Ashley Stryker

Bel Air, Maryland

I'm the hero Inkitt deserves, but not the one it needs right now. I'm a vigilante "moderator." A watchful protector. A dark knight. Inkitt's Batman.

Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Anomalies on Inkitt

"When I was a somebody, I had a brother."

That was the line that made me stop and lean back in my chair. What a powerful line, to show a complete erasure of self, of personality. She's already deleted herself before she fails out of the program.

You use repetition like a pro, unlike my own work, where repeated words only demonstrates rough crafting. Your prose carries weight and voice--especially impressive in a story where the character seems to lack any of her former personality. (I bet she was sarcastic, before the program.)

The story is poignant beyond what I'd anticipated. While the end of the story is clearly shown at the start, I spent the entire time reading this tale waiting for the twist that would save her. By refusing to, you've struck a chord that will resonate with me later today, this week, this month. And the fact that you managed to make me care about a character whose demise I could see inching closer within such a short amount of time is a breathtaking accomplishment.

"The Anomaly" is by far the best story I've read yet on Inkitt. I highly recommend it.

I do have some minor suggestions, should you care to revise in the future:

+ Why is height important? What advantage does it give over being short? What was this aspect of the commentary supposed to say? For it being the cause of her death, essentially, it's not as well explained as I think it should be, to really show the desperation to reach that height and give this arbitrary requirement some meaning to readers and characters alike. The mystery behind height's importance redirects the focus away from Anomaly's situation to wonder about the world's dynamics, and I think that weakens the overall story.

+ I'd cut some of the adverbs. They throw me out of the stark nature of the world you've built, on a rhetorical level, but that's both personal preference and nitpicking of the HIGHEST quality talking here.

+ Cutting from scene to scene as she goes about her day works, but there just seems to be too many moments where she can't recall how she gets from place to place. In my mind, the abrupt transitions came across as an enforced "fade to black" that Anomaly tries to hang the metaphorical lantern on to explain away, but only manages to illuminate the fact that there should be some mechanism there to transport her--not deus ex machina.

+ Following that logic, Anomaly's lack of awareness of her own surroundings at times disconcerts me as the reader--how is she so introspective?--but I can almost understand due to the plot line.

+ The clerk bothers me. She's awfully convenient as a character, in terms of timing and what she's got in her pockets. A hand mirror AND a flashlight AND a pair of scissors? That's some world class Mary Poppins bag she must be carting around. She's almost a stand in for us, as the readers, wishing we could help ease Anomaly's pain--or for you, bringing a little mercy to your character by arranging for this most intriguing of coincidences. Still, I'm not sure I like that scene as it's currently constructed, and I think she's the weakest part of what you've written so far.

Suggestion: Maybe, if you wanted to tweak the story a bit, have Anomaly's final act be stealing the scissors? A last breath of caring, of fortitude, of wanting to achieve something--anything--and make her deletion be on her own terms? Just an idea.

Again, this is all semantics stuff. This was a smacking good story, and I'll bookmark more of your work to read later.

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Review: I Wanted to be in Hufflepuff, Chapter 1 & 2

I have a soft spot for Snape fanfiction. I think he's a fascinating, snarky, and wonderfully complex character to play with in HP fanfiction. One of my favorite fanfictions of ALL TIME was a SnapexOC named Holly ("Living a Legend" by Fabula Propona), but she took it down and I can't find a copy of it anymore.

All of that's to say that I was very much looking forward to a story featuring Snape as the opening familiar character, coupled with a main character who apparently actively wanted to be in what's often the most put-down house of the four.

But... I feel as though this story, while possessing an interesting premise, didn't fully explore the motivations and personalities of its characters. In fact, Mrs. Jones--the mother of main character genius Alice Jones--was the most interesting character to follow of the lot, including Snape.

Part of this is because Alice Jones suffers from a strange variation of Mary Sue syndrome that I can't quite pinpoint. She's a genius who's graduated high school at the age of 10, can perform 6th year spells immediately, and understands that a weird looking cat is, in fact, a crossbreed between feline magical species. Her seeming perfection and complete understanding of her power makes her an unappealing character, and her arrogance and lack of social graces make her abrasive to the extreme. Examples include:

+ She asks a goblin for a blood sample.
+ She asks the cat if it can tolerate needles--essentially volunteering what's ostensibly a pet for scientific experimentation.
+ She opens a door after juggling "unstable particles" and is entirely ungracious about the whole thing
+ She's basically rude to every single person she meets while espousing her future as a genius--and then is justified in her arrogance when the author allows her to perform grand feats of magic after seeing only one example. Even Hermione had some sort of a learning curve!

So Alice needs a revamp. I'm all for a character being arrogant in the beginning, but only if her arrogance is quickly shown to be just that--and she comes to a sort of revelation and humility that makes her that much more appealing to the reader. The greater the arrogance, the sooner that revelation needs to come. Alice's head is so inflated, she needed to trip up much sooner than she has, even in Chapter 2 (cute moment where she's cowering over magic breaking scientific laws notwithstanding).

I think Snape could be very useful here. Instead of being impressed, why is he not cutting this guttersnipe down to size? Where is that snark that could both put Alice in her place and create an interesting professor-student conflict that made him so engaging with The Golden Trio?

Even if you have it in later chapters, you've made her so utterly unappealing now, I can't bring myself to root for her success. Frankly, it doesn't seem like she needs it.

So my suggestion would be to make Alice either less perfect--maybe make her wonderful at muggle things, but all thumbs at magic? That could be some interesting internal conflict as her natural confidence takes a blow--or have Snape be harsher with her. From there, you might have created a more empathetic main character that I would want to follow.

I hope my review helped you see your story in a new light! You're dealing well with multiple characters AND keeping to canon, which is impressive. (My own fanfiction was much less precise and focused around one-on-one conversations.) Keep writing, and remember that nothing's ever set in stone. You can always go back and rewrite. Good luck!

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Review of "Children of Chaos," parts 1-5 (NaNoWriMo)

So I'm writing this review, keeping in mind that this is a work in progress and it's part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so my "deeper" critiques will be saved until it's all finished up.

Overall, it's an engaging story that--if you look past the bits that need polishing and editing because it's a first draft, people--should prove to be a solid addition to the fantasy genre in time. Avatars of the gods who made the world are called to retrieve keys and fulfill a quest to save the world, but (as usual) mortal politicking and emotions cloud the divine plan.

Some random notes for you, reading tasha:

+ Prologue: I'm enjoying your set up of the world, especially Ereb. Favorite line would be "And Ereb fled before the light, but he smiled, for he was no longer alone." He'll be an interesting character and possible antagonist/anti-hero type later, I bet. My only concern here is that you have the three first god/desses emerging from chaos at times--which is Ereb. So is he their father? And why is chaos bad, and why must it flee before the light?

+ 1st & 3rd chapters: Second person POV combined with past tense feels... it's off-putting for a reader. I don't especially enjoy being told what to do, and the combination of "you" plus past tense--as in, I already did what you're telling me I did, so why are you telling me?--creates a tension between you as the writer and us as the reader. Used deftly, this could be a powerful tool, but used as it is now (in its rough draft state), it feels a bit like a make-your-own-adventure story gone wrong. I'm offered no choices, no chance to explore. Try either putting this into first person ("I") or third ("she," I'd guess), OR using present tense in combination with the second person POV ("you walk to the door" vs "you walkED to the door"--former is suggestion and latter is current state), to see how it changes the mood/tone/atmosphere/progression of the story.

+ Grammar note: If you have a piece of dialogue ending in a question, there's no need for a comma (e.g., <"Did you go to school?" she asked> vs <"Did you go to school?", she asked>). All dialogue punctuation should also be inside the quotation marks (e.g., <"I went to school," she said> vs <"I went to school", she said>). Also, generally speaking, pronouns are not capitalized directly following dialogue UNLESS the dialogue properly ends with a period and a new line of action/thought begins as a separate sentence. (An example would be something like <"I went to school," she said> vs <"I went to school today, Grandma." She shook her head, confused. "Why do you ask?"> See the difference? :D)

+ When you go back to edit this draft, consider starting the story at "1st memory," with some woven exposition from "1st chapter" integrated, instead of at 1st chapter itself. I find myself reading 1st memory more easily and understanding what's going on better than wading through 1st chapter.

+ I'm confused about the universe in terms of clothing. Is this a parallel world to our own? If so, would they be wearing the styles found here? Sweatpants, jeans, hoodies--those are all extremely modern pieces of clothing. Every time you describe what someone's wearing, it jolts me out of the story--not due to the description, but because they seem incongruous with the world you've built.

+ Dark walking is a fascinating world structure, and I'd love to hear the story of how she "accidentally" discovered her ability to do so--though that's not a power I would traditionally/stereotypically associate with children of the sun.

+ I think you need to give Kyra's companions greater motivation to go on the quest with her. She's not exactly been welcoming or charming, and from her own monologue, the quest is her redemption--doesn't really have anything to do with the other characters.

+ You also might want to make Kyra more sympathetic as a heroine. Give me a reason to root for her, or at least make me be entertained by her and her mystery. She's been a bit too melodramatic in the intro for my taste--but then, I have the same issue with my own characters. ^^;

My absolute *favorite* part about your story is the different ways the same tale can be retold in different areas. I look forward to seeing the different interpretations--and maybe even the prologue isn't entirely true! Gotta love the unreliable narrator-characters.

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Review of "The Mad Woman," Prologue-Chapter Five

Smiggles16 requested for someone to review her story, so I thought I'd take a look.

I think the best piece of feedback I can give you is the age-old adage of "show, don't tell." Take your prologue. You, as the author, are telling me things about Gemma that can be more easily shown over the course of the narration. Instead of telling us that she "has a terrible mean streak" and "takes everything for granted," put her in situations that show us these qualities.

For example, have her refuse to buy a kid brother an ice cream when his drops, buying herself an extra serving instead. Have her max out her credit card, only to pull out another and tell her shopping companion that it's okay, because Daddy pays it off for her.

These two episodes demonstrate the qualities you told us about--and they mean more because we came to the conclusions of "mean and spoiled" on our own instead of being told to think in a certain way. (I haven't read past the prologue yet, so these situations may not be applicable to your story, but I think you see what I'm trying to convey.)

(....okay, now I've read past the prologue.) If you take moments where you tell us something--John's religious nature, Gemma's criminal history--and expand them into scenes, it would help the story enormously. Well, that, and expand the scenes you already have. Gemma starts punching an old bully (unprovoked) in Chapter Two. Slow down here, describe what's going on in more detail. Make it visceral. Currently, your narrator sounds like a news reporter on the evening news, simply telling us what's happened. Make me feel the crunch of cartilage when fist connects to nose. I want to feel my knuckles ache like Gemma's will after the fight.

And I'd like to know Gemma as a more sympathetic character much sooner in the story. She's behaving irrationally, bratty, and with no real motivation to it beyond an intrinsic need to be mean. It's not until Chapter Four that we get some (unprovoked) self-reflection, and she's welcomed home like the proverbial lost sheep. I haven't really connected with Gemma as a reader of her life. She's the type of person I refuse to associate with, and that's not a person I want to invite into my psyche to tell her story--not unless there's something fascinating going on beneath the surface, like clever plots or mixed signals.

Personally, I don't understand why characters do anything in this story, unfortunately. Why does John stay with her? Why is Gemma nasty? Why in the world do you make John be in a car crash? Gemma should, by her character in the previous chapters, leave him altogether--she wouldn't put in the time to be selfless. Her caring for John in his trouble is out of character and feels forced. Build their relationship so that when it's ripped away, we feel the pain of its loss.

From here, I might work on a couple of things:

+ Break your text into paragraphs. It'll make reading it a lot easier on everyone involved.
+ Sllllooooowwwww doooooowwwwnnnnn. Don't just say, "He looked around like a toddler on the way home." Show me that ride and Gemma's reaction to it. Don't leave "they had a nice family evening" be--how was it nice? Did Gemma slip up in her attitude at all? Was the conversation stilted, or natural? Did John suspect
+ Show why John would stay with someone who's as awful as Gemma is.
+ Show why Gemma is an awful person. Most people have some sort of justification for it, even if it's twisted and doesn't make sense by anyone else's logic. Does she think she deserves greater care? Does she feel like the world's out to get her?

I want to know why you want to tell this story. I want to feel your characters' twisted lives, live out their scenes, and understand who they are and why they are the way they are. Show me the story in your words.

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Review of "The Apothecary Apprentice," first chapter (NaNoWriMo)

So I'm writing this review, keeping in mind that this is a work in progress and it's part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so my "deeper" critiques will be saved until it's all finished up.

Initial Impressions:

+ Whoa, holy switching perspectives, Batman! Massive info dump in the first paragraph was a little hard to follow, especially because I was having difficulty placing who they were speaking to.

+ Interesting premise here. I'm trying to figure out whether an emissary is a spy or a diplomat, but I love the idea that it's solely girls--though I find it surprising that all the authority figures introduced so far are men, when there are no male students. I'd have expected a good mix of genders.

+ I like this heroine more than I thought she would, for someone introduced as the perfect emissary. Still, she's raw enough around the edges to make her sympathetic and empathetic for readers to root for. I think her interaction with Cecelia was flawed, though I can't quite pinpoint how. It didn't seem the best idea to threaten her, especially given that there's no evidence that there actually *are* rumors spreading about her virtue beyond Cecelia's word for it. Having your lady hear the rumors herself and then confront Cecelia, perhaps, might have worked, or simply leaning back on her cultivated persona as "too perfect to touch" while showing us, the readers, her private reactions may have worked better. Something to consider in December at the end of all this, eh?

+ The death of her twin was... startling. I'm surprised she didn't sense there was something wrong before then. Twins--in stories and real life--typically have a bit of a stronger bond than most siblings, and can sense something's wrong sometimes before official word is sent. (A friend of mine knew her twin sister had hurt her arm before she got a phone call, telling her she'd broken it.) I'm also stunned that there wasn't more of a visceral, emotional reaction, considering she'd let her guard down with her uncle in private. She took the news of her twin's death much more coolly than anyone should, particularly an untried girl her age--even if they train emissaries to be impassive as stone. It made her less sympathetic as a character, for her to react comparatively indifferently to the news.

+ The setup for the story--she'll pretend to be her twin and get close to the crown prince who loved her--will be... interesting to see unfold. I'm also curious to see how the spy service or what have you handles the fact that she's been dead and out of communication with her suitor for three days, possibly longer before our Heroine can get into position. I'm really hoping we don't fall into the, "I fell in love with my dead twin's prince suitor but I can't tell him that it's really me and not her!" scenario. I think it'd be more interesting if she fell in love with a different man, but still had to play that role. All sorts of juicy scenes await!

So yeah, I'm looking forward to reading more. I'd still suggest giving your lady lead a bit more vulnerability and emotional reaction. Even if she's cool on the surface, she should never be cool to her readers. I'd also make sure she's got some visible fault somewhere. Perfection is rarely interesting to read. My own heroine, for example, is clumsy. Really, really clumsy. And she's got a temper that she struggles to control. (Not particularly good qualities when you're looking for a job as a failed hero.) She's definitely not perfect, but she's strong--and in some ways, I think her faults add to her strength. She understands what it's like to be weak, and so appreciates her current skills and strength in a way that those characters handed them have difficulty doing at times.

Anyway, definitely a fascinating world you've build, with some interesting rules and concepts. I look forward to learning more about emissaries in general and how you take this story on! Good luck with finishing out the month. :)

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

One Worth Watching—and I don't say that often!

So "Hindsight" is a paranormal mystery that centers around a college girl getting caught up in a serial murder case by a very persistent ghost who will NOT take "no" for an answer. It's a story that's incomplete, but definitely worth following as it's a step above your "usual" online fare:

+ Interesting characters within a few paragraphs' worth of interactions. (I bargain for singing rights, too, though they're mostly limited to my car trips anymore.)

+ The foundational premise was set quickly and deftly, allowing me to understand the relevance of central events even within Chapter One without belaboring the point. (e.g., the glasses breaking)

+ Solid pacing and plot construction—I knew where we were going, but still wanted to get there.

+ Natural conversations that are entertaining, engaging, and manage to "dump" some exposition without feeling bulky.

The reason I didn't give this text a full 5 stars is that because for all its promise, it's got some (nebulous) work to do before I'd consider it to be "complete," even with the two chapters that are out. The sentences could use some tightening and pizazz, a few of the expository paragraphs could be tweaked for better flow, a snappier hook/summary for readers—these things would polish & perfect an already damn-good product. Grab a solid beta reader and have them articulate these gut-feelings I've got from a brief reading.

I'm also feeling a little like I've read this story before. (Meg Cabot's Mediator series springs to mind.) That doesn't meant this story isn't fabulous; I'd just hoped for something a little bit different from the "Girl sees ghosts and doesn't want to but is occasionally forced to help out and look she's now in trouble because of it!" sort of pattern.

Again, that's not *bad*, per se, but just something worth noting. I'll be looking forward to see where this story goes from here.

Read the story now
Overall Rating
Plot
Writing Style
Grammar Punctuation

Prologue of "The Knell" (Nanowrimo)

So I'm writing this review, keeping in mind that this is a work in progress and it's part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so my "deeper" critiques will be saved until it's all finished up.

Initial impressions:

+ Great place to start a story! Wow. Torturing to get information out of the male protagonist (who I assume is the man who turns the female protagonist's life upside down referenced in the snippet?).

+ The dialogue is a bit stilted yet, and the tone shifts from formal to informal ("Let this serve as a lesson..." to "Okay," for example) while speaking. Something to keep in mind as you continue.

+ Prologue certainly makes me curious to see where this goes, though I'm guessing the first chapter is going to be a bit slower compared to the prologue.

+ Female Protagonist really needs to shine, to be worthy of this sort of devotion. I hope she's not a Mary Sue.

Good luck, and keep writing!

Read the story now
3rd Place in NaNoWriMo

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.