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11/24/2010 c2 34Gatha
There's a few grammatical and wording issues but nothing major. I like where the story is going but you got there a bit fast. I've had the problem of rushing to the good part myself and it weakens the story. The reader can tell you don't really care about introducing the story so they don't care much either. But it's important that you setup the setting as if your characters will be spending most of the novel there. It allows the reader to be thrust into a new situation with the protagonist so they feel as disoriented as the character(s).

For example, if the Wizard of Oz started with Dorothy doing dishes, mentioning her family, then getting hit by a tornado the change wouldn't be as dramatic as when you've spent a fair bit of time in her world experiencing her problems. Similarily, Pyscho started out looking like it was about a woman who was stealing something for a client (I think) and very much our protagonist only to be killed half an hour, an hour into the movie. Expectations were created then shattered. Here, there are no expectations. We know as little about Lettie's world as we do the one she's going into so we aren't invested enough to wonder at what's going on.

Try writing the intro as an ordinary day in your life plus the book. You may even find points where Lettie's home can resonate with the world in the book much as Dorothy's life was mirrored in Oz.
11/19/2010 c1 Gatha
If Lettie isn't full of herself or a tease I'd recommend cutting back some parts. First, once she has introduced herself she should never tell us her name again. It makes it sound like she thinks the world revolves around her. And cut back on things like "utterly irrelevant to the story", "can't tell you why just yet", and "Not that I knew there was a story", unless, of course, she is a tease or you set the reader up as someone dying to know, like a biographer or someone we meet at the end of the story who wants to know the beginning. For the rest of us, it takes up time and provides us with nothing.

If gateways aren't important at all why mention them? And if they do have some significance why are they being dismissed? If they will come into play later then just have the mention of gateways and leave it at that as though everyone knows what they are so why bother explaining.

Saying "can't tell you just yet" is a major tease that could just as easily have been "keep that in mind", which would avoid the smugness of knowing more than the audience. Again, that's fine if that's what Lettie's like but we've been given nothing definate to show that. If you started out "So you want to hear my story? I'm not surprised" or "I'm going to tell you a story that not many people hear. You should be thankful" then we'd know she's enjoying herself. As it is, I was expecting to be thrown right into the story, with her either giving examples of strangeness or, having said that, how that makes what is currently happening so damn weird.

Also, brackets don't usually work well in 1st person unless it's an actual break in the story, like "it was the 2nd worst day of my life (the 1st being...)". Though even then brackets are unnecessary.

You really need to cut back on breaking the fourth wall. It just highlights that we aren't being told the whole story yet.

Why is she addressing her past self? She's talking to us. How would it sound to you if someone was reminiscing then started talking to their younger self? Chances are you'd think they're off their rocker.

If you're using a lot commas you may want to consider turning that sentence into several.

If dialogue is not important don't just throw it in. You can simply say "We said hi to each other then he sat down and started studying." This way we don't ask why they aren't saying any more or where the dialogue is in the rest of the story.

You overemphasis this taking place in the past, they're being kids, and Toby never being early. Saying it once will suffice. Sometimes twice if you are really trying to drive in the importance of something.

Toby should be introduced when he shows up. Doing it later says you can't be bothered to make it fit when it should.

The brackets around pigtails are a good example of when they should be used. You can replace some of the 'and's with commas in this sentence though. And again, "so I thought" is enough. You don't need o tell us it was "back then" we know she's talking about the past.

I am interested to see what the book is exactly and, since it's probably a fantasy, why it is so out of place. It reminds me a bit of The Giver so I'm assuming most forms of creativity are stiffled. But you really need to tell us why the book draws her early on. That it's the only hardcover is a good start but it sounds like she never saw anything remotely like it. Why? What does she usually see? Does she live in a small town without a bookstore so they're's little fiction around? Are the only books allowed non-fiction? Given the gateway comment, is this a post-magic world and what she's reading an actual history? You need to give us some background so we can properly respond to the situation.

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