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RedBlue

8.30.21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove epilogue (2316 words)

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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the feedback! This is the epilogue, and the end of the story.

Usual questions for the chapter:

1) Any boring or confusing bits?

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

Also, thoughts on the story as a whole?

I know I have some restructuring to do, especially in act one, to make the plot have more of a driving force so that it doesn’t feel like the characters are floating through a bunch of random events. I’m also planning on introducing the mayor as a villain sooner, and expand on V’s character and smooth out GM’s transition from antagonist to supporting C.

Is there anything else you think really needs attention? Anything you enjoyed that you think I should definitely keep or expand on?

Thank you very much!

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pg 1: "The movement and the rhythm speak to something deep down inside him, like scratching an itch he never noticed he had."
--I still didn't ever understand what this was.

pg 2: "Their argument does not reach a conclusion."
--I'm not sure how necessary this aside is, as these weren't main characters and we know everything that's happened here.

pg 3: Similarly with A. We know generally what happened to him. By the way, I was having trouble remembering what he gave up. I know he was stuck to his chair.

pg 5: Ah, good. I was afraid we wouldn't find out what happened when they left. (Edit. See below. I wonder if it's better not knowing?)

pg 8: "they see shoots of grass poking stubbornly out of the ground"
--cool!

pg 9: Hmmm...so the ending. Didn't V. fly for a week or so and not find anything? I was honestly expecting them to have to drive further to get outside the curse's influence. Three days of driving could be achieved by a provisioned person over a couple weeks, so I'm surprised someone from the town hasn't succeeded before.

There's some mention of the town being timeless. Is this hinting at some sort of force the stove projects to stop airplanes from flying overhead or something? Otherwise I wonder how this little town hasn't been found or disturbed before now.


Overall:
I really enjoyed this story. I think it's quite unique, and with a little editing, can be a compelling story for kids and adults. Reading the epilogue, I wonder if it might just be better to end with the driving out of town? I don't think it really adds any information we didn't know except the radius of the curse, and I think that brings up more questions than it answers. We start getting into the intersection between "our world" and the world in this book, and I wonder if it might be better to leave that line blurry, in keeping with the mysterious nature of the rest of the book.

If you do want some sort of epilogue, I think I'm more interested in where the stove and the ashen came from, rather than how far they are from another town, or where the curse ends. But that's just my opinion. We'll see what other people say.

Great job, and congrats on getting the whole book through the forum!

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I missed most of this story, which is a shame! It has a lot of charm and character.

I can't pretend I knew what the last update with most of the characters was about, but then I didn't read enough to know them. 

The scene by scene character updates followed by the repetition of two nights camping out felt a little slow. I liked the sensory details and texture for thir first night out and your mention of the pressure on the MC. Perhaps the pacing was to give a sense of time passage?

Nice closing line. Reminds me a bit of the "A Series of Unfortunet Events" series. 

Thanks for sharing!

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Pg 1:

Would still like some more clarification on the rhythm thing.  For whatever reason, I’ve been attached to the metaphor of coats and coat hooks for placing frameworks and reference details for concepts.  Every time I come across the rhythm, I feel like I’m standing there holding a coat, looking desperately for a hook to hang it on so that I don’t stand there having to figure out what to do with it.

Pg 1-4

I like these little snippets of what happens to those left behind.

Pg 5:

How far out is it that they start to see these things? They’re at ground level, so it makes sense that most smaller things would be hiding over the horizon, but if they’re seeing mountains on day 1, but haven’t reached them by day 2, I wonder how fast they’re going? And if it’s not that fast, how far out are the mountains in reality and why didn’t V notice them in his scouting flight?

Pg 8:

What is the landscape like here, that they can round a bend and find wind turbines that they couldn’t see before turning?

 

1.      Nothing boring or confusing

2.      No issues with characters’ thoughts or actions.

I really enjoyed the story as a whole.  I do think there are some adjustments to be made in the overall structure of it (but look on the bright side. It’s far less restructuring than I have ahead of me), but really love the concept and setting and tone of it.  

You mentioned the main thoughts I had in regard to things you intend to work on.

I think the only other thing that I think could use some consideration is the overall kids vs. grown-ups setup. Though part of this is just a pet peeve for me, since I do a lot of mentoring and coaching work and get really frustrated when adults and kids fail to see each other as real people and drawing made-up “Well they just wouldn’t understand” lines when said individuals would probably understand far better than they’d expect.   

Part of me would like to find at least one adult who is able to get past what they’ve sacrificed for the town to be able to offer some wisdom to the kids.  I think the explanation for why all of the adults are sort of horrible people checks out, but I would like to see more acknowledgment from C and company that the adults weren’t always as bad as they are now, and that the reason the adults had to sort of give up part of their decency was because they were trying to do what was best for the kids and weren’t able to keep the aftermath in line.  I think there could be a little more time spent addressing the grief of missed opportunities in the parent-child relationships in the town because the parents had to give up aspects of themselves to give the kids what they thought was their best chance.  To have that rewarded by the kids abandoning them to their doom in the cursed town feels like it’s skimming over something that could be a really interesting conflict.  In many ways, their sacrifices and the resulting personalities did save the kids in that it gave them more motivation to get out of there, but none of that aspect of things is addressed.

All of that being said, that definitely puts the focus on different things than you chose to.  So feel free to ignore those rambling thoughts :) 

 

Congratulations on submitting through it all! I’ve really enjoyed the reading, and wish you luck with the revisions you have planned!

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Let's go hope I'm not too late.

As I go:

pg 1. I think no matter what you do with V I'm going to be really annoyed at him for screwing over C and the others. Which means I'm going to kinda roll my eyes at whatever he says here. So I kinda want him to come across as more insufferable so it's fun to hate him.

pg 2. This is engaging but... I don't really have a strong investment in these characters. If this were gone I wouldn't feel like I was missing anything

pg 3. Now this one is more necessary since so much of the plot revolved around getting A to a place where he was happy

pg 5. I like the chapter 1 thing

pg 6-7. Hmm I'm not really getting the point of this I think. At least why we need to see it all in scene, especially the logistics. I'm waiting for the buildup to the final whammy and right now I don't see it.

pg 8. Okay the shoots is a way for us to track progress. My recommendation is to cut here immediately and have all of the anxiety/uncertainty from before be implied in the background

-If you want to include the dinner scene, I'd prefer it to be in between seeing the shoots and the city. I think the conversation would be more interesting with some sort of catalyst having already happened. 

pg 9 (top). This is a great idea but it's never going to be the most powerful it can be to me if the focus is on something that does not exist. I like the line about the feeling of inertia more than the "no past/future" idea, because I can feel inertia but I can't feel a lack of a future or past. I think this is why for me it also feels a little obvious/heavy handed in how it ties into the story having no chapters. Though one thing I like about this is that it is pure inertia as opposed to cyclical time which I think is more standard. 

pg 9 (bottom). Good sendoff.

On 8/30/2021 at 1:56 PM, RedBlue said:

1) Any boring or confusing bits?

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

1. See comments for pg 6-7. Not boring but I didn't see the point really so it felt a bit stagnant.

2. No issues here! 

On 8/30/2021 at 1:56 PM, RedBlue said:

Is there anything else you think really needs attention? Anything you enjoyed that you think I should definitely keep or expand on?

Prepare for ramblings below. I'm going to word vomit in hopes that me saying enough stuff will give you some sort of idea. 

Rambling 1: Themes/ideas of stagnation

With the ending in mind, one big thing is that I want to feel the inertia a bit more so that it doesn't have to be explained to us all at the end. Though this is very tricky because... well, how do you show inertia happening? Especially when the characters don't understand it because that's all they know? I think this is why so many of these kinds of stories rely on cycles or loops. Because it's easier to show it happening again and again to drive home the stagnation instead of being forced to show... nothingness. This could work here but I also do like the pure timeless inertia. Hmm and the more I think about this there were hints and comments; it's just that I didn't know they were supposed to be so important that they culminate to the singular point of the ending. Because instead I was really more focused on the magic of the Wood Stove. Maybe this is what I was missing about why the airplane was supposed to be important all that time ago. I was like, "airplane. cool I guess?" when maybe the response was supposed to be "whoa this is cool because it shows characters developing a concept of change, time, and the world outside the town of C."

Because of this, I think for me the most helpful think would be to link the Wood Stove to the idea of inertia. The wood stove is the most striking thing earlier in the story, so it can lead us into the main ideas and themes in a way that doesn't feel forced. Though again there are bits about how the wood stove can only rearrange things and can't really create anything new; I just didn't know that was the important part of the theme and assumed it was to ground it in some sort of rule so it felt less wishy-washy.

And with further thinking, the characters do have some sort of idea of change and future even though the story acts like they don't. Because the town of C is getting worse and worse. The thing is, this seems very important as a driving force for the characters. If there were true stagnation and no pressure of change at all, the characters leaving would feel arbitrary. Though maybe this is actually an opportunity of the story and the characters acknowledging that change does exist already in the town of C is what gives them the idea that they can leave. 

I also wonder if V could tie into this idea somehow. He's supposed to be a hero, right? That fundamentally revolves around change, progress, and moving forward. I think it could be a compelling story if he teaches C about change, falters himself, but C steps up based on his lessons and carries everyone to the finish line. It really does feel like V is set up to be the mentor figure of the story but he doesn't seem to do much mentoring. 

Rambling 2: Magic and the Wood Stove:

This is what caught my attention at the start, and I do think it's a strong part of the story that I'd like to see maintained.

Perhaps this isn't worth answering and it's kinda a personal interest of mine but I am curious if all identity qualities can be purged from the wood stove, and if not what the line is. Like... if I were purging stuff in the wood stove, could I purge my gender? My anxiety/stress? My chronic illnesses and mental disabilities (they are a big part of me after all)? Though this does very quickly get into sketchy territory since it is quite literally erasing disabilities and other identities. So maybe it shouldn't be brought up? But ah I'm so curious. 

Oh also since the fan was introduced late on I was assuming it was going to have a pretty big role in the climax and resolution but it didn't make a huge appearance. Though I definitely don't want it to solve the problem for the protagonists. 

And while we're on the topic of T, I'd like a couple things from the story about her and the wood stove. 1. Her sacrifice really feels like it hinders C's plans. Most of what this revolves around to me is making T more important before the sacrifice so that it feels like a blow to the team when she loses her insight. 2. A path forward for her. Now that she's escaped, how will she move on from what has been inflicted on her? I think all we need is a hint. 

Rambling 3: Characters

First off, as we mentioned I think that the mayor should be a stronger narrative force from earlier on. I think this indirectly helps G-M's arc as well since we don't feel the need to take her so seriously since we see she's not made to be the main villain. I think it also gives E more characterization early, since as much as I like him I think he might have the least going on character-wise out of the kids early on. 

G-M. I think her arc could do a lot of work in advancing the ideas of change and breaking free of inertia. Because burning down a house... certainly does that. I think that might give us more patience for her actions if it shows another side of the central ideas. The "dark side" of moving forward, to oversimplify. 

V. I talked about him above and I don't want to stress him too much since I may have been pushing the anti-V train a bit much. But after reading the ending my thoughts are that the story needs to make a decision on what's up with his origin and what it means. Because he came from the wood stove, but wasn't there also some element where he might have been from outside the town of C altogether? Coming from outside the town could make him a good catalyst and explain more of what he's supposed to do in his role as a hero. He is supposed to bring change to the town and take down the stagnation enforced by the wood stove, which ironically is able to exist because that sentiment from outside is filtered through the wood stove and came to life. And he does kinda succeed even as he fails, as C follows his lead and carries on. That's one story, but I'm not sure it's the one you had in mind since it does broaden the focus a bit. If there's some element of him that's from outside, that should be examined more. If not, I think the story needs to figure out why he's supposed to matter so much. 

Most of the other characters covered in above points. 

Side point:

On 8/30/2021 at 7:02 PM, Mandamon said:

Reading the epilogue, I wonder if it might just be better to end with the driving out of town? I don't think it really adds any information we didn't know except the radius of the curse, and I think that brings up more questions than it answers. We start getting into the intersection between "our world" and the world in this book, and I wonder if it might be better to leave that line blurry, in keeping with the mysterious nature of the rest of the book.

Partially agree here, but I think largely disagree if my read on what the story wants to be is correct. Agree in the sense that this raises a lot of questions that are tricky to answer, especially if this is "our world" they're travelling into, but disagree in the sense that the whole point of the ending, and of the story in general, is the characters learning to break away from stagnation and bring about change. That should be reflected in the physical world to tie the idea together, imo. That being said, it doesn't have to be a full city that they stumble on. I think even the smallest change like the vegetation mentioned might be enough to indicate the forward motion the story wants to capture. Oh, I did also agree with the other point that they get out of the radius very quickly. 

Well, congrats on subbing through the whole thing! :) Was a lot of fun to read. 

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