Author Topic: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"  (Read 562 times)

Offline Jolouis27

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Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« on: November 22, 2020, 05:14:04 PM »
DOT Wilcox becomes her family’s breadwinner during the 2009 U.S. Mortgage Crisis. An altercation involving her loving, but protective husband SEAN sends the couple on the run with their two small boys. They arrive at Hope Springs, St. Louis’s tent city—a colourful, quirky community where Dot meets a charming young man and a spiritual woman who supplants Dot’s own mother. The past soon catches up with the couple there, and they escape through back routes to Canada and live OFF THE GRID.
 
FBI Special Agent DIANE Taylor is a manhunt expert with an enviable capture rate who hunts down the couple and follows their trail to Canada. North of the border, the family lies low, surviving in the woods, and living off the land. But as the Canadian winter approaches, Dot has a second shattering experience that reveals a disturbing pattern in her husband’s behaviour, forcing her to flee with her boys once more.
 
Can Dot really start a new life while the FBI searches for Sean? And can she ever be free of Sean?

Offline Kerry B

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2020, 02:34:18 PM »
This is my first time beta reading for someone, so forgive me if this isn't what you were looking for. I really enjoyed the first three chapters of your book. It was a fun read, despite the dark content. Your style of writing feels fresh and unique. The characters are believable and intriguing. I look forward to reading more of it!

My comments:

"No sooner had we moved from my mom’s trailer into the farmhouse, we moved out of it and into Steve’s place."

Who is Steve? Maybe explain who he is?

"Sean’s odd jobs takes care of the rest, but it’s tight as my ponytail."

I love this line.

"I find her behind the bar talking to a regular and when she sees me, she pulls an envelope out of her purse, walks down, and drops it in front of me on the counter."

Consider breaking up some sentences? The second and third chapter were easy reads, but I had a hard time following some sentences in the first chapter. I've used
http://www.hemingwayapp.com/. It helped me streamline everything.

Ooooo-i-i-i-i, my Sharona.

Song lyrics in your story could cause legal issues.

"Grace, another co-worker, told me about his pervy habit of doing watching me last month"

Doing watching may be a typo?

"I need to lose this fat butt from being pregnant forever"

Not sure if she's saying she has been pregnant a long time or if she has needed to lose the weight for a long time.

"It was enough to be fifty-eight, but the disappointment of another dead, dead-end left her deflated."

Another fun line.


Best of luck with your book!



Offline Jolouis27

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2020, 04:35:34 PM »
Hi Kerry B,
 :)
Thank you so much. Good suggestions and good catches! I'll check out the link.
I'll post another 3 chapters this week.

Much appreciated,

Joanne
aka Jolouis27

Offline GoldenPen

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2020, 07:36:48 PM »

DOT Wilcox becomes her family’s breadwinner during the 2009 U.S. Mortgage Crisis. An altercation involving her loving, but protective husband SEAN sends the couple on the run with their two small boys.


Jo, based on your description it sounds like an exciting fast moving thriller. However, the couple are on the run because of an altercation?  I got confused about that. I mean I would expect someone to be on the run because they broke the law - maybe embezzlement, robbery or assault. But why would they have to leave town just because of an argument? If they have to escape to Canada I think it should be for a better reason. Maybe they are on the run because of a VERY serious issue and you don't want to reveal too much of the plot. I do understand that. I'm thinking, maybe you could say: "A dark secret comes to light that sends the family into hiding."  A dark secret implies danger and mystery. I think something along those lines would give the reason for their fleeing more weight, but leaving because of an altercation sounds flippant. I hope you don't take any of this the wrong way. I wish you all the luck in the world with this!

Offline Jolouis27

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2020, 05:27:33 PM »
Thank you Golden Pen! I very pleased to read your comment and yes, I need to revised the blurb and it's a VERY serious issue indeed - Manslaughter. So I'll endeavour to come up with a better word or maybe just add "serious altercation" or "deadly altercation." Will give it some thought.

Thank you for your comment and good wishes!  :)

Offline bailish

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2020, 11:09:31 AM »
Overall, I like the writing. It flows smoothly and sounds professionally written.

He takes the monitor from me and places it on the step. “Go on,” he says. “Get that fine butt of yours off to work,” knowing I hate that.

"knowing I hate that" is not a dialogue tag, and I don't like the use of "that"
“Go on, get that fine butt of yours off to work,” he says to irritate me.


Sean worked there before they laid him off with the rest of the country then his father dropped dead of heart failure and left the farm to us.

Awkward: "with the rest of the country" doesn't really work here with the indeterminate "they" Did they lay everyone off?
"Then" sounds like a run-on sentence. I'd prefer to see it as a new sentence.

Sean worked there before getting laid off with the rest of the country. Then his father dropped dead of heart failure and left the farm to us.


Anyway, that only lasted a whole three months before the bank foreclosed and put the farm up for auction along with the machines and animals. We had no idea what kind of debt Mr. Wilcox had dug for himself.

I chose to connect the ideas a bit.
We had no idea what kind of debt Mr. Wilcox had dug for himself until, only three months later, the bank put the farm up for auction along with the machines and animals.


Sean’s odd jobs takes care of the rest

should be
Sean’s odd jobs take care of the rest


I pass by Dalton’s Food Company to walk into McNally’s pub a few doors down where my mother Alice works.

This one is admittedly nitpicky.
I pass by Dalton’s Food Company to McNally’s pub a few doors down where my mother Alice works.


I reach for the envelope and look up to Alice.

Do you normally call your mother by her first name? Especially noticeable since she signs the card as Mom in the next sentence.


DGM when it was Cody’s dad’s store.

I don't like double possessives. I'd change it to:
DGM when it belonged to Cody’s dad.


Sometime later,

should be:
Some time later,


As I startle,

perhaps:
As I shiver,


Grace, another co-worker, told me about his pervy habit of doing watching me last month, and then I caught him spying on her.

Grace, another co-worker, told me last month about his pervy habit of watching me, and then I caught him spying on her.


wrapping my scarf around my head like a mummy

You mean covering the face? Sorry, I don't live in an area that gets cold enough for a scarf, and it sounds odd to me.


once and a while

should be:
once in a while


Grace too in some ways.

This confused me. Do you mean Grace also reminds you of what you could be doing, or these kids coming in remind her of what she could be doing? I could see it being either way.


He quietly slides into bed smelling like Irish Spring. Within seconds, his breathing deepens, and he’s out.

I'm unsure what the narrator feels about this. Does she approve or feel neglected?


Sean’s proposed by the waterfalls in Mark Twain National Forest

should be
Sean proposed by the waterfalls in Mark Twain National Forest


I like the writing style. Good luck!

Offline Jolouis27

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2020, 11:39:22 AM »
Thank you Bailish!

Theses are great catches and thank you for the compliment! I'm so grateful for everyone's input! I will update you all if this gets picked up by an agent and publisher.

Back to corrections and editing,

Joanne (Jolouis) :)

Offline BKelley

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2021, 02:16:28 PM »
I'm going to start by saying wow, what a tension-builder. How is this girl doing it!

You have strong, active writing and I really like the scenes you paint. You do a great job with describing the characters in a way where I feel like I know their who back story in just a few words, so great job.

The other things I noticed I'm just going to list in order of appearance, if that's okay. Sorry this isn't a more cohesive critique but my husband is in the kitchen sniffing around for lunch and I must go protect my kitchen.

Who is Steve whose place they move into? There was no explanation at the time or later?

"it's as tight as my ponytail." - Exc

I wasn't clear on what the sentence "Nice for some." meant.

I feel like Peggy "warning" the main character that her boss Cody is receiving a delivery is the wrong word considering what a relief it turned out to be that he wouldn't be around her. Or was it a warning since then there would be stocking to do, which is where he assaulted her? Maybe a bit of a re-work in this regard to make it clearer?

I think in the sentence "pervy habit of doing watching me" you didn't mean to have "doing" in there?

Did you mean "Sean proposed" instead of "Sean's proposed"?

To keep the tenses happy, in the first line of chapter two maybe it should read "Diane confirmed"?

For some reason saying Diane "wished" it wouldn't be the last time she'd be called in hopes of finding Suzanna sounds like she already knows it will? Maybe "hoped" or something similar gets more at that she wants to be called again?

Should I know what I.O.S.S. means? I didn't see it explained.

I'm not sure I like Diane as much, or even admire her even though she clearly has done many impressive and admirable things. I don't feel like she displays strength or grit as much as a disregard for others. But maybe that is how we are supposed to feel about her at this point?

Thanks for letting me read your work! Good job on this!

Offline Jolouis27

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2021, 03:20:23 PM »
Thank you BKelley! The encouragement is wonderful to hear and thank you for the catches! :) Steve is their landlord (now explained) and Diane is an Amazon of a woman who is tough, unapologetically sexual, and is juggling this case with a cold case that is personal to her. Men hate her and women love her, so I'm surprised by your comment. Back to the drawing board! I want women to love Diane and eventually Dot (but cheer her on from the beginning).
Can you expand on why you don't like Diane? It would help me a great deal.
Thank you,

Jolouis27

Offline BKelley

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Re: Please review 3 chapters of my novel, "Off the Grid"
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2021, 03:47:54 PM »
Sure, let me re-read her part again to see what jumps out at me.

"It was enough to be fifty-eight, but the disappointment of another dead, dead-end left her deflated." - The strongest women I know never dwelt on the numbers of their age. I also think disappointments challenged and motivated them more than deflated them.

"Long in the tooth" - 58? I'm not anywhere close to that but neither do I think 58 is so old.

She let her husband leave her with just a rude note and didn't bother to talk to him about it? That's partly where the "disregard for others" feeling comes from. Also from the fact she would not compromise on creating a home for her and her husband, instead leaving it "sterile and depressing." Those things don't strike me as "strong."

I was surprised when you said she is supposed to be unapologetically sexual, because when you said the sex with her husband had been fantastic, it reminded me of when I was dating a (not out) gay man and his miserable attempts to be sexual. She seems asexual.

Aside - Found a woman face down in the water with a pointy noise? I think they must have found her pretty quickly after death, then, because my understanding is bodies in water puff up pretty ugly pretty quick? I could be wrong on that.

Hope any of this is helpful, but again it's just my opinion.