C_Vallion

6.28.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 5 RevA - LG - 4942 Words

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Hello, All!

This was another chapter that required almost a full rewrite from the previous version, because it referred to events that had been mentioned in the cut chapters of the previous revision.  I think I caught all of the changes that were needed to line it up with this revision, but am not sure how the new information comes across. It was extremely overwhelming and info-dumpy previously.  This version is certainly better, but I’m afraid it will still end up leaning that way.  Am also not sure if the emotional/character beats carry through like I want them to.

Content Warnings: Very mild language and gore (wound description, mention of blood)

Specific questions:

  1. Do the emotional through-lines of this chapter make sense?
  2. Is the new information presented in a way that it’s actually absorbable? Any points that seemed confusing or like some background information was missing? Or just that it wasn’t sticking because of how it was presented.
  3. Thoughts on characters at this point?
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

Thanks so much!

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As I read:

p2 - I'm getting that there is some reason Is isn't supposed to know the fire spell, but I'm not sure what that reason is. Like, I don't even have a guess. You might consider just spelling it out, if it's not an important secret for plot reasons - there's already a lot of mystery and politics going on around the magic system.

p3 - I expected Is to have a bigger reaction to seeing her uncle's healer. Doesn't she have an opinion about magic being illegally used to heal her? Or at least a 'why is this guy here' moment?

p6 - So Is can tell what a sp stone does, like Al can? I infer from this that she has quite a bit more knowledge about magic than just being able to cast the fire spell, since Al didn't want people to know he had that ability.

p7 - The healer seems to be building up to some reveal about what Is will need to do to recover, but then he just tells her she needs bed rest. 

p9 - I'm picking up on Is being very upset by being injured, and I like how that is coming across, but I'm not sure specifically what about being injured is a problem for her. Just general frustration with not being in peak condition? Or is there something important she won't be able to do while she's not at full strength?

p12 - Okay, so Is's main fear is that her injury will cause major political problems, namely that is will be used as leverage against the king somehow?

Bottom of p13 - I think this is the first time Ali is mentioned in this version. You might need to explain who she is, just briefly.

 

So the plan is to hide the assassination attempt and the recovery from the court and the world at large in order to avoid warmongering. I'm interested in this direction for the plot, and you've set up why it's going to be difficult well. One issue I have with how this is presented is that we haven't actually seen any of the warmongers that will cause problems if they get wind of the assassination. I assume that we will get to them soon, but for now, a lot about this situation feels very theoretical because we haven't got a proper look at the main threat.

1. I like Is's emotional through-line in this chapter. One quibble is that I think the explanation of specifically why she feels this way should happen nearer the start of the chapter. I also wondered why she didn't have a bigger reaction to finding out that she's been healed with illegal magic. I'm not sure what her opinion on that is.

2. The information felt absorbable this time!

3. I was starting to wonder whether Is was going to be a one-chapter character, but it looks like she's going to be a major player. I get the sense that she's very engaged in the politics side of things, and that she's very proud of her independence. I was slightly surprised by how emotional the king was towards the end of the chapter - so far he's come across as cold, calculating, even Machiavellian. So it's good to know that underneath all that, there's a side of him that genuinely cares about his family.

4. Good news: I thought this chapter was very engaging! I was interested by Is's reaction to finding herself injured, and while I wasn't glued to the political manoeuvring, it was easy to understand and didn't feel like it was bogging down the pacing. 

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Aw I'm only the second person here on Friday? Better make sure to give you some good feedback then :) 

pg 1. I know we talked about how much of Is' arc revolves around her ideas around weakness, and it's good that you seed that here in the first page.

pg 2. So far liking the way Is sees A. This is a good way of pulling him into larger plot threads, since right now he seems a little disconnected from it (though not as much as Ali, which I assume you're also working on). It also creates something permanent she has to deal with. I was worried about the poisoning coming across as too easily fixable, but her owing A is not. 

pg 6. By the top of the page I'm getting antsy for more plot movement

-Ugh I don't want to sit through talk about recovery and exercises any more than I'm guessing Is does

pg 8. This is where my engagement jumps back up. So the spellstone A brought along by mistake was actually useful in the end! I'm starting to see why there was so much focus on it in earlier drafts... though I do think the story is stronger without all the fuss about it.

pg 9. The addiction idea is interesting to me. I'm guessing that's repurposed as anti-magic propaganda

pg 10. Don't do what again? Get poisoned? I really do not like V as a person and this doesn't help. 

pg 11. Again, I'm seeing why C was such a big focus in earlier drafts. And again, I think we're totally fine without it. 

-A question that hasn't been addressed by the characters so far as I remembered: why go after #2 in line for the throne? Surely R is the bigger deal politically and they were at the same tournament. 

pg 13. I'm running into the same problem with V I've had before: when he's here, everyone else takes a back seat. Feels like he's given exposition to Is and she's not allowed to do anything character-wise because he's the king and his presence dominates the scene. 

pg 14. I didn't get the impression V was jumping straight to romance in his line at the top

-Okay so what's the relationship between the locations K and T? T is a dukedom and is under the fealty of V, but is more ethnically tied to K? Or is that just A?

pg 16. I knew this was coming but if she does get sent off to an area away from the action it will be disappointing to me. 

On 6/28/2021 at 0:35 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Do the emotional through-lines of this chapter make sense?
  • Is the new information presented in a way that it’s actually absorbable? Any points that seemed confusing or like some background information was missing? Or just that it wasn’t sticking because of how it was presented.
  • Thoughts on characters at this point?
  • Points of interest or engagement?

1. Yeah, mostly. The one thing that felt a bit off to me was Is crying. I think that's because her physical state and recovery itself isn't that interesting to me compared to the larger-scale consequences, which seems to be what she's crying about. 

2. Yeah! I thought the info was really well-delivered here. Only point of confusion is the relation of A and Tram to Ket, as mentioned in the line edits.

3. I like Is, and I'm a lot more excited for her arc now that she has a real connection with A and owes him. And as a princess she definitely can help him out. V is... I still don't like him as a person and he seems to drown out the interesting parts of other characters when he's around since they need to behave around the king. I don't know how much it can be helped honestly since it does make sense. I'd rather, say, have V tell A to pressure Is into recovering in a remote location offscreen so we get to see A and Is interact more, just as an example. 

4. Is, A, the politics, and how they're all connected. I'm really hoping the story focuses more on this than Is' recovery, because it's more dynamic and brings multiple main characters into the forefront of something important. I know Is is going to recover, and even if she doesn't it's not like she's really engaging in the story directly by recovering from a poisoning. Plus, there's no threat of things getting worse (so far), so it's easy to not care. Contrast that with Is needing to repay A and A needing to not get torn apart by the racist nobles. That could easily get worse, opens up a ton of fun character interactions, and really makes the characters work to get what they want instead of sitting around and waiting to get better.   

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Posted (edited)

 

  1. Do the emotional through-lines of this chapter make sense?
    Yes, for the part. Though the part where Is cries seemed odd since there wasn't any kind of buildup to it or context in that scene, other than she's tired and in pain.
     
  2. Is the new information presented in a way that it’s actually absorbable? Any points that seemed confusing or like some background information was missing? Or just that it wasn’t sticking because of how it was presented.
    I was with you for most of it. Towards the end when we heard about all the different places that might be involved, and then the names of all the people (Re, Mo, Th, Mayra, Malmir, Aunt Deria) I did get a little overwhelmed. It was a lot of place and people names in a short span.
     
  3. Thoughts on characters at this point?
    King V is...kingly. Kind of a dick, used to being in control and not questioned or defied, but he does have moments of warmth and affection towards Is. I would like to see more affection between them if they have a close relationship. Some real father/daughter dialogue.

    I'm interested if this is the first assassination attempt on Is. If so, I would think that it would have a lasting impact on her, and I don't mean physically. Will she become paranoid? Or will she value life more and want to experience more of it. How does the assassination change her? That's what I really want to start seeing from Is
     
  4. Points of interest or engagement?
    I'm intrigued by the magic system, and also the system of vows and oaths. It seems that both the princess and the duke share the fact that they are typically hiding how much they know about magic from others. I'm eager to see them discuss magic together and become passionate in that conversation.

As I go-

pg 1

-"...Carefully pulling air into her lungs." "She focused on breathing, hissing in and out of clenched teeth." "She let out a shaky breath." More breathing prose. Spend less screen time on breathing! *raps knuckles with stick*

pg 2

-"a frustrated sigh escaped her." *raps knuckles again* No sighs, ever, lol. Sighing in prose is canceled :P

-"Would he keep her secret?" This feels like a more compelling conflict for Is, knowing magic when her father frowns on it. This has a lot of potential. Please tell me she learns more magic.

-"...her long list of eccentricities...," this is a promise to the reader. I want to see some eccentricities about Is now.

-Ruh roh, did Is just assassinate herself?

pg 3

-I thought it was odd when we have "The door slammed open," followed by, "She wouldn't cry." I wanted to see someone coming through the door after it slammed open. It's like we get the promise of action, and then it goes back to inner monologue for Is. You come back to it later, but it's like a stutter step in the flow.

-"She choked out out a strained, shaky breath," breath prose.

-I noticed that you used to verb "choked" 5 times in this chapter. Three times it's, "choked out," and twice it's, "choked back a sob." Keep an eye out for repetitive language and cliche phrases like that. Cliche phrases often roll off my...fingers, when I'm writing, and I have to go back and catch all of them so I try to watch for them. "Choked back a sob," is an oldie.

-"He let out a breath when G's shoulders stiffened." Breath and shoulder prose in the same sentence.

pg 4

-"Trying to bring her breathing under control." BP

-"She hissed out a breath." BP

pg 5

-"...he let out a breath and rolled his sleeve back...There was an intake of breath from G," BP.

-I like the play between the oathbands and the magic. 

-"She let out a breath," BP.

pg 6

-So when the magic is being used, Is can use it at the same time it's being used by someone else?

-Ah, so the healer noticed that Is knows about the stones, even to where she can guess what one is that she hasn't seen.

-"The healer let his breath out in a rush..." BP

-"Her breathing growing uneven again..." BP

-"nodded hesitantly," adverb

pg 7

-"she took a breath and looked at G." BP

-"looking uncertain," how does this look?

pg 8

-"His standing there looking hopeless," awkward wording.

-"G looked relieved." What does that look like?

-"the healer turned back to her, looking resigned." What does that look like?

-"I'm familiar with the royal pride." Good characterization.

pg 9

-He gave her an odd, thoughtful look," what does that look like?

-"he offered a sympathetic look," what does that look like?

pg 10

-"...she pulled her knees to her chest and cried." Why is she crying here? Is she just overwhelmed, is it because of the pain, is it because there was an assassination attempt on her life? This kind of came out of nowhere with no context.

-"She took a steadying breath. 'Never again, father," she managed as he dragged a chair around to the side of the bed and settled into it with a long sigh." Breath and sigh prose.

pg 11

-"She took a breath," BP.

-"She felt drained. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. And it wouldn't get better soon." Is this why Is cried earlier? If so, say this earlier.

pg 12

-"The words pulled another sob from her." You're using "sob" aggressively in this scene. 3 times in the space of a paragraph or so.

pg 13

-I wonder what The Broken Lands are.

-"She drew in a shaky breath," BP.

-"She wiped at her eyes with her sleeve and let out a breath." BP.

-Looks like A is about to get into a lot more conflict.

pg 14

-"She stared down at the bracelet and sighed." Sighing.

-"She clenched her jaw," this is another cliche phrase to look out for. You use it 3 times in this chapter.

-"he let out an audible breath." BP.

pg 16

-"You trust May or Uncle T," Uncle Lews Therin Telamon? Please tell me her uncle is the Dragon Reborn, lol. 

pg 17

-"What about Mal," who is Mal?

-"She took a breath." BP.

-You used the word "sob" twice again here in the same paragraph.

Edited by Moonsilver
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On 6/28/2021 at 3:36 PM, RedBlue said:

p2 - I'm getting that there is some reason Is isn't supposed to know the fire spell, but I'm not sure what that reason is. Like, I don't even have a guess. You might consider just spelling it out, if it's not an important secret for plot reasons - there's already a lot of mystery and politics going on around the magic system.

This —and really, a lot of the subtleties of the magic restrictions and what is fine and what isn't— should be coming across more clearly than it is, but I'm still working on figuring out where the best places to introduce some of the background details.  At this point, it should mostly be the idea that only magistrates learn the fire spell, and that it's part of their training. But that's not made clear. 

6 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

-"...she pulled her knees to her chest and cried." Why is she crying here? Is she just overwhelmed, is it because of the pain, is it because there was an assassination attempt on her life? This kind of came out of nowhere with no context.

On 6/28/2021 at 3:36 PM, RedBlue said:

I'm picking up on Is being very upset by being injured, and I like how that is coming across, but I'm not sure specifically what about being injured is a problem for her. Just general frustration with not being in peak condition? Or is there something important she won't be able to do while she's not at full strength?

13 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

The one thing that felt a bit off to me was Is crying. I think that's because her physical state and recovery itself isn't that interesting to me compared to the larger-scale consequences, which seems to be what she's crying about. 

Hah. Initially there had been almost no emotional reaction through here.  Seems like I jumped too far the other way in my edits. Shocking.

On 6/28/2021 at 3:36 PM, RedBlue said:

One issue I have with how this is presented is that we haven't actually seen any of the warmongers that will cause problems if they get wind of the assassination. I assume that we will get to them soon, but for now, a lot about this situation feels very theoretical because we haven't got a proper look at the main threat.

Yep.  We see some of that in the next chapter. 

Trying to figure out what to introduce when has been a huge challenge while doing this round of edits/revisions. There are a whole bunch of dominoes that need to be set up, and trying to get an idea of which ones need to be in place before others start moving or which ones need to be in motion from the start to make sure pacing is working has felt like a bit of a juggling act.

On 6/28/2021 at 3:36 PM, RedBlue said:

Good news: I thought this chapter was very engaging! I was interested by Is's reaction to finding herself injured, and while I wasn't glued to the political manoeuvring, it was easy to understand and didn't feel like it was bogging down the pacing.

Hooray! There's definitely a good deal of political maneuvering through the story, so making sure that's engaging, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea, is going to be an ongoing task.  Keeping everything understandable and moving forward has been the main aspect of that I usually struggle with.  Hopefully I'll continue to improve on it, but having parts that don't quite work pointed out has been and will continue to be really helpful for that process.

12 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

So the spellstone A brought along by mistake was actually useful in the end!

Yep!

Most of the random little details I cling to for seemingly no reason do actually have a reason.  But this one is definitely clear proof that most of them are introduced at the wrong time or in the wrong way or with too much irrelevant backstory in the first several attempts. Same with C.

12 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

A question that hasn't been addressed by the characters so far as I remembered: why go after #2 in line for the throne? Surely R is the bigger deal politically and they were at the same tournament. 

This is a good point.  Some of the interactions went differently in early drafts (and when the sister's early chapter still existed), but he does sort of just disappear after chapter 1 in this version, doesn't he?  I will have to make sure that doesn't get left out entirely. Make sure someone is sent to check R's gear and probably have Is- asking about him right away, since she'd be worried about what something happening to him would mean. 

12 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 13. I'm running into the same problem with V I've had before: when he's here, everyone else takes a back seat. Feels like he's given exposition to Is and she's not allowed to do anything character-wise because he's the king and his presence dominates the scene

I can see this... there should be a feeling of him being a little distant and controlling through these chapters, but figuring out how to keep him from entirely taking over the scenes he's in.  I think this is less of an issue as his character gets fleshed out a little more, but you'll have to let me know if it continues to be something that sticks out to you.

13 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

-Okay so what's the relationship between the locations K and T? T is a dukedom and is under the fealty of V, but is more ethnically tied to K? Or is that just A?

Good to have this called out as still being confusing. I keep thinking "Oh, no, they will know that, because prologue." But said prologue doesn't exist in a useful form yet.  *facepalm*

K and C are overseas kingdoms that share a border, with the mountain range that keeps being mentioned running between them. Al's dad was from K.  
T is a dukedom within G-lvr-n (our local kingdom, ruled by V).  T is only really tied to K because of Al and his father.  

14 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Is, A, the politics, and how they're all connected. I'm really hoping the story focuses more on this than Is' recovery, because it's more dynamic and brings multiple main characters into the forefront of something important.

Good news! The political conflicts and interactions are definitely far more central than Is's recovery. Though her recovery does end up tying into that.

7 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

-"...Carefully pulling air into her lungs." "She focused on breathing, hissing in and out of clenched teeth." "She let out a shaky breath." More breathing prose. Spend less screen time on breathing! *raps knuckles with stick*

oh man, this chapter is especially bad about that.... oops.

7 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

-So when the magic is being used, Is can use it at the same time it's being used by someone else?

It's not that she's using it so much as that she can sense it being used.  Which is still more awareness than she would be expected to have.

7 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

-"You trust May or Uncle T," Uncle Lews Therin Telamon? Please tell me her uncle is the Dragon Reborn, lol.

Hah. I'm a little surprised that one didn't go turn up in the google search portion of my name-picking process.  I've never actually read WoT.  We'll just say this Th is not "fated to both destroy and save the world" (grabbed from a WoT wiki). He's mostly fated to talk too much and be a bit of a busybody.

 

Thanks so much for the thoughts, All! 

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Agh, sorry. I started this a few days ago but only finished today. And I'm just gonna sound repetitive since I'm late, sorry about that :D

On 6/28/2021 at 9:35 AM, C_Vallion said:

Specific questions:

  1. Do the emotional through-lines of this chapter make sense?
  2. Is the new information presented in a way that it’s actually absorbable? Any points that seemed confusing or like some background information was missing? Or just that it wasn’t sticking because of how it was presented.
  3. Thoughts on characters at this point?
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

1. Yes, mostly. Some parts feel like a bit much/over the top. But i note that in my lbls.

2. For the most part! Mostly just the politics I guess were a bit confusing but it usually takes me a while to connect with and see the bigger picture in the politics so my confusion could be because of that.

3. The king was definitely different here, but thats expected because we haven't seen him interact with his daughter yet. It's nice to see a more sympathetic king near the end. I do like that Isr is quite competent so far. I would like to see more vulnerability from her, perhaps thats part of her arc tho. The healer was definitely suspicious; there was a lot of setup in that area. But Im not sure where its going. I guess we'll see?

4. There was a bit too much focus on Isr suffering and recovering here. A lot of that can probably be cut. I am excited to see where this goes in the political area because i can see a lot of pieces being set and sus characters. I want to know who the actual players are and what their goals are.

as i go:

pg 1

-”pulling” and “pulled” in first paragraph. Not a big deal, but noticeable

“She focused on breathing” you can probably cut back some of the first page. Lot of her struggling with breathing and moving and that's fine for a bit but after a while it seems excessive.

pg 3

“Her uncles healer” so she is used to them using this special healer? She obviously recognized him right away and didn’t notice anything strange about his presence. Was all that talk between the queen and king about the healer just a show for Al?

pg 4

“He pulled a blanket” the healer did? Is he sitting? Or holding it like a towel after you shower?  Im having trouble picturing this. edit: wait whose legs?? He put a blanket over Isr’s legs? I thought he did it to himself. I also thought G might’ve been the one putting a blanket over his own legs. Then i was like… was he not wearing pants?? Now i feel dumb. yeah. my bad.

pg 5

“Probing through layers of skin and muscle” eeeeeeeee

“Pired the shard of glass” EEEEEE lol sorry, it sounds horrendous

pg 6

“Almost suspiciously” this is fine, but it might be better if his expression was described.

pg 7

“Rest. rebuild your strength” so i think a lot of stuff before this can be cut. also this might make more of an impact if we knew that Is could not afford to rest. Or that she isn’t the type of person to sit around resting. Which could have been shown in chapter one, its just been so long since ive read it that i cant remember.

pg 8

“Trying to push away the flood of” okay, so yeah. It seems like she definitely doesnt want to just sit around… maybe we can push this further? or give a reason for why?

pg 9

“Forming an addiction” i like that this is a thing because i could def see people getting addicted to it like ...caffeine obviously lol

“A sympathetic look” all of his looks are described as sympathetic, odd, thoughtful, suspicious, etc. and thats okay to sprinkle in sometimes (and this goes hand in hand with adverbs i guess) but i think it would help if we also got to see descriptions of his face. Like what makes his face look sympathetic? You dont have to do this all the time of course, or even at all. Just a suggestion :) edit: yeah, @Moonsilver already pointed this out very thoroughly lol sorry for repeating it

“Pulled her knees to her chest and cried” yes, this is good! I could easily get annoyed with her stubbornness to accept help and her overthinking about humiliation but this makes me feel for her. edit: i think i saw that others didn't latch onto this, but for me, it felt like she was holding everything in while other people were present and it showed how stubborn she is about showing weakness so when she was finally alone, she let it all out and was vulnerable. i like that vulnerability! even if she is alone.

pg 10

“Dont ever do this” i only know this is joking because Is says it is supposed to be but because i dont know the king that well, it doesnt land. Or maybe its because Is just tells us what he is trying to do. Maybe it would work better if you added that he said it with an awkward smile or a forced laugh(show dont tell tho, amiright?). Not those exactly, but something to show us that he was attempting a poor joke.

pg 12

“Hugged her knees to her chest” she does this a lot lol

-im not quite following the logic in the politics and how poisoning Is does anything edit: oh the person who poisoned her would get someone else blamed for poisoning her in order to cause chaos? Editx2: oh to blame the duke. Yes. i remember now. heh.

pg 13

“But who would that benefit?” yeah who?

-it could be that it’s the morning right now but im not following the politics at all, like the relationships between all the locations and such.

pg 14

“Some scandalous romance?” did he? Where did this come from?

-more engaged in the last paragraph on this page. I guess i like when the problem is stated clearly lol

pg 16

-lot of names on this page, bit overwhelming. im not gonna remember any of them.

“The pain in his voice...choked back a sob” this feels a bit too dramatic for me. Probably because im not as emotionally invested yet. And this is only her second chapter.

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Overall

Unfortunately I wasn't engaged through any of this. The first chapter started slow and again, just when it might have taken off (with spellstones and sideways looks), it didn't. Then the next chapter with the king was functionally the same. I think these chapters could be condensed to one, maybe five pages long, and then some plot progression added in. No more teasing with spellstones, something needs to happen that is dynamic, as just talking heads does not do great things for holding attention.

I know this is romance fantasy, but I still would like the B plot to move along a bit more, since the A plot (the romance) is taking its time.

 

As I go

- pg 2: Not a dynamic start. I'd like for the chapter to start on plot movement, not checking in on a moderately to lightly wounded princess

- pg 2: I think a good start place for this chapter could be

As if she didn’t owe him far too much already. Where you name A directly. That sets up a solid emotional beat for the chapter

- pg 6: I want the spellstones to be interesting but they keep doing just really mundane things and it isn't interesting

- pg 9: the spellstones might be getting more interesting? It's just hard to stay focused when they're talking and rehashing and not doing anything. Or emoting. I need them to move or emote, one or the other, or I just skim and then skip over potentially interesting spellstone hijinks

- is there a reason we can't just start with her walking to meet the king?

- pg 14: so much talking and so many names. 

 

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