First Chapter Analysis

MrCrunch

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Thinking about going back to update all my chapters once the first arc is done, it will be great to know what I did wrong in my first chapter.

 

Story_Marc

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Okay, I'm doing you first.

AWESOME: You emphasize the character and have a clear personality with her, you absolutely do not want to use that. I'd argue you do a good job of focusing on her as the selling point of this chapter. She can work for the audience who likes this stuff! So yeah, when it comes to the content, I think you can do well. Also, there are some little things I like, such as the build to the vampire reveal, how you introduce her names, and tiny things like the bookend.

BORING: The protagonist could go here, how she came off as an angry teenage goth chick who is so beautiful, it's a curse and everybody loves her, but she's so above it all and blah blah blah. She's a double-edged sword since, while she ain't for me, I can see her working with her intended audience. Actually, I could probably get into her as a dark, Byronic lead if she didn't feel so much like an angry teenage girl.

CONFUSING: Why didn't she just say the butler's name at the beginning? Here, this part:


“Ms. Kasdeya, your guests are waiting for you.” Someone informed me from the other side of the door.

“Right, I’m coming out.” I answered in a false sweet tone. I walked away from my window and towards the door. Before I could open it, I dusted off my blouse and adjusted my buttons. God forbid if I look out of place in front of my people. I finally opened the door and Joseph stood by the door in an elegant manner.

Just cut to the chase. Here:

“Ms. Kasdeya," my butler Joseph said, "your guests are waiting for you.”

“Right, I’m coming out,” I said in a false sweet tone.

I walked away from my window and towards the door. Before I opened it, I dusted off my blouse and adjusted my buttons -- God forbid if I look out of place in front of my people. I finally opened the door and Joseph stood by in an elegant manner.
I did a little bit more cleaning than expected, but I'll come back to that in "MISSING" part. Other thing that confused me...

The butler gave me a nod and we proceeded to walk down the dim lit hallway. Something about this hallway gave me the chills. Even though I made it that way it still gave me a weird feeling. Maybe it was the crimson colored walls with black vertical stripes that you could barely see. Or was it the narrow passageway that gets smaller when you get closer. And to top it all off, there are no windows so you couldn’t tell if it’s dusk or dawn if you go all the way downstairs or get told ahead of time.

If it's so "scary", why doesn't she just change it?

Finally, is this meant to be past tense or present? She slips into present-tense at times with narration, particularly with her thoughts. I'd make that consistent, preferably with past. Unless it's direct internal dialogue.

MISSING: Could use some cleaning up with formatting and so on. I'll give a couple of examples...



“So, how is everything downstairs?” I asked.

“Everything is wonderful ma’am. We just started serving drinks and food is just waiting for your presence.” The old butler replied.

“Excellent.” I hummed.

We ended up in a huge room. Inside there were people chatting and having a good time.
One touch from me later...


“So, how is everything downstairs?” I asked.

“Everything is wonderful ma’am," Joseph said. "We just started serving drinks and food is just waiting for your presence.”

I hummed. “Excellent.”

We ended up in a huge room. Inside there were people chatting and having a good time.

There's stuff you could do to add to the description for the setting here. I wouldn't put too much, but this is a good place to add it since she entered a new location.

Also, drop the replies and such. Just use said unless it's volume related. Said is nearly invisible, so people won't think about it as just reading along. Another thing, if someone is speaking and you use a dialogue tag, identify who the speaker is as quickly as possible and use a comma, not a period. Period is for beats, comma is for tags.

The butler gave me a nod and we proceeded to walk down the dim lit hallway.

Something about this hallway gave me the chills, even though I made it that way. Maybe it was the crimson walls with black vertical stripes that you could barely see. Or was it the narrow passageway that gets smaller when you get closer? To top it all off, there are no windows so you couldn’t tell if it’s dusk or dawn without going downstairs or being told ahead of time.

I removed some stuff from this one, to help clean up. I'll let you look at it, figure out what, where, and why.
“Perfect,” I thought to myself. “Just what I needed.”

Internal thoughts don't have dialogue tags. Use italicize for direct internal thought. Also, drop to myself. Who else is she going to talk to? ...Assuming she can't communicate via thoughts, vampire and all, but yeah.

Perfect, I thought. Just what I needed.

At any rate, cleaning up the prose would help.

Also, don't use knock knock knock. Write a sentence with her hearing the door being knocked on. Just going to quote something I shared with a friend who asked me about this the other night:


Sometimes, a word mimics a sound, or even is the sound. This is common in comic books, especially for loud noises: Boom! Bang! Crash! Boing! Whoosh! Zap!

This is called onomatopoeia. You can use it in prose fiction, but I advise against the raw form because it can look blatant and naive. The English language allows a refined application: turn the sounds into a verb (the door banged shut) or a noun (the door shut with a bang).

Using this sophisticated variation creates subtle yet vivid effects. Any sound can be turned into a verb or noun, so let your creativity flow. When you want a fast-paced, exciting effect, choose the verb: to boom, to bang, to boing, to whoosh, to zap, to clank, to shoosh. In addition, many English words are actually imitations of sounds, but have become so common that you may not think of them as onomatopoeia: the tap drips, the chain rattles, the horse's hooves clip-clop, the cat meows, the horse whinnies.

You can use onomatopoeia words in all kinds of vivid prose, but the biggest use is in writing for children.

Skipping this part, to cut to the heart of it...

When writing for other audiences, use blatant onomatopoeia sparingly, and apply refined versions mostly to descriptions you
want to make vivid.
I don't wish to polish every little thing, but yeah, some examples. There's cases where you'd benefit from breaking stuff apart. I'll give one last example.

“I…uh,” William glanced at the crowd and back at me. I would be lying if I say that I’m waiting patiently for an answer. Even though I did this for a while, I still couldn’t keep myself under control. “Yeah sure. Why not?”

“Okay, let’s go.” The both of us left the ballroom without a trace which was good because I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to run into one of these douchebags again.

Here are my touches:


“I…uh,” William glanced at the crowd and back at me.

I would be lying if I said that I was waiting patiently for an answer. Even though I did this for a while, I still couldn’t keep myself under control.

“Yeah sure," William said. "Why not?”

“Okay, let’s go.”

The both of us left the ballroom without a trace -- which was good because I don’t know what I’d do if I ran into one of those douchebags again.

To note, some of that is me doing my best to work with your prose, I might word it a bit differently, not the point. Prose could just use some cleaning, those are examples and part of how I did it.

Also, going to add something to make something absolutely clear: does this feel like it's worth reading on past the first chapter? Yeah. I wouldn't have high expectations with the prose, but the fact so much character work is being put in makes me go "Hmm... I'm a bit curious where this goes..."

...And having hit enter to next chapter and there not being one, is this a short story? XD I judged it as an opening, not a full story.
 
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Story_Marc

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Sure. Give mine a go. I'm uploading volume 6 some time this week, but people will surely go for the first one once that hits, so a little refining or polishing can help.

Not sure if you count the prologue as the first chapter or want to read the first chapter itself (which is 1 and 2). "Disturbance at Night" is the "real" end of chapter 1, just that I split everything for the first volume (which is why volume 1 has way more chapters than the rest)

Fractal Plane: Awakener’s Pact | Scribble Hub

AWESOME: To be frank, this does a lot well. You start immediately with the protagonist, it's quite easy to read, it sets the tone well, etc. It reminds me of a 2000s urban fantasy or, well, a light novel, as desired. When it comes to the content, I actually don't have any problems and this is something I'd truly consider reading for pleasure. Something I often do at the start is to see how readable something is, as the easier it is to immerse, the easier it is to just enjoy the story for what it is without distractions. So yeah, I can see why it works. So, for what's about to follow, I'm just bringing up what I'd consider based on my research into prose. I cannot emphasize how much I like this as is. It primes the audience well and seems to set good expectations for what's to come.

BORING: The protagonist seems a bit generic at the beginning. More a standard lead. I got a "This is like something out of my Japanese anime" vibe from him, though I will say, I liked the hint of him possibly being genre savvy and considering if this is some Isekai bullshit in play. That's more than enough and I am being super nitpicky in this instance.

If I could think of anything else to criticize, it's just that you could write a more lively description. When it comes to narrative distance, this is written like an omniscient narrator commenting on things instead of immersing in him from a 3rd person's perspective. In your case, I just think studying stuff like this could advance you as a writer if you aren't already familiar with it. I noticed it being a bit more distant because of things like telling us "he felt like something was bothering him" instead of it being shown through techniques I'm pretty sure I mentioned earlier for showing emotions.

Anyway, this is a good example of what I mean about stuff that works well for enjoyment instead of worrying about perfection. It's a nice genre-fiction start that scratches the itch. ...This is supposed to be the boring section, but no, you pass the test outside of things I thought about which could help you grow with prose. This might sound weird, trying to find the best words for it: this doesn't read like someone with inexperience or being self-indulgent, just someone who has a decent foundation and could advance with some study of more literary techniques, like the stuff I linked on psychic/narrative distance. So yeah, thumbs up!

CONFUSING: Nothing.

MISSING: Nothing.

For an opening meant to hook a reader in, this is the best I've read so far in what's been offered.
 

EternalSunset0

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AWESOME: To be frank, this does a lot well. You start immediately with the protagonist, it's quite easy to read, it sets the tone well, etc. It reminds me of a 2000s urban fantasy or, well, a light novel, as desired. When it comes to the content, I actually don't have any problems and this is something I'd truly consider reading for pleasure. Something I often do at the start is to see how readable something is, as the easier it is to immerse, the easier it is to just enjoy the story for what it is without distractions. So yeah, I can see why it works. So, for what's about to follow, I'm just bringing up what I'd consider based on my research into prose. I cannot emphasize how much I like this as is. It primes the audience well and seems to set good expectations for what's to come.

BORING: The protagonist seems a bit generic at the beginning. More a standard lead. I got a "This is like something out of my Japanese anime" vibe from him, though I will say, I liked the hint of him possibly being genre savvy and considering if this is some Isekai bullshit in play. That's more than enough and I am being super nitpicky in this instance.

If I could think of anything else to criticize, it's just that you could write a more lively description. When it comes to narrative distance, this is written like an omniscient narrator commenting on things instead of immersing in him from a 3rd person's perspective. In your case, I just think studying stuff like this could advance you as a writer if you aren't already familiar with it. I noticed it being a bit more distant because of things like telling us "he felt like something was bothering him" instead of it being shown through techniques I'm pretty sure I mentioned earlier for showing emotions.

Anyway, this is a good example of what I mean about stuff that works well for enjoyment instead of worrying about perfection. It's a nice genre-fiction start that scratches the itch. ...This is supposed to be the boring section, but no, you pass the test outside of things I thought about which could help you grow with prose. This might sound weird, trying to find the best words for it: this doesn't read like someone with inexperience or being self-indulgent, just someone who has a decent foundation and could advance with some study of more literary techniques, like the stuff I linked on psychic/narrative distance. So yeah, thumbs up!

CONFUSING: Nothing.

MISSING: Nothing.

For an opening meant to hook a reader in, this is the best I've read so far in what's been offered.
Did you just read the prologue or all the way till the supposed first chapter? Honestly, I think I did the prologue pretty decently for the medium, but I'm more worried about the first three or so chapters in terms of hook or immersion.

Lots of thanks for the study material. I'm thinking of trimming stuff down when I eventually finish the series (probably in 2 years time at the rate I'm going, around 9 to 10 volumes), but you like it so I know it works for some people. I guess it's more of the refining that I need. The word choice, prose, and such. I did feel it's distant, and it's something I really struggle with. Maybe because I'm more used to academic writing and reviews.

Overall, thanks, and I'm glad you like it.

And yes, it's heavily based off a 2010s urban fantasy. It's the stuff I grew up with when I started getting into anime, after all. I did give my list of inspirations (or was it on another thread) such as Persona, A Certain Magical Index, Strike the Blood, etc. in case you can't see my sig.
 

Story_Marc

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Did you just read the prologue or all the way till the supposed first chapter? Honestly, I think I did the prologue pretty decently for the medium, but I'm more worried about the first three or so chapters in terms of hook or immersion.

Lots of thanks for the study material. I'm thinking of trimming stuff down when I eventually finish the series (probably in 2 years time at the rate I'm going, around 9 to 10 volumes), but you like it so I know it works for some people. I guess it's more of the refining that I need. The word choice, prose, and such. I did feel it's distant, and it's something I really struggle with. Maybe because I'm more used to academic writing and reviews.

Overall, thanks, and I'm glad you like it.
Just the prologue because that's the only thing I'd click on as a reader. If it doesn't sell me on the story as a first impression, Chapter 1 doesn't get read. I treat it as do or die based on the first thing offered since if it doesn't sell me, I'm not investing time. I do intend to read more, but not as a reviewer. I'm just curious to read.

Here's some material I can recommend getting your hands on to grow with prose, particularly more creatively:

Description: A Busy Writer's Guide

...In fact, just look at any book in a Busy Writer's Guide. Marcy Kennedy is an amazing teacher. Mastering showing & telling as well as stuff on POV are great reads. As is a lot of stuff on Deep Point of View. I recommend this as a great source to learn about it.

Rayne Hall is another great source to learn from. Just...in general. She's one of my faves.

Other books I just really love to cite include stuff like Sin & Syntax & A Dash of Style. I could think of others, but yeah, those are the ones I recommend highest.
 

Story_Marc

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Ngl its the first thing i have ever done outside of an english essay, so im just going along with what i want to do and hoping i dont screw up too badly
This do be the story
Okay, finished another one in private via PM, I'm just... debating this one now. I never knew of LitRPG until returning to the world of webnovels, but I find I hate them from a conceptual standpoint. They rub me the wrong way for some reason. That said, your premise outside of that intrigues me. So I'm conflicted if I wish to pass or not. I'll likely give it a try as I actually wanted to read until I saw stats, I just... need to get through my hatred of the very genre because it inherently interferes with my ability to immerse into the story.
 

CKJ5

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Okay, finished another one in private via PM, I'm just... debating this one now. I never knew of LitRPG until returning to the world of webnovels, but I find I hate them from a conceptual standpoint. They rub me the wrong way for some reason. That said, your premise outside of that intrigues me. So I'm conflicted if I wish to pass or not. I'll likely give it a try as I actually wanted to read until I saw stats, I just... need to get through my hatred of the very genre because it inherently interferes with my ability to immerse into the story.
It’s funny, I kind of have the same bias for the genre as well. It is also hard for me to review them because of it. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it is the stats.
 

SuiPolaris

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Would you accept reading my first chapter on Google Docs? I haven't submitted it as a story on Scribble Hub because I deemed it a failure and abandoned it months ago. However, it'd do more good receiving feedback than brushing it off as a complete failure.
It was an experiment I excitedly wanted to try, fusing first and second person narration together whilst trying to maintain coherence and a story. I marked it off as a failed attempt because I thought I was trying too hard on its style and voice; it becoming pretentious.
 

Edd99

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Okay, finished another one in private via PM, I'm just... debating this one now. I never knew of LitRPG until returning to the world of webnovels, but I find I hate them from a conceptual standpoint. They rub me the wrong way for some reason. That said, your premise outside of that intrigues me. So I'm conflicted if I wish to pass or not. I'll likely give it a try as I actually wanted to read until I saw stats, I just... need to get through my hatred of the very genre because it inherently interferes with my ability to immerse into the story.
I mean, my premise doesnt even matter yet, considering it has 1 chapter rn and after feedback from other ppl, im changing it to first person, so if u havent read it, could u wait until i have rewritten it fully which should take a day or so
 
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FelixFelicis

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I absolutely appreciate this, fam. I’ve been on RR for months now, and I thought of posting revised chapters here on SH.
 
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Story_Marc

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I mean, my premise doesnt even matter yet, considering it has 1 chapter rn and after feedback from other ppl, im changing it to first person, so if u havent read it, could u wait until i have rewritten it fully which should take a day or so
I can wait. Alright, that means CKJS is up next.

Going to tackle CKJS tomorrow (or later today at this point, I should say) since I'm doing work on my own novel tonight and I don't wish to lose focus. I have already read a bit, to note, I just need to gather thoughts.

Would you accept reading my first chapter on Google Docs? I haven't submitted it as a story on Scribble Hub because I deemed it a failure and abandoned it months ago. However, it'd do more good receiving feedback than brushing it off as a complete failure.
It was an experiment I excitedly wanted to try, fusing first and second person narration together whilst trying to maintain coherence and a story. I marked it off as a failed attempt because I thought I was trying too hard on its style and voice; it becoming pretentious.
Sure. And yes, worrying about style will do that. I'd argue it's better to focus on craft and how you solve any given problem. Style arises from how you solve problems, not by trying to impress anybody.
 

Edd99

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I can wait. Alright, that means CKJS is up next.

Going to tackle CKJS tomorrow (or later today at this point, I should say) since I'm doing work on my own novel tonight and I don't wish to lose focus. I have already read a bit, to note, I just need to gather thoughts.


Sure. And yes, worrying about style will do that. I'd argue it's better to focus on craft and how you solve any given problem. Style arises from how you solve problems, not by trying to impress anybody.
Cool, thanks for accommodating my request, I realised that I need to focus A LOT more on describing stuff
 

Edd99

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Okay, finished another one in private via PM, I'm just... debating this one now. I never knew of LitRPG until returning to the world of webnovels, but I find I hate them from a conceptual standpoint. They rub me the wrong way for some reason. That said, your premise outside of that intrigues me. So I'm conflicted if I wish to pass or not. I'll likely give it a try as I actually wanted to read until I saw stats, I just... need to get through my hatred of the very genre because it inherently interferes with my ability to immerse into the story.
Ok. Rewriting is all done, I hope it is ok for a mediocre first try lmao
Assassins Apocalypse
 

Story_Marc

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I'm game. Let's see what my first chapter does.

You fell into the sweet spot I like doing stuff like this for most: someone who raw, but I see tons of potential in. I’m dropping the format I’ve been using as it annoys me. Doing this in order of whatever I wish to talk about.



Let’s start with the opening sentence. You shouldn’t do the describing self in mirror issue. Here’s information on why not: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/describe-your-character-in-a-mirror/



Now, having given this information, let’s break some rules and discuss the one way I think you can make it work: emphasize how nervous she is to be going in. Don’t start with just the action, start with internal thinking or something description wise which focuses on her feelings and why she’s doing stuff.



See what I’ve told other people on just using said with certain exceptions and why. I can add more and just… I’m tired of repeating it, going to make a video I can just point people to. Same with some structuring sentences type thing, as it’ll save me time in the long run. Good example where it’s off:

> "Be at ease, Mistress Miguela. I did not call you here for disciplinary reasons," he said, toying with a ring on his pinky finger as he inspected her.

It should be this instead:

> "Be at ease, Mistress Miguela,” he said, toying with a ring on his pinky finger. “I did not call you here for disciplinary reasons.”

A part of me does wish this guy was more critical or antagonistic in a way here, as he’s just giving an info dump about her without any emotion.



Love your use of character throughout, including the internal dialogue and voice. You’re good at immersing more into the character, but I highly recommend you watch out for moments like this:

> Miguela was surprised at how much the words stung. She was also embarrassed because she knew his words also to be true. Blinking rapidly, Miguela poured every drop of her willpower into stopping the tears she felt forming in her eyes. She would not cry in front of this man. She --

I mentioned how to show emotions on the first page. Naming them takes away the power, which is a shame as I feel this part overall works well.

Also, going to add a little something that goes beyond your first chapter, as I know about stuff that happens beyond it: your marketing sucks. You have a cool ass story concept which you’re not highlighting when it needs to be highlighted most of all. Work on that with the blurb and, if possible, see if you can do something to hit the Rule of 10 which I mentioned a while back. Your story has all kinds of great potential, so it’s one I just want to keep an eye out of due to curiosity of how you’ll grow as a creator.



There’s also something I think would help emphasize more in your case, to dig more into the idea that maybe she isn’t the happiest or just emotionally numb or whatever about her fate. I really like the concept and Miguela won me over quite quickly, especially since I feel for her situation. It's more when you focused on her situation that I got the most invested, which is why I made a video on a concept that I’d recommend watching. I don’t feel like typing it out again, hence the new video. It’s what I did yesterday, with you in mind in particular since I read your stuff again while waiting to see Bullet Train -- which started with the exact thing I mention in this video.


At any rate, would I read on? Yes. The protagonist won me over since I felt for her and I like the voice, though I will say I wish I was introduced to her doing more stuff and convinced of her being perfect for this instead of just having people tell me.
 

CKJ5

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You fell into the sweet spot I like doing stuff like this for most: someone who raw, but I see tons of potential in. I’m dropping the format I’ve been using as it annoys me. Doing this in order of whatever I wish to talk about.



Let’s start with the opening sentence. You shouldn’t do the describing self in mirror issue. Here’s information on why not: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/describe-your-character-in-a-mirror/



Now, having given this information, let’s break some rules and discuss the one way I think you can make it work: emphasize how nervous she is to be going in. Don’t start with just the action, start with internal thinking or something description wise which focuses on her feelings and why she’s doing stuff.



See what I’ve told other people on just using said with certain exceptions and why. I can add more and just… I’m tired of repeating it, going to make a video I can just point people to. Same with some structuring sentences type thing, as it’ll save me time in the long run. Good example where it’s off:

> "Be at ease, Mistress Miguela. I did not call you here for disciplinary reasons," he said, toying with a ring on his pinky finger as he inspected her.

It should be this instead:

> "Be at ease, Mistress Miguela,” he said, toying with a ring on his pinky finger. “I did not call you here for disciplinary reasons.”

A part of me does wish this guy was more critical or antagonistic in a way here, as he’s just giving an info dump about her without any emotion.



Love your use of character throughout, including the internal dialogue and voice. You’re good at immersing more into the character, but I highly recommend you watch out for moments like this:

> Miguela was surprised at how much the words stung. She was also embarrassed because she knew his words also to be true. Blinking rapidly, Miguela poured every drop of her willpower into stopping the tears she felt forming in her eyes. She would not cry in front of this man. She --

I mentioned how to show emotions on the first page. Naming them takes away the power, which is a shame as I feel this part overall works well.

Also, going to add a little something that goes beyond your first chapter, as I know about stuff that happens beyond it: your marketing sucks. You have a cool ass story concept which you’re not highlighting when it needs to be highlighted most of all. Work on that with the blurb and, if possible, see if you can do something to hit the Rule of 10 which I mentioned a while back. Your story has all kinds of great potential, so it’s one I just want to keep an eye out of due to curiosity of how you’ll grow as a creator.



There’s also something I think would help emphasize more in your case, to dig more into the idea that maybe she isn’t the happiest or just emotionally numb or whatever about her fate. I really like the concept and Miguela won me over quite quickly, especially since I feel for her situation. It's more when you focused on her situation that I got the most invested, which is why I made a video on a concept that I’d recommend watching. I don’t feel like typing it out again, hence the new video. It’s what I did yesterday, with you in mind in particular since I read your stuff again while waiting to see Bullet Train -- which started with the exact thing I mention in this video.


At any rate, would I read on? Yes. The protagonist won me over since I felt for her and I like the voice, though I will say I wish I was introduced to her doing more stuff and convinced of her being perfect for this instead of just having people tell me.
Thanks for looking it over and the detailed response. I do have a question about it though, you felt smoothing the wrinkles on her dress was the whole taking stock of her character traits in the mirror?

I could understand if we saw her tawny skin, and brown hair and eyes in that scene but that is not what happens. Is it just a hard rule to never have characters look in the mirror even if they are nervous?

I did rework my blurb, I don't know if you saw it or if it is better. Writing blurbs is definitionally my weakness and I am trying to get better it selling the good stuff in my writings.
 

Story_Marc

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Thanks for looking it over and the detailed response. I do have a question about it though, you felt smoothing the wrinkles on her dress was the whole taking stock of her character traits in the mirror?

I could understand if we saw her tawny skin, and brown hair and eyes in that scene but that is not what happens. Is it just a hard rule to never have characters look in the mirror even if they are nervous?

I did rework my blurb, I don't know if you saw it or if it is better. Writing blurbs is definitionally my weakness and I am trying to get better it selling the good stuff in my writings.
More it didn't stand out and I wouldn't rely on it alone. Place emphasis on it with other things, hence the mention of using internal dialogue and so on. Her smoothing out the dress is something that can be open to too much interpretation, which is why I'd recommend putting other things around it first.

Also, I don't view it as a hard rule even if others do for reasons given. I believe in breaking rules only once someone has mastered the rule and fully understands it. That's just me though.

Haven't looked at new blurb yet, I'll give it a look later on. I typed this out elsewhere for a quick blurb writing tip.

What do publishing professionals want a synopsis for? To do their work, they need to see the novel’s main plot at a glance. They want a synopsis which gives them exactly this, and nothing else.

To make the editor’s and agent’s job simple, and to come across as a professional, you need to provide a synopsis that shows the main plot, based on the main character and the main conflict. Don’t waste their time with anything else.

All the other wonderful elements of your novel—the rich cast of supporting characters, the atmospheric setting, the subplots, the subtext, the world-building, the backstory, the dialogue, the witty writing style, the chuckle-inducing humour—are important. But they don’t belong in the synopsis.

The ideal first paragraph contains these five elements:

The main character
The main character’s big goal
The reason for that goal
The consequences of failure
The deadline by when this goal must be achieved

Also, make sure to make the genre clear.
 

CKJ5

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Jul 21, 2022
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12
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More it didn't stand out and I wouldn't rely on it alone. Place emphasis on it with other things, hence the mention of using internal dialogue and so on. Her smoothing out the dress is something that can be open to too much interpretation, which is why I'd recommend putting other things around it first.

Also, I don't view it as a hard rule even if others do for reasons given. I believe in breaking rules only once someone has mastered the rule and fully understands it. That's just me though.

Haven't looked at new blurb yet, I'll give it a look later on. I typed this out elsewhere for a quick blurb writing tip.



Also, make sure to make the genre clear.
Yeah, the mirror thing I felt I understand quite well, which is why I was a little surprised that it came up because she didn't note any of her features and just kind of fixed herself before entering. I felt it would be something that most people might do before an important meeting. (Not to harp on it.)

If you have time take a look at the new blurb and let me know what you think.

But even if you don't, you have done a lot work and prep for not just me but everyone in here, so I appreciate it a lot.
 

Story_Marc

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Jul 23, 2022
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29
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Yeah, the mirror thing I felt I understand quite well, which is why I was a little surprised that it came up because she didn't note any of her features and just kind of fixed herself before entering. I felt it would be something that most people might do before an important meeting. (Not to harp on it.)

If you have time take a look at the new blurb and let me know what you think.

But even if you don't, you have done a lot work and prep for not just me but everyone in here, so I appreciate it a lot.
More with it, here, looking at it with this point alone.

> Miguela paused, regarding herself in the reflection of the polished double doors of the headmaster's office. She adjusted a wayward tuft of hair then smoothed wrinkles on her modest green dress.

(Not using quote thing since it's annoying me. -.-)

More I feel there can be more done with it. It lacks oomph, hence why I'd at least add internal dialogue to show her emotional state, that she is nervous. Her fixing herself beforehand doesn't tell me anything about why she's doing it.

For instance, I could have my own protagonist do that exact same thing and it wouldn't be because she's nervous, but because she's meticulous about her image and loves it. It lacks an emotional hook ultimately or more a way to fully make it leap out. That's why I'd add some internal dialogue with the beat, to make it easier for the reader to anchor into her experience within the first two sentences.

Plus, admittedly, there is the danger of it just turning people off due to how much of a cliche the mirror thing is, but that isn't something I'm factoring in. It's why I'd add a little something more.

As for the new blurb, YES! That's much better! It's exactly what I'd want to see! :D

Your last one irritated me the second I learned what the story actually was. I was meant to figure out what the story was about based on the blurb (Proctor tested it on me, we're friends away from Scribblehub). After giving a simple, quick assessment, I learned the reality and freaked out since I felt you were burying the lead hard and the story's actual focus sounded like an amazing concept.

Having read the first chapter, I stand by my assessment that I see tons of potential in you and I'm curious where this story goes. The pros outweighed the cons for me, particularly since Miguela interests me.
 

Masako

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Jul 3, 2022
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20
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Do you find starting a story a daunting task? I do. Luckily, I always have my mountains of research on the writing craft to fall back on. It's helped me out a great deal over the years in building my confidence and I'd love to share a bit of it with those who are interested. I can't guarantee perfection, but I'm fairly confident I can help you start the story on the right foot.

Here's how I'll try to do it. I'll identify...

1) THE AWESOME: What I feel was done well with the opening and jumps out to me
2) THE BORING: What I feel might not work and could be removed
3) THE CONFUSING: Where I feel clarity is needed.
4) WHAT'S MISSING: What I think could be added.

I do reserve the right to pass on a story if it's so extreme against my tastes, but I'll do my best to focus on what your work is doing and what you're trying to do. Also, I'll just tell you if your story passes or fails in my eyes as an opening chapter.

Also, to note, I don't care about "perfection" or the like. Perfection is impossible because it doesn't exist. I simply wish to help refine people's works a bit so they can better entertain their intended audience. And I refine stuff by using craft techniques which help me get things done and help me help others. This is what I'm offering.

If your outlook is just "I just want to write from my heart and do this", please do not ask for feedback. I'm not against writing for fun. Do it! Write for fun! Enjoy the act of creation! I'm pro-writing as a hobby. It's just that that outlook has nothing to do with the reader's experience. I'm not offering positive affirmation. This is for those who wish to learn where immediate issues might lie for the readers and hear suggestions for how to address those issues. I'm approaching this as a reader first and, when stuff fails, I'm turning on my editor's eye to figure out why. Finally, I'll suggest edits. If you don't wish to change anything, please don't ask. Or, at the very least, don't tell me because I don't care. It's your story and I ultimately want you to do whatever you want with it, not whatever would most please me. I'm only sharing my commentary because I'm asked.
I'm kinda curious what you think about mine.

Masako's Life In An Abandoned World
 
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