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A delightfully harsh new world
I like the beginning overall. It sets a good tone and starts in a manner that piques the interest to an extent. We rapidly learn interesting new things about the character and the world. It’s a great pace for a short story. There are a lot of fun and clever ideas and the reader is well manipulated into feeling for Pierre before the end. It’s a great introduction to the world that continues in the next story.
It might be interesting to read about a less directly related character between the two stories, though. Give people a chance to get over Pierre before Lamia’s tough choices come at them hard.
In terms of constructive criticism:
From the beginning, I noticed a tendency toward slippage of tense. It might be good to go over the tense with a fine-tooth comb just to be safe.
There’s also an unnecessary causal tone that creeps in near the beginning. “You know,” etc. This kind of tone is an interesting technique for a story told constantly in a casual, intimate manner but it makes for a disruption otherwise and detracts from the general style used in this case.
All-in-all, a good read! Keep up the good work.
In response to your feedback request
I have to admit, I had a hard time reading this story as I generally avoid anything written in present tense unless it's temporary or extremely descriptive which might draw me in. That said, I think you have a very clean, neat writing style that can make this kind of perspective work. if you can give readers a reason to continue along.Read the story now
In perusing the first chapter, I have some ideas on why a publisher might not take to this story. Please accept these thoughts as criticism from a publishing perspective, rather than artistic.
First of all, there are a lot of unnecessarily big words, right off the bat. As an Anne McCaffrey fan, I have no issue with using your vocabulary and challenging readers to extend theirs but when you are just beginning to build the bond with a reader, this can feel a lot like a boast of the author's intelligence or that you are looking down upon them. We have to remember that readers may not have the same relationship with the English language that we do as writers and that being kind to them, especially in the opening moments that will determine their desire to continue reading or not, is essential. Publishers are only interested in whether or not a story will sell. They don't care about your artistic integrity.
(Note: I am probably guilty of this to an extent, myself so I apologize if this feedback seems hypocritical.)
That brings me to the second point. The formatting is unusual and while I understand your reasons and the artistic choice, it's too sudden and breaks a reader's concentration right from the beginning.
I feel like the first chapter could use some easing into before waxing poetic and then messing with formatting before dropping a miscarriage on the reader. Again, these might be deliberate choices but a publisher will look at how this makes a reader feel and if they will want to buy the book or not. These kinds of philosophical challenges are more suited to poetry than to engaging people in a story which has a long way yet to go.
One last note:
“Your mom and I, we made this deal, see. She was about to lose you, and she cried out for help from anyone who might be listening. Lucifer didn't see any way to benefit from it, selfish bastard. What most humans call God...I'll explain later...wasn't interested in you at all, being as you would've been recycled and reborn as someone else, so I stepped in after consulting with...um...Him.”
This kind of block exposition is great for a TV series like Supernatural but in a book you want to spread it out and give people time to chew over ideas. There are better ways to establish the callousness of a character than to drop world-setting bombs on your audience all at once.
Basically, I think this story could have potential for a younger audience so you might consider toning down the language and vocab a little if your goal is to get a publisher on board. Think about the first impression you need to make rather than the one you want to make. You can play with your writing further into the story if you feel it lacks unique style.
That said, this is your story and if you simply can't adapt such elements of it, then self-publishing is always an option. Just remember, a publisher is concerned with a product, not a work of art.
Observation on the opening & some food for thought
Hi Vanessa. This comment is a little unusual for feedback but it's based on something my musical theatre course instructor once told me about an audition piece that has stuck with me very strongly ever since, and I believe it applies to writing as well.
It was an audition class and we were performing pop songs that week. I chose to sing the song "My Immortal" as I have won many competitions with it. The feedback I got was wonderful. He said it was the best performance he had ever seen from me. Then he told me never ever to sing it at an audition.
I was baffled until he explained "The very first lyrics will guarantee that your audience will disconnect right away."
The first line of My Immortal is:
I'm so tired of being here
At first I was angry. I thought, "Don't be ridiculous! They're just lyrics! No-one is going to take a cue from them!"
But then I realized that the whole point of music, and of stories, is to court empathy from your audience. Everyone has had times when they have felt bored or tired and wished they were elsewhere. It's a very easy empathetic reaction to court. It's also the least desirable empathetic reaction with which to begin a story.
"Carlos Ventresca had stopped paying attention to his teacher’s lecture a long time ago, regardless of his seat in the front row. He clenched his teeth shut and stifled a yawn. Of all the advanced courses his parents were forcing him to take in this private school, A.P. Physics had to be the least interesting."
That was what i felt all over again when I read this opening passage.
I know this wasn't the kind of feedback you asked for, but I feel it is a very important and much-overlooked point in writing because first impressions will decide whether or not a person continues to read and then they will color memories of the story throughout intervals of reading and decide whether or not a person returns to a story.
Of course, only you can decide if this opening is essential to your story, or not, so I make no suggestions. My goal is only to share an observation.
One more note. Please count how many times your sentences start with "He" or "His" out of the total 6 sentences in this paragraph. Finding new ways to order your sentences will improve the flow of your story immensely.
"He had harbored a dream of becoming an author for years. He even started writing his first novel at age six. He had been so proud of it he decided to give the first uncompleted draft to his parents to read and comment. His mother had smiled sweetly and criticized his mistakes gently, her blue eyes shining with pride. All in all, she had been encouraging of the hobby. His father on the other hand, had all but gone into a flying rage."