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Reading excuses -2022-10-10 -FlowerGirl -To be named -Ch2


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Here's chapter two of To be Named. I don't really have anything specific I'm looking for, any feedback is appreciated.

For anyone who hasn't read the first chapter, the main character has been reported a third time and is now on trial. She lives in a world where any display of aggression, dislike, anything is forbidden. The main character struggles with these rules, hence why she's been reported three times.


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There's some good plot progression here, and we start to see the larger world, away from the strangely docile people. I think that's my biggest issue at the moment, is that I can't understand why these people allow themselves to be cowed by gifted, when their only power seems to be reading minds. The MC also just runs away from the trial, and I can't imagine that someone wouldn't try to stop her.

So overall, some good plot happening, but I don't understand enough of the world to know why it's happening yet, which is taking me out of the story.


Notes while reading:

pg 1: "Triported"
--it took me a minute to figure out this meant "triple reported." I was thinking "teleported" at first.

pg 3: I'm having a little trouble believing all these people have done nothing worse than what the MC has done. Even the old guy beating up a kid is relatively minor, in the grand scheme of things.

pg 4: wait, what? She just runs away? No one stops her?

pg 6: Still having trouble believing the whole town is not out looking for her...or saw where she went because they immediately followed her.

pg 6: "privacy freak"
--I'm not sure what this is, nor why a bandana and a hat would help with privacy.

pg 7: "a gifted walks out of the shadowy corner of the room"
--is this just any gifted? The one from the trial?

pg 8: "If you continue to try to escape I will use this."
--at this point, I'm also very skeptical how the gifted control the population. They seem to have no physical powers that would keep people from being...people...and breaking all of their laws in a day.

pg 8: "“This is why you need to be reeducated"
--has everyone else already been reeducated? Is that why they're so docile?

pg 10: "In my city metal is rare,"
--it is? Have we seen any sign of this before?

pg 12: “Don’t even think about running.”
--I'm honestly not sure what they would do if she did.

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I think it’s interesting that nobody wants to touch each other. It seems to fit in with the whole “don’t show or feel any emotion” theme going on here.

“nonexistent” I would say “practically nonexistent” since you just mentioned that there is in fact a chance, just a very small one.

“Tri” this is obviously a heavy title, but I don’t know off hand what connotations it’s supposed to have.

“beat up a kid” the wording is a little confusing here

“were younger, there was…” End the sentence after “younger”.

Oof reading the word reeducation just fills me with dread

Could just be personal opinion, but I feel as if gifted should be capitalized.

“thinking about it,” again, sentence should end after the word “it” in this case.

Pg 2

Okay, I’ll stop commenting on this, but it seems like there are quite a few run on sentences in here, often with unnecessary commas. Just something to keep in mind, I guess.

Needing to constantly monitor one’s own thoughts for fear of literal thought police sounds absolutely hellish, it is a very compelling plot device IMO.

“middle name” Ha, I also thought the name was a little strange.

“I tell the mayor” I think this phrase could be cut completely.

They can be reported at the age of six?? That’s extremely hardcore, and not in a good way

Was the boy also reported?

Pg 3

Also quick note, is she (I assume the MC is a she?) representing herself?

“I’ve never heard…” this is a bit redundant IMO

Definitely messed up that she has to weigh between two terrible choices

Pg 4

“eyes are on my.” I think it should say “On mine”?

I like that J just up and runs away.

But I would like some description of the reaction of the people in the courtroom, it was full of people after all. Also, does no one chase after her?

Pg 5

“they’re perfect J” Needs a comma between perfect and J

Pg 6

“sombrero” I have no idea if this is a normal thing for J to wear or not.

“privacy” I’m curious as to what this is. It’s mentioned several times, so I assume it’s an actual name for whatever they are referring to.

Pg 7

“someone about the way” Something about the way?

“Neither can I” So inside is an actual room with enough space that a person can be inside and not be noticed by another person also in the room? When the size of six feet was given, I imagined a space six feet across, so barely enough room for one person. I assume that it was instead six feet tall, then? Also, I’m wondering how what I assume is a big man got inside if she could barely fit, but that’s just a minor note.

Pg 8

“Maybe he didn’t see her” It seems like he did in fact see her, but just didn’t care

“You do not need to worry” lol

“cold and pitiless” very good imagery

“I bet he was” I think it would make sense for her to assume that he’s doing this at all times, having grown up with telepaths around. Unless there is some aspect to their power that doesn’t allow them to use it at all times.

Pg 9

“I’m not suprsied” surprised

I like the description of a car from someone who’s never seen one

“super common” I think just “common” would work better here, using the word super comes off as a little unprofessional, or makes him seem younger. If he is supposed to be young, then that makes sense. But if he is just supposed to be an adult cop, I think the word “super” should be cut, or replaced with “very”

So the cars are powered by the gifted?

Oh wait she’s seen trucks before? Then wouldn’t she recognize it?

Oh I see that’s lampshaded on the top of page ten.

Pg 10

“either he’s good rough” good enough?

“hoping to stop mountains” spot mountains?

Pg 12

“JL, can you check her in?” This makes it seem more like he’s asking J to check her in.

Pg 13

“just insult me?” This is actually a huge deal in the context of the story. Interesting to see that they may be above the law.

Oh, so the gifted are actually also subject to emotionality. Interesting.

Pg 14

“’That makes me wonder…” I don’t think this should be in quotes


Overall, I think this is interesting. I like the ideas of the setting, and wonder how this dystopia came to be, and how some people got powers. As I noted above, there are a lot of sentences that are conjoined with just a single comma, which makes it a little hard to read. Most of those sentences should either be two separate sentences or use a conjoining word or phrase, such as “and”, “but”, or “in that case”. I thought that it was pretty unbelievable that J was able to just flee the courtroom without anyone stopping her or even getting in the way, since I assume that they assume her to be temperamental and a possible flight risk.

I also think that some scenes could be a little more fleshed out, such as the conversation with the other J. It sort of begun and then was over, and I wish we could have gotten a little more characterization.

Overall, I think the ideas and the story are good. I think the main area of improvement right now is in grammar and sentence structure. Other than that, great submission!


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Just a few line by lines:

Double use of 'City' in the first sentence

Re education explanation felt a little repetitive.

"J's won't turn me in" minor typo

"All my life I've been taught the Gs are perfect, but now I'm not so sure." It didn't seem like the MC thought the Gs were perfect at any point in the story, is she refering to early childhood vs now?

Like @ginger_reckoning, I had a hard time picturing how someone could stay hidden that small of a space with two other people. My reader brain eventually supplied that there must have been a larger inner carvern.

I liked the pacing in these chapters, it feels like there is a wide world with lots of story to tell. I'm looking foreward to the next chapter.

Thanks for sharing!

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Thoughts as I read

Ch. 2

Does the whole town always show up to trials or is it just this one?

She mentions  only remembering three trials for triported people, but how are more people not reported more often? It seems like people would be constantly getting reported, especially teens. 

She gets away very easily.

I'm wondering if the pace moves a little too fast on the first four pages. I feel like everything is happening very quick to the point where it is almost taking away from the tension.

"It takes a while, but the fortress finally comes into sight" The pacing is still going too quickly. I want to be with them as they sneak through the city. I want to see close calls as they almost get caught. There is a lot of possibility for tension that is missed in this section. I want to feel like they made it and then have that turned upside down when they realize the gifted is waiting for them there. 

And as the rest of chapter two wraps up, I'm still having the feeling that everything is just moving a tiny bit too fast. 

Ch. 3

"...not exactly a great track record.” There is a quotation mark missing somewhere in this paragraph. 

The pacing in Ch. 3 is better than two, but it feels like it ends really abruptly. There was a lot that was set up for but the arc doesn't seem like it's closed for the chapter. It just randomly ends. 


Overall, these two chapters were full of action and very engaging, but they could've been even better if you slowed down a little, built the tension more, and gave the readers and main character more time to react. 

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I'm a little late here, but I really enjoyed these two chapters! We get to see more of the world & the plot hits the ground running[0]. Like the others, I think the courtroom escape scene needs to be fleshed out a bit to be more believable[1]. As it stands, it's kinda hard to believe she got out of a packed room after being sentenced[2]. Other than that, things go by pretty fast, so if you're the type of writer that adds more detail on subsequent drafts, I say go for it--aside from a few plot points, everything is good & I'm left wanting more! 

p1 "Triported", I like it[3]
p2 "Hopefully, with so many people in the room, he wasn't paying attention to me." IDK, this doesn't seem very reasonable, given that you're the center of attention--unless he's feeling out the room with his powers out of boredom.
p4 Ah, they have super strength, all our just some?
p6 Privacy freaks! I wonder how effective this sort of attire is against mindreading, though.
p7 "someone about the way she hops" something
p8 Seems obvious she'd flee to such a unique hiding spot[3.5]. And given how the gifted left with J, it seems like he might be a small man if it's that tight a fit. And that'd probably make it hard to hold onto J as they both squeeze through the hole.
p9 New power[4], it seems like they each have them all, or that's what the public thinks at least.
p9 Given the truck mentioned in the prior chapter/opening line, it seems unlikely J wouldn't deduce it's a vehicle that rolls on four wheels. It also seems a bit strange to me personally that J wouldn't think about the similarities the car shares with the supply truck to come to the same conclusion and accept what the gifted said since the vehicle is so odd.
p9 Electric power or different car starting tech.
p12 "check her in," ah rhymes!
p13 Clearly, there are more settlements for Triported to be such a common occurrence.
p15 "Opening a supply box again and again," nice, in-world metaphor!
p6 Not sure what to expect from the ending line, but now that J's in the gifted city again, she might see her sister again & maybe Ju (if my unwarranted suspicions of her are correct).

[0] I think the grammar has improved as well, and for me, the current biggest issue is the *I*s not always being capitalized.
[1] This could also be an opportunity to showcase J's skills & the culture (e.g., did she slip out the back after rolling away from people's grasp, or did people part around her, afraid to catch her *disease* like mentioned before (that actually seems semi-plausible if attempting to detain someone is a sign of aggression--especially in a public place with so many witnesses))?
[2] Unless this is an unreliable narrator-type thing. But that doesn't seem to be the case.
[3] Especially because reported is pronounced like *riported* where I live, lol.
[3.5] Maybe Ju's not on her side, given her window hopping skillset, bad hiding spot advice, and the way the gifted just ignored her--I'd be even more suspicious if they met after J's second reporting (for so few cases to go to trial and the He's resources, it does seem like they could have someone planted to watch over the worst cases).
[4] Or tech.

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Overall, I found these chapters to be a good step forward in the story.

There are some simple changes that could be made to help the prose flow, but the story itself seems to be on a pretty solid track.

After reading these chapters, I’ll stick with my predictions of where the story is headed. Also, I’m starting to doubt that the gifted have any powers at all. Phrases like, “Don’t even think about running away,” make the MC think her mind was being read, but could just be explained as a pretty common phrase used to dissuade her. Other rumors about their powers could be attributed to technology they possess that people in the little towns no longer have. Of course, the gifteds would likely be encouraging these rumors.

I don’t know if I’m right, but this is just the impression I have from the story so far.

Just a few thoughts I had as I read:

I find it odd that the MC is able to run away with no one stopping or following her.

The sombrero as a disguise conjures a bit of a silly image in my mind, like she might stand out a lot more because of it. Are sombreros normal attire here? Maybe if you had mentioned some “privacy freaks” wearing them earlier on it would feel more likely as a disguise.

Je gets reported for very small things, so why shouldn’t Ju be reported for helping her escape the law?

So far there hasn’t been much evidence that the gifted can actually read minds. I’m starting to wonder if they really can.

Je doesn’t know what a car is, but I thought the first chapter opened with her watching the gifteds unload a supply truck.—You hang a lantern on this though by pointing out that she should have seen the similarities, but it still pulled me out of the story for a moment. Probably not a huge deal.

The idea that metal is rare where the MC is from definitely changes that way I envisioned her town when reading about it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Heya, still getting caught up :)

(p1) - "free of charge" means without paying, usually, and so to hear it used differently is disorienting. I would say I have never heard that phrase used in this way. It would be better, clearer, to use the word 'punishment', IMO.

"gifted’s" - should be 'gifteds'. I know my comments on Chp.1 came after you subbed this. This next statement is not just aimed at you, FlowerGirl, please don't take it personally, but I'll use this forum if I may to make a general statement.

I would really recommend to everyone subbing here, or anywhere, check your grammar, and for typos and spelling mistakes, before subbing. (a) it's kind of unfair to expect others to read your work if you haven't made that process as easy as possible for them; (b) it makes your work look amateurish; (c) it tends to appear that you don't care enough about your work to bother checking for things should be simple to fix, even if you only switch on all available grammar and spell-checkers. Public service announcement ends.

I think 'mayor W' should be capitalised, Mayor W, because this is his title, basically a part of his name.

(p2) - "I mentally think back" - all thinking is mental, this is redundant.

(p3) - "There's several gasps" - There are several gasps. I noted in Chp.1 there is nothing wrong with a character having bad grammar, it can add texture and chararcter to a piece, and reveal background, but in this case, the character had good 99% of the time, so this is out of place, IMO, and just looks like a mistake.

"try to steal their sisters" - I mean, this is kind of painfully naive. It's cute, but really feels kind of misguided to me. Because marriage and living together (apart from family) is part of the current Western way of life. So, as the conflict that lead to the inciting incident, this still feels rather weak to me.

"It feels like I should have some say in what they decide." - Eh? Why? That is not how courts work. MC sounds kinda dense with this statement.

"I would still be in the city with my family" - MC feels too calm here. They are faced with a terrible fate, and they don't sounds even slightly bothered about it. "I’m definitely hoping for life in prison now". There is no sense from them that they think this is a bad thing.

(p4) - "I can’t let him take me away. I can’t leave my family." This comes kind of late in the court case, such that... "I get to my feet and run." It's hard to be emotionally invested in this line, which follows directly after. Because I had not sense of MC's emotional state during the trial, until the first quoted line here, the second one is less believable.

"I turn down streets" - Were they not in a building? Were there no guards? Feels like a disconnect here that they are suddenly away from the building, as if they teleported.

"J won't mind if I hide there" - This is super naive. The character has really poor judgement. And no thought that they would be putting their friend in danger: selfish.

Will drop in here that I do enjoy the first person present tense; it is very immediate. The narrative is sparse too, which has the advantage of making it very readable, but the disadvantage that the lack of description, physical and emotional, makes it difficult to invest in the world and the character.

"Can they use it to track someone?" - Repetitive, a very similar thought about tracking is used 8 lines earlier.

(p5) - "the gifted’s would never do anything bad" - (a) 'gifted' would be the most likely collective term for a group of 'gifted', but you could use gifteds as the plural; (b) How does J know this?; (c) It sounds really unlikely.

"force her to want to go with him" - still can't get behind this as a character motivation.

(p6) - "Living with the gifted’s might just be another adventure to her" - does the character really have no notion at all of romance? What age is she? Surely she gets that her parents used to like apart, and now they live together?

"J grins and rubs her hands together" - I find the dramatic tone of the story confusing. I've spoken about the main character's naivety. Here, J displays the same sort of naivety about what the consequences might be for her parents. The concepts of life in prison and reeducation are treated very lightly. The concept of being punished so severely for one's own thoughts (amongst other things, certainly), is monstrously dystopian, but the narrative doesn't carry any real sense of threat, or weight. I think that's a pretty big issue, because I don't think this story knows what it is, and what its audience is. And sure, you can just write a story for yourself, and you absolutely must do that, but different genres and sub-genres come with rules, conventions, tropes, that guide the reader, the agent, the publisher in terms of where to place the book and how to sell it (if that's your goal). I don't think that a publisher could sell this book for the reasons that I've stated, and I'm coming to question now whether you are ready as a writer to write this story.

Have you listened the Writing Excuses podcasts, or Brandon Sanderson's lecture series? There is a large amount of very valuable guidance, advice and information in both of those sources. It's a lot of material, but it is well worth going through, and anyone who hasn't and does so will, I think, gain a huge amount of knowledge about themselves as a writer, and also about the art of writing, and the publishing industry. These sources changed me as a writer, improving me immeasurably, I think, as did practice, and constant critique (through this very group, for over ten years now).

I don't think I will be saying much different in future submissions beyond the headlines that I've noted in these first two chapters, and so I am going to bow out at this point. By all means keep going. I don't know if you have finished this novel, or are still writing towards the end, but finishing is the second most important thing a writer can do; the first being starting, of course! So, I urge you to complete this process, and stick at it. Maybe after doing so, try some series of the WE podcast or the lecture series then try writing something completely new. Usually, we learn a great deal from a project, even if it does not succeed in its current form, and when we start something new it is elevated by that first experience, (IF we carried it through to the end, I would add).

Best of luck to you with this project, and also with the next one. I'd be happy to start reading any future projects that you bring to the group.

Thanks for sharing :)

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