Just a few paragraphs in (this story
), but I already have some criticism. Since you said I could meatgrind it, it shall be meat ground!
1. The narrative voice seems rather stiff. It's like an ESL robot is talking—no emotions, and expressed a bit clumsily. The narration doesn't give any hints about Sophie's personality, which is important for first-person POV. Take this:
I sit on the pavement and lean against [the brick wall] *, thankful for my sweater. It's ugly and overlarge, but it keeps me warm enough on this windy autumn evening.
This reads very unnaturally to me; I would never say "my sweater keeps me warm on this windy autumn evening." That's just too constructed. It's also classic "showing instead of telling," which only adds to the dullness. My suggestion: find your narrative voice for this character and use it.
For example, if she's a fireball: "Fall sucks,
I thought, as I stuffed my hands into my long sleeves and hugged myself across the chest. It's cold, it's windy, and mysterious strangers always leave you waiting outside when you're trying to visit your dying brother. I should have stolen a jacket.
" From those two lines, we see a personality, we understand the season and temperature, we know what's she's wearing, we guess that she can't afford anything better, and we know her brother is in trouble— and it's slightly more natural. Of course, that's just my take— you should consider your Sophie's personality, and try imbuing the text with some of it.
2. Some of the dialogue could use tightening. There's lots of wordiness, awkwardly formal phrasing, and just generally stuff that should be cut. Like this: "Did Leo's seizures start before you left for school, or do you know nothing?" Why not just, "Do you know if Leo's seizures started before you left for school?" It's sounds less eels-in-hovercraft-y
3. Now, the story. I've gone through the first chapter, and ye gads, this moves fast. Too fast. I barely know Sophie before I'm introduced to Bianca, then Ritter, then Leo... None of them are strong enough personalities for me to recognize them without help, and there's little to no description of who they are, what they're doing, or what they look like. They're just formless blobs. Ideally, you don't want to info dump looks and personality traits, but at the beginning of a story you sort of need to. You just have to be clever and make it so it doesn't look like an infodump.
Example: When Bianca and Ritter appear, you give no details about them at all. You might be trying to avoid As You Know
-style exposition, considering she already knows these people, but the effect just leaves the audience confused. For this kind of opening, where there's more action, I'd suggest including just one or two distinctive traits for these characters and moving on. Something like, "I jumped as Bianca and Ritter appeared. Even in the moonlight, Bianca's spray-on tan looked tacky, and she smiled at me with that pink lipstick that makes her mouth look like a discarded bubblegum ball. Ritter was as big as ever, and he glowered at me so deeply I couldn't see his mouth under his moustache." With just one line each, we have a basic idea of what they look like (and maybe have a hint at their personalities), without
an infodump. Now we know what they look like, we can move on to imagining what these characters are doing.
4. Another thing is the pacing— it's way too fast. Things are happening, but I'm not really clear on the details— there are doors, and they go inside, and her brother is there, and there's mythical monsters and wait what
?? Build moments like that up a bit! Use the narration to slow plot progression down and build tension; describe the actions in more detail, give context for where they are and what who's doing, and add in a few obstacles— like a robot guard or a security camera. Don't make it easy on the heroes— stories are about conflict.
Part of this might come from the fact you giving the audience too much credit too early— I for one have no idea what a Vesper is. And I don't know your characters, or the setting, or the plot... it's all very confusing, and confused readers won't be reading for long.
So, basically: The style needs some work, the pacing is off, and you need to explain what's going on more. The idea has merit, but the execution needs work.
edited 9th Mar '11 8:12:12 PM by Ronka87