C_Vallion

6.21.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 4 (New) RevA -4163 Words

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Hello, All!

My biggest concerns on this one are the pacing and that it might feel like a shift in direction from 1-3.  It brings in more of the political intrigue that is present throughout the story, but I don’t know if it comes across as engaging as it needs to be, and am sure the week-by-week submission setup isn’t going to be doing it any favors in that regard.

Specific questions:

  1. Does this chapter feel too slow or too much of a sudden veering away from the direction we’d be going in? Are there spots that stuck out as notably more or less engaging (and any specific things that made those feel that way)?
  2. Are there things that seem confusing or could use more explanation?
  3. Thoughts on the characters as presented up to this point?
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

Thanks so much!

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p1 - 'Half through first noon' - Do they have multiple suns or something?

A lot of page one could be trimmed or cut entirely. The first new plot-relevant point seems to be Al overhearing a conversation, and even then, I'm not very engaged as there doesn't seem to be any intrigue here.

p3 - Am I supposed to know who R is? Might be a weekly reading schedule problem, but I don't remember meeting him before.

p4 - So I'm getting that R was the Tr representative before Al showed up.

p5 - There are definitely engagement problems here. Having a character explain the political intrigue to Al in a dry, matter-of-fact way might be realistically how the character would want to prepare a new representative, but it's not an interesting way to get that information to the reader, unfortunately.

p8 - Still lots of infodump dialogue

p9 - Sounds like R's plan is for Al to build a reputation for reliability over the coming months before they start to think about actually doing things. Which is politically sensible, but it's not a great hook for a reader.

p10 - Exchanging niceties with G doesn't seem super necessary

p12 - Why is he checking in the bedroom? Isn't that a really silly thing to do in the circumstances?

p13 - It seems a bit of a leap that Is's father wouldn't know about the fire spell. Why would Al assume that?

 

1. Unfortunately, this chapter does feel very slow. Basically everything up to meeting Is again was not as engaging as it needs to be, and honestly, all the info about who the political players are and where they stand kind of leaked out of my brain right after reading it.

I don't think the issue is veering away from the direction of the first three chapters, or the info itself. I think the problem is the way the info is presented. Getting a bunch of it all at once, plus the dry way it's explained, is the problem.

2. Most of the intrigue stuff might be better off with less explanation - I'm not sure why we need R to explain all this to Al. It would probably be better if Al just knows the relevant facts, and the narration could fill in the reader as the relevant characters show up, or that info becomes relevant to the plot. Or, if you really need the reader to know all this now, find a way to tell it in a more dynamic way - maybe Al needs to snoop or collect gossip and figure out this stuff. Have it all come out in a more memorable scene, preferably with some stakes. That would be more interesting to read, and I bet I would retain more of the info.

3. Is clearly has some secret stuff going on, but at this point I don't get much of a sense of danger, or a sense of what her deal is.

It doesn't help the engagement levels that Al's immediate goals are 'do chores, then go to sleep'. I mean, it's understandable, but it feels dull and samey by the end of the chapter.

 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news this chapter!

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Urgh. I was afraid of it coming across that way.  Unfortunately, the couple of people I usually have read before I submit here are useless in regard to "Are there too many names/details to process?" and "Is this important to know?" sorts of questions because they've read previous versions and know where things are going.  Which is especially unhelpful when I'm prone to info dumps...

 

I'll have to see if I can make some quick cuts and see if I can catch anyone else with a revised version before they read this one.

@kais@karamel, and @leapfrog, I know you've been reading through.  If you're willing to wait a day for a trimmed down version, let me know.

1 hour ago, RedBlue said:

2. Most of the intrigue stuff might be better off with less explanation - I'm not sure why we need R to explain all this to Al. It would probably be better if Al just knows the relevant facts, and the narration could fill in the reader as the relevant characters show up, or that info becomes relevant to the plot. Or, if you really need the reader to know all this now, find a way to tell it in a more dynamic way - maybe Al needs to snoop or collect gossip and figure out this stuff. Have it all come out in a more memorable scene, preferably with some stakes. That would be more interesting to read, and I bet I would retain more of the info.

This is usually my problem.  Knowing how much is enough for the reader to know now so that they're able to put those pieces together in later chapters without making it too much to actually absorb... 

I'd considered cutting the details about the countess until we've actually run into her and focus a little more on the things R is being sneaky about (which I think are getting lost altogether here), but the aforementioned pre-submission readers thought it was fine *facepalm*

1 hour ago, RedBlue said:

3. Is clearly has some secret stuff going on, but at this point I don't get much of a sense of danger, or a sense of what her deal is.

That's probably appropriate at this point. Especially since we haven't really seen her since like two months ago when I submitted chapter 1. We get back to her next chapter, which should help.

 

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1 hour ago, C_Vallion said:

If you're willing to wait a day for a trimmed down version, let me know.

Yeah, that's fine with me. Send it whenever you're ready! :)

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23 hours ago, karamel said:

Yeah, that's fine with me. Send it whenever you're ready! :)

Awesome. Thanks!

Sent the new version over, weighing in 1,000 words shorter. 

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Overall

First off, i want to say that your writing is still really good. I never notice your sentence structure or vocab usage and that's a good thing! I'm not pulled out of the story because of bad writing. Good job on that front! 

Second, I found myself leaving and coming back to critiquing this chapter a lot. I didn’t feel like there was anything keeping me here and engaged. I think this chapter’s main problem is lack of tension and stakes and there not really being any sense of progress. Of course, i dont know how the story will go, so some of the information here could be very vital. And i do see bits of things being set up, but it feels hidden and bogged down and tensionless.

 

On 6/21/2021 at 8:52 AM, C_Vallion said:

 

  1. Does this chapter feel too slow or too much of a sudden veering away from the direction we’d be going in? Are there spots that stuck out as notably more or less engaging (and any specific things that made those feel that way)?
  2. Are there things that seem confusing or could use more explanation?
  3. Thoughts on the characters as presented up to this point?
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

1. I do agree with @RedBlue in that it did feel too slow to me and I had no idea where the story was heading. I didn't know why Al met with R for a while and even then im not really sure what we gained. My engagement was fairly low for most of this except when Al and R were talking about his mothers crimes (which didn't go far, but i felt like we were getting somewhere with that) and then with Isr holding the fire ball.

2. I noticed some obvious things that are hidden from the reader but i figured they would be explained later so i didn't let them prevent me from reading. Its not so much confusion as it is a promise(s) that I expect to be made good on. (like what Al's mom's crimes are and how R would be continuing them and what R is worried about)

3. I have no clue where I stand with G because he tries to be funny but also he was kinda wimpy in front of the king but also really aggressive with Al. I've just seen so many sides of him that im not sure what to think exactly. Al is the same to me as last chapter. I don't feel like I learned anything new from him in this chapter. Very neutral. There wasn't much of Is but she is still stubborn for sure so that's in character.

4. Most interesting part for me was when Al saw Is sitting up. Even then tho, there is so much room for an increase in tension/stakes. It wasnt terrible but you could definitely make it more... exciting? i guess thats the word i want.

as i go:

pg 1

“Loaned palace servant” lol rent a palace servant for only 2 gold per day! A spectacular deal!

“Al stopped short.” where was he going? Just pacing?

“Take me to him” this feels abrupt to me, like we are starting in the middle of a chapter rather than the beginning. And the servant conveniently brings up the meeting Al forgot about. Idk, It just feels...convenient? Thats the only word i cant think of. Maybe its because i didn’t know what Al was doing in the beginning.

“It was a little early” this might work better if i had previous knowledge of it… or maybe it just seems like, “oh he forgot about this meeting and now all of a sudden he is going to be early for it?”

-also, it should be noted that i didnt expect us to be in Al’s pov this long. I get that Isr is in a poison coma of sorts but still. I thought we might get back to her sooner.

pg 2

“Had an appointment this morning” i thought he was referring to the appointment with R but i think he meant another appointment unrelated.

pg 3

-”did you attend the concert?” starting to wonder where this is going

pg 4

-i think you could cut or condense the paragraph at the top. Right now, none of this information feels useful or relevant. Plus, you could show that R is a genius rather than telling us. If his brains are important to the story, perhaps show him in action doing something that only he could do because of his big brain lol

-im still wondering where this is going. So far, he’s just chilling with this random smart dude and looking through the mail

“I overhead at the banquet” what banquet? I think i confused this with mention of the concert from earlier so i was like “wait but al said he wasnt able to go so how could he overhear anything?” afterthought: this is probably unimportant and im probably being too nitpicky about this

-”what his old teacher had said” didn’t connect right away that “old teacher” was referring to R lol

pg 5

“Al said uncertainly” ahem… probably an unnecessary adverb :)

-im assuming we are going to learn why R is being weird eventually but i feel like… we are at page 5 and havent reeeallly made any progress or learned anything.

“R sat down stiffly” hmm unnecessary adverb. But also you dont need the stiffly adverb because the next clause gives a hint about his stiffness, with his precisely placed hands and all.

“letting out a breath and dropping his hands” okay so i think there is a lot of this happening between dialogue which is totally fine but i also think it bogs down the dialogue if you do it too much, so i might consider cutting a lot of these descriptors. I just feel like, at times, they are too specific and i usually gloss over them so i can get to the dialogue.

-most important thing I'm picking out of this meeting so far is “mother’s so-called crimes” and R being involved in that/continuing her efforts. but idk who R is and why this matters. what are the stakes?

“I get my feet under me here” i know this is a saying, but it sounds odd to me here.

-tension has definitely been lacking this whole time until a little bit on page 5 when Al asks R whats up

pg 6

“Its an odd, you know” typo

“Shall we see with the count” typo

pg 7

“You’ll have to check with the healer” for what? A stone? Didn’t Al say he already had one? edit: oh he meant to see if Al can go get what he needs from the trunk? because Isr is in there. (you'll see my revelation further down about Isr)

“His accent betrayed that this was” betrayed? Was he trying to hide it?

“If you are going to risk waking her” ohhh she is in that room? I didn’t connect that. But yes that would make sense since that's where he was staying. WRS! (also, in my head, she couldve moved rooms or something)

pg 8

“I’d like to see his face” im a bit unsure about G’s personality but i dont think that’s a huge problem at this point

“G returned cheerily” im going to be annoying and point out this adverb as well. I dont think you need to get rid of all of them, hence why i havent pointed out all of them, but i dont like this one here. Maybe something like “with a smug look on his face” would work better. Or something that describes how he is cheery rather than flat out saying “cheerily.”

“He said begrudgingly'' not a fan of this one either since you have a good description directly after it, but its your call :)

“Princess Is leaning up in bed” ah yes, peak interest

pg 9

Why wouldnt the healer come with Al to watch and make sure he doesnt doing anything sneaky?

pg 10

“Hadn’t the king tasked G with finding a” did he? I must have forgotten that

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On 6/21/2021 at 6:14 PM, C_Vallion said:

 

@kais@karamel, and @leapfrog, I know you've been reading through.  If you're willing to wait a day for a trimmed down version, let me know.

Oops I didn't see this -- I haven't read the 4k one yet (was gonna do it today, have had a busy start of the week lol), do you want me to crit that or something else?

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9 hours ago, karamel said:

I'm not pulled out of the story because of bad writing.

It's pretty much my only reliable thing :)  I apologize about the adverbs. 
I like to think that once I figure out what details actually need to be introduced when (instead of ten million extra things five chapters too early), this will help everything fall together more smoothly.  But man, it's a battle.  I appreciate this comment a lot.  It's a big help when wrestling with all of the other things gets frustrating.

9 hours ago, karamel said:

Of course, i dont know how the story will go, so some of the information here could be very vital. And i do see bits of things being set up, but it feels hidden and bogged down and tensionless.

I feel like this has been one of my biggest issues throughout.
I'm fully aware that some of the things that I think of as vital actually aren't. Which doesn't help.  But there are some things that are vital that are getting lost because it's not engaging.  
I think I try to focus too much on interactions between characters seeming natural (the random actions punctuating conversations is part of this as well. I've been trying to cut back on those.  You should see some early drafts...but I won't put you through that), but when a character doesn't know that the information they have is vitally important, and the PoV character doesn't yet recognize it as vitally important, I haven't figured out how to share the information in a way that sticks but also feels natural. Or to cut to the "more clearly important/exciting bit" without it feeling like a forced, manufactured conversation.

And my writer-brain and reader-brain often don't talk to each other, which doesn't help. Because my sense of what is and isn't coming across is really bad.

9 hours ago, karamel said:

My engagement was fairly low for most of this except when Al and R were talking about his mothers crimes (which didn't go far, but i felt like we were getting somewhere with that) and then with Isr holding the fire ball.

I'd been hoping to find a way to put the scene with Is- somewhere else, but it isn't enough to stand on its own as a chapter, and seems most closely tied to Al's pondering of his mother's work. 

Aaaaaand, looking back at the revised version, it doesn't look like I ever actually said that his mother's proposal was focused pushing back against the magic restrictions. Which is vitally important. Ugh.  Dang rushed revisions. 

In theory, that should lead more naturally into Al being conflicted about where he stands on the magic laws, then being thrown for a loop when he sees that Is knows magic.  So it made sense to stick them in the same chapter, but obviously the engagement issues need work. Sigh.

9 hours ago, karamel said:

I noticed some obvious things that are hidden from the reader but i figured they would be explained later so i didn't let them prevent me from reading. Its not so much confusion as it is a promise(s) that I expect to be made good on. (like what Al's mom's crimes are and how R would be continuing them and what R is worried about)

So, this is good. To some extent. Because that's how those things should be coming across.  Would you say that you'd only gotten the sense that R is worried? Or that he's acting also suspiciously? Those first four un-engaging pages? They're supposed to be giving the impression that he's acting suspiciously.  Getting nervous when caught talking to mysterious strangers and rushing said individuals out of the room.  Being evasive about what he's been up to and putting the focus on Al - "Such a shame the rooms aren't ready yet. How was the concert? You should talk to so-and-so. You want to know what's going on? Nothing! Nothing at all. Please stop asking." 
In theory, there should be more tension in the early part related to R acting strangely.  But that seems like it's not coming through. 

9 hours ago, karamel said:

I have no clue where I stand with G because he tries to be funny but also he was kinda wimpy in front of the king but also really aggressive with Al. I've just seen so many sides of him that im not sure what to think exactly. Al is the same to me as last chapter. I don't feel like I learned anything new from him in this chapter. Very neutral.

In previous revisions, neither G nor Al got this much page time at this point in the story, and I think part of that is why their characters are suffering a bit in these chapters. Having to have certain things happen before Is- wakes up has pushed more world setup work on Al at this point when they're not things that make his character shine. 

9 hours ago, karamel said:

Most interesting part for me was when Al saw Is sitting up. Even then tho, there is so much room for an increase in tension/stakes. It wasnt terrible but you could definitely make it more... exciting? i guess thats the word i want.

Would it help to have Al more clearly convinced beforehand that the royal family is opposed to magic?  Or to make it clearer in his conversation with R that he wants to help the people (like his mother and R) who are trying to make magic more acceptable within the kingdom, but feels like his hands are tied. Since he can't afford volatile political ventures without risking the damage it might cause for the duchy? 

Those are things that should be there but are getting bogged down.  There are way too many bogs for important details to get stuck in throughout these early chapters...

9 hours ago, karamel said:

-also, it should be noted that i didnt expect us to be in Al’s pov this long. I get that Isr is in a poison coma of sorts but still. I thought we might get back to her sooner.

Is there any chance that this might be WRS?  I'd been concerned about that a bit as well, and was looking at when I submitted things.  The Is- chapters was submitted in April, but I'd had a gap between some chapters, the sister's chapter that got cut, and had submitted the merged version of Al's first chapters as well. So I feel like there may be some skewed perception of how long we've actually been with Al at this point. But I'm not completely sure. 

We get back to Is next. So there's that.

9 hours ago, karamel said:

Had an appointment this morning” i thought he was referring to the appointment with R but i think he meant another appointment unrelated.

He was referring (or avoiding referring) to having been called before the king. 

9 hours ago, karamel said:

-i think you could cut or condense the paragraph at the top. Right now, none of this information feels useful or relevant. Plus, you could show that R is a genius rather than telling us. If his brains are important to the story, perhaps show him in action doing something that only he could do because of his big brain lol

Good to know.  I was concerned that people would wonder why he's not immediately telling his adviser about the assassination attempt and went the overexplaining route. As I do. 

Thanks so much for your thoughts! It continues to be really helpful while I'm recognizing the things I am especially struggling with, and for starting to figure out how to not only recognize the issues, but figure out how to actually fix them. 

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42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

It's pretty much my only reliable thing :)  I apologize about the adverbs. 
I like to think that once I figure out what details actually need to be introduced when (instead of ten million extra things five chapters too early), this will help everything fall together more smoothly.  But man, it's a battle.  I appreciate this comment a lot.  It's a big help when wrestling with all of the other things gets frustrating.

No need to apologize about the adverbs! After reading Stephen King's On Writing, I try to not use adverbs and instead just get better at describing. (that simple, huh?) <-- (sarcasm, its not that simple)

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

I feel like this has been one of my biggest issues throughout.
I'm fully aware that some of the things that I think of as vital actually aren't. Which doesn't help.  But there are some things that are vital that are getting lost because it's not engaging.  
I think I try to focus too much on interactions between characters seeming natural (the random actions punctuating conversations is part of this as well. I've been trying to cut back on those.  You should see some early drafts...but I won't put you through that), but when a character doesn't know that the information they have is vitally important, and the PoV character doesn't yet recognize it as vitally important, I haven't figured out how to share the information in a way that sticks but also feels natural. Or to cut to the "more clearly important/exciting bit" without it feeling like a forced, manufactured conversation.

Yeah, I struggle with this as well. I just finished The Fires of Vengeance by Evan winter and I remember near the beginning there was this scene that totally could've been boring and not engaging but — okay, im realizing this wont help you because: there was a sleeping dragon in the room and the main character was seeing things that werent there. But the conversation was kind of info dumpy i think. I actually don't remember the conversation that well but I remember the tension being really high. So uh... yeah :)

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

So, this is good. To some extent. Because that's how those things should be coming across.  Would you say that you'd only gotten the sense that R is worried? Or that he's acting also suspiciously? Those first four un-engaging pages? They're supposed to be giving the impression that he's acting suspiciously.  Getting nervous when caught talking to mysterious strangers and rushing said individuals out of the room.  Being evasive about what he's been up to and putting the focus on Al - "Such a shame the rooms aren't ready yet. How was the concert? You should talk to so-and-so. You want to know what's going on? Nothing! Nothing at all. Please stop asking." 
In theory, there should be more tension in the early part related to R acting strangely.  But that seems like it's not coming through. 

Hmm, I would actually suggest pushing him more and making him seem more suspicious because that would definitely increase the tension! I got the sense that he was worried about something unrelated to Al.. like it was work between R and Ga. Specifically in their interaction at the top of page 3. It seemed like he was looking for something or awaiting news of some sort but i didn't get the impression that he was being completely confidential about it... he could probably be more suspicious. And when he asked about the concert, i didnt catch that he was trying to steer the conversation or gain control of it in any way, it just felt like he was having casual conversation with Al. Oh, but i see now that Al noted his enthusiasm seemed forced further down on page 3. Perhaps it was because I have that tendency to glaze over the in-between descriptions in order to read dialogue.

I guess all this is to say that his strangeness didn't land for me either because it was too subtle or because I have never met him so I don't have any expectations of him. Maybe he is always jittery and awkward? I mean, Al can point out that he is being weird but I wouldn't be able to make that connection myself without having previous knowledge about his character. It is really early on in the story tho so I don't know how much this matters.

Another thought: So yeah R is being suspicious and that's obviously setting him up for something later on, but i think we spend too much time with him in this chapter. You know how you usually want things to do more than one thing for you? Like a conversation can be about one thing that's important for us while also showing us another thing that is also important? Well I feel like the meeting between Al and R is only doing one thing at a time (for most of the meeting). I could be wrong about this and not thinking as critically about it as I should, but that's just my thought lol Oh wait! Back to my earlier example about that book i read. That conversation/scene was doing like three things at once. There was tension between the characters because they had opposing ideas, important infodumpy information, and it showed that the main character may be losing his mind. Though, that's not really relevant to your story because there isn't as much going on, but you get what i mean. Also, please feel free to ignore me because im ranting at this point. As I do.

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

In previous revisions, neither G nor Al got this much page time at this point in the story, and I think part of that is why their characters are suffering a bit in these chapters. Having to have certain things happen before Is- wakes up has pushed more world setup work on Al at this point when they're not things that make his character shine. 

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about G too much right now. Or even Al, because you can always go back and add things to make him shine later lol

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

Would it help to have Al more clearly convinced beforehand that the royal family is opposed to magic?  Or to make it clearer in his conversation with R that he wants to help the people (like his mother and R) who are trying to make magic more acceptable within the kingdom, but feels like his hands are tied. Since he can't afford volatile political ventures without risking the damage it might cause for the duchy? 

Probably, yes. And this is also probably majorly because of WRS. I didn't get a strong sense that they were opposed to magic because they use the stones and healers and the king had that magistrate use magic. I mean, the king did say— wait. I just remembered that the king said he didn't want to use his brother's healer and then Al walked in to find him with Isr. Okay, this is 100% wrs because I cant quite remember how that conversation with Al and the king went regarding the magistrate, and if Al convinced the king to use the healer. Anyway, yeah i would make it clearer that the family is supposed to be really opposed to magic. That would make seeing Isr using magic way more intense. Also yes, I would also make it clearer that Al's goal is to make magic more acceptable.

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

Is there any chance that this might be WRS?  I'd been concerned about that a bit as well, and was looking at when I submitted things.  The Is- chapters was submitted in April, but I'd had a gap between some chapters, the sister's chapter that got cut, and had submitted the merged version of Al's first chapters as well. So I feel like there may be some skewed perception of how long we've actually been with Al at this point. But I'm not completely sure. 

Yes absolutely it could be wrs! I tried to think about it this way tho: Isr=1 chapter, Al=3 chapters. I went into this thinking Isr would be the main main character but then after her chapter we got 3 chapters with Al so it threw me off. But thats not to say that doing it that way is wrong. I just didn't expect it.

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

We get back to Is next. So there's that.

He was referring (or avoiding referring) to having been called before the king. 

Yes, that makes sense. Again, i think this is wrs.

42 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

Good to know.  I was concerned that people would wonder why he's not immediately telling his adviser about the assassination attempt and went the overexplaining route. As I do. 

Its okay! I usually do the opposite and under-explain which leaves the reader very confused and in the dark.

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22 minutes ago, karamel said:

Like a conversation can be about one thing that's important for us while also showing us another thing that is also important? Well I feel like the meeting between Al and R is only doing one thing at a time (for most of the meeting).

Hah. See, in my head, it is doing multiple things.  Mostly detailing where Al and R stand on the magic laws (and how Al's mom's work ties into that), but also setting up the tone of their relationship and that it's at the edge of a big change. Though now that I'm saying that, I think some of the latter is lost in not having seen R before now. Urgh.  

 

36 minutes ago, karamel said:

I went into this thinking Isr would be the main main character but then after her chapter we got 3 chapters with Al so it threw me off. But thats not to say that doing it that way is wrong. I just didn't expect it.

Yeah...the question of "main main" character is a sort of complicated one in some ways. Once I'm through submitting Part 1, I'll probably try to get some feedback on how the pov balance comes across, though. 

35 minutes ago, karamel said:

Its okay! I usually do the opposite and under-explain which leaves the reader very confused and in the dark.

I often do that as well.  Usually whichever is the least helpful at a given point in time. 

Turns out writing is hard. Who knew?

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  1. It does feel pretty slow... The two things that stick out in my mind at having happened are meeting R and talking (about something--not sure what exactly), and then Isr waking up. Tbh I wasn't super into the convo with R and Al, there was a lot of dialogue and I'm not sure what part of it is important going forward. Something about an engagement (Al is supposed to get married sometime, I'm assuming?), and the thing about the mom? Isr waking up was good, since she's kinda been absent for a fair bit of what I've read, and her knowing magic seems to be important. Al's thoughts on the bracelet/stones wasn't super interesting to me. I think the convo with R could be adjusted/trimmed, depending on what's important, as well as a bit of the start of the chapter (getting to R's place). 
  2. The thing with Al's mom, I guess? That wasn't too clear to me
  3. Um.. I don't have very strong opinions on any of them. Al seems pretty likeable. R seems like the guy who took care of him as a kid, so I'm inclined to trust him. I'd agree that I'm not too clear on G's personality. Hopefully we get more of Isr's POV soon lol
  4. Probably the bit with Isr & fire was the most interesting. For whatever reason, I wonder if it has anything to do with the tournament we had previously (speaking of which--did we ever get a motive for the assassination attempt?) 

pg 1 - do we know R from somewhere and I've just forgotten?

pg 2 - "moved into the rooms" -> not quite following what is going on with R

pg 6 - lots of talk about his mother's work, but I'm not really sure what that is. Something to do with magic? Was this mentioned before and I've forgotten? Also the talk about oaths isn't super clear to me (R has one? Or Al--he wants to join R in continuing his mother's stuff, but can't right away because duties to Tr...?) 

pg 7 - check with healer abt the sleep stone? or for something else?

pg 8 - Isr just woke up? Or has she been awake for a while? "Stable" just means that she's not, like, dying right 

pg 10 - Isr knowing magic is interesting

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Catching up...

 

Overall

Once we got to page eight, it moved at a better clip, but the start was slow. I think you could delete at least four pages from the start and nothing would be lost. To keep the movement of the plot, the chapter starts need to be a bit more crisp, especially if you want people to stay engaged to the Big Reveals.

But, as always, your writing continues to improve!

As I go

- it's four pages in, and I don't feel like the plot has moved at all

- pages five and six I am moderately engaged, but it is still hard to not skim

- by pg 7, it's too much backstory. I can't focus anymore

- pg 8: ah, the purpose! I think in order to keep the reader engaged we should have maybe four pages before this reveal, at most. Eight is too long to get to the meat of a chapter

- pg 9: ’We’ can’t do anything right now <-- hence my frustration. We discover A Thing, but nothing can happen, so the plot stagnates 

- once we get to the princess and the dialogue it moves much better

 

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I ended up switching things around a little in this chapter, trimming back the start a bit and swapping some of the Jo- plot points until after we've actually interacted with her so that there's more structure for things to stick to and details can be introduced more naturally.  The newer version cuts a thousand words out of it, with most of that from the first half. So that's probably good. 

2 hours ago, kais said:

To keep the movement of the plot, the chapter starts need to be a bit more crisp, especially if you want people to stay engaged to the Big Reveals.

Yeah.  I've realized that most of my chapter openings suffer from this.  I feel like I include too much scene-change detailing and struggle with finding a strong start point or transitioning into the Important Parts in ways that are natural for the characters... I should probably just go through a bunch of books I enjoy and read first and last paragraphs of chapters to see how gaps between chapters tend to go.  I feel like my sense of how they're supposed to go is skewed for some reason. 

As always, thanks for your feedback! It's greatly appreciated :) 

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Posted (edited)

  1. Does this chapter feel too slow or too much of a sudden veering away from the direction we’d be going in? Are there spots that stuck out as notably more or less engaging (and any specific things that made those feel that way)?

    The chapter does feel slow. Partly because it follows several chapters of conflict, action and high tension, and partly because this chapter itself has very little action, conflict and tension. For me, my eyes were pretty much glazed over until we got to the Princess' room. That was the pearl in the oyster for me, although I will admit, it was a not a very satisfying pearl. I feel like there are several places where you could cut leading up to this scene, but also, several places where you could increase the conflict and tension. 

    The reader is teased with parents' accident, and doesn't get any details about it. Also, the reader is teased with whatever A's mother's plans were, but again, we don't see any details, other than it involves magic.

    When A initially shows up to the room where his parents had the accident, I feel like that scene should be pumped up in tension. A seems fairly traumatized and affected by what happened, and it's his first time returning to the scene. He should be feeling some visceral responses and struggling here. 

    The scene with the princess needs more tension and conflict as well. Maybe have her try to hide her magic from A or make him vow not to speak to her father about it. Secondly, why are neither the princess or A talking about the elephant in the room, the poisoning assassination attempt? I want to know more about that, who or why someone would try to assassinate the princess. I found it very difficult to believe that neither of them mentioned it.

    Furthermore, the princess didn't offer A any kind of thanks for helping her. Other than her snorting at a few of his comments, there were missed opportunities for building connections between your protagonists. This needs to be a characterizing scene. Give your protagonists some meaningful dialogue that tells us more about them, and tells each other more about themselves.
     
  2. Are there things that seem confusing or could use more explanation?
    I think I covered this in the first question.
  3. Thoughts on the characters as presented up to this point?
    I agree with the others that Gin, although a minor character, feels a bit all over the place. He's gruff and stoic in one scene, chatty and giggly in another, fearsome and competent in yet another, and then bowing and scraping, and almost cowardly in yet another scene. He needs to get nailed down.

    In terms of the protagonists, I haven't seen much of the Princess except this tiny bit in this chapter, and in chapter 1, where most of her screen time is spent commenting on, thinking about, or speaking to R. We do find that she has a sense of humor, worries about her royal role in the future, doesn't want to be a ruler, is stubborn, is a competent fighter, and knows the fire spell. At this point, though, I feel like the Princess is generally defined as what she does NOT want, or does NOT want to be. Does she have motivations or goals of her own? Does she have a conflict of her own that doesn't involve R?

    A has much more opportunity for character development, and we know that he has a bit of a tragic past regarding his parents, and that he is also a competent fighter, as well as being highly intelligent and motivated, due to the references about his road project. We also find that he's dealing with some depression and PTSD kind of feelings, and perhaps knows a bit more about magic than he should. My problem with A, is that while he has more screen time, and I think more potential than the princess to be interesting, right now he's a fairly uninteresting character. His conflict seems to be fitting into noble society at the castle to help him deal with politics, by keeping his head down. Not a particularly exciting prospect. I think it will be better when the reader knows more about A's parents' accident, and what exactly his mother's plan was and why they're trying to get it passed. 

    Ultimately, I think that both Is and A would be more interesting if we see them interacting with or referring to their antagonist. Or if we see them from the perspective of the antagonist. Do we have an antagonist in the picture yet? What about the person that tried to poison the princess? When are we going to find out more about the plot event that sparked the beginning of the novel? It's like someone tried to assassinate the princess, and then the assassination attempt was never really brought up or thoroughly discussed by any of the characters.
     
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

    My main point of interest in this chapter was when A finds the princess and goes into her room. I think that scene has a lot more potential, it's begging for some conflict or action.

As I go-

pg 1

-"A said absently," repetitive adverb, said-bookism

pg 2

-"There was nothing to fuel the nightmares," I'm curious about the accident. If it's as traumatic as we're led to believe, maybe A would see a scene for a moment when he first sees the room. Or he could say something like "it looked so different without all the blood." You want to increase the tension for this moment.

pg 3

-"bowing stiffly," adverb

-"followed hesitantly," adverb

-"nodded absently," repetitive adverb

pg 4

-"idly opened," adverb

-"asked cheerily," adverb, said-bookism

-"stared blankly," adverb

pg 5

-"said uncertainly," adverb, said-bookism

-"dropped heavily," adverb

-"sat stiffly," repetitive adverb, you just used the word "stiffen" in the previous paragraph.

-Like I said before, be careful of many times you have characters letting out a breath, or a taking a breath, or a breath escaping from them. Breathing and sighing are not interesting or characterizing to a reader, they are generally filler, and often over used.

pg 6

-"A's brow furrowed," someone's brow furrows 3 times in this chapter. Try not to repeat this phrase too often. Sanderson is often guilty of his characters lifting their eyebrows exhaustively in his own works, I've noticed. 

-"Mother's so-called 'crimes,'" ohhhh, the thick plottens.

-"It's an odd, you know," looks like there is a missing word here.

-"said simply," adverb, said-bookism

-"bittersweet smile," you used the word "bittersweet" earlier in the chapter, you may want to use a different word here.

pg 8

-"said impatiently," adverb, said-bookism

-"returned cheerily," adverb, said-bookism

-"said begrudgingly," adverb, said-bookism

pg 9

-Shouldn't the princess have some sort of personal guard with her? I would think security would be super high on her since there was just an assassination attempt on her. I found it kind of odd that A just walked into her room.

-The princess is using a fire spell? Hmm, interesting. I wonder if her father knows this...

-"added hastily," adverb, said-bookism

-you use the word "grimacing" twice on this page, perhaps change one of them

pg 10

-"muttered drily," adverb, said-bookism

-"Your father doesn't know." Ahhh, daddy doesn't know apparently.

-"watched uncertainly," adverb.

-"shoulders slumped," be careful how many times you mention the action of someone's shoulders. One this page alone, Is' shoulders do something different 3 separate times. It can become distracting, similar to mentioning a character's breathing or sighing too much.

Edited by Moonsilver
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13 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

The reader is teased with parents' accident, and doesn't get any details about it. Also, the reader is teased with whatever A's mother's plans were, but again, we don't see any details, other than it involves magic.

When A initially shows up to the room where his parents had the accident, I feel like that scene should be pumped up in tension. A seems fairly traumatized and affected by what happened, and it's his first time returning to the scene. He should be feeling some visceral responses and struggling here. 

The accident will be detailed in the prologue, so it's intentional that we don't get additional details about it here. It occurred out in Tr-, not here. Al's never been here before.

This suite was his mom's for when she was in the capital (she was the one to do all of Tr's politicking).

13 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

Secondly, why are neither the princess or A talking about the elephant in the room, the poisoning assassination attempt?

That's an excellent question that I don't have a good answer to.

13 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

My problem with A, is that while he has more screen time, and I think more potential than the princess to be interesting, right now he's a fairly uninteresting character. His conflict seems to be fitting into noble society at the castle to help him deal with politics, by keeping his head down. Not a particularly exciting prospect. I think it will be better when the reader knows more about A's parents' accident, and what exactly his mother's plan was and why they're trying to get it passed.

In previous drafts, Al didn't have as much page time up front, and a lot of the world building/exposition we get through his pov had been shared through other povs in very meandering, plotless chapters.  Things are better without them, but trying to backfill those details has pushed Al into the main pov spot up to this point when it's not the best time for his character to shine.  Still trying to figure out how to balance that better to make him come across better in these early chapters.

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