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Death's Servant - Chap. 2

by Evander


A/N: I changed some things to the last chapter. Hopefully I can actually rewrite chapter 1 when I get home from this trip.

Car accident doesn’t happen, time skip to being at the park with Lena following behind Cora the entire time.



This is unedited. Word count stands at 1,029.

-

So, this is what Samuel calls the dead circle? Cora raised her right eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest and staring at the circle of smooth stones that surrounded the patch of dead grass. The streetlamp from the park cast its light down onto the circle, highlighting that the grass wasn’t straw yellow but rather a wilted gray. If she didn’t know better, she'd think the grass was solid ash. She cocked her head to the side, recalling how enthusiastic Samuel was in interrupting her drawing routine to talk about the ‘dead circle’.

She looked behind her to see Lena twirling around in the Disney princess blanket-cape, utterly oblivious to Cora’s investigations. Good, she thought.

She knelt down, ignoring the cold dew soaking in through her jeans. Reaching out a hand, Cora grasped at the grass inside of the circle to get a sense of the texture. Well, attempted to grasp. Her hand sunk into the circle, meeting nothing and not even registering the texture of grass. She wriggled her fingers around, a cool chill passing over her hand.

Romy would know what this is.

Cora withdrew her hand.

She thought back to Samuel’s rambles, scolding herself for not paying attention to his signing. To be perfectly honest, she was terrified at the fact that he thought she was the best person to talk to about death-related matters. What else had he said? Cora remembered the sign for ball, the fact that his mouth was slack-jawed, and his increasing insistence to show her the dead circle.

Had he lost his ball?

Cora took off her drawstring bag, fishing around in the contents — ignoring the itch in her fingertips to sketch the scene before her — and pulled out the apple she had brought along for a snack.

If the grass was dead and things could disappear…

She clenched the red delicious in her hand and submerged it in the circle. Within ten seconds, the apple’s outside had gone from firm to absolutely mushy. Within twenty seconds, she completely regretted every single decision in her life with nausea taking root in her core. Cora pulled the apple back out, marveling at the disgusting, molding monstrosity dribbling down her hand.

That’s one way to test things out, she thought, as she let the apple fall from her hand and down into the portal. There was no sound to signify if it had hit any sort of ground. Now, if someone were to climb into the circle… If I climbed into the circle...

Images of toddlers and unsuspecting park visitors falling into the portal popped up in her mind. It obviously didn't have any warnings around it, so she continued to muse. This… can’t have been here for long.

“Sooo, you wanted to see the circle?”



Cora flinched, looking up to see Lena towering over her with a smirk on her face.



“Sammy won’t let me near it, but he’s not here…”

Cora nodded, scooting away from Lena to face her and signing, “You shouldn’t go near it.”

Lena frowned, the yellowish light glowing against her freckled face. “Can’t be that bad,” she said, signing bad with her right hand covering her lips and then slapping her downward faced palm against her flat left hand. “Sammy just hovers over here sometimes.”

Cora started to gnaw on her lip again, letting the familiar warmth of blood flood her mouth once again. The pain barely registered. “How long has the dead circle been here?” She furrowed her brow.

“Uhhh,” Lena put a finger on her chin and looked up toward the night sky. “You came here… three weeks ago? So yah it’s been here about three weeks, I guess —“ She cracked a smirk, looking down at Cora with a mischievous grin painted across her face like a creepy doll. “Maybe you’re the reason the circle is here, Cora.” With that, the girl burst out into soft laughter, holding her arms around her belly.

With a blank expression, Cora signed, “FUNNY,” as if brushing dirt off her nose with two fingers. Inside, she tried to ignore the rush of stagnation overtaking her body. The circle of apple rot couldn’t be attributable to her — she sharply inhaled a breath of the cool night air, images of her mother and father flashing across her thoughts. The camera in her mind set on a depiction of her 3-year-old orange tabby cat, sprawled out on his periwinkle cat bed, lifeless.

The dead circle couldn't be her fault.

Lena rolled her eyes, stepping closer and placing her hand on Cora’s shoulder, still facing her. “You look like I kicked your dog. I’m just kiddin’.”

Cora stood up to her full height with Lena’s height barely at the same level as her elbows, once again stepping backward to avoid the physical contact. “I’m going back home, okay? This is actually dangerous.” A half-baked plan formed in her mind, trying to figure out how to ditch Lena back at the house and still manage to make it back to the park before dawn. She checked her digital wristwatch, staring at the numbers 3:16 in horror.

“Sammy keeps sneaking out for this — you’re starting to sneak out for this. I could tell Mama and Dad right now what you two are doing, but I’m not gonna. Don’t lie to me, Cora. There’s something about this circle, something weird.” Once again, Lena put her hands on her hips and stood defiant.

“I’m truthful.”

“Liar.”

Cora picked up her drawstring bag, readjusting the straps and starting to turn on her heel to head back to the Kiplinger’s house.

“Don’t go—I’m sick of you two sneaking out all the time. I’m seven! I can investigate too! And I’ll investigate right now!”

Cora turned back, the sign of “NO, STOP” dying on her hands as Lena flashed a smile and jumped into the ring of stones.

Jump, frantic scream, silence.

Any feeling of irritation Cora had quickly faded away, only the suffocating blanket of terror left behind. The apple. Cora fought against the instinct to jump in with Lena, remembering how her hand had been fine when she reached it in there. It was only the apple. Frantic thoughts connected themselves together in a broken jigsaw puzzle. I need help to get her out.

With that, Cora broke into a run.


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Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:33 pm
LanaOverland wrote a review...



Hey-O,

So to start off a summary to make sure I got what you're puttin' down: Cora (who is deaf or mute, I guess, and probably a foster or adopted kid of some sort--this is probably clearer if I read the earlier sections) finds/is told about a secret portal in the grass of a park? The circle can turn inanimate organics dead and is a portal to somewhere (probably the afterlife) her sister(ish) Lena is tired of being left out of things and jumps in the portal. Definitely didn't see the ending coming.

Onto some nitpicky/writing choice stuff since I didn't have any problems with the story. (FYI, I know I write a lot for my line by line critiques so don't be intimidated I just think it helps to be aware of why I dislike the way the line was phrased. I know this is a draft and that nothing is perfect first time and that you likely interpret things differently than I do. I'm just pointing out anything that took me out of the fiction and analyzing why it did that for me.)

"Cora raised her right eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest and staring at the circle of smooth stones that surrounded the patch of dead grass." ----A lot of description in one line, makes it harder to follow what’s important. Pay attention to what is the focus of the sentence and cut back on anything that might distract from it. Here the focus is on the dead circle, but leading with her reaction to the circle distracts from the circle itself which is a shame because you probably spent the last section hyping it up. If you want to keep Cora’s reaction, try placing it before the thought that way it can lead in without cutting up the Dead Circle description.

"If she didn’t know better, she'd think the grass was solid ash. "----Clearly she doesn’t know better. Cliché, distracts from the point which is that the grass is solid ash—that’s cool world building that again is distracted by a change in tone. "If she didn't know any better" reminds me of cheesy rom coms where the soon to be ex boyfriend or the way too invested best friend realizes that she has a crush on the love interest and they're like "If I didn't know any better I'd say you were in love with him" (this is probably just me) where as the rest of the sentence is like cool description with good eerie sounds and motif. It also adds ambiguity to the description. Like is it ash or is it just like ash? It culminates to a distraction from your world building.

"She cocked her head to the side, recalling how enthusiastic Samuel was in interrupting her drawing routine to talk about the ‘dead circle’." ----Sorry first paragraph I spent a lot of time on you to get my bearings on the story. I’m assuming this is a reference to the previous scene. The word choice here seems a bit off (recalling/enthusiastic vs. talk about). We already know that Samuel told her about the dead circle and this actually tells me very little about that interaction so it isn't adding anything to the scene by recapping this. Instead of summarizing the scene, I’d rather hear something from the character’s point of view. We hear that he interrupted her drawing routine, but is that something he wouldn’t normally do (ala “he was so excited he had the nerve to interrupt my drawing”). He’s enthusiastic, but is he prone to exaggeration (ala “I thought he was kidding, but maybe this was the real deal”)? If you like the recap this could be a great time to integrate character description into your recap and give us some juicy deets about how the characters feel about each other.

"oblivious to Cora’s investigations"----I think I figured out the word choice of "Investigations" by the end of the scene, but I felt like this was a good time to talk about word choice and tone. I don't know how old Cora is, a teenager by context clues, thirty year old PI by the word choice. By which I mean that the word choice you use describing the world reflects onto Cora. You describe the scene very clinically with harsh sounding words like "Texture, register, grasp, withdrew, rambles, death-related matters, contents, etc." which ages her up significantly and makes it jarring when... well:

"She clenched the red delicious in her hand and submerged it in the circle. Within ten seconds, the apple’s outside had gone from firm to absolutely mushy. Within twenty seconds, she completely regretted every single decision in her life with nausea taking root in her core. Cora pulled the apple back out, marveling at the disgusting, molding monstrosity dribbling down her hand."----This is a very immature paragraph (not a bad thing, it feels more like her age actually) which in juxtaposition to the clinical description with harsh cold words feels very jarring and makes me think the character is...well dumb. She sounds like someone who overreacts even though she probbaly anticipated what would happen (ala the last section where she proposes a hypothesis). Plus this section has an excess of adjectives which draws attention to her overreaction (again not a bad thing it clearly gives us the feeling), in juxtaposition to the rest of the scene it is weird.

Going back a bit... "Her hand sunk into the circle, meeting nothing and not even registering the texture of grass. She wriggled her fingers around, a cool chill passing over her hand."---- Is this not surprising to Cora? I would probably have accidentally slipped my whole arm in. A good moment to focus in on the surprised response and then focus on description.

"ignoring the itch in her fingertips to sketch the scene before her"---- Kind of shoe horned in here. We already know she likes to draw everything so unless she has some sort of power connected to her drawing this is a little awkward.

"If the grass was dead and things could disappear..." ----awkward phrasing "things could disappear" she one hasn't proven that yet with any certainty and two it's one of those change in tone things I was talking about earlier. Sometimes she sounds professional and other times she sounds like a kid.

"She clenched the red delicious in her hand"----I know I quoted this earlier but I want to focus on this. "red delicious" is too much detail, it distracts from what’s going on. It is okay to repeat words and not fully realize that image of this apple. I honestly don't care about the apple, and if you wanted to bring up that it was a fresh apple (to juxtapose with it when it turns to a melted dead apple) it would have been better to describe it when it was pulled out of her bag (ala "a fresh apple, only a little bruised from its trip in her bag, but it would do"). At this point it is only important in how it relates to the action.

"absolutely mushy"----probably not your intention but this made me laugh, what is absolutely mushy? Is it like oatmeal consistency, or grits, something beyond breakfast grains?

"It obviously didn't have any warnings around it"----except the ring of extra dead grass around it.

"staring at the numbers 3:16 in horror." ----awkward phrasing. Consider revision

"Don’t lie to me, Cora"----how could she lie about it, it looks super obviously weird.


Overall it's a fine start, just consider tone in your word choice. The way things sound is important it's what gives the characters the characteristics of age and disposition. The integration of details is not always ideal you can consider giving a less vivid picture to make sure that you're highlighting the details that matter.




Evander says...


Test to see if a reply will go through.



Evander says...


Heyo! Thank you for the review.

So, yeah, Cora is non-verbal! I didn%u2019t use the word %u201Cmute%u201D because of the connotations with the derogatory term %u201Cdeaf-mute.%u201D

"If she didn%u2019t know better, she'd think the grass was solid ash.%u201D Clearly she doesn%u2019t know better. Cliche, distracts from the point which is that the grass is solid ash%u2014that%u2019s cool world building that again is distracted by a change in tone.

The thing is, the grass isn%u2019t solid ash? It certainly does look like solid ash, but it really isn%u2019t. I%u2019ll try to make it clear if I include this detail in the next draft!



Evander says...


Oh, so the paragraph about Samuel interrupting Cora's drawing routine wasn't actually a reference to a previous scene. It was just Cora reflecting back on something that had happened off-screen. Although, that paragraph is really the first time that the reader gets any info on Samuel, haha.



Evander says...


(Oops, sorry for breaking this up into multiple responses -- for some reason, my replies aren't going through.)
%u201CI don't know how old Cora is, a teenager by context clues, thirty year old PI by the word choice. By which I mean that the word choice you use describing the world reflects onto Cora. You describe the scene very clinically with harsh sounding words like "Texture, register, grasp, withdrew, rambles, death-related matters, contents, etc." which ages her up significantly%u201D

She%u2019s fifteen, if I remember my notes correctly! And, uh, I guess these are words I use in my day-to-day life? I%u2019m not trying to make her any older or anything, I%u2019m just using the words that come naturally to me. So, uh, I don%u2019t know how to completely alter my word choice, haha.

Once again, thanks!



LanaOverland says...


Good point on "non-verbal" pardon me.

Not ash grass: My point was that it wasn't clear to me in your description, so you may consider changing the way that the comparison is phrased to make it so that readers aren't going to be distracted by it.

Drawing Scene: You may consider writing that scene out given that it's central to the set up of the circle. Without it the phrase "dead circle" has no context. It would help if I know more about how /he/ says dead circle so that I know what other people in this world might view the portal and...I hate to say it but "dead circle" isn't a strong title for the circle, I get where it comes from but it doesn't roll off the tongue or have much staying power. It feels very temporary, like in a few chapters it's going to be something different, but Cora says it like it's the only thing to call it. If this is a temporary title it might be good to see where that name comes from and it will allow you to characterize Cora more.

Word Choice: I would at the very least make your word choice more consistent. It's fine that that is the way you would describe it, but the audience is realizing Cora through your narration, so it's important that they have a consistent feel to the voice. It's jarring to go from these very investigative adult tones to that very our age way of speaking. I talk a lot in tones because that's the most basic way of thinking about it, but it's really about balancing those voices. She can be both adult and childish, but you need to know when that's jarring and how to phrase something not always in the most accurate way but in the way that reflects her background. (I'd love to talk more, but I have to get to class now). For now I'd just say test it out out of your story for a while and look at other people's writing to see how they do it.



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Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:45 pm
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Hattable wrote a review...



Hi.

Like Lena, I'm gonna run/jump right into things.

If she didn’t know better, then it was like the grass was solid ash.

This is some awkward wording. You could fix it by saying “If she didn't know better, she'd think the grass was solid ash” or something of that sort. Saying “then it was” feels like it's An Absolute Fact, were she not to know better? Which isn't the case. This phrase is meant as, like, the subject presuming a thing, were they not to know any better, but this writing kind of implies that it would be true anyway? I hope that makes sense.

She cocked her head to the side, recalling how enthusiastic he was in interrupting her drawing routine to talk about the ‘dead circle’.

The “he” here is obviously Samuel, but there's been a shift in focus from him to the scene itself, so I think naming him again would work better here. I think “recalling how enthusiastic Sam always was in interrupting [...]” (I prefer Sam over Samuel, but that's a personal preference; you can totally use his full name if you don't wanna use nicknames for him, haha)

Cora looked behind her to see Lena twirling around in the Disney princess blanket-cape, utterly oblivious to Cora’s investigations. Good, she thought.
She knelt down, ignoring the cold dew soaking in through her jeans. Reaching out a hand, Cora grasped at the grass inside of the circle to get a sense of the texture.

You use Cora's name a lot in a short stretch of words here. I think the first instance could work as “she” since we've been in her head for the previous paragraph. The last quoted instance could probably be switched, too.

Or, leave the first instance as “Cora” and change the second to “her”? I figure you used her name for both to avoid confusion as to whether the investigation was Cora's or Lena's, but I doubt there would be much confusion there? Then again, who knows.

Well, attempted to grasp. Her hand sunk into the circle, meeting nothing and not even registering the texture of grass. She wriggled her fingers around, a cool chill passing over her hand.
Romy would know what this is.
Cora withdrew her hand.

Very nonchalant, very chill. Has she previously encountered things like this? Even if she had encountered weird things before, I think something new like this would warrant a bit more of a reaction. I don't know what she's been through, though, so maybe incorporeal grass illusions are typical run-ins for her.

She thought back to Samuel’s rambles, scolding herself for not paying attention to his signing. To be perfectly honest, she was terrified at the fact that he thought she was the best person to talk to about death-related matters. What else had he said? Cora remembered the sign for ball, the fact that his mouth was slack-jawed, and his increasing insistence to show her the dead circle.
Had he lost his ball?

Just want to say that this was written well. There's nothing... special about it? But it felt like some good prose. The pacing is excellent and we're not loaded with unnecessary information about Samuel's rambling. It's clear and concise, but good to read, too.

Cora took off her drawstring bag, fishing around in the contents — ignoring the itch in her fingertips to sketch the scene before her — pulling out the apple she had brought along for a snack.

Lot of -ing words here, and it kind of plays against “took off” I think? Honestly, the majority of the -ing verbs are fine in my opinion. My only suggestion would be to change “pulling” to “and pulled”. You could also change “fishing around” to “fished around”, but I think that would shift the balance to more past-tense verbs and be grinding to read. It would also make “ignoring” feel out of place, causing another edit, and more dullness in the prose.

So yeah, changing “pulling” seems like the best bet and gives you a nice balance between the verb tenses? I hope that's grammatically correct.

She clenched the red delicious in her hand, submerging it in the circle.

This feels disconnected and... detached? I think you should just say “and submerged”. Leaving it as “submerging” gives me the sense that there will be more to the sentence beyond this comma break, but then there isn't and the sentence feels incomplete.

Within ten seconds, the apple’s outside had gone from firm to absolutely mushy. Within twenty seconds, she completely regretted every single decision in her life with nausea taking root in her core. Cora pulled the apple back out, marveling at the disgusting, molding monstrosity dribbling down her hand.

This is interesting, but twenty seconds is a pretty long time. Ten seconds, even. I mean, to be experimenting with an unknown, seemingly eldritch pool of intangible grass? With your bare hand? Which is another question-- wouldn't her hand be damaged as well? Or is she fine because she's got that Death Curse thing?

Still, twenty seconds to keep your hand in an unknown puddle of something that defies physics and whatnot doesn't really sound like something a person would do.

That’s one way to test things out, she thought, as she let the apple fall from her hand and down back into the portal.

“Back down” is a better order.

There was no sound to signify if it had hit any sort of ground. Now, if someone were to climb into the circle…

Cora, what. But Lena is there, so. Hint hint.

This… can’t have been here for long.

This thought immediately after is confusing and I'm not sure where she draws the conclusion that it can't have been around long, or why that's significant, really. Maybe some elaboration? Unless it was left behind from some previous draft by mistake.

“Sooo, you wanted to see the circle?” Cora flinched, looking up to see Lena towering over her with a smirk on her face.

The wording of the dialogue tag makes it sound like Cora spoke, but also flinched, which is weird. I know Lena is the one speaking, but it's not really clear in the prose itself. You might fix this by dropping “Cora flinched, [etc]” to a line separate from the dialogue itself, or by reordering the tag altogether.

Lena frowned, the yellowish light glowing against her freckled face. “Can’t be that bad,” she said, signing bad with her right hand covering her lips and then slapping her downward faced palm against her flat left hand. “Sammy just hovers over here sometimes.”

I'll admit that I forgot Cora was non-verbal until now, but I recall Lena being hearing and all? How come she's signing? Maybe out of respect...? But respect doesn't seem like a really plausible thing in this situation, and it'd be easier to just speak (for Lena)?
I also love descriptions of sign language tossed into the mix, but here it kind of verged on winding. I'm not sure how you could describe it any more smoothly, though, oops.

Cora started to gnaw on her lip again, letting the familiar warmth of blood flood her mouth once again. The pain barely registered. “How long has the dead circle been here?” She furrowed her brow.

How and why is she biting her lip so hard that it bleeds? Have you taken into account just how hard you'd have to bite it for it to bleed? And so nonchalantly, too. Like, lip skin is more sensitive than regular skin, yeah, but that's still pretty hard. I don't think just chewing on your lip would result in it breaking and bleeding, unless you're chewing on it like a steak?

It could be that she just chews on it a ton, but the way it's presented reads more like “Yes she touched her teeth to her lip and it's gushing again!”

She cracked a smirk, looking down at Cora with a mischievous grin painted across her face like a creepy doll’s.

“Creepy doll” is kind of weak here. The sentence itself is also a bit off just in the way it reads, but that could be easily fixed with a comma or so, I think-- I'd go with “a mischievous grin painted across her face, like a creepy doll”. Drop the possessive apostrophe biz because it sounds more like her... face is reminiscent of the doll, just in general, when the grin itself is more likely the thing that's like a doll?

Not sure if my suggested edit is written properly but hopefully you get the idea! I also don't really have any good substitutes for “creepy” in mind, for this section, unfortunately. I tried eerie but that doesn't have the right feel, to me.

“Maybe you’re the reason the circle is here, Cora,” With that, the girl burst out into soft laughter, holding her arms around her belly.

First off, comma and capital dialogue tag, oops. But what I'd really suggest to fix this would be to put the tag on its own line? I think that would flow better, especially given that the paragraph is getting pretty chunky with all this bouncing between dialogue and tags.

Inside, she tried to ignore the rush of stagnation overtaking her body. The circle of apple rot couldn’t be attributable to her — she sharply in took a breath of cool summer air,

I think you may have meant “took in” here. Honestly, though, I'd suggest this being “she sharply inhaled a breath of the cool summer air”? Or change summer to “night” because summer air isn't typically associated with coolness ( -glances out his window- ) and I'm pretty sure it's night. I added “the” because it makes it feel less... random? It's not just any air, it's the air around them?

There's also the portion about the “rush of stagnation” which feels like an oxymoron. That's cool. I'm just not sure what you mean by it? Haha-- maybe some clarification here is necessary, or I'm just reading it wrong.

images of her mother and father flashing across the forefront of her mind. The camera in her mind set on a depiction of her 3-year-old orange tabby cat, sprawled out on his periwinkle cat bed, lifeless.

Repetition of “her mind” is wonky.

The dead circle was her fault.

“The circle of apple rot couldn't be attributed to her”, “The dead circle was her fault”. Unless I'm misinterpreting, these are the same circles? And so a very quick shift in perception. Which is sort of realistic in anxiety, sadly, but doesn't read well in prose. It just feels like you're flip-flopping and there's not a lot of build-up or whatever to get us from the character trying to deny that it's attributed to them and then them being like “oh, wait, yes it is”.

Not sure your intention with this, but the transition is too minimal and flown through too quickly for the polarizing opinions to feel like anything but in-coherency on the author's part, unfortunately.

Lena rolled her eyes, stepping closer and placing her hand on Cora’s shoulder, still facing her. “You look like I kicked your dog. Chillax, I’m just kiddin’.”

Good line but sounds a little older than Lena typically does, or actually is. Her character and personality feel in flux at the moment, while you work her out, and that's fine because hey, you're working her out! Maybe you could do some non-canonical blurbs with her to work out her personality more, if LMS allows that? Would make future editing easier if you got her personality down sooner.

Cora stood up to her full height with Lena’s height barely at the same level as her elbows, once again stepping backward to avoid the physical contact.

This is choppy. I think it would read better as “Cora stood to her full height, Lena's head barely reaching her elbows, and stepped back to avoid any physical contact.” Took some liberties, but you could fix it to match your style. Just a suggestion on avoiding that height repetition, ya dig?

Once again, Lena put her hands on her hips and stood defiant.

Lena's the best character.

Cora turned back, the sign of “NO, STOP” dying on her hands as Lena flashed a smile and jumped into the ring of stones.

Lena, you idiot!

Any feeling of irritation quickly faded away, only the suffocating blanket of terror left behind.

I think you should specify the feelings being Cora's. “Any feeling of irritation in Cora's mind/that Cora had”-- something like that, so it doesn't feel disconnected and just generally about the scene itself? It makes this sentence stronger and clearer to attribute it directly to Cora, rather than leave it dangling and untethered.

Cora fought against the instinct to jump in there with Lena, remembering how her hand had been fine when she reached it in there.

Oh yay you acknowledge that her hand was fine (though I don't think you did at the time? So this feels added in, last minute. I'd recommend drawing more attention to it at the time of it happening).

Also, “jump in there” feels oddly present tense? I'm not sure why, or how to fix it, but something about “there” is weird to me.

With that, Cora broke into a run.

This is a good “cliffhanger” chapter ending, but the lack of direction as to where she's running could leave some confusion, I think. At the same time, specifying where would take away from the impact of it? So there's a kind of limbo here and I'm not sure what to suggest, haha. Maybe at the part just before this where she says “I need help to get her out of there” you could add “I need Samuel” or something? Then this line would obviously be her running back to the house, rather than mistaken for her running at the circle.


Anyway, that's all for grammar notes!

The pacing and flow in this chapter were generally good. It may have stumbled a couple of times but that was mostly due to unedited repetitions and whatnot, that I pointed out above, so yeah.

I'd touch on character consistency but given that you're changing the plot a little bit, I'm not sure if that would help? Lena feels more abrasive and testing of Cora's patience, but I suppose she was always like that and it just feels more apparent here because she straight up jumped into a hell hole. Then again, she also ran into the street in the previous chapter (but different “timeline”-- doesn't exist anymore-- boom boom).

Cora herself feels... Different. For a moment I thought she might test the circle with Lena and she seemed malicious, but there wasn't much to lead to that conclusion in the story itself? She seemed kind of off and maybe her lack of reaction to the circle gave a sociopathic vibe that had me theorize the Lena thing, haha.

I look forward to more of this story. Still curious about Romy, now have questions about Cora being unscathed by the circle while the apple rotted, now curious about where the circle leads (though I have an idea).


Keep writing!

- Hatt




Evander says...


A review introduction

I'm not entirely sure if Cora has encountered anything like... this? But she's definitely encountered some weird stuff. Like, hmm, I'll definitely have to workshop the beginning again, but I should probably say that maybe Romy told her about death pockets? I dunno. But for #specific reasons, she can't have encountered a portal before (I think, at least).

Okay! The whole reason that Cora isn't damaged is, yep, because of the Death Curse. You can't really... suck life from someone whose job it is to suck life. That's basically my justification, though.

Hmm, I do want it to take... a bit of time? Just because I don't want all of the food to Auto Perish. Then again, having all of the food auto perish might be good for some conflict. Would it be better to have it take five seconds or so?

OH. CORA WAS THINKING ABOUT CLIMBING INTO THE CIRCLE. Omg omg omg I should have been more clear. She wanted Lena to go so she could climb into the circle without setting a bad example. She did NOT WANT to put Lena in the circle omg. thank you for pointing that out!!! I'll definitely make that clearer.

Oh, yeah the "this can't have been here for long" line was prefaced by a whole bunch of... imagining how many people had fallen into it? Because like, a huge portal in the middle of a suburban park would raise a lot of RED FLAGS and so many kids would fall in. I should probably add a fence around it. But yeah, the "this can't have been here long" is mainly just me going "if this portal was here for a long time, then there would be a Lot More Attention on it".

Ahh, yeah, so Lena signs sometimes because her older brother does. It's more so habit? I don't know if she's planning on becoming fluent or not, but it's more so just... yeah, habit~

It could be that she just chews on it a ton, but the way it's presented reads more like %u201CYes she touched her teeth to her lip and it's gushing again!%u201D

Oops, yeah, she just chews on her lip a ton. I figured that it would cause the skin to be more... willing to bleed there? But yeah I should probably add for medical advice on that.

There's also the portion about the %u201Crush of stagnation%u201D which feels like an oxymoron. That's cool. I'm just not sure what you mean by it? Haha-- maybe some clarification here is necessary, or I'm just reading it wrong.

I was being fancy boi. Really, it's just an overcomplicated way of saying "she froze", oops.

Also, yeaaah, I'll definitely take your advice and try to write a bit more in character stuff for Lena. I really need to get a handle on her voice.

I'll definitely heighten Cora's reaction to the circle in later drafts!

Once again, thank you so much for the review! These are always a delight to read.

-E



Evander says...


dammit *A plus review introduction!



Hattable says...


!! Glad to have been of help!

Lot of things were cleared up here, haha, thankss for the clarification.

I responded on Discord to most of this, but will say here-- "rush of stagnation" isn't a bad line? It's good andd I don't really know what my issue was with it earlier. If you like it, you should leave it, as far as my opinion goes? Maybe check some other opinions, though, lel.

Uhh, Lena is super cute and the signing because her brother signs is heckin adorable.

Chewing! Her lip! Frequently! So that it's more likely to bleed! Does make sense, haha. I think just a bit more clarification or whatnot could help that? Also, yeah, maybe ask medical opinion.

Anyway, loooking forward to the next chapter!




Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back. And it’s fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don’t believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don’t believe in science, that’s a recipe for disaster. We talk about the Internet. That comes from science. Weather forecasting. That comes from science. The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong.
— Bill Nye