First chapter impressions

Hu
Hugh
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Sat May 17, 2014 10:58 am Post

devinganger wrote:I am curious, though -- can you give examples of said "masculine" expression? I ask because one of my goals in writing this is to avoid writing Amanda's POV as "a guy who just happens to be a girl." I am perhaps being overly ambitious, but I would like to avoid male gaze, default male assumptions, etc. as much as I can.


For example:
- the conscious irony of "Having your testicles crushed back up into your abdominal cavity has that effect, I hear.";
- the use of many one and two-syllable words, and few of three syllables or more;
- the use of few 'weak' (in 'masculine' terms) words (which is where I have a problem with 'mistreated' - a three-syllable word, 'wet' and high-pitched in sound, obscure and cloudy in meaning, and insofar as it has meaning, less than my imagination suggests to me Kimberly has actually been abused).

Personally, I see nothing especially wrong with Amanda seeming somewhat 'masculine' in physical conflict. I imagine there'll be other less belligerent circumstances where she can display her feminine side.
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nom
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Sat May 17, 2014 12:59 pm Post

@devinganger: Your replies here are among the most gracious, open and positive responses to critical feedback I have seen. Kudos to you, and thank you for modelling how to seek and receive and feedback.
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Hu
Hugh
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Sat May 17, 2014 9:17 pm Post

I agree with nom.
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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devinganger
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Sun May 18, 2014 5:48 am Post

nom wrote:@devinganger: Your replies here are among the most gracious, open and positive responses to critical feedback I have seen. Kudos to you, and thank you for modelling how to seek and receive and feedback.


WOW. Thank you very much! My wife would say on my behalf, "Thank you very much for validating my personal journey." I would agree.

I would also note that I've been writing in the IT field for many years, including as a vendor for a product team known as "the most feared and loathed" in their company. Document reviews are...exuberant, and I had to learn the skill of separating the feedback (which was usually given with the intent of creating the best document possible) from any personal reflection on me. My boss said it best: "You may have done your best work on this document, you may not have. But now you have the advantage of multiple eyes and thought processes, and you have the opportunity to make your work even better."

By showing me how to take even the most grueling and gutting feedback and reframe it as "what weakness is this revealing, and how can I fix it?" he helped me develop what is turning into a very useful skill in the fiction world -- where the work is not just my daytime ball and chain, but MY BABY MY PRECIOUS OH LORDIE DON'T TOUCH MY PRECIOUS. :)
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devinganger
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Sun May 18, 2014 5:57 am Post

Hugh wrote:- the use of few 'weak' (in 'masculine' terms) words (which is where I have a problem with 'mistreated' - a three-syllable word, 'wet' and high-pitched in sound, obscure and cloudy in meaning, and insofar as it has meaning, less than my imagination suggests to me Kimberly has actually been abused).


Okay, I see what you're saying there. So is it that you see that whole scene as Amanda being masculine, therefore the word doesn't fit, or just that I have done an insufficient job of shifting out of the masculine mode once the fight is over?

Hugh wrote:Personally, I see nothing especially wrong with Amanda seeming somewhat 'masculine' in physical conflict. I imagine there'll be other less belligerent circumstances where she can display her feminine side.


Yes, I have one or two planned. :) I am finding that her path brings her into more conflict than I had originally thought, though, so that's been an interesting process.

Thanks again!
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nom
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Sun May 18, 2014 12:24 pm Post

devinganger wrote:MY BABY MY PRECIOUS OH LORDIE DON'T TOUCH MY PRECIOUS. :)


That's more like it! :D
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Mon May 19, 2014 5:55 am Post

a follow up if i may...

- if you were surprised it works, your senseis didn,t think it would work, and police instructors say it was unreliable, and then a bunch of people on the internet... with or without special forces training... say it ,,sounds wrong,, then... does it matter if it worked when you tried it? remember what might work with a solidly built man with mma training is different to what is believable from a teenage girl.

- my point was... would a teenage girl know that the glock 17 was favoured by two bit dels? would she recognise a glock 17 and have an opinion on it? if she would, there,s probably a ...very very brief... explanation as to why she would know that.

- is half-blind and deaf believable? in any case, would the teenage girl know they were half blind and deaf? are you asking or telling here?

- while we,re at it... describe the surroundings earlier so were not introduced to the pipe 2 seconds before she needs it.
:€

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Sun Sep 14, 2014 10:59 am Post

I liked it a lot. I liked the first sentence, it made me immediately want to read the second sentence. The fact that it was a female, revealed in the second sentence had me pretty much hooked right there. If this was a book for sale, and I was reading it in the store, I'd leave with it. If I read it on Amazon's 'look inside' feature, I'd put it in the shopping cart.

I had no problem with the credibility of the actions taken by the girl. Women have a different adrenaline cycle from men. What you described is totally consistent with recent research on the female adrenaline cycle. Their cycle has a delayed start; that means they have time, a few seconds, to plan their response before the effect of the adrenaline kicks in. If they are trained, it allows them to maintain control, stay out of useless OODA loops yet still fight with ferocity. The cycle peaks lower than men's which gives women less deterioration of fine motor control though their tunnel vision and resultant apparent time slow down is apparently about the same. Bottom line, trained women can fight with the dispassionate efficiency of a Doberman. No monkey dance, no posturing, no ego, just deadly efficiency. This chapter reflected that. I have no problem with it. This female is clearly trained. Perhaps a bodyguard?

Did I mention I wanted to read more?

Full disclosure: I live in the US. I'm a gun guy. I believe the person responsible for my safety is the one I see in the mirror. I have a concealed carry license. Everybody in my family has a concealed carry license. Most of my friends do. I own or have owned and sold as useless, a bunch of handguns. I train on a regular basis. My favorite authors are Tom Clancy and Vince Flynne. I also like Donald Hamilton's best (in my opinion) book, "The Mona Intercept," which is told much the same way as you chose for this chapter. Your protagonist's thoughts are not much removed from one of his, or John D. McDonald's Travis McGee character. Your style of writing is much like Donald Hamilton's.

A nit: The Glock 19 (I own two of them, one lives in my bedside safe with a rail light on it) is a better concealed carry gun than the 17 (I owned one and sold it, didn't fit my hand). Only two less rounds and just enough smaller to be easy to hide. The Glock 26 is even better for concealed carry (I have one of those too). The guns aren't over hyped. They are intensely popular because they are reliable as gravity, easy to maintain, uncomplicated to operate, and by comparison with SIG's and 1911's, inexpensive. They are, in short, a good value. The lack of a separate safety does put a premium on using your head, being in the moment when handling the gun, especially when holstering. Were I of a criminal mindset in a country where self defense is illegal, I'd have a 19 or 26, not a 17, because I'd be less likely to be caught with it.

Thinking the Glock 17 was over hyped was the only thing out of character for your protagonist. I suspect she would view it as I do. People with her level of training would view it as a tool. They wouldn't care a whit what someone else thought about it, so over hyped wouldn't come into the equation. It works or it doesn't. Period.

The thoughts about the British courts were, based on how British courts treat people who defend themselves, spot on. The British preoccupation with the rights of criminals over citizens is what it is. But to deny it would reduce the credibility of the novel, especially to an American Audience. The protagonist, evidently a well trained American female conditioned to defend herself, would have exactly those thoughts. I would have had exactly those thoughts. I had no problem with them.

As often happens, the thugs were not expecting resistance. When something unexpected happens to the thugs, it frequently puts the defender inside the thug's OODA loop which is analogous to turning inside the enemy in a dog fight - a huge advantage if one has the training to take advantage of it. That would gain the protagonist the couple of seconds where this reflection happened, in addition to which it would be happening as her training allowed her to multitask and pursue the next steps in her defense as she thought them.

Please let us know when this is available. I want to read more of it.

Fitch

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Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:29 pm Post

Personally I like these kind of openings, where you start with an action scene and get introduced to the characters later. But then I am a big Elmore Leonard fan so I like my fiction sparse on prose, and dialogue heavy.

So you got me in.

The main character was a young girl, so for avoiding cliche there, points for that. I've just read a book about Soviet women fighter pilots in WW2 so I'm all in for a believable femme action hero.

Actually, I don't dig on techno thrillers, so I think you have the right balance of tech detail, without going all Tom Clancy on us.

To conclude, I'm more of a reader than a writer, and I'd read on.

More please!

Tim
Journalist for 20 years, and voracious reader: favourite authors incl Elmore Leonard, Iain Banks, Eleanor Catton, Tim Winton, David Mitchell and Antony Beevor.

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Sun May 10, 2015 11:03 pm Post

My combatives training is from the Army, rather than a civilian source, but those moves don't seem to work. While I believe you when you say you've ran through live runs with airsoft etc, you need to somehow convince me it would work. Maybe acknowledging that this wasn't your mommas disarm tactic, and make that a good thing? Plenty of martial artists understand that your best weapon in a fight is a creative mind, so it shouldn't be an issue if you explain it to us. Why would she use your method of disarming? Does this move allow for smaller opponents to take on larger foes? If you address that, I would say it works.
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devinganger
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Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:26 pm Post

Porkchop wrote:My combatives training is from the Army, rather than a civilian source, but those moves don't seem to work. While I believe you when you say you've ran through live runs with airsoft etc, you need to somehow convince me it would work. Maybe acknowledging that this wasn't your mommas disarm tactic, and make that a good thing? Plenty of martial artists understand that your best weapon in a fight is a creative mind, so it shouldn't be an issue if you explain it to us. Why would she use your method of disarming? Does this move allow for smaller opponents to take on larger foes? If you address that, I would say it works.


I know it's been a while since this was addressed, but I wanted to share this excellent video which discusses (in Spanish) why using this technique actually works well and is preferable to other methods.

https://www.facebook.com/X963FM/videos/ ... 297727599/

(Not as a "I WAS RIGHT" but more because I find this sort of thing fascinating and from the comments, a lot of you all will as well.)
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Lew
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Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:38 pm Post

Overall--captivating and engaging. I liked it a lot.
devinganger wrote:The effect I was going for was the textual equivalent of the fight visualization sequences in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock movies.

Ahh. Now I see what you were trying to do. Guess what--you succeeded. It does give the narrative the feel of a slow-motion movement, which was used to, say, pre-flight the fight sequences in the Downey/Law Sherlock movies franchise.
I have to admit, though, it did not work for me in those movies--seemed forced and pretentious and being put there for the sake of being put there--and even less in written word. I feel like it deducts from the action quality of the scene, but--once again--this is your story and since this is what you were going for, you succeeded, and you did it well.
I would suggest to consider pushing it further and moving it even more to the notorious show side--let us feel the brush of the thugs' stubble against her knuckles, etc.
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