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Review #4187171
Viewing a review of:
 Cambria: Another Chapter One  [13+]
by Hetzer
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Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
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Item Reviewed: "Cambria: Another Chapter One
Author Hetzer
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈

As always, these are just one person's opinions. Always remember Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful *Smile*, and that you will discard the rest with good cheer. *Heart*

*FlagB*What I liked best
This is an intriguing opening. You did a great job with tension, engaging the readers, and then with the hook at the end.

I confess I'm a little confused by the teaser for this. Clearly it's about a guy lost in a blizzard, and there's a giant metal bird, but what's the prank? How is "sexual?"

However, absent the teaser, this is a good opening. You introduce your protagonist, Harvey. It starts in the middle of action. He's clearly in danger. We know that there are "automatons" and "metal birds," but he's using a flintlock pistol, so there's an intriguing mix of technologies. It's clear that Harvey has goals--getting out of whatever situation he's in--and that his situation is compounded by an apparent case of amnesia. So you've launched the plot with just enough information so that readers can understand the here-and-now of events and with enough mystery that they will turn the pages. This is a difficult balance, and you've done a masterful job of it.

The enigmatic message from the DN1 is also a good hook, in addition to your cliff-hanger ending.

*FlagB*Style and Voice
Third person limited, in Harvey's head. No slips, although I've made a suggestion below regarding your opening paragraph.

Certainly enough for staging. You certainly established the storm, the cold, and the whirling snow. Good work!

We get just a hint of Harvey. He seems calm, given the situation, and that should be enough for now for readers to want to cheer for him.

*Exclaim* Adverbs.*Exclaim* You don't overuse adverbs, but they show up enough to be worth a comment. You know what Stephen King says about adverbs . I think he is correct. Adverbs are often a shorthand in which the author falls into "telling" rather than "showing." I try to use zero adverbs, since otherwise I'd sprinkle them all over the place like fairy dust. *Rolleyes* I've marked one or more places in the line-by-line comments below where I think you might consider a more precise verb or a touch more description rather than an adverb.

*FlagB*Just my personal opinion
One way to think of telling a story is that it is a guided dream in which the author leads the readers through the events. In doing this, the author needs to engage the readers as active participants in the story, so that they become the author's partner in imagining the story. Elements of craft that engage the readers and immerse them in the story enhance this fictive dream. On the other hand, authors should avoid things that interrupt the dream and pull readers out of the story.

This is a good first chapter. I think you've got the right mix of action and mystery. It is pretty short, so if you were to add a touch more detail about what's going on to improve clarity, that might be appropriate--much depends on what happens in chapter two.

Nice work, and thank you for sharing!

*FlagB*Line-by-line remarks
*Bullet*Your text is in BLUE.
*Bullet*My comments are in GREEN.
*Bullet*If I suggest a re-wording, it's in GRAPE.
b}*Cut*He had been wandering ever since the blizzard set in, desperately trudging forwards through an unending sea of white flurries despite making no visible progress towards shelter- towards anything at all. The wind howled at him in laughter, poking fun at his futile efforts. It had been his only company for hours now. His nose stung and his gloved hands had long since gone numb from the cold, along with his feet. Harvey feared that if things kept up frostbite would set in.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.

Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.

This opening certainly starts in the middle of action and orients the reader in time and space. However, I think it could be improved by more solidly establishing the point of view.

For example, the pronoun “he” in the first sentence has no antecedent, so the readers can’t know who “he” is. I’d consider naming Harvey right away. Secondly, the first two sentences feel like an omniscient narrator, standing outside the story, telling the reader things. The third sentence—where Harvey’s nose stings and his hands are numb—is the first one with internal sensations, where what’s happening is clearly inside Harvey’s head. Thus, I’d also rearrange the sentences so this one, or something similar, comes first. Once you’ve got the readers inside Harvey’s head, then the rest of the descriptions are implicitly things he is sensing or thinking.

*Cut*The two circular disks it had for eyes weakly flickered*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “flickered” implies “weakly,” so the adverb is just a speedbump that slows things down. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Harvey pressed his hands to his neck, feeling a chill rush through the whole area despite only his gloves touching it.*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: Phrases like “feeling a chill” are a subtle form of telling as opposed to showing. First, since we’re in Harvey’s head anything on the page is something he has sensed, so “feeling” isn’t necessary. It’s almost always more intimate and immediate for the readers to just describe what he felt directly. If you want to emphasize he felt it, you could have him react in some way—perhaps with a gasp or a shudder? *Exclaim*

*Cut*Above the screaming wind around him, Harvey could now hear*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “Harvey could hear” is like “Harvey feeling” above. *Exclaim*

*Cut*Harvey’s feet were tree stumps, rooting him in place*Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: nice metaphor. *Exclaim*

*Cut*There was a earth-shaking screech. *Cut**Exclaim*My Comment: “an earth-shaking...” Good hook! *Exclaim*


I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. *Frown* Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it. *Smile*

Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!

Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!

Max Griffin 🏳️‍🌈
Check out my {x-link:http://maxgriffin.net/LongMusings.shtml}

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
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