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Majestic Fox

02-26-2018 - Majestic Fox - The Green Ocean - Chapter One, Part Two, 2400 words

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This is part 2/3 of chapter one.
I've included the first part in case anyone wanted to get the full context. 
Also made some small changes to first part of chapter one, trying to bring Willow's character out a touch more.
For those of you who have already read part one you might want to just start from around page 8.

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I didn’t get to read the previous submission, so you’re also getting some reaction on the first part as well. To be brief, I liked what I read of the setting so far, but I’m not sold on the characters yet. I’m not really connecting with W.


World: I like the world building so far. Feels a little like the setting for the game Horizon Zero Dawn, but maybe that’s just me. Looking forward to reading more about it.


Creature: I’m thinking this is going to look something like a Tyrannosaurus for some reason (but please don’t be a machine, like Horizon Zero Dawn), which I think would be kind of cool. Looking forward to seeing what it actually looks like.


Footprint: I have to wonder how F. missed the footprint if it’s big enough for W. to lie in and W. is standing right in front of it, rummaging inside the pool of water within. In my mind it’s like F. found W. with her hand in the cookie jar, but the cookie jar is the size of a kitchen. It shakes my suspension of disbelief that F. sees nothing of this.


Allowed in the forest: Part of W. duties or tasks seem to be collecting herbs and stuff in the forest, so…she’s allowed in the forest for that right? Otherwise, she can’t fulfil her duties. But then at the same time W. isn’t actually allowed in the forest  - or at least not that far in the forest, but really, who would know at that point? So what is it? Is she allowed in the forest or not?


Naivety: I’m not sure if you’re going for that, but W. comes across as incredibly naïve and/or stupid. You portray the D. as gigantic monsters, which are seen as dark gods and which are known to attack the town. Yet W. doesn’t tell anyone she that she just spotted a footprint of such a creature. I can kind of get why she doesn’t tell A., because A. seems very antagonistic, but W. had no such excuse when she was riding with F. and not telling F. because F. ‘has something else on her mind’ is a crem dung reason. Of course F. is has something on her mind, she’s in the forest everyone fears so much. And then she doesn’t tell O. either, because she doesn’t want to interrupt a lesson. There’s a dark god monster thing outside of the village, I would think that takes precedence over everything else.


Low tension: The above point brings me to the feeling of tension, or rather the lack thereof. I felt tension and excitement when W. found the footprint, but over the rest of the chapter that tension fell away. And that’s because after being introduced as some kind of godlike, evil, rampaging monster W. keeps on not telling anyone about the footprint she found. I stopped caring about the thing since F’s preoccupation with something else is more important than a dark god near the village, and a lesson held by O. is also more important than a dark god outside the village. Everything is more important it seems, because when she finally does tell someone about this, the first reaction of L. is not to rush out and sound the alarm, but talk about a map he found and a quest he wants the two of them to go on to a mystery settlement.  


Age: In conjunction with W.’s naivety I’m having trouble placing her age, she seems like a teenager struggling with puberty and the feelings that come along with that. But she’s at least six years older than L., and L. ‘came of age’ two years ago. Now I have no idea what actual age ‘coming of age’ translates to in this society, but if I go by 18, she’d be 26 and she just doesn’t seem like she’s 26. And if the age of coming of age is lower, she’d still be older than 20.  And I’m just not seeing it.


Lost city: A lost settlement at six days away? I realize the forest might be dense, and that could inhibit travel (but not dense enough to block giant monsters walking through it or the animals the villagers ride), but the idea that there’s a settlement in the same valley that no one knows about seems unlikely.

Oh, wait, it is known since people from another settlement tried to find it and never came back. Yeah, that sounds like a great place to try and find by the two of them (or three, as they want to bring an unknown character along). In this sequence both W. and L. come across as children who want to go out on an adventure and have no clue at all what lies beyond their village’s walls, which is weird since W. goes out regularly.


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I'm still enjoying this greatly! The dynamic between W and L is good, but I'm uncertain on the ages. Both act very young at times, but then W is talking about marriage and children at the same time she's calling L "barely a man." I think this needs to be concretely defined so readers don't get squicky at an underage relationship.

Some more good hints about the magic. I'm not sure how B is supposed to be a source for L, but I'm hoping to find out soon.

I had similar concerns to @Asmodemon about why W can go pick damsels, but also is not allowed in the forest? Defining her age better may help this. I also agree about the lack of urgency in reporting the footprint, if these creatures are known to attack. Just because there were no broken branches, that doesn't mean it wasn't scouting for next time, or something like that.

Looking forward to the next chapter!

Notes while reading:
pg 10: "He was half a dozen years younger than W., barely even a man."
--So W is late teens, early twenties? For some reason I was thinking of her as younger. Maybe it was from a previous version?

pg 11: The relationship between W and L could be problematic, depending on the ages. Especially since W keeps drawing attention to L being "barely a man." Might be good to define the ages a little more closely, just for the readers. Being a "man" in different cultures can range from 8 to 18

pg 13: "I came of age two years ago"
--so then not "barely" a man? Also, still want to know what that age is.

pg 16: "I’ll come with you next time you go collecting damsels."
--I think there also needs to be some explanation between W going out alone, and looking for damsels. They seem to be the same thing, but collecting damsels is fine? Is it just that she should be going into the forest with someone else?



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Very pleased to be reading your second submission in a row, Mr. Fox! Bearing in mind that you and I are corresponding, I know that there has been chat about characterisation, so I will pay particular attention to this. As ever, I won’t be reading any of the other comments until I’ve been through the sub.

  • There are other ways to become indispensable.” – Harking back to last week’s submission, I was clear that W was intent on enmeshing herself in the community, and that she had been ‘left on the doorstep’ as it were. I think that’s a great set up, to have your m/c thought of an outsider, but not knowing where home is. Super conflict. I think you could dial up the character a bit just by revealing a little more background a bit earlier. I think you might find that would lead you naturally into more tension with the people around her, and in her own head, perhaps.
  • I don’t follow how W reaches the other side of the street with the clothes line. Is the street not at least 10ft wide or more?
  • Willow wasn’t sure if she even liked him in that way.” – I'm trying to pick up the ages here. So, he’s not a man and 6 years younger than her. I forget (or I don’t know) what age she is, but for him to be barely a man, is he 14, 15? I'm not sure it feels quite right. Can W be a cougar at 21?!
  • This map stuff, and the mystery of the other village; it’s all good, I am intrigued for sure, and I want to know about this stuff. Hmm… feral. Hmm. Is there a reason that L needs to be barely a man? In the previous version, I think he was still the love interest, but he was older?
  • deliberately instilled a curiosity in him” – When I put this together with his age, I do get a somewhat uneasy feeling.
  • So, did L climb into the room? I must have missed that.
  • All this talk of husbands and motherhood; it’s quite a different story, I think, to the one I read before, plus the change in L. I dunno; I’m pretty confident I liked the previous version better in many ways. I’m not sure what this new dimension adds. For me, I feel like you’ve got a solid character conflict in W being apart from the rest of the village, and this L age dimension, and the various partnering issues, are an unnecessarily prominent complication.
  • Okay, I like the tension of L and W sneaking around, and doing things not in accordance with the rules, but his age seems a completely unnecessary dimension. Why can’t they be friends without him being so young? There are any number of ways in which he could be a misfit, which seems to be a requirement for him to be friends with her, as she also is a misfit.

There are plenty of conflicts and tensions and mysteries in this first chapter; lots of good things to follow up, which is great. There is a school of thought that leaving the main character as a blank canvas allows the reader to project themselves onto them. We don’t get a lot of emotion from W, or hearing how she feels about things, but that doesn’t need to be a bad thing; it depends on what you're going for.

I’m off to read the other comments now. Hang in there. We’re making progress, I promise you!!



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Overall: I enjoyed this again! Like the others, however, I had some difficulty with the protagonist's age matching up with her behavior, and was confused by the lack of urgency about the footprint.  I'm still having a bit of trouble getting a sense of personality from W, but I can tell there have been improvements. She seems innocent, naive, and maybe a touch timid to me.  The world is interesting, and do want to read more. 


As I go: 

All right, so she's sneaking out into the forest alone, and it's the "alone" part that's getting her into trouble? That at least makes more sense this time around. It's still feeling a little odd to me, though, like it's easy to miss if you're not paying attention. Maybe the huntress or the gate guard should hammer on it a bit more? 

I liked the urgency about the footprint, but as soon as she steps into town, she seems to forget about it. It makes her feel very young, and I wonder then if the footprint was such a big deal after all, which is disappointing. 

Okay, so she's sneaking out, alone, to gather ingredients for making an illicit anti-nomming potion so she can go scavenge the ghost town next door for sweet vintage dodads? I can get on board with that. I enjoy reading about abandoned magical ruins so this will be fun! It still feels a bit odd that she's just kind of dropped the whole "giant-titan-stomping-near-the-village" thing, though. 

I was picturing her much MUCH younger than she apparently is? I think others have covered it pretty well, but all this talk of the boy's age is really confusing to me, too.  One would presume an older teen or adult person, no matter how innocent, sheltered, or timid, would not get so distracted from reporting evidence of an immanent threat.

... ... ...

Okay no, I take that back. I have to math this out, sorry.

If L is "of age" at 10, then W is 16 or 17

If L is "of age" at 13, then W is 18 or 19

If L is "of age" at 16, then W is 22 or 23

If L is "of age" at 18, then W is 24 or 25

If L is "of age" at 21, then W is 27 or 28

If L is "of age" at 24, then W is 30 or 31

And... like... none of those are really fitting what I'm understanding of the story. The young end of that range is a little squicky, to be honest. She's a middle/late teenager romantically interested in a prepubescent 9- or 10-year-old and that just makes me kind of shudder and go "eww" and I start to seriously reconsider what I thought I knew about W (especially in light of the fact that she used to babysit him)...  But the ages seem to match with the behaviors I've read about so far, so it would at least make sense there.  (but a NINE-YEAR-OLD?? gah! Even an eleven-year-old... yeesh.) The older end of the range, while not as squicky to me, doesn't seem to jive with either of their behaviors in the story previous to this point. 6 years is a big age gap for young adults in general, I think, and the whole thing pushed me out of the story and left me very confused. 

That seems like a large jump in logic, to go from "here's a footprint I need to warn the town" to "this is clearly a new kind of monster that thinks like a person and wouldn't want to hurt us."  I think I need her to show her work a bit more on that one... 


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Thanks for the feedback. All good points. 

Willow's in her early twenties, Lewis is in his mid teens. Not clear, I agree. This age gap makes their relationship more interesting to me. The mention of marriage/motherhood is partly there for realism. I'm interested to know if you guys think it would be strange if she didn't think about that, given her age and given that they live in a small community where most of her peers have found partners and there's a bit of social pressure to maintain the population (assuming those things are clearly communicated in the story).

Much obliged. 


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Posted (edited)

As a bloke, I would not find it unusual if you didn't mention the motherhood thing, unless you had first set it up as a particular thing in the village. For me, I'm thinking it's too much. I think you've got some excellent themes and threads going at the start of this story, that offer strong possibilities for pulling readers through the story. Especially when you have the second POV, assuming you haven't removed it. Considering what I think are the strongest themes:

(a) - W is something of an outcast, a misfit. That's an extremely strong theme, and has carried many stories all on its own, without any other themes or conflicts.

(b) - The lost village is a very evocative, interesting and intriguing set up. Again, you could have that as the centre point to the story and concentrate on that alone quite happily.

(c) - The creature. Another powerful theme for a story. 'Monster' stories can run by themselves quite happily and completely entertain the reader for 200/250 pages, I reckon.

So, I think you may be trying to do too much with the relationship. Not that you should not have a relationship, you very definitely should, but by making it unconventional I wonder if you are in fact alienating readers. Stories are written about unconventional relationships, but I think they would tend to need to be the central facet of the story, and to be concentrated upon to the exclusion of other themes. I'm just not sure of such a dynamic being a sideline. I think there's too much going on for you to do it justice.

Edited by Robinski

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Good pacing and still a very engaging story line! The ages of the characters seems a little off to me, and confusing, but otherwise I am very much enjoying this, and this this is a very compelling first chapter thus far. Well done!


On 3/2/2018 at 4:36 AM, Majestic Fox said:

I'm interested to know if you guys think it would be strange if she didn't think about that, given her age and given that they live in a small community where most of her peers have found partners and there's a bit of social pressure to maintain the population (assuming those things are clearly communicated in the story).

I think it depends on who she is as a person. Some women think about those things. Some don't. You have to decide whether marriage / children is a priority for this character, and whether societal pressure matters in this regard. 

On 3/2/2018 at 10:01 AM, Robinski said:

So, I think you may be trying to do too much with the relationship.

Disagreeing with our dear @Robinski here (sorry!). I actually really enjoyed the relationship part, although that did age our protag down a bit for me. But I thought it made the scene more interesting, and gave me more of a feel for our protag.



As I go

- page eight: a few stray typos about, just FYI

- Your friendly neighborhood science nerd is concerned for the health of our protag if she is burning cedar

- page ten: typos definitely increasing. You might consider reading the text outlaid before submitting, to help catch the missed words and such

- page 11: She cast a sideways glance at Lewis - the young man she had looked after as a boy. <-- this makes it sound like she had been watching him since SHE was a boy, which I assume is not what you meant? Although didn't it say earlier that he was older than her? I'm confused on ages



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