|Reviews for Afflictio|
| September Silver 11/11/12 . chapter 1
Oh my god, I am SO sorry this review took so long in coming... OH MY GOSH... By the way, it's my first depth review, so I'll try to make it not suck.
Opening: I really liked the way you put all the words together without spaces because it creates this breathless feeling. By not explaining what is going on you make me want to read further. Maybe the heart skipping beats thing is cliche, but it works here and I like it.
Characters: I love how you're not that close to your father, but you seem to have some kind of respect for him (a kind of "I know I should respect him" kind of respect). The relationship between your mother and him also keeps that distance, so you've kept it consistent. You may want to introduce the fact that you're twelve earlier, because you don't want your readers idea of the character to change near the end (I thought she would be a different age so I was a bit thrown.)
Plot: I didn't really feel like you had a message. Your wonderful style of writing more than made up for it, but I found that I just wasn't sure what I was supposed to feel. (See below)
Other: War, the horror of mothers... You didn't show me why this was the horror of MOTHERS per se. I felt like you were trying to show it, but it didn't really come across... I was kind of waiting to find out, actually.
All in all, I love this, and congrats on the WCC! xSeptemberx
| professional griefer 11/6/12 . chapter 1
Hi! This is your (incredibly late) WCC review. I'm really sorry it took me so long. Congrats on winning!
Opening: I have to say, I really enjoyed the opening. I loved the way you gave this picture of fear and pain right off the bat, and drew excitement into the whole thing. However, I didn't like the way you described the fear and pain. It seemed too matter of fact; too out of the moment. I thought it could have been more fast-paced and exciting and not suffer.
Writing: I felt the same way about your writing style as I did about your intro: too matter of fact. It doesn't feel like a poor twelve-year-old, more like a rather eloquent upper-class person. It's awkward and doesn't really fit the tone of the story at all. I feel like you could have made it flow a bit more naturally.
Spelling/Grammar: [Shaking and sweating and coughing from the hot flames and terrible burning fumes.] While I like this sentence, I think it feels a bit awkward without a subject.
[somber looks on all their faces as they had been discussing something lowly.] The 'lowly' feels like a strange word to use in that sentence. Maybe something like 'in low voices'? I don't know, lowly feels like it could mean more than one thing and doesn't feel like a very good fit.
Characters: Given that the voice felt unrealistic, I didn't really care for Marjani at all. She seems kind of empty, but you may have been doing that intentionally so the reader could project themself into her situation. If that's the case, you did rather well, but if not she feels a bit flat for a first person narrative.
Ending: I liked your ending, especially your last sentence. It seems like a nice, sudden way to conclude the story that kind of matched the franticness of the beginning. I just think that the build-up wasn't very exciting. I didn't get a clear picture of the massacre before the ending. I feel like it would have a much bigger emotional impact if the scene was more vivid.
In conclusion, I want to say that I think you did a really good job, but there are areas I think you could improve.
Once again, sorry I took so long for the WCC review.
| Nesasio 10/27/12 . chapter 1
Congratulations on your WCC win. :)
Writing: In some places it seemed (to me) the sentences became too wordy for the narrator, and it was hard to organize the thoughts. For instance, 'The other two men he was conversing with glanced carelessly at me and fell silent.' stands out to me for 'he was conversing with' which could have been simplified to 'he conversed with' or something similar. There were a few places I also noticed borderline improper word use, listed below.
...as they had been discussing something lowly.
-I think you meant they were discussing 'quietly' here? Lowly doesn't really work in that sense.
...and the slightest of worry.
-Seems to be missing a word here. Slightest hint, perhaps? I'm not sure, but it feels incomplete to me.
...glanced carelessly at me and fell silent.
-This is another case where the word use feels odd, with 'carelessly'. By falling silent it seems they care a great deal that she's listening in, so I'm not sure what emotion to get from this exchange.
...I had seen it in the far distance that he had taken it by storm.
-It seems like the two its here are different things, with no indication what's what. I can infer the second it is the conversation but I'm still unsure on the first one.
Opening: I have mixed feelings about this. Overall, I think it's an effective way of grabbing the reader with action right away. It made me want to know how this came to be. But the italics and 'Feartearscan'tbreatheithurts' stood out to me as strange. There's nothing technically wrong with these things but stylistically the running together of those words pulled me out of the scene. Normally when I see writing like that it's something I have to speed-read and in this case that didn't seem to fit the scene you were depicting. The character is fixed in place, so her brain would be basically at a full stop, rather than full speed like you have there. A way to fix this would be to de-italicize the rest of the opening and just italicize those words for emphasis. Also, I just noticed as I was rereading this, you have two nouns and two phrases in that word-run so it might be better to split them up, group them together a bit.
Dialogue: I was confused a little about the narrator's age from her dialogue. I know it says she's 12 but her words seem older. I didn't get the impression that this was being told in retrospect, an older Marjani speaking in the 12 year old's place. I was particularly surprised with how she spoke to her mother, as an equal rather than a child seeking answers.
Pace: The ending felt a little rushed to me. Now that I think about it, this is a really interesting arrangement of the story. It's more or less chronological but has some little bits of foreshadowing and also backstory that move it back and forth so it seems very active. Overall, though, it gave all the topics a good discussion before moving on. Still, I thought the story rushed a bit when it dove right into Edem's speech. For some reason her emotions move right into dulled fear so it doesn't resonate well for me, and it loses the desired effect. It seems like this should be a stunning moment, a moment when suddenly she realizes THIS is what her father has been keeping from her. I think maybe describing one of the 'terror stories' she's hearing and describing her reactions in real time would help make this more powerful.
| VelvetyCheerio 10/16/12 . chapter 1
Here's your prize review for winning the WCC, congrats! :D
Opening: I liked the opening few paragraphs for how they foreshadowed a very traumatic event that is in the process of happening. I always find it interesting when stories open with a small glimpse of what is to come because it sets the tone right off the bat and often lets the reader develop sympathies for the main character.
Setting: I love the cultural aspects of this first chapter. It's a welcome change from what I usually read of realistic fiction where the setting is often in America and the culture is often lacking or invisible to me. With this story, I feel like I'm crossing oceans in a sense and getting to understand a whole new world. Plus, I think it is very true, that often wars happen overseas in places the regular American doesn't really understand.
Characters: I like Edem's character the most, because he seems to be the most catalytic one in the story so far. I liked how his character was described as being the "epitome of masculine youth" because it gives me the impression of a young, hotblooded knight, or a soldier ready for battle. But I do wonder since he's only sixteen: does he really know what he's proposing? Does he understand the horrors of war, the toil and the struggle? He seems so confident in himself, but when the real battle hits will he still be there to fight?
Plot: So far your plot doesn't give too much away except for an impending war and I like that. It keeps me guessing what else you have in store for the plot. And, since it is told from the point of view of a child, there's less of a chance of the war feeling very tedious because it's the main focus, as opposed to if it were from the point of view of a soldier, or Edem.
This was a fun read, keep it up. :)
| Redz 10/15/12 . chapter 1
Review for winning WCC October. Congrats :)
Spelling/grammar: Yeah, I'm starting with the easy part. Your grammar in general is very correct, but:
- sometimes I feel you give too much information too close together, which forces the reader to read some sentences twice. It's not necessarily a bad thing; I actually think it's a good way to make us pay attention, but don't use it too much or it might distract us from the plot. For example: when you said "...pretending to be occupied in shifting wind-swept dirt out of the home,..." I had a bit of trouble forming the mental picture, because the fact that 1) the dirt had been swept inside by the wind and 2) she was now 'shifting' ( sweeping?) it back out was a bit confusing; if you add the other fact that she wasn't just pretending to sweep, but pretending to be occupied in sweeping (meaning she was in fact sweeping but not paying attention to it)... Yeah, I'm over-analyzing. It's just me. But I'm a reader too, and it distracted me from the plot, so.
'"It was about time your father scolded you away," she said once I came close enough, "Listening in..."' I think 'listening' shouldn't have a capital.
'both from years of worry and frowning...' sounds strange to me, since one is a consequence of the other. They shouldn't be on the same level.
'listening from afar what my brother had to say' should be 'listening from afar to...' right? Now I'm starting to doubt myself.
Characters: Edem: loved him. In just a few words you portray him so well. Father: he is a sort of dual character, and mysterious because we don't know what he's thinking. Mother: I feel she could show us more depth. Her physical description was too detailed in my opinion. As soon as you said she was the most beautiful mother, everything else became unnecessary. "Mother pursed her full lips, but then relaxed her face, allowing her doe eyes..." Why? The eyes, okay, because you place emphasis on them later on. But why the lips, why on the same level as the eyes? (I hope you know what I mean). In my opinion, you don't need physical descriptions at all in this piece, other than the father's wrinkles. Your characters are good enough without them.
Narrator: She's twelve? *gasp* I thought she was at the very very least sixteen, by the way she expresses herself. This revelation tells me that she's either an extremely perceptive and mature twelve-year old (believe me, I have a twelve-year old sister, and she doesn't think so deeply about things), or well, you don't manage to portray twelve-year-olds that well. Of course, her environment might have made her grow up faster blah blah. Still think she can't be twelve.
Opening/Ending: I thought it was interesting, since the opening obviously happens some time after the ending, which makes one wonder what happened in between. Or maybe, the opening scene is part of someone else's life: 'A mother shot dead here, a child trampled there.' (A house burning behind it?) Nicely done, anyway.
Other: 'Feartearscan'tbreatheithurts.' I guess you're trying to describe jumbled thoughts or fast thoughts one after the other, but it has the opposite effect. By forcing us to disentangle the words you slow the pace drastically. Maybe 'Fear tears can't breathe it hurts' would work better? Dunno.
I liked: "Don't fill the bucket to the top or you'll end up spilling it". I took it as a metaphor: "Don't ask too many questions or you might blow it," or something of the sort. That was great, even if you didn't intend it.
"Isolated we are, untouchable we are not." Epic statement, and it shows Edem isn't stupid.