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Reading Excuses - 5/23/2022 - [Unnamned]

6 posts in this topic

Here's the topic for this, I'm exited to hear any feedback you guys have! 


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Welcome, and congratulations on your first submission!


I think what you have here is a great exploratory writing exercise. You're investigating your world and the characters, which is all part of building a good story. None of the segments appear to have a narrative arc, which is something you can address in rewrites. I think a lot of this will eventually be condensed down into maybe the first half of a chapter, and then you can finish the character and world building arcs. For right now it's great exploration of where you want the story to eventually go.


As I go

- great opening line

- pg 4: I am engaged, but all this mention of ash now at page four, and I'm starting to get a touch irritated. I need more info on why it is important to stay engaged

- pf 5: oh, it's a prologue? It ends very chapter like. I'm not sure what its point is. Does it substantially add to the narrative? The beginning might, so it might be that you just need to condense it to maybe two pages or so, have it end with the dad's burial in the water, which was great, and leave us readers hanging on that intriguing high note to head into chapter 1

- chapter one starts around page 8 I think

- pg 8: I don; t understand enough about the world to get what is happening here. The impact is lost

- pg 10: Chapter one doesn't appear to have an arc. It has maybe a page of new information. Can this be condensed with chapter 2 maybe? 

- pg 14: I'm also not sure what the arc of chapter 2 is


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Congrats on your first submission!

I have some similar thoughts to @kais on this. There are a lot of interesting parts, but I don't think it's quite condensed into a story yet. There were a few contradictions in the story that confused me, so I didn't get a very clear idea of the MC's personality.

I don't think the first chapter needs to be a prologue? It does take place significantly before the other chapters, but it still works as a continuation of time. I agree it could probably be condensed into the emotional impact of the moment just to get the point across.

Two chapters into the story, we're still missing an inciting incident. The lava flows aren't (?) threatening the town after all? The MC isn't leaving the town? I keep waiting for an event to happen, and it hasn't. 

All that said, I do like what I've seen of the world so far. It's definitely got potential for a story. A little more definition on the characters will help that out.


Notes while reading:
Pg 1: interesting opening paragraph.

pg 1: "So why did I hate him so much?"
--An odd question. Does the MC really not have any idea? I would think a person would know why they dislike someone that close to them.

pg 1: "wondering what people’s reaction to the statement would be"
--this is the third pause in speech and the third question from the MC. So far, they seem very unsure.

pg 2: "nobody disagreed that his help was precious"
--this is all very vague. We don't know what battles, or why the MC's father's battles were different than the others, or even if these battles are physical or mental.

pg 2: "I hadn’t asked the question that had been bothering me, but perhaps I didn’t need to."
--I guess that's his speech? Didn't he say he wanted to conjure up something good?

pg 2: "but I doubted anyone really cared.
I closed my eyes, ignoring him."
--So far, all the reactions have been of confusion, or ignorance, hatred, or boredom. The characters aren't excited about anything which in turn means I'm not excited about the story.

pg 2: "pain of his ash whip "
--soooo...maybe this is why the MC hated him?

pg 3: "our small town. It was definitely small, but compared to the others it was huge, and ancient."
--so confused here. Is it big or small? If it's "definitely" small, I don't think it could be "huge" compared to anything.

pg 4: "It wasn’t tall, but a small ring..."

pg 4: "lighting up with green light"
--there's several of this sort of thing in here. I'd look for doubled words and meanings and try to cut them down.

Ch 1

pg 6: "back. The workers quietly grumbled to themselves,"
--I thought he was a fair employer and gave out free beer? Why are the workers grumbling?

pg 7: "lazy sternums"
--odd phrase. Also, I realize by this point I still don't know the MC's name or gender.
--Edit: I went back and their name was mentioned once.
--Edit: ah, it's mentioned again a few paragraphs down. They still feel sort of like a blank slate. Aside from hating ash and their father, I don't really know a lot about them.

pg 7: "ones that destroyed our town?" "Our town hasn't been destroyed"
--Are these people from different towns? The same town? Confused.

pg 8: "Spell that my father had cast so many years earlier "
--again confused. At the end of the prologue they thought they only had a year. The MC just referenced their town being destroyed. Now the spell is eternal?

pg 8: “And I expect you to fix it.” 
--does the MC actually have any magical ability? I don't think we've been shown or told yet.

pg 9: "There was a single contact in my life, and that was that I knew who was responsible for our pain."
--Not sure what this means. A single contact? A single goal? purpose? fact?

pg 9: "He deserved to drown and rot..."
--We still don't really know what he did, aside from protect the town.

Ch 2

pg 11: "I always began another story no matter how much I promised to continue an unfinished one."
--and they still listened? I would get tired of that real quick.

pg 11: "seemed strangely tense."
--wasn't there a river of lava coming toward the town? Has anything happened with that?

pg 13: "He didn’t care about making a difference in the world, just in his own life.”
--Didn't he keep the town from being destroyed? I'm still not sure why the guy who kept everyone safe for years was disliked?

pg 14: "but my father’s influence had never ceased to be there"
--so basically the man was a hero. I'm very confused on everyone's reaction to him. He seems to have abused his child? Is that why everyone hated him?


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Congrats on your first submission! I think I'm pretty much in line with what the others have said so far. To the comments!

 “I’d thought it would be easier to conjure up something good…” I like this, very revealing.

“…like many in the line the Arcs call…” this feels a little as-you-know-Bob, like everyone in attendance should already know this. I think you can get away with the rest.

P2 “I had finally reached the uncomfortable part of the speech.” Good timing. We’ve got the setup, and so this feels like a good time to get to whatever comes next.

… except nothing seems to come of the “uncomfortable” part of Z’s speech. They sit down, nobody reacts, the next person speaks, things continue. A bit startling as I felt we were being primed for an inciting incident right here.

P6 “Depends on how quickly you get my field covered..” not sure whether we’re supposed to like G. The narrator does and respects how hard-working G is, but this makes G seem more like an overseer than someone who actually does the hard work himself (aka the thing the narrator respects him for).

P7 “It was his own fault nobody liked him…” Heh. But wait, if they hated him enough to prevent him from entering the afterlife (originally I had thought this was done for ritual/religious reasons, but this makes it just seem like dislike), why have a funeral at all?

“…get your lazy sternums…” I know this is supposed to be read as a joke but it’s definitely solidifying that I don’t like G.

The narrator seems like they’re… drifting a bit. They wander between jobs, and I’m not sure why they’re trying to make small talk with G. What’s the narrator’s aim here? A little more direction would be helpful.

Ooh! Screams! Inciting incident! Yes!

P7 “K, go check it out” isn’t the narrator’s name Z?

C is an old man? From “older than he looked” I had the impression of someone fairly young.

I think for the reveal to have an impact we need a bit… more. More description/emotion, more understanding of what the implications actually are. Is this the thing that was mentioned in the prologue? Because in the prologue they were expecting it to fail and then it didn’t. So if this is the same thing why is it a big deal now, years later?

P9 “and through the insanity…” This seems overstated since we’ve only seen one person get somewhat angry at the narrator.

The jump from Ch1 to Ch2 feels abrupt. We go from dire predictions about the end of the town to the character entertaining people in a tavern.

I really don’t know much about R aside from the fact that she’s friends with the narrator, so I’m not super-invested in her leaving. I think for this to work we either need a lot more characterization so that we as readers feel there is something to mourn—rather than Z just telling us he (I think?) is mourning—or we get the sense that this departure kicks the narrator into action somehow, that it’s an actual change for Z, more significant than just missing a friend.

Overall: There is an interesting setting for sure and what seems like the makings of an inciting incident -but it’s not yet totally clear what the inciting incident actually is. The failure of the spell seems like it should be it but it’s not entirely clear why that affects things or how immediate the threat is, since it seems like these chapters stretch over a long period of time without really changing.

I’m also wondering about need for the prologue. I thought it mostly worked on its own, but it seems to cover a lot of the same ground as the first chapter, so there’s probably some opportunities to consolidate here.

Also, general grammatical note: Once you’re ready for line-level passes make sure you check your grammar and punctuation around the dialogue (generally a dialogue tag is considered part of the same sentence as the dialogue it’s attached to, and is  capitalized or not accordingly).


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Welcome, happy to have another author submitting their work!

Prologue: Really interesting world building.  The ash and river of flame have a really dark melancholy feeling to them and I appreciate that (for the most part) the characters are using terms familiar to them without over-explaining them for the reader's benefit.

Chapter 1: I like the menial labor protagonist just trying to get by, somewhat unsatisfied with his circumstances but not enough to do something about it.  Feels like it is setting the scene for him to be chosen and thrust into greatness and machinations beyond his small town.

Chapter 2: The thread of this one lost me a bit at the end.  R leaving made sense as it pushed the protagonist to a new low and meant there was less holding him to the current small town, but I didn't follow the pain in his back and the green glow.  I was sort of expecting the conclusion of this chapter to be the event where he decides he needs to go make something of himself in the world.

Overall: I love the uniqueness of the imagery of hell being water as opposed to flames and fire and all the downstream impacts of that view.  There were some grammar items and some awkward sentence structures, but overall it flowed nicely.  I expect we should be very close to a real inciting incident that kicks off the adventure?  I have pretty high tolerance in stories for revealing the world slowly over time so I appreciate all the unknown terms and events, but something about the story events has to hook me pretty soon to keep investing time building up that context.


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Hey, thank you guys for all the feedback! Hopefully I can get some of these things worked out, but I'm happy to hear the story is doing some of the things I want it to, and I'm glad to know where it falls short. 

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that the inciting incident is... still on it's way. (Or maybe it's an inciting series of events, some of which have already taken place? My apologies for all the pacing issues, because there are a fair amount of them.) 

I'll avoid answering the questions you guys have, in the hopes that my writing can do that for you. 

Anyway hope the coming chapters do a bit better. Thanks again everyone!


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