kais

04/20/20 - kais - Rosewood Chapter 3+ (L)(N) - 4003 words

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Organizational changes have happened to the draft. Chapter 1 now ends right after M gets pushed from the carriage. There’s a transitional section at the start of chapter 2, which I have included with this sub. Chapter two is that transition section, plus the introduction of J-d, L, H, and has M’s berserker thing. Chapter 2 ends with M passing out right after J-s brings her out of it.

 
Ch 3 is a retooled second half of the old chapter two. I’m specifically looking for whether or not the B plot makes more sense and is more plausible now. Also since it’s chapter three now, I had to throw in the required nudity/partial sex scene, because romance has rules.
 
Here’s hoping this version reads better. All comments welcome!
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There is a lot that reads better. I had no comments about the chapter 2 scene. 

I am confused about the nudity. I get why you want/need to have nudity, but not why S is naked in bed with M, with her breasts in M's face, if M was been unconscious the whole time. If M hadn't been initially pleased about the breasts, I would have been very uncomfortable with the scenario. 

"“Jacks asked me to keep an eye on you.” did he ask her to seduce M? Is S a prostitute J paid to keep an eye on M? Or did he not expect the naked part and S was just hoping to get laid while watching M? 

"The way S’s hips sashayed as she walked made it harder to take another drink." I am enjoying M's reaction even though I am confused about how she ended up in the situation. 

"the I don’t want you hurting people so I’m going to give you what I think you want look" So is the motive "you want wake up murdering people if you wake up with breasts in your face?" But then later it seems clear the M wakes up pretty exhausted, so there wouldn't be a concern. 

 “Once, just once, I want to find you in a forest and not have a naked woman in tow,” But didn't he arrange for S to be there? 

After that, things went smoother. 

"Robbing trains on horseback..." I got a nice wild west image for a second, and even though that isn't what they are doing or where this is going, I think it actually revealed a lot about the world and what stage of development it was in. It gave me a nice point of reference for how this world compares to the history of ours. 

"I think I'm brilliant." I am really liking J in this chapter. 

"We get eyes every import" missing word.

In general, I think the debate about robbing the queendom, running the guild in M's absence, and the stuff about the road and the trains was smoother. I'm still a little skeptical of their plan about road maintenance + illegal tolls, but it was better explained this time.

The switch from not wanting to sleep with the princess to agreeing to it worked better as well.

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I'll take your word that CH. 2 needed to be revamped. I like the whole "give you what you want so you don't kill people" thing.

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Hmmm...I'm still having a big problem with M's motivations. I'm agreeing with pretty much every character except her that what she's planning is a bad idea. Count me as confused along with @shatteredsmooth on how the nudity scene is working.

M seems contradictory in two directions: 

1) She seems to have secret thoughts of wanting the princess, which I'm on board for. This is a romance. However, some of the thoughts seem actually derogatory and she honestly doesn't want the princess. I'm confused.

2) The comb is a really weird hill to die on in discarding everything she's built over the past six months. In part, there's the same confusion with her family. In one breath she wants the comb to remind her, in another, she's boasting how she and J grew up in a cave with no one else. Does she want to remember her family or not? Since this is such a weak point, it makes it very hard to empathize with her in dropping everything to get the comb back.

Like, if she had always pined for her mother and father, struggling to raise J, and then found the comb and an absolutely luscious princess she can't live without, then it would make sense for her to push so hard to drop everything else and go to her (and the comb). Right now it sounds like, "hey, I hate my parents because they left me. Oh, my mother's comb! I must discover its secrets." and "hey a random princess I hate and am robbing." Then. "Oh, she told me something about my mother (who I don't need)! I am going to pursue her!"

On the other hand, I'm starting to like J a lot more for having good ideas and trying to coral his directionless sister. But that also makes me wonder how she ever got the guild together in the first place.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "then there will be, what, fifteen of us and an entire castle of them"
--lol. Glad J is being pragmatic.

pg 2: "I have to have that comb."
--There's more here on why M makes the decision to go off after the princess, but I'm still not convinced. J questions her and doesn't believe, which is good and hangs a lantern on the fact that it's a crazy idea, but I feel like there needs to be a bigger reason than "she has my comb," and she's suddenly missing parents she hasn't seen for thirty years. There's no driving force to make her do something opposite what she's been building for six months. Chasing after the princess might do it, but no one's really admitted than yet.

pg 4: “You, uh. Shaved. You shaved.” 
--legs? armpits? something else? Not that this needs to be spelled out. I'm just wondering why it's so surprising.

pg 4: I don't understand why S is obviously displaying herself, and has tidied up for the occasion, but doesn't want M to look? And what she's doing there in general...

pg 4: “H can practically pick up a horse..."
--Also wondering what this means as a prerequisite for romance.

pg 5: "By now you should know the difference.”
--is there one?

pg 6: "I don’t think you can expect to just walk back into the guild, either."
--also greatly questioning this.

pg 7: “No capes!"
--lol

pg 7: “Have you cased the palace?"
--this is sort of a strange setup. There are many astute objections to M's harebrained plan and not really anything to convince the reader to sympathize with her. She's competent, yes, but I'm wondering if the "proactive" slider is maybe too high and that's what's throwing me off?

pg 8: "The point was, work came first"
--except it doesn't. M is deserting her work to find a comb...

pg 9: "“I volunteer!” a woman behind her called out."
--because of sleeping their way in? 

pg 10: “We are going to steal from a queendom. That is all.”
--I feel like this could be explained a lot better without the overly elaborate plan, or if they just came out and said the plan was a front for M actually sleeping with the princess.

pg 10: "It wasn’t like there was a good option to run things while she was gone"
--this is not convincing me to empathize with M.

pg 11: hmm...okay, now J comes up with the (more) reasonable plan. Which makes M less competent than she was before.

pg 13: "The last thing M wanted was a doe-eyed tease of a woman..."
--There's also some confusion between whether M actually wants the princess or not. She wants the comb, that we know, but half her thoughts are pretending not to like the princess, while these seem more honest, like she actually doesn't want her. Confused.

pg 13: "and a brown-green comb tucked..."
--but why? She's just disparaged the fact that had parents. Why then does she need the comb to remember them?

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I agree with nearly everything @Mandamon says.

Shes not really giving a reason as to NOT sleep with the princess. She just skirts around it and it makes her argument pretty weak.

Also, why does a comb that represents that they HAD a "family" an important motive considering they have already lived their lives and created a life style that fits them? I think the comb needs to have a deeper meaning to Marani. Because I 100% am on everyone elses side on it being a useless comb.

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More comments.

(page 1)

- "we could steal other things" - Yes, this helps with some of my comments before about her motivation, but what does she want from life? Money is not an end in itself. Not a satisfying one.

(page 2)

- "It could be a good training bonding opportunity" - training is a vague concept, I think this idea has to carry more weight. There is a part in Chp.1 where she bemoans the fact that she is barely holding them together as a group, so I think bonding has way more weight and emotional resonance, especially when they get back tot he camp in SHp.2 and people are tearing chunks out of each other (sort of). It just accentuates the whole bonding idea.

- Taking the queendom down does not seem to profit them. back to M's motivation, I need clarity. Maybe she should went to STEAL the whole kingdom. Now, that's a motivation.

(page 5)

- "at least take a few people with you" - So, have they now not had the earlier conversation where M had planned out the assignment and stated that she, J, L and J were going o the city? Confused.

- "I’m taking a leave of absence" - Aw, heck. Im all the confused again. I thought she was going to the city with three others and it was part of the guild branching out and taking over the queendom. Now I feel like the last chapter didn't exist. Honestly? This feels like the sort of significant overcomplicating that I pull with my plotting on a regular basis.

(page 6)

- "we can solve petty road disputes" - When was this ever part of their remit? They were highwaymen, now they are going straight and just being toll collectors. When were they ever constables?

- "What happened to our railroad plan" - What railroad plan? WHAT IS GOING ON?! So, the plan from Chp.2, that's gone now? I can't keep up with these changes.

- "We’d finally have a use for those capes" - How? Don't understand.

(page 8)

- I like the group's reaction better, in particular that H is leading it in this considered sort of way, and I like that they are comfortably off. That's much more convincing.

(page 9)

- "caught a gold ring" - A ring goes on the finger, but L catches a bracelet. Seems to be an inconcisteny.

(page 10)

- "I’m not making requests" - Confused again. I thought she was taking a leave of absence, now, she's back to ordering them around and making it a guild job. I just can't find the consistent line through this chapter.

(page 11)

- "What if we did a hard pivot" - I like much better how this is presented as J's idea.

(page 12)

- "the princess and I have old business" - But she still doesn't know what it is, right?

(page 13)

- "I plan on flat out stealing from the queendom" - But surely this is not a change, she was planning this all along, even thought the main thing she wanted was the comb, wasn't she?

- I like the ending tone of the chapter, but really confused over how we got there.

Overall 

I'm getting pretty confused by the scale of the changes, but I did like the feel of this chapter more, and some of the decision making was clearer. Having said that, M is all over the place--IMO--in terms of her thought process. I really struggled to see the logical through line as to how her motivations turn out. Numerous of my comments in the last chapter apply to this one. I've sent LBLs anyway, not much.

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "kicking broken bits of brick as she went. The broken sole" Not sure if this is repetitive on purpose or on accident.

Chapter 2 revision: I understand M's motivations, and it is clearer there is a plan. I'm still curious to see how M is going to get everyone on board with this. Me, personally, I would not be willing to risk my life for the comb of my friend's dead mother, and I'm not even as morally grey as a highway robber.

Onto Chapter 3:

Pg 2, "a soft, confusing thing": This was not what I was expecting when I saw the (N). 

Pg 2, "It was not the strangest way she’d ever woken up": I am instantly curious about the other times. 

Pg 2, "J asked me to keep an eye on you.": Ah, yes, because keeping an eye on someone equals smothering them with breasts. That's how I wake my friends, what about you?

Pg 3, " It wasn’t like S hadn’t seen her naked before.": Okay, so they have a relationship where it wouldn't be completely inappropriate to smother someone awake with boobs (can I say that on this forum????). I'd rather have a former/current(?) lover wake me up that way than someone I've never had a relationship with. This scene could easily be creepy, if not horrifying, if played differently.

Pg 4, "M swallowed a too-large mouthful of water and coughed." Heh, heh, heh.

Pg 4, "Last month you said I snored too loudly." Getting woken up by one completely naked ex-girlfriend...normally I'd question it, but for a fluff romance, I'll happily go along.

Pg 4, "J couldn’t just hang around.": So then J asked S, ex-girlfriend. Worse people to ask, I'm sure. Somehow I don't think J thought S would wake up his sister in such a spectacular way.

Pg 4, "I’m going to find food": Since S said J was getting food, I am assuming M is saying this because not only does she want food, but she wants to talk to her brother.

Pg 5, " coal-black gelding": Horse! Katie's happy.

Pg 5, "I want to find you in a forest and not have a naked woman in tow," So S doesn't usually strip for ex-girlfriends? I was thinking that this whole walking around in her birthday suit was just something that S did. 

Pg 6, "M wasn’t exactly sure how that would happen." By flirting with a certain princess, of course ;)

Pg 7, "No capes!" Edna Mode would be proud.  Watch The Incredibles' Edna, Get An Epic Fashion Tribute

Pg 7, "I’m going to drop a worm on your face." Better than shoving her pillow full of horse manure. 

Pg 8, "I am not doing this to get into a royal bedroom!" No, that's just a bonus. 

Pg 8, "That sounded like a mixture of B.S. and fear." To me, it sounds logical. I'm fine with an unreliable narrator, though. Unreliable narrators always make me look a little closer at a story to see what is actually going on.

Pg 9, "Would she have to beat sense into every single one of them?": I mean, possibly? Their arguments are stronger than hers in my opinion. With six months of leadership under her belt, she lacks the loyalty and trust six years could bring.

Pg 9, " Follow you forever and pledge life debts and whatnot?" Yup, M is definitely an unreliable narrator. This strikes me as a little naive for someone who is twenty years older than me and has been living as a thief and such for the majority of her life. I'm taking this as sarcasm, that she knows better, and is rolling her eyes internally at her group. 

Pg 9, "Even with the fifteen of us.": An army might be able to do the job, but not fifteen. I agree with Ja.

Pg 10, "Why don’t you just sleep your way in?" Does she have a habit of doing this? Otherwise I find it an odd remark from H. From Ja, I'll take it, because he's just a jerk. H actually seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Is her best strength really her ability to sleep around? Not cleverness? Stubbornness? Invulnerability?

Pg 11, "“But if you get to see up her skirt," I feel like I expected that this would come from Ja's mouth, not H's. Obviously I got a misread on his character. 

Pg 11, " into a horse watering trough," Since water troughs are common, I'd either cut "horse" or switch it to "horse's". This is something so minor it doesn't even matter, though.

Pg 11, " Take the blackberries out of the whole thing." Good luck with that. Removing blackberry bushes is a pain in the patooty. I feel incredibly bad for the poor souls put in charge of that.

Pg 11, "Prune the blackberries." Wait, are we completely removing the bushes or just cutting them back?

Pg 12, " We get eyes every import and export to the country.." I'm glad J stepped in, because I was having a very hard time swallowing this plan.

Pg 13, "I am very charming.”: Ah, no wonder H and Ja mentioned her sleeping with the princess. Because apparently seducing someone is her plan.

Pg 13, " If they thought [banging] was all she needed": Well, she isn't exactly proving them wrong with letting her hair down and being seductive. 

Pg 14, " I’m will go" Do you mean, "I'll go?" or "I'm willing to go?" 

I'm chomping at the bit for this to get rolling and for some true shenanigans to get started! 

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1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

That's how I wake my friends, what about you?

*coughs*

1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

So S doesn't usually strip for ex-girlfriends? I was thinking that this whole walking around in her birthday suit was just something that S did

I've edited this quite a bit, and will probably resub this small section. I needed S to have a bit more backstory, especially in terms of why she is acting so smug-naked, which is 100% a mood.

1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

This strikes me as a little naive for someone who is twenty years older than me and has been living as a thief and such for the majority of her life.

This is a really good point. I've changed the line, because I think it ages M down too much.

1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

"Prune the blackberries." Wait, are we completely removing the bushes or just cutting them back?

This whole section has been cut!

1 hour ago, Snakenaps said:

I'm chomping at the bit for this to get rolling and for some true shenanigans to get started! 

Soon! We have to hit the ole quintessential tavern scene first and check off our 'crossdressing princess' trope.

 

Thank you, @Snakenaps! Your crits are always such a delight!

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On 4/22/2020 at 8:40 AM, Robinski said:

Money is not an end in itself. Not a satisfying one.

Mass rewrites completed! Motivation should be much more clear. She wants to keep J alive, and wants the comb. Money is a bonus, because money buys tea

On 4/22/2020 at 8:40 AM, Robinski said:

So, have they now not had the earlier conversation where M had planned out the assignment and stated that she, J, L and J were going o the city? Confused.

Sorry, there was a big rewrite and the chapter got split into two. So this sub is part of the old chapter two, reworked

On 4/22/2020 at 8:40 AM, Robinski said:

But she still doesn't know what it is, right?

Correct. No one does at this stage, save her royal highness

On 4/22/2020 at 8:40 AM, Robinski said:

I like the ending tone of the chapter, but really confused over how we got there.

I think this is a combination of this being half resub, and the motivations not being as clear as they should be. I think I have it all rectified now!

On 4/22/2020 at 8:40 AM, Robinski said:

I've sent LBLs anyway, not much.

I don't think I got LBLs for this one? Or did I already respond? ACK weekends.

Thank you so much for these, @Robinski!! You've really helped me hone M's personality

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Okay, edits that are moving forward, for those following along:

Motivations: it is now very clear that M wants the comb, but that she is aware the guild cannot continue as it is due to the encroaching railroad system (part of which is already running in one of the duchies). Robbing the queendom will get her extra money for J's increasingly expensive tea and opens a potential higher mark for the guild (why not rob ALL the monarchies? BAHAHAHA)

The road toll plot is gone. They're just going to the castle, worm their way in, and steal stuff. 

S's part has been clarified to give her a bit more backstory. She and M are on-again-off-again, but S runs a very successful tavern in one of the duchies and isn't keen on forest life. But she knows M well enough to keep watch while J does errands and such. 

 

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10 minutes ago, kais said:

Okay, edits that are moving forward, for those following along:

These all sound like they will help greatly!

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9 hours ago, kais said:

S's part has been clarified to give her a bit more backstory. She and M are on-again-off-again, but S runs a very successful tavern in one of the duchies and isn't keen on forest life. But she knows M well enough to keep watch while J does errands and such. 

Yeah, this is good background. S felt a bit random before.

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Posted (edited)

Fashionably late as ever…

Overall:

I think the addition you provided to Ch2 goes a long way to addressing M’s motivations. Hooray!

In terms of the scene where M convinces everyone to go along with her new scheme, it’s definitely better, but I’m still not totally convinced because, well, M and J don’t seem a hundred per cent convincing. M is the impetuous character who doesn’t think things through and J is the voice of reason, I’m getting that, but “the rewards will probably be pretty okay” still doesn’t quite convince 15 highwaymen to go along with what M’s planning.

Actually, instead of having M convince the others that “it’s enough,” I wonder if she shouldn’t be making bolder assumptions about how great the AG economy might be to convince them to go along with it. That seems a convincing way for her to double down, and could be a fun source of added tension since now this operation has to live up to some convincing-but-enticing promises that she’s made to a reluctant group.

That said, I definitely found the “let’s go legit” portion of this whole scheme to be more convincing this time around, although it still seems like it would be a HUGE shift (and spread the crew pretty thin). I am surprised however that the princess apparently recognizing M doesn't play a bigger role in M's (and perhaps J's?) motivations, since M doesn't recognize her at all and - from what's been described so far - there's no reason in particular that the princess should recognize her.

As I go:

p3 “They lay on a reed mat…” When I first read this sentence I thought “they” was actually a singular pronoun for S. It’s not until the next sentence that I realised it referred to M and S together.

“‘...in case it drew predators.’ But clearly not the one advancing towards her.” Hah.

I know that this scene is at least partially here because them’s the Rules, but at the moment it’s not quite working for me. S’s relationship to M is clear, her reasoning for waltzing around nude, with what is described as at least some level of deliberate seduction, less so, since she’s doesn’t seem that invested in the results (and lowkey tells M to stop checking her out). M’s comment about being “mollified by breasts” sort of gestures towards S’s motivations here, but I have to admit I don’t buy it. There’s just not enough tension between the two of them to make it work – S doesn’t otherwise seem afraid of her, and they’re not even particularly awkward together.

I’m also having a hard time placing this scene in the larger context of the story. This might be eased a little bit if S is now introduced in the Ch2 setup, but from the way you introduced her by both her full name and her nickname I’m guessing that’s not the case. So, seemingly a new character, one whom, by the end of the chapter, it seems clear we won’t be spending any more time with.

“...but I’m going to drop a worm on your face the next time you fall asleep.” I love J. Also, I kind of want this scene.

“...sounds like you deserting us for a soft bed and a skirt.” So either M gets around a LOT more than her internal narrative here implies, or this is kind of a bizarre conclusion to jump to in the absence of other information. I could see it if the thrust of the comment was more focused on M just abandoning them for an easier life, but H seems to think—or M thinks he thinks—that she’s attracted to the princess. I know that the ribbing is needed to set up M’s decision to seduce her way in later on, but I feel like that’s covered well enough in the dialogue that happens later on in the scene.

The ring at the bottom of p8 becomes a bracelet at the very top of p9.

“Hear me out. I think I’m brilliant.” J is the best. You cannot convince me otherwise.

The latter end of this scene is more convincing, but I still feel J’s dialogue is a little “as you know, Bob” here. Which is to say: it’s more information than J needs to provide to an audience that already knows this stuff to make his point. You could probably pare it back just enough for J to make his rhetorical point, give the readers some idea, and reveal the rest as it needs to be revealed later on.

“I have reason to believe the queen will accommodate…” yeah, see, this is the kind of bombastic declarations I want to see M making more of, earlier in the chapter. “I have reason to believe the queen will accommodate” is WAY more enticing than “Shut up, everyone likes fruit.”

The last line is great, or will be once it’s no longer grammatically broken. Without even having read the comments yet I trust that @Robinski (and probably several of the others) have already pointed that out.

Edited by Silk
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On 5/5/2020 at 9:49 PM, Silk said:

I am surprised however that the princess apparently recognizing M doesn't play a bigger role in M's (and perhaps J's?) motivations, since M doesn't recognize her at all and - from what's been described so far - there's no reason in particular that the princess should recognize her.

This is a really good point. I've gone back into chapter 2 to address this, and have J-S basically shoot down M saying she is suspect. She's only gone by Grey for a few years, and the princess probably just had them investigated. But I'm going to have it crop up again and again, her suspicion around the name thing. 

Also adding another section on it in chapter three:

Spoiler

It made zero sense that the princess was more surprised to see her here, in a tavern, with people who smelled exactly like she did, than robbing her in a stagecoach. Princess N should not have known her name. She not known her location, especially twice in a week. The level of intelligence required for either, and the level of money, far, far outweighed the level of petty thievery M’s highwaymen accomplished.  

Also tweaking a line so N is more specific that she got the details on M from a vision. This will spike M's interest, as it will indicate for a while that N is also touched by magic. This should play well into the additions about J-D being kept around because he also has bits of magic.

Also adding a motivation of M's to be finding out about N's magic (which will then be revealed to be soothsayer magic in chapter 6, which should help move along that side of the plot). Along with that, some new lines to properly define M's magic have been added (since all these changes up the early magic content in the worldbuilding):

Spoiler

If M had any control over the…whatever that made her invulnerable, made her skin burn when a person lied, made her blood a poison, she would definitely not use it to disappear cheap horses in a cheaper stable.

and

Spoiler

“Yeah,” Mi said, and she meant it. For all his aggression and belligerence, J-D was a piece to her puzzle she couldn’t ignore, the same as the princess. Trouble being that J-D had been conscripted, and M was never sure if he stayed out of loyalty, a need for answers, or just plain loneliness.

I think all the other issues were taken care of already in previous edits. Thank you for this, @Silk! Good, solid edits. The beginning of this book is super strong now!

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