Ace of Hearts

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  1. I also think it's not the best example for her to call R out since it's kinda both his and M's fault so he's not totally wrong about saying "it's the other dude's fault for trying to track me down and beat me up." It's just not the full story. If he explicitly tried to deny that he was goading M on I could see it a bit more. I think as written is fine character-wise but if his arc is going to revolve around pride and stubbornness it might need more attention. I do think other characters have been calling him out on it but I haven't recognized it as his arc since it doesn't feel like anything too special about a crown prince honestly. I think the best moments for R in this chapter are when he gets outside of his own head, such as when he says he would deserve to be slapped for making a certain comment. I think it's about taking that and really conveying what it means to him--how it holds him back from where he needs to be--will orient it more strongly in his character arc. This could manifest in a number of ways. Him leaning hard into the deflection when something is obviously getting to him, him feeling bad but shoving it down due to "logic," etc.
  2. No that was clear it's just a personal thing for me where I see religion as not something I think about being taken literally, which can extend to fantasy religions sometimes. Tbh I don't remember the end to that chapter since it was so long ago so maybe the buildup is fine. That being said if Is--n knew he was leading them into this much danger it might be cool to see hints about that and get a feel for how he deals with that before he has to be all serious "there's no time to argue" mode. Just a suggestion though.
  3. Hi everyone, I've been mulling over edits for the story as a whole and I think that the next draft I do for this novel will be very different. New characters, new events, ect. I plan to lean much more into the monster fantasy type ideas instead of vanilla romance with a sprinkle of supernatural. The reason I'm saying this is because it feels a bit odd (at least as someone who doesn't have a lot of experience editing) to be submitting something that has a chance of getting scrapped no matter what the feedback is. So at this point, I'm mostly looking for broad impressions rather than LBLs (though all feedback is welcome). And I know we try not to do this here, but at this point I'm also very open to prescriptive feedback since so much of this is in flux and I feel comfortable adjusting prescriptive suggestions to fit what the story wants to be. Questions: 1. On the topic of the above paragraph; are you interested in me subbing this to the end even if the story is likely to fundamentally change or should I just focus on subbing subsequent drafts? 2. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? 3. Thoughts on characters? Thanks!
  4. I'll have a slot for this Monday, please!
  5. Am I somehow first? pg 1-2. So far this feels like a bit of a distraction from the main story content for the sake of having some action. Hope I'm proven wrong though. pg 3. ...Yeah wouldn't blame them for thinking V knew all along -Oh also why are the C travelers attacking them at all? pg 5. I kinda agree with Is. Though at this point I don't find the anger to be pushing the story forward, as much as I also kinda hate Is--n right now. pg 6. I'm mostly expecting everyone except Is to get captured/killed here. I know a lot of stuff has already been cut but the big mentor's death pushing Is to act feels like it should come before ch. 16... if that's what's going to happen, anyway. pg 7. I'm on board with G here. They're pretty much screwed, right? Why not give combat magic a try? pg 9. I do like Is standing strong here though because narrative I'm very much guessing the odds will turn against them pg 13. Is this just because she's still recovering? Regardless of that she probably has some of the highest quality combat training in the world. Injured or no I'd expect her to be favored against a standard soldier. -Are they... not going to finish the job after the dude got put asleep? pg 14. Sounds like a great spell to cast on the asleep dude then! pg 16-17. Good ending, and about what I expected. I think some of the back and forth of combat could be shortened though. 1. Not so much confused as much as feeling off-balance at the start when it quickly became a life or death situation as a big tonal shift. Which I understand is how sneak attacks work, but I would have liked it more from a narrative perspective if we got some more buildup. And nothing was boring, though I do think it could be sped up all throughout. At the beginning it's lots of rehashing anger, and in the middle-end it's a lot of steps before we get to the expected end of Is--n dying. 2. Mostly, yeah. I didn't have a ton of patience for D being like "well religion says I shouldn't use combat magic" when they're in a life or death situation, though that could just be a personal thing for me. 3. I don't think the chapter should be split since it's all really about the same stuff. Honestly we could even get more events and end with Is actually escaping (assuming she does) if the pace is sped up a bit. 4. Mostly seeing how Is deals with magic on her own. "Kill the mentor early on" is tried and true and I have no problems with it here. Though like I said chapter 16 is a little late to be killing the mentor and starting the hero's lone journey.
  6. As I go: pg 1. Ah I had missed R. His PoV does a great job of setting up the scene dynamic in only a quarter of a page! pg 2. Okay so he's kinda an a-hole but I don't hate it. Though I think it's supposed to indicate that he's impulsive rather than just mean-spirited, and if so I'd like to see more signs of that (regret, maybe?) pg 3. It's L? Is he just saying that to throw her off the scent of what's happening with Is? He seems genuine and I don't know/can't remember what's going on with L other than that he's kinda generally awful. pg 5. Is L part of the assassination scheme? Or does R think he is, anyway? Again maybe WRS but I don't remember that. pg 6. This is good for building tension. The fact that M is so confident makes me think L has something big planned and this is a good way of conveying it. pg 7. I see why T would be annoyed with R being kinda an a-hole but I don't really buy her logic here. Especially the comparison to the grandfather, who I don't know a ton about but I would guess is different from what R is doing. Wasn't the grandfather kinda awful? Though like I said I don't think we've heard a ton about him. pg 10. This does a good job of setting up the conflict in Ali's story, but she doesn't seem to be looking to do anything about it. Though maybe part of this is me having that problem with previous Ali PoVs pg 11. Conceptually I can see why the story is having Ali doing this since it is taking action in a way that fits with her motivation. But to be blunt it just makes me see Ali as weak and weepy. I think part of the issue is that we don't really get a reason for why this specifically is her breaking point. pg 14. I'm starting to get a feel for the interesting bits around Ali here, moreso than earlier. 1. It all makes sense, yeah. Part of my issue is that conceptually I really think that Ali makes a lot of sense here but... I'm still just not feeling it. R I mostly like (as usual lol) though I think he could do to be a bit more self-aware. Though that's more of a personal preference than a real issue. 2. I like R here, though not as much as before. I think it's because this feels like his little side story that doesn't have a ton of larger implications for the story, though I am still engaged overall. Still not really feeling Ali though the one moment I do really like is when she lays out her own lack of expertise in what the others are dealing with and says that she's focusing on what she can do. I think that could be one note to focus on more carefully instead of her kinda being a wreck. 3. I think it's fine, though I'd personally prefer to see it end off right when they start to fight so that the cutting off feels especially intentional. 4. I like having multiple chapters since the ideas are different 5. I like R, and I like the threat that L and M represent. They as characters aren't anything special to me but I don't think they have to be... at least yet.
  7. Hi everyone, Thanks for your comments (and for telling me how allosexuals behave lol)! I'll also give a warning ahead of time that my partner's going to be visiting for a while so I'll probably be even less active on the site than I normally am. But I will get to critiques and reading people's comments on my story eventually! This one isn't rewritten as much as many others, so idk if that means more or fewer LbL issues/things feeling out of place. 1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? 2. Thoughts on characters? Thanks as always!
  8. I'll have a slot as well, please!
  9. I think you can cut it there, yeah. Since B knows his stuff, we can infer the amount of damage it will cause based on how worried he is about the magic going out of control. And if there is lingering doubt I don't think it's even a bad thing. For me at least it would make me pay closer attention to Al's comments about his past to infer specifics of what else happened at that time. I think there are ways to have Al waltz into the room and have it work if that's a path you're interested in. After all, it's not like little kids are known for sitting still and being easy to keep track of. Though I'm sure it's also not the only solution. Another option is to cut it here and have Al engage with it in a memory in part 1. Yeah reliving memories is a bit tricky but I think it can be done well and is better than having the prologue feel slow imo. I think it's fine, yeah. Even if someone doesn't get it immediately too it's not a huge deal imo. Some prologues barely connect to the main book at all so I think you have some wiggle room here.
  10. Hi everyone! I'm back after a couple week hiatus. Your comments on the last chapter were really helpful; a lot of stuff with B was fairly spontaneous so I definitely agree that she doesn't fit into the plot as well as I want. As for this chapter, the beginning and end parts were basically fully rewritten yesterday though a lot of the middle stuff is the same. I'm constantly tweaking W's and N's relationship dynamics so I'm curious to see how it comes across here. Questions for after reading: 1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? 2. Thoughts on characters? Thanks!
  11. I'll have a slot for tomorrow please!
  12. I wasn't really clear on where they were specifically going though tbh that didn't bother me a ton. More of the latter, being like "huh I thought this was about them getting to point B so stuff can happen what's taking so long?" If the ideas in the conversations connect to where they're going, maybe it could help to focus on that when talking about the travel? Part of this is WRS as well since I don't think I fully remember why they're going to the mountaintop. I think the easiest way to help me at least would be to connect the conversations to specific things that they're going to be doing at the mountaintop, healing/magic or anything else. That way it will feel more like buildup for a big event rather than necessary but not all that exciting (not in an insulting way; can't come up with a better word) conversation about the story's ideas. Though as usual I'm kinda spitballing here.
  13. As I go: -Before I even start I have a comment lol. 3k words for a prologue is going to be a tough sell for me in any circumstances and I can only think of a few prologues as long as regular chapters that I feel like were justified being that long (Way of Kings being one of them), so that might influence how I react to it. pg 1. Good first line! I don't remember what the original draft's was but I'm guessing this is better. -Is B saying this about pregnancies and childbirths as a whole, or this one in particular? pg 2-3. Really liking this so far pg 4. Vow? Capital V makes me think it's a fantasy thing, and since all he's been talking about is magic I'm guessing this is some sort of magical marriage bond. I think we need a little bit more either way to get our footing, just one or two more words to add specificity to what's already there if possible pg 5 (top half). This might be my ADHD meds having worn off but I'm losing focus a bit here. The setup is really good and it hasn't really been developed much yet. Tbh this is where I would expect the prologue to begin wrapping up if I didn't know the page count. pg 6. I think we need a bit more on the midwife before this. Also is the underscore a placeholder or are we not supposed to know her name? I didn't comment before because I assumed it was the former but if it's the latter then the underscore thing is kinda off-putting to me. The rest of the story doesn't indicate that it's about getting cutesy with language/diction, so this feels out of place if it's not a placeholder. -Yeah the more I think about it this moment really is not working for me and I'm not quite sure why since it seems fine when I play out the events in my head. I think it's the fact that this new threat kinda comes out of nowhere and I wasn't looking out for the physical separation of mage and recipient as much as general magic going awry. Maybe more focus on the flow of energy could help? If it's a big point how it's flowing from his body into hers (which was mentioned but wasn't at the forefront of my mind), we'll know what it means when he's separated from her and it has nowhere to flow but out. pg 7. So is the magic going loose making a physical storm? I'm having a bit of trouble tracking the events here. pg 8. The fact that a the opening conflict has already been resolved makes it harder for me to pick this up. Could this be worked into the previous scene? We get a brief glimpse of A, maybe, and B is able to do something by at least protecting him? pg 9-11. To be blunt I don't feel a lot of motion in the scene. Again, the momentum that the first four pages build up is over by page 7, and on top of that it really feels like B is reiterating the same points. Makes sense since he's struggling to stay alive, but it's not helping me much from a story perspective. 1. Unfortunately, not really. This is prescriptive but what I'd like to see is some combo of a specific tangible detail of the spell going wrong and a general summary from B. 2. Great for the first four pages! Then it seems to slow down, even as the action itself is ramping up. Though that could have been me being confused. And I think it's really less of a pacing thing for me and more of a narrative focus thing. The question raised at the beginning is "will the spell go wrong?" When it does, I'm less concerned about the how since the question that hooked me is answered. I can guess that it's going to be bad, and it will be difficult to catch me up to speed enough to really understand what's happening. Right when the spell goes wrong is when I want the prologue to be wrapping up. 3. First two points, yes! Third point, I didn't get as strong of an impression of. Which to me isn't a bad thing. Seems like a fairly standard mixed-race/foreign parent dynamic from this alone, which again isn't bad. 4. I don't think so! Though the conversation about this sort of thing that Is has with Is--n in chapter 13 could be useful earlier on. 5. All mentioned above, basically. I think this prologue is trying to accomplish too many things and take up too much space, tbh. 6. Al is the person who matters and it seems like the story is on the right track by trying to make a big deal out of his connection to B, but... like I said, after the spell goes wrong I'm less engaged in what follows. The stuff in the first few pages about how B doesn't want to leave leadership to Al honestly hits me a lot harder than the end does. I think the story can streamline and simplify what happens at the end. All we really need is one moment, and if we only get one moment we'll know exactly what to linger on. And as I mentioned before, I think this is more powerful before or while the spell is going wrong rather than after. If the midwife can get through, there's no reason Al can't wander in after her. I bet he's concerned about his mom, after all. ...I know I'm not supposed to give prescriptive advice and that was a lot of it. Maybe you've caught onto this but when I give advice like this it's less "you should do this" and more "here's what I would do, which might let you figure out what my real problems with the scene are better than I can articulate." 7. A small thing is that I really liked how B is trying to do something so far out of his expertise even though he's a mage doing magic. It adds a lot of implied depth to the magic to know that mage specializations are so distinct. And as I mentioned before, I really like the setup/hook.
  14. As I go: pg 1. Oh boy this is reminding me of how I got caught in a rockslide while walking to work over the summer pg 2. I do like Is and Is--n being a bit more casual around each other pg 4. I can tell that V planning to marry her to a M person is important to Is, but I think I need more about how she feels (even if that's being too overwhelmed to fully process it rn) -C's son? Is that Al? Probably WRS but I don't remember the name of Al's parents pg 5. Is D also ethnically M? I assumed he wasn't but if that's the case idk why he's being brought up now. -I do think this is the right time to bring up the whole political marriage business, moreso than chapter 1 in earlier drafts. We have more context as to what's going on and it doesn't feel like it's leading us astray pg 9. Hmm at this point I feel like I'm losing track of the story. Not in the sense that what's here is bad, but so far the chapter has been about travelling to a specific place and we're spending a lot of time not doing that. pg 11. That's more or less what happened to Al's parents, right? It's a good connection though we're far enough into the story that I'm fuzzier on the details than I want to be. pg 12. She's a Jud-? Idk what that means -"like water flowing downhill" or like actual physical energy... which I guess is also just water flowing downhill due to potential energy, huh (I'm no engineer but I think I remember basic physics lol)? Anyways, I like this note. Makes the magic feel more real. 1. Not a lot on its own, but I couldn't quite see what the chapter arc was supposed to be so it didn't feel like a lot happened so to speak even though a lot did happen. I think the issue for me is not knowing what really to track here. At the start it's a lot about the travel but the end really isn't about that. 2. I like Is and Is--n. I don't pay a ton of attention to anyone else and for now it seems like I don't need to. Though if one of them becomes a major character I won't feel preapred. 3. In addition to what I put in the line notes, I like the setup of Is and Ala both going to unfamiliar lands that are more related to each other and having to figure out stuff the other person might know. It's a good way of not needing to be as info-dumpy. Stuff about M magic that Al knows can be explained to Is and vice versa for court politics that Is knows and Al doesn't. 4. To me it didn't feel like a cohesive chapter, but it also wouldn't have as two separate chapters, so it's hard for me to say. I think however the main topic arc ends up shaking out, it's fine for it to be either one or two chapters.
  15. Ahem I'm a couple weeks late but better late than never? The fact that Al knew D before coming to the capital somehow slipped my mind (or I missed it altogether, but it does sound familiar?). I think this could definitely be played up. Are their domains close? Would be easy for Al to pick out aspects of shared culture or just reference what they've done together. I do think it's okay to just flat-out say he thinks she's interested in R. I think for me this was overshadowed by the racism (xenophobia?) towards his dad and I think it's important to hammer in. Could be interesting to balance the two. Have people act like they respect his family based on its history while at the same time just totally throwing shade at him/his dad for race/ethnicity.