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Ace of Hearts

9/27 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 15 (L; 4675 words)

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Hi everyone!

I'm back after a couple week hiatus. Your comments on the last chapter were really helpful; a lot of stuff with B was fairly spontaneous so I definitely agree that she doesn't fit into the plot as well as I want. 

As for this chapter, the beginning and end parts were basically fully rewritten yesterday though a lot of the middle stuff is the same. I'm constantly tweaking W's and N's relationship dynamics so I'm curious to see how it comes across here. 

Questions for after reading:

1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion?
2. Thoughts on characters?
 
Thanks! :)
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Pg 1:

“someone who doesn’t feel the need to make constant conversation” oh man. I’m with ya there, W.

“police car” uh oh.

Pg 2:

“from earlier”  this makes it sound like it had been the same day.  “the other day” or something like that might work better.  Trying to remember how long it’s been in-story since that interaction.

“Please remember what we said.” Gee. What a fun family this must be to hang out with…

Pg 3:

“not saying that as an insult…” not entirely sure how this could have been taken as an insult.

Pg 4:

“The driveway…” has she been here before?  I guess it’s his grandpa’s house. So he wasn’t living there while they were together, I assume.  But if grandpa is local, there was never any big family party that she was invited to or anything like that? For some reason it seems strange that she wouldn’t have been there. But then, my family is big on inviting significant others to everything so my perception could just be skewed there.

“watch his back” how regularly do they expect him to get beat up on?  

“my lack of social skills”   I know she’s direct about these sorts of things, but calling it out this specifically seems a little like overkill when we often get her thoughts about how her poor social skills. I think something along the lines of “That is going to be difficult.” would be clear enough and wouldn’t sound quite as forced.

Pg 5:

“doesn’t have to try at that”  Huh. Meek wouldn’t have been a word I would have picked to associate with E.  At least not in the way W seems to be implying (deferential/submissive). Not that he’s loud and overbearing, but his attempts to help people through their problems in a sort of aggressively supportive way doesn’t quite read as meek to me… Not sure. Maybe I just have some strange religious-upbringing-rooted connotations with “meek” that are making it seem funny.

Pg 6:

“I don’t like her either.” Is this from E?  Why does no one just tell him to stop dating her?

The sentence describing grandpa is a little long.

“margarita” not “margherita”  Margherita is the pizza.

“I though the J- girl…” Man. Also a super fun family to hang out with…

Pg 7:

“I wonder if this guy” Again wondering how W doesn’t know this already.

Pg 8:

“places a hand on the boy’s shoulder” not sure if this is because I took a break in reading and am jumping back in this morning, but the blocking here threw me off. I hadn’t gotten that grandpa was within arm’s reach of C in the earlier setup.

“He brought several women over” while there’s probably no not-awkward way to get this across, this seems like an odd way to explain…

Pg 9:

The conversation through here also feels a little off for some reason. Like things seem spelled out more than they need to be to the point that it feels maid and butler-y

“N says” should be E says.

Pg 10:

 Wouldn’t most of the target audience know what allosexual means?  Even if they don’t, I’d think the context would get the point across.

Pg 11:

“Not sure I want to ask.” I get W having this perspective, since she’s a little more reserved and not as comfortable in social situations. However, I’m sort of surprised that N isn’t a little more up front with E about the fact that being allosexual doesn’t mean they’re making out in corners every moment they’re together.

I get where E is coming from, wanting to give them some privacy because he’s not sure what being allosexual is supposed to look like and it seems like what he’s supposed to do. I’m a little surprised N doesn’t call him out on it, though, since he doesn’t seem to get as embarrassed about that sort of thing as W would. It seems odd that he’d let the misunderstanding go when it’s something that E is likely a little sensitive about as he’s navigating being ace around allo friends.  E leaving his friends assuming they need privacy to make out feels like a very isolating move, so just silently letting him go then acknowledging that the reasons he left are flawed seems a little rude on N and W’s part.

I think this partly pokes at the part of me that gets really irritated about society pushing teens and kids into any “romantic” relationships before they actually make sense (I think this is also part of what bothers me about no one being concerned about how much E and B don't like each other. Because it makes it seem like it's supposed to be normal, since at least he's with someone).

It also seems to be enforcing the idea that relationships need to have a strong physical/sexual component to be a real relationship, and that romantic relationships should automatically get priority over friend relationships.  I doubt that’s intentional, since it doesn’t match up with the rest of the story’s pushing back against social/relational norms, but by not having someone acknowledge that E is unnecessarily leaving his friends in his room to hang out by himself in a house where he’s obviously not super comfortable, it’s coming across that way a little to me.

Pg 12:

“aren’t guns made out of…?” This seems like a place to push W’s intelligence. “But guns are made of steel. There’s iron in them.” Or something like that.  Though if it’s just where they’re touching the gun that can’t have iron in it, I think a lot of guns are coated in things other than steel, since iron and steel can rust.  This isn’t based on much, but I’d assume most modern guns try to make as many parts out of non-ferrous metals as possible to avoid rusting and minimize weight (iron is heavy)

Some of the conversation in 12-16 feels like it goes on a little longer than necessary, and is a little more on the nose than feels natural for a conversation between teenagers.  Your notes say that was just rewritten, so I'm guessing an editing pass or two will help with some of that, but I do still think it should take more than a single conversation for them to get down to the root of the problem, even if they are able to address some of it here. 

1. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion?
No confusion except for the one blocking situation.  I like getting more information about E's backstory and having N and W address some of their relationship challenges, but I do think the conversations around those could be streamlined a little better to make the dialogue seem more natural for the character's ages.
2. Thoughts on characters?
Mostly covered that above.  At the moment, I mostly feel bad for E for feeling like he has to leave the other two when he and W just had a big conversation about how they're both worried about N.
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Sorry for being late! This week got away from me.

1) I was a little confused on what the police officer was doing in front of the rich guy's house (and also how he hasn't been report for being a total creep, but also I have seen some of the terribleness of the US police force...). I was also a little confused on when E moved to this house and where he was before? Maybe that's something earlier in the story I've forgotten. Otherwise, I thought this was a good chapter.

2) Some really good development with W and N, and something I'd been waiting on for a while. E's allo/ace conversation is a little strange, as @C_Vallion says. It's good for representation, but could probably be cut down to make it stand out less.

Interested to find out how the new players fit into the story.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: “Ah. It’s not like the cop is here for an investigation. Sorry for not making that clear. He’s.”
--bit of an awkward sentence...

pg 1: "At first glance he looks like the prototypical police officer, but I have met this person before"
--So isn't he still a prototypical officer? Recognizing him hasn't changed that.

pg 2: “You are quite a fascinating person, you know."
--so, like, report him for harassment?

pg 2: "I’ll leave your little… acquaintance alone."
--report for harassment part 2? what was he planning on doing, anyway?

pg 4: The whole using taekwando on bullies thing sort of rubs me the wrong way, though W at least mentions how wood doesn't fight back.

pg 5: Also, if the creepy police officer is hanging around in front of this mansion without invitation he would DEFINITELY be called out and reported. Rich people have very little tolerance for law enforcement getting into their business.

pg 9" “Not that I was around for any of this,”
--I thought E lived here? Why was he not around?

bottom of pg 9: Should that be "E says," not "N says?"

pg 11: The allosexual section is interesting information, but E's been in relationships before he came out as ace, right? He knows what goes on. He's acting like he has no idea how to act in an allosexual way.

pg 14: good conversation on anxiety and feeling needed. This adds some good depth to N's character.

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Hi!

p1 - I'm struck by the amount of trust that B seems to have now for W. Given B's whole deal with playing the popularity game, and her tendency to assume the worst about people, it seems like a big deal that she's letting W see behind the mask when she doesn't absolutely have to. It's interesting to see this side of B, but I do wonder why she's so comfortable with W after so little time.

p4 - When E and W are talking about physically protecting N from bullies, I think there are bigger logistical problems than W not knowing how to fight properly. Is E suggesting that they guard N at all times? It's not very practical for them to always be hanging around him.

p7 - It sounds like W is just putting together that E's grandpa is an evil pharma CEO, but didn't we already learn that from the beach chapter?

p9 - So E has a brother that W doesn't know about? Isn't it a bit weird that E never mentioned having a brother to W before? I'd expect W to have questions about how she didn't know that one of her closest friends has a sibling.

p15 - I like how W lays out exactly how their hang-ups are creating this feedback loop of problems.

 

It seems like some actual villains are being introduced!

1. Things that I liked: the cop continues to be mysterious and creepy and I want to find out more about what's going on with him. I also like the second part of W and N's conversation, where W actually hammers out the things that are causing problems in the relationship and addresses them.

Things I found less engaging than they could have been: the evil rich grandpa came off as a bit generic. He has enough pages in this chapter that I want to come away with more of an impression than just rich, evil, and controlling in a typical bad guy way. I also found the first part of W and N's conversation to be a bit rehash-y.

As the others said above, I'm not sure why nobody is questioning the situation with the creepy cop more. Doesn't he have actual work to be doing? How does he justify all this shady hanging around to his bosses? Aren't cops supposed to work with a partner? Is he even on duty??

I also feel like I'm missing some details about E's living situation. He keeps talking about how this isn't his money and it isn't his house, but ... it kind of seems like it is? Even if he's not set to inherit, this is how his family lives, right? I would understand if he decided to just disown the lot of them, but if that's what he's doing, why go along with their plans for his dating life?

2. Everyone seems to be in character, and I've already given my thoughts on the new characters.

Interested to see where this is going.

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1. My main points of confusion were:

-trying to pin down how familiar W and B are. W seems very aware of B's behaviors and body language cues, but doesn't recognize her father. You mentioned before that B will be ret-conned into the story earlier, so maybe this will resolve itself. The conversation between W, B and B's dad read a little awkwardly to me. 

-Where do B and B's dad go? They both seem to just vanish after N shows up. 

2. Its nice to see a teen relationship that isn't built around an easily resolved misunderstanding like many high school romance movies. I like that they talk things out rather than angsting. 

Side note: "What's going on D...? Was this nickname used before? It doesn't seem familiar 

 

Thanks for sharing!

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