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141006 - molah - Elyse (1 of 2)


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Hello everyone,


This is the first half of a short story I recently finished. This is my first draft, after having done some revising already.

I have some specific concerns, but I’d like to get unbiased feedback. I will probably ask you later about them.
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I'll start this off by saying that I like this piece. I was engaged the entire time, could picture the scenes and people easily, and genuinely enjoyed reading it. My only real problem is with mechanics, such as spelling and grammar. I've pointed out a few below. 


A small error in the first paragraph, 'work' in our household isn't grammatically correct. Again in the second, I don't believe hair can fall 'into' one's face. Perhaps over?


Repetition in the third part, second paragraph, of 'needed'. 


'Full of live' should be 'full of life'. 


At the end of the third part his line of thinking is a bit off. Trust me, if I were to ask a girl I liked how her day was and she responded with that, I would be dreaming up a dozen reasons why she hated me, not shrugging it off. 


In a few places, commas might be put to good use. For example: "She seemed to stare into the distance and wore a solemn expression." It feels rather like a run-on sentence, and a comma after 'distance' would help break it up a bit. Just my opinion. 


Another spelling mistake - "She’s unusual shy today." Should be 'unusually'.


I enjoyed the mystery of what happened to Elyse, and am genuinely interested in the circumstances behind her memory loss. I'm guessing that the father creates the fans by absorbing the image in front of him onto his piece, and she got caught in the image which trapped her personality in the fan? All guesswork of course. 


James seemed at times to be a bit too persistent, not creepy, but just a tad too far for my liking. That's just my personal feelings on the matter though, and says nothing about your writing. 


Thanks for the submission, molah. I look forward to reading part 2. 

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I hope you know my drill - I shoot everything I think, as I think it, chronologically. That way you can understand better what went wrong, I think. Feel free to ask me about my reactions. Also, I have not read what Mark told you, so if I feel like an echo, I apologise. 




Wait, Elyse is a boy? I was fully (yes, fully) expecting a girl or woman, possibly an elf-type creature of female anatomy. This instantly threw me off, which might be good (making me see that it is not what I expect) or bad (makes me pause and break stride)


Yay, I was just jumping to conclusions! (I saw his mother telling everyone in kindergarten or first grade who he is) Okay, I feel like an idiot. You should probably ignore both of these comments.


How old is James? Showing us his mother so soon, as well as calling her 'mom', made me believe he was a boy, but he acts like a skirt-chaser (I do not know the actual word) in his early twenties.


I was content to ignore the blue 1, but the 2 is just too much there. I don't really like that division, it feels (to me) like sources in a research. If it is not terribly important to you, you might consider changing it.


If she said anything about mingling, he probably did it in the past. Not sure if he chased a skirt before, but it feels obvious to me that he will this one.


Whoa, creep. You have not talked to her yet, and you already have fantasies about her?   (this is, of course, exaggerated)


"Please, call me James" skirt-chaser. Also, the thought that comes afterwards tells me that he is nervous, that he knows it, and that it has happened before. The former two are self evident by the description in the sentence just before it. Therefore, I think it does not fit there - feels clumsy. Either throw it (as it serves little purpose and might trip someone), or put it in a different place.


Wow, he does advance quickly (disappointment, so soon?). Also, I believe that there is no other place for that thought.


Dead-end is weirdly associated with death, and sometimes murder, for me. I am trying to get rid of that association, but in the meanwhile, it feels really strange.


He has something to give the maid? Really? If she does not label him a skirt-chaser, the rest of the staff will.


Okay, not funny. Too soon, with too much of a power difference for it to be a laughing matter, his being someone she should especially remember. It implies the boss (him) wanting the employee (her), which is one of the more problematic things today. Basically, we have one of the best settings for sexual assault right there, and he jokes about them being together (which is also banned by the rest of the society) when they did not have even one decent conversation. You catch my drift?


Okay, she took it in stride. I like her.


And his eyes followed her hands. Skirt-chaser.


Uhm, it is not clear that those really are her favourites, as opposed to her persona saying it. It is not clear when the transition happened.


So does she know her job or not? I am guessing she did mostly the same in the other household, after all...


Is she a maid or a cook? You drew a distinction, and now you combine the two. made me stumble just a tiny bit, but even a tiny bit is something. I know that it is somewhat nitpicky, but it screws somewhat with the internal consistency of the story.


If he says it reluctantly and after some thought, he is almost deliberately making rumors.


Ooh, she looked over her shoulder at him. He is definitely not going to stop anytime soon.


Interesting, you are alluding to the same inappropriate relationship as I did, implying the father might do something. Is she really that special, Elyse? If so, would you care to describe how?


Small typo - you describe the sunset, then her eyes. They should be full of life, not live. 


That storm startled me. In my mind-film, the previous shot was of him being all inappropriate in his room, the afternoon sun shining into the stone chamber, then we have a storm so fierce and dark? Plus, in retrospective - how did he not hear the wind howling outside?


We have cars! So this is a modern manor!


Ooh, she is cold to him. And they were an hour late. Are you more than just implying something had happened? Is that a part of the plot?


Oh, curtsying feels the tiniest bit wrong, but only because I just discovered this is modern-day. Please be aware that it classifies them as old fashioned to the point of romanticism, even though that clashes with the fact that they own at least one car.


Yay! Random magic! And of an interesting type, as well. 


Please, when she talks, describe her voice. I was entirely sure it was the mother.


I don't like that "hell" you put in there. I would change or cut it, but that it me.


Describing her with long eyelashes makes me think she has makeup on, as well as fake lashes. It broke my illusion that she was sort of innocent in real life, and if I connect her suggestive ("knowing") look before, it seems as if she is deliberately trying him.


Okay, he tells his employee that he will take her out to a road trip. Moreover, it is to a place that she probably has been to, if I understood correctly. And she asks him to promise... I don't get it.


Haughty and inaudible? I can't make sense of it, is that combination possible?


She is "sad" and acts in an untypical way. Almost sounds like she is depressed. 


Part five, paragraph five - squeaked in surprised surprise


Is he a well built 17 or 18 year old? I was assuming he is sort of a 15 year old, hormonal, and that she was a year or two older (debatable), and a bit taller than he. He really seems to be a half child, half man. And entirely skirt-chasing ;)


Can't help but love her, eh? She is rather charming and cute. I like the touch about her being genuinely surprised that people think she is good-looking. I am the same, and I know quite a few girls who are that way. Seems to fit, you know?


Later in that same paragraph, she's unusual unusually shy.


Can't really blame it on "women". And it does not seem right. It is probably very right, though.


Part six, paragraph five: someone must have opened a windows window


Thanked the gods? In this modern, western manor? Must be an important detail. Most would miss it.


A girl ruins his reputation? Not that modern after all. And the reputation must be fairly specific.


Guess: it might be another girl, whose soul was captured because her image was captured into the fan. Does not seem right, as they have no responsibility for other girls, and should not have to explain their loss of memory.


And I did not connect all her symptoms with the her loss of memory. 



Sorry, I am lost. If this story is published as one piece with no chapter brakes, I would finish it. If it is published with these two submissions being separate chapters, I would put it down right here and now. Regardless, I will read and review the next chapter.




Overall, I enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing this really fun piece!

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Yes, I am quite aware of the meaning the numbers have. I just much prefer either a centered dividing line or just a blank space about one or two enters (or are they called line breaks?) longer than a paragraph break. It is a completely superficial, subjective and inconsequential preference, but I am more likely to stop reading a story whose styling puts me off. That said, the worst book I ever read is "the Vampire Lestat", which was styled very well. So it really does not matter that much.


And you are completely welcome! Not only do I enjoy reading and helping, I enjoyed your story. 

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This sort of feels like I'm watching an anime with the young master of the house going after the maid.


pg 2: in the paragraph starting "James jumped to his feet and walked away with fast strides," There's some POV confusion here.  James couldn't see Elyse's brow furrow if he's striding away and disappearing behind a hedge.


pg 3: "he had spent most of his time thinking about her..."

everything after this point in the paragraph is pretty over-sugary.  In fact, most every time James thinks about Elyse I imagine little pink hearts bursting in the air above his head.


pg 3: Interesting detail.  His father makes fans?  

--aha...magic fans.  Cool.


pg 9:  So Elyse remembers the flowers, but not the conversation that happened after he gave her the flowers?


This was interesting.  It was slow to pull me in, mainly because James is very whiny and overly melodramatic about the maid.  He comes on very strong at the beginning with no real reason for it aside from he thinks the maid is pretty.  Isn't consorting with the help usually frowned upon?

I can't stop envisioning this as an anime setting, mainly because of the way the household is set up.  I didn't get a good feeling of the setting or time period.  What clothes do they wear?  What technology is around?  They have a car, so I'm inclined to think modern, but a large household staff is not something seen nowadays except by the super-rich (or maybe in Japan?).

I already figured out what happened to Elyse by the time it was explained, so I'm interested to see what happens and how/if it's fixed.  I wouldn't give James a good chance of having a relationship with the maid, but I'm interested to finish the story.

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Thank you for posting you story Molah.


Things I liked


The writing is pretty good; it flows.  If I am reading and not thinking about how something is written, I figure it has to be good.


I like that the dialogue, for the most part does not seem stilted and sounds like the things that people would actually say.


I really liked that you threw magic in there, but not in your face and did not really explain it yet to boot.  Subtlety is always a nice touch and keeps things interesting.



Possible problems


At the bottom of the third paragraph, is that Anna speaking?  Should it not be in a separate paragraph if so?


How old is James...he seems driven pretty strongly by hormones!  As stated before, he can't possibly think that he can have a relationship with this girl as she is a servant and he is someone of status(in context with the story).  Actually this makes me dislike him right off the bat. He is infatuated from Jump Street and puts this girl in a bad situation.  I'm not sure if this is mean't to be, but that is how I felt at the beginning and did not change my mind much.  Perhaps his attentions are innocent, but one has to think that there would be fall-out for the girl and probably not that much for him.


in the 4th paragraph under section 3, the line 'They were all trying to get over with the ordeal as fast as possible' seems clunky.  


As stunning as the paining was...painting.


with exotic flower as big as a man...flowers


"Yes," he said haughtily...I'm thinking that you use haughtily for confidence, but it seems much to negative in it's use here.  I mean, James has got it bad for this girl, I don't see him being nasty to her at all.


so she was propelled backwards...passive voice


Why did she run out of the room anyway?  


How long has Elyse been at the manse?  James and the servant girl seem to get awfully chummy rather quickly.


He was sure that this were his parents, however, and they appeared to be discussing...this is clunky


He had never seen her so upset before...may be picky(possibly just a figure of speech?), but he is listening on the other side of the door


Should gods be Gods?


in the very last paragraph her reaction seems strange, but we are missing the rest of the story so that may come through.  I wonder at Elyse saying that James is a nice guy...I'm not exactly sure of the setting, where and when, but her saying guy seems strange in context in this story.




The story is interesting. I'm not sure that I have any idea what is going on, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  I look forward to reading the rest of it.




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Thanks for reading my story, Ash! :)
I'm actually really happy that you liked the flow and the dialog. One of my big concerns is the dialog feeling stilted / unnatural - I guess mainly because it's the hardest part to write. (But also the most fun part :D)

I imagine James to be around 16-17 years old, and therefore he doesn't really care much for what's proper and what's not. I didn't expect this to be such a big concern. That's definitely something I will spend some thought on.

Now that I got some unbiased feedback, let me voice a couple of my concerns: (apart from the dialog, which I already mentioned)

I feel like the opening isn't strong enough, like there is not enough conflict to pull readers in. However, I'm not sure how far that is my paranoia.. :D Mandamon's comment kind of seems to point into that direction, but the rest did not mention it. What do you think?

I have absolutely no idea whether the balance between description and dialog is right. When revising, I made an effort to put more of the description into James' thoughts.

The other concerns will have to wait till you read the whole story. :)


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Advanced warning, per my usual: The following are thoughts and opinions on about what I read. As the writer, it's your obligation to interpret, address, or disregard as you feel is appropriate.

It took a bit for me to get engaged into the story. Not knowing James or Elyse, the spontaneous romance right out of the gate felt odd for me. I'm guessing it's a 'love at first sight', but James is just super gung-ho about Elyse out of nowhere which made me kind of wary of his personality as being this creepy kid.

Not really negative or positive, but at first I was picturing the two as younger kids, kind of assuming the interest was something like a 10 year old boy surrounded by people of different ages and a young girl being introduced to him. However the 'bulge' (the use of it in reference to a bust felt strange to me, since I usually see it referenced towards 'male bits', rather than breasts) from her dress made me revisit the age thing, settling on 15~17 or so.

Similarly, the era/time period seemed kind of ambiguous, at first I was thinking older aristocracy, but with the mention of the cars, I was then thinking like late 1800's, very early 1900's, with a rich family kind of out in the country still embracing some older ways (referencing the servants).

I did like the bit of magic involved, as it's a different type of magic, and it's clearly an important aspect of the story without really seeming like a gimmick created for the sole purpose of a story, so if it doesn't get very explored, it'll still work for me, I believe.

The foreshadowing seems heavy to me, and I don't think I saw anyone else make this kind of comment, so maybe I'm alone, but so far nothing has been surprising or much of a twist, and that is keeping me from getting very into the story. The forget-me-not flowers were brought up way in the beginning, a girl shows up in his father's fan-art, which is unheard of on the trip where Elyse went with him, the inclusion of magic, her forgetting when they met, then we hear he parents arguing over an incident and amnesia. I haven't felt particularly felt surprised or accomplished. Maybe that changes in the second half.

Last thing that to came to mind, is that I can't recall many specific instances of setting description, but the tone, vocabulary, and mannerisms of the characters lent to a setting naturally, which I liked.

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Apologies for just now getting around to this but it's been a tough few weeks for reading - and I knew I had to read Part 1 before Part 2.  A lot of this has already been chewed over, so I'll keep it brief.


I was very pleasantly surprised, as I tend not to like slow-moving period romances, which is what I thought I was reading at first. I'm very, very interested by what's going on with the fans - you've teased it nicely and it's a very interesting little magic system - and clearly something that they take great lengths to protect. I'm also interested in the nature of Elyse's duties when she goes out to the field - I got the feeling early on that she might be suffering some type of abuse (other than the memory-wipe) - and maybe that's just me - but I want to know a lot more about who she is and what exactly happened. 


There were a few linguistic fumbles but that's negligible. The only thing I really didn't like was the repeated use of variations on the them "my dad would kill me if he found out." I also found that the later part of this piece read a lot smoother for me than the beginning, but maybe that's just because the beginning teased me into thinking that it was a type of story I generally dislike - and then it got weird and magical an fun.


All in all - cool little piece!

Edited by CommandanteLemming
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  • 2 months later...

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back onto Reading Excuses, I blame Write About Dragons; Start Write Now; NaNoWriMo and Christmas. Anyway, glad to have finally come to the point of reading you submission.


Straight away, I like the format of the story and the idea of having individual vignettes almost.


(2) ‘...she was basking her face in the golden light…’ Suggestion: I think you can drop “her face” as the term ‘basking’ conveys the impression.


You use the term ‘bulge’ at one point, is that supposed to refer to her bosom? It was unclear to me, but if so, it a particularly unflattering word to use, I think, which is contrary to the sentiment.


(4) The phrase ‘making an innocent face’ tripped me up. I suspect there’s a more lyrical way to express the idea.


You talk a few times about his face heating up – why not use the word ‘blushing,’ which encapsulates the impression?


(5) Don’t like the word ‘bum’ – to me it’s too informal when the tone of the piece is much more formal. I had cause to reference the same part of the anatomy in Waifs & Strays and, from memory, I think I used the word 'posterior', but ‘rear end’ might serve, or even ‘derriere’.


Hmm, okay, at the end of Section 5 there are some good clues to what is going on with Elyse. I now suspect that she is two people, or is possessed by a spirit or some such.


(6) I think his mother would exclaim ‘in outrage’, rather than ‘outrageously’, which suggests that she is being outrageous.


The implication of James’s parents’ discussion is very interesting. Clearly, they’re talking about Elyse, but I like that it's unclear to her and James, it lets the reader know something that they don’t.


(7) They would have rested well ‘last night’.


How is it that they would be sending Elyse away ‘again’?


Always being one for a madcap theory, I have a new suspicion. I wonder if it could be James who is affected by problems with his memory, it would be a nice twist, but I'm not sure the events bear that out. Very interesting!


I found your submission very easy to read, I thought that style flowed well and, barring the odd awkward word choice, there was very little that I tripped over when reading. The events also have a very easy flow to them, and I felt the story pulled me through, always leaving a crumb of intrigue to make me reach (and read) forward in search of the answer.


Picking up on some of the earlier comments:


(a) I like Manga a good deal, but didn’t make any comparison from the fact that James likes the new made, I think that’s a trope that goes way wider that Anime;

(b ) I think your prose is excellent considering it’s a second language, very few grammar bombs really, easily scooped up in the edit;

( c) I’ve got no problem with ambiguity of period or other elements of setting when the piece itself has such good internal consistency;

(d) I may have repeated some of the other comments, maybe a slightly different perspective, I hope;

(e) I also liked that the magic was not central or over-powering, at least at this stage. I think it’s important for magic not to be the be-all-end-all of a story, characters should always be the most important element (in view).


I'm very keen to find out what happens next and thankfully, due to my extreme distraction, I don’t have to wait seven days to find out. On to part two!

Edited by Robinski
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  • 2 weeks later...

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