Peer Review by rainandsonder (United States)

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Elfboy Chapter 1

By: Quille


    After my dad died, I was sent to live with my chubby aunt Sally and thirteen-year-old cousin, Julie, near the small town of Orangeboro, Kentucky. I was really happy there for awhile--apart from missing Dad.
 
  I mean, I was happy there, until school started.

    "Stop worrying, Chris," Julie said as the two of us stood at the end of Aunt Sally's driveway, waiting in the fog for the bus. "I promise, the school's all right."

    I didn't like being talked to like that by a thirteen-year-old, after all, I was going on seventeen, but I needed the reassurance. I had always been homeschooled before Dad died and I imagined that I would get picked on a good deal in a public school. But Aunt Sally and Julie were right. 

    The school here was much different than I imagined.

    Everyone on the bus was really friendly, even the driver, who I thought looked just like an old crab.

    That only lasted until he got on the bus.

    The driver had stopped the bus in front of an overgrown driveway with a broken gate and a smashed-up mailbox. An old, decaying house was only just visible through the bushes and fog, but I could see that the windows were all boarded over and a wall had fallen down.

    The bus door opened with a reluctant sort of grinding. Everyone stopped chattering at once and sat still in their seats.

    Hardly daring, I turned my head the slightest bit towards the door.

    An extremely tall, thin kid, who I judged to be about my age, pulled himself onto the bus. He wore all black clothes; a t-shirt, ripped up jeans, and a hooded jacket that was at least three sizes too big. All I could see of his face through the dark hair that almost came to his shoulders was a pair of thick, wire-framed glasses resting on a thin, hooked nose.

    He mumbled a greeting to the driver, but wasn't answered.

    Then he turned and gripped the backs of two seats with his big, gnarly hands and swung himself forward.

    All the other kids silently looked away, almost terrified expressions on their faces. Julie inched closer to me and cast her eyes to the floor.

    He kept coming closer the same way, grabbing the backs of seats and hauling himself forward. A pained look creased his face each time he moved. When he was about halfway to my seat, I saw why: his right leg was twisted almost backwards.

    Startled, I shot my eyes to his face. He stared back and I caught a glimpse of terribly piercing eyes behind the thick lenses that gave me a shudder. 

    After about a minute of staring, he gave me a strange kind of half-smile and mercifully moved on.

    I had expected--more like hoped-- that the buzz of conversation would pick up once he was seated at the back. It didn't. The silence that he brought on the bus stayed, suffocating all the friendliness and warmth I'd felt before.

    That bus ride seemed to last forever, but it was probably about an hour. When it finally ended, I found myself rushing for the door, gasping for breath. I felt almost as if I'd just come out of a long, dark, silent tunnel.

    "Chris?" Julie's voice broke in on my relief.

    "Yeah?"

    "You stay away from him." She nodded at the bus, then ran into the brick school building with the rest.

    I glanced back at the bus and saw the kid with the limp staring at me through the window as he made his way towards the door.

    As curious as I was, I fully intended to stay away from him.

 


Message to Readers

Here it is! The very first part of the novel I've been working on for the past three months.
Please criticize it VERY harshly. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. According to my sister, I don't have any :D


Peer Review

The title drew me in, of course, and the first line intrigued me. After that, it was the mysterious kid on the bus, and all the weird details about him, as I mentioned in my highlights.


There are a few details about Chris that made me sympathize with him. For example, I liked his reaction to Julie comforting him, and the part where he mentioned that he thought he would be picked on. However, I feel that you could add a little more emotional depth to him. We don't know much about his personality, his likes, his dislikes, et cetera. Of course, it's only the first chapter, so a lot of characterization can come later, but it's still important that the reader sympathize with the MC in the first chapter. Character is key.


Yes; I highlighted the parts that I thought should be expanded.


Although you provide us with a technical location, I feel like you could add more sensory details and description to really transport us there. Try to put on paper the location that you have in your head, the mental image. Remember all five senses. Corner Writing Club had a piece about how to do setting description (sorry, I had to include a promo). Setting may not be as important as plot or character, but that doesn't mean it's not still important. If the reader can't picture the location and be transported there in their head, then it'll be more difficult for them to picture and follow along with other aspects of the story.


I've read the rest of it (or at least, what you've published on WtW), so I know what happens later on, but when I was first reading this, what really got me was the plot. I was intrigued by the mysterious kid and all the little details about how everyone else seemed to be scared of him. That was what made me want to keep reading the most. You have knack for capturing the reader's attention, and amping up the suspense.


Reviewer Comments

I hope I didn't seem too harsh in this review! You said you were looking for as much criticism as possible since you were going to revise and edit it based off of what we say, so I purposefully nitpicked. Although there are details that could be improved and things that could be added, this was, overall, a really good first chapter. It drew me in and set up the rest of the novel perfectly. Great work, really!