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Ace of Hearts

10/24 - Ace of Hearts - A Bond of Wildflowers Ch 17 (3817 words)

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Hi everyone,

I've been mulling over edits for the story as a whole and I think that the next draft I do for this novel will be very different. New characters, new events, ect. I plan to lean much more into the monster fantasy type ideas instead of vanilla romance with a sprinkle of supernatural. 
The reason I'm saying this is because it feels a bit odd (at least as someone who doesn't have a lot of experience editing) to be submitting something that has a chance of getting scrapped no matter what the feedback is. So at this point, I'm mostly looking for broad impressions rather than LBLs (though all feedback is welcome). And I know we try not to do this here, but at this point I'm also very open to prescriptive feedback since so much of this is in flux and I feel comfortable adjusting prescriptive suggestions to fit what the story wants to be.
1. On the topic of the above paragraph; are you interested in me subbing this to the end even if the story is likely to fundamentally change or should I just focus on subbing subsequent drafts?
2. Points of engagement/non-engagement/confusion?
3. Thoughts on characters?
Thanks! :)

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1. I think my biggest question in this regard is where you want to focus your effort.  If continuing to submit through this takes time away from a project (or revision) you're more excited about, I think it makes sense to put your primary focus on that instead.  

That being said, I think continuing to submit through this could be helpful just from a learning process—to get more experience and practice with editing under your belt— even if a good deal of it gets scrapped in the end. Especially if there are themes/character archetypes/tone/etc. that will carry over between the two and some of the feedback there on this will be helpful carried over to the other. 

So ultimately, my not-super-helpful input is that I think it mostly depends where you want to prioritize your time and focus.  I'm glad to continue to read through this to the end or to read through another project (similar or unrelated) if you start submitting it instead.

2 & 3 (though, mostly just general commentary, since there would be a lot of overlap between the general comments and the actual question answers)

 Arch- showing up really threw me off. Especially when some of the conversation there seems to imply that he shouldn't be able to get there on his own, and no one ever really answers the question of how he got there now.

I like the grandmother character, but her argument with N goes on a little long, and begins to devolve into a sort of bickering that takes away from her mystique.  I also feel like Ao is a little harsh when N is clearly involved in the community if he's bringing things for the kids and running off to visit as often as is implied elsewhere.

The conversation between Arch and N/Ao also feels a little exposition-dump-y, but I still don't have a clear idea of what they're talking about.

There's a bit of a non-sequitur feel to them all standing there arguing shifting to N and W going off into the woods.

I know W has been intentionally distancing herself from N, and realizes she wants to change that. I like that she's intentional about that. But I feel like the kissing scene is a huge jump when I am pretty sure I remember W not having much relationship experience?  I'd expect her to still want to move things forward slowly, even if she has intentionally made the decision to move them forward. Or to have some sort of some awkward moments of "I want to be closer, but what does that mean? Where do hands go? Do I just kiss him? Do we hug first? How do these things work?" 

They seem far less concerned/affected by the fire than I'd expect.  If it's engulfing the area, wouldn't they have more difficulty breathing?

Also don't see why Ao seems convinced that they have something to do with the fire.  Or why she seems to imply that they brought Arch- there on purpose when the guy clearly doesn't like N or W either.





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Broad impressions of this chapter:

- I'm not clear on Ao's practical role in the community. Does she hold an official position of authority, or is she just very respected in the community? Does she legally own the land, or is she talking nonsense when she threatens to kick W out of the village?

- The sudden appearance of plot feels like a bolt from the blue this late into the story, especially as it comes in the form of two characters we don't know much about having an argument that the main characters just happen to be there for.

- The ongoing idea that importing food and electricity from outside the village makes Ao a hypocrite is a bit weird to me? I mean, it's totally legit for her to want to buy food and electricity from outside but not want any other contact. The thing that seems dodgy to me is that she seems to be imposing her decisions on everyone else in the village, so I'm not sure why it doesn't register for W as a red flag.

- From the setup in this chapter, I'm expecting the conflict between the village and the outside world to be important. I think that, for that to be engaging, I have to like the village first, before the story gets into moral ambiguity territory. So far, it seems like it wouldn't be a huge loss if the village were destroyed, because it's so shady and iffy anyway. The people who live there might be better off if they got out. 


General comments about the story as a whole and subbing it:

- I'm happy to keep giving feedback on this draft version if you think that's helpful, or I'm happy to switch over to a new draft if you think this one is a dead end. I don't know what your process is, so it's up to you to judge whether continuing with this draft will help you sort out characters/theme/plot/tone for the next draft :)

- A suggestion for plotting the next draft: nail down what the B-plot is and make sure to get it in the story early. And if you're leaning into the monster fantasy aspect, you may want to shore up the rules for how exactly the magic works and what the fairies can do.


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Sorry for being so late on this one! Last week got away from me.

Like the others said, this chapter is a bit disconnected. It jumps through a lot of the aspects of the story, but doesn't really settle on any of them enough for a satisfying reaction. Both the gun and the fire I felt didn't really get the emotion they deserved.

As to your questions:

1. I think even this version has gone through a lot of changes while we've been reading it, so I wonder how connected the whole is. If you've planning on mostly rewriting it, I'm not sure feedback on the rest of this version will help that much.
2. I was engaged with the grandmother and finding out more about her and the fairies, but then the focus changed drastically to the romance plot and then back again to danger with the fire. I wasn't that engaged for the second part of the chapter.
3. I'm interested in the grandmother and what powers or status she has. I'm not quite sure what Archer is doing there.

As to prescriptive feedback, I think there are two or three different stories going on here. We have the romance between W and N, but even that took a few chapters to get going. We have the mystery with the fairies and the flowers. This ties into the romance well, as W is finding out about the magic. This could certainly be pulled earlier in the story. We also have the monster/supernatural story which I suspect is where the cop, the grandfather and so on come in. I'm honestly not sure how this relates to the story as we've seen so little of it. Then finally there is the high school event and YA part. I was never really attached to this part because I don't read a lot of YA. As with the supernatural element, this has come in a few places, mainly with the drama with B and A.

I think any of these could make a good story, but maybe not all of them together. I'd pick a couple of the ones you really want to focus on and remove the plot threads dealing with the other ones.

Looking forward to what you do with it!


Notes while reading:

pg 2: "Luring travelers in and trapping them forever"
--sounds like N isn't the usual specimen!

pg 2: "deplete the world’s natural resources"
--not sure how this part fits in...ok, W calls her out thinking it through, but I'm still not sure why it would even come up.

pg 4: Who's Sull? Is that N's last name?

pg 4: "He pulls a gun on her"
--this is all pretty sudden and there's not a lot of shock or emotion accompanying it. Things should have just gotten a lot more tense.
The grandfather is a bit over the top as a villain. There's not a lot of motivation for his actions yet.

pg 6: yeah, this is a lot different tone from the rest of the book.

pg 11: The fire is another quick change. This chapter has gone from confrontation and danger, to romance, and now to a fire?


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Sorry I'm late!

It seems like most points have already been covered:

I agree that the arrival seems sudden and could use some build up. It's a pet peeve of mine when the main villain shows up in person to do something sketchy when they have henchmen that could accomplish the same task. I completely understand why its better if he's there, but I think some explaination of why he came (apparently alone?) would help.

The romance element does seem the most solid. Side characters and plots seem to come and go but W's family and her developing a relationship with N feels the most cohesive and solid to me.

I liked the repeated element of the flowers in the medow, calling back to w and n's initial meeting and the title. It was a nice nod to the fact that this is a pivotal moment in the story. 

My main thought on character is just that some of the voices could use some more developing so that they are more distinct from each other. W's family and N's voices are all distinct and clear. Some of the smaller roll characters seem to pick up W's voice and word choice. I think that is a late draft edit and not something most authors worry about until they are nearing a final draft though.

To continue or not?

One piece of advice that hear a lot from writing podcasts is that if you need to make a change in your story  keep writing as though you've already gone back and changed it. Then you get to field test the changes and see how they work out. I can't speak from personal experience, but this makes sense to me. 

Of course, you know best what's best for your story

Thanks for sharing


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