Hi Frank,

I really enjoyed your submission this month (even though it was about 175K words over our normal 10K limit…Side note: please try to respect the submission rules. We’re here to help, not be abused). It was a fun read and there was lots that kept me interested. You’ve created a really interesting world (even a map!) that was engrossing and an interesting cast of characters.

My main critique points are as follows:

  • You head jump constantly. This is a real ‘new writer’ kind of thing to do, and it won’t get past most slush pile readers. Show us what the characters are thinking by what they do, how they react, what they say, etc. Don’t just jump into their head and italicize I don’t know if I can trust this Fremen dude. Too easy!
  • The scene where Kynes is dying ventures into the classic ‘as you know Bob’ pitfall, just with the hallucination of his father substituted for Bob. It felt very data dumpy. You might want to figure out a better way to weave this into the narrative.
  • The Harkonnens feel a bit one dimensional to me. They struck me as just a group of “baddies just being bad”. Do they have a backstory? Why are they so angry? I felt like this was a gap in the story.
  • I’m not sure I buy the Baron H’s weight problem. Seems like a fairly advanced civilization not to have lap band surgery. This kept pulling me out of the story. Please reconsider this character trait.
  • Duke Leto is kind of the perfect white male hero everybody’s trying to get away from these days. You might want to consider re-shaping him into something more believable. The SJWs are gonna kill you on this one, I promise. I have to admit, I cheered a bit when he met his demise.
  • The whole “there’s a limited resource of immeasurable value concentrated to a small geographic area” felt a bit heavy handed to me. Oil? Hello? We get it. Then we have the locals who aren’t taken seriously, abused by corrupt overlords who don’t respect their religion, way of life, blah, blah, blah. Is this a story or an extended critique of modern western capitalism? Just something to think about. If I might offer a suggestion (which, yes, I KNOW we’re just supposed to say what didn’t work for us, not how to fix it), you might consider turning down the obviousness a few notches.
  • So let me get this right, at some point in the far future, everybody just kind of STOPPED using high-end computers, did I read that correctly? All of humanity just kind of collectively agreed to stop using them, and instead they rely on these brainy Mentat people who drink some kind of stuff that stains their lips (honestly, I kept thinking of my two-year-old with a grape juice mustache). And none of these ruthless, ambitious royal houses–even though they lie and cheat and steal at every opportunity–EVER secretly developed advanced computers to gain an advantage? I’m not sure I’m buying that. Ditto on the ‘no nukes’ prohibition. It just seems too easy, Frank. You need to pump up the plausibility here.
  • Fremen dialogue. I have to be very honest here, these guys talk to each other like ten-year-olds trying to imitate Shakesperian English, who come off sounding ridiculous (like laughingly bad). I know that sounds harsh, but try reading their dialogue out loud. If you can get two sentences out of your mouth without laughing, I’ll buy you a latte.

Well, those are my main points. I had fun reading “Working Title: Sandy Planet with Big Worms”, even with all the rough edges. Your story has great potential and best of luck with the edits! And don’t forget, next month it’s a firm 10K word limit. Have a good week and keep writing!