Reviews for True Emerald
M.R. Hill chapter 1 . 5/18/2016
- Opening sentence problems. I feel you can start with a more engaging line here, I was more confused with the opening.

- …Well I’m already reading this as deeper than a friendship.

- Tons of static verbs. That is without a doubt the biggest problem throughout this. To discuss this a little more, static verbs are “be” words or defining things in terms of the 5 scenes (heard, smelled, tasted, etc.) which aren’t anywhere near as strong. What you want is dynamic verbs. Dynamic verbs snatch your attention.

Static Example: He was jumped on.
Dynamic Example: It jumped on him.

- A hybrid between…?

- [Larissa sat up in bed and Emily leaned down so her friend could embrace her. Emily rubbed her smooth cheek against Larissa's and purred, a rumbling noise she made deep in her throat that showed she was contented.]

This sentence goes on too long, though better verb usage. You should end at purred. All that follows is telling that adds nothing more than purred already did. Also, just ending on purred is stronger as you’ll use this technique called backloading. Backloading is when you structure a sentence so the most powerful word comes at the end. Words with one syllable, as with purred, has way more power than using those several that followed.

- So hugging, kissing, and pet names for one another. Yeah, these two are more than just friends. XD

- "Good morning to you, my dearest," said Emily softly. Her voice was low and unusually husky for a girl's. And yet it had a strangely soothing quality as well.

I’ll touch a bit on rhythm here. Right here the flow is off due to your usage of periods. Here is how I’d do it:

["Good morning to you, my dearest," said Emily, her voice low and unusually husky for a girl's. Nonetheless, it held a strangely soothing quality.]

There are some other rhythm issues throughout, but a good example.

- ["Dearest Larissa, I have something I must say, but… where to begin…" Emily was beginning to sound doubtful.]

This dialogue feels unnatural & forced. Also, you needn’t use that tag there, it’s telling what the dialogue already shows.

- Actually, given that you weaved in the whole hybrid thing here, you could remove the earlier mention of it and have this be the first place it comes up. Instead of instantly just tossing it out there, it instead weaves that exposition into the text. With exposition, you want to dramatize it. It should serve an immediate purpose that furthers the story while secondary purpose is conveying information. Skill in exposition involves making it invisible. You did that far better with whole part with the geneticist mention.

- Good use of the section break as your stopping point placed at a strong point where I care to continue on.

- Going to toss this out there, you should go through this killing quite a few adverbs, such as “really”. You can just say they appreciate the interest or, if you don’t think appreciate is a strong enough noun, find a synonym that’s stronger. Strong nouns hold greater power than adjectives or adverbs (especially adverbs).

- And this second section break is closer to case of misuse. If you overuse section breaks, it creates choppier chapters.

- To comment on the content real quick, I feel this has potential, but a lot of this reads as really forced. I believe you’re trying too hard with your prose and dialogue throughout this. There is potential, but you’ll need to strengthen your execution of prose & dialogue first. I hope some of this feedback helps out by making you conscious of the problems I had and served to show some good examples. My biggest suggestion right now is to work on your verb use. Look up some more examples on dynamic verbs and practice executing them yourself.
Victoria Best chapter 2 . 4/7/2016
Hello!

Let me start by saying YES! Really great chapter :D Excellent worldbuilding, excellent ideas, and an interesting ending. I am intrigued! I really was not expecting that. Great cliffhanger! Definitely made me want to continue reading.

I like that you have started the story with dialogue. It drew me into the story immediately, and also brought back what had happened in the previous chapter. A neat way to connect the two together. On the subject of dialogue - I think your dialogue is really strong. Always feels realistic, and reveals a lot about the characters. Particularly enjoyed the short exchange at the end, with the "shadowy form." I especially liked the line, "I have returned to bring death to the world." Sharp, intense, fiery. Great way to grab readers.

I also like your method of weaving in descriptions, never throwing them at us at once. Love the way you describe Emily by putting the description in the dialogue - "the delicate shape of her nose, the cheekbones..." And how you have tied that in with your worldbuilding (the mention of the smaragdisch). This was expertly done - strong dialogue, description woven in, and worldbuilding. Literally the three most important components in one sentence! :D

Love the worldbuilding we get through the interview. I love this idea that all of the sperm in the clinic came from one source. I think this is a unique idea - I can't think off the top of my head of ever seeing something like this before, so I think you're onto something really original here. I hope to see more original ideas like this! And it's great that we get more information on Genutec. I think I have mentioned before that I really enjoy reading about them in your works and you could definitely get away with including more of them.

Really like the slogan! "Death is pure! Death is perfect! Death is the solution!" Punchy and intense! And I think it says a lot about the Reaper. I also think that Emily's reaction was quite natural - crying. I like that you have made her a vulnerable character - often in fiction writers can overlook the fact that a character might react by crying, because they think it makes them seem weak. So they don't. And it seems weird. So the fact you have done this makes her realistic and likeable, and shows more of her personality.

Finally, I really enjoyed some of the lines you used, like "his awful grinding voice seemed to reverberate" and "he could smell the sweetness on her breath." Both pretty lines, but don't go over the top with the description, just keep it all neat and succinct.

No issues that I could see. Keep writing!
lookingwest chapter 1 . 2/22/2016
Chaos Emeralds! Do you know that Sonic the Hedgehog has that in their game mythologies? I actually, for a moment (given the nature of FP as a sister site to FF) thought maybe this used to be a Sonic FF or something (it happens) but - I find myself inclined to think that maybe you're referencing Chaos Emeralds /without/ knowing that that terminology/mythos is something straight from Sonic... I noticed no other reviewer mentioned it so... Just saying! Perhaps a name change might be in order? Hm. :S

["...and see such nice people as you.] Missing quotation after "you"

Question. Why is Thea sorry that she can't be there for the vaccination? That line made me think that the vaccination itself was something difficult to get through - it might just be the phrasing and context coming from his wife. It seemed like it was a line where she was lamenting she wouldn't be there to support him through the vaccination, like she usually comes with him to help him with it. But then the scene happens and as Emily says, it's painless and doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal procedure-wise. Anyway, I liked when we got into that scene with Emily though, and Leo's first impressions of her. It's refreshing to see a woman who owns her sexuality and beauty as a hybrid. She comes across quite confident and that's also kinda nice. Her venerability comes through with Larissa in the opening, so all in all I think she's nicely balanced so far. Emily appears a strong woman who knows what she wants!

Speaking of beauty - it's interesting that that's what basically gets Emily ahead. I think everybody has different privileges that come into play in society - it'd be interesting to see if Emily can use her privilege to help those who are not - I wish she could've (once in the hospital) pushed for more hybrid girls to enter into the system so they could also be employed there. Surely she's proven herself as capable, and it's even referenced earlier that hybrids can work twice as long and hard as humans - you'd think that in this world, no one would deny them jobs that require such discipline. But again, geesh, the world can be a tough place. It'd be cool to see Emily's advantages helping others!

We yet again have a male character who is very drawn to a hybrid woman. I feel bad that this time Leo has a wife who seems to really care for him - he seems like he's kind of the one who needs to restrain himself but at the same time I can't really tell how much of Emily's provocative nature (pressing her breasts up against him when they meet for the interview) is actually part of her hybrid nature (as it's more in depth about their nurturing and sexual urges in Freaks) OR if it's something she's doing to actually manipulate him. It could be either way - she's also affectionate with Larissa - if I had not read Freaks yet I think i would've came into this assuming from the opening that Larissa and Emily were a couple and lovers (more than just best friends). But since I know about the purring and I know about their attachments to people on a biological level that compels them to act in those ways, I think I see it more on the friendship level. It's interesting that the "nurture" aspect doesn't seem as forward with Emily - but that could be because she's a much older hybrid than Kristin and has already had a baby?

Overall! Emily really sticks out to me from your cast - I'm curious about her. I'm curious to see how she might use Leo. I feel like I lean that she's deliberately trying to seduce him to help her find out about her past, but that could also be that it benefits her people, the hybrids, as well, and it's a very intriguing situation where a woman uses her privilege of beauty to help others. Her beauty was very emphasized so I think it becomes one of her tools. Unique! Enjoying this and liking the name Emily :) I also agree with another reviewer that you handled the exposition of this world really well! It can be so hard to do that stuff in SFF and this opening chapter does a nice balance, especially with the GEB explanations (which you're always good at) and a little be about the hybrids worked into dialogue - though, again, would perhaps consider a name change for "Chaos Emeralds" since I instantly thought "Sonic!" and I don't know if that's an allusion that you would want the reader to be taking away.

Thanks for the read! :D
Victoria Best chapter 1 . 1/29/2016
Hello!

This was an interesting start to the story. I loved some of the sentences you use, such as, "rumbling nose she made deep in her throat," and the descriptions of the characters, such as "milky blue eyes, cleft in the top of her nose." It's great to see that the characters are not beautiful - they have their 'flaws,' (not really flaws, just things that make them different) such as the cleft in her nose, which instantly makes them likeable and realistic. Too many stories nowadays are all about stunningly beautiful characters and I'm fed up of that. It's not real.

The part with Leo and Emily was fun to read, and you tackled the infoloading in a succinct, effective way, not too much and not too little, just enough to set up the plot and bring us into the world of the characters. Also, it never distracted from the piece or slowed it down, always added to it, so great job with that. However, the highlight of the piece for me was the beginning with Larissa and Emily. I could clearly see their closeness, and this sort of comfortable, homely relationship they have with each other. And I love the mention of the "pinkie-greenie promise!" You've done well with the characterisation here.

"Larissa had been sorry when ... had been away the previous night." The words 'had been' in a sentence can often be clumsy, but here you use them twice in one sentence, and then give us another 'had been' in the following sentence also. In fact, throughout the piece we get the 'had beens' and I personally would recommend getting rid of most of them. They are often listed as a 'pet peeve' of literary agents, who think that the clean, concise past tense is stronger, sharper and sounds less clumsy.

"She wasn't even pure human." Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I am sure I have seen exactly this line in another one of your pieces as a way to introduce the fact that the character is not normal. Try not to reuse lines. It's good to challenge yourself.

Otherwise, this was solid. Thanks for the read and keep writing!
Guest chapter 1 . 7/13/2015
RG Depth #5,003

Opening/Setting:

I like this part of the opening where we get this glimpse into Larissa’s head and see her attraction and actual respect for Emily:
“Larissa had always thought her friend to be the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. Emily was unusually tall, but that was not the most unusual thing about her. Her skin was an immaculate, bright green all over.”

I like how you come back to the Venusian Lamp as a light source:
“She had long, lustrous black hair that seemed to glint with an emerald sheen in the glow of the Venusian lamp.”
This gives us a more solid sense of the environment. Specific items like lamps help make the fantastic world you are building feel real. :)

Writing/Techniques/Style:

You could work on this transition some:
“Meanwhile, Leo was in turn discussing his meeting with Emily with one who could really appreciate his interest in her: another genetic researcher by the name of Elsa.”
It just seems a little bit abrupt. Also, I think a short intro paragraph for Leo would help. Like why not go into Leo’s head as he approaches the door to Elsa’s office to tell her about Emily. Like maybe he’s anxious but excited, some details about the hallway, the glow of the vending machine, the handle of the door… You know set the atmosphere like you do in the first part of the chapter with the Venusian Lamp…?

This section effectively establishes the setting/atmosphere of the medical bay:
“The white noise of the clinical machinery whirred on and the cleaning bots moved silently, hovering inches above the patterned linoleum.”
I like how you use visuals and sounds to immerse the reader. Honestly, I would cut from the Larissa/Emily scene in the beginning straight to this and cut out everything in between (you can use those bits later in the story). Just a suggestion…

As I believe I mentioned in my last review I like these dynamic lighting elements:
“A cluster of small comet lamps floated above their heads at this moment, their pale light shining off Emily's green nose and cheeks. Her cheekbones were so perfectly proportioned.”

Dialogue/Scene:

I like the way this interview is starting out in this new edit:
“"So Emily, as we both know, the conception of the hybrid beings took place at the Maximum fertility clinic from 1996 to 1997. May I ask why your mother required donor sperm.””
These questions seem more standardized which makes sense for a scientific study.

Nice to get this biographical info on Emily:
“"It wasn't easy for my mum to get me into a school, but St Cecilia's in Surrey accepted hybrid girls, so there were a lot of us in our year," Emily replied, "our school nurse was a real brick. That's why I wanted to be a nurse myself. I was glad that the hospital accepted me. I know for a fact that other hybrid girls couldn't get jobs there.””

More Setting/Description:

“The lights were dimmer here. Just a few red dwarf lamps giving off a faint ruby glimmer.”
I like the change in scene and how it reflects and emphasizes the growing warmth between the characters.

A stark contrast to the rosy lighting:
“Bulging black eyes stared through a curtain of long tangled, greasy, greying hair which draped limply over his shoulders, framing a mean, pinched, sallow face.”
Kuznetsov breaks up the romantic mood of the narrative which I think enlivens the pace. He is also a plot point I bet and foreshadows some danger to come. Good stuff here.

Wow. Leo really goes off on the guy:
“"You dare insult her, Kuznetsov? One as low as you? One who would exploit genetics to make money by furthering war!" When Leo was indignant, he forgot diplomacy.”
Um, this doesn’t seem all that smart of Leo. I mean, how can young Leo keep his job if he chews out the top secret clearance genetic weapons guy? It’s a little surprising. Maybe have Leo think about saying that but not….?

Ending:

I like seeing the two of them out in public. Good little scene here when she leaves him:
“Outside it was dusk. Passers-by stopped and stared at Emily as the two of them made their way to the bus stop. Leo could hear murmuring here, a low whistle there and "what a pretty hybrid…" and then "did you ever see anything so perfect…?" murmured from somewhere across the street.”
Also lends a sense of the greater world. :)

vb,

mbw
alltheeagles chapter 2 . 7/8/2015
RG EF review

In chapter 1 it seemed that Leo is interested in Emily in the “I’m falling for her” way, but now the vibe I’m getting is “What an interesting specimen, I must study her.” So this isn’t a love story after all, huh? Do I like that? I don’t know yet, but it brings me to the question of what Thea would make of Leo, which put a sardonic kind of smirk on my face. Somehow, I don’t think she’ll share his enthusiasm for her...
The back story of the Seeder and the Reaper is pretty clearly explained. The Reaper comes across as rather OTT and almost a caricaturish Evil Villain even, but that might be deliberate on your part – I can’t really tell. In contrast, the Seeder is much more ‘human’ for lack of a better word. Anyway, the plot is well underway, so good job on the pacing.
alltheeagles chapter 1 . 7/7/2015
RG EF

I like the sci-fi touches: vending machine clearance sounds like something I'd totally love to have. Also, the idea of hybrids are not too farfetched with Dolly and GMO in agriculture and the Human Genome Project. I'm guessing the 'horror from the past' has something to do with what constitutes the other part of the hybrid.

I think you conveyed Leo's infatuation well and it's quite clear that the attraction is mutual (unless Emily is just using Leo, which would be sad but actually rather interesting). It definitely sounds like a love story right now but I'm not too sure where the humour is (since the story is classified as such). Maybe that will come in later.
Cheddar-Graham chapter 1 . 7/7/2015
RG Depth review

Opening
It’s a disarming start – if I read that without reading the synopsis I would be expecting a ‘friendship’ or ‘girl power’ story. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but that’s how it comes across. The purring and cheek rubbing is kind of cute - reminds me of a cat.
Writing
I think Emily’s greenness was over-emphasized because there was already a fair bit of mention of it in the opening and then when Leo saw her it was repeated. I agree that her skin colour is related to the main point of the story, but disagree with overdoing it because she may end up being defined solely by the shade of her skin.
Plot
I get that the theme of this story is being different and the prejudices that come along with that. However, I have a question on the basic premise. The word hybrid means ‘offspring of two different species’ to me, so I’m wondering what other species was crossed with humans to produce Emily’s kind. Something green, I suppose, but the possibilities that come to mind aren’t very pleasant. I hope the cute slugs aren't part of that equation. Or was Emily’s DNA manipulated in some way to produce the green skin and other characteristics? I suppose not, since that would make her a mutant or GMO rather than a hybrid.
Closing
I like that Leo is consistent in his support of hybrids, in that he isn’t just attracted physically to Emily but also stood up for her against Kuznet. It remains to be seen whether Leo’s liking is more than infatuation, or is it just a by-product of Emily’s biological make-up. This is on the assumption that Emily is like the character in Nurture, since she is clearly identified as a breeder.
m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 6/29/2015
I like a lot of the changes you have made to this. Your writing is flowing smoothly and overall the prose is tight. I do miss Emily’s friend/roommate. She helped humanize Emily and make her seem more like a normal young woman who happens to be green as opposed to a freaky, though (at least in Leo’s mind) sexy hybrid being.

I also feel like the narrative is moving at light speed. My advice is slow down a little. Let us get to know these characters a bit before you tell us the whole history of the world and how these people are connected to it. Perhaps leave the holocube and the history for Leo’s second session with Emily. Make this first one a ‘getting to know you’ procedural interview. Just suggestions.

Enjoying it nonetheless. :D

Here are notes:

“”No don't worry Leo, I'll clean it up," said Thea, arms folded, blue eyes glinting angrily.”

I remember Thea from your earlier draft. She does seem a bit typical. She is a bit of a nag but in a passive aggressive way, she doesn’t simply tell Leo that he’s a slob and it shouldn’t always be her job to clean up, for instance. Idk, I think you might want to consider changing her up just a little, to make her more unique, still a pain in Leo’s butt, but not in a predictable way…?

I do like your description of her here:

“The early morning sunshine shone through the diamond paned windows lighting up his wife's face, her milky blue eyes, the little cleft in the tip of her nose.”

Nice bit of setting with the diamond window too. Cool. :)

I have a feeling you will be explaining exactly what GEBs are shortly but you might want to work it in here. Why keep us confused? Since you explain so much other stuff I don’t see what the advantage is of only explaining the GEB thing in the endnote. Leaves your readers confused until the end of the chapter, you know?

“She was a "breeder" hybrid being, born of illegal genetic research back in the twentieth century.”
I think you might want to establish that your setting is an alternate reality as opposed to a distant future before you mention specific time periods your readers are familiar with like “the twentieth century.” It’s just that when I read that I feel the twentieth century seems too far in the past for Emily’s fantastic origins. Since, you know, we don’t have the tech to create Emily now, how could humanity have done it already in like 1990 or whenever? Please keep in mind that’s just my gut reaction. :)

Missing a “:
“"I'm nurse Emily. I must say it's great to visit the university and see such nice people as you.**

Like this moment, cinematic:
“A cluster of small comet lamps floated above their heads at this moment, their pale light shining off Emily's green nose and cheeks. Her cheekbones were so perfectly proportioned. He thought he saw her nostrils dilate as she leaned close to him.”

This is a fun clue to their culture:
“Thank the planets needles are not required anymore,”

This is a good insight into Leo’s nature:
“"I hope to get tenure and become a professor next year," he said,”
He really must be quite self-centered if he immediately thinks that with no prompting from Emily she would be interested in his career ambitions, interesting…

Like “jovian lamp”. Did you make that up?

Why is “Saturnine” capitalized in “Saturnine lamp” when you don’t capitalize jovian? Just a tiny thing. :)

“Leo remembered how a friend had told him that the eyes are windows onto the soul.”
Eyes are windows *into* the soul I think ;)

“"you know of the old scandal already. How Genutec – that horrible research facility in the twentieth century – also set up the Maximum Fertility Clinic. And yet the clinic was a fraud. All their donor sperm came from a single source. A being created from scratch in a lab. A being they codenamed the Seeder. My father.””
This is a lot of really important information. I think you might want to consider parcelling it out a bit instead of dropping it all in a concentrated lump here. It will mean more to your readers that Emily lost her father before she ever knew him once they get to know her better.

Wondering what you mean by ‘boy’ here:
“The green boy spoke and his voice had the same husky quality as Emily’s.”
Does he look 10 yrs old? 18? 20? I ask because he’s uh already ‘seeding’ so… I think you might want to refer to him as a young man… maybe… or late teenager?

This seems a bit sudden to me honesty:
“I don't think I can deal with this any longer. I need someone wise to help me through it. Someone as wise, kind and beautiful as you.”

Like this bit. I remember the scene from your earlier draft:
“"Not your diamonds, but your heart," hissed the fiend. "I can make good use of yours in rebuilding my physical form. I am the Reaper and I have returned to bring death to the world.””

vb,

mbw
Jalux chapter 1 . 6/28/2015
The opening was alright I suppose, I think it was a decent hook but it's pretty standard all the same. So in a sense it works but I don't think all readers won't want to continue if you know what I mean? I mean what distinguishes this from other stories? Maybe something about our green friend would help here. That being said your descriptions were on point, especially for the MC, Emily. It's obvious you've put time into writing these so well done on that front. All in all, it was a good read.
Ventracere chapter 1 . 6/28/2015
This was a slower beginning, but it definitely speeds up in terms of pacing, which makes it easier to read. I like the plot that you've strung out so far, where you let us see our protagonist from the get go. The time jumps are a little bit screwy I think? That's the wrong word to use, but it's a bit jarring. I know that you used a linebreak between the Cobra/Fiend scene vs. Leo, but perhaps insert a couple of transition words to smooth out the time jumps?

Something else I liked was your description of Emily, for how well you emphasize that it's what makes her who she is. We see that through Leo's eyes, which, even though he's a researcher and knows fully well who and /what/ *sadface* Emily is, he inadvertently stigmatizes her for it. She's otherworldly in her beauty and stands out with her green skin. However, despite her otherness(?), her name is a bit mundane in contrast - which isn't a bad thing. Instead, it heightens the aspect of the story that she needs to come to terms with herself first, in a world that considers her as different as humanly possible.

Thanks for the read!