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3/27/23 - Ace of Hearts - Bond of Wildflowers v2 sub 7, 5549 words

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Hi everyone,
Looks like we have a pretty empty week so the sub's a bit over the word limit, which I hope is all right. My main question for this one is whether the escalation here happens too quickly, and what information here W should learn earlier (since I've gotten comments about her being kept in the dark).
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I think the pace here is great for this point in the book. I feel like this is about halfway through, at which point the story should switch from "the monster chases us" to "we chase the monster."

There are a couple places where I was confused what W knows vs. what N knows. Might be WRS, or might be the story. I don't think anything happens too quickly, but just make sure W has all the facts she needs for this chapter. Especially at the end, there are a lot of names thrown around and I'm not sure W would know who all those people are.

Overall, I liked these chapters! We get good character development in the interrupted dance, and some good plot progression.


Notes while reading:

Pg 3: Good reveal through here. Makes sense with N doesn't want anything to do with his family and the village. I'm interested to learn what the effect was of what happened. Hopefully it was big, for the sacrifice.

pg 4: "It’s hard not to get pulled in by the sparkles"
--So does he have some sort of physical or genetic attraction to glitter? Or just that he really likes it?

pg 7: “Then you shouldn’t have done a backflip,” 
--er, yep. I'm wondering what/why he's showing off here.

pg 7: “It, er, might not be a girl I’m interested in, though. I’m, uh, bi.”
--I think it says something to the story that I wasn't even surprised by this. Or has he said it before?

pg 10: Good dance scene, and some nice awkward teenager stuff.

pg 11: Aha, and now on to plot!

pg 12: "So Ar does have someone like me with him to pass through the boundary."
--This threw me for a minute, but I guess it makes sense.

pg 12: “I’m sorry to cut this short"
--wait, shouldn't N be coming along? He's sort of central to this.
--Ah, A answers this later.

pg 14: "Even wearing running gloves"
--Was this stated before? I don't remember it coming up.

pg 14: “You’re a fairy, aren’t you?” 
--ahem, he already said he was bi... ;-)

pg 15: “You already took me there, didn’t you?”
--Wait, I thought she knew this already. Didn't they visit the village?

pg 16: “And she told me that I was a victim of that incident too.”
--It's not really that big a reveal just for N to say he knows Aunt H. Was there more to this?

pg 17: "What I’m trying to figure out is why you’re taking this well"
--I thought W knew most of this by now? Didn't she hear how the attack went previously? Or am I confusing N and W POVs?

pg 19: "the woman I don’t recognize says"
--Bit of a blocking issue through here. How many women are there? I thought the one W didn't recognize was N's mother?
--Oh, it's F. Okay. Maybe just clarify how many people in the first description.

pg 19: “We’ll make sure she doesn’t,” B says."
--who is this?

pg 20: good reveal at the end! I like A a lot more this time around.

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P1 I stumbled on “even for her,” since the last person referenced was H. It becomes apparent a sentence or so later that this was referring to N’s mom, but it was still a stumbling point.

 “That girl you’re going out with…” More confusion here, as N’s mom just said she didn’t know he was going out.

In the first couple pages, I’m feeling the emotion between these two characters much mor strongly than I have in previous scenes. Nice work.

P9 “jamming out in the centre too much in the centre” weird repetition here

P10 this texting conversation feels a little long.

P11 should we know who D is?

“Since when did G trust A?” Does N actually know G? I actually thought for a moment we were in W’s POV on reading this line.

Two questions: Are they having this conversation right in front of D? And if A is worried about it, might it make more sense for A to initiate the text conversation rather than waiting until N happens to text him?

“She said I should let A know…” Especially if D is a young kid, this probably makes sense, but my first thought was to wonder why someone hadn’t just called the police…

P12 “That oversight of mine is going to get someone hurt unless…” This is another place where I feel I don’t have the information needed to understand why MA being able to pass through the boundary is dangerous, and why not realizing this somehow makes N at fault for the situation, so this line at the end of the chapter doesn’t hold a lot of impact.

Also… N knows what B is? For some reason I was not expecting this?

“I wasn’t planning on using her number…” This seems unreasonable, since he still lives with her. Or, if not unreasonable, a weird line in the sand to draw.

D seems to be taking this very well, since there’s a bunch of older kids standing around talking about how someone he knows (sibling?) is in danger.

P13 “She’s a changeling, isn’t she?” Now confused as to whether N knew what she was or not. Also, this lends some weight to the conspiracy theory I posted about this character in response to your chapter from a few weeks ago…

P14 “We have to go now.” I like the way this is escalating, but again, don’t really have the context to understand why N’s mom going to the fey realm would be bad.

P15 “We are here to talk, right?” I don’t think they actually established their objective explicitly! Although the characters making different assumptions about what’s happening could work.

P16 “…accidentally shooting my uncle…” Hm. This is sitting oddly with me for a couple of reasons. For one, the timing feels a little off since they are presumably trying to save G right now, but also it just feels like there is a lot of information skipped over in this summary. I wonder if needs to have its own moment before/after, when it can happen in dialogue and be fleshed out more fully?

P17 “Don’t say that like you’re going to die.” Another good air-clearing conversation between A and W here, but I really wish the characters (and we as readers) had a better idea of what they were heading into, even if they turn out to be wrong. I have no sense of what the actual threats are here other than that G is missing.

I’m really interested that W’s amma is here, but I don’t know how to interpret it. Is this a betrayal? Did W inadvertently endanger her amma and drag them into this? This feels like it should be a big narrative punch, but I don’t have the information to appreciate it.

P19 Who is Brig? I think this is the first time this character has been mentioned.

“My amma stiffens when they see him.” A’s been here the whole time, and amma’s already seen W and N. So why are they only seeing A now?

Overall: I thought the conversations in the early part of the chapter were well-done, it’s probably the most emotionally connected I’ve felt to the characters and their situations so far. You’ll notice a big gap in the page numbers between my first few comments, because I really didn’t have much to add! (Although in my experience, if people aren’t dancing a specific style and a slow song comes on, they mostly just sway, but anyway…)

The second half of the chapter was more challenging--although having it come right after the "break" of the dance was well-done--and I probably sound like a broken record (sorry) but it really comes down to feeling like I don’t quite have enough information to really understand it. There’s at least one completely new character here, a couple of the characters we have only met briefly and/or we don’t understand their role in the situation.

Assuming I’ve interpreted the scene so far correctly, I really like what you’ve set up here where we don’t have an actual villain present so much as a bunch of people with maybe bad assumptions and conflicting information about what’s going on that might put them at odds. But again, that’s just what I think is happening, and if I’m correct I need a better understanding of who wants what for it to really work. I also think a bit more foreshadowing of a couple things – G running off on her own and especially A stepping up to offer what seems like potentially a very large sacrifice—is in order. Even a line or two might do it. 

5 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think the pace here is great for this point in the book.

I'd agree with this. This feels like it's happening in the right moment, just need a little more of the informational puzzle to be in place by the time we get to this point I think. 

On 3/27/2023 at 9:11 AM, Ace of Hearts said:
My main question for this one is whether the escalation here happens too quickly, and what information here W should learn earlier (since I've gotten comments about her being kept in the dark).

I want to qualify this by saying that I don't think the answers all need to be complete (or correct! the characters might have wrong impressions about some of this stuff) and I don't think every bullet needs to be satisfied. Plus, I think part of the issue is not necessarily that W doesn't know things on its own, but that she has ready access to several people who could give her more information (A, G, N, her amma) and just chooses not to pursue it.

Things I wish I knew a little more about while reading this scene:

  • What the actual danger is going in - or at least what the characters think that danger is. It seems that A and W aren't really expecting imminent violence until N gets the sword, but N obviously is. 
  • Some hint of amma's role in this - this might be down to foreshadowing rather than W actually expecting them to be here 
  • It feels--to this reader anyway--like N is deliberately eliding some of the details around W's uncle, F's relationship to him, and why the uncle got shot. If that's the correct interpretation might be at least worth hanging a lantern on.
  • A more concrete threat from MA. He's exploiting the village and/or hates it, but I don't fully understand the relationship between MA or the Aeg and the village. 
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I'm still enjoying the romance, but I'm a sucker for that- ha ha! A lot more stuff in this section that were a bit more confusing.


Another look in the mirror reveals the same crooked tie and stiff motions when I move around in my suit jacket or dress pants-- I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this sentence.

W K.” -- this is the first time we've gotten her last name. Should this be the first time? Seems awfully far into the story. (Unless I've just forgotten. Sorry, I have a really terrible memory)


 W’s parent S.” A pause. “’s sibling.” --is this the first time we've gotten amma's name? 

I know it was hard for you to lose your ma-- I am super confused about N's apparently two mothers. 


“Can’t feel anything at all now that she’s dead. You knew what you were doing.”-- Was there discussion before about what went down here with the two moms? Did I miss this somewhere?


“I’ll check it when I get home and message you.” She smiles at me. “And. I’m sure it would look good on you. And I did take a page out of your book and I like the results.”-- I missed somewhere that he likes wearing makeup. Somehow she's not noticing that about him much. I'm reminded of V.E. Schwab's Archived where she calls Wesley guyliner. It sticks it out in the readers mind so you don't forget. Maybe employ something similar?


Then I do a backflip.-- Back handspring or back tuck? Hmmm- looks like a back tuck. Dress shoes might be a problem, but I've seen my boys do back tucks in dress shoes. I'm going to assume he's warmed up because of dancing (you can pull something doing one cold) I'm going to say if he keeps his chest up when he lands he will be solid on his feet. ( If you land chest too far forward and down, you land on your face, over rotate and you stumble backwards. (If you're looking for a reason for him to be concerned more than the shoes.) Also my boys would do this in the middle of the dance floor, but they enjoy showing off. (Sorry- I used to coach gymnastics, and my boys were both competitive gymnasts.)


“Yeah,” I say. “It, er, might not be a girl I’m interested in, though. I’m, uh, bi.”-- wow, I missed this somehow too. Since we have his POV maybe some more thoughts from him before this point would be good. 


When first looking up dances, I was confused about the straight culture thing where the guy takes the lead on all of the motions and the girl follows, but it ends up working well for us. -- More thoughts like this would be helpful sooner in the story. 


“I’m sure she wanted to keep you out of this,” A says. “But you deserve to know.” He glances over at me. “And this concerns you too, N.”-- I'm kind of confused about what A is driving at here. The pieces aren't clicking for me. 


“You’re a fairy, aren’t you?” I tell N.-- I know you're concerned about W not figuring this out sooner, but it works alright for me. I think you have tried to keep W distracted enough so she doesn't put the pieces together. I think if you lean into that harder, and maybe give her reasons for not asking the people around her or hanging lanterns on it I think this reveal will work. It makes the reader feel smarter than our MC, and if W has reasons to not put the pieces together it works fine. 


If you’re comfortable sharing with me-- I think she can be a bit more bold here. 


“We’ll make sure she doesn’t,” B says. Wait- where did this name come from? How would W know it? 

It still makes me chuckle how much your writing reminds me of mine. I get so many of the same sorts of complaints. I know the story and the characters, and I don't want to info dump, so I tend to leave out too much and leave people scratching their heads. I know the struggle! It's real! You have a fun story there though and I think you can easily smooth all these things out. I've found as I've dug deeper into finding ways to get information across that the story and my characters have grown deeper. I can see you're coming along- it's going to be great! 

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