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for Avian

11/12/2016 c1 13alltheeagles
A tight, exciting start that draws me in to read more. There's a lot for me to like about your writing, but I'll start off with two main things.
I like your narrating voice. It's definitely formal, not modern slangy teen-speak, but that fits the subject matter well, so it's a plus point for me. I have a pet hate of stories in medieval fantasy settings but the characters talk like they're right out of HSM.
I like your characters. You've fleshed out the MC a lot in this short chapter, while not neglecting the other characters. In particular, your descriptions of physical appearance are very well done. It's always a risk (for me) to introduce a whole bunch of characters all at once, but in this case, I'd say it isn't too much.
10/31/2016 c1 4lookingwest
The "five days because" line and even the Avian warning was the only one in the opening scene that felt out of place / a little unnatural - only there to "tell" the reader - because I feel like everyone listening to the Chief would already know the score on those things. I don't think at this point that's something the reader needs to know, either, so it could probably just be cut (for now) and repurposed at a different point so it slides in a bit more natural. Though the narrative voice is in first person, Leetha still feels reliable enough to even tell us that information later in her own narrative voice, too.

I feel like the attack/convulsing end scene could be expanded a bit more. It only gets four paragraphs and the emotion in the first person feels a bit dulled - I know that Leetha isn't this kid's best friend or anything, but her emotion on the scene feels strange given this is her first hunt. She is quick to kill him and quick to justify it. She has no qualms. This means she has had to make these decisions before (if not, consider revising). Even though she is shown here as being tough and no-nonsense, even perhaps emotionless about such a bloody scene - I still want a bit more emotion from her. Lingering on the pull back of the arrow - the aiming motion, what she sees. If she is cold and calculated, show she is cold and calculated with her shot. Right now this feels a bit rushed. If Kalleb is the type that doesn't agree, should he shout at her? attempt to interrupt? where are the elders during this scene? Expand a tad bit!

I'm really enjoying the world you're setting up here. Great descriptions of the mountains and the temperatures - I felt that all was convincing. The "Sixty Days" thing made me think of Game of Thrones.

Very curious about these Avians, which apparently people can turn into! I'm all for bird-themes, haha. Have you read Updraft by Fran Wilde? I highly recommend it if you haven't - it feels right up your alley! I think you do a great job setting up the stakes for Leetha, especially. Her brother actually seems pretty crafty and cold the way you characterized him, esp. with the eye color description (which I loved) - I was a bit surprised he was so forgiving at the end considering Leetha calls him sly more than once - but I think you're setting up a very unique character relationship and I really like the brother/sister stakes with the Chief position.

Sensing a bit of Updraft, Hunger Games, GoT, and even supernatural elements (werewolves, vampires) twists here! I'm hooked! Congratulations on winning this month's WCC! You're on a streak, woo!
10/1/2016 c2 2R.M.Spencer
"Kaleb is my tent", awesome first line. Him moving his finger up from her mouth was initially confusing but I absolutely loved it once I read the next sentence.

Renkarr and Veek's attack outside (?) the tent was a bit unclear. I know that scenes like this are supposed to be chaotic and confusing, but I had a hard time following it. What's going in inside the tent vs. outside, Leetha tries to tell Renkarr not to shoot, but Kaleb started shooting straight off. It needed just a little more detail for clarification I think.

There was one sentence that i thought could use reworking. I'd suggest something like: "musky skins pooled with the smell of dried meats and rotting teeth"

When you said Kaleb aimed at Renkarr I initially assumed you meant a weapon, not a question.

Describing the Hand as "known for rattling when woken" was very poignant. Like the mountain has a life of its own. It ups the sense of danger and a hostile environment.

The action and pacing of the story continue to be impressive. Renkarr's axe to the boot and the boot to his head that followed were a surprise and I was compelling drawn in. The details of her flight toward the arrows actually had my heart racing.

Another excellent chapter. The imagery is so rich and unique. The few critiques I had were small, nitpicky things for the most part.
9/29/2016 c2 17whispers of lowlit flames
Congrats again on your WCC win!

OPENING: Interesting place to start, but I think the humour of the first paragraph offsets the mood a little, considering the dead...actually, what species are they? Human? in the last chapter and the follow-up of that. They're in the midst of a horrific scene still, and you don't quite capture that at the beginning, and it makes the dialogue that follows seem a little distant as well. Circumstance wise, it's an interesting place to start with. There's multiple tensions there: Kalleb and Leetha, the bodies in the cave, and now their discovery. And the hunt that overshadows it all. I think you can bring it out a little better, but the concept is quite powerful.

NARRATIVE: Leetha's voice is a little slower in this chapter, cleverly reflecting the "morning after" scene. There are more buffer words, less contractions etc. The shift in speed is almost poetic, except it follows into the action scenes as well. For example: "The arrows stop, but I hesitate, for fear..." - that meanders a little for what's effectively a screeching halt as far as actions go, and later when the body falls from the sky and the avians attack. It meanders a little before Leetha trips. I'd recommend trimming the sentences a little. Take out things like "I think" which add little to the overall narration and "suddenly" which is implied in the action that follows to tighten it up. Once the hunter reflexes kick in, the writing becomes tighter and more solid in reflecting the battle scene. Aside from that, I'm amused at "strange sight" - particularly because Leetha's got no weapon specifically focused on her at the time either, making her a somewhat impartial observer. Also amusing is the observation of Veek Turek - and nicely placed as well. Clever way to sneak in a physical description without making it sound like for the purposes of the reader. :)

RELATIONSHIPs: More introduced. Renk and Veek, Kalleb and Renk, and more food for thought between Leetha and Kalleb as well. Particularly like the liking to the fox, and interesting how the fox is a ground animal and hunter at that. A sly animal by metaphor, but I wonder if your choice of that has more to it: it's less effective for Kalleb if he's an antagonist since Leetha's so suspicious of him from the offset, which implies she's mistaken about him and that wouldn't be the first thing that implies it either. And funny how she doesn't seem to be too concerned about having spent the night with him in a creepy cave, but also happy enough to leave when the opportunity arises. Shows self-preservation, but coldness as well - either she expects Kalleb will have no trouble on his own, will follow, or hopes he is hindered or hurt. As for the others, we get a solid amount on Veek which is interesting, considering how he's introduced. He must think well of Leetha, to engage her in conversation. Or maybe he's respecting Renk's opinion. I am surprised not to see more of Renk before the reveal though, since he seemed to be the defacto leader. But the atmosphere does suddenly change there.

And we learn a little about the avians as well, but I wonder if you can sneak in a little as to why the two species fight each other, if it doesn't crop up in the final part. Just to tighten up the context.

I am a little confused about the Haytos' brothers though. Are they avians? If so, why does Leetha know them by name. That implies they were human once, which in turn implies they can be turned (kinda vampiresque :D), but the correlation's not particularly clear. Wonder if it's explained in the third part.

SETTING: More beautiful descriptions, though this time there's a little exposition. "We have to step carefully here" sounds like Leetha's telling someone, but outside of dialogue, it implies she's telling us, the readers. On the other hand, I love how we get to visualise the western face as well, despite not physically visiting it. I also like how the snow plays a role in the battle, and learning more about snow while I'm at it (it never snows here :(). I love how "the snow has inhaled me" - clever wording, and nicely showing the amount of snow as well. Also like how you describe the scene as Leetha runs: it's blurring to indicate her speed and full of the fight, but the snow and the mountain is still there and not forgotten.
9/19/2016 c1 9Sjoorm
Writing: I've never been a huge fan of present tense myself just because it is always awkward to convey anything that has happened in the past when you are using present tense. The same has to be said here for this story unfortunately, example being "pinned to the cave wall" unless you meant that to be in present and it just happened to come out as past tense.

Beginning: You create some great visuals of where the main character lives with your low mountains and deep snowdrifts that convey a foreboding atmosphere, bleak and desolate in the far reaches of the north. That being said, I dislike your description of her bow as a "horizontal" bow, when it could easily be described as a crossbow, a longbow, a shortbow, a recurve bow etc. It's needlessly trying to create a new vocabulary for something that has a dozen adjectives for it already.

Scene: One thing that stood out to me was how Myka's daughters were pinned to the cave wall with spears through their arms (yes I know coming back to this sentence). Unless these people are incredibly advanced (which they clearly aren't) I find it difficult to believe that the edges to their spears, or even the material they used to make said spears is strong enough to withstand a blow that is so hard it pins them through their skin, their bones, and into the solid rock behind them without shattering into pieces. I don't see it happening, myself.

Ending: You give the reader some sharp imagery with the bodies searing in Leetha's brain, tattooing her memory forever I would assume, and then with her dreams of an Avian above all else, something she wants to kill, needs to kill now that her tribesmen have been harmed yet again. It's powerful, and the only thing I see wrong would be to change "colours" in the final sentence to "colour".

Good job all in all Victoria, always a pleasure reading your stories :)
9/19/2016 c1 2R.M.Spencer
I really like the world you have created. It is so unique, and even though I felt like I was freezing the entire time I was reading it (which is a good thing!), it was refreshing to read something different from the norm. The descriptions are well done and generate a clear, crisp picture in my mind which, is more difficult than it seems.

The setting, with the snow and the mountains, also enhances the sense of mystery and unknown danger that you have portrayed so well. I really want to know exactly what an avian is and how Kaleb could be one. And why Leetha is so convinced he is.

I can't decide how I feel about the narrative style of the first two paragraphs. In some ways I like the second person. It contributes to the tone of the piece and the culture and tribal mindset of the characters. It also brings the reader directly into the story in a more personal way. However, as it is so uncommonly used it is a bit jarring and some readers may find it off putting. I'm curious too, about the fact that the first thing the reader experiences is flying. It creates a connection to the avian, even though they turn out to be the enemy and I am not yet sure if that is a good or a bad thing.
9/15/2016 c3 Will9035
Well damn. That was a heck of a downer to end the story on. So the story starts off with a hunt in the mountains, and it culminates with Leetha unwittingly killing her own father despite Kalleb screaming at her not to? I must say, that was not something that I was expecting. So now I take it that we’re ending with the impression of Kalleb getting ready to kill Leetha. Is it because she’s turning into an Avian herself, or to avenge their father? Was that meant to be open-ended?

Either way, that was a genuinely sad way to end the story. You captured the emotions very well when it mattered the absolute most. Job well done.

I loved the line at the start—“Allies are just a cry to get stabbed or strangled.” That summed up Leetha beautifully. You also captured the sensation of falling a very long distance well, too. I’m not sure how Leetha would be able to keep that calm while she was falling, but I guess that’s a testament to her upbringing. She seemed pretty ready to accept that a seemingly inevitable death like that is a common part of being a hunter.

I just have one question: why are these people so intent on hunting Avians if the Avians can potentially be people? More so, how exactly does one become an Avian? (Sorry if you explained that in your first chapter and I missed it) And why did no one tell Leetha that her father was an alpha? I doubt she would’ve killed him if she thought there was even the slightest chance she was related to it, especially after it just saved her. The decision to kill it seemed incredibly rash, considering how clear-minded Leetha had been over the course of the story.

But I suppose she could’ve just been hyped up from almost falling to her death. And even if some things about this story don’t make sense to me, this was a genuinely sad way to end it and your writing was much more readable during chapters 2 and 3.
9/12/2016 c2 Will9035
I see you heeded some other comments about toning down on the description. This chapter was considerably easier to follow and understand than the last one, so good on you for taking comments to heart and improving your story with them.

I did enjoy that battle sequence at the end, especially the bit about Yanek having the arrow go flying up his nose just as he was about to bring down the axe. Very graphic, but very well done.
Some observations:

It was a bit jarring to have lines that are elegant like, “More swills of arrows follow, and the swift sound of someone lunging towards us” and then immediately have the next sentence say very bluntly, “…leaving the tent with an arrow in my skull.” The juxtaposition was a bit awkward.

“The Hand is a kind, flat climb, and the air is clear and the snow blizzard-deep over the permafrost but endurable, yet Renk uses his spear as a stick.” That is a long and awkward sentence, plus I’m not sure I get what you’re trying to convey with Renk.

A sentence later, though: “…his red, puffy face and the sagging of his spine…Yet he is swift, determined, as though he could far outpace us if he wanted to.” Very well-written imagery right there. (The “but chooses not to” bit at the end was unnecessary, though.)

I liked the explanation we got for the Avians here: “They have a human’s intelligence skewed behind animalistic senses and instinct.” That’s the sort of imagery I was looking for in chapter one!

I enjoyed the little monologue that Leetha goes on when she talks about how she will either die on the mountain or bring back the corpse of the Avian alpha, and how she’ll prove herself. The determination came through. But this is immediately followed up with, “Suddenly I trip.” That kind of ruined the mood. Or was that the whole point?

“Shooting, loading, shooting, loading, in a terrifying rhythm.” That part was very evocative. Well done!

A bit of advice: you were fond of using “red” to describe the blood/corpses. That’s perfectly good, but it got a little repetitive. Maybe use some other terms for red, like “crimson” or “vermillion” just for a little variety?

Lastly, I’m a bit curious as to why you wrote this in present-tense. Was there a specific reason behind that?
9/9/2016 c1 1ScarletD
Excellent story telling, every scene seems to flow seamlessly into the next. The introduction was wonderful and placed you right into the story, which was illustrated wonderfully by your very beautiful and poetic writing style. The plot itself is interesting and unique, as well. Your character descriptions are striking and very effective in the sense that they allow the reader's imagination to conjure up the people you've constructed with ease. However, I do have one word of advice; I think it would be beneficial in demonstrating the personality/emotion of the characters if you described their gestures/facial expressions a bit more when they are speaking. Regardless, this was amazing. You're an incredibly talented writer. :)
9/8/2016 c1 10Silent Will
Well there’s no question you can write, but unfortunately I found myself a little confused by the end of this first chapter. Your descriptions, as vivid and well-written as they were, distracted me from the story. So from what I gathered, Leetha, Kalleb, and a few other hunters are on a mission to become chief, and doing so requires them to kill an “alpha” Avian? Is that what’s happening here?

Since the story is named “Avian,” I’m assuming they will be important, but I was confused at the end of this first chapter. I got the vibes that Avians were human-shaped, but had feathers and could presumably fly. Why are Avians hunted? Obviously they’re a separate race from humans—is there bad blood between them? Are Avians just threats, kind of like poisonous snakes? If that was explained, I feel like it got lost somewhere.

I was also constantly confused by references to other creatures (like the rykox). When writing a story in a fantasy-setting, having something more relatable to grasp onto would have been helpful. The constant bombardment of unusual names, fictional creatures, and the at times overbearing descriptions made it difficult to follow what was happening.

I’m not saying this isn’t a good story; it’s just a bit difficult to follow. You’ve shown that you can write description really well; just don’t overdo it in later chapters and this could turn into a great work.
9/5/2016 c1 2Team Wingless
I get what you're going for with the literary hook, but I'm just not "getting" it. Reeks of trying too hard, and uses simple description words to create a complexed picture that ultimately falls through. I'd pass.

You could just start off with "My tribe resides in the Bleakened Mountain Range..." It would be catchy and less melodramatic.

When you describe your father's throat as dry when he talks though, it evokes such vivid imagery that I love it. Those are subtleties that aren't overblown or purple.

The dialogue about the hunt implies something important, but the tone is rather pompous and higher-than-thou, also it's random and out in the open. There's also too much description between dialogue lines so that I can't see the actual picture of what's going on. Cluttering.

The Frozen Altar sounds kinda cool, kinda wish you would have started here. There's just so much internal monologue though that I'm ultimately uninterested, and reading this is such a chore. How about just describe what happens? I really could care less about her "voice."

It sounds like you're going for some sort of Hunger Games-esque type competition, but again, there's too much description to make this gritty and on the edge of my seat kind of exciting.

A suggestion I can make is when you describe actions, don't use "and" to link two actions together bc it stops the flow, use a comma and then stick an "ing" after the second action.

Another thing I didn't get was a clear picture of the Avians. Not sure if they're people or birds or some combination of both. This is why too much description is ultimately no description. There's so much paint on the canvas that I can't see any shapes. Really slim this down.

The ending was intense but my same critiques still apply.
8/26/2016 c1 9TheBeastlyPrincess
Firstly I would like to say you are my idol. I can't stand how good you are at writing. I am seriously envious! now let me review this unique masterpiece..:P

I adore the adjectives you used in the first paragraph. They are unusual, for example you say: "Thrusts of northern air." Thrusts is a very interesting way to describe it. It gives me a picture of an odd place, your adjectives are simple, but they give me a nice fantastical picture. I really like it.

I am also extremely envious of your ability to world build. You set the stage so quickly and so well. I don't wonder about anything, I'm just like: this is my new favorite fantasy world. Everybody shut up.

Haha it is very hard for me to say things I dislike about this piece, I don't know if you have ever run into the problem of having to review a writers work that is far above your own. I am in serious awe. My favorite line is "Makes us forget who we are." I wonder, did you take a while to write this? Or did you just go ahead and do it? either way I am still in awe of this piece, the dialogue is awesome, there's no forced exposition. It's all there.

(Embaressingly all I have done is praise you, I'm sorry!)
8/23/2016 c1 9TotoDaDog
Hi! I really liked this, first of all!

I loved the description at the beginning of the chapter. I just loved the way you started it on general. "And you will find us." I love it, it sounds so mysterious! Great wording :)

Also, "Swoop closer, closer in." I love how you make the reader sound like a bird. It's so fun to read, it makes me excited!

also I love the way you describe the main character, "I am the one with..etc" IT's a great way to introduce what the main character looks like!

Anyway, great chapter. Loved it! can't wait to read more.
8/16/2016 c1 17whispers of lowlit flames
OPENING: Interesting approach. Initially, the first paragraph sounds like a fable or even poetic prose, but the last bit winds up so forward and frank that it turns something abstract into pins on a map. And the paragraph is short/compact enough to let that effect work as well. “like placed pebbles” makes the mountains sound rather artificial though – was that your intention with that? In any case, the smoothness of those mountains contrasts sharply with “That shard in the distance” in the next paragraph.

DESCRIPTIONS: you have an interesting mix of painting and frank statements. Sometimes, like the first paragraph, it works quite effectively, but the description of the bow meanders a little, and seems oddly placed as well. Is it relevant so early that the horizontal bow is the only effective weapon when there’s no hint of its rarity/commonality? That’s something that can become a conflict point in history or later own the track. There’s an interesting mix of external and internal descriptions as well: the narrator’s emotions versing their description of the outside world. A few odd phrases, eg. “[the wind is] so bitter I can hardly open my eyes” – taste and eyes? While the reflex of mouth scrunching and eye scrunching is supplied by the same nerve, opening eyes is a completely different one and far less related. Face scrunchings I can expect with bitter tastes, but eyes are less related.

CHARACTER/RELATIONSHIPS: Leetha comes across interestingly, in part due to her attention to the detail of her surrounds and also the tone she gives off. In some parts, she seems quite vain, but perhaps she has a right to be if Avian kills are as rare as they sound. On the other hand, she also seems to be well-aware of herself. Despite her descriptions, she’s more or less concise and she describes even her own emotions clearly and vividly even in the midst of a powerful emotional state like with the mention of Kalleb. The other characters are understandably less clear, particularly since we see them through Leetha’s eyes, but I find her father particularly unclear. I don’t know if the use of “Father” is formal or simply a trait of the world/society they live in (one of the downsides of high fantasy). Also don’t know quite where their relationship sits; we barely see anything before Leetha is angry and that colours the rest of the scene. He is far more clear in his chief role, and I dunno if that’s a side-effect of Leetha’s raw anger in the earlier scene, or reflecting the distance in their relationship. Leetha’s relationship with Kalleb is interesting as well – the raw anger from before and yet she doesn’t try very hard to lose him, nor does she attempt to shoot him immediately as her father seemed to suggest, or even when she reflects a bit and explains her wariness. Leetha’s strength comes through nicely too: in different ways, holding her tongue, bearing Kalleb’s company, the ellipses in the second last scene as opposed to a dash… And yet she’s not infallible, as shown when she loses her temper, when she admits her weakness before/during the blizzard, and the final scene where her thoughts lose a bit of their coherency. You’ve rounded her out nicely.
ENDING: interesting that you’ve chosen to end with a dream, leaving us uncertain as to whether that’s a prediction or simple fears which will be proven wrong – but as it’s the first part of a three part piece, I’m leaning to premonition there. :) As the final bit, it functions as both a summary and a preview as to what’s coming next (or her own fears). Skies/eyes makes for a nice pseudo-rhyme, though it throws off the pause a little in my mind. If it were a poem, I’d suggest trying “mineral-blue eyes” as opposed to “eyes of mineral-blue”, but depending on the effect you’re going for, either/or could work. “eyes of mineral blue”, despite the extra word, winds up punchier – but then, she is in the middle of a dream and isn’t going to wake up this scene.
8/13/2016 c3 1britabab
Wow, this had me hooked right from thr get go and the end was tragic and what a way to turn it around completely, Kalleb wasnt an Avian, she was. Also, you dont do a lot of describing of an Avian, and if Avians are bad why did the dad save them, I get they are his kids and all, but certain parts dont make much sense to me. Why were some white and others black? Also, loved the imagery here, your wording and word choices were wonderful to read. Loved this.
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