Reviews for Bisiklet
pseudonymsurname chapter 1 . 10/27/2012
I think you’ve developed the scene nicely, especially considering this is a first chapter. There’s a good balance of description and you’ve done well to convey the setting in a gradual, effective fashion. Even the little additions of what Sana is cooking and how she is cooking it add an authentic feel to the atmosphere. Not to mention the little descriptions of everyday life and the houses where people live. As for how true to life it actually is, I don’t know, but it certainly read realistically to me. :)

Sana appears interesting. Her obsession with deformity already seems to be a recurring trait, and one which has plenty of scope for development, backstory, or symbolic purposes, depending on what you do with it – that is, of course, if you are planning on going somewhere with it. She doesn’t come across as the child protagonist archetype: there’s a distance in her narrative in the same way she is distant from the other villagers. Yeah, be interesting to read more about her.

The ending felt understated to me. This isn’t a bad thing, as I felt the whole chapter had a sedate pace and it made sense that the ending followed suit. I personally liked this slow-burning feel, with it being driven more by character rather than plot, but FictionPress can be a bit unforgiving on those stories which don’t have a hook right from the very first sentence of the very first chapter.

First sentence is a bit fiddly. “The sun on that August afternoon was harsh, unforgiving, [Personal opinion, but I’d watch out for double adjective drops] as it beat down violently on the grand expanse of dry land, which was scattered with greenery here and there but for the most part, scarlet dirt occupied the area.” The latter third of the sentence also feels grammatically convoluted.
“In a distance, beheld a long, rolling chain of mountains in varying heights” Awkward phrasing.
“Footsteps sounded the dry dirt behind her” Probably missing an ‘on’ here.
“She wasn't familiar with all of the village children just yet, for having arrived at Ararat merely a month ago from her old village with the baby and her elder brother.” Again, a bit off, technically-speaking. I’d suggest changing the ‘for having arrived’ to ‘for she had arrived’ or something to that effect.
“By the time Nihad returned with Merdem in tow, Amud had gotten impatient with fiddling with the radio, and instead took to examining the newest tribe member and the small baby squirming in her arms, squinting at her uncertainly.” Again, this sentence is a little ungainly. There’s name, name, name, then you repeat ‘with’ in quick succession and then he’s looking at Sana AND the baby, but is ‘squinting at *her* uncertainly’. Surely, it should be ‘them’, following how the sentence is structured.
“as he peered unto the box on the ground.” Might be wrong, but should this be ‘into’ rather than ‘unto’?
There were a few more similar instances such as these, but I’ve already been frustratingly pedantic and none of them detract from the actual content :) Although, in the final paragraph, you have “in more ways that one” which is a more obvious typo.

Overall, I liked this. Congrats on winning the WCC :)
The Autumn Queen chapter 1 . 10/17/2012
Congrats on winning the WCC. Here's your well-deserved prize review. :)

Opening: as far as context does, you've done a great job in setting a scene in so few words. The structure though was rather fiddly and thus a tad difficult to read.

[The sun on that August afternoon was harsh, unforgiving, as it beat down violently on the grand expanse of dry land, which was scattered with greenery here and there but for the most part, scarlet dirt occupied the area.

See, the last phrase barely relates to the first at all; they'd do better separated by some means more pronounced than a comma. Perhaps split the sentence entirely and have the land described in a separate paragraph to the sun. As for the "...was harsh, unforgiving, as it beat..." - the pause between harsh and unforgiving makes it a bit jarring, so I'd recommend writing it as "...was harsh and unforgiving as it beat down..." or "...was harsh and unforgiving, beating down..."

Scene: Ararat? That sounds familiar, like I should know where it is but can’t quite remember. Oh right, it’s on the other side of the city…although I take it that’s not the Ararat you’re talking about. Or maybe you are; Victoria does get its fair share of dry weather and I think Ararat is far away to be rural. But the mention of Turkish and Persian (even if Australia is multicultural) makes me think it’s set more in a middle-eastern setting. I think that’ll only cause confusion for someone who lives in Victoria like I do, but perhaps you could reply and clear that up before my brain decides its in Australia and then gets baffled a few chapters in?
Apart from that confusion…which has nothing to do with your writing anyway…you’ve set up the scene quite nicely; a good balance between artistic prose and informatory prose. You spend just long enough to paint a brief image of the scene, leaving it up to more subtle additions later on and our own imaginations to colour it in per say. Nicely written.

Characters: the names are another thin that make me think it’s set in the Middle East; they certainly have an exotic feel to them. They’re not conventional Arabic names though, so I’m guessing it’s something else. Persian, to my rather rudimentary knowledge, is quite general.

Writing/spelling/grammar: [the news is coming in in Turkish.] – you’ve repeated “in” twice.
[although Bijun, as though] – having the two “though” sounds in such close proximity sound a little odd. As “if” understanding perhaps? I also think that sentence may be broken a little too much with the commas; the flow gets a tad stilted.
[however... I don't think I will] – should be a space after ellipses.
[Come sundown, and the scent of cooked rice wafted gently around the abode, along with the stronger scent of tea.] – “come” suggests future tense, but the bit after is past, so you should be mindful of that, keeping it consistent.
Your dialogue tags also seem a little on the long side in some cases. Try a little more showing instead of telling.