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shatteredsmooth

Junk Junction Sub 4_(Ch. 7)_ShatteredSmooth_Aug19 (3466 Words)

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Posted (edited)

Hi All,
 
Here is the next installment of Junk Junction. 
 
I made some changes to the end of the previous chapter. A no longer zips out of the doll to tell J and E the mannequins might be in the mill. E & do a big search of the shop and find a message from M. I was almost going to resubmit it, but I'm still making some changes to it. I decided it would be most helpful if I just kept moving forward.
 
Like with previous sections, I'm open to just about any kind of feedback, but I'm not ready for editing/grammar stuff since this is an early draft. 
 
Thanks!
 
Sara
 
P.S. I am changing A's pronoun and related backstory, but I haven't quite ironed out all the details yet. A isn't in this chapter much. Unless I missed something, the only pronoun should be referring to the doll as "it" but not A's ghost form. 
 
Last time:
Ch. 1-2: E's mom gets turned into a mannequin in an antique shop. A haunted doll helps E's and the shop dog escape the same fate. 
Ch. 3-4: E gathers supplies from Junk Junction and does research in a library. Then they venture out to find food and a psychic. They meet D, a 13-year-old psychic whose mom is missing. They think D's mom's disappears is related to E's mom and Mx.R getting turned into mannequins.  
Ch. 5-6: E & D do research in D's mom's office. D tells E more about the circumstances surrounding her mom's disappearance.  In the morning, the two kids return to the shop, only to find the mannequins gone and the phrase "come find me" spelled out with teacups. 
Edited by shatteredsmooth
added p.s. note
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Hello! I am waiting in an airport with nothing to do, so you get a very quick turnaround!

Good chapter with some nice character development, but I feel like it doesn't have a lot a movement. There was a search in the last chapter, and then there's another search in this one. You may have changed some stuff around, though.
I also felt like the tension was off a little. There's the creepy message, the creepy doll, and the creepy joker, but then nothing really resolves with any of them. They just sit there and be creepy. E and D don't wonder why they're there after determining they aren't ghosts. So someone must have put them there, right?

With the fire alarm going off it sounds like someone is in the house with them, but I don't think that's the case either. I don't really have a good idea of what's not working, just that something isn't.


pg 1: first paragraph: Had to figure out where they were. I saw you changed the end of the last chapter, so that's probably where my confusion comes from. However, the beginning of the chapter isn't really catchy. It's just a list of equipment.

pg 3: I'm not sure the reticence to leave the bike shop really works at this point. E is already "on the quest" so to speak, so talking about "refusing the call" sort of takes out any tension that was there. It doesn't do a whole for building their character either.

pg 3: "D bit into her lower lip"
--hopefully just bit it, but not *into* it.

pg 4: "The moment ended when she did hand signal to turn and then turned into the driveway."
--is this is different turn than the one they did last paragraph? The blocking is a little confusing here.

pg 5: "but there was a message written in teacups and toys"
--that's...rather creepy.

pg 6: "I thought it was safe to assume D’s mom had also been turned,"
--That's not what I was assuming at all...I just thought the mom was maybe captured. I suppose it makes sense, given the rest of the story, though.

pg 6-7: good descriptions of being uncomfortable with hugs.

pg 7: “That wasn’t there yesterday,”
--Ick. Also creepy.

pg 8: also a good description of feeling non-binary.

pg 9: "the more I expected the doll to move at any minute"
--yeah, that doll is creeping me out!

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Comments!! :) 

(page 1)

- "Riding to the mill..." - in D's dialogue, there are two instances of non-contractions and they sounds very formal for the youngster voice. I think contraction keep us in-voice.

(page 2)

- "This time, I thought..." - I almost didn't catch that D has adjusted the saddle between this line and the previous one. I think you need to tag that, esp for younger readers.

- You've got a 5-line, 92-word sentence there starting "Usually, basements..." It's too long, imo.

(page 3)

- "after glancing at D’s bike for a little too long" - this encounter felt off to me. He basically never even looked or interacted with the kids at all. At least the weight of his gaze on them, making eye contact, would have been something. It just seemed unlikely that he didn't ask them a question, and there was no emotion or mood conveyed from a description of his expression.

- "Many of the times..." - I don't understand what point this sentence is aimed at making.

- "What if someone else is supposed to be working today?" - Confused, wouldn't E, or certainly D, know if MxR had any other staff? Also, if they did, it seems awfully coincidental that the other staff member was late coming in.

(page 5)

- "I think something was here" - I forgot they were going to D's mom's house first.

- "up a set of stairs" - going where? Into the house?

- "written in teacups and toys" - I don't quite follow. Are they on the floor, or on the table? What about fridge magnets, that would be kinda creepy?

(page 6)

- "that was far away" - Good, I need it acknowledge if you're sticking with those distances. And with less talk of coming back in the same day.

- I enjoyed that cute / tender moment between E and D. I thought that was well done, and retained voice pretty well in what could have  been a challenging situation (writing-wise).

(page 7)

- "That wasn’t there yesterday" - Ooh, spooky line, but it's almost falling a little flat because I've got no description of the tone of her voice.

(page 8)

- I like the inner monologue in relation to the effect of the clothes and the feelings E has about their body. I wonder though about the phrasing of "They don’t make you less non-binary". This feels like a double negative (probably because grammatically, it is!). Would it work as 'They don't make you more binary.' It seems to me that phrasing still has the same connotations that this is a negative, because of the personal thoughts that E was having before, but the phrasing is much cleaner and more elegant, I think. but only if it means the same thing.

(page 9)

- "we both kept our eye on the doll" - I feel like the creepiness of the doll is underplayed here.

(page 10)

- "a toy clown sprung to its feet" - I'm not clear here if it's possessed or not. I'm not sure what's going on.

(page 11)

- Yeah, okay, decent ending. I feel like the emotional tone was a rather variable, like they weren't as frightened of some things as they should be.

Overall 

Decent chapter. I thought there was good character stuff going on, but that the tension and the scares were not handled as well as they should be. The clown doll(?) didn't seem scary at all, and I thought there was a lack of tension when they went into JJ at first. Really just tension across the board could be better, but some of the personal notes were really good, I thought.

Thanks for sharing.

<R>

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Great chapter. I think the narrative bumps are really starting to smooth out and the characters are really starting to come alive. Most of the issues I had were resolved almost immediately. While there were points in the story that I thought needed a good deal more description, other moments were perfect.

The two spots I think need more detail are 1. When they are riding their bikes. What you have is good but wind in the hair. A bug in the mouth. Something really immediate that makes you feel like you're riding down these slopes with them. 2. When they find the clown doll. That moment could have real punch and provide a linchpin to the chapter.

Which leads me to my only real qualm and that's that the chapter does lack a linchpin. It doesn't really build to any one thing, and I think that's a missed opportunity. Keep in mind that this doesn't even have to be a big plot point and you actually have a couple really good moments earlier that would work as linchpins if they were later in a chapter. This isn't to say you have to restructure or make those the linchpin moments but as an example:

Quote

As she hugged me tighter and cried harder, the skin on my arms started to crawl. My chest got tight, but it also got warm. I liked the idea that I might be comforting her, but I also was starting to feel trapped. I wanted to break away. I wanted to do something other than stand around and be sad about our moms being missing. I wanted to work more towards going to find them. And I wanted clean clothes.

This is fantastic. There is so much that has been building that pays off in this one paragraph and the lead up to it.

After this moment, though, the narrative starts to meander again. Not as badly as previous chapters, but there really needs to be something meaty that sticks out before the chapter ends. Personally, without actually changing anything, I think that could be the clown.

This one isn't really a qualm so much as my straight cis male wondering... Why exactly is "she" a "they"? The way it's built here makes it sound more like social rebellion rather than not feeling like a girl/boy. I'm glad they and D have the conversation about the clothes, but I'm left wondering if this character's conviction is sincere, genuine or even serious.

I started making line-by-lines but was so engrossed I stopped pretty quickly.

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4 hours ago, hawkedup said:

This one isn't really a qualm so much as my straight cis male wondering... Why exactly is "she" a "they"? The way it's built here makes it sound more like social rebellion rather than not feeling like a girl/boy. I'm glad they and D have the conversation about the clothes, but I'm left wondering if this character's conviction is sincere, genuine or even serious.

 Are you asking specifically about how that conversation pertains to E's identity? Or are you asking for a broader explanation of what being non-binary is and how E character fits that definition? 

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20 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Are you asking specifically about how that conversation pertains to E's identity? Or are you asking for a broader explanation of what being non-binary is and how E character fits that definition?

I guess I don't understand the narrator's motivations beyond the fact that they don't fit into gender stereotypes. I mean... I guess that's enough, but it seems a bit shallow and after this chapter I'm left wondering if the reason they don't fit is because they don't fit or because they see a stereotype and actively avoid being that way simply because it is a stereotype. Why is this something they care so much about and what does being non-binary add to their life experience that couldn't be accomplished while keeping the "she" pronoun?

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, hawkedup said:

I guess that's enough, but it seems a bit shallow and after this chapter I'm left wondering if the reason they don't fit is because they don't fit or because they see a stereotype and actively avoid being that way simply because it is a stereotype.

E's gender identity isn't about stereotypes, but stereotypes play into how they express their identity. If they lived in a world where no stereotypes existed, they would wear whatever clothing they felt like without thinking about what message it would send, and they would still be non-binary. But stereotypes are everywhere in the world. So E, like many (but not all) non-binary people uses those stereotypes to craft an outward appearance that matches their internal identity. Wearing tight clothing what would make them look female would make them feel dysphoric because they know those clothing will lead people to believe they are a girl when in their head, they are not a girl. However, E is 12 and may not be fully aware of or able to articulate exactly what they are doing.  This is a concept I struggle to accurately put into words as a non-binary adult, so translating it to kid is a challenge. I'll take another look at this scene during the revision process because it sounds like it might not be sending the message I thought it was. 

 

3 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Why is this something they care so much about and what does being non-binary add to their life experience that couldn't be accomplished while keeping the "she" pronoun?

Being non-binary doesn't necessarily have to add something to a person's life experience. It is their life experience. It's not a choice. People don't choose to be non-binary. They are non-binary. I'll try to work this into the narrative somehow. 

As far as pronoun choice goes, that varies from person to person. Some people will continue using the pronoun that was attached to their assigned gender while others do not. Some even use multiple pronouns. E sees "she" as a pronoun for girls. E is not a girl. E feels more comfortable with they. 

One of the challenges with this book is going to be finding a balance between explaining enough for cis people but not letting that explanation take over the narrative. In my heart, I am writing it for non-binary kids, but I also want any kid who picks it up off the shelf to be able to enjoy it. I'd like cis kids who read to maybe learn a thing or two about what being non-binary is while enjoying a story about saving moms from haunted mannequins.

And to be completely honest, this book would be a lot easier to sell if I just made the mc a cis girl...but I so bad want to write and read stories with characters who share my identity. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Thank you for your answers! I feel I have a much better understanding now. Also (not that you thought otherwise but I'm paranoid so I'm going to point out that) I'm in no way trying to be contrary or suggesting E needs to be written differently. 

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8 minutes ago, hawkedup said:

Also (not that you thought otherwise but I'm paranoid so I'm going to point out that) I'm in no way trying to be contrary or suggesting E needs to be written differently. 

I didn't think you were. Your question is one a lot of cis readers will probably have, and I can see how the clothing conversation was confusing. 
 

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Just to clarify, it wasn’t the clothing conversation that confused me. That was actually very clear to me. It was E’s thoughts prior to that. 

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Being non-binary doesn't necessarily have to add something to a person's life experience. It is their life experience. It's not a choice. People don't choose to be non-binary. They are non-binary. I'll try to work this into the narrative somehow.

I would not go too far into explaining this in the narrative. I think it's obvious if the reader spends any amount of time (moments) thinking about what non-binary actually means. Some readers may come to the story without any knowledge, but even the most cursory investigation would lead to a functional understanding, I would think, for the purposes of this story at least. How you explain that to a binary 12-year-old in fictional narrative pitched at that level? Well, I don't know, that's why you're the writer. I trust that you will do it :)  

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

And to be completely honest, this book would be a lot easier to sell if I just made the mc a cis girl...but I so bad want to write and read stories with characters who share my identity.

For me, the story would be the poorer for that, and would lean towards a more standard kid's mystery romp, but we've got loads of those, which is what makes this so much more interesting, imo.

Edited by Robinski
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Overall

Might be WRS but I don't remember the point of whatever book thing they are looking for. I thought they just wanted to find the parents? 

Pacing and tension were excellent through this part, and I loved the nonbinary discussion and the suggestion to be looked at as a disguise. Resonated perfectly for me. 

I'd like the creepy bits you have in here to be drawn out more though, to really set the atmosphere. I feel like both were rushed, which lessened their impact. Overall though, this chapter was nicely done!

 

As I go

- love the message in the tea cup and toys! It might land creepier if they notice a trail of toys or missing things on dusty shelves or something before hand, to build tension

- pg 8: I like the clothing discussion related to dysphoria a lot. To me, it seems like it is almost too much, too blatant, but I know if you are aiming for general readership that's useful

- the 'think of it as a disguise' line is perfect. That's what I have to do too, when I need clothes that don't fit my identity. Just pretend it's a costume and everything is okay

- pg 10: toy clown nooooooooooo but also would like more description of that whole scene because it is excellently creepy

- wait, they aren't going to talk about the creepy clown??? I would think it going to its feet would warrant some discussion and panic!

- good ending!

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10 hours ago, hawkedup said:

Just to clarify, it wasn’t the clothing conversation that confused me. That was actually very clear to me. It was E’s thoughts prior to that. 

Good to know. 

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

How you explain that to a binary 12-year-old in fictional narrative pitched at that level?

Yeah, okay maybe I won't actually find a way to do it in this look, but I'll keep it in the back of my mind.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

For me, the story would be the poorer for that, and would lean towards a more standard kid's mystery romp, but we've got loads of those, which is what makes this so much more interesting, imo.

:) Thanks! Recently, I've read a too many articles about middle grade writers in the US getting having trouble with schools and libraries when their books have LGBTQ+ content, and that has been getting to my head for the past couple weeks. I probably need to stop reading those articles. 

12 minutes ago, kais said:

Might be WRS but I don't remember the point of whatever book thing they are looking for. I thought they just wanted to find the parents? 

 

It's not WRS. D didn't tell E about the book until this chapter. I need to either set up for it better or have more reaction to it from E. 

Also, I get what WRS means from the context, but what do the letters in the acronym actually stand for? I don't think I saw it before I joined this group. 

16 minutes ago, kais said:

Pacing and tension were excellent through this part, and I loved the nonbinary discussion and the suggestion to be looked at as a disguise. Resonated perfectly for me. 

 

:) Thank you! 

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23 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Also, I get what WRS means from the context, but what do the letters in the acronym actually stand for? I don't think I saw it before I joined this group. 

Weekly Reader Syndrome

It means we just forget week to week, basically. Heh

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I can see there was a lot of talk on this one, so I'll just say that i read it, and i'm getting caught up. 

 

Lots of good tension here, especially at the back half of this section, in the house.

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