Reviews for A Plain Summer
Fractured Illusion chapter 2 . 1/31/2009
Ok first thing before I read: I am sure you realize how long your chapters are in addition to having big paragraphs. I am sure you realize it's hard to read that much on a computer screen. I suggest shortening it down, just on the basis of that. It's very easy to lose focus otherwise.

To the content:

"his surprise couple with concern"

coupled with concern?

Your major flaw is that you tell too much rather than show. You spend paragraphs on explaining stuff, on explaining how she feels and thinks etc. But you should SHOW that instead. And you can.


This is your line:

"Whitney could tell when something was wrong. It was her turn to be concerned. “Is something wrong, Dad?”"

You say she thinks something is wrong. (Telling)

So she asks him if something is wrong (directly implying she thinks so) (Showing)

The telling part is unnecessary. I suggest cutting it out.

And I don't think you need to tell of everyone's background and small matters to the extent you do. The chapters are long but not THAT much happen in them because you tell too much.

General tip:

Stop applying adverbs to every dialog tag. Adverbs are also a form of telling. You'd do better in showing. Ie, you say "His tone changed slightly". Telling. But it doesn't really tell me anything either.

Showing would be "His tone lowered." Then we even get the volume no adverb.

"“Like what?” Whitney pressed. "

Another instance of where you tell, when you show just the same.

Her dialog SHOWS she is pressing him. A "Whitney said" would suffice just fine. Using "She said" should be standard unless other is demanded, because "she said" is almost invisible and doesn't force attention to itself. Rather, "she said" makes the focus lie on the dialog, where it should be.

Too almost EVERY piece of dialog tag, you add at least a line of backstory to why they say and think what they do. It's redundant, it slows everything downs. SOME backstory is fine, but you don't need it in an almost complete parallel.

And at the same time you seem to feel the need to explain their present thought pattern. Ie,

"Whitney could tell that something was amiss but decided against questioning him further. It was best to spare his pride."

Some of this is fine like I said, but you have explanations like this all over the chapter. It's too extreme. Show her instead of tell of her. Otherwise it's all logical and stale. Not inviting.

Now to clear things up. It's not that you can't write. You can. Your sentences are diverse and I appreciate it. But you drag everything out since you have a need to tell every back story and train of thought there is, rather than show. This makes the story lose it's impact, and as I am sure you understand, it's not a particularly good thing. If you focused on the essentials, this chapter could be half as long and twice as good.

The main events in this was that

a) She talked to he father

b) She googled a useful site

c) She had a talk with Dr Morrison

For so few important things, your chapter length implied otherwise. It needs to be in proportion. But then again, basically a and b were less useful because Dr Morrison had it all planned out in the end...

I know this review probably comes off as mean, but I did not intend for it. I did not enjoy it particularly much I must admit but I hope I did the best of the situation and offered some points I hope are valid.

mikey magee chapter 1 . 1/30/2009
Love the opening. I liked how you started with the character waking up in the morning, and then moved on from there. Normally, that is a very cliched way to open a story. But your descriptions of the character personality worked well.

I also liked how right from the beginning you both set up a plot point and gave us an inkling of the character's personality through dialog. i.e "Jeff, I don't know how much more of this I can take."

Your writing is wonderful. You used good metaphors ("her voice was no louder than a whisper") to paint a nice picture. My only suggestion would be to cut down a little bit of the writing. It all read wonderfully, but some of it was a bit too much to handle. (Don't worry though, I do that a lot! And it's WAY worse than what you do :)

And I adored the ending lines. It really painted a wonderful picture about who she was and what she wanted! You are very talented. Keep writing!
ephemeral dance chapter 3 . 1/11/2009
Whew. Whitney's really gotten herself into something with this. She's proving to be pretty calm by nature, though, because I probably would have been totally spazzing at this point.

Good chapter. I love how observant Whitney is to detail, such as the color of the dresses. It's little things like that that make me see how truly dedicated she really is to a thorough experiment.
SuzannaR chapter 4 . 1/10/2009
I liked this chapter. The argument or discussion between Nathaniel and Deborah was well done, especially since she didn't have the right to argue with her. She argued well though especially the point that living with them may help her with the athetist thing. He really couldn't say no to that! Clever Deborah, I like her. It's clear that she sees that the main character is lonely and needs a mother.

You did a good job with Bethany too. She's behaving in a totalyl believable way. I'd be upset to have one of them living in my house studying me too!

I noticed that you put in some a/n explaining some terms. That's good. Probably you could explain a couple more: Plain (I know that's what they call themselves) and kapp. I thought that it meant bonnett but I see that it couldn't be that.

Noticed a few grammar errors:

"Bethany simply didn’t know where they time had gone"- the time

"“You’re Mama said you were out"- your mama

Also here: "“Maybe it’s best if we go ahead and discuss whether or not we’re going to house that young girl,” she suggested easily, her eyes on her work. It was going to be an extremely long “discussion” so she wanted plenty of time to talk it through before tomorrow.

Nathaniel turned another thin page of his Bible. “There’s nothing to discuss,” he replied easily. “The Englisher’s not staying.”

- You've got the word easily used twice in these sentences..perhaps use a different word for one?

Good job :)

Midnight Black Rose chapter 1 . 1/10/2009
-for Forum: Review Traders-

I like Whitney's character. She's smart and has guts even for an undergrad. She's a character you can relate with reality and not just some ordinary fictional character. One would think that she truly does exist.

Your dialogues were great too! The tension in it can be felt by the one reading it. I know I did, good work! :)
Clandestine's Pen chapter 1 . 1/10/2009
:for Review Traders:

I thought you had an interesting beginning.

You've done a good job, even though starting a novel can be one of the toughest parts.

What I liked about the chapter was how you connected it with reality.

This makes people appreciate it more since they will be able to relate to it.

I'd say that the dialogue with her father was nicely done.

Though you add just a lot of descriptions.

But then I'd say that's just a minute dislike on my part!
ephemeral dance chapter 2 . 1/9/2009
Whitney's conversation with her father was painfully awkward. So much that I found myself wincing at their stilted communication. I hope that some kind of closure occurs between them sometime within the course of this.

Great chapter again. Though my eyes are starting to get a bit tired from lack of sleep, there were no major grammatical erroes that popped out at me. It seems as if a lot of time has been put into proof-reading this; a habit I need to pick up on myself sometimes. XD
ephemeral dance chapter 1 . 1/9/2009
Saw this at the Roadhouse and I thought it looked interesting.

Wonderful introduction you've got here. Whitney is a realistic character; her scrambling to get to class that morning was a nice detail. On the topic of detail, of course, yours just happens to be wonderful.

As far as grammar goes, I was a little slack, but I did catch this:

[You’re GPA is well over the 3.25 requirement] should be "your" instead.

Moving on to the next chapter. :)
The Tragedian chapter 1 . 1/9/2009
The intro seemed to be lacking in fluency and a bit...dragging, if you will.
Guest chapter 10 . 1/9/2009
I saw your post in the Roadhouse, I usually stick to reviewing poetry on here but this story really interested me. As an ethnology student myself ( I don't know if you have many ethnology courses in America but it's got a lot of similarities with anthropology), I get a bit annoyed with Whitney when she does things like not want to go and see the school that much... (what happened to her plan of cultural immersion?) And suspecting Bethany of "lying to throw her off her study" in Chapter 8? Ouch. Even if they don't get on, and even if Bethany is telling her something which goes against what's been in her background reading, it is very bad fieldwork practice to suspect your informants are lying... Especially that quickly. Not that she appears to have done much background reading, either (well, it seems a bit selective... she was aware about restrictions on colours that can be worn (and managed to miss that it was considered sinful not to have your hair up?) but can't theorise on her own that a curtsey is a gesture of respect and good manners?)...

I'm not criticizing your writing here, I just don't think I'd want to be Whitney's fieldwork partner any time soon. However, nobody's perfect, and I know it is a million times easier to describe good fieldwork than to DO it. Also it seems that bad fieldwork good drama. And you'll be pleased to hear I know nothing about Amish people so I'm not going to pick holes in any of that. :) It all feels very realistic and well- researched, although I was interested in the references to suds a couple of times when they're doing the dishes. I'm guessing they don't use Fairy Liquid and I didn't think most old-fashioned dish soap came up with much bubbles, but then again, The Ethnology of Washing The Dishes isn't my main module this year :p I may be wrong and it's a minor thing anyhow, I'm just sad like that.

Autumn Knobs is a great place name, is it a real one by any chance? I love the idea of her thesis having to be handwritten to abide with Amish standards. I do feel for her having to write everything down instead of having recording equipment. As well as the fact she's going to miss a lot of detail, her thesis is going to end up being biased and... well, probably revolving around Connor Ronstadt a lot more than it should :) And I have a lot of sympathy for her when some of the family members make her unwelcome. Although, the argument she has with Bethany in Chapter 6: "I can’t help what my thesis entails." That's a weak defense, of course she can, she wrote it, didn't she? Speaking of her thesis, I don't believe we've actually got to see it, have we? I'd be very interested to know a bit more about what angle she's coming at this from.

I am indeed aware that the genre is 'romance/spiritual' and not 'ethnological rantings,' though, so I'll hush now. Overall it's very well written. I think any grammar mistakes have been pointed out by other reviewers, although there weren't many, certainly nowhere near enough to get in the way of reading it. I like how you put in extracts from her field journal, but in this last chapter it wasn't italicised, so it's not too clear where the normal narration begins again. That could be fictionpress' fault though... formatting things on here gives me nightmares. I love the whole set up of this though. Hope I get hot Amish boys in my dissertation :p Definitely think you should update this soon.

-Aberlemno fae the Roadhoose
Scarlet's Pen chapter 1 . 1/8/2009
-for Forum: Review Traders-

that was an interesting first chapter. though it got a little dragging, but then it's still the first chapter. i love the name Whitney, by the way, hehehe. i noticed how great you are with your grammar. i just love to continue on reading since i didn't find any grammatical errors. this work's one fantastic display of your talent!
bringmayflowers chapter 1 . 1/7/2009
for the review game!

I thought you had an interesting beginning. I must say I was confused in the beginning about Whitney's dream. In fact, I thought it was a flashback. I think you could explain it a little more before the readers find it out at the end. :)

I also found a few mistakes:

So, there went any hope of researching her thesis…So much – this should be two sentences. It can have the ellipsis yes but it needs to also have a space between the ellpsis (…) and “so.”

The most they give out for this one if 50 dollars.

– I think you mean “of 50” dollars instead of “if.” Also, if you are going to write 50 you should put a comma like 5,0. It makes it much easier to read!

“Don’t remind me,” she retorted. After a sigh, she continued, “Dr. Morrison said that the department is offering an undergraduate research grant that I should apply for. He said it would be a good deal easier for me to get. That and he recommended rethinking my thesis to include work within the United States…”

– this could be two separate paragraphs. You could have one line end with ‘retorted.’ And then a space and then the next line should start with ‘after a sigh.’ Got it?

Hopefully that helps you & keep writing!
L. R chapter 1 . 1/7/2009
I can tell already that this is a great beginning for a great story. You've done a good job, even though starting a novel can be one of the toughest parts. I like Whitney's character. She's well-developed, even after the first chapter. Her college routine is very realistic, especially when it takes her so long to make it to class. Don't worry about others thinking your descriptions are too long. They're very good, characteristic of actual literature. Anyone who wants to complain can go read Fyodor Dostoyevsky or Thomas Mann.

I think the dream sequence is a good setup for Whitney's internal and external conflicts- it is well-executed. She is an easy-to-picture college student: intelligent and ambitious, with a bit of attitude. It's good that you are showing this side of the college experience. The difficulty of working to keep up grades and compete for research grants is often overlooked in favor of the more stereotypical aspects of college. It's a good thing that Whitney has such a helpful, caring advisor and supportive friends.

I can't wait to discover more about Whitney and her experience. I can tell that this will be a rewarding read.
SuzannaR chapter 3 . 1/7/2009
Review Game


I am doing chapter 3 since I haven't done it yet and I want to go in order.

What I really liked about this chapter (and your writing in general) is the details, the realism that you put into it. This makes it very believable and people can relate to it. The bit in the beginning at the airport demonstrates this. I'm sure this has happened to everyone before. And the way that you write it out makes it sound like a description of an actual person taking a flight. It's good. If I was writing that I'd probably say it all in 2 or 3 lines haha. That's why my chapters are so short :P I have to work on that.

I didn't see any grammatical/spelling errors which is amazing since you've got no beta!

Here's something that felt weird:

"The airplane was relatively quiet despite the fact that it was nearing noon." Did you mean that it shouldn't have been quiet because it was near lunchtime?

"You’ve got to be kidding…” she stated, more to herself"-stated sounds a bit strange in this context eh? It sounds too loud if that makes any sense :)

I really like where this story is going so far since I can relate to her interest in them. And it's a romance too though we haven't met him yet. I hope he's Amish:)

I did actually visit one of their villages in Ontario (Canada :)), but they are called Mennonite here...I guess it's the same thing eh? Hmnn they're lovely people, and er, well the farmer boys were quite dashing with their overalls and hats (don't ask:)) I was considering hmnn could I live there...and it was all nice until I got a whiff of the horse poo (which was everywhere!) and I changed my mind :)

SuzannaR chapter 2 . 1/6/2009
Review Game

I'm doing chapter 2 since I didn't read it yet and I don't want to go to 10 and read that first.

I liked this chapter-it was lengthy and full of details. Whitney is very can really picture her and its the little details that you provide that do that.

I thought that the conversation with the father was well can feel the tension. I liked too how she felt guilty about leaving him alone with his problems after so long of sharing them.

Sometimes I think your detail is a bit too much though, eg "After finishing her e-mail she minimized the window and brought up Word. With a grin she started to type out her new thesis proposal".-when I read that first I thought that something was wrong since she said that she attached it but you hadn't said that she wrote it yet. I read it a few more times and then realized that she had only minimized the window and was now going to type the thesis proposal in word. While this is feasible in real life..I think perhaps it's a bit too much detail here? After all it didn't make a difference to the storyline.

I noticed too a couple of lines that seemed wrong to me:

"Cracked Pepper Triscuits were good but they were rather strong if nothing was drunk with them" - Now that I read this it seems ok, maybe a bit ackward, but when I first read it the first thing I thought of was alcohol and her mother. Perhaps you can reword it?

"and each time she had picked up the phone (or dialed it) she hadn’t yet asked for a favor". -This sounds ackward to me. Perhaps you can reword this too.

Apart from that I only have 1 other comment:

"Within twenty-six states (including Ontario) over twelve hundred groups". - ACH! Please, please change this! Ontario is not a state! Perhaps, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Really it's so wrong as is. :)

Good job:)

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