WorryWrite

Writer and editor, currently focusing on fantasy, adventure, and teen lit.

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Plot
Writing Style
Grammar & Punctuation

A first chapter review

The punctuation is fine enough, you do pretty well with the changes between descriptors and dialogue. You don't seem to have em dashes down, but that's very minor. What does really bother me, and this may just be an inkitt thing, because I see it here frequently, is the use of single quotation marks, or apostrophes, instead of actual quotation marks for dialogue (which is a big no no).

The dialogue does have me concerned. It feels more melodramatic than necessary, but there is a fine line with that in literature. That being said, it may be the result of this next point.

First person present tense can be a real pain to write in and it leads to a lot of "I" and "He/She" sentences. I dislike this way of writing, but that is personal preference. Past tense has a more casual sound to it and I feel it works better for fiction. (Don't rewrite your entire story into past tense because I mentioned this, just consider how your tense factors into your phrasing.)

There are some weird moments with passive action in regards to what people are doing. You give little details on what your characters are doing, but they aren't what I would consider to be the details that matter. Since this is a first person narrative, you should be paying attention and pointing out details that your first person is prone to noticing. *One thing that really bothers me is the constant "I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear." which appears on almost every other page of the first chapter. It's a passive habit and generally something girls don't notice that they do (it also tends to occur more when conversing with people they like). If you mention this sort of behavior at all, it should be minimal. The key things to include (according to me) are major motion (stand up, sit down, walk, run, etc.), interaction (hug, kiss, obvious eye contact, signaling, etc.), and emoting (obvious changes in voice tone or volume, tears, obvious posture elements, etc.). Too many little things and it will feel like your reader is seeing the narrative through a magnifying glass, too many big things and your characters are probably doing too much.
An example of somethig to look at when it comes to writing down the right details would be where Ian bumps his shoulder against Kara (which is really a subtle thing, but consider this). There is no indication that that would be possible if Kara was sitting (which I thought she was). Her physical motion and observation are positionally stagnant for long enough that I had to go back and double check to see what she was actually doing at that point (she was standing, but she was just taking things in for so long that I pictured her sitting).

One of the things I noticed in your descriptors is an odd choice in adjectives for many actions. Kyle's "dazzling smile," for example, isn't something most family members would use. I might describe a sibling's smile as wicked, mischevious, or even charming, but dazzling has a certain romantic connotation that gives me a bad vibe in this instance.

Few bits of poor phrasing. For example, "It also takes a certain kind of mad to attempt The Mourn, yet I have always seen it as the logical next step." What kind of "mad" is meant here? Is it madness or anger? Both are relevant and possible, but it is unclear.
"They are trusted to with the most delicate tasks and responsibilities." That "to with" is probably a slip up from revision, but that is when you have to be the most careful. Writers often make the worst mistakes when they are trying to avoid mistakes.

I'm not going to point out every error you have (I would charge for that), but that being said you didn't have many. While I don't think (especially due to my limited exposure to the story) that this is publishing ready, you have done a better job than most writers I see on this site. Very few obvious grammar errors, even pacing, small cast (at least so far), and you've managed to build up an event without outright spoiling it. Actually, I want to elaborate on that.

Foreshadowing is fine and dandy. A lot of writers like to use it as a way of creating tension and exacerbating conflict that already exists. Some writers, however, use too much foreshadowing (and this is where my mini-rant begins). Divergent is an example of this, and a good example of what to never do when you write a story. If you want to write a twist, don't give it away, don't even make it an option, make it a reasonable possibility that you don't state outright. Divergent was well written, for the most part, but was cheeky enough to say (several times as I recall) "wouldn't it be wild if they used this to mind control people and take over the country?" Which then proceeded to happen.
From what I see in your writing (thus far), you have a buildup to a greater challenge for your characters, essentially introducing the players, without spoiling the plot. I hope that is how you keep it. Don't get too excited by your story that you forget to tell most of it.

Sadly I don't have time to read more, but if you take nothing else from this review, take that subtle indication that if I had time for more leisure reading that I would have at least given the next few chapters of the story a shot.

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A first paragraph review

I read just the first paragraph to get an impression of the story. First impressions are the most important, but not the most reliable. You may take this with the knowledge that your first paragraph may be a poor representation of your writing, though it should be some of your best as it is what an editor will pay the closest attention to.

"Azzara leaned against the window-sill with her elbows and looked out at the view." Honestly, the paragraph would be better off without this sentence. The way it is phrased makes the subsequent sentence more awkward in it's phrasing, the first pronoun of the second sentence, "it," particularly. If you insist on keeping this sentence on the paragraph, pay attention to the following:
-The first word is, what I assume is, the main character's name. Whether or not Azzara is the main character isn't exactly the problem. The problem is that the first word is a name, and that name is not clearly pronounceable. Fantasy names tend to have that problem, though it tends not to be a very serious problem. As the very first word of the story, however, it doesn't have any real weight and can come off as confusing or irritating to the reader.
-"Window-sill," if you care to check, is one word and should not be hyphenated. As an editor, one of the things I do every time I see a hyphen is pull up a quick dictionary cross-check. Many dictionaries may have various spellings, but some dictionaries are more reliable than others. The more reliable dictionaries that I see back up this correction.

"… fresh summer air seeped in through her nose" sounds as though you are describing an open wound and not a woman's nose. "Seeped" is not a choice word when you aren't describing something gruesome, and "through" is not exactly the correct direction to describe the way that a scent on the air flows through the nostrils. "Waft," "drift," or "flow" are more suitable descriptive words for the smell of a fresh summer day. I'm not saying that you have to use them, but they do sound much less abrasive to the scene.

"The people were going about their daily lives without a care in the world." What I have to say about this is less of a problem and more of something to be very careful with. This sentence sounds very condescending. Which may be fine, but you should be concerned with how you are portraying your characters. This early in your story, it is very important to be consistent with characterization. If she isn’t consistently condescending past this point, the reader will take longer to identify with just who this person is exactly as they parse you (the writer) from Azzara (the character). Consistent character building language allows for easy reading.

"Looking out at her beautiful city like this …" again, this is characterizing language. It seems to be fitting in with a possessive and selfish characterization. If the character's persona and actions clash, The reliability of the character will diminish (which some writers do intentionally to show inner conflict, but that is a complicated and difficult road).

"… one would never say …" You aren’t writing an essay. You are allowed to address the audience however you please, whether that be as the storyteller or from the voice of your character. “One would never say,” however, is too dry for fiction. I would recommend “she could hardly believe,” cliché as that might sound.

"However, Azzara only had to look …" You don't need that "however." It's sentence bulk and only serves to complicate your grammatical structure. Writing flows easier when you don't have to stumble over what is what. And when I say easier, I mean for you and your reader. The harder you try to add junk words to sound smart (and I'm not saying you do) the more your voice suffers.

Also for the above sentence, including the removal of the "however," you can take all the commas out of that sentence. Those commas are obstructing a split subject and a prepositional phrase respectively.

"Armour" is a British spelling of Armor (which is the commonly used American spelling). If you want to use the British spelling, you have to be consistent or it will start to look sloppy. There are a ton of differences between British and American spellings, and while I'm not saying that you have to use those words with one spelling or the other, it is a lot easier to write consistently with the spellings that you know. You split up less and you confuse your reader less. (Then again, I may be the only one that actually reads with a dictionary next to me.)

"… to know that everything has changed." That "has" at the end there is a jump in tense from the "had" used earlier in the sentence. This is something that many writers struggle with while establishing a voice in their story. While it is important to establish that voice, and making errors in the process is fine, it is also important to go back and make sure that your voice is consistent. Sometimes it is better to, once you get in your writing voice, simply rewrite the section you have seen errors in without looking at it for reference.

These are the errors and points of interesting that I think you should take a close look at in the first paragraph of your story. Yes, this may sound mean, but I am not trying to be destructive. I want to show you these flaws and potentially weak points so that you can correct them and make them stronger. If you think anything I've said is unduly rude or at all incorrect, you can prove me wrong by doing better.

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From an editor's perspective

You like this story, I can tell. You have a strong vision for what you want your reader to see. Conveying your vision is where you fall short.
I am about to send you unsolicited criticism; however, you have the option of taking this criticism I am about to give you with a grain of salt. I did not read past halfway through the second chapter (which is probably as far as any other editor will get), but I saw enough to say what I am about to say.
Grammar is not your strong suit. There are jumps between tense, UK and American English both see use, and punctuation is atrocious. You can say that this is a rougher draft, but the amount of errors I saw in what little I read leads me to believe that that you don't think about grammar at all as you write, which is a problem.
Many writers will say that you need to write first and worry about the grammar later, but those writers already think with a certain sense of grammar that most people do not. If you want to get your ideas out faster without worrying about grammar, write outlines and storyboards. When you have the ideas down, write a draft. A good draft is a complete combination of concept and skill.
As I said at the top, the concept is there but you need more practice at the skill. I recommend a spreadsheet review. To do this, read through and do not make any changes to the draft. In the spreadsheet keep track of the following as you read: in column 1—the location of each error you find while reading through, column 2—the error and the correction. This will show you general patterns in the errors you tend to make. If you don't see the errors, have someone else read through it and work the spreadsheet.

Most importantly, don't stop writing. Just because I'm mean doesn't mean I want to crush your dreams. I may be one voice in a sea of voices, but I'm a practiced voice that knows what he's on about. I want you to prove me wrong by making your writing better.

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Overall Rating
Plot
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Grammar & Punctuation

From an editors perspective

A publisher will typically only read the first few paragraphs of a manuscript before giving it a green light or trashing it. In line with this, I have only read the first section you have showing on the story, the prologue. Based on what I have read, this story would never get published.
Luckily, I am not a publisher.
As an editor, I still think your writing is dubious, but you have some clear ways in which you can improve. While I saw a plethora of errors in your writing, there are two key areas in which you can improve for much better results.

1) Staying in one tense. The prologue is frantic and haphazard in its shifting tenses to the point where I could hardly tell what was happening and when it was happening (not to mention where, but that is a totally separate issue). The key to keeping on track is moving through your sentences slowly and paying careful watch on your verbs. Consider this sentence from the prologue, “I’m getting off track here, but people do say their life flashed before their eyes right before they died, maybe that’s what is happening now.” The phrase “I’m getting off track here” is present tense, whereas the phrase “their life flashed before their eyes” is past tense. If you wanted to keep this sentence in the same tense, you might say “I’m getting off track here, but the myth goes that you see your life flash before your eyes before you die. Is this what that feels like?” (This is a suggestion, not a correction.)
This sentence is far from the only instance of jumping tense you have in the prologue. This is an easy enough type of error to fix that the amount shouldn’t really be a problem. Just pick a tense and stick with it.

2) Consistency/Linearity. Your writing jumps around a lot when things are happening. In one sentence you place your character in a scenario where they are trying to stay awake, while in the next two paragraphs you get lost in a tangent thought leading you to describe the character in a past tense sort of way. It feels like you are spending a lot more effort to tell the reader about the character than on the actual events of the story. The jumping around is more or less acceptable when you aren’t in a moment of action, flashbacks and flash-forwards are common enough practice in writing, but you are writing a scene where there is action happening.
Try to slow down and focus on what is happening in the story. The story itself should take priority over your narration. You can jump to different points in time to give clarification and details on the character and their experience, but make sure that those sections that deviate from the main course of events are set apart from the rest of the story. Linear progressions of events and clearly cordoned off deviations make it a lot easier to process a story, both for the writer and the reader.

I may sound mean, but I'm not trying to crush your dreams here. My criticism is aimed at making improvements, and if you think (which I'm not saying you are, don't let me put words in your mouth) that your writing can't be improved, you will never get published.

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