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Reading Excuses - 2/6/23 - FlowerGirl - Korie Story_ch1, 3671 words


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Here's the first chapter of my novel. I wrote it about a year ago and figured it was about time that I came back and edited it. I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!

Despite having finished the novel I've been unable to come up with a decent name, any suggestions are appreciated.
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I see you sent an updated version, but I already finished reading the not-updated version, so that is what this one is on. Sorry!

I would say your writing is much improved from your last submissions! The grammatical errors listed here are all the errors I could find, instead of just the most egregious ones as with your previous submissions. Good work!

It seems like this world is slightly more livable as well (relative to a dystopian society). I was confused by the powers. I get the "why" and "what" of her powers will probably be big questions of the story, but I was still confused as to what she could do, and why. Especially with the teleportation at the end, which seemed a little out of nowhere. 

I will also admit that I was a little disappointed that she went to go join the resistance at the end when the government offered her a job. This was an effective first chapter with a hook and inciting incident, getting us right to the plot, but the main character literally did not know the resistance existed for two minutes before going to join them, which felt a bit sudden. The resistance was not a known factor throughout the chapter, so it again felt a little out of nowhere. I kind of wish she had joined the government instead, since that seems like it hasn't been done as often as joining a resistance, but that is just my thoughts at the end of the first chapter. 

Good work, interested to see where this goes!



“doesn’t help, carrying it around” I’d recommend ending the sentence after “help”, and starting a new sentence with “Carrying”

“for my friend L” same here, I’d recommend ending the sentence after “L”.

“first classers” ah, that’s interesting. So this is some sort of stratified social structure?

“I glance over at L” end the sentence after “L” here as well

“Me and L” should probably be “L and I”


“slave to some government worker” I hope that’s hyperbole (0.0)

“full week of hard labor” okay, so not hyperbole. Yikes!

“guide each threat” thread, probably

Probably small, but if it’s so dangerous to use her power, would she at least look around to see if anyone is watching? I still think it would be possible for the teacher to have snuck up on her after she looks around to make sure no one can see, which would make her seem a little less reckless.


“jewelry store” repeat of the word jewelry is a little distracting


Okay, so it seems like the power she used is not a known thing that Ms. H would recognize. I assumed that she did recognize the power, which was why she was reporting it.


“the classes themselves are unfair” I think that goes without saying


“J’s lunch is far nicer” Here, you are telling what you have already effectively shown. I think this sentence can be cut.

“L eyes my food” missing a period here.


“j is sipping juice” J should be capitalized.

I like the complication of the official in the class

“out of the ordinary I answer questions” there should be a period after “ordinary”


One of the president’s personal guards, eh? They must be taking this seriously!

“offer you a position” Nice! I was not expecting this, very good subversion of expectations!

Personally not a fan of the word “ginormous” but it does reinforce the age of the narrator, so it is effective here if that’s what you’re going for.


“’Ok’ at least this way” after “ok”, there should be a period or a comma

So, now I’m under the impression that the government does know about the existence of powers. Which is interesting to me.

“He shrugs then wraps me” extra period at the end of this sentence


“There’s a resistance” that was my exact thought lol

“a couple of minutes” more like a couple of moments, imo. Also, an extra period after the word “want” right after this sentence

“comes to mind” looks like you put the new line before the period on this one accidentally


“That’s really cheesy” lol

“wipe my hands on my pants” missing a period and a space here

Teleportation?? What???

“Will jump that hurdle” will should not be capitalized

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As I go:

Pg.2. Using “there is no way” three times within a span of a few sentences seems a bit redundant

Why didn’t L stop/warn K when the teacher came in?

Pg.3. “jewelry” twice in the same sentence seems repetitive

Pg.4.” I hadn’t even” – shouldn’t it be “haven’t” since the story is in the present tense?

“if they connect her to me” – I am not sure I understand the phrase

There are three different spelling versions of “speed walk” in the chapter once: written without a space, and once with a hyphen

Pg.5. “punished” used twice is also a bit repetitive

Pg.6. “L shakes her head”, “J slowly nods” should have commas after

“L claps her hand over J’s mouth” doesn’t seem like a stealthy behavior

 Pg.7. “L eyes them hungrily”, “J smiles” should have commas after 

Pg.8. “The” should be lower-case

“Maybe there’s” – there are?

In the third paragraph, J should be upper-case

“out of the ordinary” misses a dot

“in my own horse” should be “house”

“in the entryway” should have a comma after

Pg.9. “I walk into the” misses a word

I would suggest a different way to show nervousness than wiping hands on pants for the parents – it seems like K’s habit

 Pg.10. there are several missing commas before or after the direct speech, there is a dot missing, and one extra dot after “hug”

“are the floor” should be “at”

Pg.11 a few punctuation errors here too.

“You know what happened to your sister” – didn’t we establish that no one knows what happens to the people the government takes?

General thoughts:

First, thanks for sharing. I am not usually a fan of dystopias, but I am curious about where you will take this.

Second, my eyes were often caught on small punctuation/grammar errors, and I would recommend going through the text line by line since I do not think I caught or pointed out all of them.

Third, I think you did a good job making the society feel rigid and the regime strict so that there is a feeling of despondency hovering over the reader as the story unfolds. I wish there was a casual mention of the resistance before K had to leave - it felt a bit abrupt otherwise. 

All in all, happy to see a new writing style!

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Thanks for submitting! 

I have similar thoughts to the others on this. I think it can be a really good hook to start, but I think we need a lot more information about the world. Right now we're told the MC has powers, and keep getting new ones through the chapter. We also don't really know what the government is doing and why, so when she got offered a job I thought we'd learn more about them close up. But then she decides to go to the resistance that we only hear about just then. 

I think putting a lot more motivations up front will help. Why is she scared the government will find out? What's so urgent that she has to use her powers just then? How does she regard her powers? Are they something other people have?


Notes while reading:

pg 1: There's a lot of description about the bookbag on the first page, some of which could probably be cut down. We don't have very high stakes for why the bag has to be fixed, and why with magic, right now.

pg 2: "points to the teacher's desk"
--She didn't even check to see if a teacher was present? She doesn't seem like she would last long hiding her powers...

pg 3: "Teachers are supposed to report even the smallest of things."
--Yeah, I don't understand why she would use magic out in the open.

pg 4: “Did you erase her memory?” 
--wait, what? I'm not sure at all what kind of powers she has.

pg 4: "don’t check the records...If they connect her to me"
--I'm not sure what they're connecting, by what records.

pg 5: “Don’t tell me the government is getting their noses up in our school business again.”
--I haven't really got a solid idea of what's going on in this society. This seems to be a dystopian setting, but then the MC is concerned about getting in trouble because of doing magic? Maybe a hint about why that's something punishable? Is magic common? It seems like it isn't, or the teacher's account wouldn't be discounted.

pg 7: There are a lot of vague threats of punishments through here. Can we get some sort of rule on what happens and why?

pg 7: "What are the odds we’d just happen to make eye contact twice?"
--not sure. I don't have enough information yet.

pg 8: "I’m back in my own horse "
--eh? House?

pg 9: "certain talents you possess"
--Ah, ok, this brings everything together. I think having something like this on the first page would really help. She's scared of being drafted by the government because she has powers.

pg 11: “Join the resistance, they can protect you, and you in turn can protect them.”
--ok, we need some more context before this, because from what I've read, she's just been offered a priveledged job with the government. Is that not the case? I mean, obviously they seem bad, but wouldn't her working from the inside be beneficial?

pg 12: "your teleportation?”
--what now? I feel we really need a primer on what the MC can do.

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P2 “Children have been worked to death…” so the narrator and L are the same age, right? I’m having trouble placing how old these kids are. Early teenagehood?

This is a good inciting incident, and “it’s breaking my rules” helps, but I feel like we could use a tiny bit more prep before getting to the narrator having magic powers.

“The floor sways beneath me…” This is a pretty big emotional reaction. I’m on board with the narrator’s justification of why they did it, but they (not sure of pronouns) don’t seem to have taken any precautions to actually hide what they’re doing in what is apparently a crowded setting, when discovery is apparently a really big deal. Having the narrator make a little more effort to be stealthy could also be one way to prep the readers for the narrator having magical powers.

P3 “There’s a substitute there.” Hasn’t it only been like 5-10 minutes? Where did the sub come from?

P5 I like the stark class division as a worldbuilding piece, but I’m surprised the different classes are allowed to associate so freely with one another.

P6 “What are they doing to do?” This seems awfully cavalier of J considering that it’s already been pointed out her friends could get in trouble for it, and she seems to genuinely care about them.

P7 “Starvation would skyrocket…” The lunch she was served didn’t seem like we were in “starvation” territory.

P8 “I’m fairly certain that I’m being watched…” The sense of menace is good but the repetition risks losing its impact without change or escalation. I think more information about what could actually happen as a result is helpful.

“L teases me a couple of times…” is she not also worried about the situation?

“The sooner I’m back in my own horse…” lol. Should be “house,” I imagine.

So… she’s going to get inside and find the government waiting, right?

P9 “…wiping their hands on their pants…” This gesture is getting repeated a lot – the narrator herself does it again a couple paragraphs down. As a personal nervous tic, that makes sense, but I’d then find different gestures for the parents.

“If I’m careful I might be able to dodge this somehow.” I wasn’t expecting this possibility, but I don’t know how realistic it is that the character may be able to wriggle their way out of this.

P10 “At least this way I have a day to figure out…” It doesn’t seem that way since B just said he needs an answer now. Unless “ok” was K’s actual acceptance of the job ‘offer’? I read it as general acknowledgement.

P11 “Join the resistance…” This just took a turn I really wasn’t expecting. I think we might need more foreshadowing to prepare us for this moment.

P12: Teleporting based off a map seems like a huge jump in power, relatively, from mending a backpack. Also, feels like it could take a lot of the tension out of an escape, though I’m not sure an escape is what is planned.

Overall: You’ve got a really solid start here, with very clearly defined conflict and a good inciting incident that happens right off the hop (though there may be room to support the inciting incident with a little more worldbuilding just before it happens, even a line or two). I was quite engaged especially with the first half of the story although I think there are opportunities to escalate rather than just repeat the danger throughout.

I had a harder time engaging with the second half of the story, because I didn’t feel prepared for the main character to be shuffled off to a resistance. Structurally, I felt like I was being prepared for a story in which the POV character is taken by the government and has to find a way to survive (or escape, but survival felt most likely through most of this). So I think you do need to do some massaging to support the events that actually happen. That said, you have a lot of opportunities to do this. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next!

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Wow, this is really great! I enjoyed reading it! I think everyone covered most of what I saw, but I'll do my thoughts anyway:

Page 3

“Not so fast, Missy.”-- I totally was thinking the main character was a boy until this moment, then I had a hard time switching my image of them. 

There’s a substitute there. -- Same thing Silk said. I have three friends who are high school teachers- no way does a sub show up so fast. Ha ha!

Page 10

I turn my attention back to B. “This is a big decision, could I have a few days to think it over?” ---I know you've talked about the bad things the government does, but it's really not clear as to why her taking the job is a so terrible. Wouldn't getting a government job put her family in a better place socially and financially?

Page 11

I didn’t even know they existed until a couple of minutes ago.--wait... my impression was that she did know about the resistance, but now she doesn't. I get the urgency of the decision to join them, but we really don't know why the resistance would be better than the government. 

I love that I read this super fast and was hooked on story and cared about the characters so quickly. I know something is good when I start looking at it and thinking of ways my story could be better. Nice work!


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Excited to get into the story!

Overall: This has the structure of a really solid start to a story, and what I think I need is a bit more context about the stakes, the world, and the characters. Throughout the chapter I wasn’t sure who was at the most risk since it seemed to flipflop a bit, and I think the ending of the chapter is stronger if we have a better idea of what the government does to people with magical powers.

Another comment is that I tend to be pretty skeptical going into YA dystopian stories, and I think a lot of people are the same after the post-Hunger-Games influx of samey-feeling dystopian YA fiction that didn’t really offer a lot of societal insight. Which is not to say that the world here is bad by any means, but I’ll really have to be convinced that it’s interesting to care. Is there a specific angle you’re trying to take on the oppressive dystopian government?

As I go:

Pg 1. Is our PoV character a student? Saying “students” instead of “other students” makes them sound like not a student

Pg 2. The magic here has me intrigued

Pg 3-4. I think what we’re missing is specifics on the threat/stakes here. I get that our protag has magic that they don’t want people to know about and that there’s an authoritarian government with control over the school system, but what happens if they find out about the magic? Surely our protag has some idea

Pg 6. The fact that our protag is an outsider to the rules makes me wonder why. Because of their socioeconomic class? Because of their powers?

Pg 8. Wait when did this just become K’s problem? Didn’t they say L could be in trouble too?

Pg 9. K’s emotional response here feels a bit detached, though I do like the dynamic of them being horrified at the idea of taking a prestigious government position.

Pg 11. I like that this is moving the plot along but I need more context to be convinced that the parents believe the resistance is safer than the government

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