I selected your story from the review request section on the home page. Not being an expert in reviewing or writing, I offer these comments and suggestions based on my knowledge and experience. You, as master of this work will of course decide the relevance of any points I should make. My reviewing procedure consist of two readings. The first is to gather overall and first impressions, look for the hook, and examine overall story consistency. The second is to look for story editing and copy editing points and make suggestions. On longer stories, I may point out some grammar, technical, or word choices and leave repeat similar considerations to you.
The story is YA with a first person voice. The genre is supernatural urban fantasy (vampires). The story appears to be a first draft. The first line sets the hook. I want to know how is a dead guy telling us this?
What is the protagonist's name? It did not appear in the paragraphs I read for first impressions.
I had this sweet easy-going life, until Saul, my by-then a year-long flatmate, returned from his weekly Friday night's celebration of bars and clubs, and found me on the floor, a bullet sized hole in my forehead and a whole bunch of blood all around me. I was on a carpet, and the amount of blood was large enough that we had to later throw the old thing away. Of course, I wasn't in at that moment, so I can only describe what Saul described to me, with a grin, mind you, about the situation I was in. Dead, oh so dead.
Avoid wordiness by selecting fewer, more powerful words. Your reader can become bogged down getting through all the words and lose their direction in the story. Avoid starting sentences with, I. This will be a challenge when writing in first person. Your first sentence is long and choppy and includes a comma splice (run-on). Also, avoid using the same words (described) too often and close together. Following is a sample of how the first paragraph can be written. I am NOT telling you this is the right way. This is my paragraph, not yours. You will need to rewrite it and make it your own.
My life was sweet and easy going until my flatmate found me dead on the floor in a pool of blood, that had leaked out of the bullet hole in my forehead. The old carpet was ruined and had to be thrown away. Since I was dead, oh so dead, these details came to my later from Saul, my flatmate, who grinned as he told me.
Notice how the sentences were constructed to not start with, I. The same information was given with one half the words, about fifty instead of one hundred. This is an example of concise writing, which is expected by publishers.
But as it was, that didn't sit well with Saul, so he fed me his blood, and what do you know, I popped right back to living, and I only had this feeling that something went off, and a pain at the spot of the bullet hole. Having completed the rebirth, but guessing I had had too much of the old drink, I pushed myself up on my hands, which felt wet from the blood.
Same problem as the paragraph above, there is wordiness and redundancy. More words is not better.
My death did not sit well with Saul. He fed me his blood and I popped back to living. Something felt off and there was a pain in my forehead. I had completed the rebirth but thought I'd just had too much of the old drink. I got up discovering my hands wet.
Fifty instead of seventy-five words, this is a 30% reduction in word count without losing the meaning.
Note: The above comments are indicative of the kind of suggestions I would expect to see for the remainder of this narrative. Full detailed copy editing is beyond the scope of this review and would take considerable time. The remaining suggestions or comments shall mostly be story editing or macro observations. Consider the detailed edit examples above typical of what to look for in the remainder of your work. Complete editing of these concerns I leave to you.
First I thought I might have thrown up, or, god forbid, sprayed some other liquids ( which I promise has never happened to me, no matter how overloaded the night ), but you know, it's that smell we've all whiffed at one point, and being a new vampire it was even more present, the smell of blood, and the stickiness as well, let's say I didn't need to lift my hands to my eyes to know what it was I was in.
I could have gone the way of a into shock, for it, but how could I when Saul was sitting on the sofa just three feet from me, having that smile of his that said he knew something I did not[?] And, as was not usual for to our tomfoolery, he didn't keep me waiting in suspense, but launched right into it, starting with him finding me on the floor and then rushing into you're a vampire now thingy. Of course, I didn't buy it at first, no one would, but he was all adamant and it makes made perfect sense about it, so all I needed to give more weight to his words was him handing me a mirror, on which I could see the bullet wound that was just in the middle of healing in a supernatural speed, and those fangs, I had those too. And again, I could have freaked out about it, but Saul just laughed it off, telling me that it's not that big of a deal. He had me wash my face, and as the wound was almost healed, we headed back out, now being very early on Saturday, and we ended at our favorite watering hole, which was usually packed with all sorts of fun and beauty, but was then just us, the vampires, and the few men and woman yet to get lucky. He ordered us both a whiskey, joking it to be the drink for vampires, and sat us down away from the speakers that did somewhat hurt my sore ears. We put the drink into us without a clink, and then let the waterfall of questions begin. I started with the vanilla nondescript "So, I'm a vampire?"
I replace makes, with made to not mix verb tenses. Select you voice and stay with it.
"Yes, obviously," Saul responded, rolling his eyes at me, and then moving them to wink at a dead drunk girl sitting at the bar. That's Saul for you.
"And what does that mean?"
I got his attention back, but he looked like he was already tired of the questions as if I should have already gotten it all together. Rather annoying it was, but he was like that before I knew us to be vampires.
"What does anything mean? It's just stuff that happens, were a human, now a vamp. That's life."
"Okay. I think I need a bit more."
He then got a bit closer, forgetting about the drunk lady and giving me his attention.
"Well, most of the stuff you already know from movies and books and thing. You died, were reborn, and need blood to sustain you. Pretty much immortal."
"But not all the way?"
Saul shrugged his shoulder uncomfortably like he wasn't sure or didn't want to say.
"Not really yes..."
"You mean like a stake to the heart and I'm out?"
Now he shook his head firmly.
"No, none of that crap... Well, I mean, a stake could kill you, or a sword or a bullet, but only when you haven't fed for a while. And I guess, some vamps could probably rip your head off or something... But that hardly ever happens." He smiled, maybe joking.
"How many are there then?"
"Not sure, not too many, the numbers are kept under control."
"The government, or whatever, not human. Vampire."
"Yeah, not a fun bunch mind you. That reminds me, you're gonna have to come with me tomorrow, I have to register that I turned you."
"Yeah, those are the rules, and it's probably good if you get your documents, so to speak, in order, I mean you don't have to, but otherwise the law won't affect you."
"That other vamps can't kill you. Like the human law for humans, this one's only for vamps."
"Okay." I was feeling rather overwhelmed at that moment. The idea of vampire life is very similar to human one was perhaps the biggest shock of the day.
"So, you can't kill me then?"
"Hey!" usual parted his hands, pretending to be offended. "I just brought you back and start throwing claims like that. How about thankyou?"
"Thank you. Why did you, by the way, bring me back?"
"Well, you're my bud, I needed someone to drink with."
"What about your vampire friends?"
He turned more uncomfortable again.
The following thoughts are, reader thoughts, not reviewer thoughts. Your readers will probably ask this same question.
I thought from the way the first few paragraphs were written that our hero was well aware of vampires and probably knew his roommate (American for flatmate) was one. What is happening in the bar is confusing. He recognized that the drunk girl is dead.
"They can be pretty hard to get along with... This you should know, vampires aren't like people, I mean, I could get along with you, but most aren't really interested in that, they think of themselves more like predators, which we are, should not sugar code coat that. You will sense it soon, that humans are kind of okay, but vamps are better, you're going to feel a much stronger connection to your kind."
"Okay... But the feeding thing?"
"Yeah, yea... It is true that you will need blood, and, though I can imagine you wouldn't want to do that at the moment, you are going to start killing humans, but it gets easier with time, every day you're a bit more vamp and a bit further away from humans. It'll happen naturally. Though, a fair warning, best to stay away from those who enjoy killing a bit too much, that is always trouble."
"Okay, if you say so."
"Other things. Mind control, it's real, I can teach you. They are going to go over it at the embassy, but you might as well know that you can't go overboard with him, government has it all set up, so you can't go screwing around, like, I don't know, make a president start a nuclear war, or stuff like that, that will end very badly for you. And, as I said, vamps won't be allowed to kill you, so you can't kill them either." Saul sighed, looking both ways. "And currently, we have a no aggression pact with the witched, so they are off limits too."
"Yes." He got closer, his nose just two inches from mine." You do not want to mess with the witches," He shook his head dramatically. "Never mess with the witches." He let his body fall back. "Vamp life is great, way more positive than how they show it in the movies, but witches, they are the other way, very dark, very dangerous."
I think I got a stream of cold running through my spine at that point, and my voice got shakier.
"But how do I know, who's a witch, who's a vampire.."
"Well, vamps you'll sense, the closer the stronger. As I brought you back, you'll be soon able to sense if I'm in the city or not, as well you can sense the vamp who turned me better. But let's just say, if you're close enough to fight, you're close enough to sense any vamp. Witches, can't sense them, but they sense you, and, and the alliance calls for, it's up to them to make sure you won't eat them. If they want to, they will get away."
I sighed again.
"Okay. Vampires, witches, how about werewolves, they real too?"
"Kind of, they used to be around, like a century ago, back when we were in at war with the witches. I wasn't around myself of course, but I've heard about it. Basically, at one point, witches didn't want to go fight their battles themselves, you know, risk their lives, so they started to poison humans, make it so that when vamp fed he died. But as that wasn't enough, at one point the went all out and turned those humans into animals who would hunt us. But they aren't around anymore. Per the treaty, all were destroyed. Just vamps and witches now. With any luck, you won't see any witches."
We then finished our whiskeys, and some more, and made our way back to our apartment. Only when seeing that blood red carpet did it dawn on Saul to ask the question stupidly forgotten.
“Who killed you by the way?”
I could only shrug my shoulders.
“Don 't know, the last thing I remember is opening the door, all blank after that. Is that a vamp thing?”
“No, that's a booze thing, it'll come to you. Either way, I'm going to bed, you should sleep too, much bureaucracy waiting for us tomorrow.”
I just smiled, drank a cup of water and went to bed as well. In there, I couldn't help but wonder who would have wanted me dead. The answer did not come but mind you, my death would turn out to be far more important than either of us could have imagined in our wildest hypothesis. Word choice, pick a better word.
I woke feeling well, it must have been around noon, for I could see the light press through my bedrooms blinds. I could hear Saul messing around in the kitchen, making a racket with the pots and pans, all the while blasting the midday news on the telly in the living room. I groaned and stretched myself to break the mummy-like structure stiffness in my bones, then got dressed to new clothes I got out of my closet, and marched to Saul, somewhat uncertain if all that had happened last night was just a dream.
Avoid using, then, in a narration describing a series of events. The paragraph has run-on sentences.
“Morning sleepy head.” Saul joked, moving his breakfast eggs from the pan to a plate. “I know you have more time now, but still best not to waste it all on sleeping.”
Reader thought: Why does he have more time now? Will he mind control money from people?
So, it was true, that's what he was saying.
“So, I'm a vampire?”
“Yeah. I thought we went over this already.”
He put some spices of on his eggs and walked himself to the sofa, which was next to the rug that still had blood on it, mine, to be more precise.The reader knows this,
3.10 | Avoid redundancy. Redundancy refers to the use of unnecessary words that repeat the same thought within a sentence. In most cases, redundant words and phrases are unnecessary and merely add word clutter. This is a common problem among writers, and it can give their prose an unpolished or amateurish quality. Some redundant expressions are funny; others are downright silly. But the bottom line is, they add no value to your sentences and bog down readers in tedious repetition. You’ve probably heard the advice from a writing instructor or fellow wordsmith, “Avoid redundancy!”
De A'Morelli, Richard. Elements of Style 2017 (pp. 34). Spectrum Ink. Kindle Edition
There was no denying that things had changed, and you know what, for some reason, I didn't want to. The thing is, though you don't know what I was like before, I could at that moment sense how different I was. I was not worried, I was excited. The problems didn't seem nearly as great as to opportunity.
“So, what now?”
“Now we eat, or at least I eat, and then we'll go to the embassy, best to get that out of the way, and then you can dive into the vamp life.”
He had a hint of a joke in his voice, as he always did. There wasn't much serious in his life, and for the first time, I started to relate to that.
“Anything I should know about that embassy?”
“Bureaucracy, it's the same everywhere. Just say yes and promise what they want you to, then you might not have to deal with them ever again.”
“Ever is a long time when you're immortal.”
He winked, seeing my point.
“Yes, I take it back, you will see them again. What you gonna do.”
I sat next to Saul, who seemed to really be paying attention to the news. I could not have cared less about them it.
“So, I was wondering. If like you said, werewolves were made by witches, what about vampires, are they, we, made by them as well.”
Saul shrugged his shoulders.
“Don't know, no one does. Not that people aren't curious, but vamps have excised for thousands of years, history doesn't really remember.” He put the egg down on the coffee table.
“You remember I told you I have a sister?” Saul asked me.
When confusion on who is speaking occurs, add dialog attribution.
“Well, she's a vamp too, I turned her, that's a whole story, but like I said, she's in Europe, doing historical stuff. She's actually trying to figure out where the vamps came from. I doubt she will though, but hey, to each their own.”
He returned to eating his eggs, but as the last one got eaten, he turned back to me.
“Still don't remember who killed you?”
I shook my head. I don't know if I couldn't remember or just didn't want to, but I was clueless.
“No, It's troubling.”
“Nah, it's fine, people kill people, usually no greater meaning to it. You will remember at some point, then you can take her number out of your phone.”
“You're the one who likes the crazies.”
Place the above line with the action tag, I chuckled, since the dialog line was sopen by the same person.
I chuckled. “You're the one who likes the crazies.”
“Soon, you will too.” He looked to the rug. “We need to get rid of this, damn, it was a good rug.”
“How would you know?”
“Well, it was warm, wasn't it?”
He pulled out his phone and lifted it enough to see the clock on it.
“Alright, let's get this done.”
“Should I like, shower before?”
“You'll shower later, I don't have much time, there's someplace I got to be later.”
I didn't drill to find out what he was hiding from me but found my overcoat and we headed to the autumn streets.
Nothing really wakes you up to the boring supernatural life as seeing the vampire embassy to be on the third floor of a commercial building which also housed an electric store and a pet shop. We took the elevator to an almost empty browning waiting room, and Saul ahead, we walked to the receptionist. And that was something new for me. She was this my age looking girl, dark hair in a ponytail, large green eyes and a lot of make-up, but not in a Gothic way as you'd assume. Generally, when seeing a girl like her I would have gone the appropriate amount of caveman, like a pretty girl, me like, but I found myself stunned. I can only assume that it was the sensing the vamps thing Saul had told me about, but I was not prepared. I was pretty smitten right away, and she hadn't even looked at me yet, she was on her phone, doing the human stuff I now know vamps do a lot of.
How does he know vamps do a lot of human stiff? Run-on sentences and avoid starting sentences with, and. Also, the paragraph is wordy also.
“Yes?” She asked like we were bothering him her and then looked up to Saul.
“Saul?” She then smiled. “It's been a while.” She even put the phone way, away which seemed like a big deal, and gave him her attention. I got to say, I felt a bit jealous of Saul at that moment.
“It's not been that long Rebekah.”
She turned her gaze to me as if seeing something unpleasant. I was just doing my best to not drool and act like her coldness didn't affect me at all.
“Yes, I agree.” She said, still looking at me. “This better not be one you turned.”
I was starting to get pretty upset, why did she have to be so hurtful with her words?
Saul grinned ear to ear.
“Hey, what can I do, I'm a caring guy.”
“So, f*** the rules?”
I wasn't really sure what they were talking about, but it didn't feel right to ask either, I was just about ready to just get the whole thing done. Avoid repeating words close together.
“Come on, it's not that bad.”
“One in ten years, that's the deal, they'll punish you for it.”
“Well, you know I like to be punished.”
Rebekah pushed an intercom button, shaking her head.
“Two-fifteen.” She spoke.
“Send them in.” The voice responded, and then a door glided open to our left.
It was a small office with an oldish looking man sitting behind a desk covered with papers. He waited till we were closer before looking.
“Saul Michelson.” He greeted in a way that didn't sound at all like a greeting.
“Third one in ten years. You forgot about the rules?”
“I'm sorry, sir.” Saul sounded more polite now, the man was definitely more important than the receptionist, no joke came out of him. “I saw no other way, I found long my time friend dead, I had to act.”
“Rules are rules...” He started picking through the papers, finding one that seemed blank.
The man froze, pen in the air and eyes locked on the blank piece of paper. Without looking up to me, he turned in his chair and pulled open a metal drawer which had many files in it. He riffed through them, and then pulled out one of them. He opened it and read for a half minute.
“Salvatore Stroighfield?” he asked firmly. “Do you know of him?”
I felt very confused, why was that name in their files?
“Yes, I mean, he's my uncle...”
The man jumped up, and with the file in his fingers rushed out of the room. “Stay here.” Was what he said.
Was what he said, is wordy. Try, he ordered, which is stronger and concise.
I looked to Saul, but he seemed even more surprised by the happenings.
“Who's he?” He asked me, he was a bit paler, perhaps even scared.
“Just my uncle, a bit crazy, lives by himself, I hardly ever see him.”
Saul was breathing faster, starching scratching his chin.
Then the door opened again, and multiple men entered.
“If you'd come with us, Thomas?” One of the old men said, he seemed friendly but I wasn't about to go with anyone. I looked to Saul, but he was frozen.
“Saul can wait here.” The same man said with a small smile. But he was far from trustworthy.
“Go,” Saul whispered, and I did not know what else to do, but let them lead me past the receptionist, who now seemed much more interested in me, and into a long hallway that turned dark as soon as the door shut behind us.
I was put into a more vampire-ish room, cold stone and wood and a lot of humidity. The other men remained outside it, and just the smiling old man sat next to me on one of the benches.
“It's nice to meet you, Thomas.” He started when we were alone. I didn't respond because it wasn't nice to meet him in return.
“So, Saul's a friend of yours?”
“Yeah, sure. For a while now.”
“That's good, that's good. He has his troubles with the law, but a good vampire in general.”
“This... turning of yours. Was it voluntary?”
“What do you mean?”
“He didn't force you to turn, did he?”
“What, no. I mean, I was dead, so I wouldn't say I had a say in it. But I'm glad he did it, it's not his fault.”
He nodded agreeing.
“Yes, it's good. You said you were dead, how did that come to be?”
“I don't know, I can't remember.”
He kept nodding and started to get pretty annoying. At that point, I was pretty sure he was nervous too. What the hell was going on?”
“You can't remember. Was it a natural death? I mean, hit by a car? Fell out of the window?”
“I'm pretty sure I was shut shot in the head. Just after returning home. But I don't remember.”
“It would be very good for us if you did remember...”
“But I don't”
“... So I could help you with that, nothing much, a quick fix.”
“I guess that would be good...”
Right away he put his finger into the same place the bullet had entered, and I could see myself returning home. I struggle to get the key in the hole, being drunk as I was, but I did get it done. I entered the flat, tossed the keys to a bowl, and slumped toward my bedroom. But then I heard a noise behind me and I turned, but there was no one there, and when I turned back forward, there was this tall and big pale face in front of me. He had a gun to my head and he spoke, not well but cracklingly. No such word.
He had a gun to my head and spoke, his voice crackling. “Shots fired.” He pulled the trigger, and everything went dark again.
I was back in that muggy room, and the old man was looking at me petrified.
“Who was that?” I asked for it looked like he knew. He jumped up and started toward the room.
“Am I like arrested or something?” I asked making him stop.
“Of course not.”
“Can I go then?”
He bit his lip, trying to think fast.
“We would very much appreciate it if you could stay for a little while longer.”
“Why, who was that guy?”
That politeness of his made me feel bolder, and I even got up, starting to demand things.
“Just an hour, I will send someone with drinks.” and he all but ran out of the room.
I could only sit back down when the door opened and Rebekah, to whom I wasn't irrelevant now entered with a selection of drinks, and a smile that made my knees weak.
The story is riveting. The first paragraph hooks and you close the chapter with me itching to turn the page and find out who killed Thomas. It would have been better to let your reader know his name near the beginning: it helps the reader to care about the character.
This chapter is a first draft. I recommend reading a submission at lease once quietly and have someone else (or software) read it once out loud to catch many of the careless mistakes. Microsoft Word can read your work to you.
Only the first few paragraphs are edited in detail. The remainder of the chapter has similar wordiness, diction (word choice), and redundancy throughout. Fix this up, and I'd love to see it again.
I did a review for you back in March on a story about Elliot Jones that seem to not be on WdC anymore. Keep on writing!