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RedBlue

5/3/21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove ch 5 - (2415 words)

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Hello everyone,

Here’s chapter five.

No content warnings this time, but the chapter does make reference to the animal deaths from the last chapter.

Questions: 1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? 2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? 3) Reactions to GM? Does she need to be toned down? Dialled up?

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.

C experiments with the Wood Stove, feeding it a mop and the feathers of her chickens, which died along with the neighbour’s dog. A mop-like dog-like creature emerges from the Wood Stove.

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Pg 1:

Might need to clarify the pov a little more at the beginning here.  I’d assumed it was in C’s pov because she’s the initial person described, but as we get into the scene more, it seems to switch to V’s perspective.

Pg 2:

This contrast between what V sees as normal and what C sees as normal is really helpful. This is the sort of distinction I’d been thinking would be helpful in earlier versions when we needed a little more clarification on what’s strange just by virtue of being part of the town and what C finds strange even by the town’s standards because she thinks it’s the curse

“the floor sparkles”  I want a mopdog. Mud season is not kind to my floors.

Pg 3:

It’s also helpful to see C starting to recognize the strangeness of the town.  Maybe starting to figure out that the curse has affected more than she thought.

Would she think of her friend’s mom by her first name?  I had a moment of confusion here placing the name M.

“…but C is sure she’s not imagining it. But it would be rude…” A little repetitive as written.

Pg 4:

I appreciate that even while demanding information, C stays in character instead of shouting and making accusations.   She seems to still be optimistic about the intentions of others, even when she’s gotten to the point of demanding answers.   I think this comes across most clearly when she’s literally wedging her foot in the door, then apologizing for bothering G-M

Pg 5:

“I sleep down the hall from it.” Seems like a pretty solid reason.

Soooo…the things that have had some sense of life restored are the things becoming fuzzy? I’d gotten the vague sense of that before, but this ties those things together nicely…Hmmmm…. Definitely makes me lean further into my theory that V is the hero from her school essay.

“For good measure…” Hah.

G-M clarifying the Mum vs. M question here makes C referring to M by her first name above seem even more out of place

Pg 6:

“G-M wants to tear the world apart…That’s normal.” Hah.  No wonder she stresses me out.  But beyond that, the calling out of what is normal and what isn’t is again really helpful.

“When she becomes a hollowed-out shadow of herself…” Oh.  I mean. I suppose that gives her some excuse for some general grumpiness.

Pg 7:

“If she must burn…”  I like this line.  Definitely makes the motivations for G-M’s behavior really clear.

“The B parents are useless as usual…” Man.  Rude much? But, you know, also pretty accurate.

Pg 9:

“C is smarter than that…” hooray!

“snide brat…” couldn’t have said it better myself, V.   

I do just want to give C a pat on the head for her hopeful optimism, though.

Pg 10:

Unfortunately, once we’re going into in-depth discussion of how she’s going to get her perfect scores, I’m losing focus a little.  I think partly because I know G-M is making up the requirements and partly because having high stakes tied into getting homework done properly is less engaging to me as an adult than it probably would have been as a kid.  I think you can trim back a lot of the detail from 9-10 while keeping the key points (with V’s help, most of the subjects will be manageable, and stressing that the essay is going to be the real challenge), and that would tighten that up to get a stronger sense of her determination to succeed without getting bogged down in specific homework assignments.

1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? Mostly mentioned above, but I was engaged pretty much up until page 10.  I like seeing more distinctions of what is “normal” in the town and what is unusual enough for C to be blaming the curse.  Also like that she’s recognizing some of the strangeness of things she thought were normal.

2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? I don’t think so

3) GM? What a jerk! But, you know, in the best ways. And for reasons that definitely make a lot of sense in an MG setting. I think she works really well here and makes a good, clear antagonist for C. I don’t think she needs to be dialed up more.  I’m not sure if she needs toning down or if that's just because she reminds me too much of a horrible girlfriend my brother had in high school.  Plus she really pushes all of my "Why can't people just be nice to each other?!" buttons. But that's her job here, so I suppose she's doing it well.:lol:

Really enjoying reading these chapters.  I love the strangeness of the world and seeing the mysteries start to get unraveled bit by bit.

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11 hours ago, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? 2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? 3) Reactions to GM? Does she need to be toned down? Dialled up?

1. I was mostly engaged with the interaction with GM and then GM's pov because it seems like when we see GM we learn a bit more about what is going on. it's also nice to know that she isn't a brat for entirely no reason. she is worried about looking like a fool, and getting left behind(in more ways than one), and obviously had to make some sort of sacrifice and i am very interested to know what that is! I lost interest near the end when C was talking about doing homework. I think you can cut the last two pages down a lot.

2. No, nothing was confusing. There are parts that I don't understand yet but I expect they will be revealed in time. I am still wondering what happened with T and the plane. I felt like C would come back to that but she never did.

3. I don't have any problems with GM, I mean, she is very selfserving and rude but she is just a kid and it seems she has some reasons for the way she is.

thoughts as i go:

pg 1

“Its been ages since i had to find dog food” does nobody own dogs? Or feed their dogs? noting this as odd.

pg 2

“Lets try again” so C and the shop owner think this is normal, and V doesnt, okay, good. I want more of this earlier in the story.

“V just shakes his head” hmm this part seems to end abruptly

pg 5

“The memory has become a bit fuzzy” oh noo, the curssseee

-oh we’re switching to GM’s pov

pg 6

“Lies awake at nights” lies awake at night or lies awake most nights?

“A hollowed-out shadow of herself” hmmm

pg 9

"dont underestimate me" yes, C, we love to hear it.

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On 5/3/2021 at 5:25 AM, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? 2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? 3) Reactions to GM? Does she need to be toned down? Dialled up?

1) I was engaged through the first part of the chapter, when we were learning more about how the town worked, not as much the second part with GM scheming and the talk about getting good grades.

2) I marked a few confusing things in my notes.

3) She's a bit over the top, but I have seen other characters like this before. I think the best thing is to give her a really solid motivation. "I'm not first" can be one, but maybe give it a little depth. Why is she such a brat? Her mother seems to think she is too, and doesn't seem to be pampering her that much.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: “You know that’s not a dog, right?”
--a little confusing here because the comment is directed at V for comedy, but the dog isn't stated as being in the room.

pg 1: "opens the door to storage"
--in fact we don't even know if the dog is with them, from the description. It isn't trotting along beside them or anything.

pg 1: "chaotic array" "The room looks normal to her."
--Also confusing. This is mostly in C's POV, so to say the room is chaotic, and then say she can't tell why someone would think it's disorganized is counter intuitive.

pg 2: "Regular pantries can’t make all the food by themselves."
--so I guess this is where they get their food from?

pg 2: "When they get back home"
--oh, so the dog WASN'T with them after all...

pg 3: "looks worse than she did on Friday"
--worse how? Maybe it's WRS, but was something stated to be wrong with her before?

pg 4: "How does the magic work?"
--Why is she asking this of another child and not any adult?

pg 5: "Something else died, too, but that memory has become a bit fuzzy."
--interesting

pg 5: "you’re worried about your chickens?"
--but she just asked if C had made a sacrifice?

pg 6: “You said none of the other kids had been told!"
--Yet as we all know, C LIVES with it. I don't know how she couldn't know. GM seems to have a lack of critical thinking.

pg 6: "wondering how long it will take to lose herself."
--sounds like the wood stove eats memories, or something. Which begs the question, why these people are feeding it?

pg 10: I'm not really hooked by the thread of "do lots of homework to learn the secrets." Sounds like the story is going off on a tangent and away from the mystery.

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If it's not too late, would it be possible for you to send me chapters 2 & 3?

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Overall

I don't understand why C is taking the bait if she knows it is bait. Surely there must be other ways to find out the truth about the stove, like continued experimentation. That she isn't taking charge of the plot and just riding along keeps me at an emotional distance from her. Now G-M, she was great. Very engaging. I more want to follow her now, than C.

Writing is still smooth and the voice is stronger in this installment, thanks to G-M. I think really it's just C I'm hanging on.

 

As I go

- pg 1: how do supplies get into this town if its all isolated??? Where does the dog food and bed and stuff come from? I have questions

- pg 2: ah, I see my question is (more or less) answered. Well done

- G-M thus far has the most personality of any of the characters. I was super engaged during this beat

- pg 9: I like the baiting, but C's response isn't as...I don't know. It falls flat for me. If she knows she is being baited, then there is no tension. Without tension, the momentum of the plot falters. With G-M it was strong. She has a strong personality and strong motivation and she moves the plot forward. C just...continues to let it happen to her

- pg 10: if she knows she is being baited, why is she still going to try for good marks?

 

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On 5/3/2021 at 5:25 AM, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? 2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? 3) Reactions to GM? Does she need to be toned down? Dialled up?

Hmm I thought the storage room moment was interesting, and I loved GM's POV section (especially the line about burning/burning brightly!) before the phone call. In general, I'm enjoying the humour -- like the names, I think they're really cute and fun. And the line about V staring at the room -- I liked that! 

I didn't think the homework part was necessarily boring or annoying, but I was under the impression that GM was lying about grades giving you marks as a whole, so I wasn't too sure about where that's supposed to go. Setup for more curse information, maybe? And the phone call seemed a bit... sugary lol so it wasn't really for me. 

Noooo don't tone her down -- I loved this GM!! Was a highlight of the chapter for me lol. 

pg 1 finding dog food: the dog that died didn't need dog food (from this guy)...? 

pg 3 "have free run of the house": for some reason, this part about the clean house and Mopdog's effects gives me a very ominous feeling.

pg 5 not remembering the dog that died - has the memory been collectively wiped from the town? That might explain the shopkeeper guy not knowing where dog food was :thinking: 

pg ~6: GM's personality here is great, I love it, but I've got some questions. Why was GM taken to feed the Wood Stove (makes it sound like it wasn't her choice; her parents told her to do that)? Why now? Why feed it? What does "lose herself" mean? Is that like a coming-of-age 'ritual'; is that why C's dad is round, etc.? And C being 'vibrant and whole' kinda contradicts what the teacher said earlier about not relying on C imo -- GM makes it sound like C will thrive where the rest of the town won't, but I was under the impression that C was going to disappear or something lol. I expect some of these qs will be answered later but that's what I'm thinking about :)

pg 9 "C will not succeed": is she laughing because the homework thing is fake (C won't find out the truth by doing well in school) or because GM is confident C won't ever get high enough marks?

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As I go:

pg 1. Is the room disorganized? Not sure how to see C's and V's different perspective on this

pg 2. "Where do you get your food from?" So does C, like, not know what farms are? I feel like V should dig a little deeper here.

pg 5. So... is G-M thinking about human sacrifices? Things are starting to get creepy and I'm here for it.

pg 6-7. Really like G-M's voice here

pg 8-9. Does G-M think that's going to throw C off of investigating on her own for long? Because I don't. Though C does seem more by the books than I'd expect most kids to be, so maybe? 

-Oh okay and C doesn't even fall for it wow get rekt G-M 

-Or... she does fall for it. Whoops.

Overall:

On 5/3/2021 at 5:25 AM, RedBlue said:

Questions: 1) Points of engagement? Any boring/annoying bits? 2) Any bits that were confusing or didn’t make sense? 3) Reactions to GM? Does she need to be toned down? Dialled up?

1. The most engaging thing to me is G-M's implication that everything C has done so far is nothing in comparison of its potential, that the wood stove has powers and costs far greater than we're imagining at this point. Nothing was really boring. :) 

2. I wasn't sure why G-M went down the route she did. Either C gets full marks and finds out G-M was lying to her, or she gives up trying and goes back to investigating on her own, which puts G-M back to square one. Maybe if it was presented as a way to buy time to make a better plan to throw C off I could see it, but I don't really understand what G-M is thinking here. I'll also say that while I believe that C falls for the bait, I'm surprised V doesn't catch onto the fact that the whole thing is a lie if he's listening in. 

3. Good overall! :) The parts I feel like I need to know more about are: 1. What's up with her relationship with her mom? Why does she feel the way she does about her mom, and why does her mom put up with her bs? 2. A bit more on why she hates C. The stuff we get is good, and I think we need that extra push. Maybe if we get more on why she cares so much that the other kids like C more than her it will make more sense to me. 

Good luck editing! :) 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone!

On 03/05/2021 at 2:33 PM, C_Vallion said:

Unfortunately, once we’re going into in-depth discussion of how she’s going to get her perfect scores, I’m losing focus a little.  I think partly because I know G-M is making up the requirements and partly because having high stakes tied into getting homework done properly is less engaging to me as an adult than it probably would have been as a kid.  I think you can trim back a lot of the detail from 9-10 while keeping the key points (with V’s help, most of the subjects will be manageable, and stressing that the essay is going to be the real challenge), and that would tighten that up to get a stronger sense of her determination to succeed without getting bogged down in specific homework assignments.

On 03/05/2021 at 9:48 PM, karamel said:

I was mostly engaged with the interaction with GM and then GM's pov because it seems like when we see GM we learn a bit more about what is going on. it's also nice to know that she isn't a brat for entirely no reason. she is worried about looking like a fool, and getting left behind(in more ways than one), and obviously had to make some sort of sacrifice and i am very interested to know what that is! I lost interest near the end when C was talking about doing homework. I think you can cut the last two pages down a lot

On 04/05/2021 at 5:03 PM, Mandamon said:

I was engaged through the first part of the chapter, when we were learning more about how the town worked, not as much the second part with GM scheming and the talk about getting good grades.

17 hours ago, leapfrog said:

I didn't think the homework part was necessarily boring or annoying, but I was under the impression that GM was lying about grades giving you marks as a whole, so I wasn't too sure about where that's supposed to go. Setup for more curse information, maybe? And the phone call seemed a bit... sugary lol so it wasn't really for me.

12 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

The most engaging thing to me is G-M's implication that everything C has done so far is nothing in comparison of its potential, that the wood stove has powers and costs far greater than we're imagining at this point. Nothing was really boring.

On 05/05/2021 at 5:07 AM, kais said:

I don't understand why C is taking the bait if she knows it is bait. Surely there must be other ways to find out the truth about the stove, like continued experimentation.

Good to know the first part worked well. I'll trim down the discussion of the homework, and clarify C's misunderstanding.

 

On 03/05/2021 at 2:33 PM, C_Vallion said:

GM? What a jerk! But, you know, in the best ways. And for reasons that definitely make a lot of sense in an MG setting. I think she works really well here and makes a good, clear antagonist for C. I don’t think she needs to be dialed up more.  I’m not sure if she needs toning down or if that's just because she reminds me too much of a horrible girlfriend my brother had in high school.  Plus she really pushes all of my "Why can't people just be nice to each other?!" buttons. But that's her job here, so I suppose she's doing it well.

On 03/05/2021 at 9:48 PM, karamel said:

I don't have any problems with GM, I mean, she is very selfserving and rude but she is just a kid and it seems she has some reasons for the way she is.

On 04/05/2021 at 5:03 PM, Mandamon said:

She's a bit over the top, but I have seen other characters like this before. I think the best thing is to give her a really solid motivation. "I'm not first" can be one, but maybe give it a little depth. Why is she such a brat? Her mother seems to think she is too, and doesn't seem to be pampering her that much.

17 hours ago, leapfrog said:

GM's personality here is great, I love it, but I've got some questions. Why was GM taken to feed the Wood Stove (makes it sound like it wasn't her choice; her parents told her to do that)? Why now? Why feed it? What does "lose herself" mean? Is that like a coming-of-age 'ritual'; is that why C's dad is round, etc.? And C being 'vibrant and whole' kinda contradicts what the teacher said earlier about not relying on C imo -- GM makes it sound like C will thrive where the rest of the town won't, but I was under the impression that C was going to disappear or something lol. I expect some of these qs will be answered later but that's what I'm thinking about

13 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Good overall! :) The parts I feel like I need to know more about are: 1. What's up with her relationship with her mom? Why does she feel the way she does about her mom, and why does her mom put up with her bs? 2. A bit more on why she hates C. The stuff we get is good, and I think we need that extra push. Maybe if we get more on why she cares so much that the other kids like C more than her it will make more sense to me. 

Looks like GM worked for most of you. Phew! 
For those of you with questions: yes, there will be more on GM's situation later.

Thank you very much for your feedback everyone!

 

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