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  1. #1
    Anna Hicks
    Guest

    Please critique. :)

    I've tried some other sites, and I've gotten no real critiquing thus far. When I stumbled upon this site, I browsed through a few topics, and lo and behold, people weren't afraid to actually give honest feedback!
    So now I'm here, and I'm asking you to be as brutally honest as possible. I've always loved to write, but I know that it's a very real possibility that I possess very little actual talent and that it should remain an on-the-side hobby for me. So I want to know now. I want the truth, even if the truth is terrible.
    And, if my writing is semi-passable, I'd like feedback on how to better it.
    Thank you so much, anyone who takes the time!


    This is the first chapter and a half of a novel that I'm currently in the process of writing. What I post now should read like realistic fiction, but it later loses many traits of that genre.

    Oh, and be prepared for a little sappiness.

    So...

    Chapter One

    Summer had ended all too quickly.
    It seemed I like I had only had the time to take a few breaths before I was wrenching my eyes open to the morning of my first day of school at Madison High.
    I blinked and looked around my room. The remains of a few plastic bags from the day before's last-minute school supplies shopping littered the floor, and I picked them up as I made my way to my dresser.
    I pulled open the top drawer and rooted through its contents. Nothing was quite right. I sighed and pulled out an article of clothing at random. It was a black polo shirt. Not too bad. I picked up a pair of light jean capris and pulled them on under my nightgown.
    “Rosaline James!” My mother's high, sing-song voice was muted, coming from downstairs. “Caleb's here!”
    I glanced at my nightstand. It was already seven o'clock. Damn.
    “One minute!” I yelled, pulling on the polo. “I'll be right there!”
    My voice must've sounded as frantic as I felt, because I heard Caleb laugh.
    I had walked to school with Caleb Parker every day since he had moved into my neighborhood in the seventh grade. The first day, we had walked together because we happened to bump into each other on the way. Every day after that, we walked together because we were best friends. Since then, we had spent most of our time together. The past summer—the summer after eighth grade—had been amazing. At the end of the school year, we had made a pact to do something interesting every day of summer vacation. We kept our promise. That summer, we hiked, swam, kayaked, and one day, found ourselves bungee jumping with his cousin.

    I wrenched a brush through the knots in my light brown hair and sprinted to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth hurriedly, then ran down the first part of the stairs. The second part was just two steps long, and it led into our kitchen. I leapt around that part, right into Caleb.
    His eyes widened momentarily, but he dropped his bag and caught me mid-flight. His big hands were firm on my waist as he set me down lightly.
    He laughed, and I grinned at the sound. It was my favorite laugh, light and happy and coming easily.
    He shook his head at me and picked his bag back up. "In a hurry?"
    I rolled my eyes as I straightened out my shirt, then looked up at him. I let myself ogle for a moment as he dusted himself off. His arms were muscled, sinewy, and his shoulders were broad. He was wearing a white button-down shirt, untucked, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a loose pair of tan-colored pants made of a light fabric. His outfit, along with his thick, tousled tawny brown hair, made him look completely disheveled. A typical Caleb ensemble.
    He glanced at the digital clock on the microwave, and his wide smile fell into a frown. "Let's go," he said. He gave me only a moment to respond before he grabbed my arm and ran to the front door, tugging me along. His fingers sent a hot, electrical tingling around my arm where they made contact, and I let him pull me. "Bye, Mrs. James!" he called.
    I focused on the rhythmic beating of our shoes against the cement as we ran down my front walk and onto the sidewalk. It was a mile-long walk to Madison, and we had ten minutes until class started.
    We ran for a few seconds before Caleb stopped abruptly. He looked at me, trying to decide something, then grabbed my backpack off my shoulders. I lowered my eyebrows, and he smiled. "We'll go faster," he explained.
    And then we were off again. After a few minutes, his hand wound its way around my arm again, and my breath caught in my throat. Not good. Momentarily distracted, I tripped on my feet and fell onto the cement. I heard the skin on my elbows and knees rip. I didn't get up.
    Caleb was beside me in a moment, squatting. “Oh, Rose.” He was trying to restrain a smile. “What am I going to do with you?” he asked, taking my wrists and pulling me into a sitting position.
    I pouted. The question was rhetorical, but I answered anyway. “Maybe you should just stop being friends with me,” I said.
    He let out that perfect laugh again. “As if I could ever manage that,” he said, standing and pulling me up beside him. “Now then, do you think you can still run?”
    I looked down at myself and lifted my right leg, testing it out. I started to bend it lightly, and the scrape stung. I looked up at him apologetically. “No,” I said. “You should go. I’ll hobble my way over and see you in English.”
    He looked at me for a moment, then handed me my bag. He didn’t take off again, though. Instead, he handed me his bag, too. I stumbled under the weight, and he caught me from falling again. I looked up at him, one eyebrow raised. “Won’t you be needing this?”
    He smiled at me, and, in one fluid motion, slipped one of his arms behind my back, slipped the other behind my knees, and lifted me up from the ground. “If you can’t run by yourself, we'll run together,” he said.
    “Hey!” I protested, kicking feebly, my scrapes burning. “This is ridiculous!”
    Caleb frowned at me. “What’s the problem?”
    “Caleb, you’re carrying me.”
    He raised one eyebrow. “That didn’t seem to be a problem when we were hiking,” he said.
    I bit my lip at the memory. I had fallen that time, too, because of his startling touch. He had had to carry me the whole way down the mountain.
    “We’re going to school, though,” I said.
    “Everyone will be in class already,” he countered.
    I looked at him, and our eyes met.
    After a long moment, I sighed, and Caleb grinned, knowing he had won the argument.
    Then we were off again.
    His paces were smooth and even, each stride the same length as the last. I did not bounce around, and for that, I was grateful. My knees and the palms of my hands still burned with the scrapes, but the pain was easing. Or perhaps I was just distracted by Caleb.
    It only took us a few minutes to get to Madison. Caleb was right, of course. We were late. No one was outside.
    He bounded up the front steps, and his run slowed to a walk. He set me down lightly on the rubber mat in front of the door and took our bags out of my hands.
    “Do you think you’re okay to walk to class?” he asked. There were no tones of sarcasm coloring his voice, and he gave a genuine-looking half smile, so I repressed the urge to roll my eyes.
    Instead, I smiled. “I think I’ll be fine… and I can take my bag.”
    He shook his head, keeping my bag in his arms, and opened the door for me. I stepped inside, and my knees stung vaguely.
    I took a few steps in hesitantly. “I have no idea what where English is,” I said, turning to Caleb.
    He smiled. “Room thirty-two. Mrs. Nelson.”
    I looked around. Which way was room thirty-two?
    Caleb started walking, passing me. I didn’t move. He came back, rolling his eyes, and took me by my waist, guiding me down the hallway. My breath caught quietly in my throat again, but we were moving slowly this time.
    Our footsteps echoed in the long, empty hallway. I looked up at Caleb, and he was looking at me. My heart jumped as our eyes met, and, for the first time in our friendship, it was awkward. He was very, very close. If I stood on my tiptoes, our noses would touch. I looked at the floor.
    I had to admit it. Over the summer, I had fallen in love with Caleb Parker. The entire time, I was trying to convince myself not to, but there was nothing I could do. We were best friends, and I wouldn’t ruin that for anything in the world… but there was something there. I knew it. Anytime I was near him, it was like we were magnets. Even when I hadn’t managed to hurt myself, we always ended up right beside each other, his arm over my shoulder or his hand in mine. It had never felt strange like this, though. Today, I think he felt it, too.
    His hand tightened around my waist just slightly. We were nearing room thirty-two.
    As we reached the door, I felt Caleb’s arm fall away from my waist and reach for the handle. He pushed it open, and we stepped inside. The woman I could only assume was Mrs. Nelson turned at the sound of the door and looked at us.
    “Nice of you to join us,” she said, an easy smile spreading across her face. “Where were you?”
    Caleb answered. “We... had a little bit of an accident.” His eyes slid to meet mine, and he gave a tiny smile.
    Mrs. Nelson eyed my knees momentarily. “I suppose you’re excused,” she said. “It is, after all, the first day of class.” She motioned to the classroom. “There are two seats left. Take your pick.”
    She turned back to the blackboard, and I looked at the classroom. Six rows of desks were sprawled out across the shiny gray tile. They looked as if they had been tossed into the room haphazardly, none of them fully facing the blackboard or lining up parallel to the ones beside them. Twenty-eight different faces stared up at us from the desks. A few looked with curiosity at us, but the rest looked only for a moment with indifference. One, though, held an expression that caught my eye.
    The boy sitting in the back row of Mrs. Nelson’s ninth-grade English class was staring into my eyes, almost as if he knew me. And judging by the wide, strangely familiar smile he wore, I could’ve sworn he did.
    I couldn’t help but to stare back at him. After his strange familiarity, it was his eyes that intrigued me. They seemed to be almost transparent, glimmering iridescently even in the artificial light of the white halogen bulbs. Our eyes met, and he held my gaze.
    Caleb cleared his throat quietly, and I looked up at him. His expression was a blend of muted surprise and something darker that I couldn’t identify. His normally easy-to-read eyes were closed off now… shielded somehow. They were… cold.
    I looked at him, worried, but he proceeded as he usually would have, taking my elbow and steering me to the seats.
    One of the open desks was in the second row on the right side. The second was beside the boy.
    Caleb took me to the second-row seat, but I shook my head. “I can sit in the back,” I told him, taking my bag.
    I wondered what I was doing as I made my way to the back of the classroom. Mrs. Nelson was talking, but, as I approached the boy, I stopped hearing what she way saying. He smiled as I sat, and turned to me, his caramel-colored hair falling over his eyes.
    “Hey,” he said, letting his smile break into a grin. “I'm Brandon Carson.”
    I stared at him. That smile… it was so familiar.
    But I couldn’t place it.
    It took me a second to realize that he was waiting for me to introduce myself. “I... My name is—” I blinked. Why couldn’t I think straight? “I’m Rosaline James.”
    He nodded. “Pleased to meet you, Rosaline James.”
    He looked at me for a moment more, then turned to face the blackboard, abruptly ending our conversation. I frowned, facing the blackboard as well.
    Class went by very slowly. Occasionally, I would glance at Brandon, but he was never looking at me. He wore a complacent smile, always watching Mrs. Nelson.
    After twenty minutes, I took out a sheet of paper and a pen and started doodling. A long row of ducklings marched along the right side of the sheet, and a vine twisted down the margin, culminating in an array of nameless flowers. I was just beginning to detail the leaves of an oak tree when the bell rang. I sighed and put away my pen.
    “Interesting.”
    I jumped.
    I twisted around in my seat to see Brandon, standing over me and looking at my sheet of paper with one eyebrow raised.
    I turned back around and put away the sheet of paper. Caleb was standing at the door, waiting for me. I smiled at him, and he returned it with a beautiful one of his own. I gathered my books and dumped them into my bag. I started toward Caleb, but felt a tap on my shoulder.
    It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen Brandon leave. I turned slowly around to meet his expectant gaze and smiled unsurely. “Yes?”
    “Rosaline,” he said, “A few of us are going to see a movie tonight. You should come.”
    My eyebrows furrowed. Was he… asking me out? I glanced back at Caleb, who was still waiting by the door, his eyes on the floor. I noticed ear buds in his ears, and, for some reason, felt more comfortable when I turned back to Brandon.
    “Like on a date?”
    He glanced at Caleb, his eyebrows furrowed. “No,” he said, his eyes moving back to meet mine. “Just as friends.”
    I smiled. Just friends. I could do that.
    “Sure,” I said, taking grinning. “That sounds fun.”
    He smiled, but only slightly. “Meet us at the Valley Center 9 at six-thirty.”
    I nodded, smiling. “I’ll be there.”
    I spun on my heel, and, still smiling, walked over to Caleb. He was leaning against the wall, browsing the contents of his iPod. He looked up and smiled as I approached.
    My heart stuttered, and, as Brandon walked by Caleb and out the door, I genuinely hoped he was sincere about being just friends. Unrequited or not, I was in love with Caleb Parker.







    Chapter Two

    Caleb was waiting for me outside my last class of the day, and I grinned when I saw him.
    He put his arm around my shoulder, but it didn’t hold the same significance as our closeness had that morning. Again, as it always had been, his touch was entirely platonic, a gesture of friendship only. It made my smile fade.
    “How was your first day?” I asked.
    I felt him shrug. “It was all right,” he said. “You?”
    “Same. Pretty bland.”
    His arm tightened around my shoulder, and I looked up at him. His eyes were tight, cold again.
    “What?” I asked.
    He shook his head, but his expression remained guarded. “Nothing, Rose.”
    I turned my eyes back to the hallway, and I caught a glimpse of shaggy, dirty-blonde hair.
    Brandon.
    He turned toward me, and our eyes met for a moment. He smiled, and I smiled back. Caleb and I were nearing him now.
    “Still on for tonight?” he asked as we passed.
    I stopped walking.
    “Definitely.”
    “Cool,” he said. “See you at six-thirty.”
    I nodded, still smiling, and noticed his eyes again. Like that morning, they were glittering, still the same three-dimensional, shimmering clear.
    His eyes locked on mine, and stayed there for a little too long.
    Caleb nudged me, and I blinked.
    “I—I’d better get going,” I said.
    “Yeah,” he agreed. “I’ll see you tonight.”
    I smiled as Caleb steered me away, towards the door.
    I looked up at him as we walked, and he was looking fixedly at the floor, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. After a moment, his eyes slid back to meet mine. He put on a smile.
    “So,” he said. “Do you like him?”
    I raised one eyebrow. “What do you mean by like?”
    “You’re going on a date with him,” he said. “So do you like him? You know, that way?”
    I laughed, remembering the last time we had had a conversation anything like this. It had been in the seventh grade, little more than two months after we had met. He had asked me this exact same thing, and my answer had been no.
    “It’s not a date,” I said, “and I don’t know. I don’t really… know him.”
    Something about that made him grimace.
    “What?”
    He shook his head, his arm tightening around my shoulders, and I knew that he wasn’t going to reply. I leaned into him. His side was warm but hard… not a good pillow. Still, I liked the feel of his body against mine. I could feel his every move, feel everything about him. The distant flexing and unflexing of his leg muscles as he walked… the smooth, steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. I could hear the steady, deep bass of his heartbeat against my ear. I wrapped my arms around his waist, and I knew that we looked like more than friends. It felt like we were more than friends. And I liked it. I liked it a lot.
    It was in perfect silence that we walked this way to my house. It wasn’t an awkward or hateful silence as so many of them are, but a wonderful, flawless silence.
    It made me wonder… Why did we continue this? We were already so much a couple, why not make it official? All he had to do was move his light kisses on my forehead down just a few inches to complete the transaction. It didn’t make any sense.

    Then it hit me. It was only a thought, light and seemingly inconsequential. But, in that moment, I understood.
    Caleb must have known that I wanted him as more than a friend. He had to know. We were already acting like we were together, but the reason we weren’t was now painfully obvious. He didn’t want to be a couple. It had seemed like such a sure thing… the constant contact, the flowing electricity from my body to his. They had seemed like signs that things were going well, but really, they were exactly the opposite. We could be together, but he didn’t want to be.
    …But would Caleb really hurt me like that? If he knew, would he really have led me on like this?
    No. That couldn’t be it. He didn’t know. He didn’t want me as more than a friend, and, as far as he knew, I didn’t either.
    Everything was fine. Just as it had been. I sighed.
    We were at my door, and Caleb pulled it open, letting himself in.
    He moved to the refrigerator and wrenched it open.
    “You want something to eat?” he asked.
    I was still dwelling on my revelation, and I barely noticed his question as I sat, putting my head on the kitchen table.
    And then he was beside me.
    “What’s wrong, Rose?”
    I stared at his perfect face, his eyebrows arched in concern, his clear blue eyes blazing. He was what was wrong.
    “Nothing is wrong,” I whispered.
    He reached up and pushed a lock of my hair out of my face, a small smile on his lips.
    “Rose, I’ve been your best friend for two years. I think I know when something’s bothering you.”
    I shook my head. “Well, you’re wrong. I’m fine.”
    He studied my face for a long moment, then let out a huff of exasperation, crossing his arms and leaning back in his seat.
    I didn’t want to dwell on it anymore. I sat up and gave Caleb a smile.
    “I’m going to heat up a few taquitos, you want any?”
    He raised one eyebrow, as if he didn’t believe for one second my sudden change of mood.
    “Sure,” he said, standing.
    I walked to the freezer and pulled it open, rummaging inside for the box of frozen Mexican food.
    I heard Caleb’s voice from behind me. “I’m going to call my mom and tell her where I am.”
    I rolled my eyes. As if she didn’t already know.
    I pulled out a flimsy, colorful cardboard box and set it down on the kitchen counter. Caleb’s footsteps sounded above me as he went into my room to get the phone.
    I put the box in the microwave, set it for three minutes, and punched the start button.
    Caleb wasn’t downstairs yet.
    I trotted to the stairs, and I could hear his muffled voice above me.
    “I don’t know if I can do this quietly…” he was saying. “He’s got her in the palm of his hand!”
    I suddenly felt like I was intruding on a private conversation.
    “I don’t know…” he murmured. He waited for the response. “I can try. But it’s no good.” He paused again. “I’m not going to wait, if that’s what you’re saying.”
    It was a good minute before he spoke again, and when he did, his voice was unsure.
    “Do you think…? But what if he…?”
    He sighed.
    “Fine.”
    Another pause.
    “It’ll happen tomorrow, maybe the next day at the very latest. He thinks it’s still her.”
    His voice was grave when he responded.
    “No,” he said. “Rose is Rose.”
    I heard the phone click as he placed it in the cradle, and I stumbled back to the microwave just as it beeped.
    What had Caleb been talking about? Why had he lied to me?
    I knew that the best way to do things with Caleb was to just come right out with them. I had never been able to keep anything from him for long.
    So, when he came down the stairs, I said it straight. “What were you talking about upstairs?” I asked him.
    He… laughed.
    “Someone’s been eavesdropping,” he chided jokingly.
    “I’m serious,” I said. “It sounded really weird. And you said my name.”
    He raised an eyebrow and smiled. “I think you’re hearing things, Rose. You may want to get that checked out.”
    I rolled my eyes. Typical.
    “You’re not getting out of this that easily,” I told him. “Just tell me what you were talking about.”
    “If I tell you, will you tell me what you were upset about earlier?”
    I narrowed my eyes, and he raised one eyebrow. We were silent for a second.
    “Well played,” I said through my teeth.
    He grinned.
    The microwave beeped, and I turned to get the taquitoes out.
    “You win this round,” I said as I dumped them onto a plate, “but don’t get cocky. I’ll get it out of you eventually.”
    He smiled grimly. “I’m sure you will.”
    I picked up a taquito. “Heads up!” I tossed it at him, and he caught it deftly between his thumb and pointer finger.
    I smiled then. No matter what my feelings, being around Caleb would always make me happy.
    He took a bite. “These are terrible.”
    “I know,” I said, nibbling at mine.
    He laughed, and I tossed my taquito into the kitchen trashcan.
    Caleb turned, and, with perfect precision, threw his across the room and into the living room trashcan.
    “Show-off.”
    He smiled. “What’s the use having shooting skills if you can’t show off in front of pretty girls?”
    I blushed.



    So that was my first chapter and a little less than half of the second.
    Feedback?



  2. #2
    Nan Hammond
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)



    Hi Anna

    IMO
    Its...its....

    Its readable, definately, but my question is why?
    Why would I want to read it. From all initial accounts it seems to be about two highschoolers in that akward stage of nearly being a couple. I kept on reading because you want a critique, but I really would have probably put the book down after chapter one. The only two possible hooks were 1 The boy in the class who might know her (but that was rather weakly attempted), and 2 the mysterious phone call at the end. The phone call had promise.

    However I have no real sense of your character. I have her thoughts, and thus her way of thinking, but I don't know what she looks like, how she feels about going to her new high school. I don't know anything about her except that she fell in love with Caleb. But all of a sudden she's eyeing the new boy.

    If this were to indicate some sort of flaw in her character, I'd like to see it developed more. If not then its kind of contradictory.

    Some of the conversation, while helpful also seemed a bit irrelevant. There seemed to me that there was an elephant in the room through the entire 2 chapters. I don't think it was intentionaly, despite the romantic getting/not getting together. As a reader I felt uncomfortable and slightly bored.

    I really only became interested during the phonecall. Everything else was...mundane.
    I like Caleb as a character but he also seems rather dreamboatish in an unrealistic carbon copy kind of way. What I mean by that is:
    "His big hands were firm on my waist"
    "Caleb was beside me in a moment,"
    "He smiled at me, and, in one fluid motion, slipped one of his arms behind my back, slipped the other behind my knees, and lifted me up from the ground. “If you can’t run by yourself, we'll run together,” he said"
    "His arms were muscled, sinewy, and his shoulders were broad"
    "etc etc etc"


    Its all rather Oh La La. The kind of things you dream about a hot guy doing to you in high school. But it doesn't really strike a chord with me as a reader.

    What makes Rose special. I think those 2 chapters could be condensed drastically and you should give us the meat, or at least give us a good smell of some.

    Other than that I don't really have a problem with the style or flow other than it is a bit conjested. It has possibilities.

    I can't help with spelling,grammar, or punctuation because I am notoriously inept in those fields.

    I hope it helps, and good luck.

    -Nanofiend

  3. #3
    larry moses
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    So, didn't you take a shower when you woke up? I don't like this 'wrenched a brush through my hair' bit. Also, 'wrenching my eyes open'.

    "electrical tingling around my arm"? Shouldn't it be 'through my arm'?

    Go back to the drawing board, Anna.

  4. #4
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    I didn't read as far as Nan, but I see she's given you some good crit. Good. Now I feel less guilty.

    Anyway, you have a pretty good style; nice flow, relaxed, very readable. Despite any crit you might get here, I want you to know that I think you're a good writer. Since you're wondering how to make it better, I'll tell you what I noticed.

    First off, I emphatically agree with Nan on this: Its all rather Oh La La. The kind of things you dream about a hot guy doing to you in high school. But it doesn't really strike a chord with me as a reader. At one point you say his hair is messy and his clothes are disheveled, and that's about the closest you come to making him seem like a human being, with believable flaws. (For the record, I didn't dream about hot guys in high school). Give him horrible seeping acne, or make him prone to gas or something. Then we'll believe in him.

    Another thing I noticed is some stage direction. Not everybody defines this the same way, but to me, that's where you, as a writer, envision a sequence of actions happening just so, and you list everything that you picture happening so the reader can envision it the same way. The problem is that the unimportant nuances cause the more important details to fade into the background; the whole thing takes on a blurry feeling. Let me give you an example:

    [i] ran down the first part of the stairs. The second part was just two steps long, and it led into our kitchen. I leapt around that part, right into Caleb.
    His eyes widened momentarily, but he dropped his bag and caught me mid-flight. His big hands were firm on my waist as he set me down lightly.
    He laughed, and I grinned at the sound. It was my favorite laugh, light and happy and coming easily.
    He shook his head at me and picked his bag back up.


    I'd cut a lot of this out. You're important elements are that she was rushing down the stairs, tripped, and Caleb caught her with a good-natured laugh. You can lose some phrases, like "the second part was just two steps long", and "his eyes widened momentarily, but he dropped his bag...", and definately murder that adverb at the end of the next sentence. If you do that, you're sequence of actions will be much stronger.

    I hope that my observations help, even though I didn't get through the whole thing. I don't speak for everybody here, but I find long excerpts daunting. Because of the concentration it takes to read critically, most of us do prefer 600 - 1000 word excerpts.

    Nice job, and good luck with this.

  5. #5
    A.L. Sirois
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    What the others have said. It wants editing. I think I might do the opening more like this, streamlining things to get the story moving:

    Summer ended all too quickly, and I overslept.

    “Rosaline James!” My mother's high, sing-song voice was muted, coming from downstairs. “Caleb's here.”

    Startled awake, I glanced at my clock radio. Five past seven. Damn!

    “One minute!” I threw the covers aside and dashing for my dresser, slipping on one of the plastic bags from my last-minute school supply shopping trip the day before. “I'll be right there!”

    My voice must've sounded as frantic as I felt, because I heard Caleb laugh.

    It was my first day at Madison High, and I was going to be late.

    I yanked open the top drawer and rooted through its contents, pulling out a few random articles of clothing. Moments later, dressed in a black polo shirt and light jean capris, I frantically brushed through the knots in my light brown hair, then sprinted to the bathroom. Breakfast? No time!

  6. #6
    cara k
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    Larry--Maybe the character took a shower the night before.

    Anna--

    I agree with what the others said. You have the ability to write, you just need to develop it with an eye to content. Start off your novel with something that will intrigue readers and make them want to know more. Don't sweat the details; actually, let me amend that. Some details are wonderful, when they give color and flavor to a scene. Others are just robotic. You don't want robotic.

    Do give more of a feel for the characters. For example, I don't believe someone like Caleb really exists. You don't want a reader to be shaking his/her head, saying, "Yeah, right." You want a reader to be so involved with your characters that he/she forgets that it's all pretend. Get inside your character's head, give me her thoughts and impressions. I suggest reading more novels in your genre, but reading them with a writer's eye. Also, you might want to look into some books about writing. I believe there are some threads on writersnet that could help you. Whatever you do, don't quit!

    --Cara K

  7. #7
    Keith .
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    Just one fool's opinion.

    It seemed I like I had only had the time to take a few breaths before I was wrenching my eyes open to the morning of my first day of school at Madison High. 34 words.

    It seemed mere breaths before wrenching my eyes open for my first day at Madison High. 16 words.

    Before you address content I strongly suggest you put away your work and read Stein on Writing. Buy it, take notes, review them and revisit your manuscript. You'll be ...surprised.

    When you tell people you write, so many say how they or someone close to them should write a book. "So-and-so is a natural writer," or "S/he is a born writer." Bullsh!t. Telling a story is natural. Telling one using only the written word is craft. Constructing a novel is an entirely different animal, still. Do the work and stick with it. Good luck.
    km

  8. #8
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    Larry - I've got to apologize. That "Despite any crit you get here" part wasn't an attempt to negate your opinion. You posted while I was composing, so I didn't see your comment when I wrote that. Sorry.

    I picked up on how she said this was her first time posting, and I know how first-timers tend to misinterpret critique to mean that their writing is hopeless. I was just trying to assure her that this isn't the case.

    Okay. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

  9. #9
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    It isn't grabbing me. You're using too many words, too much repetition. A couple of examples:

    "Summer had ended all too quickly."

    What is "had" doing in there?

    "It seemed I like I had only had the time to take a few breaths before I was wrenching my eyes open to the morning of my first day of school at Madison High."

    She must have done something more interesting than simply breathe over the entire summer. What was it? Right from the start, you're providing no color, no depth.

    "I blinked and looked around my room. The remains of a few plastic bags from the day before's last-minute school supplies shopping littered the floor, and I picked them up as I made my way to my dresser."

    Why "remains" of bags? Did she rip them apart? Why tell us about the bags at all? They aren't interesting. Why not tell us that school supplies littered the floor, and have her pick those up.

    "I pulled open the top drawer and rooted through its contents. Nothing was quite right. I sighed and pulled out an article of clothing at random. It was a black polo shirt. Not too bad. I picked up a pair of light jean capris and pulled them on under my nightgown."

    She pulled open the top drawer.
    She pulled out "an article of clothing."

    Why not, "I sighed and picked up a black polo shirt."

    You see what I mean. It rambles.

  10. #10
    S Stull
    Guest

    Re: Please critique. :)

    Hey, Anna, here's my input:

    "I heard the skin on my elbows and knees rip."

    I have been in many "slip-ups," including the time I fell off my horse at a gallop on an expanse of concrete, and shredded myself up pretty badly. Not hearing my skin "rip" might have had something to do with my, ahem, lack of attentiveness after the initial fall--but still. lol. Perhaps you meant "clothes"?

    Also, you kind of lost me after the first bit. I understand the piece about summer flying, nothing happening, and I related... Then... nothing. Caleb was waaaay too, er, inhuman. I agree with Ray--Give 'im gas! (Figuratively)

    I'm a newbie at this myself, and I tend to ramble on with my "robotic details..." What the others at this forum told me was to have a conflict to draw readers in from the start. Easier said than done. But from the first paragraph, I haven't got any idea where your story is going.

    BTW, I always showered at NIGHT, since school for me started at 7:00 am sharp.

    And Anna, your writing is definately got a start; you should have seen them tearing me up. I asked for it, however, and was grateful!

    -Smiles, Lyra

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