Jump to content

01/23/2017 - Vreeah - Dreamt and Lost, Alternatim (2345)


Recommended Posts

This was a cool piece, and I like how it gives us a lot of information about Ellis and Sofia. I'm not sure how this would lead to a betrayal, though, unless there's a lot more of it.

Regardless, I think this information would work to connect us to the characters more. Both personalities are much better here than in the main story. The trick is where to put it. Honestly, I don't know if I would be invested enough to read through half your story before getting to this revelation. It could be a prologue, but those are sort of out of favor. Could be a dream sequence, but that had its own problems.

Notes while reading:

Great first sentence!

Interesting to read about Sofia's Song, but not really sure what it is. Is it something she dreamed, or a part of her? From the first line, I was thinking it was a part of her.

pg 5: "redness prevailed on their face—skin flushed with eyes dampened and pink."

pg 6: "but eventually remembered how he spoke best and played something soothing"

pg 9: "Eleven days after Ellis turned two, his twin sister finished being born."
--also a great ending sentence, though it could be cleaned up a bit.

I'm not sure why his parents were so sad. Since this world is so dream-like, I don't know whether it is unusual or not for a birth to be like this. Ellis' parent's reaction made me think birth was like ours, but after the ending, I'm not sure any more. I think this would have a bigger impact if you could iron out that detail for the reader.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is by far the most powerful writing I have seen from you. You should lead your book with this, because it is such an amazing hook. I would buy this book at this point, hands down. I agree with @Mandamon that this can't come halfway through. There hasn't been much character development to date and this is the sort of thing we've been missing. It's excellent. More, please!


As I go

- I was adoring the first dream descriptions until this part: It was a type of music by itself, and as foreign to the ears as an unknown language. Suggest cutting this line. It detracts from the rest.

- page five: I have a lot of confusion over how long dreams last. If the sister died, why was the dream song still there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

- I love the first line of this chapter.

- And on a very giddy, basic level, I like the line "You can play with my dreams later!" It's very whimsical, but at the same time, very mundane. Good job! 

- I really, really like this chapter. There's a lot of emotion behind it but also a lot of development. I especially like how the framing of the first and final line of the chapter. Overall, great work! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I think some of this prose is trying too hard; I`m not feeling a lot of these descriptors here. I think it's nothing ordinary second-pass editing wouldn't catch.


Drinking porridge? Is that a regional thing?

I am actually not feeling a lot of this; your description is very... you want to be describing very nebulous things, but you're using very concrete language; the result is really dissonant in a very unpleasant-to-read way. Lines like 'though it followed no predictable rules' are like nails on a chalkboard in a context like this.

The stuff about the violin is... it's awkward and redundant especially since you go out of your way first to describe how it's held, and I, dunno, this really sticks out. I'm not sure what you're intending to make this feel like but it's not working, I don't think.

I think the big thing for me about this piece and the way you're describing things and it's a trouble I've had repeatedly in your work before is that there's just very little respect shown for the reader. There's a palpable fear of actually doing the sort of surrealistic dreamy stuff and you're holding yourself back by not trusting the reader to run with it. There's potential here, but you hamstring yourself at every turn.


As above. This is really disappointing. You've got this very procedural, concrete detail of action and very nebulous descriptive phrasing; this is really dissonant and it makes for really mushy prose. At this point I really feel like the only thing that ties the magic you're working in this setting to dreams is the fact that the text keeps claiming it as such. It doesn't feel like any such thing at all.

You're describing sensation in very weak terms like 'a liquid and warm sensation [passing] between his fingers' that's, i mean, really?

I am so frustrated reading this, honestly, all of this description is so far removed from everything that's happening. What does an intoxicating comfort feel like? And while you don't describe it at all, you sort of connect it to sort of boisterous childhood play and I'm not sure that's an association I would make. There's so little emotionality in this, and some of these lines 'Father laid his... spoke to his wife' is so bland, it's such a...

And the dialogue here is very-- you're consistently fairly weak on your dialogue and it's the same issue here as usual, in that it's a very childish diction. This doesn't feel like adults talking at all.


As above.


Unlike the earlier bits you're actually holding to POV a bit more here, which makes something like 'redness prevailed on their face', all of that sentence, that's really not the sort of phrasing that suits a child of Ellis' age; you've got similar issues with some other stuff but that's the most standout.


This whole page here is really, really awkward; previous commentary on this holds but also the way the writing is skimming here doesn't help either, I think.


I do have some trouble parsing Ellis as an actual child here throughout too; I think part of it is because you're using an extremely standardized narrative voice here. It doesn't suit this character at all. I linked a series of posts in the Lounge a few weeks ago that described 'novelization style'; I think they'd be helpful for you to see what you're doing here. I could dig them up again if you can't find it.


As above.


And again.

There's potential here, there really is, I don't want to seem like I'm ragging on this too hard, but over and over again, I keep seeing things that could be good if you ran with them and trusted the reader to run with them but you pull yourself up short every single time, and it's so frustrating to read. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello!  Time for my two cents:

I think the whole concept of this chapter is really interesting, but I'm still not 100% sure what happened.  My working theory is that Sophia was still-born, but that instead of accepting that he wasn't getting a sister after all, Ellis basically dreamt her into an imaginary friend.  So she doesn't actually exist - she's part of his dreamscape.  Which is super awesome, if I'm right.  I seem to remember some events from your previous submissions contradicting this, though.  But maybe you've changed this.

If I'm right about what's going on, it makes way more sense why Ellis is so timid and Sophia is so dominant in their relationship.  He's basically split his own personality between the two of them.  Iiiiinteresting...

Anyway, getting into the writing:

I had two large-scale issues with this chapter.  The first is that it felt pretty sappy.  The way Ellis is so, perfectly happy playing with the dream; the way his dad caught him whenever he was about to fall; the way his mom's elephant dream made him clap and giggle.  It reads a bit too perfect.  This makes it feel unrealistic, but it also makes it feel like a setup for something to go wrong, and then something does go wrong.  I think it's fine to be focusing on happy moments, since that's what drives Ellis to imagine Sophia later, but I think the extreme harmony is overplayed here.

The second issue, which @neongrey mentioned, is that Ellis doesn't seem like a two year old.  The chapter seems to be from his point of view, and yet the second part especially, when he's waiting for Sophia to come home, sounds like it's written from someone way older.  Since I wasn't sure about the rules of pregnancy in your world, my guess was that Ellis was at least seven years old in that scene.  Now, I'm very sympathetic to the fact that none of us (probably) remember our thought processes when we were two, so it's going to be super hard to write this convincingly.  As one point of reference, I worked in a daycare in college, and most of the young two year olds could not speak in complete sentences yet.

A few in-line comments:

He sipped at his bowl of porridge...
This just seems like a ton of food for a two year old.  Unless the apple and the porridge and the ham and bread are all really small.

He held the violin by its neck, but inverted, so that the instrument's bout was held upward like the blade of an axe. He held the violin's bow in his other hand with a tight sword grip.
Is "bout" a typo here?  This is a nit-picky point, but if he's rushing, the most natural thing is to hold the instrument body-down, since that's the way your hand is arranged on the neck when you're playing it. You don't have to change your grip that way. If he's holding it body-up, he had to do that intentionally and I'm not sure why he would.  And he sword-grip description of how he holds the bow sounds a little off. Bows are pretty fragile and you're not supposed to get your hand oils on the bow hair, which means there's very little room to grip it with your fist.  You can - I just went and tried it - but my hands are pretty small.

He had never seen or heard them cry before. How could he help? What did his parents do when he cried?
I'm surprised his first reaction is to try to help - it seems like most kids have a bit more of a crisis than this before they reach this point.

So most of my comments are about believability and "realism," which I guess is kind of ironic considering the dreamy nature of your story!  But I think getting the concrete details down lays a good foundation for all the dreamy magic.  Hope that's helpful!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 24/01/2017 at 4:51 PM, Mandamon said:

The trick is where to put it. Honestly, I don't know if I would be invested enough to read through half your story before getting to this revelation.

Yup, I agree with Mandamon.

My comments as follows.

  • Great first line, it’s got me thinking ‘What the heck?’

  • I like some aspects of this interlude, but the interlude itself seems to steel the from the action scene, which was not yet resolved. There were parts in the first couple of pages when I started skipping a little for this reason, and yet there were notes and phrases that I enjoyed.

  • The next section from page 4 to 5 tells me we are skipping ahead in the flashback (if that’s what it is, I need to read the notes again), okay it’s just a little, but I’m not that interested in this stuff, looking back when I know the ultimate outcome. I feel that I am not going to learn anything useful from this interlude.

  • I don’t really follow the chapter. It’s another nice line to finish, bracketing with the first one, but I don’t understand what happened. I don’t mean how it happened, but what actually happened, so it’s a bit frustrating.

Enjoyable in places but, given the choice, I'd be perfectly happy if this cropped up as two or three paragraphs of reminiscing in in the middle of another Ell and Sof chapter somewhere else. I’m just not convinced in deserves this amount of space.

Looking forward to returning to the action.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...