Snakenaps

4/20/2020 - Name of the King Ch. 1 - 4338 words - Sub 1

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This is my political intrigue adult fantasy that I'm looking for any and all comments and opinions on. This is Draft Two, but there is still a lot that needs to be fixed before I can call this anywhere near a polished manuscript. I don't expect to be able to post all the chapters, since I am hoping to get enough feedback from my local readers to begin revising Draft Three in June. If anyone is curious and wants to read the full manuscript or simply read ahead, DM me. 

 

I'll put the website link at the beginning of each chapter, which is essentially a link to my non-spoiler story Bible. Hopefully, you won't need it, but as time passes, having access to quick character bios might be helpful. 

 

Please tear it to shreds. 

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I'm fascinated by the world you created, and am excited for the intrigue and rebels you set up for! However, I think the chapter is backwards. I can see what you were going for-- gradually introduce the characters and the world and build up to the reveal about the sister joining the rebels. Unfortunately, I found myself loosing interest as I read. The world was interesting, but that wasn't enough to really draw me in. There wasn't a lot of tension, and I felt like I was perpetually waiting for something to happen. As you'll see below in my as I read comments,  there were a lot of places where I felt like I was loosing interest or my attention was wandering. I think flipping the chapter would fix that. 

I would've liked the chapter better if it opened with the sister announcing she was joining the resistance. I don't really need a lot of context ahead of time, and once I knew the mc's sister was joining rebels and the mc thought it was a Bad Idea, then I would've been curious about why there were rebels and how justified their cause was. I would've been more engaged when I finally learned why they were rebelling. 

Then, maybe instead of having the mc walking home from work, she could be walking too work. She would have a good reason to be jumpy when she saw the guards, and there would be lots of tension to keep me engaged on the walk. It would feel like it had more of a purpose than just world-building. 

The scene at work would also be more tense and more interesting. She could be struggling to focus on cooking while dealing with the news that her sister was joining what she thinks of as a doomed resistance. 

As I read:

"The knife...garlic into the hot pan." Murder? Oh, cooking. You have my attention. 

"when she noticed saw those ears" saw or noticed?

"I need to out to" Missing words? There will probably be twenty hundred sentences with missing words in my sub this week. 

"Rav... forbid..." Who or what is this?

"Rav...an statue" Rav... must be a religion or deity? 

"make it through whatever..." Makes me think they won't all make it through the book.

End of scene: I didn't quite get it until the end, but C needed I to find the names because asking them again would've been a mistake C couldn't admit to? 

There was some nice detail in the scene, but I kept waiting for something that felt significant to happen and it didn't. It just felt like a regular day in the kitchen.

"...to see if the charms...had held...moths had eaten..." Nice world building detail.

"The main thoroughfares...king's soldiers..." I felt like I was missing information here, with the amount of words given to them, I wanted to come back knowing more, how I should feel about them.

"A nobody to a..." This walk is getting long and nothing is happening. 

"...at the thought of a Third..." As this scene winds down, I'm feeling it's sole purpose was to tell us about the world. Having a walk full of world building can work, but most of the time, at least for me, it needs to come after something significant has happened, and nothing out of the ordinary has really happened yet. So far, it feels like this could be any day in I's life.

"tutting halfheartedly at the mound of wet clothes..." Is something happening now? Is the brother going to be missing? The house empty?

"had gone sea slug hunting..." Now I want to see a sea slug!

"Lcrowded, his round beaming..." So he is fine and here. OK, so the inciting incident hasn't happened yet. Also, I think there might be a missing word. 

"...her shoulder blades." I like how you worked the description in here!

"calloused hands...small scars from iron burns..." Interesting! These details are well described and have me curious. 

"There was nothing they wouldn't do for each other." This line has me thinking there will be some tough decisions about what they will and won't do for each other. 

"New fishing regulations..." OK, I get this king is making things tough for all kinds of business. 

"...are going to join the Revolutionaries..." I feel like this should be the start of the chapter. See my overall note at the begining.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hello!

1) Excellent first line. 

2) This may have been intentional, but here there was a lot of showing, and honestly, I'm not invested in I (the character, not a type) enough to care yet. 

3) The same applies for her sisters joining. I understand that people in world would care, but I don't. I don't see what difference this BK matters at this point. They all seem fine. 

4) In war or right after a war, wouldn't there be shortages of just about everything? the restaurant seems fine, and the family might lack a little, but they still have firewood, water that can easily be purified and enough supplies to make food on a consistent basis. 

Please tell me if any of my critiques are unfounded. 

Edited by Turin Turambar
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Thank you, @shatteredsmooth ! 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

there were a lot of places where I felt like I was loosing interest or my attention was wandering. I think flipping the chapter would fix that. 

This chapter is definitely broken, and I agree heartily on the lack of tension. This is not a chapter that would get a stranger to pick up the book. The problem is, this chapter still reflects when I thought I was going to write a slice-of-life, when the Revolutionaries didn't even exist. Frankly, had I tried to still write a slice-of-life, I think it would have been majorly boring. There's still a lot of that reflected here that I need to fix. 

I hadn't thought about flipping the chapter. @Mandamon suggested that I start the book at Chapter 2 and slip in the information given in Chapter 1 in other places. I think I'll try both of these ideas in June when I start Draft Three, and see if one of those solves the issues, or inspires a new solution. 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"The knife...garlic into the hot pan." Murder? Oh, cooking. You have my attention. 

Perfect, this was exactly what I was looking for.

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"when she noticed saw those ears" saw or noticed?

"I need to out to" Missing words? There will probably be twenty hundred sentences with missing words in my sub this week.

There are so many mistakes like these. My sister was laughing her rump off because I drop words constantly from typing too fast, or I start a sentence and then not finish it. I had thought I had gotten most of these, but according to my sister, nowhere even close. This is why I just needed to submit this draft with all of its many flaws - because I have been staring at it for so long I'm cross-eyed and can't even notice when I'm dropping words and sentences. Who knows what major mistakes I'm missing?

 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"Rav...an statue" Rav... must be a religion or deity? 

Correct assumption! This will be explored more in Chapter 3. 

 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"had gone sea slug hunting..." Now I want to see a sea slug!

This was actually based on my own experience in Hawaii, where I got to hold a five inch long sea slug. It felt like a handful of cold snot. 

 

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"There was nothing they wouldn't do for each other." This line has me thinking there will be some tough decisions about what they will and won't do for each other.

Heh heh heh.

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"New fishing regulations..." OK, I get this king is making things tough for all kinds of business. 

Yes, and have you have pointed out, I tell a lot about how the BK makes business hard, but I don't show it. This is a repeated problem throughout the course of the book, where I say how bad everyone considers the new monarchy, but I don't show it. This is one of the main problems with this chapter...it feels like any other day. 

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Thank you, @Turin Turambar ! I'm going to correct you on something you said right out of the gate:

2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

Please tell me if any of my critiques are unfounded. 

None of your critiques are ever unfounded. Any and all opinions and comments that you give me are worth their weight in gold. Everything you say is a reflection of the book. If you like something? Excellent! If you are confused about something? It makes me check if I want you to be confused, or if a part is poorly explained. If you dislike something? Sweet! That means something is broken and I need to go fix it - or I've written some monster well. Everything you say has value. 

 

2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

1) Excellent first line. 

I'm glad that you and Shatteredsmooth liked it, because this means I'm better at writing first lines than I thought! 

 

2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) This may have been intentional, but here there was a lot of showing, and honestly, I'm not invested in I (the character, not a type) enough to care yet.

Do you mean showing or telling? As for showing, I agree that pages go by without anything good happening until the very end. Also, if I is a hard acronym, Ir might work better.  

As for telling, that's unintentional and intentional. There is a lot of telling, and this is mostly a reflection of scenes that I know are broken, or that are newer and I'm testing out. I plan to remove most if not all of the tellling, possibly by adding more scenes, rewriting scenes, or taking away. 

I learned the hard way on Draft One about sometimes its better to lay a solid foundation first before adding beauty, because I removed more than 10,000 words of a romantic subplot that was so, so bad. Like, dumpster fire garbage bad. Oh, gods above, how I cringe. 

If you see tells, first, feel free to point out any particular bad ones, to make sure I get rid of them in Draft Three. Second, consider whether or not what I am telling you is interesting, or not so great. For instance, I say that the BK changed a lot of the economy with tariffs and such, but I might decide to ramp up tension in Draft Three by removing the tariff tells and replacing them with shows of...something terrible, I don't know. Actually, it is the former king who will probably see this occur, as he undermines this draft. He didn't exist in the first draft, so I'm test driving him (poorly) here. 

2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

3) The same applies for her sisters joining. I understand that people in world would care, but I don't. I don't see what difference this BK matters at this point. They all seem fine. 

4) In war or right after a war, wouldn't there be shortages of just about everything? the restaurant seems fine, and the family might lack a little, but they still have firewood, water that can easily be purified and enough supplies to make food on a consistent basis. 

This is a major problem that is consistent throughout the draft, and a poor reflection of when I was writing a happy-go-lucky, massively boring slice-of-life. There is so much more tension I can add through shortages and such. And as a chef, Ir would definitely notice and feel shortages more than others might. These shortages might be being fixed, they might be getting worse, but there is little after affect feel from the war.

For instance, T, Sue's husband, is a blacksmith, but why is there not a shortage of iron from making weapons? There are so many ways I can considerably worsen the circumstances for the characters, and something that I need to do. 

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1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

My sister was laughing her rump off because I drop words constantly from typing too fast, or I start a sentence and then not finish it. I had thought I had gotten most of these, but according to my sister, nowhere even close

I leave out so many words when I write, and I almost never see them unless someone points them out. I also add apostrophe's where they don't belong. :rolleyes:

I don't know what program you write in, but I've noticed Google docs actually catches a good amount of the words I tend to leave out where Microsoft word (or at least the version of it that I have) does not. I like writing in Word, but I'm trying to make a habit of uploading things to Google docs just to run a spelling/grammar check. 

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1 minute ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I leave out so many words when I write, and I almost never see them unless someone points them out. I also add apostrophe's where they don't belong. :rolleyes:

I don't know what program you write in, but I've noticed Google docs actually catches a good amount of the words I tend to leave out where Microsoft word (or at least the version of it that I have) does not. I like writing in Word, but I'm trying to make a habit of uploading things to Google docs just to run a spelling/grammar check. 

I've been using Scrivener. I tend to be very organized because otherwise I forget everything, and I like how I can use keywords and shift things around easily. However, it doesn't have a grammar check. I like the idea of using Google Docs as a spelling and grammar check!

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You've got my LBLs so I'm mainly going to respond to what others have said.

I agree with @shatteredsmooth that flipping the chapter might give it some more expediency, since we now have the conflict of her sister joining the resistance. However (having read ahead), I still think starting with the second chapter might work better.

I do really like that this chapter gives us a lot of worldbuilding, because I like that sort of thing, but it also carries it's own problems. You might have noticed in my LBLs that I start questioning some of the aspects immediately, like how all the different species live together, how different sized creatures work, ect. Getting us involved with a character and an conflict is a easy way to make a reader gloss over some of those problems. Harry Potter is an excellent example of this. Rowling (to my mind) is really bad at worldbuilding, but her characters make up for it (all other problems aside).

The other big issue I had with this (and it's carried through into later chapters) Is that there's no sense of danger in the city. Like @Turin Turambar says, there should be shortages. Especially with everything going on right now, it's easy to see that a restaurant is not going to be doing any sort of normal business. They won't be just ordering supplies like normal. Customers may or may not be coming in.

Which brings me to the last point. What was the government before the takeover? From what I can tell, it was another monarchy, which has its own host of problems. The people living in this time may even have gone through another upheaval like this if there was a previous war. They probably won't care about extra restrictions and regulations on things unless it personally affects them. A relative or friend in prison or their head on a pike? That would get someone's attention. Extra regulations on fishing fleets? Probably don't care, unless it makes it hard to get fish for the restaurant, and that's still pretty weak conflict.

I think this has a lot of potential, but just needs some tightening up.

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Overall

Some event swapping might be in order. It reads clearly and the family voices are distinct. I liked the cooking scene a lot, and felt like it gave flavor to the world. However, I think you should consider moving the declaration to join the rebellion right after the cooking scene, then let that explode, then let us learn about the family while they explode. Right now the (potentially?) inciting incident comes too late. The family is hard to stick with, as there are so many of them, and there is no urgency to the world. I'm invested in our MC, and a little bit in the world, but not the plot, as I can't yet identify what it is. Without knowing what the plot is, I don't know what elements of the story to dig into. That makes it hard not to skim.

11 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I agree with @shatteredsmooth that flipping the chapter might give it some more expediency, since we now have the conflict of her sister joining the resistance. However (having read ahead), I still think starting with the second chapter might work better.

I see we all agree. I've not read chapter two (obviously), but generally, most new writers find they can cut their first chapter. 

11 hours ago, Mandamon said:

ike how all the different species live together, how different sized creatures work,

Yes! I was wondering this too but of course, because it's me, I thought about it from the sex side

11 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Is that there's no sense of danger in the city.

Seconded.

I think this chapter is an excellent outline of parts of the world and your MC's family. Might be better to shelve it though, and leave this information in places throughout the larger narrative. 

 

Also, I might be interested in an alpha read swap soon, if you want a full document crit? Let me know!

 

As I go

- pg 1: coyotes? Are...are these furries? IS THIS FURRY FICTION??

- pg 1: I need you to out to the yard and <-- typo in there

- pg 2: a dragon cooking food is adorable and I love it

- pg 4: redundancy on 'chill,' bottom of page four

- pg 5: the unicorn with yellow eyes and dragon teeth <-- that sure is an image! Makes me think of the very excellent book SPACE UNICORN BLUES

- pg 6: I don't mind slice of life in fantasy, and the cooking scene was fun, but here on page six I'm getting antsy. What is the plot? Where is the inciting incident? 

- pg 7: would sleep through the night <-- as a parent, I feel this so hard

- pg 9: too many family member introductions. They're all blurring together. I will not be able to keep track of any of them save the sister

- pg 10: up to here, this has read as a (very well done) character and world sketch. It doesn't read like a first chapter to a book, more, an authorial exercise

- pg 11: more worldbuilding talk, but it's hard to stay focused. I don't have any stakes, no sense of urgency, no plot. I don't know what to focus on, or why I care about the worldbuilding because I'm floundering for the why's of the book. I have some decent empathy for our MC, and I like her family. Are they in danger? Is the MC in danger? Is there war that threatens the family immediately??

- not page related: I've always wondered...can these different species interbreed? Because a unicorn and a dragon have to be different species, right??

- pg 13: okay, so it looks like the sister desire to join the revolution is the inciting incident? If this came say, after the cooking scene, and we dropped in here and then got some family backstory, that would make it a lot more dynamic. This comes too late.

- pg 14: our MC can see the future??

 

 

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I've read everyone's comments and I'll reply tomorrow evening or Thursday morning P.S.T.! But I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate all of your comments and that this really warms my heart! My main takeaway is that - at least in chapter one - my foundation is there even if everything needs a hearty cleaning and tightening up. 

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Knowing that I was reading the first chapter of a political fantasy, I was ready for a slow introduction and a gradual pull though the world. I had no issues with the structure or pacing, but I love a classic epic so that may be my bias. :-)

A few small things:

Paragraph two, last sentence. This sentence is a little laggy, might be clearer with rephrasing and simplifying. Ie: "it had been a difficult four years for C... but with the war over buisness was finnaly picking back up." You mention the 6 month time line repeatedly later so the info won't be lost.

About 10% just before the mention of the dragon: "in attempts to let some of the kitchen's out..." kitchen's heat?

Around 30%; "Normally she didn't mind slipping down..." normally makes me think that your about to explain an exception to her preference. I get the idea of this section but it seems a little confused. 

I agree with previous comments that after hearing about sea slugs I was wanting to see her brother with one, or to know why he would want them. Some cultures eat seaslug innards so I was waiting to see of that's what was going on :-)

A very pleasant read, thanks for sharing!

 

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Posted (edited)

I agree that your opening line is great but that it does need to be changed. For me, other than learning MC has the ability to learn names, her work place doesn't tell us much versus the scene with her family. Which tells us alot! Also, was I the only who missed that C while the characters around the MC aren't human, I don't have a description of her as human or not? If I missed it sorry. :unsure:

 

And as a fan of history, I find it hard to believe there would be rebels to a new ruler when they don't like their old one "whether he treats Pem....was conquered.” In most cases their indifferent (because the war ended) or they favored one side to win (or had hoped for another monarchy to move in). Also, I find that major changes in ruling only happen when there is no other choice or when a monarchy loses control of its land/population (think USA revolutionary war, French Revolutionary war etc). So far, we have only heard that the BK is ambitious, but nothing about his people, where they came from, their culture or how they rule. If the BK took over and then his people were forcing new cultures or religion, I can see an uproar, but in the first chapter I don't see a need to join the rebels and leave your children parentless other than the other king lost and the sister doesn't like change.
 

Edited by CherishLarain
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On 4/21/2020 at 6:22 AM, Mandamon said:

I agree with @shatteredsmooth that flipping the chapter might give it some more expediency, since we now have the conflict of her sister joining the resistance. However (having read ahead), I still think starting with the second chapter might work better.

I'm definitely going to test drive both in June and figure out which one is best, or try another solution these might inspire.

On 4/21/2020 at 6:22 AM, Mandamon said:

You might have noticed in my LBLs that I start questioning some of the aspects immediately, like how all the different species live together, how different sized creatures work, ect.

Which is really good for me. It'll help me shore up any worldbuilding holes. Before I knew what worldbuilding disease was, I spent more than two years razing my original ideas and developing the entire world before outlining. It was pure Katie overthinking for two years. I have so many design sketches for toilets. I am not kidding. I have a good dozen sketchbooks filled with concepts. And then there's the website, which has over 130 pages at this point.

I get worldbuilding disease something terrible.

But at the same time, the simple fact is, this world does begin to split apart if looked at too closely because it is a civilization run by talking mythological creatures and animals. It's like Brandon says, it's all smoke and mirrors. I need to make sure that it appears like everything works, even if it is fundamentally flawed.  

On 4/21/2020 at 6:22 AM, Mandamon said:

The other big issue I had with this (and it's carried through into later chapters) Is that there's no sense of danger in the city. Like @Turin Turambar says, there should be shortages. Especially with everything going on right now, it's easy to see that a restaurant is not going to be doing any sort of normal business. They won't be just ordering supplies like normal. Customers may or may not be coming in.

Which brings me to the last point. What was the government before the takeover? From what I can tell, it was another monarchy, which has its own host of problems. The people living in this time may even have gone through another upheaval like this if there was a previous war. They probably won't care about extra restrictions and regulations on things unless it personally affects them. A relative or friend in prison or their head on a pike? That would get someone's attention. Extra regulations on fishing fleets? Probably don't care, unless it makes it hard to get fish for the restaurant, and that's still pretty weak conflict.

I don't think a single person hasn't told me about the lack of danger at this point, which is excellent. You're all helping me focus on what problems the city should be having and what is not there. The city didn't make the shift from slice-of-life to political intrigue well. Stories run on conflict, and luckily, I have a lot of potential to stir up more. Mwahahaha!

I'm going to make a fictional city miserable.

The previous monarchy is new to this draft and...it does not work. I tried to make it a driving force for one of the reasons why the Revolutionaries want to form a parliamentary system. However, all it does is undermine the BK. 

The Revolutionaries are also new to this draft (I pretty much switched out a poorly written romance for rebels) and they are constantly mentioned but don't do enough. There needs to be some serious arson, destruction, sabotage, etc. 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:22 AM, Mandamon said:

I think this has a lot of potential, but just needs some tightening up.

Honestly, this is probably what I needed to hear the most. Logically, I know this. I tell myself this so often. Emotionally, I have those days where I want to toss it in the trash. Then again, who doesn't?

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Thank you @kais ! I hope I clear up a little of the worldbuilding below. The fact that you are actually asking these questions makes me aware of them as reader promises for answers. I need to make sure I answer them in the book. 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

It reads clearly and the family voices are distinct.

Yes! Success! The family members sounding the same was a major problem in the first draft. 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

Yes! I was wondering this too but of course, because it's me, I thought about it from the sex side

There are solid rules - both biologically and socially - regarding this. 

Spoiler

In fact, one of the characters is a half breed. This is something that I need to bring up in the book more. There isn't enough of a reaction when it is discovered.

Only certain species are able to mate and have children - which are usually sterile. If you are really curious, you can read more about it here, or skim down to where I talk about it more. For the most part, these are hidden rules for the world. 

 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

I think this chapter is an excellent outline of parts of the world and your MC's family. Might be better to shelve it though, and leave this information in places throughout the larger narrative.

Agreed. I think the most important take away for me is that the characters are able to stand on their own this time. 

 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- pg 1: coyotes? Are...are these furries? IS THIS FURRY FICTION??

Mostly no, but also yes. It depends on how you classify a furry. If you classify a furry as any creature with an animal head and human body, technically, yes. If you classify a furry as a creature with an animal head and a human body, that typically has human hair and exhibits unrealistic colors, no. There are definitely no sexy anthro scenes, sorry. There are no sexy scenes at all. I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you, @kais. Last draft proved I can't write romance or even flirting. At all. *shutters*

This world has a lot of mythological creatures. Animal-headed humans appear in mythologies all around the world, from Egyptian to Celtic to Indian to Chinese and more. Minotaurs like C's best friend/ co-worker G. These various mythologies are why therios like C appear, although I did take liberties by opening it up to almost any specie of animal.

You will notice that I refer to C has a "therio." I believe it is Chapter 4 that I refer to G as a therio as well. I very specifically use "therio" or "theriomorphic" throughout the book. It isn't because I'm trying to be special. I can't use the word "anthropomorphic" because that word refers to any animal with human-like traits, like conversing. Considering that a good chunk of the cast are literally talking animals...anthropomorphic does not work. Unless you're human, everyone is technically an anthro. Theriomorphic is a word that typically refers to gods that have an animal form...but can also refer to gods who are part animal, part human. I just took out the god part.

However, therio does not automatically mean furry in this world. A theriomorphic creature is any creature that is a cross between a human and one or more creatures. A huge chunk of mythological creatures have human parts, so I pushed them all under the therio category. Animal-headed humans, like C, or a minotaur like G, are therios, as well as harpies, sphinxes, centaurs, and more. 

As my sister puts it, "You can call them whatever you want, Katie, but when I look at C, I only think furry." I'm quite fine with hitting that market. Girls of Paper and Fire managed to do it, so why can't I?  

My painting of C, which can be found on the website on her bio:

Spoiler

5ea1412e3b865_19828Carcella.thumb.jpg.a482eeb9a8c16af5fe0cb41fef3a74a4.jpg

 

(If any one is curious, no, I am not a furry.)

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- pg 5: the unicorn with yellow eyes and dragon teeth <-- that sure is an image! Makes me think of the very excellent book SPACE UNICORN BLUES

I have never heard of this book! Something new to read!

I'm glad this makes an image, because I did not foreshadow this at all first draft. 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

pg 9: too many family member introductions. They're all blurring together. I will not be able to keep track of any of them save the sister

This has been a concern from day one with this chapter, and why I have rewritten it so many times. I'm hoping that by shifting this chapter around and slipping in this information more slowly, it will work better.

If you think it is bad now, though, you should have read Draft One when absolutely none of the family members had enough personality. It was...bad. So bad. My sister had some very scathing things to say about how nobody had any personality and she couldn't tell them apart. I'm hoping that once introduced slowly, the characters will be memorable.

But introducing nine characters and name dropping three more in the first chapter (technically introducing eleven if you could the two Ir name knows)? I knew that wasn't going to work from the get-go. I needed experienced eyes to show me some methods on how to turn this beginning into something not so...overwhelming but blah. Which is where you all come in, thankfully!!!

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- pg 10: up to here, this has read as a (very well done) character and world sketch. It doesn't read like a first chapter to a book, more, an authorial exercise

Considering how many times I have rewritten this, it definitely has become an authorial exercise. 

It's turned into a very helpful exercise to figure out what each character believes in regards to the war and the BK.

 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- not page related: I've always wondered...can these different species interbreed? Because a unicorn and a dragon have to be different species, right??

I actually have a page about this. I'll summarize: yes and no. A unicorn and a dragon cannot interbreed, as they are completely separate species and not alike at all. A horse and a unicorn can, but it will likely result in a sterile half breed foal (like mules, hinnies, zedonks, ligers, etc). A griffin cannot breed with either a bird or a cat, while a horse can breed with a pegasus (again, sterile half breed). A minotaur cannot breed with a human or a bull. 

Hanky panky, whether it is between two species that can interbreed or two species that cannot, is considered as bad as bestiary in the province the first book is set in. Different cultures have different opinions in the world. 

I want to state right now, since I know we have a diverse group of writers, that some of the opinions that this society has do not reflect my own opinions. The province the first book is set in is, in many ways, an old-fashioned agricultural society. Homophobia is not uncommon. What is rather horrifying for me, as a teacher with a minor in special education, is how they view people with special needs. These beliefs are not held by other parts of the world, and I plan to explore this in the future two books. 

Spoiler

There is a gender fluid character in the story, who is a favorite of both my sister and my own. Someone will have to make sure that I'm right in referring to them as gender fluid and not non-binary, though. 

 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- pg 13: okay, so it looks like the sister desire to join the revolution is the inciting incident? If this came say, after the cooking scene, and we dropped in here and then got some family backstory, that would make it a lot more dynamic. This comes too late.

...I just realized I have two inciting incidents, one for Plot A and one for Plot B.

Huh. I never thought about it before. 

On 4/21/2020 at 6:10 PM, kais said:

- pg 14: our MC can see the future??

No. Need to fix this! MC only has one magical ability. 

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11 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Knowing that I was reading the first chapter of a political fantasy, I was ready for a slow introduction and a gradual pull though the world. I had no issues with the structure or pacing, but I love a classic epic so that may be my bias. :-)

That means you're my new baseline: if a chapter is too slow for you, I have serious problems. 

Unfortunately, this isn't a classic epic. I don't get 400,000 words to slowly jump into a story. As it is, 126,000 words is longer than I want it to be. 

Thank you for the catches on my grammar and word choice! I am great at typing too fast and not noticing my own mistakes.

On 4/20/2020 at 9:39 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

"had gone sea slug hunting..." Now I want to see a sea slug!

11 hours ago, Sarah B said:

I agree with previous comments that after hearing about sea slugs I was wanting to see her brother with one, or to know why he would want them. Some cultures eat seaslug innards so I was waiting to see of that's what was going on :-)

L probably found a tricolored felimare sea slug (not my photo):

Felimare tricolor - Wikipedia

In Kauai, I got to hold a hexabranchus pulchellus (not my photo):

Hexabranchus pulchellus: dark

I love L, and you guys have given me an idea for a scene that might build a stronger relationship between a couple of characters.

12 hours ago, Sarah B said:

A very pleasant read, thanks for sharing!

Thanks for critiquing! 

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2 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

Also, was I the only who missed that C while the characters around the MC aren't human, I don't have a description of her as human or not?

You were not the first. I need to fix this. 

 

2 hours ago, CherishLarain said:

If the Black King  took over and then his people were forcing new cultures or religion, I can see an uproar, but in the first chapter I don't see a need to join the rebels and leave your children parentless other than the other king lost and the sister doesn't like change

I agree with you. The Revolutionaries are still half-baked, since they are new to this draft. Everything needs twist of the Danger Dial, because nothing feels tense and threatening. 

Also, polite reminder to use acronyms for names. The Revolutionaries and the Black King don't matter too much because the names aren't fictional, although I would still prefer BK for the Black King. When people Google any of these terms, I want it to pull up my website, not here ;) 

@CherishLarain Thank you! You're the topping on the cake on seriously cutting or readjusting this chapter. I appreciate your feedback! 

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Heya, I'll send detailed comments separately, but here are some notes from my perspective.

- Too many character names to track in the first chapter. There must be somewhere between 20 and 30 names and it's way too much to remember. I know you have a massive lexicon of world-building, but putting it all in the first chapter is really hard on the reader, IMO. It starts to get frustrating, and as each new name comes, it sticks out more and more as an issue, and feels less and less natural in narrative, I think. (This comments comes when I was delivered the names of her elder sisters kids).

- I don't think the timeline of the chapter is realistic. My daughter works in hospitality, in a fairly high-end restaurant (front of house). They do not finish work to really late, and the kitchen staff don't get to go home until all the meals are finished, and the kitchen is cleared up. It was presented that Ir did not go home until the were closed, in fact she locked up, I think. So, by the time she gets home, and it's noted that it is dark, all the people in her family will be completely famished and ill have missed their mealtime by a long way. People in hospitality do not eat meals with their family. And she's home before the dock workers? That doesn't scan for me. They would be working in pitch black, which would be very dangerous and counterproductive for lifting heavy stuff, and breakages and damage to cargoes. Okay, I guess maybe they have to work when the ships come in. But what would the young children not be fed at a reasonable time of day? They should be in bed long ago. Summary: I don't believe the timeline.

- I'm a bit thrown off by the mix of characters. So, Ir and her family are 'humans', effectively? But it seems that everyone else is an animal of some sort. That seems odd to me, just somehow not quite right.

- Confused. Pem is the country, and Bor is the old capital, but it still has a palace, which I suppose is okay, and yet it sounds to me like the BK has set up in Bor's palace and not in the main palace in Pem's current capital?

(page 26) - "would rather die than let my children suffer under the BK’s rule" - I'm not really feeling the stakes at this point. All we've really heard about is the BK imposing regulation, rules and restrictions; it's not exactly the Third Reich, East Germany or Stalinist Russia. The sister's reaction seems disproportionate to what I've heard. Surely, the BK has done worse than is coming across, to justify her reaction? --- And while I'm here "I’m not a traitor for fighting for my home" - She's missing the point of the comment, which I thought was clear enough. She will be treated as a traitor by the BK, of course. I think she's smart enough to know that is how the comment was meant, surely.

Overall 

I think I will put summation reaction to the chapters in the forum threads, although I will email you back detailed LBL comments.

I don't mind a slow chapter at the start of a book, although I know a lot of folks don't like it, and it's considered less marketable in some quarters, for some reason. I don't think that's a reason not to do it. I take the example of Fellowship of the Ring, where the start is really slow. Okay, you can say that's the exception, my point is, I don't mind this sort of pace in the start, when I see a world opening up. Now, the narrative itself is a bit slow, and I would suggest that the chapter can be pruned down in length, and made to flow smoother and quicker just be refining the narrative, but I don't think you would so that until a later pass.

There is a lot of detail, a lot. Just because you have a whole encyclopaedic wiki of information, you really don't--and I think shouldn't--be tempted to cram so much into the first chapter. It's too much like a history lesson to me. I don't mind some of that detail, but there is a fair amount that can be cut. I mean, there are lots of darlings in this first chapter, I think that's clear to see.

I like the emotional arc of the chapter, there is much tension and angst in the last scene, which I think blew up really well and left me at the end of the chapter with some real stakes in terms of what her sister's intentions are. That's fine, but that is going to happen off stage, so I hope that it, or some other inciting incident happens early in Chapter 2 in order to push or pull Ir into action.

Thanks for sharing. I am enjoying plenty about this story so far, and I am intrigued to see how Ir gets drawn into the main plot, as she does not seem to have any special skills, or be in a special position, so that will be interesting.

So far, I am entertained :) 

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Posted (edited)

On 22/04/2020 at 2:10 AM, kais said:

However, I think you should consider moving the declaration to join the rebellion right after the cooking scene, then let that explode, then let us learn about the family while they explode. Right now the (potentially?) inciting incident comes too late. The family is hard to stick with, as there are so many of them, and there is no urgency to the world.

I'm going to disagree with this. If all the world detail came afterwards, for me, it would feel false, as Ir and the family would be all het up about her sister and stressed out, and would not be giving all this nice, rich detail about the world, and stories from the docks, etc.

I agree there is too much detail about the family, but it would be easy enough to trim that down without losing any of the actual information. I think this chapter could remain as is, but easily have 25% of the words cut out, which would make it flow much better.

p.s. Name of the Wind too, very slow at the start, but then... slow all the way through. I see that @Sarah B was in the same column in terms of the pacing, so I make two :) 

Edited by Robinski
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6 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

want to state right now, since I know we have a diverse group of writers, that some of the opinions that this society has do not reflect my own opinions.

Ah, we have dealt with this a LOT on the forum. You can totally write those kind of characters, the trick is to make sure either the narrative or authorial voice clearly rebuts them. It’s a fine line to walk for sure, but we are here to help!

 

6 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

There is a gender fluid character in the story, who is a favorite of both my sister and my own. Someone will have to make sure that I'm right in referring to them as gender fluid and not non-binary, though. 

Two things here: first one is that gender fluid is a type of nonbinary. You may want to have a poke at the definitions so we better know what to read for. I find this image very useful. 
 

second, when writing outside your lane (for a marginalized identity) what you really want is a sensitivity reader. Not a crit group. These are people paid to do just what you noted above- give expert, lived advice to make a character more authentic. They also mean you aren’t asking for emotional labor from marginalized people, though in this instance, as far as I know we don’t have any gender fluid people on the board right now. 

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2 hours ago, kais said:

Ah, we have dealt with this a LOT on the forum. You can totally write those kind of characters, the trick is to make sure either the narrative or authorial voice clearly rebuts them. It’s a fine line to walk for sure, but we are here to help!

 

Two things here: first one is that gender fluid is a type of nonbinary. You may want to have a poke at the definitions so we better know what to read for. I find this image very useful. 
 

second, when writing outside your lane (for a marginalized identity) what you really want is a sensitivity reader. Not a crit group. These are people paid to do just what you noted above- give expert, lived advice to make a character more authentic. They also mean you aren’t asking for emotional labor from marginalized people, though in this instance, as far as I know we don’t have any gender fluid people on the board right now. 

Oh, man! This image is awesome! Thank you! That's exactly what I needed. I can be this forum's horse friend, if everyone else can get me up to speed on everything LGBTQ+. 

I'll definitely look into a sensitivity reader. W's gender identity isn't something I dive into too deeply, but it is something I want to do right. 

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@Snakenaps Dang! I knew something felt wrong when I submitted my first comments. I will go in and edit them. Thanks for letting me know!

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8 minutes ago, CherishLarain said:

@Snakenaps Dang! I knew something felt wrong when I submitted my first comments. I will go in and edit them. Thanks for letting me know!

No worries! Mistakes happen all the time! 

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Oh, I just wanted to put these here, because (per my LBL comments) these are what came to my mind while reading, in the best way possible. 

The Blacksad books are phenomenal, gumshoe stories in period ~50s/60s, with the amount of 'PC' that goes with that, as you may see from the picture.

5ea279ac21acf_RichardScarrysTheGreatPieRobberyandOtherMysteries.jpg.ede0ab6ca0e876ee5f69313fa2acb1c4.jpg  comicblacksad1.jpg.8fc6fa2fc59ee71e1d2a8d9c2bff9c27.jpg

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18 hours ago, Robinski said:

Oh, I just wanted to put these here, because (per my LBL comments) these are what came to my mind while reading, in the best way possible. 

The Blacksad books are phenomenal, gumshoe stories in period ~50s/60s, with the amount of 'PC' that goes with that, as you may see from the picture.

5ea279ac21acf_RichardScarrysTheGreatPieRobberyandOtherMysteries.jpg.ede0ab6ca0e876ee5f69313fa2acb1c4.jpg  comicblacksad1.jpg.8fc6fa2fc59ee71e1d2a8d9c2bff9c27.jpg

Oooh, I haven't heard of Blacksad! It reminds me of Lackadaisy Cats

And I've heard LBL twice now. What does this acronym stand for? 

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1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

What does this acronym stand for? 

LBL = line by line. It's when @Robinski gets into his copyeditor mode

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