C_Vallion

4.26.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace: Chapter 1 RevA - (L,G,V) - 5186 Words

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Hello, All!

Price of Peace is back, and hopefully better than ever. And hopefully I’ve learned enough about the process of submitting through a story by now to not frustrate us all this time.

Content tags for Chapter 1: Mild Language, mild violence (there’s a swordfight?), mild gore (wound and pain descriptions)

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

Questions for reading:

  1. How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations this time through? How about emotional tie-in?
  2. Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long?
  3. Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier?

Thanks!

 

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After weeks of being late I shall finally be early. No, really, you can hold the applause. 

As I go:

pg 1. I tend to be really hard on first paragraphs and I think we could use a stronger hook here. Princess at a tournament is fine but not distinct enough to really hook me in, since all it really tells me is that Is is a warrior princess

-I do like R drinking/being hungover. It's a more tangible sign of shirking his duties than what we got in the first draft (or I just missed it before). 

pg 2. I don't fully understand why Is cares so much about R keeping up appearances. Does it affect her at all? (And like yeah I can make inferences based on our long DMs but I need some of that in the story itself)

pg 3. Wait wasn't Is in a hurry to do something? Or did she just want to make it here and is happy to chat now that she's arrived?

pg 5. Okay so I can see why R is a pain for her family but I still don't get why he's a pain for her. Even if you don't think she's aware of all the reasons you described in your DMs, she must have some way of rationalizing it (even if it's "well I could never get away with that, how annoying that he does")

pg 6. Not sure I follow how R losing to A and being spiteful really does anything to A or Is but I do like Is feeling like she needs to take the initiative here

pg 9. Okay there's the reason we talked about as to why she cares so much about R getting his act together. If she's aware of it, I think it could come earlier so we know why she cares so much about R. As is, it feels like she's nagging him up until this point. 

pg 11. It might help to know why relations with A are so important for Is and her family. 

pg 13. Honestly I think she's being a little hard on herself. I mean if I were in the crowd watching her match I'd be entertained by how she fought it out. Which is to say I'm not 100% on board with this motivations of hers.

-would refusing to fight be worse? Nobody else seems to think so

pg 14. Okay getting A to forfeit does sound like a bad idea I agree with Is on that much

Overall:

I do think this is better than before. Consistent steps! :) And hey no need to feel bad about frustrations; this stuff takes time. 

1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations this time through? How about emotional tie-in?

I think the story is stronger for stating outright that Is wants R to get his act together because she doesn't want his duties to fall on her. This is definitely what I was hoping for after our DMs; it's clear that you've put a lot of thought into Is and I think it's good for her to be aware of why she's acting a certain way. She focuses a lot of attention on R so I'd like to see this explanation brought up earlier. And the room for improvement here is that the big event at the end with her getting poisoned doesn't really have to do with this motivation. Honestly something happening to R would be a bigger deal to her, right? If not, I'd say think about what your response to me is, and put that as the main motivation instead. In my mind, it's easiest if the event changes to match the motivation (something happens to R and Is has to step up in a way she doesn't want to) or the motivation changes to match the event (she holds something really dear that being poisoned takes away). 

1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long?

Hmm nothing super obvious jumped out at me. If I had to pick something I'd say the end (it's mostly her just getting worse and I think we'd be fine if it hit her a bit faster, if not time-wise than word-wise) and the battle itself, though I really don't like action sequences for the most part so that could be a personal thing. 

1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier?

I know that she gets poisoned and I couldn't make myself forget that, so my assessment here isn't super useful unfortunately. What I will say is that her vomiting is a really visceral moment that hits home that something is wrong. That was the first part that I really felt the impact of what was happening to her. 

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I'm excited to read this!

As I go:

p1. The opening paragraph isn't bad, but it doesn't leave a huge impression. You might want to consider how to start off with a bigger bang.

p2. Why does R call Is 'Ren'? I thought for a minute that I was missing a third character.

You spend a lot of page 1 explaining why Ir is cross with R, but a lot of that info can be inferred from their dialogue on page 2. You might want to trim from the page 1 explanation.

p4. I like the detail with the magic pen

p5. I'm starting to wonder why R has so much political influence. If he's so careless and represents the king poorly, why do the royal family have him at official functions at all? Why isn't that Is's job? Is R the heir or something?

p6. Describing the ending of the fight as a 'complicated exchange' feels off to me - it makes it sound like Is is struggling to understand what's going on, but the rest of the passage seems geared to show her as a competent fighter.

p6. 'She'd have to beat R, but that was something she had some control over' awkward phrasing. Is she saying that all she can do about the situation is try to beat R? Or is she saying that her ability to do that is limited?

p9. This might just be me, but I think the flow of the fight scene could benefit from having a description of the crowd's reaction to the match earlier. Letting the reader know that Is's way of winning the fight is considered undignified could add another layer to the fight while the action is going on, rather than just letting us know at the end.

p9. So R is the heir - I think this needs to be spelled out earlier, so we know why he's important and why Is is so obsessed with him.

p11. The smell being mentioned again makes me suspicious that something's going on with that.

p12. Something is definitely wrong. Some kind of poison on the gambeson and/or in the water is my guess.

p13. 'afraid that frustration and dizzying exhaustion would push her to tears'

p14. And I'm increasingly suspicious of the water and of Al

p17. Good ending! I'm thinking that Is has probably just been kidnapped, or just been nearly killed.

 

10 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations this time through? How about emotional tie-in?

Obviously I can't compare this to the earlier draft, but I'd say Is's character came through strongly. I get the sense that she is responsible to the point of being up-tight because she's under so much political pressure, but she's also frustrated by the limitations of her position in terms of being able to influence things.

What I'm less sure about is why Is is so set on representing the royal family to the best of her ability. Is she driven by personal loyalty to her father or the family? Or is it more ideological motivation (as in, she's more concerned for the effect this politics will have on the country)?

I think the emotional element to Is's character would connect more strongly if you can show me a bit of the bigger picture of what she cares about and why it matters. Her in-the-moment reactions to R's antics come across, but they have a 'small potatoes' feel to them, especially before you reveal that R is the heir.

 

10 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long?

Nothing super obvious. I was going to say that the bit where she's steadily growing worse from the poison is a bit long, but looking over it again, I'm assuming the conversations with G and A are important and it would be weird to cut references to her declining condition from them.

 

10 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier?

Super clear! I clicked on page 12, about the time G was saying that Is is pale and swaying on her feet. That's not a normal reaction to the injuries Is has, so given the situation, foul play is my immediate assumption. I don't think you need to worry about making it clearer/earlier.

 

I enjoyed this chapter overall. Looking forward to the next chapter!

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14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 1. I tend to be really hard on first paragraphs and I think we could use a stronger hook here. Princess at a tournament is fine but not distinct enough to really hook me in, since all it really tells me is that Is is a warrior princess

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

p1. The opening paragraph isn't bad, but it doesn't leave a huge impression. You might want to consider how to start off with a bigger bang.

Yeah. I definitely need to find a better hook here. 

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

You spend a lot of page 1 explaining why Ir is cross with R, but a lot of that info can be inferred from their dialogue on page 2. You might want to trim from the page 1 explanation.

14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 2. I don't fully understand why Is cares so much about R keeping up appearances. Does it affect her at all? (And like yeah I can make inferences based on our long DMs but I need some of that in the story itself)

pg 3. Wait wasn't Is in a hurry to do something? Or did she just want to make it here and is happy to chat now that she's arrived?

pg 5. Okay so I can see why R is a pain for her family but I still don't get why he's a pain for her. Even if you don't think she's aware of all the reasons you described in your DMs, she must have some way of rationalizing it (even if it's "well I could never get away with that, how annoying that he does")

Seems like a lot of this still needs trimming/refining, then.  And probably less of me trying to be clever by scattering clues about the source of their conflict and just getting straight to the point (that she's afraid he'll screw up badly enough that they'll revoke his title).

14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 11. It might help to know why relations with A are so important for Is and her family.

This is brought in through the next couple chapters.  You'll have to let me know then if it seems like we need more of it earlier.

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

p2. Why does R call Is 'Ren'? I thought for a minute that I was missing a third character.

I thoughts I'd clarified this more, but it might have gotten trimmed back... it's basically the nickname he used for her when they were kids that he pulls out when he's trying to be intentionally obnoxious.  But the cultural/world building/family conflict implication subtleties of it are entirely lost here, so I need to figure out how to deal with it.

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

So R is the heir - I think this needs to be spelled out earlier, so we know why he's important and why Is is so obsessed with him.

This is mentioned on the first page, but I'll have to go back and make sure it's not bogged down by other information.  

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

p11. The smell being mentioned again makes me suspicious that something's going on with that.

p12. Something is definitely wrong. Some kind of poison on the gambeson and/or in the water is my guess.

Hooray! None of this was clear enough in the previous version, so it's good that it's coming across better now.  Good to have confirmation that the repetition of the smell is doing its job.

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

What I'm less sure about is why Is is so set on representing the royal family to the best of her ability. Is she driven by personal loyalty to her father or the family? Or is it more ideological motivation (as in, she's more concerned for the effect this politics will have on the country)?

I think the emotional element to Is's character would connect more strongly if you can show me a bit of the bigger picture of what she cares about and why it matters. Her in-the-moment reactions to R's antics come across, but they have a 'small potatoes' feel to them, especially before you reveal that R is the heir

These things were all far worse in previous versions, and while I think there are some improvements, it's good to know that there is still work that needs to be done there.

Thanks!!

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Posted (edited)

Excited to read this :)

 

Pg 1

-I agree with others about the opening paragraph. I forget if you were keeping the prologue or not, but if not, I would want a more exciting first line/paragraph that really grabs me. It's not make or break, but it feels like what you have could be anywhere else in the book. i think you could make the first line include the bit about her rushing to the yard and telling herself she isnt late (idk, play it up) and then tell us she is the king's oldest daughter after that.

Pg 4

-i forgot what they were doing/what they were training for. I had to go back up and find out what exactly was going on

Pg 5

“After the years of training she and R had completed under his instruction” at first G seemed like he was just some random official who was kinda rude but they seem to be closer than that and he lightened up further down

Pg 6

-actually i'm still wondering what they're training for. An official tournament? What tournament? Does it happen yearly? Is it just for fun/entertainment? Just for training? Do you win something? maybe i missed this

Pg 7

“G handed Is her weapons” what kind of weapons? Shouldn't they be using dulled swords? Or swords with wrapped blades? If they're training, I mean. Maybe you already mentioned all this and i missed it tho. i also am not 100% clear on the blue dye. i think it marks where you would bleed if they were real swords but it wasn't super obvious to me.

“His practice sword” ah, there we are. A practice sword.

Pg 8

-I think you've done a really good job with the fight scene; i really struggle with them and they are hard to do well. But i did start to glaze over a bit in the end and I didn’t have a real grasp of who gained the upper hand when.

Pg 12

-I liked the mystery set up in the previous versions about the duke and no one ever seeing him. Why is he here now? What's his relationship with them?

“go. please. I will be fine” why wont she let the healer heal her?

Pg 13

“Im not forfeiting the match” oh is that why she wont let people treat her wound? It would mean she lost? Or that she wont be able to fight against the duke? Bit confused.

“You think he came to publicly murder?” possibly, that would definitely make things saucier. I mean for real, why is he even here?

“You’re injured.” didn't she already say that? why is he repeating it? Im sure its clear that she is injured. Though, tbh, i don't remember when in the fight that happened. Maybe it was when i glossed over, so this is probably my fault. unless... G is the suspicious one... hmm..

“Her father wanted to make up” ohhhh, thats why the duke is here?

Pg 14

“Something was wrong” *gasp*

Pg 17

“Some other pounding overran that of her head that she realized” the “that”s are confusing me

-awesome closing line!

18 hours ago, C_Vallion said:
  1. How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations this time through? How about emotional tie-in?
  2. Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long?
  3. Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier?

 

1. She is definitely stubborn and trying very hard to keep R in line. But i dont get a whole lot of feel for her character and the bigger picture, but its only one chapter (and she got poisoned), so im willing to learn more about her as we go. As of now, she is fine and I have no real complaints. I caught the line about R being the heir so it made sense to me. i thought she just wanted R to do better so he didnt make her country/family/herself look bad.

2. Perhaps the fight and when Is is in pain near the end before she blacks out. There was at one point near the end of the fight when i was hoping for a turn on events, like maybe aliens would crash land or something to liven it up and hook me. I think the suspicion of Is being poisoned and feeling odd is my aliens so maybe you could get to it a little quicker. Or maybe just sprinkle in some more hints earlier... but even then the poison would need time to settle in right? Idk.

3. Yes very clear, the moment Is questioned why she was so tired i knew something was up, you spaced it out well!

Edited by karamel
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2 hours ago, karamel said:

I agree with others about the opening paragraph. I forget if you were keeping the prologue or not, but if not, I would want a more exciting first line/paragraph that really grabs me. It's not make or break, but it feels like what you have could be anywhere else in the book. i think you could make the first line include the bit about her rushing to the yard and telling herself she isnt late (idk, play it up) and then tell us she is the king's oldest daughter after that.

I knew I'd forgotten something in my explanation thing.

I do want to have a prologue, likely one oriented in the same events as the previous one, but I need to do some good, hard thinking about what needs to be in there. I'm hoping that questions brought up while subbing through Part 1 without it will help me figure out what angle I want to approach it from, and I'll probably start it from scratch, possibly from some other PoV (sorry, new readers! You're the guinea pigs here.). I think the most obvious thing it would provide for this opening chapter is some background on why Al- hasn't been at court before, and why the royal family has some ground to make up if they are trying to be friendly.  Some of that is answered in the next couple chapters, but I don't want to fall into my usual trap of ruining the pacing with info dumps.  

That might help this opening be less...boring... but really, I'd like to find an all-around stronger option, prologue or not. And if there is a prologue, I'd probably like to echo some idea from that in the opening lines. I think at the moment my brain is still too locked into the rough outlines of how it looked when this was Chapter 9 or whatever, so in my head the scene starts walking into the tournament ground. 

2 hours ago, karamel said:

-actually i'm still wondering what they're training for. An official tournament? What tournament? Does it happen yearly? Is it just for fun/entertainment? Just for training? Do you win something? maybe i missed this

A tournament that's supposed to be part of the sister's birthday festivities that have brought everyone into the capital.  Looking back, the birthday was mentioned in passing, but absolutely nothing else was.  Will make a note to add in a line there for that context. 

2 hours ago, karamel said:

“G handed Is her weapons” what kind of weapons? Shouldn't they be using dulled swords? Or swords with wrapped blades? If they're training, I mean. Maybe you already mentioned all this and i missed it tho. i also am not 100% clear on the blue dye. i think it marks where you would bleed if they were real swords but it wasn't super obvious to me.

It was mentioned in passing on the way out of the tent as she was going to warm up.  I'd had a few paragraphs summarizing an earlier match that more clearly explained the dyes and matches, but it is gone now because word count.  @Snakenaps read that version.  I'll have to see if she has thoughts on one version vs the other in regard to whether the pacing can afford the extra paragraphs.

2 hours ago, karamel said:

-awesome closing line!

Hooray! Usually I'm as bad at those as I am at opening lines :P 

Also glad most of the other things seem to be working better than they did previously.  Though there's definitely more ironing out to do.  

Thanks! 

 

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6 hours ago, C_Vallion said:
11 hours ago, RedBlue said:

p2. Why does R call Is 'Ren'? I thought for a minute that I was missing a third character.

I thoughts I'd clarified this more, but it might have gotten trimmed back... it's basically the nickname he used for her when they were kids that he pulls out when he's trying to be intentionally obnoxious.  But the cultural/world building/family conflict implication subtleties of it are entirely lost here, so I need to figure out how to deal with it.

Fwiw I really liked this, since nicknames are a great way to add character dynamics without taking up any extra space. I think if the only confusion is who he's addressing you could just make it extra clear the first time (i.e. R told Is, "[phrase where he calls her Ren]"). I didn't fully get that he only uses the name when trying to be obnoxious, but I did get that he was trying to be obnoxious this time. 

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1 minute ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Fwiw I really liked this, since nicknames are a great way to add character dynamics without taking up any extra space. I think if the only confusion is who he's addressing you could just make it extra clear the first time (i.e. R told Is, "[phrase where he calls her Ren]"). I didn't fully get that he only uses the name when trying to be obnoxious, but I did get that he was trying to be obnoxious this time. 

Good to know :) 

There's too much going into the reasons of why it irks her (and therefore, why he keeps doing it) to go into it in chapter 1, but I think hanging a lantern on the use of it being intentionally teasing (and clarifying that he's addressing her) will work until it makes more sense for the wider context to come in. 

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This is miles better than the previous version!

I agree with the others that the opening paragraph could be more exciting. Maybe something about making sure they make a good impression on Duke A, or else...(war/disfavor/etc) where the reader has a good reason for the tournament?

I appreciate the reasoning behind the two nicknames, but that's also something that can be put in a later chapter to focus this one better. Plus, having Is refer to herself wiht one nickname and someone else with another is super confusing.

On 4/25/2021 at 10:20 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations this time through? How about emotional tie-in?
  • Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long?
  • Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier?

Is has a much clearer character this time. She's competent and knows how to perform in social society, even if she doesn't want to rule. She's also a good swordsperson.

I think the whole thing needs to be trimmed down to be an effective first chapter and get to the fainting/poison sooner. I made a couple notes below, but you could take out a page or more easily by shortening the description of the fight and cutting the first page down a little.

It's much clearer that something's wrong, to the point where I think some of that can be cut down once the reader realizes there's a problem. Dragging it out more leads to the question I had of why the medics aren't doing something. Having the poison act a little quicker will bring us to the inevitable conclusion faster.

Good work! I'm much more interested in reading this story. I can tell it will a slower, political-leaning one, and less with the action scenes and snappy plot turns. This indicates much better what the reader will be getting into.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "But the entire purpose of the dinner..."
--This is starting out much better! However, I think the rest of this paragraph could be cut. The reader can guess these things.

pg 2: “You’re late, R"
--This is weird. Is. Thinks of herself that way, and that's already a shortening of her full name. Plus the R nickname is very close to R's name. Why does she have two nicknames? This is confusing.

pg 2: "“I’m not an idiot, I"
--and here he uses her other nickname, and then the next page it's back to the "R" one. Especially in the first chapter this is way too confusing.

pg 4: R is coming across a lot better in this version as a lazy good-for-nothing princeling.

pg 5: "should have been more careful fighting someone who didn’t know what he was doing"
--Is's character is much clearer this time around as a competent, compassionate person.

pg 5: "The edges would be soaked with blue dye when the matches began."
--the sword, I assume, though this makes it sound like the tent is dyed.

pg 6: the tension lags here. Duke A's victory is very passive. It could be worded a lot more actively to keep the excitement of the tournament up.

pg 7: "find him suddenly charging back"
--charging forward? I'm not sure how you charge back.

pg 8: "She dodged and deflected..."
--at this point, I think the fight is going on too long.

pg 9: "The vivid blue line from her knife was higher than she’d intended, but it was still on the white of the gambeson."
--from this, I'm guessing she hit the base of his throat with the slash, to make him start coughing? It's not clear, however.

pg 9: "The very thought made her feel sick."
--the thought of an accident, or of her taking the title?

pg 11: "whiff of the acrid smell"
--the poison is introduced a lot better this time, with each piece building up the suspicion.

pg 14: "Something was wrong."
--glad she's at least acknowledging it. There's too much suspicion at this point for her to brush it off.

pg 15: "she shouldn’t be having this discussion"
--why not?

pg 16: "What was going on?"
--At this point, I'd start thinking of what was different and tracking down the weird smell in the armor. I get that she's out of it, but I'm also having trouble believing people who are so concerned with the royal line's safety will just go away when she's obviously got something wrong.

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Oooh, I'm excited to read this revision!

Overall

WOW! LOADS BETTER than the first round! We have pretty much everything we need for an opening chapter, and I think with a few areas expanded and some pages cut, this will be really solid. The one big thing is I's voice, which I'm still not connecting with because I'm not getting much real emotion from her. I see her emotion in the way she moves and such but I don't feel it. I want to feel it in her words and actions, not just see it. I think that likely means just taking a little breather with the language and making sure her voice comes through across the narrative. 

Nice work!

As I go

- I think that first paragraph could be punched up, namely with I's emotions over being late. I like the first sentence. I like the purpose of the paragraph. I'd just prefer to get a sense of urgency from I not meeting those expectations because GASP SHE MIGHT BE LATE!

- pg 1: information is fine, but I want more emotional reaction from I, especially in regards to R

- pg 2: Which of us do you think is better equipped to earn the favor of a reclusive duke?” <--- +10 for plot point, but I think one more line, either here or before this, to hit the importance of this duke and how its kind of the global plot, would be useful

- pg 4: yes, we definitely need like a line or two about the duke before we meet him so we see how important he is going to be to the plot. Without that, the interlude where she sees and greets him seems superfluous

- pg 5: She didn’t have many opportunities to formally represent the royal family so visibly —most of those responsibilities went to R— but the tournament ring was one place she could do justice to her heritage<-- this needs to be on like page one. Personal stakes.

- pg 6: she trusted his ability to civilly accept a loss from the <-- why? I think we need a touch more set up for this line to land

- pg 9: What a display of royal dignity <-- hah I love this

- pg 12: so around here I am aware of the poison and waiting for the effect. I am concerned there are still five more pages and think a bit of trimming on the back end here may be in order

- pg 15: Are you alright?” <-- I think we can jump from 12 to 15 to this line and not have lost anything. Extending her passing out until she talks to the duke is fine, but we need to get right to it, otherwise we lose the impact and urgency

- pg 16: I also think most of 16 can go

 

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Mandamon said:

This is miles better than the previous version!

4 hours ago, kais said:

WOW! LOADS BETTER than the first round!

Woo! Progress! Thanks!

7 hours ago, Mandamon said:

It's much clearer that something's wrong, to the point where I think some of that can be cut down once the reader realizes there's a problem. Dragging it out more leads to the question I had of why the medics aren't doing something. Having the poison act a little quicker will bring us to the inevitable conclusion faster.

4 hours ago, kais said:

pg 16: I also think most of 16 can go

Good to know.  I think after the effects of the poison went almost entirely unnoticed last time around, I probably doubled down on this a little too much here.  Seems like it's coming across early enough that I can trim things back more than I thought I'd be able to. 

4 hours ago, kais said:

pg 2: Which of us do you think is better equipped to earn the favor of a reclusive duke?” <--- +10 for plot point, but I think one more line, either here or before this, to hit the importance of this duke and how its kind of the global plot, would be useful

- pg 4: yes, we definitely need like a line or two about the duke before we meet him so we see how important he is going to be to the plot. Without that, the interlude where she sees and greets him seems superfluous

I know you're still skeptical of there being any need for a prologue, but if there were to be a prologue that addresses Al's parents' deaths, stressing how it represents the conflict between the duchy and the royal family regarding the magic laws (but, you know, better than the painful early attempts), do you think that would be enough to provide the background context to avoid a lot of page space for it here?   Still trying to figure out the best ways to introduce what information when.

4 hours ago, kais said:

pg 5: She didn’t have many opportunities to formally represent the royal family so visibly —most of those responsibilities went to R— but the tournament ring was one place she could do justice to her heritage<-- this needs to be on like page one. Personal stakes.

Yeah. I want to move that and her fears of ending up with R's title closer to the front, but haven't figured out a natural-seeming way to do that yet.  

4 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 6: she trusted his ability to civilly accept a loss from the <-- why? I think we need a touch more set up for this line to land

I was afraid that might need a little more there for it to be clear.

 

Thanks!

Edited by C_Vallion
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18 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I know you're still skeptical of there being any need for a prologue, but if there were to be a prologue that addresses Al's parents' deaths, stressing how it represents the conflict between the duchy and the royal family regarding the magic laws (but, you know, better than the painful early attempts), do you think that would be enough to provide the background context to avoid a lot of page space for it here?   Still trying to figure out the best ways to introduce what information when.

Definitely doesn't need a prologue. I think just a sentence or two would do it, honestly, somewhere near the front of the chapter. We don't need a meal, just a taste.

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  1. Hm... I like her character, I think she has an interesting personality, but I'm not really sure where this is head or what her motivations are. Definitely family-oriented, I guess? And I liked R's character, I thought he was pretty interesting from the introduction. 
  2. I didn't really feel like it was dragging anywhere in particular, so no? 
  3. Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier? Yes I got that something was wrong! I didn't think too much of the weird armour smell, which is when I'm assuming the poison happened by reading these comments lol, but definitely during the fights. Like hearing Duke A won when he shouldn't have was I guess the start of feeling that something went wrong. And I like the fight between I and R; there was this frantic sort of feeling that I liked and really made it seem like something was wrong or at least out of the norm. I kind of doubted what was happening during the convo with G, but then once she was tired I was worried again. 

I don't have a lot of specific line comments, but anyway: 

pg 2 "squinting at sun-glare on tournament...": I had originally thought the two characters were going to participating in the tournament, but this part kind of made me doubt that and wonder if they're just watching. 

Also on this page I was bit thrown off by the introduction of I's second nickname - since her first preceded that, it took me a moment to figure out where it came from lol. Also R uses both nicknames for her? 

pg 5: was excited that she was gonna fight! 

pg 11 "losing an arm": is that foreshadowing? :eyes:

I think I clocked in on the being poisoned at around "Why was she so tired?" 

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On 4/29/2021 at 10:00 AM, leapfrog said:

Also on this page I was bit thrown off by the introduction of I's second nickname - since her first preceded that, it took me a moment to figure out where it came from lol. Also R uses both nicknames for her? 

I need to figure out a better way to work this in.  With the current storyline layout, R and Is don't have many scenes where they're directly interacting like this, so I've shoved more details of the conflict between them into the opening paragraphs here than I would have liked to.  But I do see how that has made things confusing.  Definitely good to have that pointed out.

Thanks!

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Overall:

This is an interesting first chapter. The pacing is good, but it seems like Is' conflict is defined by R. At least, for most of the chapter, until we get to the end where she might be poisoned and dying. It seems like Is must constantly be thinking about and concerned with R, due to the position she might find herself in, similar to what her father experienced with R's father. I like that symmetry, and it's also intriguing to see a princess depicted as such a prideful warrior. I think you did a good job creating intrigue with the strange smell/poison. I'm definitely curious to know more about it. There are a lot of good things working in this first chapter, and the prose is strong and clearly crafted. I also found Is to have a defined voice, which helps characterize her.

  1. How are the first impressions of Is’s character and motivations, and emotional tie-in.
    My immediate first impression of Is is a bit like a nagging older sister, that is very concerned with her cousin and his behavior. She is definitely prideful and stubborn, which serves to create some similarity between her and R that perhaps she doesn't realize. I see that she is very concerned with representing her family well, and the image of the family itself.
  2. Are there places that could use obvious trimming or that go on too long? 
    Nothing glaring. Perhaps you could speed up R and Is' fight to get to the more important part of her getting poisoned quicker. That seems to be the crux of this chapter.
  3. Is it clear that something significant is wrong in the events following the match?  If so, when does that click, and does it need to be clearer/earlier.
    Yes, it is quite clear that something is off after the match. When the smell is mentioned again on page 11 I figured something was up. And when Is groans and wonders why she is so tired, that's what confirmed it for me. I don't think it needs to be any clearer. 

As I go-

pg 1,

-I definitely think that the opening line/paragraph could be stronger. It does tell us the character's name, and that they are a princess, which establishes some setting, but it's not very interesting or exciting. It lacks a hook. Of course, you can always come back and polish it later. No need to obsess about the beginning at this stage. 

-"The king's nephew had certain expectations to maintain as well." I think the repetition of this phrase weakens your first line. Perhaps reword it.

-I feel like we're getting a lot of R on this first page, and he's stealing the show from Is.

pg 2,

-"He might not act like the heir, but he looked the part. Even when hungover." I appreciate the humor. This is good characterization of Is and R.

-The different nicknames were immediately confusing to me. I thought there were different characters talking for a minute.

-This is page 2, and we're still concerned with R. If R is the conflict for Is, I suppose this could make sense.

pg 3,

-Oof, still switching between the two nicknames. I think you need to pick one and stick with it. Probably the Is one, since the other nickname starts with an R like his name.

-"Which of us do you think is better equipped to earn the favor of a reclusive duke?" "She narrowed her eyes, resisting the instinct to fold her arms over her chest." This dialogue is characterizing both of them very well.

pg 4,

-I like the magic pen.

pg 5,

-There are three G names/characters already, that all have a G and an N in them, be careful, this can become confusing with so many G words/names so early.

-I like the details about Is being a competent duelist, that's interesting.

-It seems like the equipment smelling is something out of the usual, so I'm guessing there's something going on there.

pg 6,

-This is intriguing to see that A is also a competent fighter, and not just a weird duke.

-It feels like this should have been a more exciting match to see, especially from Is' perspective. 

-The way that A's final blow is described by Is undermine's my image of her as a competent duelist, it's like she couldn't understand it.

pg 7,

-"She kept moving, forcing him to defend, looking for a gap, only to find him suddenly charging back." I think the phrase "charging back" is confusing here, his movement isn't very clear here.

pg 8,

-"...it gave her a moment to draw her knife, her numb fingers clumsy." This phrase is kinda wonky, "her numb fingers clumsy". 

pg 9,

-"If anything happened to R, his title went to her." Ah, I see, so R is the main conflict for Is, because she's worried about inheriting his title.

-"...after her uncle's accident." Interesting, so R's father had been the king before some kind of accident?

pg 11,

-the acrid smell, huh? Definitely suspicious, though I would think that a princess might be more wary of strange smells, knowing that she needs to look for assassination attempts, such as poisoning.

-"She held back a groan. Why was she so tired?" Mm-hmm. Poison confirmed.

pg 12,

-Seeing the Duke here watching Is is suspicious to me, since we're seeing Is likely dealing with the effects of some kind of poison.

pg 13,

-Good characterization of Is as stubborn and independent here.

pg 14,

-"Something was wrong. Match had been tiring, but not enough to explain her trembling limbs." I feel like Is, at this point, might be panicking, suspicious about the smell, or calling over the healers.

pg 15,

-The way that A is questioning Is while she's seemingly drugged definitely increases my suspicions of him.

pg 16,

-Yeah, Is leaving in her state and going off down by the river is displaying quite a bit of stubbornness in Is, as well as recklessness and pride. It's good characterization, I suppose that Is doesn't always make the wise, logical decision. At least she realizes that it was a bad choice and tries to go back.

pg 17,

-I appreciate the buildup of tension here, though I think you could have had Is black out before she knew she was being rescued. That would have continued the tension at a higher level into the next chapter. We're still worried about Is at the end of the chapter, but it's a diminished tension.

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