Peer Review by r|A|i|N (United States)

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The Family That Steals Together Stays Together: Prologue

By: pencils.and.paper.roses


If you were to stand outside the Target in Kansas City’s Legends Outlet on the night of October 9th, you would’ve seen something interesting. You would have seen five people, some of them children, go inside. One might’ve hesitated for a second.

Then it would have been silence, nothing happening for about fifteen minutes. Of course, you probably would’ve left by then, but bear with me here. After those fifteen minutes, the five people would have come back, all of them carrying armloads of stuff, climbed into a car, and driven away.

Now, I know you’ve got questions. Why were they going inside at night? What were they doing? Why were there kids? How do you know any of this?

And all of those questions can be answered in just one sentence: I’m Riley Aniyah, and I come from a family of criminals.
You see, it started with my dad.


Before he married my mom and had kids, my dad joined a gang on accident. He had just moved out and was trying to get a job, but ended up at a place that was fronting a small gang for the time being. He thought it sounded interesting (and he needed a change of pace after the boredom of their front), so he joined them. After he married my mom, he didn’t want to stop, so he didn’t.

When my older sister Sierra was about 7 years old, he decided he needed a partner. Weirdly enough, Sierra was his top choice. Small hands and all, you know? So she accompanied him for the first time on her 8th birthday and seemed to enjoy it. It continued like that until my twin brother Wesley and I turned 8 and started coming with him regularly. Our youngest brother Seth did the same.
liked it right from the start, and I’m unusually good at it. I’ve gone with him for almost every job since then, while the others stay back more often. We’ve gotten stuff from all over the country: our hometown of Kansas City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, even a few smaller towns (we didn’t get much from those.).

But Sierra’s heading off to college in a few weeks. Soon it’ll just be me, Wesley, and Seth left. I’m kind of looking forward to it, but it’s not gonna be easy doing it with one less person. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, right?

You know, I probably shouldn’t be telling you any of this, so I’ll shut up now.

Message to Readers

This is the beginning of my Camp NaNoWriMo July project this year! I'm hoping to publish it after all of it's edited, hopefully traditionally. Leave a comment if you want me to continue posting it here, and feel free to review! :D

Peer Review

i'm completely captivated by this first installment of the story. you've created a prologue that's charming, intriguing, and creative. i love riley as the narrator––she suitably tells the novel while also maintaining a personality and an important role in the story. this prologue is also very well-formatted; the narrator eases the reader into the story in a masterful way. i love the traditional crime scenario, and the following more explanatory yet equally interesting dialogue. i can't wait for more content on this interesting premise. this is lovely!

there were two things that i noticed were of lack in this piece: description and explanation. i noticed that scenic description was often missing in key places, such as the crime scene scenario. i love the idea that you've set up there, but it could use enhancement––it's a crime scene, so it should be as specific as possible. for example, don't say "they were carrying armloads of stuff", instead, go for the longer approach––"they were hauling mounds of valuables––everything from diamonds to portraits––in their sweaty arms, stumbling under the immense weight of the treasure as they carried it off to the car, which glinted ominously in the darkness". obviously put these types of things in your own words, but you get what i mean. don't be afraid to elaborate and describe the events that are important to the story. instead of saying "it was evening", talk about what the evening was like. the prologue gets essential points across, but it doesn't dress the ideas up in a descriptive sense. i would consider adding more sensory images. the other thing that could improve this piece is sufficient explanation for the actions of the characters. i mostly noticed this in the second half of the prologue. as i was highlighting the later part of the chapter, i was often tempted to merely comment, "this needs to be longer" or "why did this happen?" a few important parts of the story are missing: how did dad feel about joining a gang? what did he do there? why did he want sierra, of all people, to be his partner? why did he need the family to help him? how did this crime work shift the family dynamic? what exactly do the kids do? have they ever been caught? etc. etc. i understand that these things will be better explained in future chapters, but the prologue feels a little unsatisfactory in its unexplained factors. what you have here is the skeleton of a chapter; add some meat.

Reviewer Comments

i'm so excited for this novel. it has real potential, especially with such an interesting premise. you make a great teaser here: i instantly want more! be sure to read the highlights for my specific suggestions, and the questions for broader thoughts about the piece as a whole. keep working on this great idea. i look forward to reading revisions & future chapters. make sure to notify me when such pieces are written!
if any of my comments were vague or unclear, feel free to ask for clarification. i have a lot of highlights and i'm not sure if i got my point across in all of them. you can check with me if you're unsure about something.
great work :)