Alderant

1/14/19 - Alderant - The La'andari Crisis - Fairene Scene 1 [L,G,V,S] (4,926 words)

21 posts in this topic

Hello all!

FYI: Content tags are probably mostly irrelevant in these opening scenes, but are a preemptive measure because there might be some things later on in the story, so I don't want anyone uncomfortable with these things to be surprised if/when they appear later down the road.

Sorry for the late submission, I wasn't able to get this in before bed last night and this is the first chance I've had.

Hope you enjoy!

 

- Alderant

 

Edited by Alderant
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Hey hey! Congrats on your first sub! I love seeing new writers on the boards.

A quick note- I read assuming you are seeking publication. If this is not the case, and you write mostly for yourself or for fun, do let me know and I will change my critique structure.

Second, if you're unfamiliar with critique groups, sometimes the comments can seem a little harsh. Know that we all dearly love new writers, and old writers, and mediocre writers and awesome writers. We aren't critiquing you, we're critiquing this little 5K blip in front of us. 

Also note that everyone's first like, five drafts suck. That's just statistics. Sometimes the group can help them suck less, and sometimes not. We do our best. :P

With that all out of the way, let's get to the sub!

Overall

The setting is pretty generic -fantasy, but I'm curious about this demon inside the lady and it's a good hook. The only thing that concerns me is the colorism that might be cropping up. I think you'll need to spell out in detail, and early on, the skin tones and if our MC is an albino (and not just white). If everyone is white and MC lacks melanin, that's one thing (although then we'd have a convo about the nonexistence of all-white societies in medieval Europe), but if you're setting up the world as POC and then MC is white, that's going to be an issue. 

If the colorism piece is vital you might consider using a skin undertone that is unusual, like green, etc., to divorce it somewhat from modern colorism problems. Skin undertones are fun! Here's a tumbler on how to talk about them.

Outside of the above quibbles, I really liked this! It had decent flow (though the intro was slow--and I sure am guilty of this too!) and the writing was solid. I don't usually go for present tense but this worked just fine. Looking forward to next week!

 

As I go

- getting some hard core fairy tale vibes here. Into it.

- the carriage has a lacquered wooden interior? Can I live in this world?

- pg 3: I have this faint yet burning hope that this marriage is to Lady E. This is how I ship. I'd apologize but... well, yeah. GO E!

- pg 4: how do events drive one to squalor? I don't understand the line

- wow, our MC really doesn't like peasants

- pg 5: she said earlier that she would make a terrible mother, but here she is (mentally) offering to care for the baby. These two things seem at odds

- page 6: okay, I'm ready for a bit more movement forward at this stage. Worldbuilding is good and I have a feel for our MC, but the carriage ride and self flagellation are running a bit long now

- pg 7: cream is sort of by definition, uncolorful, isn't it? (Hello from the future! This is a good set up for albinoism if that is where you are going)

- pg 8: okay at this point I'm concerned that the governess/handmaid is a woman of color and that our MC is not, and that this is setting up a world of reverse colorism/racism which is... not great to write about unless you are yourself a person of color. OTOH MC could be albino, which would be an interesting take, but I think we need that spelled out right here, if not earlier.

- pg 17: I'm amused by this inner demon thing

- nice ending!

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1 hour ago, kais said:

Hey hey! Congrats on your first sub! I love seeing new writers on the boards.

Thanks! This is my first time in an actual feedback/critiquing group--most of my previous feedback has been from friends who I had read earlier versions.

I think your criticisms/insights are fine. If anything, you're picking up on things no one else has, so that's helpful in and of itself (and having someone read who's on a more liberally-minded side than myself is also helpful for contrast).

I'll have to check that link you posted to see if that would help (I generally steer clear of tumblr, the people can get pretty vitriolic). I played a lot with "races" on La'andar to get my own head out of the real world connections (I didn't really build the world with race in mind, that came after), so if the possible colorism does remain a problem through the rest of the story, let me know so that I can address it in later revisions--I'm hoping, though, that as the story goes on it won't be as glaring of an issue as it might appear in the beginning.

Quote

wow, our MC really doesn't like peasants

Curious what gave you that impression? That's actually really important feedback I would like to know.

Edited by Alderant
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11 hours ago, Alderant said:

Curious what gave you that impression?

It was a thought monologue when she first sees them. It gets mitigated a bit later with her actions, but it was also, I thought, totally in character. You've got a noble with noble aspirations, but removed from the people. It's exactly the kind of internal monologue I would expect, and was consistent.

So I suppose I should have said, wow, our MC has a deep implicit bias against peasants, but I like how she fights it with her actions.

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Welcome to Reading Excuses, and congratulations on joining a critique group! This place has made my writing a thousand times better. Like @kais, I am critiquing for publication, so let me know if this isn't what you want.

Overall, the writing technique is good, though there are some passive sentences. I like the hook of the demon inside the lady, but I need to know a LOT more about this at the beginning. 

Also, you pretty specifically mention a demon that I believe is limited to a certain game company. I've never heard the term elsewhere. You may want to adjust.

16 hours ago, kais said:

Also note that everyone's first like, five drafts suck. That's just statistics. Sometimes the group can help them suck less, and sometimes not. We do our best. :P

To this point, there were about 9 pages of relatively boring travel before we got to anything that interested me. I think the first part could be cut down greatly into a page or two, and preferably, get the excitement of finding out the maid is hiding things from her very early on. Right now if I started reading a sample of this, I'd probably put it down before I got to the good part. 

I think the dialogue between the demon inside could also be pumped up. I was thinking it was just her talking to herself until near the end, when it's obvious there is a different personality buried in there.

Notes while reading:
Pg 1: The tense change between the italics and the rest of the text threw me out of the story.

pg 2: The conflict in the italics gives way to a very slow intro. Any tension is gone for me.

pg 3: There's got to be a good reason 22 marriage courtships have fallen through.

pg 5: Lots of thinky thoughts here. Nothing has actually happened, 5 pages in, and I'm starting to skim.

pg 6: "You had that opportunity once though. Before you shattered it into a million tiny pieces."
--22 times?

pg 6: "You can’t hide your feelings forever, She says. Sooner or later, you’ll have to let them out. You’ll have to let me out."
--at this point, I'm hoping for a werewolf...

pg 9: "but it is the sight of the contents that causes me to stop and stare in surprise"
--Here's something exciting...which doesn't get followed up on in this chapter. I was sort of assuming the handmaid was abducting her for some reason.

pg 10: "My cursed heritage, a gift from my father, screams as a clarion call from the mirrored surface, broadcasting to everyone in sight my tainted parentage."
--also interesting. Having this sooner would pique my interest a lot more.

pg 13: "Seven gold crowns"
--do you mean silver?

pg 13: "They are my children…"
--Didn't understand this.

pg 16: "her mouth opens in the preemptive gestures of a scream"
--this would have more impact if I knew what Vathe blood was and why it's scary.

pg 17: "daedric"
--isn't this specific to a certain company? Might even be trademarked.

I'd like to see more threat between the internal voice and the character. Right now it only gets interesting at the end, and I think it could be a really good hook for the start of the story. Something like "I struggled to keep my demon caged within me. If my handmaid only knew...etc, etc."

Anyway, looking forward to more!

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17 hours ago, Mandamon said:

isn't this specific to a certain company? Might even be trademarked.

Hahahaha.....You know, you're totally right. This word is almost exclusively used by Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series (I didn't find that out until you said so yesterday! I'm not very far into Skyrim). The word is not trademarked (I checked), and the fact that this similarity exists is...completely coincidental. The word comes from a name in-world, which is in no way related to Elder Scrolls (I was trying to smith a gaelic sounding word that carried a similar connotation)...but I might have to go back and do some wordsmithing to find something that looks different but feels as correct. Thanks for bringing this up.

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20 minutes ago, Alderant said:

the fact that this similarity exists is...completely coincidental.

Ha! Great minds think alike, right?

I'd do some wordsmithing on this one, simply since someone else thought it up before you. If you trigger a memory or feeling the reader isn't anticipating in a story, it can throw them out.

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Hello @Alderant, and welcome to RE.

I too am always keen to read new writers, so this is where I'm starting after being 'away' for a couple of months.

As I read...

Some of the phrasing is a bit awkward, but I'm happy to put that down to 'early draft' and not bother with line-by-lines: I have a lot of catching up to do :)

I get a clear and consistent feel from the first couple of pages, which I think clearly convey the character's situation and their attitude to it. The 'dream sequence' nicely encapsulated her ambivalent emotions towards her mother. I did wonder about the orientation of the character, because her negotiations have been with a lady, but is that the groom's mother? Also, it seems a little odd that the prospective bride would do her own negotiating instead of say the two mothers, or the two fathers, so I'm not yet 100% sure of how things work in this society.

Okay, as usual I'm drawn into LBL-ing, because I can't help myself. Just this one example to illustrate what I mean about the phrasing. The line "and the ninth which I have actually had the marriage scheduled for!", for me, is cluttered, compared to something like "and my ninth scheduled marriage!" It's not that I'm horribly thrown out of the story, just slowed down a bit. I know this is very much the sort of thing likely to be ironed out in later drafts.

"Groups of people move opposite us on the road, morosely traveling from whatever event drove them to squalor." - Unclear, for me. When you say opposite, you mean the other side of the road? And going the opposite direction (presumably)? The look of the people is not invoked at all, rather we are told they are in squalor, rather than shown it, with evocative description. The result is I don't really care about the people or their squalor. Also, I find it very hard to accept the notion that people turn to violence in order to slake a thirst for it, surely they are driven to it because they are desperate? If they had a thirst for violence, they wouldn't wait until they were in squalor; they would be violent regardless of their circumstances.

Why must the daughter be forced to care for the ageing father? Is it not possible that she does it from love? This character's perspective is very bleak and pessimistic. I like her less because of it.

Okay, I see from her reaction to the mother and children that her heart is in the right place. Still, her negative mindset is there in the thought that the women can't suckle the babe. There's a clear indication here of course that she is protesting too much about being a bad mother, since she displays all the correct motherly instincts in this situation.

"but a woman with a heart to match" - Match what?

I'm not sure the phrase "enters my backside" should appear in any material outside of the Deadpool Cinematic Universe (DCU!?!).

Okay, just one more LBL, because not only am I a pedant ardent gramarian, I am also a transportation planning professional. "Traveling at a faster speed" - There's no such thing as a faster speed. 'Travelling faster' would be perfectly adequate, but 'greater speed' or 'higher speed' would also serve. (Sorry, super picky, but still... See my signature block; the warnings were there!! ;) )

"churning through thoughts and sensory input" - I do this too, sometimes. I see you have a habit of using two words when one will do, possibly because of being un willing to decide between them? In this case, I finds the phrase 'sensory input' very modern, and out of place in this pseudo-historical setting.

"the smells of horses hangs hang in the air" - this is about the third singular / plural disagreement I've spotted.

"their words and meanings muffled" - see? Here's another one. I'm the pot in this scenario, but still, it reads so much smoother with the first (words) alone, and the second (meanings) doesn't really fit, for me. If you can hear the words, you would be able to deduce the meaning, surely.

Anyway, sorry, I've already fallen back into my m/o of getting distracted from the overall piece by the grammar. So, I like the tension in this scene post waking from the second dream. that's conveyed well. The voice in her head was an eerie presence, and makes me wonder now if we are in a scenario where she has been possessed by some internal demon during her sleep, and has killed everyone on the carriage. Perhaps that's just my macabre imagination though :unsure: 

"cut a favorable deal against my mother" - The deal would still be 'with' her mother though, surely.

'effrontery', rather than 'affrontation'.

 I like the use of her own assessment of the reflection as a way to describe the character. Well done, I thought. I also like the very immediate mystery air what is going outside while she is holed up in the carriage. Im keen to read on and see what is happening outside. The gear in the compartment is a nice (small-scale) mystery too.

"drop onto the straw-covered floor of a stable" - I see a logistical issue here. Surely she would have known the carriage was inside now, since the light levels would have decreased significantly, for the purposes of her trying to see he reflection. Typically, stables have next to no windows, and so are dark and shadowy inside, I believe.

"innmother" - Took me a couple of moments to figure out what she was. I think 'inn-mother' would be much clearer, and allow the reader to skim right past without conscious interpution. (Also avoids those nasty red Word squiggles!)

It's a real (and unfortunate) trait of fantasy in particular to cast bad or morally dubious people as fat, and also fat people to be morally dubious, or just plain nasty. But, I think it goes beyond that. Thin, pointy-featured folks are also often cast in adversarial roles. Obviously there is a long tradition of using so-called undesirable physical traits as shorthand flags for ne'er-do-wells, but in this day of inclusivity, it seems increasingly inappropriate to me.

"to my full standing height" - Goes without saying. Nobody talks about their sitting height, do they?

"study on stoicism" - Study 'of', I think. Sorry, I'm lapsing into full on LBLs (slaps back of own hand).

Really quite wordy occasionally, the sentence "The quick surge of wicked glee...", for example.

"clamping her long braid" - I think this is the fourth story I've ready on RE over the years that has a female character tugging, clamping, gripping, wringing or otherwise abusing her braid. I think anyone who has read Wheel of Time (so, a pretty large proportion of a fantasy author's readership, I would think) will automatically associate this gesture with Nyneve Almera, like, at the drop of a hat, which drags my out of a story now whenever I see it.

"pays in copper and gold" - Ah, so gold is worth less than silver? I commend you for trying something different in monetary terms, but it is a bit counter intuitive. My subconscious is rebelling against it.

"A faint taste, like bile" - But not bile? If not bile, then what?

"Say, to sixty percent" - Again, this sounds modern to me. I feel like it sound more 'in period' to say 'three-fifths' or 'two-thirds', for example.

Something feels off about the d/h bargaining for the price of her own room-and-board. Also, I wonder at the fact she's not more outraged at the profiteering of this women when the refugees have no roof over their heads.

"send a letter to the Lady E to inform her that we will be requesting the hospitality of her house this evening" - I mentioned wordiness before, but this comment is more about directness. I've suffered in the past, and probably still do (although I hope I'm getting better!!) with being insufficiently direct in phrasing, especially in dialogue, even with well-spoken characters. Here, I don't see the need for the intermediate step.

What is an 'estate-lady'? Is it not her ladyship? Also, this whole discussion about charging feels very unseemly for the d/h, lowering herself to bargain with commoners. And, the innkeeper seems excessively brave to take this tone with royalty. 

I like the last line, that certainly would pull me on to read more. Intriguing.

Overall

The theme of the reluctant bride, it seems to me, is a very well trodden path, so, any story going down that path has to be very good, or very novel, or both. I enjoyed the flow of this chapter, but I did struggle with the argument between her maj. and the innkeeper: (1) because it seems so far beneath the heir to the throne as to be unlikely to happen at all; (2) because the d/h didn't feel guilty about squabbling over silver after the destitution she saw a short time before; and (3) I was almost on the point of disbelieving the gall of the innkeeper, until I realised that maybe she didn't know this was the d/h. Is that right?

Anyway, I still enjoyed this chapter and, clearly, it would be even more enjoyable when it flows better after several rounds of edits. I wonder if the hints at the presence within her might be refined to make it feel more threatening. But maybe you're planning to ramp that up more slowly as we go. I think my issue was that I didn't feel the presence was as threatening as I wanted it to be. Like it was too cheeky and jokey; familiar rather than dark and threatening. I sort of glossed over the names and the geography, as it didn't seem all that important, hopefully it is sinking in somewhat on a subconscious level, as I imagine it will have a role to play later(?).

Like I said though, overall I'm intrigued and interested to read more.

Tagging

I see what you were getting at the with the tagging but really, I would suggest that it will work against you to 'pre-tag' in that way, as some readers might avoid perfectly 'harmless' chapters like this one because of the 'S' tag, the 'G' tag, or whatever. Also, it's a bit misleading for the rest of us, expecting certain type of material, which tends to colour our expectation before reading. Convention on RE is to tag as appropriate to that submission. I'm not convinced it's a good idea to start tagging for overall content of the work itself.

Great to have you onboard :) 

<R>

Edited by Robinski
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22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

but I need to know a LOT more about this at the beginning.

I agree with @Mandamon (Ho, hum... old chestnuts die hard) ;) 

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think the dialogue between the demon inside could also be pumped up. I was thinking it was just her talking to herself until near the end, when it's obvious there is a different personality buried in there.

Yup.

22 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I'd like to see more threat between the internal voice and the character.

Yes, this for me too, imho.

4 hours ago, Mandamon said:

If you trigger a memory or feeling the reader isn't anticipating in a story, it can throw them out.

Yah, like Nyneve for me.

On 15/01/2019 at 4:13 AM, kais said:

Also note that everyone's first like, five drafts suck.

Speak for yourself; I reckon I can get to seven or eight sucky drafts, no problem :lol: 

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Tl;Dr -- looking like a cool premise and an interesting character, but needs a little tightening. This is probably the Plague of Draft One, but I've given a few suggestions on how to go about it in Draft Two if you're looking for them. 

__________

THE GOOD:

Heiresses with DEMONS IN THEIR HEADS? Hell yeah. These same people putting on their best poker-face to hide their madness? Hell yeah. 

(I'll get it out there right now; if you happen to read my next submission, well, great minds think alike. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your take on this concept). 

Your character descriptions are spot-on. IM just jumped off the page. I have some problems with internal monologue and info-dumping here (see below), but what you get right, you really get right. I'm a big fan of distinctive side-characters, and I love the way your physical descriptions bring them out.

Speaking of world-building, this is a really interesting take on a Matriarchy. It kind of reminds me of Robin Hobb's Out-Islanders (women do land stuff, men do sea stuff, but land stuff involves, you know, owning all the land, so we have a de-facto Matriarchy), but also seems really distinctive. Is there any particular reason why this society prizes motherhood above all else, to the extent that its dominant sex (I'm assuming a Matriarchy here, because it's a Queendom where women seem to own all the property) is valued primarily for birthing children? You don't have to answer this in the first chapter -- it's a good thing to leave unanswered! -- it just fills me with, I think, precisely the sort of vague dread you may have been going for, because after you introduce F's heritage, I'm getting the distinct sense that Demons may have wiped out a significant portion of the population not too long ago.

The Demon, by the by, seems like a pretty cool character. I'm looking forward to those two bantering (see below).

F's reaction to A's transformation on p. 11 is a really good indication of her isolation. Nice show-don't tell moment if you're looking (see below) for ways to vary how you convey information.

________________

THE ADVICE:  

That being said, F's internal monologue, thought it gives a good sense of her terrible depression, seems to me a tad overdone. I get that a character like her might realistically be stuck on a cycle of self-loathing, but I think some of it can come out more naturally.

I.E. (Just some ideas to play with): Give her some time to reveal her situation slowly. If she can't tell anyone else about her feelings, let her mouth run with her demon. Let her talk about specific things that reveal these aspects of her character, rather than telling us how terrible she feels. She hates the endless cycle of courtship? Let her muse to her Demon -- unless I'm getting this character wrong and she's loath to talk to it as well; in that case it's fine if she just tells us -- that she's forgotten the name of the guy she's going to meet, but he'll probably be a horrible little Chull Barnacle anyway. Follow that with some of her raging monologues, and we get the sense that she can't escape her thoughts without being hit on the head with them. 

Overall, I agree with some of the other posters that the first nine pages can be significantly cut down. I think this will come naturally once you start trimming the internal monologue. It would've been nice to know her heritage earlier, or have some indication of it (a one-line thought -- just moving what you've already got a little earlier as a reaction to a different thing -- when she sees the peasants outside, or something similar, would do the trick).

As I mentioned above, the dialogue with the demon was awesome. Gimme more. This may come out in later chapters, but it's a really good way of cutting through F's constant morbidity (which, I think, is a solid feature of her character that you should maintain). A character like that needs a foil; the wicked and playful demon is perfect for this role, so give him some stage space!

F also has a strange reaction to the peasants on the road. Sure, everyone would feel bad seeing a family struggling along in the cold, but would you really have to fight down -- I mean physically, quite intensely, fight down -- the urge to run out and solve these peoples' problems? She's acting like she has a Superman complex (r.e. Kaladin), which, unless there's just been a massive disaster by which everyone feels overwhelmed and her especially because she can't do anything about it, you may want to revisit unless it's a very conscious character choice. Unless you want this to be a defining feature of her character, or unless she's never seen a peasant before, a vague sense of helplessness (because she's stuck doing useless things, because she feels personally inadequate, because her demonic blood makes her unable to do her job) would work better here. Most  people might be sufficiently Beguilted to toss some change to a roadside beggar, but they won't charge out of the car and dump their life savings on the street. 

 _____________

SOME PROSE NITPICKERY

This isn't usually the place for it, but I have long suffered the same malady I see here, and I can't help but offer some tips. You managed to craft some really nice images: the intro piece with the drapery and the grey sky comes to mind, as well as that part on p. 10 where she jumps out of the carriage. I could picture that in slow motion. It was gorgeous. 

Unfortunately, there are quite a few places where it gets clunky. I can see what you're going for, and the tone fits the story, it just sometimes collapses under its own weight. It's not quite purple -- though, having as I do a weakness for verbosity, I'm often willing to forgive a particularly deep mauve -- in fact at times it's really crisp and even terse; you simply rely too much on adjectives. 

Take, for example, p. 2, when, trying to remember her conversation with her mother, your character describes the experience as obscured, incomprehensible, and indistinguishable from my surroundings. 

Those words mean pretty much the same thing. Sometimes you can get away with rattling off descriptors like that to slowly whittle a reader down to exactly what you'd like him to picture; I'm sure we've both encountered authors who do it brilliantly. Problem is it's really damnation difficult to do well. Each word needs to present a very specific image. They've got to hit the reader in just the right place, with just the right cadence. Yours roll off the tongue reasonably well, but they don't give us anything new. 

(tl;dr -- swap vague descriptors and synonym-pileup, where appropriate, for specific images that stick in the head. Your character descriptions are a good model for editing the rest).  

 

 

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5 hours ago, Alderant said:

This word is almost exclusively used by Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series

Possible Fix: 

Just switch from the Latin (Daemon) to the Greek (δαίμων, transliterated Daimon): avoids the Elder Scrolls parallels, and also, if this is what you're going for, lends it some cool connotations. Daimon in Ancient Greek isn't, strictly speaking, demon; it was often used that way in a Christian context, but it really means a sort of Godlike power that nestles in peoples' heads and nudges them in various directions. I've seen it translated as "by the power of Good or Evil." They'd describe someone as happy, moral, or fulfilled with eudaimon: literally "well-demoned." 

Anyway, it's a suggestion; my Greek is rather awful, so I can't really go into more depth. Personally I wasn't aware of the Elder Scrolls connection (even though I've played waaay too much Skyrim), but even so I don't think using Daemon would be all that problematic if you think it sounds better; all you'd have to do is say it's from the Latin ;)

 

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Hello and welcome! Thank you for letting us be the first ones to see your work outside of your friends. I know how tough that can be!

Overall, I thought this was a very well-done piece! I enjoyed reading it, and am interested in the world and the characters. Technically I thought the piece was outstanding. I usually don't care for present tense narratives and usually have difficulty following what's going on in them, but the prose here flowed so smoothly and so well that I barely noticed it was in a format I disliked. Well done!

That said, I do think the beginning could be tightened. It felt to me that the carriage ride went on a bit long; I found myself wanting to skim through parts of it. Also, I was confused by the long block of italic text in the beginning. I didn't know what was going on and the tense switch between it and the rest of the story threw me off for a while.

 

My main issues with this piece are not so much issues as worries. As I read, I found myself becoming worried about certain aspects of the text and characters. Nothing's risen to the level of being outright problematic for me yet, and I feel like I need to see more before I make any final judgments, but the way certain things are set up is making me uneasy.

I was worried about:

Skin tone -- like @kais , I also picked up on this. It's not bad yet, but it has the potential to be pretty easily, so I'm worried.

Albinism -- Additionally, if she really does have albinism, then I'm troubled by the pairing of it with a people that's apparently being stereotyped as otherworldly or evil. People with albinism in the real world face massive amount of discrimination world-wide and are even murdered in some places (their body parts are thought to have mystical properties. The articles I found about this are from 2014, so it's in no way an ancient problem).  Again, only having one chapter to go on isn't indicative of much, but when I read the descriptions of the princess, her appearance in connection with her demon and her heritage sent up some warning flags for me.

Inner demons -- This is a cool idea and I like it in the text, however, I'm also worried that it isn't an actual demon, but either the princess' negative emotions, or an actual mental disorder. Again, linking mental health issues (including anger management) to demonic possession is a harmful stereotype that does real damage to real people. I'm not saying it's bad right now, but in conjunction with the rest, I feel a little worried about where it might go.

Tropes  --  This piece seems to be dealing with a lot of very traditional, well-worn stereotypes and tropes. While having tropes in a work isn't necessarily bad, it's not necessarily good, either. When dealing with well-worn tropes it's important for an author to make sure they are differentiating their characters and plot from all the others stories out there using the same archetypes. How is the author turning the work from just another Trope X tale into something uniquely their own? That's what readers of genre fiction look for in trope-heavy stories. They want to see how this story makes something new out of something familiar.  Or at least, that's what I look for. The Western European, medieval, pale-skinned royalty searching for a spouse scenario is very generic for a fantasy setting, and I feel like I need more than just the demon to really counteract how unremarkable it is right now. 

The worth of a woman is her womb -- Additionally, the extent to which the trope of "women only being valued for their ability to have children" is in use here makes me uncomfortable. This piece appears -- because the lack of individualizing details means I fill in the gaps with archetypes -- to be headed for a setup where the princess finds someone who loves her despite her demon/heritage and then she decides that marriage is great and she has found her self-worth in producing babies for whomever-it-is. I came to this extrapolation because, despite her saying in the beginning she didn't want marriage and would be a "horrible mother," by the end she's wishing she could care for a random child off the street, wanting to show "them" that she is as good and caring a woman as any mother, and calling her subjects her beloved children. Once again, reinforcing these stereotypes causes real harm to real people, and yes, this is a lot of conjecture on my part, but at the same time, I saw enough indicators in this text to make me feel the need to point it out.

 

I just want to reiterate after all that negativity that I really did enjoy this piece. I think the princess has the makings of a good interesting character, and I feel like her servant has intriguing hidden depths as well. Technically the writing is smooth and about as flawless as anyone can expect a draft to be. Don't get discouraged, and I look forward to your next sub!

 

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On 1/16/2019 at 11:07 AM, Robinski said:

but in this day of inclusivity, it seems increasingly inappropriate to me.

This is a really good point, and one that I missed so apologies. But yes, also one of those 'things we need to reckon with in fantasy' I feel like for sure.

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Hello! Congrats on submitting your first piece! You had a well established voice from the begining and it stayed consistent. I liked how the narrative voice differed from the one in italics. Most of your descriptions were detailed and vivid -- I could easily picture everything you described. I'm getting a general idea of a plot and story. The conflict with marriage and the poor getting poorer and the little bit of rebellion seem to be adding up to something. It is starting to shape into something, but I don't have a clear a direction as I would like for the end of a first chapter. There isn't a hook yet . Just hints of one. I feel like a lot of this was back story, and I'm not sure this chapter is actually the right place to start the story. 

Thoughts as I read. 

"Talking for months, Lady V..." I thought this lady was the person she was marrying. Which was fine, except later things made me think her suitors were men and that maybe this was the man's mother or whoever was negotiating the contract.

"wiping my mind" Not a fan  of this phrase and the context it is used it. It almost seems unnecessary.

"I remember..." Had she been asleep?

"waking slumber" ok, if she wasn't actually asleep, how disoriented she was when she started focusing on the present doesn't' quite ring true to me (someone who zones out a lot and has trouble focusing). Because it was a story it almost feels more like a device to convey background than an actual experience. 

"Meeting with the Lady E" again, on my first read, I thought this lady was the betrothed. I was excited about lesbian princesses. 

the "babe in your arms" made me second guess this, but I don't know for sure the mc is human, it's hinted she's at least part something else, so there might be magic.

"responsibility of not only a man who," This is when I realized the narrator was actually betrothed to a man and the ladies mentioned were probably just the ones negotiating the contracts, and that it is kind of gender swapped version of how men used to negotiate with fathers for brides -- it is a women negotiating with a mother for her son. 

I re read this section a few times because I was getting lost in the internal thought, so much description and sparse dialogue. I got a little bored. Not much happened. There was a lot of backstory crammed in that I would rather  have dispersed throughout.

"Can care for the babe..." Her thoughts about caring for peasants babe sort of contradicts her earlier attitude towards motherhood.

"Her" I got the idea this capitalization was intentional, but I didn't understand why.  

"discomfort is a small burden" Getting bored with this carriage ride. There is some great emotion in it, but it feels like it is being used to convey backstory and nothing is  happening. Both characters are just sitting around thinking and talking and I'm not 100% sure what the mc's goal is. Make the marriage happen? Get out of it? Save the poor? Leave everything about her life behind? Be more how everyone wants her to be?

"colorful cream" This description keeps confusing me. I think of white when I hear cream so I don't get how it contrasts to her white. Cream has a little more pigment than say, snowy white, but its still white. And cream, like actual cream you put in your coffee, not the color, is rather white, which is what I keep picturing. 

"affect relationship..." That part confused me. I didn't understand the significance of the talk and how it related to the relationship.

The conversation with the innkeeper was interesting. I liked the tension there and how the mc was uncomfortable using her status to get what she wanted. I liked that her motive for getting the lower price wasn't entirely selfish. It wasn't all that she didn't want to spend money but more about fairness. At least, I thought that was why she compared the price to a different type of workers salary. Either way, that was where I was the most engaged so far. Something happened. There was tension between two characters without painfully long pauses. Each character had clear motivation, they each wanted something specific out of the conversation. 

I am curious about the italics. At times they are flashbacks, other times, an internal voice that may actually be the same character or might literally be another personality locked up in her head. This isn't 100% clear.  Eventually it will need to be, but I'm okay not knowing for now, though I could do with less flashback.

Overall, I think there is a lot of potential here. This chapter just has a slow start. 

If you haven't finished the book, just keep writing. After you finish the book, you can go back and find a better starting point when you revise. I am interested in reading more. 

 

 

 

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On 1/14/2019 at 11:13 PM, kais said:

pg 3: I have this faint yet burning hope that this marriage is to Lady E. This is how I ship. I'd apologize but... well, yeah. GO E!

That is what I initially thought! 

 

On 1/15/2019 at 3:55 PM, Mandamon said:

To this point, there were about 9 pages of relatively boring travel before we got to anything that interested me. I think the first part could be cut down greatly into a page or two, and preferably, get the excitement of finding out the maid is hiding things from her very early on. Right now if I started reading a sample of this, I'd probably put it down before I got to the good part. 

I think the dialogue between the demon inside could also be pumped up. I was thinking it was just her talking to herself until near the end, when it's obvious there is a different personality buried in there.

This is more or less how I felt. 

 

On 1/16/2019 at 2:07 PM, Robinski said:

I'm not sure the phrase "enters my backside" should appear in any material outside of the Deadpool Cinematic Universe (DCU!?!).

I completely missed that phrase. But yes. 

 

On 1/16/2019 at 2:07 PM, Robinski said:

Something feels off about the d/h bargaining for the price of her own room-and-board. Also, I wonder at the fact she's not more outraged at the profiteering of this women when the refugees have no roof over their heads.

 

I had almost the sense that this might have been where her anger was coming from in this conversation, but I was never sure. 

 

On 1/16/2019 at 8:29 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Inner demons -- This is a cool idea and I like it in the text, however, I'm also worried that it isn't an actual demon, but either the princess' negative emotions, or an actual mental disorder. Again, linking mental health issues (including anger management) to demonic possession is a harmful stereotype that does real damage to real people. I'm not saying it's bad right now, but in conjunction with the rest, I feel a little worried about where it might go.

I've gotten internet yelled at for using inner demon metaphors when talking about my own mental health issues, specifically how my anxiety relates to my anger management issues. People get triggered by it and like @industrialistDragon actually equating it, even in fiction, to some literal type of possession is dangerous and does cause harm. No matter how much I felt like it is a clear way to describe my relationship with some of mental health issues, I realized using it publicly was harmful and stopped. Just something to keep in mind going forward. 

 

On 1/16/2019 at 8:29 PM, industrialistDragon said:

The worth of a woman is her womb -- Additionally, the extent to which the trope of "women only being valued for their ability to have children" is in use here makes me uncomfortable. This piece appears -- because the lack of individualizing details means I fill in the gaps with archetypes -- to be headed for a setup where the princess finds someone who loves her despite her demon/heritage and then she decides that marriage is great and she has found her self-worth in producing babies for whomever-it-is. I came to this extrapolation because, despite her saying in the beginning she didn't want marriage and would be a "horrible mother," by the end she's wishing she could care for a random child off the street, wanting to show "them" that she is as good and caring a woman as any mother, and calling her subjects her beloved children. Once again, reinforcing these stereotypes causes real harm to real people, and yes, this is a lot of conjecture on my part, but at the same time, I saw enough indicators in this text to make me feel the need to point it out.

This whole paragraph. When reading, I was hoping the story was going to go in a direction where this person she marries will value her without having kids. 

 

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Well, i enjoyed it, waiting for more.

I don't have much to add, but.

Very nice coinge system but it demands explanation, give her silver earrings or a golden circlet while her mother have a silver crown.

I guess from the (g) tag that she has a real demon inside, is that a trait from her father's side, and what about the other half-breeds do they have demons too?

And is that a matriarchal society and religion?

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On 1/23/2019 at 6:42 PM, Blessed peace said:

Well, i enjoyed it, waiting for more.

I don't have much to add, but.

Very nice coinge system but it demands explanation, give her silver earrings or a golden circlet while her mother have a silver crown.

I guess from the (g) tag that she has a real demon inside, is that a trait from her father's side, and what about the other half-breeds do they have demons too?

And is that a matriarchal society and religion?

Coinage system is still being hammered out, but generally, yes. Silver is considered considerably more valuable than gold.

Matriarchal society--true matriarchal societies and religions, not just gender-reversals of a patriarchal concept, are a big idea I'm exploring in this world. Not to say that every society is going to be that way, but they're a big component of the world at large.

As for the tags, they were something preemptive for some things that happen later on--following the suggestions given, those won't be listed unless they're actually relevant.

On 1/19/2019 at 5:49 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I've gotten internet yelled at for using inner demon metaphors when talking about my own mental health issues, specifically how my anxiety relates to my anger management issues. People get triggered by it and like @industrialistDragon actually equating it, even in fiction, to some literal type of possession is dangerous and does cause harm. No matter how much I felt like it is a clear way to describe my relationship with some of mental health issues, I realized using it publicly was harmful and stopped. Just something to keep in mind going forward.

I guess you'll have to wait and see. I know where I intend to go on this front, but asking questions early is definitely something I want you doing. :) That said, as someone with crippling MDD, I try to be conscientious of mental health perception.

Regarding "cream":

Spoiler

 

To everyone confused by the use of "cream". This is cream:

Depending on your search engine, you might also see something like this pop out as cream:

By way of explanation, I guess, I can only say that I'm an artist--I think about colors with more specificity than the average person, I'm guessing. Hopefully, with this comparison here, you can cream is a lot more colorful than white. Perhaps it's as @Severian4Scadrial said and I'll need to tone this down some in the future, but at this point I'll just beg you guys to be forgiving. As @Robinski mentioned, I'm hoping things will get more hammered out in later drafts/edits.

@kais, that tumblr thread was really helpful. I'll try to keep that information in the back of my head as I write--I don't usually think in terms of skin tones and undertones as much as in terms of a painter's palette.

 

Not going to do revisions this time around--next submission will be a continuation of Fairene's story (sorry for the delay--we have a new guy starting at the office and I've been spending most of my time either getting things ready for him or getting things ready for my art projects.) Eventually, you will have two other viewpoints to contend with, but at this point in time I'm thinking I might put you through one viewpoint in its entirety before switching on you. I don't know yet. What do you all think?

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43 minutes ago, Alderant said:

Not going to do revisions this time around--next submission will be a continuation of Fairene's story (sorry for the delay--we have a new guy starting at the office and I've been spending most of my time either getting things ready for him or getting things ready for my art projects.) Eventually, you will have two other viewpoints to contend with, but at this point in time I'm thinking I might put you through one viewpoint in its entirety before switching on you. I don't know yet. What do you all think?

To be totally honest, If something is going to jump pov's, I like that established right away. I don't like it when after four chapters of one POV, it switches. Other people in this group might disagree with me on that though. 

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27 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Other people in this group might disagree with me on that though. 

LOL that'd be me. I've frequently gotten the feedback from agents that you need to give readers time to get invested in a character before you swap the POV, otherwise they leave the book. I have to say that over time I've come to agree with it, as sometimes I get so mad at POV swaps that I skip the sections with the new character altogether and then get frustrated and chuck the book, whereas if I get a few chapters with a character I'm a bit more willing to put them aside for a moment for someone else.

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On 28/01/2019 at 9:41 PM, Alderant said:

Coinage system is still being hammered out

Lol......:lol:  What, just me?

 

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On 1/30/2019 at 2:40 AM, Robinski said:

Lol......:lol:  What, just me?

 

I'm glad someone appreciates my humor. :D

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