|Hi there! Welcome to WDC! I was browsing around today when I found your work and decided to toss in my two cents. Please keep in mind that all comments are my personal suggestions and opinions; you're certainly free to use 'em or toss 'em as you like.
I have to admit that at first, I didn't think I would finish the story, but as I read further, it drew me in and really grew on me... and I can't even pinpoint the moment when my impressions changed.
My Favorite Part(s):
It's a bit hard to say what my favorite part was, because it's really more the feeling the story conjured. When I finished, there was this odd combination of peace and tension; one phase of your character's life had ended and another had begun. I was relieved that the decision had been made, and I was also eager to find what would happen as a result of that decision. I'm kinda hoping you have more planned for these characters.
This is the main reason I had trouble in the beginning -- a grammar mistake in the first paragraph can be a bit off-putting. Not that you had too many in the rest of your story, but it's not a great first impression. Some of the stuff I highlighted aren't wrong, but I thought they'd sound better a different way; be warned though, I'm picky.
On a more general note, you might want to think about putting line breaks between paragraphs. Solid blocks of text can be a little intimidating, and some breathing room makes the story easier to read. Also, there was some inconsistency with capitalizing the word "storm;" remember that when you use it as a proper noun, it should be capitalized, but otherwise it shouldn't.
Everyone felt it, heard it. The winds that shakeshook the bells rarely growgrew into anything but a tempest of sand and dirt. It was only sentiment to call out its name.
The rest of the story is set in past tense, and that shouldn't change. I'm not sure what you meant with the word "sentiment." As in, everyone already knew the Storm was coming, so it wasn't necessary to name it? Perhaps sentimentality would be a better word choice. It just seemed odd to me.
she would stare down at the desert floor from her perch at the desert floor
I first read that to mean her perch was on the desert floor, and go a little confused later on.
an echo of the dream
Nothing really wrong with this, just this dream is never mentioned again, and I noticed it on my second reading.
Making sure, no one was watching... He forced his back against the wall, as he slid along the ledge
Those two commas aren't needed.
He pulled myselfhimself around the corner
it was more than enough for him to fellfeel at ease
She went silent. She stared into the desert
It's not wrong, and you use short sentences very effectively in other parts of your writing. In this instance though, I think it'd be better to combine these two sentences.
You sound like the school masterschoolmaster
Great boiling clouds started to culminate upon the horizon
You don't really need the "started to," and I stumbled over the word "culminate." Perhaps something like "Great boiling clouds accumulated upon the horizon"?
The wall of sand had reached the horizon. It’sIts shadow cast across the desert... the Tower looked like a dwarf and the people, nothing more than fleas
You've already described a wavering line on the horizon, then clouds gathering and whatnot. I think this part would read better if you describe it another way. Like maybe "The wall of sand grew larger/taller by the second"?
“Then go.” New paragraph Anger started to rise within him, yet it was nothing put the beside the cold fear that was grabbinggrabbed hold of him
quickly sealing the canvas behind usthem
dug out from the sandstorm, New paragraphin which timeIn the meantime, Sarah’s grandfather, Owdun had decided to accompany them down.
will wonderwander off into the desert
It is it’sits own city
You must listen for the bells,; if you don’t hear them you might
small holes in which poured down sand and sunlight
It’s not his real name, is it.?
More thenthan this
It’sIts parapets and walkways
Plot and Background:
This piece sounds like it would make a good prologue for a bigger story, and yet it stands well on its own too. It's really a coming-of-age story, where a character makes a decision that changes the course of his life, where he ventures out from his comfort zone to strike out into the unknown. The real "plot" here is the change within the character, and I'm impressed by how well you managed to convey that change, especially in a way that only highlights the character's own murky state-of-mind. Well done.
I really only have one question, which you can probably address without too much trouble. They can find shelter and water... but what about food? I was thinking desert animals like lizards or mice that might burrow under the sand during the Storm that they can catch, or some really hardy plant maybe? Whichever way, you can have her mention it briefly at the end when they're talking.
Pacing and Voice:
Good job on this. The story flowed well and drew me along. You didn't have a lot of background, so there really wasn't any exposition to get through, and almost all the other vital information was set in the dialogue, which is an excellent way to present it. I also liked the voice you used; it felt kind of... dreamy? Like I was standing outside of him watching and yet knew everything he thought and felt. I think it had to do with not knowing the characters' names for a while. In any case, nicely done.
You did really well with this as well. I could easily relate to both characters and feel the internal conflict. Although you never got inside the head of the girl, I see her as a brave young woman willing to push the boundaries of her world, perhaps feeling a little stiffled by safety and impatient with her people's willingness to wait forever for a better future she thinks they can achieve through action. She's strong enough to believe in her vision and smart enough to carry it out, yet not so hardened that she wouldn't welcome the comfort of a friend to share the journey. I like her.
The boy I see as more... not timid exactly, but perhaps a bit less impulsive. More likely to go with the flow and to think things through before committing to something. And yet, although it's never explicitly stated, his feelings for the girl are obvious, and when she asks, he follows her despite his own misgivings. I think what I liked most about him was the fact that he didn't try to stop her (i.e. drag her back kicking and screaming ); even though he knows that it's dangerous and wants to protect her, he doesn't try to stiffle her drive or force her to comply with tradition.
All in all, a couple of very compelling characters.
Plenty of dialogue in this piece, and it all sounded pretty in-character. As I mentioned before, you conveyed a lot of information via dialogue, and I really like that. I also think you used silence very effectively, especially that part where they're in the shelter and he asked what she did during a Storm and she just looked at him. That got a chuckle.
Description and Setting:
This was definitely one of my favorite aspects of your story, which is a little odd, because there really wasn't a lot of description at all. I can't tell you what your characters look like, except that the girl has wispy hair, and I can't decribe the tower other than to say that it's really, really tall. But the world you built, and in a relatively short piece, is both impressive and immersive (weird to say that about a story set in the desert, but so it goes). I really enjoyed the little details that give such tantalizing glimpses into the culture and history, like the River, and the mention of when the Tower is finished; tidbits like that whet my appetite to know more.
The only thing I would suggest is to devote a couple of sentences at the beginning to describe the Storm. Like when he's dropping off tarps, he can reflect on the fury he's witnessed in the past. Winds howling and tarps whipping and stone/bone scraped clean by the sands or some such thing. It doesn't have to be a lot; in fact, it would probably be best to be a short addition, to avoid break up the pace of the story. Besides that, you did really well with very little. When I finished, I had this vision of endless dunes and wide-open horizons, of sand stretching out in every direction and heat shimmers dancing in the distance. In the end, the lack of concrete description isn't too bit of a drawback; it allowed me to use my own imagination to fill in the blanks while still enjoying the show.
I very much enjoyed this story and the world it's set in. If you should happen to have more planned for these characters or this setting, I would love to find out more. There's this expansive feeling of possibility at the end... like your characters' futures are as wide and unlimited as the sands that surround them. Sure, they could die, but then they could find other people too, or discover the River, or... well, anything really. Beautiful place to end it.
Hope this review was helpful! Write on!