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Reading Excuses_101722_Shatteredsmooth_Return Ch. 3_2683 words


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Hi All,
Here is a little more of my faerie WIP. This is a first draft (I'm more or less submitting as I write), so it's bound to need a lot of work. I did read through it a few times, but like usual, can't quite pin down what's wrong with it, aside from the fact that it's a first draft. I'm open to whatever suggestions you have.
P.S. In the past, I've just written rambling messy first drafts and waited until I was done to get feedback and revise, but lately I find I'm not revising or really struggling to revise, so I'm trying to revise chapters as I write them even though it goes against popular writing advice. I'm finding it easier to acually revise this way so far. 
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Pg 1 "where it was always in the 70’s." For a minute I thought this was talking about the time period, then I realized this was referring to the weather.

Pg 2 I realized I'm having trouble connecting to A, I can't really pin down what her personality is. So far I know that she'd help children being kidnapped in faerie and dislikes dresses. Other than that I don't know much about her.

Pg 2 "Would she notice when A didn’t reply right away?" Time moves a lot slower in Faerie than it does on earth. This bit has me a little confused. Not much time would've passed back on earth. Exactly how fast does A's mom expect her to reply. Is she some sort of helicopter parent?(not sure if I used that term right) A is an adult, is her mom just really attentive or is there a reason she's been expecting a text?

Pg 3 The focus on bartering is interesting, I'm definitely a fan of this. I'm curious to see if this goes for all shop's and fae or just the tailor.

Pg 3 "except everyone wore gowns to balls in faerie." Interesting concept, I'd love to know how this came about. Dresses are usually uncomfortable so I'd be interested to know what caused them to be standard rather than more comfortable attire.

Pg 3 I'm realizing I can't really visualize the characters, maybe a smidge of detail on defining traits would help.

Pg 4 "somewhere between a unicorn Pegasus and griffin." This might just be a personal thing, but to me between makes me imagine something in the middle of two things, having three things threw me off. Maybe saying something along the lines of the creatures were various combinations of unicorn, pegasi and griffin would make more sense. This might just be a personal thing, I don't know if it would bother anyone else.

Pg 4 "most fae couldn’t actually read minds and Aer wasn’t among the few that could." This is an interesting concept, I hope to see mind reading fae later in the book.

Pg 4 "Xe  just knew A" There's an extra space added here.

Pg 5 "They wondered if their brain had always been like that and they just hadn’t noticed or if it had something to do with their age." This has me wondering if there's some sort of magic that slowly takes memories after someone leaves Faerie. 

Pg 5 "Ae stalked off towards the steeds." This whole scene felt a little melodramatic. I was willing to except that Ari was near tears at the death of the steed. Maybe they were especially close. Ae's cold reaction didn't feel realistic, he'd need some sort of reason for it to make sense that he's so upset, and there's isn't one thus far.

Pg 6 I'm liking how A is becoming more active and how there's more focus on her.

Pg 7 "grieve to hard when the steed dies." to should be too

Pg 7 "Earth cats are people too, and come pretty close to talking.” Yes! This line is amazing! 

Pg 7 "Ae had always loved tests." This section has some good character building. I'm still wanting an explanation for why Ae is behaving like this.

Pg 8 "unseelie" I'm wondering what this means.

Pg 9 "searching random tents without evidence so they were looking for the point where they exited the void." This sentence is a little hard to read. I'm thinking either add a comma after evidence, or add a period after evidence and add instead to the start of the next sentence.

Pg 9 "searching random tents without evidence so they were looking for the point where they exited the void." I'm thinking you need a comma before so.

Pg 9 "leaf-wrapped oat-bars and handed one to A and one to C." Interesting, I know from personal experience that wrapping food in leaves will add a leafy taste (Depending on the leaf an its juices.) I'm wondering if a specific type of leaf is used, or if the lead flavor is just part of the oat-bars.

Pg 9 "Something crunched beneath their but." But should be spelled butt.

Pg 9 "plopped down on a rock" If the kidnapped kids phone was found on the rock that means they fell on the rock. I'm hoping the kids are okay.

Overall the portion with the tailor was a little slow, but I liked the bartering aspect. Once A got with the creatures things really picked up, we got some good character building, and A took charge. I'm still wondering why Ae reacted so strongly to A forgetting things. I'm hoping a reason for this is introduced. 

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This is just a personal note, but Ar and Ae’s names are similar, which might become a little confusing. Not a major deal though.

“New England” I think these adjectives might be in the wrong order, not sure though

“70’s” that sounds like a nice play to live! I think it should be typed out “seventies” though.

“barely looked” in what ways does it not resemble a door? This may have been mentioned in an earlier chapter, but I’d like to know how. Is it the wrong shape? Does it blend in with the wall?

I like the description of the tailor! Ironic that they would wear rags IMO

“neutral party” that’s an interesting detail

Pg 2

“food and pencils and” I think one or both  instances of “and” should be removed

“charge for” smart thinking

Pg 3

I like the bartering so far. It’s interesting.

“everyone wore gowns” That sounds like an awesome ball! Now I’m imagining a severe faerie lord in a black gown or something

“they queen” the queen?

Pg 4

“unicorn Pegasus” missing commas

“the you would be right” then you

“Granted” I would remove this word and just start with “most”

They have been gone for hundreds of years?? Interesting

“knowable” not a fan of this word. Maybe something along the lines of “all there is to know”

“slipped away” relatable

“they thought remembered” They thought they?

Pg 5

“C glared” didn’t C just remark on how harsh Ae was being? This seems about the same level of harshness

Pg 6

“Very east to commands” Very easily?

“They fae often switch” The fae? Also, I think that this idea is interesting. It definitely feels like something a fae would do.

Pg 7

“they live for, like what” I would end the sentence after “for”

Eavesdropping is one word

Pg 8

I like how the steeds are telepathic, and I imagine that it is probably pretty annoyed with A, considering that it probably views flying as mundane at this point

Pg 9

“circled through the forest” I would have thought circle above, since they are flying

“a leaf-wrapped oat bars” remove “a”

“their but” their butt

Oooh, that is a very nice hook for the next chapter!

I glanced through the previous two chapters but didn’t read them all the way through, so I will avoid making too many notes on the overall story so far until I’ve done that. That being said, I found this chapter to be interesting! I liked all the little details about faerie and the culture of the fae, and I am excited to see a story play out in this setting. I’ve always like the mix of fantastic legalism that fae seem to bring to stories, so I’m excited to see how that plays out.

I’d personally like some more details about the surroundings and sensations throughout the chapter. For instance, I noted the door above, which is described as not looking like a door. What makes it not look like a door? Does it blend into the wall? Is it oddly shaped? Does it have leaves and flowers growing out of it? Are the rooms and hallways nicely furnished, bare, made of wood, or stone? What does the stable smell like? Does it smell like manure, or does it have a different faerie smell? What exactly is so exhilarating about flying? Are there any unique features to the landscape other than fields of flowers and forests? Do they look different from forests on earth? Do the sun, sky, and clouds look the same?

Anyways, I’m sure you get the idea. And, admittedly, the previous chapters could have had some of those descriptions, so I apologize if that’s the case. Still, I would like to have a little more physical description.

Looking forward to reading more!

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Aside from some first-draft spelling mistakes[0], nothing stands out to me as inherently good or bad, aside from some interesting concepts sprinkled throughout. Thus I suppose it seems like an "average" chapter for me thus far.

As for imagining how this could be a reader's favorite chapter & live up to its full potential, maybe building up that moment in the sky would do the trick? Yes, A truly loves it, but what about Ae & C? Is C thrilled or terrified, or does she find the saddle a bit cramped with Ae. And is Ae just like, "meh, another day in the sky"[0.5]?

Not sure if that helps, but I hope you find something in these posts to help you revise this to a point you're satisfied with!

p2 The idea of keeping valuable trading items on hand seems interesting, but it makes sense that A wouldn't have due to the banishment & all.
p2 "cell phone" cellphone. Interesting... referring to it as a cellphone seems in line with A's age[1].
p3 "One you both" Once you both
p3 "neglected to say we could not use the steeds." lol
p4 Interesting that A thinks of C as a "random human teenager" as if more strongly identifying with the fae subconsciously.
p4 "horse like" horse-like
p4-5 Memory troubles are the worst[2]. Hang in there, A! Also, I wonder if the memory trouble is biological/behavioral or mystical.
p6 "Cheat sheet" cheatsheet
p6 "nothing else like it in the world" Given that the faerie world is separate from the human one & the fae are aware of it, would their cultural expressions reflect multiple worlds?
p6 Telepathic, flying mounts sound cool. Seems like there'd be a learning curve.
p7 "went made with grief" went mad with grief
p7 "mothers cat" mother's cat
p7 "neighbors half blind" neighbor's half-blind
p7 "ran into things when she startled" rand into things when she got startled
p8 Good thing Ae is ridding with C. Telepathic mounts and modern (aka distraction-prone) teens sound like a bad idea.
p8 "big magic horse-bird" big, magic horse-bird
p9 "enough daylight left for a quick meat" enough daylight left for a quick meal
p9 "slug a pack off" lugged a pack off?
p9 "cell phone"
p9 I wonder if the phone thing was one of Ae's tests since it seems too coincidental they ended up there[3].

[0] Congrats on finishing this by the deadline!
[0.5] Plus, that'd be another opportunity to better characterize/contrast the three of them by having them react differently to the same stimuli. And then there's the fantastical landscapes that could be thrown in to truly awe the reader & build up the world further--a lot of potential!
[1] I only hear people under 30 call them phones. Middle-aged & up refer to them as cellphones or cells, while the elderly occasionally refer to them as telephones.
[2] Like A, my memory is bad, though the bowing bit reminds me of one of the Harry Potter films.
[3] Also, I was curious if the humans had landed in the pond since that'd leave less trace.

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Not too much the others haven't said. I think this one lags a bit in the middle when focusing on the horses. The intrigue at the beginning is good, and with some more buildup in the first chapters about what's going on, I think the tailor scene will be really good. I think putting more into the search and less into saddling the horses would be helpful as well.

Notes while reading:
pg 1: "The court tailors suits"

pg 2: I like the bargaining, but things seem to jump directly here from the last chapter. We might need some more setup.

pg 3: "except everyone wore gowns to balls in faerie, regardless of gender."
--huh...that seems like it would be limiting after a while. Do they shake it up every few hundred years and try out tuxes for everyone or suits or something?

pg 6-8: I think the horse training can probably be cut down a bit unless this is really important to the plot. I'm interested to see where they go from here.

Some good worldbuilding in this chapter, but I think it could be focused a little better on getting to the hunt. Maybe have another try/fail cycle before they find the cell phone.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Heya. Comments. (BTW, because I'm trying to critique faster when I do critique, it's not sort of necessary to read the comments here in the forum in conjunction with my tracked comments in the LBL file that I've emailed back. Sorry! I hope these points are useful.

I liked plenty about this chapter: the introduction of flying creatures, making progress in searching for the kids (although I think everyone needs to be more focused on and urgent about that throughout, mentioning it more often, even if only to try and hurry other people up). Usual loose typo stuff, but I'm still enjoying the story :)

(p1) - "court tailors suits" - I don't understand what this phrase means, and the context doesn't help me. It sounds like the whole fae court is involved in the sewing of suits (as in business suits).

"The door opened slowly" - How? Who opened it?

I like the tailor's dialogue.

(p2) - if 'faerie' is the name of this place, I think it should be capitalised.

I dislike "could've" and "would've". Some contractions are fine, but these are kind of clumsy to read, IMO. And, I don't see any reason for them.

"brushed red curls away from her face" - Whoa!! This is a very personal gesture. I get no sense the personal boundaries are any different here than on Earth, so I kind of need some kind of reference point to understand this intimate gesture.

"G narrowed her eyes" - G has been referred to as they up to this point, or 'the tailor'. I G female, or is this a typo? "G shook her head" - okay this is the 3rd or 4th 'her' so I'm seeing that G is female. I think that should be made completely obvious when G first comes into the story. When G does appear, it is most 'the tailor' this and 'they' that. I think her gender needs to be clear from the get-go.

(p3) - "everyone wore gowns to balls in F, regardless of gender" - excellent!

"I think we should be out searching, not debating about clothing" - I tend to agree with C. A is not showing much urgency about finding the kids. Even if they have to do this dress bargain, maybe A could have some interiority showing their concern about time slipping away? If that were appropriate. I think the reader needs to feel that the pacing of the story hasn't disappeared through this scene.

"did not permit me to take a company" - Huh? What is 'a company'? It sounds like a form of transport.

"anxious to get the aerie" - Here, A shows some urgency, but I didn't get much sense of that before. I think we need it through the chapter a little more. Also, what "the aerie" that A wants to get?

(p4) - "a stable full of one of the most magnificent beasts" - How can one beast fill a stable? Is this correct? Sounds weird. [Edit] - yeah, need a cut here. It gives the wrong impression, IMO, of one huge beast filling the whole stable.

"Granted..." - This sentence is very confusing. Suggest a simplification/clarification.

"A wondered if this Leaf was the same one they had ridden" - But it must be the same one, otherwise, Ae would not have said that Leaf was out, Ae would have said that Leaf was dead. [Edit] "the great grandson of the one you rode" - meh, I think Ae's first comment was misleading

"almost started crying" > fought back tears. Forgive me if I've forgotten this already, but is this a YA or MG story? I think 'maturity' of phrasing is something that defines market. I think the first here sounds quite juvenile, and maybe that's the intention. But if it's adult, (or YA?) I think that sort of phrasing would stick outa bit. Maybe.

(p5) - "some other important piece of information slipped away" - Really? While this maybe be true in a practical sense (after a certain age?) I tend to doubt that it would be so starkly noticeable to someone as young as Ar, as they would be able to recall all the more recent information, surely, and the stuff that they forgot would be stuff that they would necessarily be trying to recall? I'm not going to pretend I know how memory works on a physiological level, but Ar strikes me as being too young for this to be a thing for them.

"But thirty-three wasn’t that old" - Ok, good. I'm glad you called this out, but now you've made a promise to the reader that we will get some kind of answer to this noticeable memory loss, which I don't think is normal (or at least noteworthy) in a 33 year-old, UNLESS there is something unusual going on.

"because adults have [redacted] memories" - This is just not true, not in the way it's stated here, and a blanket statement that applies to all adults. The way memory works does of course change over time, but a general statement like this about all adults is false. This needs to be changed, IMO, or Ar needs to call out C fort trolling all adults!! LOL

"looking off into the distance" - there's some confusion in the blocking here. They were going into a stables, but then Ae stalks away, now Ae's looking into the distance, but they are still inside the building, because Ae stalked "towards the steeds". Confused.

(p6) - "the aerie stable" - What is this word? [Edit] just looked it up: good grief. I have not idea who one gets from eyrie to aerie. The main issue I have is that I looks exactly like faerie without the 'f', so it looks exactly like a typo to me. (I'm from the UK, BTW, for anyone who doesn't know, and is actually reading this far.)

"Humans, even in F, had faulty memories" - Again, I am just not buying this, or following it as a concept because I don't believe it as a general statement, so I'm thinking there is something 'abnormal' going on with this point, but that is not how it's being presented, in this sort of 'All humans are always forgetting things all the time' sort of way.

"tried to summon their stubborn memories" - Is this thing about memory supposed to relate specifically to a difficulty in humans remembering after making a transition from Earth to Faerie, or in the reverse direction, or a difficult in humans that remain in Faerie for any length of time? If that is the case, I think that needs to be stated explicitly when the memory issue is first raised, and then reminders provided of that specific qualification, maybe even every page.

(p7) - "That must be like if you’re immortal and your dog lives with you for a hundred years then suddenly dies" - But this implies that the dog is immortal too, or effectively so, if it lives for 100 years.

"Earth cats are people too" - No, no they are not. Like cats, maybe, but they are demonstrably not people, or they would be called people.

(p8) - "summer lands" - I feel that this is the first mention of this location, and the 'opposite area', in the story. If that is the case, or even if it is not, I think this needs to be drawn out more earlier in the story, and some background given if the areas are going to play an important role going forward in the story.

"be able to find where they landed" - How? I want to know what signs they expect to be able to see from the air. What are they looking for, a circle of scorched ground, a flattened area like a crop circle? I want to know what it is, specifically, that they are looking for.

(p9) - "keep them at their tent" - Their what? What is the significance of tent? I want to understand this, if it some kind of nuance of the society. Do all the faerie live in tents, just the unsee, only fay that are travelling away from home? > "go searching random tents" - So, there are lots of tents. See earlier comment.

"They circled through the forest" - Confused: they were above everything, but now they are down amongst the trees? If they are defending almost to ground level, that needs to be flagged for the reader. Also, flying through the trees/forest would be hazardous. By the way this is written, I think "through" is not what's intended, but rather "over" the forest?

"ranging farther out with each pass" - farther out from what? It did not sound to me like they were flying in circles until they reached the forest, which implies that the centre of the circles they are now ranging farther out from is located in the forest, and the circular search pattern is new, since they were flying over a field to reach the forest. Personally, I don't think a circle is an effective search pattern for a small group, as I'd have thought they would tend to find themselves covering large areas that they were not interested in just to 'circle back to the more interesting bit.

"circling further and further out" - inconsistency between further here, and earlier references using "farther". I think you need to pick one form and stick to that.

"led them over to a high mountain pond" - this sounds very casual about distance. It sounds like the mountain is ten yards away across the room. I don't think this is convincing description.

I think the last few chapters are insufficiently dramatic, and I've made a couple of suggestions in the emailed file.

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