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22 Awakened Object

About C_Vallion

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  1. By any chance, would anyone be up for doing a quick read-through of the revision I'm working on for this chapter to see if it's headed in the right direction? I shifted the angle of approach a little, which I think helps with some things, but I am trying to get an idea of whether it just shifts the bigger issues in another direction. No need for a full critique. It's not a weekly submission, so I don't want anyone to feel obligated to read it or spend a ton of time on it. Just trying to get an idea of whether this general direction works or if I need to figure something else out. Thanks so much for all of the thoughts!
  2. General notice for age confusion now that more people have read through it: The line about being mistaken for thirteen should be ignored. She's nineteen, self-conscious about being treated like a child, and given to overstatement. Where it is now, the line is obviously just super confusing and basically just provides wrong information. I don't know how I missed it. The even more concerning thing is that this is far better than earlier versions. At some point, I apparently got it in my head that using a name too many times in a paragraph was a horrible thing. Some of the really early drafts were incredibly painful after looking back at them a while later. It is still something I need to work on, because author-brain just skips over them sometimes, but I'm at least aware of it, and am actively looking for it. So most of these things (basically things that fall into the "Not like other girls" trope) are holdovers from draft 1 (Calling it that isn't quite accurate, because it was basically an entirely different project. The only good thing about it were the vague shapes of some of the characters and the fact that it was a project that I finished), which was very solidly MG or YA aimed at teen girls. There are probably like 5 scenes in this version that came from that one because I like fancy dresses and clinging to sentimental nostalgia. Or something. I hesitantly kept the ball scene, but I think @Snakenaps point is probably the best point to argue for cutting it and some of the other things that would fall into the same box. I have no problem with YA aimed at teen girls. I still enjoy reading it when there's something more interesting going on than which of the two hot guys the protagonist is going to make out with at the end. But I think having all of these things (ballgowns. boys. warrior princesses) as our opening introduction is definitely approaching both the story and Is's character from the wrong angle. So...we'll see if the new and improved version works better when it's ready. So there are a few scenes held over from like 2010. A new and improved round of drafts that got about 80% of the way through the story from 2015 or so before realizing that the conflict didn't make sense. About 40% of that one is in the new version and reworked, and the full draft has been finished as of this past year. But the fact that it's big and that I mostly worked on it in sections means that some chapters have been reworked far more times than others because I've had more opinions on the parts that have been around longer and am still waiting for friends to read through the final full draft (it's a lot harder to find friends able to read through a thing you wrote when everyone has kids and jobs and things than it was in college). This chapter has been revised about a million times because it's been around so long and because the story has changed so much since it was originally here. But it definitely sticks out like a sore thumb now because I do think it's not quite the right starting point, but I don't know what is. I think my initial approach had been "Let's tell the readers some things about Is." Which, it turns out, is not really a helpful approach, and also doesn't focus on the aspects of her character that are actually important. Basically your middle paragraph there. The things that the chapter currently focuses on are not the ones that will be most relevant to the main plot of the story, even if they are technically relevant to her. I did talk through all of it with a friend yesterday (he's not big on fantasy, but does better with structure problems. So he hadn't zoned in on the teen girl YA fantasy trope implications when he read before), and I think the angle I came up with from that works better, but we will see how it actually goes once I've gotten it on paper. Thanks, All, for your thoughts!!
  3. I almost included "How painful is it to read a 'getting ready for the ball' scene on page 1'?" as one of the questions in my intro, so thanks for calling that out. I probably should have figured that if it was something I was concerned about, it would be even less interesting to someone who doesn't know the characters. The prologue was intended to add extra action before then (if I can get it to cooperate), but I do think I need a better starting point for the main body of the story. I just haven't been able to figure out what it should be. I knew I should have cut the line about not looking thirteen... I hadn't expected it to be taken as a statement of her age (somehow), but it doesn't really mean anything if we don't already know the contrast of her being nineteen and being self-conscious about looking like a child. Gah. *facepalm* I think the main problem I have with this (obviously also relevant to the prologue, and likely will be later, considering how bad I am at recognizing it) is trying to figure out what information is needed when. And also getting too excited about my random notes on the world's history when it's not important to the reader. At least not at this point. Do you have any thoughts on how to go about finding those things when it's hard to separate what is already in your head (the whole story and world) from what is in the reader's head (at this point, not enough grounded knowledge of the world for names and geography to actually sink in). The obvious way seems to be to have it read by people who have an entirely fresh read on it, but it would be nice to have a solution other than making all of you guys struggle through a super confusing first read of everything when I should be catching more of this earlier. I did a few passes of this last week, and ran it past a couple of my early readers (who, of course, have read most of the full draft, and have the context to place names in), who said they thought it was good (though, compared to painful early drafts they read, it was definitely better). I'm just not sure if there are better ways to separate the author-brain from the reader-brain while doing these revisions, or if it is just a matter of catching everything I can before having someone else look at it (preferably before sending it to a whole bunch of people who will all be confused by the same things). Any thoughts or recommendations?
  4. *Note for anyone who checks this before reading: Isra is 19, not 13. Please ignore the sentence that implies otherwise.* Hello, All! This is chapter 1 of my epic fantasy, Price of Peace (filler title, but functional for now). No content tags for this chapter. All input is good input at this point, since I’ve only had a handful of people provide thoughts on it so far, and most of them have been too nice to point out broken things. For anyone who likes to focus on specific things, I could use feedback on the following: 1. Thoughts on having two rather significant conflict points introduced in the second half of the chapter? Does it feel like an overwhelming amount of information to introduce in one chapter? And is it painfully info-dumpy? 2. What sense do you get for the scope/tone of the full story from this? 3. What information does it seem like we’re missing for an opening chapter? 4. General thoughts on ways to improve this as a first chapter? I know openings are not my best thing, and it doesn’t help that I have been making both major and minor adjustments to the first few chapters for a long time. At this point, I have very little sense of how it comes across on a first read, and need some direction on what it does or doesn’t do that a first chapter shouldn’t or should. Thanks so much for reading!
  5. May I have a spot for the 18th as well?
  6. Title thoughts: I think I like Stowaway at the Academy best. It gives us more of an idea of plot and setting going into the story. I probably won’t comment much on the romance aspect of things. I still find my own experiences with middle school/high school crushes to be cringeworthy enough that I don’t get much enjoyment out of reading them in fiction. You did a really good job of portraying the feelings involved, but if anything, I think that just makes it more likely to call me back to how much I just did not enjoy that aspect of being that age. Just as a bit of a heads up on why you won’t get much feedback on that. And I think everyone else caught most of the typos I noticed. Pg 2: “Do …pronoun?” On one hand, I like how this is introduced, but on the other hand, it seems like writing in a journal is one of few places they wouldn’t have to choose a pronoun, since they’d be writing in first person. Unless there are potentially other first-person pronouns that people go by (I am still very much learning about pronoun choices and related etiquette. So I’m not sure if this comment is relevant or not) “What the…anyway?” I like this line a lot. Normal earth-time has been irritating enough to keep track of lately… “Sure I am” Should this be “I sure am”? “twenty-nine…” I really enjoyed both the fact that the number jumps around throughout and J’s comment on the sort of arbitrariness of some aspects of swearing. “twine into knots” I think mixing the ideas of guts twisting/twining and tying themselves into knots is a little odd here. There’s too much of a disconnect between twining and knots in my mind. “fitted sleeves” They wear uniforms, right? It might be worth adding that detail in here to further flesh out what exactly this school looks like. It’s not shocking when it’s revealed later (I think we expect it from “Academy” if you reference that in the title), but this seems like an obvious place to introduce that detail to me. Pg 3: Like others mentioned, I don’t entirely get a feel for the stakes. A says they could get expelled. And J acknowledges that, but is far more focused on doing what A asks than anything else in the world. So while J isn’t exactly pleased about the idea of virtual school with one of their moms, they don’t seem all that conflicted about it. Also, how did A come across L in the first place? Pg 4: Again, I enjoy J’s overthinking of the deities. Pg 5: If it’s such a crime for non-student individuals to be here, how is it so easy for them to find a uniform? Even if it’s not quite the right fit? Wouldn’t the powers that be keep a close eye on that sort of thing if bringing in outsiders is an expelling offense? “Whenever…meals.” This just hurts the little rule-loving part of my brain, but it fits the character perfectly. We just probably wouldn’t have gotten along. “keeping …alive” Yep. There are definitely days when I get home from coaching and the best I can say is that at least we didn’t need to call an ambulance. “I’m an …one.” I don’t quite follow this. Pg 6: “They treat…tree!” I’m not sure the deep breath is enough to convey the tone of what L is feeling here. How old is she supposed to be? They refer to her as a kid, but I’m not sure what age or self-awareness/world-awareness that implies. And the “I completely…tree!” line seems like a far too carefree response for someone who has recently accepted that 1. Her entire village believes a harmful lie that would have gotten her killed, and 2. She’s been shipped away by someone who has called out the entire belief system she grew up with as a lie. Or misunderstanding. I get her gratitude for Dr. Mom, but there is a whole lot going on there that should have far more impact on L than it seems to be. I know the scope of the story doesn’t allow for in-depth analysis of dealing with the trauma of being pulled out of a harmful and problematic cult, but the way it’s put here makes it feel like it’s being brushed off. Pg 8: “The little door…middle.” So, this to me says that it isn’t entirely abandoned, but that isn’t the same as it being used regularly. If it was clean and spotless, that would imply regular checking/cleaning, but I’m not completely sure what we’re supposed to assume from it just being unevenly dusty. How long are they planning to hide L? And who do they expect to find living under bleachers? I can’t think of any reason to spend any significant amount of time under nasty bleachers when students have rooms available, unless your other alternative is to be fed to a tree. Also, in a post-roomba age, I find it odd that there isn’t some sort of auto-clean process that would be preventing dust build-up there altogether. “Can you think…” I know J is supposed to be the one with the experience sneaking around, but A seems to just be along for the ride for this whole process. And I still don’t have a good idea of why. Pg 9: “It’s not like someone…security.” But isn’t being seen what they were afraid of before? “Go in …mats.” This seems like it would be a perfectly effective way of keeping anyone from seeing her. Unless I’m picturing the setup wrong. Send L in under the bleachers, close the door, problem solved. Leading into the next page, I can see reason for concern about W and company being suspicious about why A and J are there, but I don’t see it as a risk to them seeing L. Just for them to cause trouble with A and J. Pg 10: Okay. I hadn’t realized they had all gone in under the bleachers (I think that’s where we are at this point?). Was the door closed and W opened it? If so, why were W and friends going to go hide under the bleachers? And if the door wasn’t closed, what would have made them go over to check it out? Pg 14: I’m not quite following L’s explanation and the related g-spore conversation. Pg 15: “A crack in the door…tablet” Where are we now? I’d assumed that we were in the halls on our way back to J’s room during the spore conversation, so I don’t have a good sense of where W is or what he’s doing there. Are we all still in the gym? Still under the bleachers? If not, can’t they go another direction to get to J’s room? Does the gym only have one exit? Overall, I don’t really enjoy a ton of teen mischief / school crushes / etc. so in many ways, I think the main troubles I have are that I’m not the intended audience for the story. Which can't really be helped. I do think the other concerns I mentioned are still relevant, though. The stakes don’t seem all that immediate (other than W, but I'm not quite buying the behavior of him and his friends). I’m still not sure what A’s motivations are or how they got involved in the first place. And It bothers me that L’s thoughts about being shipped away from home because her village wanted to kill her are being brushed over. All of that being said, I think J’s voice was really fitting for the character, which is great, and I didn’t have any issues adjusting to present tense like I was expecting to going into it. It all seemed to flow really well even with the shift in tense that I’m not used to. Thanks for submitting!
  7. This is probably true. And I'm sure I'll get closer to that as I go back to it (letting it sit for a bit before going back to it now). This is going to be something that is probably going to be a challenge for me throughout. A lot of my initial writing inspiration starts with snapshots of scenes and lines of dialogue that go with them (most of my initial roughing out of chapters are pretty much dialogue + stage direction), so there are a lot of sections that in my mind are inherently tied to how things have to be, even though they aren't actually important. Initial drafts also tend toward an "I can always cut out the extra stuff later" approach, which doesn't help with the problem. I'm catching more of them as I'm going through my current revision to prepare things to be submitted here (turns out it's suddenly a lot easier to acknowledge unnecessary parts when I know that you guys will suggest cutting them out anyway), but I'm sure that a lot of it is going to be a matter of making multiple passes and trimming back a few things each time as they become more obviously irrelevant. Relatedly, in response to this: Good. I need direct critiquing. Because otherwise I'm going to end up with a 200k word book. I'm sure I'll be less enthusiastic about it when everyone suggests cutting out little things that aren't actually useful, but seemed really clever at the time, but I'm fully aware of how much work needs to be done if I want it to actually go anywhere. So thanks! Even after just two submissions, all of the input from you and from everyone has been incredibly helpful, and I really appreciate it
  8. That is something I've also been a little concerned about (the fridging, that is. The Ob are supposed to confirm M's death, but I try to be clever and end up just being confusing...). Especially because there's no room to give much information about M here, even though she's very much the main person holding the duchy together. I think that if anyone has been fridged, it's probably Br, really. He just gets to say some things beforehand, where as most of M's influence, we see through later snippets.
  9. He rolls to his back to get a little more leverage and pushes it off that way (going back to our weightlifting comparisons-can you tell I started my coaching season? You're going to have more leverage for something like a bench press compared to curls or an overhead press). Which is why it still ends up falling on Br's arm instead of actually falling clear. Though it's possible that wasn't 100% clear either. Will have to go back and check later.
  10. This might need an extra clarifying detail or two if it's still not coming across right. I guess I'm wondering what you guys are picturing. The main problem would be Tr not being able to get leverage to pull Br out from under what's pinning him. He's on his stomach under a bunch of stuff that he's nervous about bumping into, so he's only able to really use his arms to maneuver. He can either get a solid grip on Br with full arm strength or he (or Dw if they switched out, though in my head Dw is too big to fit) just hang on with his hands and use elbow shuffling to back out, at which point, speed becomes a huge issue once things start shifting. Dw has more leverage to pull both of them, and is just generally in a better position to apply more strength (sort of comparing the weight that can be lifted in squats/deadlifts vs. bicep curls). I would have to recruit some help to officially confirm, but I'd still think that dragging a two-man chain, while painful, is probably going to be less difficult overall than anyone trying to backward-army-crawl while dragging a body. Is there something there that you are seeing differently? Hm. I hadn't been aware of a Dresden connection. I'll have to figure out the best way to deal with explaining this (or how much of it needs to be explained. Or if I should just drop it here entirely), because it is a little different. Long story, short (as short as any of my explanations get...) : A lot of the judicial system is based on the detail that if you aren't able to come to some happy compromise with someone who you have wronged, or who has wronged you, then the wronged person (or someone on their behalf) has the right to basically perform a divine judgment ritual that calls on our god of judgment to decide how to punish them. This can be risky on both sides if the accuser isn't 110% sure they're in the right on the matter, and most people tend to feel safer deciding on some less flashy form of justice amongst themselves (usually with the help of magistrates). So in this case, Br would have a right to demand some price from the midwife, and Al would have a greater right, but would have to be involved with divine rituals that he wouldn't understand, which was where the possibility of Tr doing so on his behalf came in in the original version. The blood price the midwife agrees to is basically the arrangement decided upon by all involved that if she follows through with X, they won't call down judgment on her from the gods. The healer's family would also have a right to make similar arrangements. At this point, I'm going to let the prologue sit for a while because it's all merged together in my head and I need to distance myself from it a bit before I make more edits. I do know that I need to incorporate more of the religious/judicial system in the early chapters than I currently have (a lot of it will probably be added by the time you guys see it, but we'll see), and when I'd had some of it in the prologue, it was because it hadn't been there. I'll have to reassess as I go through those chapters before I jump back to rework the prologue.
  11. No worries! It's only a matter of time before I do this or something similar Part of my mind had noticed that the word count seemed off, but I didn't put the two things together. On the bright side, the addition of this section answered all of the questions I had about it seeming to start in the middle of a conversation. This is much more what I would have expected from E being mysteriously transported to some other place, and does a good job of providing details to add to the image in my head while also emphasizing the strangeness of it. I'm still a little iffy about her dialogue voice, but for whatever reason, it doesn't bother me as much when reading the full version of Chapter 3 as it did when only reading the later sections. I have no idea why.
  12. Hah. This is entirely fair. I would not have blamed you. Like I said before, I have no idea how I missed so many incredibly confusing things on the first round. So glad you enjoyed this version It's interesting that you pointed it out as having a more YA feel this time around because of it being more character focused. I do like that aspect of YA (and think that's one of the reason the whole story will feel more YA) but shy away from the general connotation of teen angst and characters who have their priorities way out of whack. Ultimately, my theoretical audience is people who aren't technically in the YA target audience, but who still like to read YA because of the character detail and the lack of graphic sex/violence, and who want to see characters facing larger scale challenges and more difficult decisions than which hot guy to make out with at the end. But that isn't really a marketing category....so we will see what happens. I wouldn't have considered myself a grammar person, but considering how much I tend toward sentences that are a mile long, that's probably a lie. And 15 years is still better off than I am. I think the last time I diagrammed sentences was in middle school? So...ugh. Twenty years ago now? Turns out they don't do a lot of grammar studies in college engineering programs. That being said, I think most of the instances, at least, should be correct. I figure we have the timeline that Tr is experiencing starting at the top of the stairs, going through the end of the chapter. So the midwife's warning, the presence of the second band, the wall falling, etc. should all be before that timeline as he's experiencing it. I guess this does still need a little clarification. Normally, it wouldn't be. It's generally a harmless and entirely legal spell, so the healer wouldn't have had any qualms about asking him to help. It was slightly more risky for Br for reasons that we don't get until a while down the road, but it was reasonable for both Br and the healer to assume that there wasn't any risk in things going wrong. Certainly not enough to just go without trying. I'll have to figure out how to make that a little clearer without doing a full magic system summary. This is more just referring to the general experience of losing his parents (though listed among the other things that the advisers would be taking care of, I see the confusion) and, while there are plans in place, no one ever wants those sorts of plans to actually be necessary. Part of me is assuming that the back of book summary would mention or imply Br's death, so I hadn't felt a need to mention it here. It would at least be clear that by the time the main story starts, he has his title. Chapter 1 calls out the fact that both Br and My die here, and it's addressed a little more when we hit Al's PoV in Chapter 2. Even if help gets there in a reasonable amount of time, I'd assumed that extensive lung damage would be tough to do anything about in this medical era. Thanks so much for the thoughts! And I'm glad this was easier to understand. Now I can start to address the other problems that were hidden under the mess of confusion
  13. Pg 1: I like the opening paragraphs. The sense of detachment as she’s trying to work through her thoughts comes across really well. “less hours” Time has a couple strange exceptions when it comes to less vs. fewer, but I’m almost completely sure this should still be “fewer hours.” Pg 2: “not even noticing its soft cushions” But she did notice them. Her PoV just told us so. Pg 3-5: “More honorable…[through the end of the scene]” I don’t know if it’s just jumping in late, but I haven’t seen any sign of him being dishonorable. There’ve been a few instances of him considering putting Ir’s abilities for mysterious use that I don’t fully get (Chapter 33, I think?), but overall, he’s seemed honorable and considerate. I mean. I get being upset that he took over where you live, but he doesn’t seem like any sort of tyrant. Pg 6: “She longed to race over…she was sure,” It might make more sense for her to think that there wasn’t any reason for her friends to have been in harm’s way rather than her being sure that they were unharmed. I get where her priorities are and what she’s thinking through, but the wording feels off as it is. “into a vase.” Oh. Okay. Are there just a lot of convenient vases nearby for roll disposal? I don’t know why my brain stuck on this point. Pg 7-10 A lot of reasonable fear/grief/anger pouring out in a way that feels realistic. Good emotion throughout. “You know what…” I would have expected something more along the lines of disbelieving/grieved resignation here. I’m not sure what kicks Ir toward anger. It seems unlikely that the lack of honor in slavery would be the comment to do it. Even if Ir isn’t the type to plead for her sister to change her mind, I think we need a better reason for Ir to feel like she is right to be angry. Tying those lines directly to what she’s angry with Sue about seems like a better way to shift into the feelings we see at the end than the currently more vague anger that Sue isn’t going to change her mind. Letting Ir convince herself that it’s righteous anger for Sue’s kids’ circumstances (or something else. I haven’t been reading long enough to know what other things they hold against each other) instead of her own grief and fear working themselves out into anger seems like it might be a stronger approach. Overall- Good flow throughout. I think the combination of dazed detachment and strong emotion once she sees Sue and breaks out of the detachment works well. I hadn’t seen too many details about the religion-related worldbuilding in previous chapters other than mentioning Raviekan statues, and it’s neat to see the reincarnation aspect of that detailed a little further. Yet again I see a lot of details of a really interesting world that I can’t get my head fully wrapped around since I jumped in so late, but some snooping around your website was helpful. Continuing to look forward to reading through this!
  14. Thanks for sharing these! I somehow managed to miss those two while I was digging through old episodes to listen to. I've also found Tim Hickson's youtube videos on empires and how they rise and fall to be really useful to think through some of these things. https://youtu.be/51MWp0Hgo90 https://youtu.be/1yu5MHeLMEY https://youtu.be/jAKfs0TaOR4