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Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 16 Oct 2011 00:02 Title: Chapter 1

You have definitely got some biographical and backstory details here; you seem to know where all of your chess pieces belong.

Where I think I'm having a bit of trouble is with the way the exposition and pacing are being handled.  By that, I mean that while there are brief bits of imagery here, the vast majority of this opening is infodump, to the point where I almost lose the narrative of what's going on currently aboard the ship.  That breaks up the flow of the piece; the emotion of her memories of her prior lover is masked, and quite disconnected from the backstory of galactic politics and the prior story of Wolf 359.  I actually had to reread it several times to catch that her little "ritual" was due to some tabloid affair that you specifically point out as steamy and "illicit"...which quite frankly comes off as trivial when you consider what's in the paragraph above: two horrific atrocities--the assimilation of Picard and the slaughter at Wolf 359.  So unfortunately it's incoherent from an emotional standpoint as well as a factual one.

There are a few ways to handle this, since the two streams of thought in and of themselves are not bad.  One would be to break up the infodump more--to simply withhold most of this material while you provide an introduction that allows your character to reveal who she is and what's personal to her.  The other...and I suggest this with caution since it may mean introducing elements you didn't intend to be a part of your character...would be to connect her memories more directly to Wolf 359 instead of going the "affair" angle.  The "infodump" is easier to take if we can see your character reflecting on it, sharing her personal thoughts, and the pain and conflict (or whatever other strong emotions) it evokes in her.  But I think you should keep the affair separate from Wolf 359.

The other thing that I think you may need to address is how you handle your chapter breaks.  I was left with really...nothing, on that.  No thought--just a dry command to the computer and no sense that the scene had gone anywhere.  It's not that you have bad imagery once you do zoom in on Donovan; in fact, I liked this sentence in particular: "She gently slid her makeshift pajamas to the floor, added some lavender bath oil beads and gradually sank neck-deep into steaming-hot water."  That was a strong, well-described image I think you should aim to have more of.  But the power of that image was lost with a weak closing line and a break in a place that felt abrupt and without the scene having gone anywhere.

I think that if you addressed these structural issues, which together are hurting your story, all the background you've gone to the trouble of weaving for your characters and your universe could go somewhere.

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