Heart Song: Ballad of the Ambassador

Heart Song: Ballad of the Ambassador

by camcleod99

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity

A fifteen-year ceasefire between humanity and the aquatic Selk on the distant colony planet Mem has begun to fray.

Both sides chafe under the ceasefire's terms and extremists on both sides lie in wait to reignite a war that nether side can afford to fight.

When a nun in training, Yujo Sippe Palms, has a chance encounter with a pod of selk she finds a long-forgotten piece of selk history that drags her into the center stage of the cold war.

Caught between the two factions, Yujo must make the case for peace between them.

To do that she needs to sing.

Heart Song updates every month with four new chapters!

Cover by Kim "Kitty Ocean" Houtzager

Editing by Yasmine Gardner

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Craig A. McLeod

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A Quick Overview Of Chapter One

Hihiii, I see someone's already talked to you about runons and stuff, so I'm going to try to focus on some other parts that I think could use a little work, focusing primarily on stuff like phrasing and making the text clear and transparent to a reader.

In the interest of trying to be clear and concise, I'll use chapter one as an example, though these are some mistakes I've noticed that persist throughout the work and injure its legibility.

The first sentence, has, unfortunately, fallen victim to this. Which is especially tragic considering that, as the first sentence your reader will see, it's incredibly important to make it compelling, as many readers are going to use the first few lines to decide if they want to continue reading your story. The hook is very important, and I'm afraid this one doesn't grab the reader.

"The two suns of Planet Mem dancing in the sky filtered by the green of the sky and the light of her goggles."

There are a couple mistakes here, the first of which is the lack of consistent tense. 'Dancing' here functions as a verb and disagrees with 'filtered.' You'd need to modify it to make it served as an adjective, or change its tense to make sure it agrees with 'filtered.' (past tense)

What's more, the bit about her goggles in confusing. Light is typically not something that 'filters' to begin with, and so the term is confusing. Is what you're saying that the goggles are giving off light in a way that contrasts with the suns? Or has the tint of her goggles changed the way she perceives the suns? (I'll skip over how the sentence is a runon, and how it uses 'sky' twice, as those sorts of errors seemed to be covered by the last review) Compare that first sentence to this, with a little tweaking: “The two suns of planet Mem danced above, filtered by the green of the sky and the tint of Yujo's goggles.”

Your work is littered with little errors like this. I trust you'll be able to find them if you do an editing run or two before you post them! In the meantime, I'm going to try to move on to other aspects of the story.

You seem to be very fond of using line breaks, isolating single sentences, in order to try to put greater emphasis on them. And that's good! It's a very clever technique which can help a reader feel the impact. However, you overuse this technique a lot. It's meant to highlight a few moments and make them hit harder, but you are so fond of them that they lose their punch entirely. I'm going to use a particularly egragious example:

"From the box the photographs fanned out in front of her.


A small smile crossed her face.


It wasn’t much but that small sense of control was something she needed at this very moment."

(Nevermind that sentences one and three have some of the mistakes I brought up in the first segment) The impact is lost here, because you have three of this solo sentences in a row. Ideally you want to limit that to once or twice a page, at the very most, unless you're doing something very clever, but instead of giving the impression of focus this makes the text feel stilted, slow and awkward.

Ooof, I was afraid that just one chapter would be too small a snapshot, but I've found a lot to say already. I hope it's helpful.

Don't be discouraged! Everyone's a beginner at first, its all about practice!



Promising but poorly written story

Hi! I've been following your story, and I've noticed some weak spots in your writing that are getting in the way of the narrative you're trying to tell.

For a start, your paragraph breaks and punctuation could really use some work! Your paragraphs seem to break at random, instead of when moving between ideas or dialogue. You seem to be using a lot of run-on sentences, and at other times, you put a period randomly before the thought is completed. It's confusing and makes it difficult to follow your story.

In the same vein, rather than weaving backstory and explanations into the narrative, you stop the narrative entirely for what I can only describe as blobs of backstory and description. You dedicate three paragraphs to describing in detail what the selk look like, for example. It tends to pull me out of the story, and makes me wonder why so much time is devoted to the minutiae of how they look. (This is, obviously, not the only example, but it is the most prominent.)

At other times, your openings and endings fall flat. Why is the first thing we see Yujo doing opening her eyes? This seems like a halfhearted attempt to begin a story in the middle of the action, but since all she's doing is swimming, it doesn't really grab the reader. Yujo's characterization in general strikes me as odd, as well. The way she goes from frightened to calm and confident (enough to explain to the readers in her thoughts exactly why the selk are breaking the law, which later gets contradicted) speaks of a lack of research on PTSD, and I would really recommend speaking to survivors of trauma and looking into panic attacks if you want to write a traumatized character.

I do think this story shows some promise, but the way it's written makes it much harder to get into. My goal here was to write as thoughtful and constructive a critique as possible.