Breaking and Mending Hearts
After reading your novel and finishing with your final note, I ended up smiling through my tears. Thank God for giving you the ability and the creativity to craft such a magical novel, and to take your readers on a ride aboard the grand Titanic.
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This review is my thoughts and opinion about your novel- which are a lot- regarding everything, so excuse the length, for I tend to be thorough.
For me, the story started in chapter 2, when I learnt that Daniel had passed away and Sierra was mourning her loss. At first, the events were slow and I found myself wanting to get on-board and hear the events through Sierra's voice already. The way you wrote your letters varied between being able to pour events and show them colorfully to the point that I got entranced and forgot that it was a letter, and between narrating events where emotions could've been conveyed in a rich way with better phrasing of sentences. It felt as it took you some time to relax into writing, and that's why showing and not telling as well as dialogues appeared through the middle of a lot of chapters. Sometimes I thought that maybe the fact that Sierra is writing letters is what's limiting her to express her feelings, and it felt weird when she wrote about her night with Henri after the confession in the form of a letter to her father.
Your characters are amazing and intriguing!! Starting from our lady, Ms. Sierra Charmonte who had the curiousity of a kid, the determination and guts of a warrior, and an ocean of pure love for everybody in her life. I love that you gave her a background and showed us her past in Philippines, then showed how her memory is linked to her curiosity. You made her into a high-class lady who didn't care about classes, and that's how her interactions with her beloved Jane and Alec were so rich yet nonchalant.
As much as Sierra was confused about her feelings toward Henri and Alec, I was confused too. But with the additional chapters of Henri's memories- btw that guy is my favorite character- and their intimate interactions later into the story, it felt that Sierra's bond with Henri is much stronger and deeper than hers with Alec.
Jane was adorable, caring, and cherishing her best and only friend. Ms. Abram was very strict that I might pull my hair out if she was my mentor, but I understand her overprotective behavior toward Sierra. Alec sounded wicked at first and I felt he was hiding something ever since he showed up out of the blue. But, for him to be betrothed to Sierra, that was unexpected, and I must congratulate you 'cause you did a great job hiding it. See, when I learnt all that, my heart broke. Because Alec gave up on her even though he knew she's his destined person, and that meant to me that he loved her truly because he wanted Sierra to be happy with the person she chose.
Now, to Mr. Heartbreaker. Chapter 27 is my favorite because Henri broke my heart that instant. Sierra's and Henri's love was evident. Their pain. Their heartbreak. I felt every bit of it. When I learnt Sierra was betrothed, it broke my heart. Her happiness was bound to someone she doesn't know (well at that moment.)
I know, mixed emotions and everything.
I wonder if I'm making sense anymore. The flow of the story was so smooth and the idea of the Titanic was capturing that I couldn't put the story down. The way you described every nook and hall and deck of Titanic, and the way you built tension for the scene of wrecking the ship, it was all so magical. I declare myself a horrified passenger on the ship. That 'INK SPLATTERS' was the beginning of the heartbreak. BTW, nice phrasing.
Then there was that moment when Henri died, and I felt that Sierra's reaction was kind of delayed. That was a moment where you could've described Sierra's voice, the ache of her heart. Her screams that should've rattled through her being. I teared up a bit, but in this scene, you could've made readers cry.
By the time I reached chapter 46, I started begging for a happy ending because Sierra suffered a lot of pain, and I'm really glad she got it.
I loved your story, and there's a sentence that made
me think 'That's me!' Quoting you from chapter 44, "Once I love someone, I will tell and show them how much for in a blink of an eye, it can be gone."
It's evident how much effort- how much of your soul and heart you poured into crafting this piece. Yes, it's a piece of art where I could hear and feel most of it. I like how invested you were in the history of the past days, from technology to fashion to culture and even music. Your music taste is interesting, and the music you used wasn't just for musicians to play on the ship, but also to give a sound to the scenes you were writing. I said it before and I say it again, this ride was as elegant as Beethoven's sonata.
Technically, I mentioned before that it felt as if you took some time to relax into writing your characters and understanding them, and that's why your scenes ranged between telling and showing. There were times when you narrated and I truly wanted to feel something for the characters but I couldn't, and other times when emotions went high and I was content.
Lots of sentences could be phrased better which would give smoothness to the letters being written. One example is from chapter 3: "...but his eyes indicated a thousand words." 'Indicated' isn't a strong verb that conveys feelings. The issue in this case lies in using the verb 'feel' a lot, as well as sensory verbs like 'see' and 'hear.' Try to reduce the usage of the verb 'feel' because your sentences have emotional depth that could be shown beautifully.
Regarding tenses, I noticed that you switch a lot between past and present tenses- I'm not talking about the tense used in letters and that used for memories for example- it's about tenses within the same paragraph.
Pay attention to the punctuation of dialogues and their corresponding tags and action beats. I'll provide a link (excuse my tardiness) about the rules. https://thewritelife.com/dialogue-tags
Also, exclamation marks and questions marks aren't used together or more than once. And you switched from 3rd to 1st POV in chapter 45.
Overall, The Letters of Sierra Charmonte is an amazing ride, and I enjoyed reading every bit of it. I couldn't put it down, and I really hope it'll get published one day because whoever isn't reading it is missing a lot. Congratulations on finishing your piece of art, and I'm glad I had the chance to read it again and finish it!
You're amazing! Don't stop writing, who knows what that creative mind of yours will come up with!