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Ace of Hearts

1/23/23 - Ace of Hearts - Bond of Wildflowers v2 sub 1, 5010 words (light V, G)

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Hi everyone,
 
Bond of Wildflowers is a teen paranormal romance book I previously submitted most of to this reading group. I figure that reading through entire multiple drafts of the same story isn't going to be the most interesting, but the entire novel has basically been rewritten from scratch so my main question after reading is: Would you be interested in me resubmitting the whole novel, or would you rather see a totally new work? I have other paranormal romance books in a similar style/setting and a fantasy story more typical for this group that I wrote for NaNoWrimo but haven't edited in full yet.
 
Light violence and gore for visual description of blood.
 
Thanks!
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Welcome back! 
As I read: 

“…rumours speak of…” Having trouble parsing this sentence at the end of the first paragraph. Missing word maybe?

P2 “Trying to poach them?” This is not what I expected for what seemed like a high-school romance/drama with magic. It’s also a bit weird to me that W doesn’t seem to find this strange.

Also, A seems much older than W. Not sure if that’s a correct impression or not.

P5  “trial and error taught me…” this sentence stuck out at me, for reasons can’t quite put my finger on. Also, I think there is a small tense issue with “taught” since the story is primarily in present. Maybe “have taught”?

P7 “the images of blood and sparkles…” this has come up frequently enough that it’s starting to feel a little repetitive. The previous reference when we got a hint of something more – the “maybe I just made it up” – was helpful but just referencing the image without any other information doesn’t give a sense of forward motion.

P9 “playing with a fidget cube…” since the action’s already been described, do we need the explanation of stimming in the next sentence?

P10 “They know something about those flowers.” Aside from the repetition the separate paragraph here is putting an emotional weight on the flowers that I don’t quite understand. Definitely need more information if they’re going to keep coming up like this.

Edit: Oh good, we’re getting some with this upcoming scene. Maybe just moving this line around so we get some of this first?

P12: W’s aunt’s been missing for weeks and nobody told her until now?!

P14/15: I’m enjoying this interaction between N and W, but I’m curious as to how W actually feels about being told to stay away from him. Aside from one or two brief mentions of her liking being around him, all I’m really getting is that she’s trying to be polite.

P16/17: Interesting characterization from W here, not saying the easy thing to N’s brother. I like it.

P17 “…now that I know there’s another way?” This seems a bit overblown. W’s even dated before, even though it didn’t work out.

Overall: This is a solid start, and the lines of conflict are way clearer in this version than the last draft in a way I really appreciate. The pacing so far seems pretty solid.

I mentioned this at one specific point already, but I think there is more that can be done to punch up the emotional impact during the dialogue specifically – the narrative really seems to focus on the conversations W is having with other characters almost to the exclusion of how she’s actually feeling. The exception is when W is talking about her mom, where the emotion generally feels pretty solid. Otherwise it feels like we lose a lot of it during the conversations.

I’m also interested in the flowers and the situation with N/all the related stuff, but I don’t quite know how to place them yet. Is this a contemporary world with hidden magic? Is magic rare but not unknown?  Etc. I think having a bit more understanding about the boundaries of the world will better support the intrigue here as well as the potential bombshell at the end of Ch2.

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9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I figure that reading through entire multiple drafts of the same story isn't going to be the most interesting, but the entire novel has basically been rewritten from scratch so my main question after reading is: Would you be interested in me resubmitting the whole novel, or would you rather see a totally new work?

General rule of thumb here is that it should be what is useful for you! I for one don't at all mind providing feedback on multiple drafts if there's been editing in between. 

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I don't think I was here when you originally submitted, so I am coming in fresh for this one! This was well written, and the characters are interesting and believable. You are also very good at writing the romance and all the complicated stuff that goes with it. While it was good, this felt more like a chapter from the middle of the book. In the first few pages, W sees the wolves and talks with A pretty much right out the gate, and I felt like I was missing some information even though this is the first chapter. Granted, the characters have pasts and histories together, but it still felt like I was thrown into the middle of something pre-established. 

I kind of wanted a stronger hook. A possible cure for cancer is good, but I still didn't feel completely drawn in by the end of the first chapter. And I am a little confused about the wolves still. 

That being said, this seems like the beginning to an interesting mystery, and I am already liking the romance parts to it, like I said before. Excited to read more!

Edit: In response to your question, yes I am more than happy to see more chapters from this one!

 

Pg 1 First off, I like the immediate “no nonsense” tone of the narrator

“the rumors speak of is…” this sentence is confusing.

“Where I saw blood” okay, interesting

“like all of my classmates…” not certain, but I think you might be able to cut the word “of” or replace “of my” with “the”

“pups” okay, was not expecting that

“animated kids” missing an apostrophe. Maybe simplify to “cartoon”?

“it just veered into nightmare” oof, felt that

Pg 2 “so he is connected to those” not sure why W would jump to that conclusion. Or what the significance of the wolves are supposed to be.

“wolves does” wolves do.

Pg 4 Okay, glad the pronouns thing got called out, I was wondering if that was supposed to be seen as odd or not.

So N is totatlly a fey or something, right?

“so there’s nothing of it…” Unless he’s bi ;)

Pg 8 The hug was well-written, and overall the romance is being set up well, but at the end of chapter 1, this doesn’t particularly feel like the first chapter. Feels like something from the middle of the book.

Pg 9 “well enough even they’re” even though they’re

Pg 10 “They relax their shoulders” this feels a little bit like underreaction. Just by hearing that they stiff or relax, I’m not really sure how important this memory really is. And it just seems a little bit frank. Idk, I guess I just want a little more elaboration

Pg 12 I feel like the news would go nuts about a violent commune, (which, I will add, does seem like an Oregon stereotype. Not sure how common those actually are) so I really don’t buy this story. Maybe that’s what you’re going for

I see this is called out later down the page.

“how dangerous America can be” this reads like someone visiting America. How old was she when she was adopted?

Pg 13 So her aunt has been missing for weeks, and they never told her about it? Hm

Pg 15 oof

Pg 16 “N doesn…like me,” I thought she had figured that out from him asking her on a date?

Edited by ginger_reckoning
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Oooh, I remember this from last time! Happy to read a new version

Overall

A good improvement. The first page needs some cleaning as the sentences are long and generally hard to parse. I think this chapter is both too fast and too slow. It gives us too much information too quickly, thereby removing tension, but it also goes on for too long. It needs a more defined arc and a slow information release across multiple chapters to really keep the tension building instead of the slow ebb.

But, much improved! Glad to be back in this world.

As I go

- that first sentence is hard to read. I think the syntax might be off just a bit. Chopping it up or reordering would give it the punch it needs. The content is great it just doesn't deliver as cleanly as it could

- it's the same with the first paragraph. Might be the sentences are just too long but I feel like they all bury the lede

- the second paragraph sentence might be a better start, then backtrack to the lying

- the writing gets more of a flow by page two

- pg 3: the wolf thing is weird. There have been a few hints this is paranormal but I think I might need a bit more worldbuilding to buy into the very cavalier attitude of wolf pups being wrangled by a teenaged boy

- pg 7: the callback to the wolf business reminds me that I still need an explanation or better world building for this to land

- pg 11: YA chapters tend to be shorter than 5K words, usually more like 3K. And your inciting incident we got right off the bat with the flowers and meeting N. By pg 11 then I'm starting to wonder what the arc of the chapter is, as the tension is gone and we seem to be narratively wandering

- pg 11: ah. Giving us the whole flower mystery right up front might not be the best. Slowly revealing it over the course of multiple chapters would build more tension

- pg 13: so much backstory. I can't quite follow it. I feel like I'm being given way too much information too quickly. I wanted to discover it myself, not be told about it. It also makes me wonder how long the book is since it feels like this is four or five chapters of backstory reveals all across just a few pages

- pg 16: definitely too long here. We have lost all arc

- good ending, but I don't know enough about her mother for this to have impact. I think it would work better a few chapters in after we know more about her mother

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Thanks, everyone! This was super helpful. It's good to confirm that some of the points like the wolves feel a little scattered--I'll probably want to find a new way or different angle to hint that things are out of the ordinary right off the bat. And assuming nobody else would find it boring to reread over a new draft I think I'll keep subbing this story.

14 hours ago, Silk said:

I mentioned this at one specific point already, but I think there is more that can be done to punch up the emotional impact during the dialogue specifically – the narrative really seems to focus on the conversations W is having with other characters almost to the exclusion of how she’s actually feeling.

Good to know. I think part of the issue is that W has a hard time processing her own emotions in the moment, but that's no excuse for not giving the reader fun dynamics to work with!

14 hours ago, Silk said:

Is this a contemporary world with hidden magic?

Basically this. I'll try to make it clearer.

11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

While it was good, this felt more like a chapter from the middle of the book. In the first few pages, W sees the wolves and talks with A pretty much right out the gate, and I felt like I was missing some information even though this is the first chapter. Granted, the characters have pasts and histories together, but it still felt like I was thrown into the middle of something pre-established. 

 

9 hours ago, kais said:

I think this chapter is both too fast and too slow. It gives us too much information too quickly, thereby removing tension, but it also goes on for too long.

Good to hear that this is a consistent comment (and is a result of me doing a lot of cutting without filling the gaps with new storytelling). I like the suggestion about doling out the information more slowly. It's going to be fun thinking about how to reorganize these opening chapters...

9 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 11: YA chapters tend to be shorter than 5K words, usually more like 3K. And your inciting incident we got right off the bat with the flowers and meeting N. By pg 11 then I'm starting to wonder what the arc of the chapter is, as the tension is gone and we seem to be narratively wandering

I'm curious how much of this is a result of me lumping two chapters together in the submission because this is supposed to read like two 2.5k word chapters rather than one 5k word chapter. I can sub one chapter at a time if it's easier to think about that way.

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Hello, thank you for sharing these chapters! Here are my thoughts:

Pg 1 Last phrase in the first paragraph sounds weird - I got the idea, but I read it twice to do so

- I was intrigued by the transition from ponds, classmates and flowers to blood 

- kid's movie should probably be a cartoon

- l loved the dream to nightmare turn

Pg 2 "so he is connected" should probably be "that he is connected" 

Pg 3 "He’s right that" - A did not say anything about what is best

- why is W pointing A in the direction of the coyotes when he is looking for wolves? Was she mistaken in her initial identification of them, or did she just lie to A?

- I was confused by the glitter on the clothes that W somehow never questions or notices again

- also, seeing a cute boy and immediately getting from a nightmare to a dream felt a bit blunt

Pg 6 carrying the world seemed like hell of a compliment for a highschool boy

Pg 9 I like the touch with the personalized cards - a nice characterization

Pg 14 confused about "looking at the stores around the area". W is not new to the place - unlike N - so it is a strange thing for him to ask

Pg 15 not sure I understood the "bloody schisms" phrase

 - "dangerous America" seems like a generalization

Pg 11-14 amma is very submissive to W's prods, the information comes too easily for a mystery

Pg 17 - "another way" comes out of nowhere

Pg 18 - nice hook with the cure

General thoughts: I enjoyed the read, it was easy to follow and the voice of the main character is distinct. I found myself wishing that there was someone "normal" among the cast to offset everyone else's tragic past or present, or individual characteristics. The latter would be more colorful that way.

Looking forward to read further! I did not see your previous draft, but I am excited by this story :)

 

 

 

 

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Hello! This is my first time giving feedback here so I hope I can do a good job for you!

First up you do a great job developing the romance between the characters, I enjoyed watching their interactions unfold, but I'm wondering if A is really the good guy and N is the bad? Maybe that's just my devious mind at work. Ha ha! I feel like when you relax into the scene and the conversations that the prose flows really well. I know first lines and paragraphs can be really hard to pull off, I haven't mastered them myself, so maybe relax a little more into those first paragraphs- I think they'll be great! 

P.1 - the wolf pups wandering through is a bit odd. I feel like it's trying to set up the fantastic nature of the story, but misses just a bit. Same with the flowers. It almost (so close) does what it's intended to do.

P. 4- I like N. I really hope he's as sweet as he seems. 

Also page 4- the introduction of the pronouns feels awkward to me. Perhaps it would be in a meeting such as this. 

I agree that the flowers and the blood are repeated a bit too much. One or two reminders works.

Chapter 2 P. 2- I'm a bit confused. Is W Korean? or her adopted family? I am adopted and that plays a lot into how well I feel I fit in. It seems like not just W's autism would make her feel out of place. How does she fit into this family? It doesn't need to be info dumpy, but there's more here to show. 

The story from her a. feels like too much and yet too little somehow. It feels like a big reveal, but too early in the story, yet we don't get enough detail to really understand what happened. 

I like the rebuff of N the next day. It plays well. I also like H. that seems like a fun character for the future. The text conversation at the end is great! It pulls me right through to the next part of the story- I want to know more! 

Overall this is a strong start! Lots of tidbits to make us wonder about this world and what is happening to W. Keep working at it- I excited to see how it comes together! 

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On 1/23/2023 at 8:13 PM, kais said:

I think this chapter is both too fast and too slow. It gives us too much information too quickly, thereby removing tension, but it also goes on for too long.

Have only been skimming others' comments, but found myself nodding along to this one, even though I said something almost opposite about pacing. It feels like things are happening at about the right rate, but the pace at which we're getting information definitely needs to be smoothed out.

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Glad to read this one again! I enjoyed it the first time, and this already seems like a big improvement.

I also had the biggest hiccup with amma giving too much info in the middle of the chapter. It enough that I want to know what else they are hiding and why, rather than getting me into the story. Maybe not completely forbidding W from seeing N, but expressing distrust and a few details will act as a better hook? Or maybe a mention of magic or something connected to the wolf cubs? I can tell there are things out of the ordinary here, but I don't think the setting is completely solid as paranormal fantasy yet.

Looking forward to the next one!

 

Notes while reading:

Pg 1: The first paragraph is a little awkward in format. I'd maybe start with the second sentence and then explain with the first? Also there's something missing in the last sentence of the paragraph.

pg 3: This captures my attention more than the first draft, but I'd watch your sentence structure. There are a lot of times where the sentence isn't run-on, but is still very long.

for example:
"His t-shirt, jeans, and hair all have specks of glitter in them that sparkle under the light as he walks forward."

could be something like:
"Glitter sparkles on his t-shirt, jeans, and hair as he walks through a patch of sunlight."

pg 5: great interaction at the top of this page. It shows off their personalities well.

pg 8: Chapter 1 is great. You describe characters very well through here, and N is much less creepy and more wholesome this time around.

pg 10: Great explanation of autism through these pages as well.

pg 12: "we got caught in the crossfire, and your uncle didn’t make it.”
--I like that you're setting this up right off the bat!
--however, since "crossfire" literally refers to firearms, it makes it sound like the uncle was shot. Is that what happened?

pg 13: The aunt going missing at the same time might be a little plotful in this case? I'm not sure why amma would keep that hidden either. If she's been gone that long, are the police investigating? I don't know how it would stay quiet.

pg 14: "I’ve already told you more than I wanted to"
--I'm wondering why they won't share more information if they know it? Wouldn't knowing more convince W to stay away?

pg 16: Ah, so this is N's brother!

pg 16/17: Something about this conversation is weird. Like they're both talking around some other issue.

pg 17: "It’s a shame I don’t want you getting close to my family, or else I might ask to spar with you more outside of practice.”
--I think it's the sentences like this. I can't imagine a teenager actually saying this.

pg 18: Great hook! But now I'm wondering who knows that G's mother is missing. Does she assume W knows?

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