shatteredsmooth

Sept. 7_ShatteredSmooth_Book of Mel Ch. 12 (sub 13) (4743 Words) (LV)

15 posts in this topic

Content Warning: Language, Violence (physical and psychic), 
On the first page, there is a mention or two of sex, but it's about something that happened in a previous chapter. 

Hi!
So we aren't quite back to where we left off yet. I had an "aha moment" about something and ended up making some significant changes to this chapter. Remember the time where Mel leaves Mike because her mom is in trouble? That part is all changed. I could have probably summarized, but I could really use some feedback on the new parts, especially since they introduce the big bad, and I often struggle writing villains. 

The opening feels awkward to me, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Cut it completely? Turn some of it into full scenes? Shorten it? Something else? 

After that, the first five pages will seem familiar. They've been edited based on the feedback, but the changes are minor.  The bigger changes start at the bottom of six.

I already sent the email, but as I'm posting this, I'm wondering if M leaves Mi too abruptly? Or if it works because she's so panicked by A & T's text and has in the past, ditched them twice for him. 

Any and all feedback is welcome.

Thanks!

Sara

There is a brief recap below, and a more detailed one is attached.
Ch. 1: M saves a guy from a demon. 
Ch. 2: Healing on a school night was a bad idea. But it has some perks, like falling into the lap of a sweet girl named T. But the guy she saved is her TA, Mi. Oh no!
Ch. 3: M follows Mi and figures out he doesn't recognize her, but is a paranormal investigator with a fascinating mind. She goes out with T, and her roommate, A. There is laughter and cuddles and fandom. 
Ch. 4: Two weeks later, M is trying to figure out how much Mi knows about the paranormal, and learns he has more secrets than extracurricular ghost hunting. 
Ch. 5: M leaves Mi to check on T after a skateboarding incident. They almost kiss, but a broken bone compels M to heal it, and she almost passes out on T. The next morning, M makes plans to go to a masquerade, which is a month away. 
Ch. 6: A month later, M goes home to pick up the costume and gets some bad news. 
Ch. 7: M hunts a Demon with her family and almost dies healing them. 
Ch. 8: Back at school. Mi reveals his PI friends survived. M hears what she needs from him and finds A and T, who tell her all about what she missed at the masquerade. 
Ch. 9: Pizza and flirting with the girls is cut short by Mi putting himself in danger. Again.
Ch. 10: After almost getting hit by a car, M and Mi spend the night together, talking about the paranormal, gaming, and falling asleep. 
Ch. 11: M tries to earn A and T's forgiveness. Things get spicy. M's shields fail. Intimacy with no shields means there will be an exchange of energies which the girls haven't consented to, so M has to leave.
Ch. 12 (this time): A and T go to a party and don't invite M. She goes out with Mi, but ditches him when she thinks the girls are in danger.
 
 
 
 
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Thoughts as I go:

The entire first page is absolutely killing me. I want to be like, "Dudes, sit down, talk this out, talk about boundaries and being ready and that revoking consent is okay." Except for the fact, I have seen enough friends going through stupid relationship awkwardness to know this is so completely realistic. Doesn't mean I don't want to bonk their heads together. 

Pg 2, " he was staying with a friend and not sleeping in a lab or office" Or under a bridge.

Pg 6, "It’s like I’m tripping, but I swear I didn’t do any drugs." Katie doesn't like. This is already better than Mom, because while M might have an emotional connection to her mother, I don't have much of one. So this makes a stronger emotional punch right out the gate.

Pg 6, "Somewhere near BC." Me: British Columbia??? Legit have no clue what BC is. If it was mentioned earlier, I forgot. 

Pg 7, "Boston College was halfway across the city." And ShatteredSmooth swoops in to save the day in the very next sentence. Now I know!

Pg 7, "It’s big and white and smelly." Polar bear escapes from zoo, terrorizes local girls.

Pg 9, "wearing a threadbare suit and tie with a bowler hat." This is somehow more frightening than if it was dressed to the nines. 

Pg 10, " she rolled dice in a game that looked like a combination of Dungeons and Dragons and Beer Pong" I admit, I'd be willing to try this.

Pg 11, " full of pizza, plates heaped with bacon" Nooooo! Can't lose these!!!

Pg 15, "And if one of them dies, and the killer doesn’t, they all come together, hundreds of them, and get their revenge no matter the cost." This reminds me of both bees and the goblins from the tv show Trollhunters. Except the pixies aren't comic relief and are awesome, unlike the goblins. 

 

This chapter really worked for me. I think by introducing the Big Bad instead of having just some random demon, plus making T and A the stakes rather than Mom, makes this hits much harder than before. I think the Demon is much creepier in the fact that it talks and seems to be highly intelligent, and it feels like a more fearsome foe, even in thrift store tweed. I know that creating a mystery can create more tension, but honestly, laying your cards out like you did in this chapter compared to the original seems to be a move in the right direction. Can't wait for more! 

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4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

The entire first page is absolutely killing me. I want to be like, "Dudes, sit down, talk this out, talk about boundaries and being ready and that revoking consent is okay." Except for the fact, I have seen enough friends going through stupid relationship awkwardness to know this is so completely realistic. Doesn't mean I don't want to bonk their heads together. 

 

Hmmm You make a good point though.  Talking about boundaries is something she needs to do with them. And she needs to be honest with herself about these boundaries. But yes, people don't always talk about things the way they should and the awkwardness is real. 

I was just emptying the dishwasher while thinking about your comments, and left the dishwasher half-empty to reply, because I thought of something. I could just take out the sexy chapter and have them still be mad at her about ditching them on Monday. Though If I do that, there is a pretty big swarth of Mi centric  chapters before the girls are back...hmm...lots to think about. 

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 6, "Somewhere near BC." Me: British Columbia??? Legit have no clue what BC is. If it was mentioned earlier, I forgot. 

 

I knew people were going to jump right to British Columbia, but Boston College has a reputation for being a big party school... is it realistic for students to go to parties at near by colleges that aren't the one they're attending? 

As you noticed,  I spelled it out right in the next line. I just didn't think someone would spell out the whole  thing in a text. 

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 7, "It’s big and white and smelly." Polar bear escapes from zoo, terrorizes local girls.

 

LOL :lol: You always find a way to make me laugh with your comments. 

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Pg 10, " she rolled dice in a game that looked like a combination of Dungeons and Dragons and Beer Pong" I admit, I'd be willing to try this.

 

I don't know if it's real...but maybe it should be. It just popped into my head...what if when your character gets hurt, you have to take a drink or something? 

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

even in thrift store tweed.

 I was going more for a "this s the suit it had the last time it was summoned to earth eighty years ago" vibe, but didn't want to spend too many sentences describing the suit. Thrift store works in its own way though.

 

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

This chapter really worked for me

Happy to hear it!

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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3 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

is it realistic for students to go to parties at near by colleges that aren't the one they're attending? 

Speaking from experience at a party school...

YES.

In fact, that's why Pioneer Days got banned in this city. And why Halloween pulls in at least three to five different towns' police forces. Kids - *hem* young adults - will legit drive from my hometown an hour and twenty minutes south just to come to my city to party on days that aren't Labor Day/Halloween/Saint Patrick's/Caesar Chavez Day. Party central is literally nicknamed "The Zoo." 

So I found this to be perfectly realistic. 

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On 9/7/2020 at 11:23 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I already sent the email, but as I'm posting this, I'm wondering if M leaves Mi too abruptly? Or if it works because she's so panicked by A & T's text and has in the past, ditched them twice for him. 

Yes. Definitely too quickly. I made a note below.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:
16 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

is it realistic for students to go to parties at near by colleges that aren't the one they're attending? 

Speaking from experience at a party school...

YES.

In fact, that's why Pioneer Days got banned in this city. And why Halloween pulls in at least three to five different towns' police forces. Kids - *hem* young adults - will legit drive from my hometown an hour and twenty minutes south just to come to my city to party on days that aren't Labor Day/Halloween/Saint Patrick's/Caesar Chavez Day. Party central is literally nicknamed "The Zoo." 

So I found this to be perfectly realistic. 

I didn't go to a party school--I went to a boring engineering school. But a lot of students would make the 30 minute drive to the nearest party college. So yes, realistic.

 

Overall, this chapter is a lot better. The switch from Mom to T&A works really well and makes a bigger connection between them and M. I also like the new look for the demon. Much scarier. I am left wondering what happens to T&A since M called the demon's bluff. It's not a great decision on her part and we're left without a resolution until at least the next chapter.

As I said above, I was frustrated with how M skips out of Mi, especially when he's so vulnerable, but I think can be fixed with a few more sentences.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "why she’d just ran away when they started having sex"
--I think this may be where some of the awkwardness comes from in the first few paragraphs. It's a tell of feelings rather than a show, such as in the next couple sentences.

pg 1: "she’d gone as far as blurting out the truth"
--would she really do this? I'm not convinced.

pg 3: "He stared at the ground. “Because it’s happened before.”
“M, why did—.”
“Please don’t ask.”
--Still frustrated with these sorts of exchanges. "Here's an important piece of information directly connected to why I'm in danger. I'm telling you that it exists, but I don't want to talk about it."

pg 6: "It was nice, but she missed the softness of"
--These still feel like afterthoughts. Like T&A are nice to be around, but M is really into Mi.

pg 7: "She clutched her phone to her chest. “Mi, I need to go. I’m sorry.”
--Why is she incapable of saying "Some friends need my help?" She doesn't even need to explain anything about them, but give some indication of why she's running off.

pg 8: "She tore her hands apart"
--sounds like she's tearing her hands, not the air.

pg 10: "It walked over to a bench and sat down, looking out at the water."
--I think T&A being in danger work better than with her mom. I also like the "talking" demon better than the "fighting" one, especially if this will be a mental battle.

pg 16: the demon battle is a lot clearer this time in how the two are fighting each other. I'm left wondering what's happening to T&A though. I can imagine the fight might have taken less than thee minutes, but M seems to be out afterward. Is she just letting the demon have them?

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44 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

As I said above, I was frustrated with how M skips out of Mi, especially when he's so vulnerable, but I think can be fixed with a few more sentences.

 

Sounds good. I had more, then took them out, then after I sent it, I realized how abrupt it seemed. I will definitely add more. 

44 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

--would she really do this? I'm not convinced.

 

Good point. 

44 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

--I think T&A being in danger work better than with her mom. I also like the "talking" demon better than the "fighting" one, especially if this will be a mental battle.

 

Yay!

44 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

pg 16: the demon battle is a lot clearer this time in how the two are fighting each other. I'm left wondering what's happening to T&A though. I can imagine the fight might have taken less than thee minutes, but M seems to be out afterward. Is she just letting the demon have them?

Hmm I think you may have uncovered a whole in my logic here. 

This is what I had been thinking happened. I can either try to make it clearer or change it. What do you think?

So, I had added an epithet very early saying the pixies have a big telepathic range for communicating with each other. I've added a little more about them earlier, but essentially, pre-Mi inventing demon detection devices and an app to monitor it, like the hunters had in PS, the pixies were the alert system for Demon activity. So as soon as M steps away from Mike, she sends C a telepathic message and C relays it to the other pixies. The net work gets the messages in minutes and conveys it to P and Jr (the other two Boston area hunters. They've been in one chapter, so far, in the background. Mel mostly texts them).

The pixies locate T & A  at the party but don't tell M because my now, the Demon is near her, and they are afraid of it's telepathic powers and not quite aware that the Demon also fears them. By the time the Demon shows Mel the third video, the other hunters are zoning in on T & A along with the pixies. The pixies don't fully show up on camera, but Mel can see where they blur light and have snuck bits of cake. She can see the other hunters in the background. They would've also used Between to get there as most hybrid hyrbid can access Between, not just Angel-hybrids (Basically all the hunters but J). So basically, M puts her trust in the others to keep T & A safe and decides to take on the Demon herself. And being a telepath, she is better equipped to fight it than the other hunters. If she hadn't been so low on energy, she might have won. But she hasn't recovered from the weekend, and while she gets the Demon away before it does as much damage as it wanted to, she is pretty beat and her head is messed up. 

If this logic works, I will try to make clearer in the text. If it doesn't, then I'll make different changes. 

 

Thank you, @Mandamon.

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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I did catch the implications that the pixies were in the room, but I didn't know they were capable of fully protecting T&A. A couple sentences about that will likely clear things up.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I did catch the implications that the pixies were in the room, but I didn't know they were capable of fully protecting T&A. A couple sentences about that will likely clear things up.

The pixies alone might not be, but the other demon hunters are there too. 

Though the Demon has a human in the room set to attack the girls, not another Demon. It's one of the paranormal investigators, but neither Mel nor reader knows that yet. 

So the pixies might actually be enough. They could snatch away the needles and stab the attacker with them or snatch the needles and just create general chaos that would result in him getting injured and/or booted out of the party. 

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Overall

Although I started out with a gripe, I did like that she finally left Mi for the girls. Still, the rejection portion felt like more of the same. I'd say yes, she leaves Mi pretty abruptly but she's left the girls plenty of times so not sure it really matters? Anyway, this was a bit more balanced than previous chapters, and I did enjoy meeting the big bad!

 

 

As I go

- pg 2: I dislike the rejection by the girls that just drives M into Mi's arms

- pg 5: also, once again we get a summary of the girls, and the actual dialogue with Mi. Lacking balance

- pg 7: So were some men. She had to get there, quick. <-- LOL!

- I appreciate that she is finally leaving Mi for the girls!

- pg 11: Ah, the plot!

- good tension through the battle scene

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16 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 2: I dislike the rejection by the girls that just drives M into Mi's arms

 

That's fair. I was a little uncertain about it to begin with and I'll plan to change it.

20 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 5: also, once again we get a summary of the girls, and the actual dialogue with Mi. Lacking balance

 

I think I'll take out the summary.

Currently, Mi is not in the chapter before this one at all. Do you think it would be better to include a full scene with the girls in this chapter, or keep whatever information I need to convey about them in the previous chapter? 

28 minutes ago, kais said:

Anyway, this was a bit more balanced than previous chapters, and I did enjoy meeting the big bad!

Yay!  At least it's getting a little closer. 

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Hi!

Skipped the first page due to  warnings.

2) "Felt like an aching wound" - nice descriptor.

5) "contorted" - you used the word twice in quick succession and didn't really work in either locale.

7) Make that three times.

9) Thanks for the tech thing with demons. One thing that bugged me in a some of the handful of urban fantasy stories I've read is that they all live in medival times and tech breaks down around them. Can you imagine how much scarier demons would be if they had access to the internet? Or you could actually fight them with firearms?

I like the chapter. I think this was the updated version of the old one, if I'm not mistaken? My only question is why I have 3 blank pages at the end.

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11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

5) "contorted" - you used the word twice in quick succession and didn't really work in either locale.

7) Make that three times.

Thanks for pointing this out. 

 

11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

Can you imagine how much scarier demons would be if they had access to the internet? Or you could actually fight them with firearms?

Yup.

Not sure if you remember from one of the earlier chapters, but the other hunters do fight demons with firearms too. Mel just really likes blades and hates guns. 

11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

I think this was the updated version of the old one, if I'm not mistaken?

This replaced the one where Mel went to help her mom. 

11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

My only question is why I have 3 blank pages at the end.

That is a very good question, and one I do not have an answer for. I had not noticed the blank pages until I saw this comment. 

Thank you very much for the feedback!

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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As I go:

...She’d gone as far as blurting out the truth…” I really think we need to see this scene (as well as some of the exclusion M is experiencing from A and T before this, probably well before). It’s objectively a pretty dumb idea, and hard to swallow when we only get a single summary line. I could much more easily believe that M is making stupid, emotionally driven decisions if we actually see the scene and the emotion that drives her to do it.

Plus, I wonder about the fallout of that scene. Surely it’s not just as simple as A and T thinking M is being “sarcastic” and not including M in the “cuddling”? If they’re angry enough to exclude her from that, are they angry enough to, say, leave the room when she walks in? Might they instead, or also, be worried that M is ill? That she is hiding something more serious from them that they should be concerned about? Etc.

Also, it still feels like Mi is getting some of the most important moments, and M trusting A and T to reveal something intimate to them could be a good counterweight to all of the emphasis Mi is getting.

Ahem. Moving on.

So… is M still mad at Mi after storming out in a huff the other day? Because that little tiff doesn’t seem to have affected their relationship at all.

P7: “So were some men.” Ha!

The dinner with Mi is nice but I wonder if it would even out the love triangle/square thing a little more if we saw A and T interrupting some discussion that wasn’t just companionable silence.

P7 “Taking the subway would take too long…” Maybe WRS but does M still have her car?

Top of p12: “In the background, M noticed two other people approaching…” Are in the background of the livestream, or in the background in M’s actual location?

P15: This scene of M “downloading” memories etc is cool, but how on earth does she have this much time?

On 9/8/2020 at 0:27 PM, Snakenaps said:

"Dudes, sit down, talk this out, talk about boundaries and being ready and that revoking consent is okay." Except for the fact, I have seen enough friends going through stupid relationship awkwardness to know this is so completely realistic. Doesn't mean I don't want to bonk their heads together. 

200%

On 9/8/2020 at 0:27 PM, Snakenaps said:

Pg 6, "Somewhere near BC." Me: British Columbia??? Legit have no clue what BC is. If it was mentioned earlier, I forgot. 

Not gonna lie, I had the same reaction. I might be somewhat biased, though. :P

On 9/8/2020 at 4:58 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I could just take out the sexy chapter and have them still be mad at her about ditching them on Monday.

I don't think you need to take out the sexy chapter. It might not be a bad idea to have them get mad at M for ditching in one of the earlier instances, though. They've been pretty forgiving of her so far.

On 9/9/2020 at 9:28 AM, Mandamon said:

I am left wondering what happens to T&A since M called the demon's bluff. It's not a great decision on her part and we're left without a resolution until at least the next chapter.

For sure. This was the only thing that deflated the tension of the chapter, for me. If the narrative needs A and T  to be okay for a few more chapters, can we at least get some sort of plausible bluff out of the demon?

On 9/9/2020 at 9:28 AM, Mandamon said:

--Why is she incapable of saying "Some friends need my help?" She doesn't even need to explain anything about them, but give some indication of why she's running off.

Yes.

On 9/9/2020 at 11:46 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

So the pixies might actually be enough. They could snatch away the needles and stab the attacker with them or snatch the needles and just create general chaos that would result in him getting injured and/or booted out of the party

Yeah and if we only saw the very beginning of that, it would still be pretty alarming, and then we see the demon acting and being thwarted, rather than just deciding not to for some reason.

 

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Okay, I am here for a party. Let's do this.

1)  The recap of resent events doesn't flow well for me. It feels clunky in phrasing, and generally awkward and not particular believable, I think. it verges on an issue that I frequently have with many dramas and films, which is people not communicating properly. It sounds like there is a lot of that going on in that interim period. Although I am not sure how much comes over in the intervening (rewritten?) chapters.

2)  The demon, at first is quite scary, but the conversation is very mundane, somehow, and I feel that the threat ebbs away. I wonder if it's Me's reaction to the demon, which is very accepting, or rather unquestioning. We don't get a great deal of her emotional reaction to the demon or the task. Also, the dialogue is a bit cliched. 'Not so fast'; 'And if I don't agree'; 'You have three minutes.' I didn't feel a great deal of tension in the conversation.

3)  Then Me's attachment comes, and I guess it's quite surprising, but the absence of any thought about it, and analysis of the situation in Me's he'd before she attacks, distances me from it, and her, where I have been in her head before. So, the attack seems random to me.

4)  "make her wish she was dead" - Again, it's a pretty well trodden line. Falls rather flat for me. As did "its evil plan".

5)  "She built trap doors" - What is the demon doing while she's doing all the thinking and planning and building? Is it just standing there waiting for her to muster her defences? The dynamics of the fight seem off, out of whack.

6)  "Her muscles clenched and doubled over" - Which muscles? The fight is disorienting now, in the sense that there is no description of what is going on in the physical world while all this mental combat is happening. Are they tussling in the physical worlds too? is no one trying to stab the other anymore?

7)  "to take offense" - This sounds like being offended, having feelings hurt. I think 'on the offensive' is a clearer phrase.

8)  Is this demon the X-roads demon? I'm not sure that was made clear before, but it doesn't sound like she's discovering it here for the first time. Good description of being in its mind now, certainly better than the earlier parts of the encounter, which were less convincing, IMO. (I.e. the chatty bit).

9)  Why does the demon run away? Is she not at its mercy around about there?

10)  The ending: I like the stuff about her not being able to shield, and how her mind fells, but the last lines of the chapter don't feel like an ending. They don't round things off and propel me into the next chapter with a dramatic conclusion. The chapter just stops.

Overall 

It's very good to have a an encounter with the demon. I think the first part at least needs to be punched up in terms of threat and drama. The second part is good, the fighting part, but I think there are holes in it, as noted above. The earlier part of the chapter with Mi is pretty dramatic, but in a much more low key, relationship sort of way. She does seem to spend her life being pulled away from however she's with to go to someone else. Okay, this time it was a setup, and that was well done: classic emotional decoy trap, and that is the life of a superhero, after all. I think this is better than what I seem to remember was around here before(?), although I think I might be on new ground in terms of the demon encounter.

Looking forward to the next chapter :) 

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On 08/09/2020 at 8:27 PM, Snakenaps said:

I think the Demon is much creepier in the fact that it talks and seems to be highly intelligent, and it feels like a more fearsome foe, even in thrift store tweed.

Yes, very much agree, but still think the tension in the first part can be dialled up.

On 08/09/2020 at 8:27 PM, Snakenaps said:

Dudes, sit down, talk this out

Yeah, this is a better way of putting what I was feeling. Often, in fact frequently, in fact always in 'action' stories in this kind of personal situation, character never actually have a proper conversation about how they are feeling, which most people would do in real life. If people have been as intimate as Me and Mi have at times in the story, I think they would not resist actually speaking about what they were feeling, or some of it. It's often really frustrating and some writers (of lazy, big budget fiction) use lack of communication as a lame tool for manufacturing a personal conflict when it's just not there. I'm not saying that's what's happening here, and I know that slowing everything down to have a conversation is not necessarily helpful to the pacing, but I think if people are going to clam up (or stay clammed up), it needs to be convincing.

On 09/09/2020 at 6:30 PM, Mandamon said:

I did catch the implications that the pixies were in the room, but I didn't know they were capable of fully protecting T&A

I was okay with this, and there's the bit towards the end about pix swarming.

On 15/09/2020 at 5:51 AM, Silk said:

Plus, I wonder about the fallout of that scene. Surely it’s not just as simple as A and T thinking M is being “sarcastic” and not including M in the “cuddling”? If they’re angry enough to exclude her from that, are they angry enough to, say, leave the room when she walks in?

Agree with Silk's comments about the new friction between the three. It's a big thing. I had assumed it was a summary of an earlier rewrite, but yes, I'd want to see this rather than just be told that they were mad with each other.

On 15/09/2020 at 5:51 AM, Silk said:

Not gonna lie, I had the same reaction. I might be somewhat biased, though. :P

Ditto, but the very next words after BC are 'Boston College', so I had no problem with this at all.

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