Ghost-of-a-Chance

ISO a second opinion on one chapter of a WIP

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An ongoing beta would be awesome but I’m not holding my breath or asking for one currently. (I had a beta for this...once...I miss her.) What I really need is – as the title says – a second opinion on a single completed chapter of my WIP Shifting the Paradigm. The last few scenes just...don’t feel as urgent and oomph-y to me as I hoped for.

Wanted: Second opinion on oomph, intensity of suspense/threat, and cliffhanger.
Fandom: Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z. There’s maybe two canon characters identified on-screen.
Type of story: Drama/family/romance, heavily influenced by the characters’ traumatic histories and recovery from them. There won’t be any real romance until the OCs Rio and Sierra start getting their shit together and recovering from the damage they’ve done themselves, and any smut will have to wait until after that.

The basic setup of the story (I’m heavily paraphrasing so this is gonna be weird, feel free to skip.) Main OCs are three sisters (Sierra, Rio, and Cordelia) and Rio’s teenage daughter Rowan. Rio got involved with an older man as a teenager, was nearly killed after she wound up pregnant and went to him for help, and has raised Rowan despite mild-to-moderate brain damage, serious post-traumatic stress, and stalking/abuse/physical attacks from the father when he’s not in prison. Rio’s sister, Sierra, was always there to help but when Sierra needed help (her health started failing, she got a diagnosis of something that would eventually cripple her, their parents died, and a few other crises) Rio shut her out and threw blame. Cordelia washed her hands of the entire family and shut herself away because she’s an asshole. In a fit of pique, depression, and desperation, Sierra ran away to a forest in hopes she’d die there instead of have to actually keep living with her new medical problems and her family falling apart. Instead, Piccolo and Gohan find her and bring her to Bulma, and Piccolo’s attitude and shouting helps her realize she’s throwing her life away over nothing.
Sierra has spent the last several months getting medical help, undergoing counseling, and working up the nerve to confront her family and take back her life. Meanwhile, Rowan found herself on Dende’s radar (and he commenced guardian-stalking her because he’s an awkward teenage alien with a crush and nothing to do) and Rio still hasn’t figured out that Sierra’s running away was partly her fault. Cordelia is still moping at home with her dog. Most recently, Rowan’s sperm-donor was paroled, Rio got warning and they started packing to leave town until he’s gone. In this chapter: Rio is an asshole, we see that she’s not just an asshole and how her anger issues have affected her relationship with Rowan. Planning. More drama. Shtuff. Dende finds out Rowan’s sperm-donor is coming after them and sends help, it doesn’t go as planned, a family ally beats the tar out of Dad on the front lawn, and Rio and Rowan are brought from their home to the Lookout for their own safety. Sierra FINALLY reaches out because she knows her niece is in danger, but the call goes unanswered because Rowan forgot her phone. Cliffhanger followed by furious readers with torches and pitchforks.

  A whole list of triggers in this chapter alone:

  • violence
  • some mild referenced gore
  • panic, panic attacks, and Post-Traumatic Stress 
  • complicated relationship between a mother with PTSD and her teenage daughter
  • references to previous physical assault, child abuse, coerced sex between an adult and a minor resulting in pregnancy, stalking, attempted murder
  • physical assault and threatening with a firearm (happens mostly off-screen)
  • alien abduction (because...ya know...they get taken to safety...by aliens. It fits the canon.)

...suffice it to say this is WAY out of my usual writing boundaries and I’ll be slapping some heavy warnings on it when it’s posted. The scenes in question have no romance or sex, just impending doom followed by DOOM.

Work examples: I’d love to read examples of y’all’s work – or, alternatively, some examples of what you would consider well-written stories – but it isn’t an absolute requirement. Again, I’m just looking for an opinion on the impact of the last few scenes here!

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