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Snakenaps

9/14/2020 - Snakenaps - Name of the King - D3 Chapters 19/20 (6,331 total)

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This week is a heavy hitter, and although I did try to keep it down to 6,000 words, I ultimately failed. Sorry about that. There is a scene in the beginning of Chapter 20 I could take out, but I wanted to see everyone's opinions on it first. It may be my personal bias keeping it in. 

I completely deleted a chapter, so I saved you from what was supposed to be this week's fluff. Slowly trimming down that slice-of-life. Got rid of a bad POV too. Progress!

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Hi! This is my first week here on writing excuses, so I just have to say that I really like your style! It is very clear for the most part, and the emotion comes through well. It also kind of reminds me of Narnia, with the talking animals and such. 

Some general thoughts:

Nice worldbuilding with the musical rain things. It seems like it would be very pleasant. 

The whole concert sequence was emotionally authentic, I believed that she was actually experiencing stage fright. However, even though I liked it, I feel as if her freaking out on three separate occasions was a bit redundant. It did pay off nicely at the end though, with her twirling.

I thought it was actually quite rude of her to invite all of her friends when she knew they couldn't come, and mainly wanted J to come over. 

Having her siblings come over for a surprise visit actually wasn't all that surprising. (Especially since we see them at home with her the chapter before) 

The awkward "not-political" conversation at her house was very relatable, lol. 

While reading:

pg 2: "the musicians fired..." repeats the word 'incompetence'

I like the description of her parents

pg. 4 "pockets to hide..." i think removing the word 'in' makes the sentence flow better. 

pg. 7 "like a wooden puppet..." who is like the wooden puppet here? I or J?

All of the rain imagery is cool. I like the hanging beads a lot. 

pg. 11 Having a chapter break here seemed odd to me. Maybe after she invites J? 

pg. 13 "Weird dead sea creature" seems a bit clunky to me. 

pg. 20 Slamming seemed a bit harsh of a word for me at first, but after reading a bit longer, it made more sense.

pg. 22 Oh No! the date didn't end well :(

 

 

 

Edited by ginger_reckoning
didn't upload everything the first time for some reason
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4 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

This is my first week here on writing excuses, so I just have to say that I really like your style!

Hello and welcome to Reading Excuses! I hope you enjoy your time here! I'm very flattered to be compared to Narnia, considering those were some of my favorite books growing up. 

I know I leave summaries for the book in my emails, but if you are like, "What are earth is she referring to?" many of the worldbuilding/character questions may be found here. It's out of date since I'm between drafts, but it will give you a good idea of what is going on. Of course, you can also ask me any questions at any time. 

I have to apologize in the fact that I'm generally slow to respond to critiques, if I'm able to respond at all, at the moment since I've started a new job and battling the school district has been...challenging. I'm reading everyone's comments, though, and I really appreciate them. All feedback is good feedback. 

Again, welcome, and I'm glad you are here!

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2 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

@Snakenapsthat is a very impressive webstie! I really like the artwork

Thanks! I'd normally say I'm a hobbyist...but since I'm now an elementary fine arts teacher, I guess I'm now??? Technically??? 

I like art. 

Edited by Snakenaps
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I'm wondering if you could so a little more with the instances where you switch to the BK's POV? It seems like the narrative pulls back really distant when it shifts to his POV, with all these stunning yet distant descriptions that happen before we get to the meat of it and the scenes purpose, like revealing that he hates the wealth but has a use for it and the people who love it. These little snippets and I's interactions hint he's a really interesting character, and I want to see more of it. 

The chapter with the concert was nice. It was well written with clearly conveyed emotion, and culminated in another character moment. But Plot? Something is missing to connect to the bigger things going on. I had expected her to actually need to use her ability. 

The next chapter had more plot. Things got nice and tense when S and J started talking about barrier. Then it kind of dropped off. I wonder if I missed something with the last little political talk at the end, because that seemed to come a little out of nowhere. 

The comment about the BK and peaceful protests rubbed me the wrong way, but that has to do with politics, which I won't get into here. 

Overall, there was lots of good writing and beautiful prose. Lots of emotion. I'm looking forward to the next chapter. 

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I think this still has some of the issues I noted when I read the previous draft, mainly involving the political situation.
The more I think about it, the more I think you could easily remove the first 6 pages and start with the actual concert. That would give you space to show a lot more of Ir's reaction during the performance, and like @shatteredsmooth said, even have a chance for her to use her powers. It would also give a little more to expand on the BK. His character is very interesting, but I don't think we see enough during the book to really understand his motives.

The second chapter has some strange contradictions for me, in that their society is based on hospitality, and people from other countries are presumably able to visit on a regular basis. I don't understand why they are so antagonistic based just on country of origin. I'll also second the comment about protests didn't really land right, especially given the past several months. That might be more dependent on topical news, but also monarchies generally don't get along well with protests or questioning rulers.

Notes while reading:
Ch 19
pg 1: Yes, I think the first page of this can go, starting with S braiding Ir's hair. The worldbuilding is interesting, but having it scattered around a little, like L eating raindrop cookies during a different scene, would present the information better.

pg 2: wait, why would she lose the restaurant if she didn't play well enough? Was that ever a threat?

pg 3: Hmmm...okay, you could actually cut that whole scene until the break, and maybe have Ir. think of a few key images like S braiding her hair and her father bringing the pins home while they're walking her to the gate. Really, you could cut that too and start with Ir smoothing her costume. Hey! I found your 1000 words to cut for this sub ;-)

pg 6: Some good emotion in here, but still waiting to get to the performance.

pg 8: Well, we really only get a page of Ir. dealing with the actual concert before switching to BK's POV. I'd like to see more of her actually dealing with the nerves.

pg 8: "Four hundred gallons of water"
--what will water do specifically? I appreciate he can manipulate it, but I'm not sure why it's specifically presented here. Aside from getting an assassin wet, what is it going to achieve?

pg 10: I appreciate BK's assessment of Ir., but I'd like to see just a bit more of her struggling with playing well and how much effort she put into it.


pg 10: "those who had put their careers on the line"
--I never really got the threat for their careers. It seemed to be more imagined on their part. I'd like to see more of a direct threat. I think the celebration afterward would have a lot more impact that way.

Ch 20
pg 11: Again, there's a lot of celebrating, but we didn't see the struggle

pg 12: "not because of his loyalties.”
--I feel like we haven't really seen racial or country-based tensions like this before, but suddenly it's a big deal to invite someone from another country to their house.

pg 14: "Hospitality was everything in T"
--yeah, see this directly conflicts with their suspicion of having a foreigner in their home.

pg 17: "massive, shadowy murderers"
--Are the Fey also very large? Did we know that before?

pg 20: "But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to criticize my monarch."
--This continues to be a sticking point for me. It basically rebuffs any complaints that the Bk is running a bad government in any way. For a monarch to allow subjects to publicly criticize it is one of the hallmarks of modern reform, which immediately makes me turn against the revolutionaries as not knowing what they're getting into.

pg 22: “It’s why I didn’t want either of them to know about the project up north. It’s just another thing to worry them.”
--Except J warned them off a bad situation. Otherwise, T might have been tempted to take the job. I'd much rather face a few unpleasant facts that barrel headlong into a situation where I don't know the undercurrents.

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Overall

There are some good tension points in here, but once again surrounded by fluff. I think your first chapter starts around page 7 with TBK's POV. The rest can be cut. And then the following chapter has some great politics talk and family tension, but I think it's just a bit too padded still. 

On 9/16/2020 at 5:26 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

The comment about the BK and peaceful protests rubbed me the wrong way, but that has to do with politics, which I won't get into here. 

Same here, as did the no politics at the table! Lines. These are all things that are used in our current world by white people as a form of their privilege, and so it's hard to read it in a novel and not think how nice, to get to avoid politics. How nice, to think peaceful protests ever do anything. I think with these types of instances in the book, you'll have a hard time selling it to any agent/publisher with a marginalization or who is engaged in the BLM movement. They're...just phrases and situations used by people in power, and they don't make me sympathetic towards I's family.

 

As I go

- pg 1: this is a very slow start to the chapter. At this stage I definitely do not care about I's love of rain

- the first three pages, I getting ready for the concert, could be cut easily. We've already had like three chapters of concert prep. We need to get to the concert

- pg 6: The drums were like an echoing peal of thunder <-- I think your chapter starts here. Everything before it can be deleted

- pg 8: okay wait, now we're in TBK's POV. Maybe it should start here then. The little interlude with I doesn't give us much. At least TBK seems to be moving the plot forward

- Ch 19 recap: Okay so this chapter is the concert. That's the arc. The plot movement is TBK's POV section. I think you could start the chapter there, keep the little I endcap, and it would be much tighter and have more tension. All the stuff before it was just more slice-of-life lead up and I am positively starving for plot at this point

- pg 16: ah, there was almost some good tension there with the family but now it's devolving into chit-chat. I want movement and action!
 

- pg 21: when the start up with the politics talk again, it's pretty good. I still find it hard to wade through, possibly because of the sheer number of characters and that I don't feel grounded in the politics of the world at all. I feel like I'm constantly having to mentally cut around the fluff to get to the meat, and so I've lost little bits along the way.

 

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Not much to add to earlier comments:

Chapter 20:

Paragraph starting: J hesitated as he put..." Near the end of the paragraph is a sentence that doesn't quite match up, "he takes creatures like trying to overthrow him..." maybe 'actions' instead of creatures. 

The point J makes about his father headhunting skilled tradesmen doesn't seem to fully connect to what they are talking about, like maybe a beat in the conversation is missing? Not sure it just struck me as standing out. 

I loved your tactile descriptions and the other sensory information you include. That's something I am always trying to work on. 

Looking forward to more next week,

May the Prose be with you!

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Note: Every time you have a paragraph break, make sure the first paragraph after that is aligned with the left margin, not indented. Also, in instances where dialogue is cut off by an n-dash, I'd replace those with m-dashes.

Also, Jaisom's dialogue could use more contractions. If you're trying to make him sound stiff and formal, then I'd remove them altogether. The mix is somewhat distracting, and makes his dialogue seem unnatural. 

I really liked the sensory details of your world. It feels quite lived-in.

Everyone else's advice on your portrayal of politics is something I think you really ought to listen to and consider. 

Notes below, corrections in bold: 

Pg. 1: 

Rain poured down from a sky painted in a million shades of grey.—How many E.L. James sequels is that? 

People placed odd little creations...cascade of sounds.—Loved this detail. 

Pg. 2:

“And she has more hair on her head than a horse,

P berated for incompetence, stripped of her position and demoted.

Pg. 4:

Small glass beads were sewn here and there to give a sensation of water droplets.—I'd replace 'sensation' with 'illusion.' 

Had her nerves not been getting the best of her—I'd reword this as 'If it weren't for her nerves'

...she would have definitely found....

Pg. 6: 

can quiet them, but I would really not like to.—I'd italicize 'really', because this bit of dialogue feels stiffly worded. 

I gratefully accepted it and—Removed comma. 

Pg. 7:

...sparkling with prosperous olive trees of jade and polished wood...—Huh? Are they fake olive trees?

Nearly-translucent—Note: It's grammatically incorrect to add a dash after a word ending with 'ly'

Pg. 8:

He was dressed in flowing midnight blue silk, imported from half a...

Instead, he turned his golden eyes to the stage, to see the wonders of music, dance, and poetry.—Since this is the BK's POV, I would not mention his eye-color. It feels weird that a character would mention their own physical traits. Also, I haven't read much else of this story, but be careful about gold/yellow eyes. Take it from someone who's been guilty of this: if your character isn't Scut Farkus-levels of evil, it's a Mary Sue flag. 

Pg. 9:

...but instead her jaw was set like someone who knew what they had to do and wanted to do it perfectly.—Deleted comma. 

Pg. 11:

The success of the S of R burned like a lantern inside her.—I'd replace with 'torch.' A lantern isn't exactly supposed to burn that brightly. 

Pg. 12:

"Sounds perfect. Should I bring anything?"

I thought. “A cask of wine?”

“I can do that.”—I like this dialogue. Feels natural. 

Pg. 14:

...and the larger the gathering, the more the fun to be had...

Pg. 17:

...how playing a twelve-note ocarina was similar to the pendant ocarina. 

...from T by the fifty-mile wide...

Pg. 19:

J said, equally strongly—Replace one of the last two words, so that the sentence isn't ending with two words that end in 'ly.'

Pg. 21:

…” he said, “but I know..."

But he takes creatures trying to overthrow him with deadly seriousness.—Removed 'like'

Pg. 22:

S doesn’t exactly stay calm when it comes to the matters of this country!—I'd reword this dialogue to make it sound a little more natural. 

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have taken the bait. I'm sorry I didn't listen."—I don't think he should apologize that quickly. It doesn't feel earned. 

“They’re risk-takers.

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Comments.

Chapter 19 

1)  Seems logical to me that we would get the image of the sky after the shutter were opened. Also, 'the start of the season of rain' I presume? Not the whole of the season.

2)  Nice description of the season, and all the little traditions. Nicely done, and very nicely segued into Ir's activities. There is one issue. See opens the shutters, but Ir and Sue appear in the scene, but there is no reference to Ir going to Sue's house, although there is mention of her being outside. The blocking is the issue, it's not joined up and is disorienting, IMO.

3)  Ir vs. Sue - all the tension is gone, it seems. The breakdown of the relationship between the sisters was a real strength of Draft 2, but it seems to have gone. Sue does not harbour simmering resentment. I know you've said that you have issues writing conflict and tension, but seriously, an author has to have that ability. Those components are essential to a good story, any kind of story in any genre. If your palms are sweating as you write it, probably means you're doing it right. But that you have too write it.

4)  "The musicians fired for incompetence" - You've got my comments on this concept already. I just don't believe it would happen. I think it's more likely they would be demoted in some way, but anyone with any understanding of music, would not fire their musicians after introducing a new component that doesn't work, IMO. I mean "Pe berated for incompetence" - this doesn't make sense to me. Pe has had no control over this situation at all, not input to it. So, let's say that this is irrational fear on Ir's part. I think I would have less issue with it if that was called out, maybe something like 'Ir shook her head. Perhaps she was being irrational about the consequences of her own failure. Why would any of the others be punished when it would so transparently be her fault? She would be the laughing stock, but all their reputations still would be tarnished.' Dunno. These are my feelings.

5)  Oh, Sej has appeared. So, they are at Ir's house? It was Sue's presence then that was confusing me, and probably just me conflicting Draft 2 and 3, because I think Sue had left the house already by this point in Draft 2(?). Anyway. Don't pay me no never mind.

6)  "Her entire family and friends followed her to the palace gate" - Yeah, I will always find this too much. Even if it was just her family, I think I could tolerate it, but it's just too saccharine for my tastes, but then I like Grimdark, so no surprise probably.

7)  "she felt a piece of her family’s armor reawaken" - I don't understand this. It's Ir's armour, the family just gives it strength. I just don't think it's a very clear analogy, or metaphor, or whatever it is.

8)  There are a lot of good description in the chatper, I think. The tension of the musical performance is conveyed well, I think. I think what is missing is plot. The chapter very much has an arc in and of itself, in the form of Ir's first musical performance. And, it's nicely conveyed, good emotions of nervousness, family support, togetherness of the musicians. And maybe these things come into play later, the thing is I suspect you could cut this whole chapter and not really notice it in terms of the plot. Every chapter should affect, influence or colour the plot in some way, I feel. 

9)  Yes, cutting the first POV (Ir's) when Mar plays the first notes, that's very well done. I just wanted more plot in this first part of the chapter. I'm not even sure it would take that much, maybe just a reference to the Rev spy possibly being present in the audience, and a thought about where this deployment of her skills might lead to. Remember to foreshadow future events. You can drop a big, fat reference to something happening in the future in terms of her wondering, or being concerned about it. 'Where might all this lead?' What was the point of her playing with the musicians anyway?'; that sort of thing.

10)  "In his peripherals" - Ahem. Peripherals in this sense are computer components like scanners and printers, etc.: peripheral vision is peripheral vision. You could just as easily say 'at the edge of his sight' and not have to deploy and strange buzzy modern phrasing that throws me out of the story.

11)  "and the slavering influential." - Slavering, influential what? Missing word, methinks.

12)  "but that could come with time and training" - Uncertainty is not compelling: suggest 'would come'.

13)  "The BK played the long game." - Okay, there is something deeply weird going on in that is seems her is referring to himself as the BK in the POV. Is there any reason in his own POV that he cannot be thought of as Az? Clearly, he knows his own name, so surely it would not be unnatural.

14)  "those who had put their careers on the line" - As noted, I don't buy this. Maybe 'put their musical reputations on the line'.

15)  You've nicely captured the elation of a live musical performance. (I have been there, although it's been a few years. It's a feeling that is very hard to beat, right @Silk?)

Chapter 20 

1)  "I am amazed a chef of your caliber doesn’t like beer" - ROFL :lol:  I don't spend enough time praising the positive. So, here goes. Throughout the book, IMO, the character voices are incredibly strong. Each has a distinct voice that shines through their dialogue and description. I moan about a lot of things (I don't suppose you've noticed that :rolleyes:), but that's one aspect I only very rarely find myself wanting to comment on. Nice work.

2)  "S and T weren’t scheduled to show" - I'll drop in again that the tension of Ir's family situation seems (much) less in this Draft 3. 

3)  Hmm. I can't remember from Draft 2 if Til and Sue turned up for dinner when J was there. Setting that aside, there is reasonable tension in this scene, but not as much as there might have been, IMO, because the relationship between Ir and Sue are better in this draft than Draft 2. This is compounded when Sue introduces herself and Tal to J, in a way that is quite plane, and therefore seems normal and polite. I would expect anger from Sue, her storming out of the house, and railing against J, at least saying something bitter or not being willing to speak to him. For these reasons, the scene seems weaker than it could and should be, to me.

4)  "Sorry" - I'm really struggling with this 'declawed' Sue. She was so much fiercer and more--I think--more believable as an angry revolutionary in Draft 2. I'm sure she was. I can't imagine Draft 2 Sue apologising. She didn't, did she?

5)  "breathe a sign of relief" - typo.

6)  "If I may offer a word..." - This whole paragraph: J is very wordy and his grammar is untidy. I know it's dialogue, and maybe he's nervous, but still, needs polish, IMO. Also, 'attacking back' is retaliating.

7)  "It’s just another thing to worry them.” Encourage them, she meant, but didn’t want to say" - I struggled a bit with this, as I don't see what the project would worry them, particularly, or why (or rather how) it would encourage them. I don't think the potential implications of the project, or the legends (horror stories) of the Fey are sufficiently ingrained in the story to carry the required weight here.

8)  I'm not convinced by the ending of the chapter. (a) Ir seems to me to be too forgiving to hold a grudge against J like this; (b) I really don't get what she's so angry about. he was trying to do a good thing. This plays back into point 7), above. (c) Is the northern project not supposed to be a secret? Maybe it never was, and maybe it's just not in this draft. I like how there is discussion of it though, I just need it to resonate a bit more in term of its in-world significance (see below).

Overall 

The slice of life is well written as always. I think probably it could still be pruned a bit, refined, streamlined. Then I get into various issues with Sue's attitude, which seems to be more uneven than I remember, going from passive to aggressive in no time flat. I think it is good that the barrier and the Fey are coming into things more, but I want the cultural significance to be clearer, maybe through more explanatory thoughts from Ir around the references. Something like 'She couldn't believe J had brought up the subject of the barrier. Okay, Sue and Tal had, but he had encouraged them, talking about that hateful place. The children would be up with nightmares for nights to come, maybe some of the adults too.' And each time the barrier is mentioned earlier in the story, just some kind of thought that underlines its nature, what it represents to the people of the region, its history: laced through the narrative.

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On 16/09/2020 at 1:26 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm wondering if you could so a little more with the instances where you switch to the BK's POV?

Agree.

On 16/09/2020 at 1:26 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

But Plot? Something is missing to connect to the bigger things going on. I had expected her to actually need to use her ability.

Hard agree.

On 16/09/2020 at 4:21 PM, Mandamon said:

His character is very interesting, but I don't think we see enough during the book to really understand his motives.

Thirded.

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Overall:

I don’t have much to add beyond the line by line comments below. I was glad to see some actual conflict in Ch20, as it feels like it’s a little past due. There are places where it seems that the BK’s operations are kind of shady for the sake of being able to call them out as shady (why does he need a bunch of shell companies?) but I’m assuming there’s a larger plan in place. I do think that we very quickly need to move beyond hints that the BK Has Plans to actually understanding at least some of the pieces of his plan, and the implications thereof.

 As I read:

“Letting in both the cold Sc winds…” Maybe WRS but I don’t think we’ve seen this word before. It wasn’t until its second appearance a few sentences down that I realized it referred to a month.

“…their wisdom streaking through their hair.” Nice line here.

Took me a moment to realize that there had been a scene break between pages 7 and 8.

“The [musical] scores would have to be removed.” Why?

I’m itching for one of these scenes where the BK appears to give us some actual information. Right now it sort of looks like he has nothing better to do than micromanage his staff.

I also have no idea what the endgame of this performance was.  I thought the whole point was that she was supposed to be able to use her magic during it, but other than one glancing reference by the BK, it’s being treated mostly as a musical performance?

P11 “S and T weren’t scheduled to show…” So clearly they’re going to show up unexpectedly and there’s going to be a scene, right?

P13: CALLED IT.

I mean, I’d hope that the stipulation to not talk politics is unnecessary. It would not be terribly smart for revolutionaries to go painting a target on themselves during a dinner conversation.

“A real, professional musician for ourselves…” Okay maybe laying it on a bit thick there, S.

P15 “shuttered” should be “shuddered”

Wondering why the BK needs to conceal the fact that he’s the one doing the hiring for this place.

P21 “a sign of relief” should be “sigh”

P21 “but he takes creatures like” delete “like,” I think?

“S stuck out a hip.” Odd mental image there.

P22 “servants gate” needs an apostrophe

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