Ace of Hearts

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Posts posted by Ace of Hearts

  1. Excited to jump into it!

    Overall: Not a mental health expert but it didn’t feel insensitive to me. Makes sense that messing with the brain isn’t something that can be used for healing (as easily). Though I would agree with the other concern that the chapter doesn’t seem key for the story.

    Another note is that it seems like the chapter wants to be about the ethics of healing magic and about Z’s dynamics with K, but the two don’t connect as easily as the story wants them to. It doesn’t feel like issues such as healing magic killing and healers’ connection to physicians are explored fairly since they’re wrapped up with K not knowing what it means to be a healer.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. This seems to imply a very rigid social hierarchy where some people are important enough for magical healing and other aren’t. If that’s how the world works (instead of healing magic just being prohibitively expensive for poor people), we need to learn about that earlier on

    Pg 2. I like W’s setup as a big-hearted doctor but I think I need to know more than that he’s smart and kind. Maybe going over Z’s past with him?

    Pg 3. I don’t get a great read on K here. She feels like a casual acquaintance of Z’s (especially with how he’s not letting her in on sensitive info), so it makes me wonder why she’s important enough to be here

    Pg 4. It feels a bit unfair towards K’s argument that D deflects towards her motivations for becoming a healer. If the story is asking those questions I don’t think it should refuse to give any more insight on them

    Pg 6. Z feels a bit preachy here for a casual friend. Also it seems like he and K like each other but I don’t get a good feeling for why.


  2. Excited to dig in!

    Overall: I continue to be interested by the world and as I mention in LBLs what I need to know more of is how this connects to the main plot. In particular, the conversation about our protags seemed important but it was hard for me to be fully engaged when I don’t know what Ku and Ky want and how that ties into the plot. I think L also needs a clearer goal/direction here. I get the feeling that she’s pretty restrained by rules which is fine, but she needs to have a goal within that.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. It takes us a while here to set the scene and what I need is a real hook involving conflict and stakes for the character

    Pg 2. I need more of a reason to be engaged with Ku and Ky. How are they connected to the main conflicts?

    Pg 3. Why is L lucky to be witnessing this? I’m intrigued but need more on her motivation

    Pg 5. So L is a messenger? That’s good to know but again what I feel is missing is a sense of plot/goals/conflict/stakes for her

    Pg 7-8. I think I need more on Lu’s deal. Why is she so protective of La?


  3. 1 hour ago, ginger_reckoning said:

    The problem I face right now is that I want there to be this theme of him ramping up, as well as seeing him change from someone with small concerns to someone with much larger concerns (kind of like Dune, one of my favorites) so I feel like there has to be an intermediary conflict/goal. Do either of you have any ideas about that?

    I think the key is that we need to see these larger concerns, or at least know they exist in a murky sort of way, from the start. I don't think A has to be the one with the plan for the big issues at the start, but I think someone does. Typically this is the role of a mentor character so maybe the solution is that we need more from M. Often times there's conflict between the mentor with big plans and the everyman protagonist so I think A's relationship with M is already primed for this sort of plot. Right now I don't get the feeling that M has a super specific plan and that each step A takes is advancing that plan, which I think we need for the plot to feel more connected.

    What I'm imagining is that in these first 50k words there's more of M telling A exactly what to do as part of his grand plan and A has to follow along because the people he cares about are in danger now that being a mage put a target on his back. But while A does follow along, he is able to push back on some of M's harsher ideas and accomplish M's short term goals in a more peaceful way. It may seem like this setup takes proactivity away from A but I think it will actually add more if he's under more pressure from M right off the bat.

    Anyways, as with any prescriptive advice take this with a grain of salt since there are plenty of good ways to edit the story from this point.


  4. Ooh, prescriptive suggestions! Time to see if I can think of any after asking for them so often in my work.

    Overall: I was pretty engaged line by line and I feel like O and N as characters have more of a presence than many of the characters from previous chapters. My main constructive comment right now is that I think we need a clearer picture of the plot and how all of these scenes advance it.

    In terms of prescriptive suggestions… since we’re on a Sanderson site, I’m figuring there’s a good chance you’ve read Mistborn, and I think what’s missing here is something along the lines of Kelsier’s big plan to take down the Lord Ruler. Same thing of a ragtag group of oppressed people, but what justifies the story and the PoV protagonists is how something big is clearly happening and how an unthinkable plan is being put into motion. Now, A doesn’t want to topple the whole regime, but I think his goals should be equally big and bold—something like stealing a magical artifact that can provide food instead of just some chickens. And then all of these scenes about negotiating with other people of his kind can be framed as drumming up support for this big plan that can help everyone, which will make it feel like there’s more plot progress. It would be easy for O’s guards and N impersonating A to be necessary for a break-in or distraction, and having that plan at the start will let us see that the plan is progressing.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. The focus on the chicken heist reminds me of a point that I’ve seen throughout—A isn’t exactly passive, but it isn’t clear how his actions are working towards his end goal. This makes the plot feel a bit weaker than it could be.

    Pg 2-3. Still stuck on the above point. I do like the dynamics and worldbuilding here but I need to know (or be reminded) how meeting O is necessary for A’s big plans.

    Pg 5. I like O’s strength and I feel like a few more tidbits of background about him would be good for backing that up

    Pg 7. H on the other hand I don’t get as good of a feel for as O since O had the clearer plan

    Pg 10-11. N interests me here and the story is able to sell that they’re very good at what they do. Again, my only big hangup is not knowing the stakes of the situation or how it connects to the plot.


  5. Let’s get into it!


    For the first part, the scene did a better job of engaging me with aspects of characters and the world, and now that I’m less confused about that my attention is on how we need a clearer plot. We get this cool world and ideas of how this dangerous job can be automated, but we don’t really get a central conflict or plan for how that’s going to happen. Oh, and N especially here comes across as pretty stiff. Even if she’s supposed to be a weirdly formal kid I think it’s worth taking another look at her lines.

    For the second part, I’m engaged by L as a character and her mission, and once again what I need from the rest of the chapter is for the plot to be clear. The conversations at the end need to be tied to the progress of her mission for me to be engaged, and I need to understand the stakes behind each one.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. I think I mentioned this before but while I like that N is smart here she doesn’t really sound like a 17-year-old

    -Now the bit about automation replacing a dangerous physical job is one that I can get a good feel for. I really like it! …Though how does R expect the heisters to get the better jobs they deserve?

    Pg 3. I like the added emphasis on B being a middle-class academic type who’s out of place in this working-class environment

    Pg 5. This is another good worldbuilding note that seems to come a bit out of nowhere

    Pg 6. I get a much better feel for L and her character voice right off the bat than any of our previous PoV characters

    Pg 7-8. Could be trimmed a bit here so we can get to the action—knowing that intervening in worldly affairs is such a no-no is important but the way it’s told here comes across as a bit heavy-handed

    Pg 10-11. The city is cool and I’m glad that we have L’s long-term plan but I need a better feel for her short-term plan. What is she hoping to get here and now?


  6. Ooh, prologue! Excited to check it out.

    Overall: I think the solid foundation here is that I am engaged with the bits we get of A as a person, being a shapeshifter military spy. Unfortunately, I was confused by many key points of the chapter (see LBLs below) and it didn’t feel like anything actually happened until D attacked. We get hints of A’s connection with D and how their race fits into the universe, which to me is a more interesting point to expand on compared to the military.

    Another point here is that for a spy, it didn’t feel like A had a plan or was under any sort of real pressure. The story tells us that it’s crucial for him to be here now with the political situation, but we need to know what he’s actually doing and how is plan is progressing for it to stick.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. The first line catches my attention but the rest of the page doesn’t tune me into the character conflict in the way that I want it to

    Pg 2. I’m trying to remember if other planets are a known thing or if A is the equivalent of an alien. Either way, might be nice to have more clarity here since it’s the prologue

    Pg 4. At this point I’m having trouble knowing what I’m supposed to focus on for the plot

    Pg 5-6. I’m having trouble seeing why this meeting is important. If they actually go through with the plan in the rest of the chapter it might be best to drop them into it right away

    Pg 7. Okay planet hopping is a known thing

    -I get that it’s sudden for A too but this feels too sudden for me. It’s important that I trust the story to have a plot where events flow into each other instead of seemingly happening randomly

    Pg 9-10. I’m also not really following what’s happening here.

    Pg 11. Bit late in the chapter to introduce a character hook, though I am more engaged by it than the pure military stuff

    Pg 12. I don’t get why seeing D prompts them to kill all the soldiers at the base


  7. Overall: The part where D puts everything together about the warehouse engaged me, but the rest of the chapter didn’t really do it. I’m back to being very not amused by Y to the point that it hampers my engagement with the chapter as a whole, especially her burning down her workplace for seemingly no reason? Aside from that, I don’t feel like most of the chapter helps me understand the story any better. D puts some key facts together based on just a few details, so we don’t need to spend several pages getting those details. I believe last chapter you mentioned that this is second half of chapter 2, which I think gives you even more room to cut if this doesn’t need to stand on its own as a chapter.  

    Oh, and while I’m guessing this is clear, I’ll say the reason I’m more direct/harsh in criticism here compared to some subs of newer members is that I know you’re experienced enough not to get discouraged by it.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. Not sure why they’re talking about gas. I get the feeling this is hinting at something, but I need more on what

    Pg 2. Huh Y (maybe) burning down a Jiffy Lube gives me a bit of tonal whiplash. I like the serious moments in other chapters but this feels more out of place to me

    Pg 3. Now I’m stuck on “Why is D putting up with Y” again, especially if she thinks Y is an out of control arsonist

    Pg 4-6. I’m more engaged here but I think this can be trimmed a bit.

    Pg 10. Not sure I buy that solving this is going to set D up for life


  8. Decided to review this one first this week since I don’t think I have before

    Overall: I have a lot of LBL comments but overall I was more engaged here than I was early on in the story which is a good sign. And while I mentioned not getting a great feel for the characters last sub, this time To does stick out very clearly in my mind, and is the character I feel like I have the best grip on. I do have lots of questions, but that’s because there’s more to engage with and ask questions about here than there was early on. My main constructive comment about the story as a whole at this point is that it feels like the main cast is too reactive rather than proactive. R gets attacked twice in two days but they don’t seem to have a plan to stop the attacks from happening besides some guy getting a cold guarding her door and To going off to fight everyone at once. Basically, it feels like the characters aren’t making any progress towards stopping the antagonists or even figuring out what their deal is unless the antagonists intentionally let something slip.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. Should I remember H/J or are they from the first book? I will say I have an awful memory for names so it might not be the story’s fault

    -Another note is that someone personally sending thugs after presumably R is less jarring than me assuming she got ambushed by some randos. Maybe the reveal that J sent them would be more impactful to end the previous chapter on?

    Pg 2. What are the others doing while Z and To are fighting?

    -I thought we were in Z’s PoV but it seems to switch to R’s. Who are we following for this scene?

    Pg 3-4. It seems like some of the kids are a lot more prepared for fighting than the others and it could be helpful to know more about why

    Pg 5. What’s R feeling bad about specifically? Not helping in the fight? Letting the fear get to her emotionally?

    -Okay we do get more insight further down the page. I’d suggest moving that line up and getting a bit more context

    Pg 6-7. Are they uh not worried about To given that J has a bunch of thugs at his command? Surely To alone cannot fight them all off

    Pg 8. Again with the dream thing it’s hard to be engaged when I know it’s not actually happening, even if it’s just supposed to explore her fears

    Pg 9. If the library has a guard couldn’t they have a rotating shift of people guarding R’s room?

    Pg 11. What do we want to bet that R gets attacked again at the dinner?

    Pg 13. Knowing that the library should be sealed against pests is a pretty critical detail we should know during the scene where the mouse breaks through (unless I just missed it there)

    Pg 15. I think it’s important to know if Th is overreacting here. To me it seems like he is but I don’t know the rules of this fantasy world. Also in our world I’d expect double shifts and half pay to cause everyone to quit.


  9. Hi everyone,
    I'm back with another sub of Bond of Wildflowers. Another two chapters here, and I struggled with the first of the two which I'm curious to see how apparent that is and what suggestions people have about it. Other than that, any and all feedback welcome, of course, and I find prescriptive advice (how would you change this if it were your book?) to be especially helpful.
    Thanks! :)

  10. All right excited to get into the chapters!

    Overall: I think a lot of good pieces are here and the challenge now is putting them together. Many scenes are compelling, such as R getting away from a creep and wanting to learn about her past, but this feels more like a disconnected set of scenes rather than full chapters that move the story forward. Plus, I also don’t feel like it expands much on the ideas of earlier chapters. What’s the main plot takeaways the story wants us to have after these two chapters? I think identifying those and connecting the scenes to that dynamic could make these chapters feel less choppy without needing to rewrite a ton of it.

    As I go:

    Pg 1-2. I think what I need here is more on this different type of magic, which I assume will be plot-relevant

    Pg 3. This is a good emotional beat but it also seems disconnected from everything else

    Pg 4-5. Is this like a regular mouse or is there a special fantasy thing for why a mouse would warrant this freak-out? Like I wouldn’t be happy if I saw a mouse in a library but I don’t think it would cause several people to scream for an extended period of time

    Pg 6-7. Is the mouse connected to the plot at all? I’m wondering if they’re some sort of shifter but only because of meta reasons (that if the story’s showing this it has to be important)

    Pg 9. The characters finding this hilarious makes it seem like the story wants me to think it is too, and to me it’s not. Not that I dislike it, but it’s not laugh out loud funny

    Pg 10-12. Maybe this is me not having read the first book but I’m having trouble keeping track of the characters and distinguishing them, since I don’t get a super clear picture of any of them except R

    Pg 13-14. I’m not quite finding something to be engaged with in this scene. What’s the main “point” of them going to a bar and singing like this? If it’s just to have fun and unwind without any real conflict that’s fine but I don’t think it needs to be nearly this long (though reading over other people's responses I may be in the minority about this)

    Pg 15. Nice tense end to the chapter but I while the place did come off as a bit seedy I think more work needs to be done to establish that it’s an actively dangerous place—or that this is very out of the ordinary for the location


  11. Hope you’re having a good day! Excited to dig into this!

    Overall: The exchange between K and her parents reads better here, and in general the chapter (and a half) here does a good job of keeping the stakes high since we know K could be in danger at any moment.

    The main think I feel like I’m missing (which I might have mentioned before, so apologies if this is repeated) is what makes this setting distinct from other dystopian YA. What qualities does the government have besides being authoritarian? What’s the symbolism/propaganda they use? The story does a good job of walking me through K’s journey but I don’t feel connected to the world.

    Also, like I mention below I’m a bit confused by the ending. Are they planning to shank her on sight? If so, wouldn’t it be easier to kidnap her instead of giving her the choice to come? It certainly seems like they have the power to. In fact, why not kill her in her parents’ house? Why kill her themselves instead of getting guards? And if they don’t actually want to kill her, what’s the deal with the knives?

    As I go:

    Pg 1. I like that K starts out more hopeful here and gets cues from her parents

    Pg 3. I continue to like this dynamic better, but one question I have is why the parents hid the knowledge of the resistance from her until now if they knew it was inevitable

    Pg 4-5. This doesn’t quite hit home for me and I wonder if it has to do with the setup earlier in chapter 1. If I get the feeling that K’s main goal as a character is to figure out what happened to her sister from the start of chapter 1, it might be more believable that she totally ignores her parents like this

    Pg 6-7. I think I need more on how K is navigating these obvious red flags. Is she convinced that they’re normal? Is she concerned but willing to accept them if it brings her closer to her sister? I don’t want the text to tell us the answer straight up, but we should be able to pick out something from K’s actions and thoughts

    Pg 11. Lifted knives towards her aggressively? That feels a little out of place. Even if the plan was to lure her in and kill her, shouldn’t they have guards with guns for that?


  12. Looking forward to digging into the chapter!

    Overall: As a sucker for tense family dynamics, I was engaged by the dynamic between R and N here. The beginning and end of the chapter especially paints a nice picture of how R sees N, and the end also helps me learn more about R indirectly, that he does think a lot about how dangerous his line of work is and trying to keep N safe is his way of dealing with it.

    On a more constructive note, the actual dinner scene could be looked at again, since I’m not clear on what it does for the story. We get a bit of lore in dialogue but other than that what really happens here? Now might also be a good time to say that while I am happy to have a character hook for R, I’m still not sure what the plot of the story is really about. The protags are heisters but I’m not sure if this is an actual heist movie sort of plotline (not that it has to be, but I think there needs to be setup for wherever the plot is going to go).

    As I go:

    Pg 1-2. I am a bit annoyed at R here but overall I think this does a good job of showing that he does want to be supportive of N but begrudges that he needs to give her space

    Pg 5. This is about the point where I feel like we need to pick things up. We know that R is struggling to be civil, what’s the next event here?

    Pg 7-8. We’re back to kind of talking about plot-relevant things, but I’m not sure if this grass is important or not. But even if it is, some of this feels more like an info dump than a scene that moves the plot forward.

    Pg 9. And how old is K here? And I’m going to be a bit hesitant if this actually turns into a love triangle, since those are very easy to do wrong

    Pg 10. Okay this is interesting, that R wants N to escape this life and doesn’t want her getting involved with anyone here that could tie her down. I want to see more of this sprinkled in earlier

    Pg 12-13. I like this motion we get in K’s dynamic with R but I also don’t feel connected enough to K for this to feel super impactful.


  13. Excited to get back into reading your submissions after all the helpful comments you’ve been leaving on mine! :D

    Overall: The good news is that this is the sub I was most engaged with from the story, and in particular I like the development we get between M and A. To be frank their dynamic didn’t interest me much before this chapter so my main takeaway is that this should come earlier or we should get hints of it sooner. I like how the story plays up that A is so desperate that he doesn’t have much of a choice but to work with M despite his obvious hesitation. I think that reads better than him seemingly ignoring the red flags in earlier chapters.

    My main constructive comment for this chapter is that while I don’t think the conversations are too long necessarily like you were worried about, I didn’t get a ton from all of the scenes (see LBLs). I’m interested in A and his story right now, but not necessarily the characters surrounding him.

    As I go:

    Pg 3-5. I got a food feeling for the first convo with H but I don’t feel a strong connection to this scene with R and L

    Pg 8-9. I don’t trust M when he says he’ll follow A’s lead, but this does make the dynamic more interesting

    Pg 10. I’m engaged with this despite kinda being an infodump because of how relevant it is to the plot and A’s goals

    Pg 11-13. I really like the development here. Makes me think we should get to this point in the story earlier

    Pg 14-17. This is another scene I don’t get a good feeling for. Is the development here that C is cautious about A’s new powers? I think I need to know more about his thought process than “hey it’s weird he says a god is in his head” since while I am worried about A being manipulated by M I also don’t know if it looks like he’s being corrupted right now.


  14. Overall: I like D and Y’s dynamic a lot more here, where D seems annoyed by Y but doesn’t hate her guts, and we see that Y gets to be helpful even while being annoying (remembering the laptop). My main constructive comment is that I’m not sure what this does for the main plot/conflict, especially the last scene. It’s been a sec since I read the first chapter but wasn’t the hook about Y and P? Not sure what I learn from this family and I didn’t feel like the stakes were there even in the moment, since while the characters had beef with each other I didn’t feel the threat of things getting worse. Also, I feel like the story’s distance from D in PoV could be looked at again. I don’t hate the idea of a distant 3rd here, but we do seem pretty close to D at the start when she’s mentally commenting on Y’s drink and I like that more than the story telling us that she doesn’t like surprises/complications from later on in a way that’s disconnected from her emotions.

    As I go:

    Pg 1. D mentally dunking on Y for her beverage choice reads a lot better for their antagonism than their dynamic last chapter

    Pg 2. Same goes for Y not cleaning up the spill. Makes her seem annoying but not hatred-invoking which reads better to me. I do think the dialogue here can be cut down a bit though

    Pg 3. D being frustrated/angry about the situation doesn’t do much for me since we already know that’s her default state around Y

    Pg 5-6. Talk about the city feels disconnected from the rest of the story

    Pg 7. I like the detail about her being thrown off by the unexpected and I’d like more of a reaction than the text telling us she doesn’t care for it

    Pg 9-11. Need more on where the tension/conflict is in this scene besides people being kind of annoyed