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RedBlue

4/26/21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove ch4 (2662 words)

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Hello everyone,

Chapter four this week.

If anyone wants to see revised versions of chapters 2 and 3, let me know and I’ll send them, but the important plot points in those are pretty much unchanged from the original versions. The only big-ish plot change is that C sees ash on the floor around the plane, and draws a connection back to the Wood Stove.

Just a heads up: this chapter contains animal death and a matter-of-fact discussion of how chickens are turned into dinner. For obvious reasons I’m not leaning far enough into the icky stuff for it to need a tag, just letting you know.

Questions: 1) Do the characters and their actions make sense? 2) Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? 3) At the end of the chapter, do you feel like you’re starting to have an idea of what’s going on with the Wood Stove?

Recap:

After C and her friends play on the cursed land, C notices that the contents of an essay and some old films have seemingly disappeared.

V, a boy who can turn into a raven, appears and claims that he has come from outside town to fight the curse. GM feeds her hair into the Wood Stove, where C later finds a pair of diamond earrings.

C and V investigate, and find a plane that shouldn’t be there in T’s barn.

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Huzzah I am also early here since school is giving us today off (idk if I'm supposed to be taking the day off lab work but I guess I am).

As I go: 

pg 1-2. I can't tell if this is totally mundane or part of the supernatural events. C seems to think it's mundane but if so I'm not sure how this connects to the rest of the story so the metagamer in me thinks that it's supernatural

pg 3. Whoa the mom does not mess around. Again though, I need a bit of help figuring out how this neighbor drama fits into the larger story

-I think part of me wanting more here is that C is being quite passive here. Makes sense logically, but I want to see her doing stuff 

pg 4. What I'm taking from this is that the relationship between V and C is going to be super important going forward and that V's arc is going to revolve around it

pg 7. Not sure if the transfer is like an actual transfer of magical energy or just her releasing some pent-up emotions 

pg 8. I feel like there's no way the dad's line actually dissuades a kid from learning more, right? Still, it's good to know that the adults agree with her that there's something magical about it, though it doesn't seem like the dad is trying super hard to keep her away from it despite all the secrecy. 

pg 9. All right so now I see why the first scene is relevant for the story and it seems like the wood stove can bring some creatures back to life... is that what happened to V? And clearly it's not happening to the chickens, so there must be more to it than that. 

5 hours ago, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Do the characters and their actions make sense? 2) Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? 3) At the end of the chapter, do you feel like you’re starting to have an idea of what’s going on with the Wood Stove?

 

1. V and C, yes. The other characters, I suppose, though I don't really care as much about them (not a problem with the story imo; they're just not the focus). What makes it tricky is that for the first half of the chapter, it's the characters I don't care about taking all the initiative. 

2. To me the plot isn't super clear, so I can't really tell how quickly it's moving. Again, while it's good that C calls this out, the discoveries of the wood stove feel quite different from discovering the plane for example, which makes me feel like I can't really tell where the story is going. 

3. Yeah! Bringing things back to life is cool... though there are a few unresolved questions. For me what stands out most is the earring, since that's not connected to death at all so far as I know. I mentioned in the LBLs that V might be someone who died and got brought back by the wood stove, and since C is named after it I'm wondering if she has an even closer connection to it. 

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6 hours ago, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Do the characters and their actions make sense? 2) Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? 3) At the end of the chapter, do you feel like you’re starting to have an idea of what’s going on with the Wood Stove?

1) Yes, for this part. I think the reaction with the chickens/dog is pretty accurate for the town's situation.

2) I don't think this chapter needs to be as long. V's whole POV doesn't really add anything that he couldn't mention to C in dialogue, and the whole discussion about the chickens can be taken out if we assume this is a farm family and of course they know how to prepare chickens.

3) Yes, definitely getting a better idea of the wood stove. I'm still not sure why, as in, is this a resource to renew items for the town since they're cut off from the rest of civilization, or is it something else? I assume we'll get more on this later.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: "too much trouble to roll outside"
--this makes me think the father is literally round, like a human sphere. I'm still confused by this.

pg 1: "that was so easy for another animal to get into."
--ah, no. It's specifically not easy for the dog to get into the hen house. He had to squirm under the fence and break in, which means he's likely starved for attention and possibly just starved. This is completely the fault of the negligent neighbor and furthermore he should be responsible for the lost revenue from the chickens. I get the feeling this is not a rich town, and there's no supply from elsewhere because of the curse, so for the dog to kill all their chickens is a Big Thing.
--edit: okay, the adults do get into this later, but C should know this as well. She seems like an astute person.

pg 3: "No chickens, no dog. Now you boys can leave off your whingeing.”
--okay, well, this is actually about what I would expect as a response. Harsh but  accurate.

pg 4: "never been in charge of younger children"
--Is V older? How much? I hadn't gotten that before.

pg 4: not sure this section with V really adds much

pg 5: "I’ll show you how to pluck and process the chickens."
--nope, don't believe that. If C is a farm girl, she knows how to do this already. In fact, the whole family should already be preparing for chicken dishes for the next couple weeks.
--and as a corollary, I don't think we need the details of how to process chickens.

pg 6: "Things you wouldn’t normally use as fuel, to see if it does anything unusual. I want to see what happens."
--I think this is the first real progression I've seen from C.

pg 7: "By the time she is done, C feels a lot better."
--I have no idea what just happened.

pg 8: "It falls into the Wood Stove, and is swallowed up by the nothingness"
--cool

pg 9: “Mopdog,” 
--Also cool. I can see how this comes from the combinations of the items put into the stove and the events that caused it.

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1) Do the characters and their actions make sense? I think so.  Mom’s stepping in definitely blindsided me, but I think her explanation that now the men don’t have anything to fight over makes a certain motivational sense.

2) Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? For the most part.  I think my biggest challenge with the pacing of the overall plot is not knowing what the goal looks like for them or how far out it is.  So while there’s a feeling of more being revealed and things moving forward, I don’t have a good sense of how much farther we have to go or what needs to happen in that time. Which makes it hard to know how quickly things should be moving.

3) At the end of the chapter, do you feel like you’re starting to have an idea of what’s going on with the Wood Stove?  Definitely starting to get a clearer idea.  I don’t know how clear of an idea we’re supposed to have at this point, and what’s still supposed to be vague understandings, but the scene here definitely provides a clear indication of the sort of thing the wood stove is capable of.  

 

Pg 1:

“the dog which belongs to JJ…” the clause here is a little wordy. Ten points for excellent dog names, though.

Pg 2:

“He is a very confused dog.” Aww, poor confused boy.

“no amount of squaring…” hah.

Pg 3:

Oh. Well then.  That was unexpected. But … puppers.

“C isn’t sure whether that would be okay either, so she cries harder.”  Man. That’s relatable.

Pg 4:

I like the “ball of leaky misery” description.

I also like that we get more of V’s goals are.

Pg 5:

“It’s important to be practical…think about it too hard” and “bad smells that have a good purpose.” I like C a lot.  She comes across as a little naïve at times, but I think that fits her sort of optimistic practicality, which I really like, even if she’s not always the most direct or active. I know a lot of that is my preference though, and that most readers are likely going to prefer a more active protagonist.  So I don’t know what that balance is.

Pg 6:

“I’m going to burn some things…I want to see what happens.”  The best sort of science.

Pg 7:

C’s energy transfer thing here is confusing to me.  I am assuming it’s not supposed to be entirely clear what’s going on, but I think it needs a few more grounding details to get an idea of whether this is a mental, physical, or magical thing (or something else entirely).  And maybe a better idea of what is triggering it.  Is it only off-balance feeling of the previous paragraph or two that she’s dealing with? Or does it stretch farther back?  We go from grabbing the mop with the intent to burn it to the twitchiness to thoughts about the curse to feeling off balance to this magic/energy/something transfer moment.  So my mind had been going back to the mop and trying to figure out what was so special about that.  Is it her challenging of the curse that brings on this twitchiness?  Not having seen it before, I think we need a little more context with what is going on here, even if it is supposed to (to some extent) be left a little mysterious here.

Pg 8:

 “That sounds excellent to C” Hah.

Pg 9:

I like our strange new friend. The loss of J is partly forgiven. 
 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

nope, don't believe that. If C is a farm girl, she knows how to do this already. In fact, the whole family should already be preparing for chicken dishes for the next couple weeks.

I hadn't really gotten the impression that C is a farm girl.  I have a number of friends who have chickens just for eggs, then send them out for processing once they're done laying.  So this didn't seem all that surprising (though it probably doesn't need to be as detailed)

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Hey, I'd love to read the revised chapters 2 and 3 and give you my first, unfiltered look on the revised versions if you want to PM me the chapters :)

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Posted (edited)

On 4/26/2021 at 1:43 AM, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Do the characters and their actions make sense? 2) Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? 3) At the end of the chapter, do you feel like you’re starting to have an idea of what’s going on with the Wood Stove?

1. Yes, everyone's actions make sense here! Even the mom's. I dont even feel mad at her for what she did. She seemed so fed up with "the men."

2. Pacing doesnt feel like too much of a problem. Idk how many chapters there are total, but this may be a little too late to finally feel like i have an idea of whats going on.

3. Yes, and its a cool idea! I'm way more excited now that I know a little bit more about the wood stove.

I think the thing you could focus the most on in this chapter is cutting. there was a lot of stuff that I feel we dont really need, like the processing chickens bit: it can be said in fewer words for sure.

pg 1: “Grass is still crunchy with frost” nice visual!

pg 1: “Dead chickens” noooo :(

pg 2: “no amount of squaring” lol

pg 3: -dang mama really aint messing around

pg 4: “C is a ball of leaky misery” relatable

    - “c’s age? He cant remember.” how old is V anyway?

   -  “How did he get here?” oh dang, spooky

   -  “The first definitely concrete thing” i would take out "definitely"

pg 6: “i think the adults are covering” yes, finally

pg 7: “and the plane” oh yeah, what happened with the plane?? WRS, probably

    -“puts the energy on the outside” wait what? This came out of nowhere

    - is that how she avoids the curse tho? By expelling the evil energy? if so, you could probably hint at this earlier so we dont feel blindsided, maybe label it as meditating or something.

pg 8: “you'll learn something you can't unlearn” hmmm, its like he wants her to know

pg 9: “mopdog” ohhhh okay… i see now. welcome back doggo :)

Edited by karamel
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On 26/04/2021 at 2:52 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 1-2. I can't tell if this is totally mundane or part of the supernatural events. C seems to think it's mundane but if so I'm not sure how this connects to the rest of the story so the metagamer in me thinks that it's supernatural

pg 3. Whoa the mom does not mess around. Again though, I need a bit of help figuring out how this neighbor drama fits into the larger story

On 26/04/2021 at 6:49 PM, C_Vallion said:

Do you feel that the plot is moving at an OK pace? For the most part.  I think my biggest challenge with the pacing of the overall plot is not knowing what the goal looks like for them or how far out it is.  So while there’s a feeling of more being revealed and things moving forward, I don’t have a good sense of how much farther we have to go or what needs to happen in that time. Which makes it hard to know how quickly things should be moving.

20 minutes ago, karamel said:

Pacing doesnt feel like too much of a problem. Idk how many chapters there are total, but this may be a little too late to finally feel like i have an idea of whats going on.

On 26/04/2021 at 3:53 PM, Mandamon said:

I don't think this chapter needs to be as long. V's whole POV doesn't really add anything that he couldn't mention to C in dialogue, and the whole discussion about the chickens can be taken out if we assume this is a farm family and of course they know how to prepare chickens.

Sounds like the moment-to-moment pacing is mostly okay. I'll trim the chicken processing bit.

 

On 26/04/2021 at 2:52 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 4. What I'm taking from this is that the relationship between V and C is going to be super important going forward and that V's arc is going to revolve around it

On 26/04/2021 at 3:53 PM, Mandamon said:

pg 4: not sure this section with V really adds much

On 26/04/2021 at 6:49 PM, C_Vallion said:

I also like that we get more of V’s goals are.

Yeah, V's internal workings are going to become important later, so I needed to lay some groundwork. I know it's not necessary to this chapter, but V's situation right now doesn't really warrant its own dedicated chapter, so it's in here.

 

On 26/04/2021 at 2:52 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 7. Not sure if the transfer is like an actual transfer of magical energy or just her releasing some pent-up emotions 

On 26/04/2021 at 3:53 PM, Mandamon said:

pg 7: "By the time she is done, C feels a lot better."
--I have no idea what just happened.

On 26/04/2021 at 6:49 PM, C_Vallion said:

C’s energy transfer thing here is confusing to me.  I am assuming it’s not supposed to be entirely clear what’s going on, but I think it needs a few more grounding details to get an idea of whether this is a mental, physical, or magical thing (or something else entirely).  And maybe a better idea of what is triggering it.  Is it only off-balance feeling of the previous paragraph or two that she’s dealing with? Or does it stretch farther back?  We go from grabbing the mop with the intent to burn it to the twitchiness to thoughts about the curse to feeling off balance to this magic/energy/something transfer moment.  So my mind had been going back to the mop and trying to figure out what was so special about that.  Is it her challenging of the curse that brings on this twitchiness?  Not having seen it before, I think we need a little more context with what is going on here, even if it is supposed to (to some extent) be left a little mysterious here.

35 minutes ago, karamel said:

is that how she avoids the curse tho? By expelling the evil energy? if so, you could probably hint at this earlier so we dont feel blindsided, maybe label it as meditating or something.

Hmm, I'll have to find a way to make this bit clearer without giving the game away. Thanks for flagging up the confusion.

 

On 26/04/2021 at 3:53 PM, Mandamon said:

pg 1: "that was so easy for another animal to get into."
--ah, no. It's specifically not easy for the dog to get into the hen house. He had to squirm under the fence and break in, which means he's likely starved for attention and possibly just starved. This is completely the fault of the negligent neighbor and furthermore he should be responsible for the lost revenue from the chickens. I get the feeling this is not a rich town, and there's no supply from elsewhere because of the curse, so for the dog to kill all their chickens is a Big Thing.
--edit: okay, the adults do get into this later, but C should know this as well. She seems like an astute person.

C is definitely being harsh with herself, and the fault lies with the adults. The point C makes about the chicken coop not being secure enough is valid - it's standard to run chicken wire under the ground beneath the coop to stop animals getting in exactly like J does - but C blaming herself is an emotional reaction, not a rational one.

These chickens aren't being kept for food or profit, which is why the adults aren't treating it as a huge problem. I know that there are questions to be asked about how the town supplies itself, and we're going to get to that soon :)

 

On 26/04/2021 at 2:52 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 8. I feel like there's no way the dad's line actually dissuades a kid from learning more, right? Still, it's good to know that the adults agree with her that there's something magical about it, though it doesn't seem like the dad is trying super hard to keep her away from it despite all the secrecy. 

54 minutes ago, karamel said:

pg 8: “you'll learn something you can't unlearn” hmmm, its like he wants her to know

World's #1 Dad he isn't :)

 

Thanks for all the feedback!

 

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Overall

Much more plot and narrative structure in this than previous chapters, and I like that we are getting into the meat of the story. I think there are still issues with logic jumps, but this is the first chapter I've really felt a sustained sense of wonder. I think there's some trimming to be done still, but overall I thought this was an excellent installment. 

 

As I go

- pg 1: She shouldn’t have kept her chickens in an enclosure that was so easy for another animal to get into. <-- I have absolutely no idea how old this girl is, but shouldn't the decision of how to keep the chickens be her parents' decision?

- pg 3: well that was unexpected!

- pg 4: not sure what the purpose of V's POV interlude is. It seems to slow down the narrative which started very strong!

- pg 6: logic jump around Wood Stove that I don't follow. I don't think enough groundwork has been put down and C makes a lot of logic jumps. It makes me feel like there's always missing information that C has, but the reader doesn't, and that makes the narrative frustrating

- pg 7: the thing with C on pg 7 where something is flowing out of her is really confusing. I think it needs to be more concrete

- pg 8: I like the part about putting the mop into the stove

- aww, I love mopdog

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I sent you my feedback for chatpers 2 and 3, in case you didn’t see that. On to chapter 4!

Pg1

Did you mention they had chickens before? I don’t remember them if so.

Oof, poor chickens. This same thing happened to my own chickens one time, but with a raccoon. Definitely not a pretty sight

“very confused dog” okay, this scene hits hard for some reason

“spherical down to his core” I’m a fan of the slightly unsettling character descriptions, but he’s consistently described as spherical and it makes me think of bigweld from the robot movie by dreamworks.

Pg 3

Uhm what

Okay that escalated quickly 0_0

Pg 4

My working theory is that V was wished into existence somehow by C with the woodstove

Pg 5

I will say this chapter does seem a little graphic for school-aged kids, but then again if the kids are into scary books it shouldn’t be too bad. Idk not my area of expertise

As a side note, I found the process of getting the chickens ready to eat to be interesting.

“nothing left but ash and fumes” retroactively, I like how they were learning about combustion earlier. I just realized, that was a very sound thematic choice

Pg 7

Okay, so with the energy transfer thing, I can’t tell if this is a physical thing that can be seen or just a mental exercise. Either way, feels kinda out of the blue here. Might want to mention this earlier or foreshadow a bit

“you’ll learn something” HMMMMMM

It would appear my hypothesis about the woodstove was correct XD

1.       Yeah, I’d say they make sense for this bizarre town. It was surprising, but also made sense. The fact that the reactions were so mellow was what was weird to me

2.       Pace seems pretty fast to me as I stated before, but that is likely a product of a lower word count. Other than that, I think its fine

3.       Yes, I think so

I have to say, I am enjoying this little mystery. My own grievance with it is V and the other kids, who don’t seem to have much time to be characterized. (Especially V, who literally just pops in)

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16 hours ago, kais said:

Much more plot and narrative structure in this than previous chapters, and I like that we are getting into the meat of the story. I think there are still issues with logic jumps, but this is the first chapter I've really felt a sustained sense of wonder. I think there's some trimming to be done still, but overall I thought this was an excellent installment. 

I'm glad it's working!

16 hours ago, kais said:

pg 1: She shouldn’t have kept her chickens in an enclosure that was so easy for another animal to get into. <-- I have absolutely no idea how old this girl is, but shouldn't the decision of how to keep the chickens be her parents' decision?

Yeah, C is feeling guilty for something that isn't really her fault.

16 hours ago, kais said:

pg 4: not sure what the purpose of V's POV interlude is. It seems to slow down the narrative which started very strong!

Hm, I've got this comment a few times. I don't want to take V's POV out, because it's laying some groundwork for later. I'll see what I can do to make it not feel like a tangent.

 

11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

I sent you my feedback for chatpers 2 and 3, in case you didn’t see that. On to chapter 4!

Got it. Thank you very much!

11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

Did you mention they had chickens before? I don’t remember them if so.

The chickens were mentioned in passing, but they haven't been important before this point. Do you think they need to be pointed out earlier?

11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

My working theory is that V was wished into existence somehow by C with the woodstove

I will neither confirm or deny your working theories, but it's great to see them :)

11 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

I have to say, I am enjoying this little mystery. My own grievance with it is V and the other kids, who don’t seem to have much time to be characterized. (Especially V, who literally just pops in)

I'll get into what's going on with V and the other kids more in later chapters. 

 

Thanks for the feedback, kais and ginger_reckoning!

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Posted (edited)

On 4/26/2021 at 4:43 AM, RedBlue said:

Just a heads up: this chapter contains animal death and a matter-of-fact discussion of how chickens are turned into dinner. For obvious reasons I’m not leaning far enough into the icky stuff for it to need a tag, just letting you know.

 

I do wish you had mentioned the animal that died was a

Spoiler

dog

because I would've skipped the chapter. Seeing animal death followed up by chickens becoming dinner was no sufficient warning for what happens in this chapter. I just assumed the animal death was the chickens.

Spoiler

Dogs getting killed

is the one thing I really needed a content warning for. My anxiety is through the roof right now. 

Anyway, I'm going to skip the rest of this chapter, but I will probably pick up in the next one assuming

Spoiler

no more dogs get shot. I don't deal well with dead cats either.

However, if I were reading this as something I bought, I would be done. 

I think a lot of kids would really find this disturbing. The part about chickens being dinner? Fine. Chickens are food.

Spoiler

A dog just getting shot for getting into the chickens? Not fine

. Does this happen in books? Sure. Will I read those books? No. Did they turn me off to reading when I was a kid? Yes. 

I recommend taking it out unless you truely believe it is 100% necessary. Maybe C sneaks the dog with her or something and saves it.

p.s. C's mom has become an irredeemable villain in my head.

 

Edited by shatteredsmooth
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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Seeing animal death followed up by chickens becoming dinner was no sufficient warning for what happens in this chapter. I just assumed the animal death was the chickens.

Sorry for not being more specific - I didn't realise that the kind of animal involved would be an issue.

In future chapters,

Spoiler

no more dogs or other animals die, although a threat to a dog is a plot point.

I'll try to make sure content warnings are clear going forward.

9 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

C's mom has become an irredeemable villain in my head

Yes, C's mom is a bad person.

 

Thank you for your feedback!

Edited by RedBlue
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