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CaptainWilliam
September 25th, 2010, 10:38 PM
This is an excerpt from the novel that I'm writing right now, I hope you like it. (I'm hoping for a good critique.)


FEAR ABANDONED


Two more days of school left, I tried to tell myself, rolling out of bed. My mother was the one to wake me up this morning; she is my only alarm since my clock went on the fritz. The clothes she was wearing frightened me, it was a nightgown that had frogs, and lily pads all over it, and her slippers were bunny-fied. The typical corny mom thing she likes to wear. I’m sure you want me to introduce myself and that other stuff. My name is SAMANTHA SMARAGD, Private Eye, and if you’re wondering, Smaragd is Greek for emerald, and I’m not by any means, Italian. Well any way, I’m a sixteen year old, five-foot-four female with black hair, green eyes, and a flat chest. I don’t eat anything that is included in the pyramid of junk, or anything in the lines of vegetables, but I will eat fruit any old day. Your probably thinking I’m some girl with emotional problems by now, well I will start off by telling you that, I’m not some girl that cries a lot. Detectives don’t cry, but we do have emotions.

“Well, are you going to school or not?”

I looked at her with tired eyes and nodded. “I’m getting up now.” I looked around my room trying to find a pair of clean pants, and maybe a shirt with no stains on it. There was nothing, just a pair of pants with a hole in the crotch and a shirt with splotches of bleach on it; I wore it three days ago, and it probably smells of sweat from having no deodorant that day. I opened my closet and searched through my assortment of hanging clothes.

“Green and black… My favorite colors.”

There was a knock at the door, and a soft humming. The humming grew louder for every second that went by.

“Come on Sam, you’re going to be late.”

I sat on my bed and slid both feet into my pants and pulled them up, then slipped on my shirt that had no stains, but a small hole in one of my armpits. I took a moment to examine the hole; it was going to get bigger if I didn’t patch it soon. Soon was a word I used quite often, but it always turns into later or never. The sun was finally shining through my window, and I could see other kids making their way to the school. “Alright mom, I’m done.”

“Your lunch is on the kitchen table; just grab a paper bag on the way out the door honey.”

I closed my closet, and reached for the door knob looking at my room one more time before closing it. The wall facing the foot of my bed was my special place to go when things got tough. I reminisced about all of the items on the wall, the poster I bought at the local store; it was Pat Benetar holding a microphone in the air, the painting of the black stallion my friend Stacy painted for me, it was a gloomy looking painting with rain and lightning. All of my friends hung things that were special to them, like a pair of worn out ‘Chuck Taylor All Stars’, Pam had worn them for three years, and won a cross country race wearing them. Rita hung her favorite baseball cap, and the picture of her and me building a sand castle at a beach in Florida.

“Don’t forget the juice money on the end table!”

I hadn’t even left my room yet and she was telling me to remember things; my eyes averted from my wall to the empty hallway in front of me. It wasn’t a very wide hallway, but how many hallways have you seen wider than three-feet. I stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind me, and started walking towards the living room. The hallway walls weren’t empty, they had some pictures of me as a child, and some had my friends in them, but most of them were pictures of me. I made my way into the living room, and stepped on a squeaker that was left out from last night. “Stupid dog,” I muttered under my breath.”

“Is that you honey?”

My mother again, sounds like she might be in the kitchen or maybe in her bathroom getting ready for work. I looked down at the end table and counted the change, there wasn’t enough of course, and I’m always off by a few cents. “Mom I’m ten cents off from buying juice, can I get it out of the change jar in your room!” I had to yell in order for her to hear me in the room that she was in. Hell I had to yell at her most of the time, she can’t hear half the time. My focus on the change was broken by the sound of a dog chasing a car; it was a medium sized pit-bull with no collar, and the car was moving at the speed of molasses.

Bruno Spatola
September 26th, 2010, 01:25 AM
Hey Captain William, some things I picked up on. Some you can put down to personal preference, but I thought I'd mention everything that stuck out to me.

and her slippers were bunny-fied. -- I'd say bunnified not bunny-fied. Seems a little odd either way.

My name is SAMANTHA SMARAGD -- Why is that in cap's?

Smaragd is Greek for emerald, and I’m not by any means, Italian. -- I'm confused, what does that mean exactly?

Well any way, I’m a sixteen year old, five-foot-four female with black hair, green eyes, and a flat chest. -- You just described her as if it were an all-points bulletin. I'd prefer to form my own idea of her appearance over time, this just tells me what she looks like far too quickly.

or anything in the lines of vegetables, but I will eat fruit any old day. -- Doesn't make sense. I'd say or anything close to a vegetable, but I'll eat fruit any day, something like that. Either way, what she eats or likes to eat is of no importance to me. If it adds something to the story, like particularly bad food in a local diner, or a love of liquorice since child-hood, that's fine, but it feels unnecessary here.

Your probably thinking I’m some girl with emotional problems by now, well I will start off by telling you that, I’m not some girl that cries a lot. -- It's you're not your. There was nothing to give me the impression Samantha had emotional problems, why would I think that? I barely know her yet. Also, I'm not some girl that cries a lot, personally, tells me nothing about her.

“Green and black… My favorite colors.” -- This felt null. What her favourite colours are doesn't help me if it leads to nowhere. Just felt like filler. Does she like green because her surname means emerald and her eyes are green? That's the only link I can find, but it still feels pointless. Also, no capital letter after an ellipsis.

I sat on my bed and slid both feet into my pants and pulled them up, then slipped on my shirt that had no stains, but a small hole in one of my armpits. -- I thought she couldn't find anything? At what point did she find something to wear? She looked around a bit, found nothing, and then suddenly she's on the bed getting dressed. These clothes have appeared out of nowhere, it's not coherent.

Soon was a word I used quite often, but it always turns into later or never. -- You switch tenses often. I'd say but it always turned into later or never.

“Your lunch is on the kitchen table; just grab a paper bag on the way out the door honey.” -- Semi-colon is unnecessary, a comma will do it. Also, this sounds quite rigid, didn't feel like a mother. Your lunch is on the table honey, just grab a paper bag on the way out! is only slightly different, but sounds much less robotic.

The wall facing the foot of my bed was my special place to go when things got tough. I reminisced about all of the items on the wall, the poster I bought at the local store; it was Pat Benetar holding a microphone in the air, the painting of the black stallion my friend Stacy painted for me, it was a gloomy looking painting with rain and lightning. -- Confused again. Why is she describing her room now, when she's left? Before closing the door told me she was now in the hallway, but apparently not. It just threw me, I'd describe the room much earlier.

Rita hung her favorite baseball cap, and the picture of her and me building a sand castle at a beach in Florida. -- Is this a fond memory? Does the photograph make her smile? If these things have no effect on the main character, are they really worth mentioning to the reader?

The hallway walls weren’t empty, they had some pictures of me as a child, and some had my friends in them, but most of them were pictures of me. -- Again, why bother mentioning these things if they don't have an impact? It really feels like filler and nothing more to me.

“Is that you honey?” -- Who else would it be? Are there other people in the house, her father or someone?

I had to yell in order for her to hear me in the room that she was in. -- I think we know that, no need to explain little things like this.

Hell I had to yell at her most of the time, she can’t hear half the time. -- Half of the time isn't most of the time, and why can't she hear? If it's an interesting story like, she was stabbed with a pencil in the ear at school or something, then fine. That's more interesting than just telling me she can't hear sometimes.

My focus on the change was broken by the sound of a dog chasing a car; -- Can you hear a dog chasing a car? I wouldn't think "That sounds like a dog chasing a car" and then turn around. I'd say I heard barking and turned my head. It was the neighbours dog Bullseye. He was chasing cars again or something. Make normal things sound interesting, don't just tell me what's happening, it feels dull.

To be honest, I just didn't like Samantha. She has zero personality, there's nothing about her that interests me. A character has to have appeal, but she seems like a balloon with a face drawn on it, you know?

Also, I really don't understand the whole Private Detective thing, how is she one? She's a sixteen year old girl. I'd much rather find that out first before knowing her favourite colours are black and green.

Once you give her some flare, and turn her into a likable person (Doesn't have to be a saint, just likable enough), then maybe I will care about all the other things, but it was difficult to read because of it. That all sounds so negative, but I know you can make this much better.

If this is really rough and you haven't done much proof reading, a lot can be forgiven but, it's not making it easy for me to read is all. Is this a book aimed at teenagers by the way?

Good luck :D.

The Backward OX
September 26th, 2010, 01:49 AM
When you say you’re hoping for “a good critique” do you mean one that tells you you’re an excellent writer or one that analyses any flaws in your writing and thereby shows you how to improve?

I read this three times. Once to get a general idea of what it was about, once to try and make sense of the bits I perceived as flawed and once to make specific comments.

Here’s an overview:

Is the mother inside or outside the bedroom when she wakes Sam? First you have her in the room, later she’s knocking on the door.

Next, there’s confusion over the clothing. Do the items selected come from the closet or from what’s lying around the room? And how about the time-frame surrounding the clothing? The shirt with bleach splotches was worn 3 days ago; what happened to the items worn since then?

Where is Sam’s lunch? In the kitchen or the living room? And if it’s in the kitchen, how is the mother also perhaps in the kitchen and Sam having to shout to make herself heard?

Specific comments



Smaragd is Greek for emerald, and I’m not by any means, Italian.

Was Italian a typo or were you trying to be funny? Either way, it doesn’t work.



I don’t eat anything that is included in the pyramid of junk, or anything in the lines of vegetables, but I will eat fruit any old day. Your probably thinking I’m some girl with emotional problems by now,

1.Sorry, but I can’t see a connection between what a person doesn’t eat and emotional problems. 2. When the narrator says to the reader what the reader is probably thinking, they say “You are probably thinking, etc.” The ‘you are’ is abbreviated to “you’re”. The word “your” on the other hand is a possessive. “Your hat”


There was a knock at the door, and a soft humming. The humming grew louder for every second that went by.

“Come on Sam, you’re going to be late.”

I don’t get it. How can a person hum and speak at the same time?



slipped on my shirt that had no stains, but a small hole in one of my armpits.

One of the or its armpits. One of my armpits means one of Sam’s.




“Your lunch is on the kitchen table; just grab a paper bag on the way out the door honey.”

I don’t get this either. Is the lunch sitting unwrapped on the kitchen table? Your choice, I suppose, but I can’t see it myself.



I reminisced about all of the items on the wall, the poster I bought at the local store; it was Pat Benetar holding a microphone in the air, the painting of the black stallion my friend Stacy painted for me,

“all” is overkill for two items.




I made my way into the living room, and stepped on a squeaker that was left out from last night. “Stupid dog,” I muttered under my breath.”

Is the dog expected to put its own toys away?



“Is that you honey?”

Here we have the mother hearing a muttered phrase but later Sam needs to yell to make herself heard.



My focus on the change was broken by the sound of a dog chasing a car; it was a medium sized pit-bull with no collar

It isn’t possible to tell a dog’s size or that it has no collar simply by the sound.



I hope these comments help you to get rid of any flaws in further parts of your novel.

CaptainWilliam
September 26th, 2010, 02:36 AM
I'm not very good at writing due to my dyslexia, but it's always been a dream for me to write something big. I'm not very good at proofreading either, I try my best to get most of it, and after that my girlfriend helps me the rest of the way. (sounds kind of pathetic, but it's the way I write.)