C_Vallion

7.12.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 7 RevA - 3509 Words

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Hello, All!

As always, thanks for all of your thoughts on previous chapters!

New pov time! I’ll admit that had me more than a little concerned, considering some of the struggles I’m still having with the others.  I’m hoping that this addition will bring in some additional context on the characters and events.  So we’ll see which aspects land where they’re supposed to.

The usual questions plus one:

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

Thanks so much!

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Hi! As I read:

p1 - I like this intro to Ali's character. It sets the scene without feeling like it's putting the story on hold.

p3 - Why is R considered relatively non-threatening? Isn't being heir to the throne enough to intimidate people?

p5 - Is references a mage rebellion. I think it would be useful to have a tiny bit more context for what this is when she brings it up. Is it recent history, or from ages ago? Is this connected to the event that killed Al's parents? I'm not suggesting you add much, just a few hints to orient the reader.

p7 - Given that the mage rebellion apparently almost wiped out the royal line, I'm guessing it may have something to do with why there are such stringent magic laws?

p10 - I'm guessing the 'others' being protected that the queen is talking about are Is-n and his mage friend? Presumably they might get in trouble if it got out that they healed Is?

 

I thought this chapter worked very well.

1. I like that Ali is pointing out the human cost of all the politicking going on. It's a lot easier to invest emotionally with this shift in perspective making the plot feel more personal to the characters involved.

2. I thought the new information was absorbable, no issues on that front this time :)

3. The only thing I feel I'm missing is a sense of timeline on that mage rebellion. It sounds important but I haven't quite placed where it fits in this world's backstory. Everything else was fine.

4. I like Ali. She's sweet, and I enjoyed the levity she brought to the scene. I also like how much she contrasts with the other POV characters we've seen, and gives us another angle to view Is and her choices from. Ali seems like a bit of a busybody, but it works for me, because she seems like a busybody who gets involved in interesting people's business, which is not a bad thing at all!

The queen, though, comes across a little bland. She seems to be coming from the same place as Ali, and she comes across kind of like an older and less interesting version of Ali. If the queen isn't going to be an important character, that's probably okay. If I'm supposed to care about her, I need something more to latch onto.

5. I liked the sisters bonding, Is's stubbornness, and the tension between Ali's sense of what's right and V's functional-but-shady way of conducting politics.

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Wow. Quiet week. 

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

I thought this chapter worked very well.

Hooray! 

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

p3 - Why is R considered relatively non-threatening? Isn't being heir to the throne enough to intimidate people?

Is this in reference to the first line on that page?  He's only relatively non-intimidating in that he's more approachable than the king (this is a very low bar to stumble over).  The next sentence should make it clear that he is still rather intimidating in his own right, but let me know if the comment isn't coming across clearly there.

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

Is references a mage rebellion. I think it would be useful to have a tiny bit more context for what this is when she brings it up. Is it recent history, or from ages ago? Is this connected to the event that killed Al's parents? I'm not suggesting you add much, just a few hints to orient the reader.

Dangit.  Yeah.  This is another thing that missed getting sandwiched into the new early chapters after the old ones got cut.  I think it might have been briefly mentioned in chapter 2, but there was a lot going on there, so it's hard to say 1. if it was actually there, and 2. if it is too buried in other things for it to stick. 

It's entirely unrelated to Al's parents except that it resulted in the restrictions that were the partial cause of the accident that caused their deaths.  The rebellion and said laws are also what have created a general animosity between many of the nobles and mages, and more specifically, caused most of the strife between the king's father and Al's parents, since Al's father was a Ket- weather mage, and Al's mom marrying him was sort of thumbing her nose at the old king's attempts to manipulate her.

I think the key details at this point are that the rebellion took place 150-ish years before and that a sizeable percentage of the nobles and their relations were killed in the event, including the king and queen, leaving the throne to their daughter, Is-erre (who was 19-ish? I forget if I have that specified somewhere. She might just be referred to as young). This is when the magic restrictions came into existence, to prevent a more successful coup from the mages who survived the rebellion (especially during Is-erre's reign) and for general safety/security. 

Seems like that latter part you caught onto here:

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

p7 - Given that the mage rebellion apparently almost wiped out the royal line, I'm guessing it may have something to do with why there are such stringent magic laws?

Beyond that, things will get revealed as the story continues, but I think that's what the reader should be aware of at this point. 

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

I'm guessing the 'others' being protected that the queen is talking about are Is-n and his mage friend? Presumably they might get in trouble if it got out that they healed Is?

Mostly Al.  They could probably mush the details about who was involved in the actual healing, but the type of poison would have people pointing fingers at Al (that's where the information that the poison came from the mountains near Ket- comes in), even if they didn't know he'd been involved in the rescue.  

On 7/14/2021 at 7:11 PM, RedBlue said:

I like that Ali is pointing out the human cost of all the politicking going on.

Good.  This is definitely one of the things she is best at, so it's good that that's coming across.  When Is- and her dad are both practical to a point of harshness, I figure I need a pov calling them out for the damage it's causing the people they love. I think Ali- does that well (we'll see how that carries through). Her mother does that to a lesser extent, but the queen's response is definitely more tempered.  She sees the things that Ali sees, but has been part of the political machine for long enough to know that some of it is unavoidable without risking upsetting the balances of the court tensions.  And she has been married to V long enough to get an idea of what's actually going on in his head, so she's more sympathetic to his opinion than Ali is.  She isn't a primary character, but I'll have to see what I can do to help with the feeling of blandness. I can see where the restraint that has come with age and experience would definitely push toward blandness in this case.  Maybe hanging a lantern on her remembering how fired up she'd been about those sorts of things during her early years as queen. Or something...hmmmmm...

Thanks so much! 

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  1. Thoughts on the angle brought in by the new pov?

    I like seeing Ali's perspective, especially on Is. It's nice to see a close relationship between them, as well as with their mother. In fact, I like Ali better then is. I feel like her voice is stronger.
     
  2. Is the new information presented in a way that is absorbable?

    I struggled with some of the exposition in this chapter, it became dense and chunky in parts, while smooth in others. I noted on the AIG where. I wanted the story of the mage rebellion to be elaborated on a bit more, but with some more drama around it as well. Give me some spicy details.
     
  3. Any confusing/boring sections?

    I noted this on the AIG, pg 11 was boring/dense for me.
     
  4. Thoughts on characters?

    I enjoyed seeing some humor and more character in the Queen in this chapter. I also enjoyed Ali's POV, it was easy for me to ride with her, and I liked seeing her close relationship with Is.
     
  5. Points of interest or engagement?

    I talked about it earlier, but I was really intrigued with the Mage Rebellion. I feel like a more interesting and dramatic treatment of the story, mentioning some specific interesting details, would have drawn me in more. Maybe Ali or Is could read a portion of another journal depicting an interesting scene from the rebellion. And if it were from the POV of a mage...*chefs kiss*

As I go-

pg 1

-I think it might be better if we have Is' dialogue response, "Is that for me?" to the dramatic flourish revealing the cake before Ali describes how Is looks and begins to to talk about how is' has been, etc. The "Is that for me" seemed delayed after the exposition.

-"Desserts were always a reliable way to cheer her up," good characterization

-"...spearing and berry and mopping it through the cream on the plate," great visual

-"Alina smiled softly," adverb, but also, what exactly is smiling softly? That's a synesthetic phrase.

pg 2

-Be careful how many times you use "stiff shoulders" to emote. Try to diversify your physical emoting.

-There's a lot of names on this page, and I don't think they all need to be here. It's a lot to keep track of. I would suggest paring it down to what's important in this scene. I want to see the characters talking to each other about each other, and less of them talking about other people.

-"she muttered, fidgeting with her bracelet." Al's bracelet, I like that she essentially has a piece of jewelry from him. A physical connection and reminder on her body.

pg 3

-"Just don't let her get too excited about the duke of t." That's right, stay away from my mans :P

-I see that Ali is trying to gossip with Is so I understand why they are gossiping about other people instead of discussing their own lives. Ali is trying to avoid their own drama.

pg 5

-"She says there's some puzzle she can't figure out." Oh, do tell? Mage rebellion? Consider me intrigued.

pg 6

-Have we found out why the mages rebelled already?

pg 7

-So Jad was possibly a mage, was involved in the rebellion, and mixed history with erotic poetry in her journal, haha, she sounds like a character.

pg 8

-"It has been quite revealing," haha, nice

pg 9

-"she asked quietly." I would just say "she whispered" to avoid the unnecessary adverb.

-pg 10

-"They have far more to lose if the news gets out." You're talking about Al, right?

pg 11

-This page is feeling exposition/infodump heavy. It's losing the feeling the authentic mother/daughter dialogue.

pg 12

-"Ali returned the smile and pushed herself to her feet, wrapping her mother in a firm embrace before excusing herself to rest before the next of the week's social events." This is a marathon of a sentence. I would try breaking it up.

-I think that Ali needs to mention Is by name in this last paragraph to solidify the connection that she is talking about her sister. It feels distant.

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28 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

since Al's father was a Ket- weather mage

Whaaaat? Why didn't he respond when they were talking about Ket weather mages in court? Wouldn't he have thought about his father?

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9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

In fact, I like Ali better then is. I feel like her voice is stronger.

I do definitely feel like there's part of Is's pov that I'm missing by starting at the tournament, since she goes straight from being annoyed with R to competition mode to the recovery struggle... I just haven't figured out a good way to include that missing piece before she gets poisoned.  I think some of it comes out in chapter 8, but that's obviously about 7.5 chapters too late to be introducing engaging aspects of one of the main pov characters. 

9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

I feel like a more interesting and dramatic treatment of the story, mentioning some specific interesting details, would have drawn me in more.

I've been working on the best way to have this unfold, but some of it is intentionally vague at this point... I could probably have Is- include an example here along the lines of "You know how everyone says x happened? If you look over here at source y, written before the rebellion took place (and before the powers that be might have been trying to fudge the details for their own purposes), it would have made more sense for z."  To provide a little more of what the common knowledge is and make sure it's getting the point across that the common knowledge is probably not accurate. Hmmmmm....

9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

Be careful how many times you use "stiff shoulders" to emote. Try to diversify your physical emoting.

Yeah... I feel like I have a very short list of physical indicators for emotion... it's very slowly getting better, but still has a long way to go.  Just be glad you didn't read super early versions *cringe*

9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

and mixed history with erotic poetry in her journal

Not on purpose.  Mostly her journaled thoughts on court gossip and day-to-day life just happened to be extremely valuable from a historical perspective when she was pretty thoroughly in the mix of things before it all went down. 

 

And for the big question:

9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

Why didn't he respond when they were talking about Ket weather mages in court? Wouldn't he have thought about his father?

GAH! Man. Yeah.  I have no idea why I didn't have him reacting to that line.  I know I changed the emphasis of some things in the most recent version, and I can only think I must have gotten caught up in making sure I was cutting the extra names and unnecessary details, and lost track of what it would actually make sense for Al to respond to.  Not sure how I managed to leave out the detail that his dad was a mage in this revision.  I assume my brain just automatically went "oh. That will have been in the prologue you need to rewrite"... ugh. man.  Keeping track of what is introduced when and to what extent is quite the challenge. 

And while it's mildly embarrassing to have the big slip-ups pointed out, it's very helpful. 

Thanks so much for your thoughts! 

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16 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

GAH! Man. Yeah.  I have no idea why I didn't have him reacting to that line.

I remember that was a fairly dry talking heads scene too. A moment where Al makes the connection between Ket weather mages and his father in that scene would really ramp up the intrigue and involve Al more in the talking heads discussion.

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9 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

I remember that was a fairly dry talking heads scene too. A moment where Al makes the connection between Ket weather mages and his father in that scene would really ramp up the intrigue and involve Al more in the talking heads discussion.

Yeah.  Exactly.  :) 

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Guess who's especially late to the party but still ready to critique!

As I go:

pg 1. This is a good intro to Ali's dynamic with Is

pg 2. As much as I love romance threads I'm not sure why we need to hear this

pg 4. I feel like I can see what this is going for with Is trying not to be pitied but it's not really holding my interest honestly. I think we need a bit more from Ali if we're in her PoV. The opening is good because it focuses on her actions, but the rest of the chapter has focused on Is. 

pg 5. Okay Ali research isn't that bad (I've probably mentioned I'm a grad student researcher).

pg 6-7. Maybe I'm just a weird academic but this is holding my attention a lot more than earlier in the chapter. History is so interesting! And we have actual historical analysis going on. Still want more from Ali though 

pg 8. The story seems to be stalling out here. The mom clearly has a reason for being here and I want her to get to it.

pg 10. This is good! We get to see more of Ali's personality and motivations. Would be great to see it sooner. Also, on its own this is a good step but not sufficient to make Ali a strong PoV character. We're still missing the key component of her being proactive. 

-This thread about R not visiting seems pretty disconnected from the rest of what's going on

pg 11. I think it's valuable to know how unstable the kingdom was just recently. Honestly I'm surprised we're only hearing about it now and think it could come sooner

On 7/12/2021 at 7:45 AM, C_Vallion said:
  1. Thoughts on the angle brought in by the new pov?
  2. Is the new information presented in a way that is absorbable?
  3. Any confusing/boring sections?
  4. Thoughts on characters?
  5. Points of interest or engagement?

 

1. Ali seems like a fun character but doesn't really justify a PoV thus far because of how passive she is. It's an improvement over the previous draft, though! Really the only proactive thing she does is bring Is the cake. Everything else is dictated by either Is or her mom. This is the tricky part of writing the PoV of someone with not a lot of political influence or interest in politics. I think the story really needs her to find some way of trying to accomplish her goals so she doesn't feel like a piece being moved around.

2. Yes, and I enjoyed it overall, but it did feel a little info-dumpy since a lot of what Ali's mom tells her is what she already knows. Honestly if we get the details about the kingdom's instability and similar info in Ali's internal monologue a lot of the issues here probably disappear. 

3. See line edits

4. I like Is here, since she's being active despite her position. Ali is cool but like I've been harping on she doesn't seem to be doing much. There's also the point to consider that if her goals and plans are on entirely different levels than Is' and Ala's (focused on helping family instead of politics), it might be a turn-off to some people who read the first six chapters. I like both so it's not a problem for me as a reader but it's something to think about. The mom is... I don't get a great read on her. Feels like an exposition vehicle right now, if I'm being frank. 

5. Mages and historical analysis! ...Which doesn't really have much to do with Ali. Thus a lot of my conflicted thoughts on this chapter, even though I did enjoy it overall. 

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On 7/20/2021 at 7:46 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Maybe I'm just a weird academic but this is holding my attention a lot more than earlier in the chapter. History is so interesting! And we have actual historical analysis going on. Still want more from Ali though 

As a fellow weird academic, there's part of me that would love to incorporate a whole subplot on the actual content of the queen's research. And one on Al's road building. And any other number of sort of random things that a large number of readers won't find nearly as interesting as I do... but I already have too many subplots that I haven't been able to do justice to quite yet. So we'll work on those first.  

On 7/20/2021 at 7:46 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I think it's valuable to know how unstable the kingdom was just recently. Honestly I'm surprised we're only hearing about it now and think it could come sooner

Yep! Some of this is touched on in chapter 3, with Al's audience with the king. But I haven't found a good spot to introduce it in more depth early on. 

On 7/20/2021 at 7:46 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Ali seems like a fun character but doesn't really justify a PoV thus far because of how passive she is. It's an improvement over the previous draft, though! Really the only proactive thing she does is bring Is the cake. Everything else is dictated by either Is or her mom. This is the tricky part of writing the PoV of someone with not a lot of political influence or interest in politics. I think the story really needs her to find some way of trying to accomplish her goals so she doesn't feel like a piece being moved around.

I definitely need to give her a better goal to be working toward from the start.  I think her lack of political interest works better later when the conflict she's fighting against is clearer, but right now her frustration with Dad and her wanting to keep the family from being jerks to each other is mostly just a mild concern until things ramp up elsewhere. We shall see. 

On 7/20/2021 at 7:46 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

he mom is... I don't get a great read on her. Feels like an exposition vehicle right now, if I'm being frank. 

I can definitely see this being the case.  She's another one who I've been struggling to figure out how to present in the correct light (you know. Like most of the characters. whoops.). Ideally, she should come across as a concerned mother who's trying to ask Ali to be patient with her father because things are complicated right now.  There should be more of an impression that Mom's not really thrilled about the decisions Dad's making either, and that she's also a little afraid of what it might mean for Is and that it's going to cause them all a lot of pain in the long run.  But emotions are not my best thing.  They're not even one of my alright things. I blame being an engineer. For whatever reason I instinctively feel like any emotive description at all is going to make characters come across as melodramatic (even though I know better), so it usually takes a couple passes of intentionally emotion-ifying sections to improve them.  Unfortunately, when my go-to first-glance reader is also an engineer, that aspect of things usually requires a second opinion, which ends up being the readers here most of the time.  

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