shatteredsmooth

June 29 2020_ShatteredSmooth_Book of Mel_Ch. 9 Sub 8_( 4465 words) (L?)

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Content Warnings: Alcohol use and maybe some swears. 
 
Hi Everyone,
 
I'm still processing some of the feedback from the last two weeks, so I haven't made any major changes yet. However, I'm sending the next chapter anyway. Sometimes I find it easier to revise when I have feedback on a chunk of chapters instead of just one or two. 
 
I'm not sure if this one starts in the right place, and am wondering if it has some excess backstory, but otherwise, I don't have any specific questions, just the usual sense that something is off and  can't place what it is. I'm open to whatever feedback you have.
 
Thanks!
 
Sara
 
Recap:
Ch. 1
The night before classes start, M saves a guy from a Demon. Next day, she meets a cute girl in class and realizes the guy-she-saved is the TA (Mi). 
 
Ch. 2 (revised)
 M follows Mi, chats with him, reads his mind to find out he doesn't recognize her and talks to him way more than she planed. Later, she goes to a LGBTQIA mixer with her roommate, A, and the girl she met in class.
 
Ch. 3 (revised)
M meets Mi on a rooftop. Tasha has a skateboarding accident and breaks her arm. M and T almost kiss. M heals Tasha's arm, but messes up and uses too much energy.  M flees to her room, but Ally has company. 
 
Ch. 4 (revised)
M missed the masquerade because Mi's ghost hunter friends went missing. Turns out they summoned some demons. M almost died fighting them. 
 
Ch. 5 (Revised): Mike said the ghost hunters are alive. M goes out for pizza with Ally and Tasha, where there is lots of flirting. Mi shows up and begs her to go with him to meet the ghost hunters. Fearing he's in danger, she goes, but their office was empty, and then a possessed driver tried to run Mi over with a car. 
 
Ch. 6 (Revised). M was alone with Mi. They cuddle and talk a little about feelings and a lot about the paranormal. 
 
Ch. 7 (revision in-progress):  A sparring match with T turned spicy. M's mental shields and telepathy malfunctioned at a very inconvenient time. 
 
Ch. 8 (last time / revision in-progress): M had dinner plans with Mi, but she gets called away to hunt a demon. There was a telepathic battle. She got some information  from the demonand her head got messed up. 
 
Ch. 9: This time: M's telepathy and shielding are working right, her phone is broken, and she has an extremely low tolerance for alcohol. 
 
Ch. 10: Next time: M has a hangover. Mi fixes her phone. Karma. 
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Hi! 

In your CH 10, are you using the word "Karma" right? last I checked, it's complicated.

1) I like the repercussions to the attack.

1) are we talking about the same demon attack? if so, how did she not drive since Aug.?

1) that probably makes driving that much easier if she uses minds instead of cars.

2) P.2 that's sad.

5) this breakdown...works for me? 

9) why does she have such a low alc. tolerance? Is she particularly small or something? Also, she can't heal herself - right? (I'm thinking of Shallan's 'detective work')

11) I'm glad someone's responsible.

Overall: I'm liking each individual scene, but while I see the connecting threads, they feel kind of random. I know that this criticism isn't really true, so ignore me here, but I figure I should put it down here. I'm rambling. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overall

A cute chapter with a good progression. A few notes below, mostly on, again, the clear narrative distinction about M's complete disinterest in T. Generally though, I thought it worked well, and M has a very cozy romance thing going with Mi.

 

As I go

- pg 3: here's another place where we get negative feelings associated with T, and positive ones with Mi. M intrudes on T's mind. Watches her dreams. T has a bad dream about a spider. M does not seek to comfort anything, and instead runs to Mi, likely to seek comfort. but she also wanted to run into his arms and make new memories <-- whereas all she wants to do is get away from T

- pg 5: all the asking for permission to touch lines, but this: He ran his hand down the back of her head as images of a mattress on a plywood subfloor filled his mind <-- feels far more suggestive and intrusive than a hand holding

- pg 6: Maybe, wrapped up in his arms, she wouldn’t think too much <-- note how she didn't even consider this with T

- pg 8: Could the entities you record come from another dimension <--- WRS? When did she pretend to accept his paranormal musings?

 

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The two in this chapter still have a lot more chemistry than the other characters, but I'm seeing a lot of problems with them too. I think the chapter got to the point eventually, but there was a lot of words about dead uncles, grandfathers,and aimless driving that could probably be edited down.

Also, I have a pretty big problem with M reading Mi's mind with no permission, then drawing away and setting very strict boundaries for herself, then imposing on him, drinking until she obviously has no control, then forcing the one that didn't set the boundaries to enforce them against her. Honestly, I'd be wondering what was up with this person by now and trying to keep my distance. Seems like every time they're together, M makes sure Mi knows he can't come near without permission, then leaps into his arms. 

I think this is even worse because Mi has no idea what he's getting into with her, while M is basically spying on every aspect of Mi's life and knows all about what he does. Every time they're together, one of them doesn't want to talk about things, but M is the only one who gets to keep her privacy.

Sorry--that turned into a bigger rant than I thought. I'm starting to get uncomfortable with how their relationship is progressing. It seems very untrue so far.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: 'She didn’t think she’d lost any memories"
--how could you tell?

pg 1: "the sound engine"
--??

pg 2: I don't think we need the detailed analysis of how her uncle made his money--just say he left her a college fund.

pg 2: "shamelessly using prophecy to make sure he always earned more than he lost."
--shameless is making millions or billions of dollars. Making more than you lose is sound investing (and doesn't really need prophecy...)

pg 2: "by the time she’d pieced together"
--I guess this is a character moment, but I'm not sure what knowing about her uncle adds to anything.

pg 2: "she felt something shift and snag in her head. Cold shards stabbed new places, making it harder to focus on sensing what wasn’t in her head"
--not quite sure what's happening. She can't sense as far as usual?

pg 3: "stepped onto the roof of the Green Building"
--oh, wait..is she not visiting T then? I thought that was what all this was leading up to.

pg 3: "every memory of him was tainted now"
--with what? Was this by the demon? I didn't catch that.

pg 3: "I’ve been up here since.”
--wasn't that, like, yesterday?

pg 4: “When we were at the restaurant?” 
--I'd think that was obvious. That's when she ran off.

pg 4: “Could someone have done something to it?”
--I thought the demon messed with things. It had her mom's phone, right?

pg 5: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
--it seems like whenever there's something that could further the relationship between them, one of them doesn't want to talk about it. A few times is okay, but it's getting frustrating, like everything could be solved if they just came clean. There's never a good reason given.

pg 5: "Blurboard"
--what is this?

pg 5: “Can I sleep over? Same rules as Monday?" “But sleeping next to each other is intentional...” 
--The physical distancing is a part of M's character and I understand it, but as I'm reading, this kills the mood in every single scene M and Mi are in together. It's like she's saying "I want to be near you, except I don't actually want to be near you." I don't know if I just don't get the ace aspect of this or I'm not the intended audience, or what. Anyway, not sure if this helps anything, but I thought I'd mention it.

pg 6: "he’d been exaggerating about the condo’s in-progress state"
--but she read his mind...

pg 6: "It had been at least six weeks since she’d seen her mom"
--I read this as if it were present, and was very confused since she'd seen her mom the day before. Also, talking about her uncle again. Is he going to make an appearance or something, even though he's dead? There's a lot of focus on him this chapter.

pg 7: and then a lot of talk about Mi's grandfather, when he wasn't actually an influence on Mi's interest in the paranormal? Or I guess he is sort of? This could be a stronger connection, story-wise.

pg 8: “I’ve only found one.” 
--one what?

pg 9: "It took her three tries to get text coherent."
--maybe shouldn't be drinking as much then?

pg 9: "She’d only ever felt this drunk once before"
--this seems like a really poor idea in a house where you don't actually want to sleep with a guy you might be attracted to?

pg 9: "grabbed a fourth cider"
--really??

pg 11: “We set boundaries before you came here, when you were sober.” 
--uh yeah. Specifically M set the boundaries. I get the feeling Mi is up for whatever, so M coming over, saying "don't touch me," then chugging all his alcohol until she can't make good decisions seems...poor form.

pg 11: "There was nowhere private to change, which didn’t actually bother her, but was way past their boundaries."
--what now? This doesn't bother her? but she thinks it's past her boundaries?

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4 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Seems like every time they're together, M makes sure Mi knows he can't come near without permission, then leaps into his arms. 

I think something might not be clear in the wording of the conversation they had about boundaries. It's supposed to specify that hugging, cuddling and certain kinds of touching is allowed, just no making out or sex. The only time it goes beyond the original physical boundaries set is the kiss. 

I did redo a lot of the dialogue from the chapter where they first spent a night together, so hopefully I fixed the issue already, but I'll take another look at it just in case.

13 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

--with what? Was this by the demon? I didn't catch that.

 

I'll need to clarify in the previous chapter. 

13 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

--what is this?

 

Blueboard. Spelled it wrong. 

14 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

--I read this as if it were present, and was very confused since she'd seen her mom the day before. Also, talking about her uncle again. Is he going to make an appearance or something, even though he's dead? There's a lot of focus on him this chapter.

 

I was setting up for something that I'm thinking of taking out, so I might go and cut back a lot of this. 

18 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

so M coming over, saying "don't touch me,"

She never said this or implied this as far as I know. 

 

So in general, M making a lot of bad decisions in this chapter was intentional and a side effect of the Demon messing with her head. I realize from some of the comments that the previous chapter did not accurately convey how much damage she took. She's not fully aware of it herself. As I revise, I'll try to find a way to show that she isn't quite thinking clearly before she starts drinking. 

I've toned down the mind reading in some of the earlier chapters, but when I do another pass over all the previous chapters, I'll spend some time on the arc of their relationship. 

12 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 6: Maybe, wrapped up in his arms, she wouldn’t think too much <-- note how she didn't even consider this with T

 

Hmm okay, it obviously wasn't on the page, but she went to T first because this was exactly what she wanted to do, but T was already asleep, and she didn't want to wake her up. I was also considering that her reading T's dreams were her head all tainted with Demon energy actually caused the dream to turn into a nightmare. 

Of course, logically, there might be some issues with her running to Mi if she was aware of that. 

But this whole arc with T still definitely needs a lot of work. In a previous draft, when Mel got back to the dorm, A & T were together, in the middle of something, and Mel almost walked in on it. 

12 hours ago, kais said:

Generally though, I thought it worked well, and M has a very cozy romance thing going with Mi.

Glad to hear this. 

13 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

In your CH 10, are you using the word "Karma" right? last I checked, it's complicated.

 

I mean, it's not actually in the chapter. Maybe it wasn't really the right word to use in the description, either. I just meant that Mel gets a sort of payback for all her mind-reading / invading Mi's privacy. 

13 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

1) are we talking about the same demon attack? if so, how did she not drive since Aug.?

 

She'd been taking the train home and being driven by other people. I'll clarify.

13 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

Overall: I'm liking each individual scene, but while I see the connecting threads, they feel kind of random. I know that this criticism isn't really true, so ignore me here, but I figure I should put it down here. I'm rambling. Sorry.

 

I think it's a valid criticism. 

 

Thank you @kais @Mandamon and @Turin Turambar for the feedback! 

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1: "Her headache." -- I think you meant to write "Her head ached." "Her headache" is not a sentence.

Pg 2: She talks about her uncle's death very matter-of-factly; why isn't she more upset about it? It sounded to me like they were at least somewhat close -- she did read his mind, and he left her money for college -- so, even if she's gotten over the mourning stage, I'm confused as to why she doesn't feel some residual sadness when remembering him. Am I reading the emotions wrong?

Pg 9: I liked the detail about M being a lightweight; just thought it was funny because my mom's a serious lightweight too.

My biggest problem was that it seemed to me like the issues Mi was having in the previous chapter were just conveniently put on hold so that this chapter can focus on M.

I thought you wrote M's after-battle experiences very well; her fuzziness over what happened and anxiety were well-portrayed.

Hope my thoughts were coherent; I'm liking your book more and more as I get farther into it.

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Thoughts as I go:

Pg 1, "Her headache." Do you mean, her head ached?

Pg 1, " they felt overturned and slimy, disconnected and disjointed." Ugh, this feels like the worst kind of violation. Gives me the heebie geebies.

Pg 1, "Even if the radio worked" I have to wonder if the radio was broken by a Demon, or because this is a very old, definitely worn Jeep.

Pg 1, " it lifted her damp hair" Just said damp a second ago in this sentence. Change one up?

Pg 1, "it flew around and thrashed her face" What is it about this stinging feeling that feels so good? This makes me want to take a joyride.

Pg 1, " two construction sites she hit where three lanes squeezed down to one" The literal bane of my existence.

Pg 2, " the parking rates, forty-two dollars per day." Okay, I actually didn't believe this to be true. I mean, $42 per day??? So I Googled it. 350 Kendall Street Garage. $42 for 10-24 hours. Jeez!!! Parking here is 50 cents an hour, max $5 a day. I am so glad I don't live in a big city. 

Pg 2, " it would be worth parking for a night or two" On a college budget!?

Pg 2, " her uncle had set aside a college fund" Okay, speaking from someone who recently graduated from college and has family and friends still in college, I'd reword this a little to make sure it doesn't sound like M is really well off, but only her uncle. I went to a state college that was very forgiving with financial aid, and neither my sister nor I ever qualified for a lick of it. My cousin is losing her Fafsa (federal student aid) because the government counted her stimulus check and her unemployment against her federal aid. I'm talking a difference of $6,000 cost her her entire financial aid and nearly cost her her semester of college had not her parents stepped in. My friend has to earn less than $12,000 a year, otherwise her savings plus her job knocks her out of the running for paid tuition and textbooks. There is a very tight line between receiving financial aid and not getting a dime. It sucks, because you have to live this line of barely paying rent but being able to afford college, or paying rent but being unable to pay for college without exterior support. I have no clue what financial aid is like for MIT or Massachusetts, only a bit for California. 

Pg 2, " his thoughts had been muddled with depression" Money doesn't equal happiness.

Pg 2, " it was too late." Oh man, slapping that guilt on from a young age. 

Pg 2, " desperate for a distraction" This is, like, the opposite time the suite needs to be empty! This girl needs support!

Pg 3, " which was off with the battery out," To keep Mi's enemies at bay, I assume, since they already sent false texts from her mother.

Pg 3, "someone followed me" This isn't going to help Mi's paranoia at all.

Pg 4, "Do you want me to hug you?" It's definitely what she needs.

Pg 6, "the two pizza boxes" That is not enough pizza. M could eat that all by herself.

Pg 7, " maybe have trust issues" Whaaaaat, noooooooo, she said in heavy sarcasm. 

Pg 8, "multiverse theory and mythology." Hmm...I wonder if he's the reason Mi got interested in the supernatural?

Pg 8, “Is that what got you so interested in the paranormal?” Oh, well, took the words right out of my mouth.

Pg 9, " I’ll make sure nothing eats you." I know she's buff, but does he believe she can really protect him from much? Or is he just glad to have help, and someone to talk to about this craziness?

Pg 9, " he unlocked it" Read this at first as he unlocked her hand and I was momentarily confused. 

Pg 9, " It took her three tries to get the text coherent."

Pg 10, "grabbed a fourth cider." Someone is not going to have a fun morning.

Pg 11, "We set boundaries before you came here," Good lad. I like how this book emphasizes healthy relationships.

I admit I feel like I got a little bit of emotional whiplash, since she went from sad, to joyride happy, to very sad, to okay at Mi's, to very drunk. 

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On 6/29/2020 at 7:26 PM, Turin Turambar said:

why does she have such a low alc. tolerance? Is she particularly small or something?

I wish that was my excuse. I'm 5'5" (an inch above the national average) and I get pleasantly drunk off of two glasses of wine. Any more than a glass and my cheeks turn pink and my hands actually start getting circulation. My former 5 foot roommate could easily drink me under the table (not that it would be hard). Everyone has different tolerances, and a glass and a half for getting drunk isn't too far off from myself. 

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40 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

I wish that was my excuse. I'm 5'5" (an inch above the national average) and I get pleasantly drunk off of two glasses of wine. Any more than a glass and my cheeks turn pink and my hands actually start getting circulation. My former 5 foot roommate could easily drink me under the table (not that it would be hard). Everyone has different tolerances, and a glass and a half for getting drunk isn't too far off from myself. 

Well, I'm barely on the charts (perhaps 1%/2% if of the national average) but I personally try to stay away from alcohol. I'm too afraid of what would happen.

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1 hour ago, Turin Turambar said:

Well, I'm barely on the charts (perhaps 1%/2% if of the national average) but I personally try to stay away from alcohol. I'm too afraid of what would happen.

I respect that, especially since my sister's parked car just got totalled by a drunk driver this week. 

I believe in everything in moderation. I've gotten drunk three times in my life, never bad enough to have a hangover, and definitely never enough to puke. Always in a safe place surrounded by people I firmly trust. Picking up my former roommate and watching her puke in my bucket on the drive home, and on a separate occasion, puke on the bath mat, and all of her other occasions, made me decide I never want to do that. Alcoholism also runs in my extended bloodline, so I'm hyperaware that I'm possibly genetically susceptible to it. 

I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer when having a good meal or hanging out with friends, but that's about it. A special occasion drink. I'm definitely the minority in this town for my age group. My sister's neighbors literally have a dedicated bathroom to drunk puking. College town, whoop whoop. 

There's nothing wrong with a little responsible drinking, but on the other hand, not drinking will save you a lot of money. 

Also, I'm taking over a non-Lounge thread again, sorry @kais it's a horrible habit of mine. At least this time I'm calling out myself. My long point was, everything that has so far occurred in this story regarding alcohol has echoed my own experiences or the experiences of those around me, including M's low tolerance. 

 

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7 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Also, I'm taking over a non-Lounge thread again, sorry @kais it's a horrible habit of mine. At least this time I'm calling out myself. My long point was, everything that has so far occurred in this story regarding alcohol has echoed my own experiences or the experiences of those around me, including M's low tolerance

Well, write what you know, I suppose.

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Comments!! (I'm on a roll :)).

(page 2)

- Good set up, good backstory for the uncle. I almost feel I know him better than Mom. I like the atmosphere created by the drive back to college too. Wind in her hair, probably it's cold, dark, clear sky maybe. Cars whipping by on the highway. Nice.

- "trampled, slimy feeling in her head" - Effective impression of the incursion by the demon.

(page 3)

- "because every memory of him was tainted now" - It is? Why?

- "run into his arms and make new memories" - Oh, good line.

- "Why did you run off?" - Oh, okay, but surely that doesn't mean that everything is tainted.

(page 5)

- "Blurboard" - I don't know what this is.

(page 6)

- "lit up a mudroom" - I don't know what this is.

(page 7)

- "The sharp edges in her head were starting to soften and hum" - great line.

(page 8)

- "The darker energies seemingly appearing out of nowhere drove me to his notes" - I can't remember him opening up to her about demons and other dimensions. WRS, I'm sure.

(page 9)

- "You think these things eat people?" - Why does he not react with more surprise that she accepts this stuff when he spouts it? I like him revealing the scene in which we already know it was her that saved him, but I don't remember them having a clear the air chat.

- "like pretzels" - Great line. And always with the food similes :lol: 

OVERALL 

This is a very gentle, relationship-y chapter, with lots of feelings and sensitivity. That makes it quite slow, but I kind of like the places it goes. It does put pressure on the next chapter to get on with the plot, and provide some 'action', but I have no objection to a chapter like this. It's nice to see these two becoming (more) comfortable with each other. One thing that is quite apparent from reading this chapter, I think, (although not directly as a result of it) is how it highlights that the overall plot / story arc is pretty weak. I can see how there are pieces, and they link together, but I really want a much more compelling and cohesive story plot so that, when we fall into an action chapter, I have something to hold onto, and to recall from the previous action chapter.

To recap what I think we do have: 

(1) Me saves Mi from some demon - fair enough: good action early on, promising;

(2) Mi is into paranormal, he has as secret, Me wants to know - so do I, but it's really not in focus after first being mentioned, and, after a good early action chapter, I think the story (in terms of plot) very quickly loses its way and become lost in a web of relationships, teen-age angst and emotional confusion;

(3) There is a group of humans who are up to no good, and maybe working in tandem with...;

(4) The X-roads demon, which has no identity or personality, and I think should be a known entity, as we have an antagonist that we can have in mind and direct our worry, fear and scorn towards;

(5) The bad humans try to kill Mi - this is or can be very important to the story, but it is played way, way, way down to the point that I don't care, because this group have no identity, no personality on the page, they are pretty much a blank.

Maybe all the demons, the antagonists, etc. are the B plot, but the reader still needs to care about them, and I really don't because I know nothing about them. It feels a bit like they are only wheeled out when something needs to happen for the M/C to react to.

So, there we go. I hope this is helpful. I am still enjoying the story, but I want more from it.

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On 30/06/2020 at 5:26 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

M making a lot of bad decisions in this chapter was intentional and a side effect of the Demon messing with her head.

This did not come through at all for me. I think it would be reasonable to just come out and tell the reader this, otherwise it starts to look like some of Me's behaviour in the draft before it was commented on here, about the unsanctioned mind reading, etc.

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