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Ace of Hearts

5/17/21 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 5+6 (4622 words)

6 posts in this topic

Hi everyone! The stuff below is actually important this time so please read

 
I know I didn't respond last thread, but I did take everyone's feedback into account. Multiple people thought that that my last sub made more sense as two chapters with separate arcs, so I decided to give that a shot and that's what I have here. The content in this sub would be replacing the stuff from last sub, not adding onto it. That is, if I decide to keep this new format. Since it's basically rewritten from scratch and could change the ways I edit the next chapters, I decided to resub. Plus, I don't know if it's actually an improvement, so I wanted to check in.
 
Questions for after reading:
1. Points of engagement?  
2. Which general structure do you like better between this sub and my previous one (or do neither work)?
3. For whichever one you liked better, is there anything important it's missing that the other one has (no worries if you can't remember)?
4. How do you feel about the characters here? Any differences from how they came off in the last sub? 
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As I read:

p2&3 - The shift from W not eating lunch with the large group because she doesn't like groups to her not eating with them because she's arguing with A makes sense for plot, but I do miss the beat of W and A having regular friendship tension to lead into the fallout about N. W and A having a personality clash makes it feel like their falling out is something that's been bubbling up for a while, rather than just being over a boy and one mistake that A made. I think the former is more interesting.

p4 - The discussion about N and B's past relationship raises more questions for me about how on Earth N and B got together in the first place.

p5 - When A reveals what she told B about N's glitter woods trips, I think she needs to spell out exactly what she told B. From this dialogue, it's not clear whether it was 'hey, I saw N go into the woods and come out with glitter on him' or more like 'hey, I caught N seeing another girl'. I think it's important to know exactly what A did or didn't say to B so that we can judge how much A stepped over the line.

p6 - I think we need to see more anger from W's inner monologue before she cuts off her friendship with A. Right now, it comes across as resignation, which is a bit weird given how quickly things have escalated.

p6 - It's weird that W doesn't have anything to say about how this reflects on N or changes the way she's going to treat him going forward. I get that this chapter is focusing on W's friendship with A, but I think we need a line or two letting us know that W hasn't forgotten about N completely.

p7 - 'holding N back' I think you mean pushing N away?

p7 - I'm confused about why W lies to her mom about where she is and what she's doing? She could just say she's going on a walk to blow off steam?

p7 - I do like that the N scene is set at the pool with the flowers. That's a nice upgrade on the last version. However - I'm not a fan of the fact that W running into N is an accident, rather than something W felt needed to happen. Doesn't she feel she owes him an explanation? Was she planning to just drop the whole thing without talking to N?

p11 - From the previous version, I liked the specificity of N struggling to understand how equations made lines. It gave me a good feel for N being a bright kid with a big education gap compared to the others and some confidence issues as a result. I feel like we lose that in this version.

p12 - 'We have stories about my community' - I think you mean he's heard stories about the flowers from his community?

p12 - The love flowers are super cheesy but I am so here for it. Is the fact that the flower sparkled what made N interested in W in the first place?

p13 - I'm guessing N secretly draws his life force from glitter or something. The whole 'sworn to secrecy' thing sounds very shady, but I'm guessing that will turn out to be about keeping the magic people safe from evil CEOs.

p14 - I like that N and W are talking about why N likes W.

 

1) It's a bit difficult to judge points of engagement when I'm not coming in fresh, but there weren't any bits that came off as boring.

2&3) Honestly, I liked the structure of the first version of this better. I know you had feedback last time saying that they wanted the two arcs (W&A vs W&N) to be separated out, but I think these two plot threads are so linked that it makes them both weaker when you try to separate them. The falling out between W and A especially needs the stuff with N hanging over it to have the emotional impact it should.

This structure where you deal with A and N separately is neater and tidier, but W's relationships aren't neat or tidy. The only bit that I thought was an improvement was that conversations happened in person, rather than over the phone. And adding the stuff about the flower to W and N's talk was also good.

4) No big changes to how I view the characters from the last sub, except for the part where W ends her friendship with A. Without the tension from their clashing personalities, it feels like the problem stems from A making a mistake, rather than long-standing problems in their friendship coming to a head.

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Overall

I think if you just flat out cut the first chapter and then trim some of the back half dialogue in the second chapter, this will be a decent installment. W getting over herself and drama to go to homecoming is good movement forward. The bit about the flower is cute. The drama in the first chapter is...very alienating. I'm hoping we get more concrete about the flower soon though, otherwise it is starting to feel like a bait and switch.

 

As I go

- not a very strong starting line

- pg 3: I am not at all engaged through here. A lot of talking and high school politics that just do not click for me. Where is the flower? Where is the romance (or romantic tension, or just some kind of tension that isn't our MC whining?)?

- pg 5: I don't understand the paranoia connection between going into the woods and getting glittered. What if the guy just likes glitter?

- pg 5: but really it’s between Ni and Brit at this point.” <-- I agree. Oof. Can our MC stop obsessing about it?

- pg 6: It's like every side character agrees with me, that W needs to chill and stop making drama. Then W makes more drama. I do not like this MC and because of that am not invested. 

- pg 7: in the Willamette Valley <-- *waves from the IRL Willamette Valley*

- pg 12: I definitely prefer this chapter. I actually think you can cut the previous one. I don't think it moves the plot and it doesn't do good things for W, imo

- pg 14: okay this 'why do you like me tee hee' is going on too long for my taste

- the ending is cute

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1. I was a little less engaged during the argument with A and the why N likes W conversation here than I was for the related conversations previously, but I definitely liked that you brought in the flowers more centrally in this version.

2 & 3: I like parts of both (details below), though I think having the two separate chapters makes it a lot easier to carry things longer than they need to be (I know that’s what I always do), so a few more things here seemed like they could use trimming back.

4. Still feel similarly.  I feel like this version makes me feel like W has less reason to cut off her friendship with A, though. Yeah, the stuff with N is bad, but there wasn’t as much sense that the gap between them has been building up over a long time like we got with the conversation between A and W last time.  I still like W, but I feel like some of the romance hints between her and N could be adjusted to fit her character a little better.

 

Chapter 5:

I think the conversation between A and W could be trimmed back or smoothed over more.  Part of it feels like it goes on longer than it needs to, which I think isn’t helped by the scene change.  

Pg 1:

I think I preferred the disconnect between A and W in the previous version better.  It seemed to push more in the direction of showing how the two of them have grown in different directions, which doesn’t come across as clearly here.

Pg 2:

I like this additional detail about her understanding of what happened with E and how it’s changed since previous chapters.

I like that this conversation is held in person this time around, and that W specifically reflects on the history of her friendship with A, but do think the conflict would be stronger with both the acknowledgment of their history that we get here and the signs of how they’ve grown in different directions that we’d gotten from A not understanding why she would want to eat on her own last time around.

Pg 3:

“Have fun on your own” If A’s going off to hang out with B and friends, this line seems strange.

Pg 4:

W’s too dialogue lines at the bottom of the page seem like they’re mostly there to split up blocks of A’s dialogue, but I feel like chiming in there makes it seem a little less like natural conversation. Seems like W is trying to help the conversation along, to prompt A to speak, but I hadn’t gotten the feeling that A needed that prompting.

Pg 5:

The dialogue on 5 seems a little off in a couple places as well, but I’m not sure what exactly is giving that impression.  Might just be a matter of it being a rewrite that hasn’t had as many revisions yet.

Pg 6:

“Then I guess this is it”  like @ redblue said, I think this decision should have more anger behind it.  Especially if W is sometimes prone to anger (we haven’t seen that side of her, but it’s been mentioned a couple times).  It seems strangely sudden if we don’t see how upset she actually is (and I think this is where the first couple of pages focusing a little more on how they’ve grown in different directions and don’t really understand each other anymore would at a lot of strength.)

Chapter 6:

Pg 7:

Seconding @redblue’s question about why we’re lying to Mom.  They seem to have a pretty good relationship, so it seems like an odd thing to keep from her.

Pg 8:

I’d taken from the end of the last chapter that she was planning to tell N what had happened.  So it seems odd that she’s avoiding reminders of him here.  And why would she have gone that way in the first place if she knew it would remind her of him and she was avoiding such thoughts.

Mesmerizing feels like an odd word choice here.  Or too strong. Or something. I like that his focus is the thing that jumps out as being attractive. That fits the understanding I have of W.  The wanting to bolt seems a little off as well.  Nervousness jumpiness, sure, but if she’s planning to tell him about what she’s found out, it seems out of place.

“tension and rage has fled”  I’d expect the tension to have just shifted to jittery nervousness instead of fleeing. 

Page 9:

I’d expect her to be thrown more off-balance by his saying he cares about her.  It fits his character to say it, even though they don’t know each other that well.  But what does she think he means by that?

The clarifying who is in what math class seems like it could be trimmed or cut without losing anything. Him knowing she’s way ahead of her doesn’t lose the opportunity to mention her parent’s wisdom.

Pg 11:

Her instructing here doesn’t hit as well as it did previously, but I’m not sure why.

Pg 12:

“to do a bit more digging”  This sentence sounds a little weirdly prying and invasive.  Like she’s expecting to have to trick him into answering, when she’s just trying to find answers.

“real feelings for each other…groundwork is there.” Something about this paragraph feels off to me.  I like the line that love is more about effort than emotion.   But then what exactly are the flowers supposed to be recognizing? What’s that “groundwork” supposed to mean?  It seems like it has to be more than general compatibility,  or just that there are feelings there.  Do they stop sparkling during the rough points in a relationship when there’s a lot more effort required than fuzzy feelings?  Partly, the magic flowers seem to push a sort of soulmate concept, which the effort vs. emotion line contradicts to some extent.  If it’s not a magic soulmate indicator, I’d almost want to have W interpret it as such and have N clarify.

Pg 12-17

The rest of this covers all of the key points, but I think the individual sub-topics each go on a little too long, so there seems like there’s a lot that could be trimmed back and/or streamlined.

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Overall, I think this is an improvement. The dialogue in the first section seems a bit forced in places, with characters telling us their emotions rather than showing them, but I do like that we get a reason for W to separate from the "cool girls." However it could probably be cut down a bit.

The second chapter is much better, and I really like the growing attraction between the two. A couple things I noticed:

1) like @kais said, it's about time to get some more details about the flower. We get some here, but only the barest hints. I'm ready for a little more plot and less drama.

2) Connected to the above, I think the longer we have "gooey" N with no explanation to his background, the more two-dimensional he gets. He accepts every fault from W and comes back with a happy word. Except for one thing were he can't tell about the magic, he does whatever W wants. I want to know a little more about his background to show that he has a deeper side as well and it's just devoting his whole life to going after W.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1-3: This discussion is better than talking about tables last time, but it still seems very "after-school special," with W making sure she clearly states all the questions.

pg 3: "I know that dodging your question back at lunch was wrong."
--same sort of thing here. Seems like the characters are stating their emotions to make sure the reader understands. Most of this conversation reads the same way.

pg 7-9: the discussion with N is a lot more natural-sounding.

pg 12: "the flowers are powered by love,"
--uh oh! Cue Huey Lewis...

pg 13: “Things you might call miracles. I believe in the stories because I’ve seen them in action. And they’re affecting me right now.”
--glad we're getting some more tidbits about the plot!

pg 14: "You know who you are and you’re not afraid to show it..."
--This is a great paragraph.

pg 16: "You’d fit well with my people.”
--another good hint, but it leaves me wanting more!

pg 17: Good chapter and I think the expansion into two here works. N is still a bit...Magoo...but he's consistent. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but he has hinted at problems in his society, so maybe that will give his character another angle when it comes up.

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Phew commenting on this two weeks after submitting it. :unsure:

Anyways I'm going to play around with the chapters a bit more, but my current idea is to take the first part of the first draft and the second part of the second draft, since it seems like people like the detailed discussion with N and the flowers more in this version but liked the conflict between W and A more in the previous version. 

Thanks again! 

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