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Posts posted by kais

  1. Overall

    There were some great emotional beats in here, but it sagged in some places, too. I think cutting it down (again, I know) will help it be more dynamic. I like the iron hints, and the emotional arc of our MC a lot. There's some repetition in dialogue that slows everything down, but a bit of streamlining will fix it right up.


    As I go

    - good opening line

    - pg 1: I love that she is doing tae kwon do in a dress

    - pg 6: I was engaged at the start, but the narrative lags through here. Might want to shorten this part up

    - pg 7: If I need to have this argument one more time, my voice is going to go hoarse. <-- it's repetitive for the reader, too. No plot progression

    - pg 8: this is lagging a lot through here. They need to pick an activity and get on with it

    - pg 9: the iron conversation is interesting!

    - pg 9: Well, I say that this guy’s real tragedy is that he can’t find a postdoc <-- I laughed so hard I woke my kid up



  2. 3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

    So without further ado, here is Distant Gardens, an anthology of lesbian-centric, inclusive stories about spaceships, fairies, fungus, tentacles, and strange plants!



    Also we got the orange Amazon banner for #1!


    Screen Shot 2021-07-06 at 9.32.36 PM.png


  3. Aside from our lead not being freaked out about N being empathic, I thought there were good emotional beats in this. The ending was great and I felt like I connected to our MC for the first time since this book started. Unlike the others I didn't have issues with the self-pity, but I think mostly because I've already seen so much of it from her that it just seems on-brand. At least here there was some plot progression, and N is really carrying things so it all worked. And the end, again, really hit home for me.


    As I go

    - uh, is she not freaked out that N is empathic? There needs to be an emotional reaction there somewhere

    - aww, I like the end


  4. Overall

    Unfortunately I wasn't engaged through any of this. The first chapter started slow and again, just when it might have taken off (with spellstones and sideways looks), it didn't. Then the next chapter with the king was functionally the same. I think these chapters could be condensed to one, maybe five pages long, and then some plot progression added in. No more teasing with spellstones, something needs to happen that is dynamic, as just talking heads does not do great things for holding attention.

    I know this is romance fantasy, but I still would like the B plot to move along a bit more, since the A plot (the romance) is taking its time.


    As I go

    - pg 2: Not a dynamic start. I'd like for the chapter to start on plot movement, not checking in on a moderately to lightly wounded princess

    - pg 2: I think a good start place for this chapter could be

    As if she didn’t owe him far too much already. Where you name A directly. That sets up a solid emotional beat for the chapter

    - pg 6: I want the spellstones to be interesting but they keep doing just really mundane things and it isn't interesting

    - pg 9: the spellstones might be getting more interesting? It's just hard to stay focused when they're talking and rehashing and not doing anything. Or emoting. I need them to move or emote, one or the other, or I just skim and then skip over potentially interesting spellstone hijinks

    - is there a reason we can't just start with her walking to meet the king?

    - pg 14: so much talking and so many names. 



  5. Late again


    The first part was really snappy and dynamic, and then I felt the tension drained bit by bit with each continuing beat. The end fell flat for me, because V already said he couldn't find an end to the wasteland, and now C wants to leave....but G-M's idea to burn the town down seems much more A) reasonable and B.) interesting. Again, I want to go with G-M, not C. I think you're walking the line again of C not being a dynamic enough character.

    But that mayor. Nice!


    As I go

    - while I don't normally like random additional POVs, I liked the mayor's a lot!

    - the interlude with C and the bird boy doesn't seem to advance the plot much. I wonder if it could be cut?

    - pg 13: the narrative is starting to lag through here. I want faster movement!

    - pg 16: I think the T recap section isn't necessary. It is just rehashing what we already know

    - 'we have to go' isn't nearly as dynamic as 'burn down the town'


  6. Catching up...



    Once we got to page eight, it moved at a better clip, but the start was slow. I think you could delete at least four pages from the start and nothing would be lost. To keep the movement of the plot, the chapter starts need to be a bit more crisp, especially if you want people to stay engaged to the Big Reveals.

    But, as always, your writing continues to improve!

    As I go

    - it's four pages in, and I don't feel like the plot has moved at all

    - pages five and six I am moderately engaged, but it is still hard to not skim

    - by pg 7, it's too much backstory. I can't focus anymore

    - pg 8: ah, the purpose! I think in order to keep the reader engaged we should have maybe four pages before this reveal, at most. Eight is too long to get to the meat of a chapter

    - pg 9: ’We’ can’t do anything right now <-- hence my frustration. We discover A Thing, but nothing can happen, so the plot stagnates 

    - once we get to the princess and the dialogue it moves much better



  7. Playing catchup


    I thought it started strong, but then fizzled at the end. The chapter didn't appear to have an end to its arc, likely because it got lost in the GM showdown, that went on too long and I think wasn't very directed. It looks like other people had similar thoughts so I'll just leave it at that and say I am still very much enjoying the story!

    As I go

    - pg 4: maybe WRS but who is 'that green boy'?

    - pg 6: the whole beat with the intruder confuses me. What is going on?

    - pg 7: I don't find G-M to be a terrible person at all, so that line strikes me as odd

    - pg 8: this fight with G-M is going on a bit long and stalling our plot progression



  8. Overall

    I was really hooked for the first six pages, after which I felt like things fell apart. I'm not sure the ending really made sense, and it didn't give me a sense of completion. I think the middle dragged. I think I'm on the same lines as @C_Vallion and @Mandamonthat if we got more emotions and more backstory on the suicide it might make this journey with the demons make more sense.

    Your writing, as always, is solid, and a pleasure to read. I'd love to see this short cleaned up and submitted somewhere. I think the premise is really strong.


    As I go

    - pg 6: she takes that demon news in stride. I expected more emotions about that

    - pg 8: yeah, I really fell out of the narrative with how well she deals with demons actually existing. Up to this point I was well hooked

    - pg 10: I feel the narrative is starting to wander. What is the arc? Where are we supposed to be going?

    - pg 12: yup, lost forward motion in the narrative. I think a lot of this area could be cut to streamline things

    - pg 14: I don't understand why the matron was upset. Didn't she want our MC to hold back? And then out MC does and the matron is upset?

    - pg 17: been ripped apart by my mother’s suicide, my father’s cowardice, and the whole uncaring mass of modern civilisation that wanted to squeeze every drop from my soul and discard my body in landfill.  <-- authentic as they may be, this is over the top for me as a reader. I need more lead up to this, also it seems like a lot. The mother's suicide is, for me, enough trauma to drive the narrative, especially with the father's internet problem

    - I don't think the narrative loop closes sufficiently



  9. Overall

    I agree with @Mandamon and @C_Vallion that this is great, that it is neat to get answers, but that we need more sprinkled before. This is just surprising, not 'surprising yet inevitable.' But generally this was a sound installment and I had a blast, so I won't belabor the other points. Previous posters covered them well.


    As I go

    - pg 2: this is all great. I'm hooked

    - pg 4: AWESOME first beat.

    - pg 8: That seems like kind of a bum deal for the ashen people, even if it is 'luxury'

    - also I still don't understand why the ashen people don't leave. I think I need a better reason or hook for why they stay. Just 'luxury' without social interaction can't be worth it

    - pg 9: ah I see. It's addressed now. Excellent

    - pg 10: the energy bit is confusing

    - pg 11: does a kid want perfect clarity though? This seems like more of a hook for a scholar than a pubescent girl. I don't buy that its a hook for C

    - aww, I love the last line. Very kid


  10. Overall

    There are some good components in here, but a lot of trimming is needed. I also am just not connecting with A the way I want to. I actually really like the king and his verbal snares, and I like the spell stones. A...I think needs his emotions amped to like 11 in this, because he is way too calm for being interrogated by the king.

    Aside from that, I'd say your writing is improving. This needs far fewer cuts than earlier chapters, and I did see the arc and narrative progression despite some 'fat.' So well done there!


    As I go

    - the first sentence isn't a very strong lead in to a chapter

    - the first page does not compel me to keep reading. Too much talk of boredom and menial tasks and such make me feel bored, too

    - pg 2: the 'good morning your grace' seems to just be the first page repeating itself

    - pg 3: I think you can cut the entire first beat. I don't think it progresses the plot in any meaningful way that couldn't also be accomplished in one or two sentences

    - pg 4: I'm confused with all the new capitalized words

    - pg 6: tension really starts building here. I think maybe a page lead up to this is all we need, then wham onto the tension of page 6

    - pg 11: they're talking about treason so I feel like I should care more, but I don't. There's...there's richness missing I feel like, from the story--potentially from reactions or emotions, that I think would make this feel more whole. right now I can tell important things are happening, but I don't yet care about any of them

    - pg 12: ah, the line of questioning is clearer, but I think the connection to the poisoning should be sooner and distinct enough that the reader can at least guess it is coming. I felt blindsided instead of 'surprising but inevitable'



  11. Overall

    I definitely don't think there is too much going on. I think the number of events are pretty reasonable, however I feel like they were mostly teases, which upset me as a reader. The tension would build (the fight, the spellstones, the poison transfer) and then nothing would come of it. There are three major tension events, but no tension outcomes, which leaves me feeling like reader promises were not kept--especially with the spellstones. I think there's a missed opportunity here to have A have effects of the spellstones or the poison cloud his hearing or equilibrium or something during the king talking (which was Plotful but not very dynamic) which would give much-needed tension to the info dump beat.

    It's getting better, and A does feel like his own character, interacting with the plot now. Now I'd like the plot to deliver on reader promises, and maybe spend less time getting info dumps from A's thought process. 

    I think mostly I'm grumpy because I really loved the part with the spellstones and was expecting BIG TIME SHENANIGANS. More spellstone trouble, please.


    As I go

    - pg 1: this page has all the makings of a good, tense chapter opening, but is bogged down in words and, I'm not sure how to describe it...turned phrases that bleed out the tension. An example:


    A pulled himself up straighter, reaching for some semblance of authority. “Lead me to the healers’ wing,” he said without slowing. What would the man do, cut down a duke on the palace stairs? Probably not. At least not while he was carrying the princess. 

    The guard hesitated, looking from Al to the arena uncertainly, then growled out a curse and turned.  He pulled door open and held it, following Al through into the spellstone-lit halls of the palace.  Once inside, the guard took off with brisk, determined strides.  Al clenched his teeth and hurried after him, flinching when a quick turn down a side corridor drew a weak, pained cry from the woman in his arms. 

    Because we are in TENSION and in a rush, the narrative should also be snappier, I feel. That way it conveys the tension you want. Consider something like:

    A straightened and blew past the guard without slowing. "Lead me to the healer's wing or cut me down. Just make your decision quickly."

    The guard hesitated, looked A to the arena, cursed, and turned. He pulled open the door and led A through the spellstone-lit hall, his pace almost too brisk to follow, especially with the princess weakly fighting A's hold.


    Or something. I feel like there are just too many words right now for the type of QUICK HURRY DANGER you likely want to convey here

    - pg 2: This is a critical line: 

    Two days in, and he’d stumbled into a royal assassination attempt. 

    Goddess preserve him. 

    That I think gets lost with all the mental musing before it. 

    - pg 6: through here is just very internal, a lot of musing and thoughts when I want there to be more movement and action and talking. I think that's why its so hard for me to stay invested in A--he's really internal even when he's performing actions

    - the part with the fight where A realizes the other guy 'couldn't' have done it is nice

    - pg 11: I got excited that the spellstone was being lied about but then nothing came of it, which was disappointing. 

    - pg 13: yes, very disappointed in the spellstone section. Now he's just talking to the king. We had all this good buildup and then just...fizzle. Same with the fight, though at least they fought

    - pg 16: I'd be far more engaged with this chatting and political stuff if A had been spellstone poisoned or something and was struggling to stay away while it was going on, so the tension was continuing up

    - I'm not sure that last beat is necessary. The part about A having poison on his clothes could easily be moved to an earlier scene and cause him to actually faint or something, which would increase tension


  12. Overall

    Generally, a very engaging chapter! I read right along with very few notes. I think the ending needs punched up a touch, and there's some wordiness at the start of the chapter that could be tightened, but overall I think this has a great arc, solid characters, and forward tension. Nicely done!



    As I go

    - that first paragraph is wordy in places. I think cutting down some words would help give it stronger impact

    - pg 1: Frustrated and feeling a growing rage <-- I'd rather see this than be told

    - through page four here I'm very engaged

    - pg 5: I'm confused. I thought G-M wanted C in trouble? So why is she now trying to burn down the hall to save C? Motivation switch I don't understand

    - pg 10: despite her feeling of present danger, she really wants to know what’s going to happen next. <-- LOL kind of meta but I like it

    - I think the end beat is off just a bit. It was building to a Big Reveal, and instead leaves us sort of dangling. I think a shock at the end might work better, like a teaser of what she sees (someone who looks just like her?)


  13. I'd also like a slot for Monday if there's space

    Edit - just did a word count and its 6,400 words. Anyone mind if I go over this week? I'll try to trim tomorrow before subbing but its a fairly event-heavy chapter




    Some decent movement here, though it lagged during the dinner in a few places. For the most part I was fairly engaged. I still don't care for our MC much but this chapter did finally start me on a path to having some empathy for her. I do like the mystery of N and how get more about he's clearly a fairy.

    3 hours ago, RedBlue said:

    rior to page 10, it felt like the date scene didn't have a direction. They talk about random stuff, it's awkward in a way that feels trivial, then it gets kind of romantic in a cheesy way that feels weird, and I don't know what I'm supposed to take from it. I think it would really help if you nailed down an emotional through-line. (Also, if the date was actually going well, and W and N were getting along surprisingly well, it would hit harder when it all comes crashing down.)

    I completely agree with the above.


    As I go

    - I don't understand the parent exchange. One parent gives some fairly solid advice. The other says it is pessimistic. Then the first is pretty rude to the second. These two are married aren't they? Do they like each other?

    - pg 3: Take care with your words if you wish for more pastries in the future <-- This is not how teenagers talk. This is so stuffy

    - pg 6: it was moving at a decent romance clip until the interlude with asking the parents if they want to eat dinner with them. It's sagging through here. Suggest either cutting or setting up situational comedy/drama by having the parents popping down every so often to chat or get something or aggressively vacuum, etc.

    - pg 7: I’m capable of being attracted to anyone our age <-- surely he has crushes on movie stars and such who are older?

    - what is a jumpscare?

    - pg 7: You had better not say whatever mascot glitter companies use <-- huh?

    - pg 7: honestly the lines in the bottom half of page seven are not making any sense

    - pg 8: Where are the parents? Also I'm wandering with the singing stuff. I think it's going on too long without the plot really advancing or the date advancing

    - pg 12: I re-engage around the sunburn stuff

    - Aww, cute but sad ending


  15. Overall

    Now that the plot is moving and we are getting information, I'm really engaged. I want to keep reading! Not many comments because I was immersed. A few quibbles and a few places where things were choppy, but to me this is really getting into the meat of the story and because I connected with C a few chapters back, I'm super hooked.


    As I go

    - pg 1: “The crux of it is that you wouldn’t be able to live here in town with the rest of us. You would be too dangerous.” <-- This would be a more powerful line if it was just 'you would be too dangerous'

    - chapter 8: that was interesting! I'd have liked the adult to be a bit more THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES and it feels really easy, still, getting this information, but at this stage in the story I think I'm ready for it, too

    - I like the end of chapter 10! But I think it needs to be more apparent in the narrative because I did not connect those events to the same time and place until the end cap there


  16. I’ve moved chapters around too much now so I don’t know if this chapter is redundant, or the first time you are all getting this information. Please suggest cuts wherever appropriate. It may cover much of the same ground as the At/E chapter, but I’m not sure. There’s some critical information about what isn’t on the beta plane that has to get across, and they have to get on the planet. Everything other than that may be redundant. Help!


  17. Thank you all for the help!

    I've combined the two chapters, cutting out about 1000 words and moving the epigraph from the second chapter to the first. The money from Ard doesn't come through right away now, so O has to take the job so that B doesn't have to pay for her. Other change: Yash now encourages O to go have dinner with B after shopping to gab about her purchases and really play up the tourism thing.

    Thank you all for the help streamlining! I've cut some of the redundancy between the chapters and I think it is stronger for it.


  18. Overall

    Good movement here and some strong plot development. I loved the final scene. I'm still confused with G-M (see below) but its nice to have the narrative picking up steam. Generally I enjoyed this installment.


    On 5/24/2021 at 11:38 AM, Mandamon said:

    I'm still frustrated by the lack of movement on the deal with the stove.

    I am also frustrated. I wanted her to find something important before the G-M showdown



    As I go

    - pg 1: I think part of the disconnect I have with the story and C is using words like 'sounds' instead of 'is'. When you use 'is' it makes it clear C is our POV. Using 'sounds' makes it sound like authorial diction, which puts a layer between the reader and the story

    - same here: is what Ed has to say when <-- why not just: 'E says'? The former is again, authorial story telling. The latter is immediate character

    - pg 4: through here I feel like there is a lot going on but I just don't really understand it. I want to. It sounds plotful and such, but it's like I'm missing some key piece that will make everything make sense

    - pg 10: I still find it weird that no one seems to really react to the raven talking

    - pg 11: G-M turns to Co with a dumbfounded stare. She’s surprised that Co has learned from her last mistake.<-- There is still a fair amount of this, showing then telling. That second sentence can be deleted. We understand it from the first one

    I don't get stuck <-- AMAZING line!


  19. K, some issues with this one.

    This used to be the second half of chapter ten, and I think hits a lot of the issues people pointed out in chapter ten. Together, they are too long, but noting last week’s feedback now I wonder if I don’t just need to either have them be a long chapter, or get aggressive with the cutting and force them together. Basically this one is all the missing emotional beats.

    Thoughts on how to meld this with chapter 10, or if it should just be cut, or something along those lines, would be helpful. Or hey if it works, that’s fine too!



  20. Thank you all for the feedback!

    Sounds like the biggest issue is giving Bell more backstory and character, which I think I'm going to do in a few places, not just this chapter. I often do the romance line last, so it isn't well established yet in this draft (obviously it's a B/O ship). I've got notes and will hit it harder in the next full round of edits. Glad this wasn't too rough! The action should pick up from this point forward, once O crosses the void and all the things hit the fan.

    Thank you again!


  21. Thank you all for the comments!

    I've taken out over 1000 words, added in some more plot stuff (fungal pigment secretions are dissolving cellulose!), and tried to streamline. In the end I think this will end up being a chapter mostly for the older readers, so as long as it wasn't too boring, it should be okay. It does mean that I need the chapter after it to be a stronger installment, so moving on to those edits.