Ace of Hearts

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  1. Oh I'm the first one after over a week? ...I feel bad that you had to wait this long with no feedback. My anxiety would be killing me lol. As I go: pg 1. Trying to remember if I should know C. Anyways I'm always game for an awkward crush/romance which this... seems like it could be? Idk. pg 2. Though if it's going to get interrupted like that I'm not totally sure what I'm supposed to take from that or where my attention is supposed to be. That being said if this is going to mostly be pure fantasy you might not want to linger on the relationship stuff too long even though that's what I would want to see, so maybe this is okay. pg 3. This is not relevant to like anything at all but I'm curious what the gender norms are and how common it is to have a woman guard like C. So far as I understand the place is pretty explicitly patriarchal, right? Since R is the crown prince despite not being the king's kid. Anyways that isn't a criticism and maybe doesn't need to be explored but I am curious. pg 4. I think Ali is suffering from some of the same stuff that was mentioned about Ala in part 1; namely not being allowed to be a super active character while the other royals are doing important royal stuff. pg 5. Magical contact boxes are cool pg 6. Ooh Ali actually stands up to V! If she's the one character who gets to stand up to him then that makes her more interesting to me. Well I guess one of two counting R which is part of why I like R so much I think. pg 7. All right now I feel like I should know exactly what they're talking about. Something to do with magic probably but I think it might help to spell out exactly what Is--n did that's getting them to react this way. pg 9. This is a good way of pushing Ali's motivations into something plot-relevant pg 10. Oh yay I get to see more of R in the future since he's going with Ali 1. Mostly just the point of what exactly Is--n did. Also I wasn't totally clear on what Ali is doing with the boxes 2. Yep! Even though I was confused a bit the characters kept it real which really helped 3. Tbh I'm someone who thinks commenting on the emotion in a piece is pretty useless since I think if the emotions hit right is better explained by fundamental story dynamics. In this case, I think it's really solid overall since (*drum roll for the fundamental story dynamic*) Ali is allowed to be an active character in the face of the most powerful person in the story. It's what I like about R and now it's what I like about Ali. As for what didn't grip me, the scene at the very beginning didn't really do a ton for me. Really it's as soon as Ali starts arguing against V that I think the emotion works. 4. Ali standing up to V, as I've mentioned before. I think V being the antagonist in her story like it currently feels is a great way to go. They both care about the family but that causes them to want different things, and Ali has to navigate around the king to get what she wants. That makes her conflict especially engaging and I want to see V continue to stand in her way and Ali continue to persevere despite him. If anything I think it's more interesting than R's views of V because Ali isn't as angry with him and cares about him more (or at least more explicitly), so she has to be more precise and delicate in how she approaches the situation. Looking forward to more.
  2. All right here we go! As I go: pg 1. The personal beats on the second half of the page grip me more than the explanation about robots in the top half pg 2-3. Nineteen isn't that young to be fighting in this sort of military setting, right? I'm just assuming that V is quite old by soldier standards. For me it raises questions about his own past since he seems familiar with this line of work pg 6. I think P's death is sort of at the middle point between trying to build up a big dynamic between him and V so his loss feels devastating and having his death be more of a background event that informs the situation more than us caring about him personally. I think it might be better to commit one way or the other, and personally I think he's not that important and he potentially doesn't even need to show up alive at all. I think V's point about how heavy losses they're suffering works even if we don't know P personally--and it's not like we get a ton from him to begin with. pg 8-9. I'm having a bit more trouble figuring out what's important here. I think this can either be shortened or whatever's important here could be highlighted more. I think part of it is that I want to see their dynamic in action since I haven't seen M so far this draft rather than just get V's thoughts on the matter. pg 10. For me this is the good stuff. Right now I don't see a reason why we coudln't get to them talking by the end of a short summary paragraph. -That being said I think we need to hear what's changed, and what M's plan is. If he's defending the town then why does he think these raiding missions aren't tactically advantageous? Sure if it's anything like last draft he's lying but I think we need his reason even if it's a facade. pg 11. See point above. M seems to have admitted that they can't win a fight, so... what is his plan? Or what he's acting like it is, anyway. pg 12. "How many more lives is it going to cost the cities?" Seemingly zero since the Z are going to bulldoze through the town regardless of the resistance put up. It's pretty clear to me that M's arguments really just don't hold up under any sort of scrutiny. which I dont' think is necessarily a bad thing, and V does seem to notice, but... why doesn't anyone else? What puts V in a position to act that other people don't have? The story seems to be going for the familiarity--that V can see through M because they know each other so well. But I think for that to work it should be only V who can reasonably see through him, and right now I can do it easily without any of the context V's giving. pg 13. I'm a bit lost on V's logic here. Did K let herself get captured? I don't really get why. -I also still don't get the "we need to fight them but you shouldn't take out their mechs!" line of reasoning pg 14. Oh yes the one shot I remember this being good pg 15. K's actions make a bit more sense now but like why wouldn't she go to anyone else? Like V for instance. pg 16. Man the end to the scene is so good it hit me just as hard even though I knew what was going to happen. Tbh I think this is the best moment in all of your writing that I've read. pg 17. Seeing the family come out is a really good moment as well pg 18-19. The dynamic with K believing in M is an interesting one as well. There's a part of me that wants to see it explored more even though it doesn't fit into the story structure. pg 19-20. Man that's a solid ending 1. See line edits on M. I don't think I fully understood how important the supposed reinforcements were to M's "plan" of holding out. But even then he needs some sort of rationale for not wanting V to engage in guerilla warfare... or just like strong-arming people into following him. 2. Mentioned in line edits also. I think the stuff with P at the beginning can be shortened. Right now it seems like the reason he matters is because he's a young person who got caught up in this bloody war. We don't need full scenes with him to hammer that home. I also think that once V returns home the scene should shift to him talking with M as soon as possible. Also total tangent but on P I think you can just make him younger if you want that to be his defining feature. Nineteen is obviously young to be in a war by both modern and ancient/medieval standards but this setting seems to be one where weapons allow teenagers to fight pretty effectively (don't need a ton of training to use a gun), but the human rights regarding child soldiers aren't caught up to where we are now (not that they're perfect now, even...). I think it would make sense for him to be several years younger potentially. 3. I think so, though I don't remember the first one super well. I understood much more quickly that they were fighting mechs though I also knew that going in this time so it's hard to say. 4. Hmm no real opinion either way. It's not something I tend to focus on. I didn't really see what the ambiguity as being necessary (not being sure about M seemed like the idea, but I'm not sure that is even necessary honestly), but I also didn't dislike it. 5. Pretty high engagement, especially near the middle-end. Idk if I mentioned this before but I think that K is a very important character for how this all plays out (moreso than P who can just be a young soldier and N who, no offense, is just kinda there). It's fine if she doesn't show up on screen until the end but I think her presence needs to be felt more throughout the story. Her trust in M is a hugely important dynamic that doesn't really get brought up until the end. Would it make sense if she confided in V about her reasons for getting captured (doesn't have to be shown on screen)? Though I'm sure there are other ways to make it work too. V knows her pretty well, right? The conflict between how K sees him and who he actually is should be all to clear in his mind.
  3. If you're still looking for feedback I'd be happy to take a look at the revised version!
  4. Well I think this is the latest I've been but better than never? As I go: pg 2-3. I'm guessing this is one of Is' first times being alone like this in such a precarious situation (though maybe not). She seems pretty on top of things which I think is good but I'm wondering if it's worth highlighting stuff about surviving alone she's not used to in order to drive home the point about how much she's lost. Idk for sure though. pg 7. Seems like this is where the story starts to move forward. I wonder if we could get here more quickly. pg 11. I like the moment about the hostage thing because it feels so Is. With all the action it's been feeling like I'm losing track of her character a bit pg 12-13. I think we're getting a bit bogged down in hypotheticals here. I think this is one of the cases where it might be more powerful for us to just see what happens instead of going through scenarios pg 14. I like the bit on her physical state at the end to hammer home how much of a toll this has taken on her. Also conveys what kind of story this will be, with less focus on flashy heroics and more of a realistic struggle to survive. 1. Not especially. At least, I wasn't confused more than Is was. 2. This was most of what was on my mind. I'm conflicted because this chapter reads really smoothly and it all makes sense but I also feel like I don't really get a good feel for Is here because everything she does here is pretty standard and doesn't really show off her strengths/weaknesses or much about her personality. Which left me with a feeling of "oh that was pretty good" but also it didn't feel that memorable to me. I think I want to see more of Is' unique traits shining through here. How does she react in this situation that's different than anyone else in the story would? This can be something that helps her, hinders her, or even neither. If there's something already in there that answers the question, maybe it just needs to be highlighted more. 3. I was hoping we'd see a bit more about magic since this seems like the time to use it given how desperate Is is. Other than seeing how that develops, I'm interested in what she does now that she's on her own.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I'll have a slot for this Monday, please!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. I'll have a slot as well, please!
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. I'll have a slot for tomorrow please!
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Hey everyone, Thanks as always for the feedback, and especially to the readers who hopped back into the middle! I'm glad to hear that the last chapter seems to at least be on the right track. And apologies for the late submission today. But hoo boy did I need the time to clean this one up. The original one was... not good, and used my previous draft's characterization of B which is also not good. So I rewrote it entirely from scratch (from page 3 onward, at least) today. Questions after reading: 1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? 2. Thoughts on characters? Especially B. This version of her as a foil to W is a fairly spontaneous creation. The overall plot of the story is probably going to change quite a bit (seeing as how the supernatural stuff needs a lot more setup earlier on) and I'm wondering if B should be a more important character on the level of E. Thanks!
  21. Better late than never right? As I go: pg 2. I'm having a hard time parsing the dynamics in the first half of the page but I do like the thing with him training people in his homeland's style pg 4. Why does A think she toying with him? She could just be, like, genuinely interested. pg 5. I think I understand that how this is supposed to progress the plot since more focus will be on A and finding a wife but that's not actually what he wants according to the notes? And he doesn't seem that interested in T. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be the setup to a romance arc or not, and if not I'm not sure what it's doing for the story. pg 6. A crown? I think I'm not getting the subtext here. Explaining this earlier too might help me see why A distrusts her so much. pg 7. All right so A's comment about hoping they reach trade kinda sums up my thoughts about the chapter as a whole. The two individual parts (politics establishing trade and courting as a form of politics) have solid foundations but the chapter seems like it's waffling between the two a bit and feels a little unfocused to me as a result. pg 8. Would a trade deal really help him once the assassination gets out? It seems like the story's trying to link this together but I don't really buy it with how it's explained tbh. -I do like the detail about swordplay forms pg 9. This would be good to get early on in the story since it establishes A's heritage pretty well and lets me intuit a lot of questions I had about why he's seen the way he is pg 12. Should I, uh, know what's up with R? -Is it just the thing about the courts and succession he pointed out to V? Though the real question is how Ali is dealing with that I guess. pg 13. I think this would be good if... well, to be blunt, if I cared about D. 1. Some of the background politics were a bit confusing to me. I think an easy thing to clarify is why A seems to be a prime candidate for marriage. And who the people are like T who want to marry him for political gain. Are these people from minor noble families or is he up there with people from the big leagues? 2. This is the first time I feel like D is supposed to be an important character, and I think we need a bit more as to what his overall deal is. Like what is his niche in the court ecosystem? R has multiple, since he's the crown prince and also is the blunt/abrasive/hotheaded guy and D just feels... kinda like a dude. 3. I liked the swordplay stuff because of how intuitive it was. I think I'll be engaged with the rest of the stuff too once it gets clarified a bit. Oh also I know you sent me that thingy a while ago to read and I am planning on reading that but I kept forgetting. But yeah it's on my mind.
  22. Let's go hope I'm not too late. As I go: pg 1. I think no matter what you do with V I'm going to be really annoyed at him for screwing over C and the others. Which means I'm going to kinda roll my eyes at whatever he says here. So I kinda want him to come across as more insufferable so it's fun to hate him. pg 2. This is engaging but... I don't really have a strong investment in these characters. If this were gone I wouldn't feel like I was missing anything pg 3. Now this one is more necessary since so much of the plot revolved around getting A to a place where he was happy pg 5. I like the chapter 1 thing pg 6-7. Hmm I'm not really getting the point of this I think. At least why we need to see it all in scene, especially the logistics. I'm waiting for the buildup to the final whammy and right now I don't see it. pg 8. Okay the shoots is a way for us to track progress. My recommendation is to cut here immediately and have all of the anxiety/uncertainty from before be implied in the background -If you want to include the dinner scene, I'd prefer it to be in between seeing the shoots and the city. I think the conversation would be more interesting with some sort of catalyst having already happened. pg 9 (top). This is a great idea but it's never going to be the most powerful it can be to me if the focus is on something that does not exist. I like the line about the feeling of inertia more than the "no past/future" idea, because I can feel inertia but I can't feel a lack of a future or past. I think this is why for me it also feels a little obvious/heavy handed in how it ties into the story having no chapters. Though one thing I like about this is that it is pure inertia as opposed to cyclical time which I think is more standard. pg 9 (bottom). Good sendoff. 1. See comments for pg 6-7. Not boring but I didn't see the point really so it felt a bit stagnant. 2. No issues here! Prepare for ramblings below. I'm going to word vomit in hopes that me saying enough stuff will give you some sort of idea. Rambling 1: Themes/ideas of stagnation With the ending in mind, one big thing is that I want to feel the inertia a bit more so that it doesn't have to be explained to us all at the end. Though this is very tricky because... well, how do you show inertia happening? Especially when the characters don't understand it because that's all they know? I think this is why so many of these kinds of stories rely on cycles or loops. Because it's easier to show it happening again and again to drive home the stagnation instead of being forced to show... nothingness. This could work here but I also do like the pure timeless inertia. Hmm and the more I think about this there were hints and comments; it's just that I didn't know they were supposed to be so important that they culminate to the singular point of the ending. Because instead I was really more focused on the magic of the Wood Stove. Maybe this is what I was missing about why the airplane was supposed to be important all that time ago. I was like, "airplane. cool I guess?" when maybe the response was supposed to be "whoa this is cool because it shows characters developing a concept of change, time, and the world outside the town of C." Because of this, I think for me the most helpful think would be to link the Wood Stove to the idea of inertia. The wood stove is the most striking thing earlier in the story, so it can lead us into the main ideas and themes in a way that doesn't feel forced. Though again there are bits about how the wood stove can only rearrange things and can't really create anything new; I just didn't know that was the important part of the theme and assumed it was to ground it in some sort of rule so it felt less wishy-washy. And with further thinking, the characters do have some sort of idea of change and future even though the story acts like they don't. Because the town of C is getting worse and worse. The thing is, this seems very important as a driving force for the characters. If there were true stagnation and no pressure of change at all, the characters leaving would feel arbitrary. Though maybe this is actually an opportunity of the story and the characters acknowledging that change does exist already in the town of C is what gives them the idea that they can leave. I also wonder if V could tie into this idea somehow. He's supposed to be a hero, right? That fundamentally revolves around change, progress, and moving forward. I think it could be a compelling story if he teaches C about change, falters himself, but C steps up based on his lessons and carries everyone to the finish line. It really does feel like V is set up to be the mentor figure of the story but he doesn't seem to do much mentoring. Rambling 2: Magic and the Wood Stove: This is what caught my attention at the start, and I do think it's a strong part of the story that I'd like to see maintained. Perhaps this isn't worth answering and it's kinda a personal interest of mine but I am curious if all identity qualities can be purged from the wood stove, and if not what the line is. Like... if I were purging stuff in the wood stove, could I purge my gender? My anxiety/stress? My chronic illnesses and mental disabilities (they are a big part of me after all)? Though this does very quickly get into sketchy territory since it is quite literally erasing disabilities and other identities. So maybe it shouldn't be brought up? But ah I'm so curious. Oh also since the fan was introduced late on I was assuming it was going to have a pretty big role in the climax and resolution but it didn't make a huge appearance. Though I definitely don't want it to solve the problem for the protagonists. And while we're on the topic of T, I'd like a couple things from the story about her and the wood stove. 1. Her sacrifice really feels like it hinders C's plans. Most of what this revolves around to me is making T more important before the sacrifice so that it feels like a blow to the team when she loses her insight. 2. A path forward for her. Now that she's escaped, how will she move on from what has been inflicted on her? I think all we need is a hint. Rambling 3: Characters First off, as we mentioned I think that the mayor should be a stronger narrative force from earlier on. I think this indirectly helps G-M's arc as well since we don't feel the need to take her so seriously since we see she's not made to be the main villain. I think it also gives E more characterization early, since as much as I like him I think he might have the least going on character-wise out of the kids early on. G-M. I think her arc could do a lot of work in advancing the ideas of change and breaking free of inertia. Because burning down a house... certainly does that. I think that might give us more patience for her actions if it shows another side of the central ideas. The "dark side" of moving forward, to oversimplify. V. I talked about him above and I don't want to stress him too much since I may have been pushing the anti-V train a bit much. But after reading the ending my thoughts are that the story needs to make a decision on what's up with his origin and what it means. Because he came from the wood stove, but wasn't there also some element where he might have been from outside the town of C altogether? Coming from outside the town could make him a good catalyst and explain more of what he's supposed to do in his role as a hero. He is supposed to bring change to the town and take down the stagnation enforced by the wood stove, which ironically is able to exist because that sentiment from outside is filtered through the wood stove and came to life. And he does kinda succeed even as he fails, as C follows his lead and carries on. That's one story, but I'm not sure it's the one you had in mind since it does broaden the focus a bit. If there's some element of him that's from outside, that should be examined more. If not, I think the story needs to figure out why he's supposed to matter so much. Most of the other characters covered in above points. Side point: Partially agree here, but I think largely disagree if my read on what the story wants to be is correct. Agree in the sense that this raises a lot of questions that are tricky to answer, especially if this is "our world" they're travelling into, but disagree in the sense that the whole point of the ending, and of the story in general, is the characters learning to break away from stagnation and bring about change. That should be reflected in the physical world to tie the idea together, imo. That being said, it doesn't have to be a full city that they stumble on. I think even the smallest change like the vegetation mentioned might be enough to indicate the forward motion the story wants to capture. Oh, I did also agree with the other point that they get out of the radius very quickly. Well, congrats on subbing through the whole thing! Was a lot of fun to read.
  23. I'll have a slot for tomorrow, please! ...I assume that I just happened to be the first one and we're not skipping this week? Also I will try to get to critiques today
  24. Hi everyone, Thanks as always for your previous round of feedback! This time we have a bit of a different chapter. It mostly focuses on a side character subplot, and it's important to me that the story addresses what it does here even though it might not be as relevant to the main plot in its current form. Questions after reading: 1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? 2. Thoughts on characters? 3. Was there enough main plot in here? Or alternatively, were you okay taking this detour?
  25. This explanation makes sense to me whereas the chapter's text didn't as much. I think in most cases it is better to do what the story did and be very direct about how the characters will be affected, but in this case I think it oversimplifies the situation a bit and evokes something different than what the story seems to be going for (feels more like a deal with the devil than a medical treatment). Focusing on Is--n's body being more reliant on magic rather than the lifespan, while more abstract, I think also makes more sense with the parallels that were already drawn. Might help to have Is call this out, because I assumed we were supposed to take him at face value.