Ace of Hearts

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  1. Overall: One thing I think this chapter sets up really nicely is S' niche in the story. They stand out because they don't trust elementals, and their pro-science views go along with that since it means they're less reliant on elementals for the society functioning. We see that these aren't mutually exclusive, either, since their mother accepts both even as F views scientists as witches. Whatever edits this chapter goes through, I want this to remain a strong focus. I think the chapter could benefit from some adjustments in other ways though. Right now it feels like we're being introduced to the characters and the world, and there's not much that really happens to advance the characters or setting ideas presented. That being said, it's difficult to set up this world and begin to develop its ideas all at once, but I think a clearer sense of what I'm missing here is conflict. I get the impression that the conflict is supposed to be S going to this meeting, but the chapter really isn't about that and I don't have a good grasp of why this meeting matters so much, or more importantly why it challenges S. I can infer a bit of where the story is trying to go. S doesn't trust elementals so a meeting with a bunch of mages who rely on elementals for power is a bit of a headache, but I don't really understand what the stakes are. Or what the setup is, really. Can we expect them all to act like F? If the story's going for "here's S dealing with an ambassador in a small scale, now they get thrown into doing so on a much larger scale," I think it can be more straightforward about how the dynamics will carry over. As I go: pg 2 -I like the magic dynamic here. Power comes from elementals that can really mess with the humans if they want to. -At the bottom of page 2 I feel like I need a bit more about what this invitation means, since it is the hook after all. pg 3 -Oh okay so there's some disagreement about how dangerous the elementals are? I think it's important to see some concrete facts here so we can judge the situation for ourselves so it doesn't become they said vs. he said. Does S have notable examples of when an elemental has controlled someone? What would be E's and A's counterarguments? pg 4 -Okay so now we're dealing with missing ambassador. Does this connect to the earlier topics or is it a new point? Not really sure what this means for the story rn. pg 6 -Why is S the one who's rescuing F here? Is them being able to talk to elementals important for this? pg 7 -okay this answers a lot of my earlier questions. Good to see S interacting with an elemental in person pg 11 -Maybe "the mother" could be in caps? I keep doing a double take because I think S is talking about their mother for a sec. If she's a deity-type figure it would make sense anyway. pg 12 -Still don't feel like I understand ambassador politics that well.
  2. @karamel I'm really happy to hear your thoughts and just listening to people talk about stuff like this can really help me come up with my own ideas! In this case, though, I don't think that's the story I want to tell for now. But something along those lines is good to keep in mind for if I want to add more paranormal aspects to this story down the line. I don't think I'd kill off the mom but I have considered adding in more monster hunting elements. We'll have to see if that's necessary. There are other fey-related people (B's son shows up in chapter 1, though nobody in the story knows he's fey-related at that point) in the story, but the cast isn't that large overall. We really only see 3 fey-related characters: B, her son, and her mom. B is the only trans woman in the story and I'm thinking that she and A don't really need to interact much, honestly. Thanks for your thoughts, and no need to apologize!
  3. Yep, yep. Hmm, this line of reasoning is really interesting to me. It sounds like he doesn't necessarily need to be less evil or more sympathetic, but rather clearer in what he wants to do and more vulnerable? Even in the main novel, he's kinda a generic stock villain. I was wondering if I could get away with it since the main tension is going to be in the romance so he mostly acts as a way to force external conflict but if it's jarring here I'm guessing it will be jarring there. Thanks for pointing this out! Yep, fey is right! And good to know. Well, neither of those happen so yeah I think this prologue is going into the trash for now. I can tell that there might be larger issues with these characters later on but this band-aid prologue clearly isn't working so I'll think about it more and wait to get feedback if I don't come up with any epiphanies. Most people have been saying it's okay, which is a relief for me. Hopefully any doubts go away when we skip this prologue and the first introduction to a queer person isn't "woman with a dead wife." Yeah I wrote chapter 1 planning to have no prologue actually and only added the prologue in after wondering if I had a problem with B and A not being set up well. I think I'll just stick to chapter 1 since so far as I know most romance novels don't have prologues. Again, I feel like A in particular could require a lot more work... Thanks! This was super insightful and hit a lot of points I would have missed otherwise (like A being pretty cartoonish).
  4. Thanks for your responses, everyone! This feedback confirmed what I was wondering about , which is that this isn't where I want the story to start for a YA romance. If I run into problems with these characters later I can address them then. Yeah that's the main worry I had with this prologue. I think I felt like I was missing something in later chapters and this was the band-aid solution at the time. Plan now is to cut the whole prologue and workshop any issues with these characters when we get there. Okay, this is what I wanted to come across. I might need more help with this in the future since B ends up being fairly non-traditional for what someone connected to the fey acts like. Yep that is part of the plot. The idea was A thinks that B would need his help to access the healing magic, which I'm realizing wasn't clear. I'll keep this in mind for later encounters with them. And yeah, B is trans. Thanks for your thoughts! I've noticed you always do a really good job of figuring out the main things that aren't working. I'm glad that their general dynamic came across! The kids breaking up is a minor plot point that's relevant later. Since the prologue is probably getting cut, I'll leave it to later chapters to explain it. Yep B is trans. I'm now realizing that it's more confusing than it needs to be since magic is in the picture. Thanks for your comments! Not in a good way for him or for the story? I'm trying to get the story to make him hate-able. These are really good points I hadn't considered, and I think all this will be clearer if we just jump to chapter 1. Another reason to do so. Heh, glad my typos and grammar weren't too bad. I always have a hard time catching that stuff. A is a pharmaceutical CEO so B is talking like uber-rich. Multiple people commented on this so it's simple enough to take it out (well, I'm taking the whole prologue out but I'll watch for it in the future). She's mostly trying to get a rise out of him anyway which there are other ways to do. She's definitely supposed to come off as precise and sharp so I don't think the line is doing her any favors. Yeah this is supposed to reveal that there's something really sinister about J since it's such an outlandish thing to say. Maybe too on the nose? B's wife is dead, and I wanted to make sure that wasn't a problem to be the first thing that you learn about a woman is that she has a dead wife. Moot point now since I'm most likely cutting the prologue. There are supernatural elements, but it's primarily romance set in contemporary Earth so I wanted to gauge if it would be a good fit for the group. And straight as in the MC is hetero. Thanks for the exhaustive comments! Even this "reduced" critique is still comprehensive and I really appreciate all the effort that goes into this! Seems like most people are in agreement about this. Easier to cut the prologue and workshop the problems it "fixes" when we get there. Yep! The healing part is where I stretch things a bit more. It's supposed to imply that B is fae-related (I said this above so I don't feel like I'm spoiling anything). Well, this definitely makes me think I need to keep an eye on what J does in later chapters. I suspect he'll require a lot of work for proper buy-in... or I can change some plot elements. You're not the only person to say this, so I'll keep a watch on it. Ah, that's something I hadn't considered. Here's hoping it feels more natural when this gets explained more, but I'd appreciate more feedback about the dynamic when it does come up again! Thanks a lot for your comments! Well let's hope I get there by the time I finish my PhD because I do not do well with any sort of confrontation. This is a really good point and I'm glad that there's someone here with more expertise in academia than me since multiple adult figures in this novel are science profs. *jots down notes for what to do if weird aggressive stuff happens in grad student office hours* I probably don't need to tell you this, but further feedback about the academic references is much appreciated! Hmm I'll try to keep an eye on this in the main novel since I'm most likely just cutting this prologue, but I think it's even less clear there until it's straight-up revealed. If there are any more moments when you feel like you should be getting more about what's up with a character that seems to be supernatural, feel free to let me know (no pressure to comment more than you already are though ofc)! Huh I hadn't considered that with the primate comparison. And good to know about characters who are dead when the narrative starts. That's how I feel as well, but I wasn't sure how widespread that opinion was (I think I don't notice bad queer rep as much as a lot of other queer people do). Oh yeah, B definitely doesn't work with all plants but her specialty is in genomics which seems more applicable to a side project with a totally different study system than other forms of plant science. Like my internship advisor a few years back had me work on population genetics of Aconitum which she had never done anything related to before and it went fairly smoothly all things considered. Though it helped that it was a diploid genome (I don't envy strawberry researchers). So B does work on only a few genera most likely (I haven't thought of specific ones; is that necessary?), but she feels confident that she could learn a genomic analysis for many different plants (maybe not seedless plants because those are weird, but maybe!). And part of it was that she's also trying to simplify it for A since she's mostly trying to say "I can't help you." Sorry, can get a little carried away talking about this stuff. Excellent. Thanks for your comments! I'll probably be asking more questions about if characters are believable for science profs. Learning that I might not know my advisors as well as I thought.
  5. Ooh, a short story. And creative writing classes, fun! Wow Name of the King was your first creative writing piece? It reads super well for that being the case. My early writing was so much rougher *glances nervously at my old fanfiction* Overall: Agree with everything @kais said about the lack of stakes and arc switching up in the middle. I'll say that I think it's very very difficult to have a short story that's both about Z caring for her friend/mentor and Z having an arc around racing. It feels more like the plot of a novel, honestly, where you're allowed to have multiple plot arcs for the same character. And for what it's worth, I feel like the story really wants to be about her caring for L and the racing is mostly a backdrop. I also think their interpersonal connection is where the most storytelling potential is, and it was the part I was the most engaged with during my read. So I'd like more stakes around that rather than the racing. Who is L to her? He gives off mentor vibes, and I'd love to see more showing about how he's helped her. This story kinda gives off vibes of "The Cold Equations" by Tom Goodwin so if that's not something you've read then I'd recommend looking at it. It's a good example for how to build stakes around a situation where one person is in deep trouble and they're just... kinda waiting. Also, if you really want to push this short story to the max I'll say that most short stories are... pretty weird. Idk how else to describe it. SFF is a little more lenient in that way but Z and L feel like pretty easily understood characters which is not true of most short stories I've read. Though this may be a literary thing that doesn't matter as much for SFF. Regardless, what I'd like to see is both of them feeling more distinct as characters through attributes that are unexpected but make sense for the characters. And if it goes into the weird territory, feel free to embrace it. As I go: pg 1 -first paragraphs in short stories need to have what my CRWR prof in undergrad called "artful incongruity," which basically needs to be kinda weird/distinct in a way that raises questions about the story and acts as hook. Right now, space race is cool but stock standard. I do think this hits the other good aspects of opening paragraph though, since we know what's going on after just a few short sentences -there's a very decent chance this is just me being an ignorant American but I'll say that the ship's name M sounds like a Congolese name and that's kinda how I'm picturing it right now -the arc about her winning a race isn't as impactful imo without full context. Many sports movies focus on a revenge/redemption motivation for a reason pg 2 -Like the straightforwardness of where we are, since I was having a hard time picturing it pg 5 -This is when it looks like the focus of the story shifts. Generally not recommended for a short story pg 11 -Oh wow is he actually going to die? I'm not sure I understood how bad the damage was, and I kinda assumed in a sci-fi world they'd have pretty good emergency medical care and that help would come soon. But he sounds really bad right now pg 12 -Okay here's where I'm the most invested. Character connection, huzzah!
  6. I think everyone's made pretty clear what work needs to be done with the larger story so I didn't bother with super in-depth line comments this time. One thing I do want to say is that I think this chapter is definitely getting closer! Yeah, I do agree with everyone that there's not much plot here, BUT I think we're getting better. I can tell that A's plot wants to focus on (re)establishing relations between the regions Tr and Gi, and honestly that's half the battle. I can see some more of the mechanics of the story and how they want to work, which I couldn't last time. To me, this is actually a pretty difference. And like people have said, the writing is really solid and that's the hardest part imo. So yeah, I think it's awesome that you're keeping at this and I do think this will be something really great with all your perseverance. Not disagreeing with @Snakenaps exactly since I do agree with the main point here but my perspective is a little different so I thought I'd share. I don't think the swordfight itself constitutes action; the important part is that it's against R and that they have some issues with each other and the swordfight allows the story to push their dynamic further. Ala rescuing her is also good because the "action" allows for development of the character dynamic, not because it's inherently flashy. In my mind, the story has two choices here. Match what the story wants to be about to the cool events or find cool events to fill what the story wants to be about. I think Snakenaps' approach is easier in starting with the cool scene and building the arc from there, and there is a lot of background work that needs to be done if that's the case I think. Let's just take these examples here. I vs R swordfight being the potential centerpiece means that a lot of the story should be about their conflict/rivalry. In that case, many of these other political/magical ideas are basically example topics that let us see the conflict between R and I. Maybe R hates magic and spies on I refilling her own spellstone and tries to hold it against her. Maybe I overhears R saying that magic is a scourge and that he wants to declare war on Tr when he becomes monarch, which drags A into the situation. I think what's important is for the story to find its key dynamic (one for I and A each) and make everything else revolve around it, while finding conflict to keep pushing it forward. And honestly, I do like I vs R better than I researching magic since she's not a top politician so it's harder for her to make change through research. But her making a fool of her annoying important cousin is totally something she could do. Lmk if you want to discuss this more since I love coming up with ideas for this stuff. Yes highly second this. Subbing my own thing this week has reminded me how stressful this whole mess is, and your mindset is a lot better than mine was when I first started this (probably better than mine currently is, if I'm being blunt with myself).
  7. D for reference to the opioid epidemic in America, nothing graphic Greetings, everyone! This is the prologue to my novel A Bond of Wildflowers, subtitled "an ace/aro tries to write straight romance for some reason." The novel itself is YA paranormal romance, and I'm guessing it will be clear quickly that this prologue is... not that. The reason for this is that the two main characters in this prologue are important for shaping the external conflict that affects the MC and the love interest, but I couldn't find a reason to bring them in until like 2/3 of the way through the book. I know that most romance novels don't have prologues, so if it's not necessary I might just cut it. Questions for after reading: 1. General reactions (were you engaged?) 2. Is it clear what A thinks B is? Do you think this should be clearer? Less clear to preserve the mystery? 3. If these characters show up partway through the book and Archer starts causing problems after what's been mostly romance, do you think this prologue is necessary to prepare you for it or for it to not be jarring? (I understand if it's hard to tell at this point) 4. Is the "kill your queers" a problem here? 5. Would you be interested in reading more of this? I know all genres are welcome but I also don't know if straight teen romance is super appealing for this group.
  8. I believe there's room for one more slot, so if that's the case I'd also like a spot on Monday the 22nd.
  9. Ooh, now this is interesting. And it also means that we need a way to read around A, even in the first chapter. It's tricky to do, but it can be really cool if done right. We need to immediately recognize that the sister won't be a damsel in distress, even as A thinks she is, or else we'll just be totally tuned out of her character. And then by the time she does do something cool, it will be too late. Yeah there's a lot of potential in having A be mostly beneath the count's notice. I think this goes hand in hand with not representing the count as pure evil since the count's motivations will require more ironing out if he's not looking specifically to antagonize A. Though I think they can also work well together. If we see the count doing some awful stuff but behaving pretty reasonably towards A, it creates a good kind of cognitive dissonance where we're not quite sure how to feel about him.
  10. As I go: pg 1 -I think it's important to have a character hook in the first paragraph. Better to get us engaged immediately then set the scene. -my reading of A is a preteen/early teen right now, since he seems unaware of these delicate adult political dynamics. Let's see if I'm right about that. pg 2 -lotta description but I think it's okay for now because it feels old-timey so the descriptions evoke a certain writing style. Keeping my eye on it though pg 3 -So A doesn't like being here, which is fair. I want to see a bit more from him. I get the impression that this sort of thing is new to him, and I also don't fully understand why he's here. Does he know what his role is? -hmm... fat, comically evil lord person is not a trope I like. Idk if you're also American but in the US we have quite enough "fat goes hand in hand with bad" going on with advertising, narrative media, ect. Is this trying to parody that trope? If so, it needs to be clearer to me. And even then it's just not something I like to see. pg 4 -Okay so A is 17. I wasn't sure about my guess on his age before and it's good to get that cleared up now. I would think that being 17 he'd have a bit more of an idea about nobility dynamics, and I'll expect him to have decent skills in deducing adult matters in general. pg 6 -I'm wondering what the point of this meal with the count is supposed to be. Did he give any reason at all to the family? -...Is this going to be a "you were eating human flesh the whole time!" sort of thing? It kinda gives off those vibes. pg 7 -Well them staying the night can't be a good sign... -When he falls asleep is a good place for a scene break -I'm worried about the sister going missing turning into a classic "damsel in distress" type thing where she only exists as plot motivation for A (which I've been guilty of, so no judgement if it does happen). Or if she gets killed off as plot motivation for A. -I feel like this is when I should point out that I don't read gothic horror at all so take that into account pg 8 -The prison thing feels a little over the top. Is that on purpose? pg 9 -Did he not notice his parents were missing before? Were they sleeping in separate rooms? -Okay there was that comment about the demon thing earlier... Has the dude always been a demon or did a demon replace him recently? Not that I expect them to talk about it but some more background could help us piece together the info. Unless the count really doesn't matter except as a stock villain (again, I don't really know how these stories tend to go). pg 10 -That escalated quickly -Why does A matter to the count so much? Why is his despair so important? -Again, I feel like when he loses consciousness there should be a scene break -Hmm G being introduced made me pause. Guy seems important enough, especially since he went missing, that I feel like he should have come up before now. -Wouldn't commoners be more likely to believe their count's a demon than more educated types? -Good to get answers as to why A was targeted. Still, why is he the one who's pure of heart? Wasn't his sister also described as being pure? pg 11 -What does the sister being sent to the master mean? Like, what is the master going to do with her? If it's something the story doesn't feel comfortable talking about then it shouldn't be there at all. -Girls' virginity being a big deal thing is also a trope I don't like, especially if it's to make them seem pure. And to justify holding them hostage. And potentially doing awful, violating things to them? This brings up a larger point that I feel like I need to know more about the sister in general because she seems important. I can accept tropes I don't like more easily if I can see the person behind them, and right now I really can't. pg 12 -How are they supposed to survive without water? pg 13-14 -I was engaged throughout this. Nice ending to the chapter. Overall: I definitely read this as if it were serious, and I really don't know much about gothic stuff as I mentioned in line edits. My main questions were about characterization and plot. I think more could be done with both A and his sister. The characterization issues tie into the plot for me, since it's important that A be pure of heart for the demon to target him... but I dunno, that feels like kind of a sloppy excuse, even though I know some stories do function this way. Maybe this genre just isn't for me. Regardless, I think more work needs to be done establishing why A is special and why that gets the demon's focus on him, and the sister being an actual character. The mom could use work as well but if she's dead at the end of the chapter anyway... idk. That being said there's a lot of potential here and it was a really engaging read overall. My comments are critical here but I did enjoy it overall.
  11. As I go: pg 1 -I like how we get both the scholarly feel and the details about magic (particularly how she thinks the taboo nature of it is silly) right off the bat. This gives me more to work with than the previous drafts. pg 2 -More seeing Is in action is good! But I'm conflicted because everything breaking and toppling over feels kinda like a dramatic anime thing. pg 3 -Shouldn't they be having someone clean up the glass? Could be dangerous to walk in on that. pg 4 -Okay we see signs that Is can be sneaky around her dad. This is good. -If the king's pausing conversations every time a servant shows up I doubt he'll get anything done. Especially if Ala showing up is big news the dude must be busy, right? pg 5 -So I don't know what Ala's arrival means to these characters. The discussion about room mix-up doesn't mean much to me if I don't know what the consequences are for Is and V. pg 6 -"We can't afford to have him hate us?" Yes, that's how they're acting, but why? That's what we need to know right now. I want to see how Ala plays into V's and Is' motivations. Would be especially cool if they see him differently, especially since Is' whole thing has to do with magic, right? -So if V wanted to marry her off, how much say does she get? Her reaction makes me think not a lot, but outside of that this one moment they seem pretty casual with each other which makes me thing Is has more power/rights than that. pg 7 -Statement at the top is good, but I still need to know more. Why does Ala supporting the crown smooth over conflict about magic? And what does "stand in support" really mean here? Does Ala need to swear fealty? Establish trade/information exchange as equals? I can tell this is where the meat of the chapter is so it's super important to be precise here. -okay talking more about the magic is good for establishing Is' motivation. Why is this change happening now, though? pg 8 -Again, I really like the dynamic of Is hiding stuff from her father. Solidifies her own role as an independent protagonist. Now, what does it actually mean that she's hiding stuff? So far, it seems like their perspectives are similar. They both want to reduce stigmas around magic. What about Is makes it so that she has to hide the extent of her magic knowledge from her father? That's where the conflict, and therefore the meat of the story, is. pg 9 -Fire spells... call people? Or they don't, but people think they do? Why is that? -I think this discussion is weaker than Is' internal comment about healing magic because it's not entirely clear how fire magic helps the common people since I don't really know what it does. When she thinks about healing magic, she goes into specific examples of how it helps people, and I want to see that here rather than a broad "magic helps everyone" approach. -She and V seem to agree on everything. Right now it seems like the plot is about the king vs the nobles... in which case, why are we following the princess? She mostly seems along for the ride. pg 10-11 -So how is V planning to win Ala over? -Also I think we definitely need Is to have a defined role in this matter if we're spending the entire first chapter on it. Could be her being told to help in X way, or her deciding to help in Y way on her own. Because right now it seems like she's in the backseat while V is being forced to make things happen. -So the guy is busy... why talk to Is like this, then? Like yeah he loves his daughter but if he's super busy he'd probably have a specific reason to visit Is. I guess there was the thing about the books he was looking for, but there was so much they talked about other than that. pg 12 -I like that she's using a spell here pg 13-14 -I think the act of her casting the spell can be shortened a bit. I mostly care about the action, limitations (how often can she do this?), and consequences (the going cold) Overall: I got a better read on Is and the story as a whole this time around, which is a really good sign. Like other people have said, it's not easy to start from the ground up like this and I personally think it's much improved. People have mentioned cutting the details that are unimportant for now, which I agree with. My question is what details are important for now? I thought for sure the big discussion about magic laws and duke Ala was going to kick off an arc for Is but she doesn't really do anything with that info. From a narrative standpoint her lack of involvement in any of this is why it feels so much like background details, and I'm also confused as to why V is explaining all of this to her to then be like "nope don't want you to get involved (yet)." Like I said in the line edits, dude shouldn't have time for that unless he's trying to engage in Is' interests purely to connect with her. Chapter 1 should introduce us to Is' story but as it stands she doesn't seem to be doing much, which makes all the details seem irrelevant. Once the story decides what her actions should be and it's much easier to decide what's necessary and what isn't. This is one of the reasons I was interested in her hiding stuff from her dad. If she has a different perspective than him, it's easier for the story to justify her being the one to do stuff to advance that perspective instead of leaving it to V. So yeah, I agree with everyone else but my perspective is that a lot of this comes down to Is being kinda passive rn, which I don't think is a super hard fix.
  12. Maybe! Now that I think about it I'm guessing it would be easier for kids of this generation to picture adults as kids since when adults talk about their childhoods it's often in public online spaces kids have access to. Not that every kid is reading online message boards or whatever but there's just so much more information about what adults were like as kids compared to what we had access to (I say "we" even though I'm also a zoomer). I really like this dynamic, and I think there's a good opportunity for them to be counterpointed with regards to heroism. Imo the best character foils have a lot in common since that makes their differences stand out even more, so At and G4 are set up well here. I think this dynamic is the #1 thing I want to feel about G4 (including At not being invested in heroism) during her opening chapters to help me differentiate her from At. I think that's why I thought it might work well to have a scene more in the future where the "At screwed up" is clearer, but if you can establish the dynamic around heroism in the scene you have written out then I think it works.
  13. As I go: pg 1 -Don't understand the full context here, but I don't think I have to. There's enough that interests me in the first half page -Ohhhh okay so I got confused and thought G7 was addressing multiple trainees and was very confused by that. Only figured out at the end of pg 1 that it was a comment about trainees in general pg 2 -I like the flower imagery. In sci-fi I need more description than usual since I have no idea how to picture anything so this helps me latch onto something pg 3 -I think the whispering to the wind could be internalization instead. Also seems like the heroism of discovering the planet is what she's focusing on here so that's what I want to see more of in her internality pg 4 -I like this dynamic already. G4 was in the kid's place not long ago and now she has to be the authority. pg 5-6 -Wow I love A so much pg 7 -The "do you remember what it was like to be me?" Feels too self-aware even for this very observant kid. Not that a kid wouldn't have that vocabulary, but I don't think kids spend a lot of time thinking what older people were like as kids. I'd expect something more like "You're barely older than I am. If you can do it, I can do it." -Have I mentioned that I love how formally A talks? pg 9 -I don't quite follow why G4 is convinced that A is going to be the one to find Ard. Also, is the idea that they're eventually going to pass orbit with the planet and be able to see it by just flying on the planet? Overall: This is helpful for background on the N planet for a new reader like me, and I really enjoyed it. Maybe at this point it's just my focus being weird, but even in this chapter I still felt like I got more from A than I did from G4. A's the active one here and G4's getting dragged into stuff, so I find myself liking and focusing on A more. Maybe I just like kids (in concept, anyway. Haven't worked with them much). Still, if I were to read this chapter blind, I'd think we'd be following A and not G4 in the future, since G4 seems to be setting up A's character more than doing anything for herself. For the questions: A. I think something to give us more background is necessary if O starts in isolation, but as much as I loved reading this I felt like I learned more about A here. Personally, what I want to know is why G4/O decided to leave the planet and follow in A's footsteps (that's what I think happened, anyway?). If A is super important to G4's motivation then these are good scenes, but I'm not sure they're enough. So... maybe this is like when geneticists say a gene is necessary but not sufficient. B. I think either is fine, but I'm adamant that our first introduction to O's PoV should have her not be in isolation. I just think it's so much easier to establish character dynamics in a non-info-dumpy way when there's another character present. So if she starts out alone in her ship in last week's chapter, I think this needs to come before. C. I think shortened, not because the scene itself is too long, but because there needs to be room for more to do with G4's motivation in striking out and looking for Ard (or was she looking for Pri? It takes me a while to get all this stuff straight, which is just a me thing and not the story's fault). If the scene itself stays with no other background on G4, I think the length here is good. In that case, I think some of the beginning parts could be trimmed back to make room to deal with G4's motivaitons.
  14. I've noticed this as well! My friends either don't want to point out or don't see a lot of the weaknesses in my writing. In that case, taking it out is a good choice since it sounds like that's not what her story is going to be about. I'll try to remember that's not canon anymore. This is helpful to hear. For what it's worth, I was able to tell that she was trying to brush R off. I think part of the issue for me is that the text doesn't really expand on this in other parts. If we see, just as a random example, Is commenting that Ali's fashion choice allows her to command just the right amount of attention for her ball (star of the show but not overshadowing everyone else), we can tell that she respects Ali's fashion skill and it becomes easier to swallow when she simplifies it to get rid of R. But right now there's not much of a way for me to read around the statement in a way that I want to. That would be more characterizing, yeah, and I can totally empathize with her wanting an extrovert friend in this situation. So I really like that idea of having her seek out M. Though the question still remains of how M is relevant to Is' arc right now. If her story is really about magic research I don't really see how M helps advance that, but maybe I'm also misreading her arc. (oh as an aside the way I look at story is very structured and plenty of authors get away with more meandering than I personally like. I try to be aware of that but since this is all I've been talking about I thought I should include a fyi) Yeah this kind of thing totally happens! It's a good sign that you recognize all of this, since that's where improvement begins. Again, I can really only speak as to what's worked for me (and "worked" as in felt better to my own eyes since I'm not a published writer or anything), but I find it helpful to hammer out plots and arcs for each of my MCs, and then have specific goals in each scene/chapter that advances that plot/arc. A lot of the time when a chapter really isn't working for me it's because the story doesn't know what that chapter is supposed to be doing. Hey, that's what we're here for. Trust me, we've all critiqued stories with way bigger problems than this one.
  15. Finally got around to reading Rhythm of War and got sucked into it for the whole week. Well, better late than never, right? As I go: pg 1 -Okay this is a better introduction of R than we got earlier. I can immediately tell that he's awful within like 3 lines, which is good. And he's not like over the top, either. pg 2 -I really don't see the point in this discussion unless A wants to work with fabrics or something as her job. If this doesn't matter we can fast-forward through it. pg 3 -I don't have a great picture of A, E, or the king. I don't need paragraphs-long descriptions but I do need to know what stands out about them. R is the worst so I'll remember him but what makes the others special? pg 4 -At this point I really feel like I need to know what I is doing. How does this ball relate to her motivations/goals? I keep finding myself invested in the idea of her marrying herself for political gain but I think that was cut from the most recent draft so I really don't know what she has to gain/lose here. pg 7 -Also don't have a great picture of M or understand why she matters to I's current arc. I thought I's thing was studying magic academics and we have nothing on that. If there's a new arc here to focus on then we need more guidance. pg 9 -This is the first time it feels like something is happening related to our two MCs. Honestly I feel like the chapter could start here and not lose much. -That being said, why does he catch I's attention? Is it due to his people's relation with magic? If I's whole thing is with magic, shouldn't she be excited to talk with him about it? Right now it feels like I is just a lens that we're viewing Ala through and her own character doesn't seem to come into play. pg 10 -Oh f off R (I like the fact that he's here though. Honestly I being annoyed at him is the most tension we're getting right now it seems) -No offense but the way Ali is described here seems to fall into shallow princess/noblewoman tropes, and the way I is described has "not like other girls" vibes. Plus I think this is a false dichotomy of fashion/politics. Isn't noble fashion often crafted to be a political statement? And politics directly affects materials available for fashion and the culture surrounding it. pg 11 -This is a good opportunity here. Politically, I shouldn't be friends with Al. But if she had a reason that she wanted to (like learning more about magic), it would help create some of the tension that we're missing. pg 12 -Seems like the story is trying to make I and Ai's backstory an important thing, but honestly I'm... really not focusing on it. Doesn't seem to have anything to do with who I is now. Overall: Agreed with the others that there's not much happening here. I feel like I should do the (perhaps annoying) thing where I point out that "stuff happening" is entirely based on character and not necessarily large consequences for the world. I don't necessarily want more intrigue, actions, and explosions, but I am confused as to why we're spending so much time at a ball when we were told before I's whole thing is scholarly stuff and her current project is magic laws. She doesn't... do anything related to that, which makes me wonder if I misread what she's supposed to be doing in this story. In summary, the reason I didn't feel much motion was due to the lack of focus. What is I's story actually about? The story can have multiple hooks for her, sure, but they need to make sense with each other and I honestly don't see any here. Don't want to be all negative so I'll say I do think there's lots of potential here, especially since a ball can put her into contact with basically anyone who has something she wants. So... who does? My vote is for Ala since his area has a connection to magic which I is clearly interested in and is assigned to work on, and would also set up a nice conflict since she'd have to do so discreetly. This is the point where I need to back off a bit, though, since I can't write your story for you. Oh and I like how R is written here because I know where he stands and he pops out by being really annoying. I think the other side characters could use a little more flair like he has (though I hope not all of them are jerks lol).