*Now with full-story summary & cover* Okay brutally honest internet, rip my story apart!

Imposter Syndrome. Polar opposite to the Dunning-Kruger effect.
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Really good thoughts in here! I'll definitely do what I can to implement good suggestions.

I'm not doing this for the money (though money would be neat), but out of passion. I have a story and a message I would love for the world to see, and have put well over 7,000+ hours into it (including the sequels, art etc.) across 30+ revisions since 2014.

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ScrotieMcB wrote:
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KZA wrote:
Prologue

It's very odd that the Second Sun would refer to itself in both first and third person within a single sentence. Either we need to understand a difference between the title of Second Sun and the individual inhabiting it prior to this (if such a difference exists), or it needs to be cleaned up.


This bit is the core mystery of the story. What/who is the Second Sun? There is a reason it refers to itself in the 3rd person.

Here, I'm adding the 2-page summary of the complete story to the original post for your critiquing pleasure.

Spoiler
Violina’s life was never an easy one. Her late father was a pawn of the mob, and she was frivolously blamed for her mother’s death when she was only three. Still, opting to be a product of her choices rather than her circumstances, she sets out with her joke-cracking friend Lux to build a new life.

A wrench is thrown into the girls’ plans when their latest client refuses to pay the promised fee for capturing a unique trio of exotic creatures. The 21-year-old girls reclaim the beasts via a heist and find another buyer—a mysterious, lovely and deranged woman named Vexia who offers more money than they could spend in a lifetime. Unfortunately, the drop-off goes awry, gunshots are fired, and Violina and Lux find themselves on the run.

In their flight, the girls stumble through a rift that takes them back in time 500 years. Terrified that their interference with the past would ripple through to their home time and erase the world they know, they believe they have no choice but to restore history to its original course—a task that would require killing Schlau Poltz—a man whose life they had just saved, and rescuing Kza—the cruelest genocidist the world had ever seen.

Captured and exiled for their crimes, Violina and Lux are cast into a pit. Finding herself wounded and destitute, Violina resolves that if she survives, she would dedicate her life to ridding the world of its evils instead of just isolating herself from them.

Another rift opens and the girls escape into the post-apocalyptic future. They learn that the Second Sun, the object worshiped for centuries as God Himself had reduced the world to a toxic wasteland. Those still alive found themselves belonging to one of two groups: the Separatists—fanatical lunatics bent on driving all of mankind (including themselves) to extinction, and the refugees struggling to survive the onslaught. But when Violina discovers the leaders of the refugees are just as deranged as their enemies, she initiates a violent takeover and leads a campaign against the Separatists herself. The ensuing battles prove catastrophic for both sides, and nearly all of humanity is destroyed.

Surrounded by the smoldering and bloodied ruins of their failure, Violina and Lux learn that the Second Sun that had caused the apocalypse was not actually God, as people had always believed, but a weapon of Kza’s from the Age of the Clerics. They reason that if they were to go back in time and kill him, they could prevent the horrific events of the future from ever even happening in the first place. Not long after, Violina comes face to face with Kza and takes her opportunity to shoot him, but to her bewilderment, the critically wounded Kza simply smiles and forgives her as if he has everything under control, then escapes through another time rift.

With unwavering determination, Violina and Lux decide to take a more direct approach to save mankind by destroying the Second Sun itself before its ascension. This quest takes them from the beginning of the world to the end, but in every era they find mankind to be greedy and vile. Violina reaches a turning point when the very people she is trying to help betray her and brutally murder the ever-lovable and innocent Lux. Violina realizes the only one worth saving is gone, and in a heartbeat she would trade all the world’s lives for Lux’s. In a crusade of lethal justice, she teams up with Kza and fights her way to the Second Sun.

After a brutal trail of death and destruction, Violina comes to a soul-churning realization: The future cannot be changed. Everything she had done to alter history was what actually caused the original events to transpire, and it was she who had caused the apocalypse via the Second Sun.

In the end, Violina learns that Kza was an honorable person with noble goals. It was only because of slander by the corrupt that he had gained such a notorious reputation. With mankind destroyed and the Second Sun in their control, they set out to build a new and better world.
Last edited by KZA on Jan 13, 2020, 6:54:48 PM
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ScrotieMcB wrote:
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KZA wrote:
Prologue

Reminiscences of a Man Left to Burn

“It’s been 14 years since the Second Sun lit the world on fire and abandoned us to die. It’s been 14 years since God killed us.
Unnecessarily redundant. Better would be "It's been fourteen years since the Second Sun lit the world on fire. It's been fourteen years since God abandoned us to die."
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KZA wrote:
I still recall the voice of the Second Sun and the exact words spoken that day:
Missed opportunity to describe the voice. Better would be "I can still hear the Second Sun's words like a thunder sundering my soul:"
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KZA wrote:
‘How oft would I have sacrificed myself to save you, but you would not.
Would not... what?
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KZA wrote:
I know you all in perfect clarity, and there are none good among you. You sanctified greed and vilified reason. When met with innocence, you did not so much as ask her name before tearing her from existence. You have eyes yet see nothing. I’ve shut my eyes, and I see everything.
Vilefied. I would also prefer "You have eyes, yet you see nothing."
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KZA wrote:
On this day the Second Sun will set, and as you push one another’s heads under the poison to keep your own afloat, so will you nevertheless drown. I’ve paid the price of perfection—my inevitable ascension.’”
It's very odd that the Second Sun would refer to itself in both first and third person within a single sentence. Either we need to understand a difference between the title of Second Sun and the individual inhabiting it prior to this (if such a difference exists), or it needs to be cleaned up.


I don't think you're ready, and I won't edit the entire thing for free.


Updated the first half of the prologue with your feedback!

“It’s been 14 years since the Second Sun lit the world on fire... 14 years since God killed us. I still recall its soul-petrifying voice and the exact words spoken that day: ‘How oft would I have sacrificed myself to save you, but you would not be saved.
Last edited by KZA on Jan 13, 2020, 4:33:16 PM
Again, look at that cover and ask yourself if you saw it in the shop, sitting next to all the others, what it would convey. Because to me it looks really amateur and home-made. Nothing about it is enticing or interesting in a 'judge this book by its cover' way. It's like really bad CG in a trailer for something that's probably going to rely on its visuals. Which is a silly thing to think, because no book does that.

There's a reason so much effort and care is put into covers though. Not 'cover art', so to speak, but covers. I favour the minimalist approach because I find it mysterious and alluring, but...eh, like I said. Just go for a trip to your local bookshop and just browse the covers. Get a feel for what the trends are, what layouts work. You'll start to see how *samey* they are before long, and yet they look like something someone would buy. Would proudly have on their own shelves.

Not a single one of the even vaguely successful self-pubbers I know didn't shell out for their covers. And again, it's not the amount of work that matters; it's the quality of it. Same goes for pretty much every aspect of art production -- sure, a person can use photoshop or whatever, and they can draw, but graphic design is a profession and there are so many little things the layperson just can't know, can't even see. That's what you pay for. Like or not. Don't, and you'll almost certainly come away looking cheap and low-effort.

And that thing you've shared is hideous; I thought that the first time I saw it a while ago, I still think it now. Which pains me to say because a lot of work clearly went into it. Too much work, I'd even say. It looks overcooked by half, but if you start off on the wrong foot and keep marching, you're just going to traipse deeper and deeper into a territory of failure.

On the plus side, IF a publisher picks up your manuscript you won't need to worry about any of that, as I previously explained. They'll gussy it up nicely, target the perceived audience and all you'll have to do is keep writing, turn up for the book launch, and hopefully not pretend you like what they've done to your baby.

edit: commentary was for the front cover art only; now that it's been updated with spine and back cover, I...really don't feel any desire to amend. The art still looks tacky and over-saturated. Why the equally garish image in the middle? Why not stick one of those bits of praise on the front? The plot twist one is probably best. People love a good plot twist, and it's a punchy little quote.

And I wasn't kidding about the ISBNs. For whatever reason, having a barcode somewhere on your book cover just makes it look like something people will buy, have bought, continue to buy. It makes it look like a product.

PS Please disavow yourself of the notion that drafts/edits are anything like 'patching' when it comes to professional publishing. Once that thing is in print, *that's it*. Unless you either get wildly successful and can do a later Author's Preferred Edition, or you stick to self-publishing in which case yes, you can alter the epub/ebook/manuscript for POD (print-on-demand) as you see fit...but even then I've found people are far less likely to 'patch' a book than they are a game. Hell, some of my readers stuck to their beta manuscript instead of reading the final version, which baffled me but hey, whatever they enjoy. I'm not in it for the money either.
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Last edited by The_Scourge on Jan 13, 2020, 7:05:39 PM
On the synopsis


'Death In Samarkand' is a fairly played-out plot, and you have to do something really unusual with the notion of 'trying to escape your fate only ensures its occurrence' to justify its reuse.

Going by the blurb alone, these rifts seem to just 'happen' and that can strike a reader as too convenient, so I'd be careful in how and when they're deployed as plot progression devices.

Open with a clear, concise position setting-wise. I get the desire to just jump into the who and what but without a where and when, it all seems to just float in some abstract play space. The synopsis is not the place to be coy or vague.

Stick to main plot points, and don't write twists as twists (so avoid terms like 'however' and 'despite this' -- they're just taking up precious textual real estate). Just lay out how things happen as though it's history and you're an impartial recorder of that history.

Save any sort of navel-gazing, theme, etc for the writing itself. No one's going to care what your main character thinks or questions in the synopsis.

Excise as many adverbs as possible. Despite Strunk and White's advice there (not to mention King's), adverbs do have their place in writing. Absolutely. But in a bare-bones synopsis, again, they're just flab. We don't need to know 'how' characters are treated or even how they act. Just the facts, ma'am.

Finally, you have enough plot material there for more than one book. Especially with the time-jumping. So trying to cram all that into one book might make it look like you're rushing or being overly ambitious. To make that one book, I'd want to see an ending that matches the beginning and everything in-between serving the transition from point A to point Z. Not getting a sense of that from this synopsis.

In summary, step back. Then step back again. Look at what happens as 'happened'. And remember that plot is what happens, story is how that affects the characters and how they react to it. A synopsis/summary should have as little story as possible.

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Anyone have any recommendations on where to find beta readers? I don't have a lot of friends/family, and the ones I do have aren't into reading....
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KZA wrote:
Anyone have any recommendations on where to find beta readers? I don't have a lot of friends/family, and the ones I do have aren't into reading....


Probably a blessing anyways. It's a group subset that will rarely give you unbiased feedback anyways. (Good or bad)

Tbh content is rarely the issue in writing(though common tropes and re-hash happen all the time). Conveying emotion, developing context, and creating immersion, is truly a skill. Like any skill, it takes practice, dedication, and no shortage of trial and error to hone. Do it for yourself first, and hopefully what you enjoy, is also shared by others.

Library, college campus, coffee shops, sometimes can be a decent place to grab some initial feedback, but consideration of the target audience is important too. Getting readers just to get readers doesnt always give you the data points you want.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
- Abraham Lincoln
Forums actually. Just not these ones.

It's not rare to see authors thank frequent users of various sites and online communities for their input and feedback.

Anyway unless you have specific queries for me I've said enough and see little to no engagement with my contribution. Thank Scrotie for providing me with an excuse to contribute by way of his tomfoolery. Best of luck.

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Last edited by The_Scourge on Jan 14, 2020, 7:22:55 PM
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The_Scourge wrote:
Thank Scrotie for providing me with an excuse to contribute by way of his tomfoolery.
I can rest assured that, if you hear me simply tell someone they aren't ready and should give up, you will always ready them as much as possible and encourage them onward. In this case, in a way I couldn't possibly have accomplished myself, as I lack your relevant experience. Thank you for delivering as expected.

Imagine how much good you could do if you knew certain people would always respond to your social media posts by scrambling for any way they could to prove you wrong, fact-checking every trivial detail and explaining at length how you're a miserable liar.
A shining light in a sea of stagnant bong water.
RussiaGate breakdown: http://archive.is/W81DZ#p21979912

Last edited by Rachel_GGG on Sep 31, 2018 0:61:72 PM
Last edited by ScrotieMcB on Jan 15, 2020, 1:32:57 AM
I think your strongest assets are the concepts per se. (Even though I hate time travel as a plot device with a passion--and honestly think you could explore those concepts without it.)

I also agree that you would do well to rein in some of your ambitions; many of the greatest stories have to do with character interactions rather than the grandiosity of the plot itself. On that note, I'd like to see a bit more attention paid to the motivations of both the main character and the supporting character. The interactions between them that you shared seem (sorry) quite amateurishly written. (And if that statement offends you then it is all the more reason to heed it.) Pay more attention to that dynamic, because it may be the most important hook you have.

That said, I'm a little confused by your project. It looks like you have already published it? https://www.amazon.com/Inevitable-Ascension-V-K-McAllister-ebook/dp/B015AS2FTA

So what is the purpose of this thread, exactly? Are you looking to substantially rewrite your book?

Finally, I strongly recommend ignoring people who are more interested in demonstrating to the world (or rather, the microcosm that is this forum's readers) that they are superior to you than in actually giving you concrete advice. You'll find both the former and the latter pattern in this thread. Pay attention to the latter, and let the former fuck off (don't even respond to it).

Good luck!
I make eggs.

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