Reviews for Embrace the Music
cybersheep chapter 1 . 4/5
hey there! this is cybersheep reporting from the roadhouse!

i haven't read a highschool based fic in a while so forgive me if i get some of the things wrong! first, in response to this a/n of yours, i agree that it is often a good idea to set up the arena of your story from the very beginning and let us get to know your characters. interesting for a highscool set story you have chosen to have a main character who is neither the most popular nor the most unassuming nerd/dork/out cast person ever. he is in essence normal and it is relateable because for the most part, most of us /are/ somewhere in the middle when it comes (or came to in my case...i am so old) to highschool. so i enjoyed that.

in terms of character relationships i was a bit curious about how blatantly daniel speaks of what kayla looks like and yet states that she is her best friend. is this an inclination that he might hold a candle for her or is she really so far in the friend-zone to him that he can acknolwedge her physical atributes and feel nothing for them himself? also, why do the black eyes not match her face?

cc wise there is a very very slight tendency to info dump and i would look for ways to get the same information across without having so many asides. for example, instead of having to tell us that kayla has a british accent, you could have her say things that british people typically say like 'crisp packets' or 'lorry' and then have daniel tease her for her britishness, that way we become instantly aware that she is from somewhere else

i can't really say much else as this is just the first chapter, but it does look promising! kudos!

cybersheep

i really can't say much else since, as you explained, this chapter is just about getting
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 8 . 12/21/2013
Alright, I finally got to that later chapter like I promised!

I think it's kinda cool how you're playing out Kayla's struggle with school storyline - number one, because it's breaking quite a few stereotypes, and I've always found characters with physical or mental conditions to be all the more fascinating. Kayla and her dyslexia have the potential to take her character to a new layer, so if anything, I'd highly recommend keeping it a quality about her that doesn't just go away when it's inconvenient.

Kayla's parents are...interesting. You did seem to present them as pretty stereotypical "asian parents", but there's also just a bit more to that. I wonder why they find Daniel such a bad influence (and why they'd let their daughter have a sleepover with him?) It'd be cool if you expanded on this a little more, and showed once again, how this distrust of Daniel started, cause he seems like the most responsible of the group of friends. xD

Oh Kayla, once again blowing off band practice. _ haha I hope you have this result in some not so stellar performances. There's gotta be one sucky performance in these high school band stories, right?

Well, overall, I'd say you did a great job. Keep writing!

(if you could, please return these reviews to my story, 'Edgeport')

Thank you and have a great holiday,

nutrunningthenuthouse, Roadhouse
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 7 . 12/21/2013
Well, as your characters develop, I'm definitely seeing who I like and not, which I think is actually a really good sign for readers about a story.

I feel bad for Daniel. :( Honestly, he seems to be the only one taking this band seriously, and I think the poor ncie guy needs some slack. Especially in the beginning when Kayla invited herself over for a conversation they could've had over text. xD I guess Daniel never can have his alone time. But, I like how despite all this, he was still supportive of his friend, and managed to throw in some nice one-liners to make up for Kayla's behavior. Hah, you definitely seem to have the immature high school student thing down with everyone Daniel interacts with (particularly that bit with Bill not talking to Daniel because he was talking to a girl), and it really helps bring Daniel's own maturity out. It's definitely a plus to have someone like him in the story.

Now, I don't know if you intended this or not, but I don't find myself liking Kayla. I found what she did to Daniel just plain rude, and it seems almost like a parasitic relationship at times where Daniel does all this stuff for Kayla, and she doesn't seem to appreciate it, or give him flack when he had a right to be angry.

Also, this is just a minor thing, but the long exposition about Daniel's computer screen felt a bit unnecessary - perhaps just mention the anime wallpaper when you mention him working his computer.

Hmm, curious to see what's going to go down at this Halloween party - you did guarantee some drama. :)
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 6 . 12/21/2013
The pacing on this chapter was nice - although it was a slower chapter, it still read quickly. You do good with the length of the chapters you write - shorter always seems to be better, and that's especially true of contemporary. The way you present Daniel and Kayla was nice, and I liked reading about them struggle through Hamlet - I'm sure this is established, but I like the way you show that your characters aren't the best students, and aren't trying to be. Actually, I like the way you don't seem to have a stellar student archetype anywhere in this story. Especially since this is a band story, it makes it all the more realistic, I think.

I also enjoyed how random that booking of the gig was. It really makes this story unpredictable because of its randomness, and I find that fun. I hope crazy things keep happening.

Now, for what sort of bothered me about this chapter:

You're going down (what I think is anyway - keep in mind the whole opinion thing) a slippery slope with Kayla's characterization with all that happened in this chapter. In general, right now, I think Kayla has more negative characteristics and not quite enough positive characteristics, and I'm finding it hard to want her to succeed in this story. The cheating, right now, was written as a very minor thing, but I think a lot of readers would feel uncomfortable having a casual cheater for a protagonist who doesn't get any comeuppance (ignore this if you plan to revisit this event), because right now, it seems like this "cheater" characterization might be able to escalade, and I don't know where Kayla will be then. As well, the dynamic between her and Jenna seems rather forced and shallow, to be honest. I don't understand why they hate each other, and why they'd put so much effort into insulting each other. Now, this can work, but I'd highly recommend giving more explanation into their relationship - *why* does Kayla hate her? When did they start being antagonistic towards one another?

But, ignoring what I said above, the story is still very enjoyable! I'll be sure to get to the later chapters sometime today. :)

nutrunningthenuthouse
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 5 . 12/21/2013
I really liked this chapter! You described the actual performance really well - I could imagine it all super well, and I think you added just the right amount of detail to get a good picture, but to not bore the reader. Damn, Kayla is a slinky one - I feel bad for that girl who was called a slut in the beginning, 'cause Kayla's not quite so innocent. ;P Plus, I found the way that they found their drummer (Bill, right?) and Jet to be realistic for high school.

Like I mentioned before, I like the way you're starting this off with a high school talent show - just low key enough.

I haven't said this before, but I really like how you start each scene with the time and location. It makes it feel more movie-like, and gives the actual storytelling an edge.

Hmm, let's see, what else... Be wary with your large cast of characters. Some characters have been more developed than others, and with you adding Bill and Jet into the mix for the band, I'd recommend focusing on those two instead of Kayla and Daniel's original cast of friends. Don't eliminate them entirely, but try to focus on the band. :)

This is honestly so nitpicky, so feel free to ignore it. I was a little bit unsure about the moment where Kayla went and kissed that freshman. I think that'd work fine if it was an outside of school event, but I can't imagine any school allowing their students to make that sort of contact with the audience, and not suffer some sort of consequence. (Like, hahaha, maybe not winning the talent show). It's just a thing to consider for that realism.

But, I'm still so curious to see what happens to this band of theirs, so I'll stop with my little critiques.

Onto chapter 6!
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 4 . 12/21/2013
Hmm, I'm still a bit concerned about the pacing here, but I can also see where you were going, and I see good in that.

I really liked how you gave the atmosphere for the the Yellowcard concert, describing all those feelings, and giving little moments of characterization within the concert. I also really liked how the band came into be: it's cool how it's something so low key, and unplanned. It's cool to see that these kids weren't like awesome musicians, and I hope you expand upon the idea of them working their way up to being a good band. I think there really aren't that many realistic interpretations of the high school band, and it'd be awesome to see a band that really starts out not that great, and slowly improves.

But, even if you don't do that, you've certainly got some fascinating stuff that can occur within the story. Also, I find it kinda fun how you make this story have these song easter eggs for anyone who listens to alternative rock. I don't listen to Yellowcard, but I'm sure the Yellowcard fans will have some fun with that.

Things to consider for revisions:

- Although the concert scene does help establish the group's love of music, some may find it superfluous. It's just a thing to note - maybe you could add more characterization within the concert scene (before it, during it, after it). Maybe even have the idea for the band come right after the concert, when everyone's juiced up on the concert vibes.

- on that note, I think it'd be cool if you extended the initial conception of the band scene a little - it felt a little short for something that's so central to the story.

But, overall, you're doing a great job.

nut
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 3 . 12/21/2013
Hello,

Hmm, I'm iffy about this chapter. It felt like a filler chapter, but there's nothing inherently wrong with filler chapters, so let me see what I can get out of it...

I do appreciate the relationship you're forming between Kayla and Daniel. Overall, I'd say I like Daniel better, but they do have an interesting dynamic, and it's nice that you take the time to establish these connections before we really get into it. They seem like a functional friendship, and it'll be interesting to see whether or not you have them get together or not. Heh, I'd almost be curious to see what would happen if they don't get together.

Like I said before, the team bonding is important to the story, but I'm wondering to what extent the beginning of the chapter should be as long as it was. I did like the subtle characterization brought through by the Asian movie, and I think the best way to play this off so it feels important to the story is to keep coming back to the fact that Kayla likes foreign films - it's not the typical teenage girl (or, not the typical teenage girl trait if you're not on Tumblr or something) trait, so I'd milk that for all its worth. Quirks are fun when used in the right amount, and can really help build character.

Now, this is honestly probably me just being nitpicky, but if you're ever revising this story, I'd play around with these ideas:

In terms of realistic portrayal of teenage guys, I'm having a hard time believing that guys would sit through a foreign drama/romance (we had to watch this Korean drama called Summer, Spring, Winter, Fall, Spring and the guys were laughing at it, not lovin' it). Then, the fact that Daniel would agree, even get sort of into 90210 seems pretty unbelievable...I could see him agreeing with lots of protest to watch it, and then when he wanted the full scoop on the story - I think it'd be rare to find a guy like that. But, it is your character, but if it's a minor thing that those two watch 90210 together, maybe dull out his reaction. It may make it a bit more realistic. (but, like I said, take all this with a grain of salt - it's your story :)

Hmm, I see that the next chapter is called 'Formation', so that's exciting.

Good job so far!
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 2 . 12/20/2013
Hey,

Luckily, your chapters are pretty short, so I think I could even review the earlier ones and still get to those reviews you wanted on the later chapters.

But, as for this chapter...

I like how you're beginning to establish your group of friends here, and how they have this depth to the friendship that makes it feel like when you introduce them that we're just peeking in to a relationship that's been there forever. This is shown particularly well with the movie night, and how they can't decide on a movie, and how there's already these pre-set norms as to what normally happens. it's really great character building.

This is a bit smaller, but I think you do a pretty good job weaving between the lectures of the classes and the MCs' interactions and actions in class. Although I personally don't find going through someone's school schedule all that entertaining, you do a nice job not overdoing it, and boring people out of their minds.

Some suggestions:

- I think I mentioned this in the previous review I did god knows how long ago, but I don't think it really serves the story that well when you introduce characters by physical description and "telling" us that, for instance, Will and Daniel know everything about each other. Generally, it works best to show.

- I'm sure someone else has pointed this out before, but there are a couple misspellings/typos and some punctuation issues (like commas where there should be periods and the like)

But, overall, you've still got me interested to read on. Can't wait to see how this band of friends becomes an actual band.

nutrunningthenuthouse, Roadhouse
writer 145 chapter 1 . 12/10/2013
I like character interactios more than plot anyway. :)

I must admit, the brain dead joke could have been better. He comes across as polite, and then breaks character and tone by saying 'retarded'. But humor is subjective, and that word is viewed differently in different parts of the world.

God, I hate it when teachers did that when I call your name thing.

I have to admit, Kayla comes off as quite aggressive. If you don't want the reader to side with her, then that's fine. But if you do, then it's hard to root for her.

On the other hand, I like the interaction between Kayla and Daniel. It seems to have a nice flow. And while neither has their own tone of voice, as of yet, it still is interesting to read.

Hmm, this was published a year ago, so my comments might not be helpful, but I hope they are.
thenutrunningthenuthouse chapter 1 . 12/6/2013
Hello!

I like this! I like the dynamic you've created, and I think you did a really good job with keeping the first chapter very readable (ie not too many characters introduced at once, a nice pace, etc). I appreciate the way you're going about your story, especially since it's contemporary - well fleshed out characters really are the heart of a story (at least for me) Right now, my favorite character is actually Mr. Derrickson - you really did a good job of fleshing him out in the short amount of words you had, and I also really like how you're willing to give some space to fleshing out your adult characters (I feel like a lot of YA authors just ignore their adult characters, when there's so much potential for them!)

As for my critiques, I really only have two things: there's a lot of "telling" in this chapter, and your teenage characters come across as very stereotypical.

With the telling, I think it may be a bit to do with your writing style, which I wouldn't want to change, so I suppose there are just a few parts in particular I wouldn't "tell." For instance, I'd recommend you not tell the readers that your characters are hot, or to introduce your characters with a paragraph of telling (ie that beginning with Daniel). What tends to work better is to more show that sort of stuff - show us that Daniel's the Mediator, maybe even have a short scene to show him mediating, and have someone say the nickname casually, so the readers know this has been going on for a while. I'm not quite sure how to show the description of Kayla - maybe a physical description somewhere within the prose, and then purposely never have her being swarmed by girls? (haha, these are all suggestions - take as you will)

Now, for the stereotypical stuff - I think a lot of readers are growing tired of the whole slut shamming in books, so if you want to really have your story shine, I'd take out Kayla calling Jenna a slut and Kayla and Daniel's little comments. Or, at least, let the readers get the impression that Jenna is worthy of the title slut through her actions before the characters start calling her one. Right now, I'm identifying more with Jenna, and Kayla just seems unnecessarily bitter.

I hope something I've said helps you, and I think I'll be continuing with this one! (You've especially intrigued me with Mr. Derrickson, so let's go and see what else you have to offer :)

nutrunningthenuthouse, Roadhouse (if you want to return the review, 'Edgeport' is good)
Dreamers-Requiem chapter 2 . 10/18/2013
Feels too jumpy, moving all over the place and barely giving us, as readers, time to get to know any of the characters. It’s hard to grasp the plot here, and like I said before, some sort of hint towards what’s going to happen will really drag the reader in. You need a hook. And don’t try to force it with the last line; it’s overly used, it’s cliché and it doesn’t work. Like I said before, you tend to tell rather than show; don’t just state things. Give us stronger reasons to care for the characters by showing us what they’re like, showing us their friendships. The English teacher states she runs a tight ship, yet the two characters are playing cards? Maybe expand on the thoughts and feelings of the characters, show us that she just likes to think she runs a tight ship but the students get away with all sorts. Don’t just tell us something then counter it, as it’s hard to tell if she is strict or just thinks she is, or if it’s just an excuse to have the two characters have a conversation. Good luck and like before, hope this helps with your writing.
The Tactician chapter 1 . 9/13/2013
As with other reviewers, I thought this chapter a bit "info dump heavy" but I read your author's note and get that you're trying to be different. Though is an unorthodox beginning worth overwhelming or losing readers?

Another thing I am noticing is that you are having a lot of mistakes that could have been easily fixed with a quick proofread. For example:

[his short cut black and brown hair to with several strands in the front to his slim]
This little sentence made about zero sense. Consider rephrasing it.

I thought the little portion about the rifle interesting, but it just doesn't seem to fit into a high school setting. Even if it is unloaded, it's still a gun. A history teacher at my school was arrested two years ago for having a Beretta in his car, even though it had no bullets in it.

-The Tactician
Dreamers-Requiem chapter 1 . 8/26/2013
Even if you want to flesh out the characters and setting first, there still needs to be some sort of hook to keep the reader, well, reading. Introducing some sort of minor conflict or hint towards the larger plot will do well to give someone a reason to click onto chapter two, especially as, well, it’s the internet, so it’s all too easy for someone to go find something else.

I felt like the introduction of the characters was too much of a info-dump, too much telling. Show us the cliques and how Daniel is well liked rather than just stating it. Show us what they’re like through their interactions with others. The opening was a bit, well, slow, and again there’s not much of a hook there. [He was known in the school to be very good looking,] Again, this is telling. You could easily show this by having girls giggling around him or acting shy when they talk to him or something. Don’t just state things. Hope this helps, and good luck with the story.
Unxious Custard chapter 2 . 8/21/2013
Interesting technique moving the story on from classroom to classroom. We could do with just a small bit more of an introduction to will and Crystal, before moving into Crystal's point of view. That said, I like the way the characters are moving along. I would like to see the plot moving along a little more now.

This story feels very real, as though you are intimately familiar with the details of everyday life in school.

I do hope you will return the review with one on my story, Psychics v Terrorists, which is a tale set in England, about a different kind of school. Good luck with your writing.
Unxious Custard chapter 1 . 8/21/2013
Hi, nice relationship between Daniel and Kayla, and I like Daniel's character as the Mediator. A very good start to this story. I am not sure about English in an American School. When I lived there the class was called American English. It does differ from state to state though. I like the way you have highlighted the social ins and outs of school, in a way that makes it seem like such a normal part of school life. Some good writing here. I am not sure about your end however. I don't think it's quite strong enough. Maybe something to jolt the characters out of normal school life would be good.
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