C_Vallion

1.31.2022 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace- Chapter 21 - RevA - 4784 Words

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Hello, All! 

 
This chapter was...a challenge. It's a full rewrite taking details from three different previous chapters, and while I like some of the new aspects of it, I will definitely need to let it sit for a couple weeks and come back to it before I can get it where I want it to be.  I also didn't get to do my usual editing-for-flow passes thanks to a blizzard and a malfunctioning snowblower over the weekend. So I apologize in advance if it's a little more typo-full or clunky than usual. 
 
That being said:
 
1. Anything confusing? I know there are a few points that will probably run into WRS issues, since the last Is- chapter was submitted more than a month ago, and there's been a big location change in the off-page time. 
2. Anything that feels like it goes on too long and could use some trimming?
3. Thoughts on how the characters are coming across? 
4. Any specific points of engagement/disengagement?
 
Thanks!
 
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Overall

While the writing is cleaner than what I remember, and more compact (nice work there), it still has a lot of the same fundamental structural issues. There is no real arc. The plot does not advance. The MC is in the same place she was at the start of the chapter, except she has talked to a bunch of people and had emotions. 'Talking and emotions' is good plot movement in romance focused books, but fantasy generally has other expectations, even if romance is the A-line. Can this chapter be condensed to maybe three to four pages and added to the next, so that concrete plot movement occurs?

Again, the writing remains excellent. It's more the broader structural elements of chapters and stories that are the issue.

 

As I go

- that first sentence would have more impact if it was just The eyes of god were upon her. And then you could follow it with I stood before the city gates...

- page one seems all recap, for how far we are into the book. At this stage we should be getting right to action

- pg 2: “Hey. Gilvrani girl.” I think you could do the two sentences suggested above, then go right to this line

- pg 3: again, too much between the Hey and the Are you lost? Two or three sentences would have been sufficient

- there's some neat banter potential here but it's bogged down in too much introspection. I can't enjoy the scene because I have to keep skimming

- it's page 7 and she still is not even inside the inn yet, which should be the start of this chapter, and lead into the arc, it seemed from the start. 

- glad to see the day jump on page 8

- pg 9: too much introspection again. Pages 8 and 9 can be combined and condensed 

- pg 11: so this chapter is reading as something of maybe a second chapter in a novel, that is setting up a magic school But I see this is chapter 21 in the book. It seems very late in the game to be starting a whole new arc

- pg 11: He caught me practicing the fire spell and thought I had potential. <-- this would work for me. Chapter one is her illegal magic and she gets sent off. This is chapter two. Dynamic start

- pg 12: oh wait, she isn't really a student? That makes more sense then (clearly I missed a lot of Inbetween chapters)

- pg 14: the banter is interesting again, if this were chapter two of a magic school book. If she is just pretending to be a student then this is dragging and I want to get to the subterfuge

- pg 16: there does not appear to be an arc to this chapter 

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On 2/1/2022 at 11:57 AM, kais said:

and more compact (nice work there)

Yeah. This is one of the most important things I've probably learned in the long slog of editing. There are still definitely sections with unnecessary wordiness, but I'm far more likely to catch and fix them than I used to be. 

Glad that's visible 

On 2/1/2022 at 11:57 AM, kais said:

There is no real arc. The plot does not advance. The MC is in the same place she was at the start of the chapter, except she has talked to a bunch of people and had emotions.

I'm hoping this (and most of the other comments) are helped by the contents of the in-between chapters that were missed, as there seems to be a disconnect of what you're expecting vs. what has been set up to be here. I've tried to fill in some of those missing relevant details below.  I'd be curious as to whether any of it changes your opinion on the chapter, or if you're still coming across just as many issues.

The only reason she's even in the city (or this kingdom) is because she botched an attempt to heal a wound, and no one in her own kingdom would have the tools to heal it, so she needs to get it fixed before it gets bad enough to debilitate or kill her. The whole point of her coming to Neri- is to find Lord H to get someone to heal it (and to see what her uncle's death means for the political schemes that H and her uncle and father had going on). And by the end of the chapter she has found him but realized that he may not actually be the trustworthy solution to the problem that she'd expected him to be. 

In theory, her willingness to address her emotions at all here should also be visible character arc progress, since she's basically been dissociating from them through the past several chapters. 

On 2/1/2022 at 11:57 AM, kais said:

page one seems all recap, for how far we are into the book. At this stage we should be getting right to action

This chapter is a three-day time jump from the last chapter we saw in her pov (at which point she had just had a harrowing encounter with the gods after killing a man and seeing her uncle killed), and this is the first scene set in Neri- so I thought we needed a little more here to show the shift in place/time from where she was before. It could probably be trimmed down, but I think jumping straight into the conversation on page 2 would be really disorienting.

On 2/1/2022 at 11:57 AM, kais said:

- pg 11: so this chapter is reading as something of maybe a second chapter in a novel, that is setting up a magic school But I see this is chapter 21 in the book. It seems very late in the game to be starting a whole new arc

It's not a new arc so much as the opening of a new milieu section (to jump into M.I.C.E. quotient terms). Her being here is part of the arc of pursuing a change to the magic laws (this part of it requiring her to find Lord H and get answers and help). 

On 2/1/2022 at 11:57 AM, kais said:

pg 14: the banter is interesting again, if this were chapter two of a magic school book. If she is just pretending to be a student then this is dragging and I want to get to the subterfuge

Well, at least the banter is interesting. Said banter *should* be progress in the "pursuing a change to the magic laws" arc by challenging Is's concept of the straightforwardness of what those changes would mean. 

 

Does any of that affect your understanding of where things seem like they should be compared to what you were expecting?

 

Thanks so much for your thoughts! 

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I liked this chapter, I felt anchored back into the story. 

A couple things that stood out to me:

"She could sympathize with those who took the concept seriously" I'm unclear what this meant.

The repetition of when the M would be available from D's dialogue to when the M says it himself blunted the impact at the end for me. It might also be that I immediatly forgot the day names after I read them. This might be a fantasy trope that I'm just not used to. If the new day names aren't significant to plot though, being asked to memorize things 'just because' in a story is sticking point for me. It makes me worried as a reader that I'm going to have to constantly stop find a chart or flip back to a specific page anytime a date is mentioned.

That might just be a personal hang up though :-)

Besides those points I really enjoyed this chapter. It's a nice break from the politic-ing in the last chapter and, as a reader, seeing areas outside of I's home country feels like a pay off. It was also nice to see the other side of the magic issue in full force. 

'I' was relatable again, and I'm curious to see more of the new characters.

Thanks for sharing!

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Some similar comments to @kais on this one. It's definitely more engaging that what I last remember reading of yours, but there are still large sections that seem to recap or not really do much. I agree the chapter can start around when the student calls her out, or even get brief directions and start at the in. There are a few large sections where someone asks I a question and she thinks about it for a page before saying anything. You may want to experiment with how you break up dialogue and thought sections and see if that streamlines things. Do a few paragraphs with just dialog and immediate reactions, then have the paragraph after with reactions to it. You'll find you can cut out a lot of introspection that way.

It's probably due to me missing most of the book, but I'm confused why I would want to turn in the lord for using magic and protecting others when she is trying to get the laws of magic changed? Or am I not reading that right.

A more tense ending to the chapter might help drive the arc. Right now, she finds a place to stay, is running out of money, and might not get to her goal in time. Making it more definite, like the lord's going to be out of town until after her money dries up, or recognizes her and refuses to see her at all,or something like that, might introduce more conflict. I'm not particularly worried for I at this point.

 

notes while reading:

Pg 1: Obviously, I'm jumping back in this after a long time, and a lot of things have happened! However the first page seems like a lot of recap. Mostly I is thinking about what's already happened, so I'm not sure what it's adding to the story at the moment.

pg 2: More of the same. The first real movement for the chapter is the dialogue, as the rest of it is intentions for what she will do, which I assume was more or less clear in previous chapters while traveling to this point.

pg 3: I finally speaks after the student asks her three different questions and she spends an entire page thinking about them. Having her make some movement, acknowledgement, or say something earlier would help.

pg 4/5: interesting talk with the student. Hopefully they have some more interaction.

pg 8: There's some good detail about the town and how trade works while haggling with the innkeeper, but it does go on for a while. There still hasn't been a lot of movement in this chapter yet.

pg 8: "On the road, she had only noticed it when dismounting or mounting up again,"
--This is a side wound? Because that's going to pull a lot while riding a horse, isn't it? Seems like that would use core muscles a lot.

pg 11: So it sounds like there's a magic school here that the G come to learn the few spells that are allowed, and then leave? Interesting.

pg 11: "Then she would be close enough to find architectural detail to comment on."
--is...this a good conversation tactic? It doesn't seem related to what they're talking about.

pg 12: "If you’re only here because you think you’ll be good at it, it’s not going to take long to realize it isn’t worth the risks.”
--sooo...they're not getting good at magic? I'm confused here, maybe because I haven't read the rest. Will they die or something if they don't learn how to control the magic?

pg 14: "It was her duty to report him to her father."
--what now? I was on board until this part. I'm still not sure why students are coming here if they don't expect to be good at using magic, but from what I gather, I is looking to change the laws, so why would she care about reporting a person for abusing the law she's trying to change?

pg 16: "but if she couldn’t trust him"
--still unsure why she can't trust him. This seems to be a person she knows, and is already working to the same end she is to work around the magic laws. What's not to trust? (with caution, of course)

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8 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Besides those points I really enjoyed this chapter. It's a nice break from the politic-ing in the last chapter and, as a reader, seeing areas outside of I's home country feels like a pay off. It was also nice to see the other side of the magic issue in full force. 

Hooray! I'm glad it seems to have done some of its jobs well :) 

7 hours ago, Sarah B said:

"She could sympathize with those who took the concept seriously" I'm unclear what this meant.

She's saying that her own feelings of standing there, (a little awed, a little disoriented, a lot exhausted) makes her sympathetic to people who assign supernatural causes to moments when the environment affects our senses/emotions in certain ways.  Because her understanding of the gods doesn't have them interacting with people in that way. 

Ultimately, if Is- was walking into a spiritual/religious gathering in our world, and heard people talking about feeling some divine power among them or being one with some greater power or any of those phrases that get associated with that sort of supernatural-presence-feeling, her response would be along the lines of "I'm pretty sure that's the smoke or candles or shiny things or music, but I get why you might think that because it all pulls at physical/emotional strings, which makes me uncomfortable."

There's a very good chance I'm referencing shorthand there for concepts that aren't as universal as I think they are....

7 hours ago, Sarah B said:

The repetition of when the M would be available from D's dialogue to when the M says it himself blunted the impact at the end for me. It might also be that I immediatly forgot the day names after I read them. This might be a fantasy trope that I'm just not used to. If the new day names aren't significant to plot though, being asked to memorize things 'just because' in a story is sticking point for me. It makes me worried as a reader that I'm going to have to constantly stop find a chart or flip back to a specific page anytime a date is mentioned.

I overthink this sort of thing a lot...I don't know if that ends up being helpful or hurtful (or neutral) in the long run.  
Ultimately, I don't want the reader to have to have the days of the week memorized (I mean. I have to double-check them...), but finding a way to signal that something doesn't need to be remembered is tricky.  I meant to have Is- internalize a count of how many days out it would be above (especially since she's spent the past several days in the mountains and has probably lost any good sense of what day it is anyway) but then failed to do that.  Do you think that would have helped?

Trying to get across the point of something like: "His schedule's packed til Thursday, so probably wait until Monday." (because we all culturally know that no one wants to get a bunch of meeting invitations for a Friday after a long week)

Without it coming across as: "His next three days are really busy, but then he will have the days off that we all set aside for family time and religious observances and will be available after that, 7 days from now, at the start of the calendar work-week" 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

There are a few large sections where someone asks I a question and she thinks about it for a page before saying anything. You may want to experiment with how you break up dialogue and thought sections and see if that streamlines things.

This is definitely something I still need to work on finding a balance for.  I am better at catching it now than I was before, but it usually takes letting it sit for a few days before looking at the chapter again for a streamlining edit, but I didn't get a chance to do that this time around.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Making it more definite, like the lord's going to be out of town until after her money dries up, or recognizes her and refuses to see her at all,or something like that, might introduce more conflict. I'm not particularly worried for I at this point.

Good to know this isn't holding up as well as it should (not clearly conveying why she distrusts H is definitely not helping either).  

Also, I apologize for any feeling of overexplaining below.  I'm bad enough about that under normal circumstances, but want to make sure any disconnects that are coming from missed chapters are pointed out to make sure you're up to speed.

12 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 2: More of the same. The first real movement for the chapter is the dialogue, as the rest of it is intentions for what she will do, which I assume was more or less clear in previous chapters while traveling to this point.

She ends her previous chapter with the decision to get to Neri- to find a healer, but none of the details (that she's low on cash, that she's going to pretend to be a student, that she will need to find H specifically to actually find a healer she can trust, etc.) are mentioned before this chapter. 

I think a lot of what's being assumed to be recap is summary of off-page events. Because it seemed unnecessary to have a scene/chapter of her traveling through the mountains on her own planning things. 

24 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "On the road, she had only noticed it when dismounting or mounting up again,"
--This is a side wound? Because that's going to pull a lot while riding a horse, isn't it? Seems like that would use core muscles a lot.

Ultimately, the spell she tried to use healed the skin and muscle (though there's enough scarring to limit mobility), but some of the more internal damage didn't heal itself entirely correctly, and is what is steadily getting worse. (Chapter 19 goes through all of the specifics of what's going on there)

32 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 11: So it sounds like there's a magic school here that the G come to learn the few spells that are allowed, and then leave? Interesting.

No, it's a primarily-Mish- magic school. And if there are G enrolled there, they're learning far more than the laws are supposed to allow, which is where a lot of Is-'s conflict is here. Because all of the G- there seem to be openly preparing themselves to break the kingdom's laws.  So are they criminals-in-training? She wants to change the laws, but at this point, they are still very solidly in place, and she is too much of a by-the-rules person to just ignore the muddy middle ground there. She's torn between what she sees as her duty to her father (and the kingdom) to support the kingdom's laws and her hope that they will be able to change the laws.

30 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 11: "Then she would be close enough to find architectural detail to comment on."
--is...this a good conversation tactic? It doesn't seem related to what they're talking about.

She's trying to derail their current conversation.  The page break right at this line isn't very helpful there, though, since that implication comes in the lines that follow.

40 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 12: "If you’re only here because you think you’ll be good at it, it’s not going to take long to realize it isn’t worth the risks.”
--sooo...they're not getting good at magic? I'm confused here, maybe because I haven't read the rest. Will they die or something if they don't learn how to control the magic?

Ultimately, all of the G who are there know that they're in a sketchy place in the eye of Gilvrani law.  Yeah, they can put some of their knowledge to use without breaking the laws, but many of the people who interpret the laws more strictly are still going to consider it criminal.  

L's point is that you don't sneak over the border to enroll in a school that teaches things of questionable legality just because you're good at those things or think they're fun.  And if you do, it isn't going to take long to have the legal/moral murkiness shoved in your face to either get you in trouble or make you reconsider your choices.

54 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 16: "but if she couldn’t trust him"
--still unsure why she can't trust him. This seems to be a person she knows, and is already working to the same end she is to work around the magic laws. What's not to trust? (with caution, of course)

This one's not a catching up on chapters problem, and thanks for pointing it out.  Seems like some of the implications I was hoping would come across fell short.

Is-'s main concern is that if he's hiding potential-criminals, what else is he doing that doesn't sit well with the Gil- laws? Even if they do have the same goals in mind. It could probably use L giving a specific example of someone H is hiding who Is- would be thoroughly convinced is a criminal. Someone who had started out doing illegal magic for good reasons, and when the authorities moved in to deal with them, got violent or destructive.  Someone who even some of the mages might take issue with. 

 

Thanks so much for the thoughts! 

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All right let's get into it!

pg 1. Maybe this will be helped with a solid map but I think my main point of disorientation so far is not really understanding the lay of the land and where Is is. I'm trying to remember if this is the same place they were trying to go to begin with. From her reactions it seems like a place not in G but she also knows people there so I'm a little confused about the whole dynamic.

pg 3. All right after this little chat I do feel like I get the place a bit better and it does interest me given how much of Is' whole deal revolves around magic. 

pg 5. I think part of the reason this works is that it feels so... friendly compared to what we've seen from G in general. The question is how Is deals with that. Right now it's suspicion but I'd honestly expect more given the strained relations between G and... well, what seems like the entire rest of the world. 

pg 6. I like the countdown setup here with her money running out

pg 10. So I'm gathering this place is either a collegetown or the university itself is basically a city? I think leading with that might help me picture it better from the start 

pg 12. The dynamic of sincerity catching her off-guard is my main point of interest right now

pg 16. I feel like all of the tension set up kind of deflates here. We have really good setup about how G mages fit into the culture and Is' own worries about her plan and instead meeting H doesn't cause any of that to surface and instead we go back to her running out of money which imo is less interesting. 

On 1/31/2022 at 10:28 PM, C_Vallion said:
1. Anything confusing? I know there are a few points that will probably run into WRS issues, since the last Is- chapter was submitted more than a month ago, and there's been a big location change in the off-page time. 
2. Anything that feels like it goes on too long and could use some trimming?
3. Thoughts on how the characters are coming across? 
4. Any specific points of engagement/disengagement?
 

1. Mostly what I talked about in LBLs. The city was confusing to me but I felt like I got it by the end.

2. I think we can get to the part where she talks to L faster. To me that's where the real meat of the story is. Though I also do like her talking to D so...

3. I like the side characters here and I want a bit more from Is in terms of how she deals with the dynamics of the story (see below).

4. Points of engagement are the sincerity in the students, the role that mages--especially G mages--play in society, and the interplay between the two. This is where I think I need more from Is. One of her big things is magic laws, and she gets to see firsthand what it does to people. How it beats them down, but how they're surviving and how there is hope for these people to chase their dreams and make a difference. I get that she's trying to make it home but I need her to do something with that. 

Other comments:

Like I mentioned I think the ending deflates all of the tension for me, which I think compounds on what @kais and @Mandamon were talking about with the lack of an arc. I think I was more engaged by the pieces here that connect to the larger story (I think partially because I've read the whole story up to this point and partially because I do just like characters talking even when other people don't), but I agree with them that I don't think it quite comes together yet. I am interested by the information we learn here but it feels like the ending especially doesn't do anything with it, and Is ends back where she started: running out of money and not knowing how to approach H or how to get home. 

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I'm going to hold off on his until I read all the earlier chapters you sent me. 

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