C_Vallion

7.19.2021 - C_Vallion - Price of Peace - Chapter 8 RevA - 3691 Words

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Hello, All!

Back to Is- this week.  I think my biggest question on this one is mostly how the character interactions feel.  

The usual questions:

  1. Any confusing/boring sections?
  2. Thoughts on characters?
  3. Points of interest or engagement?

Thanks so much!

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Hi! As I read:

p1 - I might have missed something, but I don't think Do has been introduced before? From context I'm guessing he's a healer?

p2 - When Is is thinking about 'training with G', she means physical therapy, right? ... Right? ... she means training doesn't she

p4 - So if I remember correctly, De and M are in the dark about the poisoning, and Al is playing along with trying to keep it secret?

Also, I'm not clear on who M is. I'm gathering that she's a friend of Is's, and from her behaviour I think she might be close to De. A brief explanation of how she's important might be a good idea.

p6 - I'm assuming M's brilliant political manoeuvre was to get Is and Al walking by themselves.

Is's reaction to being left alone with Al is rather blunt. I mean, she's not wrong, but I expected her to be better at smoothing over ruffled feathers than 'sorry my friend tried to set us up'.

p12&13 - It seems Is has gone and caused more damage by overexerting herself. Maybe she will learn from this??

 

1. Nothing was confusing, except for feeling like I'm missing context on who Do and M are. No boring bits either IMO

2. So this chapter was pretty much all about character dynamics. I liked Is and Al's conversation once they were left alone, especially their chat about V and his overbearingness. It seemed like Is and Al were connecting (which I assume is the point?)

The conversation with all four of them (Is, Al, De and M) felt a bit stilted. I get that Is is hiding important information from them, and is worried about making them suspicious, but at the same time I felt like Is was supposed to be friends with them, and that made it weird that their conversation was so stiff, if you know what I mean.

3. As far as I could tell there wasn't really any plot movement in this chapter, but getting to see the character dynamics and getting a window into how court intrigue works in practice was engaging. I think if you tighten up the section where all four of them are talking to make it clearer what the reader should take away from that part, it will be a strong chapter.

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As I go:

pg 1-2. Random thought but I think the poisoning would be more powerful if we could have a more specific tie to what she's losing. Yeah, it sucks not being able to move, but what does that make her not be able to do? The easy answer is more focusing on how she can't fight in tournaments since we've seen her do that.

-We're getting a lot on O for someone who I'm not sure why I should really care about

pg 5. We're getting a lot of info here, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to focus on. For example, I'm not sure why it matters so much that Mal is on the border. 

pg 6. Random thought: the fact that there are so many characters here might be what's making it feel a little slow to me. Especially since while M and D are competently written, I have no special reason to care about them in the current plot unlike Is and Ala. Even the fact that D answer's Ala's question so quickly diffuses any sort of conflict or interesting dynamic we get between our two main characters. 

pg 7. There's so much interesting potential for Is' interactions with Ala, and them talking about M and other random people right off the bat kind of feels wasted. They haven't talked with each other about Ala saving her life, right? Or about Ala being in a difficult position politically and how Is does owe him one. The two of them are in a really promising situation but everything we get is filtered through characters that don't seem to matter much. 

pg 8. The spellstone talk is more interesting to me. Another cool dynamic I was forgetting. Still, it doesn't seem like it's really going anywhere. The action with the spellstone has already happened.

pg 10. For me this is sort of the opposite reaction as pg. 8. We're actually making progress! ...But it sounds like Ala is asking her because she knows V well, not because of their dynamic. I want to see Ala opening up about this take some effort. 

-Whoa Ala is directly criticizing the king to his daughter. That feels like something he should only do once they're really comfortable with each other, which doesn't seem to be the case

On 7/19/2021 at 7:52 AM, C_Vallion said:
  • Any confusing/boring sections?
  • Thoughts on characters?
  • Points of interest or engagement?

1. I didn't really feel like the chapter picked up until page 6-8ish, though this directly ties into my points of interest

2. Characters themselves are fine. I'd like to see a bit more from Is since she still feels a little cookie-cutter. Like I mentioned in my line edits, I think the easiest path is to channel more of her thoughts into sparring and tournaments. That's more tangible than the entire state of her body. 

3. I was really interested by Is and Ala interacting, since they are in such an interesting spot. Because of this, the fact that they only got to chat alone for a few pages and the rest of it was interrupted by other characters wasn't what I wanted. And this is in the line edits, but while we got glimpses of really good dynamics I wanted more. The two of them aren't really pushing each other's plots forward in the way they have the potential to. As a result, pages 7-10 of this chapter are both some of most engaged I've been and some of the most frustrated I've been with the novel as a whole simultaneously. They're so close to helping each other out with something real, but instead they just kind of exchange information. Which is nice, but... not what I was looking for. 

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On 7/19/2021 at 3:37 PM, RedBlue said:

I might have missed something, but I don't think Do has been introduced before? From context I'm guessing he's a healer?

Her uncle's healer. He's mentioned by name in chapter 5, but it's definitely been a couple weeks. 

On 7/19/2021 at 3:37 PM, RedBlue said:

When Is is thinking about 'training with G', she means physical therapy, right? ... Right? ... she means training doesn't she

Hah. Fortunately G knows better than she does. 

On 7/19/2021 at 3:37 PM, RedBlue said:

Also, I'm not clear on who M is. I'm gathering that she's a friend of Is's, and from her behaviour I think she might be close to De. A brief explanation of how she's important might be a good idea.

Is's cousin. I thought that was mentioned in Ali's chapter, but I looked back and it's apparently not.  *facepalm*  Correct on the second point, though :)

On 7/19/2021 at 3:37 PM, RedBlue said:

The conversation with all four of them (Is, Al, De and M) felt a bit stilted. I get that Is is hiding important information from them, and is worried about making them suspicious, but at the same time I felt like Is was supposed to be friends with them, and that made it weird that their conversation was so stiff, if you know what I mean.

I'll have to go through that again and see if I can streamline it.  I switched some things around in this one a little before submitting it, and it always takes a couple days of letting things sit before I can get a sense of conversation flow.  

On 7/20/2021 at 10:43 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

Random thought but I think the poisoning would be more powerful if we could have a more specific tie to what she's losing. Yeah, it sucks not being able to move, but what does that make her not be able to do? The easy answer is more focusing on how she can't fight in tournaments since we've seen her do that.

Yes. Yes, it would. That's definitely one of the things I've realized I haven't made clear through this revision. It's there in my head, but isn't being called out enough to be clear to the reader. 

On 7/20/2021 at 10:43 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

We're getting a lot of info here, and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to focus on. For example, I'm not sure why it matters so much that Mal is on the border. 

Because there are mages on the other side of the border.  

The rough geography of things is probably another place I've dropped the ball on this round of revisions.  There aren't too many points that are vital to be aware of, but I've definitely neglected a few of the ones that are significant. Ugh. 

On 7/20/2021 at 10:43 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

I was really interested by Is and Ala interacting, since they are in such an interesting spot. Because of this, the fact that they only got to chat alone for a few pages and the rest of it was interrupted by other characters wasn't what I wanted. And this is in the line edits, but while we got glimpses of really good dynamics I wanted more. The two of them aren't really pushing each other's plots forward in the way they have the potential to. As a result, pages 7-10 of this chapter are both some of most engaged I've been and some of the most frustrated I've been with the novel as a whole simultaneously. They're so close to helping each other out with something real, but instead they just kind of exchange information. Which is nice, but... not what I was looking for. 

I mentioned some of this in the one message I sent, but this is definitely something I need to figure out how to portray a little better. Both here and leading into this chapter so that the details in this chapter come across with the emphasis they're supposed to.   I have ideas for how to do this, but they won't really get incorporated until the next big revision, since I want to keep pressing forward for now. 

 

Thanks so much for the thoughts! 

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  1. Any confusing/boring sections?
    There wasn't anything particularly confusing, but this chapter was uneventful. I feel like the conversation between Is and Al was a missed opportunity for some meaningful dialogue between them. Is spent a lot of time being tired and in pain, but also not taking steps to lessen it other than using the spellstones.

     
  2. Thoughts on characters?
    May had the strongest characterization in this chapter, and also the best lines. I don't know what it is, but I feel like your supporting characters tend to hog the spotlight and get the best scenes and lines. Your protagonists end up looking bland and ineffective compared to them. Also, your protagonists spend a great deal of the scenes doing inner monologue, when they should be interacting with the world and people around them. I think they need to get out of their heads a bit. Give them more dialogue, and juicy dialogue at that.

     
  3. Points of interest or engagement?
    I wasn't engaged for most of this chapter. It became interesting when Al and Is finally got to have a conversation, although that was also very short-lived and unexplored. This chapter lacked conflict, at least in terms of the POV character. Is refusing help and feeling bad isn't compelling conflict. We need more than that for her POV chapter. I want to see her get upset at May or Det, or even Al. Or maybe she allows herself to be upset at her dad in front of Al.

     

As I go-

pg 1

- "She opened her eyes and stared at the spellstone," I think this would be a great place to actually describe the spellstone in detail for the reader. I just see a random gemstone in my mind.

- "The feeling of the spell traveling up the arm that held the stone and through the rest of her body at a steady pace without her being able to do anything to affect it was unnerving, to say the least." This sentence drags a bit.

- "...she asked, switching to massage the other leg. Is nodded once and switched to the other leg." This reads strangely, almost like Is has 3 legs.

pg 2

- "The girl had never been comfortable with any magic beyond firestones." This seems so odd to me, since a firestone is so much more "magicky" than a strengthening stone in my mind. It's not like you can really see anything happening with a strengthening stone, but I know that's not the point.

- "...paranoid that magic might somehow ooze over the border on its own to cause chaos." Great characterization line.

pg 3

- Wow, using the energy stone seems horrible. Like stabbing yourself in the heart with a syringe of adrenalin. Seems a bit like black magic or something.

pg 4

- ..."or Is was too tired to notice anything out of the ordinary." Wait, isn't she wired from the energy stone?

- "She walked back through the gardens with May, which automatically meant also walking back with De." You can cut the "automatically" and this will flow better.

- "For the most part, the arrangement left Is free to pace silently..." The "for the most part" isn't doing anything here, other than weakening your sentence. I would cut it.

pg 5

-..."but Al cut in before she could say press the matter." It looks like the "say" needs to be cut from this sentence.

- There are a lot of names on this page to keep track of. May, Mal, Der, Isr, Sha, Cer, Gi, Ro, Al, Neri, Det. 

pg 6

- too tired to think any more of it until her cousin's enthusiastic "enjoy your evening" trailed after her. Haha, yes, great humor and characterization here for May.

pg 7

- "Was that a May-shaped shadow silhouetted against the wall?" I love this. May seems like the pushy, overly flirty friend that means well but also oversteps their bounds.

pg 8

- "So much for her plan to avoid letting anyone see her slow, painful ascent of the stairs." Good characterization of Is, but also somewhat repetitive.

pg 9

- "She refused Gin's offer of a hand under her elbow." Right now, it seems like Is' main personality trait is to refuse help from others. Are we going to find out why? I would like to see more about who she is.

- "What is the king planning?" This seemed to come out of nowhere, but I'm glad for some juicy conflict-related dialogue.

pg 11

- "Even a supporting hand on her elbow would be helpful to take a little of the weight off her legs." It's one thing to have Is constantly refusing help from others, but it weakens that when she is wishing she hadn't refused help and wishing that someone would just help her. It sets up a hypocritical sense to her thoughts and actions. She spends a good part of this chapter refusing to allow others to help her, and then wishing they would, and thinking about how nice it would be if they did. It's like she's playing the stoic and the victim at the same time. 

pg 12

- "Al glanced toward the stairs once more before bidding her goodnight and turning down the hall to his rooms." I would have liked to see this happen on screen, with the actual dialogue. I feel like Al and Is have had precious little time to talk, and it would be nice to get some more characterization from both of them. Don't cut short their already brief interactions.

Edited by Moonsilver
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Wow, hi! Sorry i've been MIA these last few weeks! I started working the night shift and haven't gotten accustomed to it yet but, uh, here i am regardless! :) also sorry if my comments come off harsh or odd, its the lack of sleep catching up to me.

 

On 7/19/2021 at 4:52 AM, C_Vallion said:
  1. Any confusing/boring sections?
  2. Thoughts on characters?
  3. Points of interest or engagement?

1. I am contemplating the necessity of this chapter. It feels like this could be cut way down or at least include more important/spicy information. I did leave and come back to this chapter a few times but that could be because I have been having trouble focusing. My engagement was fairly low for the first half of the chapter until Al and Is talked.

2. Because I haven't been keeping up, Im having trouble remembering some of the smaller characters. So, none of them stand out at the moment. Im neutral about Is and Al because i haven't really seen them shine. Though, I think I like Al a bit more than Isr because he has had more screen time so I get to see his personality more. regardless, I want to see them interact more.

3. Most interesting part was Al and Is chatting because i feel like they havent really spoken in a while, with her being… poisoned and all. Wasn't really interested in the group's conversation after the concert, or Isr's continuous pain... Sorry Isr :/

pg 1

-i dont remember who Donv is, oops

-so this may just be me, but im waiting for the next thing to happen. I got hooked with the poisoning and then the spell stones and the meeting with Al and the king (when we learned how judgement works and all that) but these last few chapters make me want more. This is probably WRS or just the fact that I haven’t been keeping up with critiques. I probably won't feel this way after you tighten things up, cut things back, and if i read it all at once. Or maybe its because its chapter 8 and one of our main characters is still in bed. ← that sounded less rude in my head >.<

-lol im pronouncing D’s name as “Bon Iver” in my head

-”how could her muscles” yeah i hate to say it but i'm tired of Isr being in bed. I want more action. I want her to do more. I get that she has to recover but it feels drawn out to me. Perhaps it wouldnt feel this way if there was more at stake and if her being down and out affected the plot more. For instance, let's say she was really looking forward to this concert and we focused on that for a majority of the chapters. She’s super pumped and bought a special outfit and everything, but then she gets poisoned and can't go because she feels weak and has to recover. She would probably be super upset and I, as a reader, would be too. That’s a lame scenario but it gets the point across, i hope. I don't feel like she’s losing anything by being out of the game like this. I can't sympathize with her because i havent felt her loss.

“These things dont fix themselves overnight” i wish they would tho

pg 2

“Evenings concert and next days send off banquet” if something wild doesn't happen at either of these... (╮°-°)╮┳━━┳  ← supposed to be a table

-”called for her maid” Orl! Havent seen you in a while!

pg 3

“Activated it before she could change her mind” ooof thats how it starts

pg 4

“The concert was about as uneventful” tsk. ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━━┻  ← also supposed to be a table, but now flipped... yeah... i'll see myself out.

-also why bring up the concert at all? If it was uneventful… idk, maybe i'm being too picky

-im having trouble remembering which one Detr is

pg 5

“Mount sha” hmm, wondering where this is going. What's the necessity of mentioning this? Edit: oh i see, to mention the mage school probably? Sorry i'm probably being overly nitpicky

pg 6

“Political volatility” seems like there’s a lot of walking on eggshells

-i feel like a lot of this can be cut. Six pages of her not really doing much and the audience not learning a whole lot.

-i didnt get that M was trying to get Al and Is to be alone at first but idk if its a problem because Is tells us via dialogue that that's what M was doing.

pg 9

“Realized the problem” i must've missed something because i don't realize the problem

“Refused G’s offer” wait i thought it was just Al and Isr?? Isnt that why her cousin left her? So Isr could be alone with Al? 

“What is the king planning?” i think this could be set up a bit better, make it really seem like something is on his mind. I do like this tho, my attention is increasing!

pg 10

-”but thats changing the metaphor” i like that she says he would just be another shark

pg 11

“Voices approaching in the hallway” G is on the lookout for people because Isr doesnt want to be seen for fear of her slow pace giving away that she is injured? Bit unclear

-also why isnt Al helping her >:( rhetorical question, but still

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14 hours ago, karamel said:

-also why isnt Al helping her >:( rhetorical question, but still

I think it would have been a really nice moment if Al had offered Is an arm, and she took it.

I really wanted to see that happen.

Edited by Moonsilver
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I swear you guys all sit around and wait for me to respond to the first couple of critiques before hitting submit so that they show up right after I've typed up responses. :P
Though I guess it makes sense that most people don't have time to read until weekends.  I just have a weird schedule in that weekends are far busier for me than most weekdays. 

15 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

I don't know what it is, but I feel like your supporting characters tend to hog the spotlight and get the best scenes and lines. Your protagonists end up looking bland and ineffective compared to them. Also, your protagonists spend a great deal of the scenes doing inner monologue, when they should be interacting with the world and people around them. I think they need to get out of their heads a bit. Give them more dialogue, and juicy dialogue at that.

I think part of this is that there are a lot of things that are coming across as being implied in my head, but aren't anywhere near clear enough for the reader to pick up on. Especially in regard to Is's personality and motivations.  And as is often the case, I've made my life more difficult by having rather introverted protagonists.  Is's quietness  is supposed to be a contrast to pre-poisoned Is showing that she's struggling mentally and emotionally more than she's letting on. But not having pre-poisoned Is on-page much beforehand certainly doesn't help.  Still trying to figure out how to convey all of that...

15 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

"...she asked, switching to massage the other leg. Is nodded once and switched to the other leg." This reads strangely, almost like Is has 3 legs.

Hah.  That's because I'm pretty sure I meant to delete one of those phrases and didn't. Whoops. 

16 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

Wow, using the energy stone seems horrible. Like stabbing yourself in the heart with a syringe of adrenalin. Seems a bit like black magic or something.

Good. It should be coming across as pretty miserable.  Does this affect the above impression about the firestone being more magick-y at all?  Or create any additional assumptions about the magic system as a whole? 

16 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

May seems like the pushy, overly flirty friend that means well but also oversteps their bounds.

Accurate.

16 hours ago, Moonsilver said:

It sets up a hypocritical sense to her thoughts and actions. She spends a good part of this chapter refusing to allow others to help her, and then wishing they would, and thinking about how nice it would be if they did. It's like she's playing the stoic and the victim at the same time. 

In theory this should be coming across as more of an inner conflict where she's aware that it's stupid to refuse their help but also unable to get past her own stubbornness and fear of looking weak. But I think she needs to call that out for it to come across right. 

15 hours ago, karamel said:

sorry if my comments come off harsh or odd, its the lack of sleep catching up to me.

No problem.  Most of the issues that are still going on here deserve bluntness.  

15 hours ago, karamel said:

so this may just be me, but im waiting for the next thing to happen. I got hooked with the poisoning and then the spell stones and the meeting with Al and the king (when we learned how judgement works and all that) but these last few chapters make me want more. This is probably WRS or just the fact that I haven’t been keeping up with critiques. I probably won't feel this way after you tighten things up, cut things back, and if i read it all at once. Or maybe its because its chapter 8 and one of our main characters is still in bed. ← that sounded less rude in my head >.<

18 hours ago, karamel said:

I get that she has to recover but it feels drawn out to me. Perhaps it wouldnt feel this way if there was more at stake and if her being down and out affected the plot more.

This is a thing I've been struggling to figure out pretty much for this entire section.  On one hand, I want it to come across as the poison having actual consequences instead of just being immediately fixed without any issues. I don't think it's so much that there aren't things at stake so much as that I've done an incredibly bad job of conveying what the actual stakes are.  Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to portray what is important to pre-poisoned Is, since we only interact with her for half a chapter. So that's made it really hard for post-poisoned Is to not just seem sad and pathetic.  And I haven't figured out a good way to deal with that yet.  Part of it is that I still need to trim a lot back in chapters 4-8.  (While also finding a way to get all of the plot setup details in there in an engaging way. Blargh). But I'm still not completely sure that chapter one starts where it needs to to get things started at the right point. 

19 hours ago, karamel said:

-”called for her maid” Orl! Havent seen you in a while!

And this is the most we see of her for a while... Honestly still trying to figure out if she should be a named character through here at all, except that it then makes it seem like Is doesn't pay attention to her servants' names...which isn't what I want to convey either...

19 hours ago, karamel said:

“The concert was about as uneventful” tsk. ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━━┻  ← also supposed to be a table, but now flipped...

Fair. 

19 hours ago, karamel said:

-also why bring up the concert at all? If it was uneventful… idk, maybe i'm being too picky

Okay. So I get this. And this (along with a few related issues) is something I feel like I've been struggling with. I know I do too much lead-in to conversations and too much explanation of everyone's reasons for being in a given place at a given time, but I feel like leaving that out entirely would make things feel random or ungrounded?  Like if we just appear in the garden with Al and Det and May, when the last time we saw Is, she was struggling to walk across her bedroom and seemed pretty fine hiding away indefinitely.

So. Real question. Doesn't that require some explanation for why she's out in the gardens instead of still being locked away in her room? Most of the plot relevance is in the fact that it's Is- forcing herself to go out and keep up the facade of normalcy, not in it being a concert, but I feel like there still needs to be some explanation?  

This is something I need to get a better sense for all around, so any thoughts any of you have on this would be great.  @Ace of Hearts @RedBlue @Moonsilver

19 hours ago, karamel said:

“Mount sha” hmm, wondering where this is going. What's the necessity of mentioning this? Edit: oh i see, to mention the mage school probably? Sorry i'm probably being overly nitpicky

Similar question here to the previous one.  I tried to include some of this here because Is- is going to be in Mal- and it seems equally problematic to open the first scene there with a geography summary.  I'd hoped that knowing that she's going there and that it's to some extent tied to her uncle's magic use would be enough to create more of a "Ooo. So what are we going to be doing there?" curiosity?  But maybe not?   I feel like I've run into a number of "Why are we having this conversation?" questions in critiques related to similar plot setup situations. And I definitely need to figure out how to make some improvement on that in my next round of revisions (as well as continuing forward on this one).  

So. Thoughts?

5 hours ago, Moonsilver said:
19 hours ago, karamel said:

also why isnt Al helping her >:( rhetorical question, but still

I think it would have been a really nice moment if Al had offered Is an arm, and she took it.

I really wanted to see that happen.

Mostly Al is aware that the last time he offered to help her, she stumbled off on her own and almost got herself killed, and all of that still pokes at his PTSD a bit.  But maybe having him awkwardly say something along the lines of "I'd offer help, but it went poorly last time."  (which Is- would appreciate far more than the offer of an arm anyway) might get that across.

 

Oof.  Lots of things to be thinking about in all of these points.  Thanks, all!  

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10 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

So. Real question. Doesn't that require some explanation for why she's out in the gardens instead of still being locked away in her room? Most of the plot relevance is in the fact that it's Is- forcing herself to go out and keep up the facade of normalcy, not in it being a concert, but I feel like there still needs to be some explanation?

You could start the scene with Is arguing with Do about how she needs to get out and be seen to keep up the charade of normalcy. Do would likely disagree as her tending healer, wanting her to rest and heal more before going out. Then she goes to the park anyways and sees everyone there.

19 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

But maybe having him awkwardly say something along the lines of "I'd offer help, but it went poorly last time."  (which Is- would appreciate far more than the offer of an arm anyway) might get that across.

I think this is great. Do it. 

21 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

Good. It should be coming across as pretty miserable.  Does this affect the above impression about the firestone being more magick-y at all?  Or create any additional assumptions about the magic system as a whole?

Firestone still seems more magicky, just because it's magic you can see. You only see the effects of the energystone. It does imply though, that some magic has a darker aspect to it than others, which is intriguing. 

24 minutes ago, C_Vallion said:

In theory this should be coming across as more of an inner conflict where she's aware that it's stupid to refuse their help but also unable to get past her own stubbornness and fear of looking weak. But I think she needs to call that out for it to come across right

I see what you're getting at. I can't put my finger on it, but I was becoming annoyed with Is every time she refused help from someone, and then struggled and was in pain as a result of it. It's like I kept wanting to roll my eyes at her and to tell her, "you just survived an assassination attempt, and before that you defeated Ro in the tournament. No one is going to think you're weak if you need help walking afterwards or need to rest or whatever." I think my problem is I still don't understand her compulsion not to appear weak. Why is she so concerned about this?

This is complicated for the part of the scene with May and Det, since they don't know about the assassination attempt, so she's also trying not to appear weak to maintain the ruse of normalcy. In this case, maybe play it more like the reader sees occasionally grimaces and other fleeting signs of discomfort, but Is doesn't really mention her pain or tiredness. We know what kind of state she is in, and that's she's trying to put on a brave face for her father. So we can see more of Is' toughness in a scene where we know she's hurt and feels bad, but acts like she isn't and doesn't think about it as much. Turn up her competence slider in working through the pain with grace.

I'm starting to ramble so I'm out.

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58 minutes ago, Moonsilver said:

You could start the scene with Is arguing with Do about how she needs to get out and be seen to keep up the charade of normalcy. Do would likely disagree as her tending healer, wanting her to rest and heal more before going out. Then she goes to the park anyways and sees everyone there.

Unfortunately, Do is also under orders from her father and uncle.  And as the mage-healer who was involved with helping her survive the assassination attempt, he also has a lot to lose if said charade fails and his involvement (or her uncle's) comes to light.  Though even playing up that aspect would probably help with the engagement level (to jump to other issues for a moment). Hmmmm...

35 minutes ago, Moonsilver said:

Firestone still seems more magicky, just because it's magic you can see. You only see the effects of the energystone. It does imply though, that some magic has a darker aspect to it than others, which is intriguing.

See, that's funny, because in my head, the firestones would come across as less magicky because they're more common and more practical. Almost like flipping a light on. Or turning on the stove. You might not understand how the electricity makes it work, but you know what to expect when you flip the switch, and can trust it to do what it's supposed to. 

Whereas the healing stones would be more like medication, where it will probably do what it's supposed to, but it very well might have some unexpected or unpleasant side-effects.  So to me it makes sense to be more cautious of the healing stones.  But part of that is not having had a good chance to show the real range of what magic is capable of or how it can go wrong. And I'm sure that having the capabilities and limitations of the magic system bouncing around in my head for literally years probably has something to do with it.

The important thing from this is that some spellstones are more complicated or require more background knowledge than others, which seems to be coming across. That will be coming back in a couple more chapters.

11 minutes ago, Moonsilver said:

I think my problem is I still don't understand her compulsion not to appear weak. Why is she so concerned about this?

Yeah.  This needed to be made much clearer at the beginning, but I can't figure out a place to make it obvious in a way that feels realistic.  Ultimately, she sees her purpose in life as doing everything she can to serve the kingdom. In addition to behind-the-scenes things like helping with her mother's research or acting as a sounding board for her father's political thought-processing, she sees that as requiring her to create a public image of strength, control, and capability to represent the royal family well and to avoid being recognized as a weak point of the royal family and used against her father.  Because she's spent most of her life watching her father mask his weaknesses and watching the more vicious members of the court try to capitalize on them. 

After the poisoning, she's confronted with being suddenly unable to represent the family in the way she thinks necessary, and is afraid of becoming a further point of vulnerability for her father, or for screwing up the things he has been working toward if members of court try to leverage the assassination attempt for their own purposes. 

So it's a whole "How am I useful or valuable to anyone if I'm incapable of doing this thing that has been a foundational point of my identity for so long?" thing that is also a "I'm hiding my actual issue of being unable to deal with my own vulnerabilities behind the more palatable issue of wanting to better serve the kingdom" thing.  

But I'm pretty sure that most of that is...not coming across. 

Because starting out with the tournament (while a more exciting scene than other potential options I've come up with) doesn't have her directly interacting with any of the people she's trying to put on that initial front of competence for. And after that she's in a bit of a pity mode and hiding away from all of the people who might notice she's not entirely in control of her life at the moment.  
I tried to have some of it come across in 5(?) when she mentions being afraid of being used against her father, and a little in 7 when she snaps at Ali about feeling useless and her diversionary tactics of framing things in a way that makes her pretend she has more control over her pain and emotions than she actually does.

But there needs to be more clarity at the start for it to come across like I want it to, and a lot of the subtleties are missing altogether.
Ultimately, I am not hugely surprised by a lot of the frustrations with Is- through this round of revisions... some of the key motivation foundations are still missing and I have yet to find a good way to get them across.

35 minutes ago, Moonsilver said:

I'm starting to ramble so I'm out.

Psshhhh.  That's never stopped me (obviously).  


Thanks so much for the additional thoughts.  My problem-solving process benefits a lot from these sorts of working-through-issues conversations, so even if they don't bring up specific solutions, they're extremely helpful. 

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4 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Okay. So I get this. And this (along with a few related issues) is something I feel like I've been struggling with. I know I do too much lead-in to conversations and too much explanation of everyone's reasons for being in a given place at a given time, but I feel like leaving that out entirely would make things feel random or ungrounded?  Like if we just appear in the garden with Al and Det and May, when the last time we saw Is, she was struggling to walk across her bedroom and seemed pretty fine hiding away indefinitely.

So. Real question. Doesn't that require some explanation for why she's out in the gardens instead of still being locked away in her room? Most of the plot relevance is in the fact that it's Is- forcing herself to go out and keep up the facade of normalcy, not in it being a concert, but I feel like there still needs to be some explanation?  

I see what you're saying and I thought about this too, but overall decided that it felt unessential. I probably wouldn't have minded it if I were more invested in the characters. I do like @Moonsilver's suggestion about her arguing with Bon Iver— I mean Do. But it doesn't have to be that obviously. Maybe if there were more tension in the situation that would help. Like someone jokingly pulling Isr along and causing her pain and we have to watch her struggle to keep the facade. It could be comedic which would make her more sympathetic. Something like that mountain climbing comment but in action. There was mention of M being suspicious but it didn't stand out to me as much. Also, I'm still unclear on the stakes of them finding out. I know it would be bad but I haven't seen it in action, so my brain is like, "so what if she is suspicious?" I guess, the consequences aren't fully clear to me.

4 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Similar question here to the previous one.  I tried to include some of this here because Is- is going to be in Mal- and it seems equally problematic to open the first scene there with a geography summary.  I'd hoped that knowing that she's going there and that it's to some extent tied to her uncle's magic use would be enough to create more of a "Ooo. So what are we going to be doing there?" curiosity?  But maybe not?   I feel like I've run into a number of "Why are we having this conversation?" questions in critiques related to similar plot setup situations. And I definitely need to figure out how to make some improvement on that in my next round of revisions (as well as continuing forward on this one). 

I kind of got that, with the mage school mention. But yeah, i just think the biggest problem is that I'm hungry for more plot movement.

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