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Old 02-27-2017, 11:39 PM View Post #1 (Link) (Undecided): Ch. 1-5
Skylnn-writes (Offline)
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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Chapter 1

"Forty-two, get your head out of your ass and hustle! This isn't a walk on the beach with your girlfriend!" I hear my coach's words, but I can't seem to process them. My vision goes in and out of focus, and I stumble as I walk across the field.

"Adam, you alright?" My buddy Josh asks as he comes up to me. I must have nodded my head, because he pats me on the back a bit too hard before jogging away.

I take off my sauna of a helmet and feel the heat of the sun beat down on my face. The last thing I remember seeing is the world dip and sway before I fall over and black out.

"Payne! Payne, wake up!" Coach Evans grips my shoulder firmly and rattles me awake. I feel water run into my mouth and trickle down my throat. My head throbs with every small movement. I gradually peel my eyes open and squint at the bright sun.

"Dehydrated again, Adam. What did I tell you about getting liquids in your body, especially during practice?"

"Huh?" My eyes wander towards the source of the voice, only to find the athletic trainer hovering over me.

"Can you hear me?" She inquires a little louder than needed. The commotion around me makes my head feel like someone is ramming a sledgehammer into my skull repeatedly.

"Yes, I hear you." I mumble.

"You should be fine, but stay hydrated, Adam." She advises before carrying her fragile looking body off the field. I prop myself up on my elbow and take another sip of water, and cringe at the burning sensation it creates in my throat.

"Get him to the bench. As for the rest of you, hurry up and finish drills!" Coach Evans voice rings in my ears louder than his whistle. Two pairs of rough, meaty hands grab me by the shoulders and practically lift me up themselves. I hobble my way over to the bench, and plop myself down. I sit with my head in my hands until practice is over.

Later that night at the dinner table, an unsettling feeling sat in my stomach. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't shake it.

"I got a call from the school nurse today. You passed out during practice?" My mother says calmly. She says it in such a tone that makes me hate her even more. I glance over at my father who sits across from me. I see the anger growing on his face and I immediately lower my gaze to my untouched plate of food.

"I was dehydrated." As I speak, the words taste sour in my mouth and they barely come out as a whisper. My father slams his fist down on the table violently, making my glass of water ripple, and I flinch.

"What have I told you COUNTLESS TIMES!?" My father barks. I could immediately tell what was coming. His words slur out and he wreaks of alcohol. I try to brace myself, but no amount of time could ever prepare me.

"I know you guys don't support my football career but-"

"There is no such thing as a football career!" He growls at my face, and I detect a slight hint of a mimicking tone. I hear his chair skid against the wood floor and fall back as he bolts up from his seat.

"Kurt-"

"Shut the hell up, Anna!" My mother rolls her eyes in annoyance, wonders over to the liquor cabinet, removes a red bottle, and proceeds upstairs. Moments later, a door slams and the sound of a TV blasting follows. My heart races uncontrollably.

"You are going to quit that stupid waste of time, got it kid?" My father gnarls through gritted teeth. I can tell he isn't in the mood to beat me tonight. I take that to my advantage as I stand up as well with clenched fists. I have suffered in silence for far too long, and it's time to speak up.

"Those are my dreams, dad. I'm not going to quit and you can't make me!" I immediately knew I had the wrong idea and regretted ever opening my mouth. My dad lunges at me, but luckily I'm faster. I knock my chair down in front of him in hopes to slow him down and dart upstairs. I hear the chair break behind me, but I don't stop to look back. I sprint into my room and lock the door behind me. I push my heavy dresser in front of it just as my dad starts pounding on the door. My hands shake and I back away, bumping into my bed.

"OPEN UP NOW!" He yells. The dresser starts to shake back and forth a bit, so I force my desk in front of the dresser as well. I make a quick decision and grab all the bags that I own out of my closet along with my suitcase. I fill them with essentials like clothes, my wallet, a half-eaten bag of chips from the other day, and whatever else fits. I sling the bags over my shoulder, slightly surprised at how light they are, and crack open my window. I chuck my bags out first, and then scale down half the side of my house, before jumping the rest of the way. I felt the grass underneath my bare feet just as the door broke two stories above me. I don't wait around to see what happens next. I grab everything and run aimlessly into the night.

Chapter 2

I end up standing in front of my girlfriend Courtney's house. I stop for a brief moment to catch my breath and recall her old tree house. Quietly tiptoeing to her backyard, I climb inside the tree house and set up a place to sleep with a blanket I brought, get a sweatshirt and use it as a pillow, and I layer up to face off the chilly night air. I try to get some sleep to have enough energy for the obstacles of tomorrow.

I woke up an hour earlier than I usually would so that I could be far enough away from Courtney when she woke up. I knew it was a risk to leave my belongings there, but I didn't have another option. I waited behind a bush, a little up the street from her house, until she opened the door to go to school.

"Hey Courtney!" I yell, popping out from behind the bushes. She looks my way and smiles warmly. I start to jog towards her, but I am forced to slow down when my ankle screams at me in pain. I must have twisted it last night when I leaped from my window.

"Hey, you!" She says softly as I approach her. I pull her into my arms and plant a small kiss on her rose tinted lips. As we make our way to school, I take her soft, gentle hand into my calloused one.

"So, how's my girl?" I ask her in an attempt to make small talk mostly for my own benefit.

"Great! I got first place in the tournament yesterday!" She explains excitedly.

"Congrats! I knew those practices would pay off." I smile and gently squeeze her hand affectionately. Courtney then start getting into depth about her gymnastics tournament. I listen attentively; I love the sound of her voice. "What about you? I heard you passed out during practice yesterday."

"Ah, I'm fine. Just got a little bit dehydrated, but I'm still alive."

"Adam," she sighs wearily. Her expression contorts into one like a mother about to lecture her child. "You need to take better care of yourself." Courtney stops and turns to me. She stares me down like my father had just a short 8 hours ago. I shiver with fear.

"I will, I promise." I pull Courtney closer and kiss her again. We walk for another 5 minutes, talking about nothing in particular, before we reach the school.

"OTP! OTP! OTP!" My friends stay chanting. Courtney laughs and I roll my eyes at this nonsense that happens every day. She kisses the top of my nose and then goes off with her own friends.

"Are your lives really that pathetic and boring?" I ask them. My friends stand there thinking, and stroking their imaginary beards.

"Yes." Josh says with finality.

"Basically." Matt adds.

I laugh a little and shake my head.

"Losers." I scoff. We all laugh as we start throwing insults at each other. It only stops when we see two textbooks sitting on our desks, and a huge collection of numbers written on the board.

"Read the board, follow the directions." Our teacher instructs, not even bothering to look up.

"This should be a fun day." I mumble. Josh and Matt chuckled as we took a seat as far back in the classroom as possible.

"I want to go home!" Courtney wines to me at lunch. I simply kiss her temple and sigh.

I feel like I'm wearing a mask. Everywhere I go, I have a fake smile. I try to hide my pain and fear, try not to look weak, but it's hard. I don't know what to do, or who to trust.

I don't want to burden Courtney, Josh, or Matt with my problems. They are the types who aren't good with tears or conflict.

All I can do; all I know how to do is wear my mask.

Chapter 3

After school, I couldn't follow Courtney home or go into her backyard. She would become suspicious. I reluctantly decided to try and go home.

My parents cars were absent in from the driveway, so I took the opportunity to sneak back inside. I pulled out my key and fit it into the lock. The door slowly creaked open, and I stepped into my house. I paused, listening for any movement. I grinned and closed the door when the hum of silence continues to surround me. My dogs came rushing to meet me.

"Hey guys! Did you miss me, huh? I bet you did, oh, yes you did."

"So did I..." A voice startles me from the other side of the room. I look up and see my mom standing there, her head hung low and her eyes peering up at me. I immediately turn around and open the door, ready to bolt out, when she talks. Her voice sounds desperate, and filled with pain.

"Adam," I don't turn to face her, even with her pleas. "Please wait. We need to talk, please." I inhale a sharp breath and hold it in my lungs. My feet slowly turn me around to face her general direction. I can't bring myself to meet her gaze.

"About what mom, last night? How I almost got beaten to a pulp again, by this man I am forced to call my father?"

"Adam, I'm sorry bu-"

"No! But nothing mom. It's your fault Danielle is in therapy right now! How did this occur to you mom, huh? You woke up one morning and decided to cheat on your amazing, loving, respectful, caring husband; the father of your children too. Is that what happened mom? Did you just say to yourself that a rich jerk was better than a middle class man. It's alright to just get a divorce and ruin your children's lives and Mary a jackass right?" I feel my heart being ripped to about a thousand pieces. I want to let the tears spill, but I can't allow myself to look week.

When she didn't answer I just got more aggravated.

"Answer me!" I shook the house and my mother flinched. She looked smaller; tears lined her eyes and shine on her cheeks.

"I didn't think like that, and I didn't know he was like that." Her voice barely escaped her lips at a whisper.

"Bull shit!" I finally looked up at her; I looked her straight in the eyes. "You knew damn well how he was! You were just so fixed on his money. You don't even care if he beats me, do you? You don't even care if I have countless bruises that I have to cover or make up excuses for them. Don't even try to say you care because you didn't care when Danielle was getting beat like that. You stood there and watched as her skull got crushed! You watched it like a tv show and then left when you got bored. Meanwhile, I was laying nearly unconscious on the other side of the room. Did you ever think of calling the cops that night? No because then you would have gotten caught too. They would have found your damn drugs. You went off to get drunk or high to forget the horrible things you did, to feel good about yourself! That's not how life works for all of us! No matter how high I get, or how drunk I am, those memories never go away. One day, I'll make him pay for what he did to her, mark my words." I looked away again, unable to handle the sorrow in her eyes.

I waited for a response, but when I got nothing I just walked out without even looking back. I slam the door behind me and stand in front of it with my eyes closed.

Every ounce of energy I have is keeping me from walking back in and apologizing.

The events keep playing in my mind as I try to make sense of it all. I jerk them back open when I hear the terrifying crunch of a car on gravel. My eyes dart over to the source of the noise to find my stepfather pulling in the driveway. I don't even hesitate before taking off through the grass. I just run with all I can.

"Adam!" I hear a raging voice that encourages me to somehow pick up my pace. I then hear a bone chilling sound; the car is in hot pursuit behind me.

I don't have time to ponder where I should go. I simply turn at random corners in attempts to lose him. Nothing seems to work. He drifts every corner I take and is still on my heels.

I hear him yelling profanities and other words at me, but I can't understand them. His voice is muffled from the roaring of the engine.

After about 3 minutes, my breath becomes too heavy for me to continue for much longer. I start to lose hope as my lungs slowly start to fail me.

Up ahead, I see a pole connected to a stop light. I don't have time to calculate whether my plan will work or not. I simply test it out.

Just as I approach the metal pole, I wrap my fingers as tightly around it and let the momentum of my body take over. I lift my feet just the slightest bit, and I am sent flying in the other direction.

With a hard smack on the pavement, and a little bit of skidding, I am at a full stop 5 meters away.

I recover as rapidly as I can and continue to jog. I take another turn and finally I have lost him. I slow down to a walk, attempting to repair my lungs and open up my airways once more.

Without even noticing, I ended up in Courtney's yard. I carefully tiptoe around to the back and dash to the tree.

About half way up the unsteady ladder, a familiar voice sounds out from behind me.

Chapter 4

I slowly lower myself back down the ladder and turn around to face her.

"Hey, Courtney! What are you doing here?" I ask her, forcing an unsteady laugh. I want to curl up and crawl into a hole for asking a dumb question like that.

"I'm the one who should be asking you that question. I live here." She didn't look angry, quite the opposite; Courtney looked extremely humored.

"Oh, right. Well I guess I'll be going then. Talk to you later!" I walked to her, kissed her on the cheek, and walked on past her to the street. I hear her try to ask me what I was doing there again but I act like I didn't hear her.

When I turned the corner, I doubled over in nervous laughter and relief. I kept walking and I didn't even notice that I had absentmindedly walked to my house.

As I looked up, my smile faded. All the joy I had felt just seconds ago had been washed away and replaced with fear.

I wanted to move - I wanted to get away before anything else could happen - but there was a compelling force that kept me in place.

I had flash backs from when I was four, the earliest age that I can recall the abuse. I blinked and all the flashbacks dissipated from my eyes, but the memories remained stained on my brain. I stood there like a dear in headlights, staring at my stepfather. He had appeared on the other side of the glass door. He slowly opened it and that's when a bell finally went off in my head.

I wasn't running, but I was speed walking this time. For some reason, the panic in mt had diminished. As i turned the corner, I glanced toward my house. To my surprise, Kurt was just standing there staring at me.

I can't make out the expression on his face from this far, but from his posture he looked kind of upset. His shoulders were slumped, and his head was hanging on his neck like it was attached by a tiny string. I know that our eyes met, and that was my breaking point. Rage rushed through my veins again, and any sympathy had been stored into a vault deep in my heart.

I tried not to make too much of it, but it bugged me all the way to Courtney's house.

I tried to make sense of all that had happened to be able to tell Courtney everything when I got back to her house.

Chapter 5

"Why didn't you tell me any of this? Adam, I could have helped you." I stared out the window of the tree house at the top floor of her house. "Adam, what else aren't you telling me?" Her voice penetrates my thoughts. Her house had reminded me of back when we first met.

"I didn't want to burden you with my nonsense. I promise there is nothing else that I'm hiding from you." It wasn't a full lie. I wasn't hiding my sister from her, I just haven't told her about her yet. "Besides," I continue. "When was I going to tell you? Between our crazy schedules we've barely seen each other for 2 minutes at a time." She makes her cute thinking face and looks down at the cracked floorboards. I look back out the window.

I remember that we met about 2 years ago, the summer I entered high school. It was exactly a month before the first day of school. My best friend, Jake, had just moved to the town next to us. He was too busy to do it himself, so he had asked me to get his phone charger from his old house. Of course, I hadn't checked up on it, so I had no idea it had been sold. He had told me years ago where he kept the spare key, and surprisingly I had still remembered. It was still in the exact same spot as before too, so I picked it up and unlocked the door. When I walked in I remember my heart stopping.

Standing in front of me was an exact replica of my dream girl. Dark blonde hair, vibrant green eyes, perfectly rounded face, rosy, chubby cheeks, and high cheek bones. Besides the fact that she held a raised kitchen knife tightly in her hand, she was perfect. She must have stood at around 5 feet and 6 inches, but her heels made her seem 5 feet and inches. It was a bonus that she had the body of a model.

"Who the hell are you and how did you just get into my house!" Her voice was also perfection and strange enough, her menacing words soothed me. I snapped out of my daze. I stuttered, trying to explain to her, but words couldn't form in my mouth. I got quiet when light footsteps came down the stairs in front of me.

"What's going on down here?" She said more soothingly. I nearly fell to the floor; the girl on the stairs was identical to the one with the kitchen knife. I assumed that it was her twin sister, and I couldn't control a stupid grin from appearing on my face.

They started bickering back and forth, arguing about every possible thing wrong and right about the scenario. I whipped my head back and forth trying to keep up with the rapid discussion. Finally, the yelling reached a point that I couldn't handle.

"Let me explain!" I bellowed over the both of them and they immediately got silent.

"Please do." They both said in unison, making it sound like only one of them had said it. I felt my face get hot, and I knew it was a bright shade of red.

"I-Well uh... I um... Okay." I still couldn't speak English so I paused and took a deep breath. "My best friend used to live here. He just moved out and asked me to come back here to get something. I knew where he kept the spare key, so I let myself in. I really am sorry, I didn't mean to trespass, intrude or any of that." I waited for their reactions, keeping my eyes on the kitchen knife that was still being held up by the first girl.

"Oh, well why didn't you say so! My name is Courtney, Courtney Pierce, and this is my sister Eleina." The girl on the stairs, who I now know is Courtney, explained. Eleina lowered the knife but she didn't let it go. She eyes me suspiciously and didn't accept when I offered her my hand.

"Welcome to the neighborhood." I told them, truing to be friendly.

I noticed very tiny differences between the two. Courtney had long, flowing hair and Eleina had shorter, curlier hair. Eleina had a fiery look in her eyes, but I could tell even by the way she walked that Courtney was the nice one. I took a small look around and spotted Jake's charger.

"Ah, there it is," I walked over and picked it up. "I guess I'll just be going now!" I make my way awkwardly back to the door and pull it open. "Thank you." I add and walk out, closing the door behind me. I left out the part 'for not carving me like a pumpkin' to stay true to it. I stood there trying to catch my breath again before I took one step forward and stopped. Hushed whispers where escaping through the cracks in the door.

"Good job Eleina, thanks so much for scaring away yet another cute boy!" It was followed by stomping up stairs and a loud sigh of frustration after a loud slam of a door. I walked away quickly to not get caught eavesdropping.

"I have an idea!" Courtney screams and holds her arms up in victory. I look back at her and laugh at the cute but silly, accomplished look on her face.

"About what exactly?"

"Tonight," She talks quietly and inches towards me with every word. "How about we go on a date. A typical, cliche, date with dinner and a movie. We are both free, we can talk, spend time together, and be on a date at the same time!" I look at her to see if she is messing with me. She has always hated anything cliche, but I can see the seriousness in her eyes.

"Okay. You know I wonder sometimes."

"Hmm? Wonder about what?" She asks, crawling into my open arms.

"How I got so lucky. How did I get to meet such a crazy girl who gets over-enthusiastic about everything. How did we fall in love?" She flashes me a cute smile.

"Fate." She replies and kisses me for a long time before we look out and watch the sun set.
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Old 02-28-2017, 04:52 PM View Post #2 (Link)
miss_smiley (Offline)
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Hey! So, quick disclaimer - all of this is obviously just suggestion. You're the author, so feel free to take/leave whatever you want. The most important thing, at the end of the day, is to enjoy writing. Fair warning - this critique may get a little brutal, but just remember that, despite everything I'm about to say, you've got a good base here. I'm just throwing my (at times, brutal) thoughts in a pot to let you know how I reckon you could improve. This is by no means a judgement on you or a slight on your writing abilities, I swear. If you start feeling offended, come back and read this, because I truly mean it.

Spoiler:

Okies! Let's get this crit on the road! Red for grammatical & spelling mistakes and blue for continuity & writing suggestions!


Originally Posted by Skylnn-writes View Post
Chapter 1

"Forty-two, get your head out of your ass and hustle! This isn't a walk on the beach with your girlfriend!" Good opening! I hear my coach's words, but I can't seem to process them. My vision goes in and out of focus, and I stumble as I walk across the field. Hmmm. Ok. My main worry here is that you're kind of just rushing through this. I don't mean that you have to spew purple prose everywhere, but rushing through actively disconnects the reader from your character and story. It introduces a sort of flippancy that can really work if your character is inclined to that (think "So then I just fly-kicked the guy in the face, fixed the car with a pin, punched through a couple of walls & drove here. Oh, and I got Maccas!"), but here, I think you're trying to aim for pathos. Flippancy usually cancels out pathos, unless used reeeeeeally carefully (when it can actually highlight it, through juxtaposition). But what we have here is just straight-up exposition and as a rule, it's just best to avoid that when you're speaking through a first-person perspective. Every sentence should tell your audience something about your character.

Think about it like this. The way I would phrase something is going to be different from the way you'd say it, because we're different people. Likewise, everything coming from your character should be truthful to who they are and how they're perceiving the world. So, personally, I would have phrased this more as: "I hear Coach's words (<-- connotes a personal relationship), but I can't--- I can't--- My vision swims in and out of focus, as I stumble across the field." Shorter, yes, but it says so much more.


"Adam, you alright?" My buddy Josh asks as he comes up to me. Don't worry. Your audience is going to figure out he's a buddy because he's approaching him, asking him if he's ok and seems genuinely concerned. Also, I'd lose the "comes up to me", personally - it's an awkward phrase and doesn't really say much. Maybe "as he passes me" instead? I must have nodded my head (nice!), because he pats me on the back a bit too hard before jogging away.

I take off my sauna of a helmet and feel the heat of the sun beat down on my face. The last thing I remember seeing is the world dip and sway before I fall over and black out. I reckon you can lose the "before I fall over and black out". It's implied and besides, I don't know about you, but whenever I black out due to exhaustion/dehydration, I'm not even aware that I'm out - just of what I last saw/experienced.

Also, it's worth mentioning - dehydration causes a whole stretch of other symptoms aside from collapse. Explore the wide range of terrible symptoms before you let your MC pass out. Gimme some heat-stroke! Gimme some visceral pain! Nothing beats a dehydration headache for sheer torture! Your aim as an author is to connect your protag. intimately to the reader. They should consider him, by the end of the page, to be a good acquaintance; by the end of the chapter, a friend; by the end of the book, an extension of our relationship with him and, in that way, ourselves. Pain makes a good connector.


"Payne! Payne, wake up!" Coach Evans grips my shoulder firmly and rattles me awake. I feel water run into my mouth and trickle down my throat. <-- This would make him literally drown. Your body has to actively swallow to put that in the right place. Also, fair warning - after dehydration severe enough to fly-kick you from conscience, water is going to feel like literal heaven has arrived in your mouth. Connect! My head throbs with every small movement. I gradually peel my eyes open and squint at the bright sun. Nice! But these guys looking after him are literally the worst. They could at least shade him. C'mon! Sun-stroke 101!

"Dehydrated again, Adam. What did I tell you about getting liquids in your body, especially during practice?" (...heh heh heh...)

"Huh?" My eyes wander towards the source of the voice, only to find the athletic trainer hovering over me. Your eyes don't wander. They have no thought of their own. I'm starting to notice that your character constantly talks in the passive & it's a little wearing, especially since it doesn't sit truthfully with what character he later displays.

"Can you hear me?" she inquires comma, a little louder than needed. The commotion around me makes my head feel like someone is ramming a sledgehammer into my skull repeatedly. I'd personally lose the first bit. "My head feels like someone is ramming, etc. The commotion isn't exactly helping." Or something like that, anyway.

"Yes, I hear you." I mumble.

"You should be fine, but stay hydrated, Adam." she advises before carrying her fragile-looking body off the field. Ehh... I'd lose the passive tone here too. "she advises, before marching off-field." Address the fragility earlier on, before she speaks. Maybe: She peers down at me, her fragile form blocking the sun. "You should be fine...", etc. ? I prop myself up on my elbow and take another sip of water, cringing at the burning sensation it creates in my throat. <-- Again, with the passive tone.

"Get him to the bench. As for the rest of you, hurry up and finish drills!" Coach Evans voice rings louder in my ears than his whistle. Two pairs of rough, meaty hands grab me by the shoulders and practically lift me up themselves. I hobble my way over to the bench no comma and plop myself down. I sit with my head in my hands until practice is over (speaking from experience, whoever's medically advising this team would probably insist on him lying down with a wet cloth over his face/eyes to assist with a speedy recovery).

Later that night at the dinner table, an unsettling feeling sat in my stomach. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't shake it. Whoa! This is a bit sudden! What happened to the rest of the day? I feel like I'm in a montage!

"I got a call from the school nurse today. You passed out during practice?" My mother says calmly. She says it in such a tone that makes me hate her even more. <-- I get what you're saying, but let's show it, not tell it. Make your reader feel your character's anger. "My mother's tone is unconcerned, as if she were talking about the weather, not the health & well-being of her son. I feel my fists clench harder around my knife & fork." <-- Note that the use of passive tone here implies a reaction that the character is not actively choosing to pursue. It's out of his control, therefore passive tone is more effective here. I glance over at my step-father who sits across from me. When you hate or fear someone, you naturally distance yourself from them in any way possible. He loathes and fears his step-father. His step-father will never be a father to him. This is our first glance of that - don't lay the wrong foundation. I see the anger growing on his face and immediately, I lower my gaze to my untouched plate of food. <- Nice!

"I was dehydrated." As I speak, The words taste sour in my mouth. They barely come out as a whisper. My father slams his fist down on the table violently, making my glass of water ripple (<- This is not the most dramatic indicator of that. If you want your protag. to be focusing on this, make it clear that it's because he doesn't want to look at his step-dad). I flinch, [I'd put the water thing here]. <-- popping that observation here will also draw out the tension of this moment, since we see the protag. avoiding moving forward in the narrative, which makes audiences nervous, because we see that, from that simple action, the protag. is nervous.

"What have I told you COUNTLESS TIMES!?" my step-father barks <-- seems more like a bellow-y bloke to me, but that's a personal choice, obviously. I could immediately tell what was coming. His words slur out and he wreaks reeks of alcohol <-- you can also show us how much he's slurring in his actual speech . I try to brace myself, but no amount of time could ever prepare me. <-- This makes it seem like he's not about to speak, but that his step-dad is about to bawl the crap out of him, i.e. he's tying himself down for the storm to break on him. If he's about to speak, mark it - refer to getting his breath steady or putting his thoughts in order or his hands shaking.

"I know you guys don't support my football career but-" He's nervous. Show it in his speech. Even steady speakers get little stutters when they're nervy, particularly on 's'.

"There's no such thing as a football career!" <-- Take it from me - people like this aren't going to bring out the full words when they're drunk. Everything gets lazier when you drink, including your speech. He growls at my face (just at your face? That's a little weird. "*IN* your face", I could get behind), and I detect a slight hint of a mimicking tone. <- "detect" makes it sound like your character is feeling a lot more in-control than he actually is. "I catch" is probably more fitting with the tone. I hear his chair skid against the wooden floor and fall back as he bolts up from his seat. Damn, son! "Bolts"? This is an enthusiastic, energetic drunk! Also, not as menacing as you could make it. "Lumbers up" implies a towering, menacing figure. "Staggers up" implies a unpredictable mean drunk. Really think about how that character is moving and then, try to get the perfect word to describe it.

"Kurt---" <-- I find a couple of hyphens gets the point across much better.

"Shut the hell up, Anna!" Oh, you could make this a lot more biting and vehement.

Start this on its own line, since it's a reaction. My mother rolls her eyes in annoyance, wonders wanders over to the liquor cabinet, removes a red bottle no comma and proceeds upstairs. <-- long sentences slow action down. Cut this up for more immediacy. Moments later, a door slams and the sound of a TV blasting follows. My heart races uncontrollably. <- Niiiiiiiice!

"You are going to quit that stupid waste of time, got it comma, kid?" my step-father gnarls (<- I think you meant "snarls" or "growls") through gritted teeth.

This is a new thought arising and would make a more dramatic statement set apart from his step-dad's little speech. I can tell he isn't in the mood to beat me tonight. I take that to my advantage (this is a weird phrase and I don't know why, but it feels odd. I'd change it) as I stand up as well with clenched fists. I have suffered in silence for far too long no comma and it's time to speak up. <-- Personally, I'd put a little more conviction in this.

"Those are my dreams, Dad (continuity!). I'm not going to quit and you can't make me!"

New feeling: dread & panic (...dranic? Pread?). Give it a new line for dramatic effect. I immediately knew I had the wrong idea and regretted ever opening my mouth. My step-dad lunges at me, but luckily comma, I'm faster. I knock my chair down in front of him comma, in hope of slowing him down and dart upstairs. I hear the chair break behind me, but. I don't stop to look back. I sprint into my room and lock the door behind me. I push my heavy dresser in front of it just as my step-dad starts pounding on the door. My hands shake and I back away, bumping into my bed.

"OPEN UP NOW!" he yells. <-- If you're popping it in all-caps, we know he's yelling. Use your descriptor to add to the picture. Something like "he rages" might better illustrate your point. The dresser starts to shake back and forth a bit (don't undercut your drama with qualifiers), so I force my desk in front of the dresser as well. I make a quick decision and grab all the bags that I own out of my closet along with my suitcase. I fill them with essentials like clothes, my wallet, a half-eaten bag of chips from the other day no comma and whatever else fits. I sling the bags over my shoulder, slightly surprised at how light they are no comma and crack open my window. I chuck my bags out first, and then scale down half the side of my house, before jumping the rest of the way. I felt the grass underneath my bare feet just as the door broke two stories above me. I don't wait around to see what happens next. I grab everything and run aimlessly into the night. Your protag. sounds like he's in shock, not primed, limed and capable of running away into the night. Give him a little moment before he starts throwing things into his bags where he comes to that conclusion and then get the hell out of dodge. Also, it's worth mentioning that his step-dad is going be livid at this new development (because when your pre-determined means of stress/anger relief runs away from you, leaving you with all your pent-up aggression, you're going to be pretty pissed about it). The whole neighbourhood is going to hear that.

Chapter 2

I end up standing in front of my girlfriend Courtney's house. <-- Errr... "my girlfriend Courtney's" is a really awkward way of phrasing it. Maybe find a better way? It's uncomfortable to read. I stop for a brief moment to catch my breath. Suddenly, I recall her old tree house. Quietly tiptoeing to her backyard, I climb inside the tree house and set up a place to sleep with a blanket I brought, get a sweatshirt and use it as a pillow no comma and I layer up to face off the chilly night air. I try to get some sleep to have enough energy for the obstacles of tomorrow. Again, you're rushing. Don't rush. Walk us through it, so we feel what your character feels.

I woke up an hour earlier than I usually would comma, so that I could be far enough away from Courtney when she woke up. I knew it was a risk to leave my belongings there, but I didn't have another option. I waited behind a bush, a little up the street from her house, until she opened the door to go to school. ...creeeeeeeeepy, dude.

"Hey Courtney!" I yell, (whoa, dude! Surely "call" would be less aggressive?) popping out from behind the bushes. <-- You utter creep. She looks my way and smiles warmly. I start to jog towards her, but I am forced to slow down when my ankle screams at me in pain. I must have twisted it last night when I leaped from my window. <-- What? And only realized now? You were fine last night and this morning. Why only now do you feel such pain, Superman? Why only now does your ankle scream?

"Hey, you!" she says softly as I approach her. (<-- Personal choice, but 'approach' is a little cold. Maybe "as I reach her"?) I pull her into my arms and plant a small kiss on her rose-tinted rosy lips. As we make our way to school, I take her soft, gentle hand into my calloused one. Little weird that you're describing your own hands, but OK.

"So, how's my girl?" I ask her in an attempt to make small talk comma, mostly for my own benefit. Wow. You are not doing your protag. any favours right now.

"Great! I got first place in the tournament yesterday!" she explains excitedly. "Exclaims" would probably be a better term.

"Congrats! I knew those practices would pay off." I smile and gently squeeze her hand affectionately. Courtney then starts getting into depth about her gymnastics tournament. I listen attentively; I love the sound of her voice. "What about you? I heard you passed out during practice yesterday."

"Ah, I'm fine. Just got a little bit dehydrated, but I'm still alive."

"Adam," she sighs wearily. Her expression contorts into one like a mother about to lecture her child. <-- Bit of a weird way to phrase an expression aimed at her boyfriend. Maybe describe how her features change. Personally, I find that, when I have that look on my face, my brows steeple, drawing together, my lips purse and my eyes tend to look something in the general palette of "concerned". "You need to take better care of yourself." Courtney stops and turns to me. She stares me down like my father had just a short 8 hours ago. I shiver with fear. Jesus. That's not a good association! Do you want your audience to be against her? Because that's how you're positioning them when you say that. Also, a sweet girlfriend concerned for her boyfriend doesn't usually stare him down. That's a little aggressive for a comforting motion.

"I will, I promise." I pull Courtney closer and kiss her again. We walk for another 5 minutes, talking about nothing in particular, before we reach the school.

"OTP! OTP! OTP!" My friends stay chanting chant. <-- What on Earth does this mean? Courtney laughs and I roll my eyes at this typical nonsense that happens every day. She kisses the top of my nose and then goes off with her own friends.

"Are your lives really that pathetic and boring?" I ask them <-- This is a little confusing. I know now that you mean that he's talking to his friends, but without the next sentence, we're left wondering if he's talking to her friends that you just mentioned. My friends stand there thinking no comma and stroking their imaginary beards.

"Yes." Josh says with finality.

"Basically." Matt adds.

I laugh a little and shake my head.

"Losers." I scoff. We all laugh as we start throwing insults at each other. It only stops when we see two textbooks sitting on our desks no comma and a huge collection of numbers written on the board.

"Read the board, follow the directions." Our teacher instructs, not even bothering to look up.

"This should be a fun day." I mumble. Josh and Matt chuckled as we took a seat as far back in the classroom as possible.

"I want to go home!" Courtney wines whines to me at lunch. I simply kiss her temple and sigh.

I feel like I'm wearing a mask. Everywhere I go, I have a fake smile. I try to hide my pain and fear, try not to look weak, but it's hard. I don't know what to do, or who to trust.

I don't want to burden Courtney, Josh, or Matt with my problems. They are the types who aren't good with tears or conflict.

All I can do; all I know how to do is wear my mask. I don't want to sound mean, but these last few lines are just so over-used in youth fiction. I'd find another, punchier way of underlining his angst and pathos. Remember - connect him to your audience. Make his emotions and experiences stir up those feelings & memories of having to pretend to be something we're not. Dig into it and see what you stir up.

Chapter 3

After school, I couldn't follow Courtney home or go into her backyard. She would become suspicious. Urgh. I know he has nowhere else to go, but... this phrasing is so incredibly creepy. I reluctantly decide to try and go home.

My parents' cars were absent in from the driveway, so I take the opportunity to sneak back inside. I pull out my key and fit it into the lock. The door slowly creaks open no comma and I step into my house. I pause, listening for any movement. I grin and close the door when the hum of silence continues to surround me. My dogs came rushing to meet me.

"Hey guys! Did you miss me, huh? I bet you did, oh, yes you did."

"So did I..." A voice startles me from the other side of the room. I look up and see my mom standing there, her head hung low and her eyes peering up at me. I immediately turn around and open the door, ready to bolt out, when she talks. Her voice sounds desperate no comma and filled with pain.

"Adam, please wait. We need to talk, please." I don't turn to face her, even with her pleas. I inhale sharply and hold it in my lungs. My feet slowly turn me around to face her general direction. I can't bring myself to meet her gaze.

"About what mom, last night? How I almost got beaten to a pulp again, by this man I am forced to call my father?"

"Adam, I'm sorry bu-"

"No! But nothing comma, Mom. It's your fault Danielle is in therapy right now! How did this occur to you comma, Mom, huh? You woke up one morning and decided to cheat on your amazing, loving, respectful, caring husband; the father of your children too? Is that what happened comma, Mom? Did you just say to tell yourself that a rich jerk was better than a middle class man. It's alright to just get a divorce and ruin your children's lives and Mary marry a jackass comma, right?" I feel my heart being ripped into about a thousand pieces. I want to let the tears spill, but I can't allow myself to look week weak. Oh, boy. Look, I don't want to sound mean, but you can't explode like this without building up the tension correctly first. Throw in some more inner dialogue to show us what he really thinks of his mum.

Also, shorter, sharper sentences convey anger a lot better than a long rant. Personally, I'd opt for something like: "No, Mom! But nothing! God! Y'know, it's your fault Danielle's stuck in therapy. I mean, you're the one who woke up one morning and just decided that yeah, today's a great day to cheat on my spouse! Why the hell not, right? Doesn't matter that he was loving, respectful, caring or just straight-up amazing, let alone the father of your kids! No! Because who gives a toss about that, am I right? Did you just tell yourself that a rich jerk was better than some middle-class guy? That it'd be just fine to get a divorce and ruin your kids' lives? To marry this pile of steaming s***?"

Feel the rage. Feel the sting. This guy's got a lot of cooped up feelings and he's finally throwing them out there. Don't cheapen them.


When she didn't answer comma, I just got more aggravated. I'd personally invert this. "I just got angrier when she didn't answer."

"Answer me!" I shake the house (really?) and my mother flinches. She looks smaller; tears line her eyes and shine on her cheeks.

"I didn't think like that, and. I didn't know he was like that." Her voice barely escapes her lips as a whisper.

"Bullshit!" I finally look up at her; I look her straight in the eyes. "You knew damn well what he was like! You were just so fixed fixated on his money. You don't even care if he beats me, do you? You don't even care if I have countless bruises - that I have to cover or make up excuses for them! Don't even try to say you care comma, (Although personally, I'd go with a new sentence. Because you didn't care when Danielle was getting beat like that. You stood there and watched... watched as her skull got crushed! You watched it like a tv T.V. show and then left when you got bored. Meanwhile, I was lying nearly unconscious on the other side of the room. Did you ever think of calling the cops that night? No comma (or full stop for dramatic emphasis), because then you would have gotten caught too. They would have found your damn drugs. You went off to get drunk or high to forget the horrible things you did, to feel good about yourself! Well, that's not how life works for all of us! No matter how high I get no comma or how drunk I am, those memories never go away. And one day, I'll make him pay for what he did to her. Mark my words."

Put this on its own line, or it'll weaken the rant. --> I look away again, unable to handle the sorrow in her eyes.

I wait for a response, but when I get nothing I just walk out without even looking back. I slam the door behind me and stand in front of it with my eyes closed.

Every ounce of energy I have is keeping me from walking back in and apologizing. Why? We've gotten no sense of his duty to her as a mother or anyhting that would give him compunction about sassing her like that. In fact, as the audience, we think she's a downright nasty piece of work.

The events keep playing in my mind as I try to make sense of it all. I jerk them back open when I hear the terrifying crunch of a car on gravel. My eyes dart over to the source of the noise to find my stepfather pulling in the driveway. I don't even hesitate before taking off through the grass. I just run with all I can.

"Adam!" I hear a raging voice that encourages , spurring me to somehow pick up my pace. I then hear a bone chilling sound; the car is in hot pursuit behind me.

I don't have time to ponder where I should go. I simply turn at random corners in an attempt to lose him. Nothing seems to work. He drifts every corner I take and is still on my heels.

I hear him yelling profanities and other words at me, but I can't understand them. His voice is muffled from the roaring of the engine.

After about 3 minutes, my breath becomes too heavy for me to continue for much longer. I start to lose hope as my lungs slowly start to fail me.

Up ahead, I see a pole connected to a stop light. I don't have time to calculate whether my plan will work or not. I simply test it out.

Just as I approach the metal pole, I wrap my fingers as tightly around it and let the momentum of my body take over. I lift my feet just the slightest bit no comma and I am sent flying in the other direction.

With a hard smack on the pavement no comma and a little bit of skidding, I am at a full stop 5 meters away.

I recover as rapidly as I can and continue to jog. I take another turn and finally comma, I've lost him. I slow down to a walk, attempting to repair my lungs and open up my airways once more.

Without even noticing, I had ended up in Courtney's yard. I carefully tiptoe around to the back and dash to the tree.

About halfway up the unsteady ladder, a familiar voice sounds out from behind me.

Chapter 4

I slowly lower myself back down the ladder and turn around to face her.

"Hey, Courtney! What are you doing here?" I ask her, forcing an unsteady laugh. I want to curl up and crawl into a hole for asking a dumb question like that.

"I'm the one who should be asking you that question. I live here." She didn't look angry - quite the opposite; she looked amused.

"Oh, right. Well comma, I guess I'll be going then. Talk to you later!" I walked to her, kissed her on the cheek no comma and walked on past her to the street. I hear her try to ask me what I was doing there again comma, but I act like I didn't hear her.

When I turn the corner, I double over in nervous laughter and relief. I keep walking and I didn't even notice that I had absentmindedly walked to my house. What?! No way in the wide world is that happening.

As I look up, my smile fades. All the joy (I think you mean 'nerves'. I don't think I remember reading anything about joy or, indeed, amusement) I had felt just seconds ago had been washed away and replaced with fear. <-- Don't tell, show. Get all up in your body, yo. This goes for the following sentence too.

I want to move - I want to get away before anything else could happen - but there is a compelling force that keeps me in place.

I had flashbacks from when I was four, the earliest age that I can recall the abuse. I blinked and all the flashbacks dissipated from my eyes, but the memories remained stained on my brain. I stood there like a deer ('dear' is a synonym for 'darling' or 'expensive') in headlights, staring at my stepfather. He had appeared on the other side of the glass door. He slowly opened it and that's when a bell finally went off in my head. ^ This whole paragraph is awkward. You need to show us more and tell us less. If you make it clear that he's remembering something, your audience is going to immediately know that he's having a flashback. For example: "I remember... I remember when I was only four, when the abuse began."

I'm not running, but speed walking this time (<-- makes it more concise and simple - and therefore, easier and more pleasant to mentally process). For some reason, the panic in mt <-- What? has diminished. As I turn the corner, I glance toward my house. To my surprise, Kurt is just standing there staring at me. <-- if you're going to refer to him by name, you need to refer to him by name more often & earlier. Otherwise, we don't realize that this is the step-dad unless we go back and re-read intensively.

I can't make out the expression on his face from this far, but from his posture he looks kind of upset. His shoulders are slumped no comma and his head is hanging on his neck like it's attached by a tiny string. <-- Creepy, man. I know that our eyes meet (no comma) and that is my breaking point. Rage rushes through my veins again (no comma) and any sympathy has been stored into a vault deep in my heart. <-- this last thing just plain doesn't make sense. I don't know what you're trying to say.

I try not to make too much of it, but it bugs me all the way back to Courtney's house.

I try to make sense of all that had happened comma, to be able to ("so I can" would be a lot more readable here) tell Courtney everything when I get back to her house.

Chapter 5

"Why didn't you tell me any of this? Adam, I could have helped you."

This is a suggestion, but new line, new character. Otherwise, we start wondering if he's the one talking, not her.I stared out the window of the tree house at the top floor of her house.

Ditto as above. "Adam, what else aren't you telling me?" Her voice penetrates my thoughts. Her house reminds me of back when we first met.

"I didn't want to burden you with my nonsense. I promise there is nothing else that I'm hiding from you." It wasn't a full lie. I'm not hiding my sister from her I'd plop a full-stop here. I just... haven't told her about her yet. "Besides," I continue. "When was I going to tell you? Between our crazy schedules comma, we've barely seen each other for 2 minutes at a time."

New character, new line. Also, this is a reaction. It deserves to have its own space, so the audience can consider it properly. She makes her cute thinking face and looks down at the cracked floorboards. I look back out the window.

I remember when ('that' is too clinical) we met - about 2 years ago, the summer I entered high school. It was exactly a month before the first day of school. My best friend, Jake, had just moved to the town next to us. (Start with a preposition, so the audience is prepared for the context) Since he was too busy to do it himself, he had asked me to get his phone charger from his old house. Of course, I hadn't checked up on it, so I had no idea it had been sold <-- Oooooohhhhh, you mean the house had been sold! For the first five times I read this, I could have sworn his buddy had sold his charger on the DL and then, for some weird reason, had just asked Adam to swing past and steal it from someone! Definitely clarify that you're talking about the house. He had told me years ago where he kept the spare key no comma and surprisingly comma, I (no need for the 'had') still remembered. It was still in the exact same spot as before too, so I picked it up and unlocked the door. When I walked in comma, I remember my heart stopping.

Standing in front of me was an exact replica of my dream girl. <--- Urrrrrrghhhhh. Really? I don't mean to be rude or hurt your feelings (honestly!), but this is straight-up Gary-Stu-Mary-Sue writing. Please, please, please don't do this. Say that she's hot AF. Say that she's gorgeous. Please, please, please don't do the "exact replica of dream girl" thing. It's been done to death and sounds really trashy, like it's popped out of a bad HM&B book. If you want your audience to cringe and die a little inside, keep it. Dark blonde hair, vibrant green eyes, perfectly rounded face, rosy, chubby cheeks no comma and high cheek bones (call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure chubby cheeks and high cheek bones cancel each other out). Besides the fact that she held a raised kitchen knife tightly in her hand, she was perfect ("yeeeeeeees! Perfect for the kidnapping! Perfect for the sacrificial altar of Katoom!" Dude, you sound creepy AF.). She must have stood at around 5 feet and 6 inches, but her heels made her seem 5 feet and ?????? inches. It was a bonus that she had the body of a model. Oh, I'm so sure it was. Seriously, dude. Not only is this creepy as creepy can be, but it's just not effective. Adding that as an afterthought either makes your character look like he's trying too hard to conceal his boner or makes him look like an ass-hat! ("Yeah. I guess she's a 9.") If it'd be creepy for a buddy to say it to someone, it's creepy for your character to say it.

"Who the hell are you and how did you just get into my house!" Her voice was also perfection What?! and strange enough, her menacing words soothed me. WHAT?!! This is not a possibility!!! I snapped out of my daze. I stuttered, trying to explain to her, but words couldn't form in my mouth. I got quiet when light footsteps came down the stairs in front of me.

"What's going on down here?" she said comma, more soothingly Wait. Who said? The chick with the knife or the chick on the stairs?. I nearly fell to the floor; the girl on the stairs was identical to the one with the kitchen knife. I assumed that it was her twin sister no comma and I couldn't control a stupid grin from appearing on my face. Dude! No! Your character is a creep and I hate him right now! This is the opposite of what you should be aiming for!

They started bickering back and forth, arguing about every possible thing wrong and right about the scenario. Sorry, but no way would this be the first thing that would happen and if it did, the onus is on you, as the author, to explain why Creeper here didn't get a word in. I whipped my head back and forth trying to keep up with the rapid discussion. Finally, the yelling reached a point that I couldn't handle. Show, don't tell!

"Let me explain!" I bellowed over the both of them and they immediately fell silent. Seriously? I'm thinking you got this straight out of a manga. Not that I have anything against manga (I love it. So very, very much), but in this art-form, we have to use words to effectively sketch out the scene for the reader. At the moment, this is weird and awkward to read - and not in a good way, where we're feeling how awkward he's feeling. It feels like he's this douche-face, who broke into their house and is now trying to drown them out with his yelling. It's not exactly a complementary sketch of your character.

"Please do." they both said in unison, making it sound like only one of them had said it. I'm fairly certain no two characters say "please do", let alone in unison. It's kind of an unique way of phrasing things, to show that someone's old-fashioned. There's no way they're both old-fashioned enough to say that at the same time. We're not in the 20s, man. I felt my face get hot no comma and I knew it was a bright shade of red.

"I-Well uh... I um... Okay." I still couldn't speak English comma (also, this makes it sound like English is a foreign language to him, not just that he's a bit mithered. Maybe try "couldn't speak properly" or something to that tilt) so I paused and took a deep breath. "My best friend used to live here. He just moved out and asked me to come back here to get something. I know (he's speaking in the present tense) where he kept the spare key, so I let myself in. I really am sorry, I didn't mean to trespass, intrude or any of that." I waited for their reactions, keeping my eyes on the kitchen knife that was still being held up by the first girl.

"Oh! Well comma, why didn't you say so? My name is Courtney - Courtney Pierce, and this is my sister Eleina." The girl on the stairs, who I now knew was Courtney, explained. Eleina lowered the knife comma, but she didn't let it go. She eyes me suspiciously and didn't accept when I offered her my hand. Yeah, I don't blame you, sister.

"Welcome to the neighborhood." I told them, trying to be friendly.

I noticed very tiny differences between the two. Courtney had long, flowing hair and Eleina had shorter, curlier hair. <-- THIS IS NOT A TINY DIFFERENCE. Also, they're not completely identical then, so you need to find a way of explaining this earlier. Eleina had a fiery look in her eyes, but I could tell even by the way she walked that Courtney was the nice one. What?! HOW?! Talking, I can understand, but there's no such thing as a "kind walk"! Maybe there was a grace in the way she moved? I took a small look around and spotted Jake's charger.

"Ah, there it is!" I walked over and picked it up. "I guess I'll just be going now!" I made my way awkwardly back to the door and pulled it open. "Thank youcomma," I added and walked out, closing the door behind me. I left out the part 'for not carving me like a pumpkin' to stay true to it. <- What? This is just weird and awkward to read. I'd have him think it in italics instead. "Haha... thanks!" For not carving me like a pumpkin! Sheesh! I stood there trying to catch my breath again. I was about to walk away when I heard hushed whispers escaping through the cracks in the door. Even if you don't use this, "where" is not "were". You want "were".

"Good job comma, Eleina! Thanks so much for scaring away yet another cute boy!" This was followed by the sound of someone stomping up stairs and, a loud sigh of frustration after a loud slam of a door as a door slammed somewhere in the house. I walked away quickly so as not to get caught eavesdropping. I really do mean it when I say that I'm not trying to discourage you, but I don't see the point of this flashback. Why is he remembering this? Why is this important? How is this not just blatant backstory for the sake of a cute backstory? If it doesn't relate to what's happening to him now, address it some other time. For now, focus on creating that pathos you're after and don't disrupt the building of that pathos with comedy. Comedy is the direct opposite of pathos & when used properly, can be used to highlight and relieve the pathos, but you need to build that pathos first.

Also, you need to clarify that the following is not part of the memory.
"I have an idea!" Courtney screams (whoa! Really?) and holds her arms up in victory. I look back at her and laugh at the cute but silly no comma accomplished look on her face.

"About what comma, exactly?"

"Tonight," she says quietly and inching towards me with every word. "How about we go on a date? A typical, cliche (no comma) date with dinner and a movie. We're both free - we can talk, spend time together, and be on a date at the same time!"

Reactions need a new line. I look at her to see if she is messing with me. She has always hated anything cliche, but I can see the seriousness in her eyes.

"Okay. You know comma, I wonder sometimes..."

"Hmm? Wonder about what?" she asks, crawling into my open arms.

"How I got so lucky. How did I get to meet such a crazy girl who gets over-enthusiastic about everything? How did we fall in love?" Urrrrrrghhhhh. I'm really trying to be encouraging, but lines like this are not helping your cause. She flashes me a cute smile.

"Fate." she replies and kisses me for a long time before we look out and watch the sunset.


OK. Overall, you need to:

- Dive into the "show, don't tell" mantra. Dig into your character and try to feel what they're feeling. Your best resource for this is your bodily sensations. Get inside your body and get familiar with how your body reacts to things. The best way to connect your audience with your character is through showing them how your character is doing, not just through their actions or words (although that's really important too), but through their involuntary reactions (i.e. When I get mad, I purse my lips, clench my jaw and fists and set my face like flint. My eyes flash, my face colours, I can feel my heartbeat racing and I start to press forward on my feet. I wouldn't list all of this, but I would say, perhaps: "Her lips pursed as her jaw set, eyes flashing fiercely." <-- This chick is MAD.)

- Stop using the passive tone constantly. It gets really, really frustrating and makes me want to throw things at your character's head. Please don't make your audience feel this way. Active voice needs to be used here a lot more than you're using it.

- Don't waste your words. Within a first-person narrative, every single word needs to help draw a portrait of the character that's telling the story. Don't throw them out there if they don't serve a purpose. Replace those words with ones that actively engage your readers by revealing your character.

- Check your comma usage & spelling.

- Know who you're writing about. It would probably be a good idea to get acquainted with true stories of abuse victims or, if you know a survivor of abuse who would be willing to talk with you about it, to ask a survivor of abuse for their story of their experiences within that sphere. You'll need to tread carefully here, though, so, for the sake of your mental health and the mental health of those around you, I recommend reading as much as you can.

- Kill the cliches. Please, please, please. Nothing is more painful to read, more of a turn-off or reveals your inexperience more than a piece of dialogue or an action that sounds like it has been lifted right out of a Sweet Valley High or HM&B book (or a terrible shoujo/school-romance manga). Please kill them or you'll end up killing your audience's love of your work. I'm not saying you can't use that situational humour - you just have to re-work it in a way that fits within a novel. For example:

We went to kiss, but then, we bumped our heads!

Should look more like:

I leaned in closer, closing my eyes. Oh, boy... here we go!
Looking back, I'm not sure now how it happened - whether she bobbed and I weaved or we were just moving too fast - but closing our eyes was definitely a rookie error. Stars burst behind my eyes as our heads collided.

See? It's not perfect (sorry), but everything there tells you something about how the character is feeling, was feeling and how they dealt with it (plus, bonus round - it tells you something about the character him/herself. They clearly have a sense of humour and can laugh at themselves.)

Anyway. Sorry for the brutality. I enjoyed reading this! I think you've got a good base here - it's just time to dig on in and get dirty with your characters. Maybe next time, post up one chapter at a time, is all.
Nice work! Let me know when the next bits are posted!
  
						Last edited by miss_smiley; 03-02-2017 at 11:50 AM.
					
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