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E - Everyone

The Fire Underneath of Things - 2

by fortis


~1100 words

Grey was almost glad that it was so dark without the lights. He had been so embarrassed that they hadn’t worked that he could feel himself blushing. Bemoaning the fact that his lightbox was still broken after he’d dropped it earlier that day, he held up the lamp and led the two girls through the workshop.

After a while of walking, the girl named Ivy said “This is amazing!”

Grey felt his heart swell with pride at the machines he had worked on that he couldn’t even see clearly. He looked at Ivy and could see her face glowing with curiosity and wonder. “It kinda is, isn’t it?” he said.

Nikki pipped up behind him as well, saying, “What are they all for?

Grey tasted the answer—a two-hour spiel on the basic functions of the machines—on his lips. But knowing that the speech would start soon, he said instead, “Oh don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to learn about that. If you make it past our… initiation.”

“Initiation?” Ivy asked. Grey could hear the terror in her voice.

Partially because he was upset at Nikki for bringing this other girl and partially for a reason he didn’t understand, or didn’t want to admit to himself, he said, “Most people don’t make it. And I highly doubt you will, Daisy.”

“Ivy,” she corrected yet again.

“I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Nikki reassured her friend. Grey smiled sadly to himself, knowing they’d be more than fine: they’d be bored.

“Here we are. Enter if you dare.” He tried to sound mysterious, but deep down he knew he’d never see these girls again.

They entered the room, closing the door after them, and Grey was left with nothing but a lantern for company. Well, not just a lantern. He pulled Gidgit out of his pocket and tinkered with him. Gidgit was just a collection of extra metal parts that Grey liked to pull apart and recombine in different ways. Right now he looked like a little spider, which was the form he seemed most comfortable in. Sometimes when Grey left him for too long as something else, Gidgit would pull himself apart and try to reassemble himself into the spider form.

Grey hated listening to Alder Thornton’s recruitment speeches. Not only were they boring, but he also felt like they never did the cause justice. He sometimes wondered if Alder actually wanted more help. Grey had offered to give the speech instead several times, but Alder seemed to take particular delight in driving everyone away.

He clicked a last piece into place, and Gidgit sprouted a propeller and whizzed around Grey’s head for a little while before running out of momentum and landing lightly in Grey’s hand. He twisted the propeller like a wind-up doll and Gidgit spun through the air once again.

Sitting in what had become his home and his favorite place to be, hearing the muffled voice of Alder in the other room, Grey felt a comfortable peace. His mind began to wander.

---

Eight years earlier

Lennox Greyson sat on a stiff couch in the living room of his house, in a city ninety miles away from the town where the insane Alder Thornton experimented with energy.

His mother and father sat on the equally uncomfortable, equally fancy couch in front of him. His parents were always buying things like that. Fancy-looking but ultimately poor-quality. Today was no different. His pinched-faced mother was telling him about this fantastic new opportunity for an apprenticeship with a certain Alder Thornton. Grey knew they were only doing this because that’s what their rich friends were doing: sending their kids off to be clergymen or to learn a highly-valued trade. However, Mr. Thornton was not held in high esteem by the inventor’s guild in his town, so the apprenticeship was cheap. Free, in fact. But his parents’ high society friends wouldn’t know that. Only know he went quite far away

His parents would be glad to be rid of him. He was a burden on them financially, another mouth to feed in a family that only wanted to feed their image.

Grey understood this much too well. He had lived far too long with scratchy clothes that didn’t fit right and were second-hand but fit the image. Never mind functionality, never mind his parents’ growing debt and depression: they must fit in with high society.

Grey had realized several things his parents never had. His first realization was that he didn’t enjoy the lifestyle his parents were trying to lead. Even if they had been living it without financial issues, Grey didn’t like the lap of luxury. There were far too many rules for his taste and personality. Maybe he didn’t want to bow the second anyone ever stepped into a room. Maybe he wanted to burp and wear the clothes he wanted to wear. Maybe the gossip of the upper class bored him to death.

Second, he realized that his family was being torn apart from this façade. His parents became more miserable the harder they tried to fit in with the upper crust. But they hadn’t realized it yet. They blamed their depression on their lack of wealth, but Grey realized it was because they were living a charade that constantly tore at their souls.

Third, he discovered that his parents’ “friends” were only pretending to like and accept them, while in reality they scoffed and gossiped while they thought his family couldn’t hear their vile words. They knew Grey’s parents were faking their status. It was plain as day to them. They were only waiting for the right moment to cause the biggest scandal they could create. Until then, they watched Grey’s parents like hungry foxes watching sheep.

Grey didn’t mind being shipped out so young. His parents never seemed to care that much about him anyway, and he yearned for freedom far from the social-constraints of his charade of a life. So when his mother told him he was going ninety miles away to a town he’d never heard of to work for a man he didn’t know, Grey didn’t complain. He packed his bags, said goodbye to the few friends he had—he knew they laughed behind his back as well, but his parents wouldn’t let him befriend “those street urchins”—and took the next coach to Thornton’s town. The journey was bumpy, wet, and uncomfortable, but he was free. He was only feared that Alder Thornton would enforce the same social rules his parents had. He need not have worried about that.


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Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:33 pm
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Kaylaa wrote a review...



Hi there Forti! This is Kays back again to review this novel of yours in the midst of cooking although I do mean to go into this with guns blazing because the more I read of this, the more I want to read more of this. :p

Woah. I didn't expect to be changing perspectives but I don't dislike this either since I wrote my first novel under multiple perspectives and there can be benefits to doing this that are definitely highlighted in another novel I've been following which is @Lightsong's Dancer of the Fire Blade that utilizes different perspectives in a positive way.

I come back to this a day later seeing as I want to complete Team Tortoise this month and eventually earn that new star but for now I can only do a review seeing as I have deadlines for other events such as LMS and Inktober to meet today. Picking up where I left off, there's a bit of repetition in the first five paragraphs seeing as every other paragraph (the first, third and fifth all begin with the name 'Grey' which becomes stale and that can be fixed in a future draft).

Grey felt his heart swell with pride at the machines he had worked on that he couldn’t even see clearly. He looked at Ivy and could see her face glowing with curiosity and wonder. “It kinda is, isn’t it?” he said.


Here's another place of awkward wording near the end of the first sentence with the 'he had worked on that he couldn't even see clearly' part is awkward so I'm going to suggest rewording that. Furthermore, I do want to talk about Grey outside of structure and flow of a few of his sentences in his perspective in this chapter. I didn't expect for this to overlap with the last chapter and maybe there can be cutting down of that in the next draft to avoid the reader reading the near-identical content in a shorter and briefer form to get to another point? I realize that the point of overlapping and having both Ivy's perspective developed and Grey's developed early on is important and having the two earn enough page time early on is important to balance out the perspectives but I do hope that this is kept to a minimum except for when perspective comes in handy, showing the other side such as we're seeing right now by how Grey is utterly bored by the old man's speeches (I hope he ends up receiving more character, by the way, he seems interesting) while Ivy is amused. We also see that this leads into a flashback where we receive a line that's particularly powerful and this is what I mean when I say that I like the writing more than the dialogue--a comment I made early on.

His parents would be glad to be rid of him. He was a burden on them financially, another mouth to feed in a family that only wanted to feed their image.


This. This sentence leaves a strong impact and I love that. As for Alder Thornton, I may not be remembering correctly but is this the old man? If not, I remember hearing his name before either in the novel or from you talking about him in Discord but I can't remember exactly where. Overall I can see the flashback being done a little stronger with revisions and editing to cut out those bits of awkward wording and to make the execution stronger but overall this is an enjoyable chapter to receive backstory about Grey from.

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I hope I helped and have a great day.

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Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:18 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



3 more to go and I'll be back on track...

Nit-picks and nice moments:

the girl named Ivy said, “This is amazing!”


Only know he went quite far away.


Third, he discovered that his parents’ “friends” were only pretending to like and accept them, while in reality they scoffed and gossiped while they thought his family couldn’t hear their vile words.

How did he learn this?

Overall:

So, I'm not really a fan of the explicit flashback. He could very easily have thought back like, "It had been ever since eight years ago when he'd been shipped out..." I think in general this backstory could be made less info-dumpy if it jumped about from place to place (which would make it feel more like stream of consciousness and therefore more natural) and I think that would be easier if it didn't have the "Eight years earlier" interjection.

Regardless, this is obviously a stylistic choice you've made, and enjoyment of these things is subjective, so I'll put that out of my mind for the rest of the review.

I really enjoy stories that have more than one main character. Especially when it's limited from each POV, it means you get to look at the characters as other people see them where you wouldn't otherwise. I look forward to seeing how Grey and Ivy's opinions of each other develop through the story and imagine you'll do some interesting things with the two POVs.

As for the backstory itself, it's good to get this extra motive of Grey's - that he doesn't want to conform to social/societal expectations. This means that when I'm reading something of Ivy's POV I know something she doesn't, and I hope this matters for how I view the situation.

Essentially I'm eager to see what introducing Grey's POV adds to the structure of this.

Biscuits :)




fortis says...


Thanks for your re iews, bisc! You've been pointing out some things I've frankly forgotten about now I'm at chapter 30. There'll be a ton of revising that needs to be done hahaha
and def the info dump of Grey's backstory has to go, but I wanted to write it somewhere before I forgot lol



ExOmelas says...


ahhh fair. Yeah, I can imagine not a lot of editing gets done while an LMS is ongoing xD



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Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:47 pm
ChocoDanish wrote a review...



Is Grey the main character? I thought Ivy and Nikki were the main character? Please describe more about them. Well pov is a good thing but sometime people can do it the wrong way and confuse me. But yours is fine. Wish you would describe the surroundings more. sorry for being redundant, it cause I keep expecting Ivy's or the base surroundings being describe in the next chapter.




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Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:48 pm
ChocoDanish says...



labyrinth?




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Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:24 pm
Dossereana says...



mm, goodness, so I'm not a big fan of the fact that I have to see the same scene of walking through the machines one more time, but every thing else is good, :( :D




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Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:40 am
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Hannah wrote a review...



Oh. My goodness. So I'm not a big fan of the fact that I have to see the same scene of walking through the machines one more time, even if it's from another perspective, but I really love the intimate look I get at Grey's thoughts about the situation. Here, I see that he knew they would be bored, and that he's putting on the scary front maybe just to try to seem cool or imagine that the situation is different, if just for a little bit. Also, the way you allow us to watch him play with Gidgit gives a really great peek into Grey's personality without anything expository -- we see his inquisitive nature, curiosity, talent, and patience.

but Grey realized it was because they were living a charade that constantly tore at their souls.


Uh! I would tone this down a bit! I'm getting the rest of this section from Grey's voice, his thoughts, but this seems again like the author interjecting what they feel about the situation. A totally understandable instinct, but it breaks my connection to Grey and what I'm learning about him at that moment.

His parents never seemed to care that much about him anyway,


I wonder if you could take some time to show this relationship in a scene, rather than simply tell us about it? I mean, it's easy to say, but in order to build empathy for Grey and connect to him, I feel a need to know exactly how he experienced his parents not caring about him. Sure, giving him "second hand clothes", etc., but that could be Grey's misunderstanding. Just hearing a parent speak to him, even in a tightly-crafted single line of dialogue might be enough to get me on Grey's side in this. It's just that when you TELL someone a show is good, they kind of doubt it, but if you just SHOW them the show, they are able to judge for themselves how awesome it is!

As always, lemme know if you've questions or comments!

Hannah




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Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:19 am
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Querencia wrote a review...



Hey forti!

Like Mea below me said, it was a lot of backstory. Grey goes from being very mysterious to suddenly we know everything about him. That seems like a bit of a bummer, because he seemed intriguing, and just like Ivy and Nikki, the readers want to find out more about him, and maybe that should happen more slowly as he reveals these things to the girls. And actually, I felt that reading his thoughts and emotions during the first part, when we had already seen it from a different persepective, showed me a lot more about Grey than the second bit.

Since you're not going to suddenly change his backstory, even if you love it around a bit, I'm going to comment a bit about it too. So, it's kind of a familiar idea, which doesn't at all mean it isn't good. However, throughout the backstory, there's really a limited selection of emotions. Grey even lists off his realisations. It's just like a bad time that he hated, and is now emotionless when he looks back. Didn't his parents care at all? Doesn't he miss them, even a bit, deep down? Do they write him letters that he scoffs at but secretly keeps, or do they not and he's secretly hurt? Does he really entirely fit in with this new city, as a stranger of a very different background, even if he didn't like it? I think if you're delving into is past, i would love to see more depth of character too, even if you just hint at it to let us know it's there before exploring it further in later chapters.

Sitting in what had become his home and his favorite place to be, hearing the muffled voice of Alder in the other room, Grey felt a comfortable peace. His mind began to wander.

Here, I kind of just imagine Grey sitting on a step outside the door, looking lonely with the lantern barely lighting the huge room. First, why doesn't he get to go in? And also, maybe you could say that he has a particular spot in the room? Maybe nestled or tucked away somewhere, is he next to the machines or where? I'd love to see some more detailed surroundings, as it is steampunk~

Anyway, just a few thoughts for you. ^_^ Hope some of them were helpful!! I loved it so much~

<3 Falc




fortis says...


I completely agree with needing more emotion, it being basically an info dump taking away mystery, etc. I think what I'll end up doing either throughout the next chapters or just much later in the editing phase is sprinkling a flashback narrative in, and weaving it in a piece at a time so we keep the element of mystery while still introducing his backstory. and they'd be very imagery-filled flashbacks, focusing on a different concrete thing each time.
when i was writing this, I couldn't figure out how to do it in a way I liked, and I kinda wanted to get my idea on paper, so it definitely didn't turn out the best.

lemme know if you think this is a good idea!

thanks for the review!!



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Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:52 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey fortis! Thanks for letting me know about this one. <3

So yeah, I agree that the second half is too much exposition/backstory. Mostly because really, your second scene consists of two lines: the first paragraph, which tells us where Grey is, and the sentence after that that tells us his parents are there. Everything else is backstory - there's really no actual scene. Since you're already doing a flashback, it feels awkward and really stalls the story to have summaries of what happened before the flashback as he remembers what's been going on - just flashback to the actual moment of the event, so we can go with him on the journey.

I like how we see part of what just happened from his point of view so we can see what he's thinking as he leads them down. I think it's sweet that he's so enthusiastic about the machines and about Ivy. (He's definitely trying to impress her.)

And I love Gidgit. Also I think it's super interesting that Gidgit is almost sort of sentient and has a preferred form. I really want to see more of these machines and learn all the cool stuff that's going on with them. I feel like the fact that it can move on its own is going to be pretty important.

Also, I love Grey's attitude about being in the upper class because that's pretty much how I feel about high society stuff - too many rules and too much worrying about what other people think of you.

Only know he went quite far away

This could just be a missing period, but it also sounds like the sentence is sort of half-finished.

I know this is a short review, but I really can't think of much else to say, so I guess I'll leave it here. Can't wait for the next part. Keep writing!




fortis says...


*copy/pastes*
I completely agree with needing more emotion, it being basically an info dump taking away mystery, etc. I think what I'll end up doing either throughout the next chapters or just much later in the editing phase is sprinkling a flashback narrative in, and weaving it in a piece at a time so we keep the element of mystery while still introducing his backstory. and they'd be very imagery-filled flashbacks, focusing on a different concrete thing each time.
when i was writing this, I couldn't figure out how to do it in a way I liked, and I kinda wanted to get my idea on paper, so it definitely didn't turn out the best.

lemme know if you think this is a good idea!

thanks for the review!!



Mea says...


Ooh, yeah, that sounds really cool. You're great at imagery, and I think it'd be a great sort of mystery to figure out exactly what happened to him.




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— William James