C_Vallion

12.20.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace- Chapter 19 - RevA - G - 3722 Words

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My e-mail has been acting up this past week (apparently whatever internet deities that control what goes into spam filters have turned against me), so my chapter will be coming through from the wonderful @Snakenaps

Hopefully I'll have that figured out soon...

That being said, here's the intro text:

Happy holidays, all!

This is the last chapter in Part 2.  

Content Warning: Gore

Questions:

  1. Anything confusing?
  2. Thoughts on the ritual?  Does it feel too much like it’s coming in out of the blue? I made some adjustments to try to help that a little bit (both here and in the previous couple of chapters) but I have a feeling it’s going to feel a little out of place until I rework Part 1 to include more information about the magic and judicial system in Ala's early chapters.
  3. Does it feel like the “in pain” point is pushed too much?  When I had my pre-reader look at it, it seemed to fall too much on the “do you need to remind us of this so much?” side of things, so I trimmed it back a bit, but I also don’t want to lean too far in the “Oh. So she’s fine now?” direction. And until I let it sit for a couple weeks, my opinion won’t be reliable.
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

Thanks!

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I'm diving into this without having read a whole lot else aside from a few old versions of 1-3 and the new ch. 1. 

On 12/20/2021 at 9:23 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Anything confusing?
  •  

I was confused by the part where the ritual doesn't go as expected, though it might be because I'm missing stuff from previous chapters. 

When she said "This wasn't supposed to happen" I wondered "Does she know this from experience or things she’d been told? I’ve only read the first few chapters, so there is a lot of world building I am missing?"

I was a little confused from there up until "Then there was light again."

My confusion would be okay if she is meant to be confused too, but she seems to know what is happening, but it just isn’t happening in the order she expects or something. Either clarify what is happening so the reader knows too or up her confusion so it feels like we are all very confused together.

On 12/20/2021 at 9:23 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Thoughts on the ritual?  Does it feel too much like it’s coming in out of the blue? I made some adjustments to try to help that a little bit (both here and in the previous couple of chapters) but I have a feeling it’s going to feel a little out of place until I rework Part 1 to include more information about the magic and judicial system in Ala's early chapters.
  •  

Can't really answer this because I haven't read the previous chapters, but from reading this alone and nothing else, it felt built up to ok within the chapter. 

On 12/20/2021 at 9:23 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Does it feel like the “in pain” point is pushed too much?  When I had my pre-reader look at it, it seemed to fall too much on the “do you need to remind us of this so much?” side of things, so I trimmed it back a bit, but I also don’t want to lean too far in the “Oh. So she’s fine now?” direction. And until I let it sit for a couple weeks, my opinion won’t be reliable.
  •  

I thought you had just the right amount of pain to create tension and make the reader wonder if she was going to make it or not, but no so much that I felt like I was getting hit over the head with it. 

On 12/20/2021 at 9:23 PM, C_Vallion said:
  1. Points of interest or engagement?

 

All of it? I was engaged from the first line, and the only place it wavered a little was after the ritual, and that was because there wasn't enough reaction / processing on I's part. 

Other thoughts:

"No Gi healer was going to be able to fix this. " So is she doomed? If it can’ be healed, she’ll probably die if its an internal wound.

"it’s only occupant" its

"She shuddered and she wiped her hands on the grass, then climbed to her feet, backing away from the fire pit without understanding" Can you dig into the feelings a teeny bit more here?

"What had this cost her?" Good question. I’m a little confused there here, probably because of the world building I have missed. However, I do want to see her process this more. I want more internal thoughts, feelings, and reactions to what is happening. 

"She shuddered and stopped herself from looking back at the fire pit." Definitely need to see her process this more. 

"How could there be so much she still didn’t know ?" Again, need more reaction, more processing.

Overall I thought this was a tense, well paced chapter. However, I felt let down after the ritual because it seemed like something big happened, but I was just brushing it off. I want to see her process it more. To react more. To have more feelings about it. That way I know how to react to it and feel about it. 

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On 12/26/2021 at 4:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

My confusion would be okay if she is meant to be confused too, but she seems to know what is happening, but it just isn’t happening in the order she expects or something. Either clarify what is happening so the reader knows too or up her confusion so it feels like we are all very confused together.

This should be a "we're all confused together" situation to some extent. I'll have to work on how to convey that better.  I think the rough outline of how rituals should go is (and/or will be) provided enough in other chapters to get a sense of what Is- should know. I'll just have to look more into where exactly the line between what she does and doesn't know is. 

On 12/26/2021 at 4:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I thought you had just the right amount of pain to create tension and make the reader wonder if she was going to make it or not, but no so much that I felt like I was getting hit over the head with it. 

Great! Because the day or so before posting, it was definitely hitting people over the head with it. 

On 12/26/2021 at 4:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

All of it? I was engaged from the first line, and the only place it wavered a little was after the ritual, and that was because there wasn't enough reaction / processing on I's part. 

On 12/26/2021 at 4:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Overall I thought this was a tense, well paced chapter. However, I felt let down after the ritual because it seemed like something big happened, but I was just brushing it off. I want to see her process it more. To react more. To have more feelings about it. That way I know how to react to it and feel about it. 

Good to know.  This is definitely something I struggle with, especially with Is-'s chapters, when she tends to avoid acknowledging emotions when she can, and finding the balance of reactions that convey her feelings while she's actively avoiding those feelings is always an adventure.  

Thanks so much for your thoughts! 

 

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1. No big points of confusion. I feel like the comparison to the oath bands ties it back to established mechanics in the story. There have also been mentions of the Judge previously, but never with this tone of dread that I remember. The only thing that hung me up is that it is mentioned that she spent her last reserves of magic to heal herself, but then she starts a fire. I wasn't sure if this was because fire starting is so easy for her now, if she had recovered somewhat or if this was a continuity issue. The part between finding the horse and starting the fire, her actions were a bit unclear.

2. I'm on the fence about the ritual. As a reader I assume it's going to be explained later when she tells someone, so I'm fine holding my questions for later on. The impact of what was happening didn't hit me until after it had happened. I think initially I assumed that it was her own self recriminations combined with shock, rather than something external. As a reader, I think I was missing maybe a moment more to make the switch between her general suffering and something new happening.

3. For her injuries, I think the level of attention spent on her pain and symptoms was very appropriate. The only line that struck me was about midway through her walk to the river, 

"She couldn't change any of that now..." 

It's not a bad line at all, but it feels less immediate and more self reflective than what comes before and after.

4. I found this chapter very engaging and interesting. Well done!

 

Thanks for sharing

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Slowly making my way through old subs...

As I go:

pg 1-3. This is a lot of space dedicated to this visceral survival stuff. Which isn't a bad thing but I worry that too many people like me won't be as interested in the content due to personal preference since this isn't why I got engaged with the story and people who find this kind of thing compelling would want more earlier on. 

pg 4. Just airing my thoughts as I go: I think my current hangup is that I'm not understanding how this surivial/pain stuff is advancing the story's ideas. Though like I mentioned a personal bias against this kind of thing probably isn't helping. 

pg 5. My first moment of being hooked in the chapter is about how her injuries relate to magic and healing. 

pg 7. Is the idea that if she dies before getting to do the ritual, she'll get condemned in the afterlife? Again I have a personal thing of usually not finding that kind of motivation super interesting in general but I do feel like it's a little basic. Mostly because if it's something everyone is expected to do in her situation, it really tells us little about her character that she's doing this. I'd like to for the story to either fast-forward through this or go further in and explore Is' connection to this ritual in a way that's more personal. Maybe that shows up later but I feel like I need at least hints of it now.

pg. 8. The J is a deity, right? So far the most interesting thing about the ritual is how she views them (him? Can't remember if they're gendered) as maybe having a different view than a reasonable person. I'm interested in whether that means "The J's view is higher than we lesser mortals can comprehend" or "The J isn't reasonable sometimes but I gotta play along so I don't get smited to hell." 

pg 9-11. I think the story's on the right track because I can feel that this should be impactful, and it's the right place for something like this. My hangup is that right now I don't know how this advances the story's ideas. Religion has felt like more of a background fixture so far, though I'm starting to see what you mean with wanting to put more focus on the vows early since that would make this seem less jarring. 

pg 12. It's good that the story is setting up this mystery to convey that we shouldn't know exactly what's going on either, but I also don't really feel the stakes of whether or not Is figures out her magic stuff. 

On 12/20/2021 at 9:23 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Anything confusing?
  • Thoughts on the ritual?  Does it feel too much like it’s coming in out of the blue? I made some adjustments to try to help that a little bit (both here and in the previous couple of chapters) but I have a feeling it’s going to feel a little out of place until I rework Part 1 to include more information about the magic and judicial system in Ala's early chapters.
  • Does it feel like the “in pain” point is pushed too much?  When I had my pre-reader look at it, it seemed to fall too much on the “do you need to remind us of this so much?” side of things, so I trimmed it back a bit, but I also don’t want to lean too far in the “Oh. So she’s fine now?” direction. And until I let it sit for a couple weeks, my opinion won’t be reliable.
  • Points of interest or engagement?

1. Nothing I can think of!

2. Yup does feel a bit out of the blue. I think using part 1 to contextualize this will help with that point, but I still have the lingering question of what this does for Is' character and the ideas of the story. Mostly because if this is such a standard thing to do in the world in this situation, is it really telling us that much that Is is doing it? So far it seems like the price she has to pay is the biggest candidate for a strong story beat to come out of this since it has the potential to be personalized, which means that we might need more info about her price here to understand why we should care. Not necessarily more answers, but more hints or why we should care about those hints. Though that's one of many routes the story could take in revision to deepen the chapter's connection to Is' character. 

3. I personally think that yes it is still, though like I mentioned it's something I don't tend to love in stories even when it's done "well". My main hangup is that pain itself really tells us little about her character. How she reacts to the pain can, sure, but the experience of her being in pain for multiple pages feels more like it's there to convey a sensation than aid in telling a story, if that makes sense. Which... is also often how I feel even in media where people say it's done well, so idk. And while this isn't just pure pain and she does do stuff while she is in pain, I don't find it to be delving into the parts of her character I find interesting given how much pain colors everything she does.  

4. To me this chapter had more of a feel of "a bunch of things that almost work and I can see where they could be going" rather than being hooked by one aspect in particular. For example, the hints of Is' religious views and a potential personalized cost she pays for the ritual have real potential to be interesting, but I don't feel like I get enough to be fully engaged. 

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I glanced over other comments and once again I seem to have very different reactions from a lot of people. Huh. Hopefully you can figure out what to do with that because it's too late for me to think about this any more. 

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On 1/6/2022 at 6:48 AM, Sarah B said:

I wasn't sure if this was because fire starting is so easy for her now, if she had recovered somewhat or if this was a continuity issue. The part between finding the horse and starting the fire, her actions were a bit unclear.

On 1/6/2022 at 6:48 AM, Sarah B said:

I think initially I assumed that it was her own self recriminations combined with shock, rather than something external. As a reader, I think I was missing maybe a moment more to make the switch between her general suffering and something new happening.

Good to know that these things need some clarification.  This is definitely a chapter that I could have benefitted from letting it sit for a few days to distance myself from it before submitting.  If I'd known it would take me so long to get to finishing the interlude, I probably would have done that.

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I think my current hangup is that I'm not understanding how this surivial/pain stuff is advancing the story's ideas. 

I think this part also needs some of the reaction/processing that @shatteredsmooth thought was missing from the end section.  Finding a balance of Is- encountering her weaknesses/vulnerabilities and intentionally blocking out any acknowledgment of them is going to be a challenge, but I think it needs more of that to tie it together as more than just being in pain. 

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Mostly because if it's something everyone is expected to do in her situation, it really tells us little about her character that she's doing this.

It's actually more relevant that this isn't something people are generally expected to do themselves. I thought I'd mentioned that, but it might have gotten trimmed back to a point of being unrecognizable as such.  Ultimately, Gil- requires magistrates to be involved with rituals most of the time, since the percentage of the population that knows the fire spell is pretty low. Usually, if someone kills someone, they're probably going to get dragged before the magistrates if they get caught anyway. Or if it was accidental or self-defense, there would be an associated "trial" that them performing a ritual would fall under.   If this had all happened in the capital, she would have been walked through the process with the magistrate doing the actual spell-casting and deity-calling. But even there, they'd probably assume that it would be a simple self-defense death that wouldn't generally expect any immediate punishment/dramatic divine response.

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg. 8. The J is a deity, right? So far the most interesting thing about the ritual is how she views them (him? Can't remember if they're gendered) as maybe having a different view than a reasonable person. I'm interested in whether that means "The J's view is higher than we lesser mortals can comprehend" or "The J isn't reasonable sometimes but I gotta play along so I don't get smited to hell." 

This should ultimately be the key thing that carries through, so I'm glad that's coming out to some extent, even if it could use some clarification. 

Also, for brief summary, at least in Gil-, the Judge and the Goddess (In Gil, she's considered too sacred to give lesser names to, or even to mention all that often) are male and female respectively and have a creation/destruction dichotomy thing going on. Gil- generally considers the gods very sacred, to the point that they don't make art of them, don't even "worship" them for fear of offending them (ironically, this is probably why the religion has felt absent. Because it's not something people are supposed to discuss without the proper respect), and where swearing by them is serious business. Most kingdoms/cultures acknowledge two main deities, with some sort of similar associated dichotomy, but some have some other ideas they mix in (the magics specialized in some areas lend themselves better to powerful mages being viewed as deities), and some would merge them into one overarching deity. 

Which one actually gets it right? Now isn't that the real question? 

None of that is really important here, though when I redo the early Ala- chapters, I'll be referencing some of the distinctions between the Ket- and Gil- views of the gods, and how it impacts the respective cultures.  And in a few chapters, we'll get some of the contrast between overarching Gil- and Mish- views.

But I digress from my beloved worldbuilding details. Sort of.

Ultimately, it's sort of a mixture of both of those things.  In that (in Gil- understanding) the J is the one who decides what justice is (and practice seems to prove that), but his definition of what that means isn't always going to match the mortal definition of what justice means.  Based on who has gone up in flames after confessing certain actions, they have a vague sense of the things that are always punished, but there's a lot of murky ground where a biased person might think they were entirely in the right, but it turns out that's not the case.  Even here, Is- assumes that it will just be a rote (if uncomfortable) thing.  But she hasn't yet realized that the thing that she confesses (the killing) wasn't the only thing she did wrong. I think some of that will come across better if there's more information in the Ala- chapters about how the rituals work (and maybe find some poor soul to murder someone for no reason except that the readers need to see the gods punish him). However, I do need to make it a little clearer what she does and doesn't know. 

So in many ways, the outcome of a ritual may seem unreasonable to human minds, but they assume that the gods know things they don't if it goes differently (or they live in anger at the gods, which is fair, but considered a sort of fruitless endeavor). 

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Religion has felt like more of a background fixture so far, though I'm starting to see what you mean with wanting to put more focus on the vows early since that would make this seem less jarring. 

Did you ever see the version of chapter 1 that opened with a theology lesson? There was a reason for that.  I just never found a way to squeeze it back in.  But maybe I'll be able to do that with some of the early Ala- chapters (man, those are going to have a lot of weight to pull....). 

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

How she reacts to the pain can, sure, but the experience of her being in pain for multiple pages feels more like it's there to convey a sensation than aid in telling a story, if that makes sense.

Yeah. I definitely need to find a way to convey that she's blocking her mind off from everything but the pain because the weakness/fear/emotional anguish are things she is terrified to even acknowledge, let alone feel, and physical pain is something that she has more of a concept of how to work through.  I think I mentioned that in passing somewhere in the middle or near the end, but maybe having that near the front would set the tone better, and make the moments when the walls are cracking a little clearer. 

On 1/7/2022 at 11:42 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

To me this chapter had more of a feel of "a bunch of things that almost work and I can see where they could be going" rather than being hooked by one aspect in particular. For example, the hints of Is' religious views and a potential personalized cost she pays for the ritual have real potential to be interesting, but I don't feel like I get enough to be fully engaged. 

This is fair. There's a lot going on here, and I could have definitely used a few days away from it between editing passes to make sure things were coming across like they were supposed to.  But I didn't do that, so here we are.

A lot of the notes here will be really helpful in getting a lot of that nailed down next time through. 

 

As always, thanks so much for all of the thoughts, everyone! 

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On 1/10/2022 at 10:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

It's actually more relevant that this isn't something people are generally expected to do themselves. I thought I'd mentioned that, but it might have gotten trimmed back to a point of being unrecognizable as such.  Ultimately, Gil- requires magistrates to be involved with rituals most of the time, since the percentage of the population that knows the fire spell is pretty low. Usually, if someone kills someone, they're probably going to get dragged before the magistrates if they get caught anyway.

This is good to know! A couple comments:

1. The fact that people don't normally do it themselves was clear to me, and I didn't see it as a big focus because the information emphasized by that (namely that Is is in a pretty desperate situation to need to do this herself) is already clear to us. 

2. The fact that it's supposed to operate more like a trial that people get dragged to was something that I missed. I imagined this as something closer to a Catholic confession. 

On 1/10/2022 at 10:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

Or if it was accidental or self-defense, there would be an associated "trial" that them performing a ritual would fall under.   If this had all happened in the capital, she would have been walked through the process with the magistrate doing the actual spell-casting and deity-calling. But even there, they'd probably assume that it would be a simple self-defense death that wouldn't generally expect any immediate punishment/dramatic divine response.

So they wouldn't have expected that marking to appear? That was something I didn't pick up on. I just figured Is was unfamiliar with the ritual and her surprise was due to knowing the marking was coming but not having internalized it yet. 

I do still think that the ritual itself tells us little about Is and her character, but after hearing this I think the circumstances around it I'm more interested. If I'm reading this right and J's response was more dramatic than expected, it has lots of potential to bring out interesting character dynamics in Is' reaction to it, and advance plot threads.

On 1/10/2022 at 10:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

Yeah. I definitely need to find a way to convey that she's blocking her mind off from everything but the pain because the weakness/fear/emotional anguish are things she is terrified to even acknowledge, let alone feel, and physical pain is something that she has more of a concept of how to work through.  I think I mentioned that in passing somewhere in the middle or near the end, but maybe having that near the front would set the tone better, and make the moments when the walls are cracking a little clearer. 

If that's the case then my comment is that she is a little too successful in focusing only on the pain for it to be an engaging dynamic for me. I never felt the threat of her falling to her emotions... which isn't necessarily a bad thing but if that is her big struggle here we need to see some vulnerability in order to be engaged. Because under this light, she's counterintuitively totally in command, and there doesn't feel like a chance of failure on this front. 

On 1/10/2022 at 10:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

This is fair. There's a lot going on here, and I could have definitely used a few days away from it between editing passes to make sure things were coming across like they were supposed to.  But I didn't do that, so here we are.

And some things won't come across the way we want no matter how good of a job we do in the first round of editing. It's something I try to tell myself since I find it pretty easy to get discouraged by this sort of thing. 

Happy to help! 

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