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Old 06-10-2016, 05:11 PM View Post #1 (Link) River Dreams
artbyandream (Offline)
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Join Date: Jun 2016
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I was hoping to get some feedback on my novel 'River Dreams' I want some honest opinions about this first chapter (this is a completed 69,000 word novel that I am trying to publish) Any constructive critiques are welcome. Thank you so much for taking the time to read!


Chapter One: What the Darkness Carries

“Are they always the same?” My psychiatrist asked.
I momentarily stopped pulling at the loose thread hanging off my sweatshirt, startled by the sudden disturbance within the once comfortable silence.
Nevertheless, I focused on his question, secretly glancing towards the pile of files he had lying on his desk.
Was I one of them? I already knew the answer was yes. My life was written down in one of those files, discarded as a diagnostic. It would say my name… Vera Wright, the young schizophrenic… then it would go on to list all of my supposed problems. It’s ironic that one life can fit so easily on a piece of paper.
“Is what always the same?” I asked, hoping to dodge his question entirely.
Dr. Anderson gave me a pointed look, one which told me to stop acting coy.
“The dreams of course,” he answered, noticeably keeping his patience in check.
I sighed softly, completely discarding the navy blue sweatshirt that had been keeping me entertained.
I thought about it, chewing my bottom lip as I smiled to myself, knowing how many times people had asked me this question ’are they always the same?’ this wouldn’t be the last.
There does seem to be patterns in my dreams, almost like a musical wavelength, its notes always seem to be in the same tune each time it’s played. Even though you expect it, you never do get over the initial feelings the sound brings.
“Yes I suppose, he’s always there…if that’s what you mean,” I whisper, his haunting figure began to manifest itself in my mind, you could have called him beautiful if he didn’t look so menacing.
“What about him stands out the most?” Dr. Anderson asked, quietly jotting down a few notes before giving me an expectant stare.
“Everything I guess. There’s something about him that draws you towards him. Have you ever wanted to reach out and touch the flame of a candle? When you were a kid, I mean. Its like that, you want to reach out and touch that dangerous flicker of light, yet… your mind is telling you to turn around and run,” I said, unwillingly sighing again.
Running seemed to be my new go to answer, it was a nice break from being, yes, simply being.
"When did the dreams start?" He asked, suddenly deciding to take new route to the information he wanted.
I pondered on the subject before answering, my eyes wandering around the small room in search for an answer, but I knew I wouldn't find one there. When had they started? I had asked myself the same question a countless number of times, as if the solution to all my problems would be solved with a simple answer to a simple question.
Things aren’t simple, they never are. No one really tells you that, and when you’re old enough to find out by yourself, it hits you like a pile of bricks.
Even as a little girl I had dreamt of him, the handsome man who didn’t smile, only watched and assessed with brooding awareness. He had a darkness to him, not the kind that lives in pitch black rooms, instead the kind filtered by the shadows of swaying branches and cold moonlit nights.
That’s who he was, the darkness of a cold moonlit night.
The dreams have always been a part of me and the questionable reality I live in. Who is to say that the dreams aren’t alive and I am part of them. Am I the alter ego or the host? I stopped asking myself that question a long time ago.
Of course, the dreams had stopped for a short period of time, I suppose it was due to the medication my parents had been secretly putting in my tea. It wasn't long before the dreams had clawed their way back into my life. They were relentless in force, constantly there to remind me of how I failed to lead a normal life.
Dr. Anderson sighed impatiently as I glanced towards him, shrugging softly as I bit my pinky nail.
I was about to answer, my mouth opening as to allow my words to flow, when suddenly…the answer I had wanted to say now seemed to sound insane. You can never be too careful with your words, especially here. Someone’s just waiting for you to slip up, desperate for a morsel of proof that you might truly belong in an asylum.
"They started a long time ago, sometimes they stop but its never too long until they come back," I fumbled with my hands which restlessly lay on my lap, my sessions with Dr. Anderson always made me feel uncomfortable.
Dr. Anderson nodded his head and scribbled something down on his clip board, his pen making a scribbly sound as it dug into the paper, it made my skin crawl. That damn clipboard always managed get on my nerves. I feel like I don't have a right to see what my own "feelings" are, as if no one but he had the honor of doing so.
Dr. Anderson was a man in his late forties; he was serious and cold, always keeping his distance. Not that it mattered, I had no intentions of creating a bond with him, especially now.
"If you were to describe how these dreams play out, how would it go?" He took his attention off his clipboard, momentarily glancing at his watch.
"Its all about him, he’s always there…watching me, calling out my name as if it were something more than just that, a name, " I said, now imaging the events of the previous night.
There was something about him, something that inevitably drew me towards him, as if the universe it self would have broken in two just for me to catch a glimpse of his shadowy figure.
"Who is he, Vera?" Dr. Anderson asked crossing his legs anxiously; I noticed the hopefulness in his usually dull voice.
I looked away from his intense stare, instead becoming frustrated by the fact that this wasn’t the first time Dr. Anderson had asked me this question.
"I don't want to talk about it," I said harshly.
I could hear the sound of Dr. Anderson's pen write something down. I wonder, what does it say? Probably something like: uncooperative, unhelpful, or any other word with "un" in front of it.
My relationship with this…person…this piece of my subconscious, is still a mystery to me, something I will never be able to explain entirely, like a shadow that forever stays in the corner of my eye.
"Vera if you want me to help you, I need to know. Do you want me to help you?" He asked, arching his eyebrows almost in a concerned sort of manner, one that I was sure he had practiced in front of the mirror.
How could he help me? How could anyone help me? They have no idea what’s wrong, what can help, all they do is give me another container full of little pink pills.
"Yes, I want help," my voice came out shakier than I intended, weak even; I pulled my hand through my hair, unconsciously raking through my mind for any evidence the dreams had left.
"like I said, the dreams start with him calling out my name," I start, my gaze wanders over to Dr. Anderson for reassurance, he nods his head, urging me to continue.
"I can’t really see him, he’s like a shadow, all I can see are his shining green eyes,” I say trying to remember every possible detail hidden in his face.
“Hmmm, go on,” Dr. Anderson says, his foot bobbing up and down as he speaks.
“His voice is deep as he voice echoes all around me, never ending The darkness blocks him out and I…just stand there as this…sound…blares around me," I said, as the sudden velvet tone of his voice fills the empty space of the room, almost consuming me…pulling me towards its wavelength.
"Are you alright? Vera, are you hearing him now?" Dr. Anderson's tone is that of understanding yet the look in his eyes show disappointment in the abrupt ending to my speech.
Who could blame him, it had been a full three months with no new information.
My eyes stayed shut as my hands itched to block the sound from reaching my ears. My mouth parted as I tried to inhale the familiar scent of the room, tobacco and coffee, as to keep me grounded.
"That's enough for today, Vera. I'm going to give you a prescription for a medication that will hopefully help with the voices. I’ll give the details to your mother," he said.
My eyes snapped open, the sound now subduing into the depths of my mind as I placed my hands by my sides, the room spinning slightly as I regained my focus.
“More pills, really?” I asked, my legs becoming numb as I stood up from the uncomfortable couch I had been seated on.
"Vera lets not start this conversation again," Dr. Anderson remarked, his eyes peering over the metal rim of his glasses as he assessed my flustered state.
“Why not?” I asked, my temper beginning to flare.
“Because we both know that you need these pills, like it or not, you need them. I’ll tell your mom to keep an eye out for any side effects but don’t worry, everything should go smoothly,” he said.
I felt tears of frustration well up as a lump formed in my throat, for a moment I wanted to scream, cry and stomp my feet in hopes of getting my way yet I knew that Dr. Anderson was never easily persuaded.
Thus I did what I thought best and walked out of the office, leaving behind any rude comment I had wanted to make.
"Mrs. Wright," Dr, Anderson said, his footsteps sounding just behind me, "Vera is ready."
My mother sat up from her seat, her eyes quickly glancing towards the puffy redness of my face, yet she knew by the look I gave her, that I was in no mood to talk about it.
"How is she?" My mother asked, directing her question towards Dr. Anderson, not me.
I’ve noticed people tend to stop asking me directly how I feel when there’s a doctor involved, especially when they can let the professional answer. Who wouldn’t do that? Besides, how could I possibly understand the complexity of the mind I have been using for seventeen years? No, please, ask the doctor.
I try to stay quiet as this occurs, realizing that it would be best for everyone if I did so.
"She’s made some progress, maybe we could speak in private," he said gesturing back to his office.
My mother reached out, wrapping her nimble arms around me as I attempted to smile. She paused momentarily, her thumb quickly wiping away any trace of what had been.
“I won’t be long,” she whispered.
“I’ll wait for you here,” I answered mindlessly looking around the cluttered waiting room.
She nodded softly as she made her way towards Dr. Anderson, her dark round eyes peering up at him with concealed wariness.
I slumped against one of the leather chairs, basking in its worn coziness before casually picking up an old magazine that had been resting on the coffee table, next to it lay a pamphlet titled ‘Are you depressed?’
I flipped through the pictures of perfume bottles and models with parted mouths as I thought of today’s session, when suddenly I heard a small voice coming from Sarah, the petite woman behind the desk.
I smiled weakly at her and she returned the gesture, quickly punching in a number on the landline before going back to talking. Sarah was young to be working here; New Haven was one of Portland's most highly acclaimed psychiatric institutes. A lot of different people came here, most of whom I tend to shy away from.
I've fallen into the schizophrenic category; I suppose you could say it could be worse, which isn’t exactly wrong. Though I can’t help but think that a lot of things are better than this, people constantly telling you about your misunderstood illness merged with the usual teenage emotions…it gets old.
I always thought of schizophrenia as some sort of lie doctors come up with to categorize people with a wider view of reality. When I told Dr. Anderson that, he simply smiled as if he was expecting that statement from an insane teenager.
I glanced over at Sarah who watched me with studious eyes. I looked her up and down, she was very pretty. Her auburn hair was cut into a modern bob, framing her pale face. Sarah’s bright blue eyes ripped into mine, I never liked the way she looked at me, yet over the years of sessions with Dr. Anderson you can’t help but become acquainted with those around, meaning the secretary I shared my waiting time with.
It had become easier as of late, she would ask how it went and I would say fine. I'm not sure if that counts as acquaintances.
"How was it?" She asked, referring to my session.
I shrugged. "Same as usual."
“Are the dreams still bothering you?” She asked, the strange pendant around her neck swayed as she spoke.
I sigh, what had happened to confidentiality between doctors and patients?
“Yeah, pretty much,” I answered, turning away.
The black leather had stuck to the exposed skin on my arms, making me fidget uncomfortably with my sleeves. I pulled my hair up into a discarded pile at the top of my head, deciding I might as well make myself comfortable, mom would be in there for a while talking about how lost her poor daughter is.
I felt the familiar feeling of guilt lodge in my throat, constricting around me and blocking out the oxygen. How could I be doing this to her? I was hurting the people I love the most thanks to my own problems.
I always wonder what it would have been like if I had kept the dreams a secret.
I did at first, it was easy, seeing that they were harmless, something that only came in the darkness of my bedroom. Yet things progressed over time, the shadowy figures and haunting voices decided that the night time wasn’t room enough for them.
My eyes shot back to Sarah, she looked like she wanted to ask more questions, I was grateful when she didn't push the subject further. I went back to thinking of my mom, what she must have felt like when the doctors told her about me.
It’s such a strange feeling, knowing that someone is openly talking about you, as though you were the most interesting thing to walk the face of the earth when really all you amounted to was the words they made up.
Dr. Anderson is probably listing hundreds of pills I could take, the many mental homes I could be admitted to, and the thousands of dollars we could spend on sessions. Deep down Dr. Anderson didn't care; he didn't care about me… or any other patient for that matter.
I felt my eyes grow heavy; I shook my head and pushed all thoughts of sleep out of my brain. It wasn't the time to think about my lack of sleep, if I gave into temptation of rest, I would dream of him. I would dream of the way his dark eyes melted into mine as we somehow become one, the thought of it is terrifying yet morbidly poetic.
I remember there once had been a time in my life where I was fearless in his presence, a time where I had looked forward to seeing him in my dreams. Those feelings came to an end once I had seen the effect they took on my life as a child.
They weren’t just dreams, nor were they simple nightmares you could wake up from, they were hallucinations.
I would see monsters in my room, shadows in my school, and I saw him on the streets I walked on. They were everywhere.
The first time I spoke to anyone about this was when I was fourteen; my mother had been cooking something in the kitchen. Her golden hair had cascaded down her back, following her path as she ran to the oven. I smiled as she hummed softly to herself, still unaware of my being there. I had called out to her and told her about the strange reoccurring dreams, she smiled and listened.
“It’s not only the dreams, I can sometimes hear him talk to me,” I had said.
I had jumped away from my desk in class, simply because I heard someone whisper my name. The teacher had reprimanded me, warning that the net time I interrupted a class I would be put in detention.
My mother nodded, “In the dreams?” She asked, concerned.
“No,” was my simple frightened answer.
After a week of my parent’s subtle interrogations, I was taken to the family doctor, who insisted I was out of his medical experience. Thus, I was taken to a therapist.
They had explained to me that my feelings were a mere illusion created by my brain. I was sat down in a chair that could have fit another person entirely, and told with extra care that I was sick; if I wanted to get better I had to stay away from the boy.
I did as I was told, desperate, willing to do anything to regain my position as a regular girl. I tried ignoring him but that made things worse, he grew frustrated. The once carefree nights of intangible dreams became a living hell you couldn’t escape.
The voices, the hallucinations, the dreams, they all climbed onto my family’s back with high expectations of my obedience.
Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted when I felt a warm hand squeeze my shoulder; I looked up to meet my mother's warm brown eyes, my dad had always said I got my mom’s eyes, I never saw the similarity. Her blonde hair fell over her shoulder as strands of grey glinted in the light. I stared up at her, small wrinkles formed at the edges of her eyes from when she used to smile, she doesn't smile anymore.
"Let's go home," she said releasing her grip on my shoulder. I sighed in relief before sending a small wave to Sarah and Dr. Anderson (out of courtesy, of course) before walking down the desolate hall and reaching the elevator.

Droplets of rain fell endlessly onto the concrete, creating a sort of pattern in the air pitt-patt pitt-patt. I waited by the door, my hair becoming wet as my mom fumbled in her purse in search for her keys. After a moment of confusion she smiled in triumph before unlocking the car door.
As I got into the car, resting my head against the window, I realized my energy was at a new all time low. It felt as if the weight of my body would suffocate me, I ignored the feeling, instead listening to the soothing sound of the rain.
The drive home was painfully silent, we both were trying to avoid talking about my session with Dr. Anderson, and we both knew if we did… it would mean we didn't have anything else to talk about. Over the years my mother and I drifted apart mostly due to the fact that the only thing she could focus on was my path to recuperation, my sessions, and medication. I pressed my cheek to the cold window and watched how the rain drops made trails of water down the glass. My warm breath made the window misty and I scribbled my name on it over and over again. After a minute or two of silence a familiar echo sounded in my head joined by other various voices I couldn't understand. It was almost like a symphony made up of unknown instruments and the sound of a car’s engine.
This was a usual occurrence for me; the voices in my head were now part of my "normal" routine, when in actuality it was far from normal. The whispers were inaudible, terrifying and strange. Thus, I ignored the chaotic sound echoing in my head and quickly glanced at my mother whose brows were knitted together in confusion.
The car pulled into our cluttered driveway behind my dad's black Volvo. I didn't dare look at my mom, so we both sat there in silence; the only sound was the rain tapping against the car.
I looked over towards the forest’s edge, whose branches stood motionlessly like a still body of green water, birds would jut out of its waves, shooting up the trees narrow bodies and flying towards the surface of the sky. Every night I would look out towards the forest, the moonlight would dance above the trees, caressing its swaying limbs and prickling at the earth’s surface with a delicate sort of beauty.

It was one of the reasons why we had bought the house in the first place, that and the fact that it was close to New Haven. My parents had given me the room with the best view, in hopes that it would somehow help the fact that I had just left the prospects of a normal life behind.
"We're going to be fine," my mom said breaking the silence. I ripped my eyes off the hidden landscape and looked into my mother's eyes. The guilt crashed onto my body with such a fierce fury I couldn’t help but feel breathless. How could I push myself from someone who loved me so much?
"I know mom," I lied, I didn't know. But I ignored the truth and hugged my mom tightly, feeling the liberating relief of her arms wrapped around my body.
I wanted to cry, to sob into her shoulder as she banished all the hallucinations into the darkness, where they belonged. I wanted my mom to comfort me and make the bad dreams go away like they used to as a child.
I wasn’t a child anymore and she didn’t have it in her, so we sat there, silently hoping that nothing would get worse than it already was.

I didn't want to make her worry by seeing me cry, so I made a break towards the house, my pink converse slipping against the concrete as the cold rain hit my face, it felt good; almost as if the pressure of the afternoon was being washed away.
I wanted to stay like this forever, in the rain, hidden in the soft symphony of water against earth. Here, I didn’t have to face the worried faces of parents or the daunting task of swallowing a pill, it was simply standing…allowing the water to run down my face.
I took a deep breath and hurriedly climbed the porch steps, careful not to fall as I had done so many times before. I looked back at my mom, whose worried expression turned to her ever cluttered purse, most likely looking for the keys to the house.
Adam, my older brother never bothered to listen for the knock at the door, nor did he realize that the music that was constantly blasting in his ears would later be the main source of my mother’s complaints.
Dad would be in his study working, and just like my brother, most likely had music playing but this time it was Bach instead of Adam’s usual strain of Nirvana or Rage against the Machine.
I pulled the keys out of my jean pocket and unlocked the door, quickly throwing them on the small table next to the coat hanger, silently smiling in triumph when they didn’t slide off the surface like they normally did.

I ran up the stairs towards my room, ignoring the sound of my wet shoes squeaking against the wood floor. As I began to peel of my wet sweatshirt I heard a loud burst of laughter coming from Adam’s room, whose door was wide open, revealing the horrible mess inside.
"Hey Vera," my brother Adam said, not taking his eyes off the screen; it never ceased to amaze me how he always knew I was watching. I grunted in response, desperate for the warm recluse of my room, I craved my own space to think of the day’s occurrences.
I ran over to the white door at the end of the hall and stepped inside, making sure to shut and lock the door behind me, silently breathing a sigh of relief once alone. Although I had the privilege of having parents who allowed their children privacy, I was never too cautious when it came to the time I spent alone, seeing that it was becoming more and more limited.
I let out a loud sigh and pulled off my converse, casually glancing towards the made bed whose pillows scattered across the purple duvet, I hadn’t touched my bed for two days. Tempted, I looked away ... desperately assuring myself that I wasn’t tired.
I pushed myself off the door and wandered over to the mirror, quietly examining the sight before me. My chestnut colored hair was matted down to the pale edge of my forehead, still damp from the rain. I frowned as I saw how dark the bags under my eyes had gotten; I could have been mistaken for one of the zombies in my brother’s video game.
I unconsciously turned to stare at my bed as I began to calculate the hours I had slept this week. I made a quick decision: if I slept now it would mean not having to sleep at night where I'm most likely going to dream. In the deep I knew it was illogical and stupid, delusional even.
"Five minutes," I muttered to myself, my hands reaching towards the hem of my shirt as to pull it off, replacing it with a new dry one.
I balled my hands into fists as I looked back into the mirror. My deep eyes stared back at me, silently daring myself to take the risk of falling asleep. "I have all the time in the world" I tried to reassure myself before flopping onto the bed.
A content sigh passed my lips as I dug my face into the warmth of the pillows, my arms stretching out to touch the corners of the bed, I smiled knowing how much I wanted this how much I needed it.
Sleep came easier than I could have ever imagined, yet…so did the dreams.
A warm darkness poured into my body as I felt my self being softly carried away into a comforting sleep, something I had taken for granted. My breathing evened out as I felt myself melting into my duvet, my body succumbing to its plush softness. I didn't even have time to pray for a dreamless sleep...
There was a sudden change in atmosphere, a strange distinction in the space around me. As if the darkness itself had shed its skin and taken on a new color, a deep shade of blue, like that of twilight. It was haunting, almost beautiful in its mystery.
I felt myself shiver as a soft breeze ran over my feet, which I soon realized were bare. I turned to look behind me, in search of some sort of landscape to observe, yet there was nothing, just darkness.
"Listen to me," a deep voiced whispered, emerging from the nothingness surrounding me. The sound had been soft, almost comforting, yet my body flinched in response…almost knowing what was coming next.
I turned to look behind me, deliberately making my movements slow, giving me enough time to plead myself to wake up, to convince myself that he wasn’t real…he couldn’t hurt me.
I closed my eyes, turning my body completely as I trembled, swaying slightly as I felt a warm breath fan across my face. It smelt of the forest, that warm earth tone that seemed so prominent after the rain.
My eyes stayed closed, desperately blocking out the person who I knew would be standing there.
“Open your eyes,” his voice echoed around me making me stumble back, looking for a place to hide.
I opened my eyes, a scream clawing at my throat as I saw him. He was there, closer than I had expected…his face was mere inches from mine, a sudden jolt forwards would have made our noses touch.
I wanted to run, why couldn’t I move?
He was standing in front of me, like a God, his head held high and his hands balled into fists of frustration, he looked down at me, hunger etched in his features. I couldn't help but look for his eyes, those which mimicked the glow of an emerald shining its abnormal green as tones of amber ran wildly through his iris, leaving its traces among the contrasting color.
I took him in; it was torture in a sense, to be staring him straight in the eyes…afraid of what might come.
I studied the way he stood watching, how his broad shoulders tensed or the muscles of his arms rippled as I stepped back, or how his jet black hair fell over his forehead, almost boyishly. A shiver ran up my spine when I realized he was close enough to rip me apart, he could reach out…place his hands on my neck…and kill me.
I felt another scream rise up into my throat; the sound never truly made its way out instead it simply stayed there, lodged in my throat as I continued to stumble back despite his following me.
He had rage in his eyes, like a storm tumbling against the sea, lightning struck in its crevices as the dark clouds consumed any sign of light. I took another step back, stupidly reaching towards the darkness in hopes of finding something to hold onto.
"Listen to me, Vera,” his voice was deep and velvety, I could almost feel it against my skin.
“Get away from me!” I yelled.
It was the first time in months I had spoken in these dreams; I had made it a point to keep quiet, as to not give in to my subconscious mind games but Dr. Anderson had said I should follow the flow of the dream, see where it leads.
If only Dr. Anderson knew that things weren’t so easy when you fear for your life, even if it’s only a dream or hallucination.
For a moment he seemed surprised by my voice, taken aback even, though it wasn’t long before his ferocious persistence returned. I felt so small compared to him, so afraid, and warm as his breath glided up the skin of my collar bone.
"It’s me." He put his large hand on his chest making my eyes finally rip away from his.
"Stay away," I whispered, wrapping my arms around my body in search for some sort of comfort.
"I won't hurt you, Vera..." He looked at me with pleading eyes, “Vera.”
I gasped softly, the way he said my name left me breathless, almost entranced.
I looked down at my arm and pinched it hard enough to make a bruise come up, but this was a dream. I pinched again and again, I couldn't wake up. I clenched my jaw, looking for a place to hide, ironically, this darkness didn’t hide much.
His eyes darkened with anger, wiping out any other emotion that had been there before. He took a step closer, standing taller than before, his broad shoulders blocked anything else from view as his mouth turned up into a smile, as if daring me to run.
“Stay away from me,” I warned, my hand coming up as to stop him from coming any further, he simply laughed.
His hand lashed out in front of him, ready to grab me by the neck and devour me alive but before I could scream something strange happened. His hands weren’t around my neck, nor did I hear the sound of my bones crunching under his touch, I simply felt a strange warmth wrap around my waist.
I stood still, dumbstruck as his arms pulled me closer into his hard chest which vibrated with each beat of his heart. My arms hung lifelessly by my sides as his head nuzzled into the crook of my neck, his lips grazing the surface of my shoulder.
A heat spread through the skin he had touched, almost like a trail of fire it seared into the crevice of my collar bone, and almost like a jolt of electricity…I gained my senses.
“Let go!” I yelled, struggling to free myself from his hold.
With every attempt I made of escaping he simply tightened his grasp on my waist, coming impossibly close, leaving my heart to pound wildly in the confinement of my chest. I could feel his mouth against my skin as he spoke.
"Why can’t you see?” He asked, his voice holding an edge that could have cut me open.
"Please..." My sobs were muffled against his chest as my hand splayed out on the now damp surface of his t-shirt, wet from my tears.
Suddenly, his arms fell away, leaving me shocked by how different my body felt without the weight of his touch, almost colder…as if only now I realized I had been missing something.
His chest rose and fell with heavy breath as his gaze focused on the horizon up ahead, I stared in awe as he stepped back, almost in retreat.
"It me," he whispered, before seeping back into the unknown darkness, dissipating into the environment around us, leaving me blind.
I felt myself falling away, being placed back into the usual heaviness of reality. I was about to wake up, though I could hear his last words, he said it with a voice that made chills run up my spine.
"I will make you remember."
The words rang through the air in an endless loop of warning.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:14 PM View Post #2 (Link)
Keladry (Offline)
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Hello, artbyandream, welcome to YWO!

I wish you the hugest congratulations on finishing a first draft of an entire novel!

This is going to be a general critique because I was interested as I was nosing through the forums.

The big things I want to talk to you about, you may already know. Mostly, getting something seriously ready for publishing takes a lot of work, and this reads largely like a first draft. Which is fine! First drafts are awesome! You can't edit what you don't have down on paper. Just be aware that you may need some serious revising-- deep thinking about plot holes and structure, and then closer line editing to make sure your sentences all make sense-- before you're ready to actually start submitting the piece.

As it stands right now, consider where you want your story to begin. Is this the best place to start?

You state outright that your MC is schizophrenic, or at least that the doctors believe she is. I'm interested by the psychology behind that, and I know people who have similar disorders. I would say do a lot of research if you haven't already into symptoms, causes, psychology, etc. behind the disorder, and go through your draft and make sure it all fits. I would also research how real people with schizophrenia respond to discussions about it. Books about people who see things that may or may not be real are fun, as long as it's done tastefully. Research on therapists and psychologists is good, too.

In terms of the writing, I wonder if you could imply or give us hints of her schizophrenic symptoms before telling us her label. Then when you reveal it, we could relate. We could be like 'Oh, I see why they diagnose her like that.' Or we could be mad at the doctors for calling it something that we, as readers, know it clearly isn't. Dramatic irony!

Personally, I don't like the beginning happening in the doctor's office at all, to be honest. You're using conversation between the doctor and patient, which is fantastic! But you're using it as a method of telling us a lot of information that could very easily be shown. You tell us about the dreams, you tell us about the medicine. The dream is fascinating, but we're so distanced from it at first. If you want us readers to know about the dream, can you just show us?

Also, the conflict between Vera and the doctor feels shallow in places. Vera doesn't want to talk to the doctor, already knows how he'll react, and doesn't trust him. She tells him no. But she doesn't stick to her own opinions. All the doctor has to do is give her a little nudge and she's sharing all her secrets.

She gives in so easily that the struggle doesn't hold my interest.

Words and labels are powerful-- "hallucinations" is another label that I would introduce or imply later. It sort of gives you an excuse to not really show us the hallucinations. You list the sort of thing that we might see, but we don't get the anxiousness, the doubting whether something is real or not, the eeriness because it doesn't fit in.

When you're writing something suspenseful and frightening, it's useful to remember that the less we know, the more frightening something is. The dream at the end is frightening because we don't know who the man is, whether he's real, and what he wants with Vera. In the beginning we're just flat out told everything, which is not very suspenseful. I'd love to see Vera try to go through a normal day, maybe, and then have hints and hints build up until we finally see the dream. Really consider your reveal of important information.

For example, if you let us see the dream before telling us that the doctors think she's schizophrenic, we might be mad at the diagnosis because we know the man is real, or we might be glad that finally she's found someone who can help. It depends on how you write it.

For your writing style in general, my advice is similar. Your sentences are very direct. You tell us the doctor gives an expectant stare, that he's jotting down notes, but we don't see it. Really put oomph in your sentences. What details could you include that give us a stronger sense of what's going on? Is there any way for you to show the reader enough expression and body language that we can tell the doctor is "expectant" without you having to tell us? Give us more setting and atmosphere. Push your language.

You say "I didn't want to make her worry by seeing me cry, so I made a break towards the house" but you could show us that the mother is about to cry, you could write dialogue that convinces us Vera is worried, you can show the sweaty anxiousness of being overwhelmed. Really build up to Vera running away to the house. That's a big deal. Make your writing a big deal. If it's not a big deal, move on to something that is.

Also, last thing: formatting. When you post on YWO, all the indentations will disappear. There are ways to mimic indentations which are useful for poetry, but for the writing forums, you need an enter after every paragraph.

There are tools at the bottom of the editing box when you post for separating paragraphs and previewing your post. Those are very useful because when you copy-paste directly, often italics and underlining will disappear as well. Make sure you proofread everything.


Anyway, I'm really hopeful for this idea-- that man is so creepy and I want to know who he is and what he wants with Vera!! So I hope you keep working on it and posting more.

I'm sorry if my response is long. Let me know if my comments were helpful and sensible or not at all, and definitely tell me if you have any questions/comments about anything.

Nice work.
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Definitely let me know if you'd like a critique--- I'd love to.
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Old 06-13-2016, 03:12 PM View Post #3 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
artbyandream (Offline)
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Originally Posted by Keladry View Post
Hello, artbyandream, welcome to YWO!

I wish you the hugest congratulations on finishing a first draft of an entire novel!

This is going to be a general critique because I was interested as I was nosing through the forums.

The big things I want to talk to you about, you may already know. Mostly, getting something seriously ready for publishing takes a lot of work, and this reads largely like a first draft. Which is fine! First drafts are awesome! You can't edit what you don't have down on paper. Just be aware that you may need some serious revising-- deep thinking about plot holes and structure, and then closer line editing to make sure your sentences all make sense-- before you're ready to actually start submitting the piece.

As it stands right now, consider where you want your story to begin. Is this the best place to start?

You state outright that your MC is schizophrenic, or at least that the doctors believe she is. I'm interested by the psychology behind that, and I know people who have similar disorders. I would say do a lot of research if you haven't already into symptoms, causes, psychology, etc. behind the disorder, and go through your draft and make sure it all fits. I would also research how real people with schizophrenia respond to discussions about it. Books about people who see things that may or may not be real are fun, as long as it's done tastefully. Research on therapists and psychologists is good, too.

In terms of the writing, I wonder if you could imply or give us hints of her schizophrenic symptoms before telling us her label. Then when you reveal it, we could relate. We could be like 'Oh, I see why they diagnose her like that.' Or we could be mad at the doctors for calling it something that we, as readers, know it clearly isn't. Dramatic irony!

Personally, I don't like the beginning happening in the doctor's office at all, to be honest. You're using conversation between the doctor and patient, which is fantastic! But you're using it as a method of telling us a lot of information that could very easily be shown. You tell us about the dreams, you tell us about the medicine. The dream is fascinating, but we're so distanced from it at first. If you want us readers to know about the dream, can you just show us?

Also, the conflict between Vera and the doctor feels shallow in places. Vera doesn't want to talk to the doctor, already knows how he'll react, and doesn't trust him. She tells him no. But she doesn't stick to her own opinions. All the doctor has to do is give her a little nudge and she's sharing all her secrets.

She gives in so easily that the struggle doesn't hold my interest.

Words and labels are powerful-- "hallucinations" is another label that I would introduce or imply later. It sort of gives you an excuse to not really show us the hallucinations. You list the sort of thing that we might see, but we don't get the anxiousness, the doubting whether something is real or not, the eeriness because it doesn't fit in.

When you're writing something suspenseful and frightening, it's useful to remember that the less we know, the more frightening something is. The dream at the end is frightening because we don't know who the man is, whether he's real, and what he wants with Vera. In the beginning we're just flat out told everything, which is not very suspenseful. I'd love to see Vera try to go through a normal day, maybe, and then have hints and hints build up until we finally see the dream. Really consider your reveal of important information.

For example, if you let us see the dream before telling us that the doctors think she's schizophrenic, we might be mad at the diagnosis because we know the man is real, or we might be glad that finally she's found someone who can help. It depends on how you write it.

For your writing style in general, my advice is similar. Your sentences are very direct. You tell us the doctor gives an expectant stare, that he's jotting down notes, but we don't see it. Really put oomph in your sentences. What details could you include that give us a stronger sense of what's going on? Is there any way for you to show the reader enough expression and body language that we can tell the doctor is "expectant" without you having to tell us? Give us more setting and atmosphere. Push your language.

You say "I didn't want to make her worry by seeing me cry, so I made a break towards the house" but you could show us that the mother is about to cry, you could write dialogue that convinces us Vera is worried, you can show the sweaty anxiousness of being overwhelmed. Really build up to Vera running away to the house. That's a big deal. Make your writing a big deal. If it's not a big deal, move on to something that is.

Also, last thing: formatting. When you post on YWO, all the indentations will disappear. There are ways to mimic indentations which are useful for poetry, but for the writing forums, you need an enter after every paragraph.

There are tools at the bottom of the editing box when you post for separating paragraphs and previewing your post. Those are very useful because when you copy-paste directly, often italics and underlining will disappear as well. Make sure you proofread everything.


Anyway, I'm really hopeful for this idea-- that man is so creepy and I want to know who he is and what he wants with Vera!! So I hope you keep working on it and posting more.

I'm sorry if my response is long. Let me know if my comments were helpful and sensible or not at all, and definitely tell me if you have any questions/comments about anything.

Nice work.

Thank you for taking the time to read and give such wonderful feedback! This really helped me. I started writing this when I was fourteen, now at sixteen I decided to re-write it. Im hoping that this could be my first published novel, so it really does mean a lot that you took the time!

I will take in account everything you have said, I hope to better myself as a writer as much as I can. I want to be able to make writing my career and its people like you who put the effort into helping another writer that make that possible.

Would you be willing to read the book? I understand if you dont have time but I thought I would give it a shot.

Again, thank you so much, truly from my heart.

-Andromeda
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