|Reviews for Before Dawn|
| Skyward Ending 12/29/12 . chapter 1
I'm not sure scuffling of scavenging rats could be compared to dogs looking for something to maul.
There were a couple word usage issues (extinguish is a verb, I think you meant "alive" instead of "undead," "plunged" doesn't really fit, "thought" instead of "though," rifle instead of rifled, etc.) and there were some words I thought were a little overdramatic (but these are just pet peeves of mine, i.e. the word symphony being used to describe anything but an actual symphony and eyes being referred to as orbs), and I wasn't a fan of the soldier's "but you're a child" part. However, there were also some lines I liked (e.g. "But this? This was war. And war was indiscriminate.")
The idea of a little girl taking her mother's decapitated head was suitably gross, but I think you could've lingered a bit more on the description to make it creepier, and not state that it was disembodied before she picks it up.
It was an interesting take on the Watership Down quote prompt.
| TBK6212 9/13/12 . chapter 1
Really a well written start. I really liked the imagery and description in the first few paragraphs; it was excellent. It really did give a dark, scary feel to the whole thing, which is what I'm pretty sure that you were going for. Another thing that I liked was the fact that you kept the whole thing kind of mysterious. It's all things that I'm sure will be cleared up to an extent in later chapters, but for this, it's perfect.
If I had to pinpoint an issue I had with it, it would be that the writing style seems to be a little bit lofty, a little stilted. It evokes the feeling of a teenager trying way to hard to maintain a serious tone while telling a campfire story. If this dramatic tone is the kind of thing that you were going for, then you did well. But for me, as a humble reader, it was a bit much.
Overall, solid start. Looking forward to reading more at some point.
| ProsePoetryandPotpourri 9/13/12 . chapter 1
Reviewing Before the Dawn (please Excuse the typos. Posting from an ipad)
OPening- I have to admit, this was my second attempt to read this. The opening paragraph was beautifully written but it didn't GRAB me and hold me into the story. I don't really know how to describe it, but it was a bit dull? Dont take that to mean it wasnt written well, because it was i love your vivid descriptions but it was lacking something that anchored me down. On my second attempt i forced myself past that paragraph and as i reAched the third THAT was when i found myself captivated.
Ending- talk about a jaw dropper! I felt so sorry for the girl when i finished and couldnt help but wonder what was going to happen to her. Was she going to make it? The fact that she was carrying her mothers head with her is something i would not have seen coming so bravo on throwing a twist into it.
Relationships- thoug their interaction was brief, you did an amazing job at showing the relationship between the soldier and the girl. His hesitency, her fear, his determinatioto do his duty and ultimate decision to risk his own life to let an innocent child live... You made his struggle very tangible to me. Very realistic.
Writing- you are a very good writer. Once i was able to get past that first paragraph i was completely drawn into it you kept me on edge in all the right places and allowed me to sympathisize with both characters i can see you are going to do great things with your writing.
| Luckycool9 9/12/12 . chapter 1
(story easy fix)I like how you start us off a description of the surrondings because it gave me an idea of what the character was going through. I disliked this story though because you don't have enough history, we don't know why the soldier and girl were enemies. There was little shown but it was still great.
| Persevera 9/12/12 . chapter 1
I like that you thought about so many things that could disturb her in hiding-not only the soldier but a pack of dogs. The fact that everything could be a threat made her dire situation that much plainer.
I didn't like the passage about the mother's head. I don't like thinking I missed something but earlier she'd said her mother was outside. Then she had her mother's disembodied head. So did that mean her mother's body was outside?
| Who Is This Girl Anyway 9/11/12 . chapter 1
Personally I think this is one of your best pieces. The emotion is palpable throughout.
Your protagonist was a believable child. She actually sounds more childish in the way that she pines for her parents, her confusion, her calmness as though she isn't fully aware of what's going on. Her personality and the soldier's are a bit more defined, which allows us to become more attached to them.
I also like the imagery you use in this, particularly the stench of burning flesh. You created a more powerful image here, one that was immediately gripping and horrific. From that first paragraph I immediately got the sense that something horrible was going on.
| Dr. Self Destruct 9/9/12 . chapter 1
Beginning: I really enjoyed the beginning, especially the first line. I thought the verb "blur" was very powerful, especially with how it was addressing the colors and sounds. The following description of the destruction was very nicely done as well.
Theme: I wasn't too sure about what this was... well, about, I guess. I understand it's a girl being let go by an enemy soldier after being caught in her house, but so what? What's the underlying theme? I didn't really see one, just a random scene in a war. When a short story lacks a theme it has a tendency to fade from memory.
[ Children cringing away from the stench of blood and burnt flesh. ]
Edit: Suggest omitting 'away' since the act of 'cringing' already implies that.
[ The sagging cloth concealed most of her form;]
Style: I've always thought "form" was a weird word substitute for "body." Form just... makes me think of a lot of other things rather than a body, and it's verging on purple prose. Might want to just use "body."
[The sounds though could not be muffled. ]
Style: Suggest making the 'though' separated by commas in an aside.
[her bladder felt uncomfortably tight. She curled herself tighter,]
Style: Normally I don't nit-pick about something like this, but since this is a short story and every word should count, might want to think about taking out one of those 'tights' and substituting it for another word.
[ The gun had immediately trained upon her; she could have been a corpse and the weapon would still have been pointed at her head. A reflexive action; it was almost as if the other expected her to fight back.]
It felt like here that you slipped into the POV of the soldier because I don't see how a young girl would know that the solider pointing his gun at her was a reflexive action. Since this is being told primarily by the girl's POV, you might want to keep it consistent. Unless you're doing omniscient... but that's normally hard to pull off convincingly in such a short narration.
[Hearts thumped in a wild symphony,]
This was a little too purple prose-y for me.
[each deaf and yet painfully apparent to the other's ears.]
This confused me... from the way it's worded it sounds like the hearts are deaf. I think I understand what you're trying to say here, but you may want to reword it.
[ Her eyes still burned though, little orbs glittering in the dim rifle light.]
Style: Eyes being compared to orbs is known to be cliche and purple prose-y.
[then her feet as she mustered the strength to stand and plunged on. ]
Style: I didn't think "plunged" really fit as a verb in this sentence.
Writing: Overall, I thought the writing in this short story had great rhythm, though I'm a little unsure about some of the semi-colon use. I feel like they're used a little too often. But other than that, I really enjoyed some of the metaphors and similes you used, like the one about the scuffling sounding like dogs ready to maul a victim. That was very vivid.
| natalieward 9/9/12 . chapter 1
Plot - this is certainly an interesting piece. You do a good job creating the tension and mystery about why this girl is hiding, what has happened to her village and her family and also why this soldier elects to let her live. There are a lot of questions posed and really none are answered, which does create some intrigue and makes the reader want to keep going.
Writing - overall very good. Minor typo here with [She curled himself tighter,] - I assume it should be herself tighter? But other than that, no obvious errors. I do note there is very little dialogue in this whole chapter - which I personally don't have a problem with, especially as you pose a lot of questions about the story.
Opening - really good. The descriptions in your first paragraph are powerful and really set the scene. I am curious though in your second chapter, you talk aboutb her cowering in "his" corner - and I wonder what this means.
Ending - again, really good. I like that she has resolution and determination now, particularly after the earlier resignation or her seemingly certain death. Even in one paragraph she has a grown a little, and this is good. I am a little curious as to the "head" of her mother, but I'll go with it!
| Faithless Juliet 9/9/12 . chapter 1
Dialogue: The piece is very introspective, so not a lot of dialogue, but I do want to point out the stretch of dialogue where the solider confronts killing her. I think your use of ellipses in that section was handled particularly well. You showed his conflicting sentiments for the girl, and I liked how you showed his fear, and that even though he was part of the army doing terrible things to this village he wasn’t entirely evil. I liked the contrast there.
Characters: I didn’t like how you never gave the main character a first name. I feel that by giving her a name you do more to solidify her presence in the readers mind. I think that if your piece had been a little shorter than it wouldn’t have mattered, but because of the length I would add her name in there somewhere. You would also avoid using ‘she’ so much which happens in situations like this.
Scene: I think you did a good job at showing the chaos of the scene. Your descriptions of the light and hiding under the table, as well as the sound going on around her was very strong and vivid. The image of her trying to find her mother’s severed head was particularly gruesome.
Relationships: I think the main form of relationship here was between the girl’s parents. I’m a little confused if the father actually died, you mention that he was out of town and she planned on finding him, so maybe a bit more detail in that area to clear any confusion for the reader could be helpful. I don’t particularly like your ending: “Many things could happen before dawn” I think it leaves it too open, and it’s a little too hopeful after the story preceding that line. I think if you said something like: “She looked up toward the sky and saw that dawn was coming” or something like that it would sound better, and fit the ebb and flow of the beginning and middle sections. Keep up the good work.
| Velvet Vixen 9/9/12 . chapter 1
I thought there was a lot of good description in here and it was interesting to read. I also think your characters were good and, like another reviewer said, I could imagine the scene between the soldier and the girl happening.
The only thing I was wanting was a bit more insight into the war and why it was happening. But I can see that it's not necessary in this piece and was more to sate my own curiosity!
The emotion from the girl and the description of her hiding and then escaping seemed all very realistic and well-done. A very nice piece and good luck to you in the WCC! :)
| Anxious Axolotl 9/8/12 . chapter 1
Wow, this was really powerful and evocative. Even though a lot about the premise of this was a bit cliché, I found myself tensing up in anticipation of what would happen to the unnamed protagonist. Something which, by the way, I've almost never seen pulled off this well.
The only line I really had issue with was [And then silence. Horrible science screaming...] To me this didn't sound very cohesive and you probably meant 'silence' instead of 'science'. There were also a few of the really short sentences which I think would have flowed better if they were strung together with commas. You pulled the technique off really well in a few places, like [Papa. She would go to Papa.], but other parts like [Not at least until she could crawl no more. Walk no more. Run no more.] and [Her stomach churned. Her bladder felt uncomfortably tight.] didn't have the same impact and I feel commas may have worked better than periods.
I really love your descriptive language and your ability to make readers empathize with characters like the soldier, who could have felt like a flimsy cardboard cut out if in the hands of a lesser writer.
| Anihyr Moonstar 9/8/12 . chapter 1
I like your opening, the first line in particular: [A blur of colours and sounds defined the world outside.] 'Defined' in this instance makes the description absolute. The chaos is so overwhelming that it is *everything* in that instant, and I think you bring that out well. Especially compared with the instinctive, almost animalistic descriptions of both young and old alike that follow.
Your nameless female lead makes a strong impression in the short time you have to introduce her, but I think my favorite character is the soldier. The long, dragging moments of panicked indecision were very well handled, to the point where I had to force myself not to let my eyes skip a few lines down just to see what happened (reassure myself that he wouldn't fire). And yet, right after the scene with the soldier, I got a sense of the futility of his mercy.
Was his mercy *really* mercy? Or was he simply a coward, setting her up to face a worse death (a slower, more painful death) or rape or torture or slow starvation in her dead world. He couldn't be expected to save her from anything, but it's interesting how, even in sparing her, he may only have been baring her to worse things.
That concept is nicely outlined in the last line. [Many things could happen before the dawn.] Her future, clearly, is up in the air, and anything could happen in simply a few hours. So, I think the progression from the soldier's scene to the closing of the piece was well-handled. Certainly makes one think, if nothing else.
Some technical things: [She cowered in his corner under the table.] I wonder if you really meant 'his' here, or if you meant something else? As I read it, it occurred to me that *maybe* you meant 'his' as in perhaps this was the place her father or her brother used to sit at the table or something along those lines, but there's nothing later to suggest that, so I'm assuming it's a typo.
[Young: younger than the girl had expected.] I like your use of colons in this, but you *just* used a colon in just that format in the paragraph before, and I think that weakens the effect of it. I would choose one or the other and then vary up the format in one of them.
[...if he was caught leaving a villager undead...] First off, my spellcheck doesn't even recognize "undead" - but I consider it to be a word, so I'm going to move on to my actual comment. In my mind, an "undead" is a noun, something like a zombie. Undead things are dead things, reanimated. I'm not sure why you didn't simply say "alive"? It doesn't sound totally wrong, but it does read fairly oddly.
[She crawled further, hands enclosing around the disembodied head she sought.] Here is the only point where I'm really confused about what you mean. Is this entirely metaphorical? Her clinging to the thought of her father? If so, it sounds very strange. Why a disembodied head? That makes him sound dead. I don't think she's *actually* holding a disembodied head (though after reading that, I did skim backwards just in *case* I missed something). If it is a metaphor, I would personally recommend making it a little clearer, because at least for me, it isn't clear what the meaning is.
Other than that, I quite enjoyed the piece. You had some strong descriptions and painted a very vivid picture of trauma (and, in contrast, hope). The build up of that hope, actually, was probably one of my favorite elements. Not bad. :)
| Highway Unicorn 9/8/12 . chapter 1
I think my favorite part of this piece would have to be those long seconds of silence between the girl and the solider. It was just so dramatic! I could easily imagine the world exploding around them, but they're just staring at each other with the boy pointing his gun at her. Which is another thing I liked about this; your imagery was perfect, and it really set the mood of this war and innocence of a child.
I liked the part when she held her breath, hiding under the table, because it's something that most readers can relate to, in a sense that they would probably hold their breaths and hide durning war. So i thought that was a nice touch.
I'm curious as to what war this was, something more recent perhaps? Since it does have guns involved. And the uniforms are grey and green...perhaps WW1 or 2?
Anyways, this was a great piece and I wish the best luck with WCC!
| just a bit foxy 9/7/12 . chapter 1
This had me on the edge of my seat. Beautifully written. Very emotive.