Sunday, November 04, 2007

4th and 5th reviews on YWO

'angelscribe' wrote:

A, thanks for your two reviews this weekend-recently due to feedback that wasn't helpful or constructive, and ratings you gave me of 1s and 2s, I had to remove it. Sorry! AS for yours, you have a good storyline but needs a bit of work.

Characters: 3 [we mark out of 5 in each area]
To me, they didn't seem real. None of them are described in full details or have background. None of the police have first names. They appear flat. Describe them and give them some history, other Max is Amelia's boyfriend/killer?

Story: 4
Interesting concept. This isn't teen fiction. This is mainly a crime novel. Your prologue is short. Insert spaces between narration/dialogue in some areas. Good drama.

Pace: 4
Very good pace. I didn't care much about the layout between the post-mortem report and the flashback. I don't think our crime novels are set up like that. But that's just my opinion. The construction was okay, the structure was fair.

Language: 4
Very well done. Thirteen-year-old is hyphenated. God is capitalized. Watch out for super long sentences. No colons. Use semi-colons to combine two full sentences, not fragments-you're using them wrong. Use commas. Owens' should be Owens's. Word echo: layers. On page 18, you're missing punctuation. Girls shouldn't have an ' in Girls Night Out.

Narration: 3
The flashback/PM report throws me off the flow like a distraction. Good POV and details.

Dialogue: 4
Very natural. Don't end dialogue before tags with periods-use commas. You're missing some dialogue on a page. Says isn't capitalized.

Settings: 3
No descriptions of any setting or scenery. Make it 3D by giving it layers of foundation like the Owens's home and the desk at the autopsy.

Theme: 4
A good concept, but needs a new layout to tell the story in narration. It's almost too much telling that way. Give your places and people some description.Thanks for the read.


'leightvwersky' wrote:

this was a triumph of style over content. my first reaction was that you need to work on the structure of this novel because although you have attempted something potentially very interesting and innovative it doesn't quite work yet (for me at least). the zipping back and forth between narratives and narrators is initially highly confusing and while not inscrutable certainly requires much re-reading for clarification. i'm afraid i think that is quite a serious fault line so early on.

too much mystery is a turn-off rather than a hook.

there are also loads of names that just get lost. stefan maric is never mentioned again, but will probably be important later. all those police officers' names are simply not necessary when you are introducing the plot in such an indirect way - smith and dexter can wait, so can dilbur kaur and dr hussain. the names distract at this stage when we really just want to concentrate on amelia and her close friends and family, and the police dealing directly with the case.

you also repeat a lot of information, for example the 6 am phone call and the fact that amelia's dad was in loughborough is repeated almost verbatim when wright and sharpe talk.

the summary of the police notes (p13 in my print-out) tells us nothing new.

also i wasn't sure why sharpe's habit of not using interrogatives in questions would irk wright? that seemed gratuitous. i also found her sentence 'did you see the body yet?'very odd. is she american? if not why doesn't she use the present perfect and say 'have you seen the body yet?' reading this was like watching one of those hollywood thrillers where the initial scenes are very brief, jumpily edited back and forth and are full of vital information (and you hope you haven't missed too much).

i think the fact that you had to spell out who exactly was who in no uncertain terms (i'm caroline aged 14 etc etc) highlights the fuzziness obscuring parts of your narrative.i'm afraid i found caroline and amelia's 'voices' aged 14 unconvincing - both way too old and way too young. and what are crumpled leaded windows? do windows crumple?

sorry to have so much to criticise. your descriptions of amelia's body, the vivid image of bridie throwing up in the mortuary, the breakdown of emma and sarah-jane were very good. and i liked david cooper, the blonde girls and luka ( but what on earth is a 'ubiquitous' blonde supposed to mean???).overall i think you have the basis of a really gripping thriller/mystery here but at present it needs another draft. you have a real talent for descriptions and atmosphere but get carried away by some odd expressions like the ones i mentioned above.

i gave this 3 for characters and story, 2 for pace, narrative voice and dialogue and 4 for language, settings and themes.

i wish you good luck with this novel.


I have made some changes, particularly in response to that last review (not all of which I thought was fair, I have to say) but I'm waiting for more of a consensus view before doing anything drastic such as totally binning the two-stranded structure of the novel. That really was my starting point for the book. That was the idea that made me actually sit down and put pen to paper in the first place. I thought 'What if I wrote a crime novel in which we don't see everything through the eyes of the detectives, or even through the eyes of the victim, or her mother, or her best friend? What if a 360 degree narrative could be constructed using many different points of view? Could that work?'

Maybe the simple answer is 'No, it can't.' but I'm not ready to give up on it yet.



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