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The Three Lockets [Chapter 1.1]

by Saen


Chapter 1

Even when she heard Aspen ringing the doorbell, Cass didn't want to get out of bed. She had admittedly been awake for the past few minutes, but she had also been trying to fall back asleep. She had a good sort of dream. She didn't remember much of it – just little flashes of colors and things – but she had liked it and wanted it to finish. Aspen rang the doorbell again, adding in a knock or two for good measure.

Cass groaned. “I'm coming!” she shouted.

Another loud knock.

“Aspen, I know you heard me!” she replied, pushing her covers back and hurriedly getting out of bed. Aspen was predictable like that, much in the same way that she was predictable to Aspen. Her best friend knew that the noise would be enough to rush her out of bed, and Cass knew that was exactly why she was ignoring her. Just as she had guessed, the knocking only stopped when she threw the front door open several minutes later.

It was only eight o'clock in the morning, but Aspen somehow managed to look perfect. She always did. Long reddish brown hair thrown up in a neat ponytail, just the right touch of makeup and a bright look to the eyes peering out behind her sunglasses. The sight made her heart flutter a little bit, but she quickly pushed the thought aside as she let Aspen in.

“Morning, Sleeping Beauty,” Aspen teased her, messing with her bedhead. Cass gently pushed her hand away, which only made Aspen do it again. She sighed and reluctantly let her continue. At times like these, it was just easier to let Aspen do what she wanted to. Cass didn't mind it. Most of the time, she liked it. But she had just gotten out of bed, and the last thing she wanted was for someone to mess with the hair that she was already feeling self-conscious about.

They stopped in front of the kitchen door.

“Have you had breakfast yet?” Aspen asked, blocking her way in. She wanted to go out, then. They had spent the past few mornings hanging out in her kitchen and raiding her refrigerator, and the only reason she wouldn't want to do that was if she had something special in mind. “I was thinking Dunkin.”

Cass yawned. “Why not eat here?” she asked.

“Well,” Aspen said, leaning against the door frame and grinning at her. “Today is a very special day, and I wanted to give it the best possible start.”

She wracked her brains for what the occasion was. Her birthday wasn't for another month, and Aspen's had been two months ago. Their AP test scores weren't coming out for another week. And, the last time she checked, neither one of them had entered a contest that would be announcing its winners soon. As she looked around the house while she thought, her gaze landed on the window in the front door.

“The weather's nice today,” she commented, turning back to Aspen. A smile began to spread across her lips. That was it, wasn't it? They had been planning this day for months, but the weather had never been just right for their outdoor expedition.

“Bingo!” Aspen confirmed. “We've got a beautiful shining sun, not a single cloud in the sky and the coolest temperature all summer! It's the perfect weather for the perfect day. We'll start the day with some delicious donuts, scour the flea market for some cool new finds, go on a hike and end it with a movie marathon!”

“Just like we planned.”

“Exactly,” her best friend said. She grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around. “Now, go get ready! Meet me out in the jeep when you're done.”

xvx

It was on the rarest occasions that Cass got ready in a reasonable amount of time; on most mornings, she had to get up several hours in advance of whatever she was doing to make sure she arrived on time. But this day was special. She easily shook off the last remnants of sleep and hurried about her room, gathering what they would need on their outing. Her purse, her hiking bag, snacks, water bottles – it might have been excessive, but Cass had always told herself it was better to be prepared.

When she finally left the house, Aspen was sitting in the driver's seat with her feet on the dash. She was probably online, checking out the summer exploits of their classmates. But it wasn't the phone that her eyes lingered on. It was the sandals that Aspen was wearing. They were stylish, but they were also the exact opposite of what Cass would have worn if she knew she would be walking for awhile.

Hearing the sound of the door opening, Aspen looked over at the source of the noise. She thought for a moment, and then raised her phone.

“Smile!”

Cass, startled by the sudden request, did an awkward half-smile. The flash went off, and Cass knew her fate had been sealed. Aspen was too impatient to take multiple shots. Confirming her suspicion, Aspen put the phone down next to her. That picture would undoubtedly end up online by the end of the day.

“You can put your backpack in the back,” Aspen suggested, gesturing at the empty seats behind her. “Although I still think you're not going to regret bringing that giant thing.”

She opened the backdoor and did as requested. After a few moments of surveying the area in front of her, she decided that it would be best to stick it behind her own seat. If it was wedged in, it was unlikely to slide around while they were driving and distract them. She went to go do exactly that. “It's an emergency bag. You bring it in case something goes horribly wrong, not because you're going to need it every time.”

“We're going hiking in the woods down the street.”

Cass gave a small shrug as she joined her in the front. “You need to be prepared for the worst when in the wild,” she simply said.

“And that's one of your survival shows talking right there,” Aspen teased her, giving her a poke as she put her legs down on the floor of the car. She turned the keys in the ignition. “What do you even have in there this time?”

“Food, water, a stove-”

“A stove?”

“It's a portable one. There's some ponchos, emergency blankets, a spare pair of sneakers, a match kit, and some other things I can't think of off the top of my head.” She gave Aspen a shy little smile, sinking into her seat as she did so. Even though they were best friends, it was embarrassing sharing how much she knew about the topic. “It's everything you could possibly need in the wilderness.”

Aspen gave the bag an incredulous look. “You fit all of that in there?”

She nodded.

She replied to the confirmation with an impressed whistle. “I really need you to pack my bags the next time I go on a trip.” She turned her attention back to the road in front of them. “So you've got everything?”

“Yeah.”

“Then off to Dunkin we go!”


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Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:09 pm
DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hiya, Saen!

Several of the LMS writers I was following have dropped out of the competition and Blue's not far off finishing The Chosen Grandma, so I'm in need of some more novels to follow. I know you've got a healthy amount of reviewers on this already, but I've always been intrigued by it, so I thought I'd add it to my list. You can never have too many critiques, right?

I don't know if you've had a review from me before, I'm just going to stick with the simple formula of addressing small stuff first and then giving you my overall thoughts. Minor grammar corrections, if relevant, will be shown in blue. Let's go!

Small Comments

“Aspen, I know you heard me!” she replied, pushing her covers back and hurriedly getting out of bed.


I actually think that 'pushing the covers back' is enough to imply that she's getting out of bed, so there's no need for the bit I've crossed out.

Her best friend knew that the noise would be enough to rush her out of bed, and Cass knew that was exactly why she was ignoring her. Just as she had guessed, the knocking only stopped when she threw the front door open several minutes later.


You're kind of tell-y here? There's a few things that bug me. First, there's the use of best friend. It sticks out and it really shouldn't be necessary. The moment Aspen and Cass start interacting, I should know from their behaviour and dialogue that they're incredibly close friends; it's not something that the narrator should tell me. Second, I think you just labour the point a bit about the door and explain too thoroughly why Aspen is doing it and why Cass is getting up. You could just imply all this stuff by showing us the events as they unfold. Cass is lying in bed, Aspen starts hammering at the door, Cass is like 'I'm coming, alright?', but Aspen keeps drumming a funky beat on that door until Cass drags herself all the way downstairs to let her in. There's no need to pick apart their motivations - it'd be clear enough without them.

In essence, resist the urge to explain why your characters are acting the way they are. Let the behaviour speak for itself.

After a few moments of surveying the area in front of her, she decided that it would be best to stick it behind her own seat. If it was wedged in, it was unlikely to slide around while they were driving and distract them.


I'm not sure we really need this bit? It's a rather mundane detail. Why not just have her wedge the bag behind the seat and have done with it?

Overall Thoughts

So, this is quite a cute little start to the story, but as many of my fellow reviewers have expressed, not that much has happened. I'm not a fan of stories that plunge straight into all-guns-blazing action - I think it's crucial that we get to know the characters in a normal setting first - but there still needs to be some promise of change and excitement. If I hadn't read your premise, this opening wouldn't leave me with a great deal of intrigue. It's just two girls going out to have best friend fun. There's no suspense or stakes yet.

I don't think the story necessarily needs to start later, but you do need to strike a more careful balance between normality and change. It could be something simple. Maybe a storm is threatening but Aspen shows up and asks to go hiking anyway, and Cass (who seems the sensible one) is hesitant, because she knows that hiking in pouring rain could be dangerous. Maybe she goes anyway because she can never refuse Aspen, even though it's against her better judgement. Or maybe Cass has other commitments for the day, but Aspen shows up with plans and she goes along with them, even though it's not a good idea in the long run. It only has to be minor, but I want a suggestion that (a) Cass is making an active decision (b) there might be some kind of cost to it. It could also set up an interesting character dynamic if we saw that Cass struggles to refuse Aspen - it already seems like that's the case, but you could push it further.

On the subject of Cass and Aspen, their relationship holds a lot of promise. Their personalities are already distinct, and while it seems to be a classic case of one being responsible and the other being more bubbly and carefree, there's nothing wrong with that. It's classic because it works. I do think you should lay off using 'best friend' so frequently because their closeness is obvious without it needing to be stated, so it just feels like you're trying to force the reader to see their relationship a particular way.

I found it a little over-the-top when Cass started going on about Aspen looking as perfect as always, but given that the gal's got an obvious crush on her, I'll let it slide. I actually think Cass's tendency to idolise Aspen could be really interesting going forward.

Now, let's talk about the writing. As I alluded to in the small comments, it does lean rather too close to the telling side of the spectrum. It just comes across like you don't quite trust your reader to understand what's happening, so you stop to spoonfeed them details about why the characters are doing certain things. It's often not necessary. Readers are pretty dang astute. If you lay out what the characters are doing rather than why, odds are they'll be able to infer the motivations. Especially in a scene like this one, which is pretty day-to-day. So trust your reader more. Don't hold their hand all the time.

Anything else to say? I think that's the bulk of it. It's a sweet start and the idea had potential, and I do really like that Aspen and Cass's personalities come across so well from the start. You need higher stakes, more of a sense of anticipation, and your writing is a bit on the safe side, but I'm still looking forward to reading more.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:23 pm
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Querencia wrote a review...



Hey Saen!

You've got a ton of reviews already, but I hope you don't mind another! ;) I'm finally getting around to reading all of these LMS novels, haha.

Okay! So I definitely love the way this is set up, with the two friends getting all ready for their adventure. And I like that they have some obvious differences, things that could set them against each other, but they're friends anyway. :)

She was probably online, checking out the summer exploits of their classmates. But it wasn't the phone that her eyes lingered on. It was the sandals that Aspen was wearing. They were stylish, but they were also the exact opposite of what Cass would have worn if she knew she would be walking for awhile.

I feel like there's something missing here, like a "so"? I mean, I've definitely done that before, but then I would say, "Are you really going to wear THOSE on a hike?" or at least I would think it. Cass sees the sandals, but it's as if she doesn't really have a reaction to them other than saying they aren't what Cass would have worn. I don't know, it just seems like it's missing a little something at the end.

“Although I still think you're not going to regret bringing that giant thing.”

I feel like you meant to say "you ARE going to regret"? That's just what the context makes it sound like, the way it's written currently is a little bit strange.

“Food, water, a stove-”

“A stove?”

“It's a portable one. There's some ponchos, emergency blankets, a spare pair of sneakers, a match kit, and some other things I can't think of off the top of my head.”

Okay, so you mentioned a "hiking bag"? That brings to mind some sort of handheld bag, like a shopping bag. But the items inside this makes me think more of a backpacking backpack, or at least a large backpack. I know it's just a tiny wording thing, but it bothered me a little bit.

That's mostly it on specifics. One thing I sort of wanted to have was a tiny bit more background. Not an information dump, but maybe what Cass's room looks like, where her parents may be (unless they're in the house but still asleep/totally invisible?). Maybe just a quick "they'd been friends since the fourth grade" or something to imply history. Clearly Cass and Aspen are friends, and at least since the start of the summer, Aspen has been coming over, but in a way it's almost as if friendship starts here as well. Maybe in later chapters there can be some inside jokes and shared moments and that sort of thing. :)

Ooh! I also hope that at some point in the future we get to know what the forest looks like, or just where the girls live in general. Like is it a pine forest? Oaks? Rural or near a city? I mean, this sounds sort of ridiculous, but I'm excited to know what kind of place they live in before, you know, they end up somewhere else.

Anyway, that's about all I have. Feel free to tag me when you get the next chapter up! :D I'll be traveling for the next little bit, but I'd love to read/review it when I get the chance.

Good luck on LMS! <3

-Q




Saen says...


Thank you so much for the review! I apologize for not replying sooner - I was in another country when you reviewed, and I didn't have a chance to write out a good reply at the time that I checked yws.

You should get to know what the forest looks like in one of the future chapters - probably the one where they go there! I might add in a comment or two about it before then, but I'm not sure.

Have fun on your travels, if they're still ongoing. <3



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Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:36 pm
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soundofmind says...



I FINALLY READ THIS AND I JUST WANT U TO KNOW THIS IS V CUTE AAA




Saen says...


HERE'S A VERY BELATED THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU COMMENTED



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Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:13 am
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Carlito wrote a review...



Hello hello!! Wow people got to this fast! I saw you post it earlier today and I marked as something to read and a few hours later it has four reviews! :) I've really been looking forward to this story too.

So far I think you're starting in a great spot. I know this is going to be fantasy, but I love when fantasy starts in the contemporary world and then something fantastical happens (which I assume is going to be when they discover the locket in the thrift store). I think that's called urban fantasy? Don't quote me on that :p

I really like that we get to see a "normal" day with our two MCs before things start really rolling and things get crazy. It's a nice way to get to know the MCs and see how they interact before things start getting crazy. I also liked how you showed the differences in their personalities. They're not so polar opposite I wonder why they're friends. I can see how they compliment each other. But I like that they're different enough I won't get them confused and they're clearly their own people. (like I love how much stuff Cass packed for their hike. total Carlito move :p)

I also like that you planted a seed for romance rather than making it obvious from the start that there already is or will be a romance. As it stands right now, it could go either way and I like that I don't know which way it's going to go.

I don't really have any qualms so far because it's early and I like how you've executed this opening. Let me know when you post future installments because I definitely want to follow along and see where you take this! And let me know if you have any questions or if there's something you'd like feedback about that I didn't mention! :D




Saen says...


Thanks for the review!

I know there's a specific name for a genre in anime for characters from our world ending up in a magical one, but I have no idea what the book equivalent of that would be. It's always been my favorite type of fantasy - when it seems normal, but suddenly there's magic - which is why I wanted to emphasize how normal their lives are right now.

It's a total Saen move, too! Actually, more of my dad's. He's the one who got my whole family to make bags like that for camping, and he's the one teaching us how to use everything in them. I thought something line that would be the perfect thing for Cass to bring.

I'll definitely let you know when I post the next installments! Thanks again for reviewing.



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Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:18 pm
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BlueAfrica wrote a review...



Okay, I'm still laughing over this

me: The romance is a budding one, and it'll take some time for both Cass and the reader to realize she fell in love with her best friend-

Also Me: It was only eight o'clock in the morning, but Aspen somehow managed to look perfect... The sight made her heart flutter a little bit, but she quickly pushed the thought aside as she let Aspen in.


Love it, love it, love it. Like I totally get that you really want it be a BUDDING romance (although it can definitely still be budding but she already definitely feels something, bc basically any time before they've actually gotten together it's still budding) and that you want the reader to maybe not realize it RIGHT AWAY that this is a thing that'll happen, but I also don't think there's a problem with Cass's feelings to be obvious right away. Assuming you're also okay with that. If you want it to be more subtle, well.

*still laughing*

I like that you establish their relationship here (accidentally slightly more than you meant to this early OOPS but that's okay) and their different personalities and get us going out to where they're going to run into more Main Plot stuff (after a brief detour to Dunkin' Donuts). At the risk of sounding like a HORRIBLE HYPOCRITE, I wanted to say you might want to dive into the action sooner. However, I think it's not so much that the action, per se, hasn't started yet as what Bisc said:

It's set up as a sort of Today's-The-Day kind of thing, but it just seems like a pretty normal (though fun) day.


I think it's just that the way Aspen and Cass initially talk about The Day makes it sound like something that's going to be more obviously Plot-Related or Exciting, but instead it's just a normal fun sort of day. I realize (bc I've looked at your thread) that this is going to put them in the way of Plot Things, but it was a little disappointing to find out "today's the day" was just "SUPER BEST FRIEND FUN."




Saen says...


Thanks for the review!

Honestly, knowing me? If I tried to write a subtle romance, it would end up being so subtle that no one could even tell it was there. The romance is only a small part of the novel, so that'll hopefully work for now!

I really want to show the difference between Cass' normal life and what her life becomes when they end up in that other world, which is why I tried to make it seem like an incredibly "normal" day for them. I'm not sure it's the best place to start, but that's what revisions are for!



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Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:41 pm
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BiscuitsLeGuin wrote a review...



This is my way of telling you that the link does in fact now work :P

Nit-picks:

“It's a portable one. There's some ponchos, emergency blankets, a spare pair of sneakers, a match kit, and some other things I can't think off of the top of my head.”

Just the one nit-pick. Spot the typo.

Overall:

I liked the tone of this, and there were a few details scattered around - Aspen being impatient with taking photos, for example - to give me a good idea of how well these people know each other, even more so than the declaration earlier on that they are best friends. I also chuckled slightly at "A stove?" which also seemed very like something a best friend would say to someone they know has quirks.

I think what could be improved between the two of them is knowing their background. Clearly they go to school together, but have they known each other their whole lives? There's a couple of moments where Cass focuses on a physical detail or notes some tension she's feeling that makes me think she might even feel romantically about Aspen. Not that I'd need an answer to that question just yet, but when I don't have a clear idea of how what they are to each other, I'm not completely able to contextualise that.

Also, I'm not really sure what about this particular trip is meant to be the big hook of the story. It's set up as a sort of Today's-The-Day kind of thing, but it just seems like a pretty normal (though fun) day. I'm sure something exciting will happen, but only in a sort of meta-way, as in you wouldn't be writing a story if otherwise. Maybe some hint of something they're worried about happening?

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




Saen says...


Thanks for the review!

I'm glad Cass and Aspen are convincing best friends! I put a lot of effort into writing them, and it looks like it paid off.

I'm not sure exactly when I'll be put it in, but Cass and Aspen only become close friends at the beginning of the past school year - so, no, they haven't known each other their entire lives. I didn't want to info dump, which is why I avoided mentioning it in this chapter. Hopefully it'll come up soon?

Just wait about a part of a chapter or two, and you should get that hook you're looking for - I'm trying to write this as a completely normal day when it is, in fact, not one.

Thanks again for the review!





Alrighty, fair enough on both counts. Feel free to let me know when the next chapter is up ^.^



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Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:38 pm
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Zoom wrote a review...



and hurriedly getting out of bed


and hurrying out of bed

thrown up in a neat ponytail


“Thrown up” doesn’t really conjure an image that coincides with “neat”

Be careful of contradictions like this

xvx


Nothing particularly interesting has happened before this point. The writing is decent however by a page or two you should have already dropped something engaging about your story, such as an interesting setting, a plot point, a theme. I don’t feel two friends planning a spontaneous hike has really achieved a great deal.

***

Overall comments

I still feel the same way at the end, nothing particularly captivating has occurred to ensure my interest. Have you considered starting this story at another point in time?

Again, the writing is okay from a technical standpoint. I just wish something noteworthy was taking place.

-Zoom




Saen says...


Thanks for the review! The xvx is actually a line breaker. I've had trouble with some of them on websites I've used in the past, so I tend to come up with something to split them apart. If you read any of my new chapters when they come out, you should see the same thing!

I've mentioned it over in my thread for this novel, but the story starts with the girls going about their daily lives - only to end up in a completely different, magical world. If you wait a few chapters, you should be able to see that engaging detail! (And in the next one, there's some interesting conversations that should make up for the lack of action in this part of the chapter.)

Thanks for pointing out my grammatical errors. I wrote this in a little bit of a hurry and completely forgot to read through it to check for them!

Thanks again! Want me to tag you when I post the next chapter?



Zoom says...


Oh I was wondering why the break looked a bit strange :)

Please do tag me, as I said your writing was smooth to read to I wouldn%u2019t mind being patient and waiting for things to kick off.



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Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:26 pm
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Sheadun wrote a review...



Hi Saen!

I wanted to come and review your LMS novel. You don't have to take any of my suggestions, of course, but I hope you take them into consideration. Also, I apologize if I offend for any reason. That being said, I will start off with what I liked:

I am really intrigued in this story already! I really liked the flow of it, and how the two best friends differ. I liked how quickly I was able to read it. I wasn't confused, and didn't have to go back to re-read something that might have been strange. I liked the characters, the plot, and I am very intrigued! I hope to read another one some time.

Now for some suggestions:

First off, I have a COMPLETELY opinionated suggestion that really has nothing to do with the story. Personally, I believe that it would be better as 'Dunkin's'. I know, I know, it's a really dumb suggestion, but that is just what my family calls it! I've never heard it called straight Dunkin. Blah, blah, blah, I'll get past this weird suggestion.

"Even when she heard Aspen ringing the doorbell, Cass didn't want to get out of bed. She had admittedly been awake for the past few minutes, but she had also been trying to fall back asleep. She had a good sort of dream. She didn't remember much of it – just little flashes of colors and things – but she had liked it and wanted it to finish. Aspen rang the doorbell again, adding in a knock or two for good measure." This paragraph is a great opener, but I feel like you say 'she' many times. You could switch it to say her name more often, or any or nickname, or even her full name if it isn't just Cass.

"...I can't think off of the top of my head." Small mistake. Switch 'off' and 'of' to make the sentence work.

Finally, I'm not sure how the girls will carry everything if they are only hiking. If they were camping, I could see them going back for the items, but hiking would mean that they would each have one bag. I'm not sure if they could carry a stove, water, matches, et cetera in there bags if they are only hiking.

Overall, great job! I am already liking this quite a bit, and I hope you update when you put out the next part. Keep writing!

Sheadun




Saen says...


Thanks for the review! I really appreciate it. The hiking bag that Cass has is actually supposed to be like the ones my family has - my dad really likes learning about survival tactics and teaching them to us, and we each have packs with that sort of stuff in them. As long as you pack things well enough, you can fit a lot in a backpack that's a little larger than a school one.

I'll tag you when I post the next installment next week!




Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.
— Albus Dumbledore