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Reading Excuses- 2/13/23 - K.Preston - ghosts of the galaxies - Ch2 - (3315 words)

K. Preston

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Hey Everyone,

Hope this does not frustrate you all, but this chapter is a flashback. It is labeled as Chapter 2 but is potentially going to be moved if not removed. 
It's purpose was to flesh out both C and another character that plays into her story. I personally like it and found it helpful to establish personalities and it was easy to springboard off it when it came to other elements later on.
The reason you're getting this is because this will be it for a while. Due to a busy schedule outside of writing, I won't be able to submit for a couple weeks. Not to mention that I left the last chapter with some work to do. This will be applied to Chapter 3 and 4 and potentially create another chapter. Fun stuff, and that is not sarcasm.
Hope you enjoy it.
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Looking forward to digging into the chapter! :D

Overall: The good news is that I get a pretty good idea of what M’s deal is and I feel pretty engaged with him. Overall, though, I think this should either be pushed back to after M is more relevant or cut if that can’t quite work. Since M isn’t connected to the main plot as much currently (unless I’m forgetting something big), it’s hard to feel like this gives me a lot more insight into the story.

I mention this in LBLs too but I’d have another look at teenage C’s characterization if you do keep this chapter. It’s easy for the cloistered princess who wants to be pretty and go out and spend time with boys to come across as samey and undeveloped which doesn’t seem like what this story wants.

As I go:

Pg 1. Are we supposed to know what C is mad at?

Pg 2. M hating C seems like it’s a key dynamic for M at least, but I’m not sure what the significance of it is. What’s the emotional hook here?

 Pg 4. I know many (especially literary) stories have PoV jump around within a scene, but it’s not doing it for me here. To my knowledge the standard for 3rd person SFF is to pick one character to be the PoV for each scene.

Pg 5-6. M’s backstory interests me more than C’s right now

Pg 7. Hmm this kind of thing isn’t bad in a vacuum but so much SFF does the “teenage girl who’s into boys but is told to stay away from them and it’s a whole thing” deal poorly that I’m a bit on guard. I wonder if there’s a more character-specific way to get across a similar dynamic

Pg 9-10. Similar comment as above with the wanting to be pretty thing. Not that it can’t be done but I’m going to be skeptical when a teenage girl’s thing revolves around that without delving into the deeper insecurities and social messaging there

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Generally agree with @Ace of Hearts on this one. I think it can be a good chapter, moved to after we know these characters. There's some good character building with the two of them, but editing this to be on the subtle side would help. There's a lot of "oh, I see my words have changed you" spelled out that can be shown a lot better with actions. It would also be good to place this in the story where it has some meaning. Right now I don't know how them creating a bond helps anything. If we have impactful events, then later it might be really good to know how they met.

Notes while reading:
pg 1: "having arrived unnoticed"
--if he's unnoticed, how is C describing him?

pg 1: "His thoughts right now'
--Oh, this is a POV switch. 

pg 2: "her little rebellious moment"
--do we get to know what this is? Might help to understand her.

pg 3: "Absolutely nothing like the enormous gyms "
--good description and character building, but I don't know where we're going with this yet.

pg 3: "Nothing like the typical generals."
--Is this higher or lower?

pg 5: "but in your anger, you have rubbed my fur the wrong way."
--this is a bit awkward. Good character building through here though.

pg 6: "Today’s incident happened..."
--again, if we know what it was, that would give us a lot of information. I'm still not sure where this is going. Showing how the princess found a trusted aid or something?

pg 7: "A young stranger, a romantic walk, and a stolen kiss."
--ah, this is much different than what I expected.

pg 7: "“Well, I am just average in looks, and I am too tall and lanky."
--there's bits of this conversation that seem very stiff and awkward, and I'm almost certain no 16 year old girl would ever say this, especially to an older man.

pg 8: "Her self-awareness surprised him"
--You plan to move or rewrite the chapter. I think it could be a good chapter for the story, but we need to have a solid relationship with both these people first, to tell how they met.

pg 10: "She had just made a determined alteration within."
--stuff like this is a too much on the "tell" side. We want to learn along with the characters and be shown their actions, not told they are changing.

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So I know that you want to flashback to flesh out the characters more, but we just has an assassination and everything is in chaos and now we're having a conversation about how to be pretty? I like the scene, but it feels very out of place. The switching back and forth between POVs also threw me. I think this is a sweet interaction though, so it's worth working through. 

Page 1

The dark tan skin under his eye-- this seems like an odd description. Usually the skin under your eyes is a bit lighter. 

Page 2

His thoughts right now were a mix of regard and disdain. ---Whoa- POV change. So fast!

He could see by her strikes that she was quite skilled and despite her weight was hitting rather hard. -- It wasn't clear that he was a new addition to the king's court. I felt at this point like he should know her skills.

Heck---This word seems out of character for a military general. He doesn't need to use a swear word, but heck seems an odd choice for this character's voice.

Page 3

Might as well get my daily in while here.-- He's in a formal uniform, doesn't seem like the right attire to work out in.

Page 4

C watched him -- POV change again

M could hear --- and we're back in his POV. It's disconcerting to keep switching.

Page 7

“I guess. It just… I know it makes no sense, but... I feel… trapped, and I hate being trapped.-- Ah- this seems like the real meat of what this story is about. She was born to have very little choice in her life. 

Page 10

I… I don’t treat people well-- This seems like too quick of a change for her. 

Page 11

If I am correct. You, just growing and being you, will shine golden with beauty.-- this sentence didn't make a lot of sense to me. 

Overall I think you have a good story going here. I like these characters and this is a nice moment between them, it just seems like the wrong moment to have this interaction remembered. I don't even know if this is C having this memory or M. I like what is being conveyed though, so I'm sure you can find an amazing way to get this across. 

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Thanks again everyone,

I am so sorry for all the POV switches. It is honestly the last chapter like that, as all the others are solely written from one character perspective per scene. My only excuse is that both of these were written earlier in my writing journey, and I was too stubborn to admit defeat. This chapter originally bounced back and forth between them. It also has two other versions. One completely from C's POV and the other from M's. I dislike them because I feel there is something lost between M and C, but I will try and fix it. regardless, I am changing it all. This chapter will move. I am currently writing a whole new chapter 2 and will move this somewhere else.

20 hours ago, Cathy Lim said:

“I guess. It just… I know it makes no sense, but... I feel… trapped, and I hate being trapped.-- Ah- this seems like the real meat of what this story is about. She was born to have very little choice in her life. 

I… I don’t treat people well-- This seems like too quick of a change for her. 

@Cathy Lim You have touched on an area I do want to get across. C is being overprotected and hates it. It plays into her psyche and future decisions. Along with that, she does reach this self-reflection quick, and it works to how self-aware I want her to be. Is it realistic? Not really, but I think I can afford the hit on this one. Her desire to change is supposed to bring about the MC we see from here on out.

20 hours ago, Cathy Lim said:

Might as well get my daily in while here.-- He's in a formal uniform, doesn't seem like the right attire to work out in.

No, it is not common, but you would be surprised. Besides it works for the scene. 

@Ace of Hearts Probably because nothing else precedes this portion of the story it does come across as C is after boys. After I move this and modify it I hope it is understood that she desires freedom and is willing to break some rules to exercise it when she gets the chance. If nothing else, I want her to be defiant and strong willed. 

@Mandamon All the stiff dialogue is slowly getting redone along with improving my show. I won't lie, it is hard. however, this is still exhilarating as I observe the story trapped for so long come slowly to life.

Edited by K. Preston
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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry I'm late to this! I think I'm mostly echoing others' comments but hopefully there is something here that is helpful. 

This may be deliberate given your setting, but I wasn’t sure – there’s a mix of very modern language and items (heck, tank top, gyms) and archaic, mostly in the way the characters structure their sentences when in dialogue. Not a stumbling block but it is noticeable.

There are a lot of fast POV switches here within the same scene and I’m wondering as to the purpose of them. It’s unusual enough that you might want to set the scene from a single POV or have just one switch unless you have a specific reason for doing it.

P5 “Forgive me if I hope they all have their entrails…” I stumbled here as it took me a moment to figure out who ‘they’ was. I think he means maybe the people who wrote the histories?

P6 “She was only a teenage girl…” hmmm, I had her pegged as a little younger, if somewhat precocious. How old is she? I’d have an easier time buying, say, 13 than 17.

Edit: Ah, answered a couple paragraphs down. Carry on!

P7 “C giggled at his joke.” I think the giggling and laughing at what are really pretty tame jokes is what makes her read a little younger. At least, flexing for someone to make them laugh seems like a joke you’d do I front of a younger kid than a teenager.

P8 The shift here—M acknowledging that he’s suddenly trying to protect her self-esteem, and then C acknowledging that she doesn’t treat people well—feels abrupt.

Overall: There’s some potentially good character development here, but I agree that it’s at the least out of place. It seems strange to have this happen right after a massacre, especially when we still don’t understand the place of either scene in the larger story.  Without a better sense of the story overall I really don’t feel like I can make suggestions about where the scene should fall or whether it should be cut, but it definitely feels out of sequence here.  

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