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E - Everyone

Prologue

by lelu


It's quiet. Not silent--your quiet footsteps echo quietly off the buildings around the plaza until it sounds as if there are twice as many of you--but so much quieter than it was moments ago. No, it was minutes ago, but it feels like moments since you were in the city under attack, hearing screams and battle cries and shrieks that pierced your ears. You were all running. Some of you were screaming. You don't remember if you were personally screaming or not. You ran down into the bunker, running steps echoing all around you in the dark, and then the conversion was made and everything went dark.

Now the few adults--too few to take care of so many children--are herding you all around the plaza, showing you your new homes. They haven't quite gotten to you yet. You're looking around, wishing it was lighter so you could see the place you'll live for the foreseeable future. The adults are holding lanterns, but you can't see as well as you'd like. There are too many people casting too many shadows.

You notice a thing that's hard to describe, like an enclosed passage suspended over a street that branches off the plaza, a covered bridge between two buildings. There's a candle burning in one of its windows, but what really catches your attention is what catches its light.

There's a pale face looking out at the crowd, not really at you, but close enough for you to see well, even through the dusty glass. She's not really pretty, except for her long curly auburn hair. Her face is not so easily described, and therefore more interesting. She's one of the older kids on the island, probably midteens. Her lips are pale and thin, almost too pale and thin. So is she. Her cheekbones are a bit stronger than normal, but they were nothing remarkable before her cheeks grew a little hollower. Her nose barely escapes being hawklike. Her eyebrows are a little sloped, making her look almost stern most of the time. Almost. She would look stern, if not for her eyes, pale grey-blue, like sea under clouds, hungry for good and defiant of bad, uncompromising and wild.

A loud voice startles you. "Come into the theater, everyone!"

You follow the others, but you wonder why they haven't told you where you live. Maybe you missed it looking at the girl. You're having difficulty concentrating. Why is the window so dusty? Isn't this world a new one?

It's quiet. Not entirely quiet--there's the sound of the comb in your hair and raucous chatter downstairs, and you can just barely hear the footsteps of the new kids outside. You watch them coming out of the shadows, see the adults--there's not really a name for the adults--telling them where they'll live. The candle shines on your hair, turning it to the same color as the flame. Your hair looks like fire as the curls move in and out of the light. You wish your face went with your hair.

You look back at the new kids, stumbling, scared, blinking in the dark, coming into the lantern light like moths, though they're in far less danger. Isn't that the whole point of this world? Though, really, VRCAN could have picked a better world to send children to. This is only an island, run-down and understaffed, and what with the Mischief...SNAP.

Your hand was tightening on the comb until it broke. You bend your head over your hand, gritting bared teeth, realizing you probably look like a trapped animal. Drat. Why do I care about this kind of thing when I have much worse to worry about?

A loud voice startles you. "Come into the theater, everyone!"

Mrs. Gilchristie calls you from downstairs. "Briar! Showtime!"

You groan and get up. Your hair's pretty well combed. No trouble choosing an outfit when you only have one. "Showtime."

It's quiet.

Entirely silent, actually.

Tiny waves lap against your shoes. The sea is too big and too scary, even though there's not much wind tonight. You could think of better descriptors, but it's not easy for you to think like a grown-up. You used to say "adult," not "grown-up." You used to be an adult. Now you're a little blonde girl like something out of a horror movie. You're scared of the sea and the dark empty sky and yourself. You're afraid of going crazy, even though you know you've just grown younger.

It occurs to you that you're in your second childhood. That makes you giggle.

The sound scares you. It's not creepy or unhinged--it's the happy laugh of a sane little girl. It reminds you of your first childhood. The happy one. You can't help but think of the only purely happy time you ever had, and how it all exploded. Literally. The island was damaged in the explosion, and the damage was never repaired. Neither was yours. Or his.

You don't want to think of him. You saw him in the new lot of kids, a lean teenager with not much else going for him. It's why you escaped from the theater and ran down here, stumbling on the cliff steps, still not used to the new short length of your legs. You almost fell one time. You could have fallen over the cliff and into the sea, or maybe onto some rocks if they were convenient. But you want to stay alive.

You're not sure why you know this, but you do. Determination grows within you, though your feelings don't really notice. You want to live to grow up. Again.


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Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:27 am
Firestarter wrote a review...



Hi lelu,

I enjoyed this once it got going; there’s some interesting ideas here. It definitely built some mystery for the story ahead.

However, I have some serious issues with the use of the second person. I think it ruins the early paragraphs as you switch between using the collective you and personal you. This confused me. I only realised I was supposed to be a child called Briar quite late in the story.

I also think your descriptions are currently quite weak. They do not evoke anything interesting at the moment. I am supposed to feel terrified that I have just fled from something awful, but I don’t feel that because the words are not conveying that to me successfully. I’d look at your descriptions and try to come up with more specific ideas. It’s all a bit too general at the moment: “screams”, “battle cries”. General vagueness is the enemy of the writer, be concrete and specific.

I’ve made some specific thoughts on the early paragraph as I read through:

It's quiet. Not silent--your quiet footsteps echo quietly off the buildings around the plaza until it sounds as if there are twice as many of you--but so much quieter than it was moments ago.


Can sound echo quietly? I don’t think so. Echoes are usually loud. “Until it sounds as if there are as twice as many of you” implies that the echo is loud enough that it sounds like there are more people. This sounds like a plural you - because you’ve used “twice” rather than “doubled” - which is odd because “your quiet footsteps” implies one person. I’m now unsure whether this is a single person that I am, or whether I am multiple people. It’s not a good start because immediately I am unsure what or who I am.

No, it was minutes ago, but it feels like moments since you were in the city under attack, hearing screams and battle cries and shrieks that pierced your ears. You were all running. Some of you were screaming. You don't remember if you were personally screaming or not. You ran down into the bunker, running steps echoing all around you in the dark, and then the conversion was made and everything went dark.


I’m not a fan of “hearing screams and battle cries and shrieks that pierced your ears”. It’s cliched and lazy description - it’s not evocative, or specific enough. I’m not even quite sure what’s happened, but I presume some sort of battle. Also, again, “your ears” implies one person’s set of ears, but then the next sentence is “you were all running”, so we’re a collective again. And then “you don’t remember if you were personally screaming or not” implies me, an individual, being unsure if I screamed, not multiple people. So the voice is all over the place and I’m unsure. Again, steps are echoing - this is too similar to your previous paragraph.

I don’t know what “the conversion” is, so I hope to learn more soon.

Now the few adults--too few to take care of so many children--are herding you all around the plaza, showing you your new homes. They haven't quite gotten to you yet. You're looking around, wishing it was lighter so you could see the place you'll live for the foreseeable future. The adults are holding lanterns, but you can't see as well as you'd like. There are too many people casting too many shadows.


Ah, here we go. So I am a group of children. It’s strange I don’t know that until now. Oh... wait. No I’m not. I’m also an individual child, because the adults haven’t got to me yet? I’m confused again. Are the shadows really the problem? Or is it the darkness, because of lack of light? It’s weird to complain about lack of light but then also complain about the shadows emitting from the only light in the place.




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Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:18 pm
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FCD wrote a review...



This prologue had an sincere effect on me. Upon finishing this chapter, I immediately wanted to continue reading. I also thought it was spaced really well, with plenty of paragraphs.

There were a few things, like the lines "Not silent--your quiet footsteps echo quietly off the buildings around the plaza until it sounds like there are twice as much of you" that caught my attention.

A better way of saying this would be " Not silent - your footsteps (it would be contradictory to say quiet as you later say that it sounds like there are two people, implying that the footsteps are loud.) echo off the buildings surrounding the plaza, making it sounds like there is someone walking beside you. The phrase twice as much of you isn't grammatical English, and saying
"two of you" doesn't seem to flow as well as someone walking beside you.




lelu says...


Thx, I will probably change this later



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Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:29 pm
AvantCoffee wrote a review...



Hi ^^ CoffeeCat here to review ~

I love the image you set up at the start of this prologue! It's interesting that you chose a second-person narration style.

Now the few adults--too few to take care of so many children--are herding you all around the plaza

The way you gradually reveal what's going on is really skilful. I didn't realise the protagonist was a child until this point, so this staggered introduction of details works really effectively with the mystery/suspense genre.

Your writing is really excellent! I'm trying to find improvements while reading but so far there's nothing but great writing (how dare you ;3)

There are too many people casting too many shadows.

I love this! There's something symbolic about it, a dual-meaning.

Her face is not so easily described, and therefore more interesting.

Hmm, I don't know about this sentence. I get what you're trying to go for with the description, but it feels a lot like you're telling the reader this as opposed to showing. It might work better to mention a couple specific features of her appearance that perhaps contradict each other, which would make face hard to describe (instead of just saying her face is hard to describe). The reader can then judge for themselves that her appearances is interesting.

After reading a little further, I realise you proceed to describe the features of this girl. In this case, I recommend taking the above quote out completely and maybe editing the more specific description slightly to emphasise how hard to described and therefore interesting her appearance is without actually telling these facts.

Isn't this world a new one?

There's something slightly off with this to me for some reason. "a new one" doesn't sound quite right in my mind. If you wanted to you could substitute it with something similar, but feel free to ignore this, as it's mostly an opinion. :)

Okay, in the seventh paragraph you change point-of-view to the girl that was looking out the window. It took me a good moment to realise this because it isn't made clear in any noticeable way. To improve this, you could "mark" the change in character viewpoint with a change from second-person to another person (first or third) narration, as an example. OR, you could have a scene break, which is essentially a visual separation between what came before and what follows, often marked with a ~ or *** or some other such thing.

A loud voice startles you. "Come into the theater, everyone!"

Ooh, this repetition is interesting.

It's quiet.
Entirely silent, actually.

Yes! It's really effective how you separate these short sentences into separate paragraphs.

Tiny waves lap against your shoes.

Again, another's scene change that isn't really clear to the reader. Same recommend advice as the seventh paragraph.

You're scared of the sea and the dark empty sky and yourself. You're afraid of going crazy, even though you know you've just grown younger.

This writing is fantastic. It's now that the reader finally gets a sense of what's going on, which, depending on your intensions, could be a good or bad thing.

Nice ending of this prologue! It leaves room for questions and sets up enough intriguing concept for the chapters to come.

All-in-all, your writing is brilliant. It's skilful and does a lot of things right. My main suggestion for improvement would be marking the changes in scenes/point-of-view either visually or in some other way. There is a lot of mystery in this prologue, which of course fits the genre, but it could be seen as too much by some. I would say be careful of the balance between revealing and concealing story information.

As for my personal engagement of the story, I think it has an intriguing concept and an interesting writing style. The second-person narration is refreshing - you pulled it off really well! I'm also sensing some thriller genre vibes from this story. A very nice prologue overall. :)

I hope my review has been helpful to you in some way. Keep up the great writing!

— Coffee




lelu says...


Thank you! Also your name is cool. I'm glad people seem to be responding better to this than they did to Princess of the Sea. Fewer errors being found, and more remarks on how interesting my work is. I guess it is true that the best way to get better is to write a lot.




I don't care what the miserable excuse is for showing the death of books, live, on screen. Men, I could understand; but books! -
— Edwin Morgan, From the Video Box 2