Reviews for (first draft) Apoptosis
Dreamers-Requiem chapter 3 . 3/16
I absolutely love the world building you have here. You really draw us into this world, and have a strong knack (in this chapter especially) for describing their customs and attitudes, for making it different to our world, without going into too much detail or having a lot of info-dumping. The POV here, too, feels strong, and you do a good job of sticking to Col’s views and feelings without drifting away from it. Lovely descriptions. Great stuff, overall. Very enjoyable.
Claremonty chapter 5 . 12/13/2013
This is a well written chapter. I don't know if you spent some time polishing it, but it's reading smoothly for the most part. It's a very sad chapter, although the end is the launch of what I'm sure will be an exciting adventure.

Here are a few notes:

"The last photons of light bounced off the oil before they vanished into the gloom." 'Photon' sounds very 20th century. Try 'beams' or something maybe.

like this:
"Then the flame was cast onto the wood and the fire quickly spread, inhaling the oil and licking the tied bundles of wood."

This sentence has way too many clauses, in my opinion. Try breaking it up a bit:
"Part of him was shocked; his grandfather would have, in two years, have given his hand (perhaps reluctantly, or maybe his mind would have changed in the period) to a girl roughly the age he was currently at, upon a Spring Harvest night like the last."

This is so sad:
"'We are both very old. Your mother was the youngest of my children and born beyond what we thought to be child-bearing age. And she was the only one to survive…'" and so true for most of human existence.

"Her voice trailled off." 'trailed' I think.

"For it would bring me sorrow, watching a bird with clipped wings live out his life, and you who could not stretch his own wings would be sad as well." Try working on this sentence some. It's a little awkward.

"'Hush,' she said gently. 'I know you will miss this place, being the only home you have ever known. But would I ask this of you if I thought it would make you unhappy?'" I really like the dialogue between the grandmother and Col but I doubt she would use the word 'unhappy'. Maybe try something like 'I wouldn't ask you unless I thought you might want to explode the outer world. You've always been so curious.'

I love the ending of this chapter. Great description below:
"The sound of a crow's harsh call swallowed those words, and he stumbled slightly before stopping on the crisp slope, looking towards the orange glow of the still rising sun."

Keep writing!

Best.

Claremonty
Claremonty chapter 4 . 12/13/2013
The subtle brutality of the culture comes through in this chapter. Though a losing contender for the position of Elder is no longer killed, he will still be banished. Leaving everything a person knows, though better than death, is nonetheless a cruel fate.

Here are notes:

"First instinct beseeched him to sit up with haste, but when his eyes flew open upon the perception of stiffness and dregs of pain snaking through his limbs his mind managed to register the abnormality of the situation." I recommend some edits here, 'He sat up quickly. But as his eyes flew open he sensed stiffness and pain snaking through his limbs and realized things were not normal.'

"The thicker Gus-skinned one hung on a chair; summer may have arrived buts its heat began assaulting them from midway Spring." Maybe simplify this like, 'The thicker Gus-skinned one hung on a chair; summer may have just arrived, but it had been hot since mid Spring.'

"His grandfather claimed to sneak into the dense produce and hide himself when the time came for his lessons as a small child, and then be caned by the bamboo that stood at the front of the teaching room as punishment." Try 'dense fields' instead of 'dense produce'. 'Produce' sounds contemporary I think.

"It was also something that had once come from across the river; their land had no metal or mineral, but they had poisons and healing herbs that grew no-where else – or so the traders claimed." You don't need 'so the traders claimed'. I'd cut it.

I'd cut this whole sentence. It's just a bit obvious and somewhat redundant:
"And so it must have been, for why else would they trade such things if they received nothing in return."

I like this part:
"News they had never thought to hear, for while the Elder had seemed ancient there had been a sort of strength in him."

I like this too but I would break it up:
"The old man that led them would never walk amongst them again, and the boats that sailed on the night of the Spring Harvest would carry another, dyed with the perfumed scent in honour as the new head of the procession."

I'd clarify this sentence. It's a little hard to understand what you mean:
"But before that would be the first farewell that night, and in the shadow of the Spring Harvest it would be an even more sombre scene."

like this too:
"That same night he had been tasked to throw a handful into the shallow water and pray upon them, watching the slightly fragranced petals slowly drift away until they were no longer visible."

The lotus lesson is fun. :)

This is good as well:
"'Are you sure?' another spoke. 'Do you put your name forward, knowing you may be banished as a consequence?'"

"With how little things changed, even as their numbers dwindled, it was important to remain outwardly connected and therefore the inner segregations remained obscured until such moments." I don't understand what you mean by 'inner segregations'. You mean 'inner reservations'?

Interesting developments in this chapter! On to the next. :)

Best.

Claremonty
Claremonty chapter 3 . 12/13/2013
I enjoyed the many picturesque scenes and pastoral details in this part. Col continues to develop as a character throughout the chapter as do many of the others you introduce. I am enjoying learning more about the village and its history.

Here are notes:

"Col was the only male child currently with hair of blonde;" 'blonde' with an 'e' at the end usually refers to a female with blond hair, thus the feminine ending 'e'.

this dialogue is good:
"'Snakes can only be eaten because the poison is located in special glands located on each side of the head.'"

"they did not own such gloves and no amount of clothing could protect one's face." Little confusing, try something like 'they did not own gloves and their clothing did not protect their bare faces.'

"'That's an adult?' the younger of the two red-haired boys said in awe," Maybe if he says 'But that's an adult!' it would have more impact. :)

"all the birds around here have no immunity to it." If you restated this as 'the birds around here have no immunity to the poison,' I think it would sound clearer.

"Snakes with one gland were no less advantaged then snakes with two, but having none was a problem as they didn't instantaneously grow back." You could trim this like, 'One gland was almost as effective as two; so losing one would not doom the snake.'

"Gus-skin bag he brought them in." Okay, I get it, 'Gus' are sheep-like animals, right?

"younger red-haired boy lamented over the two arrows he had lost in misaim." This might work a little better if you try an edit like, 'younger red-haired boy was upset over two misfired arrows he lost in the woods.'

I'd break this up and clarify:
"The hut, where they stored their weapons and materials that were not frequented about any individual household, was not a place that prompted any to dawdle and their teacher's brisk tone was even more deterring."

"Their trek quickly passed other dwellings: the teaching room, the dwellings and the city hall, and finally the food storage closest to the mouth of the riverbank." One too many 'dwellings'.

"At first appearance his shagged grey hair and heavily wrinkled skin suggested he was too old for the job, and perhaps he was a few years older than someone of his occupation should be, but the fact was he had no son to carry on his legacy." Run on sentence.

"His wrists complained to the work and he quietened them; it was only once a year after all that they had to work so hard and the festival that followed was well worth the effort." Try an edit ex, 'The work made his wrists sore. But it was only once a year after all and the festival that followed was well worth the effort.'

like this part:
"The skin had been carefully removed and thoroughly washed – it possessed the touch of a woman's finesse – and was now spread over a picket fence and drying under the last breath of Spring. "

like the imagery here but the sentence could use a fix:
"The sun dipped over the slopes a few hours later, and despite the ragged appearance individuals that crowded around a stack of bonfire they were all pleased with their efforts" Try, 'The sun dipped below the slopes a few hours later. Despite their ragged appearance, the villagers happily crowded around the bonfire, pleased with their efforts.'

I'd break this up too:
"She was a pretty one, owning a fair head like Col's own save long enough to fall to the middle of her back when left loose – that night it was looped above her head and held by a tenderly twisted stem, the flower gleaming a pale orange in the light of the setting sun." Nice adjectives in there! :)

"He took the boat he had carefully whittled the night before on the riverbanks and carried it to the edge." I'd use 'carve' instead of 'whittle'.

missing word, etc.:
"traditionally it was for their parents*,* who had long since passed*.* But in their hearts their mourning *was* for their daughter and her bond-mate."

Incomplete sentence:
"Celebrating the newly married couple, eating, drinking, dancing and talking the night away."

"'The Elder is dead.'"
The ending is somewhat surprising. I think it might be good if you showed us more scenes of the Elder failing and appearing weak.

Okay, on to the next!

Best.

Claremonty
Claremonty chapter 2 . 12/13/2013
I like all the details in this intimate scene between Col and his grandmother. You do a good job cutting back to the weaving process to break up the blocks of dialogue. This chapter reads a bit more rough than the opening chapter. As I'm sure you know, transitions are among the hardest aspects of writing to get right. I think a lot of the awkwardness I found could easily be remedied by working on the transitions.

I get the sense this is an early draft, so I hope don't mind the following rather nitpicky notes:

"A tan face swam in the water amidst the reeds before fading into ripples as a hand snapped the stalk and pulled it to the surface,"

A 'tan face'? Imagining the scene visually I don't see how the color of the boy's face would that easy to make out as he's swimming in the reed-filled water. It's not an underwater perspective because you refer to ripples on the surface. Why not 'A tan form' or 'tan body', perhaps 'tan shoulders moved through the water'?

"then pulled back as a passing fish saw it fit to nibble on his finger." Cut 'it'.

"In truth, the pile beside her would last a while, but the freshly picked ones did need to be cleaned before use," I'd trim this. Try, "The pile beside her would last a while, but the freshly picked reeds needed to be cleaned before use,"

"it quickly grabbed sparks and coaxed them into mature flame." I wouldn't use 'mature' to describe a flame. A 'mature' fire sounds like one that's smoldering out. Try perhaps, 'it sparked quickly and burned steadily.'

"Mosquitoes were far more likely, and those he got, bellies swelling as they sucked the blood from his thighs." Can you really see the bellies of mosquitos swelling?

I like this:
"At least the sun would dry him, he thought, scraping the covering off with care."

Confused here:
"Col stepped out of the shade the tree as a whole provided and crossed over the crisp grass to the stream once more."

Confused here too:
"not quite blue but certainly pure enough for the fish that kept them alive in winter months while the older Gus lost their colour and the younger reared their premature bodies into a swift adulthood."

"like the villagers and their Gus were." I guess the 'Gus' are fish like salmon or bass or something. I would make it clear what the 'Gus' are before you start using the name. Also why is 'Gus' capitalized? The names of specific types of animals aren't normally capitalized, like 'striped bass' or 'red panda'.

"After all, he had no intention of becoming an insect live-line;" What is a 'live-line'? It sounds like contemporary language. Kind of pulls me out of your world.

Like this part a lot:
"Past the mouth of the river was a stretch of dead land and then the sea, and beyond the other end of their river-side dwellings was a forest that dwindled into another river that ran with slime, and then marshland."

Lepers?:
"They were hungry beasts, starving for meat and blood and to them a villager was as good a meal as a leper caught off guard. And leapers themselves were vicious, attacking any that crossed their path and devouring on the remains." Do you mean 'leopards'?

"the lepers could be contended with by the villagers," Okay, I really wouldn't use the word 'leper' here. A leper is a person with leprosy. Leprosy is an ancient, hideously disfiguring disease.

I like this section quite a bit too but I would change 'She' at the start of the paragraph to 'Grandmother'. For a moment I didn't which 'she' you were talking about:
"She remembered when, years ago, she watched her own daughter dance that dance, and even longer, she danced herself before giving her arm and her heart to her bond-mate over the bonfire. The burns on her feet had long since faded, but the ties still remained."

This is good also:
"'No,' his grandmother replied. 'It was my Song of the Harvest. The year I married your grandfather.'"

You change the subject of the grandmother's story many times when she starts to tell the tale of how she met her husband. I kept feeling confused who she was referring to:

Having the grandmother's mother be the 'elder' sister is a little awkward too because the younger brother becomes the 'Elder' of the tribe. Maybe call leader of the tribe 'Chief'? Or make the great-grandmother the younger sibling?
"'It began with my mother, who was also a basket-weaver. She was the elder of two; her younger brother as you know is our respected Elder now.'"

"'Did a necromancer really spell the land because he was angry?'" The jump to the necromancer spelling the land was a little awkward.

"There were far more females than males, for whatever reason," I'd cut 'for whatever reason'. You say something like 'there were far more females than males' and your readers will just take it as true. You don't need to qualify it. Plus, 'for whatever reason' sounds like contemporary speech.

I know I left a number of suggestions for corrections above. I very much enjoyed the chapter though. I like the world you're painting here and I am eager to discover more about it. :D

Best.

Claremonty
Claremonty chapter 1 . 12/11/2013
This is a very powerful and compelling opening. It's very effective keeping 'the visitor' so mysterious and his identity unknown. By the end of the chapter I remain a bit confused as to what he wants. Was he there primarily to expose the weakness of the young priestess' defenses? Or was he really just there to acquire more power? I think it's cool that I don't know.

Personally, I'm not a fan of long summaries at the start of stories. I understand why you have it there but compared to the text of the chapter the language seems a bit rough and redundant. I think you could edit the summary some, break it down, just keep the essentials. The story opening is very exciting and your long summary really isn't. I only mention it because this is your reader's first experience of the story.

I think it works well using only minimal description for the Temple of Oasis. When I first read that I though it was the 'Temple of Osiris'. Given the title and theme of your story I actually think 'Temple of Osiris' is a more evocative and vivid concept… Osiris is the original god of death and resurrection (which you probably know). It's just a thought... :)

Here are notes:

I like this a lot:
"She could have been beautiful, if she didn't look so dead."

You use some trimming here:
"There was no need for caution; even if the other awoke he knew her to be blind and the burning herbs masked the scent of blood that clung to his coat." There's a few unnecessary words in there. Maybe try something like, 'There was no need for caution. Even if she awoke he knew she was blind and the burning herbs masked the scent of blood that clung to his coat.' Like the imagery there.

"It was small; a child presumably, female judging from the shape. That was affirmed when she shrieked: a loud piercing cry that brought several pairs of feet running and prompted the girl on the reed mats to stir." You could streamline this part too. 'It was small, a child, and female, judging from the shape. She shrieked. Her loud piercing cry brought several pairs of feet running." That might be a little too severe but I think your writing is at it's most elegant when you cut to the core. Just my opinion. :)

"He grabbed the makeshift weapon" ? 'makeshift' no?

"The old croon backed away, cloth sweeping the floor as she abandoned the broom as a lost cause and opened her mouth." Not 'old crone'? Not familiar with 'croon'. Is this a particular word to this culture?

"Even the oldest ones, who had a lifetime of experience beneath their belt*s*, were a far cry from what was required of them in that moment."

Confused by this:
"It was the first time his visit came prematurely, and it would have been at least another four years before their paths crossed had circumstances not forced his hand."

I think this is great:
"And with that in mind he dove deeper into the tendrils of her magic and soul, allowing his mind to fill with new sensations: kaleidoscopic shades of grey, the smell of salt water, the sound of thunder and lightning and the cracking of wood –"

Wonderful dramatic imagery there. I would consider changing 'kaleidoscopic shades of grey' to something like 'fractured shadows'. 'Kaleidoscopic' is a 19th century term and implies vivid colors (at least to me).

"he closed it into a fist and siphoned it into a bottle under his cloak. " Maybe 'vessel' instead of 'bottle'?

Okay, this was really good. I'm definitely into reading more. On to Chapter 2.

Best.

Claremonty
Dreamers-Requiem chapter 2 . 7/20/2013
You have a really nice writing style, and overall I do think you do a good job of world-building and establishing the kind of life these characters live. Having said that, however, some of it does get a little boring. Detail isn’t a bad thing, but having too much can really put some readers off. It makes the story drag. Some of the background you introduce here could be spread out, and though it’s used to show the traditions and lives of these characters, with no action happening it’s hard to feel a strong hook here. Something should actually happen to draw the readers in. It doesn’t have to be major – just some sort of conflict that will make the reader want to read on to see how the characters deal with it. Good luck.
VelvetyCheerio chapter 5 . 6/20/2013
I think a lot of reviewers have already pointed this out (I often like to think of reviewers as mini betas), but the writing is very rich. Rich to the point that it can be hard to follow and understand. Certain sentences don't break down easily, and in that way they can be a little unnecessary. You've got a very unique writing style, and the character voice shines through when the writing focuses on the character, but otherwise it feels a little too prose-y. I don't want to do anything to change that voice, but I would like to help point out wordy sentences and maybe we could find ways to make them easier to understand.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the idea you have, the plot, is really interesting, and I'd love it if we could discuss the plot just so I could get a good understanding of where you intend to take the story.

This chapter was really plot productive in my opinion. I do think it moved fast, but I could understand wanting to send the characters on their journey. I think you handled the scene where they leave the village really well. I liked Col's thoughts on his childhood and how he used to hide in his grandmother's skirts.

I thought the conversation between Col and his grandmother was good. It was at times stilted, and some of the focus on marrying and children was a little confusing to me. I liked the wildflower bit, though. I think there could have been more focus on stuff like that: his grandmother telling him to not be afraid of leaving, but imagine himself more like a wildflower being set free.

Revealing that she was sick and would die soon, and showing Col that he probably wouldn't mind the idea of leaving by challenging him to look her in the eye was good technique. It was a nice way of sort of solidifying that push Col needed to follow his grandfather.

I think we'll have more to discuss when you have the time, so this is a bit of a cursory review. See you then! :D
GossamerSilverglow chapter 3 . 5/29/2013
I don’t have a feel for Col as a character, granted he is a young boy, but most boys are rambunctious. If there weren’t those moments of him being called a child and him speaking to his grandmother, I would’ve thought he was an adult. “Once the snake quietened, he answered his students' question.” *quieted*

Hmm, I’m wondering what these lessons have to do with the plot to the story. Of course not everything has to deal with the plot, but a general idea (besides the summary given) should be somehow hinted at. Maybe knowing how to extract snake venom is going to help Col on the journey he’s going to take (according to the summary)? The elder being dead is how the exile is going to come in right?
GossamerSilverglow chapter 2 . 5/29/2013
I don’t mean to come off as rude, but why do we need to know so much about reeds and collecting them? I can appreciate the detail, which clearly took time and effort on your part, but I found myself skipping parts. Personally I don’t care about how to get a reed. I think a few words on how to actually do it is fine, but this is were your ability for detail may get you into a bind with your readers because the first half of this chapter isn’t very attention grabbing unfortunately.

You’re very detail oriented. I would suggest being careful not to include so much detail though. This is a reason why I stopped reading popular books (Harry Potter). It was way too much detail and I felt like I was reading a school text book. I don’t want to read something I’ll fall asleep on. Maybe it could just be the presentation of this chapter, but it is too much detail. You write lovely and most of the time detail is the actual problem for writers in that they don’t have enough detail. You’ll have to find a balance between having too much and not having enough.

Personally, when I’m doing chores, I’m not thinking about the work or about how to do the work in detail. It’s like eating celery, but imagining it’s a snickers. You have to eat the celery because it’s healthy and nutritious, but you’d rather have a snicker. The concept applies with chores. You have to do the chores, it needs to be done, but you’d rather be going to a movie or swimming and that’s what you’re thinking about. Especially if this is a little boy doing said chores.
GossamerSilverglow chapter 1 . 5/29/2013
“She could have been beautiful, if she didn't look so dead.” Talk about a wake up call. What a sentence! It’s so deceiving that I had to read it twice to make sure I understood that the ‘she’ you were talking about was dead. Very good opening!

“Her skin was a pallor that rivalled the frozen blanket of snow outside.” *rivaled* “…layer of dust overlayed.” *overlaid*

This was a good chapter, maybe a little action heavy, at least for it being the first chapter, but decent all the same. I really enjoyed that the necromancer took the white orb, (the young priestess soul?). That was pretty creative. The ending it said leaving the priestess with a living soul and dying body, so does that mean the orb was indication of you being young and full of power? So the necromancer took her youth and power? Huh, I expected it to be the soul.
Faithless Juliet chapter 4 . 5/20/2013
I, like Col, thought that the lotus explanation scene was too long. So much of that can be summed up into a shorter and sharper explanation. There were alot of interesting moment that reflected the type of community that this is which I thought were great. I liked the images of Col and some of the older boys gathering wood and how people were coming together but also continuing on. I thought it was interesting how you didn't plung the townsfolk in to grief and I think it worked best with the story. I'm not sure if I like the male dominated vibe of this place however. I feel like there are not enough female voices to even out the tone of the narration. Col only seems to interact with his grandmother. I also wish that we could learn more about Col. I feel like you haven't gone into a lot of detail on who he is as a character.

Juliet.
Faithless Juliet chapter 3 . 5/20/2013
I really liked how you referenced everyone's hair color and wove the bloodlines closer together. I remember you mentioning the fact that everyone was related in one way or another. I thought that was a cool way of showing rather than telling how close and tight nit the village and community was. As with the previous chapter I do feel like this one is really info dumpy and drags in a lit of places. I think the scene where they are learning about the snake venom could be shortened to add more excitement to the moment. I really liked how you left us with a powerful cliffhanger ending. Really nice strategy there.

Juliet.
Faithless Juliet chapter 2 . 5/20/2013
I think this chapter had a lot of unneeded back story dragging it down. I think the information is important but just not at that exact moment. The scene if weaving the basket, in particularly, is very long.I think it would read better if you skimmed a lot of that down to get the story moving faster. I really like the grandmother character. She felt very real and complex and I liked how you introduced her through her memories and observations of other people. I thought that was very clever. I think Col is a bit one dimensional at this point, I would have liked to see a bit more character development there because he appears to be the main character. I also noticed a lot of rambling thoughts and run on sentences which seems odd because your work is always so polished.

Juliet.
Faithless Juliet chapter 1 . 5/20/2013
I think you set the scene very well with this. Your writing is always very thorough, that is defiantly your skill. I do think that you have a lot going on for chapter one, and I think it makes it harder to grasp everything that’s going on because it’s so short. I think it’s helpful to ease the reader in slowly with length and action. I also thought it was distracting that the characters do not have names at this point i.e. the priestess. I wonder if they will be one time only characters and that’s why you did that, if they do happen to become reoccurring then I think it would be better to give them names and cement them in the readers mind. Your ending was very strong; I’m definitely intrigued to read more.

Juliet.
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