DoaH Final Thoughts

Well, this has been a journey. Four and a half months of writing… Aug 13th to Jan 3rd… including the three prologue chapters. Without those, literally ended on Christmas with the lines “merry fucking Christmas”.

Not my first big writing project, but definitely a massive improvement in my skill from what I was doing a year ago.

So, where did I succeed? Where did I fail.

Successes

Characterization: I think I managed to make every character complex and believable, with deeper motivations than they appear on the surface. I introduced some favorites, both old and new, while managing to control myself and not create a cast list of 30 major characters.

Tone: I kept it dark without making it overwhelming, with enough light and breathing room to make the darkness contrast well. Sure, a matter of taste, but I think I landed exactly on the mark I set.

Worldbuilding: Yeah, I know, there wasn’t a lot of it, but I didn’t want there to be a lot of it. Not in this book. This is the introduction… more will certainly be introduced in future books. I think this one told enough to make it interesting, without overwhelming the narrative or being so sparse as to be useless.

Failures to learn from:

Size: The hope was for a roughly 60-70k story at maybe 30-ish chapters. I ended up with was 61 chapters and 150k words. Heh. Oops.

Focus: I made a few mistakes, like putting too much emphasis on “slice of life”, leaving lulls in the story that lasted longer than they should. I mean, that was partly by design- I firmly believe the “full nitro burn” method is toxic to good storytelling, and you need ebbs and flows in action and drama, to create points of relaxation and seeing your characters in relaxed situations.

Plus, I had to establish the world for the late game. Alex and Cassie wouldn’t have had nearly the endgame impact that they did, if not for the early emphasis.

I play a long game with my writing, it’s just in my nature, and to the point that there are things that are shown in chapter 1 that don’t show their true significance until the final epilogue.

This is fine… except it takes so damn long to get to the final epilogue that I fear people forgot the significance of those first few chapters. And expecting my readers to go back over 150k words to find those little gems is a bit much to ask.

This is something I need to fix.

(Hint: go reread Zach’s Surge in chapter two now that you’ve seen Alex). Oh, incidentally, Alex was one of very few characters whose names I did not roll. There’s a reason for this.

What now?

I’m taking a week long break where mainly I’ll be chewing over the website, changing the layout of the table of contents to support multiple books… I’ll probably just end up creating a page and copy/pasting the whole DoaH list to that.

I need to think up a better title for this book as well. Le sigh.

Maybe I’ll get Patreon going. I’m trying to think up incentives, but the truth is I have an artistic objection to charging for bonus chapters. Either it belongs in the story, and so you should write it, or it does not and you shouldn’t. So other than putting up a list of nice supporters on the site, I’m at a loss for what to offer.

And everyone thank Wargonzola for donating to see the Laura-Glen smut chapter. That’ll be up soon as well.

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18 thoughts on “DoaH Final Thoughts

  1. I found the length fine, but then again I am a Wildbow fan, so go figure. And every author I know of and like tends to go over, so at least you are in good company, IMO.

    What I didn’t like, even given the dark world you portrayed, is the continued incompetence, inaction, and secret-keeping for basically all the public officials and institutions in the story. On the other hand, I am having a hard time figuring out an irrefutable reason why things would be different. The examples you gave, e.g. the cluster-fu** that resulted in going after Kitten, would make normal bureaucrats cringe away from overt action. But really, why hasn’t someone in the military put together a commando team of high-level Imbued just to go after the nastiest threats? Why hasn’t someone in the government tried relocating Imbued who killed other Imbued? As much as people may want revenge, being half a continent away would slow them down and stop some revenge killings. Why hasn’t someone in the government tried counseling and/or mentoring these people, instead of jumping immediately to threats and manipulation? Why hasn’t someone published the information on the colors and stages? If nothing else, that would be in every official training manual on dealing with Imbued and would therefore eventually leak (Franklin’s comment on secrets). Why isn’t someone in the government setting up essentially a bribery program? Pay known Imbued say $3K a month as long as they follow certain restrictions, e.g. don’t get convicted, don’t associate with known gang members, etc. The monetary penalty for doing stupid sh** would keep some of the Imbued from the worst behaviors until they were old enough to mellow out a little. Hell, why haven’t private companies scouted new Imbued with useful abilities using pretty much the same programs (mentoring, $, etc.)? Why are there apparently so many teenage Imbued and far fewer grown ups? Attrition? Are the adults just working other lucrative jobs?

    And yes, thanks Wargonzola. I am picturing Glen here doing his best Barry White imitation. Oh, but he can do some object manipulation… the possibilities are many.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alright… this is a long one… so IN ORDER.

      Inaction and secret-keeping? Oh yes, absolutely, there’s plenty of that… but can you point to an example of incompetence? They did everything they could without taking excessive risks. Unless you mean the school principal… in which case, well, you expect better from crapsack gang school?

      The government does have kill squads. They also have a lot of precogs which they consult. Answers when it comes to enemies like Kitten, and a few others, is “unacceptable losses”. But they don’t use high level if they can help it… that has a bad habit of breeding additional high level Imbued… after all, Kitten’s successor’s already going to be at least as strong as she is, but with a power more optimized to kill the US government.

      Umm… you may want to reread Com’s chapter. He explicitly offered to relocate Zach/Zach’s family (in the form of witness protection) after his encounter with Kitten. Not his fault Zach told him to go fuck his own fat rolls.

      Com also mentioned PREP… and Outreach gets pointed out every so often. The latter is basically a propaganda force trying to make nice with “at risk” populations. So that when, inevitably, some of them Manifest, they’re already aware of “we can go here for help and a paycheck”. PREP (Powered Resources Employment Program) *is* that help and paycheck. Finding profitable, usually nonviolent, jobs for those with powers.

      Stages are known- they’ve been mentioned in story a few times. Including by David… the supers geek of their group… the color thing isn’t all that well known… it isn’t always true to begin with…

      I’ve already pointed out PREP and Outreach, which does literally everything you just said. Except the “pay to do nothing”… it’s hard to convince taxpayers to accept that (Imagine trying to convince our world’s voters to give inner city kids money just to not sell drugs)… but they can easily get businesses invested in it. Com said to Zach, point blank, “You can easily make millions of dollars a year”.

      And plenty of Imbued say “well, this sounds awesome, where do I sign?” In fact, most Imbued do it the “sane” way. In DoaH… you have Com, Sapphire, Sympathy, Guardian and Silf on screen as government employed. You have Muwth, Mike, Anima, Shadow Boxer and Ferne who decided they would go their own way without being villains (well, Ferne and SB are edge cases). Zach mentioned a few times that there were literally hundreds of known Imbued in the DC area. And most of them don’t put on costumes.

      Of course, most of them have lives that are pretty boring to write about, so don’t expect them to get a lot of screen time.

      The thing is… Imbued are often *highly* emotional individuals. Usually (not always) drawn from the same pool of psychology as cults, terrorist organizations, and maximum security prisons. People with Causes, capital ‘C’, that they will sacrifice for. If we could control fanatics and psychotics with simple bribery, the world would be a much better place.

      But, yeah… that’s what I mean about “story too big”… people tend to forget explanations when they happen 50 chapters prior…

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      1. Good rebuttals on all but two points:

        I didn’t see any real serious attempt at mentoring, which, while frustrating, does have success in such populations if done carefully. Instead, every official super that approached Zack was unsympathetic, to him at least. Zack was actually listening to some of his mentors, e.g. The Bastard, so that might have worked for him.

        Stages were mentioned in the story by specific, knowledgeable characters. Considering how clear they are, and the general clarity of the colors involved (exceptions not withstanding), Zack’s initial internet search should have turned up that information. Instead he had to wait for others to mention it and he still wasn’t presented with a clear picture.

        And a clarification of one of my points:

        There is a big difference in telling someone “you could earn big bucks”, which 99 out of 100 times is a blatant lie in our culture, and putting the money in their hands. Do that first, and then stop doing it when they fu** up, and results should be different. I understand about the problems with “selling” this to the public though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Their laws are such that anyone costumed is legally treated as their own identity, and that identity is treated as a legal adult *even if they know the age of the person in the costume*. That should say something about 1- Experience… and 2- how bad it gets when you fuck it up. Most Imbued have serious issues, often ones revolving around control and trust…

          Stages are more like “guidelines” than “absolute factual rules”, roughly as true as the Stages of Grief or the Hierarchy of Needs. It’s not accepted as scientific fact by everyone, or indeed even most people. Note that Sympathy- the actual power detector- didn’t think in terms of “stages”. And she’s the biggest expert seen in the story thus far.

          Yup. And the military offers signing bonuses, so on and so forth. Point is… most people are taught to believe “this is a job, you show up and get paid to do things” is the way the world works. So it’s pretty easy to convince people who *want* to work to show up for an interview for a job… especially if they’re told they’re guaranteed to get it…

          Hell, it even would have worked on Zach, except he knew if he agreed it would get in the way of his revenge on Kitten… because, like many Imbued, he Manifested with a cause.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on finishing your first book. I think it was a pretty solid of a read, and definitely not too slow or anything.

    I found the ending kind of depressing though. It just seemed like the main character is basically screwed, and the people around him are going to get killed soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Psycho ex girlfriend Cassie still wants Zack and may help shield him from Alex. As a matter of fact, if she found out about Alex targeting Zack she would do it just to “prove her love”. And, as Zack proved in his earlier attempts on Kitten, a neutralizing ability doesn’t guarantee a win at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also… there’s a matter of rock-paper-scissors being played by powers. Zach would have lost to Ferne without Mike’s gear. And Ferne has exactly no chance of beating Flux. And Zach kicked Flux’s ass.

        Anima would lose to Guardian. Guardian lost to Kitten. Everyone else loses to Anima.

        Zach could have pretty much no-sold Vertigo, despite her being way higher ranked than him.

        The list goes on… but there’s a reason for superhuman *teams*. It’s to prevent the hard counters from getting in the way.

        Like

          1. It’s not dimensional, just telekinetic. Also: she has to actually HIT him. And she doesn’t have Kitten’s “perfect timing” or Flux’s “track kinetic waveforms” features.

            And all he has to do is hit her. He has space-warping and a gun.

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  3. I liked it. I liked the slow in-between bits much more than the action scenes, which occasionally become confusing.

    The only question I have is: which hero died? I don’t get the name of the story.

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  4. I liked the way the story was about Zach dying over and over again, meshed well with the name of the series.

    Felt a little sorry for Cassie, she developed past everything to where she lost it all. Ok, I felt a lot sorry for her.

    Of course I just read the entire thing in twenty-four hours, but I really enjoyed it.

    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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