C_Vallion

5.3.2021- C_Vallion - Price of Peace: Chapter 2 RevA - (L,G,V) - 3551 Words

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Hello, All!

Thanks to everyone who offered input on Chapter 1! It’s really helpful in knowing what things need to be ironed out and what is still missing there. 

In chapter 2, we have our second PoV character, who (by virtue of being immediately in over his head) should have clearer up-front goals and motivations than Is-.  Do you feel like there’s enough sense of his personality and longer-term goals presented here? Is there any information that seems to be missing that should have come in here or in Chapter 1? 

We also start getting a little more about the magic system here.  Do you have any thoughts about how it is introduced? Are there things that need more clarification at this point? Some of it will come in the next chapter, but I’m not sure what might feel like it’s missing here.

Other than that, any feedback is helpful!

Content tags for Chapter 2: mild language, mild violence, mild gore

Thanks!

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Hi! Excited to read more of this :)

As I read:

p1 - I think you should put Al's name in the second paragraph instead of 'he' ('The word hovered at the edge of Al's awareness) so that we don't have to spend time being confused about whose POV we're in now.

p1-2 - I get why it makes sense for Al to think through the possibilities and arrive at poison as the answer, but I think you should condense that part. Is already went through the 'am I dehydrated? Am I tired? Is it the injury?' logic last chapter. It's repetitive to go through that same logic again. Better to fast forward to the 'it's poison, what now' bit.

p3 - If he really thinks he might drop her, maybe an over-the-shoulder carry would be more sensible

p9 - :o supplies missing from the healers' wing? It's an inside job!

p11-12 - I'm a bit confused by the healer's plan here. She's dealing with a duke, whose political position is important for diplomatic reasons. She needs to get him out of the way so that he doesn't get in the way when the king arrives. So instead of just telling him that, she tries to trick him into casting a sleep spell on himself? What's her plan? Drag his unconscious body away (in front of his manservant) and hope that a fuss does not ensue?

Al's introduction: I get that his long term goal is to stabilise political relations between Tr (the place he's the duke of) and the capital. I assume that this is essentially his job. I don't have a sense for what this means to him personally, and I don't have much of a feel for his personality beyond the fact that he does the right thing and is very quick to grasp a situation and adapt to it. I don't think that's a big problem at this point in the story, because there's enough intrigue going on to keep me engaged, but it's something to keep in mind for future chapters.

Magic system: what I'm getting is that the magic system can create sp-stones, which do a specific thing when activated. Al can recognise spells in a sp-stone that he's holding. There's obviously more to this magic system, but I don't think it needs further clarification for the purposes of this chapter.

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  1. Personality-wise, he seems pretty nice, or at least caring? As for goals, it seems to me that he's worried about the state of where he's from and its relations and presumably wants to smooth things over to some degree (guessing by when G swore at him). 
  2. I didn't notice anything particularly confusing that should've been established in chapter 1. I was a bit confused at the guard situation here and who Al could trust, but I'll get into that more in the play-by-play :)
  3. I think the stone setup is very cool! And I liked how it tied into law and politics and all that with magistrate mention. I'm interested to see what being a mage means, as I'm assuming using a magic stone isn't enough to make someone a mage. Also, I'm assuming anyone can use a stone? Generally, the magic setup here seems to be pretty straightforward to me. 

pg 1 - I was expecting Is' POV right off the bat, so I had to read ahead a bit to see who we were reading from. Might help if his name was dropped a bit earlier. Also last chapter I think I was suspecting the duke poisoned her! So I was surprised to see that it wasn't him. 

pg 2 - re: the part about her facing off other people -- for some reason, I had also assumed that Is was sort of a 'seeded' participant of the tournament, and didn't realize how many people/if she fought people before R. Maybe some clarification before this would be good. 

pg 3 "This way" -- I had to reread a few times to figure out what Al was doing and why he was suddenly taking charge. Also at "The man's jaw clenched..." I thought that was kind of weird. I'm not too sure why Al trusts this guard, since he doesn't seem to trust the royal healers and so on... but more than that, does the guard know about the poison, or has he guessed? If a guard of the royal palace is asked if it's safe for the royal family, I feel like it's kind of weird if he just doesn't say anything. 

pg ~5 - when Al was asked if he was OK and he said no -- what was wrong with him? Was he panicking, or something else? 

pg 6 - I was concerned when Al was wondering if G was trustworthy! Was happy to find out that he didn't seem to be, but you had me worried there. 

pg 8 - when he says, "You're with the guard," I was confused -- was this the same guard as before that he thought he could trust? Why did Al think he was with that guard in particular? Or does he mean like the royal guard in general? Also "bloodied guard" later that page -- who? The one who got the healer? Why's he bloodied? Or is it T's perspective thinking of G? And on pg 9 -- Al is assuming all royal guards are safe to trust? But he didn't trust the healers or the tournament officials? I get that he's unsure of who to trust, but it mostly just made me confused lol. 

pg 11 on revealing knowledge -- I liked this part! I thought this was interesting, and I'd like to know more about what being a K mage means (or being from K?) and how being the son of one affects Al. 

pg 12 "where'd he planned to go once..." - I think I missed this part, but I couldn't find it. Where was the guard planning to go? Also, why was it important that Al not be there when the king came? Because he'd blame Al? (Why does the healer care about that?) I'm getting the sense that the king is not a very nice/positive guy, lol. 

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Overall

While well written, as always, I think there are two major issues. 1) our MC lacks voice, and is coming off as a two-dimensional love interest. You don't need more content, just a different way of speaking and interacting for him that gives him clear emotions that motivate. 2) I don't think there's a full arc here. I'm not sure how the plot progressed, only that I now know about spellstones--but that isn't really plot progression. 

A bit of tidying though, and I think it will be a reasonable chapter. You just want to make sure these early chapters, and especially if you have a POV swap, are really grabby, to let the reader get invested in a new character and keep reading

As I go

- strong start! And because it ties directly into the first chapter and continues the timeline, I have no issues with a new POV character so early

- there's some lag between the strong start and the He'd come to the capital line, which is, to me, where the meat starts again. Because we are early on still, I'd argue for quick movement early on, then discussion of palace architecture later

- pg 4: well, this is reading a lot more like a romance now. But I feel like we've lost all flavor for this MC. I think its because his voice feels watered down. I'd like more...personality, I think. More voice. Right now he's sweet and worries so all that comes across is love interest. I get no sense for his motivations this far in, or personality, or anything three dimensional. Again, it's not an issue of needing more backstory as it is needing more voice

- pg 5: this page has too much woolgathering over things we have already experienced

- pg 6: I feel like we could have gone from pg 1 to here without losing anything of substance for the plot

- pg 8: the interlude with the guard seems either unnecessary, or far too late in the game. I think this early chapter would be better served with that strong start, then the guard won't let him deliver the princess, then he does, then some form of plot movement

- pg 10 is where we get to the actual plot movement. I take back what I wrote above. I think page one, then right here to pg 10

- pg 11: while the magic is interesting, our MC no longer feels rushed. I get no real sense of urgency or danger. It feels like he just stopped caring about the princess when the spell stones came out. Again, I think this is more a voice thing than anything else

- pg 12: I don't think this chapter has a full arc

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This started out really strong, but I found my mind wandering in the middle until the woman on page 9 showed up. I agree with @kais about Al's lack of voice and how much you can cut from this chapter.

Al just seems to question everything and give us some exposition about magic and stones. Which was great information, by the way, and I love the idea, but I want more pizzazz–– i want his voice to really shine. I like him, he’s alright, but i dont love him. And if he’s the main love interest, and a pov character, i think i should like him more than i do. He just seemed a bit... meh. But that's not to say there weren't things I liked about him. Which leads me to...

Things i like about Al: decisive, cautious yet takes risks to avoid causing further trouble, sense of justice, does not trust people (and smartly so), cares about people(or maybe just the princess for political reasons), not a jerk (yet, at least)

as i go:

pg 1

-so the duke is carrying her? What happened to the healer from the end of last chap?

pg 4

-“Arrest me later” I want to emphasize that I liked his decisiveness, especially the first time he said this line, i think you should keep that, but the second time he said this was meh. 

pg 7

-dang he’s beating up the duke? Wouldn't he be worried about the consequences? Isnt the duke a guest? Why so rash?

pg 8

-Im confused why the duke even left. What could anyone besides the healer do? What was A’s goal?

pg 11

-“Asking would reveal his knowledge” i like this. He is willing to put himself in possible danger just to avoid trouble

-i like the magic; i don't think you need any more or less than what you've given.

pg 12

-everyone’s goals aren't exactly clear to me, especially the healer (mostly just the healer).

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On 5/3/2021 at 5:27 PM, leapfrog said:

pg 12 "where'd he planned to go once..." - I think I missed this part, but I couldn't find it. Where was the guard planning to go? Also, why was it important that Al not be there when the king came? Because he'd blame Al? (Why does the healer care about that?) I'm getting the sense that the king is not a very nice/positive guy, lol. 

On 5/3/2021 at 9:20 AM, RedBlue said:

p11-12 - I'm a bit confused by the healer's plan here. She's dealing with a duke, whose political position is important for diplomatic reasons. She needs to get him out of the way so that he doesn't get in the way when the king arrives. So instead of just telling him that, she tries to trick him into casting a sleep spell on himself? What's her plan? Drag his unconscious body away (in front of his manservant) and hope that a fuss does not ensue?

8 hours ago, karamel said:

-everyone’s goals aren't exactly clear to me, especially the healer (mostly just the healer).

11 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 12: I don't think this chapter has a full arc

All of this is making me think that this needs to be combined with the next chapter.  I hadn't expected the healer's motivation to be as big of a sticking point for whatever reason, but that's clarified there with more of the magic conflict context.  

Make sure I check in after the next chapter submission to see if these questions/issues.  I think combining the two will resolve a lot of these questions/issues.  Just need to trim back some of the rest of it if it's all going to be one arc

Fortunately, it seems like we have a good candidate for trimming back:

8 hours ago, karamel said:

And if he’s the main love interest, and a pov character, i think i should like him more than i do. He just seemed a bit... meh. But that's not to say there weren't things I liked about him. Which leads me to...

11 hours ago, kais said:

our MC lacks voice, and is coming off as a two-dimensional love interest

Yeah.  That's what I was worried about. That without more context regarding his more overarching motivations, it would jump straight to love-interest...

Another reason to combine this with the next chapter, where there's more context to his insistence on jumping in to help.

On 5/3/2021 at 5:27 PM, leapfrog said:

pg 9 -- Al is assuming all royal guards are safe to trust? But he didn't trust the healers or the tournament officials? I get that he's unsure of who to trust, but it mostly just made me confused lol. 

8 hours ago, karamel said:

dang he’s beating up the duke? Wouldn't he be worried about the consequences? Isnt the duke a guest? Why so rash?

He's working under the assumption that the guards would have loyalty oaths to the royal family that puts the family's well-being first and foremost.  Not so different from when he references his own oath to the king to earn the trust of the guard.  Maybe that's where I need to add a little more context to why people are willing to take the oaths as proof of trustworthiness.  Ultimately the consequences of breaking oaths are rather extreme, and while people can get away with it, most are terrified enough of being caught and held accountable for it to be proof enough in an emergency.  The guards and the healer who comes to the room would be specifically in service of the royal family and bound by their oaths there.  But the officials and field healers (while hopefully still loyal to the royal family) wouldn't have that extra layer of proof if their primary occupations aren't in service of the royal family.

Do you think it would help at all if there hadn't been a week's gap between reading G and Is-'s conversation after the match, when he's trying to use the argument of "I'm more concerned about keeping my oath than about humoring your pride." to get her to agree to forfeiting the remaining match?  Or had that gotten lost in the mix?  Ultimately, this is why G is so aggressive when he thinks Al might have done something.  Because G did end up giving in and humoring her pride because the risk he was expecting wasn't the one that was actually present. So now he's acting out of guilt and fear.

Trying to figure out how much context about the oaths and their repercussions is needed here to keep it from being a sticking point for the reader before we get to where the consequences are directly dealt with. 

_

There are a couple other questions that I'll probably try to have you guys think back to after the next chapter, but I want to see how much of the information it gets across as-is if the two chapters were to be combined (and some of the middle part here trimmed) and how much might need a little extra context earlier on like the oaths seem to.

Thanks, everyone! 

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21 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Do you think it would help at all if there hadn't been a week's gap between reading G and Is-'s conversation after the match, when he's trying to use the argument of "I'm more concerned about keeping my oath than about humoring your pride." to get her to agree to forfeiting the remaining match?  Or had that gotten lost in the mix?  Ultimately, this is why G is so aggressive when he thinks Al might have done something.  Because G did end up giving in and humoring her pride because the risk he was expecting wasn't the one that was actually present. So now he's acting out of guilt and fear.

Trying to figure out how much context about the oaths and their repercussions is needed here to keep it from being a sticking point for the reader before we get to where the consequences are directly dealt with. 

Hmm yeah I don't think I remembered G's line about keeping oaths, or at least didn't mark it as important, so bringing it up again might be useful. And specifying that it's like a specific oath to the king or otherwise somehow different might be good to emphasize why Al can trust these people with this oath.

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23 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Do you think it would help at all if there hadn't been a week's gap between reading G and Is-'s conversation after the match, when he's trying to use the argument of "I'm more concerned about keeping my oath than about humoring your pride." to get her to agree to forfeiting the remaining match?  Or had that gotten lost in the mix?  Ultimately, this is why G is so aggressive when he thinks Al might have done something.  Because G did end up giving in and humoring her pride because the risk he was expecting wasn't the one that was actually present. So now he's acting out of guilt and fear.

I vaguely remember that conversation, but I didn't take away from it that oaths are super important in this setting.

If that's an important detail that you need to establish now, then that could do with being flagged up more. If it's okay to catch us up on the oath thing later in the plot, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

G's aggression made sense to me without the oath context because, well, he has grounds to believe that Al assassinated or abducted the princess. Even without much info about the political situation, the word 'princess' clues me in that this is a Big Deal. Especially if G is fond of Is on a personal level, which seems to be the case.

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Woot woot another 8pm critique from lab on a Friday here I go!

As I go:

pg 1. This is Ala, right? I think we need his name in the first (or, well, second) paragraph to get us grounded. I don't really see what's gained by waiting half a page to say it.

pg 2. All of Ala's thoughts and actions make sense, but I don't feel like there's enough to cue me into his personality here. Like he's concerned for Is like most people would (and should) be and so far that's all we've seen from him. We get a bit of what makes this different for him compared to someone else at the bottom of the page, and I think we need more. 

pg 3-5. Just an idea but Ala's dad died in a freak accident, right? I bet this would bring up painful memories for him that could make him seem like more than "helpful guy who saves princess."

pg 6-7. Okay now we're getting somewhere. Honeslty I think the chapter could start here and Ala dropping Is off could be something that happens in the background.

-That being said I don't really get why the guard directly attacks Ala. Very risky for everyone involved. I think a standoff where he threatens to call in more guards makes more sense to me.

pg 9. Like I'm glad Ala cares but he seems to care a lot about Is. Is there a reason why? Broader implications about sinister plots, maybe?

pg 10-11. This is a good introduction to healing stones. This is the most engaged I've been with the magic because it's relevant to the plot, culture, and Ala's character conflict all at once. Good job :) 

pg 12. Strong ending to the chapter

Overall:

On 5/3/2021 at 7:39 AM, C_Vallion said:

In chapter 2, we have our second PoV character, who (by virtue of being immediately in over his head) should have clearer up-front goals and motivations than Is-.  Do you feel like there’s enough sense of his personality and longer-term goals presented here? Is there any information that seems to be missing that should have come in here or in Chapter 1? 

We also start getting a little more about the magic system here.  Do you have any thoughts about how it is introduced? Are there things that need more clarification at this point? Some of it will come in the next chapter, but I’m not sure what might feel like it’s missing here.

 

As for the first question about Ala, imo it's where this chapter has a lot of room to grow. It's great that he's focused on helping Is, but his single-minded focus on her means that he himself doesn't stand out as much as he needs to. It feels like he's doing all of what he's doing just because he's a good person, which comes across to me as being very nonspecific. I need more to set him apart from standard fantasy protagonist confronted with princess in danger. Idk if the others will agree with me (and maybe previous feedback is why you were shying away from this), but I want more politics here in his internality instead of just worry. Like I've been saying, I don't think the politics are inherently boring. In the early drafts the problem was that they weren't character or plot-relevant, but now they are. I want Ala to think about the politics of this being an attempted assassination and what that means for him as an outsider. At least, if the story is going to focus on that in the future, which it seems like it is. There are other routes here, but the pure worry and concern is not doing it for me.

As for the second question, I think the magic and the way it's introduced is awesome. Like I said in the LBLs, it connects to the plot (healing Is is necessary), culture (kinda weird for spellstones to be in the open like this, hints at further secrets), and character (Ala is viewed the way he is because of magic so this directly affects him), which makes it come across as really strong to me. Keep those focuses strong and you'll be golden. 

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1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 2. All of Ala's thoughts and actions make sense, but I don't feel like there's enough to cue me into his personality here. Like he's concerned for Is like most people would (and should) be and so far that's all we've seen from him. We get a bit of what makes this different for him compared to someone else at the bottom of the page, and I think we need more. 

pg 3-5. Just an idea but Ala's dad died in a freak accident, right? I bet this would bring up painful memories for him that could make him seem like more than "helpful guy who saves princess."

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 9. Like I'm glad Ala cares but he seems to care a lot about Is. Is there a reason why? Broader implications about sinister plots, maybe?

Further proof that this needs to be combined with the next chapter, and more of the front-end general concern trimmed back.  After all of the feedback I've seen here, one of my questions on the next chapter is definitely going to be whether or not it provides enough context to reach beyond "helpful guy who saves princess" I think it should, but I also hadn't realized how far this chapter pushes in that direction, so we'll see how it comes across. 

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Idk if the others will agree with me (and maybe previous feedback is why you were shying away from this), but I want more politics here in his internality instead of just worry. Like I've been saying, I don't think the politics are inherently boring. In the early drafts the problem was that they weren't character or plot-relevant, but now they are. I want Ala to think about the politics of this being an attempted assassination and what that means for him as an outsider. At least, if the story is going to focus on that in the future, which it seems like it is. There are other routes here, but the pure worry and concern is not doing it for me.

Just you wait, Henry Higgins. 

I'll be curious to know how you think the next chapter does in accomplishing these things.  In theory, it should. But we'll see if it comes across like it's supposed to. 

 

Thanks! 

 

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