Through The Lens
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June 14th, 2010 (10:53 PM).
Delusions of Originality
Join Date: Sep 2009
Hm, a crime thriller. I am intrigued! Quick question before I start the review proper, though: why is everything in a quote tag?
James Lawson has been awake since 5am. His four year old son had crawled into their bed after having a nightmare. James lay awake, looking up at the patterned ceiling above him.
The first sentence is either a typo or a tense change. Since the rest of the story seems to be written in past tense and not present tense, I'll assume it's a typo and that you did in fact mean "had been awake" there.
Additionally, having the word "awake" twice in one paragraph and in close proximity is a little awkward. You could probably adjust the last sentence so that it reads "James looked up at the patterned ceiling above him" or something; we already know he's up early, so there's no need to say it again.
He sometimes thought about the bed so only she got the sun on her face.
That seems like a non-sequitur the way you have it worded now. Rather than "He sometimes thought about the bed so...", I believe you mean "He sometimes thought she'd moved the bed so..."
Walking out of the bedroom, he made his way to the kitchen downstairs. Holding onto the oak banner, he slowly and wearily made his was down the steps.
I would change the structure of one of those two sentences so you've got a bit more variety. Neither is glaringly wrong, but it sounds unnecessarily rhythmic and repetitive. In fact, you seem to be very fond of that "Verbing something something, he something something something..." construction in general, as it shows up pretty frequently elsewhere. Try to vary your sentence structure a bit more.
Also, I think you mean "banister" instead of "banner".
he had to be in work in a few hours.
"At work", I think.
He pivoted slightly as he turned in a circle fashion to his right, then letting go of the banister
"Turned in a circul
fashion" would read better; "turned in a circle" would be better yet, however, as adding "fashion" to it just seems like padding. Additionally, "letting" doesn't agree with the rest of the sentence. Something like "...then let go of the banister" would be more accurate.
entering in the windows
Just "entering" instead, maybe. "Entering in" is redundant.
"It isn’t hygienic"
He could hear Laura saying.
What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her.
He thought, letting a slight chuckle escape from his mouth.
Two things here. You're missing punctuation (specifically, a comma) at the end of the quote from Laura. Second, "he could hear" and "he thought" are dialogue tags that are attached to the preceding thoughts. The first word of a dialogue tag that comes after speech/thought like that should not be capitalized, and the ending punctuation of the speech/thought should be a comma, not a period. The second one, for example, should read "
What she doesn't know won't hurt her,
he thought...". You would only capitalize the first word of a dialogue tag if it came before the speech/thought, as in "He could hear Laura saying, '
It isn't hygienic.
Oh, and you used "mouth" quite a few times in this paragraph. Perhaps you could rewrite that last clause as "letting out a slight chuckle" or even simply "chuckling slightly".
James Lawson was a well built, six foot three inches FBI detective
If you're using more than one word as a single descriptive adjective, you should hyphenate those words. "Well-built", "six-foot-three-inches", etc.. Also, you'd say "six-foot-three-
", not inches, if you're using it as an adjective. Otherwise you mean he was "well-built, six feet and three inches tall".
His blue eyes were as deep as the ocean itself.
That's an awfully poetic way to describe an FBI agent in a crime thriller. I'd advise against such flowery description unless the entire story is supposed to be written in a flowery tone, in which case it wouldn't be out of place. Sometimes just "blue" by itself is enough; if you still want the ocean bit in there you can try "He had ocean-blue eyes" instead.
That whole paragraph is actually rather longwinded and can be trimmed. First of all, I would start a new paragraph with the sentence that begins "Grasping the black tv remote...". You should generally start a new paragraph whenever you change the subject. Second, while description is good when it's done properly, you really don't need to go into near-tangential detail about things. You could have stopped with "His complexion was fair", for example, as the part about his Irish parents passing down easily-sunburned skin isn't relevant right now and could probably be revealed later on if he actually gets a sunburn (and if he doesn't, then why do we need to know that he burns easily?). And do we really need to know about how the television is a special model? Do we even need to know that the remote is black? If we do, do we need to know that right
, or is there a better time to tell us this so that it won't disrupt the pacing of the story? Pick and choose what is actually worth describing first, and then give us just enough detail to get your point across. Your description will flow much more smoothly if you don't try so hard to force it.
The White House
Articles are not capitalized unless they begin a sentence or meet certain criteria if they're in a title. "The" is not part of the proper noun "White House", after all; it's just describing which White House James is seeing. Not that there are any other 1600 Pennsylvania Avenues, of course, but you know what I mean. :p
"PRESIDENT FRASER WILLIAMS FOUND DEAD."
This line will have a lot more impact if it's properly in its own paragraph (in other words, press Enter/Return twice here, too, so that it's visually separated from the preceding paragraph).
James swallowed hard of what remaining salver was in his mouth.
Saliva, not salver, first of all. Second, this sentence is worded clumsily. Try either "James swallowed hard" or "James swallowed what saliva remained in his mouth", but don't try to combine the two.
His stomach was turning, it felt like he was on a rather terrifying rollercoaster; one that ended in death.
Try switching the comma and the semicolon in this sentence. As it stands you have a comma splice and a sentence fragment. "His stomach was turning" and "it felt like he was on a rather terrifying rollercoaster" can stand on their own as two sentences and so should
two sentences, be separated by a conjunction or be separated by that semicolon there. "One that ended in death", on the other hand, can't really stand on its own as a sentence, and is the part that actually needs the comma to attach it to the sentence about the roller coaster.
The death has shocked the USA and the world with its unexpectedness.
"Unexpectedness"... erm, no, I think that's a little too awkward. Try "The unexpected death has shocked the US and the world".
He couldn’t grasp the idea that Fraser was dead
Is James really on a first-name basis with the president? Reading the end of Chapter Two makes seem that way, but... that's just so unusual that it's a little jarring. Maybe just call him President Williams here, and then slip the first name thing in later when Laura reveals that they are friends.
The TV remote slipped through his wet palms and fell to the floor where it landed hard; the batteries flying out of the tapped up cover.
Few things. "From" his wet palms is what I think you mean, as I doubt the remote phased
his hands. Everything after the semicolon is a sentence fragment, so said semicolon should probably be a comma if you don't want to reword that part. And "taped", not "tapped".
The whole conversation with Jane seems a little forced, primarily because you're constantly spelling out things like "I have" instead of using contractions. People in general tend to prefer contractions when speaking; if James (and Jane, to a degree) is really that stressed out, he's not going to take the time to speak formally and separate the words out. He'd probably resort to using contractions even if his natural speech really is that stilted. Third-person narration might not use contractions very often, but it's okay to use them in dialogue.
"Okay", on the other hand, should probably be spelled out. At the very least you should capitalize both letters ("OK, OK", not "Ok, ok"), as at that point it's an acronym of sorts and wouldn't be in proper case like a normal word.
Don't forget to press Enter/Return twice after dialogue as well as after regular paragraphs. It's hard to keep track of who said what when it's all crammed together like that.
"That man was the President of the United States Jane!" James grew angry towards her and his voice raised.
"He was a great man and not for one second do I believe that he died of natural causes." His grip tightened on the phone, he could hear the plastic tightening as his hand mercifully engulfed it.
In addition to a few other small problems here (another comma splice, a missing comma between "States" and "Jane" where there would be a natural pause in speech), I'm fairly certain that James's shouting should all be on one line instead of two. You don't start a new paragraph in the middle of one person's speech unless they're saying something incredibly lengthy or they just dropped some sort of bombshell and you need the whitespace for maximum impact. Right now the new line and the lack of a dialogue tag (not that there should necessarily be one here) means that it's easy to get confused and assume that Jane is the one saying the second bit.
James’s voice started to raise in volume as he spoke, but remembered Chris was still sleeping, lowering his voice to a whisper, he looked back into Laura’s eyes.
That looks like a run-on. Try turning the part that starts "lowering his voice to a whisper" into a new sentence. Also, you mean "rise" there, not "raise". "James's voice started to
in volume as he spoke."
There are a lot of similar errors throughout the story; I haven't bothered pointing them all out because a) this already feels terribly nitpicky, and b) most of them are so small and simple that I'm sure you could easily catch them yourself with more careful proofreading. Capitalization mistakes, comma splices, incorrect use of semicolons... most of what you've written makes it look like you do understand the rules for these things fairly well, so I'm sure those are just careless slip-ups you need to watch for a little more diligently. Try taking a break from your chapter for a few hours or even days before proofreading it so that you can approach the task with fresh, objective eyes. You may also want to try reading the chapter in question aloud, as actually hearing yourself say things will help root out awkward sentences and repetition (such as that one sentence structure you're so fond of).
Plotwise this is still very simple and very early in the game, so I don't know that there's a lot to say. Starting off with the death of the president is definitely eye-catching, and it makes me wonder whether James will find more concrete proof of actual foul play. (The comment you made about President Williams not having enemies seems like a slightly naive thing to say, as there will almost always be crazy people in opposing parties, or political leaders from other countries, who hate the president with a passion; of course, how legitimate a threat these people are is another matter entirely, so I guess wording it that way isn't the end of the world.)
James seems slightly weak in the knees and easily rattled for an FBI agent, though I guess his reaction is understandable seeing as the president was apparently a personal friend. Not that I think his being easily rattled is a bad thing--while he'd probably be in trouble if he reacted that way around a higher-ranking member of the Bureau, it does make him more interesting than the usual stone-faced agents you see. And he's got to have a great deal of strength/talent in there if he was hired in the first place, so I'm looking forward to seeing that come out once his nerves settle down a little. :)
Overall, Captain Fabio, I think it's an interesting start, even if it is little more than a start at this point because we haven't seen all that much yet. Just proofread a little more carefully so that the constant tiny errors aren't as distracting, and this will be quite enjoyable.
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