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Snakenaps

5/1//2020 - Name of the King - Chapter 4 (3311 words)

19 posts in this topic

Previously: Ir was unable to tell her former mentor/boss that it was her fault that the restaurant both of them loved burnt down. All to save some random unicorn walking down the street.

 

Okay, I don't really need a traditional critique on this chapter for one simple reason:

It's garbage. 

And I don't mean that in a self-pitying way. I mean that this chapter has a scene in it that is one of the two major scenes on my hit list. The interview.

It's bad. It's boring, it's shoe-horned, it is out of character. It is awkward and doesn't fit. 

However, the information that I need to get across in this chapter is very important, and isn't happening here. I'm turning to you all to figure out 1) what does work in this chapter and 2) what ideas you might all have that I might not have thought of. I might not take any of the given solutions, but they might inspire me to reach towards something I wouldn't have thought of.

Here was what I was aiming for: 

What I fail to hint at in this chapter is that Ir can't get a job - because there are people preventing it. That horrible interview scene? That bobcat therio is supposed to be a spy getting information on Ir. The fire? Is getting covered up, the authorities are ignoring it (something I am going to hint at in the last chapter, after Kais and Robinski both mentioned conflict between the employees). 

Potentially I could jump into the main spy's head, but I am wary of POV shifts so early in, beyond the single one with Az. I could make it as simple as a small paragraph or sentence, but I still feel it might be jarring. At the same time, I don't want it to be so obvious that Ir begins picking up signals. I don't want to treat her as a stupid character when the plot demands it (which, I mean, is totally the interview. What interview is so loose and personal???)

I'm in for any and all ideas, even bad ones. Who knows what might spark inspiration?

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Ahem. So, here's me cheating again :ph34r: 

The interview in the shop: it’s six pages long and packed with information that we already know. It’s far too slow. There is no more than a page there of thoughts that are fresh or even relevant to the situation. I think that scene has to be cut severely. [Unreleased material!!] So, I did not get that the jobs were being 'removed' from her. I honestly thought that it was a sign of the hard economic times post invasion that the job market was cutthroat enough for someone else to take the opportunities. One thing that occurs to me would be to have the old lady (I don't think you should lose the interview, just cut it right down, losing the duplicated information) could definitely give her the job. 'Yes, business is good and I really need the help, please start tomorrow. Then she goes tomorrow and she knows she definitely has a job, and the business is gone. It's much more unexpected. And then she sees someone watching the shop, and it's the same creature she thinks she maybe noticed at one of the other places? In other words hang a bit more of a lantern on the fact she is being watched, without coming out a saying it, or necessary having Ir realise it until the next day, or until she goes to the palace, or whatever.

“There had to be an answer out there, somewhere” – I didn’t get a real sense that she was trying to solve everyone’s problems, but only searching for a job for herself.

OVERALL: I thought the opening was slow, and I quickly got frustrated by how quickly Ir got frustrated. The problem however was that the narrative held back that she had been searching for four days. Tweak suggested to move that forward. Almost all the detail in the interview feels like it’s repeated from earlier scenes. Even if it’s not, it’s way too much background detail. This whole scene feels like a darling, but it has pretty much no relevance. I like the scene with Gol, and the one with her father, although it was rather twee in places, for my taste. 

We only get to the important part of the chapter—the part the progresses the plot—right near the end, which she is instructed to attend the palace. This is good stuff, but I just think the chapter is too slow before we get to that part.

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p.s. I would recommend against another POV here. I just think you need slightly stronger hints at her being followed, or her footsteps being dogged.

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Similar thoughts to @Robinski on this one.

The entire interview can pretty much be reduced to "Here are some places she tried to find work and they were full/not hiring/hired but strangely closed the next day/etc."

I also didn't get that the place was closed down deliberately. The bobcat therio said she might have to shut down, so I assumed that was what happened. To get the same idea across, you could say this happened a couple times. Once is strange. Several times is deliberate.

As to her being a spy, absolutely didn't get that either, and in the long run (having read up through chapter 7) does it really matter? The matter of spying on her could easily come up  in chapter 5, if needed. Past that point, I'm not sure why it's necessary. I also don't think you need another POV.

In fact, I think the section beginning with "A messenger arrived, and you’re supposed to report to the palace tomorrow.” could easily be appended to chapter 3, after a couple sentences about how she couldn't find jobs and no one was talking about the fire, and go straight into chapter 5.

In terms of overall structure, this is an excellent lecture Dan Wells gives on the 7-point story:

http://csidemedia.com/gryphonclerks/2012/12/16/dan-wells-seven-point-story-structure/

He gave us a version on the 2015 WXR cruise and it helped me immensely. But the reason I bring it up is that if you map this on your book, your hook is the fire (chapter 2), and the plot turn 1 is what happens at the end of chapter 4 and into chapter 5. The more these points build on each other the better, and it helps to keep the tension up during the story. You can even do mini-7-point structures for all the arcs in your book!

 

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@Robinski and @Mandamon 

This chapter is entirely unnecessary, because what points I need to make can be made succinctly and moved into Chapter 3. But I completely miss making those points in this chapter, which erks me. This chapter just throws the breaks on everything and is dull

2 hours ago, Robinski said:

p.s. I would recommend against another POV here. I just think you need slightly stronger hints at her being followed, or her footsteps being dogged.

Slightly stronger is an understatement. Stronger, without being wordier. I feel like Draft Three is going to be a beautiful exercise in how to get the same content across with less words.

 

5 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

In terms of overall structure, this is an excellent lecture Dan Wells gives on the 7-point story:

http://csidemedia.com/gryphonclerks/2012/12/16/dan-wells-seven-point-story-structure/

He gave us a version on the 2015 WXR cruise and it helped me immensely. But the reason I bring it up is that if you map this on your book, your hook is the fire (chapter 2), and the plot turn 1 is what happens at the end of chapter 4 and into chapter 5. The more these points build on each other the better, and it helps to keep the tension up during the story. You can even do mini-7-point structures for all the arcs in your book!

 

Oooh, I'm only slightly familiar with the 7-point story structure. It was mentioned briefly a few times in...season five?...of Writing Excuses. Name of the King is in a three act story structure, but using mini-7-point structures within each act might keep the pacing issues at a minimum. That's definitely something I'm going to play around with, if not in Name of the King, then in the next book I'm currently researching for. I'm hoping to begin writing that one in August, finish in December, like I did for Name of the King. 

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3 hours ago, Mandamon said:

In terms of overall structure, this is an excellent lecture Dan Wells gives on the 7-point story

Thanks for bringing this up, @Mandamon. I've always shied away from it because it sounded complicated to me, but my plots tend to become (over)complicated all by themselves (oh, sure, you've got nothing to do with it, Robinski). I think I will try this out in the second novella that I'm going to be writing in June (I suspect).

3 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

This chapter just throws the breaks on everything and is dull.

I don't think it needs to be dull. I think you could keep it, cut it hard, and generate a stronger feeling of suspense and tension, through Ir getting paranoid about being followed, or things happening to torment her, almost as if some imaginary 'sprite' of bad luck were tracking her movements and confounding her attempts to help Car ./ her family, etc. Or, if the chapter does go, I hope there is a place in Chp.3 (if that's where refugees will go) for the scene with Gol. There are some very nice emotional notes in that scene, and I feel like it follows on well in the plot, because people in noir films always go to a friend and throw out their wild theory, which the friend scoffs at or tries to talk them down.

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6 minutes ago, Robinski said:
4 hours ago, Mandamon said:

In terms of overall structure, this is an excellent lecture Dan Wells gives on the 7-point story

Thanks for bringing this up, @Mandamon. I've always shied away from it because it sounded complicated to me, but my plots tend to become (over)complicated all by themselves (oh, sure, you've got nothing to do with it, Robinski). I think I will try this out in the second novella that I'm going to be writing in June (I suspect).

It's suuuuuper useful. I used to plot both Seeds and Fruits, though I'm familiar with it enough now to use it more as a check than a driving device.

However you can use it to write entire stories. If you look up the Hollywood formula, that structure is very similar and dovetails nicely into the same mold. It even gives you a solid structure that gets all the emotional beats correct. I may have used that to concept out some completely unrelated romance ideas...

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2 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Thanks for bringing this up, @Mandamon. I've always shied away from it because it sounded complicated to me, but my plots tend to become (over)complicated all by themselves (oh, sure, you've got nothing to do with it, Robinski). I think I will try this out in the second novella that I'm going to be writing in June (I suspect).

I don't think it needs to be dull. I think you could keep it, cut it hard, and generate a stronger feeling of suspense and tension, through Ir getting paranoid about being followed, or things happening to torment her, almost as if some imaginary 'sprite' of bad luck were tracking her movements and confounding her attempts to help Car ./ her family, etc. Or, if the chapter does go, I hope there is a place in Chp.3 (if that's where refugees will go) for the scene with Gol. There are some very nice emotional notes in that scene, and I feel like it follows on well in the plot, because people in noir films always go to a friend and throw out their wild theory, which the friend scoffs at or tries to talk them down.

And Gol definitely would scoff at any paranoia she showed. He would probably remark that she is sounding like her sister Sue. I can already hear that conversation in my head. I can't wait to do Gol's painting. I'm doing a character portrait for everyone because 1) it pushes me to paint different personalities and creatures, 2) it forces me to practice background (belck), and 3) heeeeey, potential future marketing resource. 

What this chapter needs, in my opinion, is the sense that something is wrong but that you can't quit put your finger on. Instead of crashing action, this needs to be the chapter that is that ominous humming in the background. Last week was the last episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the best metaphor/example I can give right now is that I need those three minutes of nothing but ominous music before things go bad. 

2 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

It even gives you a solid structure that gets all the emotional beats correct..

I think, beyond trimming, Draft Three is also going to be a practice in learning to add tension, as I feel like that is a persistent problem stemming from 1) I originally wrote this as a mostly slice-of-life and 2) I passionately hate confrontation, fictional or otherwise. I struggle watching rom coms and the Office just for this reason. I feel like I write tension well when there is something crazy going on, but completely lose sight of it when a restaurant isn't burning down. 

It's becoming very hard to sit on my hands and not revise until June. I will be good

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1 minute ago, Snakenaps said:

I can't wait to do Gol's painting. I'm doing a character portrait for everyone because 1) it pushes me to paint different personalities and creatures, 2) it forces me to practice background (belck), and 3) heeeeey, potential future marketing resource. 

Ooo! Looking forward to these. I love book art (if you hadn't gathered that already...)

2 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

I passionately hate confrontation, fictional or otherwise.

Same. But what I've learned is that when writing a passage like that makes my heart pound like I'm in a real confrontation, then I'm doing it right.

2 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

It's becoming very hard to sit on my hands and not revise until June. I will be good.

Nothing wrong with revising before then! Unless you have a specific reason not to. I can usually tell what is going to be an overall problem in a book (mine or otherwise) from about the first 5-6 chapters.

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Just now, Mandamon said:

Ooo! Looking forward to these. I love book art (if you hadn't gathered that already...)

Same. But what I've learned is that when writing a passage like that makes my heart pound like I'm in a real confrontation, then I'm doing it right.

Nothing wrong with revising before then! Unless you have a specific reason not to. I can usually tell what is going to be an overall problem in a book (mine or otherwise) from about the first 5-6 chapters.

You can see the ones I have done either on my book website or on my Instagram

There is a passage I rewrote at the end of the book that literally made me sick for a couple of days. I consider it a success since my sister (who, granted, has spent multiple years getting to know these characters) cried at the end. 

I specifically not touching it until June because 1) I've been writing so much that my art skills have grown rusty, 2) I want to be able to look at it with fresh eyes, and 3) I know I revise emotionally, instead of looking at the bigger picture. I do well with a plan, so I decided that June 1st I can open Scrivener again and begin cutting.

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3 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

You can see the ones I have done either on my book website or on my Instagram

Those are awesome!

Also, followed back on Instagram. I'm on that the least of the big three, but I jump on every once in a while.

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Just now, Mandamon said:

Those are awesome!

Also, followed back on Instagram. I'm on that the least of the big three, but I jump on every once in a while.

Instagram works very well for me since it portfolios my work a lot better than, say, Twitter. Not to mention, I love looking at other people's art.

I don't post as often as I probably should, but at this point my goal isn't to gain followers on any of my social media accounts. I mean, what's the point in actually learning to market myself if I have nothing to sell (yet)? But it gets me in the habit of posting. I'm still learning Twitter. That platform is the most convoluted, jumbled, over-saturated mess ever. I never thought I would hate something more than Facebook. 

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Hi

I'm only going to agree that this chapter could use a ton of work because you said it first.

1) perhaps try to do the restaurant scene as a flashback? It may be cheap, but perhaps if you slip in some detail about the beginning of the black kings assaults, it may work out.

2) there tends to be - erm - easily available work specifically for desperate women. I think it would be the opposite of the tone of the book right now

3) if the castle would require her, they wouldn't leave a note, they'd send guards, and if she wasn't there, the guards would wait. Probably. 

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I agree a lot of stuff could be taken from this chapter. Mainly, the interview. I felt that unless there is a reason for the woman to be asking those questions to learn stuff we as readers already know, then keep it but find someway to make it raise some red flags (As I reading, I doubled back into the interview when she said, "oh, I MIGHT be here, but idk" to me, I was like THE UNI SENT HER!!!")

I am also not emotionally invested or connected to G. It felt uncessary and I was like, "Shouldnt she be looking for jobs instead of being with friends?"

I agree with @Turin Turambar that they would send guards. Or would they send a cook staff/boy/apprentice instead, since I am aware (but the characters are not?) that she is being asked to go to the SERVANTS area, and not to like the throne room or the guards waiting to arrest her?

I liked that she was being hired then turned away. To me that read well that someone is doing something kinda shady. I think it might have a been a little uncessary because I imagine the people working for the king get paid better than normal citizens, but if she is too scared to go there it was probably needed to make her feel desperate.

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On 5/11/2020 at 11:04 AM, Snakenaps said:

what does work in this chapter

There was some good emotion in the opening. Knowing that she is being summoned to the palace gives me promise something is going to happen. The conversation with her friend was nice-- and would work if he ends up being a significant character not necessarily if he leaves and has no further role in the book.

On 5/11/2020 at 11:04 AM, Snakenaps said:

interview.

It's bad. It's boring, it's shoe-horned, it is out of character. It is awkward and doesn't fit. 

The interview has potential though, if you upped I's reaction, had her thinking how different it was from other interviews. Maybe the interviewer might ask more political questions if she is a spy trying to figure out if she could bring I. And maybe there could be more suspicion on I's part? And then when she comes back and finds the store gone, even more suspicion. Then goes home and finds she's been summoned and wonders if it is connected. 

On 5/11/2020 at 11:04 AM, Snakenaps said:

I could make it as simple as a small paragraph or sentence, but I still feel it might be jarring.

No, don't do this.

You are in Ch. 4, so I think it might actually be okay to have a chapter or scene from a different characters point of view if that point of view is going to be a key part of the book. However, it really irks me when omniscient narrators are in one POV in one paragraph, and then a different one in the next. Granted, that is a personal preference. Anyway, I suggest you either do at least a whole scene or don't switch. 

On 5/11/2020 at 11:04 AM, Snakenaps said:

Ir can't get a job - because there are people preventing it

I kind of want to see the last time she went to start work and the person had "seemed particularly flighty." 

So my thoughts might be

-sketchy reasons for not getting the job, leaving I feeling really down

-up the weirdness and suspicion in the interview. Don't make I seem dumb, but make I seem more paranoid. 

-maybe I could even mention the paranoia to the friend if you keep that part

-then home and boom, summons, and oh no, was that last interviewer actually one of the kings spies? moment. 

 

Now I'm going to go see what the other's suggested. :-)

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On 5/11/2020 at 0:11 PM, Robinski said:

Yes, business is good and I really need the help, please start tomorrow. Then she goes tomorrow and she knows she definitely has a job, and the business is gone. It's much more unexpected. And then she sees someone watching the shop, and it's the same creature she thinks she maybe noticed at one of the other places?

Great idea!! This would also work well if you showed her showing up to the previous job and getting turned down. 

22 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

What this chapter needs, in my opinion, is the sense that something is wrong but that you can't quit put your finger on. Instead of crashing action, this needs to be the chapter that is that ominous humming in the background.

I think that would work for me. 

22 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

You can see the ones I have done either on my book website or on my Instagram

 

Followed you on Instagram! Your art is amazing! 

 

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Posted (edited)

Because of the kind of feedback you've asked for, I'm just going to read this and then discuss your questions

I think your chapter starts on page two, with "...threw herself onto a bench..." The first page is unnecessary. The interview itself comes off as very suspect. She's giving away way too much information, and a lot of it is redundant with what we already know. It doesn't seem to be advancing the plot at all. The therio being excited to interview her, then being all nah, don't actually need anyone, made me feel like the scene was a waste (or DEEPLY suspect). In the second part of the chapter, it's really hard not to skim because I don't know what the point of the chapter is. What is the arc? What is our MC supposed to accomplish in this chapter? I think that whole visit in the middle of the chapter could be cut, and we could just have the first beat, then this last beat with the messenger, since it seems to move the plot forward. I also think the first beat might need...something to showcase that the interviewer isn't on the up and up. I mean, it seems sketchy already, but maybe have our MC lightly suspect something, then dismiss?

 

On 5/11/2020 at 9:11 AM, Robinski said:

So, I did not get that the jobs were being 'removed' from her. I honestly thought that it was a sign of the hard economic times post invasion that the job market was cutthroat enough for someone else to take the opportunities.

Same!

On 5/11/2020 at 11:13 AM, Mandamon said:

The entire interview can pretty much be reduced to "Here are some places she tried to find work and they were full/not hiring/hired but strangely closed the next day/etc."

I also didn't get that the place was closed down deliberately. The bobcat therio said she might have to shut down, so I assumed that was what happened. To get the same idea across, you could say this happened a couple times. Once is strange. Several times is deliberate.

Completely agree with this as well

On 5/11/2020 at 8:04 AM, Snakenaps said:

but I am wary of POV shifts so early in,

Yes, please no POV shifts here.

I think there is some good momentum in this chapter, but it's all at the end. Most of what needs to be conveyed could be done so in about two to three pages, I think. So mostly, fat trimming.

Edited by kais
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I agree that the interview could be cut down. I also think that this chapter has too much expository dialogue; people are being told things they already know for our sake. While I can see the purpose behind it, it all comes across as more of an info-dump instead of actual insight into I's life. See if you can cut down on that and introduce information a bit more organically, as opposed to characters telling each other things we are supposed to learn about. 

Page numbers correspond to how I read them in Google Docs. For future reference, I can also send you individual JPEGs marked up with digital pen, if you prefer. 

Pg. 1:

I stared into the bathhouse’s bronze mirror, trying to fluff her hair from its limp strands. Biting her lip, I tried to part it to the side, before giving up and letting her hair part right down the center of her head.—You already included her name in the first sentence of the paragraph, so I don't think it's necessary to repeat in these subsequent sentences. 

At twenty years of age, Ireen had only finished her apprenticeship five years ago. In those five years, there had been one year at C's third...—I'd replace the bolded section with 'she'd spent one year at...'

Pg. 2: 

The local restaurants weren’t hiring, as they were barely afloat as it was.—Consider replacing the bolded part with a semicolon. 

C was unforgivably tactless—Why is being tactless unforgivable?

Pg. 4:

"The smile on my face was as bright as the sun, according to my Pa."—Reads kinda stiff. Might I suggest "My Pa said my smile blinded him," or something in that vein? It was also around this point that I started feeling that the exposition was bogging the pace down. 

Pg. 5:

“Three. L, who’s ten; N, who’s sixteen; and S, who’s twenty-four.”—I don't think anyone in a job interview would start introducing their siblings to their potential employer. 

“The war must have been hard then.”—This feels like a detached sentiment, and a bit of a no-brainer. War is usually hell for anyone involved. 

I followed suit and was led to the shop door.

Pg. 7:

It was hard to make the case with G towering at over six foot tall, not including the curving horns.

Of course not.”

Pg. 8:

“You know the deity doesn’t affect fate.” I know he's referring to R, but it feels very detached in how he says it. Can he refer to R directly? 

I humphed, knowing he was right, but she not in the mood to acknowledge it.—Original sentence made it seem like G was right and not in the mood to acknowledge it. 

G paused from analyzing the different loaves, stroking his hairy jaw in thought.

Everything she had ever thought was solid stone....

"I do not know if I want to live under the rule of a warmonger."

"There has been a coup and two wars in the last nine years..." More exposition. 

"..had weak monarchs more interested in their full stomachs and the gold in their purses."—I feel like G ought to have a bit more emotion in how he says it, because it doesn't sound like he holds them in high regard. Something like calling them gluttons, weak, or another insult. 

Pg. 9:

G had noticed her nose wrinkles and wincing sips, and had laughed.—I'd change bolded part to 'wrinkled nose'. Also, you can delete the bolded 'had.' You could also probably delete most instances of 'had' after using it once to denote something happened in the past. 

"You told me that the best wine is the not most expensive or the rarest."—Since this is in response to a question, I think you can delete the bolded part. 

“Would there be a goblet of wine included?”—This doesn't sound natural to me. "Will there be wine?" would be a lot more succinct. 

It turned out that being unemployed with little savings, unmarried, living in one’s parents’ home...

Pg. 10:

In fact, one of the bankers had eaten at C's, and was regretful that it had burnt down. He had liked their stuffed mussels, he said.—Deleted the other two instances of 'has'.

Both of them had been pushing her to tell C the truth, and no doubt they would deliver the same speech again tonight.—Added a more active-sounding phrase. 

S was sitting on one of the kitchen benches, wringing his hands, when she entered.—I'd add the bolded phrase to the beginning of the sentence. 

“I, I don’t know what is going on."—Using a contraction then using two words that could be made into a contraction feels kinda off to me. I suggest going all in on the contractions, or abstaining for consistency's sake.

“What!? Me!?” S nodded. I dropped her bag, mouth open in horror. “Why!?”—I'd hold back on the !? 'Mouth open in horror' is sufficient in letting us know she's freaked out. 

“Sparks, I don’t know!”—Is that a curse word? I'd delete it here. People generally don't speak that way. 

He looked equally pale.—Compared to who? I? How does I know how pale she looks? 
 
“Do you think I’m in trouble?”—Their prior dialogue seemed to indicate so. 
 
Pg. 11:
 
Yanking out claws, a hundred lashes of the whip—That would probably kill you, so if that's what you were going for, I'd replace it with 'death by the whip.' 
 
You know us, if you were in trouble, we’d save you.—After 'us', I'd either replace the comma with a semicolon or a period. 
 
There was a wobbly

“N would make the guards fall asleep with his long, poetic descriptions of the girls he likes.”

“Be kind to your brother.”—I don't see how the previous sentence is unkind. 

I mimed talking with her hand.

S pretended to swing a hammer with one hand.

Pg. 12:

The words tasted hollow in her mouth.—What does hollow taste like? 

"I love your mother, but she is not a professional cook."—Pretty sure I would already be aware of this. 
 

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Hello! Late to the party this week, sorry about that.

I think the suggestions to to add the summons to the castle to the end of the previous chapter seems like a good one.

An alternative might be to start chapter four with your MC summarizing the past week in her mind as she goes to the castle, going over the increasing evidence that something is against her as she gets closer to build a sense of paranoia or dread.

For me, the hardest area was the first page. There were quite a few short choppy declarative sentences all packed together.

After the first page, the story smoothed out and was much more pleasant to read.

A couple small catches if you decide to revise this chapter:

I think the days math doesn't work out. She has been job hunting for 4 days, but she says she has been told to return in a couple days 3 different times only to find no job. It seems like this would take 6 days. It also seems strange that all four job prospects would have her return in a couple days exactly.

There seems to be a style shift in the MC's voice with multiple paragraphs ending in asides or questions that I don't remember from before. I might have just missed it though.

Still a fun story, regardless of any kinks in this chapter. I'm sure you'll get it all sorted out.

Thanks for sharing!

 

 

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