C_Vallion

7.5.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 6 RevA - L- 3492 Words

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Hello, All!

As always, thanks for all of your thoughts on previous chapters! It's been helpful both to get an idea of what things will need work in revisions and to know what things to be keeping track of as I'm doing edits for upcoming chapters. 

I think my biggest concerns on this one (like many chapters) are related to how well the information sticks.  The previous version had far too much information introduced at once, and far too many names that weren’t immediately relevant.  The trimmed down version fixes a lot of that, but I'm not sure how this version will come across to new readers.

Content Warnings: Language

Specific questions:

  1. Is the new information presented in a way that is absorbable?
  2. Any confusing/boring sections?
  3. Thoughts on characters?
  4. Points of interest or engagement?

Thanks so much!

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Hi! Sorry I couldn't get to this earlier. As I read:

p1 - With the information that R is supposed to be shady, I am suspicious about him not wanting Al sniffing around his rooms. Not sure I would have picked up on that if you hadn't mentioned it in notes, though.

p1 to 3 - The intro into the chapter feels a bit meandering. We spend half the page recapping previous events (which we don't need to do), then explaining that there will be a court session and what Al's intentions are, and then we're at R's rooms getting ready for the court session. It doesn't feel like we need this much set up before getting to the main event.

p4&5 - This whole section has a very 'talking heads' feel to it

p6 - It's more engaging now that Al is involved personally.

p7 - So if I'm reading this right, King V let the nobles work themselves up so that Baron C could smack them down, and the last word would be in favour of trusting Al?

p11 - In all of Al's preparations to deal with the court, has it never occurred to him to think about political marriages?

 

1. I got that some nobles don't like Al or Tr for ... reasons? (Just xenophobia? Historical conflict?) I got that King V and Baron C do like Al because roads are good, and I got that Al kind of accidentally made it look like he's looking for a political marriage to secure allies. All of that was absorbable.

2. Generally, the bits that concern Al directly are interesting, and the bits that are the court talking about things he doesn't appear to have a personal stake in fall flat. The first three pages didn't seem necessary - I think you can jump right in with the court session. And I think the nobles arguing would be more engaging if you established right away that their hostility to K is actually disguised hostility toward Al, rather than waiting a couple pages before revealing what any of this has to do with Al.

3. Baron C seems fun, and I like that King V is consistently shrewd, but it's starting to feel like he can't put a foot wrong. Pretty soon we're going to need to see his limits, or it will seem like the other characters are just waiting for him to fix the plot. Al is still a little on the bland side. It doesn't help that he spent most of the chapter being a passive observer.

4. The most interesting parts are when the secondary characters stop being talking heads doing politics and actually interact with Al.

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21 hours ago, RedBlue said:

Not sure I would have picked up on that if you hadn't mentioned it in notes, though.

He shouldn't seem especially suspicious, just like something's a little off. So that's probably fine. 

21 hours ago, RedBlue said:

p11 - In all of Al's preparations to deal with the court, has it never occurred to him to think about political marriages?

It has, and it's not entirely wrong to say that it's why he's there. It's just not the aspect he meant to announce to the world on day 1. That was meant to be clearer, and (as is often the case) was not.  Whoops. 

21 hours ago, RedBlue said:

And I think the nobles arguing would be more engaging if you established right away that their hostility to K is actually disguised hostility toward Al, rather than waiting a couple pages before revealing what any of this has to do with Al.

It's more that their hostility against K gets taken out on Al because he's the only K-looking person most of them have ever interacted with.  I need to find a better way to clarify the connections and associations between K (the kingdom) Tr (the duchy) and Al and his parents in the earlier chapters. Because that's definitely been a little murky throughout.  And is definitely not going to be helping the talking-heads feel, which— in theory— was supposed to reflect Al feeling very thrown into the middle of circumstances he isn't prepared for. But it probably goes on too long.  I trimmed back a lot from the previous version, but it's good to know there's still room for improvement there. 

21 hours ago, RedBlue said:

King V is consistently shrewd, but it's starting to feel like he can't put a foot wrong. Pretty soon we're going to need to see his limits, or it will seem like the other characters are just waiting for him to fix the plot.

You'll have to let me know how this pans out through the next few chapters. In theory (I have a lot of those. Critiques here have made it clear that not all of them have worked), he should be coming across as steady and in control at this point. Unfortunately, some of that is definitely coming across too strongly (where he's overwhelming the pov characters). There's definitely a lot of balance I still need to find there. Especially since poor Al is still not coming across well.

Thanks for your thoughts! 

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Posted (edited)

As I go:

pg 2. I think we can lead off with the point that A is "late" for the gathering because he doesn't understand the norms. It's a good detail and the other intro can be condensed into maybe a sentence or two.

pg 3. I think "acquisition" could be defined here. This reads differently if it's a conquest, treaty, or land falling into their hands from marriage. 

pg 4-5. I don't think all the details before the king jumps in are necessary. I do like the detail about the sea weather mages, but other than that all we really need to know is that the court is afraid of an alliance between K and C.

-speaking of which, how does A feel about K? He's ethnically part K but has he, like, ever been there? Does he feel any real connection to it?

pg 6. My guess is that V is getting the nobles to target A to then knock them down, and I'm not sure why A doesn't at least see this as a possibility

pg 7. Hmm Idk what V's really looking to get out of A here. I don't really see a rationale for putting him on the spot here, even though I'm sure there is one. For me this also hints at the recurring problem of V narratively needing to be somewhat antagonistic to A's goals otherwise V just handles everything and A doesn't get to do anything, but it's not really clear why. 

pg 9. Don't remember who D is, who the father he's referring to is, which means I can't quite infer who "they" are. I think more explicit language here would help.

pg 10. I understand why the roads are important to A but the details of road talk are frankly not that interesting to me. 

On 7/10/2021 at 7:56 AM, C_Vallion said:
On 7/9/2021 at 9:58 AM, RedBlue said:

p11 - In all of Al's preparations to deal with the court, has it never occurred to him to think about political marriages?

It has, and it's not entirely wrong to say that it's why he's there. It's just not the aspect he meant to announce to the world on day 1. That was meant to be clearer, and (as is often the case) was not.  Whoops.

pg 11. I'll say I did get what you were going for. A seemed embarrassed that he was so obvious and clumsy to me, not about the marriage itself.

pg 12. Everyone says bad things about R but I really don't think he's that bad. If I were in A's place I'd appreciate his bluntness. 

Overall:

On 7/4/2021 at 11:16 PM, C_Vallion said:
  • Is the new information presented in a way that is absorbable?
  • Any confusing/boring sections?
  • Thoughts on characters?
  • Points of interest or engagement?

1. More or less. I get what's going on, except with D. I recognize the name but for the life of me cannot remember what his deal is, and his convos aren't clear to me without that. 

2. Mostly noted in LBLs. In general I think a lot of the dynamics can be simplified to make them snappier. 

3. So far A is very passive in this court setting. The story simultaneously wants V to be friendly to A but also have V force A into tricky spots so he gets to do protagonist stuff, and I think it's not quite working for me right now. The times V pulls A into the spotlight don't seem special or dire, which makes V's actions as a whole feel a bit unnecessary. And then when V doesn't pull A into the spotlight, A doesn't get to do much that really matters. Honestly R is my favorite character in this chapter because he's the only one who separates himself from V and kinda just does what he wants. And this is coming from someone who normally hates entitled prince characters. 

4. Like I said I like R lol. I think how the court is dealt with is interesting to me, and I really want to see A doing more of it himself separate from V. There's a reason benevolent king figures tend to die early on in these kinds of stories. Not that you need to do that, but I think A needs more space on his own to shine. My main engagements with the story are Is' poisoning and her dynamic with A with them getting tied up in the mess together, so this chapter didn't quite hit what got me invested in the story in the first place.

Overall, my other major comment is that I'm not sure what the chapter's arc is, and how it advances the larger story. We get a lot of cool info, but is there anything we get here that couldn't just be summarized in a recap paragraph of a noble court even that happens offscreen? If so, I think I need more attention to be drawn to what's important. Because as is, I might not have noticed anything was missing if we skipped this chapter and jumped straight to the next A chapter. 

Edited by Ace of Hearts
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9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 3. I think "acquisition" could be defined here. This reads differently if it's a conquest, treaty, or land falling into their hands from marriage. 

Good call. Half of my brain is still working from the revision where there was more information about C earlier on.  But I'm realizing that I'm creating problems for myself on that front that are going to be coming out in the next few chapters *facepalm*

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I don't think all the details before the king jumps in are necessary. I do like the detail about the sea weather mages, but other than that all we really need to know is that the court is afraid of an alliance between K and C.

I wondered if this might be how things come across.  Part of the detail is to make it clear that C is, in fact, doing things, even if the king is dismissing the threat they pose.  But as is often the case, what it's supposed to be doing is getting lost a little in the shuffle.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

For me this also hints at the recurring problem of V narratively needing to be somewhat antagonistic to A's goals otherwise V just handles everything and A doesn't get to do anything, but it's not really clear why. 

In theory (you know. Because that always works) this should change. There is intentionally a strong sense that V is very in control of things from the start.   We'll see how the change/development of that goes in the next few chapters.

 

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

pg 9. Don't remember who D is, who the father he's referring to is, which means I can't quite infer who "they" are. I think more explicit language here would help.

I feel like this question has come up in half of the chapters, and can't tell what it is that is keeping him from sticking other than WRS.  The detail I probably omitted here is that he's the baron's son. 

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I'll say I did get what you were going for.

Hooray!

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Everyone says bad things about R but I really don't think he's that bad. If I were in A's place I'd appreciate his bluntness. 

That's appropriate at this point. When there was a stronger Is-pov presence at the start, there was a stronger impression that he's superficial and irresponsible. I'm not sure how he's come across to the reader in this revision, since he's not as present (which is something I'm regretting and need to figure out how to fix) 

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Honestly R is my favorite character in this chapter because he's the only one who separates himself from V and kinda just does what he wants. And this is coming from someone who normally hates entitled prince characters. 

Hah. In some ways, this perception of R is actually how I was hoping he would come across. But I definitely need to figure out how to fix the Al- issues... I may send you a message to see what your thoughts are on that front.  And probably one to @RedBlue while I'm at it. I'm just really having a lot of trouble figuring out what things are missing their mark on that front...it's incredibly frustrating. 

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

is there anything we get here that couldn't just be summarized in a recap paragraph of a noble court even that happens offscreen?

I would say yes (though that's certainly been wrong before), and that part of it is the C stuff that everyone is skimming (here and in previous chapters). Unfortunately, I've yet to find the right way to approach that in a way where it's actually being absorbed.  So it certainly needs some work, whether that's cutting or significant reworking. 

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15 hours ago, C_Vallion said:
On 7/11/2021 at 10:55 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

Everyone says bad things about R but I really don't think he's that bad. If I were in A's place I'd appreciate his bluntness. 

That's appropriate at this point. When there was a stronger Is-pov presence at the start, there was a stronger impression that he's superficial and irresponsible. I'm not sure how he's come across to the reader in this revision, since he's not as present (which is something I'm regretting and need to figure out how to fix) 

On 7/11/2021 at 10:55 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

Honestly R is my favorite character in this chapter because he's the only one who separates himself from V and kinda just does what he wants. And this is coming from someone who normally hates entitled prince characters. 

Hah. In some ways, this perception of R is actually how I was hoping he would come across.

Cool! I'd like to see some hints of that in the story itself, since I genuinely thought I was supposed to hate him since all the people who know him do and I was confused why he's supposedly so awful. Even if A makes some comment that he's not that bad it could help (though maybe that's too direct... hm).

15 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I would say yes (though that's certainly been wrong before), and that part of it is the C stuff that everyone is skimming (here and in previous chapters).

Usually my suggestion in this situation is to either downplay it or up-play it, and I think either works. Right now, the C stuff isn't directly affecting our main characters. What's actually affecting A is the noble court, which is influenced by C. That means C is less interesting than what the court does right now, since it's further removed. Which means I think it could work to just accept that and keep the C stuff very minimal until it directly shows up on our doorstep. And because my attention was on the court, the fact that they didn't really affect A in a super meaningful way is part of why I couldn't see a clean arc for this chapter. 

The other option is to bring C to the forefront of the scene. This could be riskier, and could involve a throwaway PoV chapter of someone at the scene (I know some of us in this group hate those though... I don't really mind them). Or it could just involve someone from the court who has actually had real contact with the C conflict recently and can make it feel more immediate. Harbingers of bad news are kind of a fantasy staple at this point, after all! :) 

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  1. Is the new information presented in a way that is absorbable?

    If we're talking about the information covered at court with all the talking heads, I don't think it was very absorbable. Part of the problem is that Al is very passively observing for most of this section. Also, the scene comes off a bit dull, because we still don't know much about these countries and the politics. It's difficult, because we won't know until it's told and explained, but at the same time, telling us and explaining is not very interesting. If you want this information to be absorbed better, and you want this chapter to be more interesting, you need to get Al involved. He needs to be jumping in and saying his opinions. Or maybe speaking to someone nearby about it. We need to experience this information instead of it being told.
     
  2. Any confusing/boring sections?

    This is a very tame chapter, not much happens. Not every chapter needs to be an action movie, but I think there's things that can be done to make things more interesting still. We need some more conflict in this chapter for one thing. I thought there was going to be conflict at the end when R comes over, but he just gives a helpful warning and word to Al. Personally, I want to see Al thinking about or doing more regarding the princess and the assassination attempt. Maybe have him thinking about when he surprised her in her room and saw her use magic. He could be wondering if she knows any other magic. He could be thinking that she looked kind of cute and vulnerable like that. I would like to see more connection being built between these characters, even if they aren't in the same chapter together.
     
  3. Thoughts on characters?

    Al fell flat for me in this chapter. He was very passive observer. He didn't really encounter any conflict. I really want to see him doing more and being more involved, not reacting to people or allowing himself to be ignored by people. Try to show us a little more of his personality, his faults, his strengths. Is he a bit of a scholar and really into roads? Maybe have him get really into explaining roads and get excited about them when Detric asks. 
     
  4. Points of interest or engagement

    I was interested in 2 parts of the chapter. First, when you start talking about Ke's weather mages in regards to naval action. That could be expounded on. It's interesting because it tells us not only about the magic, but also politics at the same time. Using magic to make politics interesting is a great tool for fantasy
    .

    I was also interested at the very end when R comes over to talk to Al. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but of all your characters, R has the strongest personality and screen presence for me. I'm even told he's supposed to be an ass and that to worry about him starting problems, but he seems rather likable and competent to me. Furthermore, he upstages your other characters. He shows up for a blip at the end of the chapter and still upstages Al. He either needs to be less interesting, or Al needs to be more interesting.

As I go-

pg 1

-"...A had been informed...he was to say nothing of the events surrounding the assassination attempt to anyone..." With the explanation and emphasis of the vow and oath magic in recent chapters, and the importance of this matter, wouldn't the King have made A take a vow or oath?

-"R's manservant answered the door and froze at the sight of him." Why is he freezing here, is it odd for A to stop by his adviser's rooms before his first day in court? For that matter, I think R would definitely have had A come over beforehand to advise him. Otherwise, why is he there?

-"...starting at the first hour of noon." So, starting at noon? Are there more than one noon hour?

-"...a little after the bell tower struck third dawn..." So, I'm thinking there must be some non-Earth cosmology going on here. Is this a world with three suns?

pg 2

-A comes off a bit like a country boy spending his first day in the city. Is he really that clueless about the court and how things work there, or is it just because he's not familiar with King V and his court specifically?

pg 3

-"It's easier to seem attentive when you are being physically restrained by your clothing." Ha, I love this line.

pg 4

-"He's not going to try to take on K's weather mages at sea." Oh, intriguing. I like the idea of weather mages being used as weapons of naval war.

pg 5

-"King V raised an eyebrow and smirked..." Be careful with over-using these phrases. Your characters are raising their eyebrows and smirking quite often.

pg 6

-"A stared at the man, shocked by the bluntness of it." What is "it" referring to here? I think you mean his words, but this sentence doesn't make sense the way it's written.

pg 7

-"He was a bearish man in form and demeanor, and had spent most of his previous interactions with Alaric scowling and silent while his sons presented terms for potential trade between Tra and the C Barony." This sentence drags, I would suggest breaking it up into 2 sentences, or rewriting it.

pg 8

-"...it will be time to begin rebuilding those connections. ...to holdings that may benefit from the trade we will have to offer." I'm not sure why there is future tense here. Why doesn't A say, "...it is time to begin rebuilding those connections," and, "...to holdings that may benefit from the trade we have to offer." 

-I feel like in a more political and less exciting chapter, you should try to cut as many of the filter words as possible. "A could practically feel the looming presence of the Baron. The big man seemed serious." A phrase like "could practically feel" acts as a diminisher, there is so much filtering. Have the Baron loom, we understand it's through A's perspective. So something like, "The Baron of C loomed over A like a thundercloud." And instead of "the big man seemed serious," which leaves the reader wondering how he seemed serious, tell us why A thinks that. Something like, "The big man wasn't smiling."

pg 9

-"D was taller than his father, and just as sturdily built, but without the glower and shagginess that sometimes made C seem more bear than man." Great description.

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