|Reviews for Protecting You|
| MileyRowling chapter 15 . 3/20
| zippywings chapter 7 . 3/19
Okay, I had some trouble with this scene. I like how it's structured, and I like how it attempts to turn the story. Suddenly Tyler has something to hope for. That's great. The reader also has something to anticipate. Now we're getting somewhere.
I don't want to knock this idea out the gate, but I do think this requires some setting up, or explaining, or something that sounds biologically or scientifically possible. As of now, it screams made-up plot device. And, I'd be okay with the concept of Tyler getting some kind of brain problem that makes him do what he does. I'd even be okay with that brain problem presenting him with a possible escape clause.
But this brings up some issues:
1. If they turn him into an Aitu, and then they figure out that his memory mass caused him to act out in the first place, making him "innocent," then didn't they transform him for nothing?
2. If the doctor knows this is possible, shouldn't he want to table the transformation until he's sure it's fair?
3. How does a process trigger unwanted memories? That's the part I have the biggest trouble with. Memory mass is hard enough to swallow. Something that confronts you with your worst memories during a transformation process-again, it's too plotty. The world you create has to be believable, and so far it is, but this memory mass is asking too much for the reader to accept, especially when there's no world-building explanation for it. The reader needs to understand how and why this is possible. If we know what kind of world Tyler lives in, it might give us a clue. Otherwise I'd consider calling it something else.
4. Having two contradictory outcomes here could work, but logically the doctor, if he's ethical, would recommend putting off the transformation process if there was any doubt that Tyler would've committed these crimes without the memory mass influencing him. That, unfortunately, makes the gimmick of Tyler confronting his worse memories needless because if the doctor doesn't put him through the transformation process, then the bad memories won't trigger anyway, so the tension is gone.
I think you need to figure out an alternative to this plan that presents Tyler (and the doctor) with a clear conflict that can drive us into the second act, which I assume is around the corner based on this new information.
Other than that, my previous comments apply. More natural dialogue and nonverbal actions would be helpful. Also, you might want to do this anyway to give your characters some visible distinctions. As of now, Tyler and the doctor sound the same.
The structure is good. Just reconsider the plot device. Or set it up to naturally make sense in Tyler's world.
| zippywings chapter 6 . 3/14
Oh, Harper was in the room the whole time? I hadn't noticed.
Good chapter overall. It's still feeling like a lot of the same, but I am seeing some movements in character and plot, albeit slowly, so any progress is good progress.
I'm beginning to see the suspense of his fate forming. Notably, I want to know why everybody is trying to pass off this program as some best of a bad situation. More and more I'm believing these people less and less. Why are they so determined to turn criminals into Aitu? Your scenes here, with the doctor in particular, are organically forming questions in the reader's mind that makes their whole plan seem sinister beneath the surface, and even though I'm not a fan of Tyler as a hero just yet, and I'm kind of tired of his attitude, I also think that his attitude and know-it-all retorts are responsible for sowing these seeds of discord in my mind about this program. So, every time the doctors want to play this off as a not-so-bad program, I want to scream, "Yeah, right!" alongside Tyler. I don't buy their smooth stories, either.
So, that's good.
The interaction with Charlie is fine. I think the ending could've played out more naturally, but it's fine for a start. I wasn't surprised by her appearance, though. I'm not convinced this is a mystery per se, but some elements of mystery will keep the story fresh. Telling Tyler he has a visitor and not clarifying who would be better than having the dialogue about his sister. Who else would really come to see him? I'm not surprised, and he shouldn't be, either, not according to the elements you've set up these last six chapters.
Be careful not to give too much away in the dialogue. For example, the line that starts "I took everyone except for my parents and Kylie off the visitation list," could've also stopped there. We have all the information we need from that line. Anything more and the power of the scene begins to bleed out, not to mention the mystery I alluded to a moment ago.
Tyler doesn't have to always say things "coolly." It's fine if he just says things.
Anyway, good chapter. More to come.
| MileyRowling chapter 14 . 3/13
| zippywings chapter 5 . 3/12
The first section is my favorite so far. Here's why:
I'm beginning to see the human elements in the characters for one thing. I like that Johnathan and Margaret show some empathy toward Tyler. By proxy, that allows the reader to feel empathy for Tyler. I also like how the dialogue begins to answer questions in a more natural way. In the last chapter, Tyler had a suspicion that people were sneaking nutrients into his system somehow. Johnathan and Margaret's conversation confirms it. So, you're closing gaps with elements in this section. But I also like the internal conflict they bring to the table. They don't like how the program is performed. Again, that brings some human elements into the story. However, what I find hilarious (and I don't think I'm meant to find this hilarious) is that as soon as they complain about the doctor's horribly dehumanizing methods for prepping his subjects, they deny Tyler his request to go outside. I don't know if it's oversight, character flaw, or just how things work in the prison, but the ironic way they handle the situation is amusing. Shows that even those with complaints don't actually have solutions that work. Is this a commentary on real life? :p
It's not a perfect scene, of course. The conversation runs a little long. You might want to get a feel for the rhythm of the scene and cut it once its point has been made.
The second section is mostly unnecessary, however. I think the core elements we need from the section is how he feels about Charlie, and how he needs to take his meds. Most of the conversation is repetitive information, or repetitive ideas. Oh, and his plan to rebel is fine, but like the first half, the topic goes on far longer than it needs to.
I'd rather see: Tyler: "I will be getting out of this, one way or another." Derek: (shrugs) "Your funeral."
Why? Well, other than Johnathan and Margaret, nobody at this prison seems to have much empathy for anything or anyone, and I'm wondering why Derek seems to be among the exceptions who do care. But more importantly, Derek talks on the nose too much, and he doesn't know when his point has been made. He can care, but he should care more naturally in his dialogue.
Oh, and I think Tyler's internal explanation about why he doesn't want to see Charlie is a bit ham-fisted. Any time you use the word "because" in narration, be aware that you might be telling more than showing. There's a place for it, certainly, but make sure this is the right place for it.
Anyway, the first half is good. The second half is excessive. The ideas in each are fine. On to Chapter 6!
| zippywings chapter 4 . 3/12
I like that we see the beginnings of Tyler's crime spree here, but I'm wondering what's so significant about him starting it on his eighteenth birthday. I also find it unusual that his parents could be living so close to this facility where experiments are being done on criminals, like their son. I guess it isn't unusual to have a prison so close to the populace, and maybe not that unusual for the parents to live close enough to visit. I guess I'm wondering if it's coincidence that they live so close to this experimental punishment prison, if they moved there to be closer to Tyler, if all prisons have something like this going on behind the scenes, etc. It's small, but just something I wondered.
Most of this chapter is fine. I think it gets a little too telling when he starts narrating his thoughts about the treatment in broad strokes. He seems a lot smarter about this prison's secrets than the average person should-"I just knew they were going to turn me into a robot, and here they are, doing just that!" (paraphrased)-which makes me wonder how much mystery this prison actually maintains. Going back to ideas I alluded to in earlier chapters, the character's intuitions, knowledge, etc. should match the logic of him getting tossed into his situation while still explaining it to the reader in a way that measures up to the genre's expectations. I think it's okay that he has suspicions about things, but to have actual suspicions that match actual outcomes devolves some of the prison's mystery and the impact it ultimately has on the character's fate.
But still, it's got the right tension leading into it.
A note about his eating habits: Is he trying to starve himself, or is he simply not hungry? If he's trying to starve himself, then I wonder how much time he still has between the morning he wants to skip his meal to the moment they transform him. If we're seeing the beginnings of the transformation process with this scene, then I don't think his wanting to starve himself is going to accomplish much, as no one starves in a day. Maybe he could deny himself water instead.
Regarding grammar, you said "our parent's expectations" when I think you meant "our parents' expectations." (Second section)
I'll amend this if I think of anything else, but so far so good.
| zippywings chapter 3 . 3/11
I'm gonna go straight to the nitpicks this time since the chapter is structurally fine and holds the story in place:
The opening scene where Tyler comments on the window and then talks about how it's "five-star hotel" compared to what he's used to is disjointed. He still doesn't seem to approve of the room, so I wouldn't expect him to be happy at a five-star hotel considering his viewpoint. I don't know Tyler well enough to decide that this is a fallacy to his character (maybe he hates all hotels), but it does seem like a fallacy to reader understanding (people think of a five-star hotel as a great place to hang out). This is where character attitude shouldn't get in the way of communicating the scene's goal to the reader. The ability to jump out of a window from a place that commits executions anyway isn't a big deal seems like a clash of ideas, especially if this is the nicest place in the prison. I'm a fan of unusual observations like this, but it still has to make sense. What types of illustrations would fit more to Tyler's character? Restaurant to fast-food? New car to rust bucket? I don't know. I guess I don't see the significance of a place that pampers the people it's about to execute. This isn't to say it shouldn't. That's not the point. The point is, I don't know why the scene is dedicated to that observation. Would be nice if the scene ended with a sinister message in the eggs: "Enjoy your last meal," or something to confirm that this is not a five-star hotel.
The big problem I have with the scene is the on-the-nose exposition in the dialogue. I don't mind the banter so much, but the way things are explained to him are too matter-of-fact. I'd rather have this stuff summarized, or explained with action happening. Once the emotional stuff kicks in-"Best not to scare him yet, Carl,: for example-everything feels right in the dialogue world again. Just be careful with how dialogue is used when explaining things.
Speaking of dialogue and explaining things, this isn't a critique, just an observation: When Miss. Rush (is the period intended?) talks about her crime, crashing the car and being charged with its fiery results, she seems really nonchalant about it. Again, not a critique, but it does make her seem like a sociopath that she can explain it so casually. If that's not your intention, you may want to show some remorse in that conversation. Again, be careful with dialogue. Nonverbal cues should be considered here, too. Does she look away when she explains it? Does she smile? That stuff speaks volumes to the reader about character.
Anyway, it's still got strong legs. I'm wondering why these Aitu are so paralyzing.
| zippywings chapter 2 . 3/11
Good chapter overall. Tension definitely ramped up here, even in the flashback scene. Not without a few small issues, but it does the job in keeping the reader interested, which is most important.
After reading the flashback scene, I still wonder if it's better to open the story there than with the first prison scene, which would be fine to follow that flashback scene. I think either can catch the reader's attention, but the flashback at least gives us the human and family elements that the first prison sequence is somewhat weak on. It could probably go either way, but you might want to test at least one version where the flashback happens first, just to see how it affects reader engagement. Sometimes it's a good idea to test the alternative method just to prove that our first instinct is the correct one. :)
Don't forget that something in Chapter 1 should serve as the inciting incident that sets the hero on his journey. Maybe it's the realization that he's going into the program, but I wonder if it's really something that's happened in his past. Just saying.
The old man is clearly trouble in our hero's eyes (in the flashback), but the idea that he gave off this calm is immediately shattered when the main character (Tyler?) snaps at him. We should either see more resistance, or see his intelligence overcome his sense of calm (the man's presence shouldn't be comfortable even if it feels comfortable-that kind of thing). Seems Tyler breaks the spell too easily. If the man is a danger, and I don't know yet that he is, I only know he's a danger by how Tyler acts, not how the old man acts. The biggest hint I have is this "paralysis" that Tyler gets when he's trying to pull Kylie away. I think the scene itself is fine, but could use a little fine-tuning in the interactions between those characters.
The follow-up prison sequence is good. I like that everyone is near riotous when the red-eyed guard shows up. I don't care for how quickly Tyler figures out his fate though. How does he know that becoming a guard is his destiny?
What I DO like is the question it brings up: Just how many experimental outcomes are there at this prison program, if becoming one of the guard's is just one option? (I don't actually need to know the answer to this. The question is good enough.)
Other than that, it's a solid chapter. If your flashback is in Chapter 2 in order to set up the guard's weirdness, that's fine, but the reader can still make the connection if it shows up in Chapter 1. Likewise, a flashback to an event preceding Kylie's meeting with the old man could happen in Chapter 1 to keep the human elements in play before we meet Tyler at the prison. As I said, it might be worth testing. Still a good chapter regardless.
Oh, and your last line should italicize "welcome" since you're referring to it as a word and not as its usage.
| zippywings chapter 1 . 3/8
The writing is good, and the hook is interesting. However, it's hard to see why I need to empathize with the main character. He's about to enter a new program that'll surely kill him. Okay, that's interesting. But why is he going there? Should I feel bad for him or happy for the person who put him there in the first place (he's clearly a criminal based on the setting)? He's melancholy at the beginning and melancholy at the end. What about the chapter's ending is different from the beginning; what about it warrants us going on to the next chapter? Isn't his situation the same? Isn't his mood the same? Has the story moved?
These are all rhetorical questions, of course. I like the character's voice, and the story does seem to know where it wants to go, both good things. I feel somewhat grounded in the scene, even if I don't know why I need to empathize with this guy yet. The conflict seems emotional so far-he won't see his family again-the new sentence will likely kill him. I guess that's enough. It would be for most people, maybe even more than enough. But it's not; not really; not yet.
The hook so far is in the situation, not in the character. So far, this would be the same story if Big Bird were the convict. What's so special about this guy? I wonder if this story should start earlier, maybe as far back as when he committed the crime (if he's a hero, then I'd assume that his crime is justified in some way, or that he has remorse for committing it if it isn't). That way the reader can get a better handle on why this guy's situation is especially awful and why we should empathize with him for reasons other than that nobody should have to lose their family in order to join a program that will kill them. When he enters the program, dies or doesn't die, and goes through his transformation (basing this on the story description, not on the actual thing I've read so far), I want to know why he's the right character for the job. As of now, I know he's a guy who hates his situation and doesn't care much for the people around him. What else?
I'm sure my questions will be answered in later chapters, but the question of "why should I care about this guy?" should be answered right away. I don't know where your story is going yet (I see that there are 12 chapters following this one so far), and perhaps this is the best place to start it. But I wonder if starting it at the scene of his crime is better. You could still get here by Chapter 2 or 3. We wouldn't need much in between. Just something to anchor us to the character so that we understand him better and care more about what's going to happen to him when we get here.
And every scene should somehow end differently than it begins, even if that ending is emotional. The closest thing we've got in this chapter is the realization that he won't see his family again. That's pretty drastic, and a solid contender for the conflict and change in this chapter, especially when he says goodbye to them. I'd rather see more time spent on that moment than any other. That's where you're going to get the most mileage out of the scene so far.
Anyway, good start.
| MileyRowling chapter 13 . 3/6
| DreaLombardi chapter 2 . 3/2
Haha, I was literally off my seat with the suspense mid chapter. Very good effect. I actually like this one better than the first, even though it was a little more brief. I'm not sure if you're into anime or anything of the sort, but this particular chapter reminds me of Deadman Wonderland. It's a good manga in terms of gory/supernatural fighting scenes, but it's definitely prison themed. You should look into it.
I didn't see any major errors in this chapter. You also left a nice cliffhanger, or twist rather in the end of the chapter too, which is always good. Wonder what this death row inmate got himself into now. Keep it up!
| MileyRowling chapter 12 . 2/27
| MileyRowling chapter 9 . 2/13
| MileyRowling chapter 8 . 2/6
| MileyRowling chapter 7 . 1/30