Peer Review by And_The_Stars_Laughed (United States)

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Behind the Door [a working title] - Extract Four (review swap, anyone?)

By: ect.13


FREE WRITING

“Psst - Zoe!” It was nearing midnight, and I’d only just got into bed. Mrs Potts had set us another three question sets to do, so I’d been in the library since dinner, up to my eyes in algebra, slowly grinding through them with my mind endlessly preoccupied. I’d had to move to a different table to stop myself going back through the door: the opposite of what Zoe had hoped, I thought about the door even more now I knew what was there. The opening of the door had opened a whole universe of unanswered questions, and I was desperate to solve them. 
“Zoe! Wake up!” I whispered into the darkness. Zoe and I had barely seen each other since she left me in the library earlier that afternoon, and I had planned to wait until the morning, but I just couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I had to tell her, or else I was sure I’d burst. “Zoe!” I whisper-shouted at her, getting out of my bed to shake her awake if I had to.
Fortunately, I didn’t. 
“Ugh - what is it?” She moaned, turning to face me. “What time is it?”
“Midnight, or thereabouts.” I told her, climbing back under my covers to stop my shivering. “No no no - don’t go back to sleep! I really need to tell you what I found in the library earlier!” I threw a cushion towards her, to make sure that she was still conscious.
“Is this the actual library or the restricted section?” She said the latter option with a sarcastic tone that made me wish I’d saved the cushion to throw then. I sighed and rolled my eyes in the dark. “The restricted section. I saw the craziest things - you should’ve been there.”
“Really? Just how crazy?”
“One word: boys.”
She flicked on her bedside lamp and propped herself up on her elbows. “Oh my goodness - for real? Actual real life boys? At Philomena Prep? This is crazy news, Jen. Tell me everything.”
So, I told her everything. The strange familiarity of the library’s layout, the book from Keirad Academy - at which point, she yawned dramatically - the bell, and the boys. I told her how I heard them walking together, like an army march, how I saw them through the window, all lined up in their rows, and I told her how I left asap once they’d scattered. She listened intently, apparently weighing up what I was saying, the whole time, not saying a word. 
“See - how crazy is that?” I asked her when I’d spilled every detail I could remember. 
“Hang on. You say there were hundreds of boys lined up outside the school during that free period..?”
“Yeah, when I was there. I saw them through the window.”
“But I was sitting in the window seat up here, practising my lines for theatre. This window looks out in the same direction as the library ones: there weren’t any boys, I would have seen them.”
My excitable mood came crashing down. “What? They were there, I know they were. I saw them!” 
“Yeah, I know Jen, but are you sure?”
“Yes - one hundred percent!”
“And it was definitely out of the library window? And you weren’t hallucinating?”
“I can’t believe this! How can it not fit?”
“I don’t know, I really don’t.”

That was the last I heard from Zoe that night. As hard as she tried to support me, I could tell she just didn’t believe it. I could have stayed and argued with her all night, but it had all suddenly become too much to process. Instead, I rolled over and pretended to go to sleep, staring at the wall, mind numbed, until I heard her breathing deepen. In the silence, when I listened closely enough, I could hear the tiny hands of the clock face on my wrist tick away the night. Tick… tick… tick… It was so late; I was too tired. I tried as hard as I could, willing my eyes to close and my brain to turn off, but it was no use: I simply couldn’t sleep. I gave in, lying there with my eyes wide open, utterly exhausted, for what seemed like hours. My mind emptied, slowly but surely, until I became like a vast desert - devoid of life, going on forever. It felt as though I’d be stuck in this loop, lying still in my bed, thinking of nothing, for years and years, unable to sleep and unable to move for weariness. It was painful. Maybe it was karma? I had blatantly ignored the sign, now I wouldn’t sleep again. I’d never find out…

If you want to review swap, please review this piece and comment the link of the piece you want reviewed; I'll try to get it submitted within a week. Thanks for reading :)

Extract One: https://www.writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/153409/version/300934
Extract Two: https://www.writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/154000/version/300931
Extract Three: https://www.writetheworld.com/groups/1/shared/161643/version/316284

Message to Readers

Here's extract four!
As a quick warning: the further I get into this story, the more I move the scenes around - I can't publish everything, but I'm trying to publish extracts as I go along (even though I'm trying to keep them more or less in order, I can't promise anything!). There are other parts of the story, so feel free to let me know if it makes no sense or if you have any questions :)
As always, your feedback is appreciated so much - comments, reviews, whatever. Thanks so much for reading!


Peer Review

I love the dialogue you've written in, it flows so well between the two characters and really enhances the piece! I also enjoy the sense of mystery that lurks between the lines (ie...the confusion that's painted across Jen's face when Zoe told her she didn't see the boys outside her window). Also, your word-choice is spot-on, the use of the words/phrases "spilled every detail," "slowly grinding through," and "blatantly ignored the sign," (among others) are spectacular!!! Great work!!


Your wording, dialogue, and overall tone of the piece are so well-done, that the only suggestion that comes to mind would be to perhaps insert some more imagery, in this case, sensory details. Maybe consider how it would impact your piece if you added specific snippets that invoked a vivid picture in the reader's mind. For example, when you wrote how the clock was going "tick, tick, tick" I could "hear" what was happening inside my head, this was really effective. It might also help if you described what the character could see/feel/smell so the reader can experience it too. In this instance (I'm just going to use the example of when she's lying in bed at the end), though it's dark, are there shadows cast across her walls? Is the blanket she's using scratchy or is it soft? You can do this in multiple places, but as I said, your wording and dialogue are so incredible already -- feel free not omit to these suggestions. :) One more thing that came to mind is the building up of the character's past. What I mean by this is that usually when writing longer works, it's helpful to insert what's known as "memory moments" as this helps create a more well-rounded glimpse of the character. These "memory moments" can be simply a sentence, or they could be longer. What I'm wondering throughout the four extracts you've posted is how Jen's past shapes who she is today? In other words, how did she get into Philomena Prep? What is her relationship with her parent(s)/guardian(s) like? (these are all examples of what could be a "memory moment") I know that you're just posting extracts so you may have already done some of the stuff I suggested, but again, feel free not to take these suggestions because your piece is so spectacular as is!! :)


Reviewer Comments

Overall, this was a really fun piece to read and review!! I will be looking out for more Extracts, I can't wait to read more! Awesome job!!! :)