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4/24/23 - Ace of Hearts - Bond of Wildflowers v2 sub 11, 4233 words, L

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Glad to see this book is still going through!


Could you refresh my memory - is this middle grade or YA? The pacing is probably right about right for middle grade but needs to have more movement for YA. Generally though, this chapter was a lot of talking. There were some highlights and tension of course, but I think they whole chapter could be distilled down to maybe 2K words and have more punch, without losing any content. There's also a lot of navel gazing and remembering, which meant that by three pages in it didn't feel like I'd missed the last six chapters or so at all. Likely just some tightening would fix it up nicely.

As I go

- pg 6: I've been in and out the past few months so I'm not sure if this has been addressed before, but I'm having the same issues with this chapter as I've had with many of the others. We get told a lot of things through general conversation and we don't get to experience them. It makes me feel like I'm reading the cliff notes version of the book instead of the full story. I like that they started out sparring and with W getting H to engage. But by page six everything is just discussion and I feel like I'm being kept and arms-length away from the book

- pg 11: Haven’t gotten all of the NPC dialogue out of me yet <-- I appreciate that you hung a lantern on it, but it's still 11 pages now of just talking


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Similar thoughts on this submission as the last one. Both of these are sort of "let's fix the secondary characters." It works better with A, because we've seen their relationship before. With H, it's very much as if she's unlocking NCP dialogue. Then there's a big switch back to plot in the next chapter with a bunch of different characters showing up again.

I wonder if the last few chapters could be restructured so all these things are happening in parallel? Then W can work a little with A, some with H, maybe get a communication from G that they're coming back, and so on. It might work more organically and hide some of the "NPC unlock" dialogue.


Notes while reading:

pg 1-2: Yep, so this also is setting up to treat a character relationship like a task to do. Yes, it's helping them, but the whole arc here is making the other characters happier, which usually comes around organically in a story as people get to know each other better.

pg 4: The progression with A last chapter felt more natural, as he and W dated before. W aggressively trying to "help" H here seems different, like that's the plot that she needs to follow now.

pg 6: "So it’s weird seeing all three of you… notice me so much."
--this just seems...strange. I'm not sure why. Like H's personality is to be gruff and not really talk with anyone else. He even mentions that he doesn't make friends quickly. But then he is with W.

pg 10: Good information through here, and I'm glad someone is finally explaining things. However, I'm not sure why H is doing so. We don't know enough about him yet to know why he's so gruff all the time, and why W was able to change him. Now he's all chatty and expository.

pg 11: “Haven’t gotten all of the NPC dialogue out of me yet?”
--Okay, I was actually going to make a comment about how it seems W did the right quest bits to get H to talk. That's part of what seems off about this chapter.
--Also, where is A the whole time?

pg 13: “Not an attack,”...“But they are planning to head over and assess the situation.”
--This chapter seems disconnected from the last two, like W has fixed her friends so now the plot can progress. Do we know what A&J's aims are? We don't know much about them.

pg 15: Ah, good! N's back.

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  • 1 month later...

P1 “even though I’m only a year older than him…” I actually had been reading H as the older one. Also, and it’s very possible that this is just a result of me living outside the US, but the term “freshman” here made me think everyone is in college, which puts everyone at older than I thought they were.

P5 “Your mom’s awareness isn’t a bad thing…” not sure why, but I stumbled on the word “awareness’ here.

P7 “…he makes flowers bloom…” wait, have we seen this? Because I feel like we should have seen this. Or at least hints thereof.

P14 “Do you regret it?” I think this is actually the first time it’s been spelled out that Br is one of H and N’s moms (I forget which one is mom and which one is ma). I still think having a few more hint and/or an explicit “who’s who” in the earlier chapters would help.

Also… this implies that the fey have gene sequencing technology?

Overall: My thoughts on this sub are pretty similar to the last one, I think. I’m still not necessarily concerned with N being off-screen, but—moreso in this submission than the last one—I don’t quite feel connected to the overall narrative. Setting the chapter up as its own goal to make H talk about his feelings helps a little because then we do achieve that goal by the end of the chapter, but I’m still not totally sure why it’s important in terms of our overall progress. With A, it worked better because they have an established prior relationship that has already affected the narrative, but with H it feels like W’s doing it almost as a way to pass the time.

I accidentally took a three-ish week break between starting and finishing this critique, and coming back to it with fresh eyes, I think part of what’s giving me issues is that it feels like each of the two chapters in this sub is only one thread. There’s the “get H to talk about his feelings” chapter and then once that’s out of the way we start progressing the fey plot again—but they’re both very sequestered to their own chapters which might contribute to the feeling that the plot isn’t moving during the chapter with H.

I wonder if giving W a secondary goal that’s more related to the plot, even if she isn’t going try running to the rescue of N and her amma (which is unusual, and fairly well signposted, and overall I like!) would help with this. This is very much a “throwing things to see what sticks” suggestion, but maybe she decides she needs a better grasp at MA’s role in all this, so that she can better help N et al once he rescues himself, and can keep working away at that. Then maybe A gives her some information during their heart-to-heart that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Then H says something in the next chapter that makes it sound a little more sinister. Then when G, B and company show up in the next chapter, it’s this huge relief because they’ve gotten out from under something terrible. Or something.  

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