Brutally Honest Reviews | 03 | Extract Edition | READ THE FIRST POST BEFORE POSTING

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#101

bumptious bump


#102

Your word choice is proper, so I commend you for that. I also appreciate how you alternate dialogues and narrative/descriptive paragraphs. However, you have a lot of simple sentences and use many full stops, which might contribute to break the flow. If done well, it’s an excellent writing style, otherwise it may look choppy and out of place.

For some reason, I find the narrative voice a little too flat, even though you refrained from just telling (instead of showing indeed). Luckily, I caught no blatant grammar mistakes or misused punctuation, which would have irked me a little bit.

Your excerpt deserves a 7.5 to 8 out of 10.

Hartleigh (chapter 1) (CLICK TO OPEN) The last person I ever want to see has just approached me, smirking and raising his left eyebrow as a sign of his cockiness. As usual, he is accompanied by his stupid friends, Adrien, Layton and Tyler. Their gross manners and their lack of respect towards anyone barring their "boss" is just disgusting. I don't know if my apparently sweet demeanor can deal with their silliness and bitter attitudes.

“Hartleigh.” I hear him calling my name with his annoying voice. I’m trying hard to ignore him as much as possible, even though I know this is going to last very little. Okay, I know, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but you already know I’m not very fond of him.

Also, why on hell does he know my name? Has any of his friends told him? Or maybe somebody else? Well, I shouldn’t worry too much about that. Maybe his blue eyes throwing me ice-cold daggers should, instead. If I could, I’d run away, there and then.

However, his friends are making everything more difficult. They’re literally blocking my path, to the point that Adrien and Layton are even holding my wrists tight, making me want to scream. Instead, I only manage to grit my teeth and hiss, “Leave me.”

My words are suffocated by Calum shutting me up. “Oh, come on, redhead. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped running away from me?”

I smile coyly at him. I have no chance other than being nice to him. After all, scowling at a bully and his pack is just not worth a try. They know exactly what to do with defenseless midges like me. I know I’m going to be strangled or beaten up, so why shouldn’t I try to soften them up a little bit with my words?


#103

Okay, let’s go paragraph by paragraph and talk about certain lines.

I enjoyed this! I give you a 3/10, though, because of how it didn’t quite flow and because of the vocabulary. But you had good conventions/punctuation!

King's Den: Chapter Twenty One Excerpt A small yellow light illuminated part of the woods. It was a house that looked more like a renovated cottage than anything. A rotted, wood deck wrapped around the house, and there were a few rocking chairs in the front.

An old AC was whirring obnoxiously out of another window by the door. It was loud enough that I could barely hear Tristan’s footsteps as he went up the stairs.

He opened the storm door and rapped his knuckles on the firm wooden door. A man’s sillohuette stood in the window with the yellow light. I saw the shadow move towards the door.

It suddenly opened with a jolt and the man, Russ I presumed, warily looked at me. He had smooth skin and sharp features. In a way it was enchanting, in a lion and lamb sort of way. It pulled something within me. He seemed dangerous and kind at the same time.

His eyes flickered back and forth between Tristan and I.

"Twist?" he sounded unsure of himself.

Tristan smiled softly, “It’s good to see you again, Russ.”

Russ’ face twisted into confusion, but his eyes showed a cautious excitement. “Where have you been? I mean I haven’t seen you since… since.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ve missed you, man. But I’m back now. I’m back,” Tristan smiled broadly, his white teeth flashing in the dim light.

Russ’ anticipation bubbled over and his face lit up. In a split second he reached his arms wide and encased Tristan in a hug. His voice was thick with emotion, “I was so worried. I looked for you guys every day.”

At Tristan’s silence, Russ stepped back, now a stoic figure taking up most of the doorway. “Where’s everyone else? And who is she?”

Tristan’s face fell, “A lot has happened. Vegas, Al, and Bones are…”

His brown eyes darted over to mine. He wasn’t going to talk about it with me around.

Russ observed the two of us with a critical eye, no doubt trying to figure out Tristan’s story with me.

The boy beside me picked up on Russ, too, though. In a quick burst he changed the subject and gestured towards me, "But this is…,"

“Elaya,” I held my hand out to strong male in front of me. Unfortunately, he still didn’t look convinced. The words felt like poison in my mouth, but it was the only thing I could think of. “I’m Twist’s girlfriend.”

Russ’ eyebrow raised in skepticism.

Playing the part, I bit my lip and looked down at the sole article of the clothing on my body. I could feel the red rush to my cheeks when I saw my bare thighs on display. Tristan’s --Twist’s–scent was all over me. I brought my bashful eyes back up to Russ’ as if to say, “Isn’t it obvious what we’ve been doing?”

The man gave a small nod of acceptance to the facts. It sent shivers down my spine. I was not Tristan’s.

I wasn’t anybody’s.


#104

Thank you for the pointers! At first, I thought it was even worse… as soon as I finish this (well, unless I procrastinate), I’ll work on it to make it flow better, improve the wording and fix the grammar mistakes.


#105

You’re welcome! And ahaha, I procrastinate too, so you’re not alone :slight_smile:


#106

I would connect the second and third sentence. In my opinion it would do well to remove the repetitive word “house” as well as make it flow better, so something like this:

It was a house that looked more like a renovated cottage than anything; a rotted, wood deck wrapped around it, and there were a few rocking chairs in the front.

Something I noticed while reading over your piece is that it sounds very choppy a few times. Although that may just be a product of my preference of long sentences usually. You can usually connect two short sentences together, provided they are talking about the same general topic. For another, this:

could be changed to this:

A man’s silhouette stood in the window with the yellow light, and I saw its shadow move toward the door.
Well, besides that, I feel like it's a wonderful piece of writing. Without context, it's hard to guess what's going on, but I figure that maybe she's being forced to lie about her relationship? Idk, but I cannot find anything else I think would need correcting. Good job!

Well, this is my excerpt. Forgive the (possibly and most likely bad french)

From Price of Time (CLICK TO OPEN)
"Tres belle. I think you are. P-pretty, I mean."

“Really?” Lia laughed. “You think that?”

O-oui,” Henri stuttered, face beginning to turn a brilliant red. “A-and, uh, I… um…”

He swiveled around so he was not facing Lia anymore, and covered his face with his hands. “Je pense je t’aime. N-no, I mean, um, I mean I like you! B-beaucoup! Um, ah, a-a lot!”

Henri dropped to the ground and wrapped his hands around his knees and head, mumbling incoherently to himself. In French, probably.

“It’s alright, Henri,” Lia said, leaning forward so that her face was next to his. All she could see of his head was his brown curls and flaming pink ears. “You should have said it in French. It sounds a lot more romantic that way, don’t you think?”

Henri shifted his face so that one eye peeked out from under his arm. “Je… t’aime? W-what?”

“Hmm, yes. That sounds good. I’ve got something to say to you, too.”

“W-what’s that?”

Moi aussi,” she said quietly, standing back with a small smile, “me too.”


#107

That’s the only part I’ll quote, since I believe the rest is probably fine. 7/10. Awkward dialogue in places, but for the most part it’s pretty smooth. I think this is pretty good in general, actually.

Descendent: Child's Play | 08 | Frail

Saleh had been tied down in bandages, but what struck him the most was the dried blood trailing from his ear. Hidayat held his breath. He realised then that it hadn’t just been a small cut—Saleh had been deafened in his left side.

He felt his veins set alight then. He wanted Fawaz’s head. He wanted Fawaz dead. But, as he said that, the heat in his bones was overcome with a strange chill. Fawaz was the person who hit him. Fawaz was the person who hurt him. He couldn’t lay a finger on Fawaz.

So he sat there amidst a storm of confusing extremes, and he felt like he was being pulled apart from limb to limb.

Saleh finally awoke when the sun broke through the clouds. He seemed confused at first, but then sat up, content with staring himself down through the window opposite his bed. But then he clutched the sheets and let out a choked cry. Hidayat rose to his side.

“Karam!” he screamed out. He didn’t turn no matter how much Hidayat called his name.

A few moments passed until Saleh screamed out Karam’s name once more, and then fell onto the bed with muffled sobs. He cried out Karam’s name once more, then again, and it took Hidayat placing his hands on his back and shaking him away for Saleh to finally fully awaken.

Saleh stared Hidayat directly in the eyes and asked where they were.

“My house,” Hidayat replied. He looked away. “Like you wanted.”

“We need to go to Dar Saad.”

“We’re going to Enma—”

“We need to go there right now!” Saleh gripped Hidayat’s collar. The Servant child’s dull, shiny eyes remained unyielding. “Karam is—Karam is!—”

“Dar Saad isn’t safe, Saleh. They completely overran it days ago—”

“I need to go to Dar Saad!”

Saleh tried to keep his gaze firm.

“We need to go. . .” His hands fell from Hidayat’s shirt. “To Dar Saad. . .”

His words trailed and he fell forwards, landing against Hidayat’s chest, who hugged him tightly and tried to soothe him.

“Don’t run off again. Next time. . . you might die.”

After hearing that, Saleh tensed. He looked up again, close to Hidayat, and said, “Did Karam die?”

Hidayat lowered his gaze. “I don’t know who Karam is.”

“I saw him earlier when I was walking to your house. He ran away from me. Why did he run?”

Silence.

“I thought we were close, but Karam ran away from me. Why? I wanted him to help me. I wanted him. . .” Saleh took in a deep breath.

“. . . What happened, Saleh?”

“They said some things. Some bad things. Things that I got told were bad. I didn’t like that, and I told them that, but they didn’t listen because they said I was a Servant child. Why don’t they listen to me just because I’m a Servant child? I do not live to work for them—I do not live to make them happy!” Saleh clutched the sheets beneath them. “They gave me a gun and tried to lead me to the airport. I cried and told them no, but they took—they took. . .” Saleh brought his hands to his eyes once more.

“. . . What did they take from you?”

“No it’s—it’s fine. I wasn’t allowed to speak about it when it happened because it’s—it’s—” He screamed out the next word. “Disgusting! You should feel ashamed if it ever happened to you because—because you were too weak to protect yourself!—”

“Saleh—”

“And I couldn’t. . . stop. . .”

I wish this part wasn’t this long but I didn’t really want to break it.


#108

bump


#109

I thought it was very intriguing! I like how you have made it very mysterious - so I do want to read on more. I thought the POV was a bit confusing at the start, I initially didn’t know if we were following Saleh or Hidayat?

Saleh had been tied down in bandages, but what struck him the most was the dried blood trailing from his ear. Hidayat held his breath.

Here I didn’t know if Saleh was the one struck the most or if it was Hidayat? Additionally, Does Hidayat or Saleh want Fawaz dead? I didn’t really understand the POV until Saleh woke up.

I thought the change of names a bit confusing - I had to re-read it a couple of times.

Saleh finally awoke when the sun broke through the clouds. He seemed confused at first, but then sat up, content with staring himself down through the window opposite his bed. But then he clutched the sheets and let out a choked cry. Hidayat rose to his side.
“Karam!” he screamed out. He didn’t turn no matter how much Hidayat called his name.

^ Here I got the impression that Saleh was calling Hidayat the name “Karam”

Its very good, except I just got confused with the names and POV. Other than that, I thought it was very good! Well done! I think the characters names are very unique. Despite being slightly confused at character names, I thought the characters in the scene were interesting and I am keen to learn more about them. I am interested in checking your story out :slight_smile: Good job. 8/10

Girl in Blue (not yet published)

Dear Mum,

Thank you for the package you sent! I am so glad to have some more vegemite, can’t believe I have run out already!

Today I visited Papa with Nana, that was good. We got some flowers from the garden and cleaned up his headstone. I didn’t know his middle name was Sebastian? I am glad I visited, it’s my first time seeing it all since the funeral…Nana is doing alright though, she said it was 5 years ago so she has learned to get used it. She has a pretty solid routine, she visits him twice a week - Mondays and Fridays.

It’s good living with Nana, I have my old room. It’s still blue and just as I left it! Nanna said that Ida would have a room as well whenever she comes to visit!

When I visited Grandpa I saw another headstone near Grandpa. Do you know of “The Girl in Blue”? Thought it was odd to not put a name or a birthdate.

I am meeting Julia for brunch today at 10:30, so I better sign off. She knows this great place - Leo’s Bar & Restaurant/Cafe

Talk soon,

Pheobe xx

Clicking the send button she closed her computer, grabbed her handbag and slid her feet into her shoes.

“Hey, sweet pea” Nana smiled, kissing Pheobe on the cheek. “Now, I am going to drop you off at Leos, I need to do some grocery shopping - we have run out of bananas”

Nana continued reading her shopping list as they shut the door behind them and set to the car. The beaming sun licked her arms as it melted to the beach beyond the garden and into the steady beating waves. The rumbling of the engine, the blasting sun through the window, the breeze flying past. The radio sung loudly, Nana tapped along, occasionally echoing the chorus; making Pheobe laugh each time. Nana had kept the same headband in her short curly hair since Pheobe could remember; sometimes replaced by clips shaped as various fruit that Pheobe and Ida gave her when they were little. They pulled in to Leos Bar & Restaurant, giving Nana a kiss and a wave, Pheobe found a seat and ordered a juice for herself and Julia.

"Hey, Pheobe!” A voice cooed from behind. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the long tassels of hair swinging back and forth.

“Hi Julia,” She smiled back, “;How’s it going?”

“Good, as always” Julia sat down next to her, flicking her long brown hair behind her shoulders. “That gravestone you saw, near your grandfathers? Yeah, I know nothing about it”

Pheobe chuckled, nodding. “Of course. For a moment there, I thought you did.”

“Hmm, yeah, no. The Archives might though.”

Pheobe thought a little, contemplating this or that. “Nah, I just thought it was odd. The Girl in Blue, just an odd thing to put on a gravestone.”

Julia nodded, smiling, "It is. Did you know that Leo is hiring?”

"Leo? The owner of the cafe? Have you applied?”

“Indeed I have,” Julia said, with a pause, "So have you. Seeing as Leo is lenient, he said we can start as soon as possible - as long as we bring in some references and our CVs”

"Sounds good, thank you.”

The waitress placed two juices down on their table, took their order of food and smiled before sliding her pen back into her pocket. Julia smiled, sipping on her paper straw, the juice disappearing very quickly. Leaning back in her chair, Pheobe looked out past the cafe’s balcony to the beating waves.

“Want to go for a walk after this?” Pheobe asked, picking up her juice.

“Sure,” Julia beamed, “I found this old manor house near this beach. Perhaps we can go for a drive?”

“Sounds good,” Pheobe said, with a smile.


#110

7/10
There was nothing really “bad” about your writing. There were some grammar mistakes, mainly in the way you punctuated your dialogue, but nothing that was so bad it impeded the flow of your writing. Something that I noticed was that some of your dialgoue sounded a bit stiff, so I’d try reading it aloud to see if it sounds natural!


#111

my extract:

Though it was summer, the air had taken on an unnatural chill.

The girl wore it like a cloak around her shoulders as she stumbled through the woods, tears twinkling in her eyes like salty stars. The trees, tall and spindly, loomed sinisterly in the dark, their branches reaching out like grasping fingers. They tugged at her clothes and hair, begging her to turn back and return home, but the girl pressed on, unheedful of their warning.

The trees watched her go, rustling sadly in the wind that sighed through them. They had tried their best.

She was crying, she knew she was, but she couldn’t feel the tears. Her elbows were scratched, but she didn’t sense the sting. Her feet were bare, but she didn’t feel the scrape of rocks and roots against her raw skin. Everything was hazy and distant as if she was seeing through someone else’s eyes.

Just for a little bit, she wanted to be free. She knew it would be years before she could leave, and even then she didn’t know if she could. She couldn’t leave her sister alone. They had promised to always be together, and she couldn’t break that.

But it would be nice to have a night. One night where she could pretend she owned her own life. Even if she had to spend her sparse hours of freedom in these creepy woods, it was alright because it wasn’t town. Anything was better than there.

Besides, she couldn’t face her sister after what they had both said to each other. She had said such awful words, so sharp they stung, and she had heard Mama reflected in her voice. No wonder her sister had been hurt. But she had stung back, her words like a slap to her face.

Her sister would hold her grudge for days. Usually, the girl’s anger would have already flitted away like a butterfly on the breeze, but this fight was different. As strange as it sounded, it felt like fate.

A light, tinkly tune trickled through the trees. It was dainty and ethereal and haunting all at once, and its notes sung of promise. The promise of adventure. Of freedom. Of a life beyond her town.

She found herself winding her way toward it, drawn to it like a moth to a flame. The tree branches reached out, but instead of snagging at her hair and clothes they pushed, urging her along.

She wasn’t afraid, though she probably should have been.


#112

7/10

Your vivid descriptions serve the ideas behind the plot justice for sure. I love the fact that the setting is a forest, and how elegantly you described it without wasting plot to do so. However, that is also your weakness sometimes; you repeat yourself with description. For example, you mention in the fourth paragraph that the main character is crying, which is such an underwhelming match to the simile of salty stars. You’ve already set the tone well enough with that detail; why include it again? You actually go on and describe the progress of her tears, which I think is a great decision, and would be even more powerful given you remove the line ‘She was crying, she knew she was, but she couldn’t feel the tears’. If you polish up your descriptions by making sure you don’t describe something twice, you’ve got a much stronger piece to work with.

It has a beautiful flow, you have a clear grip on the mechanics of sentence structure, but just like with your descriptions, this works against you at times. You have a tendency to break up your rule of three’s into small sentences. And this has a lot of impact; at the end of your excerpt especially, however, sometimes the story would flow better if you replace some periods with commas.

Now this one may not be applicable, but if this is not the beginning of the story, you could alternate between the ‘she’ and ‘her’ with the character’s name. If it’s the start of the story, forget this comment. Well done!


#113

"Cesarius! Lucia! Blake! C’mon out you lazy puttycats!” as memorable as the people here are, I still wasn’t able to match the faces of the lions with their name. I don’t sound as determined as Esmeralda would like me to sound, as I select a hearty piece of steak and drag it across the bars of the cage, like an ironic prisoner of jail. Apart from Lucia, that is, who was the only lioness, and the only lion healthy enough to approach me for food. Esmeralda must have taken out her anger on their back. It wouldn’t be unusual if someone confused them with a distinct breed of tiger. She sniffs at the meat and delicately removes it from my hand, scoffing it down in one bite. “Good. You like that?” I reach my hand out to stroke her slick head, but she winces away. I was surprised not to be greeted with a brutal behavior. The other two don’t even bother to look at me, causing me to toss their meat into their filthy hay with limited aim. Observing them through the bars set my mind pondering; who was the prisoner, really? Was it me, or was it them? It wasn’t their choice to make a living off of performing. In fact, it was more like making a death. I kept hauling chunks and chunks of meat at them, finding myself to be holding hands. Hands? Lifted by a limp finger was a chopped off hand, dangling right in front of me. I shudder, and it drops back into the bucket with my shiver.

"Do you like them?" I look up, my vision still coated in shock, and of course, Arabella, free from chains apart from that bruise across her face, smirked, twirling on the stick to her lollipop. She wore it well, no doubt about it. It went with her make up, that bruise.

"No! Is this some kind of joke?! Where did Esmeralda get a mutilated hand in the first place?!"

"The lions." Arabella replied calmly, "do you like our lions?" she sticks a hand through the bars and lets Lucia gnaw on it lovingly. My insides turned into a wet t-shirt, twisted to be dried.

“There’s a hand in the bucket.” Who’d blame me for feeling uneasy?

“There is?” Arabella’s face lit up; she gracefully leans over and bobs her head inside the bucket, returning back up with the hand in her teeth. I turn to gag. “D’you need it?” She examines it proudly.

"N-no…?!"

“Man up, Dave, it’s made out of rubber.” She squishes it. Sour cherry blood guzzles from the wrist and onto Arabella’s.

“No…it’s not…!”

“Oh don’t be weird.” She licks it off, mimicking the lions, tracing her lips with her tongue to ensure no drop was lost, “it’s only a prop. It’s food coloring and water.” She waved it around to prove it wasn’t real, but it only proved that it wasn’t alive. At least. “See you round’, Dave.” She smirks, jerking it around by a finger as she walked past me. I could hear the bones crack under its dead skin. And yet she skipped ahead so gracefully, as if they were PopRocks, walking next to her. As usual, I watched as she left; feeling only slightly guilty this time when the mist of the sunny morning devoured her. And the hand. Was it weird she wore a skull in her hair?


#114

bump