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REMOVED.

Thank you all for the lovely comments and critiques! They were very helpful. I have plans to continue this project, and I'm sure I'll need beta readers at some point. Thanks everyone who volunteered! I'll be calling on you at some point in the undetermined future.

DEC 2010 EDIT: The contents of this piece have been removed.

SEP 2013 EDIT: I rewrote the opening scene, but nothing else has changed. I feel it's a lot better now, though maybe not quite where I'd like it to be. But whatever. Time to move on. Let me know what you think. Is it an improvement? Or not so much? Also, I'll probably take this down in a few weeks. I will definitely have more to beta read soon, so note me if you're interested.

Ta-da! I actually wrote this a while back, but I'm a perfectionist and haven't been able to stop editing it--until now. But it's still a first draft, so I'm not so much concerned with the writing quality as I am with the emotional arc of the story, clarity, pacing, etc. Please let me know what you think and if you have any concerns or suggestions!

My main concern: I'm never sure if I describe things enough. I personally don't like a lot of description, but I fear I may not use enough to generally orient readers. What are your thoughts? Did you get good mental pictures while reading this, or do I need to elaborate on certain things?

Also, I will be needed beta readers/accountability partners/people to poke me with pointy objects to keep my writing as I endeavor to write the entirety of this novel. Let me know if you like it so far and would be interested in reading more. I probably won't put any more here on dA, so I'll have to figure out some alternate means of distribution to beta readers.

Sidenote: I would consider this to be an extremely soft sci-fi, but it's definitely NOT a dystopia.
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:iconchaldemone:
Chaldemone Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2013
Two very minor nitpicks: I think "a hand carved top painted red and glistening in the lamplight" would read better if you replaced the "and" with a comma; also, in "Dominique though she saw her dentures quiver, but she couldn’t be sure," you're missing a "t" in "thought". 

Two more major nitpicks: When I first read this, I wasn't sure what was happening in the kitchen transformation scene. I don't know how you could make that more clear; I guess part of it might be that I was confused about the strain of effort you mentioned when Dominique grabbed her mother's hand. (I thought for a moment that they were fighting for the candle, haha.) The other complaint is that dream-casting isn't explained thoroughly. I have no idea what's going on when you introduce the idea of dream-casting as theatre work; partly because it's unclear as to how dream-casters can share their dreams, and partly because the world-spinning idea just reminds me of film clichés. While a lot of my own dreams have had a film-like quality, I don't know if anyone dreams with that world-spinning film motif. 

Anyway, really cool idea. I'm excited to see what comes of it. 
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the notes! I've struggled with figuring out a better way to write all three of those parts, but I haven't come up with anything better yet. Still working in it. Actually, I haven't really worked on it at all in a while. It's shameful, really. 

But yeah, I imagine this story as a film when I'm writing it, so that would probably be why it sounds too much like a movie. :P I'm just more of a visual thinker. I need to find a way to get more into the story, but that's hard for me to do unless I write in the first person, and this story doesn't quite work in the first person, so idk. :shrug: I guess I still have some pondering to do.

Anyhow, thanks! =D
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:iconskysongma:
SkysongMA Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Student Writer
I do like the changes to the opening a lot. It reveals quite a bit of character (although that could just be with the perspective I already have), but it still skips right to the good part. :highfive:
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:aww: Thanks for your input! That seems to be the general consensus, and I like it a lot better now. Time to finish chapter two!
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:iconweekendhunters:
weekendhunters Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well, after noticing the incredibly comprehensive comments below, mine seems inadequate. All I can say is that I love how it goes, and worth following.
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:aww: Thanks!
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:iconasjjohnson:
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

I thought it was sounding like something was odd about Dominique, since she didn’t seem to understand receiving a gift, she opened it slowly (can you group ‘slowly’ with ‘tore away’? It seems kind of contradictive to me. Maybe ‘slowly tore’ but ‘tore away’ usually has me thinking it’s fast), and didn’t know what a top was (though, I did think this might end up taking place somewhere where it wasn’t common knowledge). So, hearing that she’s six and not talking tells me there really is something odd. I wonder just what it is.

Dreamcasters sound interesting (and the term seems appropriate). I wonder if it’s common for dreamcasters to start talking quite late.

I was wondering what those two had to do with Dominique. That was neat. Also, despite that having been quite a feat, should “helped Dominique to her feat.” be ‘feet’?

I wonder what the ‘world’s smallest stage’ means. It’s mentioned more than once that it’s a very small stage, so it sounds meaningful. At first, I thought it might just be a dreamcaster thing, but the announcer sounding very part-time, and the stage being referred to as the world’s smallest sounds like she’s not very important. But, having an audience packed into the place does sound impressive. So, I guess it’s sounding more like just a small town thing.

“I bough tickets” should probably be ‘bought’. Also, looks like she’s talking more now. I’ve been wondering how she’s doing besides with the shows.

Hmm... Anton’s limping? He was the really energetic brother ten years ago, right? I wonder if something happened.

Perhaps this Luther Stanley can give Dominique some bigger exposure.

Dream Battle, huh? Hmm... could be interesting.

She sounds smart. Sounds like she feels this guy is up to something. Though, I did think that it was odd for him to outright say that he wants her because people love fish out of water stories. I would think he’d try harder to hide his true reasoning. But, for him to say that up front, it could mean he’s honest.

Is “Not, not at all.” supposed to be “No, not at all.”? I thought it said ‘No’ when I first read it, but when glancing back, I noticed it didn’t.

Hmm... Perhaps Mr. Stanley isn’t naïve or more honest than most. Perhaps he just expects everyone to go along with him, no matter what. (he sure seems to think Dominique will do this, despite not taking the ticket and not saying anything that sounds like agreeing after first meeting him. Hmm... Interesting that she went to being starry-eyed to being wary like that. I wish I knew for sure what made her change her mind that much. This has a very external point of view. Seems kind of... hmm... what’s the word... Cold, distanced? in a way.

‘bum leg’ sounds like a permanent thing for Anton.

‘prosthetic leg’ sounds worse.

I was wondering about what happened to their parents. Talking about possibly leaving Anton all by himself together with him saying he’ll keeping looking for work was hinting at them not being around anymore, and then Dominique saying they ‘loved’ it, sounds like they might’ve died. Though, ‘never would’ve left’ has me wondering what that phrasing means. Sounds like they didn’t leave of their own free will, but did something happen to them and they died, or were they forced to leave for some reason?

Hmm... I guess I thought it was clear enough, but I don’t know how much I pay attention to stuff like that. I thought the ankle-high grass line was a little odd, though. I didn’t really understand why the length of the grass was mentioned, and didn’t know if ankle-height was higher or lower than it should be or what. I hardly ever notice grass when I’m walking in it.

It didn’t start with a bang, as most people say is important to hook readers (even though I’ve seen movies that start out slow). It took a little bit of time to build up. Might be more interesting if there was something... I don’t know... some hint of something in the first line to show there’s something different going on. But I don’t know what it would be. The unresponsiveness to the gift at the beginning was kind of interesting, but, I guess unresponsiveness can also feel kind of boring.

The point of view is kind of unresponsive, too, which may also give a slight boring feel to it, though it really depends on different things. Not telling exactly what’s going on also makes it more interesting in a way, since I want to know what’s happened in those ten years, and no one’s telling me, so I want to keep trying to find out.

A lot of the time, it seems like the point of view is more of a camera view (though it would probably be nice if more was said about the characters expressions and body language at times if that’s what you’re going for, to show what they might be thinking), but there was one or two times that the point of view seemed closer, knowing how a character is thinking.

But I don’t really know what I’m talking about, and I also didn’t feel in the most receptive mood before reading this, but it’s been a few days and I thought I might forget to read it if I waited too long.

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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry for taking so long to reply ... I've been ignoring all my dA comments for a while. =P But thanks for all the notes! I like the way you wrote down what you thought of it as you read it instead of trying to give a "do this and fix that" sort of critique. It's much more useful for me to just know what people think and what impressions they got from it than to know their opinion of what I should change. So thanks for that. :hug:

I honestly haven't worked on this in a while. :( I need to get back on it! I will start by fixing all the typos lol.
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:iconslugette:
slugette Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's a great read, and I enjoyed it a lot.  It's a very fresh concept too.  I don't think there's any problem with descriptions.. (I don't like too much descriptions either..)

One tiny bit of critique would be in the opening scene: Roza going “We said she’d be talking for sure by the time she turned six, but she’s not. What’s wrong with her?”  is not realistic.   The language development starts much earlier..  If a child didn't speak at all by the time she's 2-3, a mother would have seeked help, like speech therapist, ear specialist and so on..  A mother does not wait till 6, and wonder what's wrong with her?   So, if the age wasn't mentioned, I would have imagined Dominique would be more like 3 years old.... and this is based on experience, having 2 children of ages 6 and 4.  ;)

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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry it took me so long to reply! I've been putting off everything that has to do with this story for a while because ... um, procrastination. lol

You definitely have a point! I thought I'd mentioned that they had gotten her help, but I guess not. :P Anyhow, I completely rewrote the opening scene because I didn't like it as it was anyhow. :XD:
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:iconslugette:
slugette Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed the new opening scene is a lot better.  :)  It's awesome to see you editing, and your story taking shape.  
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:aww: Thanks! Now to finish chapter two ...
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:iconslugette:
slugette Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Go girl~ :)  amazing concept for a novel by the way.  You're very creative. :)
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:aww: :hug:
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013   Writer
disclaimer disclaimer this is all just opinions use them or don't as you see fit

I think the amount of description's fine; I didn't get visually confused, and I did get a feeling of the world. I'm not so sure about the pacing - especially the first section drags on a little long, I think. Or, better said, there's too much going on before the revelation. I think if you jumped ahead a little in the first sentence, gave us something to focus on - the first day Dominique spoke, or the day Roza learned that her daughter could dreamcast, or so - it might serve as a better hook, and make some of the dialogue that stretches that section out unnecessary.

I think in general you seem to depend on dialogue a lot, which isn't necessarily bad but - I think - does slow it down a bit. I feel like you're taking us through every moment, when maybe a bit less would do. On the same note, one place more description might do good is the dialogue - maybe facial expressions and body language could do with a little more playing up. As long as it's not overdone, of course. But I don't get a good feeling from Dominique about how she feels about this offer - I'm substituting in overwhelmedness because that's what I'd feel and her dialogue seems to match it, but I don't see it. Same with the other characters - I have a decent feeling of Anton, but I'm wavering between at least two or three ideas of what Stanley's like and how he's delivering his pitch. Along the same lines, the emotional connection isn't clicking for me right now - although I'm not sure whether that's a content thing or a writing thing; maybe a bit of both, and I'm guessing it'll get better in later drafts even if I'm not able to pin it on something specific. Unfortunately, the best I can do is the body-language-in-dialogue suggestion. ^^;

I also agree with ~SkysongMA that the wildflower scene is great. Really love the imagery in that.

As far as beta reading goes: I'd be willing to, if you really want me or can't find enough people otherwise, but this isn't the best time for me so I probably shouldn't be your first choice. No idea about distribution, either - that's something I've been wondering about myself, and email's all I can come up with, although I'm sure there are better methods available.
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry it took me so long to reply to this! I've been procrastinating big time ... :P

I actually rewrote the first scene because I didn't really like it because of reasons you mention and several others. I think it's a lot better know ... but idk. I'm ready to move on anyhow. 

Hmmmm ... yeah, I tend to error more on the side of leaving voice inflections up to the reader's imagination. I don't feel like it's always that important, but maybe it is. I'll have to work on it.

:hug: I'm sure I'll be able to find plenty of help. No worries! How are things going for you now?
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013   Writer
I do think the beginning is better now. :nod: I like the way Dominique is silent throughout the beginning without any attention being drawn to it - it's a bit more subtle, and makes for what I think is a really neat effect.

Inflections are a tricky thing, I think. It's so easy to overdo them, and too little might even be better than too much. But it's something to think about.

I'm also procrastinating a bit. ^^; I've had kind of a rough few weeks, and I keep being distracted from my novel, but... at least I've been distracted with things that are still creative. :XD: So, you know... good and bad.
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:aww:

Yeah ... I just have to be super conscious of it as I'm writing, I think.

Haha, I know the feeling! But as long as you're doing something creative, it should count toward something!
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013   Writer
That's true! :nod:
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:iconskysongma:
SkysongMA Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Writer
I really like this! I think your description of Dominique's dreams was perfect--it was so different from the rest of the story that it felt really lush and vivid. And I think the characters provided really good exposition without feeling forced. I already know quite a bit about this world without being told much at all. I am jealous. And I can already tell I will like Anton.

My only thing is that I feel like the first scene takes a little long to get going. Although I think her parents' conversation is interesting, Dominique's talent almost gets lost behind it. 

I know I said it before, but--pick meeee! I will read it!
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :aww: Hopefully I can keep this up for the rest of the story ... Anton's side story is going to be fun. I really don't know much about him yet, other than that he's kind of Dominique's voice of reason. But he's also spunky and ambitious and adorable. I look forward to getting to know him better. =D (I always think I sound like a pervert when I'm talking about my characters. Haha.)

Yeah, I also have mixed feelings about the opening scene. I feel like I need something to show the origin of her dreamcasting and how it comes from the inability to communicate in "normal" ways, but I don't know. Maybe a better solution will hit me once I get further into the story. 

Yay! I will definitely count you in! :glomp: remake (Know of any good ways to share writing with beta readers that's not dA? I just feel like dA sucks for that kind of thing.)
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:iconskysongma:
SkysongMA Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Writer
I got that part--I think the conversation just went on a little too long. I was actually quite intrigued by that aspect of Dominique's character--it helps explain why she is the way she is when she's older, I think.

Google docs? (Or whatever they're calling it.) Or Dropbox.
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hmmm, yeah, I can probably shorten it and still have a good scene. 

Yeah, I used to freaking love Google docs until recently. They acquired open office, and things got a little glitchy. Maybe they've fixed it now.
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:iconskysongma:
SkysongMA Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Student Writer
Then maybe Dropbox? Beta readers could pick up the original file from Dropbox, download it, retag it with their name, add comments, and reupload it. Kind of annoying, but I don't know any flash-editing site better than Google Docs, and if Google Docs has started to suck...
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:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That could work ... I'll think try google docs again and see how it goes.
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