Author Topic: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers  (Read 382 times)

Offline Kalya

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Thank you all for taking some time to read this 1st chapter of an upcoming writing project. I appreciate the comments.

Here's a high level summary/synopsis if you will of the story.

Sidney is a 15 yr. old girl who's having frequent seizures. She's also going through the challenges of a teenage life. Little did she know that her illness & some help from a few close friends will saving her school and small town of Stones Springs from an evil force working its way out to reality through people's dreams.

Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
By Mark Ihada
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Chapter 1: Why Me?

Some people thought I had only made it up to cause some unwanted attention. The uncontrollable shuddering, stiff-bodied feeling, paranormal like episodes as though I’m possessed by some evil force was the scariest experience that no one would have wanted to happen to themselves, in like - forever!

“Why me?” I’ve asked myself gravely numerous times. The same question lingered in my parent’s minds for years.
 
At seven years of age, it was too young for me to remember the events that unfolded. Mom and Dad galed a scary episode they had when a fever blazed inside of me one night. The television kept me entertained for some time until my body began to quake. The shaking intensified and all I could remember that evening was a frightening moment for any child. My body’s swept, entrapped in the midst of a white light. Beyond this luminescent abyss rang Mom’s voice, crying, and screaming. I couldn’t speak while in this unexplainable state. Besides Mom’s baying cries, this feeling did not concern me one second for I have never felt so relaxed and free as if kids my age knew of any worries.

Consciousness returned while a cold compress rested on my forehead. My hair stroked incessantly by Mom, and Dad cuddling me like a doll. A thermometer tucked in my armpit. In and out, In and out in a five to ten minute interval as Mom checked my temperature that night.

I’ve never experienced the last of this frightful episode yet. Growing up with this condition challenged me for as long as I can remember. Being laughed at in school and worried that this experiences may happen more frequently, I sometimes thought of this as a curse. A problem tailing me from start to end. Belonging to a religious family proved this theory to be highly unlikely. My Dad raised as a Catholic did not believe in curses, magic, and bad luck. All people’s created by God in his own image. If this was true then why am I like this? I did not chose to have this illness. I’ve never thought about it this way until it became too difficult for me.

Dad said while we’re having dinner at this fine Filipino restaurant a few blocks from our house, their worst fear had flashed again before their eyes as if a nightmare slithered from behind and had thieved a wonderful family dinner that evening.

It was Mom and Dad’s fifteenth wedding anniversary that day and Dad decided that we all celebrate and go out for dinner. I liked the idea since the food served in school was a slice of cheese pizza, fruits, and a can of orange juice. Now, who would want to eat a pizza partnered with a can of orange juice? Only our school cafeteria lady, Mrs. Stoudamire would serve such concoction to a bunch of kids who were clueless about food and nutrition.

We came into the restaurant and sat near the window. The same place we sit whenever we’re dining at one of the best restaurants in the area called Pinoy Pot. It seemed that in our town of less than a thousand people, we have a few Asian restaurants that were actually pretty good, priced right, and E.coli free. I couldn’t say the place smelled of berries and pine, but the food was oh so scrumptious!

The restaurant looked fancy with chandeliers hung like lighted grapes that ran along the ceiling. Tables were nicely kept and utensils tucked inside of the white pieces of linen. Luckily, we have a place to eat close to our house of which our family loved to go to during special occasions such as this.

The petite waitress took our usual orders in an instant. That’s the norm in a busy place like that. They have to take and serve good food quickly.  We ordered a noodle dish with pork, shrimp dumpling, curry chicken #5, and a house special “Ply Lice” or Fried Rice which would have to be pronounced with a certain twang to be understood by the waitress. She took the orders back to the kitchen and got us a few glasses of water on her way to our table. She leaned forward and spilled a glass in an attempt to evade my nine year old brother Mikey’s flailing hand as he stowed his toy in his bag.
The little brat snickered behind while the waitress cleaned up the mess she accidentally made. I tapped Mikey’s shoulder to remind him of apologizing to her. He looked at me and stuck his tongue out!       

That critter. I told myself with a grin.

“You two stop!” Mom rolled her eyes. “Stop I said!” She said through gritted teeth when Mikey tapped my hand.

I looked at her and then back at Mikey. If only I could shoot laser beams out of my eyes then I would have already cocked and fired a few of those that night. My intentions were obviously not to cripple my brother but to just cut off the smirk on his face as he watched the poor waitress struggle cleaning up his mess. It wasn’t possible but I would be lying if I say I did not want to have that special ability. Who would not want to have one of Superman’s greatest powers, right? Immobilizing a notorious villain is always good for peace and humanity!

To clear my mind out of that ill thought, I took my cellphone out when Dad got his from his pocket. You see, parents can’t tell their kids to stop using any phone or tablet computers while in the dinner table if they too are guilty of it. Usually that works but a few minutes later when Dad gave me that stare with lips pressed firmly against the other as though something horrendous would erupt out of his mouth then I knew that I had to give in and do what I’m told.

Before I replaced the phone in my bag, I had asked him for a few minutes to finish what I was doing. Because I’m the only girl in the family, Dad had agreed, I think….I did not realize that by buying a few minutes caused unfortunate events to come back and bite me hard from behind.

As I focused on finishing up what I had started, I recalled holding my phone firmly and close to my body. My hands began to shake. I thought it was just an effect after playing the same game over and over again and losing a couple. Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me. Whatever it was, the feeling’s making me nauseous.

The following events were described to me by Dad after the incident.

I've raised my hands up as though I was summoning the wait staff for more food, or calling in on a touchdown except all of this happened while I was obviously…. convulsing.

I felt my body drop on the floor and screams immediately filled the air. I couldn’t remember anything else that transpired that night but I recalled the blaring fit subsided as I've remembered Dad’s gentle whisper “Baby you’ll be alright”. Following that was Mom, crying in the background.

And my brother, Mikey?  I’m not sure what he was doing while this was happening. Who knew, he might have been enjoying a good stare capturing the event with his tablet as it unfolded with an intent to post it in his Facebook page or some social networking site with the captions of “Hey, Look My Sister’s Possessed….SO COOL. Like & Share” Worst part of it is that he knew I would hit him hard if he did that to me. Oh he’ll be in so much trouble!

Moments have passed and consciousness began to bring life in me. I opened my eyes slowly and thought for a brief moment that I was in heaven. If I was truly in heaven then I could’ve asked God those questions I have growing up.

I can see nothing but white as though my body floated in the midst of the clouds except that when I pried my eyes open, I found myself laying with my upper body slightly elevated on a bed. I looked around and the blurriness formed rows of medicine cabinets around me. A man dressed in a blue short sleeved shirt with a nameplate “John” on his left busied himself as he wrote something on a piece of paper. A white patch with a snake coiled around a staff lay below the words PARAMEDIC.

“Yeah, I’m still alive.” I said, feeling relieved.

Confusion gripped me like a child that’s taken to an unknown place. I couldn’t recall the events that transpired, leading me here in this white room, laying on this bed with bright lights surrounding me. Lights? I remembered seeing many of these flashing white orbs before the convulsing had happened.

A hand stroked my head and when I looked to my right, Mom was staring at me with glazed eyes. I remembered her attempt to stay calm while sitting right next to me.

“You had another episode, Honey.” Mom held the words as best as she could to not cause any panic and grief. She forced a smile in her face and uttered, “you’ll be okay. We’re right beside you, Sidney.”

I tried to raise my body and somehow I weighed twice heavier that night. I’ve never felt so exhausted in my life until this started happening to me.
So, what is it?

Some people call it “Seizure” while others knew it as “Convulsion”. Some may say it’s “Epilepsy”. Doctors say my case was categorized as Severe Seizure. Yes, that’s the medical term it’s called. I was told this abnormality’s triggered by irregular electricity in the brain. Our human brains would send electrical signals through our nerves to various parts of our bodies. When these signals got out of control through interruptions resulted by various triggers then I begin to stare blankly in space. In a worst case scenario, my body would start to shudder. The triggers could be various things such as: flashing light, stress, fever, hormonal changes, fatigue could cause this condition to manifest itself without a moment’s notice.

Whatever it’s called, I don’t like it and no one would in their right mind appreciated this disorder!
Mom and Dad thought lately that my seizures were initiated by hormonal changes. I agree completely. My body had changed significantly now that I’m fifteen. Well in about ten and half days to be precise. I’ve gained a few pounds eating unhealthy foods like any other teenagers in our school cafeteria would do. The increased appetite might have been caused by the new meds that Doctor Pelmhurst, my Pediatric Neurologist had prescribed for me after a few severe seizures occurred within the past few months.  But how could you change or even stop your hormone if it’s inside my body. That’s when the meds would do the rest of the work.

Who knows? All I can say is that if I don’t control my eating habits, Mom and Dad said that I will have to take karate lessons to keep me physically fit and active. There’s one located a few blocks near my school. I think the karate school’s 90 percent filled with students victimized by bullying. I don’t think I am one of them but if the seizures became more frequent then I might just have to sign up for class and join the anti-bullying club. We shall see!

At first I thought these were the only concerns I have in my young adult life besides school and my obnoxious classmates in East Valley High School (Eva High) who kept thinking they had the mind of Albert Einstein and the charms of Zac Efron. Bright minds and popular kids of sorts in a class of about twenty five. I’ve realized I was mistaken.

Another problem presented itself while I was in school one morning. There were chilling events in Eva High and un-explainable incidents like kids not coming out of their slumber, people missing, and kids my age with black sunglasses behaving suspiciously in school and around our quaint community . I’ve never thought that the following events would change the course of my life, my family, my friends, and the people of Stone Springs, forever!
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Offline TK

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I already tried giving a reply once, but it logged me out before I could post it, so I'm gonna just sum up what I had to say.

A lot of your writing seems like you have a very clear vision for what you want to say, but it comes out in very unnecessarily long-winded sentences that seem to try to emulate the speech of a fifteen-year-old. It's not an entirely unsuccessful chapter, but there are far too many muddy descriptions, and the perspective changes randomly, which is probably not intentional.

Quote
“Why me?” I’ve asked myself gravely numerous times. The same question lingered in my parent’s minds for years.

Here you quote a repeated thought as if it were a line someone spoke out loud, and then in the very next sentence the narrator says the thought occurs in other character's minds as well. This is called head hopping since you start out in 1st person limited and then end up in 3rd person omniscient. This can work in some cases, but it must be intentional. Here it serves no purpose and can easily be rephrased to be less muddy.

Quote
I can see nothing but white as though my body floated in the midst of the clouds except that when I pried my eyes open,...

You switched into present tense here, and then switched back to past tense in the same sentence.

If you tone down the melodrama and really ground the scene chapter in reality with a character having a goal and a conflict related to that goal, then I think this could be a good chapter.
~T.C.

Offline PIJ1951

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Here's a high level summary/synopsis if you will of the story.
Sidney is a 15 yr. old girl who's having frequent seizures. She's also going through the challenges of a teenage life. Little did she know that her illness & some help from a few close friends will saving her school and small town of Stones Springs from an evil force working its way out to reality through people's dreams.
Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
By Mark Ihada

Even before we start to read your story, you give us enough evidence to decide it's not worth the bother.
You change tense from present ('is a girl') to past ('did she know') to possibly future ('will saving'???) in a single paragraph. Did you read this before posting?

If this reflects the standard of what's to follow, then I'm sorry but you have a lot of work ahead of you to make it readable<

Offline Zaheer547

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2020, 07:18:12 AM »
Hi there!

As a reply stated before, you seem to know what you want. I love how you build the events in a seemless flow that made me continue reading. However, some sentences are too verbose at times. It loses me and I have to go to the next sentence to move forward. Try taking one or two sentences per paragraph and making it a lot more concise. Also try giving us a lot more character. Sidney is wafer thin. Bring out a lot more of the flavour in her personality and you'll have an awesome opening chapter.

With that said, your writing is beautifully structured. Keep on! If you're seeking beta readers, you can pop me a private msg and I'd love to beta read.

Offline Idioume

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2020, 09:01:03 AM »
Reads like YA that is well done. The structure is good. Prose can be sharpened, but there is potential here. Let me know if you need a beta-reader.

Offline Dugarte

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Re: Reviews and Critics are Welcomed! 1st Chapter: Sidney Rue & The Dreamers
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2020, 05:56:20 PM »
Hi Kalya,

Thank you for sharing your synopsis and first chapter with us! I hope you will find my feedback helpful.

As some others have already noted, there appears to be some confusion about the past, present, or future tense used in the synopsis. I know I myself am eager to share my writing with the world and it’s hard to take the time to really study my every word and make it polished, but it’s important, so I urge everyone I meet to do so, especially with their synopsis, and the opening lines of their first chapter.

Which leads me to the opening lines of the chapter. I especially believe the very first line of a book is critical, as it can set the tone for the whole story, and I wonder if this opening line is exactly what you want? The wording felt a little vague. And in the second sentence “uncontrollable shuddering, stiff-bodied feeling” sound slightly contradictory and it is a touch wordy in my opinion.

Then I feel lost, grammatically speaking, when you write “paranormal like episodes as though I’m possessed.” I’m no expert when it comes to grammar, but this feels a little garbled and confusing to me. Maybe a hyphen to connect “paranormal-like” or just skip “like” in favor of “seemingly-paranormal” or a synonym for paranormal. Then “as though” leaves me feeling like a word went missing between the three descriptive phrases and where I am now in the sentence. I would encourage an overhaul of the wording and structure of this sentence.

When you say “At seven years of age, it was too young for me to remember the events that unfolded” I’m pretty sure this was a typo or grammatically incorrect. Did you mean “I was too young” not “it”? I think it makes much more sense if it were something like “At seven years of age, I was too young to remember the events as they unfolded.”
The following sentence also appears to have a typo. “Mom and Dad galed a scary episode they had when a fever blazed inside of me one night.” I do not believe “galed” is a word, and I am not sure what you meant.

Overall, there seem to be a lot of long-winded passages and wordy ways of stating things, which I feel are unnecessary and drag down the pacing.  For example “The television kept me entertained for some time until my body began to quake.” Feels like a very awkward, wordy way of simply saying “I was watching tv when my body began to quake.”

Based on these first few paragraphs, I feel like this writing needs a good amount of editing for spelling, and grammar at the very least, before other writers invest a lot of time reading further.

I hope you will continue to write and refine your craft and share with us as you progress. I hope you found my feedback helpful!

Sincerely,

David