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Ace of Hearts

8/16/21 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 11 (4356 words)

4 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,
I was able to cut a decent amount from this chapter and do a lot of editing on W's character to make her less frustrating to read about (even if she's still unlikable I promise she was so much worse in the first draft). Also, I think in terms of word count this is about the halfway point of the story. Thanks for sticking with me for this long! :)
1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion?
2. Thoughts on characters?
3. We get some hints about the external conflict here but from previous critiques I'm assuming it's too little too late. So about the external plot with magic communities: what do you want to know now, what do you want to know earlier, and what do you feel okay not knowing at this point?
4. How does the romance come across? I'm trying to hit the balance of realistically awkward for our inexperienced teenage protags but not too awkward from a reader perspective.

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Pg 1:

Something feels off about the first paragraph.  I think partly because it seems normal for someone to ask how someone’s feeling if they seem down, and with everything W is going through, it seems like it would be pretty easy to recognize that she’s feeling down.  Her calling it out as something he’s “picking up on” makes it seem like that’s a difficult thing for a person to notice.

“…unbearable when he isn’t.” unbearable seems like a strong word for someone who wasn’t sure she wanted to be in a relationship.

Sorry.” Talk about an ominous message to receive from someone out of the blue. 

On the app I’m using” This part sounds a little clunky.

Pg 3:

I like the end line of the first scene, but I think we need a little more of the emotional response beyond “I stare at it…” if she’s getting “all worked up about it.”

I love Wingspan, but I think just leaving it at them playing a board game is probably fine. I don’t think people have enough of an idea of what Wingspan is for it to be helpful.  Catan might be well known enough to come across differently, but I think non-boardgame-people would just have a “what’s Wingspan?” response.

The details of what she regularly carries in her backpack doesn’t seem necessary

Pg 4:

A lot of the conversation through here comes across a little strangely.  Some of it might just need some editing for dialogue flow to fit the slightly awkward date setting, but even then, it seems like an odd discussion to have… then again, I intentionally avoided dating in high school to avoid exactly such situations…so my opinion is probably not helpful here.

Pg 5:

“…they’re a coyote.” I’d think “it’s” would be more relevant for a coyote?

She’s not more surprised/concerned that the guy is feeding coyotes? It seems like a bad idea to be hand-feeding treats to predator animals in what seems to be a reasonably well-populated area.

“indistinguishable from his genuine one…” so how’s she know it’s not genuine? Especially if she’s doubtful of her ability to read social cues.

Pg 6:

“What’s your name? C?”  This seems to smudge the line of not lying a bit… but I’m not up to date on what falls into the category of acceptable fairy truthtelling loophole lore.  What happens to N if he tries to lie? Where does joking and sarcasm fit into that? Can he say something sarcastic, knowing that it’s not literally true? If it’s about intention, it seems like this situation here is still obviously intended to deceive even if he’s not telling any official lies.  Does faking a smile count?

“You can call me Win…” the first name introduction here seems odd. Especially when N already knows him as Officer J. Doesn’t seem like a normal thing for a police officer to do while on duty.

Pg 7:

My suspension of disbelief in regard to people not questioning N about his strange, vague comments about lying and iron and N’s weird relationship with B and such has been waning a good deal.  Especially when W and her parents are all presented as intelligent, curious individuals.

Pg 8:

“…observing and copying others.”  It’s interesting to me that you had mentioned seeing W as potentially having undiagnosed ADHD, because this line here (and a number of other random lines I’ve seen throughout. The social anxiety. Difficulty with emotional regulation. Adopting structure and routine as a coping mechanism, difficulty reading others’ emotions, camouflaging social behaviors to match expectations) seem like matches for what I’ve read about how ASD can sometimes present itself in women.  Definitely not trying to push your plans or thoughts for her character in one direction or another, but I wanted to mention that as an observation.

Pg 9:

“track it at the apex…” This sentence seems a little out of place. I think just having N comment on her hand-eye coordination is probably enough to get the point across. 

As a runner, I feel for E’s lack of hand-eye-coordination. 

Pg 10:

I don’t think the flute playing and dancing feels quite as out of place as the singing did in the one version of the one previous chapter, but it still seems a little odd for someone to show up for a date with a plan to perform a song unless they know the other person there really likes said song or really likes music in general. 

Pg 13:

“is what we’re doing now more or less intimate than kissing” Hah.  I’d actually just been trying to put together words for a comment related to that.  Like this seems more intimate than I’d expect W to be comfortable with. I feel like especially for someone who is new to relationships, being quietly close to each other can seem far more intimidating than doing stuff together.  Whether that is stuff generally put in the “physical intimacy” category or watching movies/eating dinner/going for walks.  I’ve always sort of been under the impression that most people find sharing quiet space a really vulnerable thing, since most people tend to be uncomfortable with silence even on their own, let alone silence where they have no idea what might be going through another person’s head.


1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion? I like that we’re getting more of the magic tie-in.  I do think we need that to be a little more ongoing, with more hints of it here and there throughout (beyond N’s vague comments). Though that’s also going to make the suspension of disbelief issues in regard to W and her family not picking up on it even more of a problem. It seems like we’re gearing up toward the reveal here, but I wonder if it would work for that to come in sooner?  Or maybe W figures it out earlier and helps him hide it from her parents? Part of me thinks the interaction with J here would be more engaging here if W recognized that he was trying to avoid lying and jumps in to help.  It’s hard to say without knowing what your reasoning might be for the reveal timeline.

2. Thoughts on characters? Similar to previous chapters.  I still think that in general, W doesn’t bother me as much as she bothers others, but I do get a little frustrated when she gets mopey or seems to be missing things that I’d expect an intelligent person (which she seems to be) to pick up on.

3. What do you want to know now, what do you want to know earlier, and what do you feel okay not knowing at this point? I think my main thought on this is that I’d like to see the level of magic-presence as more constant throughout, or steadily building up.  Right now it seems to be mostly absent except for the flower (which isn’t a clear magical tie right away) , then we get E talking about his grandpa hunting magical people, which is then entirely ignored for a while. Then all of the veiled comments about iron, his lack of knowledge about a lot of common things, and his excessive knowledge about fairies, none of which anyone really questions further before it gets dropped.   It seems to jump back and forth between being a paranormal setting and a standard high school setting pretty often, and I’d like to see a little more consistency throughout, which might be a lot easier to do if W has more awareness of magic earlier on.  Even if it’s not an accurate understanding. To have her recognize the flower as magical (or something. I’m obviously in ramble-thought mode) early on and have some aspect of that knowledge (even if she misunderstands what it means for it to be magical) impact the way she’s interacting with N or E (if she already has suspicions that magic exists because flowers, she’s probably going to react a little differently to E’s comments about his grandpa) or her parents or whoever else. I think some sort of more consistent presence of the magic and a steady reveal of it would be helpful for keeping it all tied together and keep it from feeling jumpy in some spots.

4. How does the romance come across? I'm trying to hit the balance of realistically awkward for our inexperienced teenage protags but not too awkward from a reader perspective.   I think it strays too far toward awkward.  Especially when N’s bluntness is already pretty close to that socially awkward line without the addition of romance nervousness. But as previously mentioned, my opinion on high school romance should be taken with many, many grains of salt.


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As I read:

First three pages are a little slow. W feeling miserable and N being supportive has been covered pretty thoroughly these last few chapters, so trimming the build-up to get to the plot faster would probably be a good idea.

p4 - the shirt comment feels out of the blue from W. I think this is the first time I've noticed her expressing physical attraction to N, so having her blurt it out rather than just think it feels very sudden.

p5 - A wild plot has appeared! 

p6 - Well, that was extremely sinister. I dig it

p7 - So B was dating the kid whose family was being investigated by her cop dad? That seems ... incredibly shady. The plot thickens.

p8 - N's comments about reading J's emotions heavily imply that he's using magic to read the emotions. It seems odd that W doesn't have more questions about N's abilities, especially after the things N just said about magic in his community. It also seems odd that W doesn't ask whether N is in trouble at any point - that would be the obvious thing to do if your boyfriend has a strange and sinister conversation with a creepy police officer.

p13 - 'I lie down and rest my head on top of his chest'

p15 - This explains why these particular flowers are only found growing in this one area!


1. The best bits of this chapter were the intrigue with J, W and N progressing their relationship, and the reveal with the flowers at the end. Everything in between those bits felt like it could be cut or trimmed - W's angst at the beginning, W and N chatting about stuff that's not important, the food. Especially as this comes right after the D&D chapter, which was all just characters hanging out having a good time, I think this chapter needs to focus more on the new stuff that's happening.

2. My only new thought about W and N is that I think W leaves it too late to start asking questions more seriously. It's clear that something super weird is going on in the scene with J, and given how N is prone to occasionally making odd comments about iron and being an 'empath', I felt frustrated with W for letting it drop so easily.

Not sure what's going on with J, but clearly he's a bad dude. I'm kind of wondering whether he had something to do with why B was dating N in the first place.


On 16/08/2021 at 4:38 AM, Ace of Hearts said:

So about the external plot with magic communities: what do you want to know now, what do you want to know earlier, and what do you feel okay not knowing at this point?

What (I think) I know now: N comes from a community living in the woods where the people are mostly fairies. He has one fairy parent, and one human parent, who died. N has some magical qualities himself, including being able to read people's emotions and creating (?) love-powered flowers. He can't lie, and iron causes problems for him. E's evil CEO grandfather, and probably also B's dad J, are trying to research the fairies to exploit their magic.

I think we could find out more about N's magical abilities/limitations earlier. These are the most obvious hints dropped, and you could introduce them a lot sooner. It would feel natural for W to pursue odd things, like the iron comments, the fairy comments, the inability to lie, the supernatural emotion-reading skills. I'm not suggesting you have N straight-up explain what his deal is, because that would be boring, but you could have W notice clues and work things out, maybe experiment a little (what happens if she touches iron to the magic flower?) before confirming it with N. That would tie the magic plot in with their relationship.

I feel okay not knowing exactly what the bad guys want with the fairies, since that feels like something we'll find out more of. I'm also okay with not knowing what the fairy community as a whole is up to, yet. Since the early part of the story is about W and N, I'm most interested in finding out what N's magic situation is.

4. I actually liked the awkwardness of the romance. It's something that gets glossed over in a lot of stories, so taking the time to unpack it is interesting. The only issue I had was that W's physical attraction to N felt like it came on suddenly, but that might just be me.


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First off, I really like the romance at the end of this chapter. It's sweet and awkward, and very enjoyable to read. Plus it's tying into the magical side of the plot, which helps to tie the characters to that side of the plot more.

As the others have said, the first few pages just seem to be W being all moped and emotionally needy, which drags things down. I think even more of this can be cut in the next draft. I didn't have a problem with the overall length of the chapter, because the rest of it was very interesting.

On the magic plot, yes, it's a bit too little too late. I like the way it comes out here, but something like the encounter with the police officer can happen in chapter 4 or 5, not 11. As @RedBlue says, It's odd that W hasn't asked any of these questions yet, especially considering N can't lie. She's smart, so I would think with the associations with iron, sweets, not lying, and a secret village, she'd be getting a strong fairy vibe.

Looking forward to finding out some more about N!


Notes while reading:

pg 1: "That I should explain to him that I feel terrible and it’s not his fault and even his hugs can’t help me now."
--Yes, lets stack more anxiety on N. Sometimes I just want to smack W.

pg 3: "I’m playing a board game called Wingspan with my mom."
--I love that game. (although @C_Vallion has a good point)

pg 5: "I can see that they’re a coyote."
--Odd pronoun. Usually animals are "its." Especially since the officer refers to the coyote as "he"

pg 8: I'm glad to finally be getting some more hints of magic with N's village and the officer. Seems like that part of the plot has been a long time coming.

pg 11: "“You don’t have to lie to me, N.”
--he's already said he literally can't lie. 

pg 12-14: great romance scene!

pg 15: also glad to end with some more movement into the magical part of the book.


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