Ace of Hearts

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About Ace of Hearts

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    Studies Plants, Hates Gardening

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  1. Hi! What I liked: Idk if it felt over-the-top or too typical to other people, but the bit where we E reflect back on their school experiences on the bottom of page 6 with them not fitting in felt super powerful to me. This was one of the pivotal moments of the chapters to me: we have a pretty good idea of why logically E is doing what they are (rescuing their mom is pretty darn important), but the fact that their emotions and interpersonal relationships are developing adds a lot of meat to the story. And we see perfectly here why E's newfound connection with D is so important to them. By the end of chapter 6, I'm on board with the story. I feel like we're oriented in a good place to move forward and the fact that the protags here are alone is a nice/classic way of upping the stakes. I'm ready to see these characters pushed to their limits, and I'm hoping for them to succeed in spite of the challenges ahead of them. I also really like how all the mannequins left and everything seems completely normal in Junk Junction. It really sells the fact that the protags can't turn to anyone else, because to anyone else things look completely ordinary! But it's still rather chilling for us, and puts the pressure on E and D to succeed. Suggestions: I'll say that I agree about the beginning having a bit more potential for focus and defined motion. Going a bit deeper into the beginning of chapter 5, I'm not sure what the story gains by showing us the logistics of going to the bathroom, storing bikes, ect. The first two and a half pages don't appear to push the central plot ideas forward and while we get a few glimpses of character, I think that the space could be doing more work. The first moment I get invested is when the story starts discussing the disappearance of D's mom, because it connects to events and chars I'm ready to care about right off the bat. Is there a reason the chapter can't start with this? I also agree with some of the additional supernatural details not quite working for me. The creatures are cool, but what I'm really looking for is how they impact the characters. E's mom being turned into a mannequin obviously affects E, so I'm invested in that part of it. The other supernatural workings discussed here don't quite feel as directly connected to the characters I care about. E being good at research feels a bit underexplored to me as well; on a plot level it seems like they just focus really hard and figure stuff out, which feels a little convenient. Tying in specific character/personality traits that aid E here (or showing a bit more about how their thought process when searching for this info would be above and beyond the average person) could help us feel more connected to the character. And with the research again, I didn't exactly understand the stakes of the chapter. The internet is a tricky plot device for revealing information because you can never "run out" of info (can't pull the "this is the last book we have and we need to find something now!), and doesn't place the characters in immediate danger (so no need to sneak in and download data from a computer like in action movies), so it's hard to see what failure would actually mean here. Because of that, the successful info they do get feels a bit less sweet. One option is for the "we're alone" conflict to take a front seat here and propel the story forward (the immediate conflict being that if E doesn't figure it out, nobody will), though there are certainly other ways to raise tension. Considering chapter 6 is pretty short, we spend quite a bit of time with the chars prepping to go into Junk Junction. The real motion starts once we enter (with the traces of what E witnessed being missing), so getting to this point faster might be helpful.
  2. Hello What I liked: Okay, I have to gush a bit over R here. I love the character moments we get with him here. We get a feel for his general personality and academic orientation with him repeating the teacher's lectures, and we also get some really powerful emotional info about his history with the other character whose name starts with R. Importantly, these moments don't feel out of the blue, but are directly prompted by events in the story. Also, they give us a perfect window to show us more about how Z reacts to other people and their unique experiences, which really strengthens the story overall. This chapter does a great job of building Z and R as strong characters and letting the connection come organically. Z's dialogue in the flashback is also amazing. Normally I dislike when characters tell us exactly what's happening, but here Z cutting through the euphemisms is a really powerful window into how she feels about the world. We can feel her pain as someone who knows exactly why she's hurting and doesn't understand why people have to shroud that behind fancy words. It's a great way to characterize her, a technique that lets the story get away with Z telling us directly how she feels, and plays into the ending of the chapter. Which I really liked, by the way! We don't expect the protags here to be masters, so having someone swoop in and save them is totally fine this early on in the story. Suggestions: I think the other comments about the beginning being a bit slow do have some merit to them. Though I do love all the interactions here, and would recommend seeing if you could find a way to make them more relevant to the plot at large instead of necessarily cutting down (because I really did gain a lot of understanding about R, and I wouldn't want to lose this in the next draft). Right now it seems like the main conflict of the chapter is the egg attracting the demon, but we don't find out about this until it happens. Getting across the fact that there's something weird about the egg early on could help build tension from the start. If we feel like something's looming in the background, the character moments might not feel like as much of a lull in the larger plot. Even better is if the character moments can tie into this tension/conflict (crude/bad examples: R's nerdy lecture can be about the egg doing weird stuff, and he's later creeped out by the egg which reminds him how far away home already seems, making him realize he won't be able to say goodbye to other R). I'd recommend not starting chapters in dialogue unless the scene is already set. I see this a lot, where a chapter starts with a snappy line of dialouge but needs to pull back right after to set the scene, at which point the tension stalls a bit and perhaps dissipates. In this case, the story could probably just explain that Z is asking her father about her mother leaving for the first line instead of showing it in action. We still get the hook of her asking about her mother, and it doesn't feel like we need to pull out of a conversation to get a feel for where we are. Though that is rather prescriptive, and there are certainly other ways to accomplish this. The last line break where the battle starts doesn't feel necessary to me. As it stands, I'm not exactly sure why we need to fast-forward/reorient ourselves here. It's hard for me to find combat interesting, either while writing or reading it, so feel free to take this bit with a pinch of salt (more than the usual, anyway). The beginning of the fight could have worked better for me, and I think most of it comes from the fact that the story describes each blow without going into as much of the feel and perspectives of the battle. Seeing Z's general mindset throughout the battle and watching her react to what's going on can be quite characterizing, while us seeing every attack the kids make here doesn't really let me get a good view on any of them. This is why I was more invested by the end of the fight, when we see more of Z's thoughts. Staying in her head from the get-go might be helpful here.
  3. Hey hey People have made a lot of the comments I had in mind, mostly that I was engaged almost the whole way through but didn't really understand why the plan was so seemingly convoluted. Oh, and the melodrama with T. I picture her as being a lot more savvy than I am with this dangerous business/politics stuff, and it was obvious to even me that following M's instructions wasn't going to go well for her. I will say that I thought many of the descriptions (about the beasts, or even T's breakdown when M first visits her) were wonderfully visceral. Sci-fi tends to feel a bit dense/abstract to me at times, so contrasting these foreign concepts with clear, powerful sensations does wonders for the story. I'll say that my largest comment was that I'm not entirely sure what this whole plan and the fallouts of it mean for the larger story with Q and M. Though I didn't get to read the first couple of chapters, so it's entirely possible that it's clear from the background you gave what this means to our main story. Still, I do wonder how much of this we need to see firsthand in order to get the general gist. If T and M here end up being pivotal characters, I think this chapter works, since we get good characterization of them both. Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure what the story gains from giving us a full 16 pages of an incident that Q and M could reasonably uncover at some point and that we would get the main gist of.
  4. My two favorite colors! Nooooooo Ahem. Oh, and I didn't think the spelling/grammar stuff was that bad at all! I never felt like it actually impeded my ability to understand what was going on. So from a purely linguistic standpoint, you could argue that it's not a huge deal since all language is arbitrary anyway and we can still comprehend what you're trying to get across. Maybe that argument won't win over editors, but it makes me feel better when I look at my own work. Anyways... What I liked: Ch. 3 in particular had a really nice advancement of a bunch of ideas we got introduced to. It really felt like E learns a lot during this time and makes substantial progress towards tackling the larger conflict of this story. I also love how the father and brother are away at a motorcycle rally. That's all I need to know to get a general picture of them that suffices for now. Ch. 4 also really moves the narrative forward and introduces us to a fun new character. I like D overall, and the part about getting a discount at the pizza place was the most relateable thing I've read in weeks (idk what that says about me). In general, I do like how much information we get during these chapters, since I don't really like watching characters flounder in uncertainty. I think concerns about the story running out of things to reveal may be legitimate, but right now I have trust in the story to keep up the pace. Suggestions: You mentioned the tension lagging in ch. 3, so I'll do my best to articulate my thoughts about it. From my perspective, I think the general structure of E going around town to hunt for info is solid, and what might be missing is a force pushing/challenging them to do so. It seems right now that the main force driving E forward is that they don't really have anyone to rely on. This can be kept or changed, and either way I'd like to see it putting more pressure on E to get something accomplished. I'm not exactly sure how long E has to accomplish what the story needs them to, for example, so I don't get a lot of tension from the library scene simply because it doesn't feel like E is rushed. A metaphorical time bomb prompting E to research things quickly certainly isn't the only plot device that can be used here; any force that puts the pressure on E to get stuff done should work fine. Ideally it also connects to some personal motivation/fear of E's. Some of the dialogue in chapter 4 is given to us in pretty big blocks from D. A bit more back and forth with comments from E might let us see more of E's personality and help the dialogue from feeling a bit less expository. I have mixed feelings on the other comments in this thread about E going into detail about pronouns and the dog instead of worrying about their mother, ect. Because I do really like how E buckles down and tries to get things done instead of spending a bunch of time panicking. Unless E worrying about their mom leads to some revelation that advances the story, I don't think we need a whole lot of it. I'll even say that I think it's realistic on some level because fears aren't always rational (people will cite a fact about how public speaking is a more common fear than death). However, I do think that the little worries that E has highlight that the story may need a larger force pushing E forward instead of letting them go through research/conversations at a comfortable pace. In other words, I can see E acting the way they do, and I think because of that we need more challenges/looming threats thrown their way to force them to react in more specific/characterizing ways.
  5. Hey hey Great to see some epic fantasy! It's been a while since I've read epic fantasy (crossing fingers for Stormlight Archive 4 asap), but I really love the subgenre and this piece helped remind me of my love for it! Strengths: There are some characterization moments here I really liked. My favorite is how L wanders for three miles around the city just to see it even when the blacksmith is close and Ad is lugging around her stuff. It does a good job of setting L apart from any other person walking into the city. A lot of her banter with Ad is quite entertaining as well. By the end of the chapter, we have a clear idea of what the inciting incident is. One of the main questions I ask after reading each chapter is "was there change here?" and we definitely get some by the end in this chapter. Suggestions: I noticed some of the same things that others did about the setting (though not to nearly as much detail). I won't repeat what other people have mentioned but wanted to add another voice to support what they're saying. While my knowledge about issues relating to gender is limited at best (should really learn more about it one of these days... so much important stuff to learn in this world!), I find that many cis male authors (which I'm guessing you identify as?) talk about womanhood in a simplified manner compared to people who have actually experienced having an identity closer to a woman. It's something I struggle a lot with in my writing. In this case, I felt like the conversation with the blacksmith was pretty straightforward in terms of the commentary. L gets different treatment by the blacksmith than a man would have, which is unfair and rightfully aggravating to her. What I feel like I'm missing is hints of how this sort of treatment ties into all aspects of her life: her goals, her interpersonal relationships, her experiences in the past, her outlook on the world, ect. I think it's easy for some people to identify acts of discrimination, and harder to see how the whole picture fits together. Also sorta applies to Ad's reason for becoming a knight; it feels like a simple one to one reasoning that lacks the depth of someone who's been female their whole life like Ad would be (I assume). Not sure if there's an easy fix, but just thought I'd mention it. In terms of suggestions on level of story structure, I felt like we needed more conflict in the beginning parts of the chapter. I think it is pretty standard to have a character doing their own thing before an inciting incident; I just need to see a bit more of L working towards something and having a strong emotional investment in what she's doing. The blacksmith incident is certainly annoying for L, but again I didn't identify that as the main idea that ties the chapter together in terms of conflict. I also thought that the blurb at the beginning (idk the technical term for those) could be even better than it is right now. To me, it reveals a bit too much too early on. I already understand exactly why the person is writing this and by the end of the chapter I think I even know who it is. It takes a bit of the fun and mystery away when we know too much this early on. I also agree with @Mandamon about needing a bit more at the end from L. And I don't think all of this work even needs to be done at the end of the chapter! It seems like a lot of her concern is about duty/lack of freedom as a ruler, so even showing how much her freedom means to her in the events leading up to the reveal could help us feel for her when we see that freedom being stripped away. I know that's a bit prescriptive; it's just the best guess I have as to what the chapter wants to be right now. If the chapter wants us to focus on a different aspect of L when this large event happens, that's certainly fine as well. I think that regardless, the setup cold be doing a lot of the work in making it so that we know how L's feeling right when the reveal happens.
  6. One other thing! I'll say that for me, I definitely interpreted the line about being neither a boy nor a girl as E being non-binary. Though I did hesitate a bit, and I think it's because I'm not used to thinking of kids as being so aware of gender issues (even though many of them totally are!). It sounds tricky to be able to discuss gender in a way that feels realistic for a child E's age, but I do think it's super important to show that kids can be thinking about those things in ways that are just as logical as adults (albeit likely still coming from a different viewpoint). So I think it will be super awesome if E's thoughts on gender are explored a bit more!
  7. Hey hey, guess who's late to the party? Anyways... What I liked: The first line is great! It's super striking and immediately gets me into the head of the character If I remember one thing from the chapter, it's (weirdly enough) the little scene with the coin flipping. The "let fate decide but wait I actually want to decide" is super characterizing and perfect for the mother as someone I picture as being a bit more free-flowing and eccentric from her occupation. The mother's character overall was fantastic for me, honestly. Her job is the perfect way to introduce us to the paranormal elements of the story. G is best boi 11/10 dog The way chapter 2 ends is super satisfying for me. Having the doll explain stuff and then disappear stops me from feeling super lost without letting me feel too comfortable about the position that the narrator is in. Suggestions: The end of chapter one confused me a bit with regards to the narrator's and mother's characters. I can't really tell what the mother is trying to get out of being so in the middle between the supernatural existing and not existing. It seems like the mother would either want to deny the existence of the supernatural (maybe with a small hint) or confirm it so that her child thinks that she's just some eccentric person. Or maybe it's just that "tell you the truth" is general enough that it doesn't give me (or the narrator!) a reason to latch on. I think that the narrator spends too much time freaking out in chapter 2. Yeah, it's totally realistic that they would be in shock, panicking, calling for their mom. But realistic doesn't always move the story forward, and I felt like the narrative stagnated a bit while they were repeating similar phrases about wanting their mom to stop playing tricks on them. The moment I get back into the story is when the narrator starts to think about how the dog reacted to the different supernatural creatures. Having that moment come sooner might help (though it's still important to convey the narrator's fear, of course!). I can also add my voice to the list of people who felt that the mannequin transformation was a bit sudden/confusing. Because of that, I was floundering a bit for the first part of chapter 2. Which means that unfortunately, I don't have a lot more to say about it since it was hard for me to track what's going on.
  8. I'm totally late, but at least everyone else who already commented doesn't have to feel quite as late in comparison What I liked: -First line is strong. It demands that I pay attention so that I learn more about the situation. -I love the numbered expressions from a narrative standpoint. Can't personally speak as to whether or not it captures autism realistically, but if you've workshopped with people who understand that better than I do then I'm guessing you're good! -The tension about the teenagers feeling like they have to lie is strong. They're backed into what genuinely does seem like a corner and they have to weasel their way out in a way that feels authentic -In addition, I like how this teases potential further conflict when they go see the God King. I think it's clear to us that he's not going to react the same way that they think he will! I also didn't feel like them rationalizing about it was super strange. Suggestions: My main suggestions here are around side characters and dialogue. Dialogue is super important here because Z interprets the world differently than the other characters, so many of the things we would normally look for in characterizing side characters through the narrator's eyes would be more difficult to pull off. As a result, dialogue is the easiest way for us to see the perspectives of other characters, since the words coming out of their mouths aren't really filtered through Z. This is why I think the dialogue has to be even stronger here than it already is. Most of what we get from side characters feels fairly general; it's how I would expect many people to react in the situation and the roles they play fit into categories rather neatly (the teenagers talking to the priests in particular felt to me like a general conversation between teens and priests instead of something that lets me see super deeply into each character's specific personality). In text, this can show up as asking general questions or lingering on existing ideas without adding any new perspectives. I think the dialogue is the strongest between Z and her father, and the reason for this is that Z has specific character traits that influences the way she talks. She doesn't sound like a general person, but rather phrases ideas in a way that is distinctly her own. Finding these sorts of personality traits for the side characters that are integral enough to change what they focus on in speech will let us delve deeper into who they are. And a couple more minor points... -For me the tension in the beginning falls off a bit after the first line. It seems like we linger on the same concept of lying without any progress being made for a while. -I also felt the tension dip after the line when they decide to tell the God King and they go to the ceremony. I think the line about them going to the God King is the perfect punch to end the chapter with, and the rest can be turned into narration in the following chapter. Though that is a bit prescriptive. Any other way to make it feel like the chapter is developing past the point when they decide to see the God King could also work.
  9. Oh! One important point I forgot to mention. I paused when I read the line: "E had decided to be bi at university, where she had discovered that women still had to fight for what they wanted using all means at their disposal, even against each other." In a vacuum I think it's clear that the story is making commentary about E rather than queerness, but there are enough homophobes who legitimately think sexuality is a choice/decision that the story might give off the wrong implications here. I'd recommend giving this part another look-over.
  10. I can't speak about how well it works in relation to the other chapters, but I still have a few thoughts! What I liked: -In general, R's self-doubt is a good way to add conflict to the story. Even though the chapter deals with a terrible creature, at its core it really seems to be about R being forced to accept her abilities and prepare for a tough road ahead. Having her feel unqualified at first while throwing her into a sink-or-swim situation as is done here looks like it will be great for the story; it's always best to push characters out of their comfort zones! -I really like the ending. Succinct, hits hard, forces R closer to a point of no return. Good stuff all around. Suggestions: -I'd recommend going through and checking when the story tells us info directly, and asking if this can be conveyed in some other way so it doesn't feel like we're being explained to. "Show don't tell" is sometimes overused and not always 100% true, but there's a reason it's such a popular saying. -I'd also watch for long blocks of dialogue, like the Vice Captain's speech. The story starts to feel a bit stagnant if there's just one person talking for more than a few lines. -Since this seems like a world different than our own, it's hard for me to picture what it visually looks like (though tbf I have this problem with a lot of SFF so it might be one of my own quirks). I don't want long descriptions, but a few details about how certain things look could help me latch onto the setting a bit better.
  11. Only one "f" word, and a very necessary usage of it at that. Oh and the chapter recap is helpful! Phew now this chapter is certainly a tricky one (to critique, and I also imagine it would be tricky to write). Let's see what I can come up with... What I liked: -The beginning was really strong to me. Because we're not with our main characters, I was worried the chapter would start of feeling pointless, but this was not the case at all! We get a big burst of conflict right at the start, not for our two protags but for the setting. And the extreme actions taken here are paired well with the subdued, politically correct language in the conversation. What's happening here is pretty horrifying, but it doesn't feel heavy-handed because of all the euphemisms used. Which also has the helpful side effect of making these characters seem even more evil and underhanded. -I really appreciated how E and Mor are both, to put it frankly, complete a-holes (are we allowed to swear in these threads? I forget). What's going on here is a lot more subtle than the beginning, so having a couple of strong personalities gave me something to latch onto while trying to piece together corporate politics. And when they interact, it gets even better. The line about dropping him into level 6 and releasing the hounds was absolute perfection. Suggestions: -My main challenge with this chapter was just how demanding it was. It's important for all these characters to inform the way I view the setting, since the chars I really care about are Q and M. Because of this, many of the subtler characters with real human compassion/empathy that I would have normally liked felt like they muddled my view of the setting. -One of the examples of this is GM's PoV at right after the first scene. I don't fully understand what's going on here (not that I necessarily need to!), which presents a problem in combination with how much subtler her character was than some of the others. I didn't have a clear direction as to what I was supposed to take from that scene, where as Mor's PoV gave me something very clear to latch onto: how much of a a-hole he is. -Similarly, I had a difficult time understanding how Ta informed the larger story. She did help me understand the setting better with her work, but the whole "scientist who joins evil corp then feels remorseful" has been done enough that it's hard for me to get a specific view of the character/setting from it, even when it's done through a different lens than usual. Perhaps a bit more on specifics of her being attached to the dinosaurs would help me understand her better? Also, having to keep track of both her and Doctor T was a bit tricky for me, though that could just be my reading comprehension. Logistical/science questions (aka why I don't write sci-fi): -What's the point of using hybrid/chimera beasts when androids already exist? I would imagine it would be much more expensive to keep living creatures around, especially if they have to be shipped to/survive on other planets. Using some sort of machine for exploration/labor/combat on other planets seems like it would be more efficient and is probably less of a technological jump from what we have today. -Why are all those species needed to create a V-raptor? I would imagine it would be easiest to piece together an ancient dinosaur genome by looking at all of its most closely related species that are extant today (meaning all birds), and try to figure out ancestral sequences by comparing genomes while referencing a phylogeny to see how and when DNA sequences changed between species (still sounds like a long shot to me but hey anything's possible in sci-fi). At which point genes from other species with known effects can be engineered in for enhancement. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I think it's something to look at that creating a non-avian dinosaur seems to make sense to E but not to me as the reader. -Biotech gets kinda a bad rep in sci-fi as a whole but I'm wondering if there's a reason why it's more profitable for a company to do all this dinosaur and hybrid animal business than it is to make better crops for people to eat, engineer new pets, ect. Is this something that the company is devoting a lot of resources towards, or something that's wildly experimental and off to the side? I couldn't really tell the difference from this chapter, and the latter makes more sense to me than the former.
  12. I did like the chapter overall! Strengths/parts I liked: -I like how we get both a focus on the larger conflict in the world (scary people nearby the town) and something closer to JV's individual experience (side effects from the magic). Importantly, JV has an emotional investment in both of these, which is really important for getting me to care about. It reminds us that there's a bigger world out there without distracting too much from the immediate experiences of the characters -The magic system in general intrigues me. Because the rules of this magic haven't been clearly established (unless they were in the previous two chapters), focusing on the limitations/consequences of the magic is more narratively interesting than it would have been to focus on the power of the magic itself. So far, I'm really looking forward to seeing what it brings! -I like how we get hints about JV's past. She has a clear emotional connection to her uncle, which is important to situate her within the larger world. I felt satisfied for now with the little snippets we get from how she sees him, and I think the mystery about what exactly happened to him is healthy for the story. Suggestions: -Personally, I first got invested in the story by the bottom of page 2, when we hear about the death and start to see what it means to JV. The part before that didn't have a clear conflict for me to latch onto. I would recommend either trying to cut it down or go through some of those details after establishing the initial conflict of the chapter. -The details that JV recalls about D at the bottom of page 5 don't give me a clear view of what those moments meant to JV. This seems like a really important moment for the chapter, and right now the details are spread a little thin and seem somewhat typical experiences for a character in this setting. I think focusing on describing one of those elements in more detail could make the moment feel more personal for JV. Alternatively, I personally don't mind not knowing much at all about D for now. -Page 9 and the top half of page 10 halt a bit of the story's momentum for me. Page 9 gives us a bit of background, but doesn't give me a better understanding of JV's conflicts. The thoughts about money one page 10 were partially discussed before earlier, so I didn't get as much as I could have out of those sections. I will say that I did like the paragraph of JV thinking about the ranch because it gave us a better understanding of her past and therefore more insight into her current emotional struggles. -When AD enters the scene, it feels like the story is making it a bit too obvious how different and mysterious she is. In particular, the fact that she handles strong alcohol well seems designed to catch JV's (and our) attention instead of using specific personality traits or motivations to set AD apart from the other people in the town. To me it seems like the main way in which JV and AD are connected is through magic, and I liked the part when they talk about the consequences they faced because of it. Putting more of the focus on that instead of AD's general mysteriousness could give me a better idea of who she is. -I didn't notice BL's presence as much as the story wants me to, I think. Because she plays such an important role at the end, I would like for her to have a larger impact in the conversation between AD and JV beforehand.
  13. And better than late as Wisps of Aether! Sorry for taking so long to reply; I've been away from this site as a whole for a while and didn't see this critique. Oh yeah, I can definitely look into this. Thanks for the feedback!
  14. Sorry for the late response. I'm doing significantly better now than when you wrote the message because I am now done with my bio midterm. My writing's going all right so far, and I hope that yours is going well!
  15. @Robinski @Majestic Fox I just added you both on NaNoWriMo. It took me forever to remember how to add buddies. My username's c0nn0r on the website. Good luck writing!