Ace of Hearts

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155 Cobalt Guard

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  1. As I go: pg 1. The "I don't have a driver's license" feels out of place. It's not like the town even has or needs the infrastructure to give out that kind of certification, right? pg 2. It really doesn't seem desperate enough for them to risk it all right now. Can't they gather more info first? pg 4. This bitterness from C feels new and I like it pg 6. Yeesh V is being harsh. Not really sure where this is coming from pg 7. Don't want to keep hammering the same points every week but I'm still not really sure what V's deal is so when he flies off I'm just like "huh, bye I guess." pg 8. Not sure we need to see all of this in scene. I can feel my attention wandering with all of the car stuff. pg 10-11. Yikes E that's a really awful thing to say about C not having a family. Also he comes across as being a little flat here -Is there a need to run away now? I really don't see why they can't do some test drives and gather more information while they iron out their plan 1. Not really. Pretty smooth 2. More or less. I continue to not have a great read on V and E seems to naive at some points and too articulate at others, but I really like C here. 3. I think my main issue is that I don't see the pressure C feels. It seems like C's operating under the assumption that they need to act quickly, and I think it's important to establish why. Presumably the biggest worry is the adults catching them and keeping them captive to make more sacrifices. How long does C think they have? Also spelling out what C thinks the parents will do raises the stakes. The whole thing with E asking his parents feels a bit off because of this. C seems to be thinking what they'll do is just say no, but if that's the case and the adults won't take any more action then there's really no pressure to act here. If I understand why C needs to go now then I'm on board for her to try it.
  2. As I go: pg 1-2. Random thought but I think the poisoning would be more powerful if we could have a more specific tie to what she's losing. Yeah, it sucks not being able to move, but what does that make her not be able to do? The easy answer is more focusing on how she can't fight in tournaments since we've seen her do that. -We're getting a lot on O for someone who I'm not sure why I should really care about pg 5. We're getting a lot of info here, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to focus on. For example, I'm not sure why it matters so much that Mal is on the border. pg 6. Random thought: the fact that there are so many characters here might be what's making it feel a little slow to me. Especially since while M and D are competently written, I have no special reason to care about them in the current plot unlike Is and Ala. Even the fact that D answer's Ala's question so quickly diffuses any sort of conflict or interesting dynamic we get between our two main characters. pg 7. There's so much interesting potential for Is' interactions with Ala, and them talking about M and other random people right off the bat kind of feels wasted. They haven't talked with each other about Ala saving her life, right? Or about Ala being in a difficult position politically and how Is does owe him one. The two of them are in a really promising situation but everything we get is filtered through characters that don't seem to matter much. pg 8. The spellstone talk is more interesting to me. Another cool dynamic I was forgetting. Still, it doesn't seem like it's really going anywhere. The action with the spellstone has already happened. pg 10. For me this is sort of the opposite reaction as pg. 8. We're actually making progress! ...But it sounds like Ala is asking her because she knows V well, not because of their dynamic. I want to see Ala opening up about this take some effort. -Whoa Ala is directly criticizing the king to his daughter. That feels like something he should only do once they're really comfortable with each other, which doesn't seem to be the case 1. I didn't really feel like the chapter picked up until page 6-8ish, though this directly ties into my points of interest 2. Characters themselves are fine. I'd like to see a bit more from Is since she still feels a little cookie-cutter. Like I mentioned in my line edits, I think the easiest path is to channel more of her thoughts into sparring and tournaments. That's more tangible than the entire state of her body. 3. I was really interested by Is and Ala interacting, since they are in such an interesting spot. Because of this, the fact that they only got to chat alone for a few pages and the rest of it was interrupted by other characters wasn't what I wanted. And this is in the line edits, but while we got glimpses of really good dynamics I wanted more. The two of them aren't really pushing each other's plots forward in the way they have the potential to. As a result, pages 7-10 of this chapter are both some of most engaged I've been and some of the most frustrated I've been with the novel as a whole simultaneously. They're so close to helping each other out with something real, but instead they just kind of exchange information. Which is nice, but... not what I was looking for.
  3. Guess who's especially late to the party but still ready to critique! As I go: pg 1. This is a good intro to Ali's dynamic with Is pg 2. As much as I love romance threads I'm not sure why we need to hear this pg 4. I feel like I can see what this is going for with Is trying not to be pitied but it's not really holding my interest honestly. I think we need a bit more from Ali if we're in her PoV. The opening is good because it focuses on her actions, but the rest of the chapter has focused on Is. pg 5. Okay Ali research isn't that bad (I've probably mentioned I'm a grad student researcher). pg 6-7. Maybe I'm just a weird academic but this is holding my attention a lot more than earlier in the chapter. History is so interesting! And we have actual historical analysis going on. Still want more from Ali though pg 8. The story seems to be stalling out here. The mom clearly has a reason for being here and I want her to get to it. pg 10. This is good! We get to see more of Ali's personality and motivations. Would be great to see it sooner. Also, on its own this is a good step but not sufficient to make Ali a strong PoV character. We're still missing the key component of her being proactive. -This thread about R not visiting seems pretty disconnected from the rest of what's going on pg 11. I think it's valuable to know how unstable the kingdom was just recently. Honestly I'm surprised we're only hearing about it now and think it could come sooner 1. Ali seems like a fun character but doesn't really justify a PoV thus far because of how passive she is. It's an improvement over the previous draft, though! Really the only proactive thing she does is bring Is the cake. Everything else is dictated by either Is or her mom. This is the tricky part of writing the PoV of someone with not a lot of political influence or interest in politics. I think the story really needs her to find some way of trying to accomplish her goals so she doesn't feel like a piece being moved around. 2. Yes, and I enjoyed it overall, but it did feel a little info-dumpy since a lot of what Ali's mom tells her is what she already knows. Honestly if we get the details about the kingdom's instability and similar info in Ali's internal monologue a lot of the issues here probably disappear. 3. See line edits 4. I like Is here, since she's being active despite her position. Ali is cool but like I've been harping on she doesn't seem to be doing much. There's also the point to consider that if her goals and plans are on entirely different levels than Is' and Ala's (focused on helping family instead of politics), it might be a turn-off to some people who read the first six chapters. I like both so it's not a problem for me as a reader but it's something to think about. The mom is... I don't get a great read on her. Feels like an exposition vehicle right now, if I'm being frank. 5. Mages and historical analysis! ...Which doesn't really have much to do with Ali. Thus a lot of my conflicted thoughts on this chapter, even though I did enjoy it overall.
  4. That's appropriate at this point. When there was a stronger Is-pov presence at the start, there was a stronger impression that he's superficial and irresponsible. I'm not sure how he's come across to the reader in this revision, since he's not as present (which is something I'm regretting and need to figure out how to fix) Hah. In some ways, this perception of R is actually how I was hoping he would come across. Cool! I'd like to see some hints of that in the story itself, since I genuinely thought I was supposed to hate him since all the people who know him do and I was confused why he's supposedly so awful. Even if A makes some comment that he's not that bad it could help (though maybe that's too direct... hm). Usually my suggestion in this situation is to either downplay it or up-play it, and I think either works. Right now, the C stuff isn't directly affecting our main characters. What's actually affecting A is the noble court, which is influenced by C. That means C is less interesting than what the court does right now, since it's further removed. Which means I think it could work to just accept that and keep the C stuff very minimal until it directly shows up on our doorstep. And because my attention was on the court, the fact that they didn't really affect A in a super meaningful way is part of why I couldn't see a clean arc for this chapter. The other option is to bring C to the forefront of the scene. This could be riskier, and could involve a throwaway PoV chapter of someone at the scene (I know some of us in this group hate those though... I don't really mind them). Or it could just involve someone from the court who has actually had real contact with the C conflict recently and can make it feel more immediate. Harbingers of bad news are kind of a fantasy staple at this point, after all!
  5. Mild swearing in this one. Thanks to everyone who reviewed last week! I know I haven't responded, but I'm reading over all of your critiques and appreciating your feedback. I'll make sure to cut out some of the remaining fluff when I go back for my next round of edits. Usual questions: 1. What (if anything) is engaging you? Are you engaged in general? 2. How do you feel about the characters?
  6. I'd like a slot too, please!
  7. As I go: pg 2. I think we can lead off with the point that A is "late" for the gathering because he doesn't understand the norms. It's a good detail and the other intro can be condensed into maybe a sentence or two. pg 3. I think "acquisition" could be defined here. This reads differently if it's a conquest, treaty, or land falling into their hands from marriage. pg 4-5. I don't think all the details before the king jumps in are necessary. I do like the detail about the sea weather mages, but other than that all we really need to know is that the court is afraid of an alliance between K and C. -speaking of which, how does A feel about K? He's ethnically part K but has he, like, ever been there? Does he feel any real connection to it? pg 6. My guess is that V is getting the nobles to target A to then knock them down, and I'm not sure why A doesn't at least see this as a possibility pg 7. Hmm Idk what V's really looking to get out of A here. I don't really see a rationale for putting him on the spot here, even though I'm sure there is one. For me this also hints at the recurring problem of V narratively needing to be somewhat antagonistic to A's goals otherwise V just handles everything and A doesn't get to do anything, but it's not really clear why. pg 9. Don't remember who D is, who the father he's referring to is, which means I can't quite infer who "they" are. I think more explicit language here would help. pg 10. I understand why the roads are important to A but the details of road talk are frankly not that interesting to me. It has, and it's not entirely wrong to say that it's why he's there. It's just not the aspect he meant to announce to the world on day 1. That was meant to be clearer, and (as is often the case) was not. Whoops. pg 11. I'll say I did get what you were going for. A seemed embarrassed that he was so obvious and clumsy to me, not about the marriage itself. pg 12. Everyone says bad things about R but I really don't think he's that bad. If I were in A's place I'd appreciate his bluntness. Overall: 1. More or less. I get what's going on, except with D. I recognize the name but for the life of me cannot remember what his deal is, and his convos aren't clear to me without that. 2. Mostly noted in LBLs. In general I think a lot of the dynamics can be simplified to make them snappier. 3. So far A is very passive in this court setting. The story simultaneously wants V to be friendly to A but also have V force A into tricky spots so he gets to do protagonist stuff, and I think it's not quite working for me right now. The times V pulls A into the spotlight don't seem special or dire, which makes V's actions as a whole feel a bit unnecessary. And then when V doesn't pull A into the spotlight, A doesn't get to do much that really matters. Honestly R is my favorite character in this chapter because he's the only one who separates himself from V and kinda just does what he wants. And this is coming from someone who normally hates entitled prince characters. 4. Like I said I like R lol. I think how the court is dealt with is interesting to me, and I really want to see A doing more of it himself separate from V. There's a reason benevolent king figures tend to die early on in these kinds of stories. Not that you need to do that, but I think A needs more space on his own to shine. My main engagements with the story are Is' poisoning and her dynamic with A with them getting tied up in the mess together, so this chapter didn't quite hit what got me invested in the story in the first place. Overall, my other major comment is that I'm not sure what the chapter's arc is, and how it advances the larger story. We get a lot of cool info, but is there anything we get here that couldn't just be summarized in a recap paragraph of a noble court even that happens offscreen? If so, I think I need more attention to be drawn to what's important. Because as is, I might not have noticed anything was missing if we skipped this chapter and jumped straight to the next A chapter.
  8. Hi, everyone! Hope any fellow Americans had a good 4th of July! This was a monster of a chapter, but I cut off 1.5k words of fluff. Hopefully it reads better now! Usual questions: 1. What (if anything) is engaging you? Are you engaged in general? 2. How do you feel about the characters?
  9. I'll have a spot for Monday too, please!
  10. Aw I'm only the second person here on Friday? Better make sure to give you some good feedback then pg 1. I know we talked about how much of Is' arc revolves around her ideas around weakness, and it's good that you seed that here in the first page. pg 2. So far liking the way Is sees A. This is a good way of pulling him into larger plot threads, since right now he seems a little disconnected from it (though not as much as Ali, which I assume you're also working on). It also creates something permanent she has to deal with. I was worried about the poisoning coming across as too easily fixable, but her owing A is not. pg 6. By the top of the page I'm getting antsy for more plot movement -Ugh I don't want to sit through talk about recovery and exercises any more than I'm guessing Is does pg 8. This is where my engagement jumps back up. So the spellstone A brought along by mistake was actually useful in the end! I'm starting to see why there was so much focus on it in earlier drafts... though I do think the story is stronger without all the fuss about it. pg 9. The addiction idea is interesting to me. I'm guessing that's repurposed as anti-magic propaganda pg 10. Don't do what again? Get poisoned? I really do not like V as a person and this doesn't help. pg 11. Again, I'm seeing why C was such a big focus in earlier drafts. And again, I think we're totally fine without it. -A question that hasn't been addressed by the characters so far as I remembered: why go after #2 in line for the throne? Surely R is the bigger deal politically and they were at the same tournament. pg 13. I'm running into the same problem with V I've had before: when he's here, everyone else takes a back seat. Feels like he's given exposition to Is and she's not allowed to do anything character-wise because he's the king and his presence dominates the scene. pg 14. I didn't get the impression V was jumping straight to romance in his line at the top -Okay so what's the relationship between the locations K and T? T is a dukedom and is under the fealty of V, but is more ethnically tied to K? Or is that just A? pg 16. I knew this was coming but if she does get sent off to an area away from the action it will be disappointing to me. 1. Yeah, mostly. The one thing that felt a bit off to me was Is crying. I think that's because her physical state and recovery itself isn't that interesting to me compared to the larger-scale consequences, which seems to be what she's crying about. 2. Yeah! I thought the info was really well-delivered here. Only point of confusion is the relation of A and Tram to Ket, as mentioned in the line edits. 3. I like Is, and I'm a lot more excited for her arc now that she has a real connection with A and owes him. And as a princess she definitely can help him out. V is... I still don't like him as a person and he seems to drown out the interesting parts of other characters when he's around since they need to behave around the king. I don't know how much it can be helped honestly since it does make sense. I'd rather, say, have V tell A to pressure Is into recovering in a remote location offscreen so we get to see A and Is interact more, just as an example. 4. Is, A, the politics, and how they're all connected. I'm really hoping the story focuses more on this than Is' recovery, because it's more dynamic and brings multiple main characters into the forefront of something important. I know Is is going to recover, and even if she doesn't it's not like she's really engaging in the story directly by recovering from a poisoning. Plus, there's no threat of things getting worse (so far), so it's easy to not care. Contrast that with Is needing to repay A and A needing to not get torn apart by the racist nobles. That could easily get worse, opens up a ton of fun character interactions, and really makes the characters work to get what they want instead of sitting around and waiting to get better.
  11. Oh boy we got a long one! And for once it's not me. pg 1. Wait so does the mayor not even consider that C might have said no to other C and might not still be in the house? That's my best reading but it seems odd -also why is GM an issue beyond running away? She did give something to the wood stove, right? pg. 2. Okay this is dumb but if the town never changes and has been there since time immemorial then why are there like TVs and stuff? -wow I hate how the mayor talks about his wife (as in I hate him not I hate the writing; the paragraph is great). I hope this dude gets clonked on the head real hard pg 3. Is that what happened to GM? That she did it wrong? Does that mean the sacrifice was wasted or simply wasn't enough and more can be added onto it? pg 4. I am now hoping he gets clonked hard on the head twice. Leave E alone! >:( pg 7. Every time V shows up I feel like I kinda forgot like he existed. I'm still waiting for a bit more from him. pg 8. ...And because of this, C feeling betrayed at what V did doesn't really mean anything to me. pg 9. Come to think of it, has V even done anything to be warranted this trust C is giving him? pg 10-11. Think this can be condensed a bit pg 13. Do they know what happens if they don't burn something in the wood stove? pg 14. At this point I'm hoping for more motion pg 15-18. The ending line is good, but other than that I'm not getting a ton from T's PoV. Overall: 1. Not confusing, and not really boring, but the later parts get a bit slow. For it to not feel slow, it needs to feel like the kids are making progress with their plans. For the most part, they don't until V has an epiphany at the end, prompted by who knows what. So as a result, it feels like the last 8 pages weren't super important and also that V can come up with solutions a little too easily. 2. Yeah everything's good here. I like that V is taking charge and doing something plot-relevant, but he feels both too mysterious and not distinct enough (which I think go hand in hand) for me to get a good read on him. He's supposed to be a hero and protect the kids, but... why? We keep dancing around the fact and not making a lot of progress. That being said, I was engaged throughout both the chapters. Good luck with revisions and going forward!
  12. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone (and I'll try to get my critiques for everyone's stuff done by tonight). I have a lot of good feedback on two different versions, so I think it's time to plow ahead and revisit this tricky chapter a little later. Aha so I wasn't able to slip this past you. Truth be told, I wrote my early drafts with a clear intention to avoid all self-pity, which I think is part of why she came across as arrogant and uninterested to many readers. I switched to more vulnerability in revisions and it's good to know that this is the point where it goes too far.
  13. Hey everyone, and sorry for the absence. Had a great time visiting family and now I'm back to work. I rewrote 80% of chapter 7 from scratch since it was clear that the middle part was lagging, and I decided to send it through again. Questions for after reading: 1. If you can remember the previous sub (no worries if not since it was a month ago lol), is this one better? Does it address the weak spots of the previous draft? 2. How do you feel about the characters? I've been trying to make W more likable in general.
  14. All right finished the rewrites on what I wanted to do. @Silk is it okay if I send a sub out tomorrow after proofreading with fresh eyes? No worries if that's not enough notice, though.
  15. I'm going to try to pull something together tonight for critiquing. If I do finish, is it okay if I slip in and submit as well? Thank you to everyone who has critiqued so far despite my inconsistent subs!