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Snakenaps

1,25,2021 - Snakenaps - Name of the King - D3 Chapters 39 & 40 (4,283 words)

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It is...THE END.

This is my first completed anything that I've submitted through Reading Excuses since I joined on February 25th, 2019. It's been nearly a year. Sometimes, it feels like I just joined yesterday, and other times I feel like I've been here forever.

So, to keep it short and to the point, whether you've been reading NotK since the start way back in April of last year, or hopped in any time in between - thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I firmly believe that the reason that my knowledge, abilities, and confidence has grown so much in the past year is because of the support and experience of this group. Thank you so much for continually tearing apart NotK despite my habit of reading but not necessarily replying to comments. I promise I've read and cherished every single one of them. 

Thanks to you all, Draft Four won't have minor changes. I've come up with a game plan that I'm incredibly excited about. I'm going to take this next draft to a level I didn't previously think I was capable of. 

I'll be taking a short break from critiquing after this week while I hyperfocus on Draft Four. If you need me, though, feel free to PM me anytime. 

Thank you all so, so much.

Katie

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Overall

I went into this assuming it would mostly need to be cut, and that is now confirmed. This is definitely a lot of stuff we don't need (the reader has already assumed it), and some of the emotional beats would be better served in book two, as memories Ir can think back on when things get rough. There's a few little bits I think you could toss on the end of the last sub to give it more punch, but really this chapter does two things I don't like at all:

1) tries to make TBK EEEEEEEVIL at the end, when he was definitely not during the book

2) takes away what little agency Ir had developed and once again lets the plot push her around

I'm ready for character growth! I want to see Ir make her own decisions, take her boyfriend, and go on an adventure! I want to see her love her family but know her boundaries, and want to uncover secrets, or befriend TBK, or start down a bad road that the reader can see coming and relishes the journey. This though...is just rehashing more hash, and I think it takes away from the power of the previous chapters.

So, save some of this for book two, cut most, and sprinkle a bit in a back chapter, and I think the book will be that much stronger for it.

 

As I go

- I will state that I am going into this feeling like the book already ended, so I suspect most of my comments will be 'why is this here? Do we need this?'

- pg 2, offer to come with to Clar: I think this belongs in the next book. At the end of this you could have her accept the offer, knowing she has to leave her family. Cold open second book as she's leaving, emotions emotions emotions, Big Event, and J offers to go with her (setting up further romance plot). That would add sexual tension to book two along with whatever main plot you have in mind. 

- pg 4: It's been a month since the offer? This definitely can be cut. It just makes I look super wishy washy. It'd be a much stronger ending to just have her make the decision, then leave the reader dangling to see what becomes of it. Then they really want the next book! Leave us with anticipation and unanswered questions and a romance that needs to be resolved!

- pg 8: Argh, this back and forth! I want I to have grown during this book. I want to see her making choices and driving the plot and being proactive. I don't want her family to make the decision for her, I want her to stand up last chapter and take the plot by the horns and say you know what? I am in control of my destiny and I'm taking these blinders off my eyes and I'm going to go LIVE.

- pg 12: yup, all these little vignettes and such can be sprinkled into book 2 as bittersweet memories she thinks about to ground herself when things get Really Bad, and she questions her choices

- pg 14: Who is this TBK? This one is evil. The one in the book I read did the best he could for his people. This....this TBK is like a cartoon villain

 

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1 hour ago, kais said:

I went into this assuming it would mostly need to be cut, and that is now confirmed.

I definitely knew this (I want to take these last four chapters and get them down to two if I can), but I couldn't pinpoint why or what. Thanks for shedding a LOT of light of where things are bumpy. I've got the gut feeling that tells me "something is wrong here" but not yet the experience to tell me what or how to fix it. 

Thanks @kais

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Wow it's really the end. It's been great to read this story from beg-okay, not from the beginning, but from near the end to the end. :)

As I go:

pg 1

-The struggle of long work hours is real. I'm super lazy at work and it even gets to me lol

-it feels like the story's trying to take Ir through a whole new arc in these last couple of chapters here. It comes across as rushed to me but I'm also not sure it should be expanded

pg 2

-I like J's "bet" here. Really shows how confident he is 

pg 3

-obligatory comment about how I don't actually think it's a great offer 

-yeah the story's still trying to milk how Ir is caught between home/family and friends/duty. This general conflict should have already been resolved by now imo

pg 4

-Expanding on what I mentioned earlier, I think the order here is a bit off. I think it's more powerful if her resolving her personal conflict leads to her ending the larger conflict rather than the resolution of the larger conflict leading into her personal conflict. Right now I just want stuff to unwind. 

-It's realistic for S and T's fate to spark something in Ir, but that something can't be resolved in 2 chapters in a satisfying way. If you want her to be uncertain because of what happened, I think the story has to open up and end on that uncertain note 

pg 5

-Does she care about the glamor of the big city much? This page is making me think sorta, but my read of Ir in general says no. 

-is there supposed to be a scene change at the bottom of the page here? Or is her family just suddenly here?

pg 6

-What's the reason for her assertion here? If her choices aren't backed up by narrative cause and effect she'll come across as wishy-washy, even if it's normal for regular people to change their minds on a whim. Plus I get the feeling this isn't going to be her final decision. 

pg 8

-yeah she definitely comes across as indecisive to me because of how quickly she changes her mind. I do think the plot here should be restructured so I'm guessing the scene won't stay like this anyway but it's something to look out for. Big decision changes should result from big plot points (with a few exceptions, of course). 

pg 9

-how old is L again? This comes across as like 8yo max to me. 

-I like N's reaction. Honestly he's the most interesting character in this entire chapter so far because his change in view is clearly signaled by a major plot event (S's fate), unlike Ir herself. 

pg 10

-This chapter ends without a real bang, imo. The important part is Ir deciding to take the job, but it feels a little too easy for her family to tell her to do so and for her to just do it

pg 11

-Didn't she just decide to leave? To be blunt I really want her to just make up her mind at this point 

pg 12-13

-So C is basically forcing Ir to take the offer (or at least putting up a front of doing so). This deflates the tension of the choice, though I'm still not sure why that tension was so focal anyway. 

pg 13-14

-okay sooooo the monarchy was going to pull evil shenanigans. Idk if that's even the smart play since I'm certain Ir would know what's up and would not want to work with BK again. Plus the fact that there was only one "right" choice for Ir to take sorta cheapens the decision for me. Starting to agree with the revolutionaries more and more...

pg 15-16

-This last little scene doesn't do a ton for me, unfortunately. I think you've said that there are going to be sequels so if there's nothing left to resolve you could maybe set something up here?

Overall:

5 hours ago, kais said:

I went into this assuming it would mostly need to be cut, and that is now confirmed.

Yep yep this is what I got as well. The reason for this imo is what I said in the line edits: that this personal conflict of hers should have been resolved before the conclusion of the climax. The story is trying to do an entire character arc in two chapters here and it feels rushed, with Ir changing her mind 3 or 4 times across less than 5k words. There's no plot motion left to justify character development here so it ends up feeling like she's deciding on whims. Or that the decision is out of her control. 

5 hours ago, kais said:

1) tries to make TBK EEEEEEEVIL at the end, when he was definitely not during the book

2) takes away what little agency Ir had developed and once again lets the plot push her around

Agreed agreed. 1 especially hit me like a slap to the face. I know it's B and not the BK handling this, but it still feels inconsistent to me. For 2 I'd argue that there's really no main plot left, which means that she has to be pushed around since the stuff she can do is basically exhausted at this point. This is solved by wrapping up her personal conflict earlier and not trying to speedrun this arc when the story's already out of plot steam. I said this before but a standard way this is handled is if her solving the family/home vs friends/duty conflict informs her actions in the main plot. If you want to keep these scenes in they'd be better before the revolution honestly, though that's also risky because the conflict being decided by S locking Ir in the house could come across as cheap if we think it's supposed to be about accepting a job offer or not. 

Bottom line is that the ideas in these chapters should have been wrapped up before when it could 1. be influenced by a plot with steam left in it and 2. go on to influence the larger plot and make it even more powerful. 

What a momentous day though, finishing submitting an entire novel! How does it feel? 

 

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1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

What a momentous day though, finishing submitting an entire novel! How does it feel? 

Honestly? Like looking down from a cliff going, "Wow, look how far I've come!" Before turning around, looking waaaaaay up the mountain I still have to climb, and going, "Shoot." 

Oh well. Just keep climbing, step by step. 

Thanks @Ace of Hearts ! I really need to get these last four chapters fixed because right now this book ends as anything but satisfying. I appreciate your insight :)

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Well done on completing your book! That is an awesome achievement, and I hope you are proud! 

My main thing with this chapter was that I thought it was a bit repetitive. I also think that most of this stuff could be achieved by a single scene, instead of three separate ones. There's more of that down below. It's also fun to see how her relationship with her family (other than S) has evolved since the first scene I read when J came over for dinner. It's come a long way. And the evolution of the accpetance of BK. 

“in the way of greeting” I don’t know why, but this seems weird to me. Like, I know what this means, but I just don’t…vibe with it

“P wouldn’t sit still…” oh yeah they’re raising S’s kid’s now huh. That’s really sad

Ok, so I’m just gonna put this out there: I think she should have just accepted the offer outright. I think there is enough character justification for her to do so, and it would make a sharp contrast to her indecision earlier in the book .And like, she can be surprised, and TBK can be surprised, but I think it would still work. You could even hang a lampshade on it if you want, and it would still work, imo. Really show character growth, ya know? In any case, having her debate and fret again about whether she is going to go with TBK or not just seems repetitive, and I feel like I could skim the board game scene.

Pg 2“play this via mail” you’re only a couple hundred years away from cell phones, L. Born in the wrong generation.

Pg 3 “I’ve played every scenario” Hey, that’s relatable

Pg 3 “thanks L” why is this sarcastic? He seems sincere

Pg 4 “no restaurant fires” Oh, I doubt that. BK definitely has a backup plan to be like "But thou must!" 

“kill to have a family” foreshadowing? :-)

“what makes you happy” this is very helpful! Ir is doing my baby M dirty

Pg 6 are we going to have another coming out scene now? A bit repetitive imo

Pg 7 “different types of caterpillars” ok, this is adorable

Pg 8 I like how supportive her family is. Her parents, at least

“\pg 11 “if you’re here, you’re helping” I really like C.

And now she’s coming out to her too. Again, a bit repetitive. (Though this is my favorite one of the three)

Pg 13 is the two week’s notice thing on purpose, or is that an older tradition than I thought?

Ah, this is the BK we know and love. Makes sense he would have a contingency plan ( and makes him a bit darker grey than the previous few chapters. Glad we can see him being, well, the dreaded monarch he is)

“release the F” I figured this was his plan. This is very interesting

And that’s the end! Well done

 

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Comments.

(page 1)

- "kissing him in by the way of greeting" - (a) by way of greeting, IMO; (b) kissing him where? A kiss is a big thing, and where it lands is an even bigger one.

- "on the Scales bag" - what is this? Oh, a game.

- "smiling faces of the musicians around her" - At this point in the story, i.e. the end, I feel like the musicians should have made the transition from musicians to friends. Friends first, musicians second. 

- "Especially when it came towards J" - just 'came to J', not towards, IMO. That sounds like the anchor is moving towards him.

- "as he was crushing hers" - How so? Seems harsh, Surely it's the decision that is crushing her's, not J.

(page 2)

- "Her gaze drifted from the Scales board(?) to the busy streets outside" - unclear, IMO. Makes Scales sound like a person. I don't think it should be capitalised either. Would you capitalise chessboard in this scenario?

- "Then you’re two j-s richer" - I like the quite, gentle character moments here. What I am wary about is how far we are from the end and whether my investment levels will be maintained. I'm invested in the characters, and the decision to be made, so it's okay at the moment, but...I'm concerned it might be drawn out.

(page 3)

- "J wouldn’t even need his magic to tell" - This never seemed to be a thing in the story. Okay, I get that j wasn't a player in the plot, so that's fine, and it was important that he wasn't, because he would have taken agency away from Ir, it's just that his magic was explained, but never used, almost like an unfired Chekov's gun.

- "The jangle of the cafe" - off word to use. Is everyone carrying keys in their hand?

- "What does the job entail" - Right, I think this is the point at which we get into too much detail. The reader already knows what it entails, we know all the issues, the heart-wrenching of leaving family. I don't think we need this to be played once when the BK makes the offer; twice, here with the musicians (friends!); thrice, with her family (I'm anticipating that coming next), before--on the fourth, or maybe fifth retreading of the same internal debate, she finally makes a decision.

(page 4)

- I agree it's important to have a scene with the musicians, but I would suggest cutting and pasting it into a separate document and slashing it hard of everything that the reader already knows. Keep the good lines, but cut anything we already know. The bit about her not having told her family, that's fine, but let's get to that and get on to the family ASAP.

(page 5)

- "I needed to beat you all so bad you’ll flee to the F" - past tense!! Passive!! Suggest more active 'I'm going to beat you all so bad...'

(page 6)

- "and the smile slipped at the thought of the musicians and their conversation two weeks ago" - Bah, too long. I think it undermines the scene with her friends if she doesn't follow through for 2 weeks. Running the decision right down to the wire seems kind of like an artificial attempt to maintain tension that doesn't exist, IMO.

- "The loss of T, and Sue’s exile" - need a comma here, or you read right through this phrase, and it sounds like T & S's exile has been misplaced.

- "I could never leave you all" - I like this moment, and you might even play up a little more the fact that she has made her decision, and it is that she will stay.

- "With a rush, as if the words burned her mouth like silver, Ir spat out the details" - there are some rough and ugly words here. I didn't like the tone of this, it sounds almost like she's attacking her family, resenting them.

- "they gazed back as if she had..." - I don't understand the reaction here, I don't understand their emotion, the cause of it.

(page 7)

- "that talked over each other until nothing could be heard over the din" - Don't describe something that they are not doing, it's not compelling, and is kind of misleading to the reader, IMO. I was confused here.

- "once-and-a-life-time" - one word, lifetime.

- "There had been enough fights, enough guilt slung around" - Really? I find this slightly hard to believe. None of this was on the page, from what I recall.

- "for her eldest daughter’s…slavery" - No, it's not slavery, IMO. Sue broke the law. We can talk about the punishment being unreasonably harsh, but 'slavery' implies to me that the person is innocent and pressed into service illegally.

(page 8)

- Ant has put a hand on Ir's shoulder, grabbed her shoulder and now squeezed her shoulder. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it's getting repetitive. Seems to me her Mom would do more than just 'pat' her shoulder all the time.

(page 9)

- "I don’t want anything to do with the BK" - hashtag futurerebel.

(page 10)

- "She felt her parents’ eyes on her back as she closed the door behind her" - not required and dilutes the impact, IMO.

Putting this up now because I'm going to pause before reading the last chapter.

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Chapter the last. Comments.

(page 11)

Bringing the story full circle back to Car's make complete sense, and is very satisfying. I like that. However...I have significant issues with this. "I really want to, but I don’t know about leaving my family" - It's written as if Ir have changed her mind AGAIN. She's already made this decision in the last chapter, so, presenting it here as if the decision is still to be made seriously narked me. This is WAAAAAAAAAY too drawn out. It feels like this decision has taken her five chapters to make. There is no way these should be two chapter, IMO. I think they should be cut down to one chapter. Too drawn out, tooooooo drawn out. Still. Drawn out. Too much. Already.

- "What would happen to them without me?" - Passive. I know it's tied into the decision, but if you absolutely have to present the decision as still open, I would write this as 'what will happen to them if I go': it in the present/future.

(page 12)

 -"She laid out the BK’s" - AGAIN, for the third time. It's way, way too much. Need to cut this down into one chapter so bad, and avoid these repetitive notes. We don't need to see her telling every single different person she knows the same information, leading them through the same conflict and decision process.

- "What are you going to do" - She made this decision in the last chapter already.

(page 13)

- Too many exclamation marks. I've read good advice (although I admit I have not always taken it!!) that one should only being using one or two per chapter, if not per novel. It's the old dilution of effect thing. The more you use them, etc., etc.

- "The BK scanned her note, before letting a small smile cross his face. She had accepted the offer" - pronoun issue: the first 'her' is Pe, right? But, the 'she' is Ir. So, issue arises.

- The BK's internal monologue is jumbled (in terms of language), IMO; not a clear and concise relaying of the facts. 

- "with two weeks to spare" - I'm so glad it did not go down to the last day. Strike my earlier comment about artificial tension-maintaining, ticking clock.

- "Relief sent a shiver down his spine" - Why? He's never been anything but cold-blooded about using people. I don't think he would have this sort of physical reaction just from Ir saying yes. I imagine he might be relieved at not having to bother with all the rigmarole of trying to force her through these other means, but he surely had not emotional attachment to the decision?

(page 14)

- "was never a favorite of his" - weird phrasing, not his voice, IMO. Too casual.

- "although destroying a career had become second nature by now" - careers. If it's second nature, needs to be plural.

- "but that meant nothing if they were not perfect" - They who? Don't get this.

- "Each piece had to be prepared" - Oh, oh, oh, is he putting a team together? Pleeeeease tell me he's putting team together in Book 2. I love it when there's a team :D 

(page 15)

- "The wagon train began to leave" - really passive phrasing. a lot of the style needs tidied up in this chapter, IMO.

- "without losing rhythm" - Cool to see that her musical abilities have progressed to this point. This is actually a neat and satisfying way to show how much she has change from the start of the book.

- "She smiled at them, and them at her" - Awkward.

(page 16)

- Oh, the ending is really quite lame. I want a satisfying last line that somehow underpins all the emotion, the changes, the new friends, the new romance, and the changes in Ir, wraps it all up with a bow and makes me feel so glad I read this. The last couple of lines need to be stronger, IMO. I don't mean more powerful, momentous, or anything like that, I mean satisfying.

Overall 

I've ranted about it already, so won't belabour the point, but these last two chapters need to be cut back into one chapter. The ending is way too drawn out, and Ir's decision is described and made (then unmade again) three, four, fives times. That needs to be addressed.

Thanks for sharing :) 

Edited by Robinski
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11 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Honestly? Like looking down from a cliff going, "Wow, look how far I've come!" Before turning around, looking waaaaaay up the mountain I still have to climb, and going, "Shoot." 

Oh well. Just keep climbing, step by step. 

Thanks @Ace of Hearts ! I really need to get these last four chapters fixed because right now this book ends as anything but satisfying. I appreciate your insight :)

Ah that's a great description! I'll keep that in mind for when I work up the courage to start submitting stuff. And glad I could help!

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On 1/25/2021 at 2:42 PM, kais said:

I went into this assuming it would mostly need to be cut, and that is now confirmed. This is definitely a lot of stuff we don't need (the reader has already assumed it), and some of the emotional beats would be better served in book two, as memories Ir can think back on when things get rough. There's a few little bits I think you could toss on the end of the last sub to give it more punch, but really this chapter does two things I don't like at all:

1) tries to make TBK EEEEEEEVIL at the end, when he was definitely not during the book

2) takes away what little agency Ir had developed and once again lets the plot push her around

I'm ready for character growth! I want to see Ir make her own decisions, take her boyfriend, and go on an adventure! I want to see her love her family but know her boundaries, and want to uncover secrets, or befriend TBK, or start down a bad road that the reader can see coming and relishes the journey. This though...is just rehashing more hash, and I think it takes away from the power of the previous chapters.

So, save some of this for book two, cut most, and sprinkle a bit in a back chapter, and I think the book will be that much stronger for it.

You know, I could write all this again in different words, but the above is everything I came here to say. Looks like everyone's pretty much on the same page with these chapters not really needing to be here.

There's a story, I don't remember whether it's Stephen King or Isaac Asimov, or Harlan Ellison or someone like that, but they were submitting a short story for a magazine and didn't notice.half the last page was cut off. It was accepted and the editor thought it was a great story. This is like that.

 

Notes while reading

pg 1: "kissing him in the way of greeting."
--Something about this seems off... "By way of greeting?"

pg 1: "a secret that had been haunting her for the last month"
--I don't know why she would keep this a secret. She's been out of the city now, and knows it doesn't take that long to get other places. Wouldn't J have the ability to transfer to another town? Also, isn't TBK leaving anyway, so wouldn't he take his court musicians with him?

pg 1: "He treated every day like it was his last with her,"
--so...he does know, or he doesn't?

pg 2: "play this via mail?” 
--so wait, who is leaving here?

pg 2: "“What if I came with you, to C"
--So the musicians are already going to C? Then doubly so, why is Ir keeping this a secret?

pg 2: "“Are to.” -> “Are too.” 

pg 2: "I bet you a joury "
--yeah, so J basically already guessed. There's no way this hasn't come up in the last month...

pg 4: "I would kill to have a family like yours.”
--I mean, they're not dead, they're just farther away. I feel like there's too much emphasis put on this, especially for a late teens/early 20 year old. That's the time when children usually get out of the house.

pg 4: "you’ve been sitting on this for a month and you haven’t told anyone?” 
--yeah, I'm with J, here.

pg 6: "their conversation two weeks ago."
--hmm...no, don't believe it. Especially if things were out, the others would pester her to talk to her family.

pg 10: Not completely sure I believe the setup with the brothers either. I mean yes, they'll be sad she's going away, but S had already moved out. They know older siblings leave. Would one of them be excited to get her bedroom?

pg 10: "A year ago, she had been studying manically for the concert."
--I thought the whole rebuilding took a year? This makes is seem like it took 1.5 or 2 years.

pg 11: "You are not the nails holding them together. They are not a ship that is going to sink without you"
--Yeah, I sort of which C had kicked this into Ir at the beginning of the book rather than the end...

pg 13: "prevent a certain fisherman from injury"
--I think this is the first really distateful thing we've seen from TBK for the whole book and for it to come at the end sort of sours my view of him. There either needs to be more of this before now, or not have this, I think...

pg 14/15: Hmmm...and now everyone is fine with Ir leaving. What about the whole thing with her brothers being angry?

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Congratulations!

Aside from echoing the others about some parts feeling redundant, I don't have much to comment on.

My favorite of the multiple send offs was C chasing Ir around and their dialogue. I would love to see that stay or at least referenced :-)

It would be great to see Ir be a more independent and decisive woman here at the end rather than leaning so hard on everyone else's opinions. That being said, I understand her impulse. It's hard to be a little selfish when it comes to family. 

The only line that stood out to me was, "harsh" which read as modern slang to my ear. 

 

On 1/26/2021 at 11:48 AM, Mandamon said:

 

There's a story, I don't remember whether it's Stephen King or Isaac Asimov, or Harlan Ellison or someone like that, but they were submitting a short story for a magazine and didn't notice.half the last page was cut off. It was accepted and the editor thought it was a great story. This is like that.

To jump in on this topic: Clockwork Orange had the whole last chapter cut off by the publisher or editor and no one but the author noticed. We writers just hate saying goodbye I guess :-)

Thanks for sharing your story! It's been a pleasure to read

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First of all, congratulations on posting through this! I wish I’d joined in a little earlier to have seen more of it, but have really enjoyed the past few weeks of reading it! Good luck with Draft Four!  I'll be looking forward to reading this the whole way through at some future point when it's ready for that.  Starting 3/4 of the way into a fun story is frustrating.

Overall:

I think most of my overall thoughts are similar to what others have said.  Condensing this down into one chapter would improve things a lot.  As would removing some of her indecisiveness.  Have her be conflicted about it, and have the messages she’s getting from friends and family complicate things, but her changing her mind half a dozen times is frustrating. Especially when we all have a good idea of what she’ll be choosing.  There’s a new, exciting place to go. The readers want to find out about the new, exciting place.

Pg 1:

Opening line could use some clarification on the greeting.  Especially since we don’t know where we’re at yet other than a table.  Is this dinner? Casually hanging out? Intentionally romantic? Just how they greet each other? Since I haven’t seen her and J interacting much, I don’t really have a good sense of where their relationship is at the moment, which doesn’t help, but having a clearer idea of what constitutes a (after reading a couple mores lines) typical greeting when they’re in public among friends can say a lot about how comfortable they are with one another.

In regard to things that most people won’t care about, but it stuck out to me: The board gamer in me has questions about the setup of the s- game in regard to seating and the like (among other things, but we’ll start with that).  The first line has Ir and J sitting next to each other along one side of the table.  L is here as well, presumably opposite them? That seemed fine until we got to the fact that there is a game involved, and then I’m immediately wondering about the setup of the game.  How many players does the game usually play? Does it use a board? Cards (though, with animals, probably no. But something equivalent?)? Dice? Is there flexibility in the number of players?  Different boards for different player counts?  All of those things are going to imply practical seating layouts that might make “taking a seat beside J” make less sense if they’re both playing.  Though if it’s a two-player game and they’re playing as a sort of team, that could be a possibility.  Again, likely not a thing most people care about, but knowing the physical layout of things might be helpful.  Especially when we get to the middle of the next page and find out M is there and playing too. 

Also, if they are common games, I wouldn’t capitalize.  You capitalize Settlers of Catan or Monopoly, but not chess, checkers, poker, etc.

Pg 2:

Most abstract games would be pretty straightforward to play by mail, even with minimal drawing skills.  Correspondence chess has been around a long time.

“placed down her piece” -> put down her piece or placed it, placed down sounds a little funny.  Also, what are the pieces?  Wood? Shells? Metal? Very small rocks? 

Also, “pieces”: There’s  is a line about Ir toying with a game piece on pg 1, one about M placing a piece here, then in the next line we get J waving a piece of cheese, which is weirdly jarring when we are actively playing a game where the pieces have not been described as anything but “pieces” yet.

A few lines later we get L tapping a scale on the table.  I’m assuming that’s one of the game pieces, but don’t have any idea what it looks like, and the sudden specialized name for it seems to imply it’s something different.  I think calling them that earlier, and giving us some indicator for what they are/look like would be a big help.

The conversation between J and Ir on Pg 2-3 brings me back to being unsure of the physical layout of the scene. I thought they’d been sitting next to each other, but the discussion here and the physical descriptions seem like they’d be more natural if they’re across from each other.  Or at 90 degrees from each other.

And now, after 500 words about nit-picky game things that most people won’t be worried about, I digress.

Pg 3-5:  

I honestly don’t see too much argument for her staying.  I mean, family is wonderful.  And I’m sure she’s going to be a little extra clingy about them after all that has happened recently, but it’s not like she’ll never see them again.  I’m realizing I don’t know how old Ir is at this point, but she certainly seems to be of the age where splitting away from family a little bit is expected and healthy.  Especially if it’s not something she’s expecting to last forever.  Did she have any of this internal-conflict regarding the trip she did with the musicians? (I don’t know if there were more than one.  I just saw the one with the crystal thievery) Sure, she didn’t have much choice in the matter then, and she missed her family, but I didn’t see her regretting or resenting that time away.

It makes sense for her to know how much she’ll miss them, and to hold off telling them the news because it’s going to be bittersweet and painful, but I don’t see the reason for so much indecision.

Pg 7:

“But what about…spring”  I’m not entirely sure I get what Lu was expecting.  The first part implies that he’d been assuming that the others would be gone, but the latter part implies that he’d been expecting them to be staying.  And either way, I’m not sure what a promise between Lu and J has to do with Ir choosing not to take the job.

Caterpillars: I really like this detail, despite the above comment.  Seeing significant others naturally incorporated into the family structure always makes me happy.  I don’t see nearly enough of it in fiction in any media. And when there is interaction between the love-interest and the family, it’s usually some rom-com trope where everyone resents each other or is lying to impress them or things like that. A million points to you for depicting a family that actually enjoys spending time with each other, and who like the people that the MC likes.

“Her family…silent.” The wording of this is jarring.  I get what it’s saying, and I think it could be a good show of the contrast to normalcy if worded correctly, but it was confusing here.

“Once-in-a-lifetime.” Not once-and-a-life-time

“slavery” I get that this is supposed to be how her mother views the situation, but it seems odd considering that the alternative was execution. I mean. Sue would likely be dead now if not for Ir.  I could understand some grief and general resentment at the circumstances from mom (or maybe resentment toward TBK) but not as much toward Ir.  

Pg 8-10

Lots of good family interaction, but I still just don’t buy the indecision.

I like the contrast between Lu and Ne’s responses.  Both seem realistic for the rough ages I assume they are. 

Pg 11-

You tell her, C.   I like C. She’s great.

I also think that her “You’re not the nails…” line and the related thoughts are also key for why it’s so weird that Ir is indecisive about this.  She has a healthy, supportive family environment, and I haven’t at any point gotten the impression that she feels like she’s that person who holds everything together.  It isn’t a clingy, co-dependent family where no one functions without one individual’s presence, it’s one where they trust and help each other, but aren’t going to fall apart with one person missing.

Pg 13-

Why two weeks from now?  Even with all of the questions over indecisiveness aside, I think the amount of time this is all supposed to be taking place over is way too long.  Maybe hiding the offer for a few days. Or a week, but it doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t have slipped out before then.

I do think that of the three scenes we’re given, I like the one with C best.  But I feel like that shouldn’t be the case, since I know about her ties to her family and friends a lot better.  I think the back and forth of the other two scenes was just too frustrating for it to be as enjoyable, but I like C’s practical bluntness shaking her out of her indecision.

Hmm…this is not the BK I know.   Also, if something were to happen to Ir’s father, I feel like that would be one thing that would give her reason to demand to stay and help her family. Even desperately needing money, I would see her pulling 20-hour days to try to do that and also stay close to the family before choosing to leave them. I think there would be more reliable ways for him to tempt her to go that wouldn’t require going to these extents.

Also, I’m not sure what the “Thankfully…father” sentence is saying.  Is there something missing or worded incorrectly there?

Pg 14-

How big of a trunk is this?  I generally think of trunks as large enough to require two-person carrying.

Pg 15:

“Say ‘goodbye,’ P!”  This line made me smile.

“dashing to her wagon”  Oh. Bye, J.  Good luck with that trunk!

Pg 16:

We get the passage of time in them rolling out of sight, but not that they’d stopped playing or that things had quieted down, which makes the transition to their lines here a little jarring.

The last lines also aren’t quite as powerful as conclusive/satisfying as they could be.

 

This has been a lot of fun to read! Best of luck with your continued work on it! 

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*rushes over before the week is over* Agh! Im very late! Well, later than I wanted to be, considering I read this on monday. I should really stop doing that.

Oof, your email made me legit sad. I hate endings. But I shall move on and await the day of your return.

I second everything everyone has said, especially the part about cutting this sucker down. But you knew that. I’ll just reiterate some points that stood out to me most.

-“I bet you a joury that M offered you a job” this interaction demonstrates competence and I loved it. He was so confident and that was nice (not that he usually isnt). 

-“Then you’re two j richer. If i'm right you owe me nothing.” i like this line too

-“Girl you underestimate your family” agh yes thank you C, so true. I loved her dialogue here.

-No BK! NO. We don’t contemplate killing Ir’s family members. They’ve been through enough! This is too ooc for me

-Ending is ...subpar. It doesn't quite leave me wanting more in the way i think it could have. I actually don't think i ever asked, but I keep seeing @kais mentioning “book 2," so, will there be more books? If so, how many?

Considering I had already guessed that Ir would choose to go with BK as soon as the offer was presented (because it would have been so unsatisfying if she didn't) all this contemplation and inauthenticity in Ir sorta ruined any tension you might have been going for. Any doubt I had that she would stay was washed away by all the repetitive conversations she has. I was just like, "dangit Ir be honest with yourself!" I would say pick just one conversation. Or better yet, it might be even more dramatic if she were to just blurt out “yes i want the job!” right away when he offers it to her and then she has to struggle with the guilt of how quickly she said yes without the consent of her family members. Then she could deal with thoughts of disappointing her family even more, maybe you could convince the readers that they might actually disown her. Idk, just some rambling thoughts :)

Anyway, this is a super amazing accomplishment! Congrats dude! I look forward to reading this after your revisions if you choose to submit it, and I will definitely consult you with any horse related questions. ;)

Edited by karamel
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8 hours ago, karamel said:

Or better yet, it might be even more dramatic if she were to just blurt out “yes i want the job!” right away when he offers it to her and then she has to struggle with the guilt of how quickly she said yes without the consent of her family members. Then she could deal with thoughts of disappointing her family even more

This would address part of the chapter that I had missed mentioning, because I hadn't been able to put the right words to it.  
When Ir has such strong relationships with her friends and family, this seems like the sort of big life decision that she would want to seek out their advice on, even if she thought they weren't going to be pleased about it.  The hiding it altogether for as long as she can just doesn't ring true to the closeness of those relationships to me.  Recent events might have her a little extra cautious about approaching it delicately, but I haven't gotten an impression of stubborn independence that would insist on making a decision on her own without taking the advice of the people she loves.  
By giving an answer that she then second-guesses, it makes a little more sense for her to fear bringing it up to them, if she thinks they're going to hate it.  If you'd still want to touch on how her different social circles respond (in smaller doses), you could then show her friends' excitement that she's going with them, which would make it that much more difficult to tell her family. To be excited to go. And would also give an opportunity to show the relationship growth between her and the friends depending on how they support her as she tries to explain to her family. 

And now my thoughts are also rambling, so I'll just leave that there.

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You've already gotten a lot of feedback on this, and I'm late to the party, so I am going to keep this short. While  did enjoy seeing I come to make the decision, I feel like I didn't necessarily need to see it, and a lot of it could've been summarized. The spot where the last submission ended felt like an end, so if there is a way to summarize and combine some stuff from this section and incorporate into the last one so ends there, I think that would work.

I would rather not hear about the BK's potential plot to hurt her father and further manipulate her. It felt a little too evil for the side of him we have come to know, and I suspect he might have been confident she would decide to stay. 

However, seeing a scene from him and M could wrap up their thread nicely, especially if you bring them out more in revision. Maybe they could have a short epilogue? 

One thing was confusing me. I thought I and her family couldn't read. But they are talking about communicating through letters. I could have someone read transcribe and read hers, but what about the rest of the family? Maybe someone is literate there and I'm just forgetting. Maybe you are planning to change it in revision? Anyway, just  a thought. 

I'll miss reading about I and her adventures, and look forward to whatever you choose to write next. 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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