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for The Beginning of Darkness

5/17/2013 c2 11Kay Iscah
In general, you have a good contrast between peace and action here, a nice amount of action and suspense for a first chapter. However, you have a bad habit of restating things multiple times, which slows the pace of the story considerably. I think if you trimmed out all the unnecessary reiteration, you'd have a much smoother chapter.

You could easily construct a good reason why Drew didn't simply jump on his horse and run at the first sight of the monsters, but what you have doesn't make sense. He's at the horse, then attempts to draw them away from the horse, then realizes that was dumb and tries to get back to the horse. Seems like a trained warrior would just acknowledge he was out numbered and run... at the very least retreat, so he can find a more defensible position.

The name Ravyn is tossed out very randomly. I wouldn't bring up someone new smack dab in the middle of intense action unless they were important to that moment.

I'll send you another PM with grammar notes. It's mainly comma and semicolon issues, though there were a few others things here and there. You need to brush up on your punctutation.
5/17/2013 c1 Kay Iscah
This is really long for a prologue. Particularly towards the beginning there's a lot of repetition where the reader is told the same thing over and over in different ways ("her husband and friends think she's hysterical"). I think if you trimmed it down a bit that would help with pacing.

Also you use a LOT of -ing words to get away with longer sentences. That's fine now and then, but I'd look at rewording a lot of those into more active phrases and/or clip any that don't need to be there. There's also a lot of places where you restate things or add information with comma breaks, which again is fine now and then, but it would read smoother if you simply said "and" where appropriate.

Lots of minor grammar issues, I'll send you a PM with those. Overall spelling was good, one or two typos, but that's normal.

It's hard to say if the poem is redundant or not, since I don't know how complex the prophecy is...but if it's possible to shorten it, I'd see if you can make it a little more concise. With prophecy every line should convey new information... no complaints about your poetic form though.
5/2/2013 c1 1k+Faithless Juliet
I thought your opening was a bit long winded for me. It felt a bit jagged and choppy. The first sentence/paragraph/page is notoriously difficult, but I feel like there wasn’t enough of a hook to draw me into the story. I would suggest evening this intro out a bit more.

You give your main character a name – an interesting name, by the way, but you mostly referrer to her as ‘she’ I noticed several sentences that began with ‘she.’ I’m thinking that because this is a third person narrative you should alternate some of those with the characters name. It will even out the narration, and it will flow much smoother.

I really loved how you utilized detail in your scenes. In particular I enjoyed the visual images of the forest, and the landscape around Lenil. I also really enjoyed your creation myth that you used with the earth mother. Another interesting aspect is the druids, although I’m not entirely sure if we are talking Celtic druids, or new age alternate reality druids, your prose could go either way on that, so maybe add a year i.e. 250 B.C. to the top of the page, or something to that effect, to better ground the reader into the scene.

Interesting ending. I have to say that I did not see that plot twist coming. I do think that this idea of seer’s and prophecies has been done a lot in the past, and I really didn’t see a new creative angle here. It just felt like another girl seeing the future destruction of her world. I really wanted *you* to give me something more than that to make this particular story stand out. I did think it was really interesting how you showed the new beginning with Violet’s birth, but names like Feline and Aiden make me think the story is much more current, rather than Pictish characters, so again, you may want to go into that a bit more. Keep up the good work.

Much love,
Juliet.
5/1/2013 c1 1Vagrance
Opening: this is a very vivid start. The description is as poetic as it is depressing.

Characters: the reader can really sense the despair that is within Lenil and how she perceives her peers. You have done a remarkable job in bringing out her emotions.

Style: very heavy and colourful narration. However, I feel there were moments that could do with fewer details so to highlight more important passages.

Writing/grammar:
It was rare fir the Ciúin to be called upon – I think you meant for instead of fir.
"Lenil, calm down," His low baritone assured her – I believe his should be written in lowercase.

Ending: Ah, page break...good to see someone that uses it. Admitted, hope blooming sounded a bit cheesy. Still, I really enjoyed reading this.
5/1/2013 c2 5Dr. Self Destruct
As a quick side note: You may want to go back into your chapters and add some spacing between the paragraphs. Due to how things look on a monitor, and especially because Fiction Press doesn't allow you to indent each paragraph, it'll just make reading a lot easier on the eyes. :)

Writing: While like I said in the last chapter that I overall really enjoy your longer flowing sentences, I found in this chapter there are a few places where some of them seem a little too loaded with action where I become a little overwhelmed and have difficulty picturing what is happening or being described. I'll show you an example:

[In the middle was a slightly shabby seating coach-which she assumed would normally be for guests if they ever did visit-though she used it to set her pad and charcoal on more often than not while she looked out the one window to sketch what she saw when it was too wet outside.]

Since there is so much going on in this sentence, you may want to turn it into two sentences to help with the flow of the action. Here is a suggestion, which you may or may not choose to use or experiment with:

"In the middle was a slightly shabby seating coach - which she assumed was normally for guests if they ever did visit. She often set her pad and charcoal on it while looking out the one window, sketching what she saw when it was too wet to go outside."

Also, I notice you use hyphens instead of EM dashes. I'm not sure what word processor you use, but in order to make an EM dash (it's a longer dash than the hyphen) you'll put two hyphens together linking two words, and it should automatically turn it into an EM dash. Or, if you want to use the hyphen, just put a space between it and each word. Like this: ...seating coach - which she assumed..." because when people don't see spaces on either side of the hyphens, they just assume it's linking the words together into one word when you're really trying to do something else.

But all that nit-picking stuff aside, like I already said before, I really like your longer sentence structure and how you use your appositions, because they always add something to the sentence itself.

Character: I feel like I get a really nice sense of Keelin's character in this chapter, especially during that paragraph where she's noticing how much larger her body has gotten after her growth spurt. I think that's really adorable and endearing, and it made me smile when she was talking about how clumsy she was because she wasn't used to such a big body yet, haha. I think a lot of people can relate to that, and I think you effectively use these specific examples to help show us how old she is without having to come out and just say it. Her personality near the beginning is really showing of her age as well, how she just can't help but want to go get her drawing utensils even when knowing the cat might eat the plants. Which is hilarious, because I have a cat that loves to eat flowers whenever we put them out, which is so weird for a cat, you know? You assume that since they're carnivores they won't be into plants, but nope, they're such little assholes, haha. I also enjoy how attached to her drawing she is - I think you add another layer of depth to her by showing how much she loves it.

Ending: I think that last paragraph might benefit from shaving off some of the sentences or just cutting down on some of the description. I know you're trying to build up suspense or add to the tension, but I feel like it just takes away from the cliff-hanger ending and slows the pacing down way too much. There are a couple things repeated in that last paragraph, so I think just taking that out will really help make the ending leave more of an impact and have a more even pace. I like Keelin's decision to go over and try to help Drew. I think that adds some interesting facets to her personality, because if it was me I'd probably just run. But yeah, a very interesting choice on her part. I'm excited to see what happens and if they make it out of this situation.

Other: The concept of the HhaSsnah is really cool! When I first saw that name in the summary, I'll admit I was at a loss as to how it should be pronounced and I thought it looked kinda funny. But now after seeing it resembles creatures that are very snake-like, I think it fits. It definitely has that hissing sound to it, which I noticed when I first saw it, and a snake immediately came to mind. I really like the depth of description for give of them as well, because I could easily picture them in my head. They really do sound terrifying. I also think they're very unique, because I have reptile-like humans before, but they're usually part lizard or something. Part snake is something really different, and I like how they use their bodies while fighting, like sweeping with their tails and stuff. Now I'm really curious to know who sent them after Keelin. Or are they really after her? Either way, some really nice questions left here at the end to make the reader want to keep reading.

Let me know if you'd like some clarification on anything I said. :)
4/30/2013 c1 Dr. Self Destruct
Writing: Overall I think your writing is very polished and I enjoy the rhythm I get from your longer sentences. Your syntax does a great job altering between long and short sentences, too. You also have some really beautiful imagery, and I enjoy how you usually use metaphors and similes that have to do with nature, since it really fits the overall tone and theme of your characters (the Druids). The only suggestions I have in terms of the writing itself is rather small, just some places where you use passive voice instead of active voice. Utilizing active voice will always give the prose more action and immediacy. You also sometimes impart information that's already implied and doesn't really need to be said, which bogs the pacing down a little bit. It's not a big problem, I noticed it more near the beginning than the end, but I'll show you a couple examples of what I mean and what to look out for when you go back to line edit:

[She closed her eyes against the helpless fury rushing through her at his words,]

The "at his words" I think is already implied information since Aiden just stopped speaking so it's obvious from the first part of the sentence what she's angry at.

[Just through the surrounding canopy of gigantic pines that took her breath away at their size, ]

Since you mention something 'taking her breath away' a couple paragraphs down, maybe just shave off the "that took her breath away at their size" or come up with a different description. Saying they take her breath away doesn't really say anything about the size itself, so perhaps being more specific might help. Honestly I don't think you need to go more specific here since you do a good job of describing just in fact how big they are later down, so I'd just shave off the last part of that sentence.

[Through the window she could see one of the five colossal trees she knew surrounded this small building,]

Here is an example of where some passive voice can be eliminated. Instead of "she could see" you can say "she saw." I only noticed this happen a few times, but again, it's something to look out for when you go back and do minor line edits.

[ scarred and worn from standing since the dawn of time.]

"Since the dawn of time" is a pretty broad description. Maybe giving a specific event that actually marked the dawn of these people's time might give them another layer of reality, making them feel more real because they have their own history. Maybe like "when the first tree split the earth and the animals emerged from its roots" you know, something like that. (Don't use that, it's a terrible example LOL.)

Setting: I really enjoy your description of the setting. The idea of these trees being so big, and the way they're arranged in a pentagram, is really cool. It creates a really nice image inside my head. I also think you did a good job going back and filling in the setting with the table and all that; it really helps ground the reader in the present situation and gives them something to picture. You do a good job not going overboard with the description, too - sometimes just one little concrete thing can give a reader enough of a setting to hold onto and pull them into the story, and I think you have a nice balance of this. Not too much description to bore me, but enough to keep me interested and show me what's important.

Plot: I think you effectively get the board implications of the plot across in this prologue. From my understanding, there's a great evil that was once sealed under the earth. As time passes, that evil slowly rises to the surface, and these Druids are having a meeting on how they want to deal with it. Lanil seems like she wants to run, but the others (especially Aiden) want to stand and fight. Lanil sees only destruction in their future if they do, however. Near the end of the chapter, Lanil has a prophecy about the Shadowmaster's return, and it seems the prophecy itself was so powerful and volatile that it killed her. The very end is a little left open, which is fine, you want to create some type of mystery to keep your reader going, but I think it might imply some type of reincarnation. So yeah, that's my understand of the important information regarding plot that was imparted in this prologue. Just thought I'd recite it to you so you can determine whether or not I got the information you intended. :) I always find that really helpful when people read my stuff.

Character: I get a really strong sense of Lanil in this chapter. I really enjoy opening with all her anger and that comparison to an eggshell is really nice. Although Lanil wants to flee, I still get this sense of strength within her, which is nice. She's obviously making this decision with conscious caution, not just wanting to run because she's a coward. Aiden provides an interesting foil to her. With his character I see kind of the same thing as with Lanil's: he's not stupid, and his decision to stay is made with the belief that they can actually triumph over this shadow lord. Or, you know, it's their duty as Druids to stay behind and fight it. I wonder if giving a little more of the other figures might be something to think about, though, since you mention there's 11 of them in there with her. I wouldn't go so far as to give them names or anything, but maybe have them mutter or nod their heads in agreement to either Lanil or Aiden's words - that way it'll feel like the room is fuller than it really is and those other people aren't just mindless followers.

Overall, good job! Thanks for the read.
4/29/2013 c1 4lookingwest
Opening - I found the beginning of this story a little disorientating at first because we don't exactly get a setting or any concerete nod to where Lenil is positioning herself in regards to the people she's speaking with at first until a few paragraphs in. I think you do a good job opening with this idea of her being very furious and very upset - perhaps more sad than anything until her dialogue, but maybe trying to give us more sensory detail about the setting right away would be helpful. I liked that you drew the reader in right away with emotion, though, it was very raw and right there on the surface, and I could really feel it by the way in which you describe her feeling as something like an eggshell in her hand.

Setting - This kind of bridges into what I was talking about above in regards to concerete setting. I wasn't sure where exactly the members of this council were sitting - if they were like, on a raised platform on a table, or just sitting together at a table - if it was circular or square, or just straight, etc. And then I also wasn't exactly sure what was going on with the tree Druid pentagram, that was unclear whether or not Lenil was inside or outside at that point. I know that everyone is inside though, because you give us the moment where you describe the wind billowing through the curtains (that was good), but then you also describe this ancient center tree the size of a small city and the other trees that surround the outside of the building(?). Was Lenil just visualizing that within her mind? Wasn't 100%.

Character - I think we get a really strong sense of Lenil as a character, and I liked that. I especially liked that she seems like a strong woman character - which hopefully will transfer then to the MC Keelin here at the end. She seemed willing to stand up for good and what she believed in - and I liked that she was standing up to men, especially Aiden who she appeared to have a very sensual connection with, even soul-wise. I really liked the line, "He sobbed out his soul" towards the end - it's very dynamic sense it seems he kind of led her to her death since he didn't want to listen to her. Tragic moment. I also liked how you portrayed Lenil's personality through her anger too, I thought you did a good job showing her connection with the Druids and her background with having a magical connection.

Should Druids be capitalized in this? You capitalize it in the dialogue content, but not in the narrative, is there a reason? I would decide to capitalize it or un-capitalize it, and then I would stick to that.

Plot - This prologue seems like it does a good job setting up the plot for the rest of the story in regards to knowing that these events have led to the transference of magic into Keelin at the end. I think it's clear that we see that concept of rebirth here, and I liked that - it bridges into your summary, I think. Overall I'm still a little disorientated on what exactly was going on, other than the fact that Lenil was arguing against the destruction of the people and some of the world(?) that they inhabit, and the men were telling her that it was a necessary sacrifice(?). Still though, I think it's okay if things are left out - it gives the reader an incentive to move on to find out what happens next and more about your world. I definitely appreciated the magical quality. I liked the Druid inclusion (it kind of reminded me of the BCC show Merlin that was just cancelled this year, haha).
4/25/2013 c1 3Firewind555
Nice chapter-creepy atmosphere. It really held me in.
10/14/2009 c9 26PantherAteCentipede
la deea da dee da. Interesting. Hope you write more soon
10/12/2009 c8 PantherAteCentipede
WHEE! Bryce is awesome!
2/14/2009 c2 CookieMunster715
No more?

Well, that was fabulous.

Update soon!

Cookie, OUT!
2/14/2009 c1 CookieMunster715
Wow!

That was fabulous! And also well written!

Cookie, OUT!
1/20/2009 c2 PantherAteCentipede
Um kiki... you said attached instead of attacked:i. Great story though!
1/14/2009 c1 PantherAteCentipede
WICKED!
1/8/2009 c2 3Keelin N
Very captivating. I have to say I loved the prologue. It was dark and easy to get pulled in. And then seeing in the first chapter (as you had informed me) the character has my name… Yea! I hope you continue with this. I would really like to see how this world evolves.
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