Jeff

I'm a truck driver from Texas. I have many hobbies, but writing has always held a special place for me.

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Grammar Punctuation

Just needs some polish

Mandatory disclaimer: not a professional writer or editor.

I want to start with a couple of simple grammar issues:

When hyphenating a word, don’t put a space around the hyphen: red-headed, not red – headed.

Alighted means to dismount or come down from. It is very commonly misused to mean lit up or gaze upon, i.e.: Her eyes alighted at the sight of her uncle. The correct usage would be: We alighted from our carriage.

Unless you are using European English, you should say toward, not towards. The same goes for other similar words such as backward, forward, etc. I didn’t see any other distinct European spellings or phrases, so I can’t say definitively if this applies to you.

With those tidbits out of the way, I’ll get to the meat of my review. To start with, you really love your metaphors. To be fair, they’re really good, but man, there are a lot of them. That’s something you’ll want to tone down drastically as it becomes distracting really fast. On a similar note, your sentences are far too long. Or, rather, there are too many long sentences. I’m not averse to semicolons; they serve a purpose. However, if you have a sentence with several commas and a semicolon, just make it more than one sentence. Every now and then, throw in a few shorter sentences to give the reader a chance to take a mental breath. They’ll thank you for it.

I want to call your attention to your language. You obviously have an excellent vocabulary, but that seems to get you into a bit of trouble. There are a lot of needless words that seem to exist only for the sake of existing. Also, you have some places where you repeat yourself, just with different words. I’ll give you an example.

Shadows seeped into the waning light of dusk, a reminder that night was swift on its way.

So here you say the waning light of dusk. We all know dusk to be the time before night, so to include the waning light, you are redundant. The same goes for: a reminder that night was swift on its way. Telling us it’s dusk also tells us that. As a writer, our role is to make sure every word we write counts. The more filler we add, the less engaging the story becomes. This one is a super easy fix, though. Just remove the reference to dusk.

Shadows seeped into the waning light, a reminder that night was swiftly on its way.

Next, you use too many ‘ing’ words. It muddles the line between past and present tense without actually causing tense confusion. It’s more distracting than grammatically wrong. Anything that detracts from the reader’s experience should be avoided or included sparingly.

What little dialogue there is in chapter one is followed by too much action and description. With very few exceptions, dialogue should be its own paragraph. It’s okay to use simple action as dialogue attribution but keep it short. It’s also occasionally okay to add a little action, then continue with the dialogue in the same paragraph so long as the speaker doesn’t change. Dialogue formatting is probably the most consistent issue I see when I read. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, he said, she said.

The last thing I want to call your attention to is scene transition. Your paragraphs don’t flow naturally from one to the next, and I found myself re-reading them to try and piece the narrative together. Sometimes it was a clunky segue, sometimes it was misplaced details. Since you’re creating the story, it’s easy to forget the reader doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. Make sure to stay cognizant of the reader and make the narrative as easy to understand as possible.

Overall, this isn’t bad. You have a lot of tools in your toolbox and fallen into the trap of trying to use them all. This only needs a liberal application of the delete key, and some restructuring to be a very good read. I always re-write some of the text I review to illustrate the points I make. I don’t want that to make me seem presumptuous, but it has always helped me to see the advice I’ve received put into action (the one professional editor I worked with was brutal). This has the makings of an excellent story. Whether you use my advice or not, keep writing. You clearly have the ability.

EXAMPLE RE-WRITE
Shadows seeped into the waning light, a reminder that night wasn’t far off. A harsh wind blew. It swept through the empty streets, whipping up dead leaves and litter. A slender figured curled up against the wall of an empty bakery shivering, but not from the uncaring wind. Midnight curls fell down her cheek and clung to the arch of her neck. Her crystalline eyes, which rarely showed emotion, were glazed over with horror. They stared, unblinking, at the flashing screen in her hand.

“It’s not possible,” Elizabeth breathed.

Her throat tightened, and her heart beat an unsteady rhythm in her chest. The silence which met her words was deafening, malicious even. The screen seemed to flash brighter, mocking her.

“I’m dreaming,” she said in a ragged hiss.

Shivers raced down her spine as dread breathed ice into her soul. The bitter wind beat at her, bringing her back to her senses. A grimace pulled at Elizabeth’s lips, and she clenched her jaw. She steeled herself and, as if time moved at half speed, read the words on the screen and saw the gruesome image.

I killed him for you, moya lyubov.

A scream rose in her throat, and she flung the phone away. The light of the screen blinked out as it cracked, taking the words with it. But they remained, seared into the back of her eyelids as she closed her eyes against reality. Her world spiraled into a familiar chasm of darkness, and she slumped against the rough brick for support.

Not again, not again, not again.

SO THAT’S JUST AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE POINTS I MADE EARLIER. I HOPE THIS IS HELPFUL AND THE CHANGES I MADE ARE APPARENT. AGAIN, KEEP WRITING, AND THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US!

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Needs work, but will be a good read in time!

Mandatory disclaimer: not a professional writer or editor.
I’m going to skip over the poem at the beginning and start with the prologue. I can tell what you’re going for here, but it misses the mark a bit. When a writer tries too hard to inject emotion into the prose, it feels forced and distracts from any storytelling that’s going on. Also, when the piece flows from one deep emotion to the next, it overloads the reader. Let the depth of feeling come out naturally, and give the reader a break once in a while.

The story is written in the first person, but there are a lot of third-person observations going on. Make sure that the reader only gets the information the narrator knows. If the narrator is guessing as to certain aspects, make sure to make that plain. Also, there is a mix of present tense and past tense throughout. That’s a big no-no. My opinion has always been to steer clear of present tense storytelling, though it seems to be in vogue at the moment. I’m probably just an old fuddy-duddy that can’t get with the times on that point. The important take-away is to stay in the same tense throughout the story. The one exception is dialogue. Since dialogue is happening in the now, the present tense can be appropriate.

You seem to be aiming for a high-brow style of writing, which is fine, but like the emotion, it doesn’t really work. I don’t want to tear the story down, but mechanically, it needs a lot of work. The best way to demonstrate what needs to be changed would be a line edit with copious commenting. Since that isn’t an option in a review, I’m going to rewrite the entire prologue. Without trying to sound like a know-it-all, I want you to compare it with your original. It is up to you which you prefer, but try to focus on the technical changes I make. Whether you maintain your current artistic style or not, technical correctness will serve you well in the future. The more you know how to write, the more you will understand when it’s appropriate to break the rules.

One other VERY IMPORTANT thing. Nearly every sentence is passive. I would urge you to read up on passive voice verses active voice. I can’t think of a quicker way to turn off a read than excessive passive voice.

PROLOGUE REWRITE

It all started the day I met her. Her eyes, shining like the stars, captivated me. They exuded calmness, but underneath those long, luxurious lashes I sensed something else. They were the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. The way they seemed to change shades when she turned her head enthralled me. Ocean blue one moment, then navy, now baby. No, now they looked nearly purple. Those eyes defied reason, and I loved them.

She looked confident in her apparent confusion. Like she didn’t care what anyone thought about her, and I was desperate to know what she was thinking. Her manner told me there’d be no secrets with her. She was an open book, but to me, the words were faded and incomprehensible. I wanted to bring them back to life, to know…her.

She was young, maybe too young. Her pink, supple lips spread ever so slightly as she drew in breath. Light reflected off her pale skin. She seemed so innocent, so pure. I had to have her, to chase her down and explore the mystery that she was. But, was she too young for me?

The demon stirred in me. It didn’t care about age or purity, only the chase. Before it could take hold, I left. The bluest eyes in the world haunted my thoughts as I fled.

Ok, so that’s just an example. You’ll notice it’s shorter than the original (I didn’t run a word count but it seems shorter,) even though I took a few liberties with the story. It leaves out information that the narrator simply can’t know, and would be too unreasonable to guess at.

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This Story Has Potential

Mandatory disclaimer: I'm not a professional writer or editor. Please take my advice with a grain of salt. I'll start by providing some specific comments on how I think your writing can improve, then I'll rewrite the first couple of paragraphs to try and highlight those comments. While our writing styles differ, I hope I am able to help you. If I come off as presumptuous, or snotty, please know that is not the spirit in which this review is intended.

I want to first address the fact that this is a rough draft. I understand the desire to put your words out into the world as soon as they hit the page, and I certainly know that no first draft is complete, or even terribly clean. But, the way your story is presented is somewhat confusing. It is hard to follow because of the way the information is presented. It feels disorganized, which is likely because you are a discovery writer, like me. You start with a blank page, then just let it rip. Take some time when you complete a chapter to read it thoroughly and restructure as needed, even if you don't change the words.

When you have dialogue, make sure to format it correctly, and separate it from the rest of the prose. This is one of the most common issues I come across. If you use an action as dialogue attribution, only use a sentence or two. Any more than that, and it muddles the text. You can also use small actions in a separate paragraph to break up large blocks of dialogue and give the reader time to rest.

Another common issue I notice is misplaced and overdone descriptions. Only give the reader what is necessary for the scene and let them fill in the blanks. Pepper in more detail as the story unfolds. It lets the reader discover the character organically, and doesn't drag down the experience. Also, make sure there is a reason for describing something other than, hey look at this. Use actions and thoughts as a vehicle to engage the reader in the description rather than have them skip over it entirely. Make them so afraid they're going to miss something that they don't want to skim a single sentence. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, and I fight hard to prevent it.

I want to take a moment to commend you on one aspect of writing that so many newcomers and experienced writers fail at. Your restraint with regard to adverbs is admirable. I couldn't sense the presence of them, which means you are doing an excellent job with that. When adverbs are overdone, they become distracting. Excellent work there.

Going back to dialogue for a moment, make sure you let the reader know who is speaking as early as is practical. You want the reader to focus on the words, not trying to figure who's saying them.

Honestly, if you cleared up those few issues, mainly the structure and formatting, you would have a great story. I can tell you've put time into the plot, backstory, and characters. Just put that same passion into the technical aspect of the process, and you'll have a page-turner. I really want to read the rest of this story, and hope you go back over it.

Now, I'm going to rewrite a small portion of it. When I was a new writer, having someone rewrite my words and showing me how much better they could be (please don't take that the wrong way) was invaluable.

Example:

"Must this cursed thing be so tight?" I swore.

Odette pulled the strings of the corset tighter. "You have to look like a princess. Which means you can't go gallivanting around in trousers."

I slapped her hand away and didn't miss the look of annoyance on her face. Oh well, she'll get over it, I thought. When I checked my reflection in the mirror I saw the corset had already done its job. I now sported a perfect hourglass figure. Could Odette have been screwing with me, pulling on the strings like that.? No, she wasn't that brazen.

I looked to the immaculate emerald green gown, the same color as my eyes. I would assuredly look like a princess in that thing, but my nobility was only skin deep. It was my gifts that made me special, not my lineage. A princess on the outside, a worthless peasant on the inside. Of course, in the realm, it was what people saw that mattered.

I'll stop there because it, hopefully, illustrates my points. Those paragraphs flow from one to another and don't feel disjointed. Also, the dialogue formatting lets you experience the dialogue. One other thing I want to point out is how much more detail I added. All of what I wrote came from just the first paragraph of your story. By adding small actions and thoughts you can create a greater depth of character.

I extrapolated Lilith's behavior from what I read in the chapter, and if I got her personality right that is a credit to you. I definitely feel like I got a sense of her character.

Before I end this review I want to call your attention to one more thing. Be very careful of flashbacks. It's okay to use them on occasion, but make sure you segue into them as gracefully as possible, Just titling a section of that chapter,Odette's Memories, isn't going to cut it. I hope I don't sound immodest here, but refer to chapter one of Stone Singer and see how I worked in Aedon's flashback. It's not the only way to it, to be sure, but it's the way that worked for me.

I truly hope you go back over this story. It is intriguing, and I very much want to continue reading it!

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Plot
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Good start, but needs work

I'm going to start the way I always start. I'm an amateur just like you. Please feel free to ignore any or all of my advice. If I come across as harsh, please know that it is not the spirit in which this review is intended.
The plot is interesting, but it is difficult to follow because the writing is pretty dry and simplistic.
I'm only going to focus on the first paragraph for my feedback, as all the following paragraphs suffer from the same underlying issues. When writing a story, it is crucial to let the reader feel like he/she is experiencing what is happening. We do this by showing, not telling, and by presenting the information and events more informally.
Your story feels like an essay on what I did over the summer. It tells us what is happening from one beat to the next, giving us no chance to experience the events. Imagine reading a police report about a mugging, as opposed to watching a YouTube video of the same mugging. One is an experience, while the other is just the facts listed on paper.
I'm going to write your first paragraph verbatim, one sentence at a time, then identify issues and offer some potential solutions.
(1) I woke up in the middle of the night; panting and sweating like I ran a full marathon, when in reality I had been fast asleep in my bedroom.
You want to be careful with 'ing' words. There is nothing inherently wrong with them except, like adverbs, they are easy to overuse.

When using metaphors and similes, you don't need to follow with: when in reality. A metaphor necessarily breaks from reality. We know the protagonist didn't actually run a marathon, so we don't need to recall the reader to reality.
The reader will also naturally assume you are in your bedroom. You should only offer a detail if it is vital or contrary to expectation. For instance, if you woke up in your car, you could tell us that.
An alternate way to write this could be:
I woke up in the middle of the night, panting and sweating. It felt like I'd just run a marathon.
(2) My memory foam pillow still drenched in sweat and the abstract print bed-sheet had swept from under me and lay there on the floor.
This sentence is a grammatical mess, as well as clunky. First, does the reader need to know the pillow is memory foam, and the sheet has an abstract print? These details might reveal something about your character, but always ask yourself if the information is relevant. Next, make sure you are punctuating correctly. This sentence seems to say that both the pillow and sheet are now on the floor, but it is unclear. Last, how has the sheet been swept from under you? You also don't need to say: there on the floor. Just say, on the floor. This a great chance to engage your readers and make them feel like they're there with you.
An alternate way to write this might be:
I looked at the floor where my pillow and sheet now lay. The stains on the memory foam showed just how much I'd tossed and turned. It must have been violent to drag the sheet from underneath me. The crumpled fabric made it impossible to identify the abstract print I knew so well.
(3) I could feel my heart throbbing against my chest and all I could do was reach for the bottle of water.
Here is an excellent example of telling instead of showing. Don’t tell us you could feel your heart throbbing. Just say it throbbed. Also, break these up into two sentences. Be careful of calling the reader’s attention to an object with definite articles. By saying the bottle of water, you are referring to a specific bottle of water, which implies you have already introduced us to a bottle of water in the scene. Use the indefinite article, a or an, or better yet, give us a little more detail about the water that makes its appearance less mysterious.
Another way to write this could be:
My heart throbbed, and my chest ached. All I could do was reach for the bottle of water on my nightstand.

This is getting pretty long, so I’ll stop here. Don’t be discouraged. This is a good start, and I like the premise. I would recommend reading up on style in writing to get a better grasp of the presentation. Also, read stories you like to write and try to incorporate some of the author’s style into your own. It will only help you improve.

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Overall Rating
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The writing needs polish

I'm going to start the review with a few pointers, then I'll focus on a couple of paragraphs, I tell everyone that I'm not a professional writer or editor, so take my advice with a grain of salt. These are just my observations as an amateur.

The first thing I want to call your attention to is your POV. You mention it's third-person, but remember there are two types of third-person POV: third-person omniscient, and third-person limited. Your story seems to be third-person omniscient which is fine, but you need to be careful of head-hopping. Make sure every time you leave one character's mind, you clearly define for the reader whose mind you're going into next.

A little nitpicky note: the past tense of stride is strode, not strided. I call your attention to this because it happens in the first sentence of the story. Such an early gaffe turns a reader off in a hurry.

Take some time to read about passive voice vs active voice, The first chapter is inundated with passive voice prose, and it takes away from the reading experience. Passive voice is when the action is happening to something as opposed to active voice when the action is being done by something. They can easily be identified by the overuse of was, will be, could be, going to be, have, has been, etc. I don't remember where I read it, but I read somewhere that your prose shouldn't contain more than 4% passive voice. It's an easy trap to fall into, and I'm guilty of it as well.

Try to avoid block-description of your characters. Large segments of descriptions are not only dry but pull the reader out of the story. I understand the temptation to reveal how amazing and wonderful a character is, but beyond just revealing what he/she looks like, there needs to be a reason for the description, and you should find a compelling way to provide it.

For example:
The teacher had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and the most startling smile. She wore a grey pants suit and black pumps.

That's a pretty dry description. If you feel like you just have to get it out all at once, try to make it engaging.

The teacher's long blonde hair, though luxurious, didn't mesh with the boring grey pants suit she liked to wear. She wore black pumps, probably to hide her intimidating height. But her smile, the most dazzling I'd ever seen, was what drew me in. And those blue eyes—an ocean I would happily drown in.

This lets the reader into the POV character's mind as he/she looks at the teacher and reveals character information about both of them. The teacher is beautiful and is trying to hide it, and the POV character lusts after the teacher. It gives a reason to provide the description other than, hey look at how beautiful this woman is.

The last point I want to make before moving onto your specific text is formatting dialogue. Be sure to separate your dialogue from your prose as much as possible. If you want/need to use an action as dialogue attribution, use only what's needed. If the action is going to be more than a sentence or two, put it in a new paragraph, except in very rare cases.

Okay, I lied. I want to make one more point regarding POV. When your story opens, it does so with two generic cops. You want to get the reader involved with your characters as soon as possible, let us know who's walking into that office. Don't wait to reveal the players in the game.

Now, on to your specific text. With my previous points in mind, I will rewrite a couple of paragraphs to illustrate what I'm saying. Bear in mind that these are only suggestions, and I have a definite writing style. I'm not saying my way is the only way to write, but I hope you find my suggestions helpful, and they lead to a more engaging story. I won't call your attention to any specific changes I make. I want you to compare them to your own writing and see which you prefer. If you have any questions, feel free to post on my wall, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Shit, one more point. Use 'ing' words sparingly. When writing past tense, you want to avoid present tense verb use, for the most part. The fewer 'ing' words you use the more impactful they will be, just like adverbs.

Double shit! You also want to avoid using dialogue as exposition dumps. It is a useful place to drop exposition, just make it occurs organically within the dialogue.

Now, on to the example—for real this time.

Officer Klein and his partner strode into the massive office like they owned the place. They didn't have a warrant, but the receptionist invited them in so they were covered, legally. The man who sat behind the gaudy desk pulled a cigarette from his mouth and smirked at them. The motion emphasized his chiseled jawline.

"I'm officer Walsh, and this is my partner, officer Klien," Officer Walsh said. "I'm sure you know why we're here."

The man behind the desk narrowed his powder-blue eyes. "I do, but I'd prefer if officer Klien asked the questions."

The two cops looked at each other, It was an odd request, but neither of them saw any reason to deny it.

"Very well," Klien said. "For the record, you are Xavier Winter, CEO of Winter Corp?"

"Yes, I am," Xavier said. "An you are Jase Klien unless I'm much mistaken.

Jase rocked back a little, startled that this man knew who he was. With his money, though, it wasn't too surprising he'd know who was investigating his wife's murder.

"The coroner puts your wife's time of death around one in the morning," Jase said. "Can you tell me if you were with her at that time?"

"That's a stupid question, Officer Klein," Xavier said. "If I was, why would I ever admit to it?"

"He's just gonna jerk our chains," Walsh said. "I'm going to go talk with the secretary. Have fun with this guy."

Jase waited for his partner to leave the room before continuing his questioning. He sat down opposite Xavier and leaned on the glass desktop. The tension weighed on him so he turned it inward and used it to fuel his words.

"You don't seem to be that broken up by your wife's death, Winter," he said.

So, that's just a small example of what I'm referring to. See if you can identify how my points got us from your original to that example. I obviously took some liberties, but my intent is not to hijack your story. I've found a lot of really intriguing stories her on Inkitt that only lack a few hits with a writing stick to be really good. Yours is one of those. I would highly recommend reading up on writing style and focus on the technical side of your craft. It will only serve to make your good ideas great stories.

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