C_Vallion

3.1.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 5 or 1 - Price of Peace: Chapter 5 or 1 - (L G V, all mild) - 4694 Words

26 posts in this topic

Hi, All!

Here is… the tournament chapter. Chapter 5 if following the previous setup.  Quite possibly Chapter 1 going forward (I didn’t want to create any panic by just calling it Chapter 1 Rev 3).

Mild Language, mild violence (there’s a swordfight?), mild gore (wound and pain descriptions)

I think the ongoing questions I’m going to have are going to be related to whether or not any of the information you got in the first chapters feels left out.  Most of it probably won’t, except in my detail-loving brain, but there will be a few things down the road that I’m concerned about having to introduce suddenly.  We’ll see about them when we get there.

In this chapter, my main concern is how Is-‘s character comes across, because her interactions with Ro- are very different from how she acts toward most people.  And it tends to bring out the worst in her, because they severely misunderstand each other, and therefore treat each other like obnoxious siblings.

It does give her something to want to change at the start, but it also makes her seem immature and childish from the start, which I don’t like.  I tried to tie it into the context of her long-term goals and motivations, to seem a less superficial, but I’m not sure if it comes across well or not. And it’s hard to be clear about said long-term goals and motivations when she’s sort of willfully denying her motivations at the start.  So I’m trying to figure out how to give a correct picture of her character without making it seem like the worst parts of her character are the norm.

Other than that, all feedback is helpful!

Thanks!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a lot more interesting that the previous chapters. Nice to get some action sequences!

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

whether or not any of the information you got in the first chapters feels left out. 

I don't feel like I'm missing any information that couldn't be rectified in 2-3 sentences total (see notes below).

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

how Is-‘s character comes across

I think this is the biggest drawback to the chapter. I don't really get ANY feeling from Is. She notes thing happening, but there's very little emotion. Especially when she gets wounded, I would expect a LOT more reaction to the pain and discomfort if this injury is big enough to keep her from fighting again. There was so little reaction from her that I didn't understand she was really injured, and then she just curls up at the end of the chapter.

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

It does give her something to want to change at the start, but it also makes her seem immature and childish from the start, which I don’t like.

Is her reaction to Ro supposed to be the defining point of this chapter? Because I'm much more interested in her and Duke A. Ro just reads as a whiny cousin and she defeats him. Fine. But I'm waiting for the actual arc and development of this chapter. WHY is she fighting? HOW does she feel when she gets injured? Does she want to fight Duke A.? Right now, the tension is a lot better here because there's no giant discussions, but I'm still not getting anything that's pulling me into the story at the end.

What does Is want? I feel like this was missing in the first chapters, and it's still missing here.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: Just from the first paragraph, this seems like a much better place to start the book. That paragraph draws the reader in.

pg 3: If this is going to be the first chapter, the only thing I'm missing so far is WHO is fighting. Just one sentence about that would help.

pg 4: "will have to miss training"
--Unless this whole section about 12 vs. 14 year olds training is important, it could be cut. It's just confusing.

pg 5: "rooting against her or R in the final"
--Wouldn't the winner between them be fighting a different person?

pg 6-8: the fight could be shortened up a bit it's got good tension, but just a little too long. I'm waiting for the point of WHY the fight (as in what the character reactions are), not looking for a blow by blow. Getting it down to a page or a page and a half will keep the tension up.

pg 8: oh, wait. I've been Reading Re. and Ro. as the same person. They both seem to have the same sort of sarcastic personality. Maybe change one name so they don't both start with the same letter?

pg 8: "Are you alright?"
--but...she wasn't even hit, was she? She ducked under the slash because Ro hadn't realized the round was over. I'm not sure why they're so concerned about a last swing.

pg 8: “That might have cost you an arm in a real fight.”  
--except, again, she successfully dodged it, so no it wouldn't have.

pg 9: "A cheap shot"
--but it wasn't, was it? She was using the weapons allowed in the fight. Ro might SEE it that way, but if that's the case, showing us more of Ro's reaction would be better.

pg 12/13: why is she talking about forfeiting? She has a cut. People get minor injuries all the time in tournaments and keep going. I'm also unclear why they thing Duke A. is going to kill her just because she has a cut. Some reaction from Is. on the severity of her injury would be helpful.

pg 15: "that she realized she was lying on her side"
--wait, what? Cuts don't just get worse on their own. Was the sword poisoned or something? Yes, there's adrenaline wearing off, but I think we need a good description of the wound if it's this debilitating. We don't have much reaction from Is. on anything, so it's hard to tell why she's reacting to things.

Pg 15: And...the chapter just sort of ends. There's some good tension throughout, but I'd like a lot more WHY for this chapter. There still isn't a complete arc of anything. I'm waiting for some resolution between Is. and Ro, or Is. and Duke A. Right now she just gets injured after a match and...that's it.

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Especially when she gets wounded, I would expect a LOT more reaction to the pain and discomfort if this injury is big enough to keep her from fighting again. There was so little reaction from her that I didn't understand she was really injured, and then she just curls up at the end of the chapter.

There was more of this before, but it went on too long, and a lot of it got trimmed back.  I hadn't realized that I'd taken too much of it out.   Exactly opposite of the swordfight problem, where I left too much in.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 4: "will have to miss training"
--Unless this whole section about 12 vs. 14 year olds training is important, it could be cut. It's just confusing.

It's mostly just there to point out that she's physically pretty unassuming (being no taller than a 12-14 year old and having to borrow the kids' equipment) but like most things, it's more vague and roundabout than it is supposed to be.   It is also supposed to hang a lantern on the fact that the equipment was specifically set aside for her, but we'll get to that below.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 5: "rooting against her or R in the final"
--Wouldn't the winner between them be fighting a different person?

I thought I'd fixed the wording of that, to imply that they might root for A over either her or Ro-, whoever won their match.  But it might be easier to just cut the sentence entirely, since I don't think it adds enough to justify needing a ton of extra words to clarify. 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: oh, wait. I've been Reading Re. and Ro. as the same person. They both seem to have the same sort of sarcastic personality. Maybe change one name so they don't both start with the same letter?

Right.  Yeah.  That should have been a no-brainer on my part.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 8: "Are you alright?"
--but...she wasn't even hit, was she? She ducked under the slash because Ro hadn't realized the round was over. I'm not sure why they're so concerned about a last swing.

He's talking about her intentionally not dodging the hit before she charges at him. But there needed to be more detail there indicating how much the actual impact of it hurt. Which I think would help with a lot of the problems later on, as well. To show that the blow was hard enough to cause the bleeding/bruising even through the chainmail and padded tunic.  Which would likely make it difficult to even lift that arm. 

Initially the injury that mattered was a different one, but everything around it was too convoluted and confusing, so I switched things here, but failed to stress the severity of this one in its place.  

If it's not coming across that there was potential for her to have been severely wounded by being flatfooted when he was swinging at the end, I may need to adjust that. Or just cut it.  

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

pg 12/13: why is she talking about forfeiting? She has a cut. People get minor injuries all the time in tournaments and keep going.

Re- is talking about forfeiting because he panicked a little when he saw her basically just stop in the middle of a match for no obvious reason and could have very easily been killed or severely wounded if she hadn't had the instincts to drop like a rock.  Which is entirely out of character because she's clever and level-headed. He's worried about both the injury (which is worse than I've apparently implied) and her mental state.  She doesn't care about the injury (as you said. People get minor injuries all the time and keep going), but isn't exactly trustworthy in evaluating her own mental state, and tends toward pushing herself too hard.

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I'm also unclear why they thing Duke A. is going to kill her just because she has a cut. Some reaction from Is. on the severity of her injury would be helpful.

They don't.  That's supposed to be a sarcastic overstatement on her part.  He's just concerned that she's more injured than she's letting on (likely) and knows the disaster it would be politically if either of them was severely wounded in what's supposed to be a fun event. Even accidentally.  Because there's already a lot of rocky history between their families. Which is what Ro- was supposed to be trying to make up for by befriending Al- 

1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

Was the sword poisoned or something?

That would be the padded tunic, set aside special from the kids' equipment storage.

 

I think a lot of this would be made clearer if the significance of her injuries early on were stressed more. But it's not really the injury that's doing the damage. That's what everyone sees, so it's what they're focused on, but there should be more indication that she's dizzy and sick and uncharacteristically absentminded as the poison takes effect that should give the reader a clearer idea that there's something more going on than just an injury...hmmm...

Thanks for your thoughts! I always have really skewed ideas of where I've cut too much or not enough of things after a bunch of edits, so it's good to see where some of those things fall for readers who are new to it and don't know where things are going.

Edited by C_Vallion
0

Share this post


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

But it's not really the injury that's doing the damage. That's what everyone sees, so it's what they're focused on, but there should be more indication that she's dizzy and sick and uncharacteristically absentminded as the poison takes effect

Wait, there was actually poison?? That was meant to be a facetious remark. I didn't get at all that there was any poisoning going on.

1

Share this post


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

Wait, there was actually poison?? That was meant to be a facetious remark. I didn't get at all that there was any poisoning going on.

Surprise! 

Welll.....that certainly needs to be adjusted. How I manage to be both too subtle about things and overexplain them is beyond me...Urgh. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've already seen this chapter, so I'll just echo @Mandamon's comments that this needs A) EMOTIONS and B.) actual motivation for our lead that motivates both her and the reader. What does she want? What is her arc? You explained it in very long chapters to me in an email but I want to know it, intuitively, from reading. I want to get it from her actions and her emotions. I don't want to have to ask, I want to just know.

1

Share this post


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

I've already seen this chapter, so I'll just echo @Mandamon's comments that this needs A) EMOTIONS and B.) actual motivation for our lead that motivates both her and the reader. What does she want? What is her arc? You explained it in very long chapters to me in an email but I want to know it, intuitively, from reading. I want to get it from her actions and her emotions. I don't want to have to ask, I want to just know.

Did this version do any better at portraying motivation than the last version you read?  There were some changes to the first couple pages from the last one you'd seen.  Still definitely not where it needs to be, but is it at least moving in the right direction? Or is there no noticeable difference between the two?

Also, do you know if you'd caught on to the poison possibility your first time reading?

0

Share this post


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

Also, do you know if you'd caught on to the poison possibility your first time reading?

I caught poison the first time, yes, but only by the chapter after it. Not from the first exposure.

14 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

Did this version do any better at portraying motivation than the last version you read?  There were some changes to the first couple pages from the last one you'd seen.  Still definitely not where it needs to be, but is it at least moving in the right direction? Or is there no noticeable difference between the two?

It's a much cleaner intro and I understand what is going on. But I still don't have clear, larger book goals or stakes for her. Not ones that really feel like they could carry a book, anyway. It is getting better, but now our MC needs to really expand her world, needs, and emotions to be book-worthy.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't feel like I'm missing too important information, at least not anything that couldn't concisely summed up in a handful of sentences. Though I think the thing that confused me most was R being the future kind. I don't know why, but I thought Is was next in line for the throne. 

Maybe a sentence or two more about what a spellstone pen is? A couple little hints here and there about the magic issue? 

I'm not 100% sure what her motivation or goals are still though. In the last version of ch. 1, she wanted to possibly learn magic though I wasn't sure how that fit into the bigger picture. Here, she wants to win the tournament, but for what? Why? 

I liked the first scene, and I did get feeling it was setting up a romance subplot. 

I liked seeing her win the fight, but as a whole, it felt mechanical. If you could infuse more emotion into it, then it would be great! I was a tiny but confused about what happened at the end of the fight, but maybe I'm just tired. After re-reading that section, it looks like the opponent just didn't realize he'd lost.

After the injury, as she gradually got worse, I was wondering what was going on, but by the end

Spoiler

I was convinced she was poisoned. 

And that did leave me with a hook to read into the next chapter more so than any of your other chapters have done so far. 

 

11 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Is her reaction to Ro supposed to be the defining point of this chapter? Because I'm much more interested in her and Duke A. Ro just reads as a whiny cousin and she defeats him. Fine. But I'm waiting for the actual arc and development of this chapter. WHY is she fighting? HOW does she feel when she gets injured? Does she want to fight Duke A.? Right now, the tension is a lot better here because there's no giant discussions, but I'm still not getting anything that's pulling me into the story at the end.

What does Is want? I feel like this was missing in the first chapters, and it's still missing here.

 

Agree. The core of what she wants is still missing. 

Structurally, this could work. But you need to ramp up the emotions and just give us a little more about why winning matters aside from well, winning for the sake of winning. Then tie that more into her wants and needs.

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, kais said:

It is getting better, but now our MC needs to really expand her world, needs, and emotions to be book-worthy.

Progress is progress, I guess. And at least it will mostly be getting her motivations here in order (and buckling down on her next chapters to make sure the change after the poisoning is clear cut and immediate).

Would you (or @Mandamon or @shatteredsmooth ) say there's any place for this being a starting point? Where the biggest problem she sees in her world is her whiny cousin and his inability to fit her idea of what a proper heir should be?  Because her world, needs, and emotions have never really been challenged by much else until now? 

I know this chapter still needs to have a more focused motivation than it does now, but I'm still struggling with how to convey that her current understanding of the world is too small to really know what she wants at this point.  And she would probably be glad to cruise along keeping everything in her life in neat little boxes so that she can avoid ever acknowledging that she's not fully in control of her life.  If she weren't, for an entirely non-random example, poisoned in a sword tournament.

0

Share this post


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

Would you (or @Mandamon or @shatteredsmooth ) say there's any place for this being a starting point? Where the biggest problem she sees in her world is her whiny cousin and his inability to fit her idea of what a proper heir should be?  Because her world, needs, and emotions have never really been challenged by much else until now? 

I think this is a much better place to start the story, but the current motivation just doesn't work to draw a reader in. A whiny cousin and his idea of her political place is absolutely uninteresting. If you want her world to be challenged, a much better place is something exciting, like magic going wrong, or the discovery of an unknown talent for magic, or near death in the tournament (with consequences like loss of a limb, or place in line for the throne, etc..)

1

Share this post


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

If you want her world to be challenged, a much better place is something exciting, like magic going wrong, or the discovery of an unknown talent for magic, or near death in the tournament (with consequences like loss of a limb, or place in line for the throne, etc..)

But that is what happens. The poison nearly kills her. I cut back the effects of it too much while trimming wordcount, but it leaves her incapacitated to some extent for most of the story, which is what pushes her to ask questions about magic that she wouldn't have otherwise. 

After this chapter, her main concern is never about a whiny cousin.  It is pointed in the same direction — "What is best for the kingdom?" (Which she is interpreting on page 1 as "Not Ro-" ), but it looks entirely different once she's thrown off the edge of her simple understanding of the world and realizes that there are bigger issues in the world. 

In many ways the opening motivation should seem a little superficial. Because it's about to make a sudden turn. So the contrast is important. But it needs to be that without making her seem shallow and clueless, and without losing the reader. Which it's not currently doing. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Maybe a sentence or two more about what a spellstone pen is? A couple little hints here and there about the magic issue?

Good point.  Starting here takes out all of the other spellstone references, so there's really nothing to tie that to as it is.  I tried to make a little reference to the magic issues in regard to the lack of healing magic making most people more cautious, but that will be dealt with a lot more directly in the next chapter. I'll probably check in there to see what might be better to introduce here, but I think it's going to fit better there overall. 

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I liked seeing her win the fight, but as a whole, it felt mechanical. If you could infuse more emotion into it, then it would be great! I was a tiny but confused about what happened at the end of the fight, but maybe I'm just tired. After re-reading that section, it looks like the opponent just didn't realize he'd lost.

After the injury, as she gradually got worse, I was wondering what was going on, but by the end

  Reveal hidden contents

I was convinced she was poisoned. 

And that did leave me with a hook to read into the next chapter more so than any of your other chapters have done so far. 

Yeah. There's definitely not enough expression of the amount of pain she's actually in there. Or her feelings following the match.  Ideally, there should be a strong feeling of "This seems like there's something more than just an injury going on here" during her talk with Al-, which should lead to that connection pretty quickly when things are going downhill after she's left the practice yard. 

Though looking back, it looks like I cut most of that conversation down to him just asking if she's alright... Urgh.  Cut section in spoiler box thing for reference. I think by taking that and a lot of her pain-processing and her body shutting down after she leaves the yard, it does make it really unclear how bad things are. Probably should have just taken out the latter part and left this (or some form of it) in.

Spoiler

Why’d he have to pick here to stand?

“The tent might be cooler,” she said, gesturing vaguely toward where Ro- and Ai- sat in the competitors’ rest area. He glanced at her then looked in the direction she indicated.

After a moment, the corner of his mouth turned up in a wry smile. “It’s hard to think I would be welcome.” Is- looked over to find Ro- scowling at her across the yard. “What exactly is his goal? He seems insistent on showing me around but doesn’t seem to be concerned about whether it’s actually helpful.”

She snorted, amused, and looked down at the cup in her hands. “My mother asked him to be nice. So that you’re not upset about what happened with your suite.” She wiped her face with the cleaner of her sleeves, shaking her head when the movement made her dizzy. “He doesn’t like being told what to do. Even though he knows he needs to be civil.” Some part of her mind was aware that she was saying too much, but she couldn’t think of why. “So, he’s trying to help.”  The edges of her vision went blurry, and she shut her eyes, resting her head on the cup again before realizing that she hadn’t finished her thought.  “But he’s not very helpful.” The words weren’t the witty line she’d planned, but she’d lost track of that halfway through the thought.

“Are you alright?”

Her head jerked up.  Al- had stepped toward her.  She squinted against the sunlight behind him, unable to make out his expression. But she could hear the concern in his voice. She looked away.  Did she really look that pathetic? She downed her water and handed the cup back to the servant.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I just need some air.”


0

Share this post


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

But that is what happens. The poison nearly kills her. I cut back the effects of it too much while trimming wordcount, but it leaves her incapacitated to some extent for most of the story, which is what pushes her to ask questions about magic that she wouldn't have otherwise. 

After this chapter, her main concern is never about a whiny cousin.  It is pointed in the same direction — "What is best for the kingdom?" (Which she is interpreting on page 1 as "Not Ro-" ), but it looks entirely different once she's thrown off the edge of her simple understanding of the world and realizes that there are bigger issues in the world. 

Then:

1) Take out the point about the whiny cousin, or sideline it. It's not the important part of this.

2) Make the part about being poisoned VERY large in this chapter. Right now I completely missed it. If this is what's supposed to drag readers in, it's not working right now and needs to be greatly expanded, and take the place of less important conversations.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, this chapter is more engaging than previous ones, it drew me in and held my attention more so. There were still some points where there were too many details that didn't contribute to the story. The fighting scene could've been shorter and less of a blow by blow. Having read your previous submissions, I'm familiar with all these characters, but I wonder if I was looking at this with fresh eyes if it wouldn't be too confusing jumping straight into the action. The poisoning is great and adds a lot of intrigue and is the most consequential plot element in this chapter, but I wasn't sure if that's what was happening or not. Poison seemed likely from Is- symptoms but it could've been something else. Personally, I would've liked a bit more clarity there, but my opinion isn't the best lol. To me, the major problem that still stands is as readers we have no idea what this story is meant to be about. Not through this chapter at least. But still, if some of the details were cut back and more developing scenes were reinforced, I think someone would have a difficult time putting the book down.

As I read:

pg 1: Much more engaging start. I'm not confused by anything mentioned so far. If I was freshly reading this story, I wouldn't know exactly who these people were, but I would know enough to not get tripped up.

pg 3: I'm wondering what the significance of the spell-stone pen is. Also, like mandamon said, a mention of who is fighting, their titles etc. would be helpful.

pg 4: I think just a tad too much time was spent on the training equipment. I thought the mention of 12 year olds was good, to get an idea of her physique and some banter. But that it had an acrid smell and should be washed for some other lucky 14 year old, I think that was unnecessary.

pg 5: I think that you could shorten the description of duke A's win.

pg 6 - 8: I think the fight went into too much detail, but it was quite exciting, I liked how Is- won it.

pg 10: Wouldn't Is- be in more pain from the blow? Where's her anguish?

pg 15: What was in Is- mind in this scene of desperation? I'd like to see more of her inner dialogue, fear, assumptions, etc.

Over all: Much more exciting and engaging than previous chapters, the dialogue is good, the descriptions are easy to follow but lag the plot in some points. Great work! 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall:

Agree with the others that this chapter has many strengths over others, and overall reads well. :) And also agreed with others that Is trying to teach R a lesson isn't really that interesting the way it's presented right now. If the story wants to lean into that there are ways--really any classic sports/training movie where schlub gets into shape to prove asshole wrong has the narrative structure laid out, but I agree with  @Mandamon that there are more interesting ways for the story to go and I think it's easier just to rework Is' motivation here. 

Speaking of which, I think that's the main thing that needs to be set here. Main character conflict, backstory, motivation, personality, and how they all connect to each other. Again, this chapter does have that... it's just that it's all about Is vs R, which doesn't seem to connect to much else right now. It's hard to offer too many specifics on this since it's really up to you and the story to decide what it wants to be about, but if the story wants Is' connection to magic to be the focus then it's important for the conflict/motivations to revolve around that. And I know we were the ones who told you to try out this chapter, but even though it feels like we're not missing much it also feels like this isn't really what the larger story wants to be about (by my best guess, anyway). Again, I'm happy to chat about this more, but I don't want to overload you with specifics when I'm not quite sure which direction the story wants to take. 

As I go:

pg 2

-I do like the difference in how she views A vs R. Her reacting to them in basically opposite ways sets up an interesting dynamic from the get-go

pg 3

-If I'm reading this as the first chapter (which I understand wasn't the original intention), I need more of a motivation from Is here. I need to feel like this tournament means a lot to her for me to care. 

pg 4

-As mentioned by others, Re and Ro have similar names. Not just the first letter, but the ending too. You know that thing about how we can read words that are all scrambled up if the first and last letters are the same? My brain has to pause every time so I can figure out who's actually talking, which takes me out of the story. 

pg 5

-I like the focus on how Ala's fighting style is different. That being said, it's hard to be engaged when we're told the outcome beforehand. 

pg 6

-Yo this action writing is really solid. Good mix of zooming into the important blows while keeping most of the focus on the overarching flow of battle 

pg 10

-Reading what everyone else said, I think the lightheadedness is supposed to be the hint that she was poisoned? If I were reading blind I definitely wouldn't have thought that. 

pg 13-14

-Yeah to me this seems pretty standard for someone who's injured. Like everyone's acting like she hurt herself pretty bad so when I see her getting dizzy or having hazy vision it doesn't seem that weird to me. 

pg 15

-Yup if I were reading this blind I'd just be confused most likely. This clearly isn't normal, but I wouldn't have been picking up on enough hints of her being poisoned to put it together now. Is there a reason she can't just figure it out here? She's more familiar with what's weird for her body to be doing than we are. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, julienreel said:

I'm wondering what the significance of the spell-stone pen is. Also, like mandamon said, a mention of who is fighting, their titles etc. would be helpful.

Mostly it's just significant because it uses spellstones, and I wanted to have some reference to what day-to-day magic use looks like, but failed to actually say anything helpful about it (I hadn't considered how out of the blue it is without any other spellstones mentioned)

I was a little cautious about introducing too many characters at once (because I have been known to do that).  Do you (and @Mandamon ) think it's missing more a sense of what sort of people are competing in the tournament (that it's a fun thing for the nobility, not a more serious competition for formally trained fighters) or specific characters? If the latter, how many is going to be too many to absorb without spending too much time introducing cast members in memorable ways?

15 hours ago, julienreel said:

But that it had an acrid smell and should be washed for some other lucky 14 year old, I think that was unnecessary.

That was supposed to be hanging a lantern on "Hey. There's something wrong with this," as a puzzle piece for the poison, but obviously didn't work out that well. 

15 hours ago, julienreel said:

pg 5: I think that you could shorten the description of duke A's win.

pg 6 - 8: I think the fight went into too much detail, but it was quite exciting, I liked how Is- won it.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 5

-I like the focus on how Ala's fighting style is different. That being said, it's hard to be engaged when we're told the outcome beforehand. 

pg 6

-Yo this action writing is really solid. Good mix of zooming into the important blows while keeping most of the focus on the overarching flow of battle 

Need to figure out good balances for these things.  

Also, it's not supposed to show the outcome for Al-'s match beforehand. It's supposed to be talking about an earlier win that kept him in the tournament. But looking back at it, it's not all that clear.

15 hours ago, julienreel said:

pg 10: Wouldn't Is- be in more pain from the blow? Where's her anguish?

pg 15: What was in Is- mind in this scene of desperation? I'd like to see more of her inner dialogue, fear, assumptions, etc.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 10

-Reading what everyone else said, I think the lightheadedness is supposed to be the hint that she was poisoned? If I were reading blind I definitely wouldn't have thought that. 

pg 13-14

-Yeah to me this seems pretty standard for someone who's injured. Like everyone's acting like she hurt herself pretty bad so when I see her getting dizzy or having hazy vision it doesn't seem that weird to me. 

pg 15

-Yup if I were reading this blind I'd just be confused most likely. This clearly isn't normal, but I wouldn't have been picking up on enough hints of her being poisoned to put it together now. Is there a reason she can't just figure it out here? She's more familiar with what's weird for her body to be doing than we are. 

A lot of this was trimmed back.  Because my sense of what goes on too long is incredibly skewed when I'm doing revisions.  So I ended up cutting too much of this and left too much length in the actual fighting.  Her general approach to pain/difficulty is generally going to downplay any concerns about real problems, because she's used to addressing things with a sort of "If I tough it out long enough, things will get better" approach. But there does need to be more fear/desperation at the end as she's realizing that may not be the case here. 

Initially, it took longer for her to get to where she's near blacking out, and fear started to set in once she was dragged off to see the healers and she started to realize how terrified other people were.  But it just went on too long, and didn't add much. Be glad I cut that out.  But I didn't move enough of those feelings into the closing scene here, which is a problem.  I'll be adjusting that in the revisions. 

10 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I agree with  @Mandamon that there are more interesting ways for the story to go and I think it's easier just to rework Is' motivation here. 

Speaking of which, I think that's the main thing that needs to be set here. Main character conflict, backstory, motivation, personality, and how they all connect to each other. Again, this chapter does have that... it's just that it's all about Is vs R, which doesn't seem to connect to much else right now. It's hard to offer too many specifics on this since it's really up to you and the story to decide what it wants to be about, but if the story wants Is' connection to magic to be the focus then it's important for the conflict/motivations to revolve around that. And I know we were the ones who told you to try out this chapter, but even though it feels like we're not missing much it also feels like this isn't really what the larger story wants to be about (by my best guess, anyway). Again, I'm happy to chat about this more, but I don't want to overload you with specifics when I'm not quite sure which direction the story wants to take. 

I think I just need to check in on her chapter 1 motivations after another chapter or two when she's realized that the things she has been worried about aren't as vitally important as she'd thought. Her frustration with Ro- are a sort of scaled-down version of her ultimate motivations, but the scale of her understanding of the world shifts drastically when we're next in her PoV. Her motivations here need to tie into that, but I think too much back and forth about it before that direction is clearer is just going to be frustrating all around.

And I am still planning to check in with you about those things, but I'm going to hold off until at least the next chapter is brought in, where the magic ties in a little more.  

0

Share this post


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

I was a little cautious about introducing too many characters at once (because I have been known to do that).  Do you (and @Mandamon ) think it's missing more a sense of what sort of people are competing in the tournament (that it's a fun thing for the nobility, not a more serious competition for formally trained fighters) or specific characters? If the latter, how many is going to be too many to absorb without spending too much time introducing cast members in memorable ways?

don't think you need more characters in this chapter. In fact I think you should specifically avoid more characters. What's missing is the descriptions and motivations for the characters that are already on the page.

16 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

I think I just need to check in on her chapter 1 motivations after another chapter or two when she's realized that the things she has been worried about aren't as vitally important as she'd thought. Her frustration with Ro- are a sort of scaled-down version of her ultimate motivations, but the scale of her understanding of the world shifts drastically when we're next in her PoV. Her motivations here need to tie into that, but I think too much back and forth about it before that direction is clearer is just going to be frustrating all around.

And I am still planning to check in with you about those things, but I'm going to hold off until at least the next chapter is brought in, where the magic ties in a little more.  

I'd be careful about rationalizing yourself out of changes here. For the past 3-4 chapters we've read, we keep getting assurances that the next chapter is where things really happen. But they haven't happened yet.

Personally, and sorry if this is a bit harsh, I'm getting a bit burnt out on this story as it is. From what I've read so far (and I can usually get a good idea if I want to read a story in about five chapters) I don't think I'm going to be more interested in this story as it is, in one chapter, or five, or twenty. I think it needs major changes from the very beginning in terms of large character motivations and greater stakes. For me, I don't think reading ahead to further plot points is going to fix anything.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is your first chapter. I didn't need any previous chapters to be able to understand this one. It has tension, it has action, and, if you really emphasize at the end that she is poisoned, you got a hook. You've got good bones here. If you can make the foundation solid here, you can take that strength to fix up the holes that come later. 

The purpose of the tournament needs to get snuck in from previous chapters. What's on the line here? Why is Is fighting Ro? Why does she want to fight Ro? To wipe the grin off of his smug face isn't enough - has he stolen something from her (knowledge? Power? Respect?) or have something she wants that she believes he doesn't deserve (again, knowledge? Power? Respect?)? Like, she wants to teach him a lesson - but is that a petty lesson because in truth she thinks that the kingdom should become a queendom? That she is better suited for her country than him? Why is she so determined to continue the match against A? What does she have to prove? What is she trying to earn? There needs to be more than being stubborn - it's being stubborn for a specific, powerful purpose. 

This might be something you can really lean into. Being poisoned takes everything away from Is, right? I'm going to toss in a false motivation just for an example: "Is loves nothing more than her country, and knows that it would be better for all if she was on the throne instead of her smug playboy cousin. However, during a royal tournament where she can prove that she is better than R in front of her father the king, Is is mysteriously poisoned, and it robs her of any chance to steal the throne. How can Is save her country when looming forces threaten to overwhelm her cousin and she is too weak to stop them?" 

What would happen if you have Is solid plans, passionate goals - then ripped them away in the very next chapter? How would she react? What would she do? Where would her motivations drive her next?

Also, random question about the rope - how thick are these ropes? Because at first I was picturing, like, rope. Like, an inch thick, similar to the lead ropes for horses. I think that was my horse head getting in the way. Then I was thinking...a quarter of an inch? Just enough to slice through? Are these ropes normal hempen colored, or do they dye them for the occasion? I think you've got a great bit of worldbuilding there that is different from usual tournaments. Also, in regards to the spellstones, you could add one or two extra sentences to hint at the overall worldbuilding implications and save the rest for later. 

7 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Personally, and sorry if this is a bit harsh, I'm getting a bit burnt out on this story as it is. From what I've read so far (and I can usually get a good idea if I want to read a story in about five chapters) I don't think I'm going to be more interested in this story as it is, in one chapter, or five, or twenty. I think it needs major changes from the very beginning in terms of large character motivations and greater stakes. For me, I don't think reading ahead to further plot points is going to fix anything.

Unless you can actively massively revise ahead of submissions, fixing the foundational issues, I agree with @Mandamon. This chapter is a great starting point for your book, but I think the rest is going to be hindered until you shore up the foundational issues. I worry that we will end up just saying the same things in circles.

I've used this metaphor before for others and I rather like it: right now, you're trying to build a lofty skyscraper on unstable sand. I think it is worth the time to pause on revisions and create a new plan of action. 

Here's what I propose, and, as per usual, you don't have to do anything I suggest: set PoP aside for a month and write that short story. Practice strong stakes and character motivations. As it is a short story, it will force you to not go overboard with the worldbuilding. It will get your brain on a new track and thinking in a new direction.

Then, once you've written that short story (whether it comes out as a finger painting or a Picasso), you (and I, if you want) sit down and come up with very specific motivations and stakes that continually deepen and broaden the story. I've suffered from the same exact problems - ask anyone here who read NotK, especially the early submissions of Draft Two - and I know from personal experience how much this is a pain in your patootie and sucks majorly. But it is worth it, and you do have good bones in this story. You are determined, you try hard, and you are resilient. I know you can do this. And if you ever forget that, message me and I'll wallop you over the head with reminders. 

With a month passed, you'll be able to look at PoP with new eyes - and so will we. At this point, I think we all might be a little too close to the story. What would you - and us - notice if we came at this from another direction? Is there a solution just staring you in the face right now that you can't see because you've got your nose pressed against the glass? Or is there some amazing twist that is just around the corner that you haven't gone far enough to discover yet? 

You are making progress. Visible progress. Don't ever let yourself forget that. You've just got to keep chugging up that mountain, even when it is hard. Step by step. And remember, even when we gripe and sound like a bunch of old harping women, this writing group only ever means the best. Thanks for putting up with us ;) 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Overall:

I definitely think this chapter could stand on its own as Chapter 1; I don't feel lost reading it, and my brain wasn't drawing a lot of connections to previous material as anything I really needed to know to understand or enhance this one. 

This got off to a good start with the conversation between Is, A, and R, but I quickly founding my attention start to wander as we got into the tournament setup and even the matches. I pointed out one or two specific places below that I thought could be condensed, but what’s missing throughout is a sense of stakes. Is and R don’t seem more than mildly irritated with each other, which was enough to sustain me for the length of the conversation but not beyond. If this is a first chapter: The “wastrel nobleman” trope is pretty common, and doesn’t provide a sufficient hook, at least not for this reader. If it’s a later chapter, I’m still not bought into the relationship between these two characters enough to care about wanting to fix it – and I’m not totally clear that’s what I is doing, since the chapter often reads like she just wants to prove a point over him for some reason.

I think this chapter needs to be clear on why the tournament matters to Is, and really punch up her emotions in relation to it. Is doesn’t emote much. And although I know she wants to win the tournament in order to hold one over R, that’s not sufficient to carry me through because I don’t know why that matters. How are the results of this tournament going to play into later chapters? What does winning mean for Is’s overall goals? What does losing mean? Making it clear how badly Is wants to win the tournament (for example) might sufficient to carry me through the early parts of the chapter, but my investment in the character and how this win/loss changes things for her is what will determine whether I want to read the NEXT chapter.

If this is a first chapter, then a lot of that bigger picture stuff can be handled through hints and character emotions. If – and this is only an example, not a suggestion of where I think the story is going or should go –  the primary conflict is that R is a wastrel who is driving the kingdom to ruin with his actions and this tournament is somehow one of the only ways Is can fix it – then I want to feel Is’s desperation and animosity, and see the cracks where things are starting to fall apart. If this is Chapter 5, then the need to understand where this chapter fits in the big picture, why it is a tipping point, is even greater – but it needs to be because I’ve already seen the protagonists try, and probably fail, to achieve their goals up to this point.

This has been a common refrain in my critiques so far, so I think spending some time focusing on what Is and Al want, why those goals matter to them, and what’s standing in their way will serve you well, because being able to communicate those things is going to be critical no matter where you start your story.

As I read:

If R’s not going to introduce them, why doesn’t I just introduce herself instead of making the duke figure it out…? Especially if this becomes the first chapter, it would be quite a natural way to tell us who I is.

P2 “…pausing for a moment as she stared at the rope.” Is seems to have come to some sort of epiphany here, but not sure what that is.

 I think a lot of this introductory stuff about the tournament could probably be skipped. The most significant thing so far (at the top of p5) seems to be the conversation between Is, R, and the duke; the rest could be condensed quite a bit to give us just enough: that there’s a tournament; what the place looks like, what our characters look like and a bit about our characters’ positions in the narrative – the latter of which we already have, certainly for R and A.

P5 “…the cord on Ai’s right arm…” Are they using blunted weapons? I have a hard time imagining a sword strike being positioned to go right through a cord even if the weapon was sharpened, and using fully functional weapons during a tournament seems unlikely.

 I’d really like to get some more emotion out of Is about what the tournament means to her. She seems interested in winning, but not like she has a particularly strong opinion about it.

P6 “…anticipating a slash to left left side” Just because she knows R’s fight style, or? We don’t get much of an indication that they’re sizing each other up so this comes out of nowhere.

As I read the actual fight scene between the two, I’m again coming back to the thought that I need a why for this scene to really matter. Again: What would it mean for Is to win, or lose? What would she think it means for R?

“… let her chainmail take the edge off the blow.” Okay, I’m confused. I thought the guard was lecturing her because she’d dropped her guard when she shouldn’t have. If this is the rule about winning then it’s the rule; why wouldn’t it be considered legitimate? Is this just a character flaw of R’s? If so, who cares what he thinks?

“Smart or skilled enough to know when to pull a strike…” Again I wonder why they seem to be using real, fully functional weapons for this.

On 3/1/2021 at 4:38 AM, C_Vallion said:

but there will be a few things down the road that I’m concerned about having to introduce suddenly

I don't feel there's much that was left out. If there are things in later chapters that are introduced too abruptly, we'll find them when they happen. 

On 3/1/2021 at 4:38 AM, C_Vallion said:

Is-‘s character comes across, because her interactions with Ro- are very different from how she acts toward most people

I think this is the biggest drawback of the chapter. Is really doesn't emote much during this chapter, and without feeling that emotion, all I really get about her is that she wants to win to prove a point against R, but I don't know why that's important or have an emotional connection to why it is, so it's not quite enough to get me bought into the character.

On 3/1/2021 at 11:32 AM, C_Vallion said:

There was more of this before, but it went on too long, and a lot of it got trimmed back.

It's not necessarily just about what you put in versus what you take out, but where you put it. I could see the scene where she's injured easily going on if she's just feeling miserable because she got injured and taking a breather; it would probably be more meaningful if we see her struggle to do something and fail. And I think what's missing here is not the sense that she was badly injured but how she FEELS about losing the tournament and again, why that loss matters to her. 

On 3/1/2021 at 9:42 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

After re-reading that section, it looks like the opponent just didn't realize he'd lost.

That's what I got too, though I was also initially a bit confused. I think this could be simplified somewhat - since there's also a question of him not thinking her win was "legitimate." What if he just didn't realize he'd lost and then got huffy and refused to accept it? 

On 3/1/2021 at 11:32 AM, C_Vallion said:

That would be the padded tunic, set aside special from the kids' equipment storage.

I also found the section about the kids section confusing and, honestly, a little uncomfortable, as there's this weird thing fantasy sometimes does with fetishizing women who are small in stature. Maybe she just has customized equipment because she's shorter which can be explained in a sentence, gets rid of the weird kids dialogue, and still leaves you a spot to hang that lantern. 

I'll say that I ALSO did not catch onto the fact that this was poison. I wonder if the answer is to actually make the injury LESS severe, and make that clear, so that it's more apparent earlier on that something is Up. Plus, you have a couple of spots where you could hang a lantern that you didn't take advantage of; up until the end, it seems like people are just fussing over her because she's royalty and not because she's injured. What if we see her hiding that she's not feeling well while the healer checks her over (or whatever?) What if we actually see her struggling sooner than that, and she's frustrated with herself during the fight with R because she's not performing the way she expects? Etc? If you cut out the padding and really punch up Is's emotions, you actually have the potential for a really solid opening chapter here, I think. 

Also... is the cousin the one who poisons her? Because that would be my assumption with the setup you've provided. If not, then yes, de-emphasizing the cousin thing is probably in order because right now that feels like it's meant to be the arc.

11 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

that it's a fun thing for the nobility

I think this is clear. I don't think you need to add more characters in this chapter; if anything it's a bit too busy already.

On 3/2/2021 at 5:42 AM, C_Vallion said:

I'm still struggling with how to convey that her current understanding of the world is too small to really know what she wants at this point. 

But even if her motivations change after the poisoning (which they probably should! That's what an inciting incident does!) she wants SOMETHING right now so we need to know what that is, and more importantly, we need to FEEL what that is. Winning the tournament could be the biggest, most important thing in the world to her because nobody thought she could/everyone said she shouldn't/she has a friendly rivalry with her cousin/she has an unfriendly rivalry with her cousin/because that foreign duke is actually really hot and she wants to impress him/etc. The things the character is focused on can be relatively small - but they need to feel big to her, because that's what will make them feel big to us. And THAT is what will get us through to the poisoning and the exciting things that hopefully happen next. 

Edited by Silk
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/1/2021 at 1:31 PM, Mandamon said:

pg 3: If this is going to be the first chapter, the only thing I'm missing so far is WHO is fighting. Just one sentence about that would help.

This was the note I was referring to when I was asking what you meant.  I'm not intending to add more characters.  I know that's one of the last things I need. I was just trying to clarify what that note was looking for.  

On 3/4/2021 at 8:37 AM, Mandamon said:

I'd be careful about rationalizing yourself out of changes here. For the past 3-4 chapters we've read, we keep getting assurances that the next chapter is where things really happen. But they haven't happened yet.

I know it needs changes.  I'm not saying that it doesn't.  I'm just saying that I think it is going to be clearer what those changes need to be once her full-story motivations are made clear.

Is- isn't a reliable narrator.  She has zero self-awareness and zero willingness to confront the fact that she’s mostly motivated by fear of things she can’t control.  So she shapes her world to avoid letting things get outside her control or push her into situations where she faces her fears.  And she does a good job of that.  Except where Ro- is concerned, because he refuses to fall in line with her expectations of how things should be.

Why does she think she wants to beat Ro-?

Because she has to do all of the tasks and responsibilities he doesn’t, or they don’t get done, which ultimately makes life difficult for her family. Plus he pokes at her insecurities, which irritates her to no end.  The fact that she sees the behaviors that she doesn’t approve of as giving her an edge to win just seems like a sort of poetic justice to her.

Why does she actually want to beat him?

She wants him to buckle down and do his job because she’s terrified that if he doesn’t step up to do that, she’s going to get dragged into line for the throne. Which is probably the worst future she could possibly imagine. Being in crowded rooms gives her anxiety. Let alone crowded rooms where she’s supposed to be in charge, and would have to have some sort of commanding presence while being shouted down by people who actively despise her. Where any impression of weakness is going to be twisted into a way to take advantage of her.

But she doesn’t recognize that as being behind her frustration. Because she is good at convincing herself that the things that irritate her about Ro- are just based in wanting the best for the kingdom, not on protecting herself from having to deal with her fears.  And she’s been able to avoid addressing the depths of her vulnerabilities by having the privilege of being able to avoid situations that make her uncomfortable.  The court accepts her as quiet and eccentric, and she is able to get away with things that others can’t (things that might make her actually address her issues) because she’s made herself clever and capable at most things to present an image of hyper-competence and she stays out of trouble and does the things she’s supposed to. And she’s friendly and likeable enough to avoid direct conflict with just about anyone but Ro-. So she’s never forced to address any of those fears and vulnerabilities because she’s good enough to hide them. 

Until she's been poisoned, which pushes her face first into every weakness and vulnerability she's been shoving away. So she has to either find a way to deal with them or eliminate them. And after spending almost two decades ignoring her problems, she's certainly not going to do the responsible thing and address them directly now. Which means finding a new way to deal with things, and learning that expanding her understanding of the world is only going to make her feel smaller and more insignificant the more she goes looking for a solution.

The Ch 1 motivations are weak.  That's a problem. I need to fix it. I want to fix it. But they are meant to be limited to some extent. There needs to be more implication that there's more to them than what her thoughts are implying, so that it doesn't seem like that's what the book is going to be pursuing the whole time, but if she's aware of the things she really wants out of life on page 1, she has nothing pushing her to look for answers.  

Does that make any sense for why it looks like I'm trying to keep things the way they are, when what I'm really trying to do is avoid continuing to make a bunch of minor adjustments here (I think we can all say I've done enough of that to show it's not a helpful approach) when I think the best way to find the actual solution is to know where she's getting to and work backward?

I'd like there to be an arc in this chapter go from her being capably and confidently pursuing her limited motivation (which does need adjustment) and ending up crashing and burning and desperately grasping for some sense of control as her body is shutting down from the poison. I ruined the latter half of that by cutting back too much on her physical and emotional suffering in the second half of the chapter.  Initially, the degradation was slower and spread into the next chapter as the healer realizes it's poison. But there wasn't a good reason to split it up that way, and instead the whole thing just got cut short.  And while it did go on too long before, we still needed some of it. 

On 3/4/2021 at 8:37 AM, Mandamon said:

Personally, and sorry if this is a bit harsh, I'm getting a bit burnt out on this story as it is. From what I've read so far (and I can usually get a good idea if I want to read a story in about five chapters) I don't think I'm going to be more interested in this story as it is, in one chapter, or five, or twenty. I think it needs major changes from the very beginning in terms of large character motivations and greater stakes. For me, I don't think reading ahead to further plot points is going to fix anything.

That's entirely fair. I don't blame you. I doubt you're the only one. I've spent far too much time muddling through trying to make the early chapters work to explain the more limited scale of her starting motivations. But there's no way to make that engaging for four chapters (shocking, I know), even if there weren't the additional issues of info dumps galore. I haven't really offered much in the way of visible proof that you can trust my judgment when I say that there are larger character motivations and stakes. They're there.  They're just in her next chapter hiding behind a glaring wall of trouble with the opening.

That being said, I'm going to step back for a couple weeks to give us all a break and see if starting here after restoring some of the emotional tie-in puts things in a better place to move forward.

 

20 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Also, random question about the rope - how thick are these ropes? Because at first I was picturing, like, rope. Like, an inch thick, similar to the lead ropes for horses. I think that was my horse head getting in the way. Then I was thinking...a quarter of an inch? Just enough to slice through? Are these ropes normal hempen colored, or do they dye them for the occasion? I think you've got a great bit of worldbuilding there that is different from usual tournaments. Also, in regards to the spellstones, you could add one or two extra sentences to hint at the overall worldbuilding implications and save the rest for later. 

It's possible that I should stick with "cord" to be clearer, since rope does imply something thicker, where I was thinking of it more as the material definition, which isn't quite right. I hadn't thought about the coloring too much, but it would probably at least be dyed to make them easier to see when they've been cut free. 

17 hours ago, Silk said:

P5 “…the cord on Ai’s right arm…” Are they using blunted weapons? I have a hard time imagining a sword strike being positioned to go right through a cord even if the weapon was sharpened, and using fully functional weapons during a tournament seems unlikely

This is something I would like to discuss with someone who has more experience than I do on this front.  To see if this works as a feasible non-traditional tournament possibility or if I need to entirely change it up entirely. What fighting/combat experience I have is more related to unarmed grappling/wrestling/etc. and asking the internet has only done so much good.  It doesn't need to be this way for plot reasons, but I want the tournament fighting to differ from what would have been traditionally expected to reflect the court's attempts to remove the danger from their hobbies.  Because banning healing magic after the mage rebellion (combined with the collateral damage of the rebellion itself) did a number on the populations of the noble families. So they started adding to the list of rules that Re- is so irritated by not long after the rebellion when a couple of accidents put important families at risk.  Many more traditional families consider the whole thing a bit of a farce and don't bother with it.  

As written, they are using fully functional weapons, with the cords being there to make it more of a competition of skill and finesse than strength. An effort to maintain the court's tradition of tournaments among the nobles, and keeping them flashy and exciting for spectators while minimizing real damage. Stronger blows to limited areas are allowed for knocking off balance or physically maneuvering, but most "finishing" moves to cut the cords would be little flicks or knife slices.  So there's more practicality to dual-wielding a sword and knife.  

Figuring out how much of that information to provide is going to be another question.  Because I'm always going to err on the side of too much. I had a big explanatory section here, but figured I'd cut it and see what raised flags before overexplaining. 

18 hours ago, Silk said:

P6 “…anticipating a slash to left left side” Just because she knows R’s fight style, or?

There was a line about them training enough together to know each other's tendencies, but it got cut out while trying to trim back the fight a little. 

18 hours ago, Silk said:

“… let her chainmail take the edge off the blow.” Okay, I’m confused. I thought the guard was lecturing her because she’d dropped her guard when she shouldn’t have. If this is the rule about winning then it’s the rule; why wouldn’t it be considered legitimate? Is this just a character flaw of R’s? If so, who cares what he thinks?

yeah.  I need to figure out how to clarify the end of the match.  Ultimately R is being petty, because he didn't notice the match was over and was a little alarmed by the fact that he could have done some significant damage by striking while her guard was down. He'd accept it as a legitimate win, but would consider it a sort of dishonest one because he felt tricked and it almost went badly.  But all of that is presented rather unclearly.  So confusion is entirely fair. 

So who cares what he thinks?  Mostly Is- because she sees it as working against her wanting to prove something by beating him.  But that's all made more confusing by the fact that her reasons for wanting to win aren't clear. 

18 hours ago, Silk said:

I also found the section about the kids section confusing and, honestly, a little uncomfortable, as there's this weird thing fantasy sometimes does with fetishizing women who are small in stature.

That is a good point that I had not considered.  I'd considered the possibility of having her just have custom equipment (I mean. She's a princess. And this is a regular hobby. She probably would), but was having difficulty coming up with a reason for it to have been stored somewhere where someone could have had access to apply the poison to the padded tunic. I guess having her things stored in the equipment room so that the servants can deal with the cleaning/maintaining/etc. of it after training wouldn't be too out of the question?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

As written, they are using fully functional weapons, with the cords being there to make it more of a competition of skill and finesse than strength.

Okay, so I read this correctly while reading the chapter, and am still having a really hard time suspending disbelief, on a couple of fronts: it doesn't make much sense to me that an organization that made any effort at all to reduce the danger of their tournaments would continue using fully function weapons. As far as the idea of the ropes go, I'm still not convinced this would be all that actionable in a fight. I don't imagine most people would be very successful at severing a rope by thwacking their blade at it from the outside; you'd have to get your blade on the inside and pull out which strikes me as ... extremely fiddly and not at all the kind of thing I would be worried about in even a friendly fight. It kinda feels like if I were told to win a boxing match by de-gloving my opponent: we'd both be more likely to fall over of exhaustion five rounds in than win or lose the fight by the rules.

For a focus on finesse, you could consider something like a scored system, where points are awarded for proper technique/the execution of certain manoeuvres. Or, it could be as simple as seeing Is strike what would otherwise consider a killing blow because of the padding. Heck, maybe the swords are dipped in dye and everyone but R notices the gigantic neon pink streak across his solar plexus.

All that being said...

10 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Figuring out how much of that information to provide is going to be another question. 

I actually think you need very little. You already have a referee, and a bell that sounds when the match is over. Those are the signals to the reader that the match has been won; that and Is's feeling of triumph, followed by confusion/outrage/whatever when R doesn't play along, are what are going to carry the moment for us. The winning blow needs to feel reasonably definitive, sure, but you in terms of actual description can probably accomplish what you need to in a sentence.

Edited by Silk
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Silk said:

It kinda feels like if I were told to win a boxing match by de-gloving my opponent

That's probably a good comparison. I'd always considered it a little fiddly, but hadn't thought of it in those terms.

The initial idea of the cords had come about from another project that feels like it was from a million years ago where a tournament scene required the competitors to have their own normal sharp weapons. For rather ridiculous plot purposes.  But when I needed something like a normal tournament, but different enough to reflect the safety paranoia, I thought it might work.  

I do really like the idea of dyed blades to indicate hits as an alternative.  Thanks for that thought! And for the much-needed pointing out of issues with things as they were.

Edited by C_Vallion
0

Share this post


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

I do really like the idea of dyed blades to indicate hits as an alternative. 

I bet a dye could cover up any hint of poison on a blade, too, until it was too late... 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that this feels like a good place to start.

As someone who struggles with action, I really appreciated how you handled it. What was happening was discernable and there was some tension in there.

The issue with using students armor that @Silk brought up bugged me too. More for the idea that a princess wouldn't have her own gear, especially if tournaments were a regular occurence. Up until the 'rental' conversation I assumed that she would be wearing something passed down in the family, or made for her with the family crest and all of that. I suppose tournaments made me think jousting though :-) It seems like if it was her personal armor that smelled funny, that might give a bigger clue that something is wrong as well.

In terms of prose, there were a couple places were you have close repetitions of words:

"She wasn't looking forward to dealing with...(deal/dealing)"

After the match, the phrase "the servant gave" and "she gave the servant" gets repeated a few times in a short space. 

The only think I really felt was missing without the earlier chapters was more explaination for how the visiting duke is tied to magic, if that's going to be central to the plot. 

Thanks for sharing!

1

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.