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for Helena

7/14/2012 c1 76The Autumn Queen
I like the mention of selfishness verses selflessness because it is both demonstrating the typical mary sue character and breaking down that cliche with the act of selfishness that you describe, masking it behind selflessness. It raelly shows how important perspectives are in this sort of thing.

TO be honest, I don't really like the music being brought in here, because I feel it was rather forced. I know that was the prompt, but you seem to have forced it in to the story as opposed to doing the more typical thing of working the story around the prompt. If you could pull it off well, it would be spectacular, but I find it personally too jerky. It may be because of the religious reference though; in my own religion, music is the song of the devil, not of god so it simply doesn't work. However, ignoring the religious references, it still seems very sudden and disjointed, despite your attempt to work it in. i would have liked to see a little more of the impact of that music as opposed to the simple action.

Best of luck in the WCC.

Ohana from the Review Marathon (link in profile)
7/4/2012 c1 63RedactedNoLongerWriting
I like how you use the power of music in this story. It's definitely a good tool in cases like Helena's, something I sort of know from experience. I found that very relatable. I also liked Gwen as a character. She wasn't in the story for long, of course, but she was a memorable character. If I have to nitpick anything in this story it's that it's all simply told. There's never really a moment when I think 'oh, this is a scene' rather than 'oh, more narration'. Granted this is a very short story, but it's possible to have a distinct moment in a story this length. Say, for instance, you frame the story around the day the narrator brings the CD in. You could show the narrator sitting in the room, listening to the songs, watching over Helena and then leaving, all the while triggering narratorial explanations of how things got to that point. Just a thought, though, and totally up to you to ignore or implement as you choose.

Good luck in the WCC!
7/2/2012 c1 44professional griefer
This was very sweet. I liked how you talk about Gwen's theory, it gave her some character depth in a very short story.
I thought your description of the accident wasn't impactful enough, I felt it lacked a certain punch that traumatic scenes should have.
I liked how she wrote songs for everyone, too, that gave her character depth.
So the character depth was nice for Helena and Gwen, but not for the guy who's POV you use. I got no sense of character, but then again, this is a really short piece. I just thought since you gave the girls personality you should have given him some.
I really enjoyed this.
I think you have a really good shot at winning the WCC with this:)
(by the way, do you know the My Chemical Romance song Helena? Cuz I thought this was named after it)
7/2/2012 c1 pseudonymsurname
I really liked the hopeful tone in this because, to be honest, from the start I was expecting a depressing ending and so it was nice to find that wasn’t the case. There’s something lovely about the protagonist never giving up on Helena despite even the nurse thinking there’s not much hope.

I also really liked the line: “She could play the piano so beautifully and she often wrote her own music – she said life inspired her.” And how her music is inspired by life and then how her life is brought back by music – there’s a really interesting relationship there.

One thing I didn’t particularly like was the ambiguity over who exactly the narrator is. I would’ve guessed a sister, but “Her little six-year-old sister, Gwen… told me that when I waited with her while her parents were visiting and I'd nearly cried” contradicts this. As it is, the narrator is some unknown entity – I don’t know her (or if it’s even a her, come to that – I assumed) name, how old she is or anything like that. Could maybe make that a bit clearer to help the reader get more immersed into the story.

Things I noticed as I read:

“I was wanting selfish things” Slightly awkward phrasing. Maybe simply ‘I wanted selfish things’. And I’d end the sentence here and start a new one at ‘She would’.

“Helping an old woman who had dropped her shopping in the middle of the road while crossing.” Don’t think you need ‘while crossing’, it’s already implied.

I really liked the repetition technique you use in the moments before the accident. I thought the ‘slowly’ added real impact, which was emphasised by the suddenness of Helena getting hit by the car. There was a really good flow/pace there.

“That would be accompanied by pity all over her face” Something a bit awkward about this line, too – ‘all over her face’.

“The nurse smiled sadly” I’d ditch ‘sadly’.

“I had just begun to leave when I heard a shout.” I’d rearrange this to get rid of ‘had’. Maybe ‘I was walking down the corridor’ or yada, yada.

“She's awake, she'd said.” I’d make this ‘she said’ rather than ‘she’d said’. When writing past-tense, you want to watch using ‘had’ too often when it isn’t definitely necessary. It’s one of those filler words that people get in the habit of using.

Anyway, good job on this and good luck in the WCC :)
7/2/2012 c1 31Who Is This Girl Anyway
Aww, bless her. Gwen's theory is touching, and it's a realistic thing for a child to think of. You don't state specifically how old Helena is, though I imagine about twelvish, but you do give a very clear, consistent picture of her personality.

The way you describe the accident is well done, giving both an example of Helena's personality and how fast the accident was. The use of shorter sentences towards the end of that paragraph was effective too because it's shows that she was too shocked to really muse on it.

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