kais

Fox - Chapter 2 - kais 03/19/18 1714 words (V,G)

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G for gore

Chapter two, which used to be the end bits of chapter one. I have deep reservations about whether or not this works as a stand alone chapter, and need all the advice. 

Changes since last chapter - I have experimentally moved S’s age down to 17. Please read with a 17 year old protag in mind, and let me know if the actions seem too old/young or inconsistent. 

Please abbreviate all proper nouns

Thanks everyone!

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First off, I think this does work as its own chapter. You could maybe change the separation between the two to when S is taken captive, just to add some length? Though then you don't get the explosion in the first chapter.

I like S as a 17yo better. It fixes some of the weird lengths of time S has been alone, and makes the relationship with M more recent.

Notes as I read:

pg 1: "my ears filled with the peppered explosions of"
--this just sounds weird.

pg 1: "The cart hit a root and the left side jumped into the air"
--I was for some reason thinking the ox bolted and was unhitched and the cart was still. I think just because there was no sense of movement.

pg 2: "Well, I was already covered in blood. A bit of my own wasn’t going to make much difference."
--maybe need more reaction here from a 17yo? Dunno.

pg 3: Good reaction to S flinging the powder at the second man.

pg 5: "It’d been over five years since I’d last been there."
--I think this timeframe will help the book out. I always thought it was weird S was away from civilization so long. Also good to namedrop M earlier.

pg 5: I got a little lost on the reasoning for why S can't show up to the fair this year? Just because there would be questions about Mother? Or because the authorities would be asking S questions?

pg 6: good end to the chapter.
 

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Notes as I read:

The first sentence isn't explosive. I wondered if the character had been concussed by the explosion because the response seemed so muted. 

Descriptions are beautiful, but the repeated raking of nails and peeling of skin lost effect as it came up multiple times. 

Angsty angst is angsty. I don't like it, but many do. The character not going back and looking through the ruins sounded completely nuts. 

Character's decision-making process is emotional. Hard to follow, a lot of the time, generally gave me the feeling of being stuck in the head of the kind of people who make my life difficult. 

Age seems good and consistent. 

Thoughts overall

Seems fine, as a new reader not seeing any issues, kinda conflicting messages with the dainty little flower feel I got the last chapter suddenly melting people's faces off. 

Really like the descriptions. You're writing the way I aspire to write and it makes me jealous. 

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this absolutely works as an arc as-is, however if you wanted to tie it up a little bit more, having So make the decision regarding stay-or-go to town would do it, I think.  

 

There is a bit of a logic jump and jumble around searching for moms = never be an alchemist. I think this might be partially because filial obligations aren't as high a priority in Western cultures as they are elsewhere in the world. I have a fair idea what you're basing some of this on, so maybe playing up the importance of So's obligations to moms would help sort some of it out for a Western audience. And/Or maybe make more of a straight line between "comes into town looking like a slasher movie refugee" and "will definitely be arrested, detained and thoroughly interrogated for days by royal inquisitors, likely until moms decides to reappear, whenever THAT will be (but it will def be after the fair)." From a Western standpoint, this line of reasoning is a good reason to ditch moms entirely, but So uses it as (at least part of ) a reason *to* search for her. It makes sense from a certain perspective, but I think it needs to be spelled out a little bit more clearly, however you decide to do it. 

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Separate chapter: I think this does work as a separate chapter, even though it’s significantly shorter than chapter one. I also liked the cliffhanger ending of chapter one when the house exploded. Part of me does feel like these two chapters are more like one chapter cut in two, but that’s probably more due to the fact that I read the previous iteration and remember this being one chapter rather than two.  

 

Bumping cart: In the third paragraph S. is carefully getting some red stuff from the pouch, but the image in my head is that the cart of shaking and bumping due to the ox being spooked into running after the house exploded. In my head it doesn’t match with how S. is able to carefully inching some of the contents of the pouch onto the manacles.

 

Dangerous alchemy: I don’t recall S. having picked up all that dangerous stuff (the red stuff, and the yellow stuff) in the previous chapter, before the thugs dragged S. to the cart. If S. did pick it up and I missed it, let’s just chalk that up to weekly reader syndrome, but if S. didn’t pick up the stuff, S. had to have been wearing the pouches while working on the solvents. To me that feels like a very high risk to take, considering the potency of the stuff.

Maybe S. always carries something like that around for self-defense? If so, there must be something that’s useful but not likely to be deadly to S. if one of the pouches ruptures or S. forgets it’s there?

I do find the effects interesting and cool to read about, but it did make me wonder why S. would carry such dangerous stuff around naturally.

 

Running away: I don’t quite buy into the reason why S. won’t go back and sift through the ruins for anything useful. The leap into assuming that S. would be compelled to stay with the ruins out of guilt or memories is a weak one to me. The whole place exploded, so it’s not livable anymore. I don’t see S. living in the woods and rebuilding the house, so really there is nothing keeping the character there. What I would buy is that because there were dangerous solvents and explosives in the house S. is not willing to go near it in case not everything  went off, so S. wouldn’t want to go back there because of after-explosions.

 

Recognition: This feels like a problem of the modern age, with things like social media, where everyone would recognize a celebrity and, potentially, the offspring, because the images are so readily available.

This is not the modern age. Even if S.’s mother is well known for her work, she wouldn’t be instantly recognizable for anyone who hadn’t done business with her directly. Certainly not by the common folk. Maybe this would be a problem in the town of T., where they know S., but not the capital. And the chance of anyone linking the appearance of the sequestered ‘daughter’ to that of a craftswoman living in a backwoods area is really small.

S. also makes it seem like the Queensguard would all recognize S. on sight, yet S. didn’t bat an eye when the fake Queensguard had no idea who S. was. So obviously not all Queensguard would know S., which pretty much takes the problem away.  

 

Angst: Angsty angst is angst and comes across as too much. A lot has just happened, and if S. felt any fear about that it would be understandable, but at the end of the chapter S. pretty much gives up the dream of becoming an alchemist because it ‘would take years to recover from the taunts and jibes…in the capital city”. Really?

One, there is no logical reason to assume S. will be accosted in such a manner in the capital, looking for the character’s mother, since capitals are big, and with that comes anonymity.

Two, I really hope this is an exaggeration, because if taunting (and the thought of being taunted and jibed) is enough to emotionally cripple S. into inaction for years then S.’s fear of people is so high that setting foot in any kind of civilized place should be impossible. Let alone becoming an apprentice in a town and leaving the house behind. Can S. even handle criticism? And how was S. thinking of dealing with other apprentices and villagers, because as an alchemist apprentice there would be no way to avoid attention, and therefore criticism and taunting (kids can be so cruel).

So, yeah, I am not quite buying the angst at this point.

 

Missing ‘the’: “as I leapt over the side of cart” is missing ‘the’ in front of cart.

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Righto: Chapter 2.

  • “The ox bellowed and ran” – but it’s still attached to the cart, is it not? Unclear.
  • “inserts of my manacles” – what are the inserts? Unclear.
  • The ending felt strange to me. I struggled with S not going back to the house, S’s home for goodness knows how many years. I appreciate that the urge to be away from it, but to dismiss it from thought so quickly felt wrong to me.

This is a very peculiar chapter. It is very clearly the culmination of Chapter 1, not a separate chapter on its own. To carve it off like this feels wholly artificial. What’s the big deal with another 6 pages? A 20-year-old can’t read another 6 pages? I know I’m being bl—dy-minded, but still. I feel maybe there is a better split earlier in the chapter? Dunno.

I’ve sent some LBLs, but not many. I felt that some of the action felt more disjointed than in previous versions. Maybe it’s because I'm grumpy this morning.

<R>

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Overall I quite liked this. The tone, mood and what I gleaned of the setting all made me gravitate towards the story. The first sentence I found vivid and compelling. 

The main problem for me is that almost nothing happens. There is a lot of the character thinking / reflecting, especially toward the end, which feels like it outweighs description of the character actually taking action..*doing* things. 

Another thing i noticed was that the character seems quite distant and removed from what's happening. I think this is connected to the above. Not sure if it was an intentional thing or not. 

Good work, especially for a first draft. Please keep writing.

 

 

 

Quote

 

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On 3/23/2018 at 2:43 AM, Robinski said:

I’ve sent some LBLs, but not many.

@Robinski, I didn't get the LBLs. Send again?

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3 hours ago, kais said:

@Robinski, I didn't get the LBLs. Send again?

Done now. Sorry. There's a fair chance I didn't actually send them before. I get distracted so... Ooh, a butterfly!

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