kais

Fox - Chapter 1 - kais 03/12/18 3609 words (V,G)

16 posts in this topic

G = mild gore

Hokay, here we go again with this. I'm turning this adult manuscript into YA, and dealing with some pacing issues. For this chapter, I only need feedback on three things: 1) typos—did you see any?  2) age—does the way S acts line up with a nineteen year old age? The agent suggested sixteen or seventeen, but I’ll have a hard time with the rest of the book if I go that low. I could maybe do eighteen, but it depends on the tone in this first chapter. I really need to know if lowering the age from 25 to 19 helped to match S’s actions, or if I need to go lower still. 3) does this chapter feel like a complete narrative arc? YA chapters are shorter than adult, so I have to split some chapter up, and I don’t want the narrative to get weird because of it.

Please abbreviate all proper nouns. This manuscript is out on a number of fulls, and I'd like to keep this work low-key.

Thank you all!

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Sent you back a LBL with a few comments. To your questions:

1) Caught one typo in the LBLs.

2) I think the age works. I made a comment on specific phrasing, but in this chapter, S has always seemed younger anyway. One specific question: would it be less strange for S to be unguilded now S is 19 instead of 25?

3) Yes, I think this works as an arc. It's got a definite stop with the, er, explosive last line, and we're left in suspense of what will happen. I'm actually thinking it may be harder for the next chapter to have a good arc than this one, from what I remember.

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I’m not the type to read this sort of thing normally; I like to put things in terms of when I would stop reading in a bookshop, and for me it’s as soon as I figure out the book is about gender identity. 

That said, it is written well enough and deals with some really challenging ideas, so I’m sure there’s an audience. It’s just not me. I’m not going to be much help. 

Character arcs are something I’m gawdawful at myself, so I’m not a ton of help. Seems fine, though as an ordinary person I find it difficult to empathize with this person who apparently can’t deal with society. 

Age seems fine. When does guilding normally happen?

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Thank you, @Mandamon, for the LBLs! 

On 3/12/2018 at 0:48 PM, Mandamon said:

One specific question: would it be less strange for S to be unguilded now S is 19 instead of 25?

I note later on that declaring happens at 12, so 19 should still be very, very old for guilding. I wonder if I should mention it earlier?

On 3/12/2018 at 0:48 PM, Mandamon said:

I'm actually thinking it may be harder for the next chapter to have a good arc than this one, from what I remember.

Yes, this is also my concern. Guess we'll find out! I did do some edits to it to maybe help it, but I don't know if its enough. It's short, that's for sure.

Thank you again!

 

On 3/12/2018 at 2:02 PM, mrwizard70 said:

I’m not the type to read this sort of thing normally; I like to put things in terms of when I would stop reading in a bookshop, and for me it’s as soon as I figure out the book is about gender identity. 

I appreciate you taking the time to read this piece. As a note on critique, generally the board works best if people crit most of what comes through, whether or not they are interested in it. We all need feedback, and sometimes feedback from those who are the least interested in the narrative is the most helpful. 

On 3/12/2018 at 2:02 PM, mrwizard70 said:

When does guilding normally happen?

Hmm, I might need to move this earlier, it seems. Guilding happens at 12. Thoughts on whether that should just be stated in the first chapter?

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2 hours ago, kais said:

Thank you, @Mandamon, for the LBLs! 

I note later on that declaring happens at 12, so 19 should still be very, very old for guilding. I wonder if I should mention it earlier?

Yes, this is also my concern. Guess we'll find out! I did do some edits to it to maybe help it, but I don't know if its enough. It's short, that's for sure.

Thank you again!

 

I appreciate you taking the time to read this piece. As a note on critique, generally the board works best if people crit most of what comes through, whether or not they are interested in it. We all need feedback, and sometimes feedback from those who are the least interested in the narrative is the most helpful. 

Hmm, I might need to move this earlier, it seems. Guilding happens at 12. Thoughts on whether that should just be stated in the first chapter?

Guilding: Put it in the first chapter. 

I wasn't attempting to say I was done reading this: my point, which I conveyed terribly, was that it might be more effective in terms of sales to let the readers get interested and committed to the piece before you give them the opportunity to put your piece in a little box and decide they weren't interested from the start. 

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Agree with @mrwizard70 that guilding should be in the first chapter.

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So makes a more believable 19 than 25, but I think you could move the age back as far as 17 and still have it ring true, as long as you also move the guilding age back at the same time, to keep the same large gap between So and a normal apprentice. I don't think it would work as well with So any younger than 17, though. Also think the "appropriate" apprentice age needs to be mentioned early on, so we know how unusual an aspiring-apprentice So is right from the start. 

 

I think the arc is fine and the ending point is great. One thing, though, the combustability of the fumes might need to be mentioned earlier, and the lack of lights in the house. Just in passing, so we-the-readers know they're there. With the truncated action, this seems to come up more abruptly than in previous versions. Remember, we don't know what bone oil is or how it works, and I wouldn't rely on just the word "solvent" alone to convey to the average person the strength and properties of it. People hear "solvent" and they're as likely to think of dishwasher soap or nailpolish remover as they are the woodworking stuff that has a real danger of spontaneous combustion. 

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5 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

but I think you could move the age back as far as 17 and still have it ring true

My only concern with going this far back is how I'd like the relationship to progress later. I realize this is alt-reality 1700s, but 17 years old seems sort of... young? Young for what I was going for with M? I guess that's more of what I need input on! There's a big maturity gap between 17 and 19, at least in my experience, but too the whole issue with the book is the inconsistency in voice age of S. Clearly I need help.

5 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

Also think the "appropriate" apprentice age needs to be mentioned early on

The readers have spoken! Added in, and early, too, along with the combustibility of the solvent. Thank you for the feedback!

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6 minutes ago, kais said:

but 17 years old seems sort of... young? Young for what I was going for with M?

Um, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but if you think 17-year-olds aren't having awkward sex and struggling with their sexual identities, you're a little out of touch with kids... like.. in general... >_>; 

But 19 is fine to me. I was just saying that you have a couple years' worth of elasticity in the way So reads to me if you needed it. 

 

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30 minutes ago, industrialistDragon said:

Um, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but if you think 17-year-olds aren't having awkward sex and struggling with their sexual identities, you're a little out of touch with kids... like.. in general... >_>; 

Oh I know they are. I was thinking more along the lines of the longevity of the relationship, in that I was thinking of it more long term than exploratory. But then again, most 17 year olds think their love is forever so maybe it still works just fine!

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1 minute ago, kais said:

I was thinking of it more long term than exploratory

It's not as common, no, but people marry their high school sweethearts all the time and some of them even work out, too! (I know of a few in my brother's circles of friends who have done just that.) So I don't really think longevity would be a reality-breaker for most people. Plus, as you say, everyone think's its going to be forever even when it's not! :) 

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Thoroughly delighted to hear your news on this. I’ve said before that, meaning no disrespect at all; I enjoyed this story a bit more than Ard. Let’s get going…

  • I’ve gone with LBLs, since this is being subbed, so only the headlines here. LBLs emailed separately. There is some overlap between these comments and the LBLs but there are additional bits in both.
  • Page 3 – I still don't get how a cloak can be tight. Surely their purpose is to be the opposite.
  • Very odd place to leave a certificate. Might it be under mother's untidy mess, or something less specific than unsharpened tools?
  • I don't follow the logic of letting the soldiers in. Surely, they will make much less mess remaining outside?
  • I don't think the mud drips. The boots are in direct contact with the floor, there’s no gap for a drop to occur over.
  • The capitalisation of ‘mother/Mother’ seems to be all over the place.
  • Surely, any parafin in the rag has long since evapourated if S has not been in this shed since their mother left.
  • The cost of the artwork sounds like a very large weight. That was my first reaction.
  • “more than the town made in a year” – I really struggle with this. If that is the case, S and Mother should be wealthy, even from low-level commissions. I suppose maybe they are, I’m just not convinced this makes any sense in terms of econimics, and there is no way S would leave this in a doorway open to the elements.
  • “so our woman alchemist might make a reasonable substitute” – this makes not sense to me. I need a reason why S would serve as a substitute for Mother. However, you provide the explanation later with “She’ll come for you if nothing else”, but that contradicts the earlier statement.
  • Page 12 is the first indication, I think, that it has been night this whole time. I did not get that before.
  • S is too far away to be blinded by a flint spark, surely.
  • “toadstool” – I have severe concerns about this YA thing. How much are you going to have to santise the story; the language; the sex; the body issue? Dare I suggest that you might be ripping the heart out of it?

This was as good as ever. I enjoyed it, but now I have this nagging worry that the story is going to be comprosmised (imho) due to a need to soften all the best bits to achieve this YA rating. I’m hoping you’ll be able to allay my fears.

<R>

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On 15/03/2018 at 8:51 PM, industrialistDragon said:

So makes a more believable 19 than 25

Agreed, and I thought the arc was fine. I think you will get away with it in the second chapter, because the first is fast paced. I think you might have more arc problems with later chapters although, that said, I tend to enjoy shorter chapters better.

 

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4 hours ago, Robinski said:

but now I have this nagging worry that the story is going to be comprosmised (imho) due to a need to soften all the best bits to achieve this YA rating. I’m hoping you’ll be able to allay my fears.

No worries! NONE of that is being changed. I was charged with just two things- fix the pacing in the middle of the book (which we all knew was an issue, but I thought I had fixed it and apparently not enough) and S's age inconsistencies. So while dialogue/reactions may change somewhat, I won't be taking out the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, as it were. 

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5 hours ago, Robinski said:

but now I have this nagging worry that the story is going to be comprosmised

Friendly neighborhood defender-of-YA here! YA has come a long, LONG way since publishers decided to make it a separate marketing category in order to sell more product. YA novels, especially those aimed at the upper end of the age range (which can stretch into the early 20s, and the line between an upper-age YA and an "adult" novel is less a well-demarcated border than a large, blurry asteroid field where novels switch designations on a whim) can and do cover complicated, charged topics such as sexuality, gender, race relations, and politics. To say nothing of violence, profanity, and sex! It's all there, no worries. 

If you're interested in looking up some newer YA titles, I just so happen to have a couple lists!

YA with sex scenes: 7 Of The Most Blush-Worthy Sex Scenes In YA Literature , 

YA about sexuality: YA Novels That Explore Sexuality and Sexual Identity

YA novels with gore/violence: Gruesomely Irresistable YA Books , 6 Awesome Diverse YA Thrillers To Read Right Now , (and you can probably add anything by Darren Shan, even though he's not on those lists)

YA novels about politically-charged topics: 9 Great Young Adult Novels For Politically Engaged Readers , 7 YA Reads That Will Sweep You Up in Politics , 5 YA Must-Reads for Politically Aware Teens

Even just a cursory read through a new releases list ( like this ) will show a wide range of mature subjects and levels of gore. And then there are the YA classics like Speak, Monster, Crank, and even ones like The Outsiders if you want to go back that far. I wouldn't worry about So and Ma having their teeth blunted for a switch to YA. They'll fit in just fine as they are. :) 

 

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4 hours ago, kais said:

I won't be taking out the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, as it were.

Phew! 

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