shatteredsmooth

12/20/21_ShatteredSmooth_Mistbound Proposal (L) 3040 words

5 posts in this topic

TW ghosts, language
 
Hi All!
It's been a while since I sent anything out!! Here is a 3,040 word story I wrote using a random word generator for a prompt. It's an early draft, so I'm sure it needs a lot of work. I'm open to whatever feedback you have, but also have some specific questions:
 

1.     What kind of emotions does the story need more of?

2.     Where is it most important to add those emotions?

3.     Any thoughts on character and plot?

4.     When J clears the road, I kind of skim over it. Do you think it works for J to do it alone? Or would you rather see her and A work together to do it? How detailed should it be?

5.     Does it end in the right place? Or do I need to add more?

6.     Both J’s  and A’s pronouns are she/her/hers. If I use different pronouns, it was an accident. If you see any slips (most likely to they), feel free to point them out.

 

Thank you!!!

 

Sara

Edited by shatteredsmooth
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pg 1:

Something seems off to me in the phrasing of the first sentence. Is Gayest Party Train a sort of proper noun name? Or is it supposed to be “the gayest party train in Tonic”?  Are there so many gay party trains in the town that this one deserves the -est? What adjectives are modifying what? “gayest party” train or gayest “party train”?  I have many questions.

However, I think the next two sentences work really well once that confusion is figured out :) 

I have odd philosophies about profanity usage, but “darn” feels funny here.  With the amount of anxiety I assume would be associated with this, I’d expect something a little stronger.  At least dang, if the character is profanity-averse. Darn just feels very toe-stub-y.

Pg 2:

I get antsy about lengthy physical descriptions, so having four sentences dedicated to it seems like a lot.  But I also tend to fall off the other side of that boat, so I’m never sure how reliable my opinion is on that sort of thing.

“looked at the train”? Also, “its peeling paint gave it”?  Ali- referred to the train as “she”, but depending on how much the train is personified as a character in the text, “it” might make things less confusing.

“not being able to come here anymore. ‘Wish I’d come here more’” is repetitive

I’d read “their car” as in automobile, not as in train car.

Pocket-ful pants = +10

Pg 3:

Pupper! = +10

“Got irritated if J pressed them” Pronoun alert.

“pretended to let it go.”  Relatable.

Pg 4:

This was not a direction I expected this to go in.  I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.

Pg 5:

“I wouldn’t have let you come.” I feel like we need more of a hint that something isn’t quite normal earlier on.

Pg 6:

So it seems like Ali using “she” at the beginning is accurate to her understanding of the train as a living thing. But J’s line here at the top definitely makes me lean toward the “it” above.

“ghosts…memories” Yeah. I’d definitely want some reference to ghosts early on. This felt like it came in out of the blue.

“Maybe I should have…ideas for books.” This seems like a “rethinking our proposal” level of deception.

Pg 7:

“hated secrets…” It’s odd to me that she was aware that Ali was hiding something and still wanted to propose at all if she is so opposed to secrets. It would make more sense to me if she’d been entirely unaware, or had asked and received some sort of not-quite-true excuse answer.

Pg 7-9:

I think a good deal of this could be trimmed back for pacing. It also seems odd that if they think so highly of the train, that neither of them would have considered the idea of having it preserved before then. I think there needs to be a sense that the news was sprung on them suddenly for this last minute search to seem believable.

I think part of my issue through here is that I’m still reeling from “train is moving” to “ghosts possessing train” to “find a museum”.  The fact that the bridge is out doesn’t immediately hit as concerning because I still don’t know anything about what the train is or isn’t capable of. After all, she’d just said it was flying, didn’t she? 

I like the detail that it can remember things, but not remember them away. That works really well with the idea of ghosts being tied to memories. But we need more setup of that before that obstacle appears to keep it from feeling like an immediate “Here’s a problem, but here’s a solution.”  Maybe after it starts moving slowly, Ali has to go out to remove something from the tracks while it’s getting up to speed? Something to have the structure of how things work setup a little before it becomes relevant.

End rambling

“proposal of sorts” I’m always up for a big double-meaning shift. They’re some of my favorite things. And I like the idea of the proposal in the title shifting to mean a proposal related to the train’s relocation (or both). But as someone who spent several years writing R&D proposals, it doesn’t seem quite right here.  What exactly are they proposing? “We’ve dumped a train in your yard, and here are the reasons you should keep it here”?  I really want that meaning-shift/expansion to work, though. So if there’s a way to shift things a little to make that happen, I’d be all for it.

“J closed her eyes and cringed” I assume this should be Ali?

Pg 10:

Should they clear the road together/how much time should be spent on it? I don’t see any reason for them to not do it together, unless Ali needs to be doing something inside the train. But I also don’t think we need a ton of time spent on it. Maybe a paragraph mentioning a couple of specific things they have to clear. Maybe one of the things is big so they have to shove it out of the way together? How fast is the train going to be moving while they’re doing this?

And reading on, I see that I’m misunderstanding their plan. I’d expected them to ride back along the tracks and jump out when they came across things to move them out of the way. And maybe do something clever to jerry-rig tools from what they have in the train if they come across something that needs to be disassembled.

This seems like a more roundabout solution, which I’m not sure gains us anything. How important is it that the train doesn’t want to move until it has a clear path?

What sort of things is she expecting to have to clear out of the way where a saw and rope will be the best tools to deal with it?

“sped forward until…” wasn’t the bridge out?

Pg 11:

I’ll admit I’m not thrilled about the happy/cheery proposal if Ali has been deceiving J for years. It seems like too much emotional processing for J to have done when she’s just been shoved into a world of ghost trains.

I do really like the idea of the ending, with the museum person (?) being there, them knowing about the ghosts in the train, and hoping to get the train there. But it also raises more questions about why no one did anything sooner, either ghost-wise or fundraising/petition/etc.-wise.  If it’s Ali’s regular office, I’d expect her to have been more involved in trying to save it earlier on.

Overall:

I really enjoyed a lot of the ideas here.  Fun train adventure? Nice. Ghost train powered by memories? Awesome. Saving old trains? Wonderful. Potential word-meaning shift in the title text? Woo!  Beloved golden retriever? Excellent.

I do think it needs a little reworking of some things to make it hold together better, though, especially in the pacing through the middle. There’s just a little too much shift between initial expectations and where we end up for me to not feel a little lost.

That being said, I’d love to see what it would look like if those issues get straightened out.  Not sure what your goals are for the piece, but if you take time to rework it, I’m definitely up for a re-read when it’s ready :) 

Questions 1-3:

I think for the relationship arc to work there needs to be more of a reason for J not to be angry about Ali deceiving her for years. Especially if she personally hates secrets, and has just been thrown into a very chaotic situation that she’s been kept in the dark on. There aren’t any consequences to Ali’s deception, and all is well at the end, but I don’t think it’s quite been earned yet.  It just takes too much time/work to get through that sort of clash.

To lean toward being prescriptive, I’d almost want to see a clearer break in the relationship when Ali reveals what she’s been hiding, and have J stick with her for the sake of the train, then have something at the end make J want to give the relationship a second chance, but not quite be at a point of wanting to propose yet.

Question 3B (plot)

I think my only issues plot-wise would be fixed by a little more setup early on.  By the time we learn that there’s a supernatural element, we are moving full speed ahead, and obstacles are being introduced pretty much as they’re being overcome, so there’s not enough time for tension to develop before it’s dispersed.  Giving us some hints earlier on would be a big help in making that flow better.

Question 4: Answered above.

Question 5:

I think it’s fine where it is as long as we have a better setup for why no one did anything earlier on to get the train there, when it hasn’t been made clear that there was anything stopping them.

Question 6:

I pointed out one spot.  Might also be worth doing a search for J’s name. I caught one spot where it didn’t have the ie on the end. Not sure if that was a one-time thing or if there were other moments I missed.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Questions:

1. What kind of emotions does the story need more of?
I think it's missing an entire second half and all the emotional turmoil that will give us the sense of victory when J finally proposes.

2. Where is it most important to add those emotions?
While A and J work together to clear the track and save the train and ghosts.

3/4. Character and plot? / When Jeanie clears the road, I kind of skim over it. Do you think it works for Jeanie to do it alone? Or would you rather see her and Alicia work together to do it? How detailed should it be?
Hm...Yeah, the last page is very confusing and things just sort of end. There's a good setup here with the ghosts, but you've skipped all the exciting story parts. What things does she have to clear to get the tracks working? Will the train derail if she doesn't? She briefly mentions leaving A, but it's very unclear where she is and how far away she is from A.
The resolution is...fine, but there's no sense of satisfaction because there's no tension between "we have to clear the rails" and "whew, we made it!" The story is only 3k, but I think it needs to be about double that to develop the characters while they act on the plot setup in the first section.

5. Does it end in the right place? Or do I need to add more?
It doesn't need more at the end, it needs more to justify the end.

6. Both Jeanie’s  and Alicia’s pronouns are she/her/hers. If I use different pronouns, it was an accident. If you see any slips (most likely to they), feel free to point them out.
Found maybe one spot, below.


Notes while reading:

Pg 1: "gayest party train Tonic, Vermont."
--Not sure what this means. It's a literal train? It's a town?
--Ok, the rest of the paragraph makes it sound like it's an actual train car.

pg 1: “This is probably the last time we’ll see her.”
--The train?

pg 2: “We need to eat,”
--What does that have to do with coming to the train?

pg 2: "ahead of tome."
--Time

pg 5: "So did that mean this was real? Or that she just forgot that part of her dreams?"
--Interesting!

pg 6: "quickly realizing the words were a mistake."
--How would she realize that? I think she might after the train knocks her down, but not before.

pg 6: "Their spirits returned here"
--Whose spirits?

pg 7: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
--That...wouldn't be my first question

pg 7: "And she’d had a feeling A was keeping something from her."
--This comes out of nowhere.  Would be good to plant a seed earlier.

pg 7: “So, are here any..."
--There

pg 8: "Then the ghosts fly it to a museum.”
--"Have the ghosts?"

pg 8: "which museum"
--There's a museum on the tracks, we know, but I doubt there are many...

pg 9: "J's Chest Tightened. If the ghosts didn’t trust, her, did that mean A also didn’t?"
--weird capitals, also how does one follow the other? Isn't she about to propose? Weird time to think a future finacee doesn't trust her.

pg 9: “It’s not on the rails to begin with,”
--what isn't? I thought the museum was? Too many objects in this section.


pg 10: "car until they were practically at the museum and found a space to pull the car off, and then they were back..."
--Are these "they"s referring to J (which should be "she") or to something else?

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, the overall mood was nostalgic and a bit eerie. 

I sympathize with J's initial nervousness and then her sense of betrayal at being deceived. Other critiques have already said the same, but I was waiting for the punch of those emotions. It's clear she loves A, but she seems to get over this big secret and her anxiety very quickly. As a reader, I was expecting to be tortured a bit before the happy ending.

"A" comes across more clearly than J for me. Even when they aren't getting along, we only see positive things about A through J's eyes which makes her come off as somewhat idyllic. This might be intentional but it makes J seem a little worshipful of A, particularly with how quickly J forgives her. 

J clearing the road: I would be miffed if someone wanted me to do all the heavy lifting while they wrote a letter. J is probably a better person than I am though :-) It feels strange that J leaves A and the train after everything that just happened. As a reader, I am half expecting them to have disapeared later. 

The two pronouns slips I caught have already been mentioned. 

 

A couple small things:

"The car's lean, and their peeling paint..." 

Would it be (cars') for plural possessive here?

 

"J had to stay and write her proposal" wasn't A writing it?

 

Thanks for sharing!

Sarah B

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/21/2021 at 0:16 PM, C_Vallion said:

That being said, I’d love to see what it would look like if those issues get straightened out.  Not sure what your goals are for the piece, but if you take time to rework it, I’m definitely up for a re-read when it’s ready :) 

 

Thanks! I probably will post a re-write in a couple weeks. I'm starting to get ideas about revising it now that it's rested almost a week. 

 

On 12/21/2021 at 0:16 PM, C_Vallion said:

I think it’s fine where it is as long as we have a better setup for why no one did anything earlier on to get the train there, when it hasn’t been made clear that there was anything stopping them.

 

I have some ideas about this. :-)

On 12/23/2021 at 10:54 AM, Mandamon said:

I think it's missing an entire second half and all the emotional turmoil that will give us the sense of victory when J finally proposes.

 

I've got ideas for this now. :-)

On 12/24/2021 at 8:50 AM, Sarah B said:

J clearing the road: I would be miffed if someone wanted me to do all the heavy lifting while they wrote a letter. J is probably a better person than I am though :-) It feels strange that J leaves A and the train after everything that just happened. As a reader, I am half expecting them to have disapeared later. 

 

I'm going to keep them together, I think. The letter can wait. 

 

Thank you @Sarah B @Mandamon and @C_Vallion!! 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.