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Ace of Hearts

6/28/21 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 7 NEW (L) (3047 words)

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Hey everyone, and sorry for the absence. Had a great time visiting family and now I'm back to work. 

 
I rewrote 80% of chapter 7 from scratch since it was clear that the middle part was lagging, and I decided to send it through again.
 
Questions for after reading:
1. If you can remember the previous sub (no worries if not since it was a month ago lol), is this one better? Does it address the weak spots of the previous draft?
2. How do you feel about the characters? I've been trying to make W more likable in general. 
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Welcome back! Hope your time away was refreshing.

Overall: I think this got rid of a couple of the trouble spots from before, but took a few of the things I liked with it (the chatting over dinner, the sunburn sensing, some of the fun/awkward first date interactions – even if there was a little too much of it last time). This one has W coming across as more self-pitying than innocently preparing for an awkward first date/dance. I think the reveal hit harder last time because she started out worrying mostly about how to act on a first date and ended up realizing that there were far bigger things to worry about.  And I miss having that contrast in this version.

I think I’d like some in-between version better than this one or the previous one.

Pg 1:

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation between her parents went before, but this comes across better.  It gets at the playful teasing between her parents without seeming passive aggressive.

Something about the new dress part of it still seems a little off, but I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe even just the phrasing of “My current ones should be fine” seems off to me? Like she’s planning to wear multiple dresses? Does she have a lot of fancy dresses that she has to pick through? Does she not really have a fancy dress and her mom wants her to get one? I think I’m also overthinking it at this point, which likely doesn’t help.

Might sound less awkward if she mentions a specific one, maybe? “That green one I wore to _whatever_ should be fine.”

Pg 2:

“Happy homecoming” Hah.  It’s alright, N, these rules are silly anyway.

Pg 3-8

I’m not a huge fan of how W comes across here.  She seems weirdly pushy and self-pitying, and while I get her wanting to help N like he’s helped her, she doesn’t seem like the type to think that pushing people to dig into painful emotions is helpful.  Plus, there just seems to be too much of it at once.  I’d rather see her pick up on a few hints in earlier chapters (putting together comments from N and her parents), then have something N says here make it all come together.

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Good to see you back!

As I go:

p1 - The parents are using W's name in dialogue a lot. Once or twice is fine, but a bunch of times in succession sounds unnatural.

p3&4 - W is guilt tripping herself a lot. I know she has self-blame issues, but I think they might be coming on a bit too strong here.

p5 - This back and forth about support and boundaries drags a bit. Also, the dialogue feels quite stilted.

p6 - 'frolicking in flower fields' sounds unnatural in N's dialogue.

p8 - Oh wow. Timing, W!

p10 - It feels like we could dig into W's emotions a bit more before she locks herself in her room.

 

Generally - I'm on the fence about these developments. We had quite a bit of build-up to N and W having a proper first date, and then they have a very un-date-like conversation before W figures out the situation with her mom and the date falls apart. It feels like an anti-climax to the main plot, which is not ideal, as this has the potential to be a very exciting and dramatic moment. Also, the dialogue had issues with sounding stilted throughout, which doesn't help. On the positive side - there is definitely plot movement, learning about N's tragic backstory was interesting, and it doesn't feel dull apart from one spot on p5, so the lag problem is mostly fixed?

One other issue - having N's backstory match up almost exactly with what's going on in W's life honestly feels like a more contrived way for her to find out than the 'N can smell chemo' thing from before. It just feels like a bit too much of a coincidence.

Your questions:

1. I think this version and the previous version both have the problem that the date stuff doesn't land, but for different reasons. In the last version, the date wasn't engaging enough. In this version, the date doesn't come across as a date. The conversation about supporting each other and N's story about his mom just don't read as 'date' to me, especially not 'first date'.

2. My thoughts about W's parents are pretty much unchanged from before - their decision to keep the illness secret makes me seriously question their judgement, but I can kind of understand why they did it. Kind of.

I feel like we found out some new things about N here. I was not expecting to learn that he considers himself to have an inner rage problem that he's working on, and I wasn't expecting that to be the reason he feels drawn to W. I'm interested to see where that goes, but not really sure what to make of it right now as I haven't really seen what he's saying come through in his behaviour.

In general I don't think W has a likability problem, but the amount of wallowing she does in her guilt is a bit much in this chapter, as I noted above. Also, I think we could see a bit more of that infamous rage she's always going on about when she finds out her mom's secret. The ending felt like it wrapped up a bit too quickly.

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Posted (edited)

Heyo! Welcome back :)

as i go:

pg 1

-agree that the parents say W’s name too much

pg 2

“Or is that one of the events..” Ha. N :,) this is good, i want more of this

pg 3

-i dont remember when N previously got her the pastries(in the older version), but is now a good time? Wouldnt she want them fresh for breakfast? Arent they getting thai food? Why would she eat them right now(tonight)?

pg 5

“You supported me even tho we barely” this is starting to go on and feel repetitive.

"and that person is someone i want to grow close with" ehhhh idk what it is but this felt like it leans on the creepy side. partially because he says it so matter-of-factly and not at all like how i imagine a teenager would say it. its sounds more like an old man saying this.

pg 8

“I go over my mom’s symptoms” is… now a good time for this?

"please dont follow me" stilted dialogue, i think. it feels kinda rude..

pg 9

“But im wondering if theres something” hmmm idk about this. It feels rather... abrupt? Convenient? 

Overall

I unfortunately find myself not caring about W’s situation with her mom like I think i should. Or maybe its just that there’s too much focus on her feelings with her mom and not enough on her first date with N—the balance is off. I might be more upset about her leaving and ending the date early if I saw that W and N were having a better time.

23 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Questions for after reading:

1. If you can remember the previous sub (no worries if not since it was a month ago lol), is this one better? Does it address the weak spots of the previous draft?
2. How do you feel about the characters? I've been trying to make W more likable in general. 

1. Both yes and no. We miss out on cute date moments and focus too much on serious mom talk. Which is fine, but there needs to be a balance. Otherwise, Im not really connecting to them. I couldn't relate to anything in this chapter. sorry >.<

2. Hmm...I dont really have much of an opinion on W. She has had relatable moments in the previous chapters but overall i dont LOVE her. Like, she's alright. And this could be because of wrs since I haven't read about her in a while. i still love N but he was "eh" this chapter. There isn't anything that makes him stand out in this chapter. I feel like N and W sort of speak the same way.

~(okay, interruption. I just read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and wowie i loved it. I dont usually read contemporary YA novels so this surprised me! I REALLY related to the main characters and I LOVED the relationship between the two main characters (it was a platonic relationship and quite amazing). The two really loved eachother and the dialogue always felt realistic, even when they talk about their sexuality it feels realistic and not forced. Also, I didn't really care for the POV character in the beginning (she was alright but not my fav) because she was all about school and stuff but then the further into the story we get, I started to love her. Idk if this helps at all...but i do recommend it… for the dialogue, likeable characters, and character relationships, and just in general :) (unless youve already read it... ) okay interruption over)~

Anyway, yeah, Im not sure exactly what it is about W. maybe its the combination of her dialogue and internal thought. maybe she could use this date as an opportunity to try to distract herself from her worries about her mom, like she really tries to be present and it comes off a little awkward but endearing until she cant resist telling N about whats going on and he helps her with some decent advice and its a sweet moment. I think the dialogue we have now is hindering the scene. I assume what I just described is what you're going for...(or maybe thats how the previous version was, i cant remember) but it falls flat for me as it is. We need more cute teenage moments to make the scene less serious. And maybe more insight into her thoughts. its a first date and they're both kinda awkward and yet I didn't really see any of that here. This chapter has a lot of potential! It just needs some ironing out. I went back and skimmed the previous version and it just always feels like W and N are talking about external things...like W's parents. I dont feel like im really getting to know either of them. Oh! that's it. I want to get to know them more :) that's probably not helpful, but I dont feel like I learned anything about them in this chapter. Okay, I guess we learned more about N and his "rage" but... hmm... i want more, i think.

But thats why i told you about that book i just read. Because I did fall in love with the characters and I felt like i really knew them and I saw how much they loved eachother (platonically) and I can't exactly describe what it is.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful! I know I sound like i thought this chapter was terrible but I really didnt! I think you're headed in the right direction! Now you just have to find a good balance and tweak a few things! Easy, right!? Heh. *sweats*

Edited by karamel
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This is better than the last version, but I have some of the same concerns as the others regarding W's self-pity and how the plot plays out. I like that we get a little more explanation for why N likes W, and that he does have some inner anger and isn't all just rainbows an sprinkles, but at this point I'm also having trouble seeing why he's still going after W.

On 6/29/2021 at 10:15 AM, RedBlue said:

Generally - I'm on the fence about these developments. We had quite a bit of build-up to N and W having a proper first date, and then they have a very un-date-like conversation before W figures out the situation with her mom and the date falls apart. It feels like an anti-climax to the main plot, which is not ideal, as this has the potential to be a very exciting and dramatic moment

Same feeling as this. I'm just getting stuck on this part in the plot if W has spent the whole book running from N, finally opens up, and the immediately turns away again the second a similar trouble to what they'd been disusing comes up. I feel like we just got to the top of a mountain, and rather than seeing an easier slope down the other side, we now have another mountain to climb up.

Might be good to submit the next chapter instead or reworking this one again. I'm interested to see how the two navigate this and how it plays into the larger plot.

 

Notes while reading:
pg 2: "The fact that the doctors have no idea what’s going on"
--interested to see what it is this time instead of cancer...

pg 5: Glad to see N has a dark side as well. Although W is really pressing hard.

pg 6: "she and my mom" 
--oh, I think I missed this before. Is one "mom" and one "mama?"

pg 8: "And the doctors supposedly don’t know what’s causing any of it."
--Ah, so this is what W's parents are telling her. That's...a really bad lie.

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Thanks for your thoughts, everyone (and I'll try to get my critiques for everyone's stuff done by tonight). I have a lot of good feedback on two different versions, so I think it's time to plow ahead and revisit this tricky chapter a little later. :)

On 6/29/2021 at 8:46 AM, C_Vallion said:

This one has W coming across as more self-pitying than innocently preparing for an awkward first date/dance

 

On 6/29/2021 at 10:15 AM, RedBlue said:

but the amount of wallowing she does in her guilt is a bit much in this chapter, as I noted above

 

On 7/1/2021 at 1:55 PM, Mandamon said:

but I have some of the same concerns as the others regarding W's self-pity

Aha so I wasn't able to slip this past you. Truth be told, I wrote my early drafts with a clear intention to avoid all self-pity, which I think is part of why she came across as arrogant and uninterested to many readers. I switched to more vulnerability in revisions and it's good to know that this is the point where it goes too far. 

 

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Aside from our lead not being freaked out about N being empathic, I thought there were good emotional beats in this. The ending was great and I felt like I connected to our MC for the first time since this book started. Unlike the others I didn't have issues with the self-pity, but I think mostly because I've already seen so much of it from her that it just seems on-brand. At least here there was some plot progression, and N is really carrying things so it all worked. And the end, again, really hit home for me.

 

As I go

- uh, is she not freaked out that N is empathic? There needs to be an emotional reaction there somewhere

- aww, I like the end

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