Reviews for Tenderhearted
Arethusa Cyberia chapter 28 . 6/27/2013
I noticed you updated a couple of weeks after I first began reading this, so if you've already caught these, please bear with me. :) There are quite a few typos in here. If you go over it with a “comb” you’ll see. “Spell Check” won’t catch them.

I liked this story, but it feels unfinished. Unlike some of your readers, I understand what is going on with Tobias, simply because I personally know about asexuality and I've done so much research on psychology I could probably be a therapist. Others, however, need to know what's wrong or they won't understand. You don't necessarily have to label Tobias as an asexual (because "I'm not anything" sums that up), but you might want to give him a diagnosis regarding his emotional state, just to clue in your readers so they feel satisfied that they understand. Also, you've left it as a bit of a cliffhanger, though I assume this is the beginning of a friendship between them rather than a romance. Some of your readers might want a bit more closure of where this is going.

I was very pissed at Paul after the last party, but I’m glad he went into “protection mode” when he thought Tobias was in danger because that "saves" your MC from being hated for being an insensitive jerk. (Dangerous ground! LOL) And I love that you made Tobias asexual, or did he just decide to be that way? (My Tavi chose to be asexual all by himself. :) Funny how that happens sometimes.)

You also have Paul surprised that his mother knows about him and Tobias after he’s already told her. If I were you, I’d keep that scene (which is better) and take out the part when he tells his mom that Tobias is his boyfriend now, which was more blah than the "hey, she noticed" scene.

The “play” part … not working. I think you mentioned something about redoing it later. Perhaps Paul can overhear these conversations, but the part about the coach can only be presented as a rumor. Logically, the coach is not going to show up at a sixteen-year-old’s party and announce that he once fucked one of his students.

Other than all that, this is a good story, Harper. I didn't feel a sense of "dread" as some have mentioned. I was waiting to see what was going on in Tobias's mind, because he obviously enjoyed Paul's company and DIDN'T think he was better than Paul. But, the asexuality clicked right into place. :) The title seems it could go either way, as one or both characters are literally tenderhearted, or it could seem as a sarcastic remark, and neither is tenderhearted as much as damaged. I, of course, identified more with Tobias. Neither one really acted responsibly, but rather REACTED to situations.

I want to be Tobias's friend. :( He and I would click, I think. :)
Arethusa Cyberia chapter 22 . 5/5/2013
I had a dream the other night that made me think, wow, I've been reading too much slash. There was a girl walking down the road with her brother and her best friend, who was also her crush. And it was in Texas, although it looked nothing like what I imagine Texas to look like. Then her brother fell in a ditch, and her best friend/crush was like "No! My boyfriend!" At this, the girl gasped, and was like – you're gay? Both of you? And she was so sad.

But I mean, who says that? "My boyfriend!" Oops, Freudian slip.

LOL, Harper. THAT was awesome! I hope you put that in a story somewhere! :)
JudasMonster chapter 1 . 7/30/2012
I hope Paul isn't editing the assignment. His grammar is atrocius.
Guest chapter 26 . 7/8/2012
It's a good story but don't see the connections, the emotions. None of that was there. This story was just an empty sack. Why do any of your characters do anything?
Jill Montino chapter 28 . 7/3/2012
The overall feeling in this was that we were just waiting for something bad to happen. At least it was like that to me. The feeling of dread was with us the whole time, no matter how many good moments there were (I loved the ones that were though, especially the scene before they entered the theatre). And since it seems like that was what you wanted to accomplish, you've pulled it off really well.

Now, it may be that I'm just sixteen and doesn't know better, but the dream-sequences just left me really, really confused. I know what a big part dreams play in stories, but I still couldn't get anymore out of them than that there was a forthcoming disaster. One that I felt, unfortunately, never truly came. Things went really off track for a bit, but the disaster never happened. The dreading feeling held a little more than it gave, and that's a little sad, because it had such potential. Not saying that it was bad (I still reacted phyiscally; my legs got all wobbly and I felt bad all over... only good pieces does that to me) but the climax could've been more intense without being overly dramatic. You were almost there, and then just dropped it in the sand without any closure. Ambiguousness is good, really, it makes us feel more involved in the story as we have to think for ourselves, but the symbols used have to be really clear for everyone to understand. Metion it one more time, even though it feels needless and such. But as I said, this is probably just me not getting it, but because I know you mentioned the japanese maple so many times, I could quite easy draw a parallell to how Tobias is stuck in his own personal "underworld" but that he's found a link in Paul to be somewhat connected to "heaven" - normality in his case.

The main characters were very realistic and loveable though. The non-perfection that is Paul made me sympathize with him, even more so than with Tobias. None of them are free from blame, but somehow I feel that Tobias was the more selfish one of them because he wanted to keep Paul for his own needs mostly, even though he knew that he never really could give him what he needed I understand him and his fear of abandonment, but you shouldn't keep people with you by using guilt - whether it's conciously or not. It felt really, really real that he acted like that, though, and without it there hadn't been a story. Guess that answers your last question; none of them are by any means good, but Paul feels less selfish.

I think I identify most with Tobias, despite me not really liking him. I probably don't like because I see my own flaws in him... Just like him, I'm a very selfish person, that wants to keep people who really doesn't need me at all just for my own satisfaction and safety.

To sum it up, I really liked it. It made me react and I was hooked from the second chapter, intrigued by Tobias and Paul, even though they were quite bad for eachother since the platonic relationship that would've been best for both of them never existed. It had an unsatisfactional ending though. It felt a bit like some modern books you read, where you always have to find out things for yourself, which is a praise. But as reader myself, I needed get the closure I needed. A bit more clues for the reader to figure things out and it would've been almost perfect.

Keep up the good work!

- Jill
the old contemptible chapter 28 . 6/22/2012
Certainly an interesting take on the ol' "beautiful-but-damaged-boy" scenario. But like with "Fruits", there was no real resolution. I never quite understood what was up with this kid.

You said early on that you hoped understanding Tobias would be a journey in itself. It warn't. There was just no explanation for anything. So here's my best guess:

Tobias was like that prince in that story, the one who was so beautiful, he got stared to death. I suppose he got so much attention it... I can't really say "it killed him inside" without making it sound emo-ish, but I imagine that's what happened. He was the kid who couldn't say no, and it killed him.

Certainly better than "Fruits", this, but not your best. I must say, your one-shots are quite good, though.
Arya Yamamoto chapter 28 . 6/5/2012
I have to admit that it started out well, the emotions and character of Paul I felt I could relate well with. However I was disappointed with the ending, I felt that more could have been explained and expanded to fulfill this story's potential. As it is I think the writing is good, but not great. Thanks for the good read though.
tleiaxu chapter 28 . 6/3/2012
I appreciate that you didn't wrap everything in a neat package. I like that you left what happens next up to our imagination. And I like the positive note for Tobias after we saw him down for so long.

I really loved following this story. I felt I got to know you a bit more through your notes and questions outside the story as well :) I love the window into your thoughts and feelings as you write, because it reminds me that this writing stuff isn't easy, and there was careful consideration behind the characters, their setting, and the choices they make.

Tobias was an intriguing character. My motivation for reading, or what kept the pages turning, was getting to know him better. I enjoyed the romantic tension between he and Paul up until they started dating. One of the good moments were when you showed us that he was not really enjoying sex, he was going through the motions. Another was when Tobias broke up with Paul after the three-way. And the last was Tobias' drunken meltdown. At these three points, my desire to get to know Tobias was fed just a little... You're very good at holding back in this way, keeping the reader hanging. I could learn from you here.

Other good things include some great visual descriptions that became even poetic on occasion, flawless grammar, clear coherent scenes. Your writing is easy to read, and easy to get into, eg, I don't have to pull back and figure out what the heck you're trying to say (not counting the series of past relationshIps bit). I know all of this takes work, and it's harder than it looks, so well done.

Both main characters grew a bit - by the end, Paul gained a little more empathy and truly seemed to care about Tobias, and Tobias seemed a little more self-aware, one step closer to trusting again. For my taste, I would have liked to see more evidence of their growth, e.g., how their attitudes changed in other areas of their lives, besides each other.

There were several places where the action fell flat - the two play video games, go to school, and so on for several chapters at a time without a lot else being revealed. So there were areas that lacked movement and felt like filler.

This story had some complexity, a layer of symbolic depth. However the complexity and depth did not feel ripened or matured. I felt the characters, especially Paul, could have been more well-rounded. Despite the fact that Paul was the narrator, it felt like a 3rd person perspective, because I didn't hear his voice in the writing. For example, Paul is passionate about history. How might someone passionate about history think? Would they draw comparisons between people in their lives and historical figures? Would they dream about being a soldier in the revolutionary war? I felt like Paul's spirit was often missing from the story.

Thank you so much for sharing your writing, and I hope my thoughts are helpful rather than hurtful. Sometimes I am learning a lot just through critiquing, because it makes me put words to my thoughts! But I know how hard it can be to write, especially when the critic in your head overshadows the passion that drives us to write in the first place. So I am excited to see what you come up with next, and I hope you have a great day!
DrowningInTheRainbow chapter 10 . 5/30/2012
Okay so I have to take a break here and comment - with an eep! I mean, on one hand, I utterly just want to slap Tobias, because he really needs to ACT! He's getting crude, darling! But on the other hand, his "non-committal" attitude ends up being really sweet and cute. And then there's Paul. As the main character, I can't really want to slap him without rupturing the whole story but I admit there were times when I either wanted to scream, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!" or "JUST GLOMP HIM ALREADY!" which obviously neither action was reasonable. And, even though they just got together (kind of?) I can smell drama in oncoming chapters!

Now, onto the written part of things: I extremely adore your style (or, I see you note you've grown into this style?)! I love how you add detail, but not excessive detail where it isn't needed. Also, as you explained in one of your Author's Notes, I like how you decided not to include some of the perhaps more boring chapters. Like the shopping, I can see how that would be boring. The story is meant to focus on Paul and Tobias and I think that chapter could have lost it's purpose. Lastly, I like how you develop your characters. In only 10 chapters I have seen Paul build, crumble, and salvage what remained, and all of it was done beautifully. I don't know how to describe it other than that.

Sorry for the lengthy message, but this story is amazing and even though I have to sleep now, I really want to keep reading! I shall review again soon!
DrowningInTheRainbow chapter 1 . 5/30/2012
Okay, I am only on chapter one but I was really hoping if you might clarify something for me: how in the hell do you pronounce Tobias? Is it like Toe-by-us or something completely different? Well okay besides that, this is a great story and I shall continue reading! Lol
ImmanenceEnsured chapter 28 . 5/27/2012
With Tobias admitting what’s going on and Paul accepting it so easily, I started to feel more comfortable with the story. Because Tobias got a lot less distant and Paul showed he liked him, despite their little problem.

“Your ankles are hooked, honey” cracked me up

What I really missed in the beginning was in-depth psychology. Throughout the majority of the chapters, Paul’s and Tobias’ relationship seems almost exclusively physical. But when things get sweeter, like at the birthday party, I got over myself and just enjoyed. I loved the ‘carnivorous eyes of the room’ sentence.

I totally skipped that ugly scene in chapter 21, sorry.

I loved that Tobias did the ‘I’m breaking up with you’, and the chapter after that, with al the thoughts, very nicely spelled out. But what’s with the chapter after that? Where were the feelings of walking in on your ex doing stuff with someone else? I think that’s why I don’t sympathise with Paul; he seems to lack certain feelings. But then he’s worried about Tobias and that’s kinda sweet.

I liked chapter 26 very much, it was awesomely written, something totally different from the other chapters. I didn’t like the last two chapters. Tey were kind of cold and not enjoyable. The ending’s cute, but I have a feeling it hasn’t brought mes any further than the beginning did. I still don’t know what kind of guy Tobias is. That is a pity because he seems very interesting.

Your questions:

-The title? Paul’s soft heart for Tobias?

-Tobias, I guess, even though I don’t know why exactly he’s being cold.

-Tobias and Paul are both irresponsible. I liked the mother though, she was very motherly.

I was a bit critical, but this story is a job very well done. Loved your settings and the random atmospheres you create.
Watereyes chapter 28 . 5/26/2012
Well, I have to say, it's a feet to accomplish something this long and enjoyable. So, I congratulate you. I read it all in one sitting and it was fun. Light-hearted and you have a knack for giving Paul a unique voice that makes him likable. I will say, though, that I had some problems with this piece. Although I read it all, at the end, I felt short-changed and empty inside. I wondered most of the time, why I was so invested in these characters. What made them unique and special and apart from some dialogue, I couldn't answer that. I feel like this story just scratches at the surface of the possible relationship between Paul and Tobias.

Furthermore, there were times, where I read certain scenes and I wondered how they advanced the plot. You introduced Sandra and Monique and Josh A. yet they made a quick exit and I wondered why bring them in at all. Also, there are times when you just present what writers call, an "info dump," where you just present information for the sake of telling the reader. Such as the scene describing the possible abuses/trauma/relationships that Tobias went through. Sure, it was nice to know, but having that all at once, as opposed to interweaved into the story, makes for the effect of just skimming those parts until something about the plot comes up.

Finally, the ending and the last chapters of Tobias' meltdown felt out of place. Almost like you wanted to redeem the story. The story didn't feel like it was building up for it and at the end, it just gets cut off despite how much Paul feels he has to help him. Also, what happened to Ange? Sure, Paul stopped hanging with her, but why? There was a point when he craved wanting it to bet the two of them again, and then that feeling was dropped. Also, sometimes, it felt like they were in highschool, and not college. Also, the presentation at the beginning was never done, so I get that it was a device to bring the two characters together, but it's never used. So it makes it hollow and pointless.

I feel like you have a ton of potential to make this story memorable and heartfelt. You have nuggets of pure greatness in here. Some witty lines and some good interiority. I think if you spent time revising and reworking the piece, it would be so much better.
PalindromeIsntOne chapter 28 . 5/26/2012
Hullo again.

I've had some time just to sit and think on how I feel about this story. First things first - although I would love to help you with the edits I doubt I shall have the time for a while and then I will be focusing on my own stories. But you can ask me questions if you like and I'll be sure to answer if I can. I want to say congratulations on this story, because regardless of anything it has taken a lot of work and time and is your longest complete story and longer than any story I have completed, so.

I think to surmise my opinion I will say that I like the characters and I think the ideas you had were good, but a little stringy in overall execution. I think my advice could be summarised as follows: Expand your ideas. What I mean by that is you seem to have these isolated moments of emotional intensity or key events and then things hand in between like slack rope linking them together. I think if you slowed/created the build up to more emotional scenes and spread out their effects further you would have a better flowing story. The key climax(es) of this story are unclear, I feel, and you could give them more body than you do.

I'm not going to go into excess detail (like I did for 'Fruits...') but it felt on occasion like you were playing with the characters in a pawn-like way but the characters were slightly too established for it and had their own gravitational fields which weren't given quite enough space to revolve or perhaps ignored. There were moments where I wondered if they were really acting in character. I think they key really is just to add more and bulk it up, really explore the depths of promise there in each of the characters. I know this story is not short but I feel it is not long enough to do its content justice. Either everything should be simplified or the deeper things should be expanded.

To finish I will answer your questions: The title I think refers to Paul (at the end) and Tobias' sensitivity.

I'd say I semi-identify with all the characters, as there were moments where I felt closer to the characters and other times where I couldn't quite connect. I felt that perhaps I most identified with Keaton - I know he's a minor character but he just seemed very much alive and defined when he was introduced and I naturally liked him.

Paul is responsible in his own way, perhaps more towards the end. I'm not sure how much he actually helps Tobias, but I don't know if that's relevant. Tobias could be argued as the least responsible - he seems apathetic and unwilling to do anything with or even live in his body at times, or stand up for himself, so I don't feel he takes responsibility for anything really in the course of the story, not even himself.

I know you commented on editing the earlier chapters, but I actually prefer earlier chapters to the later ones, especially those at the end - everything after their breakup and the delving into Tobias felt rushed. Hmm, I'd have to think about that. You told me some of your intent with this story and your ideas and characters are good, so I think you can only improve in how you do these justice in your execution.
Reader Non-Flamer chapter 28 . 5/23/2012
This was I have to say one of the worst stories I have read in a long while . You have potetially good technique but very poor execution style ! I wanted to rip my eyes out while reading this dreadful mess ! . . .But I pulled through draaagiing my eyes over the torturous pages , chapter by chapter hoping for some meaningful end in sight. But all I was left with was a plotless piece of literary drabble ! PLEASE Clean up your act you're obviously SO intelligent and I can feel your potetial dripping off the ends of the story. When I began reading I admired the way you built your characters, Especially Paul, he seemed like a well defined person with a realistic personality and I could see that you have put a lot of effort into writing him. I could feel the depth and drama you tried to build around Tobias' character. Your story however did not hold up to par with your creativity. The conclusion held no distinct resolution for the characters, In fact it held no resolution at all ! you left me confused , frustrated and unsatisfied. I was was looking forward to the end and for an explanation towards Tobias' behaviour, but I was left sorely disappointed .Maybe in the future your writing will bear more uplifting results
Honunjama chapter 28 . 5/21/2012
Overall I think this story is very accomplished I think the characters were full and believable and I both liked and disliked Paul for certain things- and I like feeling conflicted about a character, it makes it more real.

Now I know you said you left a few unanswered questions but, I think what feels unfinished to me was that the story seems to be in different sections maybe- the sections with college/school and friends and this last section focusing directly on just Paul and Tobias and none of the friends...so part of me wants the friends section to draw to a close to and it doesn't.

Paul acts the most responsibly and the least. I like the sense I get about Tobias being easily led, and sort of malleable, I like characters like that.

I'm not sure how I feel about this chapter, whether it gives me enough info or not...I just don't know. But I'm glad it ends on a positive note :)

Suki.
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