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

Did you write something for the Simpsons, Futurama, original fiction or another fandom? Feel free to post it here!
User avatar
SirMustapha
Junior Secretariat
Junior Secretariat
Posts: 4409
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 8:20 pm
Location: South of South America
Contact:

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

Post by SirMustapha » Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:58 pm

So with the most recent update, we're up to chapter 10, concluding the "action" part of the story. We still have quite a long way to go before we're done, though...
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Mon Mar 28, 2022 11:38 pm

Comments on "The Eighth Day":

The start, with Rita and the ants, is very good suspense. It leads naturally into Carol explaining what is going on (both with the ants and her ability).

I like the scene of Carol fighting them off, but in the sentence
Spoiler
I'm not quite happy with the "lots of." Maybe "many," or even "swathes of" or "masses of," would feel better. Just me.

I think you've handled the revelation of Carol's ability to the rest of the group about as well as any story I've read. Too often, this type of story has people accepting the supernatural way too easily (I'm probably guilty of it myself). Here, you have some people with lingering suspicion, even after Carol demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a telepath. It feels very true to life.

There are a lot of things I like here. Carol staying awake to watch over Rita is a nice and tense plot element.

The scene at the hotel was a good idea, proving that the threat posed by the ants is real. I've wondered how well the ant plot would work, seeing how it would easily come off as pulpy, but I think it still works.

I'll send you typo issues separately, but just one nitpick: "torchlight" doesn't mean the hand-held lamp thingie in English. You want "flashlight" (US English) or "torch" (British English).

The desperation when
Spoiler
is very real: one of the tensest scenes I've read in fiction in quite a while. I really felt the horror of a stupid, arbitrary accident ruining something vital. On the other hand, I think
Spoiler
, while the way she does it is great, is over a bit too quickly, in barely more than a couple of paragraphs. I feel that a longer description would make it as tense as their predicament, while also doing justice to the coolness she's pulling off.

All in all, still very good. The plot is shaping up very nicely, the way the other characters react to the supernatural feels realistic like I said, and we get some great scenes of Carol interacting with them. I'll be back with more comments.
Last edited by c_nordlander on Tue Sep 20, 2022 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
SirMustapha
Junior Secretariat
Junior Secretariat
Posts: 4409
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 8:20 pm
Location: South of South America
Contact:

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

Post by SirMustapha » Tue Mar 29, 2022 1:51 am

Lovely bit of feedback/criticism once again, Chris! Thank you for still sticking with the story. I agree with all your points, and I'm glad that some of the pivotal moments of the story have worked for you. E.g. the group's reaction to Carol's secret was one thing I spent a lot of thought trying to work out, and I even had to back and change a few things about those scenes, because I was too conscious of the "supernatural things are immediately accepted by everyone because the plot needs to move on" problem. And I wanted some actual counterpoint to Rita's quick acceptance and unwavering trust for Carol, to drive home the fact that this is due to Rita's own personality, and not just because The Plot demands it.
Spoiler
And yeah, the "torch/torchlight" bit was a complete screw up. When I realised that flashlight is the US term, I tried to search for the UK equivalent and ended up with a wrong answer for... some reason. I'll make sure to fix it, and the other typos you've caught.
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Tue Mar 29, 2022 11:12 am

Yeah, as a translator I've been there myself. :) No worries.

Please note that the only thing I felt was too short was the scene of Carol getting them out of there. Their actual imprisonment I think had the exact right amount of weight.
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
SirMustapha
Junior Secretariat
Junior Secretariat
Posts: 4409
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 8:20 pm
Location: South of South America
Contact:

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

Post by SirMustapha » Tue May 17, 2022 1:52 am

Well, at long last, the first post has been updated with the first version of the complete story. All chapters.

Of course, I don't discard small fixes in the future, but there shouldn't be any changes anymore. This is it. If any of you were unsure about getting started while the story wasn't totally done, there's your chance. Me, I'll just try to relax and focus more fully on other projects for now. But of course, all concrit is still welcome and will most likely be incorporated into a second version.
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Tue May 17, 2022 10:34 am

First of all, massive congrats! Rest a bit now.

I'm up to about page 200, but I'll keep reading and commenting as I go.
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Sat Oct 22, 2022 10:45 pm

Have read up to p. 220:

Missing word: "trying not to taken over by useless thoughts" needs a "be".

Obviously haven't finished reading "The Ninth Day" yet, but I like it so far. Their exploration of the facility is nicely tense, and Carol's ability works logically according to its own rules. It makes perfect sense for her to be able to use her friend's brains as a sort of server support. Everyone's emotions and reactions make sense given the dramatic situation they're in.

I also like the bit with her phobia of spiders: it's easy for a reader to feel superior to a character who has a crippling fear like that, but I empathised with her all the way. It made me feel very tense.

Possibly, some of the chemicals they find seem a bit "magical" in their function (like dissolving the rock), but it seems to make sense within the context of the facility.

I like how Carol uses the pendant Eduardo gave her to focus.

The bit where
Spoiler
is one of the most atmospheric and tense scenes so far.

Will be back with more comments once I have the time.
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
SirMustapha
Junior Secretariat
Junior Secretariat
Posts: 4409
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 8:20 pm
Location: South of South America
Contact:

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

Post by SirMustapha » Fri Oct 28, 2022 4:49 pm

I'm so glad that you're still keeping up with the story, Chris! Just a few thoughts.
Possibly, some of the chemicals they find seem a bit "magical" in their function (like dissolving the rock), but it seems to make sense within the context of the facility.
This was probably one of the few "compromises" I made when doing this final incarnation of the story, because I didn't want to change the plot point of Rita figuring out how to enter the installation, and that meant I'd have to position the story in this odd zone between science fiction and magical realism. And I didn't want to spend too much time with explanations, because, ultimately, the story needed this mixture of teenage recklessness and disbelief at what's going on, that place where the absurdity is so great that you go into this "who cares, let's get this done" zone. Whether this will work for whomever's reading, I guess I have no way to know.

There's a bit of trivia regarding Carol's necklace. I tried to incorporate a little bit of the Candomblé religion into Carol's characterisation, keeping it noticeable to those who know it, but subtle enough not to get distracting. In the narration of her morning ritual in the opening, she uses the word "Odoyá", which is a salutation to Yemanjá, the female orisha of the oceans. And then, the pendant is shaped like a sword because it's the symbol of Ogum, the orisha who represents war and metals. I wished to place her temperament somewhere in between the two, combining the motherly, healing (but also violent) energy of Yemanjá, but also channelling the warlike, impetuous strength of Ogum.
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Oct 30, 2022 12:50 am

Yeah, at the end of the day that's the author's choice, and every reader will have their own opinion.

Don't know anything about Candomblé, but I appreciate all your explanations about it and will always be happy for more. I like that aspect of Carol's characterisation (and it's generally just cool to read about a character belonging to a real-world religion other than the three Abrahamic ones).
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
c_nordlander
Insane Underling
Insane Underling
Posts: 12620
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2001 2:00 pm
Custom Title: Quiet Acquitting

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

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:28 pm

Comments on the rest of "The Ninth Day":

The description of the journey through the installation is well-paced and very gripping: I read page after page of it, almost at the edge of my seat. It's possible that it feels a *little* like a video game scenario, what with all the weird traps, but that's not impossible, and besides, that's probably your aesthetic decision. It's to your credit that while I didn't think the mission would fail, I wasn't certain all of them would survive. (Despite having read the old version of the story you wrote, way back.)

I love the concept of Carol using the others' brains as kind of supporting servers for her telepathy. Feels like something that would actually work, and of course, interesting uses for telepathy are relevant to my interests.

The scene with the cold water is... relatably unpleasant. I like that Carol volunteered for it due to her experience of open-air bathing.

"Daniel, then, went off walking on his own, as if he could see his way." This would be better either without the "then", or without the commas around it. Great sentence otherwise.

Not going to point them all out, but you have some very well-written sentences in this part.

Interesting to have this section in the middle of the story, when the reader could easily feel like it's the climax. Looking forward to seeing where the plot goes from here. Again, I have an idea from the older draft, but just an idea.

Nice sense of everyone just "cooling down" and returning to normal after the fight is over. The call-back joke with the elevator is good and feels realistic for the characters. Carol using the ants to wall up the installation is another great touch, showing that it's all over.

The scene of them bragging and joking about the events when out on the town (and knowing no-one would believe them if they overheard) is pretty realistic. Something you don't see a lot in adventure/action stories, but it's something I can easily imagine people would do.

Carol's insecurity when talking her mum after
Spoiler
is a realistic touch.

I really like the conversation between Lígia and Débora at the end of the chapter. Lígia being ashamed of her distrust of Carol and not knowing what to do about her feelings is perfect.

The various sexual and romantic bonds (reciprocated or not) between the older members of the group feel like a much more realistic way to write teenage relationships than is common in fiction. Especially
Spoiler
doesn't feel like a romantic happy ending: there are clearly complex feelings there, good and bad, and I look forward to seeing where it's going.

Definitely looking forward to reading more: you have plenty of interesting plot threads here, both interpersonal and more large-scale.
No fear of pain! The only fear we claim is the fear of shame,
Of breaking the ancient and sacred consecration we're obeying!
Should you see us kneeling, it's merely because we feel like praying!


-- Dan Bull, "War of Dawn of War of Dawn"

Now offering writing commissions! Fanfiction or original, PM me to discuss.
User avatar
SirMustapha
Junior Secretariat
Junior Secretariat
Posts: 4409
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 8:20 pm
Location: South of South America
Contact:

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

Post by SirMustapha » Tue Jan 24, 2023 3:58 pm

I know I keep saying this, but I'm endlessly thankful and humbled by your dedication to reading and commenting this story... especially since you've kinda already read it all before, in a way.

I admit it makes me shake a bit that you've gotten over the Ninth Day, since that to me feels like the place where the story either truly takes shape, or completely disintegrates. Not just because it's the first actual moment of suspense and danger, but because, as you said, it happens in the middle of the book. I am totally sure that, if I try to get that story published, 90% of people would tell me that's just a plain error, and there's no way I can get something like that out the door without changing it completely. It would be very hard to me to convince a publisher that this isn't the climax, and that seeing the kids fighting aliens is maybe less important than seeing them discuss dinner even before they left the underground installation, or even less important than the significance of the songs they sing in the elevator (just to give you an idea: this is the first song and this is the second one; the second one is filled with innuendo, including the immortal line "She made the snake rise". It's legendary). I don't know if I could convince a publisher that this is a valid artistic vision.

I like your observation about the "video game scenario", and, well, how can I disagree? I'm a son of video games, and I have a much stronger connection to Another World and Prince of Persia than "proper" science fiction books. Again, I don't know if I could convince someone that this is a viable aesthetic choice. I mean, maybe I could go another route and say that, well, what about The Goonies or Raiders of the Lost Ark? Aren't they kinda "video-gamey" as well? I could make the point that this book is just The Goonies with older and hornier characters. Or I could try to say that this story isn't properly sci-fi, and is more in the real of magical realism (but they'd eventually realise I've never read Borges or Márquez). But in the end, yeah, maybe it is a video game. Not on purpose, but simply as the result of who I am. And in that case, the best defence I have is that, hey, at least it's a better book than Ready Player One.

Mind you: I don't wanna sound like I'm defending myself from you, Chris. I'm not feeling attacked, and I really do appreciate the insights you're giving me. I mean, most people would charge me big bucks to do what you're doing (and they'd do much worse than you).

Some aside thoughts: it's kinda funny how some things in this chapter were done "backwards" from how most people would think. I'm sure some would think Carol's morning ritual was a "foreshadowing" of the pool trap, but it was really the opposite. I just really liked introducing some spirituality into Carol, and showing a connection to the sea and Yemanja, and then the pool just sprung from that. And it just made sense that the installation's final hurdle would try to insult her spirituality. I made a point to show just how these aliens are cruel in a very human way.

I admit I feel a little insecure that the amount of relationship/sexual themes in the story might be a bit overboard. But, yes, I was particularly careful and sensitive in how to deal with these themes, not only because all of this relates to my own insecurities and fears as a teenager and to how I dealt with them as I grew older, but because this is such a delicate topic, and often so brutalised and vandalised by a lot of media. I hate the fact that sexuality was often presented to my generation through the vision of greasy old guys in suits who bought artistic inspiration in the form of a magical white powder. Many of us were introduced to this soulless, lifeless, jaded idea of sexuality, and that has largely influenced who I became (aside from, of course, family stuff and the social/historical context and everything else). When dealing with this theme, I try to make my characters achingly human, and just try to present every facet of complexity, because this stuff needs to be said. And this story gave me a lot more freedom than Like Crying of Laughter in this respect, because I'm dealing with younger people, and the themes are much deeper and more raw.

Also, you probably noticed it, but I just amuse myself by thinking that Lígia in this chapter says the second most savage and brutal line in the entire book:
Spoiler
I won't be modest: I love that dialogue. Lígia and Débora are just very fun to write, and when I can use them to bitchslap that entire "nice guy" mentality, of course I won't refuse the opportunity.
"I know that the bourgeoisie stinks, but it has money to buy perfume."
-- Falcão
Post Reply