs and some plot points, but, well, all will be done in its due time. I hope.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:10 pm

You say a lot of wise things. Of course, the line between "normal" and "abnormal" ways to express emotions is tenuously thin (because it doesn't really exist).

Yeah, the last point is why I only start translating my writings when I think I've got the finished version. I'm looking forward to seeing what the finished form of this novel will look like...
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by c_nordlander » Sat May 08, 2021 9:44 pm

Up to the bit where
Spoiler
:

Well-written in general, as usual, and the "ant" plot progresses nicely with the research at the library, building up my interest in finding out what's beneath the rock. I got a pretty good feel for the settings, like the bus station and the library, despite there not being any long descriptions, and Rita's research feels realistic. It's fun to see how she and Ralf play off each other in these scenes. Ralf playing around with the computer while Rita is reading gives off a strong Bart and Lisa dynamic. :)

"What if there’s a humongous ant hill under it?" This line really cracks me up for some reason.

I'm interested in seeing how they're going to get through the rock, but I'll save my thoughts until I get there.
“Tired of doing what? Nothing?”
“Actually, yeah,” he replied, trying not to get angry, “because I didn’t do shit in here.”
Another good pair of lines.

Nice point about Rita not wanting to talk to Carol about the mystery, since Carol seemed to want to hide the note from them.

The kids finding themselves without enough money to get home... yeah, I could feel my throat tightening up. Not a fun situation to be in, and you describe their reactions well. Rita is good in this chapter: we've seen how her intelligence is an advantage, but the scene where they're stuck in Torres shows how her rigid personality and fear of being berated also give her more problems. I do like how she's able to admit that Ralf helped her in the library, even as they're fighting.

"Truth is, asking for Eduardo’s help was almost as bad as not being able to go back home." I can really relate to her here.

"Her self-control was only enough to argue with Ralf. As soon as she put her mind on the situation they were in, fear took over." I get the meaning, but the first sentence feels a bit clumsy (at least in English). It might be possible to write it in a clearer way.

"couldn’t even censor his swear word" is a bit of an odd way to put it. In English, you'd say "censure" (if you mean that she'd criticise Ralf for saying it), unless you mean that she would literally censor his cursing in her brain.

"A mixture of fright, worry, disbelief and annoyance flooded Eduardo." Feels a bit like telling rather than showing. But that's up to you.

I also like the scene with Eduardo and Dani driving off. Eduardo's speech about how Dani needs to make sure Ralf behaves has lots of little subtle touches, like how Eduardo admits he was worse than Ralf at that age but that he still wants Ralf to stay away from alcohol.

"I’m just saying this couldn’t put you in big trouble, and I... we need to trust you." This looks like a typo. Should it be "this could've put you in big trouble"?

"Cost" is an irregular verb, so it should just be "cost" in the past tense as well.

A few more grammar/translation problems, but I'll PM them to you.


Will come back with more opinions when I've read more. It hardly needs saying, but I really like this chapter so far: good character interactions, some nice advancement in the ants plot, and being stuck unable to take the bus home will always be tense.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by SirMustapha » Sun May 09, 2021 2:50 pm

Thank you for the very in depth analysis and corrections, Chris! I'll incorporate the corrections you pointed out and figure out a change to that "show, don't tell" critique, which is totally correct.

For me, this was one of the most satisfying chapters to sort out in this version, because this idea was already present in the very first version, but it never felt fully realised, and the rearranged order of events means I could increase the tension more steadily through the next chapters. Also, much of the writing in the second half came just straight from the gut. I never lived that kind of situation myself, but there's still something strongly personal about much of that.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sun May 09, 2021 10:55 pm

SirMustapha wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 2:50 pm For me, this was one of the most satisfying chapters to sort out in this version, because this idea was already present in the very first version, but it never felt fully realised, and the rearranged order of events means I could increase the tension more steadily through the next chapters.
I honestly don't remember the order of events in the first version, but this version does build up the tension very nicely, so it sounds like you made the right choice.

Also, glad I could help!
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sun May 16, 2021 10:24 pm

Read up to the end of "The Sixth Day":

I think this chapter has some of the finest writing in this story, in Rita's thoughts as
Spoiler
Her guilt and self-recriminations are very close to home for me, and you express her feelings very well. Also, a minor but fun point, I like how she refuses to believe that Eduardo and Daniel are talking about prostitutes, while Ralf gets it immediately.

Rita seems to act a bit younger than fourteen, in my opinion: if you hadn't given her age, I would have guessed she were twelve at most. I don't think that's a problem, because she clearly isn't your average kid, and high intelligence sometimes seems to go with being slow to develop in other ways. (And of course, everyone develops differently during puberty.) Again, she's a good character.

The discussion about homosexuality comes naturally out of Eduardo mentioning Débora's lesbianism. Maybe some of it is a little bit preachy, but some things need to be preached. :) I like that Rita acknowledges that if she'd known that Débora was a lesbian she might have been scared of meeting her. It's human.

Nice sense of security once everyone's back together.
"But could you imagine one of us sneaking away from home to go to a library?"
Made me literally LOL. There are several funny lines in this scene, but this one takes the cake.
“Because this land had owners, Chico,” she said.
“Oh, but it was just a bunch of Indians, that’s all.”
OOF.

Mate! Something from Latin American culture I've actually experienced first hand! :D

Nice bit of foreshadowing with
Spoiler
At first I wondered whether it was a bit unsubtle, but then I realised I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't know where the plot is going. Also, again it comes naturally out of the conversation.

Rita wishing she had Carol's ability is a nice moment.

The ending is nicely creepy, though as with a previous chapter ending, those bits from Carol's perspective talking about her dreams feel a bit abrupt. I don't know whether that needs changing, though.

"Even still,": you don't need both words. Either of them is good here.


So yes, it continues good, with good writing and character development, and makes me want to learn more about what's going on. No real issues here, though I caught a few typoes in addition to a couple of translation issues. Will forward them to you when you have the time.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by SirMustapha » Mon May 17, 2021 12:15 am

I don't wanna be cheesy, but hearing from you that my writing is good is such high praise, ya know. ;D And I'm glad these scenes are a good read, as it was really fun to write this. I felt like I was just sitting there with them and watching the conversations unfold. And Rita is such a rewarding character to write, and playing off her contrasts and dynamics with Ralf is always fun.
Rita seems to act a bit younger than fourteen, in my opinion: if you hadn't given her age, I would have guessed she were twelve at most. I don't think that's a problem, because she clearly isn't your average kid, and high intelligence sometimes seems to go with being slow to develop in other ways.
This is something I've tried to work into the text a couple of times, because it's very intentional. She's a pretty similar case as Rosa, from Treasure Hunt* (though Rita is neurotypical). I don't want to give big spoilers, but the clash between her actual age and her perceived age becomes very big in later chapters. I just didn't want to flat out state this in the text, as I think "telling instead of showing" is fundamental here, but I realise it can come across as just naiveté or even moralism on the author's part (but again, the later chapters get into this).
Maybe some of it is a little bit preachy, but some things need to be preached.
I suppose that's kinda inevitable coming from me, but I really tried to make this sound like the ideas of a fairly progressive-thinking teenager of the early 2000's--conscious, but heavy handed (and Eduardo is still rather sexist, so he's not the "moral standard" for the story). Also I felt like toning down Daniel's own preachiness a little bit, as I didn't want to sound like I was lambasting religiosity (If anything, the story is very sympathetic to religiosity).
Mate! Something from Latin American culture I've actually experienced first hand!
You know that would have to show up eventually. (though I know I'll certainly get cancelled by not having the characters actually drink it in the story, but it just didn't feel right for these kids)

The foreshadowing bit is something I seriously considered removing, as it could come across as too much of a "look how smart the author is!" moment, but it just felt like something Lígia would say. She was stronger than me.
The ending is nicely creepy, though as with a previous chapter ending, those bits from Carol's perspective talking about her dreams feel a bit abrupt. I don't know whether that needs changing, though.
I think you're right. In fact, I did a little bit of rewriting of the final paragraphs of a previous chapter to make it feel more vivid, following your criticism. Maybe that could excuse this bit being more abrupt, but I'm still pondering about that.

So, I guess it's about time to upload some new chapters. I already have made pretty good progress in the translation, but I need to revise it, so I have no idea when I'll have more stuff to show. I'll let you know. Massive thanks, Chris!

* I suppose my analyst would have a field day with my literary obsession with emotionally immature female characters...
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-- Falcão
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Wed May 19, 2021 10:50 pm

SirMustapha wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 12:15 am I don't want to give big spoilers, but the clash between her actual age and her perceived age becomes very big in later chapters. I just didn't want to flat out state this in the text, as I think "telling instead of showing" is fundamental here, but I realise it can come across as just naiveté or even moralism on the author's part (but again, the later chapters get into this).
Believe me, I didn't get that feeling at all. You've made it clear that Rita has different values from the older members of the group, but you don't seem to promote one position over the other.

As for the conversation about homosexuality: I keep forgetting the story is set in the 2000s. :D And all you've said about the characterisation makes sense.
The foreshadowing bit is something I seriously considered removing, as it could come across as too much of a "look how smart the author is!" moment, but it just felt like something Lígia would say. She was stronger than me.
I know what it's like to feel unsure about whether or not to include a "clever" hint like that. Sometimes we do have to let our characters decide.

Really happy I could help (and that you value my opinion so highly), and I hope the editing goes well.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

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

Post by SirMustapha » Thu Sep 02, 2021 1:12 pm

Well, took me long enough, but there's been an update. And I actually advanced the story considerably, because I had done a lot of translating, but it took me all this time to revise it. Talk about self-sabotage. But we're up to the ninth day now, and roughly two thirds of the way on the whole story.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Oct 17, 2021 12:22 am

I realise I've missed lots of updates. Starting on "Seventh Day". (up to p. 137)

The description of the base is excellently written. Same with the escape: excellent, creepy action scene.

"A sudden weakness emerged from her stomach" feels like it could be better written.

"the room was almost taken over by them" feels a bit clumsy. I'd change to "they'd almost taken over the room" or "almost covered".

I love how you visualise the way Carol sees other people's minds. I always enjoy that sort of detail in stories about telepathy.

The dialogue between Carol and Rita is very good and natural.

The bit about the worst part being waiting for the lift (something outside of her control) is very real.

"In order to open a path through them, pushing them aside with some mysterious power of my mind, I didn’t even need to understand how to do it; I just had
to do it." This is good in content, but the sentence feels long. I'd rewrite it as two shorter sentences to make it punchier.


Typoes/translation issues:

"had a cloudy weather" sounds inorganic. Just "was cloudy" would be better.

"I was directly involved in that": "it" would be better.

Typo: "what looked by" should be "like"

"she screamed in a way she never felt she was able to scream." Great description, but should be "she'd never"

"if either of us had any fault" sounds just a bit formal in English. "if it was anyone's fault" might be better (unless you want Carol to sound a bit distant here).

I notice that a lot of the time, you have characters refer to "that place" (or "that [noun]") which is technically most correct, but an English speaker might still use "this [noun]" when referring back to the subject of the conversation. For example, Carol and Rita would almost certainly refer to the base as "this place" when discussing it, even though they've left it. Just one of those things that isn't grammatically wrong, but gives a bit more nuance to dialogue.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
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Re: The Formicide Gang [work in progress]: the bullshit thread

Post by c_nordlander » Fri Nov 26, 2021 11:44 pm

Have read the rest of "The Seventh Day". I don't want to give any more in-depth criticism until I've read the rest that you've written so far, but as usual it's very well-written, only a couple of places that feel like they could be more vivid. The ants plot and the more everyday friends plot dovetail very nicely, without there feeling like there's a split.

I like Carol not wanting to shower at Eduardo's house, even when obviously alone. It's a nice characterisation detail, and I may be reading too much into it here, but I feel like it contrasts with her complete relaxation and communion with the sea at the start of the novel.

Débora and Chico talking about experiencing racism is probably the most uncomfortably real this story has felt for me, especially the sentence (I'm paraphrasing a bit) "even if many people, or even most, aren't racist, it doesn't help if just one of them can make your entire day go sour." I believe 100% that this is accurate, because it seems close to my own experience (not of ethnic prejudice, but of other kinds). I'm happy you wrote that part.

Nice detail of Carol consciously trying not to read minds and just participating in the conversation like the others.

Not much to say, it's continuing strong: all the characters are getting more developed with every scene, and the suspense is shaping up nicely.

I'll list the translation issues later, but there aren't that many. One mistake I noticed a couple of times is the in/on confusion: you always use "on" when talking about something happening on a specific day, so you'd say "on my twelfth birthday," not "in."

This is just a typo, though: "I watched the World Cup final when you and Débi".

Will comment more when I've read more, but I'm still very much enjoying it.
But finally I'm done
Kicking out the voices in my head
Sick of fighting all these uninvited guests.
Ever since they all came over
We've all kinda gotten close

I'm gonna dance with my demons!
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


-- Blame My Youth, "Dance with My Demons"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
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