Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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Survive Just Survive

By: PhoenixLopez

Running through the forest I tried to look for my friends. But it was no use, I think that they're all dead. I hid behind a tree to catch my breath. I have no idea how long I've been running for but I just need a break. I look around and it seems like I lost the killer. Just as I was about to run back to the road everything went black and I slipped into the darkness. You are probably wondering who I am and what on earth is going on. Well I'll tell you. My name is Aubrey and I just have one piece of advice for all you if your ever in the position I am in. Survive just survive. My story didn't start out like this, it was quite fun if you ask me. Me, my friends and a group of our fellow classmates were heading off to a camp for a few days. It was time for our annual senior trip and we were all excited. I personally was very excited for the trip, because I knew there would be a lot of memories made. We all had to vote on where to go. Our principal gave us 3 options: A camp, a museum, or a hike. First of all a museum is just boring, a hike  is just tiring and with this heat no way we would do that. So we all voted on camp and that's where we're going. I knew we were going to have fun, there was a lake for us to go swimming and the cabins were just amazing. We got to do a virtual tour of the camp to see what it looked like. I have to say the camp lived up to it's expectations. What was waiting for us at the camp was certainly not what we expected. I really wish that  we had choose to hike or the museum. Either of those would have been better then going to the camp. But on the bright side we had fun at the camp, while it lasted that is. We left Friday after school and planned to come back Monday night since we had that Monday off from school. The principal gave us permission to use a school bus for the trip. Of course we could not go on the trip by ourselves so our AP Dance teacher came along with us. As the teacher was driving to the camp we were all together in the back throwing our pillows and stuff at each other and just having a good time, On the way there the bus stopped at a red light. I thought it was weird to have a stop sign in the middle of nowhere. I got up out of my seat to look at the road and I could've sworn I saw a Ghostface mask. I asked my classmates if anyone saw that and they all did. We all began to murmur worriedly, wondering what in the world was that. Then one of the kids said the mask was from the movie Scream and the TV Series. Pretty much the whole bus started freaking out saying to forget the trip and to drive back to the school. But the driver told us not to worry that the mask was most likely in our heads. Of course she was going to say that because she didn't see it. When we got to the camp the view of it was just beautiful. You could see the lake in a distance. The grass was bright green with the flowers growing. The cabins were polished a goldish brown color and everything about the camp was just so perfect. We all went off into our little groups exploring the camp. I looked around admiring everything, the whole camp was just breathtaking. It sort of made me forget about what I saw but not fully. I know what I saw and I was not the only one who saw it. I walked around and ducked over a branch as I had a view of the lake. That was going to be a great place to go swimming. But something didn't feel right for some reason. I looked around where I was and from across the lake I saw the same mask before and there was a person wearing it. I could tell they were holding something in their hand but I couldn't tell what. I squinted my eyes and as soon as I saw what it was my eyes widened. Whoever this person was they were holding a knife. I ran away from there back to the cabin area where everyone was. I breathed heavily putting my hand on the palm tree so I could catch my breath. One of my friends Haley said to me "Aubrey what happened? You look like you've seen a ghost." I said to her "That's because I did. The same mask we saw on the way here I saw it. It was on somebody I don't know who but they had a knife. We have to get out of here now. We need to leave as soon and as fast as possible." The whole group began to panic everyone started semi yelling and freaking out. The teacher told us to relax, but clearly nobody was going to do that. Since everyone was still freaking out and we all refused to stay here the teacher said we would leave tomorrow morning. It was too late to drive back to school so that meant we had to stay the night there. One night at a camp with a possible killer. No reason to freak out right? But after everything I really wish that we had left when we had the chance. Nobody would've died and everything would be okay. I wish we didn't come here and I wish that we didn't decide to have a senior trip. This is not what any of us had expected this weekend. 

Message to Readers

Any sort of feedback will do. There is always room to improve

Peer Review

Wow, this novel excerpt was great! I loved the terrifying vibes you sprinkled throughout the excerpt - this overarching threat of a armed killer in a ghost mask, students murdered on their senior school trip - eee, Halloween, and I'm all for it.

I love how you used first person POV to make it seem like Aubrey's consciousness is actively communicating with the reader. You detail Aubrey's experiences and inner thoughts in a way that made me feel like I was wearing a mind-reading colander and really getting in on the action. In this way, you make Aubrey a really vivid character.

The "running consciousness" approach can be a great way to introduce characters to readers; however, I would suggest being a little cautious with its use. A lot of similarly-structured sentences stacked together can become a little monotonous and confusing to readers, and sometimes, it can detract from grounding descriptions of scenery and setting. I've also noticed several sentences throughout this piece that might need a comma or two, and some paragraphs where tense was a little inconsistent. Since the beginning introduces Aubrey fleeing the scene (present tense), and the rest of the excerpt explains the backstory of how she got there (past tense), I recommend checking your tenses to keep things consistent. I've pointed out a few of these errors, and you can find the rest for yourself by reading your piece aloud. You don't have to be a narrator on Audible or something, but just read slowly and naturally, and I'm sure you'll be able to catch any grammatical errors or awkward sentences.

I would suggest varying your sentences a little more, and sprinkling in a few descriptions of scenery here and there. For instance, try varying sentence length (i.e. short, long, long, short, short). You don't have to follow this exact formula, but the key idea to remember is to keep things interesting for readers. Instead of having a paragraph of very short sentences, consider interpolating those sentences with longer sentences, or combining a few into clearer, lengthier sentences. I've highlighted a few paragraphs to give you a better idea of what I mean. I would also suggest breaking this excerpt into separate paragraphs to make it a little easier to read.

I love the idea of a terrifying killer donning a Ghost face mask, and it would be fantastic if you could provide a little more background info. I understand that this is a novel excerpt, and you might be explaining later in your novel, but the transitions and sudden appearances of the killer were very immediate. Consider adding a few sentences to explain what's going on - I'm dying to know (uh....pun unintended).

As I've mentioned in the last section, I had a great sense of who Aubrey was as a person, but I missed out a little on the scenery and setting. While you incorporate varied sentence structure, try sneaking in a few more sentences about the surrounding scenery. For example, when Aubrey and her classmates were on the bus, you suddenly introduce the masked killer, and transition to a lovely description of the camp. It would be awesome if you expanded your description of these events to match your description of the camp. I'd love to see a little more description of say, the road outside the bus! If you frame this description in a creepy, ominous way, you can build up tension leading up to the appearance of the creepy mask. How about gnarly trees with winding branches in the darkness? A cold wind whooshing through the gaps in the bus windows? A gray, overcast sky? Totally up to you to explore!

This novel excerpt has amazing potential, and I cannot emphasize how much I love the idea of a mask-wearing killer wreaking terror on a school camp trip. Novel writing isn't easy, and I know that. Take it easy - have plenty of breaks, and don't worry about writer's block. It happens! Feel free to explore, create, and innovate!

Reviewer Comments

Keep up the awesome writing! I'm excited to read more from you!! If you ever have any questions, just reach out to me, and I'll be happy to help. :D