|Reviews for Protecting You|
| zippywings chapter 12 . 4/21
I like the second half. I'm guessing this is the last time the two siblings see each other before Tyler is caught. I also like that we have a sense of resolution between them. It's somewhat tense, and definitely bittersweet, but it works well for the situation. It also ends appropriately. No suggestions other than to fill in any missing detail we might need.
The first half is a little rougher around the edges. Grammatically, the first paragraph has a number of past participle errors, and there's another typo in the line halfway down that starts with, "I was silent for several minutes..." (You wrote "it" when you meant "if"), and another in the following paragraph when you write, "Fine, but I don't want you to be involved any MOVE than you have to be..."
Regarding the bandaging scene, I have to wonder how either Tyler or Kylie knows how to sew up a wound. I don't think either of them has gone to medical school, and I'm pretty sure neither was a medic in the military. Maybe Tyler knows how to sew wounds thanks to his new job as a paid-for-hire thug, but how does Kylie know how to sew a wound? Is it like sewing a rip in a T-shirt?
Also, the sewing itself moves quickly, too quickly to have any real effect. I don't think the misery Tyler might feel sticking a needle where he's just been injured is really the crux of the scene, but I do think it can be used to ratchet up the emotional tension he might feel having his sister show up at the cave at the one time she should've stayed home. If you're younger sibling walked in while you tried to self-repair an injury sustained from a crime-without antiseptic or painkillers, mind you-then the scene might play out a bit more tense than this does currently.
The scene is generally okay, but could use refining.
| MileyRowling chapter 18 . 4/19
| MileyRowling chapter 17 . 4/11
| zippywings chapter 11 . 4/6
Again, this is okay as a sketch, but the scene needs time to germinate and blossom. You've got a lot going on here. Probably enough to fill two or three chapters. I could see one chapter setting up the crime and ending with the tripped alarm and approach of the sirens (after a few HOURS?), another chapter focusing on Tyler's escape, and a third chapter focusing on him dealing with the wound and trying to regroup his thoughts. Even if they all fit into the same chapter, they all need some considerations to really open up the tension and belief:
1. It's plain to see after the fact that the job is big and dangerous, but the reader doesn't really know what they're doing or what's at stake until after the cops are alerted. So, there's not much tension going into the scene at the beginning. Just obligatory tension based on the narration.
2. When the cops do come, the close call with the jiggling keys at the door sounds too much like deus ex machina to pass off as relief. Fortunately, you recovered when you had him trip over the bomb wires (with his "food"-check your spelling) and land face-to-face with the cops. That's accepting the number one rule of maintaining conflict: putting your character in such danger that no solution is good or simple.
3. We never see him escape. We're only told about it.
4. Back at the cave, he takes the bullet out as if he knows what he's doing, as if the act of removing the bullet isn't as painful or dangerous as the act of receiving the bullet, and there's no sense of misery that follows when the bullet is actually removed.
In each of these cases, you have an opportunity to show the reader what kind of character Tyler is in the face of conflict, authority, and pain. By now, we should empathize with his situations, but it's so hard to feel anything for him when he doesn't seem to feel anything for himself, including the burning pain that comes with having a bullet below his ribs.
Whether you take this story to the next level or scrap it for something else, I do think it'll benefit you to research what things sound like, feel like, etc. when writing for authenticity. Having a library of facts at your disposal will give you more opportunities to put your readers into the heads of your characters better. When we have a narration from a safe distance, we have a harder time empathizing with any of the characters involved. So, when Tyler trips over that wire and lands face-to-face with the cop, we should feel the thud of the floor against the palms of his hands and know the pain of his folly when he closes his eyes at the realization of what he'd just done and agree with him when he says under his breath, "Of course."
Anyway, good start. But zoom in!
Oh, and take the advice of many well-established authors: start the scene as late as possible and end it as early as possible. Only include those moments that move the story forward. I bring this up in case you decide that the setting up the crime isn't important to develop (and chances are it isn't-yet the gravity of what he's doing may make it important).
| zippywings chapter 10 . 4/6
I like this chapter. It accomplishes a lot. It shows what's at stake between him and Charlie. He's lying to her in the first section (something we've already seen him do), but it's plain to see that he can't really lie to her anymore when he's in the prison. The scene doesn't really make a point to draw that out, but it's there. I also like that he's finally starting to let her break through his barriers. It's the beginning of a turning point, which this story needs now. It's been a nice build getting here, but the scenes and actions are all starting to look the same, so seeing something shift in the relationship between them is good.
Regarding the action in the first section, my comments from previous chapters continue. Good idea, but too much of a summary and not enough of an in-your-face play-by-play. I probably don't need to explain it here. Just play out the scene like you're watching a movie. Take note of sensory details. Mention the plates that clatter from surprised guests when he races through the restaurant and causes them to knock something over. Describe the claustrophobia of the kitchen and its countless racks that stand in his way, making it easy for the cooks to karate chop him with whatever tool they're holding. Slow it down, and you might actually give the effect that you're speeding it up.
Good chapter nonetheless.
| MileyRowling chapter 16 . 3/28
| zippywings chapter 9 . 3/26
Section 1: The scene is fine for the most part. A few issues that I'll talk about in a moment, but the core elements are fine: We can see that Tyler will take any job, no questions asked, and he doesn't care how much trouble it could bring him, as long as he isn't foolish about enacting it (something we get a picture of in Section 2). We clearly see that his moral fiber has eroded somewhere along the line, and that his future at the Aitu clinic is assured.
I don't get the point of the first paragraph. He stares at the cave, but then what? In the next section we get a detailed account of how he uses the cave to store his chemistry set, but that's the next section. He stares at the cave, tells us that he should've finished off the weirdo who foreshadows his fate as an Aitu, and then we're off to the next adventure. I don't really care for that paragraph at all. I think we should just be reintroduced to the cave in the next section and not bother with Tyler's feeling about the creepy guy, not here at least. It doesn't add anything to the scene.
The next part of that scene is fine initially. It's mysterious and shady enough that we probably don't want to know what's going on. The stench and the bag are indicators enough that he's doing something highly illegal-not to mention the dumping fines he'd probably get for throwing it into the water if he were caught. The part where he disposes of the bag in the water, however, comes across a bit lazily. What's holding the bag down? Is it watertight? Don't bodies float a few days after a shipwreck? What's keeping this body from floating to the surface? Does Tyler not understand biology and physics enough (or see enough movies) to know that this could happen? I also don't buy the seeming simplicity of dragging something that probably weighs at least 100 pounds without straining, and I definitely don't buy him swimming with it to the deeper parts of the water when it's clearly getting heavier without expending most, if not all of his energy. It would make more sense if he had a canoe or something transporting it to a drop point. There are a number of ways to write the scene in a believable way. I just don't think the current way is that way.
I don't know how I feel about the ending of that section. Do I need to know the client has regret? Maybe. I don't think I want to know who's in the bag, though. There's a point when Tyler's apathy becomes too much, and I don't want to know that he's cool with dumping a client's wife at the bottom of the lake, especially in front of the client. If he's the hero of the story, he should have heroic tendencies, even when FORCED to do something awful. Doesn't seem to me he's being forced into anything here. I think there needs to be more emotional conflict here. Or, let us see his moral erosion earlier, rather than hint at it through story snippets.
Section 2: I like this scene much more than the last one. I like that Tyler is coming up with business terms and standing defiant in the face of insanity. But I don't like the line "It also would probably end with me getting jumped some night in the near future." This goes back to my earlier comments about explaining away the emotional impact the scene would have otherwise. Just let the scene be what it is. Save the commentary for the special edition.
Is the chemistry job deliberately mysterious? I'm taking it in faith that this will be further shown as relevant in future chapters. But, it looks like this is his first "job." I'm still trying to decide how I feel about all the timeline jumping we're doing here. So far, I'm keeping up, so it's fine for now. It does make me wonder what he's doing in there, and why he's doing it.
| zippywings chapter 8 . 3/26
Section 1: Decent display of Tyler and Charlie's relationship prior to "the bad stuff." Not even done with high school yet and she wants him committed to her and he's okay with lying to her. Nothing unusual there. :p
But again, it's too talky, not enough do-y. Rather than Tyler silently narrate his deception to the reader, we should just see him at home alone in the next scene. Make it obvious that he's lying to Charlie without outright telling us. Or, better yet, show him going home to an empty house and planning his time away from everyone. Either way, don't let this fall flat by narrating twists. We should see the turns in action.
Section 2: No real problems here. Good section. I still don't care for his "explaining" in the midst of action. I'd rather see the action played out from the point of view of a character who's got so much adrenaline pumping through his system that he can't think long enough to ponder or explain anything. But the scene itself is fine. At least the idea of it is fine. Needs polish, of course.
Section 3: I'm of mixed opinion on this section. The idea is fine, and I think it ends strong with a killer last line. But you open with a narrative that basically plays itself out in the action, so a.) it's redundant and b.) the narration steals away the power that the action could've given us. But like I said, it ends well.
I think we need to know more about David going into this scene, especially if he shows up later (though, I don't know if he will, or if he needs to). I don't fear him, and I don't fear for Tyler based on the narrative alone. Again, explaining things takes away the power of emotion that the actions in the scene would add. I don't think you need to go overboard here, especially if David is a one-and-done character. You still want to stick to the main focus of your story. But do what you can to engage the reader's emotion in this section. Explanations are the robbers of emotions. Show the important stuff in action. You can narrate the bridges in between. I think we need a better introduction to David (without explaining things) so that we know the risk of failure without Tyler having to tell us what failing means.
Section 4: The reflection here makes me wonder if David should be the villain of the story, and if Tyler should seek his revenge for putting him in here. But, of course, the explaining makes me unsure where this is going, if David is just the backstory to give Tyler another thing to complain about. I don't know.
Anyway, on to Chapter 9!
| 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.