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Prologue

by SteppeVesteffi



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Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:28 pm
Megrim wrote a review...



I there! I got here a rather roundabout way. I saw the first chapter in the green room and thought I should do this one first. Then it disappeared before I got to it, but I had it open in a tab so looked at your profile and decided it was a good idea anyway. So here I am.

First of all, your prose and use of language is fantastic. Very nicely done. You're able to create effective descriptions while also utilizing voice and cadence to your advantage, and also I think you did a good job of slipping in explanatory details without hitting us over the head with them.

I get the sense that her mother was killed by a vampire. I also figure that chapter 1 will jump us ahead in time to see this character grown up and dealing with new problems set in motion by this event. I think it works well as a prologue because, as the general advice goes, the prologue ought to be removed in space or time from the rest of the novel, and the fact that she's (she?) eleven, and also escorted away, makes me think it's both.

I'll start back at the top and go in order--a few sentences stood out to me.

My mother was dead.


The biggest hindrance during reading this is that the opening is pretty disorienting. There's some very good character emotion and we get the essence of what happened, but there aren't any concrete details until paragraphs 2 and 3. Because of this, I'm kind of floating in limbo for a few paragraphs until you ground us. Which sounds like a short time, but considering the whole prologue is short, we're actually about halfway through before it becomes clear. If you think about it, there are plenty of ways this opening could lead on. She could be sensing something empathically, her mother could be in a hospital (either in front of her or in a different room when the scene starts), she could have come home and found her, etc etc etc. Like 100 different scenes and stories could open with the same two to three paragraphs.

I think the easiest fix would be to change the first sentence to have something more specific. For example, "My mother stared out of a pool of blood with dead eyes." I know you made a point about her eyes being closed so you'd have to think of something else, but that was the best random example I could come up with. Ummm... "My mother was sprawled on the cobblestone, as white as the sheets she always washed." Could be an opportunity for additional characterization / let us know about their lifestyle or something. "My mother wasn't breathing." More specific, but still doesn't fix the lack of spatial awareness. But you can work along those lines to find something that fits.

My hair—matted, dark, dust-ridden hair—fell in clumps in front of my face, growing wet with my tears.


This sounds like her hair is falling out of her scalp in clumps. I'd suggest a reword. Also, not a fan of "getting wet" with her tears. Maybe because it's a bit of a bland verb, or maybe because it makes me think her tears must be an absolute waterfall to be getting her hair that wet.

(frozen in shock or horror or fear)


I really don't think this one is needed. It doesn't add anything that isn't already implied.

I crawled to her side and clutched her body, telling her things I knew she wouldn't hear, comforting her with empty words that meant nothing. I was too late.

Sometimes I felt like I was always too late.


Best part!

But for one brief moment when I was eleven, I sat with my mother, holding her and crying, and apologizing for a crime I didn't commit.


Because of the word choice here, I'm stuck trying to figure out what the significance of the statement is. Is this the one time she's actually innocent of the crime? The one time she's apologizing? The one time she's sitting with her mother? It's too unclear imo. I'd suggest rephrasing this to something that highlights what's most important about this moment to the character.

Regarding the parentheses, this prologue is too short to judge your use of them, so I didn't have a very strong opinion on them apart from simply noticing that you used them. The second two were effective but I'd recommend cutting the one I pointed out. It's the kind of thing, like use of italics or call-backs or any other such device, that if you can delete one, you should, so the rest are stronger. The more you have, the more you dilute the impact, so trimming excess away will make the remainders more powerful and effective. The analogy often used for exclamation marks applies well, I think: they're like salt. A little adds flavour; a lot starts to overwhelm the dish.

And to contribute to the larger conversation since everyone else has commented on it... I read the Twilight books around when they came out and I enjoyed them just fine :P They are what they are. Good for light reading like on an airplane.






Thanks for the awesome review! :D



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Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:46 am
queenofscience wrote a review...



Hi. Wow, this is really good, although I feel that is chapter is just about your main characters feeling. Anyways, I clicked on this because your chapter 1 says ' a vampire in therapy.' That is something that I have not come across. In general, I was a bit hesitant because...well, I'm just not a fan of vampires. I'm just not. I feel that they are too overused in stories in todays age. However...your were interesting.

As I read, instantly I felt sympathy for your main character. He keeps going on and is talking about his mom's death. I felt so bad for him. He loved his mom in order to be that upset at the fact that she was killed. So far, I really like your character. He seems sweet, likeable, and realistic.

Despite your story takeng place in Trayslvana, what I like about it is your characters. Good job. Keep wring.






Thank you!

And yeah, I agree 100% about vampires being overused. ;)



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Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:20 am
VintageGalaxy wrote a review...



This is really amazingly well written. Really. And your grammar is impeccable. Might I just say I love this story sooooooooooooo much! I am quite confused, though. I don't really understand this so much. There isn't much to explain what's going on. I really wish I knew what was happening. I have to say, I didn't really enjoy it-yet. I'm sure the rest will be amazing, I just hate not knowing what's going on. I also don't even know who the main character is. But your style of writing is amazing. So much better than mine. I hope the mother's death is important later. Otherwise, I'm going to be mad that she died for no reason. (Okay, who am I kidding, of course, the death is important) I also enjoy your use of parenthesis. Don't see that very often. I already read the first chapter, and it was really good! But this was kind of a letdown. I was disappointed by the lack of knowledge I had in this chapter. I felt like I had no idea what was going on. But really, this is pretty good. I didn't really enjoy it, but I can't say it was bad. It was far from bad. And the rest of your story was amazing. Can't wait for more.






Thank you!

Basically, this prologue is intended to be vague and only give a glimpse of the main character's past before catching up to her in the present day in the next few chapters. I know it's confusing, but my intention was mostly to scatter some breadcrumbs with the prologue and leave clues about who Sirena is, and then go back to them and reveal more later in the story. So, if I revealed too much or explained too much, I would've been doing it wrong.

Oh, and her mother's death is very important! It's what leads to her getting turned into a vampire, so that's why I chose to start with it. ;)

Anyway, thanks again!





Oh, that makes a lot more sense. Sorry for the confusion!



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Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:20 am
Kimnd wrote a review...



I gotta lurk more and figure out the etiquette on this site.
Anywhozies, I don't think there's really much to say about this--grammar's flawless, or at least it's good enough not to bother me. Honestly, I don't really think I can give much constructive feedback, since there's so little. It sets up a great image; the line at the end where it was revealed the person doing the crying was eleven surprised me, for sure! I didn't care much for it personally... but part of me feels that that's not terribly fair, since it's so short and there's nothing else to read.
If this story was already fully published, the problems I have with this little bit probably won't be as important. There's not much context into... well, anything really, so the angst of the situation was a little lost on me. I don't know who's crying, why the mom's dead, what kind of street they're on, nothin'. So I was kinda meh about it, but that doesn't nessessarily matter--even though I wasn't utterly enthralled by the end, I was intrigued enough to want to read more. Plus, it's easy to see you know what you're doing, so this wasn't a slog to get through and try and parse. Yayyy
Funny enough I was brought in by the comparison to Twilight too. If I had to guess, I'd say that 'anti-Twilight' means that this story is going to focus on fleshing (see what I did there) out the world, as opposed to the world only being there as a means to facilitate the romance? Ha, now that I think about it if you wanna take it at face value, the books actually start with Bella doing something with her mom, I think. Or she talks about her mom with, uh, Charlie (Why the **** do I know Bella Swan's dad's name) as he's driving her into town.
Heh, that's a pretty funny coincidence if you didn't plan it like that. I only read that intro once a long time ago so I'll just go ahead and assume yours is better, since I'm pretty sure Ash Ketchum's dad matters more than ****ing Charlie or René in the end. (okay so i think I remembered that because it's also the main character's name in Elegance of the Hedgehog and I read Twilight and that book somewhat congruently) And I'm pretty sure the death of a parent's going to be rather important to your story.
So good. Glad we had this chat, internet person.






Thanks! :D

Admittedly I have not read Twilight, so any parallels were accidental. I do, however, know enough about it to hate the plot and the characters. (Which is totally silly and unfair of me, I know.) My anti-Twilight remarks are mostly just smug hipster rhetoric. XD



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Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:46 am
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Feltrix wrote a review...



Hello! Feltrix here for a review.

Like Jimms, I was drawn here by the anti-Twilight description. A friend forced me to read Twilight once and, no offense to all you Twilight lovers, I was completely bored by the romance. I stopped one third of the way through. However, I've always said that I liked the premise for the series, I just don't like romance.

Okay, back to the subject.

First of all, oftentimes parenthesis just aren't necessary and are best used in small doses. For instance, "(Of course, maybe that would've been a good thing. Maybe that would've been better, if I'd joined her right then, if I'd made a clean break. Better, at least, than the alternative.)" doesn't need parenthesis at all, and the same goes for most of the other places where they're used.

"She lay abandoned in the street, skirted around by passersby, ignored." In my experience, people don't ignore a screaming girl next to a dead body.

"I told her I was sorry. Sorry no one noticed, sorry she'd been killed like a dog and left there to rot, sorry that I hadn't been with her when it happened. Sorry for something, for anything." Saying that she said she's sorry, I'd just have her say "I'm sorry" as dialogue.

"My mother was dead." I want details, gory details.

"And soon (too soon), I was led away. I was pulled back from the death, from the sadness, and thrust into a new world, a new place, full of Hungarian strangers I didn't like and who didn't like me." I would cut the "Hungarian," it just doesn't seem necessary. We need more info here. Who's taking her? Why? What do they look like? What happened to the corpse? Unless, of course, we're not supposed to know the answer yet.

"sorry she'd been killed like a dog and left there to rot," I don't know where you're from, but where I'm from, dogs aren't wantonly murdered. Just saying. And the phrase 'left there to rot' makes me picture a body that's actually rotting. I know that's not happening, but I might change that anyway.

"But for one brief moment when I was eleven, I sat with my mother, holding her and crying, and apologizing for a crime I didn't commit." I might just be crazy (that's a plausible explanation), but this seems a little abrupt for an ending.

In response to Jimss, I think there's a good amount of actions for a prologue. @Megrim told me that you should always write the first chapter of a book as though the reader hasn't read the prologue. Otherwise, your prologue is the first chapter. So I think there are a good amount of things happening here.

I hope this is helpful!

Feltrix






Thanks!

The parentheses thing is kind of deliberate. I tend to use them in a way that's not always correct but I think enhances it in a stylistic, visual way. That's just me, tho.

Also:
[spoiler]In my experience, people don't ignore a screaming girl next to a dead body.[/quote]
This takes place in the late 1400s in Transylvania. The main girl's Roma and as such, she and her family are treated as subhuman. So, in this case, it would make sense for people to ignore her. That's also the reason I included the Hungarian remark--having been taken from her Romani family, she's suddenly thrust into a whole other world with the Hungarians. It makes more sense in the context of the rest of the story.

Anyway, thanks again!





...that was supposed to be a quote. No clue why I typed spoiler first... gah. Ignore me, I'm no good today. XD



Kimnd says...


Nah, man, I liked the parentheses. Made me feel like I was in her head.



Feltrix says...


In that case, I'd include the Romani/Hungarian thing in the text. It kind of needs to be explained now because otherwise not everything makes sense.



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Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:09 am
jimss23 wrote a review...



Jimss here

Hey! So, I'm not sure if I have done for you before, so I'll do my intro spiel.

I'm here for your work, not for you. I want to make your work better, not give you a BS review that just pads the ego. That would be an insult to your work and you. You deserve respect, and I give it by being honest. If you don't like it, cool. Tell me, and I won't do another review. If you like it, I do more. Simple stuff

When I saw "Anti-Twilight" in your description, I had to investigate. (TBH, put that on the cover. You'll sell millions).

Let's do this reyem einehpets!

1) Holy ambiguity batman! That tightrope of too little or too much. You lean towards the too little side, hard. I didn't get any idea of what this scene meant or how it relates, even on a basic level. There was no mention of vampires, the supernatural, or even how the mother died. Hell, we didn't even get the girls name. Just mother dead, daughter grieving, BOOM ends.

2) On the other hand, solid work with descriptions, though. That is your strong suit. The girl's agony was incredibly well done. Cudos.

3) "stomach, telling me as much."
Eh, I see where you were going here, but the gut feeling wouldn't have confirmed the death as much as, say, the fact that her mother was dead right before her eyes. Just a thought. Eyes first, stomach second equals gold.

4) "Any hope I had that she could be roused disappeared, forced out by that feeling."
Keep this, though. This is good.

5) "matted, dark, dust-ridden hair"
Cut hair. You said it once already.

6) Parentheticals. I've had a lot of authors use these in manuscripts. I'm sorry, but no. Parenthesis work in poorly written reviews like this one, not a manuscript.

6.5) "(Of course, maybe that would've been a good thing. Maybe that would've been better, if I'd joined her right then, if I'd made a clean break. Better, at least, than the alternative.)"

Make this an internal monologue instead.

7) "passersby, ignored. No one cared."
Ok, it is entirely possible that these people are all cold-hearted bastards, but ignoring them altogether? That takes actual effort. It would be more realistic to say they gave uncaring or cold glances but did nothing.

8 )"she'd been killed like a dog."
Ok, now I'm just being an a**, but HOW? Is she bleeding? Did someone snap her neck? This is relevant to the scene. I get not wanting to reveal the killer yet, that is probably a major plot point. But at least tell the reader HOW she was killed. (Sorry for the caps. I can't figure out how to italicize on these reviews.)

9) "I was led away. I was pulled back from the death, from the sadness, and thrust into a new world, a new place, full of Hungarian strangers I didn't like and who didn't like me."

Too rapid a transition. Please don't give me whiplash.

9.5) At least say who her away.

OK, I am done! That was fun right? Right?

Despite me being a complete jerk, I hope you find something helpful in all this undiplomatic, jaded nonsense. Please don't take it personally. I would hate me too.

Also, I have an exam tomorrow, so there is a vein popping out of my skull, and I am currently running on Red Bull and sheer will. So you probably got the worst of me. My bad. But no exam is gonna stop me from getting my daily reviews done during my breaks.

Cheers,

An extremely stressed jacka**,

jimss




Feltrix says...


"Eyes first, stomach second equals gold."

That should be a bumper sticker. A weird and confusing bumper sticker, but still...





Thanks!

Yeah, I know it's short and ambiguous. This story flashes back and forth between past and present, and since this is one of the past sections and the prologue, I made some the stylistic choice to say as little as possible. Oh, and this is pre-vampire stuff, so I left that out deliberately.



jimss23 says...


Haha, all good. I figured it might more sense the more I read.
Please go ahead and ignore all those ambiguity comments then. Ignorance is the mother of all jackasses. Keep on writing! You do good stuff.

Also, did you want me to do more review or nah? Inquiring minds want to know :)

Cheers

jimss



Kimnd says...


"...but the gut feeling wouldn't have confirmed the..." Ha! 'cos it was a sentence about a stomach! I get it!

What follows is whatever the sleep-deprived version of drunk texting is. Might be a liiiittle hard to follow. Just a bit.

Sheesh, what's with the hate on the parenthesis? The ****'re we talkin' about 'manuscripts' for? A manuscript's a physically printed thing, right? This is the internet, not a ****in' printing shop. Unless... the goal is to publish this stuff? Huh. I guess that kind of makes sense. But still, that's pretty unlikely.
Besides, how come parenthesis work in a comment and not in a text? I think I actually know, but lemmie know if I'm wrong; using parentheses works in a casual setting because it implies... like, a pause. As if you're speaking, rather than typing, right?
I guess I could understand not being cool with that if it's a formal, academic text, but when it's fiction you don't have to follow the rules so closely! [f*** I'd never even thought about what 'rules' dictate parenthesis] Being picky about that is like... like, let's say a book used footnotes to show the scattered nature of how a character thinks. Then this is like getting upset 'cos at one point a footnote ends mid-sentence by a character cutting into the other character's thoughts because a footnote has to be a complete sentence. But that's kinda bulls***? Geze I'm being a know-it-all--you seem to do this s*** for a living, so man telling you the way you see this is bulls*** is pretty f***in' stupid of me (i should really go to sleep)

I guess what I don't get is why, if using parentheses as an aside-glance in text form works when talking to strangers on the internet, it doesn't work for telling a bunch of strangers a story. Especially in a work like this, where it's in first person! In first-person, the flow of the text usually is more like actual thought, doing everything it can to get the reader into the same headspace as the character. Doesn't it just make sense for the writer to use whatever tools they can to simulate the sensation of thinking?

S*** maybe I'm totally missing something--guess I'm just curious about what separates good use of (f*** that word it's hard to spell) <-- those from bad.



jimss23 says...


I usually like keeping my profanity to a minimum, but since you started it...

It was one personal opinion on a review that didn't concern you. I'm sorry my little comment got your panties all twisted, but the fact that you took this much time s****ing on me about that one little comment is f***ing pathetic. Your parents must be so proud.

I, personally, just don't like parenthesis. I think they are unnecessary and don't look right in a story. That's it. Nothing more than that. It's all a matter of personal preference. I didn't think that mentioning my opinion would illicit such a profanity-ridden spasm. I don't know what possessed you to write this d*** comment. Jesus dude, calm the f*** down. I'm just some college kid from the South.

Also, dumb***, look at the end of my comment. I had an exam was not in the best state of mind. Pull your head out of your a** and don't over-analyze every little thing.

Cheers,

Jimss

(Also, Noisette. I am sorry this spat is happening on your work.)



jimss23 says...


Also, if you want to curse someone out or insult them, PM them. Don't make them respond to you on someone's work. It just makes both of us look bad.




Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (I am a man, I don't consider anything human foreign to me)
— Terence