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Posts posted by kais

  1. On 2/8/2021 at 10:50 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Do you have any sort of ship descriptions/sketches somewhere so that I can try to replace the current image in my head with what it should actually look like? [edit: the description later is helpful]

    I have an enamel pin, but its highly stylized. The ships are described as being teardrop shaped, capable of seating one comfortably, two cramped. They're generally painted crimson and have a wide, transparent front and top because the Ne aren't particularly technologically advanced and it amused me to think of ground ships having windshields

    On 2/8/2021 at 10:50 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Debris floated…bipedal.”  I think even knowing what a good deal of the debris is made up of, the second sentence’s implied “Some [of the debris] were…” is jarring.  Seems like the sort of thing that could be intentionally jarring, to imply a disconnect between the "debris" and the people the debris once was. But my first instinct is to see it as grammar being off.

    I've reworked this whole area. It was....not well written

    On 2/8/2021 at 10:50 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Why is she suddenly turning to look at the picture?

    Because of poor transitions! I've reworked this area, too. Now she has to wait to get to the planet for repairs and decides to relax, so her eyes wander

    On 2/8/2021 at 10:50 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Wasn’t she going to go do repairs and come back anyway?  Why not just get towed out and come back later?  Her goal of gathering biological materials seems to have a solution in going with him.  She mentions needing “proof,” but I have no idea what that means, when it seemed like her plan was to gather up the samples and find her proof in them later after they’d been analyzed. I didn’t get the idea that she was looking for any other proof that would be more important than living to search another day.

    Logic was all wrong. I've reworked the whole scene, which is too long to copypasta here. However for future reference, she now realizes she needs to land almost at the start due to lost cellulose. The K ship comes and offers her a tow and they get the whole rigging set up when the other ships appear. She accidentally detaches the tow line and is left behind. 

    On 2/8/2021 at 10:50 AM, C_Vallion said:

    My bigger concern is usually more related to making sure that the jumping-back-in points are smooth.  If, for an entirely random example, a chapter ends on someone about to be blasted out of space, I’m more concerned about where we’re going to pick up that viewpoint again to make sure that I’m able to follow any time/place jumps if there were PoV jumps in-between. 

    Yuuuup this is my concern, too. Next chapter is also Or, so we will see how that goes. In fact the next chapter may need to come before this one, so I'll be curious to see what people think about it, too. Thanks for these! It helped clean up a lot, especially in terms of motivations and plot.


    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    name first appears in italics

    have edited. 

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    lso agree with this. Or. has a drive to find...something...DNA evidence, I guess, and literally has all the answers appear and helpfully try to talk to her, but she ignores that and lets him fly off when she's faced with incoming hostiles and a broken ship. Why not follow the K, and come back later? She was planning to do that anyway to repair at the planet.


    This was allll very choppy. I got a little cut happy the night before I think. Post edits, she now realizes she needs to land pretty much from the start for repairs. The K offers help and she accepts, but the tow line breaks as they get ready to jump and she is left behind for the pirates. Also clarified her motivations more fully so she isn't a Nee copy.

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    --would she have had another name between the two?

    I redid this whole section, too.

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    I'm not sure why Or isn't just going with K. Isn't he the same species as the bodies outside? I don't understand why she isn't just asking questions. What's keeping her back?

    No more questions! Their dialogue is much less now, and hurried. It's more about degrading ships and getting out before the pirates, though K gets a bit of the critical stuff through before the jump

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    Wait now, the N holy text has had the name of all the other similar species all this time? That seems like it would have been followed up on before now...

    I did not present this well. There's a section like this in....the second book I think, but here I skimmed the explanation. I'll edit.

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    Are the death ships sending this message? Did they just blow up the other planets? What's happening?

    Whoops. Have clarified

    On 2/8/2021 at 0:01 PM, Mandamon said:

    -yeah, don't understand Or's choices here. She had a lot of easy ways out and didn't take any of them.

    Bonus, now she has NO WAYS OUT. I hope. I think.

    Thank you for these! Much smoother chapter now.


    On 2/8/2021 at 4:35 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Jumping from corpses to "waste of time" makes me see this person as fairly cold and uncaring (about anyone besides herself anyway). It's an interesting response that I'm keeping my eye on, but I'm not 100% sure it's intentional 

    This whole section got a makeover


    The DNA she needed was scattered across lightyears, intermingled with who knew how many other species. Where she’d hoped to find answers, she’d gotten only detached eyeballs and bloated corpses. 

                What a maddening, depressive waste of a nearly six year journey. 

                Debris floated past, some bouncing off her hull, some sticking. Some were ship fragments and tortured biometals. Some were clefts of rock and mineral. Most were organic, a few identifiable as body parts. Death surrounded her. Obliteration. She sat at the edges of an intergalactic holocaust that completely screwed all her future plans, including an eventual triumphant return to her homeworld of N-k to validate (not rescue, because the woman in question was not one who needed rescuing) the scientific and political arguments of an ex-Heaven Guard pilot. 

    What a waste. 

    Not a failure. She couldn’t handle failure at this junction. Just a waste of half a decade.


    On 2/8/2021 at 4:35 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    How does this universe handle time dilation? I'm assuming it's addressed in earlier books but I thought about it when light years were mentioned

    Poorly. It handles it poorly. I mostly rely on space opera tropes to stay afloat, with the occasional fourth wall 'that isn't how wormholes work why do we call them that' hot take.

    On 2/8/2021 at 4:35 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    I can tell that she's willing to sacrifice a lot for this DNA which is good but I feel like I need to know at least a little about what she plans to do with it

    Expanded that section as well


    It was a picture of Exile, right before she’d earned that modifier. Exile, the Heaven Guard trainee, just as she was about to be assigned a permanent ship and fully join the Guard. Exile—the Neek who would never see her homeworld again unless O-t got it together and found just the right collection of DNA to prove A-m did more than bless the N-k people with agriculture. 

    She touched a fingertip to Exile’s forehead. She’d lead the Heaven Guard long enough to know that mantras were useless and prayers were silly, but every pilot had a shrine somewhere in their settee. Most were to lovers or dead parents, there had to be space for (holy?) missions, too. “If there’s a loophole in the myth of A-, I will find it. If the science you demanded exists, I will find it. Then I will find you and bring you home. We can slap the President of N-k together. Tie him to the bow of a settee and fly him around the Tertiary Forest Preserve a few times. Just for fun. Just to see your smile.”

    The image, per usual, did not speak back, nor did it absolve her of the gnawing guilt that came from watching the most promising pilot in a generation, a teenager, be sentenced to death while Or-t watched from the safety of her settee. Absolution for both of them floated in the surrounding debris cloud, and Or-t was not leaving until she found it.

    I think that gives her motivation a more personal bend, too.

    On 2/8/2021 at 4:35 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Hmm I feel like the other person is trying to convey what their deal is but I don't get it. Are they pushing O to make a decision because it's dangerous with all the rubble around? Because they don't like her? Because they just want to get on with it? 

    I reworked the whole K interaction. It's now much briefer and conveys far less infodump. It also has O take the K up on the offer to help immediately, but the tow line gets disengaged before the jump, leaving her stranded. I think this will clear up a number of issues

    On 2/8/2021 at 4:35 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Unfortunately, I feel like I don't have a great read on her compared to the other two. She seems to have the same motivation as N, but also being alone means we don't get to see her personality come out in interactions as much and her coming after N means that for me she lives in N's shadow.

    I'm hoping the edits I've done here have helped pull her away from N. In many ways they will be similar, but if O isn't distinct enough then I need to gut her character and rebuild. Make her better. faster. less snarky

    Thank you for these! Very helpful!



  2. On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    What's this then? If there was no warning from Pru, who published these words?

    Ahhh, solid issue. Have clarified it's from Ard's intergalactic sensors because Ard spies on everything

    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    Cell'? I feel like it used to be 'Cel'. I always pronounced it 'kel'.

    Errr, possibly? I think it was cell as in 'cellulose', but now I have to go highlight it for continuity edits. Will check!

    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    I really like Y and S together, so it's a little disheartening to see her quite dismissive attitude towards him. One of my imagined promises from the author therefore, is to see her be more loving towards him, provided that he deserves it, of course.

    Working towards it! Salice has always been borderline autism-coded so I'm hoping to showcase this relationship well enough that you can see that while she isn't the best at emoting, the emotions are still rich and deep on the inside

    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:


      Hide contents


    EXACTLY. It's not an ominous trope warning. Nooooo

    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    I find the swear rather harsh and inappropriate. He's talking to his lady love here, not Ne

    This is a solid point. Have edited

    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    "if I even bring it up" - Please define 'it': unclear.

    Oof, correct. I've changed to:


    At and E will explode my head if I even bring up Ris, or leaving Ard for…whatever this is. They’re happy there. They’re content. They don’t need this.


    On 2/1/2021 at 5:31 AM, Robinski said:

    I think my issue with him is that he seems only to have one setting. He's kind of always there, but he doesn't seem to develop, grow, get much to do. He's like a piece of noisy furniture to me.

    Aww! He grew so much in book three! He had a whole arc! But I'll admit that as a teenager, he's the one I'm least invested in as a character.

    So glad this went well! I wasn't expecting such resoundingly positive feedback so I guess it stays mostly intact. Thanks!


    On 2/1/2021 at 7:48 AM, C_Vallion said:

    +1 for ship names.

    I think it's my only true writing skill

    On 2/1/2021 at 7:48 AM, C_Vallion said:

    And now that I have spent far more time talking about math-theory than most people are likely to be interested in, I will move on.

    LOL it's not something I gave any real thought to other than it needed to be more than two hundred, but less than three hundred

    On 2/1/2021 at 7:48 AM, C_Vallion said:

    This was clarified before too long, but was jarring and a little confusing.

    I can just cut the Nick part out. That should simplify it

    On 2/1/2021 at 7:48 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Pi-‘s name seems to switch between nh and hn

    ARGHHH you're so right. Making a note to 'search-find-replace' later

    On 2/1/2021 at 7:48 AM, C_Vallion said:

    Beyond that vague feeling of things not seeming to quite match up, I really enjoyed the chapter, and am excited to see where things go 

    Oh fantastic! Seems like its right about where I need it to be. Thanks for the feedback!


    On 2/1/2021 at 9:02 AM, karamel said:

    would this occurrence normally send a message to the leaders of Ard? 

    Per @Robinski's comment, I edited to make it clear that Ard has a network of spy satellites basically that feed it constant surveillance info

    On 2/1/2021 at 9:02 AM, karamel said:

    Add-, he’d saved her from” what is add-? A curse word? A deity?

    'Addendum' means 'an addition'

    On 2/1/2021 at 9:02 AM, karamel said:

    “Go away” narrator: he did not go away

    LOL exactly

    On 2/1/2021 at 9:02 AM, karamel said:

    Slips of foam” you mean… flip flops? Nice

    100% correct

    On 2/1/2021 at 9:02 AM, karamel said:

    Idk how much time is in between book 1 and 3, but this chap has to be at least… 14 years after the intro? What's the big picture? I’m interested to find out :)

    Hoorah, and glad it works!! There are about four years between this and the end of book 3, and yes 14 years from our intro incident. I'm glad they connect because with three POVs in short order, I think I'll have a hard time with reader investment soon. Thank you for the feedback!


    On 2/1/2021 at 11:44 AM, Mandamon said:

    Yes, come to the dark side...

    Looking forward to more!

    I did it in Ard 1, and had agent after agent and editor after editor get on me about it. Ninestar didn't mind as much but even then you should have seen it before my editor got her hands on it. POV EXPLOSION

    On 2/1/2021 at 11:44 AM, Mandamon said:

    assume these were the things in the prologue. Were this in the trilogy at all, or is this a retcon?

    Yes, the things from the intro, and what I'm hoping will be a fairly major plot point. They weren't in the original trilogy because I (mercifully) never showed them hauling saplings. They were in-between Ris hauls when book one happened. That's about the only thing giving me any room to write this new trilogy. 

    Thank you!


    On 2/1/2021 at 3:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    I'm curious why this seems like no big deal to people other than S. Is it a routine occurence to have planets blow up like this? 

    This is indeed part of the mystery, though the edit I did for Robinski, noting it's being recorded via spy satellite things, should help 

    On 2/1/2021 at 3:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    If I'm right props to you for setting up a complicated dynamic like that so quickly

    100% correct. Excellent

    On 2/1/2021 at 3:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Okay, the implications of the statement at the bottom of the page aren't super clear to me. How exactly does P's destruction make these other people from the J system more of a threat? I don't really get it and I think this is important for me to know. I also wouldn't mind a bit of exposition from S about the J system, honestly, so long as it's still character-rooted. I'm guessing she doesn't care about it as much as MP does. 

    I tried to add to add in a few clarifying sentences, but they made the mission more dangerous than S would take on, so they had to come back out. I think for now P is giving her exactly enough information for her to contemplate an adventure. Anything more and she'd call for people more powerful, and that won't work with how the plot is set up. 

    Unfortunately S can't exposits about the J system because she doesn't know anything about it, other than what was given at the very start of the chapter. 

    On 2/1/2021 at 3:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    How does S feel about this place? The description makes the broader dynamics clear but what I really want to know is what this means for S. Is it a chance for her to reclaim for herself the knowledge that was used to hurt her? Is it a place so terrifying and scarring that she never wants to set foot on it again? I'm guessing somewhere in between. 

    Hmmm okay. Will revisit. Let's try


    Sal stared at the words, reading and rereading until they blurred. Kon. She remembered pristine breeding labs, cellulose-proof prisons, her mother’s screams, but still, it was home. She could accept the carrot, thereby willingly revisiting (well-dressed) Ris servitude, but gain her heritage and a homeworld in return. She’d be forever tied to Ril but then again, they already had a permanent tether. 


    On 2/1/2021 at 3:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Right now I can see (almost) anyone in her position having her views, and I want to see her personality inform her desires in a way that's unique to her. 

    This is something I'm flagging for another pass. She's 1/2 of the protagonist team, and I'm hoping more specific wants/needs come into play later. She is purposefully a bit 'emotions acted, not debated' but I'll see how this works moving forward. Glad this worked well, and thank you for the feedback!


    On 2/2/2021 at 2:14 PM, Silk said:

    I do think it’s possible that beefing up S’s longing for a history could make the chapter potentially a little more powerful, especially for new readers who are only getting very glancing bits of S’s history, but I’m not sure how that would translate into a scene where actual consequential things happen, since it really doesn’t seem like this chapter is missing much. As it stands though, I think the why of S is doing this is clear enough, and it's a good punchy start. 


    This is where I'm stuck as well. The chapter feels complete, and S isn't an interior person by nature. She'll always act and react more than she will internalize and analyze emotion. I'll see how feedback goes for other S chapters and then revisit this. I've flagged it in this chapter for review. I think just tweaking sentences might help, for instance


    I want more than a history of test tubes and syringes. I want to erase Ris and replace them with cousins, grandparents, and generational traditions. I want to die of old age surrounded by people who look and think and communicate like me.


    On 2/2/2021 at 2:14 PM, Silk said:

    Could be WRS and I’m just forgetting some of her capabilities from previous books but if they’re restricted to that level, why does she have access anyway?

    It was in older drafts but got cut. I'm not sure I'll add anything back in. Does it make you wonder if she's good at computers? That was my hope

    On 2/2/2021 at 2:14 PM, Silk said:

    Hadn’t they already made plans to go for dinner a few pages up?

    Check. Edited. Thank you for the feedback. Looks like this is a strong chapter


    On 2/3/2021 at 5:39 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

    so, just a question, is this implying that P planet can also move, since it has been in the system for only two hundred something years? Sorry if that's already been established

    *cough* no, not at all. Why would P move. That would be weird and not at all concerning....

    On 2/3/2021 at 5:39 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

    Like, dimension-hopping or something?? 

    You're very good at the subtext game

    On 2/3/2021 at 5:39 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

    this is MP" reminds me of when you're working on a google doc at like 12 at night and you can see that there's like two other people also there...

    100% what I was channeling

    Thanks for the edits! Looks like this draft is working a lot better all around.


  3. 20 hours ago, Silk said:

    I think the point that @kais is making is that you need to be deliberate about communicating the fact that these aliens do both. One way of doing that is to remember that gender identity isn't going to be heterogeneous across the population. It may very well make sense that a race of sex-shifting aliens has a higher population of people who are genderfluid, but there still going to be people for whom that isn't true - there are going to people who have fixed gender identities regardless of what their body is doing.

    Yes, this exactly. If they are gender fluid, their bodies do not change. The way they dress might, the way they act and and interact in society will, but their coloring (which in birds is so directly linked to biological sex), etc., will not. It's fine to have them change both gender and sex, but again, you need to be very specific about it. Call it out, hang a lantern on it, etc. And maybe have a touch of dialogue where one of them says 'I always find the physical changes stranger to adapt to. Changing my hats is one thing. But when my internal organs move, it is weird' or something akin. 

    On 2/3/2021 at 4:49 PM, ginger_reckoning said:

    with them being hermaphrodites but only having one set of genitals "active" at a time.

    So....you're writing intersex characters whose hormones shift to 'activate' only one set of genitals at a time? This will be very tricky road to walk. Hormone surges are inherently sex changes in many cases, and if they happen too fast or too frequently you can just...destroy your body. So presumably your birds have adapted to that over time but we are going to need some very well-written scenes that discuss that change. But also if they are changing active genitals, they aren't gender fluid, they're sex fluid. Writing a gender fluid species would mean their bodies stay the same, but their presentation changes (in terms of their interactions with society, how they want to be addressed, perhaps how they dress, etc.).


  4. 1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

    Is anyone up for doing a readthrough of Part 1 (about 36k words including the prologue) of my story to specifically help with addressing this angle of things?  I'm glad to do an exchange if people have things they'd like me to look at. 

    Happy to help. No need to exchange - I've got nothing ready yet. DM me when you're ready and I'll send you my email if you don't already have it from the list serve


  5. 2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

    and I just have no idea how to fix them.

    We can help! In fact @Snakenaps was in this situation about a year ago, and can probably speak to the thought process that finally got her making solid traction, especially in terms of hook and character interacting with plot, not just riding it.

    2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

    As a general question, do you usually expect the inciting incident to always be in the first few paragraphs? 

    I expect either the inciting incident or a substantial hook within the first 2-3 pages. It's how spec fit writing has gone recently, so it's very much reader expectation. Especially if you're looking to sell to a publisher someday or get the attention of an agent. Going with the model of 'in late, out early', you want your first chapter to be right when that first event that starts the story happens. The inciting incident for your book. I'd say the one exception to this is in romance. There's still an inciting incident in romance, but it is often in terms of the hook for the romance, so say, the two characters meeting. Right now I'd argue you have romance pacing, but are trying to build a spec fic arc. If we went through backstory and politics and such and then your MC went to a ball and saw the Duke fixing her binder and SHOCK GASP the Duke is a lady and our MC secretly likes ladies, then I'd be okay with a lot more of the meandering. Romance readers are used to waiting through the first chapter to get their buy-in hook. Spec fic readers, especially sci fi and fantasy, are not. I like both genres, but if you don't start with magic or an explosion or dragons, there'd better be some brewing romance I can get behind and start cheering for right off the bat.

    2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

    I know the benefits of getting it out there ASAP, but for this one to really make sense, it requires knowledge of two characters who we need to know separately without them really knowing each other. So, I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how to move it closer to Page 1. I know it's too far in, but I don't know how to carry us through to it without creating a false inciting incident that miscommunicates where the whole story is going.

    I think it's okay though, to have red herrings. Give us the incident. Let the reader make assumptions. Then crush our assumptions. 

    2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by discussing hidden spells. I assume you're referring to sp-stones, but they do discuss them.  It's just hard to have characters discuss a thing that is mostly significant because it isn't commonly used or well understood (I thought that aspect had been clear enough, but maybt not?).  I had initially called out that he had learned the basics of spell identification from his problematic mage father, but I thought there was enough context to imply it.  I'm not sure what makes it come across that they're "hidden" or what implications are coming across about the magic system at the moment. But I'm obviously missing something in my explanation.

    That was me trying to add in plot because I couldn't find any. With such a....just 'here is politics' page after page, I'm desperate for the hook. So then we get these stones and so my brain goes oh good! The plot! I bet they do XYZ! And because our MC finds them and I expect the MC to drive the plot, I expected her to have more knowledge, or stumble onto the knowledge. 

    2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

    This is one of the most important things the prologue was supposed to do.  From there, we're supposed to get basic spellstone mechanics from Is- using the lightstones in the library, and the impression from Al's scene that other than our firestones (heat and light) and sleepstones, spellstones, while legal, aren't generally used in polite society these days. 

    What we're all trying to say though, is that we don't need that information yet. We need a hook. We need an inciting incident. We need to care about the MC. Magic systems can be built later, especially via use. You can throw us into a magic system and if we care about the MC, it can be confusing at first. We will give a lot more space for a weird magic system and unfamiliar politics if we care about the people in the world.


    This is a really common place to get stuck. We see it a lot with new subbers, so it isn't just you by any means. It takes time to differentiate between revising and editing, wherein revising really means tearing apart a chapter and functionally rebuilding it, often crafting new bones. Editing removes some scenes or some paragraphs. In the end it is your book. If you're writing it for you, then it's about what makes you happy. If you're writing it for others or for publication, revising is inevitable.

    It's worthwhile too to have a conversation about tropes. When writing spec fic, there are given, understood tropes, that differ depending on region. Herein, you are writing Euro-centric fantasy, very sword and sorcery. Tropes help us save time when writing because if you drop a reader into a known world, they don't question tropes. Tropes help ground a reader. The thing with tropey work is, its inherently cliche. So, you must choose to either lean into the trope, or subvert the trope. To merely exist in it is to bore the reader. We have read a million (possible exaggeration) Euro-centric fantasy books with magic and politics and swords. The tropes are old and tired. You, as the writer, need to then either rejoice in the tropes, embrace them, encourage them, embellish them (lean in) or defy reader expectations by getting us comfortable and then pulling the rug out (subverting). I think this is the crux of the writing issue right now. Your MC exists within a tropey land that has neither leaned into tropes, nor tried to subvert them. The reader has no foothold. Nothing to hold on to. Without a hook for the MC, without tropes to hold, the reader is adrift. A drifting reader is a bored reader, who does not buy your book at the local bookshop.

    I think if you can make that decision - subversion or lean in - and then from there move the inciting incident up, you will have a powerful and dynamic start. 


  6. Overall

    Two major points. The first, I'm not sure what this chapter adds to the overall narrative. How does it advance the plot? Could it not be summed into say, a passing conversation in another chapter? It seems to exist mostly to establish characters, but doesn't seem to move anything forward. I'd suggest picking the relevant parts and putting it into a more dynamic chapter.

    There are elements in here I like, like the color coded gender/sex swapping. With that said, point 2 - you'll need to be clear and deliberate here as to what is being swapped. Is it gender, or is it biological sex? Is it both? From the narrative you seem to be describing biological sex, which would change physical appearances and some parts of brain chemistry (narrowing emotional range when moving from female to male, as an example). However gender, which is in the brain, would remain constant or maybe edge just a fraction in either direction (unless said character was, say, gender fluid). Gender is how we perceive ourselves within our society's context of gender. It is a social construct, can change over time in all humans, and is not rigid. Biological sex is fairly rigid, also defined somewhat by society but has clear categories that most people fall into related to chromosomes, hormones, and physical attributes. 

    Likely you already know this, or at least most of it. My caution comes from the problematic trope in sci-fi of conflating the two. It is very common to have sex-phasing aliens and not address gender. For many trans people this can be a form of wish fulfillment, and of course, we all deserve narratives with wish fulfillment. But the intersex population has, for a long time, raised concerns about this trope and conflating sex fluidity with gender fluidity. Primarily because it erases intersex people, or others them by basically saying it's alien to switch sexes, this never happens on Earth (spoiler - it does happen on Earth). I think you have a good basis here for sex-changing aliens, which would allow for some fun discussions about how their gender is always pretty much the same, but their thought processes go through different channels when male versus female.

    If you seek publication for this work at some point, you'll want to be sure to run it past a few intersex sensitivity readers as well, just to make sure you're hitting the finer points. I can help of course, but the week-to-week format here doesn't allow for great continuity edits. I'm in the process of a full biological sex shift (intersex is weird sometimes) and can definitely speak to the mental changes as well as the physical.


    As I go

    - pg 1: WRS. I am so confused. Have we had a time jump?

    - pg 1: ooooh, it's a POV hop. I get it

    - pg 1: +1 for gender convo

    - pg 2: I don't care for how easily E gives up the tear. She fought so much! And giving it up is very much letting the plot drive her, not her driving the plot. This POV and I currently aren't connecting, either. I'm struggling to get a foothold

    - pg 3: the change in sex though is very interesting and I'm more interested in them now, though I'd like it to be for personality as well as awesome sex swapping ability.

    - pg 3: I doubt any of us are in the correct mental state to make any binding decisions at this point. <-- LOL cause they're all dudes now? That seems to be what is implied

    - pg 4: She had chosen to further imitate humans and their permanent genders <-- I thought they were swapping out biological sex? See discussion above in the 'general' area

    - pg 5: getting a lot more 'this happened let me think about it' than a more active 'let's talk about it'. Which is a shame because when the two characters talk they are full of voice. I'd rather they have a discussion and react to the events, and we learn about them through the reactions



  7. Overall

    Unfortately, I think this still suffers from most of the same issues (I has better direction, but far too late, and not enough of it). There's too much political chat and thought, not enough inciting incident, plot movement, and character buy-in. It's definitely better, and you're making progress, but at this stage I'd love to mark up the documents and just delete several pages in a row every time a character gets into their head to tell us about how the monarchy works.

    I think to start, just settling on an inciting incident and running with it as a theme through chapter one would help. Then chapter two, focus on the tension around the gift of the jewelry and how it was almost a spellstone. There's good tension there. It isn't that this isn't an interesting story. I think it has some reasonable bones. But it's so covered in the exposition that I can't stay connected to anything.

    Good movement though. It's better than before!


    As I go

    - pg 1: very long interior exposition that I don't want because I still want plot. I assume she still hung herself out the window for the falcon? Are we running with that imagery yet as motivation? 

    - pg 2: I was excited thinking something would happen in the library, but it's still just exposition

    - pg 3-4: briefly thought there would be magic hijinks with the pens. Then thought she might overwrite some of the documents. Disappointed that it was more world building. I think the important information here, that someone else is doing the writing, could be conveyed in maybe a paragraph, through perhaps an offhanded glance as she runs through the library, late for something, jazzed from seeing the falcon, etc. I think really what I'm missing more than anything is any sense of urgency of the plot. I keep coming back to the falcon because it felt like the inciting incident, but now I wonder if we haven't actually gotten to the inciting incident, and that is a touch concerning

    - pg 7: so I'll agree that is generally more active than the last draft. The talking while decorating and such helps keep my interest longer. But it's still just too much world and politics without any investment in the lead character, any idea of her motivations, or what the greater arc of the book is. And it's looking less and less like the falcon was the inciting incident, which means our inciting incident is far too late in the story to serve as a hook for the reader

    - end pg 8: So our MC has made a decision, which is good, and we have a portion of motivation. But it still falls flat to me, I think because again, no real inciting incident. It's just a day in the life, and I don't yet care about the world. I need something to get me going, to get me to care about this world and its politics and characters, and I don't have it yet

    - POV jump not the best when I still don't care about the first character

    - pg 10: I already like T more than our first MC. This plot is much more engaging

    - pg 11: I feel let down again. I'd like them to discuss a hidden spell, or have our MC think about hidden spells, or how he knows how to hide spells, etc. I feel like we keep getting this potential awesome set ups, and then they just...fizzle. Reader promises not fulfilled

    - pg 14: he's fallen prey to the meandering and plot thinking problem. No longer engaged

    - pg 15: back to the spellstone, making me think everything in between could easily be cut. The tension is all with the spellstone

    - not the most tension filled ending


  8. We continue on! Chapter 1 proper, which is short and hopefully compelling. I wonder if it needs expansion in some areas, as it’s under 3K words, but I can’t really see where fat could be added. Generally, I’m interested in if you connect with the main character, if the chapter makes sense and ties into the introduction, and if you’d read to the next chapter.

    I’m attempting the not-recommended thing of three chapters in a row with three different POV characters. I’m trying to tie them all together through a clear central issue (Pruitcu), and hoping that is enough for reader investment. Looking forward to your comments on that.

    As a side note, I’ve edited some sections of the introduction based on the feedback, and included the major one in the comments of last week’s sub, if you’re curious. It mostly changes the information around the little biometal spheres to include a discussion of fungi.

    Thanks for reading!


  9. There have been some plot-relevant edits to the spaceport scene with A. If anyone is curious to read them before launching into chapter one, they're behind the spoiler window below.



    Ap waved a hand dismissively. “Sit if you want. A few captains came by to look at old shielding scraps in my antiques section—the kind of bioplastics they used in their ships before they settled the CS. When they did more interstellar travel. They were complaining about aliens and planes. Planes of aliens. It made no sense, because Ris do not make sense. Lizards are not people. People do not steal your mushrooms.” She pointed at her planter box. “Took the turkey tail, the winter polypores, and the dead man’s fingers. Savages, the lot of them.”

    “I thought Ris ate fish? Besides, we’re all aliens,” Nk said flatly. Mushroom conscription seemed very minor considering how her day had gone. She waved her hand, wiggling the eight fingers. “Some moreso than others.”

    “No, I mean aliens. From outside the CS. More border skirmishes.” She leaned towards Nk. “Ris did a lot more trade, you know, before the Systems came together. I’ve won salvage rights to a few old cutters. What do you do if you don’t have access to andal cellulose? How do you fly? How do you compute? Regular cellulose won’t do it but these aliens had some kind of tech. Rs haven’t sorted it yet but they keep asking me to fuss with it. Here, my new design. It’s meant to hold charged cellulose pulp for transfers.”

    Ap reached to her right and picked up a hollow, biometal ball, one of the seams still an angry red. She handed it to Nk. The metal felt warm in her hands, and not just on the seam lines. Nk scratched her neck, the lingering saplings still irritating her half a space station away.

                “It just looks like regular biometal.”

    “It is now, more or less. I integrated andal cellulose percentage to almost seventy-five,” Ap said. “But the base metal already has a filament in it that isn’t a sugar polymer of any form. Cell-Tal is hoping it’ll stop the glucose chain breakages when they move the andal pulp from the mill on Ril to the digestion plant on K-in.” She turned it over and showed Neek a stamp in the biometal. “It’s stamped “Pruitcu. Who knew aliens spoke Common?” 



  10. On 1/27/2021 at 8:19 PM, karamel said:

    I really liked this line in the previous draft and I felt it added character to N but now it feels out of place. there was no struggle before this so I’m wondering why Y said it wasn’t getting easier and N was complaining about emotions. I’m not sure what the problem is and what exactly isn’t getting easier. What triggered her to think emotions were complicated? The saplings dying? Is this an emotionally taxing endeavor? edit: okay im dumb. obviously it was the exile comment that made her say emotions were complicated. but it still didnt feel warranted, there was no struggle. idk it just feels like this line should be somewhere further down in a more emotionally taxing situation, like maybe when she sees G4 or something.

    Another person commented on this too, so I've reworked the scene a bit. Hopefully this is better:


    Captain YK, an Earth native who employed N on his semi-legal transport runs, snorted. “The Ris won’t care. They’re just stripping them for cellulose. Get them packaged and to the hold. We’re about to dock with the Sapwood.” 

    “They could have at least let us into low orbit for the transfer. I’m sure that didn’t help,” N muttered. 

    He gruffly patted her shoulder. “Being so close to your planet you can almost spit on it is a particularly fine form of torture. Exile isn’t getting any easier, is it?” 

                N shrugged, unsure of what else to do. Emotions were effing complicated. “Will it ever?”

                Yo turned, started to vocalize some emotion that would have made them both uncomfortable, shut his mouth, then continued from the hold. N was left with the weary looking andal.


    On 1/27/2021 at 8:19 PM, karamel said:

    I don’t get what this line is doing

    I cut it. You're right, the following line was better

    On 1/27/2021 at 8:19 PM, karamel said:

    wait shouldn’t they be handled gently, even if they are dying? Rip plants

    She no longer throws the pot

    On 1/27/2021 at 8:19 PM, karamel said:

    ait is it youth journey or journey youth?

    One is the program (YJ) and one refers to a participant (JY). I've tried to clarify in the text.

    On 1/27/2021 at 8:19 PM, karamel said:

    I was confused about why G4 had stopped N in the previous sub and it is a little bit clearer in this version, but i still had to think about it. So the president was trying to arrest her even tho she got clearance to transport the seeds? did her uncle know? dang shady uncle. so was it all a set up and then G4 came along and was like nah i got you N?

    I've tried to clean this as well. Thank you for the feedback and glad this is cleaner!


    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    There's more than one?

    LOL I really hope not.

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    I thought N was in the hold already? Isn't she already 'down there'?


    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    This seems to contradict her caring concern for the sappling before. Sounds careless and uncaring.

    She no longer tosses and the whole dialogue of that encounter has been trimmed way down and has a lot less of N being a jerk

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    I don't understand how Y has a monopoly on this trade.

    It's in the book of shorts but I've added a clarifying sentence here to help

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    This seems a key moment, and it's not clear to me. Is the scan of the shop different from the design? Are those the same thing? Wording unclear. Are the Pru a different, undiscovered race? I don't know what's happening here and what I'm to take from this.

    Check I've cleaned this up as I have to change some details anyway (posting the edits on this thread later so people can check them out if they want). Related - I keep waffling between having this be a new character, or just using Chen from the main series. But I wanted N to have her own friends, too, which we never really get a sense of in the first four books.

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    twice the size of her head" - This remains really incongruous to me. The way they talk about it, and hand it back and forth, it sounds easy, but something this size would be awkward to handle, surely. I think that bothers me most is the word ball. A ball is something sport is played with, in its most common usage, and is of a certain size: a football (soccer); a 'pigskin' (gridiron football); basket ball; golf ball; tennis ball; squash ball; netball ball; volleyball ball; rugby ball; waterpolo ball; snooker ball; pool ball; billiard ball; you get the idea. They are all small, maybe as big as a head in certain cases, but none on the scale being described. Ergo, I would not call what they are talking about a ball. To me, it's a sphere.

    I've changed it to a smaller size

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    It’s a prototype for one of the new model" - A prototype of what? I'm confused. What is this ball? A battery? A capacitor? A power core? I can't relate to this scene unless I know what it is the Ne is buying. The why of it I can probably live without for now, but AU is working with this thing an Ne wants it, but for all I know it's a paperweight.

    Ah sorry about that! I've made its purpose clear

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    to boost that communication and thereby keep the saplings alive" - But why can't they communicate? They are packed right close together, are they not? Is it not a simple as having a soil link between them? What else do they need in their natural habitat?

    This is the book plot...

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    How? If they take the dead plants anyway. The only way this can follow, surely, is if they fly slower to try and keep saplings alive. I don't understand.

    I have clarified this. Good catch

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    I don't understand this, but I know what happens later, so, I'm confused. There is not context for this statement in this story.

    This was meant to be more of an Easter egg than anything else

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    How so? I don't understand. I'm not following the logic around here, on this page.

    Have tried to clarify.

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    What words? Why would G4 bother coming for Ne? So confused.

    This is meant to be confusing because its the greater plot setup

    On 1/28/2021 at 10:30 AM, Robinski said:

    Honestly, I don't understand the need to have Book 4 (actually 5) of a series be a starting point for new readers. since the overarching narrative of many series (Dresden, Potter, Wheel of Time, Dune) is basically continuous, why would anyone start reading at Book 4?

    I've cleared up a lot of the confusing areas, I think. I'm mostly interested in making sure this is a good launch point for new readers because from the times I've spoken with authors who write series, they often mention the key is that people could cold pick up one and it still made sense. Books one and two could do that, not so much three. Four could. I'd really like five to do it, but we'll see I suppose. It's a good writing exercise if nothing else, especially since I want to use new characters mostly, not old ones.

    Thank you for the detailed feedback! The intro is much stronger now for sure.


  11. On 1/25/2021 at 9:15 PM, Snakenaps said:

    Confusion: does he mean referring to himself as an adult but not her or did you cut a label I forgot?

    Shoot, clarified this. Good call.

    On 1/25/2021 at 9:15 PM, Snakenaps said:

    Pg 20, I just want to go home,” Missing first quotation mark

    Good catch. Thanks for the feedback, and glad this worked better this time around!


    On 1/26/2021 at 10:24 AM, C_Vallion said:

    “Ne- laughed…” on one hand, I like that I have a much clearer idea of what is going on with this paragraph included, but it seems like a lot for her to be reciting back to Ke if it’s already known.  Up to “supposed to be dead” is probably fine, but after that it seems a little maid/butler-y. 

    Rather unfortunately, it has to come somewhere and I'm not sure how else to integrate it. But it's on my radar now.

    On 1/26/2021 at 10:24 AM, C_Vallion said:

    as there some reaction between her uncle saying that he's only allowed to ask about the holy books and her "Well, does the Book..." question before?  I feel like we need some pause for a reaction there. 

    There was, and I cut it. Hmmm. Okay, will revisit. Thank you for the feedback and glad this is working better.


    On 1/27/2021 at 10:32 AM, Mandamon said:

    One minor grump: there is still the part about her neck itching that doesn't come up again, and I assume we're going to go 14 years forward after this chapter, so it seems like a question that won't get answered.


    Is it not close enough to the andal telepathy weirdness that a reader would assume similar? I only need it to be a little different, but enough so that the seasoned reader sort of hand waves it as 'oh yeah, the andal thing'. I've added in this sentence after the first mention, in an effort to clear it up: The back of her neck itched, right at the base of her skull—a deep itch that made it feel like fingers were crawling into her brain. Usually andal gave her head a bit of a tingle, but this would make her scream if she had to endure it for much longer. 


    On 1/27/2021 at 10:32 AM, Mandamon said:

    Why would she do this when she was just offered basically a blank check?

    Good call. I've eased her temper through that conversation and edited the line a bit, too.

    On 1/27/2021 at 10:32 AM, Mandamon said:

    Not sure what this is referring to. Like, spaceships?

    It's the greater plot popping up and meant to be a bit confusing so hopefully it isn't too much of a drag. This session of 'tropey space book with lesbians' we get interdimensional fun!

    On 1/27/2021 at 10:32 AM, Mandamon said:

    wasn't it supposed to be an hour?

    Err this was supposed to show something was up. Flubbed it. Will edit. Thank you for the comments!


    On 1/27/2021 at 0:55 PM, Sarah B said:

    I have to agree that the conversation between Ne and K is a lot of information still. It seems strange that Ne would be sharing all of this personal and apparently painful information with someone she has an adversarial relationship with and pointedly doesn't like. 

    I've cut it down some, but it has to go somewhere, and people were pretty clear they needed it earlier rather than later. Hopefully cutting it down helps.

    On 1/27/2021 at 0:55 PM, Sarah B said:

    I get the point of this sentence but it reads a bit garbled to me with all the punctuation breaking it up.

    Fair. I can take some out. Thanks for reading and glad this is going better!



    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    I hate being the "don't swear" person but the f bomb isn't doing much as an adjective for me. Feels like the story is trying to force the point to be important before we really know a lot about N 

    This is carryover from the first three, so it'll have to stay put. N's uncreative coarseness is central to part of her character. Y gets a lot better with the expletives.

    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    By this point I like N, but don't care much about Y or K. Hoping to see N be more of the sole focus from here on out

    She was the primary protagonist of the first three books so this intro is meant to help ease the old readers into a book where she isn't the lead. We will see how that goes...

    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    All right, this is the first time I get a feeling for N's motivation and I'd like to see this earlier. Her finding it hard to be in exile in the first scene doesn't convey the weight of what we're getting here. As an offshoot of this, how does she see the trees? Are they memories of home or just ways to make a quick buck?


    I've added this during the K conversation, hopefully to help: No amount of money would buy her repatriation, but it did buy Pledge upgrades that kept her from being exiled and homeless


    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    wow I hate Y. How does N feel about him in general?

    LOL there's four whole books on this! It's hard to write a little intro short like this when there is so much history that I have to compress into about 5K words.

    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    I think we need a bit more background here. A few concrete actions that G4 took to interfere with N in the past, maybe? Something that we'll be able to picture rather than vague interference. And her mentioning A has no significance to me. What's the significance to N?


    This is a good idea. I've added to the G4 transmission:



    There's a whole little short on it, which we get in a few chapters, but the flying into a tree part isn't in it, so this is a fun teaser. 'A' isn't supposed to make sense to new readers, its an Easter egg for the older ones.


    If you just want to know for the sake of knowing, 'A' is N's child-name, which is a critical plot point of the first trilogy when she decides to start using it again.


    On 1/27/2021 at 6:51 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

    Oh, I commented last time that I didn't really like the subplot about the seeds, and I think the better description of the doohickey she gets makes it hold my interest more. Would still like to see how the trees connect to her ideas of home though to bring everything together. 

    Hoorah! And I have a bit more to do with the seed pods, too, to add in at a later date. Still hashing out the greater plot mechanics on this. Thanks for reading again and glad it was cleaner!


  12. Overall

    I went into this assuming it would mostly need to be cut, and that is now confirmed. This is definitely a lot of stuff we don't need (the reader has already assumed it), and some of the emotional beats would be better served in book two, as memories Ir can think back on when things get rough. There's a few little bits I think you could toss on the end of the last sub to give it more punch, but really this chapter does two things I don't like at all:

    1) tries to make TBK EEEEEEEVIL at the end, when he was definitely not during the book

    2) takes away what little agency Ir had developed and once again lets the plot push her around

    I'm ready for character growth! I want to see Ir make her own decisions, take her boyfriend, and go on an adventure! I want to see her love her family but know her boundaries, and want to uncover secrets, or befriend TBK, or start down a bad road that the reader can see coming and relishes the journey. This though...is just rehashing more hash, and I think it takes away from the power of the previous chapters.

    So, save some of this for book two, cut most, and sprinkle a bit in a back chapter, and I think the book will be that much stronger for it.


    As I go

    - I will state that I am going into this feeling like the book already ended, so I suspect most of my comments will be 'why is this here? Do we need this?'

    - pg 2, offer to come with to Clar: I think this belongs in the next book. At the end of this you could have her accept the offer, knowing she has to leave her family. Cold open second book as she's leaving, emotions emotions emotions, Big Event, and J offers to go with her (setting up further romance plot). That would add sexual tension to book two along with whatever main plot you have in mind. 

    - pg 4: It's been a month since the offer? This definitely can be cut. It just makes I look super wishy washy. It'd be a much stronger ending to just have her make the decision, then leave the reader dangling to see what becomes of it. Then they really want the next book! Leave us with anticipation and unanswered questions and a romance that needs to be resolved!

    - pg 8: Argh, this back and forth! I want I to have grown during this book. I want to see her making choices and driving the plot and being proactive. I don't want her family to make the decision for her, I want her to stand up last chapter and take the plot by the horns and say you know what? I am in control of my destiny and I'm taking these blinders off my eyes and I'm going to go LIVE.

    - pg 12: yup, all these little vignettes and such can be sprinkled into book 2 as bittersweet memories she thinks about to ground herself when things get Really Bad, and she questions her choices

    - pg 14: Who is this TBK? This one is evil. The one in the book I read did the best he could for his people. This....this TBK is like a cartoon villain



  13. Overall

    You've streamlined this, but I think that has further shown that this chapter is really about one strong beat, which could be made by bringing the salient points from the chapter together, and then moving the ball into this chapter (see comment about reader promises, below). I think this could be a great cold open if we went from our princess hanging out the window and thinking about hawk omens, to the maid berating her and making a comment about this duke having come. The princess is startled at the hawk does something Plot Relevant, there's a brief world building convo with the maid, then the princess dresses and heads to the ball where the inciting incident of the hawk is made relevant. Right now this chapter still reads a lot like an author sandboxing, which is of course fine in a draft, but would need to be cut way down and or sprinkled into later chapters for a final work. 

    It's a good start. keep at it!


    Your questions

    1.      I’ve trimmed down the amount of new information in the chapter, and clarified what is there.  Is it enough? Or is it still an overwhelming amount of information?  How many points in general are too many to be introducing in one chapter? (See notes below on things I’ve been trying to work out as well).

    Per above, it's not the amount of information so much anymore, just how it is presented. I don't think we need much of it yet. Right now we need a hook and plot establishment. You can world build later, and much more organically, especially since this seems to be stock European fantasy. We, as Western readers, know this land. You can lean on those tropes some in these early chapters.

    I'd argue an intro chapter needs these items, and really only these items:

    - main POV establishment

    - inciting incident

    - plot establishment and substantial progression and/or establishment of MC's goal

    Anything else you can fit in is fine, but fluff it too much and you risk readers not sticking around for chapter 2.


    2.      Does the layout of the chapter at least introduce the information we come across in a less confusing way than last time, even if there’s still too much of it?

    Not particularly. It doesn't stick with me because I do not care about the world yet. I care about the hawk, and the princess, and a bit about the duke who might throw a wrench in things, but as a reader I was promised an omen impacting a ball, and that is now what I want to see. I expect world building at the ball, not in a study before the ball.

    3.      Is there a better sense of who Is- is and what her goals are? Or does it still feel rather directionless?

    As far as I can tell, our MC has no goals other than to greet a falcon and go to a ball. I assume she will get a goal at the ball, hence my desire to get there

    But that’s a hard goal to show someone actively pursuing until something goes wrong.

    So why wait? First chapters usually start with something going wrong. Throw us in the deep end! Hook us!


    I think you need to lean on tropes more. I won't be blindsided by magic--this is stock European white fantasy unless you tell me otherwise. There's nobles and a ball and a bird omen. We know these tropes. Don't waste time reinventing them or explaining them. Use them to save space and focus on the unique aspects of your world and the plot. It'll help a lot.


    As I go

    - I think the first sentence does a lot more, and is a lot more powerful, if the second paragraph is deleted. I don't think that second paragraph gives any additional useful information and sort of drags the intro. Same with the third paragraph. They're pretty info-dumpy and I like the mystery of the first sentence. Leading from that into 'Omens' would be more powerful.

    - pg 2: the sentence level paragraph breaks are a mark of YA, so just FYI there.

    - I think these first two pages could be distilled into two, powerful paragraphs. There's too much just...repeating and wandering right now to make this a strong open

    - same with pages 2-4. There's about four sentences of good dialogue that move the plot forward and the rest seems to just stall out the narrative. Compression recommended

    - pg 5: so, for me personally, this is just too much political info when I know nothing about the world and don't yet care about the characters. You have this great opportunity with the princess and the falcon to give us windows into her in a very organic fashion based upon her thoughts around the falcon, freedom, omens, etc. I'd rather learn about her from her interactions than just get a dump via thoughts

    - pg 9: reader expectations and inciting incident discussion. So. Our inciting incident for this book is the omen of the falcon, which works reasonably well for a cold trope fantasy open. We learn about it being an omen for a sister's coronation, which leads to the reader expectation that we are then headed to that coronation. Instead, we chat with a maid and then go to the mother's study all to learn about kingdom politics for a world we do not yet care about.

    I'd argue these beats belong in chapters two or three, well after you have hooked the reader with whatever major event takes place at the ball (I assume one, because bird omen). Because of the promise you set up with your inciting incident, as a reader I feel let down that I have not gotten to the payoff (the ball) and instead am being force fed politics I'm not read to digest.

    - pg 9: The queen’s eyes shot to her in surprise <-- this reads like they shot out of her head

    - pg 11: Okay so the duke's arrival is important for the ball it feels like. Could the maid deliver this information as she scolds our MC? "Highness what are you doing! You'll break your neck! And after the Duke of XX came all this way!" That gets the same information out there without all the stuff inbetween and sets up the world more succinctly.



  14. I’m back, this time with the intention of subbing through most of the book. I’m about 50K in with the writing, which should allow me to keep pace with the feedback and incorporate appropriately into new edits as I go.

    Since I’m more concerned about content this time than emotional reactions, I’ve included the front matter that will be in the book, which you are welcome to ignore if you’re not a front matter person. It includes a map, Talent Lists, timeline, etc.

    I’m still trying to walk that line between engaging series readers, and introducing new readers to what should be a stand alone trilogy in an established universe. Comments to that effect (especially about if you’re too confused and would put the book down, or if you’re so bored and would put the book down) are especially helpful. 

    This is no longer meant as a prologue, but more of a launchpad introduction to get everyone on the same page. I’ve cut it down from its original 9K words to 6.1K, and I hope that makes it snappier and more emotionally resonant.

    Thanks all! Hope to have you around for the whole ride.


  15. 16 hours ago, Sarah B said:

    What do you think of a new thread specifically for what you're reading and what inspires you about it or what you intend to do or avoid after reading it? 

    It might be useful to compare notes on good examples for different writing skills. I know I've gotten some great suggestions already when the topic comes up in other threads. 

    The idea just hit me while reading The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. Little things she does in her prose are just SO GOOD. Its Intimidating and inspiring at the same time. I don't know how I've missed this book until now. 

    I think we had a thread like this a while back. I've got no issues either making a new one or performing thread necromancy.