Silk

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Silk last won the day on September 20 2012

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  1. Ah, I see. And yes, I thought I remembered him from the prologue. So this is a ton of information, and I agree with your comment that your narrative is probably not well-served by trying to cram it all in there. The point may be moot for this specific chapter if you cut it, but since this is the chapter we have in front of us, consider these suggestions as examples for future chapters: As much as possible, try to tell these things through the characters' actions and emotions rather than lines of explanation. If R is an advisor and that line was supposed to be dismissive, maybe A needs to tell him off. If the line is supposed to be unusually dismissive, maybe A is too surprised/shocked to tell him off. Readers can and will make a lot of inferences based on little cues like that. Then the only thing we really need is clarity on R's position as an advisor, which can be dealt with very quickly. For the rooms stuff: again, a ton of information here, and not stuff you want to bog the reader down with. The trick is to determine the least amount of information the reader needs and then figure out how to communicate it as simply as possible. It seems to me that the important thing we're supposed to take from all this about room shuffling is that it is supposed to be insulting in some form to A and that he should maybe wonder whether it was deliberate, because those pieces of information will affect A's ability to achieve his goals and probably how he feels about it. (Not actually sure that's what you were going for, but running with it as an example for now.) I actually don't know how I would communicate that with so many little details required to explain why it actually mattered. In hypothetical-you's shoes I would probably just majorly simplify the whole scenario - they weren't expecting him and now he's stuck in a room that is smaller/of lower quality than his stature demands/than the jerk-rival-duke-from-next-duchy-over got/etc. Sometimes the key to communicating things simply is to just make the actual situation simple Even if there ARE details in what you originally envisioned which were planned to contribute to later conflicts, they can then be introduced gradually and as they're relevant to the situation at hand. Edit: It's worth noting that this doesn't negate the need to quickly get to the heart of the tension and move things forward - the characters still need to take action and move things forward - but this kind of balancing can help the chapters arrive to those points more quickly, and make it more impactful when they do.
  2. Yes and yes, though not necessarily "vulnerable" in the sense that "even horrible, puppy-kicking villains feel lonely sometimes." It's more that I have no idea how he deals with adversity, because in the story of his own mind, he hasn't experienced any. He gets turned down and doesn't even pause to re-evaluate. The setback or moment of doubt can be a very effective hook if readers are waiting to see how the character will pull this off/what horrible thing they're going to next, but we didn't get that here - even a moment of frustration that he's going to be delayed/have to do something he doesn't want to accomplish his aims/whatever it is. If he thinks he gets what he wants no matter what happens I don't really need to keep reading to find out that he gets what he wants. And clearer in what he wants to do, yes, but also acting with some sort of sense to achieve that goal, which I think dovetails nicely with your comment about using him as a device to create external conflict. That can totally work, but if he doesn't act according to some sort of internal logic then the conflict is in danger of seeming artificial and being frustrating rather than interesting. Probably a good decision! No doubt there are ways to accomplish this, hopefully we can help you find them Glad you found it helpful!
  3. Congrats on your first sub! I definitely think there’s the bones of an interesting story here. I trust you won’t be offended, though, if I say that I hope the POV character dies at least one horrible, screaming death, because I can only assume how I’m supposed to feel about him. That isn’t necessarily a problem, especially for a prologue, but he did straddle the line between “antagonist” and “cartoon villain” and is unfortunately coming down on the wrong side of it. Assuming that my experience of him was in the general ballpark of what you’re going for, I suspect landing him on the “right” side of this divide could be accomplished by tweaking a couple of things. One, we have no idea what he wants or why he wants it. I think it would be quite natural for the professor to ask him what he wants, or clearly resist the urge to, etc etc. And two, we don’t really see him deflated or contemplating defeat at any point in this chapter. It’s clear that he’ll get what he wants, if only in his own mind, which undermined the tension somewhat. Onto your questions: 1. For the most part, yes, though I suspect I wouldn’t have been if it had gone on much longer. I noted the points where my engagement slipped below. 2. I’m assuming some kind of fae (changeling maybe?) that can't lie. I don’t really think we need more on this point. 3. Yes, hard to tell. Those early chapters would have to continue to lay some groundwork for MA’s appearance in later chapters, and I’d definitely want to see at least one of the characters from the prologue make a reasonably early appearance. 4. Mmm maybe? I don’t think that a throwaway line in the prologue would get me to stop reading on this basis, especially since the dead spouse isn’t somehow dead as a result of being queer, which is kind of the quintessential version of the trope. I’d probably read right over it unless we started getting more dead queer characters. That said, I acknowledge don’t have the same relationship to this trope as some folks do. 5. Definitely! That said, I want to note that this absolutely did not read like a YA romance, so it may be worth adjusting the prologue to give readers a more accurate expectation of the rest of the book. As I read: “...train a chimp to obey traffic laws” this is pretty telling about how M views the professor, it’s the first line that sticks out to me as suggesting the professor is less than human as opposed to other than M seems like he’s antagonizing the professor a bit, which seems unwise since I’m pretty sure he’s about to ask for her help. Edit: Yep there it is! Second edit: A couple pages later, I’m STILL questioning his “start with the threats and antagonism” strategy. I assumed the dead spouse was public knowledge but going through private medical records is a pretty big deal. Also, whyyyy hasn't she just thrown him out yet. The conversation on the second page seems a bit all over the place. Opioid epidemics, institutional bias, dead spouses… it seems there’s plenty of conflict here but I don’t feel quite anchored enough to parse it. Maybe if M says what he wants first and some of the rest of this back-and-forth can happen as he attempts to persuade her? By about the middle of the first page, I was pretty sure I didn’t like M. By the bottom of the second page, I was dead certain. p4 and the “CEO” appellation is getting a bit old. I get that she’s returning some of the antagonism in kind, but repeated often enough it feels a bit silly. “In the end, MA will get what he wants…” I think this would work if we saw him coming back around to this position after a setback, but the fact that he doesn’t seem fazed at all by the professor’s approval deflates the tension somewhat, since it doesn’t feel like a setback happened at all. The last line feels maybe a little too on-the-nose, especially since there’s already been a couple references to “hunting” and “prey,” but maybe it won’t feel that way if some of the other things I mention get addressed.
  4. Overall: My comments are going to be pretty similar here to what they’ve been on previous chapters, I’m afraid. I’d like a much better sense of an arc and forward motion in this chapter than I got. Related to that, I suspect, is the fact that I don’t have any real ideas of what A’s goals actually are or why they matter, which makes it hard to invest in the character. It also still feels like we’re getting bogged down in minutiae here. The details about having the wrong bracelet could probably be trimmed, I thought it worked well for the first page or two (it definitely sets the stage for an intrigue-type story, so keep that in mind if that's not what you're going for) but after that I found it stretched a little thin. Same with the bit about the rooms – if the setup can be tweaked so it makes sense (you’ll see below I had some trouble with this). Maybe coupled with the part where the servant almost runs A down in the hall – I think that little scene was supposed to get at the same sense of being slighted the wrong-wrongs thread, and could maybe drive home the point that the characters know intellectually that they should be feeling offended. It seems like the central conflict of the chapter is R hiding stuff from A, but it takes us quite a while to get there, and when we do we don't get any substantial information. We have no idea what the thing is, why it’s problematic, or why it matters that R is keeping it from A. My two major suggestions for the chapter would probably be to get to A overhearing this conversation much sooner, and having A overhear something actually important. Without that, there’s no hook to carry us into the next chapter. As I read: I’m confused about R’s position here. As first presented (a new list of people to quiz A on, ask him if we’re overthinking it, etc.) I had him pegged as sort of steward or advisor to A. But the bit about removing R’s possessions from A’s suite is more suggestive that R a local/not-from-the-same-place-as-A noble who happened to get A’s guest bedroom. There were a couple of places where I had to really work to suspend my disbelief: If A has gone over the planned gift several times, then “it was a bright day” doesn’t seem particularly convincing in terms of how it was missed. Does the palace really have dedicated guest suites for different countries that sit unused for, potentially, decades at a time? That seems really inefficient. If someone else is in the room A’s supposed to be in and A knows this, would he really barge in without announcing himself, and would R really wander in without knowing someone was there? “...everything is fine?” “As far as you… concerned” Whoa. Either these two characters have a very good rapport, or R needs to get a very serious talking-to. This line seemed dismissive to say the least. “Why would anyone waste time…” I have the same question. Glad A asked it. “Half will assume that you have come…” I’d probably be more interested in this if I knew why he had come. The reasoning we’ve been given so far seems pretty vague re: trade and the like. The last line of this chapter, or possibly a version of it tweaked for added punch, could potentially work well, but for it to have an impact I’d like to have a better sense of what A’s goal was and how the possibility of R keeping information form endangers that goal.
  5. And then they never heard from him again...
  6. Overall: About the chapter overall, I really don’t have much to add. GF does come off as a little young, here, with her focus on the hero thing, but given she’s spent the last six years alone in a spaceship that’s probably okay. Other than that I thought character and pacing were all good. My biggest issue was reconciling the timeline of current events against GF’s six-years-out-of-date knowledge, especially when juxtaposed against the flashback chapters. I had to check several times to make sure I wasn’t in one. Also… if it took GF six years to get here, is it going to take her six years to get back? Last thought is I am still side-eyeing the structure a little bit, as I think the two flashback chapters are setting us up to expect more of the same. Of course, if there ARE going to be more, that’s not necessarily a problem. I had no particular comments on the epigraphs, btw. As I read: “...only detached eyeballs and…” Okay, as viscerally effective as this is, I have to wonder: would there really be eyeballs LEFT after a planet-sized explosion? Especially if said eyeballs had been drifting in hard vacuum for any amount of time? P2 did GF take a six-year journey not-rescue At? Has At been needing to be not-rescued for that long? P4 “out of the last jump with…” I feel like “with” is the wrong word here Well, I guess that’s one way to collect DNA… “...hammered flat from a previously spherical shape” oooh is that one of the doohickeys? P5 “any questions beyond cost” stumbled on this, maybe “beyond what it cost”? “definitively not transparent” wait how big is this thing if it’s obstructing her view that much? “She need to fuel before her next jump anyway” hopefully she has the fuel…? And a lot of food if she’s waiting around for inertia? P6 “rainbow of frosted metals” nice description here Okay, I’m getting confused about the timeline here. Most of O/GF’s internal dialogue is about At being allowed to go back home, but nothing about that minor detail where At is now one of the three people ruling Ard, which seems like it’d have some bearing on whether or not At gets to go home. (Did they not let At go home after she became an e, btw? I don’t recall but that seems like a thing they might have reasonably revisited.) Also, this is reading very much like O has a crush on At. EDIT: Okay, hang on, think I’ve pieced together the timeline. O left N the planet for years ago and has been out of the loop ever since, hence all this about absolution and rescuing At. If that’s correct, maybe hang a lantern on this because I’ve spent the last few pages getting increasingly confused. I think the flashbacks contribute; I had to check the timestamp at the front of the chapter two or three times to confirm this wasn't one. Also … O must have been relatively close when the explosion happened, yes? Maybe WRS, but what is it in particular that’s lead O to Priutcu? “...passing by in another half hour at her current coast.” My first thought was that her ship must be moving awfully quickly, especially for something that’s mostly intended to be flown on planets. But I suppose if the debris cloud of the planet has been expanding, this could make sense? “...put the remains of her rounds into ship repair” Isn’t this system outside the, uh, Systems? Why is she assuming anyone lives there and that they take the same sort of currency? +10 spaceship name, but I would have expected nothing less Oh, so it’s NOT an unoccupied system. “Can you mine?” At first I thought there was a missing word like “send” but now I realize that’s not the case. Maybe “can you mine them” would clear up the confusion? I mean… they’ve definitely heard of Ardulum. It’s right there in the ship name. I am digging the “not a chance” nail polish. Do I already know what nail polish brand this is? Not understanding the significance of the image though. Is this the personnel on the K ship, or…? P 16 “Heroes didn’t get blown up pirates” by It feels like the conversation between O and B goes on way too long considering the FTL drive only has 50 seconds to engage before they lose the tow and start talking… I am enjoying her yelling at her computer, though. Last line: Well, that figures.
  7. Overall: I think the pacing is probably a bit too gentle, if not in general, than for a first chapter. There is a fair bit of worldbuilding that I think could probably trimmed or maybe just re-distributed. Especially in the early pages, there was a lot of “line of dialogue, followed by brief explanation” that became fairly noticeable after a few times, plus a somewhat lengthier explanation on I think page 4. You could probably get away with it in a later chapter but maybe not what you want here. I also wanted a clearer arc for S, as it wasn’t clear to me that they’d changed their mind about going to to N...S or what prompted them to (maybe?) change their mind. Lastly, and maybe relatedly, I wonder if it would be more impactful for us (and S) to actually see Ambassador F trying to stop the witches, and maybe S even intervenes, rather than being told about it after the fact? As I read: I like the first line! The second line, however, goes on a bit too long and sort of deflates the punchiness of the first, IMO. SOMETHING TOOK THEIR SNACKS?! p2 “Laughter broke out of his mouth” kind of an awkward description I’m assuming S is early-to-mid-teens, btw, based on the “blah blah blah” comment about their mother especially. p5: Is it normal for the els to whisper threatening/ominous things? Because this seems like an escalation from earlier contacts (S fighting against their destiny, and S distrusting the els for their abilities, not necessarily their actions). If it IS an escalation (as opposed to S maybe understating the els’ intent), is there a trigger for that escalation? “...but none felt like ambassadors.” Hmm interesting. I didn’t realize S was expecting to meet additional people on this journey other than Ambassador F himself. Or were they? P6 “Well, at least a part of her.” Not immediately clear that “her” refers to the ocean Also, given S’s reluctant to engage with the els at all, their willingness now to tap into the els and especially what is apparently the boss elemental, seems to come a little quickly. “I will guide you, wordy child” lol Given my comment above, it might be helpful to get the bit about S feeling more at ease with A than other els sooner. P8 “hair reminiscent of cirrus clouds” nice description! Wait, I thought S already knew Ambassador F? “Maybe a little murder” Okay this is a fantastic line “...fertilizer for an apple tree.” I wonder if we need to see this line sooner. It’d go a long way towards explaining S’s hesitance around them and maybe allow you to trim some of the less evocative description. “Do you understand why you have to go?” Since I’m calling the line out anyway, I’ll note that it should be “now” and not “know” at the end, but my main point here is that I don’t think we’ve clearly seen this shift in S from not wanting to go to becoming resigned to it/accepting of it. “There was still a time to find a way out of…” and now they’re back to not wanting it again. How do I become a solar-barge-woman? I am super on-board for this crossover universe, I'm just saying
  8. Looks like we have a full roster this week [email protected], @kais, @C_Vallion, @Snakenaps, and @Ace of Hearts.
  9. A) I'm coming down on the side of "yes." It's a solid piece of character building that fills in the connection between the two of them in a way that a line or two of reminder/summary in the prose doesn't, I think. B) Being late to the party on last week's sub I'll give this question a pass. In general, I'd think this was a "beginning of story" thing, but I'm hesitant to suggest that here because you've got another one of those and that might be a stumbling block for readers. I'm kind of wondering if there's a way to integrate some of the highlights of the two flashback chapters directly into the prose, instead, but that's just a thought experiment at this point... C) Length is good, IMO. Chapter is admirably tight and does what it needs to do, and especially for a flashback, shorter is probably better. As I read: “GF prayed for her to slip and into the river.” One, missing word, I assume it should be “fall in.” Two, HAH. Having a bit of trouble picturing the actual layout of the scene though. The “making love” comment had me assuming that they were inside the settee – but I guess there are two that are outdoors? Also, wouldn’t it make more sense for these two guards to do whatever training thing they’re doing in proximity of all the other guards who are apparently somewhere over the horizon? Edit: Ah, okay, she wandered off from the group. I hope GF did not turn her comm on before muttering about poop and egos. P2 “…the shuttering flowers” should probably be “shuddering”? GF seems a lot more confident than I would be in just doing my own thing if I were at the first day of a new job and one of my colleagues kept verbally abusing me… P6 “memorizing versus for your ceremony” should be “verses” “I have no interest in that” seems a little formal. “A possible sighting” of what? I need to know so I can decide how I feel about GF basically abducting a kid to go take a look. Edit: about 2 seconds after I typed this, I realized it was probably the planet, which is proven to be a good hunch a few lines later so… false alarm, I guess?
  10. Congrats on your first sub! Overall: I’m getting a strong Gothic sense, both in terms of tone and the tropes, which was very clear throughout. I thought this did reasonably well as a slow-burn narrative. I did think it was sometimes too slow, both because my attention wandered in places (see below) and because the Gothic slow burn is at odds with the end of the chapter in which the count very quickly reveals his entire deal (which Gothic narratives generally do not do that early if at all). More buildup in the middle could help reconcile the two and make sure we’re engaged, as well as introduce the actual supernatural aspects a bit more naturally. I literally this wasn't sure this was speculative fiction in the modern sense until the Count revealed himself. I’m not invested in any of the characters at the moment, including our POV. Which, yes, another function of Gothic narratives, but it’s something to keep in mind, if only from a saleability standpoint; modern literature tends to be a lot more character-heavy than your average Henry James novel. On the subject of characters, I would also really like it if the women did, well, anything at all. It’s fine to portray people restricted by their circumstances, but these ones have no personality, to the point that when they appeared in the story my reaction was literally “where did they come from”? Another trope I don’t love: the fat character being the obvious villain. It’s pretty overplayed, and the fact that C is an antagonist is telegraphed strongly enough that I don’t think it adds anything. As I read: A’s sister seems to appear out of nowhere when G falls on her. And is Mrs. L A’s sister, or someone else because if so she also seems to appear out of nowhere. “Welcome, the affluent…” Describing someone to their face as “affluent” struck me as a bit weird. P3 Spellcheck won’t catch this one, “… as the L’s were all accounted for” no apostrophe after the L “Count C… the demon.” I mean if that’s the twist, I’m on board. I question why he would telegraph it like this, though. “I did not invite you here to gossip.” I’ve been wondering about this. I do note the foreshadowing about C being more than he seems, but I think some hint of why they’re here is due or even overdue. My attention is slipping and a sense of what this encounter is driving towards could go a long way. “...looked dotingly at his daughter.” Um, even if she’s not supposed to talk, can she, you know, react at all? Well, you definitely have my attention again after encountering the amazing groaning toilet. I’m very creeped out (which is fine) and also completely baffled as to how the count keeps this a secret (which is less fine). P6 “desert was eaten” should be “dessert” My mind is wandering again. Did they not talk about anything of consequence for the whole dinner? Wild theory time: A was spared from whatever’s about to happen to his family because he’s vegetarian? For reasons? “...though someone vomited on me as I did so.” Hah. I would like a clearer picture of what A actually did in the fight, but hooray, A did something! He’s been pretty passive up to this point. The POV shift on the last page seems abrupt, especially going from third limited to third omniscient. And the Count cackling about his plans is not doing much for me - this all seems to be standard "evil villain" stuff, not actual character development. If the count is meant to be an actual character then I think we need to see some of that - assuming the camera is focused on him. If he really is just a monster who needs to feed... you might be able to get away with that in a Gothic story, but you might need to shift the way you think about him from an antagonist (character) to a plot device (force that acts on the character) - which probably means not giving him screen time to cackle about his evil plans (unless maybe he's doing it at the protagonists). It's definitely a thing in this subgenre, but I did feel it could be trimmed or condensed a bit. This is an excellent point. I wasn't fond of A's parents either - dad seemed like a jerk - but since M is the one who is maybe still alive she's the one who arguably matters most. This does seem like a great setup for lambasting some of the more unsavoury parts of the subgenre, if you're going for something more satirical. No the impression I've gotten so far though. yep good idea to tag this stuff. "SA" for sexual assault is the most appropriate one. Can always qualify that it's implied rather than explicit in your email/post. I think you could possibly marry this to epic fantasy, or at least, to adult fantasy. I definitely do not think you could marry this to YA fantasy without a massive overhaul. Addressing some of the show/tell, pacing, and characterization that people have already brought up will probably "modernize" the ms to an extent and make it feel more like fantasy than Gothic. That being said... it might be worth doing some market research and seeing what is out there for Gothic fantasy - it might be a small niche but there's gotta be some out there. We seem to be unanimous so far in the sense of the Gothic you bring to your work, so it is probably worth exploring further and seeing what other writers do with it.
  11. All right, circling back to skim a few of the comments: I did have to suspend disbelief a little. A stack of books makes an absolutely terrible stepladder (which is part of the fun). Having a clearer picture of them being piled high enough to step on top of rather than having to climb them would definitely help. Yep. We're simultaneously getting "magic is very dangerous" and "magic isn't actually THAT bad" (or maybe "the ends justify the means?) and contributes at least a little to not understanding Is's actions or motivations here. Re: @kais's comments about the political info, I'd agree that we're still getting a lot more information than we generally need. I appreciate the need to ground your readers, but I think you can really focus on one or two concise things that don't require giving us a political treatise in miniature to understand. Like @Robinski, getting the information that basic healing magic isn't allowed is helpful. If you can couple that with a motivation - maybe Is really does just believe in making the world a better place, which certainly would tell us something about her! - then that is a very useful grounding tool. I wouldn't have known who Est was if I hadn't read the previous chapter, I don't think. One thing to keep in mind is that we're very fond of critiques that focus on reader reactions, on how we actually experienced the work while reading it. So if someone tells me that they're skimming, yes, it's possible that maybe they'll miss things in the text, but the fact that they're skimming is also extremely valuable information - it's a reaction that says the story is not holding their attention at that point. The single most effective way to give us information is to make sure we're already invested in the information that you give us. Aside from generally being on "team cut what you can," it's also worth considering whether some of the information we're getting that is necessary is just presented too early. Two questions I like to keep in mind when I'm worried that I'm infodumping on my readers are "is this information necessary?" and "is it necessary right now?" In general, I try to err on the side of trusting my readers as much as possible. Yep. I was yelling on about consequences, but another way of thinking about it is that the chapter doesn't leave anything undone. Yep. I'm sorta murky on whether what I's doing is legal or not. Right now it sort of seems like the stones are legal but the spells used to create them aren't, which is not helpful for trying to ground myself in the setting. And as @julienreel has also mentioned, the consequences for her knowing banned magic. What is she risking by doing this?
  12. Opening paragraph: Whatever I is doing sounds like a terrible idea, and I am completely here for it. “Did he not tell anyone?” Still baffled by the duke traveling from a remote area could have been so completely missed. I am starting to get a bit lost as we go into the magic laws and trying to change them. The reason for changing them doesn’t seem to be grounded in anything specific – making things better on a broad scale is all well and good, but I guess I’m wondering why here and why now? What’s the urgency? Similarly, while the opening was great but I’m feeling the tension start to deflate around the stone. Is worries that her maid will take it, but I still don’t know why she wanted it to begin with, and the fact that her father’s caught her in the act seems to be a complete non-issue since he has absolutely zero questions for her. So if Is already knew how to do this… why did she want the stone so badly? Apparently this scene wasn’t about her learning/trying something new. Overall: Really, I think I’ve covered everything already. The first few pages were great – I is doing something illicit! And silly! And potentially pretty dangerous! (Honestly, I feel like she got off light. Really light. I would not object to her showing up to the party with massive bruises or limping from a strained ankle or so forth. Leave a great first impression with that there duke!) But then we started to get into the magic laws and whatnot where Is and her father have this very intellectual discussion about why changing magic laws is good, and it all reads as very abstract, political-platform kind of stuff. I don’t get the feeling that Is personally affected by this, and I don’t get the urgency since this project has apparently been on the backburner for some time. The arrival of the duke to court doesn’t, so far, seem like an especially convincing game-changer. I spent a lot of the conversation between Is and her father wondering “okay, but why? And why now?” I'm also wondering what the arc of the chapter is. We started off at a great point A, but we never get to point B. What are the consequences of her choices? She’s doing something forbidden, but she doesn’t get caught, and it isn't clear what happens (aside from maybe some political inconvenience) if she does. She’s doing something dangerous (and the prologue makes a point of magic being dangerous in the extreme), but nothing bad happens. And I’m not sure what she’s actually accomplished: since she apparently already knew how to cast the spell, she just trashed her study to recharge a lightbulb. How does what’s happening here propel us into the next chapter and the rest of the story? I do think this is a big improvement over the previous chapters in many ways. Now it’s time to take the tension and interest of the first few pages and figure out what goals Is has, what actions she takes, and what consequences she faces in order to carry us through the rest of the chapter and the narrative.
  13. Looks like we have @kais, @julienreel, and @C_Vallion for Monday.
  14. Even "meter" suggests a change in the music's time signature, which I probably wouldn't expect a character to notice unless they are themselves musically trained, so it sounds like general comment about the style of music or the feeling it invokes might serve your purposes best here. In practice, the idea of the lead "offering" their hand is definitely rather dated even in ballroom and the palm up/palm down is the major signifier of lead vs. follow. No doubt it's partially cultural, but it's also because that's the position that allows us to most easily swing our arms up into a frame without having to let go or fiddle with handholds or whatnot. And the basic frame is pretty consistent across every style of dance I've seen, swing included, though admittedly I've less experience there. Even in West Coast Swing, which defaults to an open frame, if I'm leading, I'm offering my hand (or taking hers) with my palm up because that's where I have to lead her from. Ahah, a kindred spirit! Yeah, Shard is funny about text boxes, especially with mobile, I actually won't do crits on mobile at all anymore for this reason. A blank quote box with my name attached to it just sitting there forever seems... oddly appropriate.