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Reading Excuses - 12/5/22 - JWerner - The Witch and the Ostrich, ch. 9 & 10 - 4840 words (S, L, V, G)


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Here's the last scene of chapter 9 (I couldn't fit it into last week's submission) and all of chapter 10. Aaaaand we're done with this draft! Thank you everyone for reading!

Last time, Q had a close encounter with B the vampire, and discovered that she was once a B-ian politician, sent to QW by either Queen Y the Third, or her enforcer and Q's fellow witch, E. Desperate to escape both B's clutches E's approaching forces, Q offers to tell B's story. But then F showed up, and used the Talisman of U the E to kill B.
Right after, the S's arrived and started lobbing fireballs into the city. One hit the C, which exploded and sent an enormous chunk of debris Q's way. 
Edited by JWerner
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P1: I like seeing the results of Q’s powers – I like the butterflies which were not what I was expecting, and Q’s physical experience goes a long way towards explaining why she hasn’t used her powers before now – though I think some hints of this in the chapters leading up to here would have been helpful. That being said, at the bottom of the first page I have a good understanding of the cost of Q’s powers but not what she’s actually accomplished. How has the arena changed? Are there still zombies? Are the butterflies the Sspots? Etc.

P3 “Q plucked out one of his feathers.” Confused – at first I thought F had been hit by something, because the description of Q pulling his feathers came after the exclamation. I also don’t know why she’s picking at his feathers, since he seems to be doing what she asked.

P4 why did E bother with pretend panic? I’m not sure what she gained from that – or from beating on Q.

P8  Is the queen a child, or…?

P13 “Because her Majesty is stupid.” Well… yes. The way she’s presented seems actually fairly extreme. In fact, I’m halfway gunning for a “the queen is pretending to be stupid to manipulate them all behind the scenes” here. Is she a secret mastermind? I hope she’s a secret mastermind.

P15 “rhyming was beneath him.” Not sure what “flee” would be rhyming with here.

Overall: I’m really glad we finally got to see Q do stuff with her powers and some—pretty compelling, really—answers about why she had hesitated to use them in the first place. As I mentioned above I struggled to piece together the actual effect those powers had, so maybe some more description of the scene is called for.

Most of my comments at this point are just a reiteration of what I said in the earlier chapters, mostly that I’d really like to have a better grasp of why the characters are doing what they’re doing. In this chapter, it was mostly the encounter between Q and E. The dialogue between the two of them tells me that E is tearing a strip off of Q because Q let F run around unsupervised, but beyond that, I don’t really know. It feels like there’s some political machinations going on—and not just that they’re upset because a bunch of people died in a village in the middle of nowhere—but I don’t know what those are, or what succeeding or failing means for any of these characters. I think the vast majority of my struggles will be solved by going back and seeding in some proper telegraphing of all these things in various scenes, so when we get more reveals like the ones that have happened in the most recent two or three chapters, they pack the punch they ought.

I’m looking forward to reading revised chapters and/or the rest of the manuscript, when you’re ready!

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Thanks for submitting this! It's a fun story. That said, I think the ending needs to be fleshed out a little. I have similar thoughts to @Silk. We're not really given enough information at the beginning to put the other witches as the antagonists, so E sort of comes out of nowhere. And the queen being stupid...I don't think really worked. There's no reason for the witches not to just take over. If nothing else, to save the kingdom from destruction from misrule. It would be much better if E was disguised as the queen, or the queen was the secret mastermind (even if she's still nuts), or something like that.

Some other things: I also agree with Silk that E pretending to be in danger didn't really do anything. Why not just show off her power and escape easily?

Also, I didn't get what Q was explaining to F about being old at the end. Did she get younger by using magic on F somehow?

In all, I think this can be a really fun novella, after another draft.

Notes while reading:
pg 1: "Her bones felt more brittle"
--Interesting. Does the Sunspot's magic negate other magic?

pg 3: “You overdosed,”
--on what?

pg 5: "rubbed each of her palm"
--rubbed each with her palms? Or is she rubbing her palms to heal her legs?
--ah...further down she seems to have hand-based magic.

pg 6: "had her own flame that’d been carrying her on"
--a bit awkward. Had to read this a couple times.

pg 7: "She pulled the translucent tapestry"
--great visual, and ick.

pg 10: "The Queen gave her a big, beaming smile"
--I'm not too sure on what's going on with the queen or why she's in power.

pg 12: "And I swore the oath. So it fell to me."
--This one's a little hard to swallow. I think I could believe it, but only if there's a lot more setup at the beginning.

pg 13: "If it weren’t for the fact that she weren’t being backed..."
--except she's being obeyed, not backed, from what I can tell...

pg 15: "Rhyming was beneath him"
--I'm missing the rhyme.

pg 16: "And then, he saw it."
--wait--what's the answer here? I don't get it.

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Thank you both for reading until the end and giving me this feedback; it's enormously appreciated.

I've got an idea for tweaking the plot in the next draft that I'm hoping will address the biggest criticisms about the story. Hoping that'll improve things a bunch. 

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Nice story! I kind of wish that it would go on longer because this ending seems to leave a lot of things unanswered/unresolved. It feels like we are just barely getting introduced to the situation with the witches and the Queen when it is just suddenly over, with a bummer ending for Q. It's your story, obviously, but I would personally love to see what happens next! Is Q able to expose the truth? etc.

Anyway, again, similar thoughts to Mandamon and Silk. Unless the oath they've taken is some sort of magical oath that literally binds them to the the bidding of the royal line, E and the others seem like the kind of people who would and could easily overthrow the Queen for the good of the kingdom. I also think that some of these elements at the end could be foreshadowed a little better at the beginning. It also seems like F was getting a little bit of a "be less of an @$$h0le" arc, but then it kind of got dropped off at the end. 

As always, the style is great and there are some really funny lines and descriptions. Best of luck on the next draft!


Opening the doc now!

Nice despcription of the butterflies

Ah, so using magic makes her into her real age? That makes sense why she hasn’t wanted to use her own magic before. Has she just run out from using it too much?

Pg 2

“flying through the streets” I get this is a metaphor for running fast, but this is potentially confuing when you’re talking about a bird that is famously flightless.

Pg 3

“nauseatingly blue” like, really bright blue? Don’t really get this description

So the entire army can see her fixing this gun as she walks up? If E knows what it is, wouldn’t that be alarming?

Pg 4

So summoning the void is what the gun does? Interesting

Pg 6

Wow, E is very scary

Hah, what a hilarious coverup

I’m not really sure what’s going on in this scene

Pg 8

“My last girl?” I’m confused. Does she mean serving girl, or daughter, or what?

Pg 13

“truth be told, knew it…” he knew it?

Pg 14” Rhyming was beneath him” what’s the rhyme here?

Pg 17

And that’s the end of it, huh?

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