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Public Reviews
Review of Chp 1. A Surprise  
Review by April Dawn
Rated: E | (3.0)
NOTE: I was working through this review before your edit. I haven't read your revized version yet, so I hope this is still helpful.

Title: "Chp 1. A Surprise
Author:{user:sage_blacke }
Plot: Your plot, unfortunately, feels very unoriginal. I haven’t read “Twilight”, but I suspect that you are writing this as a fan work with Elizabeth being representative of yourself and Wes as a vampire like the one she idolizes from the books. That makes the story that will follow this first chapter very predictable- which is alright as far as living your fantasies and practicing and honing your skills goes, but if this is something you would want to see published, I don’t see it getting anywhere unless you can give it some more originality and pull it away from “Twilight”.
Style and Voice: Since you are writing this in first-person, you want to do everything you can to make it more personal. Right now it feels stiff, as you are telling us what happens more than describing what Elizabeth sees/hears/feels/etc. For example- your very first line:
“The bell rang furiously” Could be changed to- “The ringing of the school bell sounded to me like a furious task master.”
The first one tells us that the bell rang, while the second one describes what Elizabeth thought of the bell. Let us see the world through Elizabeth’s eyes- What does she notice? What details are brought to her attention as they make their way to class? What does she focus on? What thoughts are going through her head? Etc.
Referencing: I see no problems or inconsistencies with your referencing. Good job here! *Smile*
Setting: Remember to utilize Elizabeth’s senses in describing your setting. You’ve done a fairly good job with this, but some subtle alterations in wording and more attention to the details could make it truly vivid. I’ll expand on this in my line by line section.
Characters: Your main characters feel very real and defined, while the others you’ve mentioned are flat. This can be a good thing as it further identifies with your choice of first-person. Only those Elizabeth knows well, focuses on, and feels close to will get any real description- like she sees them in bright colors standing out against a world of black and white. Further into your story, those on the side-lines could see more definition as Elizabeth focuses her thoughts on them, or they could remain flat while she spares attention only for certain individuals.
Grammar: See the line by line for grammatical corrections. There aren’t many, you’ve done a pretty good job with your grammar!
Just my Opinion: Choosing to write in first-person is one of those things that can be very, very hard to pull off, but when done correctly can make a story absolutely wonderful. One of my favorite series- Jim Butcher’s “The Dresden Files” is written in first-person, and this allows your reader to truly get into the head of your main character. We see what she sees, think what she thinks, and her limitations become the tools that facilitate the conflict- because anything that she would overlook, we are also forced as readers to overlook, only to have it brought to our attention later when it dawns on her what she missed.
While I’m not a huge fan of romance stories and couldn’t really get into Twilight, which seems to be your inspiration for this piece, I LOVE character development and could really get into your story if you can pull off making Elizabeth interesting and captivating.
I’m also a big fan of exciting plots with an outcome that is difficult to see. Once I start feeling like it is predictable, I start to lose interest. Of course, this means there’s also some classic works that I simply couldn’t tolerate, like “Pride and Prejudice”. You have the makings here for some really great writing, even if it wouldn’t be something that I’d personally call a favorite.

Line By Line:
The school bell rang furiously. clamored This is if you want to keep the line as is instead of an edit like the one suggested above. Substituting a word like “clamored” in place of “rang furiously” would tighten it up, reducing the need for adjectives.

“Brittney, I don’t feel so good today.” I said softly murmured [,] scratching the top of my blonde hair; which was in a bun. The underlined would run a little smoother like this: scratching my scalp under the tight blonde bun.

“What do you mean?” she Aside from stating her name, you haven’t really introduced Brittney yet, so it would be better to describe her instead of saying “she”. Ex- “my friend” or “the girl next to me” questioned as she pushed or pulled? opened up the door.What door? The door in front of you? The door to the school? I suddenly scrunched up my face for the halls smelled like cleaning supplies; the custodians had just mopped the floors. as the stench of bleach from the freshly cleaned floors flooded my nostrils. ”Stench” instead of “smell” identifies what an irritant the scent is, and saying that it “flooded my nostrils” describes what Elizabeth is smelling instead of telling us the custodians cleaned the floors recently.

“Just something deep down inside of me[.] I feel like something is about to happen.” I said softly muttered, whispered, grumbled, etc.

“Did you get your monthly gift?” she joked lightly. You could add a short description here about Brittney’s tone or facial expression that makes Elizabeth certain she’s being light-hearted instead of serious.

“No,” I replied with a slight chuckled. “It’s not that.”

“Well today is Monday, and nobody likes Monday.[,]Sshe said. Brittney was a cute 18 year old character; very witty and very positive. This sentence isn’t really necessary, unless it’s what Elizabeth is thinking. If so, add something that lets us know this is her current thought process. If not, I’d cut it out, as the reader should be able to determine that Brittney is cute, witty, and positive through her interaction and conversation with Elizabeth. We took a right and went through some double doors, walked a few feet down, made another right, and entered through another pair of double doors again. Completely unnecessary here. Instead of giving their directions, give us a description of the halls, what draws Elizabeth’s attention as they walk, maybe a display case they pass with something in it to hint they’re going toward the theater room.
Just before entering the classroom[,] I turned to look at Brittney.

“Well[,] maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s just Monday.” I fessed up. This is awkward, but I can’t think of a good suggestion to replace it…

“Exactly, now how do I look?” sheBrittney asked as she twirled around as usual to let me examine her- a regular ritual of ours.

“You look like me,- same hairstyle, same eyes, same height, same hotness, and humor.” I smiled.

“Now, what about me,. Ddo I look ok?” I asked as I spun around in front of her, giving her a spin in return. New paragraph here“You look like me.[,]Sshe giggled. Brittney was right. Wwe did look very similar nearly identical This gets rid of your use of the word “very”, which is a weak adjective. She and I were short, a little less than 5 feet. I had dirty blonde with deep bluish green eyes. My hair tightly pulled back in a fancy donut shaped bun. Looking at her was like looking into a mirror, her five foot frame, dirty blonde hair, and deep hazel eyes a reflection of my own. Like her, I was usually cheerful and positive in the mornings, but today just felt really odd. I couldn’t put my finger on. Satisfied nothing was out of place, We entered through the double doors in front of us.

“I just love to act in the mornings.” Brittney said with a happy sigh sighed happily.

“Good morning[,] ladies!” A voice called out to us. Give us a little more description here- what direction is the voice coming from? Did it startle Elizabeth? Was it familiar? Did it make Elizabeth feel happy? Etc.

“Good morning[,] Mrs. Hackenburg.” Brittney and I replied together. I surveyed the classroom and at first saw my every day classmates Instead of telling us what she sees, describe what she focuses on, or what she’s thinking or feeling as her gaze passes over her classmates. Since everything looks familiar at first, perhaps she’s bored or taking stock of the other’s outfits or signs of who’d done their homework or looked like they didn’t get enough sleep. This is your chance to give us a look into her mind and what’s important to her as she starts off a new day. but then I suddenly frowned when I spotted four new faces towards the end in the back. Three looked like they were juniors and one looked like a senior. They all looked like upper-class students. Again, describe what about them draws her attention. How does she assess their appearance?

“Are you kidding me?” I gasped gently.

“What’s wrong[,] Elizabeth?” Would Brittney really call her by her full name here? It’s natural for people to want to shorten long names in conversation, especially ones they say frequently. Perhaps she’d just say Liz?

“I think I know why I’m feeling so down today,” I groaned.

“Why?” she questioned Brittney asked. Try to make sure you’re alternating between “Brittney” and “she” so that the reader isn’t ever left wondering who “she” is, and you used the word “questioned” above, so replacing it with “asked” keeps it from sounding repetitive.

“We have new students.[.]” I whispered to her softly leaned over to whisper in her ear. A boy, who looked like a junior, One of the boys suddenly made eye contact with me. He was beautiful and young This sounds awkward… You could probably do without it completely since you’re describing him right after…; he had luscious chestnut hair with deep ocean blue eyes. He wore a solid black V neck shirt with dark blue jeans. Instead of telling us what he’s wearing, describe how what he’s wearing draws attention to his good looks. *Wink* His face was stern and unpleasant, just like the other three.

“Hey, he looks kind of cute.” Brittney said as she pointed to one of the one of the three males who looked like a junior other new arrivals. I broke eye contact with the boy as I moved to see who she was pointing to. to shift my gaze to where my friend was pointing.

“You’re already taken.” I giggled softly. Even though Brittney had a boyfriend she and I never stopped looking at or talking about cute guys.

“I know, but I can state my opinion, can’t I?” She chuckled backed.

“So[,] who is it that you think is cute?” she suddenly You’ve been using the word “suddenly” quite often where it isn’t really necessary. A better way to point out something seems sudden to Elizabeth or surprises her or catches her off guard would be to describe her reactions. Does she jump? Twitch? Lose her train of thought? Etc. asked me. I was quiet and cautious to reply said nothing at first, but then I spotted him again.

“The one that looks like a junior Not a very helpful identifier, since you said three of them look like juniors., the chestnut haired one,” I replied gently. The boy again made eye contact with me, only this time he also gave me a smile.

“ELIZABETH!” I turned my face to the left to face the source of this new verbal onslaught.

“What’s up with you?”

Oh Alyssa. Describe Alyssa, here! Let us know what Elizabeth thinks of her. I rolled my eyes and chuckled softly at to Brittney. Brittney smiled back at me and walked to her seat. Finally realizing I was being overly so distressed, I decided to just calm down and face for whatever the day laid ahead of me.

“Oh you know how it is Alyssa, it’s Monday, and nobody likes Monday.” I hollered across the room as I winked at Brittney and laughed. Hopefully, adding description above will clarify, but right now this sentence is confusing. You had Alyssa ask Elizabeth what was up, which made it sound like she’d approached her, and you had Brittney go to her seat which makes it sound like she walked away. Why then, would Elizabeth need to holler across the room to Alyssa, and how could Brittney notice her wink?

“Yep, yep that is true[,]” Alyssa replied softly.

“Oh! Oh! Dane[,] don’t you look lovely today?!” Alyssa continued to holler exclaimed. Dane was wearing a favorite t-shirt of mine. Upon her t-shirt beard was a quote from the book “Twilight.” The shirt was white and on the front it had two blue cool How are they “cool”? Cool is too subjective. What do the designs look like? designs on the top and below it, thus in the middle it said were the words ‘stupid lamb.’ I remember reading It was from that passage where Bella and Edward were talking in the wood. I closed my eyes and remembered how conversation went[,] starting with Edward speaking:

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…” he (Edward) murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word. Huh? Think you left something incomplete here…

“What a stupid lamb[,]” I (Bella) sighed.

“What a sick, masochistic lion.”

So beautiful it was Yoda speak, much? *Wink*, to me of course. I walked to my seat, sat down, and took off my coat. In theatre class our seats sat in 3 arc shaped rows. This should be part of your description for when they first walk into the room, while she’s scanning over the other students before spotting the new kids. The tardy bell rang[,] and everyone immediately settled down Really? In what universe is this happening? O.O I’ve never seen a class that settled down on their own the moment the tardy bell rang. quietly. As soon as the intercom came on[,] we stood up and said the pledge of allegiance,. Aafter that we sat back down silently to listen to the announcements. I sat in the second row, and decided to glanced behind me to the third row to where the four new students sat were sitting. The junior chestnut-haired boy didn’t look at me at all anymore meet my gaze this time. I then turned back around to watch Mrs. Hackenburg stand closely by the double doors listening, for the speakers for the announcements were above the doors, and was very soft who stood close to the double doors in order to hear the announcements coming from the speakers in the hall, as our classroom didn’t have an intercom. I chuckled every time she did this. When the announcements came and went, the classroom became ultimately quiet, I’m pretty sure if someone dropped a pin, you could hear it.
The whole paragraph above could do with some major editing. I know you’re trying to get past the routine that starts the day, but it detracts from the rest of your story as it’s just listing what happens like a journal entry. “First we did this, then we did that, and at this time we did this…” Oy. This is, however, one of those perfect spots where you can let us delve into Elizabeth’s mind. Instead of telling us what is happening, describe what she’s thinking, what is standing out to her. When she glances back at the new boy, is she disappointed he doesn’t look at her? Does she feel like the pledge drones, or does her mind wander during it? Are she and Brittney passing notes or pointing out anything about the other students to each other? Etc.

“So,” Mrs. Hackenburg sliced the silence after checking role.

“We have some new students as some of you may know. By Ms. Stricklet we have Mr. Wes Dé Court, to his right, his sister, Rebecca Dé Court and to her right, Robert Dé Court. All who are juniors. And last but not least to Robert’s left is their eldest brother, Viktor Dé Court, whom is a senior and who will only see this school for sadly one year.”

“Where did you say you all moved from?” she asked curiously.

“New York.” The one name Viktor answered gently. His voice was deep and soft.

“Hey, that’s where Elizabeth used to live.” Brittney spoke. The four looked at me curiously. I blushed and smiled.

“Yes, I used to live up there.” I went along said.

“What part?” The girl named Rebecca piped up chimed.

“Middle Town, New York. The city is kind of small, not really widely known.” I replied. She smiled happily at me. I in return smiled back warmly. offered me a friendly smile, which I exchanged warmly.

“All right, well welcome to Roanoke Rapids High School home to the yellow jackets.” Mrs. Hackenburg clapped I like this! It highlights a bit of Mrs. Hackenburg’s personality as an overly happy and enthusiastic teacher. Perhaps have some of the other students roll their eyes in response? her hands happily.

“Yes, welcome to Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina!” Alyssa cheered sarcastically sneered.

“Now,” Mrs. Hackenburg continued. “Let’s stand up and stretch. Come on guys[,] don’t be shy,” she said to the new folks. They stood up gracefully and did as they were told instructed. Mrs. Hackenburg then turned some music on and started to stretch, in response while we mirrored her movements. After about a quick five minutes[,] she turned the music off and asked us to get in a circle around the piano. The four new students stayed of course together and stood opposite of me on the other side. Another good spot to bring in Elizabeth’s thoughts and observations. Is she distracted by the boy across from her? Embarrassed? Do her eyes end up drawn to him? Does she miss what Mrs. Hackenburg says, because she’s not paying attention?

“Since we have new students[,] I want you all to clap to the beat and say anything about yourself. Get to know each other a little bit more.[,]” she said smiling smiled.

“We’ll start with you Brittney,. Yyou know how to play.” Should be the start of a new paragraph here. “What’s the topic?” Brittney asked as Mrs. Hackenburg began to play on the piano and we began to clap to the beat. over the sound of Mrs. Hackenburg plucking at the keys, and the rest of us started clapping to the beat.

“Share a piece of information about yourself.[,]She the teacher replied.

“What do you like?” I questioned prompted.

“What I like… I like ice cream” she said plainly.

“Wow[,] Brit.” I said sarcastically rolled my eyes.

“Shut up.” I knew sometimes she hated being put on the spot. Give us something a little deeper here. This is a good insight into their friendship and how Elizabeth would be able to read Brittney’s feelings. We went around the circle, and then until we got to the new students. Viktor said he liked to play sports, Rebecca said she like to paint and draw, Robert said he like to work on cars, and Wes, well, when I heard Wes’s voice I almost melted. His voice was so beautiful and tender.

“The velvet voice said to me…” remember an almost quote This is some awkward phrasing here, I’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to say? from “Twilight.” Bella always thought of Edwards’s voice as velvet. I guess you could say that Wes’s voice was velvety. His answer was that he liked to read in his spare time. You should write the actual dialogue here. It would make it stand out more after you’ve taken the time to describe how much his voice reminded her of velvet, “Twilight” and Edward. We continued until we got to me.

“I like vampires.” I said.

“Why am I not surprised, reading from all that “Twilight” crap[,]Travis Who is this? One of her classmates, I’m sure, but the introduction of a new name should bring with it a description. Where is he in the circle? Is Elizabeth annoyed by his comment? What does she think of Travis? joked. The Dѐ Courts didn’t smile, but gave at me a plain stare. I huffed gently as at Travis who just continued to He can’t “continue to” laugh, if you didn’t mention him laughing earlier. laugh. I then rolled my eyes and looked at Brittney, who was trying to hold her own laughter back.

“Shut up.[,]” I mumbled.

“You brought it on your own self[,]” she busted out burst. New paragraph here- This should be in the same paragraph as Elizabeth’s dialogue. I gave her a smirk.

“Well I wasn’t the one who said I like plain ole’ ice cream, did I?”

“Touché.[,]” Brittney smiled.

“All right Lindsey, your turn.” I spoke to the left of me nudged the girl on my left. The little game continue, Robert, Viktor, and Rebecca looked at the others when the rest of them spoke, but Wes every now and then looked kept looking at me. The game ended[,] and we started improvisation with an opening quote.

“Elizabeth, why don’t you and Wes go together?” asked Mrs. Hackenburg. Oh[,] this was going to be good.[,] I thought to myself. The both of us We both stood up from our chairs and stood in and moved to the front of the class.

“I will take the open quote, if you don’t mind?” I asked looking his way Wes. He shook his head no. to indicated he didn’t mind, and I put my hand into the envelope and retrieved a slip of thin paper. I unfolded it and chuckled softly to myself. Yep, this is going to be really good. I placed the quote back into the envelope and turned to Wes, who stood before me smiling. I balled my hands into fists, placed them on the side of my hips, and leaned toward him with calm expression.

“Why do you love me?” I questioned softly asked. Wes glanced at Rebecca, Viktor, and Robert; they snickered gently to themselves. Wes took a deep breath and looked at me with his soft blue eyes.

“I love you[,] because you are the most beautiful and delicate creature I’ve ever met.” Wes replied. I’ll admit, I was caught off guard. The room THIS is a good spot to use the word “suddenly”. *Smile* became ultimately excruciatingly silent again. What was I to say? Apparently Wes could see I couldn’t say anything in return I was stumped, so he continued.

“Your hair may be tied up in a bun, but when it’s out of its cocoon it flows and shines just like the sun’s rays. Your eyes may be small, but when you’re outside in the sunshine your blue hazel You described her with blue/green eyes in the beginning. eyes shine brightly like the stars. So in the end the answer to your question as to why I love you is because you are my little ray of sunshine, my sweet beautiful heaven, my delicate tender love.” I was quiet; I don’t even think our little audience was even breathing anymore. Either they were stunned by his poetry or surprised he would even say something like that. Everyone was equally stunned. I opened my mouth, but of course nothing came out. My eyes looked deep into his. His eyes were blue, but around the pupil there was a ring of grey. It was just seemed to suggest something sad deep within them. He was hiding something; perhaps pain. I glanced at his brothers and sister; they had the same blank expressions of their faces as the rest of the class. Yet somehow, their gazes were more like stone statues. Not one single emotion even rose from their faces. I shook my head and finally found my voice,[.]

“Mrs. Hackenburg[,] I have no response to his reply This is repetitive. Just wanted to point it out in case you didn’t notice, but I would keep it as is, because it fits with Elizabeth feeling stunned., but I will say and admit Mr. Dé Court you are quite the poet.” I then headed back returned to my seat and left it at that.
Review of Traffic Lights  
Review by April Dawn
Rated: E | (4.5)
This is a wonderful piece of work! So descriptive, so colorful. Your use of metaphors and personification makes this a joy to read, as I find myself entering the mind of Norton and seeing the world through his ever so observant eyes.

There are, certainly, some areas for improvement- most of them small edits and revisions, but you have a gift for description and attention to details that I'm certain will make this piece shine after a little proofreading and revision.

Here are some of my personal suggestions:

1. Is the first paragraph really necessary? I understand you are describing the accident and setting the stage for what Norton is going to stumble upon, but the fact that it is the only paragraph not written from his point of view detracts from the rest of the story. As I'm reading, I feel myself distractedly wondering if it is going to shift back to Jackie's view at some point.

2. Your statement that Norton "liked to examine how motorcars worked" seems out of place as it is the only sentance mentioning the passion, past-time or career. He does not seem at all interested in the vehicle wrapped around the tree other than to call in the accident and get help for the driver. If his interest in the workings of motor vehicles is important to the story, his thoughts should probably wander on that topic- picturing how the accident would have happened, or focusing on the ambulance or other vehicles he passes going to and from the hospital.

On that point- anywhere you are describing something that does not ADD to your story, you could probably cut it out. The descriptions are beautiful, but its a bit meaty to read through so much of it and wonder how much each point pertains to the tale you want to tell.

3. A minor realistic correction- The paramedics would not have asked him if he wanted to ride with them. They are required to not let anyone ride along unless they can prove they are family. There also possibly would have been a police officer there to take a statement from him.

4. There are several spots with simple grammatical or spelling errors or where your wording doesn't quite flow smoothly. I'd suggest letting it sit for awhile and coming back to read it again so they'll stand out to you.

Finally- I LOVE the way you did the conversation at the end. The sudden shift from so much description to the simple dialogue made it really stand out, and I could actually feel myself getting chills as I read their conversation. What a great way to bring your story to a close!
Review of Trick or Tweet  
Review by April Dawn
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is a pretty amazing piece of work! I could see it becoming a full novel with the filling in of details and events you glossed over to maintain your pace. It reminds me of "War of the Worlds", "Limitless", and a number of other post-apocalyptic and technological stories.

I'd be interested in seeing more about how you envision things happening during "The Attack", as well as how you picture your future with the implants. I immensely enjoyed this and was drawn into your story.
Review by April Dawn
Rated: E | N/A (Review only item.)
Thank you for this piece! You've done a splendid job of highlighting and describing the points that make a great short story, and how one can rely on conventions to pull off the necessary unity of form that truly draws in a reader. As we all strive to create unique art with our writing, it is important to know what tools we can utilize and what flaws to avoid as we seek to perfect our personal styles.
Review by April Dawn
Rated: 18+ | (4.5)
Your opening hits very close to home, as it brings to mind a very similar experience I went through in my own horribly abusive relationship of three years past. Like you, I often feel as though what I faced is more fitting to a fictional story, but am forced to accept it as a reality of my past. Like you, I am greatful for the exposure and recognition domestic violence is now receiving, yet equally saddened by the great many shared stories of those who have been through worse, and those who have not survived.

This is, I feel, a very important topic to write about, as we strive to help those who have no experience with abuse to understand- as best they can- what a traumatic and pervasive problem it is. There is only so much understanding that can be gained from books, websites, and professionals listing warning signs or personality flaws or characteristics to watch out for. How can anyone who has not been through the terror ever really understand what it is to be so mistreated? Yet, those of us who have experienced it and recovered enough to move forward with healthy life pursuits can share our personally gained knowledge in the hopes that our collective information will someday lead to the irradication of domestic violence altogether.

Your piece is very well written and could do with only a few minor improvements with grammar and sentance structure. The flow is slightly choppy, though such is most certainly hard to avoid when dealing with such an emotional topic. I can think of little that would make it better, however, as it provides exactly what it states in the description. It offers a peek into the eyes of one who was once abused and reveals the difficulty in overcoming the trapped mindset- the sense of wonderment that one was able to escape what others have lost their lives to. This is still a prevalent problem, but with the attention it is continuing to receive and the improvements in help for those both in need and in positions to recognize the signs of someone needing help, we can hope to save more lives. Thank you.
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