Reviews for (first draft) Apoptosis
Dreamers-Requiem chapter 1 . 2/26/2013
Really gripping opening; it does everything a prologue should, really. Manages to draw you into the story and become interested in these characters and whatever it is they're up to. The one thing I will say is that in some of it, it got a little confusing as to what was going on; can't really pinpoint anything solid, but it felt like some of the language used could be, maybe, a bit simpler. Just so the reader can get a stronger grip on the world. Other than that though, a great start and I will, without a doubt, be back to read more soon as I can.
lookingwest chapter 4 . 1/30/2013
First off - the reason I look at reviews before I review is so I don't repeat something you've already heard, but merely mention I agree, and this is one of those moments. I agree one-hundred precent with Chasing Skylines about the beginning of this chapter and how it gets started, and I think you'd do well to keep the different suggestions in mind, that was well put and generous in my opinion. I definitely felt the want for a more engaging opening after the news that we were left with in the preceding chapter.

We get another odd sentence about nothing being taught by the lesson/teacher as being new, this time even bolder than before, I think. I mean, I think this is okay and it makes sense that they would tell the same things over and over again to kind of engrain it as a cultural identity, but I think what's lacking is Col's sense of this, or at least something that might indicate why they tell the stories over and over again and learn the same lessons. At the same time - I recognize his youth, and perhaps that is part of youth - not understanding why repetition is needed in these things. It just feels a little too close to the fourth wall again, like it's provided not for Col's benefit, but for the reader.

I appreciate the exposition on the lotus flowers - but why are we learning this? Why is it being taught again? We do see a little bit of that - that they need to learn about the sickness, etc. remembre it, but perhaps putting it in more context would make the reader feel more invested or interested.

One thing overall I'm concerned about with this story is its lack of it's genre. Where is the magic? Where is the fantasy? Why did you choose to write in this genre? If anything, this is highly realist or naturalist fiction that might have a place in perhaps magical realism, but so far any plot related to fantastical elements has been completely marginalized by the daily lives of this village which - seem to lack any interest in the fantastical or magical. So why Fantasy? Why necromancers? How does it relate to this highly realistic and scientific detail that you're laying out in the first two chapters? I mean - I know you'll get to a plot eventually, but will more fantastical elements destroy the purpose and genre of what you're doing here? Can these two techniques exists side by side or does one dominate the other? At the moment I feel realism takes the cake over the fantastical, even if the fantastical is eventually scientific - at that point is it it even fantastical or is it a part of magical realism? Just things my English studies self is thinking about. At the moment I lean that you're compromising your genre. But I don't think that's a bad thing - I just think you might want to rethink your direction, because you seem to be a phenomenal realist. Really, you are. Your attention to detail is fabulous and off the charts and I really appreciate and like that. But at what cost to the fantastical and if this was published - who do you envision as your readers? YA, adult? What are their professions?

Ahck sorry. D: My studies are making me incapable of not going on analytical rants. I think this is good though, it just means that your stories challenge me.

Col felt his eyelids drooping. [If our main character is falling asleep - what do you think this might make the reader feel like about the entire last section? Should we have invested our time in something even Col isn't interested in? I find this a little discouraging as a reader but also a little ironic too, I suppose :S ]

Karl's name is a little out of place to me. I do lke that we get some exposition on the background relationship between Karl and Kieran's grandfather. Things aren't boding well for Kieran's grandfather though - as he wasn't named for some reason - which indicates to me that he isn't as important to the plot as Karl is. Perhaps Karl will be banished and for some reason Col will leave with him? I'm skeptical of how Col will be involved with this, but interested to see what happens as it appears we finally have a conflict emerging.

Another thing I'd like to add is about the abruptness of the ending scene when we get a complete zoom-out of the narrator from Col. It feels odd to me. I think we need more of a transition. We've just spent and entire long chapter near Col (not very near, but near enough to know he's important and follow his daily life), and then all of the sudden we're ripped from that and shown this council. I think instead of ripping us apart from Col with a line break of sorts, perhaps you should experiment with slowly transitioning the narrator even further away and into the council meeting.

Hope I could give you some things to think about :) Good to revisit your writing again. I always promise myself to give minimum EF reviews in the games and then I'm always sidetracked and never can, ha! ;D
lookingwest chapter 3 . 1/30/2013
The first paragraph was disorientating and hard to follow. I'm saying this aware that it is not the first paragraph to this chapter, but it was still difficult to work with. Perhaps finding a way to untangle the descriptions later on in this part would work better than shuffling everyone together and only focusing on hair color. Personally, I like a little more to set characters aside from one another and remember who is who - and the only thing really valuable I found in the paragraph was the description that Col's hair is blond.

He whistled softly, tongue forking out at times to stopper the sound. The three children crowded around, silent as they watched the small black snake jerk up... [What snake? We have no description of a snake on the ground until this sentence and it was disorientating. I think there should be a better sentence of description - it feels like it's missing something. Maybe like, "The three children crowded around a small black snake and saw it jerk up..." I don't know - something to let us know they approached a snake or found a snake - how did they come about it? Where is it? In the grasses, in a hole, in the dirt? Give us more.]

I find it a little suspiciously convenient and a little forced that all of these kids are out on this hunting experience and aren't learning anything they really haven't learned before - we keep hearing, "well they already knew this, etc." again and again - the author must be taking us on this expedition for an actual purpose to teach us, the readers, about these snakes. So what role are they going to play? It seems a little too staged to me when those comments are made, like the author is revealing the tricks of exposition.

Hmmm, more exposition and detail on the hunting activities and the cleaning of the carcasses. I do appreciate what you're doing because I see a purpose in providing background, and I think you do a good job showing us daily life - to me though, this indicates that we're not going anywhere anytime soon. I'll be severely disappointed if it turns out Col has to leave this village, as we've just invested so much into the village culture and life that it's hard to justify removing him after all the exposition - in my opinion. I liked the boat scene in remembrance of the dead and I thought there was a beautiful moment there with Col watching it until it turned out of sight. That was a good moment.

I'd agree with Fang that I wish I knew more about Col. The narrator is very distanced in this story. Things might feel strange if it gets too close any time soon in style, but I think eventually we can get closer to Col's thoughts - we just have to do it slowly now since we're so zoomed out right now, if that makes sense. This is in huge difference to the prologue in that style sense too - I remember the prologue having a narrator much closer to the proximity of the characters. Interested to see where this second chapter will take us.
lookingwest chapter 2 . 1/30/2013
Well, okay. I generally agree with most of the reviewers who mentioned that this chapter has some boring qualities - or at least it does lack hooks (to put it in more constructive terms). But I mean - I see what you're doing with world building and characterization, and I think it comes into the realm of trusting you as the author to know what you're doing. That's hard to do on FP with the nature of the chaptered story, so I only want to mention that at this point, I'm just really really hoping that this is going to add up to something significant, or that there will be a little pay off. I.e. Col gets into some sort of later trouble where he needs to remember basket weaving techniques or the Gus, etc.

Likewise, I found the grandmother's story a little underwhelming, and I also find this setting hard to place as far as the big picture. I remember kind of having that same problem in the prologue. I'm picturing the time period being very old - like before any technological advances, and I pick up a kind of native culture vibe from it. In the prologue I was picturing almost a desert or middle eastern setting as far as landscape, but this really changes that feeling and I wonder how removed we are from the temple in the prologue. I guess what I'm trying to advise, is if we're going to invest ourselves into these descriptions, and into Col and his grandmother, I'd like a little more context in relative spaces. As this being a first chapter without a prologue, I think I don't run into that problem as much and am more willing to go with the flow as more is revealed, but since working with the prologue, this ideas might need to be addressed.

I thought you did do a good job giving us the background of Col's culture and his village life. This is necessary in establishing him as a character, I think, and I actually did enjoy the beginning reed gathering scene, but I thought perhaps it stretched on a little too long given the other descriptive contents you have in this chapter so far (remembering this is only the first part). I think you did well to split them up since you're going into such detail about daily life, so I really appreciate that as an FP reader.

I also liked the dialogue because I thought it was realistic in the since that the grandmother appeared to have patience with Col and still regards him as a child. A little off topic - I thought it was strange that this village thinks turning into an adult starts at eighteen. That was almost unrealistic to me due to the nature of your close knit old setting. Like I said, this feels like an almost native culture, and with such responsibilities of hunting and fishing regarded with men, I'm surprised that they wait so long to be considered adults. I feel sixteen or younger would be more appropriate given the world you're constructing (which comes into play with the critique above about the ambiguity of the setting - what are you pulling from as your key inspirations? what cultures? from what regions? etc.) especially when it seems like there isn't a lot of medical advancements and people could die young - for all we know the grandmother Elders are only 50 years old.

The grandmother's story does provide us some good background, though, but again, I hope that this pays off in some sense in the future, where Col is remembering his grandmother's stories, etc. I thought the most interesting moment in the chapter was the descriptions of the marshes and how it was used to threaten some of the children - it's interesting that tradition has faded away, and judging by the prologue events I'm wondering if it will return and what Col's investment is with all of this.
Chasing Skylines chapter 4 . 1/21/2013
[The more fanciful of them would have believed, should such people exist in their village, might have believed the Elder to be blessed by a higher power]
Typo? I don't think "might have believed" was intended to be there.

[the most important of them would be election the new Elder.]
Typo here. It should either be "would be the election of the new Elder" or "would be electing the new Elder."

[and the restlessness that stirred in children were usually quenched soon enough]
I think there's a typo here. "the restlessness" is singular, so "were" should be "was." "the restlessness that stirred in children was usually quenched"

[happing about the village]
I believe you meant "happening."

It's interesting that you scatter details of the town throughout the narrative. It shows the thought you've put into your worldbuilding, but I don't think it's effective in the beginning as Col is waking, perhaps because the scene - the simple act of waking up - isn't especially compelling in the first place. Maybe the details of the memory of Col's grandfather among the cotton fields, the family fish hook, the evolving status of the town's economy, etc., would have been more lively and interesting were they accompanied by a less bland situation. As it is, the details seem random and just lengthen a sequence that needs to pick up its pace rather than dwell. In short, I think you should make the details relevant. If they are, like the narrative says, "less important" (enough that Col "barely spared the contents of his chair a glance") you can make them important or disregard them until they are.

There are parts of this chapter that suffer from a slow pace because there's a lot of "telling," I think. It might have been easier to deal with if there weren't parts where you went off on a tangent (for example, talking about the forest and the necromancers and such at one part, when the story that mattered at that point was the death of the Elder) or focused on minor situations like the classroom or the chores. I feel like I'm being taken on a tour through the town, and it's quite informative, but it doesn't have the dynamic pace of a story. I'm being "told" about the villagers and Col's my tour guide. It's interesting to go to new places, of course, but I think it would be more interesting to see Col interact with other people rather than just passively receive information and observe things. Or at least have Col observe the people themselves. Instead of the reader being told everyone is surprised and sad, we might see their expressions, or hear their conversations about the passing of someone as influential as the Elder. It adds flavor and color to this town of Col's.

It's an interesting town you've got going here. It has all the little traditions and idiosyncrasies of real towns, and you demonstrated that. I understand that this was a Nanowrimo novel and you were motivated to rack up enough words to reach the goal, but now that you can edit freely, there are parts that could be shortened and other parts that could be fleshed out. For example, you could focus on the election - with its history, its contestants, and its suspense - more. It was the most interesting part of the chapter for me.
Sintalion chapter 1 . 1/19/2013

You use a lot of imagery uniquely, such as the fingers being as brittle as fig stalks. It's entirely vivid and a refreshing change from what many writers resort to. I think you have a good grasp on choosing exactly the right words to convey your meaning.

From what I know about kids, anyway (and especially on the era/design of them) it's very hard to tell a boy from a girl just based on shape, and even harder to tell by screams. Since things haven't, shall we say dropped, they can be just as shrill as a girl, unless you give us something more concrete to go on, like, say, they're older.

Without telling us what 'blahblah' implies, I have to say I do not know if he is thinking or you just are one of those people that prefers ' to ". If you are, I'd suggest making it known he's speaking out loud because to most people '' implies thoughts or typos.

I'd also suggest changing that smirk widening to thinking, if that is what you intend. Smirks by nature don't really widen, and I can't say I've known many people to smirk at me, and widen that smirk a few seconds later.

When you say things like, "after all it was a well known fact" you're forgetting that the reader is not a part of this world. It's your job to introduce it to them, and making it a "known fact" makes it sound more like an info-dumping sentence. You can cut that and just tell the reader. Only those past child-bearing wear the white robes. The perspective appears to be third person limited to this point, so there's no reason he should be telling us it's a well known fact. It just is to him.

Personally I am very against dedicating an entire chapter to a nameless person, especially if there are more than two people in the chapter. It isn't that catchy and gives me nothing to cement in my mind as the main character. It weakens an otherwise stellar opening. "But they people have no business knowing his name." Maybe not, but if you're in third person or third limited, the reader deserves to know and know right away. A lot of people can get turned off because they feel that a writer is withholding the name:

A) On purpose, either to be mysterious or try and induce some sense of dramatics

B) They haven't had a chance to build a connection with a character. You can describe tons of men. Woo hoo. I hear them all the time. Attach a name and it is much easier to keep characters straight, for one (and no one in the scene needs to know, it's just the writer's responsibility to convey it to the reader), and to bond with them or have an "Ah ha!" moment later down the road.

Good job though! It's a nice start to a story! :)
Sombrette chapter 5 . 1/15/2013
I really like how much back story there is to this village, how they cling to these traditional rules and everything. I personally don't like that little blip with the nomination, only because I don't get what the purpose of Karl leaving does for the village... But oh well, it's a great gateway for Col it looks like. The imagery is lovely and consistent and I especially liked the bit where he's sitting on the hill with his grandmother. The description was a little heavy during the pyre scene, but I still appreciated the detail.

'And then, when you're my age and you've watched life almost to its end, you live in the past and wait for things to rewind.' She sighed. 'They never will.' - I really liked this because it holds so much truth to it and I thought that it was very clever.

I'm curious to see how Col will react to the outside world now that he's 'set free'. This was a great chapter :)
Vagrance chapter 3 . 1/11/2013
Opening: it’s descriptive, but for some reason, lacked impact. I just thought the gang was not very – lively, if you will. This would be okay if they were not important characters, I suppose. One more thing, I’m not sure if this qualifies as an error, but I’d like to bring this to your attention anyhow.

“The boys who collected at the last home before the forest were quite an assortment,” – would this read better if you removed “who” from the sentence?

Style: lots of details but at times, felt a hint awkward for there are too many words.

“It was one the traders had taken their snake skin to fashion and then traded back for more of the raw material.”

Could you divide this into two sentences? There’s quite a bit of information crammed in there.

Dialogue: in general, the conversation has a good natural flow that reflects the relative status of the characters. The mentor role is well played out.

Scenario/plot: the details of their tasks were very information and interested. The way they went about it really makes the world come to life. The level of animation given to their lives makes the opening appear somewhat dull.

“The skin had been carefully removed and thoroughly washed – it possessed the touch of a woman's finesse” – do you mean “it took a woman’s finesse”?

“…threatening to withhold some of the juicer aspects of the feast if they dawdled.” I think you meant juicier rather than juicer.

Ending: sudden, almost like a sucker punch. Crisp clean and strong, I liked it a lot.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 2 . 1/8/2013
[and scratched his bare legs as he reached for a new reed stalk.]

Since scratching his legs and reaching for a stalk is happening in the same motion (because of the "as"), I find it hard to picture him doing all these things at the same time when he has an arm full of reeds. Might want to break up all the minor actions or eliminate one of them.

[The boy straightened and waved at the other in the shade.]

By "at the other in the shade" do you mean the grandmother? I feel like you take too much effort trying to shy away from using pronouns, like it's too short and simple or something. It can give the piece itself a rather pretentious and stiff tone, so just be careful about that. I think saying, "The boy straightened and waved at his grandmother, who was sitting in the shade," will get the message across a lot clearer, and it sounds less rigid. This kinda goes back to what I commented on in the first chapter as well about the "forms," which I see being used again for the crow; don't be afraid of using simple pronouns over vague indications, because it's a lot less confusing. There's nothing wrong with being concise. In fact, in cases like this where it muddles clarification, it would probably be best to be succinct.

I'm going to be honest, I found the first half of this chapter really hard to get through. It's probably because so much attention is put on the reed collecting - it's just not interesting to me, and I imagine not too many people are going to find it that fascinating to want to read 1,000 words about it. I feel like you could take out the first half of the chapter and weave that information/world building into the story and plot as it goes along, because it feels like an info-dump. In fact, I think you could crunch this chapter almost all the way to the conversation near the end, to where it starts to pick up. Because the grandmother mentions the swamps and stuff anyways, which would be a good time to bring up maybe a couple more details for setting development. Making the dialogue happen a lot sooner will really help with the pace, I think, and maybe they can encounter the crow while they're gathering reeds and his grandmother is telling him the story about the necromancer. I really like the crow prop, and I have a feeling it's going to be important in the future, so I would definitely keep it - I'm just having trouble getting immersed within such a slow start in the beginning. Now that Nano is over and you don't have to worry about word count, cutting some of this down might be something to keep in mind when you go back and revise.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 1/3/2013
[It was not until he was close enough to touch the still form that another person entered the room.]

This sentence confused me. Who is the still form? Is it the dead woman from the beginning? I wasn't sure why you chose to call her a "still form" instead of something simpler, like a corpse, cadaver, or just "the woman." It'll help with clarification, especially considering she's not the only "form" in the room. In fact, all these different forms are incredibly confusing, so maybe give them something easier to picture and identify as means of their identities.

I like this idea of a necromancer because I don't read about necromancers very often, and I think you do a wonderful job describing how he uses his magic, what with the white orb and separating the red and white forces. Speaking of descriptions, aside from what I mentioned above and a few weak adjectives here and there, I think you have some very strong images, especially those regarding the dead woman. I also appreciated how you addressed the sense of smell so much because it helped draw me into the story.
Persevera chapter 4 . 1/3/2013
[And that day's practical lessons while energy filled the children surrounded the lotus flowers, traditionally the burial plant.] I don't like this sentence. I think there are words or punctuation missing for it to make sense.
I like the information about everyone in the village knowing how to do all of the every-day tasks. You have a good handle on the social structure and customs of the village and make it read like an interesting anthropology lesson of a real community.
TequilaMockingbird19 chapter 3 . 1/3/2013
Wow, you seriously take me to a new world when I read your story. I think that your images are clear and the way you describe things really brings me to your setting. I think the things about the snake and the birds were very well researched and I really have a thing for well researched stories!

The detail, though quite vivid dragged a bit here and there and I started to just scan through some parts instead of reading them thoroughly but the ending... Wow, another cliff hanger. I love cliff hangers and I'm totally excited to read the next chapter.
Luckycool9 chapter 2 . 12/31/2012
I liked how the grandmother is telling her grandson a story about her youth because it shows how close the two characters are and the tragedy of the main characters life. I disliked that at one point the story repeated itself because it threw off the flow for a while and confused me.
XxCliche-SpicexX chapter 1 . 12/31/2012
The opening is intriguing. The description really paints a vivid picture.
"It was small; a child presumably, female judging from the shape". - May just be me, but I always thought a children, male or female, look the same. Within this paragraph and the next I feel the word form is used a little too often.
Over all it was a great first chapter, I'm very interested in reading more.
professional griefer chapter 5 . 12/30/2012
I really liked the body-burning ceremony, even though it's rather traditional, I thought that you gave the world a bit more flavor and texture by including it.
I also really liked the conversation between Col and his grandmother, you characterize them both really well from their styles of speech, and you got me so invested in the conversation that I was sad when it was over. (which also could have been the fact that she's gonna die, lol)
And I liked that this chapter seems more economic with its usage of words, you toned things down nicely, and you still managed to have gorgeous descriptions.
All around, this is a really awesome chapter!
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