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Ace of Hearts

8/9/21 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 9 (2364 words) (L, V?)

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Posted (edited)

There's some violence in a game that's being played within the chapter but I don't know if that counts for a tag
 
Hi everyone,
 
Thanks for your feedback last time! I know I was missing for a while, but I did read everyone's responses. I think the main thing I'll focus on in revisions is clarifying that W is at her core not trying to say "Go away I don't want your support" and more trying to say "I don't know if I can handle a serious relationship right now with everything else going on." Which is why the cultural differences around dating matter.
 
Now, onto chapter 10! This is the chapter that out of all of them gave me the most trouble in self-revision out of all of them. Turns out, writing about people playing d&d with nothing else going on is... really boring. I heavily trimmed and rewrote in an attempt to focus in on the fun stuff and parts relevant to the characters' arcs, and I'll be interested to hear if that makes the chapter engaging.
 
Questions (usual plus a couple):
1. Points of engagement, non-engagement, and/or confusion?
2. Thoughts on characters here?
3. Does this chapter's existence feel justified to you? In the first draft it really wasn't and I'm curious if my changes solved that or if it still has the same core problems
4. The more I read feedback and look at the story myself the more convinced I am that, as currently written, W has undiagnosed ADHD and associated hypersensitivity to rejection that explains a lot of why she comes off as irrational and unrelatable to many readers. Any advice on what I should do about this? I could try and rewrite her as neurotypical but that does drastically change pretty much everything about the story and eliminates a lot of her conflict. Or I could lean into her explicitly having ADHD but that is also kinda what I'm already doing with a separate paranormal romance novel I'm writing. Any thoughts on the matter are helpful, even if you don't have much experience with ADHD!
 
Edited by Ace of Hearts
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Pg 2:

The conversation about the shirt goes on a little longer than it probably needs to.  I think this falls into a similar category as the one previous conversation about make-up and the like.  I’m all about a little commentary on ridiculous gendered fashion standards, but more than a few lines feels too on the nose. 

“what makes it a girl’s shirt anyway?” Also necklines.  You forgot the necklines.  Because girls obviously can’t wear shirts that don’t at least pretend to show cleavage *facepalm*

“Mom ushers us but mostly N…” I think we need some commas here. Or parentheses or em-dashes.  Something to separate the “but mostly N” from the rest.

I find the lack of familiarity with Lord of the Rings odd.  I mean.  I get being off-grid and from some sort of magical community, but LotR isn’t exactly pop culture. What do they do in their free time where he’s from?

Pg 3:

If they just had to explain all of the other general fantasy tropes to him, aren’t they a little surprised by his keen knowledge of fey lore?

Pg 4:

“We talked a lot about Irish mythology…” but is unfamiliar with other mythologies? I feel like magical creatures would find the fantasy genre especially amusing for what they get wrong.  Or would be deeply involved with it to intentionally mislead people.  I’d sort of expect N to have some strong opinions on Tolkein’s elves vs. Keebler elves. Or how so-and-so says the fey do x, y, and z, but really, that doesn’t make sense.

“Not exactly…Eld- blast” Hah.

“glad you have faith in my magical powers…” I’d expect him to find her comment a little more unnerving.  He seems to get nervous about a bunch of other things. This seems like it would hit pretty close to home, high charisma or not.

Pg 5:

“…the pain from her joy relying…” this sentence could use some reworking for clarity.

Pg 6:

I think this does a good job of making the gameplay section more about W’s emotional reaction to the game instead of about the play-by-play of what’s happening.  Nice job there.

Pg 7:

“the way I play isn’t good enough.” Above, it seemed like she was upset because she wanted to be the one to make her mom feel better, and N was doing that instead.  But then there’s frustration because she feels like she’s not playing well. Which sort of makes her come across as a sore-loser… I think it could be helpful to have a little more clarity on what exactly is making her upset, since right now it seems like possibly both? But that she’s ignoring the one that seems like the bigger deal on this page, so I’m not sure what to make of it.

Pg 8:

Before I get bogged down in rambly thoughts, I like the last line. It makes me want to just pat N on the head for being a nice boy and for being supportive even when W doesn’t seem to want to be supported.

There’s a lot of WRS in the following thoughts, but here we go…

This is reminding me that it’s been a while since we’ve had any informational tidbits about the whole threat to the magical creatures thing.  I know we had E’s grandfather (?) mentioned in rather ominous tones, but I don’t think we’ve had much other big-picture threat stuff going on.  I’m pretty sure you scratched the prologue, and I know a lot of my thoughts here are from when that was still included, but at this point, we haven’t seen too many hints of anything going on beyond high school relationship plotlines.

It may just be the suspicious part of my brain, but my thought immediately upon reading this section was “Welp. Looks like we’ll have a big standoff at some point where N has to decide whether to hurt someone who is trying to kill him. And W is going to have to decide whether or not to abandon him to his poor decisions. Oh. That’s suddenly far darker than anywhere we’ve been thus far” if that’s just reading too much into things (as I tend to do), feel free to ignore this, but if we do head in that direction, I think we might need a few more hints at the big picture threat by this point in the story.  

At the moment, we have vague whiffs of magic here and there, but nothing concrete, and W seems entirely uninformed. So depending on how far into the story we are, and how far we shift away from the high school setting by the end, it might be helpful to have a few more directional markers early on.

 

1. I liked how well N took to the D&D game, and how excited W’s mom was about it.  It was a little frustrating to see W coming across as almost jealous about how well they were getting along, though.  

2. I think most of my character thoughts are in the lbls.

3. Maybe?  I think it depends where things are going.  If their conversation at the end is foreshadowing turns in slightly darker directions, then yes.  Otherwise, I’m not sure.  I like it (partly just because I like D&D and board games) but I don’t think I know enough about the ultimate direction of the story to say if this moves it in that direction or not.

4. I don’t have much experience with ADHD, so it may just be my lack of awareness, but I definitely wouldn’t have recognized that in W based on the symptoms/mannerisms I’m aware of (I wasn’t aware that hypersensitivity to rejection is associated with it at all).  I guess I’d wonder what significant changes you’d expect to have to make to make her more clearly neurotypical, since I don’t really see it as having to be an either/or if you shift away from the undiagnosed ADHD possibility.  I’d think the past trauma of her mom’s previous illness and near-death would be enough to leave unresolved issues that would be triggered by her current circumstances.  Fear of rejection and fear of being abandoned (whether intentionally or otherwise) aren’t quite the same thing, but I’d think they would work themselves out in similar ways when it comes to avoiding letting people get too close.  I think that can be done in a way that’s more relatable to the readers without turning everything on its head.  But having a clearer understanding of what’s causing her responses and seeing her find healthy ways to cope with that might be more helpful. I know that seeing her try to overcome her anger issues was far more engaging than just giving in to them.  And even in this chapter, seeing her acknowledge that she shouldn’t be upset with N or her mom is far more engaging than if she was just moping. 

There’s also the fact that there’s no big reason not to have two separate projects with protagonists who have ADHD. 

I don’t know if any of that is helpful.  I don’t have much background related to ADHD or other disorders that begin before or near birth, so I’m not much help on that front.  However, I have done a decent amount of training related to trauma-related disorders as part of foster parent training, and am glad to have my brain picked about that should it be potentially helpful.  It may not be any more conclusive (is anything I go on about ever conclusive?) but it’s something I feel slightly better equipped to comment on.  

And now that I've put together yet another critique that's more than half the length of the chapter itself, I'll see myself out. 

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Hi! Sorry I'm later than usual for this one, I was doing other stuff.

As I read:

p1 - Wow six hours for character creation AND and the first play session? They're really speedrunning D&D huh? :P

p1 - Is N wearing a T-shirt with a Twilight reference? Does he even know what Twilight is?

p1 - Wait, it's a girls' shirt, which I guess means it's not a Twilight reference. It might be worth keeping in mind that, in a paranormal romance, any reference to boys and sparkling is going to look like a Twilight reference. Maybe you could mention that it's a girls' shirt when you first describe it?

p2 - A second weird iron comment from N. Last time this came up it felt believable that W glossed over it as just N being N, but having it come up a second time makes it stick out more, and I'm starting to think that W should have more questions.

p4 - Nitpicky style note: D&D italicises its spell names and doesn't capitalise them (in the Player's Handbook, at least) so you might want to change it to 'eldritch blast'.

p5 - The paragraph starting 'we also pick out fantasy races and names' feels like a boring bit.

p8 - It feels like the chapter cuts off rather abruptly. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from this, or how the situation has changed since before the D&D date. W is sad that she's not as personable as N, but is that actually important? Or is it just more of her general insecurity?

 

1. Generally, I liked this chapter. I enjoyed the bits that were exploring the characters through how they responded to and played the D&D game, since that was fun. Even though I don't think we learned any new information, it felt like the characters were bonding and it was good to see W and N actually hanging out, and also seeing W's frustration at her own walls keeping N out.

Keep in mind that I'm fairly experienced with D&D, so I don't know how this reads to someone who isn't familiar with the game.

2. Not sure I have anything specific to say about the characters here. We don't really learn anything new, and everyone feel in-character.

3. I think that the chapter is justified in existing. This is the first time (that I recall?) that W and N have just hung out together doing fun stuff, not having drama or a heart-to-heart. It's important to have that, so that it feels like there's an actual relationship there.

Having said that, I think the ending of the chapter leaves it on a weird note. If we're supposed to take away an important point about W's issues, then it needs to be clearer. If it's supposed to be just a fun chapter of characters hanging out, I think it shouldn't end on such a downer.

4. Disclaimer: I don't have any personal experience with ADHD, so I can't speak to that.

W's psychology makes sense to me. I feel like I can understand why she is the way she is the way you're writing her already, and I like what you're doing with her. I know you've had comments saying that they find W annoying/unrelatable, but I think that's the trade-off you get with a POV character with a strong and unique voice. Some people just aren't going to connect. I don't see how explicitly giving her an ADHD diagnosis is going to change that.

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I enjoyed reading the D&D play, but I think it probably did go on too long. This may be one of those "kill your darlings" things, as I'm not sure how much it's going to add to the story. It was fun to read through a D&D play session and N is precious. I think that's what put me off W even more. Everyone is having a great time except W, because she's manufacturing drama again. So I think, since that's already a well established part of her character, this chapter doesn't add a whole lot and just made me get angry at her more...

So...I enjoyed reading it, but not sure it's necessary.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: "she devotes an unholy amount of time to preparing the game"
--a good DM!

pg 1: “I don’t sweat, I sparkle,”
--lol. I need one of those!

pg 6: "but it doesn’t stop the pain from her joy relying on N instead of me"
--Really? can't she just appreciate that everyone's having fun? This is the part of W's character I really don't think. She tries to create drama where there is none.

pg 6: "I choose not to go with him because—hello—suspicious as hell"
--okay, now W's just playing badly. The group always needs to stick together!

pg 7: "but that doesn’t change how I feel."
--yeah, I don't get W's deal here. 

pg 8: “Should I be worried about how quickly you left me to my stupid plan of getting ambushed and killed?”
--yes.

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