C_Vallion

2.14.2022 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace- Chapter 22 - RevA - 3685 Words

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Hello, All! 

This chapter was originally intended as a lead-in to the next chapter, until I realized that it works better tacked onto 21. At the moment, it's long enough to be its own chapter, but after I let it and 21 sit for a few weeks, I will probably go back and figure out what all I can trim out to mash them together. I think combining them would make a better overall arc. I just need to take a few steps back to see how to best get it to work.
 
So.
 
1. Anything confusing?
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, I'm not really sure what happened. They fixed a dress, and I stood in line for a while and talked to a random person. Aside from her wound getting worse, there wasn't really any tension because nothing happened. I wanted to at least know more about the school when they started talking about greens and blues, but the only thing we learned is that greens are healers. She doesn't even get to see the person she's looking for (even after being told directly not to stand in line) because she ducks out and wanders off. I think all this could be a couple pages really, with some character moments from I, L, and M (though I don't know if she's important), and then a couple sentences to say she tried to stand in line before she thought better of it.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: I think the descriptions of the dresses go on a bit too long. Could be shortened into about half a page.

pg 2: so we know greens are healers. Do we know what blues are? Or is this something I've missed?

pg 4: "immediately send for a healer."
--I think this is also something I've missed, but why isn't she seeing a healer?

pg 6: "painfully mucking out the inn’s stables"
--with a side wound? How much is she getting done?

pg 9: There's a lot of words spent here on I STILL figuring out what she needs to do. I'm ready for action rather than thinking at this point.

pg 10: "Just. Stop for a moment"
--uh, yeah. What does all this have to do with anything? Why do we care if I is talking to the random person in front of her in line?

Pg 12: I'm not sure what was achieved this chapter.

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6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think all this could be a couple pages really, with some character moments from I, L, and M (though I don't know if she's important), and then a couple sentences to say she tried to stand in line before she thought better of it.

As mentioned in the intro notes, I'll be planning to combine this with the previous chapter. I probably could have let it sit for a while and waited to submit the improved, combined version, but didn't feel it was worth moving backward instead of continuing through the revision draft.

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 2: so we know greens are healers. Do we know what blues are? Or is this something I've missed?

It's implied, but not defined at this point. The message transfer case she's planning to have H respell uses this kind of magic, but I didn't want to give a bunch of explanation here when it's not relevant until later.

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

--I think this is also something I've missed, but why isn't she seeing a healer?

This is covered in chapter 19. Ultimately, a foreign woman wandering into town with a botched healing from a wound that should have otherwise killed her raises questions she can't afford to have asked. She knows that H will either be able to help her himself or find a healer who can help without revealing that the missing Gil- princess is hiding away at the mage school.

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

They fixed a dress, and I stood in line for a while and talked to a random person.

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I wanted to at least know more about the school when they started talking about greens and blues, but the only thing we learned is that greens are healers.

6 hours ago, Mandamon said:

She doesn't even get to see the person she's looking for (even after being told directly not to stand in line) because she ducks out and wanders off.

Real question: Is this really all that's coming across? 

The key point conveyed in this chapter (and one that I will be finding a way to stress up-front when I combine this with 21) is also the most important thing conveyed about the school. That the Gil- students have basically made it a point of pride and identity to hate the Gil- royal family. Since Is- shares a strong resemblance with her father and uncle (whom the students knew from his trips there for healing), it's meant to stress how important it is that she not be recognized while she's there (which also plays into her reasons not to go straight for a healer).

L is friendly and welcoming because she sees Is as one of their own, but if she's recognized as the granddaughter of the king who wanted all of the mages dead, that probably won't go so well. Meanwhile, Is-, herself, is working through which side she actually stands on if it comes to it.

The whole point of the hall scene is that she's nearly recognized by a healing student who would have recognized her uncle, and needs to get out without drawing more attention to herself than she already has. She'd been hoping to speak to H in his office to avoid being overheard, but has to abandon the plan to keep from being recognized as a member of the famously anti-magic royal family. Instead, she now has to track him down at the tavern, where there's also a strong risk of being recognized by some student who'd known her uncle, and where there won't be privacy to talk.

**Does any of that background context change what otherwise comes across here? I can't tell how much isn't coming across because you're missing context from earlier chapters or how much isn't coming across because it's just not clear in the text. **

It does definitely still need to be trimmed back, and that risk of recognition stressed earlier (still working on a way to actually convey it visibly without having L greet her with "Welcome to Neri- where we hate the king more than anyone in the world"). The next chapter has a visual example, but there isn't any way to bring that one further forward.

 

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14 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

**Does any of that background context change what otherwise comes across here? I can't tell how much isn't coming across because you're missing context from earlier chapters or how much isn't coming across because it's just not clear in the text. **

No, it doesn't really come across that well. I can tell there are political machinations, but I don't really care about them because I don't know how/why they are important to the characters, so I'm not paying that much attention. I feel like all the points you made above are driving only the setting. So when I (and Kais) harp on "the arc," what we're not seeing is how this progresses the overall plot or the character. You're taking a whole chapter to tell the reader how the people at the school (which I bunch into one mob of "secondary character" in my head) sees the protagonist. This is fine for a B-plot, but we don't have any A-plot. You're only doing one thing with this chapter, but every chapter needs to do two or more things. We need to know how this accelerates I. to success or failure, we need to know how this changes her as a person, and we also need to know how this changes the world. You're only building the Setting here, but not the Plot or the Character. Tension usually feeds off changing two of these three things at once.

(Also, a good way to think about this: if you have to explain background context, then you haven't made it clear enough)

14 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

She'd been hoping to speak to H in his office to avoid being overheard, but has to abandon the plan to keep from being recognized

Except I don't see the risk. She thinks about it, then leaves. I want to see one of the students, eyes narrowed, point a finger at her and say, "Are you the princess? Why do you look so much like her?" before she leaves.

14 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

(still working on a way to actually convey it visibly without having L greet her with "Welcome to Neri- where we hate the king more than anyone in the world").

No, literally just do this. It will make the point loud and clear. Turn up each point you want to make to an 11 and scream it at the reader. Then it will be enough.

Hope this helps...

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That's definitely helpful, but there's still some disconnect I'm missing, and could use some help in figuring out so that I can fix it.  

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

So when I (and Kais) harp on "the arc," what we're not seeing is how this progresses the overall plot or the character.

In my head, the throughline of the chapter (once the two are combined. And, admittedly, trimming them down together is going to help with a lot of the more bogged-down spots.) should be "Is- arrives at Neri- to get her wound healed before she keels over (short-term goal. Set up in her previous chapter.) and to get information from H about her uncle's political schemes to see if there's anything in them that can protect Gil- from invasion (longer-term goal, set up through several previous chapters). Realizes that they'll run her out on a rail if they know who she is, thereby destroying any of the plans her uncle had to find peace with Mish- (obstacle). Befriends students to figure out how to track H down and meet with him (new path to meet goal). Is nearly recognized and has to bail (path closed). Realizes that she will need to confront him in public, risking a more public and less escapable exposure of her identity (New short-term goal established, with higher stakes).  

Some of that is built up over twenty chapters, so some of the subtleties and bigger stakes might be unclear for someone jumping in here, but I don't get how it's not coming across at all.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

(Also, a good way to think about this: if you have to explain background context, then you haven't made it clear enough)

My main reason for feeling the background context needed to be explained was because it's built up over twenty chapters. he reader should know it coming into this, but I know you don't have that context, jumping in here. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Except I don't see the risk. She thinks about it, then leaves. I want to see one of the students, eyes narrowed, point a finger at her and say, "Are you the princess? Why do you look so much like her?" before she leaves.

Does it need to be that blunt, though? I can't think of any piece of media where a person is undercover, where there's not apparent risk until someone points at them from across the room and shouts that they're a spy. I could probably pick it up a bit by having Is- notice briefly that the girl glanced at her funny, trying to brush it off, then realizing that the look has turned more intent before she pushes her disguise ot the far-less-princesslike jittery new student (then have the observer get especially suspicious) and gets out of there.  But no good spy waits until they've been clearly recognized and that recognizer has alerted the entire room to make their exit.  It's a different setup, and it's not like the room's about to go down in a hail of bullets, but I feel like just standing there until someone has shouted that she looks weirdly like the king's brother just makes her seem incompetent. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

No, literally just do this. It will make the point loud and clear. Turn up each point you want to make to an 11 and scream it at the reader. Then it will be enough.

I mean. It will be the equivalent of this.  Just not word for word.  The next chapter has students in the tavern using charicatures of her father and grandfather's faces as dartboards and introduces us to the local political extremists.  I just need to figure out how to introduce that at the beginning of 21 in a way that fits the characters and setting. 

 

And again, I really appreciate the feedback. General comments of "This isn't working" are helpful to some extent, but clarifying the why of it often takes a little more digging for me. Especially when there being a lot of intrigue going on makes it hard to tell if I've just been too subtle on something the reader is supposed to be able to infer or if I've missed it altogether.  There's probably a little of both here.

Edited by C_Vallion
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4 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Some of that is built up over twenty chapters, so some of the subtleties and bigger stakes might be unclear for someone jumping in here, but I don't get how it's not coming across at all.

It's not that it isn't coming across. It is. I understand that I has to get information from H, get her wound healed, and so on. The problem for me is this isn't tied to a second objective for the chapter. All these are hypothetical. IF this happens, THEN something might happen to I. That isn't enough to interest me. I want something to actually happen to I. Have her be recognized. Have her fail to get the information. THEN what does it mean to her and how does it push her character or the plot. This is what I mean when I say have the chapter do more things.

4 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Does it need to be that blunt, though?

Yes. Have the thing happen rather than giving us possibilities IF it happens. The point is she's NOT a good spy. She's a girl out of her depth in a foreign country.

4 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I mean. It will be the equivalent of this.  Just not word for word.

If you literally have a quirky character say, "Welcome to Neri- where we hate the king more than anyone in the world" I will be much on board because it shows that character is someone I want to know better.

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As I go:

pg 1. These side characters were fun when introduced but now that they're here again I want to see them be a part of something more plot-relevant

pg 2. What does blue mean? 

pg 3. I think part of the reason I'm finding it a little hard to be engaged here is that Is had a plan to talk to H and now it feels a bit less focused. And yeah he told her off but I'm not sure how the story benefits from putting that off. If we're putting that on hold there needs to be something really exciting to grip me and this slice of life stuff isn't what I'm looking for right now. 

pg 4. I liked the character interaction last chapter since it was formed around Is having a clear goal and chapter arc. Right now I don't have those so this feels like it meanders a bit too much. 

pg 5. Looks like the story is being intentional about how it feels aimless and scattered because Is does, but I still don't think it's the right way to go. What does Is being confused and aimless add to the story?

-The note about sincerity is the first inkling I get about a real chapter arc. If it's going to be a focus in how she approaches things here I think the story needs to lead with this instead of hitting on it five pages in. 

pg 6. I'm glad that the story is hashing out Is' motivations but there's something about it to me that doesn't quite feel solid enough. I think it's that right now there's not a lot of personal stakes involved in her learning magic and changing the system. 

pg 7. Again I feel like the point Is has about political alliances is really close to being compelling but it still feels like there's something missing for me. Just spitballing here but it could be important to flesh out the dynamic of why Is feels like she has to be the one to enact this change. If I feel like she is personally tied to magic, M, and G all at once I think this hits harder for me. Right now I understand that she sees the importance in it all but it doesn't feel personal when I think it should. 

-I also do like how the sincerity that Is has been shown is helping her to open up, but I think that also needs to be fleshed out more. What exactly is she trying to accomplish here that needs sincerity? If this convo with L doesn't go well what really changes realistically? 

pg 8. I think the ideas behind this conversation (Is responding to sincerity by being more honest both with herself and with L) are solid but it doesn't come together for me because the conversation itself doesn't feel that important. I'm not sure what's really accomplished here. 

pg 10. Hmm not exactly sure why we're talking to this new person. Hoping I understand by the end but it would help if the conversation felt more like something pushing the story forward rather than a random encounter. 

pg 11. I'm a bit confused about how this convo goes down and I also don't see how it advances the story even if it is clear. I'm gathering that she's in a hostile environment that is overwhelming but unless that kind of social anxiety is a key part of her character that doesn't feel like a satisfying roadblock to be halting her like this. 

pg 12. I'm not sure what was accomplished here. Yes she finds out that she can't keep going down her current avenue but that alone doesn't feel super substantive to me when she only started down this path recently so it feels more like we're back at square one. It's also not connected to the ideas that I thought had potential, such as Is learning to open up and be sincere. 

On 2/14/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:
1. Anything confusing?
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. What's going on with the convo with B though again I don't think I love it regardless

2. Hard to say. Right now I feel like a lot can be trimmed but maybe it's okay if it's more clearly oriented around character and plot motion

3. Characters themselves are fine and Is opening up has a lot of potential but it feels like we're hitting a limit as to what they can do without something big happening. 

4. See LbLs. There are a lot of aspects I thought had potential but it didn't really come together for me. 

On 2/16/2022 at 7:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

Real question: Is this really all that's coming across? 

The key point conveyed in this chapter (and one that I will be finding a way to stress up-front when I combine this with 21) is also the most important thing conveyed about the school. That the Gil- students have basically made it a point of pride and identity to hate the Gil- royal family. Since Is- shares a strong resemblance with her father and uncle (whom the students knew from his trips there for healing), it's meant to stress how important it is that she not be recognized while she's there (which also plays into her reasons not to go straight for a healer).

L is friendly and welcoming because she sees Is as one of their own, but if she's recognized as the granddaughter of the king who wanted all of the mages dead, that probably won't go so well. Meanwhile, Is-, herself, is working through which side she actually stands on if it comes to it.

The whole point of the hall scene is that she's nearly recognized by a healing student who would have recognized her uncle, and needs to get out without drawing more attention to herself than she already has. She'd been hoping to speak to H in his office to avoid being overheard, but has to abandon the plan to keep from being recognized as a member of the famously anti-magic royal family. Instead, she now has to track him down at the tavern, where there's also a strong risk of being recognized by some student who'd known her uncle, and where there won't be privacy to talk.

**Does any of that background context change what otherwise comes across here? I can't tell how much isn't coming across because you're missing context from earlier chapters or how much isn't coming across because it's just not clear in the text. **

It does definitely still need to be trimmed back, and that risk of recognition stressed earlier (still working on a way to actually convey it visibly without having L greet her with "Welcome to Neri- where we hate the king more than anyone in the world"). The next chapter has a visual example, but there isn't any way to bring that one further forward.

I'll say even as someone who has more of the context I by and large agree with @Mandamon here. Though for me the issue isn't that I can't tell that there's some resentment towards the monarchy (that itself is clear), but that as a dynamic it's not really coming across well since it feels like all Is is doing is walking into a static situation and she just has to not mess up horribly. It's not the opinions I don't understand, but the threat. If Is is really in danger here we need to signs of that. Did some student who was outspoken in favor of the royal family wind up dead under mysterious circumstances? Do the students have a plan to enact revenge on the royal family for what they've suffered? The background worldbuilding is here but the plot feels like it isn't. I also think it doesn't help that all Is can do about it is try to hide her face, which is not a super exciting dynamic to hear about. 

12 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Does it need to be that blunt, though? I can't think of any piece of media where a person is undercover, where there's not apparent risk until someone points at them from across the room and shouts that they're a spy. I could probably pick it up a bit by having Is- notice briefly that the girl glanced at her funny, trying to brush it off, then realizing that the look has turned more intent before she pushes her disguise ot the far-less-princesslike jittery new student (then have the observer get especially suspicious) and gets out of there.  But no good spy waits until they've been clearly recognized and that recognizer has alerted the entire room to make their exit.  It's a different setup, and it's not like the room's about to go down in a hail of bullets, but I feel like just standing there until someone has shouted that she looks weirdly like the king's brother just makes her seem incompetent. 

Yeah I don't think it necessarily needs to be this blunt and for me what's missing are 1. a better feel of the apparent risk (in the movies we see guards with guns walking around and we know what happens if the spy gets caught. Here, we have college students and it's not like Is is trespassing in enemy territory like a spy. This story will need to do a bit more work) and 2. How Is navigates that risk in an interesting way (it does feel like she just kinda wants to give up and hide in the short term). 

On 2/16/2022 at 7:24 PM, C_Vallion said:

(still working on a way to actually convey it visibly without having L greet her with "Welcome to Neri- where we hate the king more than anyone in the world")

I get that people in N don't like the king. What I need is how that translates into action and what it drives them to do, and how that puts Is in danger. It's not their negative opinions itself that Is is afraid of, right? It's what they'll do as a result of those negative opinions. We need more concrete signs of what that will be.  

As a side note, this is what I liked about the sincerity throughline. The fact that all of these people are vulnerable means that they need each other and are willing to support each other, so we see how their experiences translate into actions. If there's a dark side to their behavior as a result of what's been done to them by the monarchy that puts Is in danger we need to see that. 

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Overall

I completely agree with @Mandamon, so won't rehash what he has already said other than to reiterate that every chapter needs to do at least two things (three is better), and things need to happen, not just speculate. There needs to be real, tangible plot progression every chapter. 

In this chapter, I think one or two pages of the catty girls and dress fitting, and then right to the Rat's Nest, where the narrative seems to promise movement. That would really get things moving along.

On 2/17/2022 at 8:32 AM, C_Vallion said:

Does it need to be that blunt, though? 

Sometimes, yes. You can be as subtle as you like but sometimes just hanging a lantern on something can get all the readers up to speed quickly. Harrow the Ninth does this repeatedly, since the narrative itself is so winding. Sometimes a character will just flat out give you a 'so X and Y are doing this and expect this? How silly!'

 

As I go

- I like a good dress fitting scene as much as the next person, but I don't think it's the best way to start off a chapter. It doesn't promise anything or build tension (outside of romance arcs, where it can be full of a different kind of tension)

- I think the first four pages could easily be condensed down to one. Catty schoolgirls being mean is a solid trope for this type of magic school setup, so it lands, but it's too long as it is since this isn't a magic school book

- page 5: too much introspection and getting backstory and plot via thought instead of action

- pg 10: your school here has all the atmosphere and description but struggles with the same long conversation and introspection that @shatteredsmooth has in their magic school. You two might want to actually be crit buddies on these, as I think comparing and contrasting would help a lot

 

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On 2/17/2022 at 11:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 3. I think part of the reason I'm finding it a little hard to be engaged here is that Is had a plan to talk to H and now it feels a bit less focused. And yeah he told her off but I'm not sure how the story benefits from putting that off. If we're putting that on hold there needs to be something really exciting to grip me and this slice of life stuff isn't what I'm looking for right now. 

pg 4. I liked the character interaction last chapter since it was formed around Is having a clear goal and chapter arc. Right now I don't have those so this feels like it meanders a bit too much. 

I'm hoping that this will work better once I've trimmed/condensed these down into one chapter. I just didn't have the time to let them sit to decide what needs to stay and what needs to go before submitting, and, in all honesty, needed a break from staring at them for a bit.

On 2/17/2022 at 11:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 5. Looks like the story is being intentional about how it feels aimless and scattered because Is does, but I still don't think it's the right way to go. What does Is being confused and aimless add to the story?

I'm not sure what you're referring to here. What's creating that impression? 

On 2/17/2022 at 11:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I'll say even as someone who has more of the context I by and large agree with @Mandamon here. Though for me the issue isn't that I can't tell that there's some resentment towards the monarchy (that itself is clear), but that as a dynamic it's not really coming across well since it feels like all Is is doing is walking into a static situation and she just has to not mess up horribly. It's not the opinions I don't understand, but the threat. If Is is really in danger here we need to signs of that. Did some student who was outspoken in favor of the royal family wind up dead under mysterious circumstances? Do the students have a plan to enact revenge on the royal family for what they've suffered? The background worldbuilding is here but the plot feels like it isn't. I also think it doesn't help that all Is can do about it is try to hide her face, which is not a super exciting dynamic to hear about. 

Okay.  This is good to know. There's more about the direct threats in the next chapter, but I was hoping more would have been apparent going in to the previous one and this one.

In theory, there should have been enough build-up of the direct opposition between mages and the royal family over the whole story to make the reader apprehensive that Is- is there at all (questions about whether Mish- was intentionally harboring the Cag-. The magic-related argument/conflict between Ori- and G in the interlude. Is-n's assassination within the borders of a kingdom he'd spent most of a decade trying to set up an alliance with. Ala's whole backstory. The insurrectionists Ras- has been talking about). I thought that was clear enough to layer the running-out-of-money and wound-getting-worse complications on top as more direct time limitations for why she can't take her time to build up her new identity and learn the lay of the land before finding H. But it seems that's not the case.

Gah.

If that sense was stronger coming into 21, do you think it would fix some of the problems that it's having now?

I'm hoping that the adjustments I've mentioned to Ala's early chapters will also help with that to some extent, since it will give more opportunity to stress Is-'s grandfather's maltreatment/abuse of mages encountered/discovered during his time. Most mention of him in this version has been among the royal family, and I'd tried to point out that even they all think he was horrible, but going into detail about "Remember how dad had that healer out west tortured because he thought she'd been using magic, but it turned out she was just had a really good intuition about what was wrong with people?" seemed way too maid/butler to not be awkward. Especially when everyone in the family tends to bury painful things rather than acknowledge them. 

On 2/17/2022 at 11:44 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

If I feel like she is personally tied to magic, M, and G all at once I think this hits harder for me.

This is another thing that, in my head, should have groundwork assumed by the reader at this point in the story. Being a princess of G, who has learned far more about magic on her own than is socially acceptable within G, and as the person who her father and uncle had been planning to set up as the hingepoint between M and G. At this point, she rationally assumes that she's an ideal agent of change to improve the laws, and pursues that because she thinks it's the best path forward for G (and because she hasn't figured out that her self-worth is more than just her usefulness to those around her). It isn't until this chapter (or what will be the combination of the last submission and this one) that she begins to realize that it means something to her personally, now that she's seeing the problem with the laws represented by real people who she could be friends with instead of just as a distant concept.
Are there specific aspects of that which aren't stressed enough before now? Or is the whole thing just not coming together?

 

On 2/17/2022 at 4:24 PM, Mandamon said:

The point is she's NOT a good spy. She's a girl out of her depth in a foreign country.

She's not trained as a spy, but she's perceptive, level-headed, and has spent her whole life navigating the deception and social/political machinations of the court. She's a young woman out of her depth in a foreign country because she's not familiar with the social environment, is in a lot of physical discomfort, and just had several traumatic days she hasn't processed yet, sure, but she's not incompetent, and she can recognize threatening social dynamics when she sees them.

I'm just not setting the threat up well at this point.

6 hours ago, kais said:

- I like a good dress fitting scene as much as the next person, but I don't think it's the best way to start off a chapter. It doesn't promise anything or build tension (outside of romance arcs, where it can be full of a different kind of tension)

It's not planned to start the chapter. As noted in the intro text, I plan to combine the previous submission with this one once I straighten out what I need to keep and what can be trimmed out.  I just didn't have time to do that before submitting, and needed to let it sit before I figured out how to fix the issues. 

Ultimately, there will be one "Welcome to mage school" chapter before we get to the Rats Nest that combines the vital details from these two submissions, and pushing the actual risks to the front.

 

Thanks for the thoughts! It's good to have a better sense of what's not falling into place correctly, even if fixing it is going to be an adventure all its own.

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On 2/20/2022 at 8:19 PM, C_Vallion said:

I'm not sure what you're referring to here. What's creating that impression? 

Iirc at this point Is is kinda like "I'm confused and I don't know what to do" but that doesn't mean the story should make us feel like it's confused and like it doesn't know what to do. Which currently imo it does. 

On 2/20/2022 at 8:19 PM, C_Vallion said:

If that sense was stronger coming into 21, do you think it would fix some of the problems that it's having now?

I think it would help but I don't think it alone fixes the problem. It is clear to some extent that the mages and the royal family have some beef--fleshing out what that beef is will be helpful but ultimately what we need to know is how that affects the characters. For example, right now I'm not sure how to answer the question of "If Is gets caught what actually happens to her and what evidence is there to prove that?" which I think is important. Maybe Is doesn't know either? Which is reasonable in-universe but I think the story suffers from being set up that way to begin with. 

And obviously there are great stories where these sorts of consequences aren't clear to readers, but I feel like that effect isn't one that the story is interested in playing around with. For example, in horror stories you don't know what happens when the monster catches the protag and that's part of what makes it scary, but that doesn't seem to be the effect this story wants. 

On 2/20/2022 at 8:19 PM, C_Vallion said:

It isn't until this chapter (or what will be the combination of the last submission and this one) that she begins to realize that it means something to her personally, now that she's seeing the problem with the laws represented by real people who she could be friends with instead of just as a distant concept.

I think you can afford to be more straightforward about this, even if it goes into telling rather than showing, since this went over my head. Though I think part of the issue is that it's not connected to what her conflict is right now (getting home safely) so it's not where I was looking for implications to begin with. My suggestion is to either be very straightforward and just kinda leave it in the background for a while or keep it more subtle and weave this into her current conflict somehow. 

If the story really wants this to be strong then I think we need to see it in action though. Such as showing us how Is trying to speak for these people without understanding them is hurting them, and show how she does better and learns from it. It could be that a policy she pushes in the early chapters that she thinks will help them actually makes causes them problems. Just spitballing here. 

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Late again, sorry about that!

First, I want to say that I found reading this chapter to be very smooth and easy. I was looking for something to comment on for lbl and came up dry :-)

I do agree with previous critiques that the tension is low. I get the background problems of I's family being hated and her worsening health, but nothing feels very urgent. I wonder if part of this is that I isn't in direct conflict with anyone. So far, everyone she has encountered has been at worst mildy suspicous, and at best incredibly nice and helpful. I feel like I'm missing an antagonist. Not nessicarily someone villainous, but someone whose goals directly oppose I's in some way. 

Not sure if this is useful, but a worsening cough heading towards pneumonia would be very believable given I's time in the wilderness, not eating, stress and injuries. Not trying to prescribe! Honest! :-) 

I found the characters to be engaging. M right now is the most interesting character in the chapter. D must be a good character because it's been weeks since I've read about him and I can still picture him clearly.

 

Thanks for sharing!

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