CRITIQUE The Passage Above You





4/10 this just seems like a bunch of expository dialogue, and since I just finished reading a book that was pretty much entirely made of expository dialogue, I have no patience for this. Sorry :s

Here’s to the Broken Kids
The trip back to the coffee room was ten times longer than it had been coming out, marked by silence and the heat waves that Xena was pretty sure she was hallucinating. She could see them rising off her shaky hands.

Four Neurontin pills and she still landed herself a panic attack.

Inside the coffee room, she made a beeline for the nearest chair. She had to sit before her knees gave out. Walking was like slogging through cold syrup. She always had to sit for panic attacks, which made them worse because all she wanted to do was run and run and run until she couldn’t feel her body.

Samuel wandered off and returned with a cup of water that Xena accepted gratefully.

"Do you need anything else?” he asked softly. She shook her head, if she opened her mouth she was going to vomit everywhere. She would just ride this out and call her parents when she got her voice back. It wasn’t a good option, but it was her only one. She couldn’t ask Sam’s brother to take her home and she couldn’t walk all the way back on her own.


9/10 That first sentence is messing me up. I feel like something’s missing in that sentence.

Rule Number One: Look innocent at all times.

I was walking to school by myself. My hair was swishing in the light breeze as I skipped down the sidewalk. The chatter of city life being heard over the dull clunk of my shoes hitting the ground. The purr of cars, the tweeting of birds. Nothing seemed out of place.

You’d be naive to think so. I clutched my secrets close to my chest as I smiled.


Would context help or is something with the flow of the sentence wrong?


What do you mean?


I don’t think your first sentence is missing anything. It’s just long and chunky, making it harder to read and process. Not impossible to understand though.


8/10 I like how you set a scene of normalcy with the description of the protagonist in the beginning and then flip it around with the last sentence. I also like the way you describe the scene, it lets me picture what’s going on. I feel like there is a disconnect between ‘Nothing seemed out of place’ and ‘You’d be naive to think so’ - but that could just be me reading it a bit weirdly.

“Sullivan,” he grows, low and angry, “what did she do to you?”

“Nothing,” I cry out, slightly more panicked than intended - but he’s already reaching over to inspect my torso, dark eyes narrowing when I shrink away. His head is slumped over, hands holding me steady so I won’t struggle against his grip.

It feels like fire trailing across my stomach when he lifts the ripped cloth of my t-shirt. He pauses when he sees it.

The mark faintly reminds me of liquid sunsets, the kind I used to watch with my little brother. Muddled hues of purple, yellow and red swim, trapped beneath the confines of my skin like a pocket-sized galaxy - and it’s kind of beautiful I think, in a sick sort of way.

The older boy flexes his hand on my side, wary fingers running across bruised skin, and I know it should hurt - It does, but it’s a good kind of pain and for some reason his touch has me gasping for air.


10/10 I love your description. It’s so vivid and real.

I was going to rename my list Things I Want to do Before my Disease Killed Me.

But it’s not a disease. Diseases can be cured. Most diseases stop. My condition could never be cured, would never stop.

What a great thing to think of before I read my life goals.

1. Get a girlfriend

2. Figure out my gender

3. Go to a pride parade

4. Stop being afraid

Maybe my dreams weren’t as simple as the title insisted. My mom’s words rang in my ears.

One day soon, I’d be consumed by blackness so complete it never ends. Was that all my life would ever be? A taste of it before it’s all stolen from an uncontrollable monster?




I liked the way you sort of lightened up the topic of death, which can often be a hard thing to do, but you also managed to provide a lot of depth to the passage which, again, can be difficult. I can also gather an idea for the LGBTQ themes that will probably continue throughout your story. I would try to add another item to the list, one that makes you smile or even laugh, but that’s honestly just a stylistic choice, I just felt that there wasn’t enough on that bucket list. Also, why is the MC renaming the list? Is it because the disease isn’t really a disease? Is it because of something else? Is it explained later on thus rendering my last line of questioning utterly useless?

Six Feet Under
I looked back to Dride, and she looked up at me. I didn’t bother trying to find words to say to her. What was there to say? Words only seemed to get in the way of things for me. The things that I said, the things that I hadn’t…

Why does I love you only truly feel real when you say it out loud?

Why hadn’t I told my mother that before I left for school that morning?

Why hadn’t she said it to me?

“I love you,” I said to Dride then. It felt true, and maybe she needed to hear it. I wonder when the last time those words were spoken to her. Too long for a child to go without hearing them, I reckoned. Was I going to have to start telling her that every day?

She nodded but didn’t say anything back. I hadn’t heard her talk since we left. I wonder if her voice died alongside our mom, drowned alongside our town. It felt like a part of me had, too. And I wished, quietly, softly, that all of me had drowned that day. Just to get it over with. The grief, the recovery, the living. I just wanted to get it over with.

But there was Dride, who needed to be told I love you every day, and I had to stay. I didn’t have a choice. And I think I sort of hated her for that.







Your use of repetition was really effective. Careful not to change tense, for example “I wonder” would make more sense as “I wondered”. I’d also vary the vocabulary of the first paragraph - how does the narrator look at Dride etc. This passage is really poignant, especially the last line which I really liked. I got a strong sense of both of their characters and the narration felt raw and truthful. Well done :slight_smile:

Bat Club

“June what the fuck!”

She was stood in front of him, clasping her hands together in gleeful delight at her handiwork. Cobie didn’t know whether to laugh with her and admire her lunacy, or stare shell-shocked and marvel at how utterly crazy she was.

“What do you think?” she asked, her eyes lit up in sharp exhilaration. It was nearing darkness, the sky stained with dusty ink, but her strawberry pink dress held its colour against the evening.

“What do I think? I think it’s illegal to steal cars, that’s what I think!”

His voice carried alarm, though he kept his paranoia as hushed as possible for fear of attracting attention from the completely deserted street. Between them sat the old Cadillac, dented and ancient, but coloured the perfect shade of cream to match the silk belt around June’s waist. It was beautiful in the most decrepit and battered way.

“It didn’t belong to anyone, Cobie, it was going to be crushed. In a way I saved it.”

“You still stole it! Those places don’t just conjure up cars - they do actually need the parts.”

“I guess it’s a good thing we’ll be gone by the time they realise, right?”

She was just so damned blasé.


oooo i like this! i think it’s a 9/10 because it has the whole shebang! it intrigues the reader, gives them insight on what the characters are like (when it comes to stealing cars haha) and makes them wonder what they’re going to do next, well done :smile:


The conversation Nate, Henry, and Toni are having looks normal, he thinks. After all, they aren’t wearing any designer clothing, nor did they arrive at this shitty diner in a car that would catch anyone’s attention, so they don’t stand out from the other customers. To an untrained eye, it probably looks like they’re friends chatting over lunch and they just happened to be in the area. No one would guess that they’re actually debating on whether they should kill someone or not.

But for the record, Nate would add that he didn’t start the topic, because if he’d had his way, he’d be spending his Thursday on his yacht, doing nothing except for probably sharing small talk with the staff and letting the gentle waves take him where they want him. He never gets his way though, which is why he’s sitting here with his two business partners, and apparently, his best friends. He shows his blatant disinterest by leaning his head against the window and eyeing Toni’s Chevy, briefly wondering where she got it. Antonia Van Duyn definitely isn’t new money, having come from a long line of business tycoons, so God knows why she has some cheap car in her garage.


I like how it starts. The last sentence for the first para really got me hooked and interested in why they would need to kill someone. I can see a lot about the character, Nate, and how he wasn’t really into the conversation that much. You also use this as an opportunity to show off his financial status and his relationship with the other two characters.

Kinda iffy about this dream from the perspective of an 8 year old

Strong winds blew through the trees. It was quiet and the wind was the only sound she heard. Dried leaves crunched under her feet as she walked. She was outside and all she could see was a house behind her--her house.

But something was wrong.

She had came out of the house because she had heard something. She continued walking, and she heard angry voices, and then there were screams. She ran towards it. She didn't know why. And she covered her ears as she came closer. The screaming stopped but she heard something that sounded like a dull slap with some crunching. Over and over again. Like a beat but not in a pattern. And then everything was red. It was everywhere except on her. Then there was another scream but this time it came from her lips.






The phasing seems very stilted. Every sentence seems like you’re just stating a fact instead of writing a story “She said this.” “She did that” I think I understand what’s going on here, but it seems like the kind of scene you should add a lot more emotion too in order to have some effect on the reader.

She made to stand, but fell back. A wall caught her. Her head was spinning. Trying to move sent heat prickling through her leg, and she didn’t have to be able to see it to know there was something wrong. She reached out to touch it, wincing when she did. Definitely something wrong. She slumped back against the wall, drawing in slow, even breaths, trying to make her eyes adjust to the dark.

There’re could’ve been something out there- a harvester, lurking just out of sight. She hated the blindness. Couldn’t stand it.

Then, a thought.

“Blue?” Fable’s voice was raspy, and she could still taste smoke on her tongue.

There was no response.


I liked the ending, but the sentence “She made to stand, but fell back” seems to have odd wording. You could maybe try “she tried to stand” or “she attempted to stand”. The adding of periods makes the passage seem choppy. Maybe reformating could help? eg. “A wall caught her as her head spun out of focus.” Hope this helped c:

this is mine:

He nodded, digging into his pocket to retrieve a cigarette. With the flick of his lighter, the stick began to burn as he placed the end to his split lips. His eyes slowly began to crawl down to my bare feet as I carefully watched his dark eyebrows furrow together.
“Oh,” I began, looking down at the ground, “My feet got sore, bad day to wear heels.”
I was expecting some sort of laugh, even a smile but instead, he just looked at me with the same, dead eyes.
Sucking in a breath, I began to slide my feet into the blistering shoes in my hand. I winced in pain as my skin scraped against the rough edges. One last time I examined his face, observing as puffs of smoke flew from his mouth.