M. Kuriel

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We all know what the road to hell is paved with...

Overall, an interesting short story.

The Good: Clear premise and succinct narrative. Thought provoking.
The Meh: Odd descriptions, vague ending.
The Ugly: Obvious head-hop without transition in the second part.

I'll highlight and send specific feedback, but the best thing I can really say about this story is I stopped for a moment and said, "Man, it really sucks to be that guy." Which means you created reader sympathy which is never a bad thing.

Within my highlighted responses you'll see suggestions for showing rather than telling, sentences that didn't make sense, where the head hopping happened without transition, and suggestions for tightening up the prose.

Overall, well done! Keep up with your writing!

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Part One of a Larger Story

A captivating 'coming of age' YA story.

The Good: Rousing characters and an intriguing source of conflict.
The Meh: Very slow start, minor logic issues, and a "Novella" quandry
The Ugly: Minor technical mistakes.

The Good are the reasons to read this story:

Rousing Characters - Let me preface this by pointing out that I'm not saying, "Compelling" or "Likable" characters. The MC gets under my skin. You might find yourself thinking, "That's not good... the MC should be likable." Most of the time, you'd think right. I found the MC irritatingly childish and inconsistent. As soon as I realized this, I used awareness of that reaction as an opportunity to learn and grow. Which, to me, is a reason to read fiction. Some other goods: It made her character more engaging and was easily justified by the story's source of conflict... and was very likely what made it a 'coming of age' story.

Conflict - I really like the mystery here - gives the story re-read value since the conflict provides a good explanation for A LOT. Stating exactly what the conflict is, however, would probably be a spoiler for some readers, so I'm not including it up here.

The Meh are my own subjective dislikes - things that are only correct or incorrect based on Point of View.

Slow Start - This story didn't engage and capture my attention until chapter 4. After that, however, I couldn't stop reading..
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Minor Logic Issues - I won't go into specifics because I recognize that most of these 'issues' might only be exist because of how I understand life. Also, there's nothing there that's out of place in YA or for the characters.

Novella - This reads like part one of an incomplete novel. In order for it to truly be a Novella, it would have to *resolve* a specific conflict. Each plot point would advance that conflict and there would be an *ending.* Instead, I felt like I got 85% of a story.

The Ugly are the errors that could cause confusion or dissatisfaction in readers.

Minor technical mistakes: They're few and far between, but there if you pay attention; head hopping, tense confusion, and grammar and punctuation errors. I noticed far more in the initial chapters than elsewhere in the story.

***Thar's Spoilers beyond this point, ye've been warned***

I really enjoyed what was, to me, the main *source* of conflict in the story: the MC's a long way from home. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she went into a parallel dimension where she didn't exist. Unlike Dorothy, she had to lock away the part of her that remembered home.
For me, it explained why the first few chapters read like a prolonged information dump - she had to fabricate a backstory when she arrived. You might think, "Man, that's ambitious. Did the author really intend that for the first few chapters?" Man, I hope so. It explains why, as a reader, I felt so disconnected from the MC; if I stop and view the first three chapters as some part of the MC sitting and crafting an identity into which to drop herself before she actually does, it all makes sense to me. The writer's style choices became an interesting side effect justified by the narrative.
And then you might find yourself thinking, "How much will she change? How much of the main character is the tiny aspect created to exist here? How much different did she choose to be and why?"
My main source of dissatisfaction is that I didn't get those answers. I hope this makes you dance and cheer, dear author, because it means that someone read your story and wants more. Which means they'll read more and hopefully validates that you're doing well with your storytelling.

Best of luck with your writing,
-M. Kuriel

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Unedited Demonic Paladin Erotica

A quick, easy read featuring R.A. Salvatore style combat and a basic exploration of the difference between love, possessiveness, and desire.

The Good: 90% of what's on the page is directly pertinent to the story. Interesting way to contrast seemingly opposing viewpoints.

The Meh: There's no real resolution. Fairly predictable plot.

The Ugly: Technical writing skills.

First: Proofread, Edit, Proofread, and then Edit again. Read sentences out loud. Copy and paste individual sentences into blank documents and pick them apart for tone, grammar, punctuation, etc... I lost track of the number of sentences with missing, misused, or redundant words. The story length could probably be halved just by eliminating redundancies.

Second: If you're going to describe that much combat, choreograph. Have friends act it out or act it out yourself. Many of the detailed descriptions fail based on logic, physics, and tactics. One example that hits all three: The fight with the Lord Commander. Even without increased speed and strength, he was described as easily twice her size and weight; there's no way she's going to knock him on his back while he's braced unless he threw the fight - which he cannot do logically. So her tactic would be to unbalance him first, and then knock him on his back. Tactics he would know to expect since he's (probably) watched the whole of her training.

Finally, you have a long, redundant exploration of a complicated, emotional topic without a resolution. Unless, of course, you're saying that the only way to reconcile misunderstandings about love and lust involve sexual bonding and slavery. Which, I don't think you do, mainly because the first external threat to that solution tore it apart almost instantly.

Last thoughts: You tell an engaging and detailed story - I particularly appreciated that you didn't burden me with tons of unnecessary backstory. Hone your craft just a little bit and there's no reason why you can't deliver five star epics.

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Lost me in chapter one

A long flashback that is meant to tell the story of why Zildjan walked the broken post-Apocalypse wastelands.

The Good: Clear transitions. Consistent characters. Few grammar mistakes.
The Meh: Anachronisms. Telling style. "Killing solves all problems."
The Ugly: Initial anti-hook. Dialogue circles. No resolution.

More on the Good:
Transitions: It's very easy to tell what's a dream, read from a computer screen, dialogue, and narrative.
Characters: There are very few, all serve a clear purpose to the narrative and remain consistent from start to finish.
Grammar: The few mistakes I noticed could easily be cleared up with simple proofread techniques.

The 'Meh' are generally things that don't appeal to me personally, i.e. nothing actionable unless they appear in multiple reviews.
Anachronisms: Entry blurb states that the year is 3450 but the content of the story makes it seem a generation or two removed from a 20 year-long near total Apocalypse that started in 2040.
Style: Long info-dumps. Telling descriptions that mean that the narrator talks directly to the reader (although this was made much more tolerable because we learn in chapter 1 that the MC is telling his story to someone else).
Death as a Resolution: Kill everything just doesn't appeal to me as a way to solve *all* conflicts - even if it is justified by the story's circumstances.

'The Ugly' are Issues that, IMO, are significant flaws within the story.
The Hook - Chapter 1 is meant to draw the reader in, inform us of the central conflict, and get us invested in the characters. There are unclear descriptions, talking dead, Point-of-view hopping, and a disconnected voice. Which means that, rather than being hooked into the story, I seriously considered stopping with chapter 1.
Dialogue Circles - Several conversations rambled on and on and were as unconvincing and directionless as they were long.
Resolution: There's no clear ending to this story, just the promise of more.

There's a little bit of disconnect between what's promised in the blurb and chapter 1 and what happens in the story. My first read through of chapter one was confusing - but it made a little more sense after getting through the rest of the story (I'll highlight and send some specific things that make no sense no matter how I read them). I have to conclude that chapter 1 is meant to start a series of stories, not just the one told in this book.

Keep writing, which is to say, Edit, Edit, Edit! You have a talent for telling stories that will only grow stronger the more you write and polish what you write.

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