C_Vallion

1/4/2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace: Prologue (mild LG) - 5084 words

22 posts in this topic

Hello, All! 

I hope 2021 has started off well for everyone!

This is the prologue for a novel that I’ve recently completed the first real full draft of (though parts of it have been through five or six major revisions by this point). I’ll be hoping to be submitting chapters regularly for feedback, but if anyone is interested in jumping in for a full alpha read at any point, I would love some commentary on more overarching plot details. 

Price of Peace is definitely a filler title at this point.  Usually titles come to me pretty early on in a project, but this one’s been stubborn. After spending far too much time making lists of potential terms/ideas, my brain latched onto some alliteration and gave up. So we’ll see where that goes.

It’s the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy (2 is roughly outlined, and 3 is outlined and partly written), probably on the edge of YA in primary character ages and content, but the scale and complexity I have in mind for the over-arching story is larger than I’d expect from most YA.  As it goes forward, I’ll definitely be hoping for opinions on whether it feels like it needs to be shoved in one direction or another.  Fortunately, I think Sanderson fans will have thoughts on that sort of thing (does anyone else’s library divide Sanderson’s books between YA and Fantasy sections mid-series?).

Other than general thoughts and feelings, I’m looking for some feedback on what the prologue sets you up to expect going forward. I’d also like to know what does or doesn’t seem to work in regard to world-building and magic-system setup, and what information seems unnecessary or isn’t likely to stick in your head. I am still working on the pacing of introduction of political background information, but am too close to it at this point to know how much is too much to absorb on a first read.

Mild language/gore.

Thanks so much for reading!

-Christen

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello,

I hope the year has started well for you. Here in Scotland, not so much. Today we went into a hard lockdown until February, 1st (at least).

On that bright note, I'm very interested to read your stuff for the first time :). Always exciting to read a new voice on the forum. Without further ado...

(page 1)

- Okay, action from the get-go, and threat. I am puzzled why the healer was the one leading the message, but I'm interested to see where this goes.

- "rumbling crash" - To me, these are two different things. A rumble being like an earthquake, and then the crash of a collapse resulting from the earthquake, for example. The running together of these things sounds off to me.

- One page in and there is lots of action, things are happening, there's threat and danger, a character is taking action. This is good. I'm still no closer to finding out what's happening, but I don't mind, because there are interesting little details that pull me on, like this sphere, and the urgency of the situation.

I will say that the prose feels a bit wordy in places, could be smoother reading, but I've got no grammar gripes so far, which I am always grateful for :) 

(page 2)

- "locked in with the duchess’s body" - Whoa. What the heck is going on? I'm presuming from the phrasing that the duchess is dead, or there would be no need to refer to her body.

- 'Choking on a breath..." - Some of the sentences are quite long.

- Why is the blond hair damned?

- "still breathing" - Ah, so someone has died, since one of the T's bands is gone. I like this detail, and I like that you showed me its significance, instead of telling me. Good job.

- "rubble shifted" - Some of the debris shifted before. Just noting this is not the first time there's been shifting.

(page 3)

- "where the sphere met the wall" - The sphered can only meet a particular wall at one small point of contact, if its a complete sphere. As a result, this detail seems a bit odd to me.

- "just opposite the blue wall" - Okay, I'm outright confused now, by the blocking, the location of the different elements of the scene and their relative positions. The arrangement of the sphere is a bit confusing, and I don't know what the blue wall is, compared to any other wall. Unless any of the positional stuff actually matters, and affects the outcome of the scene, I would suggest dropping some of the specifics.

- "Can you hear me, Your Grace?" - I don't see any reason for the capitalisation of 'your grace'.

(page 4)

- "We need to get in without shifting the weight of the rubble" - IMO, this is going into a awful lot of fine detail for the beginning of a book, and great deal of detail for a prologue. It was a good start, but I was hoping the action would be over in a page or two, and I would start to learn about the characters and the story. It's not though, and Im getting bored with all the talk about debris. I want to know about character and motivation to establish whether I care about all the detail or not.

- Also, I'm getting confused by the various characters being mentioned and what was going on at the time. I'm waiting for be shown clearly what the situation is, but each time I think I'm getting close to that, another character appears, or is mentioned, and I've got more strands to contend with, without knowing where they're running, as it were.

- "carefree laughter" - Good detail, about T and the duke. Gives me something to hold onto from a character perspective.

(page 5)

- "And send someone here to help with the lifting" - I am completely gobsmacked that no one, not a guard, or servant, or page has come to even investigate is anyone needs help.

(page 6)

- "That would have to be enough" - Enough what? Confused. Also, confused that he has not spoken to the duke, is not over there with him trying to reassure him that help is on the way. There is becoming a curious lack of urgency about events, and Tre's behaviour in particular.

- Oh, yeah, okay.

- "he nearly let loose a giddy laugh" - I don't understand why he has this reaction.

- "to shift the weight clear of the duke’s body" - Okay, you're really losing me here. All the time that The was standing around musing with Was, he could have shifted the beam off the duke?! That's crazy, that has to be his first and only priority.

(page 7)

- "He was related to Br" - Eh?! The guard is related to the duke? That doesn't seem right. Very odd.

- "mentally comparing the guard’s broad shoulders" - Second use of the word 'mentally' on this page. Primarily, though, you don't need to say mentally comparing. We're in Tre's POV< so we know anything in the narrative is 'in his head'. You don't need to tell us he's thinking, it's implicit.

- "No. Wait. I’ll get a grip on him, if you can pull us out" - Why on earth would he send the guard for water when all he's been thinking about is how to get the duke out, and when someone was coming to help (with that)?

- "when whatever had been pinning his legs pulled free" - The pinning object doesn't pull free, surely, it's the duke who is pulled free.

(page 8)

- "An hour?" - What?!?! And only two people have come to check on them? This is mad. I really struggle to believe it.

- "hadn’t been that long ago that he’d hated this man" - Oh, I need to know this on page one. I would be so much more invested in the personal cost to Tre if I had know he hated the duke before he started trying to rescue him. I'd say I got a slight whiff that all was not well, but I think it needs a much more obvious reference, Some things you just come out and tell the reader.

- "Who could have guessed that it would come to this?" - What would come from this? Don't understand.

- "healthy man in his thirties" - for some reason I thought the duke older. 

(page 9)

- "Especially for a mage?" - Sorry, so the duke's a mage? Again this seems like something that could just to clear from the start.

- "walked in with a waterskin" - Why is he not hurrying?

- "we don’t have anyone to help with his injuries" - This country house, or whatever it is, is the strangest place. There are only half-a-dozen people in the whole joint?

(page 10)

- "some response as he helped B" - typo: missing word.

- "Interrupted the spell" - What I do really like is that magic can have such dangerous and disastrous consequences in this world, kinda of like a 'meltdown' or unintended explosion. 

(page 11)

- "Al’s features were too clearly marked by his father’s heritage" - I'm starting to presume that the main story is going to follow the child. If so, I'm not convinced there is anything in this prologue that really justifies it being here. Okay, maybe it Tre is going to be Al's faithful retainer, but maybe this 'chapter' could just as well be a flashback further into the book. (Although, I appreciate it introduces various magical gewgaws.)

(page 12)

- "since before the rebellion" - I'm losing track of the political situation. So, there's a king...was he the one rebelled against, or is he a new king? Then there is a foreign nationality--the Ket. Where do they fit into the rebellion? They're not the same nationality as the king? So where do they fit into the rebellion? Too many strands that are not explained, IMO.

- "they’d get rid of Al and make her the new duchess" - Who? The midwife? I'm so confused.

- "Not where he might hear" - Who is 'he'?

(page 13)

- As I read on, it starts to become clearer, but I don't think there's any reason for many of the statements Ive highlighted to be clearer at the time they are delivered. It's not about keeping secrets from the reader, but about engaging them at the start to read the rest of the story.

- "but even at his greatest moments of paranoia" - 'in his greatest moments of paranoia', IMO.

(page 14)

- "only to have his view blocked by R" - Good character moment. R has been a bit ineffectual so far, but this shows him as caring about the boy. These very simple character moments can be so effective in engaging the reader. I'm now hoping the R is in the main story too, some wizened old retainer, no doubt grumpy at the world, but with a heart of gold hidden away.

- "no longer holding back tears" - This scene is clipping along at a good pace. Lots of emotion, and an overarching feeling of impending loss. Pretty smooth style. Lots to like about this closing section.

- "couldn’t risk listening to without giving in to D's fearful cynicism" - I don't understand this bit.

- "three kitchen servants" - Where on earth were they when the palace was falling down and people needed rescuing?

- "melting of the barrier" - Issue: it would be much faster to be picking away at the ice, surely, heating up a rod of metal to pierce the casing and let in air. This not rocket science, or any kind of science, just common sense. I can't imagine no one has thought of such an approach.

(page 15)

- "if you can use the fire spell well enough" - There are other ways to make heat, like in a conventional fire. Light a fire in metal pots and place them around/under the surface of the sphere, etc. I'm not buying their poor application of logic and strategy to the situation.

- "And get the girl out of G" - Eh? Why? I thought they were going to accuse he of causing the problem. More confusion.

(page 16)

- "We will have the midwife set the events in writing" - But, the midwife is in the sphere right? Is she not just a likely to be dead as the duchess?

- "won’t use her against Al" - I'm so confused, I don't know how logic leads to these actions.

- "He touched the band that still circled his arm" - This, in context, refers to Tre, but it's the duke that has the marriage band. Confusion over pronoun references.

- There's good emotion at the conclusion, and I was carried through to the end by the smooth, light and effective style, but I was so confused by then that I had long since given up trying to figure why any of these things were happening. Protect the son was about the only thing that I actually understood, the rest of it I was all at sea with, and so was kind of blocking out.

Overall 

- I think the narrative flows nicely. The style is efficient, and quite effective. The biggest issue I have, I think, is pacing. For me, as a prologue, this is way too long for what actually happens, and the level of detail about all this rubble, etc. is way too specific for a prologue, IMO. To me, it reads much more like a first chapter.

- There is a tendency towards the perennial problem of early draft that I'm not engaged with the characters, so why should I care about them being in peril? What do I care whether the duke, or the duchess, lives or dies? Why do I care if Tre manages to rescue them? Okay, ordinary human decency, I get that, but in terms story, nothing really. And this being a prologue, I have to presume I'm not going to be involved with Tre in the rest of the book, so why do I care for all his stress and endeavour now? I'm not saying I don't care, exactly, I'm saying I don't know what my involvement with this chap is.

- My biggest issue with the story though is all the extrapolation that goes on near the end about their strategy. There are numerous problems that I have: (1) I don't know really what everyone's motivation is; (2) I don't always know to whom they are referring when they speak about someone in generic male or female pronouns; (3) I don't understand the political or judicial set-up, so I have a hard time understanding the choices they are making, the strategy they are putting in place.

In summary, I enjoyed a lot about this, but I think this as a prologue needs to be much simpler, and much, much, clearer; those two things kind of going hand in hand. You don't need to explain the entire set up of the world in the prologue, you only need enough to engage the reader with the story and the characters, all the rest can come later.

Thanks for sharing :) 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your first sub! Always exciting to read new work

Overall

The prologue struggled with pacing primarily. There are pages and pages of filler and about four pages of actual events and action. I'd suggest cutting this way down, removing 50% or more of the chatting while nothing is happening, to focus on the characters and world building. I don't get any tension from the collapse as I don't know how it affects the world and I don't know anything about the characters. I also do not know anything about our main character, so he comes across as a narrator voice more than anything, just watching world events happen but not driving them.

It's very prologue-esque, so that's good, but I think making it shorter and more concrete, with a more defined arc, would help a lot.

 

15 minutes ago, Robinski said:

Also, I'm getting confused by the various characters being mentioned and what was going on at the time. I'm waiting for be shown clearly what the situation is, but each time I think I'm getting close to that, another character appears, or is mentioned, and I've got more strands to contend with, without knowing where they're running, as it were.

This was also my issue. In fact after reading @Robinski's summary, I 100% agree with all the points he made. Pacing, buy-in, arc, all were major issues for me. But the writing style is smooth and clean, and that is fantastic.

As I go

- pg 3: Okay...its a prologue and the start of a book so I'm willing to deal with some disorientation. However by page three I consider myself lost. There was a collapse and a duke, a pregnant woman, and a midwife are all potential casualties. Our protagonist had a bum arm that is now healed and there's a weird sphere thing that is crying? I'm really lost as to setting and goals right now. I need more grounding in our protag, I think, and the world. Not a ton, but a sentence or two so I'm not so unmoored right now

- pg 4: It would help if I cared about the duke et al., I think. Since I don't know them and don't care about them, being trapped under rubble isn't doing much for me in terms of tension

- pg 5: why is everyone concerned about the midwife and not the pregnant woman she'd be attending? Or is there just a random midwife and no pregnancy?

- pg 6: they are still just discussing and marginally moving things around. I think you have several pages in here that can easily be cut out. 

- pg 8: What happened, Your Grace... We could very easily go from page one to here without any issue. Have the inciting incident, have our protagonist pull out the duke, then get back into the plot

- pg 10: okay here we are getting the information we needed on page one or two, about the cause of the accident and the players. This needs to come much earlier

 pg 13: the only description we get of people is if they have blonde hair. This is very strange. Does no one else have hair?

- pg 14: The narrative appears to be wandering again. We now know they why and the how, so what is left in this arc?

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Overall, I think you could probably cut this prologue in half and still be good. My favorite parts of this chapter were the stuff at the end, with the political intrigue and the talk of blood prices and the judge and all of that. The wreckage scene was convincingly written, but it also took until about page 8 until I was engaged with the story. I like that there was a real sense of danger and threat, but I think that could have been established in fewer pages. I would rather have more details about the situation to begin with, because I was very confused about many of the details until later in the chapter. 

The beginning hook was okay, but i think could be stronger. 

Other than that, I enjoyed this prologue a lot. It has a lot of potential, and I like the fact that it seems magic is dangerous, unpredictable, and illegal. The voices were very good, and I got a sense of distinct character for each of them, which I liked. The writing was also easy to understand which was good. 

Alright, opening the doc now

Pg 1 Opening paragraph is good. But a healer’s warning seems more lik e”you have cancer” to me

“breathing heavily…” this sentence runs a bit long imo. A bit hard to follow

“from the broken castle wall” part of me says this is unnecessary and you could just say “dust” but I’m not entirely sure…

“A muffled scream” 0_0 okay was not expecting that

Pg 2 “space of three breaths” what?

“damned blond hair” why does he hate the hair so much

Pg 3 This is probably intentional, but I don’t really understand what this sphere is supposed to be. The sobbing is very spooky and makes me think it might be killing whoever is in it

Pg 5 “but not this news” ok, that is good. If they were spreading the news of this explosion without helping, I would be angry.

“could she suffocate” That was my thought, too. So did the midwife make the ice shield?

“nearly let loose a giddy…” I don’t understand this part. Why is he happy about dust?

Pg 8 “It hadn’t been long ago…” Ok, this explains why he didn’t like the hair earlier, and some of his thoughts. Personally, I’d rather have this feeling be stronger throughout the passage, or have this part come earlier. Like maybe he thinks “Should T perhaps just leave the duke to die?” or something like that. Also, if you couldn’t tell, I’m getting drawn in more by this part, so good job :-)

Pg9 “vow of marriage…” Oh, I assumed the OB had something to do with the other person still being alive or something.

“for punishment” ooooh ok this is interesting to me. Magic is illegal here?

Pg 10 “response as helped B with a sip” response as he helped B

So the sleeping spell caused the explosion somehow? I’m guessing that is why there are laws about magic, since it appears to be very unpredictable.

Pg 12 ok, so up until this point I thought maybe the healer was a vengeful traitor, but this explanation makes more sense. I’m liking this political intrigue stuff, even though I don’t understand most of the context. Personally, I’d rather get to this part sooner.

Pg 16 “the judge’s wrath” besides being an awesome metal album name, this intrigues me. I get the feeling that the judge is no ordinary mortal…

Edit: after reading @Robinskiand @kaisresposnes, I also agree with many of the points about pacing and the lack of people coming to help them. 

Edited by ginger_reckoning
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Well, I can see the problem with the fact that most of my previous readers had already read the first few chapters before I realized I needed a prologue... turns out things are less confusing when you know where they're going.  Who knew? 

At the moment, I'm going to defend the necessity of the prologue, but will check in on that front later.  It wasn't there initially, and I had some early readers asking some of the questions that you guys specifically pointed out that it answers - The danger of magic. The general existence and some basic details of Oaths/Vows/Blood Prices.  What actually happened that day, since the story gets twisted to fit various political agendas. 

I'll be glad to readdress that later if there seem to be other ways to point those out.

Beyond that, you guys are awesome.  While I'm not hugely excited about the amount of readjusting and cutting down text (this is my least favorite thing ever... I apologize in advance for when I fail to do it adequately) that it will involve, it definitely points out the weaknesses that I wasn't able to put my finger on, and also the ones that I probably could have put my finger on but was shying away from the amount of work it would take to fix.

While I'm making adjustments, I wanted to check on a couple smaller questions that I could use more clarification on. 

On 1/4/2021 at 1:43 PM, Robinski said:

I am puzzled why the healer was the one leading the message

Would "The midwife had warned..." instead add any clarity to what's going on up front? Or is the disconnect between the first two sentences and the third just too jarring to approach this way?  

On 1/4/2021 at 1:43 PM, Robinski said:

"Can you hear me, Your Grace?" - I don't see any reason for the capitalisation of 'your grace'.

The google searching I've done says that it's supposed to be capitalized for direct address.  Is that not correct?

In the meantime, I'll be working on shifting important character details to the front (some of your comments on those resulted in legitimate facepalming on my part.), cutting back unnecessary moving of rubble/conversation/vague political references, clarifying the bedroom/sphere layout, etc. 

As a general question, how do people generally do revisions if they're working through submitting a longer work over time?  As relevant to this, specifically, would a general recommendation be to get details here nailed down and clear or submit chapter 1 in one of the next few weeks while I'm working on adjusting this?
 

Edited by C_Vallion
Accidentally hit submit before I finished typing the first time through.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

As a general question, how do people generally do revisions if they're working through submitting a longer work over time?  As relevant to this, specifically, would a general recommendation be to get details here nailed down and clear or submit chapter 1 in one of the next few weeks while I'm working on adjusting this?

Personally, I will sub my first chapter or first few chapters several times. Getting that intro right is so important to give people a grounding in your world. After that, I tend to not resubmit edited chapters, just edit as I go and keep subbing. But I've been known to put through a chapter one like five times. But again, that's just me, and others do things differently. 

For your work specifically, since there is some pretty hard bouncing off this prologue, I'd do edits and do at least one more sub before moving on. Otherwise you'll find we keep bouncing off the same problems over and over--because you may have fixed them in your draft, but unless we see those fixes, they don't exist to us.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:
On 04/01/2021 at 6:43 PM, Robinski said:

"Can you hear me, Your Grace?" - I don't see any reason for the capitalisation of 'your grace'.

The google searching I've done says that it's supposed to be capitalized for direct address.  Is that not correct?

I have a fairly heavily ingrained aversion to capitalisation because of being bombarded with it A LOT in the early stages of my membership in RE (as my subtitle proclaims). Given that, I may have fired off this comment at first appearance of the caps, out of concern that this was going to be one of Those Stories. However, it wasn't, and really there was not much capitalisation to contend with. 

While 'correct' form may be to capitalise 'Your Grace', I think that doing what you feel serves the story best is probably the main consideration. I doubt anyone would have commented if you had not capitalised it, but given the context, I retract my comment :)   The thing that I loath are sentences like this:

'Garon used his Magic, summoning all his Power, centring his Might on the Spell that he was about to Cast, because Casters needed to Focus their Will the ensure the Power was discharged, and the Evil Seekers were eliminated.' - Yes, there has been this many CAPS in some submissions over the years.

1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:
On 04/01/2021 at 6:43 PM, Robinski said:

I am puzzled why the healer was the one leading the message

Would "The midwife had warned..." instead add any clarity to what's going on up front? Or is the disconnect between the first two sentences and the third just too jarring to approach this way? 

In reading that first line, with walls thundering down, I assumed we were in some kind of combat / war / battle situation, and I didn't understand why the healer seemed to be providing tactical information As it turns out, my assumptions were incorrect. All I would say is, it's worth revising and revising and revision that first line because...it's the first line, and so much hangs on it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, kais said:

Personally, I will sub my first chapter or first few chapters several times. Getting that intro right is so important to give people a grounding in your world. After that, I tend to not resubmit edited chapters, just edit as I go and keep subbing. But I've been known to put through a chapter one like five times. But again, that's just me, and others do things differently. 

For your work specifically, since there is some pretty hard bouncing off this prologue, I'd do edits and do at least one more sub before moving on. Otherwise you'll find we keep bouncing off the same problems over and over--because you may have fixed them in your draft, but unless we see those fixes, they don't exist to us.

Yeah, very similar for me. I think I subbed the first chapter of my last novel through here three times (some weeks apart), and the first six chapters twice. The second time the chapters came through I continued with the whole novel, subbing a chapter, editing it for comments then editing the following chapter before it was due the following Monday. So, I was kind of editing each chapter twice, once before submission (for comments that rolled forward from the previous chapter) and once after submission, then rolling those comments into the following chapter, etc., etc.

The difficulty is (I think) the further into the book you get, the bigger impact the comments have, to the point there I found I was substantially editing (sometimes even rewriting) some of the chapters from about the 2/3rds point.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

22 minutes ago, Robinski said:

'Garon used his Magic, summoning all his Power, centring his Might on the Spell that he was about to Cast, because Casters needed to Focus their Will the ensure the Power was discharged, and the Evil Seekers were eliminated.' - Yes, there has been this many CAPS in some submissions over the years.

 All I would say is, it's worth revising and revising and revision that first line because...it's the first line, and so much hangs on it.

1. I will be honest that I was surprised to not see any comments on the Oathbands and Vows and Whatnot, considering the subtitle.  I like to think I won't frustrate you too much in that regard, but there are a few things that I haven't decided how to deal with yet.  My brain wants to separate Oaths (Judge-Bound. Featuring glowy armbands) from oaths (not formally Bound, used by people who are skeptical about any magic use, but sometimes tattooed with a comparable band without the fun glow-in-the-dark feature).   However, I know that going that route is going to just seem like it's a bunch of really inconsistent typos unless I find some way to clarify it.  I'll appreciate thoughts on that when we get there.
2.  First-lines and everything hanging on them give me so much anxiety. :wacko:  Will keep working on it, though.  Hadn't considered the combat possibility, though it's an entirely fair assumption when finding a fantasy novel opening with thundering walls. 

Also, in response to both you and @kais on resubmitting: Thanks! That's what I was leaning toward, but I like to have verbal confirmation of things while I'm learning the ropes.  

Edited by C_Vallion
typo fix
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Would "The midwife had warned..." instead add any clarity to what's going on up front? Or is the disconnect between the first two sentences and the third just too jarring to approach this way? 

So, personally I thought that the healer warning them and then the explosion happening, maybe the healer was a maleficent type character who had warned that if she wasn't treated better she would explode them. Or perhaps she was a soothsayer and told them to expect the worst because an earthquake was going to happen. I think maybe if you explicitly say that the healer was warning them about the operation/childbirth (it was a childbirth, right?) then it would be a lot clearer. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed on what everyone said in terms of pacing and length. There's a lot of good stuff here, but I didn't feel like I needed a full 5k words, especially for a prologue.

For me the most interesting part were the comments on the political relations between the kingdom and the dukedom, and how that relates to the events outlined her. I'm not entirely sure what's going on yet, but am eager to find out more. I'm not sure they need to be a strong focus in the prologue, but that's where my interest is for now. 

I think part of the reason why is that we don't get a ton from T as a character, so I latched onto the potential setting motion with political shifts rather than any character-based motion. @Robinski's summary of character buy-in was exactly how I felt, and is why I gravitated towards the worldbuilding instead. I think the worldbuilding here either needs to be a stronger consistent focus throughout the prologue or (more likely) that we need some more character-driven moments. I feel like I say this in every first chapter critique so apologies if I'm a broken record but I feel like I need more clarity around T's motivations and history. Not the whole story, but glimpses into who he is and how he was shaped into being that way. Because this is a prologue, I'm not sure if we're going to be following T in the future. If we're not, I think there's ironically more pressure for his character to shine since the story really has to justify putting him in these first few pages if he's not the MC. He needs to hook me immediately with personality and motivations if this is the case. 

Since you mention Sanderson, one thing I'll say is that the talk about magic here doesn't quite line up with his rules about magic systems. Having the big magical mishap explosion be a major plot point that results in a path forward for the characters is tricky when it comes before the explanation of how said magic actually works. The issue for me is that the dynamic about the midwife and who to blame relies on us having an intimate understanding with the magic that I'm not sure we do. We know that she messes up, but I don't think we get enough specifics about what that really means. Without concrete rules, it's difficult to turn magic into plot that helps the protagonists. 

Not a lot more to add here other than adding another voice saying that a prologue should be snappy. Oh and that I want to protect the kid and you had better not hurt him. :angry:

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your first sub!

This reads more like a Chapter 1 to me than a prologue, at least partially because of the length, but I thought it was a pretty reasonable start. I will admit I was a bit let down when the disaster turned out to be from a mis-cast/interrupted spell and not something bigger, though I think that could be mitigated by giving us a better sense of stakes.

What I struggled with most was understanding the stakes, because clearly the stakes are there, but they’re buried under all of the world building. Obviously this incident has significant political implications for B’s duchy, but readers don’t have enough information to understand most of it. It’s important for us to know that there seem to be some ethnic/national tensions between B’s duchy but we’re getting minutiae without really understanding the broader picture.

Same goes for the judicial system – probably even more so, as we’re getting caught up in details about who cast what spell or was responsible for it misfiring (still not entirely clear here) and what politicians want to blame whom for what… but we don’t really have any sense of big picture for most of it, so we’re left guessing as to why these details matter. The one thing that sticks out for me is the bit about T enacting the judicial system himself and putting his soul at risk – that’s helpful because it has an immediacy and a sense of danger for our POV character. As for the rest, I get the impression that you’ve thought it and I suspect there is a lot of potential there, but it doesn’t mean much to me as a reader right now.

I also, pretty much constantly as I read. wondered why the castle seemed to be so dreadfully under-staffed.

This felt like a long chapter with the latter half around politics and judiciaries and such dragging out a bit. I suspect some trimming is in order here.

I think I’ve mostly answered your questions organically at this point, but as far as what the prologue set me up to expect: Based on the first few pages, I thought we were being set up for an action narrative, but the last half or two thirds suggest a story of political intrigue rather than action (I know those two things are not mutually exclusive, but I say “rather than” very deliberately here.)

In terms of the magic system, I actually don’t feel like we got a ton of information about it, other than “mis-cast spells are bad” and that it’s tied into the judiciary system somehow.

As I read:

p1 “the lack of human outcry in its absence” redundant phrasing here

“a massive blue-silver sphere” is this object usually here? If not, the way it’s mentioned here and in the next few lines seems understated.

“locked in with the duchess’s body” if this orb is protecting people why is T assuming the duchess is dead?
Edit: A couple more paragraphs in, I’m now assuming this is what one of the disappeared lines on T’s arm means.

“Where’s the healer?” So, yeah, I have been wondering why this is something that healer would have apparently been able to warn about (first line).

Definitely wondering why T and R seem to be the only people attending to this disaster. Even with guards preparing to ride out with “news,” I don’t imagine they’d leave the castle un-staffed in normal circumstances, and this kind of disaster should bring people swarming back.

I’m confused about who was casting the spell that caused the problem. It seemed to be the duke, but then Dw says otherwise.

P12 “Not where he might hear.” Who is “he” in this case? The duke’s son?

“We can have the midwife called before…” I’m definitely having trouble following the discussion here. The midwife apparently interrupted a spell that may or may not have been cast by the Duke, and depending on how the kingdom’s laws and politics work I could see the midwife being held legally responsible for that, especially if it was to shield a political figure from blame by blaming a working-class person instead (although that is apparently not what is expected to happen here). But how does her interrupting a spell by accident imply that she’s acting against the Duke’s son?


 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on your first sub! Coming in later this week, so people have already said many of the things I was going to (busy work week)

Well, there is A Lot going on in this chapter. Your writing style is good enough that it kept me reading far past when I had any idea of what was going on. Like the others, I'll agree this needs to be shortened a lot for a prologue, and I think some of the more advanced political concepts and connections probably need to be moved to later when we have some sense of the world and where they fit in.

Right now, about all I got was: magical explosion, because bad spell with childbirth? And then the wall also collapsed? Still not sure how that happened. There are a lot of blond people, which might be connected to some marginalized people, the father is likely going to die, and the son is probably the MC for the book. All the stuff with bands, and judging, and who is able to use magic, and which people have been oppressed can all get spread out later in the book. I think that by itself will save you 4-5 pages here.

On 1/5/2021 at 2:09 PM, C_Vallion said:

Well, I can see the problem with the fact that most of my previous readers had already read the first few chapters before I realized I needed a prologue... turns out things are less confusing when you know where they're going.  Who knew? 

Yeah, I was actually going to mention that I think this would be a superb tense chapter, if it had occurred about 6 chapters into a book where we knew some of the worldbuilding. But to have it as a prologue makes my eyes cross.

 

On 1/4/2021 at 0:05 AM, C_Vallion said:

probably on the edge of YA in primary character ages and content, but the scale and complexity I have in mind for the over-arching story is larger than I’d expect from most YA.

I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this yet, but I don't see this as YA at all, at least not from the prologue. This is dealing with large-scale politics, judgement over magic usage, and lines of succession. YA usually focuses a lot more on the character, and often doesn't have prologues. If the first chapter was the kid running away from guards or something, and we learn about what he's feeling, and this is a later letter or flashback where he learns about his past, maybe that would fit better under the YA umbrella.

As to what to expect going forward...I really can't say at this point. There were so many concepts thrown around in the prologue that this could be a political thriller, a story of revenge for the kid, an in-depth magic building book, etc. I think cutting down to the essentials that match the rest of the book will help a lot.

 

Again, your prose is very solid and I can tell there's a lot of thought in this. It just needs to be streamlined to get all that to the reader.

 

Notes while reading

pg 1: a little confused. So was the healer that morning telling about something different? Not connected with the wall collapse? Because any consequence of the first line seems to have been forgotten.

pg 2: "and only his shock-slowed reaction saved him "
--confused by blocking here. How does stumbling forward keep him from getting hit with debris? It seems like he's going into the destruction.

pg 2:  "find a single dark band marking his forearm"
--Is this what's related to the healer this morning? I'm pulled it different directions, this close to the beginning of the story.

pg 2: "but if the Oathband still marked"
--ooooh. This is connected to people being still alive. Did not get that.

pg 4: "managing the fire spell long enough"
--nope, back to being confused. The silver ball thing is ice? And someone's using a fire spell to melt it? I thought it was something protecting people from falling debris.

pg 6: "She will know about the duchess by now.”
--Still very confused by the order of the events. The Duchess is in the ice ball? Except she was dead before the wall collapsed?

pg 8: "What must it be like..."
--I don't think this is landing with enough impact, because we don't have any reference yet. Do the bands itch? hurt? Can the wearer feel anything from them, or are they just indications?

pg 10: so an interrupted sleep spell creates a ball of ice? I'm glad we're getting some explanation, but there seems to be elemental magic here, and I'm not sure where ice fits in with sleep. What brought the wall down?

pg 11: Also, people are discussing the legality of casting magic, when people are actively dying...I'm not sure they have their priorities straight.

pg 12: There's a lot going on with this page, with political implications, centuries-old history, and magic. There's a lot going on period, with this prologue.

pg 13: I'm sort of glazing over at the different suggestions they're throwing out. I don't know enough about the world yet to know what they mean.

pg 14: There keep being blond-haired people called out. Is that supposed to mean something?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was pretty confused for most of this. I was having a hard time picturing the scene, and for the begining, thought I was in the middle of a war, not an magical accident. If you hadn't said this was YA, I would've assumed it was adult fantasy since all the characters seemed older, except for the nine-year old. Because you are saying this is YA, I'm guessing he is going to be one of the primary characters. And if that is the case, is the prologue necessary? I'm not prologue, but I'm worried this one might be misleading based on what you said about the rest of the book because he prologue doesn't feel like YA at all.

The novel does seem like it has a lot of potential. I see you have a complex world with a well developed magic system and political landscape.

In the comments below, I try to identify some of the places where I was lost or confused: 

"The healer had warned them...castle wall thundered down..." This had me thinking the palace was under attack. Later, I learned that wasn't the case. By the end, I was still a little fuzzy on what actually happened, but I  think I understand now. 

"He duked his head..." Around this point, I'm struggling to picture what is going on. 

"At his touch, the band glowed with faint blue light" initial reaction: What is this band? Does he know why it's glowing? 

"Oathband..." okay, why not just say this the first time he touches it?

"sphere met the wall" for some reason I was really having a hard time picturing this.

"strange barrier and pulled it back" Is he just as confused as me?

"One D had pulled them free..." Hadn't something fallen and pinned the guys arm when the MC tried to get it off of his chest?

"...healthy man in his thirties..." Didn't the narrator earlier say he'd served this person for 30 years? Does that mean he served him since he was a kid?

"They won't even look at the girl..." At this point, if I'm putting things together right, the midwife or healer was doing some magic to ease childbirth, and this girl walked in and somehow interrupted the spell, so magic went wild in the air and the duke contained it with the ice sphere? I'm not sure if the girl did it by accident or on purpose? 

"It will make him even more enemies" I'm really lost now. Not following the politics. 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Right now, about all I got was: magical explosion, because bad spell with childbirth? And then the wall also collapsed? Still not sure how that happened. There are a lot of blond people, which might be connected to some marginalized people, the father is likely going to die, and the son is probably the MC for the book. All the stuff with bands, and judging, and who is able to use magic, and which people have been oppressed can all get spread out later in the book. I think that by itself will save you 4-5 pages here.

On 1/5/2021 at 2:09 PM, C_Vallion said:

This more or less what I took away too, and I agree a lot of it, if not all of it, can be spread out. I'm not convinced this prologue is necessary. 

12 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this yet, but I don't see this as YA at all, at least not from the prologue. This is dealing with large-scale politics, judgement over magic usage, and lines of succession. YA usually focuses a lot more on the character, and often doesn't have prologues. If the first chapter was the kid running away from guards or something, and we learn about what he's feeling, and this is a later letter or flashback where he learns about his past, maybe that would fit better under the YA umbrella.

 

I also thought it didn't feel like YA. I think we were actually posting at the same time, though you beat me to it by a few minutes. 

YA can deal with all the things @Mandamonmentioned, but it is usually more character centric, and the character was very distant and swallowed up by the politics. I have seen YA with prologues, but the good ones (good in my opinion, anyway) aren't quite like this one. 

Random question: What would be be like if it was from the kid's perspective and he was overhearing snippets of the adult conversations? 

On 1/5/2021 at 11:28 PM, Silk said:

I also, pretty much constantly as I read. wondered why the castle seemed to be so dreadfully under-staffed.

 

It did seem rather deserted. I was wondering about this too. 

On 1/5/2021 at 11:28 PM, Silk said:

I think I’ve mostly answered your questions organically at this point, but as far as what the prologue set me up to expect: Based on the first few pages, I thought we were being set up for an action narrative, but the last half or two thirds suggest a story of political intrigue rather than action (I know those two things are not mutually exclusive, but I say “rather than” very deliberately here.)

 

I had a similar reaction to this. At first, I was thinking I was in the middle of a war, and thought the book was going to deal with that war and it's aftermath. 

Then, when I realized this was just a spell gone wrong, I felt more set up for adult fantasy/politic intrigue. 

On 1/5/2021 at 10:52 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I think the worldbuilding here either needs to be a stronger consistent focus throughout the prologue or (more likely) that we need some more character-driven moments

I would like more character driven moments. 

I think part of the reason I was so lost is because there was actually too much world building trying to be crammed into the chapter. I was overloaded, so I wasn't understanding things. 

On 1/5/2021 at 2:09 PM, C_Vallion said:

Well, I can see the problem with the fact that most of my previous readers had already read the first few chapters before I realized I needed a prologue... turns out things are less confusing when you know where they're going.  Who knew? 

I'm not convinced this prologue is necessary, but I haven't read the rest of the book so I don't really know. 

On 1/5/2021 at 2:09 PM, C_Vallion said:

At the moment, I'm going to defend the necessity of the prologue, but will check in on that front later.  It wasn't there initially, and I had some early readers asking some of the questions that you guys specifically pointed out that it answers - The danger of magic. The general existence and some basic details of Oaths/Vows/Blood Prices.  What actually happened that day, since the story gets twisted to fit various political agendas. 

 

These are all good questions and a good case for potentially keeping it. This prologue did show how catastrophically magic can go wrong,but I barely got a grasp on what actually happened and I don't really understand anything about Oaths/Vows/Blood Price. 

What would it look like from the girl who screwed it up's point of view? or the dying Duke's? Feel free to ignore these questions. 

On 1/4/2021 at 2:00 PM, kais said:

The prologue struggled with pacing primarily. There are pages and pages of filler and about four pages of actual events and action. I'd suggest cutting this way down, removing 50% or more of the chatting while nothing is happening, to focus on the characters and world building. I don't get any tension from the collapse as I don't know how it affects the world and I don't know anything about the characters. I also do not know anything about our main character, so he comes across as a narrator voice more than anything, just watching world events happen but not driving them.

 

I agree! This does sum up the problems with it in a clear way and articulates things I couldn't figure out how to explain. Taking @kais would make it work as a prologue in general. But as a YA prologue? I'm still not sure if it would work. 

 

On 1/4/2021 at 1:43 PM, Robinski said:

- There is a tendency towards the perennial problem of early draft that I'm not engaged with the characters, so why should I care about them being in peril? What do I care whether the duke, or the duchess, lives or dies? Why do I care if Tre manages to rescue them? Okay, ordinary human decency, I get that, but in terms story, nothing really. And this being a prologue, I have to presume I'm not going to be involved with Tre in the rest of the book, so why do I care for all his stress and endeavour now? I'm not saying I don't care, exactly, I'm saying I don't know what my involvement with this chap is.

 

Agree with all of this. 

On 1/4/2021 at 1:43 PM, Robinski said:

You don't need to explain the entire set up of the world in the prologue, you only need enough to engage the reader with the story and the characters, all the rest can come later.

Exactly!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

On 1/5/2021 at 2:09 PM, C_Vallion said:

As a general question, how do people generally do revisions if they're working through submitting a longer work over time?  As relevant to this, specifically, would a general recommendation be to get details here nailed down and clear or submit chapter 1 in one of the next few weeks while I'm working on adjusting this?

I think it would be okay to go ahead and submit chapter 1 since this is a prologue. 

After that?

Sometimes I submit my first chapter a couple times, sometimes I don't. It depends on how significant the changes are. This summer, I sent the first chapter, then decided to add a completely new first chapter set the  night before the original one, so I submitted that before the new stuff. After that, I usually just keep submitting. Sometimes I'll let a few weeks worth of critiques pile up before I even go revise.

However, if I get to a point where the changes I have to make are going to have a major impact on the next chapter, then I will hold off until I can resubmit the new one. With my last book, I actually stopped submitting half was through because I kept going back to the begining even as I got into later chapters and it got to a point where I changed so much in the begining I worried things wouldn't make sense if I kept submitting. I'm taking a break from that one for now, but when I got back, I probably won't do chapter by chapter stuff and will just ask for a beta read. 

However. I don't always run into that issue. With the book before that one, I sent the whole thing through chapter by chapter. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this yet, but I don't see this as YA at all, at least not from the prologue. This is dealing with large-scale politics, judgement over magic usage, and lines of succession. YA usually focuses a lot more on the character, and often doesn't have prologues. If the first chapter was the kid running away from guards or something, and we learn about what he's feeling, and this is a later letter or flashback where he learns about his past, maybe that would fit better under the YA umbrella.

As to what to expect going forward...I really can't say at this point. There were so many concepts thrown around in the prologue that this could be a political thriller, a story of revenge for the kid, an in-depth magic building book, etc. I think cutting down to the essentials that match the rest of the book will help a lot.

 

8 minutes ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I also thought it didn't feel like YA. I think we were actually posting at the same time, though you beat me to it by a few minutes. 

YA can deal with all the things @Mandamonmentioned, but it is usually more character centric, and the character was very distant and swallowed up by the politics. I have seen YA with prologues, but the good ones (good in my opinion, anyway) aren't quite like this one. 

On one hand, I think part of my choosing to use Trevan for the prologue is to lean away from the YA feel of the opening chapters.  Right now, I feel like the opening scene has a very YA feel, and I'm concerned that someone would either A. Pick it up, see that, and happily be reading along then suddenly be irritated to find themselves bogged down in a lot of multi-kingdom political/magical discussions. or B. Pick it up expecting an adult fantasy, then finding the opening chapters feeling very YA, and giving up before getting to what they would enjoy. 

Looking back now, this was probably not a useful question for me to ask for feedback on until the opening chapters are available... oops.  
 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

On one hand, I think part of my choosing to use Trevan for the prologue is to lean away from the YA feel of the opening chapters.  Right now, I feel like the opening scene has a very YA feel, and I'm concerned that someone would either A. Pick it up, see that, and happily be reading along then suddenly be irritated to find themselves bogged down in a lot of multi-kingdom political/magical discussions. or B. Pick it up expecting an adult fantasy, then finding the opening chapters feeling very YA, and giving up before getting to what they would enjoy. 

.As an adult who prefers YA to adult books, multi-kingdom political / magical discussions are not a problem if they are handled right. If I feel bogged down by them, it's not because they don't belong in YA, but because they weren't handled right. I just finished reading an urban fantasy novel that had both the real world and a fae realm in it. There were some complex politics and magical discussions that did not bog the narrative down at all. 

YA can be very complex. Having it being centered on the character doesn't at all mean there has to be less complexity to the word and discussions, it's just see through a different lens than it might be with a adult books.

I don't read a lot of adult high fantasy...ok I don't read a lot of adult anything these days. So if I was looking for a YA fantasy and read a very adult prologue, I might never get to that first chapter that feels very YA. Now, if I were someone who preferred adult fantasy, read a very adult prologue then got to a chapter that felt YA, I'd feel deceived. 

1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

Looking back now, this was probably not a useful question for me to ask for feedback on until the opening chapters are available... oops.  

Yeah, I think it would be easier to give you feedback on whether to push it more towards YA or Adult when I've read more of it. 

What you said about your reasoning for the POV you picked for the prologue makes it sound like you are caught between. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who doesn't read much fantasy, I can't speak with any authority about if the magic system works. It seems like the blood oath is non magical? It seems like just a normal oath that she can break later, or did I misunderstand?

The bands were a fun touch, and I liked how you slipped the explaination of them in. For the Judge mediated ones, I don't quite see how that would happen if magic is illegal. Are the judges the only ones allowed to use magic? Are they a hidden sub culture? Maybe I am suposed to be asking these questions as a reader though.

A few small points:

The first three sentences read as choppy to me. 

The sentence starting "A muffled scream from within..." is a long and information packed sentence, might need to be broken up or simplified for clarity. 

"And what had he done here?" 'Here' seems unnecessary.

The introduction of the name B and the Duke of T together was a bit confusing. I wasn't sure if this was two different people or not at first. 

"Is there a gap between this thing and the wall?" I had a hard time picturing what was happening with the debris and the sphere from the descriptions.

I liked your dialogue a lot. My only issue was that at times it was challenging to know who was speaking, especially wen dialogue was embedded deep into a paragraph. 

Well done! Thanks for sharing!

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I read twice. First for fun then second round for nit picks.

Comments after first read.

Oh, I am so confused! There were so many characters. I can’t remember a single name. 

Nothing in the prologue turned me off or would make me put the book down. But I was unable to get sucked into the scene. 

There were a lot of things that felt inconsistent to me.

Overall I was confused. Nothing wrong with the writing, just a lot of new people and information in a short span of time.

Nit picks: Okay so it has been about 4 days since I first read this. Life got crazy. But I’m thinking it may be good to read it with fresh eyes.

“... flexed the fingers of his left hand against the ominous tingling that wrapped around his forearm.” 

  • Ooh! I like the world building here and am intrigued. Is this magic? A spell? Is it a physical thing or just a feeling? The opening didn’t really grab me but this bit did. 

“... dumbfounded by the brightness...”

  • okay this is the first part where I start getting confused. A few lines earlier he noted the brightness of the stairway. It was easy to put 2 together and get that something had collapsed and this sunlight came in. So why would the brightness cause the T to be dumbfounded? Also- if he has reached the top of the stairs why is there still railing to cling to? 

“The bedroom was usually dim...” 

  • So this line has the name pf the kingdom Tr which confused me on first read because the main characters name also starts with Tr.
  • this paragraph has the character again surprised by sunlight. But he could see it way down the stairs. So why still confused? I get the impression that he is suppose to be in a state of shock. I don’t know if you have ever had shock before- but I have. It is not fun. In my case I was driving home after hearing on the radio that my neighborhood had been struck by a tornado. I saw about 15 ambulances go by and was getting zero answers on the phone. I began to shake all over and had to pull the car over. I was able to think but visceral things happened. And it took about 10 hours for the shaking to stop. Now- everyone experiences shock differently. I use to lifeguard and was nick named V- for Val I guess but also for Vomit. Every rescue I was like on autopilot. I’d swim grab the person, get them out of the water. Do first aid/ cpr as needed. Do the paperwork. Then vomit and vomit and vomit. Anyway. In both cases my mind was super clear. I wasn’t confused. So I guess this character’s continued surprise just rings untrue, to me.  Anyway- I feel like there are better ways to express shock than continued surprise.
  • His actions what are driving them? Why is a servant the only one to rush to help? What is his motivation? 
  • Also in this paragraph: why is a torn down wall more shocking and attention worthy than a giant blue orb? As a reader I find the orb much more interesting.

“The tingling in his arm had stopped”

  • on first reading. This bit really confused me. I get it now the second time through. I’m not sure if you wanted to bury the lead as to what the tingle magic was or not. But if you meant to bury it, it worked well. I didn’t get that it was associated with a person at all first go round till later. (Ai’ll note when.)

“And what had he done here? “ 

  • on first reading I thought “he” was Tr not the duke.

“... pulled out the knife he kept at his belt and cut a wide piece of fabric from the green and gold tunic that marked his position as part of Duke Br’s serving staff.”

  • okay that was a lot of details in a short span of time.
  • Also: I had figured he was a body guard, not serving staff.  

“The debris next to the sphere shifted”

  • this is the paragraph where I finally figured out what the tingly magic was, lol. Had to be spelled out for me, no pun intended.

““Careful. You could pull the rest down.” 

  • who says this?

“Tr  glanced over his shoulder to find Duchess M...” here we meet another person but are given two new people to keep track of. So far at this point in the book we have three named characters  and have interacted with 3 characters but those two groups are not the same. This makes things confusing. First group Tr, Duke and Duchess. Second group Tr, Duke and unnamed advisor. Yes, he is named in the next line- but as I said in the first reading. It made it hard to juggle and keep things straight in my head.

“Was anyone in the castle capable of managing the fire spell long enough to melt through the wall?”

  • what fire spell? What wall? I’m confused. 

““Is there a gap between this thing and the wall?”

  • what is “this thing” again I’m confused.

“We need to get in without shifting the weight of the rubble

  • get in? I thought he was trying to get the Duke out of the rubble?

“then cleared what he could away from the gap before ducking down to find the duke’s pained, terrified eyes staring back at him from a little over an arm’s length away. “

  • okay. Confused yet again by this. I thought Tr had found the duke because he could see his hair. Now the duke is down in a hole? Then how did he see the hair before- esp if it is an arms length from the surface?

“They were preparing to ride out with the news.” 

  • confused again. What news? Who ordered them to take it? I thought the duke was pinned.

“He glanced down at his left arm, assuring himself that the duke’s Oathband was still there. “But not this news.”   

  • did we just jump heads? I thought everything was from TR’s point of view. 

“Send someone for a healer from town.  And see if any of them can keep him alive until then. “

  • more confusion here. How is someone who is leaving to get a healer able to stay and help the duke? This is worded strangely and just doesn’t make sense.

“If the closest healer won’t be here until tonight at best-.”

  • again confused. How does he know this? 

“I’ll tell them?” 

  • tell who what? I thought all servants and advisors know the duchess is dead because of the oath band?
  • Also: why all this talking when the duke is being crushed to death?

“... to brush uselessly at the heavy oak timber that held him down. Tr ground his teeth together and slid forward, reaching toward the crushing beam.  His fingers brushed across the top of the splintered joist, and he nearly let loose a giddy laugh when they met nothing more than dust and some splintered shards of wood. Rolling carefully to his back for leverage, Tr pushed against the beam,”

  • okay is it a heavy, hard to move beam or is it just some dust and splinters? It goes from beam to splinters then back to beam here. Again- I was super confused on first reading but now just feel it doesn’t make any sense at all. 

“A blond guard soon entered and briefly noted the giant ice sphere with alarm before focusing on...”

  • okay! Now I get it the sphere is ice. It took second reading to this point to get that. I thought it was a glowing blue ball of some kind of spell magic.

“The Ke all seemed to call each other cousins”

  • another new person, and again, two names to keep track of. I have no idea who these K people are.

“Not this room’s, but the one above it. “

  • again confused- I thought above was the sky- letting bf in light.

“Water,” Tr said, pulling the guard out of his daze. “Please.” Dw nodded, gave an odd half-bow, and left at a run.”

  • Why is Dw bowing to a servant? And why does the servant need water? I don’t get the pause here either. The building is unstable. Why not Dw and Tr loft the duke and cary him somewhere safe?

“The duke shuddered and lifted his right arm before finally opening his eyes to stare at his wrist. His face contorted with grief and pain, sending Trevan’s hand unconsciously to his own arm.  The missing Oathband there was strange enough. What must it be like to have a Judge-Bound Vow of marriage severed? Especially for a mage? Trevan looked away as moisture gathered at the edges of his master’s eyes.”

  • i know I have been a negative Nancy so far but I was touched by this bit here.

“But if this woman froze to death in the middle of the summer, the magistrates would insist on calling someone before the gods for punishment.”

  • what woman?

“Tr let out a relieved breath as De walked in with a waterskin, Ra following. With all three working together, they managed to carry the duke across the hall to settle him onto the bed in My’s maid’s room. The coughing fit that followed brought up blood, and Ra started to look green again.”

  • all this urgency for water and they do nothing with it?!? 

“After all the trouble they’ve put you through, I find it hard to believe you’d turn to defying the laws now.”

  • none of this made sense to me at all. Who is the “they”?

“No,” Tr breathed.  “Maybe if King Ir was still alive. But Ve never shared his father’s grudges.” He shook his head. “And Queen Es would never allow it.” 

  • more names that mean nothing. Hard to follow. The king, Ve, kings son, and queen. 

“If they consider it necessary, they’d get rid of Al and make her the new duchess.” 

  • who is the she here? The maid or the Queen? Neither makes any sense to me

““Not where he might hear.”

  • who is the “he?”

“Someone applying heatstones to the ice sphere.”

  • how would they know this.

“And if the Judge did find her guilty, and her life was forfeit...” He trailed off, grimacing. “He will have enough shadows looming over him already.”

  • who is the she. Who is the “he will have enough shadows.”

“We can call her to an Accounting ourselves.”

  • okay- again, who is the she? The midwife? She’s dead. The maid? I thought they had dismissed that idea.

“... And get the girl out of Gi if she’s willing to accept the blood price.”

  • no idea here. What is Gi? What is a blood price?

“We will have the midwife set the events in writing,” 

  • okay. Now I am realizing that I was confusing the midwife with the healer. So there is a healer- dead. A midwife in ice and a maid, too?

“And if she doesn’t accept the terms?” Tr asked. 

  • why is a servant interrupting this conversation? 

 

Overall- second reading cleared some things up but not others. It is just one long confusing read with lots of name drops. Tr’s actions don’t make much sense to me and it seems like he is more there just to show what happens than anything else. But what is he doing there? Why are people treating a servant with so much respect or caring what he thinks? Who is he?

 

There also isn’t a lot of action. Rather it is one conversation to another. And the conversations: I would think there would be better things to talk about like: we have sent for a healer! Let’s get you out of this building that is collapsing!  

 

Like I mentioned before- very little stuck in my head first reading and not much more on the second. Too many names and formal nouns introduced all in clusters to make heads or tales of them. 

 

I could make zero sense of the politics. Similar for the magic system. Is magic against the law or not? I have no idea. 

 

Also: the opening. Tr is suppose to be running up stairs to help. The sentences are all very long. So the pacing feels off. It was action but didn’t feel like action.  

 

I also had a hard time making a mental picture while I read this. When I read I normally have a vivid picture in my mind to help me keep track of what is what. I had to constantly modify that picture. Ie: the duke. He was buried in a pile of rubble that sat on the floor but his hair poked out. But then he was actually in a hole that went down to the floor below and Tr had to crawl down to him. 

 

There was a hole in the ceiling then there wasn’t. But then toward the end the hole in the ceiling was back and helping to melt the ice ball...

 

There were other inconsistencies like this that just boggled my ability to keep track of things.

 

Again, overall, I was just very confused. Not enough to put it down all together. But if the first chapter didn’t make sense I would for sure.

 

Edited by Valerie
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/5/2021 at 4:33 PM, C_Vallion said:


2.  First-lines and everything hanging on them give me so much anxiety. :wacko:  Will keep working on it, though.  Hadn't considered the combat possibility, though it's an entirely fair assumption when finding a fantasy novel opening with thundering

so, I really love how Mary Robinette teaches openings. Since I learned her way I have applied it to all my own stuff and have found that most good books and stories I read also follow it.

 

pretty much in the first 1-3 lines intro the following (taken from my notes from her lecture):

  • who: what is their pov? Their attitude? (Ie: angst filled plumber, sexist boss.) show this with their actions, what they are doing.
  • Where: link to sensory input
  • Genre: quickly set it up using specific and unique details. 
     

in your opening, we don’t really get a complete who (we learn his name but not anything else about him.) We don’t really get a sensory where (castle, but no concrete sensory info about it.) And we don’t get a genre. It could be historical fiction or fantasy. 

But grain of salt- as honestly I think since this is something I actively look for now, I may be hyper focused on it. No idea if others find it important- or that it works fir them to make an effective opening line.

 

edit for example: the opening paragraph to to Hunger Games. A book I was instantly sucked into and has a great opening:

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is coldMy fingers stretch out seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”

who: sibling who’s first thought upon waking is to check on her sister.
where: a bed and it is cold and rough

genre: speculative of some kind because of “the reaping.”

Edited by Valerie
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Valerie Oh man. *cringe* 
I feel like the list of things that confused you is almost identical to the list I had next to me of things to correct while going through revisions.  On one hand, that means that most of them should be far clearer next time, but on the other hand, I just feel like I sat here going "Yeah...oof. Sorry!" for every single one.   

I promise it's not actually that inconsistent, but the way it was written certainly doesn't portray that (*more cringing*)

I know exactly what you mean about having a picture in your head, and I think that's one of the problems I ultimately had.  I had the picture in my head of what things should look like, and I didn't realize how many different ways that the ways I tried to describe it could be interpreted.  

Thanks so much for reading through all of the confusion!

Same goes for everyone! All of your comments have been massively helpful!  I know I tried to shove a lot into the prologue, because I have really specific things I want it to achieve.  Unfortunately, I ended up trying to stick extra things in as well, and it was just way too much.  It was great to have everything pointed out so that I could really dig through what I actually want to go here and what fits better later.   Thanks! :D
 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.