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shatteredsmooth

2/11/2018_ShatteredSmooth Intertidal 1-3_4,449 words

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Hi All,
 
A little back ground: I got impulsive and pitched a WIP during Carina Pitch and an editor requested a proposal (due March 4) including a minimum of 7500 words of the manuscript. Attached are the first three chapters. 
 
This was the pitch: 
Enby/M friends to lovers:
Homeless & unemployed, Ainslie’s life has hit rock bottom. When they meet up with an old friend, a tarot card obsessed drag-queen named Pete, they follow the cards and series of hunches on a quest for a fresh start & new home. 
 
Does the story I have sound like the one I pitched? As far as sub genre, do you think this feels more like magical realism or light contemporary fantasy?
 
The mc's pronoun is they/them/theirs. The editor who requested the ms uses those pronouns, so I'm guessing they won't be a problem. However, if you notice places where it isn't clear who the pronoun is referring to, please let me know. 

 
Other than that, I'm open to any type feedback. 
 
Thank you! 
 

P.S. There are a few swears, but otherwise, I don't think there is anything that needs a content warning. 

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On 2/11/2019 at 8:14 AM, shatteredsmooth said:
Does the story I have sound like the one I pitched? As far as sub genre, do you think this feels more like magical realism or light contemporary fantasy?
 
The mc's pronoun is they/them/theirs. The editor who requested the ms uses those pronouns, so I'm guessing they won't be a problem. However, if you notice places where it isn't clear who the pronoun is referring to, please let me know. 

Your questions

Yes, it sounds like your pitch. I don't think the pronouns were a problem. I think my biggest question is how long were you planning on this running? I don't think it has enough 'thickness' for a full novel, but could make a great novella or short of some other form.

Overall

This piece I think actually would work really well in the anthology we are both in. I'm not sure how it will fare as a longer piece, as there's not enough tension to keep me invested. It was hard to keep reading in that last chapter as I was waiting for something to kick off, or some inciting incident.

Overall though I think this is the best piece of writing you've submitted to the forum thus far. It has a lot of heart and great characterization. With a little bit more forward momentum it'll be a great piece.

 

As I go

- pg 3: trespassing is one word, not two

- end of page three: while I had been enjoying the ambiance, it's dragging on way too long at this point. I need either a plot development or some tension

- ch1: I'm not sure how I feel about the first chapter. From a technical writing standpoint it's solid, and I like the imagery. I think it might just not be my genre, because I don't sense an immediate threat, thereby don't have any tension. I also wonder at this point how A can save their old house when they have failed to follow through, it seems, on a number of prior things (like PhD, etc.). I think I might need a reason for the failures and some show that things have changed and this is the turning point in A's life. That might help a lot

- pg 5: as an academic aside, if they went right from undergrad to PhD, I'm not surprised they didn't make it. That's hard.

- pg 9: Is A purposefully coded as bipolar? 

- I enjoy the A&P interaction

- aren't all wines fruit wines??

- pg 12: ah okay, so definitely bipolar

 

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I think this is definitely some of your best work so far (and I see @kais agrees!). I got sucked into the story, even though there wasn't a whole lot of plot going on yet. As kais says, this is a great beginning for a novella or novelette. I think I have a higher limit for description with a lack of momentum, but I'm looking for something big to happen at least in the next chapter, whether it's between A and P, or with the magic.

Speaking of which, it sounds more like magical realism to me, but again, the magic hasn't really been explored, so it could go either way.

It does sound very much like the pitch, so I don't see any problem there. I didn't have any problem with the pronouns either.

Notes while reading:
pg 1: "further onto that little strip of land that belonged to no one"
--Some confusion on this. Has the land been sold or not? If it's been sold, then A is trespassing, and that they haven't spoken to family in a while makes me think the land was sold against A's wishes.

pg 2: "land that someone else technically owned"
--ok, so it has been sold.

pg 9: Ok, P's a little intense...

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1 hour ago, kais said:

This piece I think actually would work really well in the anthology we are both in. I'm not sure how it will fare as a longer piece, as there's not enough tension to keep me invested. It was hard to keep reading in that last chapter as I was waiting for something to kick off, or some inciting incident.

 

Interesting. Originally, I wrote this with that anthology in mind, but thought there was no way I was going to wrap it up with in the word count, got overwhelmed, and decided to rework the other one to fit it. 

 

1 hour ago, kais said:

- pg 5: as an academic aside, if they went right from undergrad to PhD, I'm not surprised they didn't make it. That's hard.

 

Good catch! They didn't do that. It looks like I messed up the wording there in one of the twenty hundred times I changed that sentence trying to decide what their BA and MA were in. 

3 hours ago, kais said:

- aren't all wines fruit wines??

Yes technically, but some stores in my area label any wine made with a fruit that isn't a grape a "fruit wine." I'll change it, because it does sound kind of silly when you point it out. 

 

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "further onto that little strip of land that belonged to no one"

So if I'm not mistaken, in Massachusetts, you can't technically own land below the high tide line (though there is some ambiguity people some people technically own salt marsh), so the little strip of land between the water and the high tide line is legal for A to walk on. I'll clarify that this is what they are on.

 

3 hours ago, kais said:

Overall though I think this is the best piece of writing you've submitted to the forum thus far. It has a lot of heart and great characterization. With a little bit more forward momentum it'll be a great piece.

 

 

3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

think this is definitely some of your best work so far (and I see @kais agrees!). I got sucked into the story, even though there wasn't a whole lot of plot going on yet.

Yay! Thank you both! 

 

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On 2/12/2019 at 0:09 PM, kais said:

aren't all wines fruit wines??

Technically yes, but if you're talking about wine and spirits, "wine" is specifically made from grapes, and "fruit wine" is the same process using any other kind of fruit (that doesn't have its own special name like perry (pears) and cider (apples). Mead and dandelion wine can sometimes be called a "fruit wine" even though they're made from honey and dandelions, respectively, just to make things even clearer). I understood immediately what it was, but then, I have a bunch of alcohol-trivia-and-history aficionados in my family. :) 

Unfortunately, I don't have much to add beyond that. I agree on pretty much all counts with @kais and @Mandamon. It's a bit slow to get going, but I don't mind because I did get invested in it. Though, like Mandamon, I got a bit antsy by the end of the third chapter waiting for something to happen. This is easily the best piece I've read from you, and with P's connection to the stars and astrology, I agree with Kais that it'd be a good fit from what I know of that anthology. I also agree that it'd be great as a novella, but it would need a really meaty inciting incident to make what I've seen so far feel like it could support the length of a novel.

Sorry this is mostly a RAEBNC   

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I really am trying to get caught up, I am!

Chapter 1

Page 1 - the value of the land seems really quite low. I'm also sceptical about the land belonging to no one. How is that? But it's not O'B property any more, right? I found this reference confusing. "they would sit in it..." - sit in what, the grass?

Page 2 - "dirtiest the quickest" - lol. Missing words in the next paragraph. I don't know what it is that's kaka. I like the description of the surroundings I've got a nice picture of these tidal lands, or the vegetation and the environment, the smells to some extent. Throwing in a couple of sounds would do no harm. It's a pretty good character sketch too, description through someone else's eyes, good. The losing of the job, hmph. I would say when someone loses and job they look for another one, not give up instantly, which it sort of feels like a bit. Ah, sounds of birds and wind, good. I'm a bit happier by the end of the page that this is a hiatus. It does seems almost comical how may things went wrong at the same time.

Page 3 - "middle of the pound" - pond? I know it's draft. Not bothering about all the typos.

Page 4 - Okay, and we close on the character's goal. That's pretty satisfying. I feel like I know the way forward, I've got a sense of character, and a setting. No messing about, pretty short and direct into these things. I'm ready for the next chapter.

Chapter 2 

Page 5 - So, it's Cape Cod. It just underlines my struggles with the value and the cost of things. I'm guessing you researched all these things online? Ultimately, I tend to be able to just go with these things as long as they don't mount up too much, or get even more unlikely (in my perception).

Page 6 - They close the laptop twice.

Page 7 - It's like you really want me to mention this one since you did it twice :P "loose whatever argument" - lose, I presume. There's something wrong with the line about the cards telling P. it doesn't make sense. There's no connection.

Page 8 - I'm struggling with this discussion with Pete. It feels kind of rambling and undirected. There's important inciting stuff in here and I want it to be tidier and smoother, more convincing. The pace seems okay in that A gets wound up and it gets more argumentative, I just think it needs a thorough tidy up. Yes, by the standoff I'm still good with the energy of the conversation. I feel like they would have had this argument before. but it doesn't really come over that way.

Page 9 - The argument starts to feel a bit repetitive with the little dog, but the vase defeats the whole thing, I think. A vase hovering the air for seconds if clearly and unarguably magic. It renders A's whole position ridiculous and unsustainable from the beginning, as it is clear proof. Why did P not go straight to the clear proof of the vase from the beginning, when the other instances are questionable, but this one is not? "knotted necklace" - lol, I have been there many time. For years my daughter (and wife) were not good a keeping their 'jewels' separated and hanging from a rack.

Page 10 - "Then why are you here now?" - I like how you bring it back to the start of the argument. Why is talking to P 'suspiciously' easy? If they're such good buds, wouldn't it jut be familiarly, expectedly or unsurprisingly easy? 

Page 11 - Another satisfying ending to a chapter. We now have a clear way forward, and that helps to pull me into the next chapter without hesitation.

Chapter 3 

Page 12 - I like that there's no messy around getting to the cabin, but we're just right back there. Good pacing. "fruit wine" - hmm, aren't all wines fruit wine. I'm not convinced 'fruit wine is a thing. "radius of ripples" - meh, radius is a single value, whereas ripples are constantly changing in radius. Some kind of use of 'radial' would be more appropriate, I think. 'loosing' vs. 'losing' again. Losing wins!

Page 13 - The description of magic is very effective in its evocation of the place, and the feeling. I like that. I'm bursting to do a line edit of this thing. There are sooo many typos and missing words, etc. It would be quite a bit more pleasurable to read if I didn't keep tripping over them. There's quite a lot of repetition of feet in the muck. Is it three times during that evocative passage? I don't like that it ends on that repetitive note. 

Page 14 - Oo, what a nice emotional note to end on, but with a strong streak of implied threat / conflict / violence. Nicely done.

I thought this was great. Of all your writing that I have read this was easily the best at characterisation, sense of place and sense of character goals, emotion, conflict. I enjoyed this a good deal, and I am pleased to be able to read some more very soon! I'm off to read the comments in the thread now. I sense there was some dissatisfaction...

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7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Page 5 - So, it's Cape Cod. It just underlines my struggles with the value and the cost of things. I'm guessing you researched all these things online? Ultimately, I tend to be able to just go with these things as long as they don't mount up too much, or get even more unlikely (in my perception).

 

The cheap house was in Maine, where Ainslie is thinking they should move to -- but yeah, that was an actual real estate listing. Re the cost of things on the cape -- I'm not sure how much of that was in this section, but the price the land A's family sold for (around 500,000) was around what my family's land/ cottage that needed to be torn down sold for. That was about 5 years ago, so I will double check to see how the market in that area has changed.

...OK, A's family's cottage is pretty much my family's former cottage, but everything else, the characters and plot, are purely fiction. 

 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

The losing of the job, hmph. I would say when someone loses and job they look for another one, not give up instantly, which it sort of feels like a bit.

This is sort of a depression related decision, not a rational healthy brain one. I'll try to make that a little clearer. A is sort of crossing out of a period of depression into hypomania. Or I'll change it in some other way. 

I'll have to print this out soon and go on a hunt for missing words and the repetitive descriptions. 

Thank you for the feedback. :-)

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1 hour ago, shatteredsmooth said:

This is sort of a depression related decision, not a rational healthy brain one. I'll try to make that a little clearer. A is sort of crossing out of a period of depression into hypomania. Or I'll change it in some other way. 

That was a really minor quibble of mine, and I got over it pretty quickly as I read on, then of course I encountered the bit where they had looked for jobs.

And on the land value, I would be quite idly curious about how much change there was over 5 years. Idly mind, not a big issue!!

Edited by Robinski
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