JWerner

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  1. Overall, thought this was pretty solid. Don't have much in the way of advice other than fixing a couple mechanical hiccups. Enjoyed the character banter a lot (kinda question having two characters whose names start with Ja), dialogue seemed pretty natural, great visual detail. Page numbers correspond to Google Docs. I can mark up JPEGs of each page and send them to you in the future, if you wish. Oh, also, I'd replace any and all sentence-interrupting dashes with full hyphens. Pg. 2: “We can contemplate light fixtures later. Right now, let’s keep moving. I don’t want to eat dinner down here.”—I haven't read the prior chapter, so I'm going to assume they brought nibbles down there with them. If not, probably need to set that up so the foreshadowing makes sense in isolation. M squeezed into the lead and they walked, single file,—Don't need that last comma before the hyphen. Pg. 3: “Don’t touch things you can’t identify!”—But he just identified it. Pg. 4: “J, stop.” “I don’t like it here, even if it is well-swept."—Added dash. Pg. 5: “Yes, I noticed. Keep moving.” “You don’t have to be an chull about it.”—Didn't seem like a mean thing to say to begin with. “This is really unexpected,” J said.—Feels a bit telly, not quite showy. ...it was the only monarchy that allowed game hunting and the only one with a port to have the animals shipped in from...—I'd just say 'shipping port.' Or maybe 'a port to ship the animals.' Pg. 6: She saw wide and small kernel corn sitting in butter baths, a loaf of crusty bread that smelled so strongly she could taste it. She saw blueberries with ice crystals still defrosting on their surface arranged in the outline of a carnation across a delicate porcelain dish.—I'd replace the 2nd 'she saw' with 'and' to avoid repetition. Pg. 7: Just under the words was a poorly drawn rendition of her mother’s comb, and what appeared to be a smug caricature of N's face. Under that was a simple diagram with smiley-faced arrows, showing the path to a box marked LIBRARY: QUESTIONS ANSWERED HERE PLUS MONEY.—You add so much character with so little and it's awesome. Pg. 8: M stood and walked to the door, bypassing the food, though... J grabbed her forearm. “G,” he said softly.—I feel like a declaration of regicide would not be reacted to 'softly.' Pg. 10: She wore a green gown of some velvet-like material but peeking from beneath it M saw worn, brown leather boots.—I'd move the bolded phrase to the end, after 'boots.' And add a comma to after 'material.' She found a dozen gold stars in the bottom-right drawer M's skin goosefleshed.—Pretty sure gooseflesh doesn't have a verb tense. I'd just say 'prickled.' Pg. 14: ...had involved a princess flirting with her in a room so flammable... Pg. 15: I’ll give it to you, okay.—Replace period with question mark.
  2. I agree that the interview could be cut down. I also think that this chapter has too much expository dialogue; people are being told things they already know for our sake. While I can see the purpose behind it, it all comes across as more of an info-dump instead of actual insight into I's life. See if you can cut down on that and introduce information a bit more organically, as opposed to characters telling each other things we are supposed to learn about. Page numbers correspond to how I read them in Google Docs. For future reference, I can also send you individual JPEGs marked up with digital pen, if you prefer. Pg. 1: I stared into the bathhouse’s bronze mirror, trying to fluff her hair from its limp strands. Biting her lip, I tried to part it to the side, before giving up and letting her hair part right down the center of her head.—You already included her name in the first sentence of the paragraph, so I don't think it's necessary to repeat in these subsequent sentences. At twenty years of age, Ireen had only finished her apprenticeship five years ago. In those five years, there had been one year at C's third...—I'd replace the bolded section with 'she'd spent one year at...' Pg. 2: The local restaurants weren’t hiring, as they were barely afloat as it was.—Consider replacing the bolded part with a semicolon. C was unforgivably tactless—Why is being tactless unforgivable? Pg. 4: "The smile on my face was as bright as the sun, according to my Pa."—Reads kinda stiff. Might I suggest "My Pa said my smile blinded him," or something in that vein? It was also around this point that I started feeling that the exposition was bogging the pace down. Pg. 5: “Three. L, who’s ten; N, who’s sixteen; and S, who’s twenty-four.”—I don't think anyone in a job interview would start introducing their siblings to their potential employer. “The war must have been hard then.”—This feels like a detached sentiment, and a bit of a no-brainer. War is usually hell for anyone involved. I followed suit and was led to the shop door. Pg. 7: It was hard to make the case with G towering at over six foot tall, not including the curving horns. “Of course not.” Pg. 8: “You know the deity doesn’t affect fate.” I know he's referring to R, but it feels very detached in how he says it. Can he refer to R directly? I humphed, knowing he was right, but she not in the mood to acknowledge it.—Original sentence made it seem like G was right and not in the mood to acknowledge it. G paused from analyzing the different loaves, stroking his hairy jaw in thought. Everything she had ever thought was solid stone.... "I do not know if I want to live under the rule of a warmonger." "There has been a coup and two wars in the last nine years..." More exposition. "..had weak monarchs more interested in their full stomachs and the gold in their purses."—I feel like G ought to have a bit more emotion in how he says it, because it doesn't sound like he holds them in high regard. Something like calling them gluttons, weak, or another insult. Pg. 9: G had noticed her nose wrinkles and wincing sips, and had laughed.—I'd change bolded part to 'wrinkled nose'. Also, you can delete the bolded 'had.' You could also probably delete most instances of 'had' after using it once to denote something happened in the past. "You told me that the best wine is the not most expensive or the rarest."—Since this is in response to a question, I think you can delete the bolded part. “Would there be a goblet of wine included?”—This doesn't sound natural to me. "Will there be wine?" would be a lot more succinct. It turned out that being unemployed with little savings, unmarried, living in one’s parents’ home... Pg. 10: In fact, one of the bankers had eaten at C's, and was regretful that it had burnt down. He had liked their stuffed mussels, he said.—Deleted the other two instances of 'has'. Both of them had been pushing her to tell C the truth, and no doubt they would deliver the same speech again tonight.—Added a more active-sounding phrase. S was sitting on one of the kitchen benches, wringing his hands, when she entered.—I'd add the bolded phrase to the beginning of the sentence. “I, I don’t know what is going on."—Using a contraction then using two words that could be made into a contraction feels kinda off to me. I suggest going all in on the contractions, or abstaining for consistency's sake. “What!? Me!?” S nodded. I dropped her bag, mouth open in horror. “Why!?”—I'd hold back on the !? 'Mouth open in horror' is sufficient in letting us know she's freaked out. “Sparks, I don’t know!”—Is that a curse word? I'd delete it here. People generally don't speak that way. He looked equally pale.—Compared to who? I? How does I know how pale she looks? “Do you think I’m in trouble?”—Their prior dialogue seemed to indicate so. Pg. 11: Yanking out claws, a hundred lashes of the whip—That would probably kill you, so if that's what you were going for, I'd replace it with 'death by the whip.' You know us, if you were in trouble, we’d save you.—After 'us', I'd either replace the comma with a semicolon or a period. There was a wobbly “N would make the guards fall asleep with his long, poetic descriptions of the girls he likes.” “Be kind to your brother.”—I don't see how the previous sentence is unkind. I mimed talking with her hand. S pretended to swing a hammer with one hand. Pg. 12: The words tasted hollow in her mouth.—What does hollow taste like? "I love your mother, but she is not a professional cook."—Pretty sure I would already be aware of this.
  3. Well, this was a good kick in the teeth if ever there was one. I will mea culpa on the lack of knowledge. The only birth I have ever experienced was my own, and I confess that my recollection of it is more than a bit hazy. Also, I don't know a whole lot about infants. Aaaand I did no research, so there's that. Bad! Bad Jordan! Overall, this is all fair criticism. If I do revise, it's gonna be much later. I have other stories I need to slack off on. Couple replies: Probably. I added that after I got lectured by a judge about stories having a beginning, middle and end. It originally just ended on the nose comment from L's end. I thought this would add some finality. Well, yes. It's there to get L back to fighting shape and that's about it. Also, just to clarify something: "I'll give you all of me come sunset". Obviously, I failed to convey this, but the sunset in question is figurative, not literal. The idea was that the moss would consume her whenever she died, and it just happened to be a couple minutes later. Thank you. There's no novel. This is it. (For now.) Thank you all for the teeth-kicking! It's always appreciated.
  4. Right-o. First things first, I'd recommend doing a Google search or two on hyphen usage, because it looked to me like you were using them when you shouldn't and not using any when you should. Secondly, my pages probably won't line up with yours in Word; my Office Suite subscription ran out, so I wrote my notes in Google docs. Q & A: Are there feelings? Does M seem to connect with both potential love interests on some level? Somewhat? M knows their names, that much is clear. I'm not sensing a whole lot of emotional connection, and it's hard to tell what's supposed to be genuine if they're both drunk (assuming I'm right on who the romantic options are supposed to be). Where does my logic cease to make sense? I feel like the threesome scene stretches believability a bit. I have a feeling that anyone interrupted during sex by a roommate who tells them 'pretend I'm not here' would be ticked off at the very least (volcanic at the most). I don't buy that everyone texts the exact same way. Some variety in how your characters text would add some good flavor; add some abbreviations, acronyms, emojis. You asked not for much in the way of grammar corrections, so I skipped that. (Though if you're fine with it, in the future I can send the file back to you with proofing marks. Same goes for anyone else if they're cool with that. I have the equipment.) My last general note is that your dialogue is somewhat patchy; certain conversations feel fairly natural, others are mechanical ("My friend is A. We met in calculus."). I'd just recommend reading your dialogue back to yourself, or speak it aloud, to gauge whether or not you think it might actually come out of a person's mouth. Also, if you're feeling adventurous, try adding a drunken slur when your sloshed characters start talking. Notes are a little light, I'm afraid. I hope they're helpful regardless. Pg. 1: I would kill for a flashback or a fleshing-out of this Enterprise v. Millenium Falcon argument, as there are multiple factors you can go into: which Enterprise is being discussed, the fact that you can transverse the Star Wars galaxy at the drop of the hat, but the Milky Way takes 75+ years without wormholes, et cetera. Pg. 3: "I could ask you the same thing.”—Cliché line. Might wanna consider changing it to something else. Why is a specific number the best kind of number? "It was a lie but it was packed with truth."—I'd changed to edged. I've never heard a lie packed with truth; if there's so much truth within the lie that it can be packed, isn't more truth than lie? Yes, I'm absolutely being pedantic. “I guess I can stay a little."—Well, she was convinced pretty quickly. I feel like she ought to at least think it over for a second or two. Adding "She paused" would go a long way. Pg. 4: He frowned, and inhaled slowly. “Because I know what can be done with that type of data.”—That's a pretty common reason, and I don't think it needs that dramatic of a pause. "I'm bi...what happened to A?" I like this whole interaction. Feels natural. Pg. 6: Her heart raced, and her phone buzzed again and again and again.—I wasn't sure if she was being called or texted, because phones tend to have different rhythms of buzzing to indicate different functions. I think right off the bat, you should just say she's being texted. M stepped away with the sinking feeling she was running from one bad idea right into another.—I think 'situation' would be more fitting than 'idea.' It was a storm of injuries. The bruises were dark thunder clouds and scraped red lightning and wind.—This metaphor feels overwrought to me. I can almost see it, but I have no idea what wind is supposed to look like as an injury. I think you can just leave it as 'a storm of injuries.' Pg. 7: ...walked up to the building both their dorms were in.—Does it have a name? You could also just call it 'their dorm building.' He was the best at toasting marshmallows while telling stories.—The best compared to whom? How many marshmallow-toasting storytellers does she know? T closed the door, which made it feel small.—I'd replace 'it' with 'the bathroom'. Otherwise, it looks like M thinks the door's size depends on whether or not it's opened or close. (Insert Schrodinger's joke here.) Pg. 10: M closed her eyes calling up memories of the attic and typed with her eyes closed—You can delete the reminder that her eyes are closed. Pg. 11: ...that door made M’s cheeks flush before fru—Your sentence cut off here. Pg. 12: She pulled a shift of her draw—She whudda wha? Pg. 14: They’d taken solid, cylindrical pieces of wood—As opposed to watery wood? Again, I'm probably being pedantic, but I don't think you need to tell us wood is solid.
  5. My email appears to have stopped receiving stories from this group after the end of December. I'm guessing that's because I haven't participated here in a while; I'm worried I won't receive the batch of stories for this week. Is there something I need to do on my end to make sure I receive the submissions?
  6. I think I would like a spot for this upcoming Monday, please.
  7. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you. And please don't think by making errors, that makes you unworthy of being a writer; if that held true, nobody would write in the first place.
  8. I'm there with everyone else in saying that the world doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but @industrialistDragon has pretty much covered every possible square inch of that issue, to the point that I have nothing more substantial to add. Your prose is good, and it's nice seeing some straightforward fantasy (though I hope you'll avoid the pacing problems that plague WoT, if it's a main influence). I'm in agreement that you need to go back through this and make some edits for the sake of your world-building to clear up inconsistencies on why a matriarchy has the societal problems it does. There's a lot of potential here, but it needs some tweaking. Notes below. Notes without annotations are just corrections: (pg. 1) -her shoulder clanking as its objects jostled within.—I'd replace objects with 'contents' -“It’s my armor, after all.”—Italicized 'my' for emphasis (pg. 2) -“Come on, then. The blacksmith is only the first of our stops.”—If this is in answer to A's question, why doesn't L just say 'The blacksmith'? -Not all parts of the body looked or smelled nice (pg. 3) -the glowposts were built from a shimmering white marble that sparkled during the day and shone with brilliant golden light at night.—Ooh, I like this image. -“It is. It’s right over there,” she said as she pulled her attention away from the glowpost—Bold text added for clarification (pg. 4) -A blinked, her lips parting in a half-smile, half-I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that look of horror.—This line is indented at 'half' in the doc. Not sure if that's just a problem on my end. (pg. 8) -It was an absurd argument to be having, anyway, and one she’d get nowhere by having, since she seemed to be the only one in the Queendom who thought so.—Repetition of 'having' (pg. 9) -Children’s skirts were never weighted, and to help keep them from stepping on them only came down to their knees.—I would change this to a simpler "Children's skirts were knee-length and never weighted, to keep them from tripping." (pg. 13) -You don’t become a knight by lollygagging (pg. 14) -Fort A—I would not use this name for the fort; as far as fantasy names go, it's pretty common. -gratuitous number of arrow loops throughout the walls of the lower levels (pg. 15) -with a sobbing story—I'd change sobbing story to just 'sob story' (pg. 16) -“Mommy’s helping wif the Queen,” A said with a smile. “She told me to wait faw you and bwing you to the capin.”—This kid sounds like he's three, at most. Not four or five. -S, one of the other boys who was his friend -She loved children.—If she loves children, why did she sigh when A showed up? Sighing makes it sound like she finds him annoying. (pg. 17) -A led them through the keep -Though all three women were different ages and statures, and all three wore different outfits, all three wore matching expressions of dour consternation. At their entrance, all three women’s heads snapped up.—Repetition of 'all three.' Three times in one sentence is two too many. - L said carefully stepping further into the room—Did she say something carefully or did she carefully step? Add a comma to clarify. (pg. 18) -The prince is very knowledgeable (pg. 19) -The M nodded, accepting L’s apology—Well, that was easy.
  9. I want to ask you, @shatteredsmooth, please turn on spellcheck. There are lots of little errors you could easily fix just by having this on. And after that, look out for errors when you do a re-read. Finding grammatical and spelling mistakes while reading makes doing so a more time-consuming thing than it ought to be. Story-wise, something I've noticed is that E has some skewed priorities. Despite that their mother has been turned into a mannequin (which they react very little to; you'd expect a kid to be horrified, scared and confused) they seem to spend a lot of time worrying over what gender pronouns to use with people. I feel that the worst thing that could happen if you get a pronoun wrong is you get corrected. Also, E also does a fair amount of agonizing about whether or not she can bring the dog certain places or not. Worst case scenario: leave the dog outside. Again, E's mother turned into a mannequin. There are so many consequences that can arise from this—homelessness, police questioning, mother stuck that way, etc—and none of them are delved upon. Whether or not E is able to save their mother is much more interesting and tense than whether or not they get someone's pronouns right and/or is allowed to bring a dog into a building. All these children, also, don't feel like children. They don't talk like children, they don't act like children. They act and speak like adults we are supposed to believe are children. They react very little to events going on around them, their dialogue feels very stilted (not much in the way of contractions) and their vocab is too advanced. I feel like you're not taking advantage of your premise. At least, not as quickly as I'd like. The pacing is slow; you gave us a tour of an antique store that we didn't need, delivered the dramatic buy-in (mom turns into a mannequin), before going to meticulously, unemotionally describe E's library research, before delivering a series of conveniences in our lap (D's mom is in the same place A died, E finds the two establishments she's looking for in the same building) and then finally giving us a new character. But there has been very little in the way of actual action, thus far. To improve this, I think you need to cut a lot of extraneous details, put us inside E's head to tell us what they are feeling, have them stay mostly focused on helping their mother, and reworking the characterization of all the children's characters to make them feel less like robots. And put your docs through spell-check before you submit, please. Notes below: (pg. 1) -And if I was home with an overprotective Dad made more overprotective—Overprotective is one word. -Where were a few things I could take from the shop.—Is E asking a question here? (pg. 2) -I also texted my friend K, whose -Plus, if K was feeding him, then no one would suspect anything had happened to Mom.—That's a pretty big logical stretch there. What happens when someone tries to call or e-mail her and gets no response? They're not gonna take the cat they may or may not even see as an indicator that she's fine. -I emptied the contents of the vampire hunting kit into it.—Why not just take the kit wholesale? (pg. 4) -I used another bungee cord to the secure the tent—Delete bolded 'the' -Last but not least—I wouldn't use this. It's cliché. It's the equivalent of ending your essay with 'all in all.' -The building, one story and kind of square—Kind of square? What makes it kind of? -The latter didn’t (pg. 5) - Is there something specific you are looking for?—Paranormal books are already pretty specific. -I hated the idea of her falsely assuming that he was a service dog, because people pretending dogs that aren’t service dogs are creates huge problems for real service dogs—A few problems here. For one, this feels like preaching, which never reads well. Also, 'hated'? That's a pretty strong emotion to be feeling for something E doesn't even really know the librarian is doing or not. And finally, everything after 'because' is nonsensical: what does "pretending dogs that aren't service dogs" mean? And why is it more of a problem for the service dogs than humans? -If I had anywhere else to bring him, I wouldn’t bring him in a building pets weren’t allowed in.—Why doesn't E leave him with a friend? -The shelves were full of hardcovers with plastic protecting the spines and call numbers.—You mean like all libraries? -There were titles about doing tarot readings, about spirituality, and about communicating with the dead.—And suddenly, we've teleported to the paranormal section. (pg. 6) - and took them to the most hidden table I could find.—What makes this table hidden? And why is E even trying to hide? -and Googling related topics. -That owner’s name was MF.—What's E's emotional reaction to this? Thus far, they've displayed little to no emotion. (pg. 7) -I’d have something to compare them to. -Conveniently enough, there was one psychic place listed on the same street as a sub shop.—You're right. That's convenient. Way too convenient. Impossibly convenient. - I ordered a small cheese pizza, because you can get that at any pizza place.—Please don't tell me you can buy pizza at a pizza shop. - I gave G a chance to do his business in the woods behind the library—Small details like this are not advancing the plot. (pg. 8) -it probably wasn’t a neo pronoun, but that didn’t mean it hadn’t started using a new pronoun as a ghost.—E's mother turned into a mannequin. Wondering what pronouns a dead child would use—said child probably doesn't even know what a pronoun is—ought to be the last thing they're worried about. -I walked my bike around the back entrance that led to the psychic's shop -I wasn’t sure what you called said place.—Definitely not a lair. -put some of his kibble in the lid of my thermos while I ate.—What? E's putting dog food IN the lid of the thing they drink from? Ew. -made an effort to minimize conversation with grown-ups -There were no signs telling me pets were not allowed—Why is E worried about this? Their mom is a mannequin! -before I told that person—I would replace with 'them' (pg. 9) -Maybe if the psychic was the real deal, he, she, or they might—I would delete the bolded part -G certainly thought there was because his tail thumped against my leg.—I don't see how that translates to 'danger ahead.' -more makeup than I would be allowed to wear even if I actually ever wanted to wear makeup—Makeup is one word. -The person wore—Replace with 'they' (pg. 10) -I stood in the dark, mystical room and filled with candles—Deleted bolded 'and' -“You’re talking about Mx. R who owns JJ, right?" I asked, wanting to make (pg. 11) -“Then why was the open sign lit?"—I would either capitalize this or put apostrophes around it, and all further instances of sign names. -Some of the breaths caught on tear snot, like it was a gooey sad net—What is tear snot? And also, yuck. -This girl’s mom could’ve fallen through the floor or gotten killed by some violent criminal who was hiding out in that mill.—I am having trouble believing any kid's thought process would run like this. -“We called the police, but they searched the area and didn’t see any sign of her. Her car isn’t even anywhere."—This girl is awfully trusting of E, for only just having met them. (pg. 12) -“I was planning on sleeping in a backpacking tent I took from JJ, but I’d rather not illegally camp if I can avoid it.”—Why can't E just go home? -That is where A died.—Their delivery is robotic ("That's where A died!" might be an improvement) and this fact is too convenient. (pg. 13) -A formed into a zombie kid ghost. -“What pronoun should I use for you?” I asked because I really didn’t want to think of A with the wrong gender.—Why would E presume a dead kid from the 19th century have any idea what this means? -No one ever gave me to the option—Delete bolded letter. Also, I do not buy A knows what gender pronouns are. -was there are creepy lady—Delete bolded letters (pg. 14) -but all vampires allegedly—No child's vocabulary is this good. Not only that, all these children talk like emotionless adults. -Without this vessel, I might lose myself. (pg. 16) -You use masculine pronouns for A three times.
  10. All right, I'm behind and I read both sets of chapters today. I'm just going to post my notes for now, and get into critiquing the story itself on the thread for chapter 3 and 4. If you see a line without any comments, it means I made a bolded edit. Notes below: (pg. 1) -“E, will you flip me a coin?” called Mom from the front seat.—If this is in a car, 'called' is not appropriate. It suggests shouting. -I held the coin on my dirt-stained palm, tossed it up, caught it, and then slammed it into the opposite palm.—'Slapped' would fit better. 'Slammed' sounds painful. -“I guess that means Vermont,” she sighed.—Isn't tails what she wanted? Also, neither of them called which side of the coin they were taking. (pg. 2) -It was also right next to a gorge that Mom and I sometimes hiked down if we wanted stretch our legs before the long ride home—Add 'to' -EBay being both the savoir and doom of her business.—It's 'eBay.' 'Savior' is misspelled. And you don't explain how it both saves and dooms. -Kodak moments were when she found the stuff I thought of as treasure—I know what you mean, but this could be construed as mom interpreting stuff E finds as treasure. -Back in June, she had found a ten-dollar item that sold for almost a thousands dollars.—Delete bolded part -Her denim shorts were threadbare and probably would have a hole soon if she kept wearing it -My t-shirt and cargo were in better shape, but that was because Mom always spent money on me before she’d buy anything for herself.—What does that mean? Is Mom buying the protag newer clothes? -I looked at the bikes, some vintage and others new, lined up outside the shop (pg. 3) -JJ always smelled like sawdust and mothballs.—You wrote the name backwards. - I imagined they were full of bugs because there was always a layer of dust on them—I see no bug connection. -He let out a squeaky, scratchy bark -A jingling gradually got louder—What's jingling? -The second most important rule of antiquing was “respect the shop dogs.”—Why? -Their chin length hair was dyed violet (pg. 4) -plum-colored eyeshadow and lipstick -Even their goatee was dyed purple. -My cheeks heated up—Just say 'I flushed' -He knows you love and respect dogs more than other kids do. Plus, you always give him treats.—Expository characterization. -“I used to have a dog, but she had cancer, and Mom misses her too much to get another one.”—E hasn't told R this by now? If not, why doesn't R offer condolences? -Don’t touch things that can break was my third most important rule. G came over and sat on my feet as Mx. R walked away. “Um, Mx. R, are there any new mannequins I need to worry about?”—This should all be one paragraph. (pg. 5) - It belonged to a 90-year-old woman -and this one lonely, lovely -She’s in the back room modeling a stunning cocktail dress.—Please elaborate why it's stunning. -She is called M—I'd delete bolded part. -“Oh, I don’t know if dolls creep you out too—R seems oblivious; it's obvious E is creeped, just by her dialogue. -Dolls look creepy, but you won’t turn into one if you look in their eyes—You later say that this is the exact cause of turning into one. (pg. 6) -Antiquing was like a treasure hunt. Most of the stuff in the shop was actually junk, but there might be something on a shelf for twenty dollars that mom could sell for two hundred, or if we were really lucky, two thousand.—Started getting bored by this point. -There was a silver blade, which glinted like it was in the sun instead of the dull shop light. -Mom said before I even fully started to reach my hand towards it.—Replace with 'could touch it' (pg. 7) -“It’s not obvious?”—I don't think a kid would say that. -“This is a vampire hunting kit, back from when people actually believed in vampires.”—How does E know this? Has E seen a vampire hunting kit before? And who in the right mind would even make one? -I laughed anyways.—I'd delete, or combine it with the previous sentence. -How come you get to touch it?”—What has established thus far that E can't touch it? -Mom put the knife back where it was and pointed at a series of empty depressions in the box.—Delete first bolded part. (pg. 8) -“Would you believe me if I told you the truth?”—Nothing thus far has convinced me this woman is a figure of mystical knowledge. (pg. 9) -then with the undead corpse of a kid my age. -“things to possibly ask for if Mom finds a ‘Kodak moment’ list." -He was in Sturgis -There was no reason girls couldn’t play with spaceships and boys couldn’t play with kitchens.—E's emotional reaction is enough to convey this. (pg. 10) -He sneezed.—Heh heh. -The two sidewalls were boards with holes in them and dolls hung from every inch of that wall.—I don't think a child reading this book would be paying attention at this point. Very little has actually happened, plot-wise. (pg. 11) -They were neither porcelain nor but some—Nor what? -The doll's hand -My muscles were so rigid they were starting to hurt.—I don't think that's possible. -G held his head up in the air and sniffed. The dolls eyes rolled towards him.—This needs to be its own paragraph. -My head throbbed.—Why? You didn't say if E hit their head. (pg. 12) -painted-on eyes -Are we proof that ghosts and monsters and magic are real? Or proof that we’re just toys, magic only lives in your imagination, that there is a logical explanation for everything you think lacks one?—This is oddly specific. -It had an aqua-blue background -Mollusks and anemones were carved on the bottom in equally bright colors.—Why isn't anything happening by this point? (pg. 14) -Come out from wherever you're hiding -I said even though in my heart (pg. 15) -She had looked a mannequin in the eyes and became one—This needs to be several pages earlier. This is obviously your dramatic crux, and it's quite interesting. I just would rather not have gotten a several-page tour of an antique store to get here. -He took a step towards me and gave M a good snarl. She lurched forward.—This needs to be one paragraph. (pg. 16) -because the not plastic not porcelain doll was standing in it—I'd delete the bolded part. (pg. 17) -I jumped back. “Sorry. I’m not used to seeing dolls move.”—Should be one paragraph. -it was relatively person-shaped. -“You can see me.” It crossed its scarred arms. It was missing its left index finger.—Again, make this one paragraph.
  11. Saber is on its fifth draft; I plan on revising Act 1 based on the changes I've made after receiving feedback here. Confederates is on its 2nd draft, which will be significantly shorter than the 1st (as I have removed the POV chapters of two characters who will still appear).
  12. I might post the rest of Act 1—I want to test the waters on some new characters—but beyond that, I don't know. I'm also trying to re-evaluate how I want to tackle my writing projects right now; it's a confusing mess. I'm torn between doing more editing of Scarlet Saber, revising 'Confederates' and kicking myself into finishing my third novel, a project I've been trying to figure out how to write for years now. Thank you for the critique.
  13. First off, kudos to you for having this workshopped for the autism aspect. Second, I think this is the best chapter you've submitted thus far. The pacing's pretty quick, events are clear-cut and concise, and there is a set-out path for our characters, which I appreciate. Though I struggle to comprehend why they think casually approaching the GK is a good idea. I know they lay out their reasoning, but when THAT'S your title, I think most kids would keep their distance. I can't image a teenager in England thinking to themselves, "Well, I got a problem, I guess I'll just visit Buckingham." Other than that quibble and some mechanical errors (listed below), good job. Notes: (pg. 2) -“I don’t think it’s General K up there. If it was, this place would be swarming with bluecoats already.”—If Z knows it's Mother G, why doesn't M? -“Coming!” M called back and then addressed the teenagers again—This confused me for a moment, as I don't know why she would reply to Z's father. Also, saying she addressed the teenagers makes it sound like she isn't one. -The teenagers climbed the ladder, exited the shed and fell into line between two rows of avocado trees.—I'm not getting a sense of where the adults were, spatially. (pg. 3) -Fighting at the Front must be particularly bad today; usually, mage fire was only visible at night.—I don't really have much of a sense of what mage fire actually looks like, though. -who was stiff-backed—Added a hyphen. (pg. 4) -I suppose you wouldn’t know, would you?—This is awkward. We know they know, but she's talking like we know they know. -The GK’s general, General K—I think his allegiance can go without saying. (pg. 5) -We shall see, but either way the festivities will not go on as scheduled, despite the hard work of the pueblo—This feels stilted to me. (pg. 6) -cancelled--—I would look up how to add an em dash on your computer. -For a wild moment, Z thought they had actually distracted the adults well enough that they wouldn’t ask about the bunker, but she was wrong.—I'd delete the bolded part. You've already cued us in that her expectations are going to be subverted. (pg. 7) -Like most people, she assumed, Z practiced her expressions in front of a mirror—I don't buy she'd assume anyone would do that. -Her punishments always seemed to lessen if she accepted them if she put on a good enough act.—I can't tell if you have a missing comma or you forgot to delete one of these. -It meant P wanted you to agree with him.—But he didn't ask for her opinion, he asked for information. (pg. 8) -so you using such a bay name—A what name? -Z blinked. She had missed... something. Again. “Like what?” Z asked.—This should all be one paragraph. (pg. 11) -It’s okay that I’m not normal.—Everything after this is a little too on-the nose. And she just happened to have this speech prepared? -There are plenty of others that I’m happy to be a part of, though. Smart. Cunning.—Not very humble, is she? If that's what you're going for, then keep at it. Pride's a good character flaw. (pg. 15) -Beyond a few barely remembered spankings when she was small—Added an 'ed' (pg. 16) -She snapped her fingers.—I'd add 'repeatedly.' I don't get that she's trying to find something to say. (pg. 17) -“We go directly to the GK himself!”—Well, that sounds like a terrible idea. (pg. 18) -Everyone raised their soul lanterns, the things that were secretly killing each and every one of them—Secretly? How does Z know this? Or are we in omniscient narration now? If so, why? -innards.She—Missing space. (pg. 19) -the other parents didn’t like letting their children play with her.—Added 'her'
  14. Awesome stuff, as always! Great detail on Kaza.