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The Deserter - Chapter 1 (OUTDATED)

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Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:59 am
ultraviolet says...


Chapter 1

I shake out and close my umbrella at the doorway, almost dropping my packages in the process. Rebalancing them in my arm, I enter the back of the cafeteria building of Kilnstone Academy For Girls.
The rows of tables are nearly empty, most of the students in their afternoon classes, but those that remain are, like all the girls here, anywhere from two to nine years younger than me. When I first started working as the Headmistress’s assistant, I would get glares and scowls, because how else would young ladies of favorable lineage treat a girl they assumed was an Adair? But now that I’ve been here two years, they for the most part ignore me as I hurry through to the adjacent main office.
I greet an unmoving Saisha, the secretary, as I cut through her office and tap on the large wooden door to Headmistress Whitley’s office. After a curt “Come in” I push the door open and lay the packages on the desk.
I’m about to leave when Whitley says, “Miss Ceil?”
I turn around. “Yes, Headmistress?”
“Someone came around when you were gone, looking for you. Someone from the royal palace… in Amhain. He wants to see you, and insisted on coming back at seven tonight. That’s not a problem, is it?”
I resist a gulp. “No, of course not.”
Yes, it is.
As I turn to leave again, Whitley says, “Miss Ceil?” regaining my attention. “You’re not in any kind of trouble, are you?”
I force a smile, hoping it looks sincere. “Not that I‘m aware of.”
Not yet, anyway.
She doesn’t look quite convinced. “Well, good then.”
And I leave.

I spend extra time before dinner brushing my hair, tying it up. Smoothing out my uniform. Even applying hand lotion in meticulous circles. Whatever it takes to look happy, put together. In control. I have to look like I’m content here - no, not just content. Better off. Which I am.
I enter the dining hall feeling as I did the first time; like all eyes are on me. Except then, they were, because they were oblivious to my past, oblivious to who I was. Now, though I rationalize they’re just as ignorant, that they still ignore me as always, I can’t help noticing every glance in my direction, can’t help thinking every whispered word is about the so-called Adair with skin just a little too pale for the country.
I go through the line, filling my tray with food, and sit down. For an hour I move it around with my fork, taking small bites. I don’t know what it is; I don’t taste it, and I can’t focus enough to make out the details in its appearance. Over the hour, several of the other student workers at the school file into the seats around me. No one offers up information about themselves - who would want to know of our pasts, which are, with little exception, dreary or gruesome, explaining how we all ended up here? - but light chatter bounces around, talk to pass the time. I’m not really required to join in, though, so I tune it out.
At twenty to seven, I give up on my meal and dump the remains into the trash. I hide in the restroom the rest of the time, washing my face, patting it with stiff paper towels. I massage out any lines of frustration or discomfort and work on placing a believable smile over my frown. With only a minute to spare, I know I’ll only make it worse by being late, so I walk as casually as I can force to Headmistress Whitley’s office.
When I enter, he’s there. Recognition is painted on his face, and we both know I’m who he’s looking for.
“Headmistress, I need some privacy with… Miss Ceil.” It isn’t a request, but a command. Just like everything that’s ever come from his mouth.
I can feel Whitley looking towards me, perhaps looking for some sort of assent, but my eyes don’t leave him, and I make no movement. Finally, she just leaves on her own.
He gestures to a chair in front of the desk. “Sit.” Another command.
I stand.
Shaking his head, he reclines into the Headmistress’ seat, parading his obvious power. “You always were stubborn, weren’t you, Lilly?” He doesn’t look angry or confused. More amused than anything.
In response, I sit on the large windowsill. The shades are drawn and outside the stifling island rain continues, so no natural light brightens the dreary office.
“You know why I’m here,” he says. I do. I don’t care. “So tell me, why am I here?”
You’re here because I hate you. I don’t say that though. I’m not sure I could. I’m not sure I do.
Instead, very controlled, I say, “You’re here because family is suddenly so important to you.” My words are cutting, and I half expect to see blood pool at his feet. But then I remember: hearts of ice can’t bleed - only melt. And nothing I say is going to accomplish that.
He pretends I was sincere. “Good. Why else?”
“I’m not coming h-” I catch myself. That place isn’t my home, not anymore. It never will be again. “Back there,” I finish my sentence. I refuse to meet his eyes.
“And that’s where we meet our problem.” He rises and circles the desk to where I sit; I turn my head to face the window. “Before you make up your mind completely, there are some things you should know. If you came back, things would be different.”
Something angry stirs inside me.
“Different how?
I jerk my head around and find it a mere foot from his. A shiver runs through my spine as I realize, despite our age difference, just how far our resemblance carries. His hair’s thicker than my golden-orange waves, with a twinge of brown in it, and his eyes are darker than my hazel ones - but we both have unrealistically light skin, large eyes, and slight features. Neither of us is large, but not quite petite. A safe middle. Only on him, this all adds to the affect of compressed power, a fatal trait. Something we don’t share.
He doesn‘t react to my anger. “You wouldn’t resume your lessons. Instead, I want you to become my military adviser.” I raise my eyebrows. “Not right away of course,” he hastens to say. “You’d have to train to be a soldier first, and go through several camps before it’d be taken into serious consideration. But if you complete those, I can think of no one more fitting for the job.”
I have to check to see if he’s lying. But I can’t tell - it’s a skill he’s too well mastered. Still, why bring it up if he wasn’t sincere? If he was lying and I got there, he’d have to forcefully contain me to keep me from leaving, and if he was going to do that why not just abduct me now?
He notices my quizzical expression and, reminding me to keep my face unreadable, says, “I understand that you’re skeptical. But believe me, with Father gone, there have been considerable changes. Things will be better for you.”
I want to believe him, I really do, but I know he’s lying - either that, or there’s a catch. He’s never strictly honest.
“And why do you care how things are for me?” You never did before. I don’t have to say the last part, though; he already knows.
He hesitates, and it’s his turn to look like he’s thinking. I almost smile - I can’t wait to hear what he thinks up now. He always did have the best excuses.
When he does speak, his voice is soft, rueful. Sorry. That’s how I know it’s an act.
“Adds,” he begins, using his pet name that’s too familiar for comfort, “I know I was horrible before. But I’m trying to make up for it now. I miss you. Everyone at the palace misses you. Even that boy still comes around asking about you - what was his name? Gavin?”
This is it, then. His weapon against me. He’s going to persuade me with thoughts of my childhood friend. Either that, or threaten me with him. Or maybe he’ll be more original and bring me a severed finger of Gavin’s, claiming he was mutilated in war and that his dying wish was that I might humbly take his place on the battlefield.
“I’ve already arranged for you two to commence training together, as partners. And as you only get one partner, unless death or sickness intervenes, if you don’t come it’ll be a tragedy to say he’d never have the opportunity to advance in his career.”
Or maybe he’ll just threaten me. And it just might work.
All our childhood we dreamed together of the intense training, the heroic battles; a life in the military. And entering the Combat Zone. We never could wrap our minds around that.
I narrow my eyes, and even he must find it hard to side-step my contempt.
“Adds.” He can‘t help looking triumphant. “I only have so long. My ship leaves tomorrow. I need an answer.” He says this because he knows he’s won. He wouldn’t force me into a decision unless he was sure I’d choose what he wanted.
Resisting the urge to slap him, I curtly say, “I’ll be in the main hall at seven.” I exit and don’t look back.

This is the first draft of my new novel The Deserter. I know it's not that great - that's why I'm here. Tear it to shreds - I dare you. Mostly, I want to know about things like pacing, dialogue (which I suck at), description, setting. Was it easy or hard to follow, and why. Did it make you want to read more or not, and why. Grammar I can do for myself. Any reviews, even sentence-long ones, are helpful. If you like it, press Like. =)
Last edited by ultraviolet on Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Blah blah blah. You feel trapped in your life. Here is what I am hearing: happiness isn't worth any inconvenience."


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Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:38 am
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Shearwater says...

Hey there, I'm here to review as requested! ^___^

So, I don't think I'll be doing much nitpicking but I will give you and overall of my thoughts on this piece. Which were, if I may say, positive. With that said, don't be nervous because I know you were, was, something. . . Anyway, onto the real thing now.

Alright, for the beginning you did a nice pull, it wasn't something too "wow" but you did a nice job of slowly making a scene and describing it. One thing that I might point out to you is that you should watch out for jumpy scenes. I felt like some transitions were slightly a little weird. For example, before she ate lunch it felt like you skipped a bit. I want to know what's going on in your character's mind and what she's expecting from this royal family and whatnot.

Now, my main concern over this is the wide hole in this first chapter. The fact that I can't exactly pinpoint what the real problem is and I don't understand why you're pushing it back. I want to to know just a little bit of what the whole deal is. However! Even with skimpy details I was able to put together a rough sketch of what I thought was going on or what the problem was. In the end, as much as I kind of feel out of the loop with this, I think it works to your advantage. I mean, it makes the reader question some more and thus, bring about a more curious atmosphere in which they'll turn the page for. So, good job with that. ^__^

Now, for my thoughts on the things you asked for...

I thought your pace was quite good. You weren't too slow and weren't too fast. The best part about it was that you didn't dwell on too much info and give a large amount of back thought and kept the main character interesting with little words. My only advice for this would be to try and squeeze in just a little bit emotion with the MC. Right now, I feel like she's also a numb iceheart like her brother? I presume?

The dialogue in here was actually quite refreshing. I've read some of your things before and I can see some vast improvement in the dialogue. It's nicely paced with various words and descriptions that make your characters feel more 3-D and real. So ten points for dialogue, yes? lololol

For description, you were lacking just a bit. I think you could use just a pinch more of it in some areas. Normally, for me, in novels I feel like too much description and sometimes drag a story out and make things feel a bit more cluttered so I normally try not to add too much. That's just me though. For setting, there's not much to say about that right now because I think the main setting is at the royal house, no?

Overall, you did quite well for the first chapter. A few more tweaks here and there and it'll be good. Such as, I don't get why this brother of her's would want to send his sister into the army or something. If he's her brother at all, I'm still a bit confused with their relationship. :/

Anyway, if you have any questions just let me know. ^__^
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Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:52 am
Eniarrol says...

I quite liked this piece but I would of liked it better if it had some more imagery to paint a picture in your mind better, although you did well in showing how the character is feeling which is good :)
Yeah, so just a bit of polishing and it will be great can't wait for the next chapter!
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Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:42 am
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Azila says...

Hullo! Thanks for the request--sorry I didn't get to this sooner.

I'm not going to do any nit-picky stuff because I don't really think that's what you need or want at this point, and there isn't much to correct anyway. But can I politely suggest that you make your opening a little stronger? For the beginning of a novel, you really want something that will capture and hold the reader's attention and I think you could do a little better with that than what you have right now. Anyhow, I'll get back to that later.

First, let me say that I liked this a lot! I am really intrigued by your characters, your world and (from what I can see of it, anyway) your plot. Your setting is fantastic--I can't wait to learn more about it! I definitely want to read more because I want to know more about your main character and her past. I don't really know her yet, but I already think I'll like her. I know you're a Hunger Games fan, so you'll probably be glad to hear that she reminds me of Katniss. She's one of those tough, cold, somewhat selfish female protagonists who you simultaneously love and hate. At least that's what she seems to be so far. Considering the fact that this is called The Deserter, I have a feeling she's going to go along with her brother for a little while and then... desert. Hm. I definitely want to read more.

Okay. Now for the things that I think you could improve. Firstly, since I've already mentioned this, I'd like to address your opening. What made you start then? You seem to be taking a "jump right in" method to starting your novel, meaning that you're no going to give a prologue or a few chapters of "normal life" for the reader to get used to before the adventure begins. There's nothing wrong with that method... but I just wonder why you didn't do it all the way. Rather than start with her meeting with her brother, you gave a sort-of-intro before that. Why? You tell us that she's at some school, helping out, and that she's some sort of a misfit because of her race... it's almost enough information to be interesting, but it's also almost confusing because you just give us glimpses of these bits of information without really letting us figure anything out. If I were you, I'd either expand that intro or get rid of it completely. Personally, I think it would be better to have a bit of an intro than not, but you can't do it half-way. This actually goes along with what PinkShearwater said about the scene-changes feeling choppy. They feel choppy because that whole first section feels fragmented. I think you should flesh it out a lot more, and in the process let us see more of the MC's thoughts/emotions (which ties into something else Pinky said).

In fact, I think if you just made the whole intro part (before her talk with her brother) have a lot more of her thought process in it, it would kill a lot of birds with one stone (to use a terribly gruesome, inhumane figure of speech). You could help give a better sense of what's going on without completely info-dumping and you could also give a nice introduction to your MC and let us get to know her a bit. You can still give vague images, but they have to be images, not just sort of snippets.

Plot-wise, I'm a little bit confused about what happened during her conversation with her brother. I understand that he wants to take her somewhere and train her, and I understand that she thinks he's probably lying... but I don't understand what made her change her mind. I'm not even sure that she did change her mind. You do really well portraying her as a rather cold, bitter person who isn't very emotional... but it's hard to have a character like that because you still want the reader to know something about what they are thinking. Otherwise it doesn't really make much sense. I have a feeling that there was some big emotional hurtle or something that happened in that conversation, and I feel like I should know what it is, but I don't.

As for dialogue: I'm going to have to agree with Pinky (once again!). It's great! I don't see why you think you suck at it because you definitely don't. ^_~ The conversation is confusing but just because I'm confused about the emotion behind it. The actual dialogue is quite well-done.

About descriptions: yes, you could use to have a bit more of them. I don't really have any kind of a picture in my head of what the school looks like, or what the characters look like. You don't have to get carried away with descriptions like some people *ehem* me *ehem* do, and I actually like your non-descriptive style, especially for a novel like this--but you do need some descriptions, methinks, because otherwise it's hard for your reader to get their bearings.

Anyhow, that's about it. Of course, it's impossible to tell from the first chapter alone, but this looks like a cool novel to me! I'd like to see what comes of it.

I hope this review helps somewhat (sorry if I did nothing but echo Pinky...) and please feel free to PM me or post on my wall with any questions or anything like that.


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Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:16 pm
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borntobeawriter says...

Hey there Violet, thanks for the request!

Ah, reviewing after 'Zila and Pink is always difficult: they've mentioned all the good stuff! ;)

I have to agree with them, though, about the beginning. Have her jump right in. Maybe have her walk in the office and he's already there, wants to speak with her and there's no chance she can flee.

That way, we get her thoughts, her impressions. Before, it felt that not only she was killing time, but so were you. Was it necessary to know that she took an hour to twirl her food? Then threw it out? I don't think so.

It would be nice to get a little more in her head. I mean, that's the greatest asset to being in first person: to plug your readers directly into your Mc's mind. And I definitely want to know more.

I thought the dialogue was good, smooth and flowed well. I could picture her sitting on the windowsill. What bothers me the most, and I know the previous reviewers have mentioned it, is: why does she decide to follow him? I mean, she knows she's being manipulated, she knows he'll pull out the big guns, so why let him win? Also, was she aware of the 'death' of her father? Is she shocked, relieved?

Other than that, I thought this was good and intriguing, and you did a good job at pulling us into the story. Let me know when you post more, okay?

Tanya :D

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Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:38 pm
armstronge says...

Okay, first I'd like to say that it was good. It was slightly confusing though. Is the MC's real name Lilly? Then why would he -- her brother? -- call her Adds?

I like how you showed her thoughts and feelings. It makes the character more 3-D, more realistic. But still, it was confusing. If she's working for the Headmistress, why would she eat with the students? Is her name Ceil, or is that just a nickname for something longer?

Also, you might want to put in description. What's the school like? I liked how you emphasized that she stuck out, that she was the odd one. One problem is that reader's don't know what an Adair is or a Saisha is. Maybe explaining about it would help. Other than that, I think it's great! I can't wait to read the next chapter!
“To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world”

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Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:14 am
ultraviolet says...

Thanks for all the reviews. You pinpointed all the things I didn't like about this, and now I know how to fix them! *beams* And actually, bouncing off each other made it make more sense, so you're good with that. :D So, thanks.

loveness, ultraviolet <3
"Blah blah blah. You feel trapped in your life. Here is what I am hearing: happiness isn't worth any inconvenience."


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Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:08 pm
ultraviolet says...

Chapter 2 is up, if any of you would (please :3 ) like to look at it.
"Blah blah blah. You feel trapped in your life. Here is what I am hearing: happiness isn't worth any inconvenience."


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Sun May 01, 2011 12:01 am
Snoink says...

Hey ultraviolet! I found one huge error in this piece that rather bothered me:

This is the first draft of my new novel The Deserter. I know it's not that great - that's why I'm here.

Are you KIDDING?! This was flippin' fantastic!

However, because we need to get the most points, allow me to delve into why this piece was amazing

pacing, dialogue (which I suck at), description, setting. Was it easy or hard to follow, and why. Did it make you want to read more or not, and why.


The pacing was fantastic! You didn't go too slow or too fast. Often, this is a problem for writers. Sometimes, they'll only concentrate on the external action, so there is no real emotional context to the story. This makes it seem flat and, unless there is TONS of action, really boring. Too much internal action (the mushy feeling stuff) on the other hand slows it down and detracts from the main conflicts that are happening. This story had a nice balance of both, so that with the action there was an emotional context and yet the emotional context didn't sap out and kill the conflict. It was very well done! And yes, there was a lot of conflict, lol. Though there was no battle scenes or anything like that, the hint of it was everywhere, and it was quite good.


The dialogue was very good! Dialogue should help move a story along and let us gain insight as to who the characters are. Also, dialogue should be supported by the various tags and such which help show you how things are said and thus get a further insight as to who everybody is. You did this for all your main characters. There is an additional insight I would like to know... I would like to see in the very beginning why she is considered to be a bit strange. But, that is okay. All in all, it was quite excellent!


Too much description and it can get too weighty. Too little and it's very confusing. Again, very nice! I would like to see why people ignore her, both other than that it was very well done.


This was probably weakest. Maybe it's because you posted it in sci fi, but I didn't really get the feeling as to where this all way.

AND. I want to read more because the conflict is interesting. :) Plus, I like the characters. They seem really balanced and real. I especially want to see her brother and her get along. But I am kind of a sap like that! I also want to find out more about Gavin. He seems interesting! Though I am suspicious of him. What if he's changed?!

Good going! I'll check out the next chapters. :)
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Sun May 01, 2011 3:51 pm
Sins says...

Guess who? Me.

i is ere as requested. You've already gotten so many epic reviews, this will probably feel like you're reading a review from a toilet, but hey, you asked me to review this, so I will. Plus, I've got to leave pretty soon too, so I'm on a tight schedule. Here goes nothing!

I will begin by saying that I love your writing style, I really do. It's different, but not so different it becomes awkward or confusing. A nice balance. Your grammar is really great, far better than mine, and it's just a neat chapter in general. Another thing I'm liking a lot is the mystery element in this. There is something I'd actually like to critique about that, but I'll mention it later. All in all, I like a bit of mystery, so it's mostly a positive thing. I also like your characters. They're interesting, and they help me want to read on.

Mostly, I want to know about things like pacing, dialogue (which I suck at) LIES., description, setting. Was it easy or hard to follow, and why.

H'okay, let's see.


All in all, your pacing was good. Better than mine anyway. I always make things happen too slowly. The only time I really felt your pacing was a bit off was during transition scenes. For example, it kind of felt like one moment, your MC was brushing her hair, and the next, she's eating. Obviously, it's not literally like that, but it felt a bit jumpy. Punk's actually mentioned this, I think, so having me mention it again will probably confuse you. I'm not sure if you've edited this since Punk's review, but if you have, I think you could put in some extra tweaking. It's not a huge problem, so with a tiny bit of editing, you'll be fine.


Well, I didn't really see any problems with this. If anything, I really liked your dialogue. So yeah... nothing to say here, not really. I especially liked her dialogue with... her brother? But yeah, whoever he was, I liked the MC's dialogue with him.


Hmmm, okay. Honestly? You don't have a great deal of this, but even more honestly... it doesn't bother me much at all really. I mean, take a look at my writing... I'm hardly the great descriptive writer. Half of the time, people probably imagine my characters as floating stick men in empty rooms. Nonetheless though, I do try to squeeze descriptions out of me, and I think you could do a bit more of that here. I may be a bit biased because descriptions aren't my thing, but in general, I don't think it's a huge problem. I think that if you threw in the odd description on the people around the MC, her surroundings and a few other things, it will be fine.

On a descriptive note, something else I'd like to see are more descriptive emotions. Right now, this feels a bit distant to me... I don't really feel a connection to the MC. This may be connected to something else too, but I'll mention that later. I get the idea that she feels awkward about what's going on with (her brother?), but that's about it. I mean, is she scared? Annoyed? Maybe she even has a hint of having missed him inside of her? Some people simply have distant styles to their writing, and that's cool, but having read some of your other stuff, I know that you can be good at expressing characters emotions. I'd like to see that here. Like Azila said, why did the MC actually decide to go with (her brother?) I mean, she seemed pretty adamant to not want to go with him, then all of a sudden, she wanted to.


I really liked the setting here. It was intriguing. I like the idea you seem to have come up with, and I think it's really original too. I'll hold my hands up and admit that, okay, Sci-fi isn't my thing, especially Sci-fi settings, but I liked this. It wasn't too Sci-fiish, (<----- LOL, that says fish) if you get what I mean. But yeha, not much to say here really. I think you did a great job. Some more description on her surroundings would be nice, but I've already mentioned that.

Other stuff Skinsy's going to be a pain about

The main thing that stuck out to me is actually something to do with the mystery. Before you go, "WTF, home dawg? U sed u laiked da mystery?!?!!211!," that is true. It's just that part of me feels like you went a bit too far. Okay, let's slice it all down. What do we know? Your MC's in some place. Why? We can't be sure. Some guy (we don't really know who he is) has arrived, and is taking her home. That's the only real concrete stuff we know, and a lot of that is shady. I don't want her life story or anything, but it kind of feels like you've thrown us into a situation that has so many more details to it than we know of, so it all gets a bit confusing. I guess this ties into this:

Was it easy or hard to follow, and why.

One one hand, it was easy because your writing style is clear, but on the other hand, it was hard because I didn't know any of the background behind what was happening. Thinking about it, this actually feels more like a prologue than a first chapter because of the mystery. This would actually work pretty well as a prologue, methinks, but you might hate prologues for all I know. Another thing the mystery seems to be effecting is your MC. It's making me feel disconnected to her. It doesn't feel like I know her at all, and that makes me struggle to like or even dislike her. What I'd suggest is that you maybe at least give us a tiny bit more information on the whole situation. Maybe let us know a bit more about why she's in this place, give us at least some background information on her, and maybe explain her emotions some more.

I know this review probably sounds harsh, and it ended up far longer than I intended... but seriously, I really liked this. I'm definitely going to read more. U has skillz, man. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to the rest of the parts today because like I said, I have to leave soon. I'll try my best to get the rest of the reviews done soon though. :)

Keep writing, and awesome job!

xoxo Skins
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Sun May 01, 2011 5:47 pm
silentpages says...

"... when Whitley says..." How much does the MC respect this headmistress? If she has a lot of respect, she'll probably keep the title of Headmistress there all the time, but if she doesn't have as much respect she'll probably take it off. Just making sure you're keeping that in mind. ^^

"Except then, they were, because they were oblivious to my past, oblivious to who I was." For me, 'oblivious' has the connotation of not really caring either way, and if that was the case then they wouldn't have been staring at her. Perhaps find another word. Ignorant is good, so maybe you could just keep using that... Remember, the thesaurus is your friend. :)

I like the progression we feel as she gets ready and prepares herself mentally for... whatever it is that comes next. ^^

"The shades are drawn and outside the stifling island rain continues, so no natural light brightens the dreary office." This sentence is phrased a bit stiffly, I think. Also, how can she tell it's still raining if the shades are drawn? Is one hanging a bit crooked, or can she just here the constant knocking of the rain on the roof?

"I’m not coming h-” I feel like it would be better to say "I'm not going", rather than coming, but that might be personal preference.

"You’d have to train to be a soldier first." So she would be going to lessons. But maybe not her regular lessons...

"... thinking. I almost smile - I can’t wait to hear what he thinks up now." Thinking, think. A little repetitive. Maybe find another word - 'I can't wait to hear what he cooks up now.' Or something.

Why is her nickname Adds if he called her Lilly before? Is there a story behind it? I'm a little confused about what her actual name is...

In the beginning, it felt like she was getting ready for something. Like she knew what was coming. And when her brother(?) shows up, it feels like she knew he'd be there that particular day. But if she's really been working at this academy for years, how would she know that something was different? An old friend sent her a message, or she did something recently that would draw his attention... It could just be a panic thing, where she didn't know when but she knew she couldn't hide forever, but... yeah...

Pacing, was good, I think. Constant. Like I said before, I liked the progression. The dialogue was maybe a bit odd in places, but nothing major that I can pick out at the moment. Try grabbing a friend and acting out the scene (or just doing it yourself) and saying what feels natural. Description, and setting was good, I think. I can picture the stereotypical 'academy' thing, all old and stuffy. The one thing was, I couldn't quite tell whether it was set in older times, present day, or science fiction-ey. Is this 'ship' of his a spaceship, or a sailing ship? I followed it pretty well, I think... I might be interested in reading more, and figuring out more about her, this war that she left, her issues with her family.

Basically, I think this is a good start. :) Keep writing.
"Pay Attention. Pay Close Attention to everything, everything you see. Notice what no one else notices, and you'll know what no one else knows. What you get is what you get. What you do with what you get is more the point. -- Loris Harrow, City of Ember (Movie)

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."
— Albus Dumbledore