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6/28/21 - RedBlue - Constance Wood Stove ch 15&16 (5082 words)


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1.     A couple spots that I’ve mentioned below, specifically when everyone is being brought up to speed and things seem a little repetitive.

2.     Mostly.  There are some things about V’s thoughts and actions that aren’t quite lining up for me, though. Also mentioned below.


I feel like most of my useful comments are below, but I really liked these chapters and am looking forward to see what trying to leave means in a practical sense after what we’ve learned from V about the surrounding area.

I will say, there are some ideas (specifics below) that are touched on or implied without being addressed directly, and part of me would like to see those things dealt with more thoroughly here or have a lantern hung on them if they’ll be dug into later when the characters are more ready to notice things.  Of course, they’re also ideas that I tend to latch onto when I see them, so I’m not sure if the way they are dealt with here will be as noticeable to others or not or if you intended for them to come across like they are here.

Pg 1-2

Definitely interesting to get one of the adults’ perspectives at this point.  We’ve had a pretty clear conflict between the innocent, hopeful kids vs. jaded, pessimistic adults going on, so it’s interesting to see how much of that is in C’s head, so it’s interesting to see the other side of that.  We’ve seen it from C’s perspective a little more the past couple chapters, but I’ll admit I was hoping that some of it was just her perception.  It bothers me a little when kids and adults are set up to see each other as the whole sort of incomprehensible other. 

Of course, there’s definitely reason given for it here since the whole reason the adults end up that way is because they’ve had to sacrifice something to preserve the town for the next generation. So their other-ness is a result of the fact that they at one point cared. And I do love me some complicated morality questions. So feel free to take my rambling thoughts or leave them.

“What comes next? The population is shrinking.” I’d had this thought as well.

Pg 3:

Happy, carefree E sacrificing his sense of accomplishment (or something similar)? *cries*

Pg 4:

“If any dog is likely to get above its station…” Hah.

Pg 5:

“tears off into the trees.” Go, MD, Go!

Pg 6:

I’m really enjoying the mayor’s pov. We get a really clear idea of his character in a lot of his reactions to things, and a number of his observations have made me chuckle.

“…because she’s already tucked away….” Bad news, mayor.

Pg 7:

“I thoughts something awful had happened…” yeah. Me too.  Where’ve you been, V? I was expecting her to have to go rescue him from somewhere.

I think we should get into V’s explanation for where he was a little earlier.  Having a full page before C “realizes that V is very quiet” feels a little long. Especially the stretch from “She throws off the blankets” to the end of the page. That feels like it could be condensed a good bit to stress her urgency in getting to him.  Plus, I think most readers will be pretty well convinced that something has gone wrong with V, so his just appearing is odd, and I think keeping the gap between his appearance and the visible sign that something is still wrong as short as possible will help maintain the tension better.  Either that, or add some hint to his initial appearance here that suggests all is not as it should be. At the moment, his appearance seems too normal and casual through most of the page.

Pg 8:

“I tried to leave.”  …I don’t entirely buy this… it doesn’t seem to fit what we’ve seen before of him wanting to help C and be a hero and save the town. I’d need more hints in early chapters that he feels like an outsider for me to believe he’d try to run away when he’s most needed.

“Do they treat you as if you’re one of them?” To be fair, I’m not sure if I’d want to be treated like the adults treat anyone.  No one really seems to be all that close to anyone else. The other parents walk their kids along through the process of being part of the town, but I don’t get much feeling that there’s a closeness between the other kids and the other townsfolk that C is lacking.

“Lots of things are wrong…” Well, that’s for sure.

Pg 9:

“This was faster” Hah.  I’m still not clear on what exactly T had given up and what she’s kept, but I appreciate this blunt solution.

Pg 10-11:

“I don’t understand about this rhythm dance…” Hah. E’s got my back on this one.

I know that having the knowledge about what the wood stove now does change C’s view of what might be “magic” and what might be the weirdness of town, but I’d sort of like to have this information earlier in the story, even if it’s just to acknowledge that it’s a C-specific thing, which she hadn’t otherwise realized was something that only happened to her. Having even this brief acknowledgment of it would likely make it a lot easier to take in stride than it has been in previous chapters.

“a sharp, mocking voice”  right on time.

Pg 12:

“I’m not going back home again.” I don’t think this needs to be further driven home here.

Pg 13:

“You didn’t tell anyone” Fair point.

“Because you would have used it…” “Why would you think…?” This fits both of their characters and how they view the world really well.  

A lot of what we’re getting in 10-14 or so feels repetitive. The process of bringing everyone up to speed requires some of that, and there’s definitely some new stuff mixed in, so it doesn’t make sense to cut it all, but finding a smoother way to do that without a full recap of things might be helpful.

Pg 14:

Oh, GM.  I do so appreciate your sudden desperate chaos.

“should have made me burn my spite.” Another fair point.

Pg 17-18

“But I failed to do something right.” I like this distinction a lot.  Though I think the question of whether or not he was capable of accomplishing the “right” thing should be stressed a little more. He touches on it a bit, but I think in general, choosing not to do the right thing is almost equivalent to doing a wrong thing, whereas being unable to accomplish the right thing isn’t necessarily a wrong thing, even if the way things pan out ends up being the same.  

I’m a little torn about the conversation between T and V here.  On one hand, T taking responsibility for her choices is good, and fits her character.  But I think the “All the other adults trust me…” line says more about the problems with the adults in town than it does about what is reasonable to expect of a pre-teen or teen girl.  It definitely fits her character to respond this way, and I think given the circumstances, I agree with her point that she did the right thing for the town.  But I’d like to see them recognize that the brokenness of the town has left all of them with some pretty horrible options rather than focus on which of them should have done something differently. This sort of goes along with my comments about pg 8, where V and C are talking about fitting in. 

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I like that we're starting to fill in the gaps here, and the kids are beginning to come to a plan. I'm eager to see how it turns out. I think overall this chapter is good, but like @C_Vallion says, there is a bit of repetition and it could be trimmed a bit to make it more streamlined. One of the main questions I want to see answered soon is the why. We now know how the stove works, but we still don't know why the town is continuing like it is and whether other attempts have been made to stop it .We get some good hints, but nothing yet.

Still very interested in the story--this is one of the more original concepts I've seen in a while!

Notes while reading:

pg 1: Good to see some of the behind the scenes in the mayor's POV

pg 1: "She must not be allowed to stop until she is truly ugly."
--interesting. So there are degrees to which one can give up the intended sacrifice?

pg 2: "keeping the cursed land from creeping forward"
--so I guessed this is what the stove was doing, but I'm still not sure how sacrifices keep a certain amount of land from dying or becoming cursed. Does the stove metaphorically "heat" it or something?

pg 2: "Soon, there will be no fresh people"
--I've been wondering about this the whole time. I wonder how long this has been going on.

pg 3: E's sacrifice could turn out to be something really big...

pg 8: Aha, that's where V. went.

pg 9: Is V in bird or human shape here? I can't picture how they're talking.

pg 10: “I don’t understand about this rhythm dance energy thing,” 
--you and me both, E.

pg 13: I think there's a slight disconnect here that no one asks HOW burning things keeps the town alive. There's no visible change except to the person afterwards.

pg 15: “And they should have made me burn my spite.”
--Ha! GM is a great character.

pg 18: Aha. That explains where V comes from.

pg 18: Good hook for the next chapter!

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Oh boy we got a long one! And for once it's not me. 

pg 1. Wait so does the mayor not even consider that C might have said no to other C and might not still be in the house? That's my best reading but it seems odd

-also why is GM an issue beyond running away? She did give something to the wood stove, right?

pg. 2. Okay this is dumb but if the town never changes and has been there since time immemorial then why are there like TVs and stuff? 

-wow I hate how the mayor talks about his wife (as in I hate him not I hate the writing; the paragraph is great). I hope this dude gets clonked on the head real hard

pg 3. Is that what happened to GM? That she did it wrong? Does that mean the sacrifice was wasted or simply wasn't enough and more can be added onto it?

pg 4. I am now hoping he gets clonked hard on the head twice. Leave E alone! >:(

pg 7. Every time V shows up I feel like I kinda forgot like he existed. I'm still waiting for a bit more from him.

pg 8. ...And because of this, C feeling betrayed at what V did doesn't really mean anything to me. 

pg 9. Come to think of it, has V even done anything to be warranted this trust C is giving him?

pg 10-11. Think this can be condensed a bit

pg 13. Do they know what happens if they don't burn something in the wood stove?

pg 14. At this point I'm hoping for more motion

pg 15-18. The ending line is good, but other than that I'm not getting a ton from T's PoV.


On 6/28/2021 at 8:58 AM, RedBlue said:

1) Any boring or confusing bits?

2) Do the characters’ thoughts and actions make sense?

1. Not confusing, and not really boring, but the later parts get a bit slow. For it to not feel slow, it needs to feel like the kids are making progress with their plans. For the most part, they don't until V has an epiphany at the end, prompted by who knows what. So as a result, it feels like the last 8 pages weren't super important and also that V can come up with solutions a little too easily.

2. Yeah everything's good here. I like that V is taking charge and doing something plot-relevant, but he feels both too mysterious and not distinct enough (which I think go hand in hand) for me to get a good read on him. He's supposed to be a hero and protect the kids, but... why? We keep dancing around the fact and not making a lot of progress. 

That being said, I was engaged throughout both the chapters. Good luck with revisions and going forward! :) 

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Late again


The first part was really snappy and dynamic, and then I felt the tension drained bit by bit with each continuing beat. The end fell flat for me, because V already said he couldn't find an end to the wasteland, and now C wants to leave....but G-M's idea to burn the town down seems much more A) reasonable and B.) interesting. Again, I want to go with G-M, not C. I think you're walking the line again of C not being a dynamic enough character.

But that mayor. Nice!


As I go

- while I don't normally like random additional POVs, I liked the mayor's a lot!

- the interlude with C and the bird boy doesn't seem to advance the plot much. I wonder if it could be cut?

- pg 13: the narrative is starting to lag through here. I want faster movement!

- pg 16: I think the T recap section isn't necessary. It is just rehashing what we already know

- 'we have to go' isn't nearly as dynamic as 'burn down the town'

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