kais

04/13/20 - kais - Rosewood Chapter 2 (L)(V) - 4607 words

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Woo! Cut it down significantly so now I'm under word count.

Moving along to chapter two. Mild cursing, mild violence. Herein I attempt to set up the plot that isn’t sex related (I know, I know). M gets the ‘berserker’ trope because 1) I don’t see it a lot on women, 2) it’s a trashy trope I love, and 3) because I can. It may not make the final cut though so aside from normal feedback I’d like to know where it falls on your scale of camp. Like, is it the right amount? Too much? Withholding judgement? 

I’m also curious if the motivation to set up the road monopoly is clear / does the B plot make sense?

All comments welcome, per normal. 

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I missed the display of magic in the first chapter, having it blatant over here is a lifesaver for me and actually pretty cool. I was bored when M attempted to set up the crew while she left - I just didn't care. I wanted to follow M and watch her do her thing. Also, I don't know if J has powers, but if J knew about M's powers, wouldn't he have pulled a knife on J to subdue M? Or maybe I'm just misreading the scene. J and J are two different people - it's confusing. M seems like she could be a masochist - after all, she can't feel anything so she'd do whatever she could to feel what she could. In addition, she seems psychopathic or sociopathic. I get the two mixed up. Again, I don't know if I'm misinterpreting this, but that's what I got on my end, if that's what you intended for the reader to pick up on. Keep on going, Kais!

 

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Why does J say they grew up in caves (page 12) but they have the fight on their family's ancestral land (page 1)?

 

I am here for a woman berserker. However, do we want to know M's powers this early in the game or can it be foreshadowed? Especially if they are something that's feared/ scares others. Also, if she is that easily set off, is she going to be leaving dead bodies in her wake? Can she be capable of breaking into a kingdom and seducing a princess with that kind of temper?

 

I also have a problem with M setting up the crew. For me, its hard to believe that a fresh brand new crew of LESS than 6 months (that are trying to start a "guild of thieves"), the leader would dip out and there be no consequences. And if M is supposed to smart and seasoned, wouldn't she feel this way too? Especially since the longest member (H) has only been with M and J for SIX MONTHS. 

 

Looking forward to the seduction of the princess (I am hoping it fails miserably and M is the one who winds up completely WHIPPED).

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I enjoyed the backstories of the main people in the guild, where M had picked them up from.

However, I do agree with the others that the "roadwork" plot is a little heavy-handed and plotwise. I think it could work with a little more setup, like make this chapter about introing the M's powers and the crew and then have a reason next chapter that they need to change their ways and control the roads. I think the effect is actually kind of elegant once we get to the full reason: upkeep all the roads, control access to the queendom, and thus dominate what can be traded there. But having  a crew that's only been together 6 months, and having the person who's still (barely) holding them together give up her place to someone she considers only adequate is asking for failure.

I was also...let's say confused...on the berserker angle. I'm fine with her being invulnerable for some reason, but that and the anger don't seem linked. Like she doesn't become invulnerable and strong when she gets angry. (She's always invulnerable: that's her secret!). Right now, they seem like two different things.

 

Notes while reading:
pg 1: is J or L talking in the first sentence? It doesn't really matter in the end, but it made me read it twice.

pg 1: "to get to the fight"
--so now they are fighting? the paragraph before they were potentially going to start fighting. Also, why is M so far away? Isn't
she in charge?

pg 1: "caught a glimpse of the fight"
--The first page seems out of order. We're zoomed in on the fighting, but from M's POV. Then she can't get to the fight, then she's
tying up the horse and walking toward the fight.

pg 2: "It looked like he’d aimed for her throat"
--a little jarring because you've said J is a he several times, and M is a she, but L hasn't been gendered. I was confused whether
"her" was referring to M or L.

pg 4: "what she actually wanted to do"
--sort of brings the attention that this fight has gone on for 4 pages now.

pg 5: "His knife broke through her jerkin, her shirt, and pressed into her skin." 
--why is she just letting him stab her?

pg 5: "She crushed the blade"
--oh yeah...invulnerable or very strong or both...in which case I don't know why J stabbed her in the first place.

pg 7: “I can hear you,” 
--can, or can't?

pg 7: "felt a flush creeping across her skin, and felt joy"
--I'm not sure what's going on with the rushing blood. Is this part of her abilities, or does she just like to get angry?

pg 8: "He might not even be there. It could be an illusion. A trick."
--I'm sort of lost as to why M is hulking out here. Is it a trade off between getting angry and getting strong? Although if she's
never been hurt, I feel like that power is "on" all the time.

pg 8: "Blood red. Sunset red. Her heart slowed. 
--Sun's gettin' real low...

pg 9: "Step out"
--eh? not sure what just happened.

pg 9: “You’ve kept them from fighting for an hour.” 
--that all took an hour?

pg 12: "I’d be better at sleeping my way in"
--than what? The tolls?

pg 13: "If she’d handed the guild over"
--I'm also not sure why she's handing the guild over. Doesn't she want them to work toward a queendom?

pg 13: “We can’t feed our families on a gold leaf.” 
--uh, yeah. Especially if they're becoming brick layers as well. Where are they getting the extra supplies? I doubt one gold leaf
is more worth than bags full of rings and clothes and coins.

pg 13: "We’re not dragons. We don’t need to hoard."
--oh, so they're investing everything they've earned and turning into a road maintenance crew?

pg 15: "J’s idea had merit, though"
--what idea?
--Edit, oh...sleeping with the princess. I had sort of assumed that already.

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As usual, did not read previous critiques.

Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "too many elbows and knapsacks and wandering horses" This is my own opinion, but I like it when there is a list of three or four things separated by "and'" or other conjunctions because just the disorder of the words (compared to a list) always gives a feeling of chaos. Which is exactly what this scene needs. 

Pg 1, "She’d hitched her horse": I'm going to be your horse friend, I can tell. Okay, you hitch a horse to attach it to a wagon. I'm pretty sure you mean "tacked up" here, which means to put a saddle and bridle on a horse. Also, maybe I have mentioned this before, maybe I haven't, but I will be sorely disappointed if you ever make any character flick the reins to get the horse to go. That is a major pet peeve of mine. Also, small note, having a steady horse you know is much better than nabbing some probably-bitey, half-feral nag. But that's more of my opinion, because, in general, I am very cautious around horses, which I sincerely doubt M would ever be. 

Pg 1, "already elbow deep in sweaty leather": Oh my gosh, this is so true. Sweaty leather is like trying to hold onto a bar of soap. The horse sweats, you sweat, it's gross.

Pg 2, "I said give it to me!": Would it be, "I said, give it to me!" ???

Pg 2, "M smacked its flank and it flicked an ear at her." Hello, horse friend back. First, good news: Asking a horse to move and it not even bothering beyond the flick of an ear is so realistic. I've had horses who moved at the lightest touch, and others that I had to grind my elbow into to get them to move. Correction: Smacking a horse on the flank is possible, but not a good idea. I also don't think it's what you mean. I'm a teacher, and I'm passionate about horses, so I'm going to back up my claim with evidence. Plus, as you are aware, I overthink things. Like critiques involving horses.

A horse's flank is the area between the end of the rib cage and the beginning of the pelvis. I outlined it on this photo I stole offline:

stallion-American-Quarter-Horse-buckskin-coat.thumb.jpg.afe29b282b4b22ee2cb320eae030cf76.jpg

Here's why hitting a horse on the flank is, in general, a bad idea: it's a sensitive area because there is no bones preventing you from hitting the kidneys. In bronc riding, some rodeos will use controversial flank straps to purposefully use pain to encourage a horse to buck with more gusto. It is also illegal in most organized horse racing to hit a horse on the flanks with a whip. However, if M were to ever, say, push a bad guy into a horse's flank, I can almost guarantee that the horse would be more than happy to give the baddie a nice kick. Fun fact: if you sit on a horse's head while it is lying down, it literally can't get up.

This is my long explanation that can be summarized with: M probably hit the horse on the hindquarters.  

Pg 2, "your ugly horse.": Rude.

Pg 2, "finally found reasonable break in the crowd." 

Pg 2, " blue and green grass fibers" Do they actually make dresses out of grass? I may be taking this too literally. You can weave flax.

Pg 3, "same cheap horse-leather boots" Storytime: I have a pair of calf-leather boots I once had a live calf nibble on... Also, if they eat horse, my sister ate horse salami once and said it tastes like greasy pepperoni. 

Pg 3, "squared up to J knowing she looked tired, unkempt" Missing comma? "squared up to J, knowing she looked tired, unkempt,"

Pg 3, "M punched him in the nose." Excellent B)

Pg 4, "And [poor] hide outs." -> hideouts is one word.

Pg 4, "you can’t go a kilometer without seeing something’s [backside[": I got a good chuckle out of this.

Pg 5," learn how to hijack trains": This book is like a checkoff list of things I love: fluffy fantasy romance? Check. Atypical protagonist? Check. Horses? Check. Not medieval England? Check. 

Pg 5, "dragon scale": Dragons? Check.

Pg 5, "A very fundamental something shifted" Uh oh. Jav is screwed.

Pg 5, " maple candy": Oh my gosh, my weakness

Pg 5, "Don’t make me break it." Somehow I doubt M is joking when she says she can break steel.

Pg 6, "the metal folded in on itself like wet clay." Yeeeeees. Excellent. Beautiful. Satisfactory.

Pg 6, "No blood on her hand." Girl's got grey hair, girl's got diamond skin. 

Pg 6: This entire sequence is giving me shivers down my spine. 

Pg 6, "one of his lips was trembling." Can a top lip tremble? I assume you just mean bottom lip. Roommate and I attempted to act this one out. She votes just either have him tremble, or simply pee himself. Granted, she hasn't read any of this, I just gave context.

Pg 6, " with her acorn-shaped face" This is a nice break from heart-shaped.

Pg 6, "pure, religious, fanaticism-level joy." Fanatical. I got stumped on this word so some reason and couldn't pronounce it correctly. 

Pg 8, "She hadn’t bled since she was ten," Movie trailer voice: "Her body was invincible...but the same could not be said for her heart." *cue romance trailer music*

Pg 8, "had as much courage and danger as a carp." This does not strike me as a band ready to take on a monarchy. But I also think this might be M being an unreliable narrator given her current state.

Pg 9, "you already made Jav [pee] himself." As stated earlier, my roommate wanted him to pee himself when we were acting out the trembling lip. I told her of this sentence. Roommate looked up from Assassin's Creed, smiled at me, and said, "Nice."

Pg 9, "“Step out, M.” Secret password unlocked.

Pg 9, "It felt like lightning tearing"

Pg 10, "passed out for days due to exhaustion" This is very specific and strikes me as being said from experience, not speculation. Which is sad for M and worse for those she slaughtered. 

Pg 11, "longest of the group. It’d be nice" If you want to keep in as a single sentence, I recommend a conjunction.

Pg 11, "I’ve no use for a Queendom." In the previous paragraph, you didn't capitalize queendom. Consistency error.

Pg 13, "No issues," he said. "It’s your" Forgotten question marks.

Pg 13, "His cards were rigged"

Pg 15, "They have an, an artifact I need to acquire,"

Pg 15, "Sleep with the princess?” Relevant gif

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Posted (edited)

Chapter two!

More good stuff here. I really like the idea of M leading this merry band of bandits that she can barely hold together, because it adds an additional wrinkle to what’s already an underdog story: can M keep control of her own band long enough to pull off this crazy scheme?

That said, to make that work the text has to hit a pretty definite balance to convince us that it will be difficult for M to hold her merry band of bandits together, on the one hand, but possible to hold them together, on the other. It’s the latter that is currently falling somewhat short for me; I’m left wondering why they’re going along with this. Yes, they’re afraid of M, but it doesn’t seem like they’re afraid enough, since even Jav is giving M ‘tude again by the end of the chapter (and would that be enough to hold the rest of the group together while M’s away, because right now I’m not quite convinced it is?). M’s plan doesn’t seem fully formed as of yet, or at least she’s not sharing all the details, and so her group is (rightfully) skeptical that she can pull it off. And the group doesn’t seem that entranced by her vision, or all that interested in the material rewards. I don’t want to be convinced that they will all band together and triumph in the end, but I do want to be convinced that they can.

The road monopoly part is … fine, I suppose, but it seems a bit far-fetched, both in terms of the manpower M currently has to work with and in terms of actually convincing the rest of the world that they’re somehow becoming a legit enterprise. If nothing else, it would probably provide a good reason for the authorities in the area to increase military interventions, because bandits are one thing but we don’t want them getting above themselves. This might work better for a younger protagonist who we’d expect to have pie-in-the-sky ambitions, but M is older and (maybe?) wiser.

As I read:

Her family’s ancestral plot? Guess I’d assumed that M and J grew up relatively poor, though it’s potentially an interesting subversion if our highwayman leader comes from a background that is a little more well-off. And hosting a robber guild on your family’s ancestral land (which would be documented somewhere, surely) seems like a great way of revealing your identity to anyone who looks closely enough.

“Lung punctures, like Jav, were a nuisance.” Hah.

P3 “Jav snarled and turned the knife on her.” But he has at least some idea that he can’t hurt her (according to M’s account of how they first met). Heat of the moment makes people do dumb things, but he’s been annoyed with her for a couple of pages already, so this seems less “heat of the moment” and more “not terribly bright.”

p4 and I am very much in the “not terribly bright” camp. He’s had so many opportunities to back off that this isn’t believable as a “heat of the moment” anger. It is believable as a deliberate challenge, which… seems to make him an idiot.

That said, I really like the description of M’s experience of her invulnerability. It’s nicely tense, and very clearly gets across the idea that M may not be entirely in control of herself. I do think the narrative’s commitment to M’s blind rage slips once or twice during the conversation with L, and while it’s apparent again in full force by the time J intercedes, the escalation back up to that rage doesn’t f eel entirely justified.

It’s probably incidental, but I don’t get where M gets the information that L is scaring her marks, or what it is that L actually does for the Guild.

P13 “..definitely nothing higher value, such as a star or…” I think this is meant to explain the coinage and thus help us understand L’s comment about not being able to feed families, but as far as dialogue goes this line struck me as just a little too “as you know, Bob.”

Top of p14, J’s dialogue, it feels like he and M have discussed a plan in the interim between chapter 1 and chapter 2, or something else significant, but apparently M and J have only just returned.

Speaking of “as you know, Bob” I think J’s dialogue strays a little into this territory here, especially “some are in poor enough shape that people don’t take them, like the…” I think you could skip all the middle bits of that sentence and go straight from “don’t take them” to “we don’t care about F’s Pass.” Readers will still get the idea.

P14 “...upon the request of her daughter.” this definitely solidifies my feeling that we missed something significant during the time jump.

P15 “Only masochists went after royalty.” Hah.

“...your pompous lordship of the caves?” Another good one.

I am running out of steam in a hurry, so I'll read the others' critiques later...

Edited by Silk
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Posted (edited)

Double-posting, I guess, because adding quotes to an edited post doesn't seem to work...  

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

Also, if she is that easily set off, is she going to be leaving dead bodies in her wake?

Hmm, this is a fair call, but I'd interpreted the rage as being set off when she was actually subjected to violence. That begs the question of why she didn't fly off the handle in Chapter 1 when she was pushed out of the carriage, but I suppose it could be the difference between lethal force and a relatively harmless shove.

On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "to get to the fight"
--so now they are fighting? the paragraph before they were potentially going to start fighting. Also, why is M so far away? Isn't
she in charge?

I had kind of a similar experience, not so much because M was in charge but because it was described in a way that made it sound like a lot of people were in the way,  more than just a dozen. 

On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "what she actually wanted to do"
--sort of brings the attention that this fight has gone on for 4 pages now.

Yeah. I also didn't realize it until I got to the end of that same segment but it does go on for a while. 

14 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

"She’d hitched her horse": I'm going to be your horse friend

I think you're going to end up being a horse friend for many of us. :)

14 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

The horse sweats, you sweat, it's gross

Note to self: no more crits over lunch break. 

14 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 5," learn how to hijack trains": This book is like a checkoff list of things I love: fluffy fantasy romance? Check. Atypical protagonist? Check. Horses? Check. Not medieval England? Check. 

I would also like to clarify that, while it  sounds like something M is trying to avoid, I would be completely on board (uh, sorry) with them hijacking a train at some point. Just sayin'. 

14 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 15, "Sleep with the princess?” Relevant gif

:D

Edited by Silk
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On 4/13/2020 at 7:28 PM, Turin Turambar said:

I was bored when M attempted to set up the crew while she left - I just didn't care.

Following a later suggestion by @Mandamon, Ch2 is now just returning to the camp and introducing new characters. So less set up, more organic chatter.

On 4/13/2020 at 7:28 PM, Turin Turambar said:

Also, I don't know if J has powers, but if J knew about M's powers, wouldn't he have pulled a knife on J to subdue M?

A number of people had questions on this. It was meant to show that he's just not really a clear thinker, but maybe I need to hang a lantern on that or something. 

On 4/13/2020 at 7:28 PM, Turin Turambar said:

J and J are two different people - it's confusing.

Yeah. I think one of them might get renamed.

On 4/13/2020 at 7:28 PM, Turin Turambar said:

Keep on going, Kais!

Thank you so much for the feedback! Many edits to this chapter, looks like. I'd best get to it!

 

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

Why does J say they grew up in caves (page 12) but they have the fight on their family's ancestral land (page 1)?

Because I cut a line that explained the scenery! Will have to go put that back in.

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

However, do we want to know M's powers this early in the game or can it be foreshadowed? Especially if they are something that's feared/ scares others.

We actually don't! This is an effect, not the cause. But if its reading like end game, I'm happy with that for now. All the better for a surprise later! A trope-filled surprise!

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

is she going to be leaving dead bodies in her wake?

I was kind of hoping so

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

Can she be capable of breaking into a kingdom and seducing a princess with that kind of temper?

Nope! But it'll be fun to watch her try!

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

LESS than 6 months (that are trying to start a "guild of thieves"), the leader would dip out and there be no consequences. And if M is supposed to smart and seasoned, wouldn't she feel this way too? Especially since the longest member (H) has only been with M and J for SIX MONTHS. 

This was uniformly a problem with everyone. I'm going to go back and tweak some things and resubmit the chapter. Clearly it needs to be fixed before we can go on, or the whole B plot won't make sense. Thanks for pointing it out!

On 4/14/2020 at 4:54 AM, CherishLarain said:

(I am hoping it fails miserably and M is the one who winds up completely WHIPPED).

This is 100% the direction I was hoping to head! Also the princess ended up delightfully saucy! Thank you so much for the comments. To the edits!

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Posted (edited)

I love the voice so far and am totally on board with M. However, I did get a bit confused in this chapter. I had to keep rereading to make sure I was following, and that lowered my level of engagement. At one point, it sounded like the forest was getting pretty small, but then later it sounded big. Which is it? How big of a threat does this railroad actually pose?

The whole berserker thing was fascinating. I like the idea of M being a berserker, but it wasn't quite executed right. As a concept, it works. I think the way it happens just needs adjusting. I also think it would work better if we had some hints about M not being able to bleed in chapter 1. If they were there I didn't notice. 

On 4/15/2020 at 1:54 AM, Silk said:

The road monopoly part is … fine, I suppose, but it seems a bit far-fetched, both in terms of the manpower M currently has to work with and in terms of actually convincing the rest of the world that they’re somehow becoming a legit enterprise. If nothing else, it would probably provide a good reason for the authorities in the area to increase military interventions, because bandits are one thing but we don’t want them getting above themselves. This might work better for a younger protagonist who we’d expect to have pie-in-the-sky ambitions, but M is older and (maybe?) wiser.

 

I was wondering about this too.

 

On 4/15/2020 at 1:54 AM, Silk said:

That said, I really like the description of M’s experience of her invulnerability. It’s nicely tense, and very clearly gets across the idea that M may not be entirely in control of herself. I do think the narrative’s commitment to M’s blind rage slips once or twice during the conversation with L, and while it’s apparent again in full force by the time J intercedes, the escalation back up to that rage doesn’t f eel entirely justified.

 

This. The way it built didn't really seem to work.

 

As I read:

"Muffin peddlers are..." Laughing at the first line. Chapter is off to a good start. But who is talking?

"Javid glared.." For a second I thought this was going to his POV. Quicky realized it wasn't. By quickly, I mean a sentence or two later.

"She had a comb to recover, a princess to, whatever..." I like the "whatever" and it's implications. 

"...been destined for...irritate M..." Voice is so good so far.

"reasonable break in the crowd..." for some reason I thought she already had gotten closer.

"pushed his knife in..." Made me think he was pushing into her body, not tearing her clothes.

"...flax was waist high..." All I am thinking about is ticks. Are there ticks in this world? Lyme disease? 

"...lucky we have this segment..." I'm struggling to follow the conversation a little. This is also one of the lines that made me think the forest was small, not something that covers a whole continent as you say later.

"...little southwest oasis..." On my first read, I noted I liked how the world building was coming through. But when I got to the end, some of this seemed contradicted.

"Dragon scale" Oooh I hope there are dragons later!

"She's met Liu..." Before this, M was starting to get worked up into that berserker state, so it seems odd now that she is not only walking away but also reminiscing on how she met L.

"You scaring your marks?" Was this mentioned before and I just missed it? It seemed to come out of nowhere? I also feel like she is too far out of the berserker mode to be asking questions. I think this was why it didn't work. The interaction with Jv seemed like something  that would put her in it, so it seemed strange that she thought so much about L, had this interaction, and then almost went full berserker.

I was very engaged once she slipped into berserker mode. I like how J pulled her out of it. However, I feel like maybe it should've all happened when Jv provoked her. 

"Forest covers half..." The earlier comments about it shrinking and the railroad made me think it was a lot smaller than this. 

"I'm going to seduce a princess" This is a great last line, but earlier on this page, she seemed like she didn't want to, and the change of heart was very quick. 

Looking forward to the next chapter! 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

I think it could work with a little more setup, like make this chapter about introing the M's powers and the crew and then have a reason next chapter that they need to change their ways and control the roads.

I have rearranged the chapters a bit to do this. Excellent suggestion

On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

I was also...let's say confused...on the berserker angle. I'm fine with her being invulnerable for some reason, but that and the anger don't seem linked. Like she doesn't become invulnerable and strong when she gets angry. (She's always invulnerable: that's her secret!). Right now, they seem like two different things.

I forgot to put the consequence in in the first draft. I'll be resubbing part of chapter two and then also chapter three this next week (keeping to word count, of course). The plot elements are all the same, but there's more description of the berserker part, in terms of cost and action, so I hope that helps. Also it allowed me to shove the required naked scene into the first three chapters, which was missing before. Have to follow those romance rules!

On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

The first page seems out of order.

I have now completely reworked this to be much more straightforward 

On 4/14/2020 at 8:31 AM, Mandamon said:

Sun's gettin' real low...

LOL yes exactly

Mercifully, a lot of your edits got dealt with during this somewhat substantial rewrite. Hopefully it's a lot smoother now! Thank you for the detailed feedback, as always @Mandamon

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On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

I'm going to be your horse friend, I can tell.

Yes please!

On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

This is my long explanation that can be summarized with: M probably hit the horse on the hindquarters.  

I adored every part of this explanation. Also flank has been changed to hindquarters throughout

On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

his book is like a checkoff list of things I love: fluffy fantasy romance? Check. Atypical protagonist? Check. Horses? Check. Not medieval England? Check. 

SCORE

On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

Roommate and I attempted to act this one out. She votes just either have him tremble, or simply pee himself. Granted, she hasn't read any of this, I just gave context.

 

I snorted. It's been changed, but I love that you acted this out.

On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

Her body was invincible...but the same could not be said for her heart." *cue romance trailer music*

Okay so seriously...can I use this for the super cheesy tag line on the front cover???

On 4/14/2020 at 10:05 PM, Snakenaps said:

Sleep with the princess?

I mean, this is the whole point of the book so gif very much accepted. Thank you for the (hilarious) feedback! And very helpful, too!

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On 4/14/2020 at 10:54 PM, Silk said:

I’m left wondering why they’re going along with this. Yes, they’re afraid of M, but it doesn’t seem like they’re afraid enough, since even Jav is giving M ‘tude again by the end of the chapter (and would that be enough to hold the rest of the group together while M’s away, because right now I’m not quite convinced it is?). M’s plan doesn’t seem fully formed as of yet, or at least she’s not sharing all the details, and so her group is (rightfully) skeptical that she can pull it off. And the group doesn’t seem that entranced by her vision, or all that interested in the material rewards. I don’t want to be convinced that they will all band together and triumph in the end, but I do want to be convinced that they can.

I've changed this around (and will be resubbing, so await your thoughts) so that parts of the plan are proposed by others. And M gets ribbed about sleeping with a lot of women, so, humor. I'm hoping it works better and is more convincing!

On 4/14/2020 at 10:54 PM, Silk said:

If nothing else, it would probably provide a good reason for the authorities in the area to increase military interventions, because bandits are one thing but we don’t want them getting above themselves.

I've dealt with this now in several places in the narrative so here's hoping it is more plausible now

On 4/14/2020 at 10:54 PM, Silk said:

commitment to M’s blind rage slips once or twice during the conversation with L,

I've tightened this scene up a lot.

On 4/14/2020 at 10:54 PM, Silk said:

this definitely solidifies my feeling that we missed something significant during the time jump.

I've put some of that time jump back in

On 4/15/2020 at 1:02 PM, Silk said:

but I suppose it could be the difference between lethal force and a relatively harmless shove.

Or is it....A PLOT POINT?

On 4/15/2020 at 1:02 PM, Silk said:

I would also like to clarify that, while it  sounds like something M is trying to avoid, I would be completely on board (uh, sorry) with them hijacking a train at some point. Just sayin'. 

I have some thoughts on a sequel, which would 100% involve train-jacking

Thank you, @Silk! Good points in here and very helpful with the cleanup and edits!

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On 4/16/2020 at 8:59 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

Which is it? How big of a threat does this railroad actually pose?

think I've cleaned all this up now.

On 4/16/2020 at 8:59 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

If they were there I didn't notice. 

There were four or five of them, but subtle. I think I'll keep them that way for now, because I think people will look back as the narrative builds and go, ohhhhhhhh

On 4/16/2020 at 8:59 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

All I am thinking about is ticks. Are there ticks in this world? Lyme disease? 

Well there are now.

On 4/16/2020 at 8:59 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

Oooh I hope there are dragons later!

*cough*

On 4/16/2020 at 8:59 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

"I'm going to seduce a princess" This is a great last line, but earlier on this page, she seemed like she didn't want to, and the change of heart was very quick. 

Ah yes. I've changed this around so she's basically goaded into it. Here's hoping it works. Thank you!! Now to proof the changes before Monday's sub!

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Comments.

(page 1)

- The gathering of highwaymen isn't convincing to me. It's described like they're clustered together like zombies, but people would not do that. People waiting would, I think, adopt positions for their own comfort, putting (enough) physical separation between them and other people so they are not in people's faces and causing potential confrontation. I don't think the crowd is behaving in a plausible way.

(page 2)

- "but just skated across her skin" - Okay, super clear indication that she's invulnerable, but what does not work about it for me is that there is no explanation, it has no context. Are there other invulnerable people? Is it caused by magic? Does she take a potion? Without context for it, it's just an annoying quirk that doesn't have any significance.

- "leave my road alone" - Whose line is this?

(page 3)

- "making the gathering of reject criminals that much more comical" - well, this kind of supports my earlier comment, but my point is there's no obvious need for it to be that way. With all this antagonism, I think they would put more distance between them. And, why are the horses all mixed in with the people? That makes no sense either. They would tie their horses up on the periphery of the field, or away from the gathering. Surely, no sensible person, let alone a thief, would allow horses into the place where they store all their plunder? It doesn't make sense, and so, it reads to me like an author mechanism to get a certain effect. But you can easily still get that effect by having M still have to push between people and around stolen goods to get to the fight.

- "If you ruin her breasts we will have much more than a talk" - Not the right reaction to the potential of someone being mutilated.

(page 4)

- I don't understand the dialogue about sh--ting. I also don't understand M's reaction to J. He is so uncontrolled and disruptive to the group, I don't understand why she has not killed him. He needs to weeded out. It's clear he will never kowtow to her leadership.

- "They join the four monarchies" - maid-and-butler. He knows this very well. There needs to be a reason or message behind her saying this, which is not coming over to me.

- J's speech too, just comes over as exposition to me. Then the thing about the scale. This page feels rough, and the fight feels forced to me, at present.

(page 7)

- What's with this sudden change in M's hearing and all the sounds, the heartbeat whooshing. I don't understand.

(page 8)

- "She’d collected them, every single one chosen for an asset" - But if that's the case, why would they form a guild of highwaymen? There seems to be no one else here who has the skill set to make an effective highway-person but her and J. It doesn't make sense to me.

(page 9)

- "searched for not-J" - everything is very surreal all of a sudden and I don't understand what changed, what is going in with her. It's hard to go along and stay involved with it when can't make sense of it.

(page 10)

- "fighting every human within a kilometer radius" - Confused again. So this flush thing is a defence mechanism, no, a sort of berserker state? Again, like her invulnerability, it has not context for me. What is the world like? She can't be the only person who has supernatural abilities, is she? Either she is, which is weird, and needs some sort of explanation, or she is not, and then I want to know who gets abilities and who doesn't, and why. I just feel confused.

- "hadn’t almost lost it" - She lost it, IMO. I don't see how there was any 'almost'. Maybe she did not completely act on it, but she was out of it there, surely.

- "It’ll be a decade, easily" - It's hard not to compare this to the rate at which railways were contracted in the US and this is not convincing at all. It's far too long, and it that's the case, I think it needs more explanation. I mean, they're in a forest, how is it they need to import wood? I could understand if it was the rails, but it still seems ridiculously slow. I'd be happier if it was ten years before the network was finished. In practical terms, they are like to run trains on finished sections and build up the operations over time. So, the highway folks livelihood will disappear gradually as the network builds up.

(page 11)

- "I just want to eat. I don’t care about big ideas" - I really like the character-building in this chapter. I like that you're concentrating on a small numbers of 'new' characters (L, J and H) and not trying to overload by describing the whole group. And the individual details are strong. They feel very different and already recognisable.

- "L caught the bracelet" - But it was a ring that fell from M's pocket. Inconsistency here, surely.

- "We have baubles here" - I have a problem with the level of wealth. The description of the amount of valuables they have, it sounds to me like Smaug's cave, bags of gems spilling over, everyone seems to have a bag of jewellery before counting the sacks that are lying around in the clearing. This feels like wealth WAY beyond just eating. it makes no sense that they seem to have no physical resources. They must be able to sell this stuff, or there is no point in taking it. I understand there is talk about waiting to move the stuff on, but, if they've been doing this for six months, they must have raked in way more cash than they need to live poorly in a forest, with no roof over their heads (by the look of it). The economic don't make sense to me. 

- "She rested a hand on the hilt of the overly pretentious" - Where did this come from? She did not have it during her raid on N's carriage that I can recall.

- "I’m after one particular item" - But she can't live on that. This is not convincing to me. She can still want the comb above all while also desiring other things, like the queen dom, and a comfortable life.

(page 12)

- "He slapped her shoulder. “Go on. I’ll follow. We all will" - No. I can't accept this. He was trying to kill her now he's slapping her on the shoulder? And he has NO REMIT to talk for the entire group. None at all. And now he's volunteering? This is not believable, IMO.

- "Under H’ leadership" - Good call. Like H. He seems solid and smart. Oh, good grief, he's a big guy, good with numbers and conveys quiet confidence? He's Jean T!! (See Lies of LL reference below).

(page 13)

- "He’d take a card and make the kid guess the suit and number" - This is not a card trick. The odds are too ridiculous for that when playing it straight. There is not need to trick anyone. Consider the con 'Hide the Pea'. (In theory) it has a 33.3% chance of success. Finding one card in 52 is crazy. No one would play that game. It needs to be a confidence trick, by definition that it something that the mark is confident they can WIN.

- "such as a star or shield" - Maid-and-butler: they know what their own money is.

- Huh? Why would they do all that road maintenance? I don't understand. That sounds like going legitimate. Also, laying brick is building a road, that seems way over the top. 

(page 14)

- "Consider that we’ve made more in six months working together than most of you would ever have made in a lifetime" - This makes a nonsense of L's statement about not being able to feed their families.

- "We’re not dragons" - mention was made of a dragon scale found in the forest. The only other indication of anything magical is M's powers, but these have not been expressed in magical terms, but only in physical ones. I need to know on page 1 of the story that I am in a world where magic exists. This goes back to my point about there being no context for M's powers. Is this a magic world or not?

- "The rest we have a significant presence on" - I thought it was said they controlled all the roads?

- "integrating" - a modern word, 'settling in' would do just as well.

(page 15)

- "The people here do all the work and you do what" - There is no way that J stands up for the rights of the people he is leaving behind. That is not in character.

- Yeah, the comb. It has no material use to M in giving her the life, the riches that she wants (I presume). It seems to me the comb is set up as the main thing in her mind, but, while it may be the main emotional thing, I think there needs to be better motivation for her and for J. For one thing, what's happened to his medicine? There is not mention of it in this chapter at all, and yet if she is stealing for his medicine to keep him alive surely it would come into her mind at some point?

Overall

There's a lot of good tension, and good dynamic among the group here. There were lots of things I like about the chapter, but too many things that confused me or, IMO, did not make sense. The set up of Chp.1 was really good, I thought, but I think there it too much in this chapter that is uneven, and unnecessary. The information about the railway is excellent and is areal threat to their mode of operation, but they the background felt like maid-and-butler exposition to a large extent. And the economics: I don't understand the cash flows. Seems like they have loads and loads of stuff, but no resources at all. That's not a useful model for thieves. A really, really good template for this sort of set up, I think, is the absolutely wonderful (if somebody has not ready it, really, do) Lies of Locke Lomara, where the band has a home base, and a massive haul under lock down. They are successfully, but use funds to set up the next job, which is complex and expensive because of the kind of jobs they run. I know that is not the type of set up here, but I just don't think their thieving is working for them if they seem to be destitute while surrounded by piles of gems and jewellery.

M's motivation / comb / riches: I need a more life-changing motivation for M. Getting the comb is not enough unless the comb means something practical that will make her life different and better. The motivation just doesn't hang together for me. The group dynamic and characterisation is good, but I think Jav's tone is off kilter. His fight with L went way beyond an aggressive falling out, and then he's all slapping shoulders and banter after being bloodied, crying and pissing himself in front of the group? He cannot have so little pride as to let that go and be all chummy again afterwards while still stinking of piss, presumably.

Lots of good things, but lots of details that confused and frustrated me.

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12 hours ago, Robinski said:

I don't think the crowd is behaving in a plausible way.

I've cut a lot of this and streamlined the rest. Chapter 2 now moves much faster and has a lot less milling around. Most everyone is stationary except the feral horses

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

Without context for it, it's just an annoying quirk that doesn't have any significance.

I'll drop a quick line in about it but I was planning on letting the light magic of the world unfold as the chapters go by. Will have to see where bits might be seeded in.

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

I don't understand why she has not killed him.

LOL okay, I'll hang a better lantern on this

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

This page feels rough, and the fight feels forced to me, at present.

I'd say about 75% has been cut and the rest rearranged at this point.

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

Either she is, which is weird, and needs some sort of explanation, or she is not, and then I want to know who gets abilities and who doesn't, and why. I just feel confused.

I'm going to have to think on this. I'm very into the slow magical component of the world reveal. I'm not entirely sure how to add it in before this much more than already has been. Will do some noodling.

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

I could understand if it was the rails, but it still seems ridiculously slow. I'd be happier if it was ten years before the network was finished. In practical terms, they are like to run trains on finished sections and build up the operations over time. So, the highway folks livelihood will disappear gradually as the network builds up.

Ah! The wood part I didn't explain very well so will have to go back and clear that up. I did mean to imply it was being built slowly and it was a pressing threat. I need to make that more clear. 

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

I have a problem with the level of wealth. The description of the amount of valuables they have, it sounds to me like Smaug's cave, bags of gems spilling over, everyone seems to have a bag of jewellery before counting the sacks that are lying around in the clearing. This feels like wealth WAY beyond just eating. it makes no sense that they seem to have no physical resources. They must be able to sell this stuff, or there is no point in taking it. I understand there is talk about waiting to move the stuff on, but, if they've been doing this for six months, they must have raked in way more cash than they need to live poorly in a forest, with no roof over their heads (by the look of it). The economic don't make sense to me. 

Okay check. I'll revisit this. I'm thinking I might tone down how much they bring in, have the need for a side gig be pressing as J's tea is getting more expensive, and have the comb be a good opportunity to get a bit more coin while also getting the comb. Will ponder.

Hello from the future! Have instituted this edit, and it works much better! I think I'm going to cut the road tolls plot altogether now, because this works very smoothly. Thank you!

TBC, as I need to tend to a loud offspring.

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16 hours ago, Robinski said:

Consider the con 'Hide the Pea'.

Ah yes, shell game! Good call on this

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

Huh? Why would they do all that road maintenance? I don't understand. That sounds like going legitimate. Also, laying brick is building a road, that seems way over the top. 

This plot element has been cut and moved to the later stages

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

Consider that we’ve made more in six months working together than most of you would ever have made in a lifetime" - This makes a nonsense of L's statement about not being able to feed their families.

Also has been cut

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

Is this a magic world or not?

Sort of? I'm considering how much to introduce early though

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think there needs to be better motivation for her and for J. For one thing, what's happened to his medicine? There is not mention of it in this chapter at all, and yet if she is stealing for his medicine to keep him alive surely it would come into her mind at some point?

Completely agree. I've edited earlier chapters now to indicate that she'd known they were in financial trouble for a while, needing more and more tea for J, so this is a good opportunity to rob a bigger mark

16 hours ago, Robinski said:

but I think Jav's tone is off kilter. His fight with L went way beyond an aggressive falling out, and then he's all slapping shoulders and banter after being bloodied, crying and pissing himself in front of the group? He cannot have so little pride as to let that go and be all chummy again afterwards while still stinking of piss, presumably.

Hopefully I've edited this to be more in line with his general disregard for authority, no buddy-buddy

Thank you so much, @Robinski! You helped me solve a major plot issue and I think everything will run much more smoothly now!

 

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For those following along at home, here are the larger changes that have progressed into the next chapter:

New reasoning in chapter 2 as to why she wants to go after the queendom:

~~

She heard the smirk in his voice and punched him in the shoulder. “Shut up. But J…” she paused and tried to catch his eye. She didn’t like talking finances with her brother. She never had. It wasn’t fair that he could barely breathe air and she could walk through swords, but the raw reality was that his tea consumption, and thereby cost, went up every year. They were getting by for now. Next year? The year after?

“She had more than clothes in that trunk, J. She had a comb of Mother’s. And between the gold, the lace, the silk in the trunk. Just….consider. We could steal other things while we’re at it. A royal treasure room has a lot more than a carriage compartment.”

~~

Second part, later on in the same scene:

~~

M looked up at the overcast sky and sighed. She didn’t know how to describe the feel of the comb. The way the surface felt on her fingertips. How it made her think of home, not in a wet cave sense, or a wooden lean-to, but a place of dark warmth. Of family, or rather, a family that was more than just her and J. It felt like history, and like a legacy she and J had no one to pass on to, but it mattered all the same. 

There was another feeling too, behind the incessant need. A hope for wealth. Security. A dream of J, surrounded with enough nettle that she’d never have to worry again. He could go anywhere. Do anything. Never needing to worry about his next reaction, because he’d always have his tea.

 

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, kais said:

You helped me solve a major plot issue and I think everything will run much more smoothly now!

Well, shucks. It's all part of the service ;) 

14 hours ago, kais said:

They were getting by for now. Next year? The year after?

This is nicely judged, I think. Fear for the future is something that everyone can relate to.

14 hours ago, kais said:

It felt like history, and like a legacy she and J had no one to pass on to, but it mattered all the same. 

I liked this line when I encounter it in the Week 3 sub. I can relate to it.

14 hours ago, kais said:

Security.

Yes.

Edited by Robinski
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