Reviews for Memoirs
YasuRan chapter 1 . 5/28/2011
While the opening line - taken by itself - shows plenty of scope for snagging the reader's interest, the rest of the paragraph it heads favors a less catchy, long-winded style which almost drowns out the striking quality of the beginning. I think it could have been reworded slightly to make it more memorable, as most readers prefer shorter, catchier phrases. You seem to be quite capable of doing this as shown by the line that follows this paragraph: 'Extortion. Murder. Espionage. Revenge. My mind could not at the time fathom the sprawling possibilities that would very suddenly become my reality.' The ideas presented in this one show a great deal more clarity in thought.

Similarly, the scenes you describe are just about obscured by realms of overwrought prose. I am left with a vague understanding of the character's life and story's settings. A degree of ambiguity is essential for the first chapter when it comes to establishing suspense for the reader to continue perusing the rest of the novel but including too many unnecessary details can be overwhelming. I suggest spacing out more of your paragraphs so that the plot can be digested in smaller bites or reword some of them to make them read more striking on their own.

I will give credit to one key aspect of your writing: your vocabulary is one of the most thorough I've ever come across and there are hardly any spelling/grammar mistakes that I can spot. But as I mentioned earlier, some editing and rephrasing may be needed for this quality to truly shine. The high-brow language certainly befits a narrator whose strength lies in his 'book smarts'.

Technique-wise, I've always enjoyed this type of narrative format which plays on intertwining pasts and presents. It makes for a rich story that allows for plenty of details to seep into characterization and plot. This piece could exemplify that after a good dose of editing. Your writing, thus far, shows that much of potential.
Zingaresa chapter 1 . 5/22/2011
As requested in the RGs, an in-depth review of Chapter 1. As a note, I can be pretty blunt in my reviews. I don't mean any offense, I swear, and I'm sorry if I come off as harsh at any point.

I'll start with the opening. To be perfectly frank, very few readers are going to look beyond that first sentence. Most days, I would not have. The phrasing is awkward and there are too many long words. Now, don't mistake me-there's nothing wrong with long words in general. Mostly, frequent use of long words just means that your readers will have to pick up a dictionary from time to time. Here, however, it feels almost like you're deliberately drawing out the sentences in order to cram long words in. This is true throughout the piece, too-there are several sentences in here that seem much longer and wordier than necessary.

The result is, as a previous reviewer has also said, an iextremely/i dense read. It also gives it a specific kind of tone, which I suspect is what you're after. My advice? Use your long words, but only as many as absolutely necessary. Economize your sentences. Cut out unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, and asides. The human brain learns best in short bursts, so you're more likely to get and keep readers by use of quick, meaningful sentences that lack fluff or trimmings. Even if they have to reach for their dictionaries from time to time.

Secondly, I'd like to make a more positive note. I thought the way Otto survived his would-be murder was very clever. I'm glad you explained what iinversus totalis/i is, or I never would have gotten it.

By and large, your grammar seems pretty good. It's rather complex with the long sentences, but I'm not noticing many obvious flaws like spelling errors or fragments. That said, you do have a couple of places where you left a word out or made a homophone error. These are easy fixes, and a dedicated read-through for you will probably catch most of them. I pointed a few specific ones out below.

Finally, I liked that you brought me full-circle in the end. The body of the chapter is packed full of information, and if you hadn't added that last-sentence reminder that the narrator is physically there, in his prison, writing in prison conditions, I probably would have forgotten all about it. I don't know what you have planned for future chapters, but I would like to see more tactile and detailed descriptions of the prison itself to bring me more into the setting.

A couple of other nit-picky things I noticed:

- At the bottom of the first paragraph you have a homophone error: "it's" instead of "its".

- Paragraph two: "who no doubt holds profound capacity..." I think you mean "who no doubt holds imore/i profound capacity..."

- "all the filthy vagabonds who harbor..." - I'm not sure "harbor" is the word you want here. The vagabonds are not sheltering the rank and dirty prisons. You might use "harbor in", or even better-"inhabit".

- "if I might have the audacity and lack of modesty..." - The word "audacity" implies a lack of modesty. I would not use both.

- "...clarity of what has been...clarity in sudden (although..." - Again, I question your word choice. I don't think "clarity" is the word you're looking for in either instance.

- "Discover Deceased Body Of..." - Most often, when there's talk of a discovered body in the news, it's a deceased one. I'd change "Deceased Body" to "Corpse"-or maybe just leave it at body. It's pretty clear from context that he's dead.

- "I will not the mistake of saying..." should probably be "I will not imake/i the mistake of saying..."
improvisationallychallenged chapter 1 . 5/22/2011
Here's your Rule 10 review:

"scribing our stuff in ink on pen or skin"

- I'm not sure this makes sense. Does the 'or' need to be swapped with the 'on'?

I am a little torn. There was something about the tone of this introduction that I liked - a certain wordy refinement that shows a fair bit about the characters choices on how to portray himself.

However, it made for a very dense read. It was hard to engage with the story, like trying to wade through treacle. Thinning it out a little in an edit would certainly make it more accessible, depending on what you want this story to be. If dense and alienating is what you're going for, stick with it.

I think with some trimming this could be a compelling and engrossing start - there was a strong quality of suspense, and I'd say you achieved the tone promised in the synopsis.