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19.7.21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove ch 17 (3226 words)

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Hi everyone,

I’m back from break! Thank you for all your feedback so far. I’m making some trims to the laggy bits. Many of you commented on the V’s mysteriousness, and yes there is something going on there, so I’m keeping an eye on that thread while it plays out, and I’ll have questions about how that might be changed once you see more of it.

Chapter 17 this week. Usual questions:

1) Any boring or confusing bits? (And anything that feels like repeated information?)

2) Do the characters’ thoughts and actions make sense?

3) What do you make of C’s plan? Does it sound like a terrible idea, or are you on board for her to try it?


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1. I wouldn’t say that anything was boring or confusing, but there were a couple of suspension of disbelief issues I had.  The main one being them finding a car that functions at all in the conditions that C was describing, and the second being the locating of a driver.  I’d expect the first of those to be a far bigger problem than the latter.  I mean. What is anyone going to run into out on the roads? It’s not like they have to drive all that fast until they figure it out.  But finding one with a battery that has enough charge to get the motor actually running or figuring out how to jump the battery?  Those seem like far larger problems for a bunch of kids to figure out.

2. Mostly.

I really like E’s loyalty to his family and the conflict it creates about leaving, though would have liked to see slightly higher stakes there. Right now, I’d be convinced that E would be sad about leaving them, but that his parents may or may not even notice except that he won’t be able to make a proper sacrifice to the stove. I’d rather see some sign that they are in some way worthy of that loyalty, instead of the vague “yeah. He’s sad about it, but the grown-ups are evil” feeling I’m getting now.

I also have no idea what to do with V at the moment…

3. I am on board for her to try it.  I don’t know that that precludes it from being a terrible idea, but staying around to watch the town succumb to the curse seems far worse.  So I think it makes sense as the best option they have.

I will admit that GM’s idea from before of burning the whole place down maintains a place in my heart for the sole reason that I want to somehow feed the town into the stove to tear a hole in the fabric of reality or something. And apparently my brain is clinging to that spark of chaos today.

Also, does A end up being their driver?  Because that’s my guess.  And I like the idea of dragging grandpa along for the crazy road trip.  He also seems like a potential solution for the “getting one of the cars to work” problem, since he seems like he’d have the knowledge of how to get a car to work tucked away in his brain somewhere.

As I read:

Pg 2:

“All of the maps”  Is this still a connection T is going to make this quickly after her sacrifice?

“That reminds C…” On one hand, I am glad to finally get my confirmation that V had something to do with the essay, even if it then brings up questions about the timing of sacrifices if it combined with something her parents had sacrificed a while before.  However, I’m not sure this is the best place to put this. Or how T’s comments remind C of it.

Pg 3:

“She didn’t give the impression…” it might be good to have a dialogue tag on this.  We get that V is saying the first line because he calls her hatchling, and C will be responding, but when E and T are both still right there, there’s a little ambiguity here about who’s talking. 

“tactically ignoring…” heh. Good call there.

Pg 4:

If they come to the conclusion of leaving A with people, I don’t think there needs to be quite as much discussion and thinking over it.  I’m also surprised T doesn’t push back a little more, when that’s been her main job and she’s shown a pretty strong tendency toward needing to be the responsible one.

“Are those D S’s skeleton keys?” I don’t think we need this question, when E just said they were is mom’s keys then explains them.

Pg 5:

“That’s useful…” Is this C?

“strange, new kind of problem solving” C had never really struck me as being the one leading the friend group’s problem solving efforts, so her noting the others’ involvement like this seems a little odd.

“V will be fine.” Not ominous at all….

Pg 6:

Repetition of “if you can make it happen”

What happened to “came to town to be a hero” V?

Pg 7:

The scene with V here feels a little out of place.   I feel like 1. He’s leaving them to fend for themselves, and 2. That I should feel more betrayed about it.  But I think this scene and the previous one where he’d flown off to find the edge messed with my idea of what his character is supposed to be, and I’m not 100% sure why we should be concerned about his absence other than the fact that C will miss him.

“cumbersome and dangerous versions of bicycles.” Hah.

Pg 8:

Has anyone tried to burn the cars in the stove?

Also, if these cars have been sitting there that long, they’re going to need more than fuel to get started.  I can only imagine the condition the batteries would be in… I wouldn’t even expect the lights to come on.

“rapping her knuckles” this sounds like a far gentler action than the make-it-work whack I’d imagine.

Pg 9:

“C thinks about the problem of E” I’d rather see the details of this paragraph spread among the dialogue that follows

Pg 10:

“E is suddenly shouting” what was he expressing building up to this?  And how does C react to the sudden anger?

“trying to talk me into…abandoning my home.” The guy does have a point.  As does C in the following line. I like that this is a real conflict of loyalties, but I’d feel more of the tension if we’d gotten more indication of E’s parents’ love for him.  He certainly believes it, but I haven’t seen that much sign of it from them, which makes it seem like poor E is just deluded and is better off going with C.  Showing more of the family bond between E and his parents (even if it’s a little weird or twisted thanks to the stove) would really raise the stakes on this argument.

Pg 11:

“checks inside her sandwich” If C is concerned that T is no longer capable of making them edible sandwiches, that seems like something that should have been taken into consideration before giving her the task of lunch-making.  T seems a little more easily confused, but not so much that this response from C seems feasible.

Pg 12:

Is V so much older than them that he seems like he’d be any better at driving?  And really, what are they going to risk running into if E drives, if all that’s there is the road and the wasteland? Sidenote, I feel like GM would be all over driving them out of there.

It feels like there’s a little overexplaining about what everyone is going to be doing at the end of pg 12.

Pg 13:

“…would only make sense.”  If only I had a nickel for every time I’d had that thought….


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Overall a pretty smooth chapter, but I think it did get a little tied down with all the talk about cars. I guess I'm not sure whether leaving town really is the plan, or if this is setup for something else. Didn't V fly around for about a week and not find anything? Will they get much farther with a car than (literally) as the crow flies? I feel like C is grasping at straws here, while her deduction about what to do with the town is sensible, after that the story meanders a bit into what to do. A strong ending here, either finding a driver, or starting on the trip, or something stopping them, might make a better arc.

Notes while reading
pg 5: Nothing so far! I'm enjoying the planning for a quest, but wondering where the story is going next.

pg 7: not quite sure what is going on with V.

pg 12: lots of time spent on starting cars, here.

pg 13: "If the people around her would only make sense."
--I feel like there are a lot of good thoughts in this chapter, but not really a complete arc.


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As I go:

pg 1. The "I don't have a driver's license" feels out of place. It's not like the town even has or needs the infrastructure to give out that kind of certification, right?

pg 2. It really doesn't seem desperate enough for them to risk it all right now. Can't they gather more info first? 

pg 4. This bitterness from C feels new and I like it

pg 6. Yeesh V is being harsh. Not really sure where this is coming from

pg 7. Don't want to keep hammering the same points every week but I'm still not really sure what V's deal is so when he flies off I'm just like "huh, bye I guess."

pg 8. Not sure we need to see all of this in scene. I can feel my attention wandering with all of the car stuff. 

pg 10-11. Yikes E that's a really awful thing to say about C not having a family. Also he comes across as being a little flat here

-Is there a need to run away now? I really don't see why they can't do some test drives and gather more information while they iron out their plan

On 7/19/2021 at 9:37 AM, RedBlue said:

1) Any boring or confusing bits? (And anything that feels like repeated information?)

2) Do the characters’ thoughts and actions make sense?

3) What do you make of C’s plan? Does it sound like a terrible idea, or are you on board for her to try it?

1. Not really. Pretty smooth

2. More or less. I continue to not have a great read on V and E seems to naive at some points and too articulate at others, but I really like C here. 

3. I think my main issue is that I don't see the pressure C feels. It seems like C's operating under the assumption that they need to act quickly, and I think it's important to establish why. Presumably the biggest worry is the adults catching them and keeping them captive to make more sacrifices. How long does C think they have? Also spelling out what C thinks the parents will do raises the stakes. The whole thing with E asking his parents feels a bit off because of this. C seems to be thinking what they'll do is just say no, but if that's the case and the adults won't take any more action then there's really no pressure to act here. If I understand why C needs to go now then I'm on board for her to try it. 


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