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Snakenaps

6/8/2020 - Snakenaps - Name of the King - Chapter Seven (2979 words)

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I am back! All comments, opinions, and questions welcome!

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I know, I know; I'm just blatantly cheating now, having read ahead of the class. Yes, I'm a snotty-nosed swot :P 

My excuse remains that I'm attempting to promote debate. A happy side effect of me posting comments although I read the chapter three weeks ago* is that I have no un-posted-in threads on the forum (got to keep the column of stars neat and tidy). Also, I love this story and I love talking about it, so there.

Overall 

This chapter is a bit slow, IMO. There are some good notes, and I completely agree that we need to see Ir doing her job, so that we can establish a new baseline. It’s not a long chapter, so that’s fine too, but I think there are some details and some notes that are off. In particular, I would raise Ir’s attitude to mundane animals, which is pretty insensitive, verging on cruel. This is not her as a character at all, as far as I can see. I mean, there's just no need at all for her to be referring to ‘stupid’ animals.

Still, these quibbles aside, it's still an enjoyable chapter, and I am having a good deal of fun strolling along in Ir's footsteps. That's not me 'having a pop', at the pacing, not yet; there's plenty of time for that ;) 

As I read...

Good form is to use words not numerals, certainly in fantasy. In SF, I would say it's more grey, depending on what it is. Here, she's reading numerals on the cubby, so I think that fits okay, but in narrative, quoting a number, I think you'll find that any professionally edited book uses words.

Also, Ir must be able to see that next to her 188 cubby, there will be 189, 190, 191, running off down the row so, logically, I think she would say ‘More than one hundred and eighty-eight people work here.’

And to think the restaurant ran on only sixteen employees, including herself” – This comparison is not helpful, IMO. There is no comparison there that makes sense, IMO, between one restaurant and a palace kitchen.

They’ll be interviewed, and the records amended” – Excellent line. We needed something to show that P was not as sweet and welcoming as she seemed to be. It was all ist a bit too cosy up to now.

stupid mundane” – Hmm, no. That doesn’t sound like Ir to me. She is, IMO, a sensitive and caring person. I don’t believe she would think of an animal as stupid just because it’s not one of the elevated creatures. Perhaps domesticated? Or unintelligent? Or perhaps just ‘mundane’ on its own.

how little magic she had” – I don’t buy this. She’s been using her ability the entire day, and it’s still going. I think that’s really very good. Also, it makes me wonder if—by this intensive use—her ability will get trained up to be stronger. That would be interesting.

like the warmth of the sun in the unfamiliar, cool halls” – Standing outside on a summer’s day has just been used to describe a bad thing, so this is awkward to then have it as good.

could never be a friend” – This seems rather prejudiced, to think that there are no good M, at all, and every one of them is bad. I can understand why Ir would hold that prejudice, but objective experience shows it’s not true. E.g. Oskar Schindler, to pick the first example that comes to mind (to the limited extent of my knowledge based on how he is presented in popular media).

a plague in a flower garden” – Flowers don’t catch the plague, surely, (day they?!) so this seems like a mixed metaphor.

The description of the effects of the war is weak, IMO. The losses the Ir recounts in her head are light. ‘Nearly lost the restaurant’, ‘economy suffered’: there are three deaths mentioned, and a lost leg. There must have been much, much, much worse, and that is what we need to hear about here, IMO, thousands dying, parts of the city being razed to the ground. To me, this section actually just highlights how lucky Ir has been.

on a stolen boat” – Surely there was no need to steal a boat. Also, the king can requisition a boat, command its helmsman. I don’t see how it’s theft.

how the war might have affected you personally” – P continues to completely disprove Ir’s opinion of her by being totally sensitive and thoughtful. It makes Ir an unreliable narrator, in this case at least.

stupid little sparrow” – I really dislike this. It’s not in the tone of the story at all, IMO.

nice to not have worries beyond survival” – I experienced a crash in my sympathy levels for Ir right here. She’s falling out of character, I think. Where is her determination, that she has demonstrated from the beginning? This thought is unworthy of her, denigrating creatures that don’t have intelligence is not a good look, IMO. I mean, I get the concept, I can see where a thought that like might come from, but I think she might at least reproach or challenge herself after having it.

 

( * @Snakenaps, I've edited the comment slightly so that they read better, maybe changed the emphasis slightly here and there. Not just a straight cut-and-paste. Sorry!! Although I don't think anything is significantly different.)

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21 hours ago, Robinski said:

I know, I know; I'm just blatantly cheating now, having read ahead of the class. Yes, I'm a snotty-nosed swot :P 

Also cheating as I've read ahead...

I have similar concerns to @Robinski on this one. I think the first couple pages are all getting ready to go to work and explaining specifics, but not really anything the reader needs to know.

"If you can’t keep the magic charged" - Also had an issue with this. We haven't heard anything about charging magic before now, or even that it's capable of running out. A few sentences of worldbuilding in an earlier chapter could shore this up.

"Every moment in the palace added guilt to her shoulders." - Isn't this the same palace as the last regime? I'd argue that just being in the palace wouldn't trigger those thoughts, but associating with the people there.

"King T had surrendered without a fight..." - I know you've said you're changing this, but the whole paragraph here really turns the motivations on their head. Not only have we heard part of this story before, it also makes the previous king sound so bad that I start wondering if the citizens wouldn't be relieved to have a new one.

"The cowardly, greedy king had been hated, to be sure, but nothing compared to the imperialistic, haughty B.K." - especially this part. We aren't given any reason why an imperialistic king (not technically a negative connotation...) is worse than a cowardly, greedy one (definitely negative connotation).

I'm also still confused about how animals are treated vs. sentient beings, and even how it's possible to tell. Are there animals that are never sentient? Is this something everyone knows? Are there cases of mistaken identity? I think this is one of those things that starts digging a hole in the worldbuilding the more questions are asked. Either hard lines need to be defined early on, or the topic avoided so the reader doesn't start wondering about these things.

However, my biggest problem with this chapter is that we are shown what I's new job entails and how she's seeking out spies, but nothing ever comes of it (for several chapters, again, reading ahead...). She's been on this for four days, and the only difference is nicknames. I can think of multiple reasons why someone might have a different name than they list, from fleeing a bad family, to being a reformed criminal, to having an identity/gender change, to having an actual false name with intent to cheat the system, even if they aren't intending to be a spy. I'd think surely they find someone while checking so many people.

21 hours ago, Robinski said:

P continues to completely disprove Ir’s opinion of her by being totally sensitive and thoughtful. It makes Ir an unreliable narrator, in this case at least.

Agree. Also with her very reasonable guess at the B.K.'s eye color.

Hoping to read (farther) ahead soon!

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

We haven't heard anything about charging magic before now, or even that it's capable of running out. A few sentences of worldbuilding in an earlier chapter could shore this up.

Good point: #iagreewithmandamon

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Hoping to read (farther) ahead soon!

:lol: 

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Posted (edited)

I really enjoyed this chapter, it seemed to flow well and the visuals of the Place were good grounding for what I assume is a major setting in the story.

A few little things I noticed:

2nd paragraph; word order feels odd, maybe "The Griffin, who bearly came up to her waist, gave a..."

"Like all Th...." This statement seems out of character voice, like a narrator stepping in suddenly.

Same paragraph: "black rich cotton..." might change to "rich black cotton." Its one of those weird English things that the color is usually last in the list of descriptive words. (Ie: big black dog, pretty red shoes)

I really liked the description of P when "her large ears focused on I." Great bovine body language.

On a similar note, a cow serving cheese made me giggle :-)

"Ir watched from her hands..." this visual took me a minute to sort out.

I have to agree with this comment;

On 6/8/2020 at 9:44 AM, Robinski said:

 

a plague in a flower garden” – Flowers don’t catch the plague, surely, (day they?!) so this seems like a mixed metaphor.

Perhaps 'blight' or mold instead of plague?

 

I really liked this chapter over all, excited to read the next one!

Edited by Sarah B
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I was going to keep a page by page list of issues, but didn't find that many. On page one, you say: “enough prompt I to say the truth.” Missing a word here, I think.

What happens: I goes to palace. Griffin lets her in. P is introduced. She is shown cubby. There is some talk about what will happen to potential spies. She sees BK. She has breakdown.

I feel like you could condense this, the first part in particular. If you started the narrative with P being introduced and tossed in a line about the cubbies it would have the same impact. The bits I found most interesting were the explanations of magic, its consequences, and her feelings about the BK. Something which I had expected but didn't get was a notion of the complications her naming powers would raise. I feel like there should be hooks tying this into later plot. I kept expecting her to realise a passing nobleman was using the wrong name (dun dun dunnnn) or something similar, then feeling cheated when it didn't happen.

I feel like you focus so much on making this chapter describe the new world which I now inhabits that you forget to make it relevant to the plot.

 

That seems like a harsh reading. Maybe I'll realise I was being silly when I read the above comments. I will say that I appreciated the writing, the worldbuilding (in particular magical consequences) and the character of P, who I view in the same light as my own mum. Friendly and domestic, but with the potential to cast that aside in the right circumstances. I feel this was intentional.

Also, unrelated, but your website and associated art is great.

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Hi,

9) Do they really care about evil or not? All things considered, despite the fact they're an invading army, they seem to have done more good than bad. I know that you tell me all of the evil, but at the end of the day, I'm not seeing any of it so it falls flat.

 

Overall: I liked the story. The beginning was a bit boring, but the rest of the chapter quickly grabbed me. 

 

 

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I'm just joining in ch 7, so I don't have any notes on consistency, etc. That being said, here's my twopence of advice (I'm experimenting with different currencies; next time, it could be rupees):

I've really come to like Ir in the last 2000 words, I think the side effects of the magic were really interesting, and I think you did a good job subtly conveying that P was much creepier than Ir was made to think.

That said, there were a couple lines that I thought kind of seemed awkward with the rest of your narration, e.g. beginning of pg 8 where P brought Ir snacks. I also felt that Ir's conflict about not knowing what to feel about P was a little on the nose.

I really like your premise, and can't wait to continue reading!

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I have mixed feelings about this chapter. I enjoyed it. After some of the more tense chapters, it was nice to have a more relaxing one. However, when I stop and really think about it, not much really happened. There is a lot of world building, but not much tension. There is almost an arc, but it doesn't quite land. I think we need a chapter like this to show us what her new job is, but something needs to happen during that chapter. It needs to have a purpose beyond just showing the reader about her job and the world. Something needs to happen to push the story forward more. I don't know enough about the story to really make a specific suggestions. 

p. 3

"This would all work out. It had to."  This kind of line always makes me think it won't work out. I'm thinking of the end of Thor: Ragnarok, when Thor says something along the lines of having a feelings things will work out just fine, and then the next movie starts after Thanos killed half of the Asgardians. 

p. 4

"She didn’t wish to add the embarrassment of getting lost" I would get lost. 

"Being beheaded for tactlessness was not on her to-do list." Not on mine either, LOL. 

p.s. I love I's voice!

P. 5

"The Black King is fond of a clear justice system, unlike the previous monarch." Either P is filling I with propaganda or BK isn't as bad as I thinks. 

p. 6

"and the stupid mundane animals" I laughed at this, but I don't think I was supposed to. I'm wondering if maybe "stupid" isn't the best word to use here. 

p. 7

"The cow began bringing nuts, dried fruits, and cubes of hard cheese. " For a minute, I was having trouble picturing this. I mean, I can see P carrying a basket in her mouth, but I was having trouble picturing her get all the food gathered. Then I was picturing it covered in cow slobber. Then, thankfully, I remembered she had telekinesis and things made a lot more sense, 

p. 8

"He walked in front, wearing nothing but a simple gold necklace" For a minute, I forgot he was a unicorn and was picturing  naked human, thinking, whoa, they really don't care about nudity. But then that and the earlier comment about nudity got me thinking, would it be acceptable in this world for humans to just walk around naked? Does that ever happen? 

p. 9

"on a stolen boat loaded with gold." I am really starting to think I like BK better than the old guy. 

p. 10

 

"...An expensive illusion charm he keeps activated at all times.”

“Thanks P. What’s next?”

I think I needs to have more of a reaction to this. She seemed pretty certain he was Fae, but P just said she was pretty sure he wasn't. 

The last line is cute, but it doesn't really carry much weight. It doesn't drive the narrative forward. If I had picked it up off the shelf at the bookstore or library and was just reading for fun, its not a line that would entice me to keep reading no matter how late it was. 

Overall, this chapter had a lot of nice moments between P and A. It had some descriptions that evoked a real sense of wonder. I enjoyed it. But it needs more of an arc or a beat. It needs a little more tension. 

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Hello! Sorry for the late response but work has been kicking me in the face.

I liked seeing how slightly mundane Ir's new job is. I also liked that there are consequences to Ir's powers. That being said, my comments for the rest of the chapter involve Ir's character and character development. Number one being her relationship with her sister. Is there going to be a real plot line with her versus her sister or is it just petty drama? I have this feeling because in the stories timeline, its been almost 2 weeks since we interacted with the sister. On top of that, in this chapter it is mentioned that she has worked for about 4 days. So, Ir is very concerned about what her sister thinks but hasnt interacted with her?

On top of that, Ir earlier didnt favor one side over the other. So, I can believe her unease in the situation but I dont believe her feeling so guilty/traitor. Especially, since to me two of Ir's character traits are friendship and loyalty. Meaning that making sure C has her restaurant back, and her friends get their jobs would have a bigger hold on her emotionally/mentally than her sisters half-hearted rebellion-which her mother and father believe is foolish.

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Late to the party here

Overall

I'm not sure what the arc to this chapter is. It had some great beats, especially around pg 5, and some good movement, but it lacks any sort of formed structure. I was waiting for a big punch, like the king isn't who he says he is, or something along those lines. If the arc is just our MC's emotions, I think those need to be drawn out more, as does their relationship with P, as that seems to be an emotional counterpoint in the back end of the chapter. 

I know that 'day in the life' chapters are necessary sometimes, but I feel like we've had almost entirely these kinds of chapters, and I keep waiting for the plot to really go.

 

On 6/9/2020 at 7:34 AM, Mandamon said:

I have similar concerns to @Robinski on this one. I think the first couple pages are all getting ready to go to work and explaining specifics, but not really anything the reader needs to know.

Thirded!

As I go

- pgs 1-3: this is a very slow start. I think you could condense these three pages into one and get a lot more punch for the page, especially in terms of the colors of the clothes and what they mean

- pg 5: this page is working well! Love the little snippet we get of her doing name checks

- pg 7: the limits to her power in terms of her skin breaking and such is a cool detail that I think could have been in that page 5 snippet, and then the intervening pages between there and here cut. There are great nuggets of character and worldbuilding throughout this chapter but they get so bogged down in extraneous details that lessen the tension.

- pg 9: I really want her to namecheck the king

- pg 10: Worldbuilding issue: when animals talk, what defines 'fey'? I feel like pretty much everyone we have met is fey at this point, so the tropes behind this word don't work quite right. I think I need a definition (and maybe there was one, but WRS?)

 

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I didn't get this chapter via email. I know t-mobile/Sprint has been glitchy today so that might be part of it. Would you mind resending it?

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@Sarah B this one is from last week

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