Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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One day in my life.

By: Roseanne

  Quinlana woke early to feed the animals and pulled herself out of bed and into her old rough jumpsuit made for feeding animals and climbing barns. She pulled her long dark hair our of her eyes and picked up the water basket walking over to the well and pumping to get the water flowing. She then connected it to the pipe and got it heading down to the pigs, horses and chickens. Quinlana was thirteen years old with dark black hair and big brown eyes. She lived with her auntie and uncle on there farm. She earned her keep by getting up early and feeding the animals and helping with the chores. Then she went to school. They lived in Turkey in a small farm near the northern edge. Quins parents had been killed in town and she'd been passed on to her aunt and uncle after her cousins rejected her. Quin grabbed her boots and ran down the muddy road to the pig pen to feed them pulling the gate open and hauling some feed over from one corner. She dumped it into the feeding dish and the pigs ran at it. She hurried out and went to the horses next. They were all mostly asleep except for her favorite. Moonlight the darkest stallion. He was Quins by far favorite with his temper and prowess. Once she finished kissing his nose she then went to the chicken coop. They were all awake and screeching and she covered her ears as she went. Once she'd finishes her rounds she went in for breakfast which her auntie was cooking. It smelled like bacon and eggs from the delightfully smells wafting through the open door. She ran in dropping her boots and running to wash her hands before sitting down and waiting to be served. Her plate was passed and she dug into the warm eggs and nice crunchy eggs. It was only around eight but it took her at least half an hour to get to school so she grabbed her bag took another big bite of egg and ran out the door. She did not want to be late again.  She made her way down the drive to meet up with Evie her next door nabours who was in her class and the closest thing to a friend she had. Evie loved to talk and gossip though quin didn't really mind. She wasn't popular or had any friends so she liked to hear about what others got up to. Evie started on about some guy and the math this week and soon quin had ignored her. She was watching the land change from farming to small houses to bigger nabourhoods to the giant town houses with there turrets and rich people walking down the streets. Even if turkey was a very poor country some still lived like kings. They were on the safer side of turkey. The other was at war with some other country that she had forgot the name of almost as soon as she'd heard it. They got to school and Evie went off to gossip with some other girls. Quin looked around. The park was empty except for a couple boys yelling and messing around on it. Most people huddled in groups and talked about each other. The teacher opened the door yelling at children to quiet down and head inside. We step inside taking up our desks waiting for our teacher who was old and grumpy on good days. He had grey hair and scruff on his chin. His back hunched and a sour look on his face. He motions for us to sit and we do some still gabbering on. We have no windows in our classroom. Just four walls and a blackboard. The other classrooms might not even have that. I'm lucky to even be in school normally by now I'd have been sold off to some person but auntie wants me to have a life. In just one week we are selling the farm to move to Canada. Across the ocean which I've only ever seen once. When my mother took me when I was still a baby. I sigh and smile as I let my mind drift. To be free. To make new friends. The gun shots stardle me out of my day dream. "get down" the teacher yells and everyone hits the floor. We've done this so many times it feels like roll call or just another part of the normal day life. The person walks through the class next to us and I can hear crying children and rough voices. The man leaves soon after. Later I hear it was one of the soldiers from the war side. Evie gives me the news when we walk home. The man was just the first of many. The wars moved up and has come to us. School was just the first to go. Next will be food and our family's. When I get home auntie is in the bedroom a suitcase in her hand her face in tight lines. "pack your bags Quinlana we are leaving" my eyes wide I quickly pack up my most valuable positions and put them in the case. Then I go to the table where our other stuff is. Uncle grabs the bags and throws them in his truck his face all hard angles and rough edges. "get in" he says as auntie hops into the front. I get in the back and he hits the gas peddle. Soon we are on the road and a couple hours later I wake to the truck stopping. We are here. At the ocean. Soon to be free. 

I'm an inexperienced writer. I do not know much about turkey so if I got it wrong I'm sorry. 

Message to Readers

How I could do better or improve. All feedback is welcome!

Peer Review

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.

Reviewer Comments

Reviewing this piece, I'm 100% rooting for you. Keep writing, soldier! You've got this.