I like to share about two chapters of my book with you and I would like your comments and also I like you to answer a few questions about what your read.
It was a dark, cloudy night in February when everything changed. I made my way down the same quiet street that I always do, nothing seeming out of the ordinary. It’s relatively late, and the streetlights above cast a dim light, making it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. I make my way to the Cracker Barrel where I work as an overnight maintenance man, cleaning up and completing minor repairs when needed. I’m the only one there at night, and it can be pretty boring there with no one to talk to, so I wasn’t in any hurry.
As I made my slow walk, completely lost in thought, I heard a strange noise coming from the woods. Its low hum reminded me of electricity, and the continuous vibrancy captivated my attention. It felt like it was drawing me towards it. I looked around, trying to find the source of the sound when I saw a glow of shining lights, dim and changing colors like a chameleon. The brightness cast through the trees was a stark contrast to the darkness around it. What is that? I wondered. The longer I looked at it, the harder it was to keep walking. I had to know what it was. I decided to check it out.
I start my trek into the creepy woods, heading for the lights. The quiet of the forest was eerie, the only sounds coming from the fallen branches snapping under my shoes. The closer that I get, the more I can see the outline of the glowing object. Its spherical in shape and seems to be hovering above the ground. My whole body wants to move towards it. Every cell is screaming for me to go to the orb. I clumsily run through the trees until I’m right in front of it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The thing before me was something which I cannot specifically describe. It was strange, and I had to brush the frosty leaves to the side of me to see it clearly.
In a small clearing of trees, there was a small ball of water, about the size of a basketball, completely suspended in the air; it glowed blue, then green and back again. It was mesmerizing, and I could feel it beckoning me, drawing me even closer to it. It was so beautiful and the longer that I looked at it, the more I needed to touch it. I reached out my hand and pressed it against the silky surface.
The ball exploded, covering me in a lukewarm, glowing liquid. It startled me, causing me to stagger back and fall to the ground. I felt a sharp pain in my hand, and as I raised it to my face, I noticed a jagged stick protruding from my palm. I quickly pulled it out and got to my feet. Oh crap. What am I going to do now? I have a huge gash in my hand, and it’s still going to take me a while to get to work before I can clean it up and have a proper look at it. The throbbing pain was surely going to slow me down; I doubt I’ll be able to use my hand for a while. I thought about just heading back to the house, knowing that I’d be late for work when I felt a warm tingle run through me. It started at the fresh wound on my hand, slowly growing until I could feel it all throughout my body. It only lasted a few seconds but when the sensation left my body, so did the pain. I looked down where the stick was protruding from my palm just moments ago, and there was no wound, not even a scratch. I don’t know what is going on, but I know that I’ve already had enough freakishness for one night and walk out of the woods. I continued on my path to work, thinking about what just happened and wondering if I’ve lost my mind.
What was that back there? Did I actually see the glowing ball? Did it really spray liquid all over me? The miraculous healing made me forget that I was soaking wet when I hit the ground. But now that I look down at my clothes, I’m completely dry; like it didn’t happen at all. Did I hallucinate it?
I was telling myself that I needed to get over what happened and move on, that there was no proof anyways when I realized that I was already in front of the restaurant. The incident rattled me so badly that I don’t even remember the walk here. I jogged up the steps to the entrance and pushed open the door.
I walked passed the racks and shelves stuffed with quirky nick-knacks and souvenirs covered in people’s names, and into the dining room. The supply closet was at the back of the building, so I had to weave through every room of the store-slash-restaurant until I was in the hallway that led to a few offices and storage. I opened up the door to the tiny five by five closet and took out the broom and mop and started to clean the place up like I always do.
I was pulling a full trash bag from its can when the bottom started to rip open. I grabbed the bottom of the bag, hoping to hold it together long enough to throw it in the dumpster. A sharp pain shot through my hand and I dropped the whole bag. It burst in front of me, spewing half-eaten food and crusty napkins in front of me. Apparently, someone had broken a dish earlier in the night, and it ended up at the bottom of the bag; I could see it, with drops of blood, laying at my toes. I looked down at my hand and saw a long gash on my palm, in the same spot that it was before. It looked twice as deep and was very bloody.
My heart started to race. I know I’d have to get stitches on it this time. I rushed to the bathroom to wash and wrap the wound. The water that came out of the faucet was hot and made the cut sting even more. I pulled my hand back and adjusted the water. All of a sudden, I felt the same sensation I had in the woods. Blood still covered my hand, but it didn’t hurt anymore. I put my hand under the stream of water again and let it wash away the mess. Then there was nothing by my hand, not a cut, not even a mark.
What has happened to me? The glowing orb must have done something to me. It’s the only explanation. It seems that I can heal in a matter of seconds. How cool is that! It’s a convenient ability, but I wasn’t about to test the limits to see how quickly I could heal, or how much damage I could do before I stop healing all together. Instead, I went back to cleaning and tried to put it out of my mind. There’s nothing that I can do until I understand more.
I worked endlessly for the rest of the night, and before I knew it, it was five am and the morning shift was starting to roll in. I had completed most of my tasks for the night, all except for the outside. I usually save that for last because it’s the easiest, and so that I customers don’t have to worry about me being in the way once they start coming in. Once the parking lot is clean, and the bins are empty, I clock out and head home.
I took the same road home that I did to get to work and decided to stop at a small convenience store on the way. I need to pick up a few drinks on my way home. The door creaks as I open it and the bell screwed into the top makes a weak chirp. The coolers are at the back, and I have to walk through the junk food aisle to get there. I’m sure every convenience store in the nation does this, just to boost their candy sales. I open the frosty cooler door and grab some milk when I hear a man at the counter yelling at the cashier. “Give us all the money!”
I ducked down and looked around the corner. Two guys are standing by the entrance wearing dark ski masks. My heart starts to beat hard; I think it’s going to jump right out of my chest. I don’t see a gun, but what robber doesn’t hold up a store without one? I look around, trying to spot something that could take out the thieves. There are a few large cans of soup on one of the end caps, surely that could knock one of them out.
The poor cashier was shaking so badly; she couldn’t get the money into one of the plastic bags. The skinny of the two crooks started yelling at her, “Hurry up of I’mma gonna shoot you in the face!”
I grabbed one of the cans off the shelf and stood up to throw it at the one with the gun. The man must have seen me move out of the corner of his eye because he turned to me as soon as I stood fully up. I chucked the can in my hand, aiming it for his head. It struck its target, but not before the man turned and fired his gun at me. I instantly felt a burning in my shoulder, and we both hit the ground. The man’s partner leaned down and dragged his friend out the door like a coward.
I got to my feet and started to feel a familiar tingle run through me gain. I looked down at my shoulder to find a hole in my shirt, which was surrounded by blood. I stuck a finger through the missing fabric and found there was no wound; I didn’t even feel the pain from the bullet anymore. I grabbed the jacket from around my waist and put it on to hide the blood on my shirt.
Suddenly, I hear shouting coming from outside. Someone was yelling, “Drop your weapons and get on the ground!” The cashier must have hit a button under the counter to alarm the police.
I went up to the counter with a few drinks when one of the officers came into the store to check out the scene and make sure everyone was alright. I answered a few questions, telling the officer what I saw from where I hid behind the shelves. The officers arrested both men and called an ambulance for the man I hit in the head with a can.
After about twenty minutes of questioning, and another ten minutes of walking, I finally returned home for the night. It has been such a strange night for me, but it’s something that I have to keep to myself, at least for now. As far as I know, it’s just a freak occurrence, and it will go away in a few days anyways. After such a long day and I really need a shower, but as I take off my glasses, I realize that my eyesight wasn’t blurry. In fact, my vision was even better than when I had my glasses on. I was amazed at my sight being this good; I never knew how bad my vision was until now, and it felt like I’ve been blind all this time. I hurry up in the shower, ready to crawl into bed with my wife.
When I finish washing up and clear the fog from the bathroom mirror, I see that the scars that used to cover my body are no longer there. I look at my forehead and hand, where two of the more prominent ones were, but could only see clear flesh. There were no marks on my body anywhere. That means that my healing wasn’t just limited to new cuts, that damage inflicted long ago was fixed as well. Whatever happened in that forest must have affected me more than I realized. I’ll have to find somewhere I can run some tests without drawing too much attention.
There’s nothing that I can do about it now, so I put it out of my mind and crawl into bed. I’ll have to deal with it tomorrow.
I was exhausted the night before; it was night time when I finally wake up again. The world outside is so dark and quiet, brightened only by the stars in the sky. I lean over and give my wife a tender, good night kiss and get ready for work. For the first time in, well, I don’t know how long, my back isn’t aching as I stretch and walk towards the bathroom. I take a quick shower, not allowing the steam to billow up around me like I normally would. Then I get dressed and make myself some toast before heading out the door.
The crisp air hits my lungs as soon as I step onto the porch. Everything feels so fresh and new to me; the aches and pains that usually occupy my body have seemed to vanish, and I feel light on my feet like I’m ten years younger. I hop down the steps and start the long walk to work. I make it to the end of my street before I decide to start jogging instead. My heart started racing, and my lungs strained for air almost immediately; I don’t usually put them to work like this. I pushed on for another hundred yards until my whole body was screaming at me to stop. Then the familiar warm tingle ran through my body, causing me to stop in my tracks. I thought that was a dream.
By the time the sensation stopped, my heartbeat was back to normal, and I could breathe again like I wasn’t even jogging at all. Is this going to happen every time I feel even slightly uncomfortable? Why? What is the point? I didn’t want to test it last night, but now I’m not sure if it will go away. I take off running, pushing myself to run as fast as my legs will carry me. I run for about half a mile and still don’t lose my breath. My heartbeat is remaining normal as if I were only walking. Does that mean that once I heal, it stays healed? What is going on? I have so many questions, but how do I get the answers?
I slow my pace down to a walk, not wanting to get to work too early. There was a Wendy’s down the road little ways, so I start heading towards it. I stop in to get some tea and have a seat, hoping to kill the extra time I just bought myself. The place is relatively busy for the early, or late, hour, depending on how you’re looking at it. There were two women at the counter and a few stragglers in the dining room. A couple of men came in after I took my seat. They were laughing and talking loudly; obnoxiously drawing attention to themselves. One of the men looked at the ladies at the counter then turned to his buddy to say, “I wish these fine ladies would order me to eat.”
They ignore him and take their food to the other side of the store, sliding into a booth near me. As soon as the men get their order, they walk straight to the women and take up the booth next to them. They were laughing loudly and casting glances at the women. I could tell they were drunk and up to no good. The one doing all the talking was a large man, over six feet tall with short dark hair and scruffy sideburns. I notice a tattoo on his hand that resembles a dragon. Looking at the rest of him, I could tell he needed a bath. He was dirty, with oil smearing his hands and face. He asked one of the girls to sit on his lap so they could talk about the first thing that pops up.
The smaller of the two men also had dark hair and the same dragon shaped tattoo on his hand. But the similarities stopped there; this one had enough decency to be embarrassed by his friend, “That’s enough Carl,” he reprimanded his friend, “You’re making the ladies uncomfortable.”
Carl chuckled and brushed his mate off with a wave of his hand before starting in on the girls again. Apparently, they had enough because they started to collect their trash and move for the exit. As they passed the men’s booth, Carl reached out and grabbed one of them by the arm. She tried to yank herself away, but he just tightened his hold on her. I knew that I had to do or say something.
“How about you let the girl go and listen to your buddy,” I said to the man.
He stood up and pointed a stubby finger in my direction, “shut your flocking mouth and mind your own damn business.”
I’ve already seen enough to know that talking to this man won’t work. And I’d be lying if I said the way he was treating the women didn’t piss me off. Though I wasn’t searching for a fight, and the thought of it is making me nervous, I ask him to step outside. He lets go of the girl and starts walking toward the door, so I follow. I notice the cashier speaking hurriedly into the phone; she must be calling the police. Good. If I could knock him out and send him to the slammer for the night, it will make my whole evening.
Both men turned on the sidewalk in front of me. “The police are coming,” I said to the more sensible one, “you should take your friend home.”
Carl barely game me time to get the words out before he was swinging at me. His fist flew through the air and landing flat against the side of my head. I went down on the concrete and hit my head a second time. The second hit hurting more than the first.
I started to get to my feet when my body started to feel warm, and a prickling sensation ran through me. I guess that means I can heal from punches to the head, too. I righted myself and got ready to take my own swing, but my opponent had other ideas and swung first. I took a step to the side and dodged his punch. Sirens started to sound in the distance, and the shorter guy was looking panicked. He grabbed his friend and said, “come on, let’s get out of here.”
Carl jerked loose and went for another hit at me. This time, I grabbed his fist and squeezed until I thought I heard a cracking sound. He jerked his fist around, trying to free himself from my grip. I let him go, and he stepped back, cradling his injured hand. “Shit!” He yelled, “I think you broke my flocking hand!”
His friend grabbed him again and started to run towards their car, but it was too late. A squad car came screeching into the parking lot, cutting off their escape. The women burst through the doors of the restaurant and ran towards me while the cops jumped from their car and went to the men.
The girls started to talk to me at the same time, asking questions and giving me compliments rapidly. “I thought you were bleeding!” I heard one of them say.
“I’m fine, thank you,” I said. “I should probably go clean up real quick.” I took off without waiting for a reply. I could feel the cold wetness dripping down my face from where I hit my head, but I knew there wouldn’t be a wound. I quickly made it to the bathroom and washed the mess from my face. I think I’ve wasted enough time already; I need to make it to work.
As I was making my way out of the restaurant, the woman cop waved me over. “Are you okay?” She asked. “The women told us what happened here. Do you want to press charges?”
“I’m fine,” I told her. “ Whatever the girls what to do is enough for me.”
The officer asked me a few more questions and said I could go on my way, so I turned back towards the road and started my walk to work. The girls ran over to me before I even made it out of the parking lot. “Wow, that was amazing back there,” the woman in the blue sweater said.
“I thought you got cut,” said the other girl with the long black hair, “but I don’t see any blood now.”
“Ummmm,” I tried to think of an excuse, “it was just a nose bleed, but I’m fine now. I’ve got to head off to work. Have a great day.”
I turned again and took off, not wanting to continue the conversation. Finally away from everyone else, I started to think about what was happening. It doesn’t seem like the healing is going to stop, and it even heals bumps on the head. I should keep a journal of every time I heal.
Before I knew it, I was walking up the steps to the Cracker Barrel. I kept myself busy and tried to not think about anything but the tasks in front of me. Eventually, it was nearing five in the morning, and the only thing that I had left to do was to shovel out the fireplace. The fireplace hadn’t been used for hours and shouldn’t be hot. So I decide to make quick work of it by putting on some gloves and using my hands. I get a few scoops of splintered wood and ash into the metal container when smoke starts to come up from my shoe. There must have been some hot embers left that I didn’t see. I don’t feel any pain yet. Hopefully, I can get the laces off before it reaches my skin.
I yank the laces free and start pulling my foot from my shoe when the burning starts. I quickly dust the hot piece of wood into the can and slide my shoe back on. My toe feels like it’s on fire, but there isn’t much I can do now. Suddenly, my whole foot feels like it’s asleep and the sensation is working its way through my body again. It disappears as quickly as it came. Well, I can get used to this if I’m not careful. I finish sweeping the rest of the debris into the can and clock out to head home.
I decide to jog without stopping to get there faster, but after five minutes I pick up the pace to a casual run. I make my way through an open field and cut through a couple of yards. I’ll get home in no time this way. It only took me five minutes to get to the half way point. There was a long hill that would normally make me tired just walking up it, but this time I ran as hard as I could without getting winded. My heart wasn’t even beating any faster than it normally did.
I know something happened to me, that what my body is doing isn’t normal, but it is pretty cool to be able to test my endurance without getting tired. I made it to the top of the hill without breaking a sweat. I can hear people shouting; it sounds distant, maybe they’re at the bottom of the hill. I pick up my pace again and the closer I get, the more I can see a blazing glow in the distance. I slow down as I come to the bottom of the hill and spot people standing in their yard, pointing at their house. Flames were billowing out of the windows, dark smoke and soot filled the air. The man shouted to his wife, who was holding a little boy in her arms, “she’s still in the house!” A coughing fit brought him to his knees.
“Where?” I asked the wife, “where exactly in the house is she?”
“Straight through the door,” it was clear that she was trying to fight back the tears as she told me the layout of her house, “follow the hallway. It’s the second door on the right.”
The man was about to go with me, but I could tell he wouldn’t make it if he had to go into the smokey house again. “No. You stay here with your wife and kid. Call the fire department.”
“Someone called them already,” he told me.
“I will try to get your daughter, okay? I’ll be right back.” Without another word, I turn and run into the house.
It’s hard to see anything through the thick smoke. The front door opens up into the living room. I only know this because I walk straight into the couch. My eyes were burning, and I had already inhaled the fumes from the fire. I began to cough when the feeling I was hoping for finally came, my body tingled and I felt my lungs loosen up, allowing me to take precious oxygen in again. I jump over the sofa and kneel down, hoping I can get a better view below the dark cloud. I can see the flames coming from the back half of the house, towards the kitchen at the opposite side that I entered.
I see a hallway to the left, and I make my way down it. The flames are on the side that the room should be, but they haven’t made it this far down the house yet. If I’m quick, I can still get her out before the fire reaches the room. If I’m too slow, the flames will trap us on our way back. I have to go straight to the room the woman told me she was in, even though I would like to look around for her. Just in case she tried to crawl out on her own and I missed her.
I’m worried that I’ll go too far and end up through the wrong door, so I place a hand against the wall. Even if I don’t see the doorframe, I can at least feel it. I slide my hand along the wall, feeling for a bump in the wall as I creep down the hallway.
It may have only been a few steps, but it felt like ages before I got to the first door. I slid my hand around the frame and was relieved to find the room opened. I called into the darkness, “sweetheart, are you in here?”
No response, but I have to keep moving. I put my hand back on the frame and call out a few more times as I go, waiting only long enough to hear a response. I can hear the flames roaring and the faint sound of wood cracking behind me; maybe she can’t hear me shouting. My fingers jab into the next frame, but this time the door is shut. I reach up to grab the knob but hesitate for a second. I remember learning about fires in grade school. The doorknobs get hot first, and you can burn your hand if you’re not careful. Then I remember what happened earlier at work when the hot ember landed on my shoe. I know I’ll heal anyways.
I grab the doorknob and turn it, but it doesn’t move. I step back a few feet and ram the door with my shoulder, the sound of my shoulder popping out of the socket is my only reward. The quick succession of feeling that followed was like nothing I’ve experienced before. First, a sharp pain exploded from my shoulder, quickly replaced by a dull throb. Finally, the warm prickling came, followed by no feeling at all.
I pushed as far back as I could against the other wall and ran at the door again. This time, it gave way and slammed opened. The girl was curled up on the floor, coughing. I grabbed a blanket off the bed and told her I was here to help. She couldn’t have been any more than fifteen years old. She wrapped an arm around my neck, and I picked her up. Peaking my head around the door, I could see that the hallway completely engulfed in flames. I was worried that we’d be trapped. I could probably just walk through them myself, and I would be fine. But that doesn’t do anything for this little girl.
I turn back towards the room. We could probably make it through the window, “are the…”
I don’t get a chance to finish because an explosion knocks us forward, sending us through the window and making my question pointless. We hit the ground hard, but before I could feel any pain, it was already healing. I could hear the firetrucks now that we were outside and walked around the front to deposit the girl in front of her parents.
Firefighters and police officers littered the street. Some helping the family with their oxygen masks, a couple trying to put out the fire, and the others keeping the growing crowd away.
I heard a fireman ask, “did we get everyone out of the house?”
“Yes,” the girl’s father said nodding his head at me, “thanks to this guy.”
His wife wrapped her arms around me and started to cry, “Oh my God! Thank you, sugar! I was so worried about my baby girl, and you risked your life to save her!”
“You’re welcome, ma’am,” I replied and tried to pry myself from her grasp gently.
The fireman grabbed a blanket off the truck and quickly smacked it into me. I was annoyed until he said, “you were on fire, man. Are you okay? Let’s get you some first aid.”
“No, I’m fine,” I told him, “I’ll be okay. Just take care of this family.”
I stayed for a few more minutes, making sure that no one needed my help. Then I backed away and continued on my way home. The sun was out and shining brightly, my wife and stepkids would be up soon. I took off at a sprint towards the house.
I reeked of smoke, so I took off my outer layer of clothing and left it on the porch. I went inside and headed straight to the bedroom. Holly was still asleep, so I quietly went into the bathroom and shut the door. I turned the water on as hot as it would go and stepped into the shower. By the time I was able to scrub the charred wood scent from my skin, my wife was already up and making us coffee.
I sat down at the counter and asked her how her night was. She tells me about the large order for custom soap dishes she received. Holly works from home designing various items for clients with the use of a 3D printer. She’s very good at what she does, and often her designs amaze me. It’s astonishing to watch the way her mind fits the pieces together until she’s able to come up with a carefully considered plan; the result is always beautiful.
She walks to her office to grab one of the already complete dishes to show me while I start making us breakfast. I take some eggs from the fridge and turn on the stove. I feel an arm wrap around my waist and a gentle kiss between my shoulder blades. I turn around, and Holly holds out the soap dish she designed. Unsurprisingly, it’s better than I had imagined. A square plate of aligning hexagons sits on top of a shallow base. When she pulls the two halves apart to show that they’re washable, I see an intricate design of bees and flowers etched into the base. “The company who outsourced the design and manufacturing to me specializes in naturally made soaps and bath products,” Holly explained. “All of their products contain either beeswax or organic honey.”
“They’re beautiful,” I say. “How many do you need to make?”
“The order is for five hundred initial units,” she tells me. “Luckily I have a whole month to make them, or I’d be in trouble with the small printer I have now.”
“Maybe now you can afford to get a bigger one,” I suggest, “then you can start growing your business more.”
“That’s what I’m hoping to do.”
I can see her eyes moving back to the office, and I know she’s ready to get back to work. “I’ll finish up making breakfast and come and get you when I’m done,” I offer.
She gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and goes back to work, so I turn my attention back to the stove.
After a quick breakfast, Holly tells me that she’s going to go back to the printer for a while, so I decide to work out in the garage for a bit. Normally I would spend some time on the computer, playing video games. But after all the changes my body has been experiencing, I figured it would be a good idea to start training my muscles. I start with some pushups, getting on the ground and squaring my shoulders above my hands. My arms start to shake by the time I get to eight, but I push through, trying to do at least two more. When I get to eleven, my arms are on fire. Then I start feeling it again; it’s like my whole body is on pins and needles, and I’m completely free from pain.
It seems like this new ability does more for me than just heal me. I can push myself and my endurance, and eventually, I can adjust, and the same tasks wouldn’t require as much effort the next time. I do another forty pushups before I decide to move on to lifting weights. I have a thirty-pound weight made of cast iron collecting dust in the corner. I pick it up and hold it straight out to my side, wondering how long I can keep it there. A few seconds pass before my arm is dropping and beginning to shake again, but that only last a second as well before I was able to lift it with ease.
I go in search for something heavier outside. Our backyard has some toys like baseball bats and bicycles; maybe I can find something over thirty pounds. I search through the grass for a few minutes, not finding anything heavy enough. I walk over to the shed and pull the keys out of my pocket, unlocking the deadbolt on the door. I find two fifty-pound bags of concrete from an old project inside. I pick them up and hold them out in front of me this time, but the same thing happens, and it’s like I’m not holding anything at all.
I thought that it would take longer to adjust the second time I did it, being that I was lifting more weight. But in fact, I got accustomed to the weight much quicker the second time. I think that’s all I’m going to do for right now; I can try more stuff at work tonight. If I don’t go to bed soon, I’ll probably won’t at all until tomorrow.
Now the Beta Reader Questionnaire
BETA READER QUESTIONNAIRE
- Does the story begin with an interesting hook, creating a desire to read more?
- Does the manuscript begin in the right place?
Characterization & Motivation:
- Are the characters compelling, sympathetic, or someone you can root for?
- Do the characters feel real and three-dimensional, with distinct voices, flaws, and virtues?
- Are their goals clear and proactive enough to influence the plot (not passive)?
- Do their motivations seem believable, with well-drawn and appropriate emotion?
- Are the secondary characters well-rounded and enhance the story rather than overwhelming the story or seeming like they should be cut?
- Are the relationships between the characters believable and not contrived?
Plot & Conflict:
- Are the internal and external conflicts well defined for each main character?
- Are the internal and external conflicts organic and believable, i.e. arising out of characterization and circumstance rather than feeling contrived or forced?
- Are there enough stakes and/or tension throughout to make it a “page turner”?
- Does the premise avoid cliché and/or bring a fresh perspective to an old idea?
- Are the plot twists believable yet unexpected?
- Do the characters act or react to events in a plausible, realistic, or believable way?
- Do scenes progress in a realistic, compelling manner and flow with effective transitions?
- Does every scene add to and seem important to the story?
- Does the story move along at an appropriate pace, without rushing or dragging?
- Is there a hook at the end of each chapter or scene that makes you want to read more?
- Is the story free from information dumps or backstory that slow the pace of the story?
- Would you change anything as far as backstory goes?
Setting & Worldbuilding:
- Are descriptions vivid and give a clear sense of time and place?
- Do the details enhance rather than distract from the story?
- Is the dialogue natural and appropriate for the story, not stilted or overly narrative?
- Does dialogue move the story forward and reveal the characters?
- Is there an appropriate mix of dialogue and narrative?
- Does the writing “show” the scene with the senses, using “telling” only as appropriate?
- Does the writing quality allow the story to shine through and draw the reader in, or are flaws jarring or intrusive?
- Is the tone appropriate and consistent for the story?
- Is the point of view (and any changes) handled appropriately and consistently?
- Is the voice unique, fresh, or interesting?
- Does the story deliver on the promise of its premise and opening scenes?
- From a reader’s point of view, did you enjoy reading this story?
Additional Questions for Comment:
- Are there any confusing sections that should be made clearer?
- Do any sections take you out of the story?
- What genre(s) does this story fit, in your opinion?
- Who are your favorite—and least favorite—characters and why?
- What aspects are especially likable or unlikable about the protagonist(s)?
- What three things worked best for you?
- What three things worked least for you?
Thank you for your time, please answer the question if you read the chapters, I am trying to make my book the best it can be.