Comment to 'Feedback request - Contemporary Fantasy opening chapters'
  • Hi Lynn. Sorry I'm late to the party on this, but I really liked it overall. It (mostly) held my interest right to the end and I was definitely left wanting the story to continue!

    I love the central idea, and I think the ghosts and their effect on Neil are really well drawn. His situation and dilemma and the effect it's had on his life are very believable.

    Neil is an excellent example of a flawed protagonist, just the right side of annoying, very relateable and with the obvious potential for growth well signalled. I felt slightly less involved with Caro, but not the point of disliking her, and I suspect she, too, has hidden depths that may be revealed in later chapters.

    Some of the descriptions are wonderful; I particularly liked the dead girl's 'kingfisher light'.

    It's such a great cliff-hanger last sentence in chapter 1!  😁 

    Like others have said, I thought the weakest passage was the journey to York. It felt a little too 'episodic' to me. There's some great relationship and character development stuff in there, but when Neil and Caro were in the service station I confess I wanted the journey to be over at that point. 

    With three separate stage on the journey it somehow feels a bit too much when what we're expecting is the action to switch to York in quite short order.

    Brandon Sanderson, in one of his excellent YouTube lectures, talks about the author making promises to the reader, and how progress towards the fulfilment of that promise must always be visible to the reader. Any diversion from that journey will tend to alienate them (even when the diversion is interesting and meaningful). In your case, I think the promise you make is that revelation and action will happen when they get to York, and the reader is primed for that. So the journey itself is 'marking time'. He makes the point that sometimes, the answer for the author is not to remove the diversion, but to tweak the promise to incorporate it. So I wonder whether, if the journey to York and the developing relationship between Neil and Caro that happens during it, is set up to be more than just a simple getting from one location to another, it might feel more like a stage  in itself, and one that leads the way to the next development, rather than a diversion. 

    The point in the YouTube lecture where he discusses this using an example from his own work is here -

    The writing and the pace is generally terrific, though, and I definitely want to find out more about Davey, Neil and Caro's past and how the story develops. It's a great read!

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    • Wow! Thanks so much for this, Jon. So pleased with what you said generally - that Neil's engaging, that you want to read more about the three of them, that the writing and pace are good.

      The consensus seems to be to cut that journey and funnily enough, before I read your comment I'd just cut the service station scene completely. It adds nothing much that isn't said elsewhere. Though I have shown them starting off from Milton Keynes (Neil's first glimpse of the distorted shadows) and reaching the butcher's shop, reinforcing his own guilt over leaving the family home and heritage behind. I'll take another read through before I send it to the agent though, in case I feel I can cut more. I'm tightening everything as I go, obviously.

      Hoping I have time to repost before my 121 in a few weeks, but if not, wish me luck.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and feedback

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