Below, you'll see any text that was highlighted with comments from the reviewer.
Message to Readers
How I could do better or improve. All feedback is welcome!
I absolutely loved this novel excerpt! The beginning drew me into this peaceful, pastoral landscape with Quin feeding the farm animals and making breakfast and going to school...and then, you transitioned to the dramatic entrance of a soldier in an ongoing war, which was intense and shocking. At the end, Quin and her auntie and uncle seem to be escaping to a new beginning, which I'm excited to read more about.
You describe Quinlana nicely here - I immediately grasped her general appearance, age, and backstory (orphan, living with aunt and uncle, young farm girl in Turkey). However, I'd love to see a little more depth in Quin's character. You devote a significant portion of the excerpt to Quin's morning routine on the farm, and while I do love diving into all those lovely pastoral details, I feel like I'm only getting a sliver of Quin's personality. When you introduce Quin here, I'd love if you could slide in a little more background information in between her routine. How about having Quin think back in time, to the moment she lost her parents? What happened? Did they die in an air strike? What were Quin's immediate feelings, and how does she feel now, living with her aunt and uncle? And in the present, what are Quin's second-to-second emotions as she runs through her morning chores? Does she have any quirks or interesting habits while completing her routine? And moving beyond Quin, what about her aunt and uncle? How do they love Quin? How do they look like? Sound like? Act like? These are just suggestions, and you don't have to take them to the letter, but little details as these can really unfold a character's personality and make them more vivid in the mental eye of readers.
You give a really nice overview of what's going on in the story - Quin's morning routine, her going to school, what happened at school, her fleeing with her aunt and uncle. This is a great start to a plot, but I'd love it if you could take your narrator camera and zoom in a little. For instance, when Quin feeds the animals and eats her breakfast, how about sprinkling in a little description of the farm in the morning? What color is the sky? Is it cloudy, overcast, foggy, sunshine-y? How does the grass look? Dewy, damp, pale green? You did a fantastic job outlining the screeching of the chickens, but I'd love for a deeper examination. How about some onomatopoeia? That's just a fancy word for wordy sound effects. Do they SQUAWK? SHRIEK? Go BOK BOK BOK? How do their feathers look? Fluffy, white, brown, orange? There are tons of possibilities, and the fun lies in discovering them. As to not ramble about the weird sounds chickens can make, the key idea to remember is to show, not tell. Instead of outright telling the reader what's going on in the story, think of a literary blossom. Peel back each petal, each part of a scene, and let it unfold before the reader's eyes for a bigger, more vivid impact.
Lastly, a minor suggestion would be to consider separating your piece into paragraphs. This will help make it clearer and more readable. I've also noticed some minor spelling and grammatical errors. To combat those, I find re-reading your completed draft aloud helps a lot. Not only can you catch these errors, but you can find any awkward-sounding sentences that can be revised or improved!
In the previous paragraph, I've discussed the endless possibilities of expanding your scene descriptions. Now, I absolutely love the setting framework you have here - a war-torn Turkey - and I think it would be even more amazing if you could delve a bit deeper. You mention an overarching war, and and that is fascinating. I'd love to know - when did it start? Who is fighting it? In which era is this story set in?
In the footnotes, you say you don't know a lot about Turkey, and that's totally fine. No writer is a walking encyclopedia with detailed mental entries on just about everything in the universe. That would be insane. What you can do, however, is a little research. Research may seem scary, but to start, it's really very easy. The Internet is expanding every day, and we seldom have to go to the library's encyclopedia or archives section to find sources. Wikipedia is a great place to start. On the Wiki page for Turkey, you can read about the country's history, culture, and politics, and in the page's bibliography, you can find real primary sources to follow up on. From just a brief search, you can already find tons of inspiring material.
Writing is hard, but it's a process that can be fun and rewarding when you put in time and effort, accompanied by breaks and snacks, of course. Don't rush yourself! Neil Gaiman took over a decade to write Coraline, and while you don't have to spend a decade writing Quin's story, just remember that writing isn't an instant process, and it's okay to take your time. So far, you have an excellent base to start with, and I'm sure there are countless people like me who would absolutely love to read this novel in its wonderful entirety.
Reviewing this piece, I'm 100% rooting for you. Keep writing, soldier! You've got this.