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Reading Excuses 10322 Shatteredsmooth Return Ch. 2_1528 words


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Hi All,
Here is my next chapter, or well, part of a chapter, from the work in progress tentatively titled Return to Elsewhere. Hopefully I come up with a better title once I've written more. Something feels off with this section and I'm struggling to move past it because of it. I'm hoping the feedback will get me unstuck so I can move forward.
Thank you!
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I'm definitely interested to see where this goes. I agree that something feels a bit off it this chapter, it was almost as if the chapter was a bit disconnected from A. A didn't really do anything in the chapter aside from comment on things. It really didn't feel like a lot happened either, they went and talked to the queen. Maybe making the chapter a bit more active would help. 

Also sometimes if you're stuck the best thing you can do is to just skip over the area where you're stuck, write a scene you do know how to write, and go back to the difficult scene after you've finished everything else. It's almost always easier to figure out a scene when everything before and after it is already figured out. 

On the bottom half of page three it says, "The walls were covered in sparkly murals that looked like the pain they were drawn with paint made from ground up gemstones." I think you meant to say paint instead of pain. This sentence doesn't really made sense, maybe something along the lines of, "The walls were covered in sparkly murals that looked like they were drawn with paint made from ground of gemstones." Would work better. 

On the bottom half of page four it says "A said, shoulders held high, not daring to show weakness of submission in front of the predator of ruler." I think you meant to say something along the lines of "A said, shoulders held high, not daring to show weakness or submission in front of the predator of a ruler." 



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P1 “As they followed him…” I think this is referring to Aer, but Aer’s used “xe” pronouns in other places.

“pristinely preserved teenage bodies…” at first I was imagining, you know, corpses, but a sentence or two later and I see that’s not what you’re going for.

“What would they think of A… A had tried to find their friends from here on the other side…” I like this, and I wonder if it might be a way of upping the tension that some of us are feeling we’re not getting quite enough of, without reverting back to the standard “A doesn’t want to go to Faerie” trope.

P3 I was sort of expecting a revelation here as to who the human guard was, but it didn’t happen.

I like the discovery of the murals, but for a place that is the “epitome of excess,” can we get a bit more description of the structure? Other lavish furnishings? Etc?

P6 Ah, here’s the lantern I was looking for on the fact that the guard recognized A but not the other way around. Maybe move this up so that you can come back to it at the end of the chapter?

Overall: I don't have much to add that I didn't just mention. I do wonder if maybe the strange things Aer has mentioned could be explored a little more here--it might give A the chance to ask more questions and maybe help with the feeling @FlowerGirl mentioned about A feeling passive (which to be completely fair, I didn't feel so much, as we do have A addressing the queen, but it is a short segment and giving them the chance to do more wouldn't hurt). 

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I also think A is a bit too passive here. We also only get one sentence from C, and then it's like she disappears. I think there are several things started in this chapter, but none of them are completed, which is why it feels unfinished. Add to that there's a lot of description and thinking in the first couple pages, which makes it go slower.

I think there may just be too many "promises" made here that don't go anywhere. We have:

The castle is large and strange, but A remembers it

The fae have perfect memories

The mysterious human guard

The queen's relationship to Ae, and relationship to A

Plotting at the ball - why does the queen need protection

And probably some others. Focusing on one or two of these and maybe giving an answer to one, even if it leads to another promise, may help this chapter solidify.


Notes while reading:

pg 2: there's a lot of description and thought in these first two pages. Maybe add some more movement as well?

pg 3: "There was something familiar about the person"
--above, A is looking for old aquiantances, but only now realises the captive human looks familiar. I wonder if this should be up when they first see the guard?

pg 5: "Flecks of glitter fell out of her hair and landed on A"
--How close are they? I was imagining they were at the bottom of a dias, so several steps away.

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Overall, I like the imagery that's presented and the implications of immortal politics, where rulers can only be displaced through plotting & murder.

Aside from my page-by-page thoughts below, it seems everyone has different views on A's levels of activeness/passivity. Personally, I wasn't bothered by it & think it's a bit natural A doesn't do much. Being presented to a guard & then the queen that previously banished them--tying to walk the thin line between not backing down or offending self-centered people in power[0] seems reasonable.

Looking back, though, I feel A's activeness could be improved & if this is the source of offness, might I suggest A relaying information to C? It seems only natural that C'd have questions about being in this strange place & it could give A something to do while not jeopardizing the odds of investigating or getting banished again[1]. Also, I think this approach could pair well with the idea of A being a teacher[2]--if you decide to go that route.


p1 Love the description of the castle & the idea of the city of tents set up for the festivities. Mentally, I imagined medieval pavilions instead of the modern triangular ones, but I think a bit about the color of the tents & the lush fields could really sell the scene further[3].
p1 Ah, the rooms move! Perhaps that's why the turrets & towers *seemed* to be in different places when looking back at them. Maybe that wasn't an illusion!
p1 I like the clarity that humans don't age in this place & the implications that could have for A encountering former human acquaintances that he searched for but didn't find in the human world (and the ambiguity of their fates).
p2 Nice choice for the queen's name!
p3 Ah, someone seems to recognize A!
p3 looked like
the pain they were drawn with paint made from ground up gemstones
. looked like the pain they were drawn from was made from ground-up gemstones
p3 I like the detail & succinctness used to describe the murals!
p3 Ah, they have feline eyes! (i.e., slitted pupils) Do they all have them, or is this actually not literal?
p4 Near-perfect memory hampered by paying attention, interesting & good worldbuilding!
p4 realms destruction realm's destruction


[0] (i.e., the queen can banish people & the guard could decide not to let them pass, wasting precious time at a critical stage of the investigation)
[1] I realize that this threat isn't stated anywhere, but it is just something I assumed possible due to the queen's attitude toward humans & the previous banishment. If this becomes an explicit threat, perhaps it could help explain A's relative passivity & add more tension throughout the chapter.
[2] Additionally, I found my own enjoyment was enhanced while looking into Unseelies on the web while reading through the second time around & feel that A relaying this info would strengthen the worldbuilding & characterization of A & C (possibly even Ae if he chimed in to correct A about things having changed since they left while walking to the queen's chamber).
[3] And keep it more in line with the level of fantastical detail later used to describe the murals.

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Sorry I missed the first chapter! Jumping in at this point:

The castle was a great anchor to tell me what kind of world and story to expect, and this was delivered on later.

The guard bound by vines was the most striking visual for me. I'm assuming I missed something from the first sub about how and why humans are normally brought here, but this was a nice teaser.

A couple minor line by lines:

"The F never died of illness..." I love this concept and the tone, but the sentence was a little convoluted.

"...hadn't been using their legal name, were still here, or (were) dead."


From what I have read, Ae is immediatly likeable as a well intentioned and likely in over Xer head character. 

I wonder if this chapter feels off because it's a little light in sensory description besides sight? Not sure, just a guess. 

Thanks for sharing!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okely-dokely, so I think I'm reading a slightly updated version of this chapter, having said which, I apologise for all the comments!

LBL's sent by email. In summary, I like a lot about it, and an encounter with the queen at this point is a great way to establish the world and the stakes, but I do have some issues.

(p1) - The opening feels disjointed to me. Where was Ae during the first half a page? I don't need to know at the start, but, at this point, something like "Ae caught up then passed them, taking the lead."

(p3) - "stepped forward into the throne room" - Whoa! What? I know you said the rooms move around, but my first reaction was that this is terrible security to have the throne room right at the front door. I guess maybe I needed a reminder, or some sign that it just moved here.

"depicted battles and parties and orgies, all centering the Queen" - Excellent! Nice detail. I love how it captures character in so few words.

(p4) - repetition of "emerald green"; other shades of green are available ;) 

"I managed to free (her) and redirect her here" - I'm confused by this, and I think maybe it's an element that did not come across from Chapter 1. I got no sense that the teen was supposed to end up somewhere else, and I didn't not detect Ar doing anything that prevented that. Also, I can't remember now what happened to the other kid. Did they go through to the unseelie place, or remain in the Mortal realm?

(p5) - "Because they are violating the sacred laws that span the courts" - The queen must know this very well. This feels a bit clunky to me: classic maid-and-butler sort of stuff.

"the oracles dreaming our realms [sic > realm's] destruction" - Eh? Where did this come from? I think this is new, or certainly I don't remember it.

"search for the children and the thieves" - Hang on; one of the teens is here, I guess this answers my earlier question that the other teen from the incident I witnesses is somewhere else, but how do they know where are any more children? Maybe this is WRS on my part, but I'm not sure it's been established that there are (lots of) other children missing.

"Every minor noble..." - Good stakes and cranking of the tension of the situation.

"The contract I negotiated with the humans, to gain consent to bring them here..." - This doesn't really make sense to me. If the humans end up in the faerie, they are obliged to do what the fae tell them, surely? Why would Ae need their permission to bring them to the Queen?

(p6) - "stalked back to her throne and sat" - I don't think there's anything about her getting up and walking away.

"And what had Ar gotten themself into?" - I don't think this is the most compelling end to the chapter. Sure, it's pretty standard and common, and that's the problem. I think as writers, when we put down something on the page that is standard, we're obliged to try and chuck it away and come up with something new, more intriguing and more engaging.

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