kais

Fox - Chapter 8 - kais 04/30/18, 3157 words

11 posts in this topic

Same ole same ole. Pacing, age, are they working. Also would like to know if Moms is still skewing spooky or not.

Last Time: M convinces S to put the offered apprenticeship on hold to help find their missing mothers. On a remote forest path, they are attached by bandits. M runs off to pursue and S ends up face to face with Mother

This Time: Moms is Moms

Next Time: Guilders are wandering around without skills, and our duo have the first of several uncomfortable conversations

Please abbreviate all proper nouns. Thank you!

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Overall, pacing is still fine, S's age is still fine. Moms is definitely on the spooky side, almost to the point here of how S didn't immediately catch it.

I'm left a little unfulfilled by the end of the chapter. The secrecy between M and S seem to imply there was something else going on in the bandit attack, rather than that whoever sent the conjuring probably hired incompetent bandits as well. With this much focus on it, it needs to be resolved. Were the bandits actually meant to harm M or just distract her? and why is M all coy about it?

 

pg 1: ". I had delayed my chance with Master R, my last real chance at an apprenticeship, trailing a woman who needed no help at all."
--This is good. Having the apprenticeship offered by R continues to help S's competency.

pg 5: "A conjuring poorly done"
--expect S has already said the rest of the conjuring was very well done.
--also, why would it be hard to recreate a guild mark, vs. facial features? Is there something magic about guild marks? I thought they were just tattoos.

pg 5: "Strong, to reject A’s wishes"
--Except A allowed S to pick S's own path. What was S rejecting?

pg 7: I'm still not sold on S falling into the blackberries. It seems very random that S just happens to fall full on into a giant tangle of brambles. Does it serve a story purpose?

pg 8: “You were never one for crying,”
--S has cried like five times already in this story...

pg 10 : "even before Master R"
--Even before he what?

Pg 11: Was there actually something special about the bandits? I don't remember anything coming of them in previous versions. Is there something new?

pg 11: "Not all the masters were missing, it seemed"
--S never actually makes that connection before now, and with S telling M that it was from an amulet, this last line is a little confusing as to what S actually knows.

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Overall I felt this chapter was a little lackluster, after the cliffhanger of the bandit attack last time and S.’s mother showing up. We don’t actually see the bandits, we don’t see what M. goes through, since S. is pretty much sidelined the whole time. Everything basically resolves itself without S.’s input.

 

Mother: The conjuring came across as pretty creepy, which I quite liked. The fact that S. didn’t immediately catch on to the creepiness is also pretty telling about A., makes me wonder what A. is really like. I was a bit surprised though because you describe the place as being remote, in the mountains, with swirling snow going around, but S. takes a long time to realize that A. couldn’t possibly be there wearing casual clothing and being unaffected by the cold. Also, for the person making the conjuring (assuming that there is someone, and that this isn’t some magical happenstance), seems like a pretty stupid oversight.

 

Blackberries: Were there blackberries before? All I got was that there were weak-looking thorny bushes around. The matter-of-factness that S. fell specifically into blackberries surprised me.

 

I’ve taken care of them: How? M. is just one person, there should have been many more bandits around.

The biggest problem I had with the bandits though is the same problem I had last chapter too. Where are the guards in this scenario? I find it hard to believe that M. would be allowed to go out on her own without guards, along with S., the daughter of suspect number one. If that’s actually the case the person in charge of the guards should be fired.

If there are guards around, you’d need to show it better, because in my mind there’s only M. and S. there.

 

Crying: S. must have changed a lot in the intervening years, because there have been quite a bit of tears and whining so far.

 

Leading on a chase: M. remarks that the bandits were not interested in her, only leading her on a chase. That is not typical highway robber behavior, especially after killing one of the horses. To me it looks like they were buying time for the conjuring to take S., and that’s fine, it could make sense even though simply rushing M. and S. and taking them would be more effective I think. But what doesn’t make sense is how M. doesn’t seem to pick up on that.

 

Amulet: Magic comes from amulets? I know there was a story about the old queen and her having a magic amulet, but I didn’t realize magic was actually limited to amulets (or if it isn’t limited to amulets, why make the assumption that there’s an old amulet there?)

That makes me question what witches actually are. Are they users of amulets, or are they the creators of amulets? Interested to finding out.

 

Even a handful: S. remarks that M. should easily be able to handle a handful of bandits, as if it’s nothing. I find it hard to believe that M. could be that formidable, even with training. She is the heir to the throne (which should necessitate lessons in statecraft, diplomacy, etc.), she is a guild blacksmith (which also takes training), and now also an accomplished sword fighter? I can get that she took lessons in weapons, but she should be guarded at all time, so how is it that she’s a master swordsman in her own right?

And aside from that, no matter how skilled M. is, a handful of bandits could surround her and even the most experienced swordfighters would have a problem then. Or is the path so narrow that only a single one can come at M. at a time? That also seems unlikely because there was enough space for S. to move into the trees, perpendicular to the road.

 

Nearby master: Huh? I thought the magic came from an amulet (S. sounded pretty sure), and the bandits were just a coincidence (if M. is to be believed). So how come in the last line S. is suddenly sure there IS a master around, and that this master is skilled? And if S. is so sure, why not tell M., the only one who really seems capable of protecting someone in this scenario?

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I was fine with the chapter, I thought it clipped along at a nice pace, and provided some good background and plot along the way, but do tend to agree that it's more tense than action-packed, but there's nothing wrong with that. It did make me realise that you've dispensed with the guards that accompanied M in the previous version, I think. Haven't you? That seems kind of crazy to me, that the R.D. would go out into a dangerous situation like this without at least some assistance, even if it was only a couple of soldiers, rather than--what--half a dozen that she had in previous versions?

I'll send LBLs for this week and last week together. A few details:

How can tears dot S's cheek, they would leave tracks, surely, unless they are M's?

"they certainly couldn’t wield a knife" - Continuity: I'm sure you said earlier that the sending could have run S through. "Well, they couldn’t wield a knife well." - Hmm, now I'm just confused.

For me 'lurked'n the last line is melodramatic, rather comical, not punchy enough. Suggest 'remained' for inducing slightly more dread/trepidation.

Edited by Robinski
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So is a believable 17-year-old. The chapters work better in YA format. 

 

I agree with pretty much everything @Mandamon and @Asmodemon have said, and Asmodemon in particular has delineated things much better than I could. Moms is definitely creepy. I had trouble with the blocking. I don't know that the bramble bush stands out as particularly problematic to me, but it's definitely a symptom of the larger problem.  I don't have a clear idea of any of the geography or what the road, landscape, woods etc look like, or how So/Ma/Moms is/are moving in it. I know the species of a couple individual trees, and that bush, but species names alone doesn't evoke any kind of picture in my mind as to what's going on. 


I definitely agree that Ma and the bandits needs work. Her lack of guards seems odd, being the heir and all. There were too many before, and they got lost in the background, but maybe a pair of bodyguards would be a manageable compromise? 

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On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

With this much focus on it, it needs to be resolved.

This seems to be the general consensus. Will fix.

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

expect S has already said the rest of the conjuring was very well done.

Check. Easy fix

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

I thought they were just tattoos.

I was leaving this for book two, a bit.

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

What was S rejecting?

Err...I've changed it to 'abandon.'

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

Does it serve a story purpose?

It was supposed to tie into the blackberries in the first chapter, and S's general skittishness after seeing moms. It appears to be tripping most people so I'll rework it. 

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

S has cried like five times already in this story...

Which is why it's kind of funny, no? Also meant to show how much S has changed from what M knew

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

Even before he what?

Easy edit!

On 4/30/2018 at 8:48 AM, Mandamon said:

line is a little confusing as to what S actually knows.

Have edited for clarity. Thank you! The were very helpful!

 

 

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On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

The conjuring came across as pretty creepy, which I quite liked.

Hoorah that something worked!

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

but S. takes a long time to realize that A. couldn’t possibly be there wearing casual clothing and being unaffected by the cold.

Hmm... will have to think on this, because it's fairly well established (I went back and checked) that moms wanders around the country a lot for wood stuff, and they're woodcutters, so being in a random forest hunting for cool wood wouldn't be too unusual. Or is it just the clothes thing? Maybe this is more WRS?

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

Were there blackberries before?

There were, but I've made them more prominent now

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

I find it hard to believe that M. would be allowed to go out on her own without guards, along with S., the daughter of suspect number one

The issue here is that this is from S's perspective. I don't know that S would ever even think to ask about guards, and M, having basically snuck out of the palace, isn't going to volunteer the information. I'm going to keep thinking about how best to address this. I did have guards in earlier versions, but they mostly all just died in this scene so were superfluous. I've also been working with an agent intern friend who mentioned that in YA you should try to keep the irrelevant characters low to none so...maybe this will be fine since it's not an epic adult fantasy?

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

S. must have changed a lot in the intervening years, because there have been quite a bit of tears and whining so far.

Yup. This works well then, for contrast

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

But what doesn’t make sense is how M. doesn’t seem to pick up on that.

I've changed it to note that M notices it, too.

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

I find it hard to believe that M. could be that formidable, even with training.

They basically all just run away now, since they're just they're to distract M.

On 4/30/2018 at 10:23 AM, Asmodemon said:

S. is suddenly sure there IS a master around, and that this master is skilled? And if S. is so sure, why not tell M., the only one who really seems capable of protecting someone in this scenario?

I've edited this to make it more clear. Thank you for this feedback! It's very helpful!

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On 5/1/2018 at 0:05 AM, Robinski said:

It did make me realise that you've dispensed with the guards that accompanied M in the previous version, I think. Haven't you?

I have! For several reasons, including 1) they served no real purpose since they just die here 2) better to have fewer 'useless' characters in YA and 3) I think it tells a bit about M's character since I think lack of guards makes it pretty clear that she just snuck out. Which is not a smart idea.

On 5/1/2018 at 0:05 AM, Robinski said:

Hmm, now I'm just confused.

Okay, I'll try to clarify this better

On 5/1/2018 at 0:05 AM, Robinski said:

Suggest 'remained' for inducing slightly more dread/trepidation.

Oooh, that's creepy! Thank you!

 

On 5/1/2018 at 5:13 PM, industrialistDragon said:

I had trouble with the blocking.

I'll try to tighten this part up.

On 5/1/2018 at 5:13 PM, industrialistDragon said:

but maybe a pair of bodyguards would be a manageable compromise? 

I've been advised against this for the moment. But it's also a fairly minor thing (and easy fix) so definitely easy to put back in if it becomes too much of a sticking point. 

Thank you both for the excellent comments!

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18 minutes ago, kais said:

you should try to keep the irrelevant characters low to none

But they're not irrelevant if they go towards establishing the status of the character? You wouldn't have a sniper without a sniper rifle, right? Or if you do, you have a reason for the lack. 

18 minutes ago, kais said:

but they mostly all just died in this scene so were superfluous ... M, having basically snuck out of the palace,

If the problem is wanting to ditch the guards, but the guards are needed to establish the status of the character, with the additional problem of having to convey that the character is breaking the rules... why not just combine it all? Give Ma a couple guards, let her ditch them in the town. So being So will not know what is happening until Ma bashes them over the head with it, thus providing an opportunity to explain about the rulebreaking. 

 

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2 hours ago, kais said:

I think lack of guards makes it pretty clear that she just snuck out. Which is not a smart idea.

I think you might want to 'hang a lantern' on that.

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9 hours ago, kais said:

Or is it just the clothes thing?

It's the clothing thing. Granted it's a bit weird to find someone you're looking for in a random forest in the middle of nowhere, but you did establish that this is what A. does. But A. is a professional, she wouldn't be wandering the forest in those weather conditions in those clothes. And I feel that S. should have picked up on it sooner.

 

9 hours ago, kais said:

The issue here is that this is from S's perspective. I don't know that S would ever even think to ask about guards, and M, having basically snuck out of the palace, isn't going to volunteer the information. I'm going to keep thinking about how best to address this. I did have guards in earlier versions, but they mostly all just died in this scene so were superfluous. I've also been working with an agent intern friend who mentioned that in YA you should try to keep the irrelevant characters low to none so...maybe this will be fine since it's not an epic adult fantasy?

Ah, I did not have the impression that M. snuck out to do this. In that regard it makes sense that there are no guards around now. From what I read before I got the impression that M. had a temporary headquarters in a tavern, which was known to the guards and other officials, and that she was basically operating closer to the people rather than from afar from the palace. Which is probably what she wants S. to believe.

 

I do think that keeping the number of irrelevant characters low is a good idea. Even in epic adult fantasy this is probably a good idea.

 

Suggestion: Introducing a guard detail early on in the chapter, then having the guards move with M. against the bandits wouldn't have to take a lot of words. Especially since we're in S.'s perspective, who at that time is focussing more on being reunited with M. as well as riding a horse to pay much mind to an escort. We don't even need any names for them and we don't need to see any fighting, since S. goes into the forest early in the encounter. Then rather than M. having chased off the bandits (which felt odd anyway and lessens their impact), she could stumble on S. while fleeing, while the guards form a perimeter to give M. time to flee. 

 

Other suggestion: Have M. avoid guards more when they're in the city, so the reader can get a feeling about what's going on.

 

9 hours ago, kais said:

They basically all just run away now, since they're just they're to distract M.

Like I mentioned above, the behaviour of the bandits (attacking, then running away) feels weird and lessens the threat posed against M. and S.. The feeling I got was that it was a band of bandits, meaning M. is heavily outnumbered. Running in that scenario is strange. Now if it's just one or two bandits, amateur, country folk, and they get confronted by M. charging at them, that might surprise them enough that fleeing would make sense. But like I said, in my mind there were more, at least five to ten bandits. 

 

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