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Darkened-Storm WIP / 6 Sentences Submissions - Feedback


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First submission for feedback: 

Fandom: Digimon

Feedback I'm looking for: Dialogue, flow and characterisation, but more importantly, is it clear what emotions are being conveyed here?

Read on =) 

------

The occasional spat between them wasn’t uncommon, but it usually took a few hours before one of them would calm down enough so that they could talk about it, so she was surprised when she heard the sound of footfalls approaching. 
“I told you that I needed a minute  - ”
She whirled around, her words dying in her throat when she saw it wasn’t her cousin standing behind her, but rather Matt Ishida, one of the other unfortunate children from summer camp that had been sent to this new world. 
“Oh,” she muttered, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks. “I thought you were … nevermind.” She sighed, staring down at the grass and feeling rather embarrassed. You’re never going to make any friends if you keep biting everybody’s heads off, the annoying voice in her head told her. *** 
He sat down on the ground beside her, hugging his knees against his chest and staring at the grass.  Even the grass here felt different - like soft felt instead of fibrous plant matter. “Things got pretty heated back there,” he commented, keeping his tone light.
Steph continued to stare at the grass. *** “I shouldn’t have lost my temper,” she said, casting her eyes towards the campsite where Tai and the others were gathered. 
“It’s easy for them,” he muttered, and there was a touch of resentment in his voice. “They don’t have a brother or sister to look out for like we do.”
“We’re cousins, actually,” Steph explained. “We used to be really close when we were kids, but these days we don’t get along so well.” 
“The two of you grew up together then?” he guessed. 
She nodded. “My Dad’s work involves a lot of travel and my Mum is a doctor  - when she would work night shifts while Dad was away I would stay with my aunt and uncle. Sleepovers are really fun when you’re kids, but I think as we both got older we made our own friends and drifted apart.” *** 
“It’s like you used to be so close to a person that you knew what they were thinking even before they did themselves. And then things changed and now when I try to talk to her, it’s like I’m talking to a stranger.”  “I know the feeling,” he muttered, and she knew he was speaking from personal experience. The revelation that Matt and T.K’s parents were separated had certainly answered some of her earlier questions about the strange relationship between the brothers. 
“How long have you been separated for?” she asked tentatively - she knew he had a tendency to lose his temper whenever someone brought up his family situation. But the Matt sitting beside her staring at the grass suddenly seemed very different that the Matt who had been arguing with Taichi at every opportunity these last few days. 
“A few years,” he admitted. “We see each other for a week or so every summer.” 
“That must be hard on the both of you.” 
He shrugged, tugging at the blades of grass with his fingers. “I’m used to it - but T.K doesn’t understand. He wasn’t even supposed to come to camp with us, but I think both of my parents let him come just to avoid having a conversation with each other. And now we’re trapped here …” he trailed off. **
She didn’t know why, but Steph had the sudden urge to reach out and clasp her hand over his. He flinched at the touch, but didn’t pull his hand away. She wondered how long it had been since he’d  been this honest with anyone other than his brother. 
She searched for something to say - something that would convey to him that she understood even if she couldn’t do anything to fix the situation. “You do a good job of taking care of T.K,” she told him kindly. 
He looked up at her, the corners of his mouth forming the first genuine smile she’d seen from him in the three days. “Thanks.” 
She smiled nervously, aware of the way his sapphire eyes were fixated intently on her. Slowly and awkwardly, she drew back her hand. “We should get back to the others,” she said reluctantly. “It’s probably not safe to stay separate for too long.” 
She glanced back toward the campsite where the others had gathered kindling for a fire. She heard Tai’s voice call out to Agumon, and the small dinosaur Digimon opened his mouth, letting out a jet of fire that set not only the bundle of logs and twigs alight, but also some of the surrounding grass. 
She saw a flash of irritation cross Matt’s face at Agumon’s carelessness - it had been a wayward spark from Tai’s campfire earlier that had made Seadramon attack them earlier. With a tsk of annoyance, he turned away and stretched out against the grass, folding his hands behind his head. 
“We’re not that far away,” he insisted as Steph watched Tai hastily stamp out the grass. “Besides, Gabumon’s watching - if there’s any trouble he can just Digivolve to Garurumon.” 
Steph wanted to argue that just because his partner could Digivolve now, that didn’t mean they should take unnecessary risks but then she remembered that heading back to the campsite would mean she’d have to apologise to her cousin. 
“Just a little longer then,” she conceded, ignoring the slight dampness of the ground as she stretched out beside him and cast her eyes back up at the stars again, thinking back to the many nights she and Becky had done the same on the rooftop of their apartment building. The artificial lights of Tokyo’s skyline had drowned out all but the brightest stars then but here, in the wilderness of the Digital World, the stars lit up the sky like a kaleidoscope. 
“I keep studying the constellations,” she told him. “I thought if I could identify one or two of them, I might be able to figure out where we are - or at least get some idea of how much time has passed since we got here.” 
“Any luck?”
She shook her head, forgetting that he couldn’t see her face. “Not yet,” she admitted. “I don’t recognise a single one of these constellations - which is weird because constellations are made up of stars that are a million light years away. Even if we were on another planet in the galaxy, they would still appear in the same patterns as they would on Earth. Unless of course we were in another galaxy, but that’s just crazy talk…”
She trailed off, acutely aware that she was rambling, which she knew was one of her less endearing qualities. Usually, when she rambled, Tai would tell her that she was being weird again and Becky would complain that she was over complicating things. 
Matt did neither of those things, ** but instead had let her ramble until she’d simply run out of words to say and silence fell over them both. When she turned her head to look at him she saw that he lay unmoving beside her, looking up at the stars. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, Steph realised, but rather a contented  one. She felt better having gotten things off her chest, even if she hadn’t expected to unload those feelings on someone who was basically a stranger to her. ***
“That one looks like a rabbit,” he said after a moment. 
Steph blinked, somewhat confused. “What?” 
He pointed up to the sky. “That constellation - it reminds me of a rabbit.”
Steph squinted at the sky, attempting to follow his line of sight until she found a group of stars hovering above the horizon. “That looks nothing like a rabbit,” she said slowly. 
“Yes it does,” he insisted, tracing the stars with his fingers to demonstrate. “That’s the head … and those stars are the ears. And that star over there is the tail. See?” 
She did, sort of. “Okay, it’s a rabbit,” she conceded, then she grinned. “A very demented looking rabbit.”
He tsked, dropping his hand so that it came to on the grass between them. When he spoke next, his voice was challenging; “I’d like to see you come up with a better one then.”
She huffed, casting her eyes up at the stars again. “There,” she said finally, pointing. “That one looks like a dragon.” 
“Where?” There was excitement in his voice as he inched closer to her on the grass, his shoulder bumping roughly against hers.

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  • Administrator

All right. Some points as I eat lunch and read this on two screens.

@darkened-storm

DIALOGUE

  • Dialogue is fine to me. The reader gets a sense of the background of the characters though it helps I've read enough of your work to know a bit more about them heh
  • Drop 'asked' after the question marks. You don't need them.
  • Drop adverbs like tentatively, nervously, intently, awkwardly, reluctantly. Kill them. They don't add anything to the scene than what's already been implied (like I know the character is already nervous without the adverb).
  • The conversations about the constellations was light-hearted fun. Rabbits, heh. 
  • I also like how added some action to the characters to make them feel more alive. The little touches and also taking note of what other characters are doing.

FLOW

  • It flows well. I tend to read aloud to myself when I'm looking for constructive feedback, and nothing really stood out to me as being awkwardly phrased. Just watch the adverbs. You know how I feel about adverbs, lol.

CHARACTERIZATION

  • I think you don't need to mention "She sighed, staring down at the grass and feeling rather embarrassed." The embarrassed has already been shown through 'feeling the heat rise to her cheeks' so you can drop the part about feeling embarrassed as it's already implied. What sort of characterisation are you trying to aim for in this scene? 
  • I did like the interaction between Steph and Matt.
  • I can totally see Tai frantically stamping out the fire. That's so Tai.

Anyways. Overall, I think it's a solid piece. I do get a slight feel for the characters and I'm sure there's more to this than what's been shared.

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Take all of this with a grain of salt because I am not trained as a writer and I make mistakes all the time and don't necessarily know what I'm talking about.

----

Okay, first off, this reads really well and you immediately get the situation Steph and Matt are in and that you, as the writer, have a good grasp of both characters. The dialogue is solid; there's a clear sense of personality and two people trying to get to know each other, while retaining the awkwardness of being strangers stuck together. And that there are tensions rising in camp - which Tai is oblivious to.

But I've read it a few times, and it feels stilted, so I pulled it apart. Now you can feel free to ignore all of this. You can stop right here, but I know if my writing wasn't giving me the spark it should, I'd want to know what's making it flat. Is it just the reader not picking up the right emotion or is it the technical aspects of the writing slowing it down? So I made notes, because there's a great foundation, it just needs pulled together more, which I know you'll do, anyway.

The whole first part is a slog, only because there are too many long sentences together. 

  • The first line is very long and convoluted. You could break it up and make it more pithy.
  • On Matt's arrival, cut the "that had been" — there's a lot of "that's" used and you can cut them to make the descriptions more punchy.
  • Steph is staring at the grass. Matt is staring at the grass. Steph is still staring at the grass. So many mentions of grass creates a trigger word that causes readers to stumble - it's disrupting the flow.
  • If you've described what Steph is doing, you don't need to follow it up with a dialogue tag. We know it's Steph answering Matt.

 

  • On 1/14/2022 at 7:40 AM, darkened-storm said:

    and there was a touch of resentment in his voice.

    Maybe something like: Resentment touched his voice or resentment tinged his voice - the "there was a" is extra wording that slows down pace.

  • If he says "I know the feeling" the comment following it "speaking from personal experience" is redundant.

  • Dialogue tags - there's a lot of them, they're very distinct. Said is a great word and so is asked, because they're invisible to the reader. I don't know how many times you wrote said but I know that conceded was used twice.

  • On Aquila's note above, while adverbs lend a certain style to the writing and stop it from becoming too dry, they need to be used in moderation and you have a series of them in a row around the awkward hand touch. I do this a lot myself in my drafts, so it's something I'm very conscious of. One is probably enough there, but think about which one will have impact.

  • If a flash of irritation crosses Matt's face, we'll assume Steph saw it. She's the POV character. You can cut those descriptors because it slows things down - same with Steph wanted, Steph remembered, Steph thought. Instead of making the reader feel included in the immediacy of the scene, it's more like we're hearing about it at coffee.

    • But this could be a style thing again, so take that advice with a pinch of salt. I personally feel distanced from the story with it, but others may not. I'm not trying to change your writing style, just giving advice.

  • Could do with more use of the five senses. I know the grass feels like felt, and it's damp, but is there's a breeze, is it cold? Can they smell the smoke from the fire or is it blowing away? Is there an ocean near by? Is there any light reflecting from the stars? Other sounds like insects? Can they taste of rain in the air? It would just give more oomph to the scene and root the characters in that world.

  • The Tokyo Timeline is a really good comparison! I love it. Also, again, reminds us that Becky and Steph weren't always at odds with each other. There was a bond. And it's not shoved down our throats, it's very subtly done.

  • Also, the rambling being less than an endearing quirk, maybe have the line of Becky follow up her realising she's rambling. It highlights that this is a "flaw" she's aware of because Becky has told her so while it also brings to light the fact that Matt doesn't find it annoying.

  • The constellation definitely flows a lot better. There's good back and forth and a sense of two people finding common ground.

Over all this is a solid piece. I wouldn't have critiqued this if it wasn't in this section because it reads well. If you want to take the advice on board, it can make the scene feel a bit more dynamic and I know that sometimes we're too close to the writing to see what we could work on. However, a lot of critique is personal preference and based on what kind of writing we're familiar with. And good writing is very subjective, so please take all of this with a pinch of salt.

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On 1/14/2022 at 5:40 PM, darkened-storm said:

First submission for feedback: 

Fandom: Digimon

Feedback I'm looking for: Dialogue, flow and characterisation, but more importantly, is it clear what emotions are being conveyed here?

Read on =) 

------

The occasional spat between them wasn’t uncommon, but it usually took a few hours before one of them would calm down enough so that they could talk about it, so she was surprised when she heard the sound of footfalls approaching. 
“I told you that I needed a minute  - ”
She whirled around, her words dying in her throat when she saw it wasn’t her cousin standing behind her, but rather Matt Ishida, one of the other unfortunate children from summer camp that had been sent to this new world. 
“Oh,” she muttered, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks. “I thought you were … nevermind.” She sighed, staring down at the grass and feeling rather embarrassed. You’re never going to make any friends if you keep biting everybody’s heads off, the annoying voice in her head told her. *** 
He sat down on the ground beside her, hugging his knees against his chest and staring at the grass.  Even the grass here felt different - like soft felt instead of fibrous plant matter. “Things got pretty heated back there,” he commented, keeping his tone light.
Steph continued to stare at the grass. *** “I shouldn’t have lost my temper,” she said, casting her eyes towards the campsite where Tai and the others were gathered. 
“It’s easy for them,” he muttered, and there was a touch of resentment in his voice. “They don’t have a brother or sister to look out for like we do.”
“We’re cousins, actually,” Steph explained. “We used to be really close when we were kids, but these days we don’t get along so well.” 
“The two of you grew up together then?” he guessed. 
She nodded. “My Dad’s work involves a lot of travel and my Mum is a doctor  - when she would work night shifts while Dad was away I would stay with my aunt and uncle. Sleepovers are really fun when you’re kids, but I think as we both got older we made our own friends and drifted apart.” *** 
“It’s like you used to be so close to a person that you knew what they were thinking even before they did themselves. And then things changed and now when I try to talk to her, it’s like I’m talking to a stranger.”  “I know the feeling,” he muttered, and she knew he was speaking from personal experience. The revelation that Matt and T.K’s parents were separated had certainly answered some of her earlier questions about the strange relationship between the brothers. 
“How long have you been separated for?” she asked tentatively - she knew he had a tendency to lose his temper whenever someone brought up his family situation. But the Matt sitting beside her staring at the grass suddenly seemed very different that the Matt who had been arguing with Taichi at every opportunity these last few days. 
“A few years,” he admitted. “We see each other for a week or so every summer.” 
“That must be hard on the both of you.” 
He shrugged, tugging at the blades of grass with his fingers. “I’m used to it - but T.K doesn’t understand. He wasn’t even supposed to come to camp with us, but I think both of my parents let him come just to avoid having a conversation with each other. And now we’re trapped here …” he trailed off. **
She didn’t know why, but Steph had the sudden urge to reach out and clasp her hand over his. He flinched at the touch, but didn’t pull his hand away. She wondered how long it had been since he’d  been this honest with anyone other than his brother. 
She searched for something to say - something that would convey to him that she understood even if she couldn’t do anything to fix the situation. “You do a good job of taking care of T.K,” she told him kindly. 
He looked up at her, the corners of his mouth forming the first genuine smile she’d seen from him in the three days. “Thanks.” 
She smiled nervously, aware of the way his sapphire eyes were fixated intently on her. Slowly and awkwardly, she drew back her hand. “We should get back to the others,” she said reluctantly. “It’s probably not safe to stay separate for too long.” 
She glanced back toward the campsite where the others had gathered kindling for a fire. She heard Tai’s voice call out to Agumon, and the small dinosaur Digimon opened his mouth, letting out a jet of fire that set not only the bundle of logs and twigs alight, but also some of the surrounding grass. 
She saw a flash of irritation cross Matt’s face at Agumon’s carelessness - it had been a wayward spark from Tai’s campfire earlier that had made Seadramon attack them earlier. With a tsk of annoyance, he turned away and stretched out against the grass, folding his hands behind his head. 
“We’re not that far away,” he insisted as Steph watched Tai hastily stamp out the grass. “Besides, Gabumon’s watching - if there’s any trouble he can just Digivolve to Garurumon.” 
Steph wanted to argue that just because his partner could Digivolve now, that didn’t mean they should take unnecessary risks but then she remembered that heading back to the campsite would mean she’d have to apologise to her cousin. 
“Just a little longer then,” she conceded, ignoring the slight dampness of the ground as she stretched out beside him and cast her eyes back up at the stars again, thinking back to the many nights she and Becky had done the same on the rooftop of their apartment building. The artificial lights of Tokyo’s skyline had drowned out all but the brightest stars then but here, in the wilderness of the Digital World, the stars lit up the sky like a kaleidoscope. 
“I keep studying the constellations,” she told him. “I thought if I could identify one or two of them, I might be able to figure out where we are - or at least get some idea of how much time has passed since we got here.” 
“Any luck?”
She shook her head, forgetting that he couldn’t see her face. “Not yet,” she admitted. “I don’t recognise a single one of these constellations - which is weird because constellations are made up of stars that are a million light years away. Even if we were on another planet in the galaxy, they would still appear in the same patterns as they would on Earth. Unless of course we were in another galaxy, but that’s just crazy talk…”
She trailed off, acutely aware that she was rambling, which she knew was one of her less endearing qualities. Usually, when she rambled, Tai would tell her that she was being weird again and Becky would complain that she was over complicating things. 
Matt did neither of those things, ** but instead had let her ramble until she’d simply run out of words to say and silence fell over them both. When she turned her head to look at him she saw that he lay unmoving beside her, looking up at the stars. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, Steph realised, but rather a contented  one. She felt better having gotten things off her chest, even if she hadn’t expected to unload those feelings on someone who was basically a stranger to her. ***
“That one looks like a rabbit,” he said after a moment. 
Steph blinked, somewhat confused. “What?” 
He pointed up to the sky. “That constellation - it reminds me of a rabbit.”
Steph squinted at the sky, attempting to follow his line of sight until she found a group of stars hovering above the horizon. “That looks nothing like a rabbit,” she said slowly. 
“Yes it does,” he insisted, tracing the stars with his fingers to demonstrate. “That’s the head … and those stars are the ears. And that star over there is the tail. See?” 
She did, sort of. “Okay, it’s a rabbit,” she conceded, then she grinned. “A very demented looking rabbit.”
He tsked, dropping his hand so that it came to on the grass between them. When he spoke next, his voice was challenging; “I’d like to see you come up with a better one then.”
She huffed, casting her eyes up at the stars again. “There,” she said finally, pointing. “That one looks like a dragon.” 
“Where?” There was excitement in his voice as he inched closer to her on the grass, his shoulder bumping roughly against hers.

i do not write much so i cant give you much writer advice. i found your piece quite cute and fluffy (my favourite type of romance). it's a bit wordy though.

i used to have the biggest fangirl crush on matt ishida and i like your characterisation of him here. he's nowhere near as broody.

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  • Community Leader

WIP Submission #2

 

Context: After the battle with Alphamon at Pallette Town, the cousins discuss Omnimon’s failed Digivolution. 

** Note: I don’t usually post FIRST drafts, but at the moment I’m really delving into the relationship between the two cousins, and how Becky plays more of a voice of reason to a more reluctant Steph who prefers to avoid the difficult situations ... This is mostly just dialogue at this stage with some cute Digimon thrown in

What I'm looking for: How does the dialogue read, how does it convey the relationship between the two characters, and how do the characters come across. Is Becky being fair or selfish in pushing Steph to confront the two boys. Are these two characters that you want to read? 

 

--- 

The sound of the front door opening and closing, followed by the jingling of keys being placed on the hall table.

“I’m home,” Steph Summers called out.

“In the kitchen,” Becky replied, shutting her laptop just as her cousin entered the living room.

The older girl dumped her jacket and scarf unceremoniously over the back of the couch and headed for the kitchen. “I got us some yakisoba from that place you like down the street.”

Comfort food, Becky thought and she knew immediately that her cousin was feeling guilty over the battle with Alphamon.

Becky didn’t know what more the Chosen could have done when the mega Digimon had slipped through the distortion in the middle of a busy shopping district. Unlike at the airport, there had been a real and immediate danger to civilian life and Becky knew that if not for their quick actions, Alphamon would have likely destroyed Meicoomon.
Meiko and Meicoomon… what did the appearance of a new Chosen and her partner have to do with the distortions causing havoc around Tokyo? It was just one of the questions that Nishijima and Himekawa had carefully left unanswered.

“Smells good,” Becky said, seating herself at the bench as Steph unpacked an assortment of containers - Becky knew her cousin had a tendency to over-order on food when she was upset.

“Pass me a noodle bowl,” she instructed. Becky did and Steph heaped a spoonful of yakisoba into the bowl before passing it across the bench towards her.

Becky poked at it with her chopsticks and raised an eyebrow. “Vegetarian food? You’re spoiling me.”

“Did someone say food?” a small voice pipped up from the floor. The smell of noodles had roused the two in-training digimon from their nap.

Steph laughed and bent to scoop Tokomon from the floor. “Let me guess, you’re hungry again.”

“We’re always hungry!” Nyaromon quiped.

As she watched her cousin serve up a helping for each of the Digimon, Becky figured it was best to just rip off the band-aid. “Are we going to talk about what happened today?”

Steph paused, her chopsticks hovering over the bowl. “Which part?”

Becky sighed impatiently. “You know which part - the DNA digivolution … it failed.”

The words hung in the air like a thick fog in the tiny kitchen. Steph said nothing, carefully replacing the lids on the plastic food containers before placing them in the fridge. She shut the fridge door with a heavy sigh. “You saw that, huh?”

“I saw Tai pull back at the last minute, right when Omnimon was about to unleash his attack.”

Steph’s eyes narrowed. “You think it failed because of Tai?”

“We were both thinking it,” Becky said. I’m just the only one brave enough to say it, she thought. “There’s something going on with him.”

There was a sudden POP! and Becky looked over to see that halfway through sharing their noodle bowl, the in-training digimon had evolved to Patamon and Salamon respectively, completely oblivious to the seriousness of their partners’ conversation.

“Tai is …” Steph paused, as though she felt that what she was about to say could be considered blasphamy. “He’s going through some things right now. And Matt - I don’t know what’s going on in his head at the best of times.”

Becky quirked an eyebrow. “We’re all going through things,” she remarked. “That’s part of growing up. But there are bigger problems right now than their petty squabbles.”

Steph sighed reluctantly, and Becky knew that she was beginning to get through to her at last. “What makes you think I’ll be able to get through to either of them any better than Kari or T.K?”

“Because whether we like it or not, the four of us carry a lot more responsibility than the other Digidestined. And because unlike Kari and T.K, you also have a DNA digivolution - you know better than anyone why it failed.”

Her cousin’s expression grew tense and Becky knew there was no need to clarify. The DNA evolutions didn’t work when the Chosen partners were at odds with one another, and Tai and Matt had never been more disagreeable than they were now.

“You know I wouldn’t ask you to do this if we had any other choice,” Becky insisted. “But you know as well as I do that Crusadermon wouldn’t have stood a chance against Alphamon on her own.”
Steph sighed. “Why didn’t you say this sooner?”

Becky did her best to offer a kind smile. “I’m saying it now.”

“Alright then,” Steph conceded.

“Great, you better get going then,” Becky said, tossing Steph her keys. The older girls eyes widened and she brought her hands up to protect her face. The keys clattered loudly to the floor.

“Hey,” her cousin complained as Becky scooped the keys back up and ushered her cousin out the front door, Patamon in toe.

“You really think she can get Matt and Tai to talk?” Salamon asked, staring down the hall.

Becky shrugged. “I think we’re running out of other options, Salamon.”

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