Peer Review by ALangford (United Kingdom)

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The Destinies of the Fate

By: Starborne Scrolls


The Moira’s Bookstore of Forgotten Memories is a small, windowless, wooden building so full of bookshelves that one can hardly squeeze into the aisles. Books are crammed into stacks in no particular order onto every surface, including the floor. A thick layer of dust covers everything, and the room is lit by various sources, from electric lights to candles to oil lamps. A piece of knight’s armor, a jade Chinese dragon, an ancient stone hammer, and several other objects from various periods of time lay scattered about the room.
Shoved into the corner nearest the door is a desk, at which MOIRA sits and writes with a pen and inkwell. MOIRA is a little old lady, wrinkled and hunched and gray. She seems to have lived a longer and fuller life than most.
Suddenly, the door opens with the ringing of a bell and SAMMY, an introverted and soft-spoken girl of seventeen, wearing two braids, enters.
SAMMY (Looks around and tentatively calls out) Hello?
MOIRA (Leaves her desk with surprising quickness and shuffles around SAMMY, inspecting her and mumbling to herself – her voice as ancient and gravelly as stone) Hmm… What do we have here? A girl, yes, I know. I can see that! (A pause) Sammy, is it? But what is she looking for, exactly? (She stops and faces the girl expectantly) Well?
SAMMY (Confused) I, umm, I don’t really… Oh! (Gasps as MOIRA grabs her face and studies it from different angles)
MOIRA Tell me, girl. What is it you are looking for?
SAMMY Well… I-I came in because I’ve never seen your store before, (Eyebrows draw together) even though I’ve walked down this street thousands of times. I thought – at first –  it might be new, but… it isn’t… is it? (MOIRA lets go of her face, cackling)
MOIRA No, girl, you are correct! (Looking around at the store) This old place has been around for eons, though it might never have been here before.
SAMMY Oh. (Still obviously confused) Well-uh… Are you M-Mo–
MOIRA (Interrupts) Moira? Yes, but that’s beside the point. (Flings hands in an impatient gesture) Now, you still haven’t answered my question. (Leans in very close to SAMMY’s face) What are you looking for?
SAMMY (Leans away, slightly intimidated) I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t understand. I'm not exactly looking for anything.
MOIRA (Now fully exasperated, she grabs the girl’s hand) Oh, come now! You must have come looking for somethi- (She breaks off mid-sentence in realization and visibly softens, her voice turning gentle and honey-sweet) Ah… Oh, I see, now. I see. (She pats SAMMY’s hand and nods knowingly) Well, you’ll get that soon enough. In fact, if I’m not wrong – and I’m never wrong – it should be coming just about–
The ringing of a bell interrupts MOIRA, and in walks KAMERON, a lanky, blonde, bespectacled boy of seventeen. He walks awkwardly inside but stops when he sees MOIRA and SAMMY.
MOIRA Now. (Speedily shuffles over to KAMERON and circles him as she did SAMMY earlier, muttering to herself) Oh, yes… Kameron? … Yes, I agree. Perfect!
KAMERON (Nervously takes a step away from MOIRA) Er… pardon?
MOIRA (Looks at him affectionately) Oh, and polite, too! How sweet! Here, boy, I want you to meet someone. (Gleefully takes his hand and pulls him over to SAMMY)
SAMMY (Shyly and hesitantly, with a small wave) Hi, I’m Sammy.
KAMERON (Looks at her interestedly and stretches out a hand) Hi, I’m Kameron.
SAMMY (Shakes his hand with a small smile) Nice to meet you.
MOIRA (Looking back and forth between the two thoughtfully) Look at that smile! (SAMMY blushes at this) Yes, yes! He is looking for the same thing! He will do splendidly!
KAMERON (Shifts gaze from SAMMY to MORIA) Ma’am? What do you mean I’ll do?
MOIRA (Grins slyly and clucks tongue) Tut-tut. Can’t have you knowing before it’s time, can we? You’ll just have to wait and see! (KAMERON begins to protest, but SAMMY interrupts)
SAMMY (Softly) You won’t get anything out of her. Trust me, I know.
KAMERON Figures, I guess. (Turns around, taking in the store and talking to SAMMY) Do you come here often?
SAMMY (Copies KAMERON, really taking in the store for the first time) Well… no. I only came in a bit before you, actually.
KAMERON Ah, okay. (Turns back to SAMMY and smiles, fidgeting with a button on his coat)
SAMMY (Sees him smiling at her and ducks her head, blushing) What?
KAMERON (Quickly looks away) Nothing. (Hurriedly changes the subject by picking up a dusty book) Oh, Mrs. Moira, can we buy any of these books?
MOIRA (Making her way back to her desk) Yes, but you are free of charge.
Both KAMERON and SAMMY thank her with surprise and begin browsing the shelves. MOIRA happily sits at the desk and continues writing with the pen and inkwell. After about five minutes, KAMERON and SAMMY are heard disagreeing over something.
MOIRA (Gets up and shuffles over to them) Now, now. No need for quarreling! What’s wrong?
KAMERON is holding a thick, ancient looking book. They look embarrassed at having been caught arguing.
KAMERON (Coyly) We, umm, want the same book, so I said she could just have it. Then she refused and–
SAMMY I said he could have it. But, he won’t take it and, well–
KAMERON She won’t take it.
They look at MOIRA helplessly.
MOIRA (With laughing eyes) Well, it is good that you both want the same book. I was only going to allow you to take one, anyway.
SAMMY (Caught off guard) You mean one each, right?
MOIRA (With a shrewd smile) No, you must only take one that you both agree upon together.
SAMMY and KAMERON (With raised eyebrows at MOIRA) Together?
MOIRA (With a nod) Yes.
SAMMY and KAMERON glance at each other bashfully. MOIRA laughs at their expressions.
MOIRA And it looks like you’ve chosen the book already! Let me see. (KAMERON hands her the book) Hmm… The Destinies of the Fate. An interesting choice. You will enjoy it!
KAMERON (A contemplative look on his face) I guess you can read it first, Sammy.
SAMMY (Shyly) Oh, thanks, but-uh… I think you should read it first.
KAMERON (Firmly) I’m not doing this again. Just take it. (Tries handing it to her)
MOIRA (Interrupts) How about you meet up and read it together?
Silence for a moment.
MOIRA (With finality) Yes, that’ll do. You’ll meet up somewhere and read it together! (She begins to shoo them towards the door, while KAMERON and SAMMY protest) Now go on, you two.
KAMERON (Stuttering) M-Mrs. Moira! We never thanked you!
MOIRA Oh, giving you what you were looking for is all the thanks I need!
SAMMY B-but Mrs. Moira. I don’t know what I was looking for. Was I looking for the book?
MOIRA (Shaking her head) No, no, girl. You both were looking for something far more important than a book. (Finally gets them out the door) In time you will understand.
SAMMY and KAMERON protest, but quiet when they see the affectionate and tender look MOIRA gives them.
MOIRA (In a soft, motherly way) You will understand. (She shuts the door)
MOIRA (With a reminiscent smile, as she shuffles back to her desk, she continues to talk, though nobody is there to listen) You will understand… that you were both looking for love.

I originally wrote this for a school assignment. It had to be in play form, so I wrote this scene. I've edited and changed it a bit since then, and, well... Now it's published!
I really like Sammy - I think of her as a cute, socially awkward, bookworm of a girl that doesn't really know how to interact with boys because she rarely does so. And then Kameron - I think he's also a bookworm who's just super smart. He was raised to be polite and respect girls and women, and I think he's sort of flustered and trying not to be too awkward when talking to girls his age. I'm actually surprised that I care this much about these characters XD Oh! You should look up the meaning of the name Moira, it might help explain her character (Sorry for asking you to do a little research, but it adds a sense of mystery, I guess :)
Should I expand on this story line (I've got a bit of an idea for a plot) or just leave it as it is? Tell me what you think!

Message to Readers

Is there anything that seems to choppy or abrupt (that isn't meant to be) that I should change? Any feedback or comments would be great!

Peer Review

I think instead of noting a line that stands out to me, which is irrelevant in this piece because all of the lines were equally beautifully crafted, I should note the particular lines which engaged me, which were your use of stage directions. You describe the stage with massive detail from the outset in a style reminiscent of Arthur Miller - it's clear that you have really strong ideas about how it should be set out and how the characters should appear and it's excellent that you've gone into this much detail. Your description of setting ensures that it's unmistakably your play and anyone watching it would recognise the distinctive scenery from the outset. Additionally, while you describe the characters, you don't tend to give distinctive physical detail but detail about how they should appear due to their personality - it is up to the actor to decide how they reflect these character traits. I think it is always very important to let the actor have a bit of scope with their own character, so it's really good that you've done this.

I think an audience would be engaged throughout by the sense of mystery, surrealism and magical charm and also the incredible depth of the characters. Over the course of just one short piece of writing, you make these characters into real, living, breathing people. You're really good at mimicking the real tones, movements and inflections of speech. This sense of mystery and suspense prevails even after the scene is over, because although we achieve a resolution in Sammy's character, we don't in Moira's.

When's the next scene?! I'm so hooked on this piece that I'd really love to see this extended. You clearly care a lot for your characters already and are enthusiastic about the theme. The effort you put into making this a piece of stylistic beauty is astronomical and I'd love to see it on the stage. But there are so many unanswered questions by the end of this piece that there's no question that you should extend it. If you did end up doing this, I would ask if you intended to just continue the Moira storyline or the Samy and Kameron one too? Is this the first scene of the play, or would you place anything before it?

Reviewer Comments

The one thing I would say is that you could think a bit more about staging. In your piece, it seems almost as though the characters stay grounded in one space. It's not up to the playwrite to dictate when the characters should move in the space, or where to, but I think it would be a really interesting point to consider, especially if you would ever consider directing a piece of your own work like this.
I can't think of a single piece of criticism for this work - it's beautifully crafted throughout, you've constructed a really interesting and dynamic world which I would love to see more of and you're clearly passionate about it. Well done; this was extremely pleasant to read and I hope to read more of your writing in the future!