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Breaking the Ice: Prologue

by Anico146


I looked out the window in the grief counselor’s office of Northstorm High. It was on the second floor of our school building overlooking the courtyard which was now filling with students.

“Ara, I think that writing down what you’ve been feeling lately is an important part of the process of healing. It’s okay to grieve, we all do it. I know it must be hard for you since Ashton…”

Silence. Everyone always gets silence when referring to what happened to Ashton, as if not saying anything will save me from a reoccurring wave of emotions.

“Since Ashton killed herself,” I finished for Ms. Lina while internally wincing from my forwardness.

Ms. Lina studied me quietly to see how I would react, but I continued to stare out the window without showing a single emotion. After a while, I turned away from the window and looked Ms. Lina in the eyes.

“Can I ask you a question?” I asked in a very serious tone.

Ms. Lina nodded, “Of course, I’m here to help you.”

I searched my mind for a way to ask the question I had in a less morbid way, but I could not think of another way to put it.

“Have you ever watched someone die, or have you ever had someone’s blood on your hands?” I asked.

Ms. Lina looked uncomfortable as she stuttered an answer. “I…um, no. I haven’t, why do you ask?”

I leaned back in my chair with the unsettling knowledge that she would never know how I felt.

“No reason,” I said as I fixed my gaze back on whatever was out the window with my arms folded over my chest.

Ms. Lina and I sat in a moment of awkward silence until she turned to her desk and pulled something out of the top drawer.

“Here,” she said as she turned back to me and held out a journal.

I looked at her and hesitantly took it then placed it in my lap.

“Many of your classmates are worried about you, Aria. A majority of them have told me that you have had a few incidents in class and—”

I gave a convincing fake smile and cut her off by saying, “I’m fine, and thank you for your help, but I have to go.”

Ms. Lina looked at me with a very concerned look but then nodded and handed me a signed hall pass slip.

“If you ever need me, I’m here to talk,” Ms. Lina said in a last attempt to reach out to me before I left.

I nodded and thanked her again while putting the journal she gave me in my backpack.

“I will,” I said with a smile and then I walked out of her office.


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Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:31 am
Skywind555 wrote a review...



Hey Anico. I'll try to find some of those grammar errors for you.


Silence. Everyone always gets silence when referring to what happened to Ashton, as if not saying anything will save me from a reoccurring wave of emotions.

One does not "get silence" so I think replacing it with "get quiet" would be more proper. Also, since you started the story with past tense, you should keep it consistent. So I think replacing it with "got quiet" would be best here.


Ms. Lina studied me quietly to see how I would react, but I continued to stare out the window without showing a single emotion. After a while, I turned away from the window and looked Ms. Lina in the eyes.

Not really a grammar issue, but wherever possible you should try to show rather than tell. Instead of saying "without showing a single emotion" you could write something like... "....but I continued to stare out the window with a relaxed facial expression." or a neutral facial expression or something along those lines. It tells us more than just saying without showing a single emotion.



Ms. Lina nodded, “Of course, I’m here to help you.”

First comma should be a period. If an action someone took you typically don't need the comma. You only need the comma when you have a dialogue tag like said, told, yelled, etc.


I gave a convincing fake smile and cut her off by saying, “I’m fine, and thank you for your help, but I have to go.”

You had dialogue interrupted the previous paragraph, so I think starting with the dialogue would be better for the effect.

Something like:

"I'm fine, and thank you for your help, but I have to go," I say with a fake smile.

You don't really need to mention cutting her off since that's implied already with the dash and if you start the paragraph with the dialogue.


Didn't catch anything else. Nice little prologue. It raises questions like why did Ashton kill himself and how did the MC play a role in all that?




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Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:10 pm
Corvus wrote a review...



hi! I am not very good at reviewing but I will try. (also I have people looking for the next chapter that I can't afford to post, soooooo)

first of all, "grief counselor" is that a thing? seems a little on the nose. (if this is a thing at schools please tell me and disregard this comment)


"“Have you ever watched someone die, or have you ever had someone’s blood on your hands?” I asked.

Ms. Lina looked uncomfortable as she stuttered an answer. “I…um, no. I haven’t, why do you ask?”" Ms. Lina seems very chill about this question. like weirdly chill. Does she know something?!


"I fixed my gaze back on whatever was out the window" that is unspesific. what is she gazing at?

overall, this prolog got me hooked. I want to read more. most of the errors are easily fixed, and, if I wasn't so picky, maybe they wouldn't be errors at all ( .eg "looked at me with a very concerned look")




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myjaspercat wrote a review...



Hey there Anico146,
Myjaspercat here to leave you a review

LINE-BY-LINE REVEIW/NIT-PICKS:

Spoiler! :
I looked out the window in the grief counselor’s office of Northstorm High. It was on the second floor of our school building overlooking the courtyard which was now filling with students The underlined section feels odd to me. Mainly centered around the word 'in,' but then again maybe it's just me. Also, is it necessary that your readers know it's on the second floor? Your character could still be looking out over the courtyard even if it was on the first floor.

“Ara, I think that writing down what you’ve been feeling lately is an important part of the process of healing. It’s okay to grieve, we all do it.I would suggest putting this first, then talk about writing down feelings. I know it must be hard for you since Ashton…”

Silence. Everyone always gets silence got silent when referring to what happened to Ashton,I would put a full stop here as if not saying anything willwould save me from a reoccurring waves of emotions.

“Since Ashton killed herself,” I finished for Ms. Lina while internally wincing from my forwardness. Try to find a way to give Aria a little more bite to her words. You're talking about someone who Aria must have been super close to and since you've already told us that others are trying to be sensitive about the subject, make it more of a punch that Aria can talk about freely [even if it's not internally freely.]

Ms. Lina studied me quietly to see how I would react, but I just continued to stare out the window without showing a single emotion. After a while, I turned away from the window and looked Ms. Lina in the eyes. Quick note: your reader has enough to assume that Ms. Lina would probably be looking for some kind of reaction from Aria. That's why I crosses it out.

“Can I ask you a question?” I asked in a very serious tone.

Ms. Lina nodded, “Of course, I’m here to help you.”

I searched my mind for a way to ask the question I had in a less morbid way, but I could not think of another way to put it. After reading ahead, I wouldn't necessarily call her question morbid, especially if that's what Aria had to go through.

“Have you ever watched someone die, or have you ever had someone’s blood on your hands?” I asked.

Ms. Lina looked uncomfortable as she stuttered an answer. “I…um, no. I haven’t, why do you ask?”

I leaned back in my chair with the unsettling knowledge that she would never know how I felt.

“No reason,” I said as I fixed my gaze back on whatever was out the window, with myarms folded over my chest.

Ms. Lina and I sat in a moment of awkward silence until she turned to her desk and pulled something out of the top drawer.

“Here,” she said as she turned back to me and held out a journal.

I looked at her and hesitantly, took it, then placed it in my lap.

“Many of your classmates are worried about you, Aria. A majority of them have told me that you have had a few incidents in class and—”

I gave a convincing fake smile and cut her off by saying, “I’m fine, and thank you for your help, but I have to go.” How would Aria know that her fake smile is convincing?

Ms. Lina looked at me with a very concerned look but then nodded and handed me a signed hall pass slip.

“If you ever need me, I’m here to talk,” Ms. Lina said in a last attempt to reach out to me before I left.

I nodded and thanked her again while putting the journal she gave me in my backpack.

“I will,” I said with a smile and then I walked out of her office.


OVERALL THOUGHTS: [Now, I may something here that others might disagree with. Just remember that this is all my opinions on your writing and you don't necessarily have to take every little thing I say to heart, but you may want to think about it just a little bit.]

Since there is a lot I have to say, I'm breaking it down a bit. There will be spoilers for each section which will hold the bulk of the section and what I would say to be important to consider when you look at the overall comments of each section [which isn't in the spoilers.] Meaning, you should read all of it, to understand what I'm getting at, but if you don't want to [or if you find it to be too much] you certainly don't have to.

1.) HOOK/BEGINNING [Since were talking about the prologue here you should consider the entire chapter in this section. The prologue of a story [if there is one] really sets up what the entire feeling of the novel is going to be about so you need to make sure that you really write it effectively.]

Spoiler! :
So, as beginnings go, this one wasn't that strong. I'm pretty sure you've heard about hooking your readers, well you don't have much time to make a good first impression. That's why everything down to your first sentence has to be as perfect as you can make it.

Do not think of your "hook" like a pop song. Usually seen in young writers' first sentences: they go for a sentence that sounds catchy and interesting, something that will stick in your head instead of something that sets up a scene and immerses the reader into the story. [Now I don't know how old you are or how long you've been writing so I'm not trying to make any assumptions here, rather then just stating what I've come to notice as I continue to read and review over the years.]This usually produces shallow introductions that are just there to sound pretty (not necessarily using flowery language, mind you) instead of containing any depth.

That said, some powerful opening lines are catchy. Take Tolstoy's Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

That line is catchy, and is one of the most quoted lines in literary history, but it pertains to the books greater themes, and the following paragraphs follow up on it by describing a rather chaotic family focusing on a male adulterer, Prince Stephan Oblonsky.

To restate my point: Don't just write an intro for the sake of sounding nice. You should not just make a pretty arrangement of words in belief that it will make readers want to continue. Bring them into the story. That will keep them going.

There are several common mistakes in openings; these mistakes will often lead the reader to put down the book or story because they just don't have a good hook or payoff.

1. Common advice is to introduce your character and setting as soon as possible. This is good advice, as without either the man jumping from the plane is just falling without any ground to land on, but it's not a substitute for a good hook and payoff. Once again, you need conflict to drive a plot--a character isn't interesting if it isn't doing anything.

2. Expanding on that, don't open with setting unless it applies to one of the three hooks. If we wanted to look at a pretty landscape, we'd look at pictures, not read books.

3. Don't write about weather for weather's sake. Weather is boring, and does nothing. The Tone Hook can often fall into this trap, as pathetic fallacy is commonly used to establish tone. But if you're just describing the weather for the sake of setting, you've lost your audience.
Note: it is possible for the weather to be a good hook if it's, say, raining piranhas. That's action, and intrigue rolled into one (and perhaps tone). It's key you really consider if using weather is appropriate or not.

5. Opening with dialogue is often ineffective, largely for the same reasons as above. Since we don't know who's talking, it can be hard to care about what they're talking about. The significance of what they're saying can be lost on us. And until we have some sense of setting and character, they're just two voices floating around a white void. Not very interesting.

6. A certain level of intrigue is required in every opening, just as there should be conflict and tone established in the payoff. Remember, your book is one of the millions blending in on a bookshelf or online catalogue. If you can't establish by the end of the first page what sets your book apart from the others then you're less likely to catch a reader's attention. What sets your story apart can be anything from character, to tone, to conflict, whatever. Just get something in there.

7. Opening with a question. Never open with a question. It's very trite. It's a bit pretentious. It also usually leads to issues of you just smacking the reader in the face with the moral you're trying to get across. The reader's should be the ones asking the questions, not the writer and narrator. Something like "what would you do if you only had a day to live?" is also an extremely cheap hook, one that doesn't hold up as well as if you had even just said "Jane Smith dropped the letter warning her she only had a day to live."


---> Now if you've read this far, then I want to make it clear that I'm not saying your opening sucks [or anything along those lines] in fact it is kind of sweet in a simple way. You do set up what this story is about [or at least what it could be about] so that's a perk, but it doesn't fully set it up; if you get what I mean. After I read this, I did have a few to many questions about what was going on in the story, so just be careful about that. Alright, time to move on...

2.) CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Spoiler! :
An active character is one who is actively working towards achieving their goal.
A passive character, while having an objective, is one who is simply reacting to the actions of others.
And before you ask, yes, you can have characters that fit into or flip-flop between both categories.

The passive character is the problematic one. Readers are naturally drawn more to someone who is active and seeking their goals. A passive character is, by definition, surrounded by active characters who are overpowering him. That means all of your side characters are probably more interesting than your main character, and we want to read a story from their perspective instead. For general examples, think of any book you've reader where the villain was more interesting than the hero. Often, especially in fantasy, the hero is only on the quest they're on because the dark overlord is up to something, which means the hero is a passive character reacting to the objective of another. This can work, but it's better to at least give your hero an objective of their own, even if it's a personal one like "I want to keep peace in my village so I'll stop these active barbarians from attacking."

Another step to creating believable characters is to flaw your characters. Real people have flaws, and so characters with flaws will feel like real people.

This does not mean superficial flaws, like scars or liking vegemite over peanut butter. This means real personality flaws that, preferably, aid the conflict. Think Shakespearian characters, whose tragic flaws usually lead to their downfall, whether it be pride, envy, or the fact it takes them five acts to decide that, yes, maybe they should totally kill their uncle.

The knight in shining armor is boring. Reading a book about a perfect human who has no problems, besides feeling unrealistic, is also just a drag to read. Part of this is because we've come to expect Man VS Self conflicts in just about everything, and usually these have to be overcome before the other conflicts can be-- But it's also because having flaws provides another layer to a character, which makes them more interesting to read.

Not flawing your characters, and having someone who can do no wrong, also risks accusations of writing a Mary Sue. Mary Sues are characters who are so perfect, do things so perfectly, and everyone likes, that it's clearly the author inserting themselves (or what they think of themselves) into the text as a character. This is the epitome of self-indulgence, and will get your book laughed at and closed if it's ever discovered.

Even if you're writing a purposely white vs black plotline, all of your characters should have a mix of redeeming qualities and negative qualities. It will add depth to them, making them more realistic, and can aid your plot if you can weave it together well enough with multiple functions.


---> All that said, I want to see more of a character form, [who I'm assuming for obvious reasons is your main character] Aria. You have clearly told your readers that something tragic happened and it has affected Aria enough to cause concern. But as I read through this piece, I didn't really feel her, if that makes sense. There were a couple moments that I did see a little bit of pain in Aria but it wasn't enough. In fact, I think you Ms. Lina was a little bit more developed but like Aria, not enough. Give us a little more from them to back up what you're writing about. I mentioned earlier that when Aria finished Ms. Lina's statement you should make it with a bite. That's something to think about, but it also leads me into my next point.

3.) SHOW DONT TELL

This is probably one of the most basic pieces of advice out there. Therefore I wont go into to much detail, it's more like I'm going to skim the fat off the top.

Spoiler! :
Showing versus Telling has always seemed to me to be a matter of how you establish information. At it's basest level, you've shown information if the reader is able to interpret it themselves, but you've told information if you've established that information yourself by addressing the reader or through exposition.

Now, telling has it's place; the rule would be better titled "When to Show, When to Tell" since both are valid forms of information establishment and, as I'm about to argue, it's impossible to not tell at all.

But why is showing better than telling? Basically, it's more engaging. If the reader is coming to conclusions on their own, they are more involved with the text, which means they'll be more immersed. Telling, conversely, has about the same level of engagement that a history or science textbook might, and is half as interesting.

Another way of looking at it is the difference between visual and oral storytelling. A visual story, one that you read, relies moreso on showing to be good. There's time and room to let the reader come to their own conclusions, and that's part of the fun. An oral tale, on the other hand, will be shorter and more direct--whether it's a fable or a joke you're telling at school--so you have to tell a few things. That's why fairy tales, their origins in oral tradition and emerging from an era where telling was the preferred mode, tend to tell more than show--we're told someone is a virtuous beautiful princess because there's no time to show us through other actions, and that'd be boring anyway.

That is why I see showing not so much as an alternative to telling, but a way of using telling to create an illusion of showing. Therefore, telling is unavoidable, which means you shouldn't beat yourself up too much over it. It also means it's quite tricky to decide when you're telling too much, which is why so many authors have a problem with it. If everything is telling, it becomes less a matter of identify the telling and changing it to showing, and instead grows into figuring out where in the telling you could be showing more strongly.

There are some things you'll want to tell. Maybe it's a passage of time you want to skip over, or an unimportant detail that would only kill the pacing of your story if you included it. In these moments, it's perfectly fine to go into telling. Telling is okay, if you know why you're using it.

So, on a scene level, you need to decide what you're going to show as a scene and what you can just skip over, with exposition or not. This is where you have to have skill--you need to decide what you want to accomplish in a scene, and what you can accomplish in a scene, and what you can cram in there to keep the story moving, develop character, and keep the reader hooked all at the same time.

On a sentence-by-sentence level, you should probably be aiming for showing any time you can. One helpful tip is to look for the word "was" if you're writing in past tense, or "is" if you're writing in present tense. Really, the only way to catch all instances of telling is to comb your writing line-by-line, word-by-word and deciding how exactly you're going about establishing information.


---> My advice for your writing would be to show your readers more about how Aria is really feeling. Obviously she is hurting, as we can tell by the comments: "while internally wincing from my forwardness," "as if not saying anything will save me from a reoccurring wave of emotions," and "I leaned back in my chair with the unsettling knowledge that she would never know how I felt." But that's all we get, besides the image of her not making eye contact and staring out the window -- which if I must say is a very stereotypical and cliché way of portraying the emotions of a teenager. Give your readers more to hold onto, is she just sitting in that chair or is she also bouncing her leg up and down in anxiety? Is she humming to block out Ms. Lina or is she tapping her fingers? Is she focusing on a specific spot out the window and if so what? Or is she just aimlessly not paying attention? What is she really feeling about the whole topic of Ashton? What about Ms. Lina, what is she feeling about this act of indifference form Aria? What are some of the incidents that other students have come to her with? Now, you don't have to answer all these questions in your writing, in-fact you shouldn't because then it would become to much information and your writing would be bogged down with modifiers but answer a few, give us more then Aria just siting in a chair having a conversation with the consoler.

Alright, I think that covers everything for the most part. I hope I helped a little bit and that I didn't come off to harsh or what not. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Good luck and continue writing.




Anico146 says...


Thank you!



myjaspercat says...


of course, anytime.



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Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:16 pm
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TessyBoo wrote a review...



Hello,
I first stated all the nit-pickings. I hope I don't offend you with all this , I just believe it will help. Obviously this is mostly just opinion and you don't have to change anything unless you want to. I may have of course misinterprated the whole thing! you never know. Love the story though. I myself am new and this is my first review so sorry if it's messy and weird. I actually recently also published my prologue :P. Anyways here are some things I noticed and picked out;

In the start it would help set the scene if you added more of a description, though I understand if you are trying to make more of a obsecure setting at the start.


'It was on the second floor of our school building overlooking the courtyard which was now filling with students. '

For this I would add a comma, it will help your sentence flow better. I suggest either after 'school building' or after 'courtyard' is better.


Adding the part about Ashton I feel doesn't truly fit in the context. At a meeting it would be mentioned before and the way the counselor says it , it seems as though she is bringing it up for the first time. Maybe there is a better way to start the topic? Which I understand is what you are trying to do with this line.
This of course is just how I percieved it and I could be completely off :P


'Silence. Everyone always gets silence when referring to what happened to Ashton, as if not saying anything will save me from a reoccurring wave of emotions.'

I love this line!


'...while internally wincing from my forwardness.'

Though I like this line because it shows Ara is blunt but still nice, the phrasing is a little off.


'Ms. Lina studied me quietly to see how I would react'

Ara already reacted? Ms. Lina didn't add anything else for Ara to react to.


'...stare out the window...'

In the first sentence you said she looked, this make me think she only looked for a while. So when she is suddenly staring out the window it confused me. It might be better to either change the wording when she is first described looking out the window or just making it more clear throughout. You could add something like, 'I refused to stare anywhere else... bla bla bla'


I really like Ara and how you portray her. I think you did a good job introducing her character.


Watch out, her name changes from Ara to Aria in the story.


I am really intrigues by the story and I really quite like it. Good work! I think it might be nice if you added Ara's thought more, in a direct manner. It is in first person, what is great about that is you get to live in that person and their thoughts. I think it would also benefit the story to add more descriptions in certain areas. I hope to be able to read the next chapter :) Keep me posted!

-Tes




Anico146 says...


Thank you! :)



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DougalOfBiscuits wrote a review...



Hey there, here's a review from the Knights of the Green Room After Watch :)

(Oh, my quotes won't be in italics because it's extra bbcode and it's not like there's anything to differentiate from.)

Nit-picks:

reoccurring wave of emotions.

Also, maybe describe - or at least refer to - some of these emotions.

After a while, I turned away from the window and looked Ms. Lina in the eyes.

Saying "the window" again so soon is a bit repetitive. "After a while, I turned back and..." might flow better.

I asked in a very serious tone.

That's a bit tell-y. Describe what their character's voice actually sounds like.

I gave a convincing fake smile

Bit more description required. What was so convincing about it?

Overall:

The first thing that strikes me here is that I'd like more setting, or description in general. You're in danger of this turning into a talking heads type situation. Tell me particularly about the guidance teacher's facial expressions. Does she seem sincere, awkward, sad?

The plot itself is solid. There's a tension - how will she deal with this, and a question - why does she think she has blood on her hands. These are things I am intrigued to read more about.

Would like a bit more about the character's emotions. Maybe some moments where she stops and just thinks, maybe thinks about Ashton so that I'm able to sympathise with her loss. Or show me her complex emotions, as I'm sure grief coupled with guilt would be.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




Anico146 says...


Thank you! :D




But if he hadn't said that, Bear Thompson wouldn't have been himself.
— CaptainJack