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  1. I really liked this chapter! It's easily my favourite of what I've seen you post so far - I found it engaging throughout, I enjoyed seeing W and A acting like friends who like each other, I dig the intrigue and the weird vibes B gives off, the setup with the evil CEO grandpa showing interest in N's forest gang sounds like it will make for some good conflict later so I'm on board for that, W's character development and having an actual mature conversation with E was good stuff. I know that probably sounds weird and confusing after I expressed doubts about the setup for this chapter last time. But it feels like stuff is happening throughout this chapter, and plot threads and character arcs are moving, so ... shows what I know, I guess Notes about individual characters: B is interesting. I'm not sure what to make of her yet (which I assume is what you were going for). My guess is that either she's processing a lot of trauma in a not-great way, or she is incredibly melodramatic (or both?) A's personality worked for me better here than it did previously. Her 'cool girl' tendencies come off as harmless fun, rather than as manipulation or unnecessary drama as they did before. That makes her more likeable. Showing how she wrangles W's social life in a way that is probably on balance good for W makes their friendship make sense. I think I 'get' E more now. He's prioritizing supporting the people he cares about over his own wellbeing, and refusing to change that even when he's called out on it. I suspect that what he's doing isn't sustainable and things are starting to fall apart on him, even if he can't see that. W calling herself out on her misplaced anger was great, and made me more sympathetic toward her. I like that she has resolved to move on and do better. I'm okay with there being no N in this chapter, because even though he's the A-plot, enough interesting stuff was going on here that I don't mind N's stuff being on the back burner for a bit. Note how I have way more to say about the characters now than I did after reading chapters 2 and 3. I reckon that's the reason this chapter works so well for me where the others felt like they were stalling - there's more going on here. This is where the characterisation really clicks for W, E and A. If you're looking for suggestions, I would recommend either making cuts to previous chapters so we can get to the good bit faster, or figuring out what info you need to convey before this point and put it in the slow chapters to fix their pacing. A few nitpicks: pg2 - 'not nearly as cray as I fear' - 'cray' feels too slang-ish for W's staunchly anti-cool persona pg5 - not sure why W thinks you shouldn't teach a kid to be confident and charming? Presenting yourself well is a useful life skill? pg6 - 'Call it character development' that phrasing is leaning pretty hard on the fourth wall. It breaks up the flow of the scene a bit.
  2. Hey everyone, This is the third chapter. I rewrote some of last week’s to fix the tone problem and issues with C’s reactions, but in terms of plot, there’s nothing new you need to know. Questions for this chapter: 1) Do the characters make sense? Are their thought processes clear and believable? 2) Any tone issues? Recap: Ch1: After C and her friends play on the forbidden cursed land, C notices that the contents of an essay and some old films have vanished. She sees her friend GM burn her cut hair in the Wood Stove, for reasons C doesn’t understand. Ch2: C finds a possibly-magical pair of diamond earrings in the Wood Stove and meets V, a boy who can turn into a raven and claims to have come from outside town to defeat the curse.
  3. Thank you for this insight - I was struggling to know what genre was the best fit. I’m going to settle on calling it middle grade
  4. I would like a slot for Monday, please.
  5. Thanks for the feedback! I’m making some changes to the way C reacts to things, to make her more involved and less naive. I’m also rewriting a chunk to try to fix the tone issues.
  6. I think the length depends on what you want the piece to be. If it’s just for writing practice, you’re probably going to want to trim it down, to really focus in on the important parts (also for ease of getting critiques!) If it’s a proof of concept or dry run for a longer piece you want to write in the setting, you probably want to expand it to include more worldbuilding and descriptions, and never mind the word count.
  7. I agree with Leuthie here. I think Navani is a great character who absolutely earned her bond with the Sibling. The fact that there were other candidates with valid points in their favour doesn’t detract from Navani’s worthiness. And Navani gets massive props from me for all the work she has done. Not just her work with anti-light during the occupation, but the years she spent organising scientific research. Organisational roles are vital in scientific research and innovation. Getting resources to the right people in the right place at the right time is how it all happens. Finding and sharing relevant information so that people’s findings are actually useful and not sitting around gathering dust. Navani, and everyone like her, absolutely deserve credit.
  8. It's knights with steampunk airships. Over the top combat is what I'm here for! I thought the combat section worked well overall (few nitpicks I'll get to). I liked the inventiveness of how V used the surrounding area to his advantage. One thing about the fight that struck me as a bit weird was that the JH crew managed to clear out all of the boarding pirate crew without any casualties or major injuries on the JH crew's side. I would think they'd have to be massively more capable than the pirate crew for that. And that's odd, given that pirates are presumably not bad fighters. My takeaway is going to be that the JH crew are in a league of their own in terms of combat ability. Yeah, there's a bit of an issue there. While I'm enjoying the action, it doesn't feel like there are wider stakes. I don't know where the plot is going, only that these characters are trying to avoid imminent death. I don't know if I can recommend a fix for this without knowing how the rest of the story plays out, though. Well, Captain V is certainly very cool. This chapter really highlighted how capable and clever he is, which makes me warm to him as a character. His one-liners and general demeanour are fun, too. Sa and Ir are not as interesting. I get that Sa is secretly a robot (or something), but I can't say I feel interested in whatever is going on there. Ir has an empathy gap that might be concerning if the crew didn't seem to have everything under control. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - if these are bit part characters, then it's good that I have a broad-strokes impression of them without wasting too much time on them. But if I'm supposed to be getting invested in these characters, I'm going to need a bit more to latch onto. So, overall, it was a fun chapter that I enjoyed reading, but if I found this in a book I would be starting to wonder what the point was beyond cool airships. As I go: p1-2 - There are two captains here. You might want to introduce B by name right off the bat so that it doesn't risk confusing people. p1-3 - There is a bit too much standing around talking before the fight begins. Some posturing and cool lines are good, but too much can feel like the characters are talking in circles. p4 - 'We're a lot more experienced at this then you are' => than you are. Also, this line isn't as snappy or clever as most of V's other burns. p5 - 'crippling it for the fight' - This reads as awkward wording to me. I usually take 'crippling' to imply more permanent damage. p5 - For the bit where B and V are fighting, you give a fairly dry description of their fighting styles. It would be more exciting if you showed how both of them fight by describing a few moments of the combat. p7 - I'm a bit surprised that the two other pirate ships are attacking, not running away. I would expect them to find an easier target that's less likely to get them killed. p7 - Also, if B was the only thing keeping the other two ships from firing on them, why didn't V try to take him hostage? Seems like a less risky move than killing him outright. p8 - 'ninety percent capacity of standard capacity' - You can remove the first 'capacity' p9 - 'Another one of your plans, captain?' - This is so corny but I like it. Also, should 'Captain' be capitalised as he's being addressed directly? p13 - 'It's guns fired' => Its guns p14 - 'Physics took over' - this might be pedantic, but my brain sees that and goes 'but physics has been there the whole time!' p16 - '... men were injured, from various degrees' => to varying degrees? p17 - I don't think 'abhuman' is a word. If it's an in-universe thing, I think you need to signpost that, or it looks like a mistake.
  9. Thanks for the tip - I forget stuff sometimes!
  10. This was a fun short story! I found it very readable and engaging throughout. The biggest problem for me was the shift from mech and guns action in the first scene to the intrigue and political manoeuvring for the rest of it. In a longer story it would be good to have different kinds of things going on, but for a short story, it made that first scene feel disconnected from the rest of it. I don’t think you can just get rid of that first bit though, because it establishes the bloodiness and desperation of the fighting, especially with P’s death. You need those stakes. If you would like a suggestion, maybe you could rewrite the first bit so the action revolves more around secrets and intrigue and less blowing stuff up? Like, maybe they need to get intel to damage the mechs? That’s just an idea, up to you. The other problem I had was the plot got a bit confusing at times. I’ll go into exactly which bits tripped me up, but generally, there’s a lot of changes and reversals going on, plus the basic setup of the setting and characters need to be absorbed. There are lots of moving parts to keep track of and a lot happens very quickly. I did like the characters. I found them compelling, and their motivations and emotional states were clear and made sense throughout. I can’t help you much with the title. Titles are hard. It’s not bad as is, but it doesn’t grab my attention. As I read: pg5 - ‘Two rounds gone. Five left.’ Seven rounds? I thought six was customary for a pistol. Is this a special dieselpunk pistol? pg6 - why is V trying to drag P’s body while being fired on? I get that he’s upset, but there are limits. Also, he was just yelling at P to leave the gun and get out. pg6 - continuity nitpick: the stars are visible. It was overcast earlier. pg8 - ‘He’d served forty years before’ - he served for forty years? Or he served forty years ago? From context I assume the latter, but the wording could be clearer pg9 - unclear how serious V’s shoulder wound is. He’s up and walking around with it. Was he just grazed? Or is there a bullet in there? pg10/11 - I agree with V here, this sounds like a hopeless fight and surrender is the best option pg12 - I like the power-crazy vibes from M here. They’re subtle enough that I believe he’s still in charge and other characters don’t question it too hard, but I can see there’s definitely something up with this guy. p14 - This is where I started to get confused. I wasn’t super clear on exactly what the reveal was here. I got that V has caught M in a lie, and that M has jeopardised K and the boys, but the specifics are not immediately evident and I felt a bit lost. pg16 - I’m a bit confused about the details of M’s plan here. How will they all get citizenship if K is a hostage? Wasn’t his plan doomed the moment K walked? pg17 - I assumed that the ring meant that K was dead, but I wasn’t sure. Given how quickly K’s assumed status changes, I need to be really clear on whether we think she’s alive or dead at any given point. pg20 - This was a reveal rollercoaster! And that’s fun. My one quibble is how the Zi set all this up. Unless they have detailed knowledge of the ongoing situation with M and V, the plan is one hell of a long shot. They had to know that faking K’s death would lead to V discovering that M plans to betray them, and that this would drive V to defect to the Zi’s side. And they had to know exactly where V would be, to deliver that info to him, along with K’s ring. Honestly, I’m not sure who planned what and what was just a crazy coincidence here. Thanks for sharing, and I hope my feedback is useful!
  11. Thanks for the feedback - this is all good to know and I will take it into account in future revisions. Snakenaps - I’m sure you are a much more capable teacher than the characters in this book The town’s education system definitely has issues and is more about keeping up appearances than actually teaching the kids.
  12. Hi again! This is the second chapter. I made some changes to the opening so that C connects the spooky goings-on to the curse, but other than that the plot picks up where last week left off. Also, after doing some market research, I’ve decided to lean towards calling this YA (not middle grade). No content warnings for this chapter. Specific questions: 1) Is the pacing OK? Were there boring bits? 2) Was it easy to follow? Was there anything you thought you should understand but didn’t? 3) Do you feel that you have an idea where the story is going now? Recap: After C and her friends play on the forbidden cursed land, C notices that the contents of an essay and some old films have vanished. She sees her friend GM burn her cut hair in the Wood Stove, for reasons C doesn’t understand.
  13. I would like a slot, too
  14. Agreed - there are plenty of self-aware teens out there. Especially if it’s other teens that they’re wary of. Re the void of uncertainty with the friendly face - I thought W was musing about religion there. Thinking about how dealing with tragedies in life can drive some people’s faith. To expand on julienreel’s point - I find romances compelling when I understand why these characters need to be together, and why they can’t be (at least, until it gets resolved). That conflict is where the tension comes from.
  15. Thanks for the feedback! I have made some edits to cut down on the extraneous descriptions, to move some character introductions to a later point so they don’t bog down the opening, and to signpost plot stuff better. C now explicitly makes a connection between the curse and the strange goings-on - hopefully this will make her seem a bit more engaged in this section. The points a lot of you make about chapter breaks are good to know. I’m going to put more obvious breaks between sections and see how that works. Some specific issues pointed out (why the Wood Stove gets capital letters, why the population is so tiny) will be addressed later. They tie into some mid-to-late-game plot stuff. Thanks again, this was legit really helpful in pinpointing issues with the plot I felt I had but couldn’t put my finger on.