Mar 19 2009

Kynnaston’s Review Forum

Published by at 4:06 pm under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

32 responses so far

32 Responses to “Kynnaston’s Review Forum”

  1. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 5:06 pm

    What I’m Writing: Above all else, my novel is a family drama. First Person POV from each of the three Sullivan siblings.
    Sebastian: The eldest of the clan. Remarkably idealistic, but has these bouts of depression occasionally. He “Shifts” matter. He’s more of a lover than a fighter and can often be found in the company of women. Although he is slow to anger, once you have earned Sebastian’s displeasure: Watch Out! He does not forgive easily.
    Chloe: First born of twins. Headstrong, abrasive, and a know it all. She’s guilty of a few over-reactions. Chloe can also see the past (she calls it Gathering) and is an empath that can influence other people’s emotions. (The basis on this is that emotions are tied very closely with memories.) Because she knows the past, she tends to be very pessimistic.
    Claire: Youngest of the group. She is virtually silent. In Claire’s mind, she has an unfair advantage over every other living being. Rather than take advantage of this, she tries not to act on her own behalf. She does not speak, allows her brother and sister to make all of her decisions for her, and tries to have as little impact on her surroundings as possible.

    More on their struggles later.

    Target Audience: YA audience. 14-20 somewhere in there.

    Author Experience: I believe I might have written a book report before. Other than that… :( I’m afraid not much. Writing is a very recent development.

    Comparable Works: …

  2. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Well, I can’t think of any comparable works… I was heavily inspired by the Ender books, Scott Westerfield’s Uglies books, Daniel Quinn’s My Ishmael, and the movie Fight Club.

    More on Claire: She is a seer and can also read the minds of those around her. She can also direct their thoughts/control their minds, but since she would never do that…

    My first chapter has yet to be edited but…

    here it goes.

  3. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I Discover My Purpose.

    Sebastian
    We knew the rules of the game. Oh, we knew the rules a little too well. I suppose that’s why we broke the system. It was nothing to us. Hell, even our very existence went against everything man kind ever knew, had ever believed in. Our arrival meant the end of the Old Ways and the beginning of something new. Something that the world had had only a taste of before.
    If the three of us would have been born into a family that would have been expected by human standards, we should have been born to MENSA members. The best of the best, rulers of countries, something… But, we weren’t here to be what others expected of us. We were here because it was time, not because of any master plan; the only plan we knew of was our own. And certainly not because our parents were anything special.
    Our mother was nothing. Our father was nothing. One was just a young girl, completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, just another face in the crowd. The other was the prodigal son of the owner of a corporate giant that never returned to glory. When they died, no one mourned. No tears were shed. Except for the three of us, no one even noticed. I suppose it’s unfair to say that no one cried. But in the end it wasn’t because they were gone, but because she had been a seer from the start. When Mother was gone, Claire saw the end of it all. And the future was bleak.
    I was the first of Mother’s children. Her name was Sussaneh Sullivan, daughter of a backwoods minister who had disowned her at the outset of her pregnancy with me. She was thirteen, alone and afraid, cowering in what remained of the broken home she and my father had tried to create, screaming when she pushed me into the world.
    There was no thunder shock. No earthquake. The deer in the forest did not look up in alarm and tremble before fleeing. Her voice pierced the night in one endless cry and I arrived, small and perfect for her still adolescent arms. She knew what she was doing though. Even as dumb as she was, the maternal instinct was very strong.
    When she carried me about on the streets of New Orleans, I looked like a doll. It was only when passing strangers got too close that they realized I wasn’t. There would be a little shock of horror in their eyes, but as with many in the city, nothing surprised them too much anymore. They were jaded. Why shouldn’t a thirteen-year-old have a baby? Such was the way of the world; they would sigh, and move onward with their day.
    I had many names those first few weeks. She couldn’t decide which was best. I was two before she had any one name she called me on a regular basis. When she called me anything other than “the baby”, it was necessity, I suppose, for the twins were on their way. She’d have someone else to call the baby. So I became Sebastian. No shortening, no nicknames. Always Sebastian. Just Sebastian. Mother’s first and last sane thought. The twins came on my third birthday. Mother said it was for convenience’s sake, so she’d always remember… She was like that, Mother, brushing off anything coincidental or accidental by simply stating that she’d planned it.
    Like she had planned us.
    Though maybe we were too young then to know. Maybe Mother had been Gifted as well. Maybe she had known the need somehow for us. Maybe she did what she did to get away from it, to be as normal as possible. Maybe we should have followed her into the next life. But we didn’t. We couldn’t have. And I for one would never have allowed it. There was much that we had to do. I saw that early, with Claire’s first vision that she shared with us, filling my mind with plans that would fulfill it. I think I was the only one who saw the benefits of her future gazing so clearly. If you can see the future, you can mold it to your choosing. With Claire and Chloe at my side, I would be unstoppable.
    A fact that a certain member of our family was not pleased with. Chloe. She always seemed to be meddling in my plans. From the death of Mother to the present, she was always one step behind me, judging. Even now…
    “All I’m saying, Sebastian,” Chloe said as she flopped down beside me on the couch in our hotel room, curling against my side. “Is that you can’t rule the world. Do you even realize the connotations of such a thing? How many others have tried this thing? Only to fail miserably. Only to be labeled as a tyrant, a-”
    I clapped my hand over her mouth to stop her babble. I knew her well enough to know that this was just her preamble. She would ramble on and on for hours if I let her. I twisted, letting her fall in to my lap to stare at me with anxious eyes. I frowned at her and lifted my hand to tweak her nose. Chloe might be a pain, but at least she’s fun to fight with. She snatched my hand and splayed my fingers against her own, for the moment quiet. I sat there for a while, letting her play with my hand as I thought about what she said while lifting my other hand to adjust the position of the black frames of my glasses.
    She was right, I had had many predecessors. But none of them had really stood a chance, not like I did. For the most part, they were ruled by hate, where I was fueled by love. Well love and righteous fury. How could I not be angry?
    This world had started out so beautiful. Perfection in completion. And what did they do? Destroy it. Run it right into the ground. Now there are the Greenies, those who actually participate in trying to stop harming the world. But there are few that try to correct what the humans have done. The majority of the world continues on as they always have, in this downward slope. It pains me to see the streets littered with garbage.
    I used to watch old movies with my sisters and struggle to keep from tears. New York City! The hustle and bustle of the major city in the twentieth century! Humans are clogging all portions of the world, a virus that cannot be stopped. Even with the wide spread of diseases, nothing really can keep the population rates down. I laugh as I watch in the media through the years as teen pregnancy becomes more and more accepted, and now almost even expected. Marriage is a rarity, especially among the younger generations. The nuclear family now consists of nothing more than shambles at a desperate attempt at remembered normalcy.
    Pollution controls our lives. The weather becomes increasingly erratic because of the rapidly enlarging holes in the ozone. Everything compounding on itself. More and more species were filing onto the endangered species list, regardless of the efforts spent to preserve them. Bit by bit, humans were destroying every facet of the earth’s ecosystem and their own lives in the process. And with every slip, I found myself hating our own species all the more.
    My hand in Chloe’s twitched into a fist, my rage building. She reached up to my face trying to calm me, but I stood, tumbling her off the low couch onto the floor. Agitated, I paced across the room.
    “How can I not, Chloe?” I fumed without looking back at her. Without waiting for her to respond I continued, it was my turn to rant. “How can I look everyday at the shambles of the world, and not desire to take things in to my-our own hands? How can I stand by when I know that I can do something about it?”
    I spun around to watch Chloe collect herself from the floor, cringing with each word that came from my mouth. I softened slightly, knowing that she was feeling every emotion that was racing around me, whether she wanted to or not. Her face was flushed with my passion. I had intended to go on, to rant for hours about the injustice she was imposing on me by denying me, to prove her wrong in every facet of her previous arguments. But the look on my sister’s face floored me.
    It was pain. She was suffering because of me. I knew she hated this side of me, but I’d never before known the pain it caused her. Usually she was pretty good at pushing it back at me, she’d make sure I could feel just as she was feeling, or she Drew Claire’s calm into me, whatever was more convenient. But now, she was just sitting there. I gauged myself, trying to see if she was drawing anything into me that wasn’t mine. No.
    I stopped to look at her closely. Chloe just sat there her eyes closed, her long bangs falling softly, creating a blonde veil for her closed green tinged grey eyes to hide behind. If it weren’t for the pained expression on her face, she could have been asleep. She was completely motionless against the couch with the exception of her slow careful breath. I crept toward her, warily, my rage already forgotten. My little sister…
    It took a painfully long amount of time to reach her. Each fraction of a second weighed heavily upon me. All I could think about was that there had to be something wrong. She never took that kind of abuse from me or anyone else if she could help it. Why would she allow it now?
    I crouched in front of her and held my breath as I reached my hand out to pull her chin up so her eyes would meet mine. My lips parted as I prepared to say her name. But she flinched away from my touch, as if I would cause her actual physical pain in addition to this mental anguish she was suffering from now.
    “Don’t-” she whispered.
    I rocked back from my crouch, stunned, and sat on the floor beside her. But apparently my proximity was too much for her. She shifted her weight away from me, not even looking my way. I sat there for a few moments before trying again. I raised my hands to pull her to me. All I could think of was this desperate need to correct this, to hold her, for some kind of contact. But again, she flinched away from my touch.
    Chloe stood warily and moved away from me. I moved to follow her, but she stopped me with her sudden stillness again.
    “Don’t.”
    Is it possible for a simple four letters to break a brother’s heart? It sure felt that way.
    I watched silently as she fled from the room.

    Claire and I lounged across the couch in the main room of our suite, flipping through the Saturday morning cartoons. No matter how old I get, I will never tire of this routine. The three of us staring mindlessly at the flickering colors on the screen every Saturday morning is more habit than anything. I can’t say that I get anything out of the actual show; it’s more about being together.
    Saturday mornings we get to be kids again. Saturday mornings we don’t have to be anywhere. We don’t have any crazy powers. We’re not future world leaders. For the span of a few hours we get to be just a family. Nothing more, nothing less. I live for Saturday mornings.
    This morning is unlike any other Saturday morning that we’ve had in a very long time. Chloe is not here. The couch seems lopsided without her. My left hand strangely empty.
    I squeeze my right tighter, relying on the hand that is there. Claire smiles at me encouragingly, although her eyes never left the screen. I was used to it. Claire never made eye contact if she could help it. It was too painful for her. She could see me well enough without having to look at me, she always said. Why cry when there is no need?
    Out of the twins, Claire is the easiest to relax with. You don’t have to hide anything from her; she already knows it all. You don’t have to ask for anything. If you are bored with the channel on the TV, she changes it before you ask. You consider going out for a walk; she’s already pulling on her shoes. My baby sister is the best of friends, the keeper of all secrets, and the oldest of souls.
    My eyes drift to the doorway to their shared room. Presumably, Chloe is there now. It makes me anxious, her being apart like this. On this day especially. I didn’t mind her being absent these past few days. She’s always off somewhere. But we never miss our Saturday Morning cartoons…
    Although, I can’t really blame her. It had been tense in the suite over the past few days. For once we were all as silent as Claire. And for the first time, I didn’t feel like watching cartoons with my dearest sister. As always, the TV flickered to black, before I even began to process the thought to ask if she minded. I squeezed Claire’s hand again, thankful as always for her.
    She leaned over to kiss my cheek and winked one of her pale gray blue eyes. “Be good.” She mouthed as she pushed me up off the couch. I smiled and tousled her hair as I left, effectively scattering her carefully parted side swept bangs.
    As I made my way to Chloe and Claire’s room I took in the suite. It had been quite an adjustment coming from our grandparent’s estate in Georgia back to downtown New Orleans again. We’d been born in this city, but it had been a while since we had been back in the Big Easy. Before we lived with our grandparents for those few short months before my eighteenth birthday, we’d drifted from foster home to foster home all over the southern state. I’d taken the girls back home the moment I was able and had leased this suite in one of the smaller hotels in New Orleans with a portion of our inheritance.
    The presidential suite had become our home. The main room was wide and open. We’d added little to the décor over the four years we’d been here. It still looked very much like a very posh hotel suite, not the home of three young people. Chloe’s fault, she couldn’t stand clutter. The door to their room stood opposite the French doors to the balcony where I spent most of my time.
    If I could, I would spend my entire day and night out on that balcony. The view was not a pretty one in my opinion. The city in all its lackluster wanton wonder spread out before it, lights bleaching the stars above, filth clogging the very air. It wasn’t the view that made me fall in love with the balcony. Standing out there, I felt very much in charge. I could envision every little change I would make in this world. Saw in my mind’s eye, each building demolished and replaced with the forested swamplands it had been originally. It would be beautiful.
    The balcony’s doors stood just to one side of the kitchen nook. Here Claire was best; she’d wow us over and over with her skills, knowing in advance what each of us would love the most to eat before we knew ourselves. There wasn’t a single cuisine that she hadn’t mastered. Most mornings I woke to the smell of breakfast being cooked.
    The kitchen and the adjoining bathroom to the girls’ room and mine flagged my room. My little sanctuary. My room was a trove of information. We’d moved in a few bookshelves that were now packed with books on environment reform, leadership skills, and anything else that I could think of to help better myself. The classics, of course, were there as well as a large collection of maps and globes. It seemed a pretty good representation of me.
    It was the girl’s room that had the greatest difference since we moved in. Here, Claire and Chloe split their space evenly. Chloe’s matched the exterior, very clean and orderly. But our little sister had a very different version of how a room should look. Her side was a spectacular display of floor to ceiling collage. If anything she saw sparked her interest, Claire would find a way to mount it to her Wall so it could become a permanent part of the display.
    It had started out with just a few newspaper clippings and photos that barely covered a standard sheet of paper. But thing about Claire’s wall was, it never shrank. It was rearranged occasionally, but those original clippings and photos were still there, as well as a million others that she’d collected over the years.
    I smiled and looked back to her in her place on the couch, flipping through a new magazine, scissors nearby, no doubt searching for new additions. I chuckled softly and turned my head back to my destination. Chloe. Sighing, I rapped my knuckles gently against the wooden door. Inside I heard the rustle of bedclothes and the sound of one of their wingback chairs being scraped across the floor.
    I blinked. It wasn’t immediately obvious if she had moved the chair in front of the door, or if she had moved it out of the way of the door. I tried the doorknob.
    Locked. I cursed silently. She was acting like a four-year-old! I rested my head on the door. “Chloe? Come on…” I said into the door. “Just let me in.”
    No response.
    I looked to Claire, trying to see if she would help me in this matter, but she was already up from her place on the couch and in the kitchen, magazine and all. I swore again and knelt in front of the door. Now eye level with the lock itself, I flexed my fingers, preparing to Shift the inner mechanisms to unlock the door. Inside the room I heard another rush of feet and the door to the bathroom being opened.
    Slowly, I rocked back on my heals and called loudly into the large suite. “Chloe, just come out. This is ridiculous!”
    The door to the bathroom swung open into the main room. I stood abruptly and backed against the wall, an unnatural fear Drawn across me. Chloe stormed out of the bathroom, tooth brush still in hand, bunny slippers and all. If it weren’t for the angry expression on her face, I would have laughed.
    “No, Sebastian,” She gestured wildly with the toothbrush, flinging flecks of toothpaste in my face. “Ridiculous is having to deal with all of this rage! You claim that you’d be better at all this world leadership stuff, but won’t listen to my reasoning. A good leader listens to all sides of an idea.”
    Chloe took in a deep breath, seeming to build up her strength. Her arms flexed as if she wanted to grab hold of me and shake me into understanding, but she thought better of it and dropped them to her sides. She sighed and took a step back.
    “You do not see what I see Sebastian. I’ve seen every leader throughout history make promises they don’t intend to keep. I’ve seen Hitler at his best and worst. He didn’t seem like a bad guy to start out with either,” Chloe leaned against the wall, just across the doorway from me.
    “I know you mean well, but how can you be any different from any other person? Power corrupts, B,” She whispered using her own nickname for me.
    I forced a smile and closed the distance between us, enveloping her in what we had called a “Big Brother Bear Hug” all growing up.
    “How can I be different?” I asked incredulously. “How can I even compare, Chloe?”
    She leaned away from me, her eyes showing her confusion.
    “I have the two of you to keep me in line.” I laughed.
    Chloe frowned and tugged her way out of the hug.
    “Sebastian, please!” She fumed. “Has everything I’ve ever said to you floated in one ear and out the other?”
    I flashed a smile, hoping to calm her. It didn’t work.
    “Sebastian, don’t count on me. Don’t count on Claire. Don’t count on them-” Her hand flung emphatically to the window and the city sprawling below. “Dreams will get you nowhere, Sebastian. Ideas will get you nowhere. All of the fancy writing and speeches. Knowing the past. Knowing the future. Fancy tricks will get you nowhere!”
    Chloe’s brows furrowed. “You can be the best hope for the future, Sebastian. You could be the one who changes the world. But being a great hope does not make a great success. Being the one who changes the world does not make you one who changes it for the better.”
    I watched as her eyes became unfocused and her face grew fixed. It was an expression I’d come to recognize easily. She was Gathering in the past. She sighed; it was as if the whole earth sighed with her. Once again her eyes sharpened. “For every Gandhi, I see a million others seeking out a change, only to fail. What made him special? For every Alexander, I see a thousand others reaching out. What greatness was his that he succeeded where so many others fell by the wayside? For every Elizabeth, every Pocahontas, every person who ever affected great change for the better, I see one Hitler, one Mussolini, I see one who caused it to change for the worse. I see billions more who have sought to change the world, who will go down in history nameless, faceless. What spark was formed in them that made this be? Where is the dividing line for Greatness and Great Evil? In Stalin’s mind, his goals were pure. How do yours differ?”
    I shuddered. Could she be right? Would all my attempts be in vain? I shook my head as if to shake the idea out of my brain.
    “I am different, Chloe, because I have to be,” I began. “I’ve known that this was my course since Mother–it has to be because it’s time.”
    It was my turn to gesture to the window.
    “Do you think this can go on for much longer?” I fumed back. “All this destruction? This pollution? This mass population?”
    “Careful, Sebastian. Population control? Who do we sound like?” She threw back at me.
    “I’m not talking about Population control, Chloe. I’m not talking about Communism. I’m talking Global reform. Mass reconstruction. I’m talking about tearing down every preconceived notion and building it back up the right way. Tearing down society, the world, and building it back up the right way.”
    “You mean your way.”
    “I mean the way that works. If my way is the only one that works out of all of those other ideas, then yes. My way. Our way.”
    Claire took reprieve from her place in the kitchen. Her eyes alit with the Future. Chloe’s expression when she looked to the Past was always one of pain or determination. Here they differed. Claire’s Future was always full of hope, even with its fragility. She sighed and again it was like the whole earth sighed with her as it had with her twin, but it was vastly more content.
    She blinked, her eyes refocusing on the room and her two quarrelling siblings. She smiled lovingly at the two of us and opened her mouth. As always, when the words dripped from her mouth, they were full of caution. Her eyes turned to me.
    “Hope against hope, brother, for if you fail all will be lost. You must be the spark of change as well as the flame that destroys and renews.” Claire said gravely. Her eyes focused on Chloe. “Remember, sister, that the past does not always determine the future.”
    Yes! I was victorious! Sebastian-1. Chloe-0.
    Claire’s eyes cut to me. My thoughts were clear in her face. “Careful, Sebastian. Pride cometh before the fall. And you cannot risk such a thing.”
    Chloe stuck her tongue out. I rolled my eyes. Eighteen was a bit old to be sticking tongues out. “Grow up,” I groaned. She laughed and rushed me, flipping us over onto the couch in a tackle. Claire’s laugh rang out and she joined the dog pile.
    Of course, girls being girls, they attempted to tickle me into submission. I grunted and tried to roll them off to no avail. And just like that we were kids again, goofing around on a Saturday morning.

    “It begs the question though, Sebastian,” Chloe said over breakfast just an hour or so later.
    “Hmm?” I managed to mumble through my bagel. “What question?”
    Chloe lifted a forkful of omelet to her mouth, pausing before she shoveled it in. “What’s your game plan? How will you do it? Mass reconstruction, global reform. How will you accomplish what no one has ever done before?”
    I frowned, unsure. For all of my ranting, I’d yet to come up with a plan. I’d only known that it was what had to be done and I had to be the one to do it. Suddenly an idea sprang to my lips.
    “Dreams. Ideas. Fancy writing and speeches. Knowing the past. Knowing the future. But most importantly, fancy tricks… Fancy tricks and,” I smiled at my sisters, “Hoping against hope.”
    Claire flashed me a brilliant smile, her eyes holding mine for a fraction of a second, while her sister mumbled something about “the best laid plans of mice and men”.
    Yes. Fancy tricks would get me everywhere.

  4. Kynnastonon 27 Mar 2009 at 6:45 am

    So that’s the first chapter, for better or for worse. Let me know what you think.

    I handle criticism very well. Pointless flaming, no. But if you can back up your comment, I can handle even the harshest of scorn. :)

  5. Holliequon 27 Mar 2009 at 10:34 am

    -”We knew the rules of the game.” This seems needlessly coy. What game?

    -Most of this chapter is backstory. I don’t think we need to know all of this now.

    -I, personally, don’t find Sebastian to be a likable character. Um, he wants to rule the world and basically put humans second to nature. I can understand wanting to be green, but this seems a little over the top.

    -The twins do not sound like they are 15. Sebastian does not seem like an 18 year old, either. I don’t really feel any attachment to the characters. Claire is a willing servant, and Chloe is . . . um, upset with her brother and overdramatic? (Is this the character you said was supposed to be tough? She doesn’t seem that way). Sebastian is arrogant and idealistic? I’m really not sure.

    -Adding from the above, lines like “Yes! I was victorious! Sebastian-1. Chloe-0.” and the fact they are watching saturday cartoons contrast strongly with the language and style of narration.

    -Some words were capitalised in the middle of sentences.

    -The characters have no goal. Consequently, the story doesn’t seem to have much drive. Why should we keep reading?

    -The sudden mention of communism was jarring.

    -I feel this chapter is too politically charged. I don’t think Sebastian is a good first person narrator. The rant about how humans have destroyed the earth was, frankly, simply annoying. I might recommend switching the POV to Claire or Chloe.

    This is what springs to mind. I’m not a fan of present tense, either, but that’s just a personal preference. I do like your description, though.

  6. Kynnastonon 27 Mar 2009 at 12:12 pm

    -I know the first bit needs some work. I won’t fight you there.

    -Actually, just the first little portion is back story. It’s about 17 pages long. Just the first three are backstory.

    -Like I said before, this is my first attempt at writing anything. Sebastian isn’t the most likeable of characters at the beginning. He doesn’t really have a plan going on at all. To be honest, He’s kind of a hateful bastard.

    -The reason why they don’t sound 15 is because they are not. The twins are eighteen. Sebastian is 21. When Sebastian refers to eighteen being a bit old for sticking out tongues, he’s referring to Chloe, not himself. Claire isn’t a willing servant, she’s just extremely passive. She doesn’t make choices for herself for a very well-defined reason. When I jump into the argument, it’s not a new thing. This is a argument that they’ve have several times. Chloe is upset with her brother because she has to deal with his rage ALL the time, without any sort of consideration. And she is tough, you’ll see that later. When she freaks out it’s basically because of the crap that B puts her through all the time. And my character description isn’t neccessarily about them at the beginning of the book, it’s about them as a whole. Obviously they will grow and develop as the book develops too. That is kind of obvious.

    -Strange. I’ve never had any complaints with that line. It was meant in jest and most people take it in jest. They watch cartoons because that is what they’ve always done. It’s habit, nothing more. Like it says in the text.

    -I tried to edit them out, but apparently they slipped through. I’ll be more careful next time. :)

    -no comment yet. The next chapter will get into the major drive of their world in this book.

    -It was supposed to be jarring. That’s why she said it.

    -This chapter is Sebastian’s. He’s a very political person. These are his views, his statements, and the way he really does see the world. I’m not really sure I could write his introduction into the book in any other way. That being said, the entire book is not written from Sebastian’s POV. The next chapter is Claire’s, and after that it is Chloe’s turn. I alternate through out the book.

    In the next chapter you’ll meet Claire and begin to understnad why she’s such a little gopher. She’s kind of hard to get from Sebastian’s POV because, well, he doesn’t get her. I try to remain very true to each person’s POV. Other characters appear as the POV person sees them, but that doesn’t neccessarily mean that that is in concrete. It’s a perception.

    Hey thanks for reviewing. I wasn’t trying to be combative or anything. Just explain why I made the choices I did. If you had any advice about how to change the things you saw, I’d willingly consider that advice too. :)

    I like this. Most of the people I have read this just say “It’s good.” Nod and then walk away. I’m left standing there like “Is that all you got? No criticism?” I’d rather someone hated my work and could tell me why than just telling me they liked it and not having a reason why.

  7. Holliequon 27 Mar 2009 at 1:24 pm

    “Actually, just the first little portion is back story. It’s about 17 pages long. Just the first three are backstory.”
    -I still think the backstory could probably be removed. At the moment, my main concern is that it stalls the story and we don’t get to know the characters whilst Sebastian explains their history. (Love the name, by the way).

    “Like I said before, this is my first attempt at writing anything. Sebastian isn’t the most likeable of characters at the beginning. He doesn’t really have a plan going on at all. To be honest, He’s kind of a hateful bastard.”
    -That’s my concern. Will Sebastian’s attitude put off potential readers? I think that’s a definite possibility.

    “The reason why they don’t sound 15 is because they are not. The twins are eighteen. Sebastian is 21.”
    -Oh. Whoops. I misread “four years” as “four months.” Sorry, that’s what I get for my fast reading. :P

    “Strange. I’ve never had any complaints with that line. It was meant in jest and most people take it in jest.”
    -I like this line, too. It just strikes me as a little immature for Sebastian. The rest of his narration is nothing like this line.

    “The next chapter will get into the major drive of their world in this book.”
    -If there’s no drive this chapter, will the readers have bothered to read the next one? (See this article, which says it better than I do: http://www.superheronation.com/2008/11/28/writing-tip-of-the-day-use-urgent-goals-not-joy-rides/)

    ^^ Sorry if I seem harsh or anything, by the way. I can be a blunt when I give criticism sometimes.

  8. Kynnastonon 27 Mar 2009 at 4:40 pm

    -Sigh. I understand. But where SHOULD I put it? It is important that they know the backstory too… (Thank you, it took me MONTHS to find… I’m quite enamored of it myself. I was just calling him “the brother”. The bit about the mom not being able to find a name for him… yeah, that was me. :) )

    -Ack! I was hoping his gentleness in his concern for his sister would soften him up a little for my readers, but apparently not enough. Have any ideas on how I can modify it a little, but still keep Sebastian’s rants? They are too him for me to give up, but I see the wisdom in what you are saying.

    -I completely understand. Fast reading sometimes causes errors.

    -I know. He was just so proud of his win! (My characters take complete control when I write. I have a general outline for what I want to get done in each chapter, but other than that they pretty much have free reign.)

    -I suppose when I was writing this chapter the point was just to get across Sebastian’s character and establish that he wanted to change the world. I was also trying to get the readers to understand the complexities of the Sullivan family relationship. I wanted to show them getting into a fight and “resolving” it. What else would you suggest as a temporary goal within this chapter?
    I don’t want my readers to get to stimulated with too much drama. In the next chapter, they meet another of their kind and are slightly “attacked”. I guess I was worried about too much drama too soon.

    Absolutely not. I adore blunt people. Also, bastards. Sebastian is, after all, a product of my imagination. Don’t worry about being too brash with me. I can handle it pretty well and can dish it back as well! As long as it’s not pointless flaming, I can probably handle anything you can serve.

  9. Holliequon 27 Mar 2009 at 5:00 pm

    -You can talk a little about the backstory here. Then the reader can learn the rest as they progress through the novel. You don’t need to get rid of it entirely! :) Alternatively you could cut the backstory down to the bare minimum and slot in small details throughout the chapter, which could be elaborated on later. For example, when Sebastian tells us watching TV on a saturday is a habit, that might be an opportunity to say something about their past.

    -You could shorten the rants a little, and gradually work your way up to full-blown world-leader rant in a later chapter. Hmm . . . maybe if you try to make Sebastian’s side of the argument a little more light-hearted. His sister would probably know his real feelings, but he might try to disguise them (it probably doesn’t work out well, I’m guessing). Also, Sebastian might feel more likable if this chapter was less about his plans to take over the world and more about him and his sisters.

    -If Sebastian makes comments like that fairly often, I would recommend adding a few similar lines during the chapter. I think giving Sebastian a light hearted streak around his sisters would make him feel more likable. What do you think?

    -Hmm. If you cut out most of the backstory, the fight between Chloe and Sebastian could happen very early on. Then Sebastian’s goal for the chapter could be to make up with Chloe. I think this would give you an opportunity to show the family dynamics, Sebastian’s goals and how much he cares for his sisters. It’s not a very dramatic goal, but it might work – take out some of the stuff about changing the world and replace it with, “Argh! How do I get back on Chloe’s good side?!”

    Bare in mind that these are all suggestions, you’re perfectly entitled to disagree with my advice. Also, if you want to go and dish back you’re absolutely welcome. :P

  10. Kynnastonon 27 Mar 2009 at 5:07 pm

    -Good. I’ll work on that tonight.

    -Even better. I love that he would try to hide it and she would catch him! It’s a very Sebastian like thing to do… lol. Maybe I’ll switch it up and put my second chapter in front of this one and… well that would take a lot of effort and rewriting but it might be worth it…

    -Excellent. (Have I mentioned that I may or may not love you? Such good advice!)

    -Great too.

    I’d disagree if isn’t working. But all of your suggestions are excellent and very attainable.

  11. Holliequon 27 Mar 2009 at 5:52 pm

    :) You’re welcome. I’m looking forward to seeing a revised version of this chapter.

  12. B. Macon 27 Mar 2009 at 6:10 pm

    No one ever says that my suggestions are attainable. I wonder why that is. ;-)

  13. Kynnastonon 28 Mar 2009 at 2:04 am

    :) If you gave me some, I might say it. lol

  14. Kynnastonon 28 Mar 2009 at 4:28 am

    Oh, and Holliequ, it might take a while.

  15. Kynnastonon 30 Mar 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Okay, this is what I have so far. I reworked the beginning, but haven’t begun to deal with the rest of the chapter. Tell me what you think of my changes.

    I Discover My Purpose.

    Sebastian
    I was born to save the world. A true Chosen One.
    Or at least that was how I saw it. I saw that early, with the first vision Claire shared with us, filling my mind with plans that would fulfill it. I think I was the only one who saw the benefits of her future gazing so clearly. If you can see the future, you can mold it to your choosing. With Claire and Chloe at my side, I would be unstoppable.
    A fact that a certain member of our family was not pleased with. Chloe. She always seemed to be meddling in my plans, always one step behind me, judging. Even now…
    “All I’m saying, Sebastian,” Chloe said as she flopped down beside me on the couch in our hotel room, curling against my side. “Is that you can’t rule the world. Do you even realize the connotations of such a thing? How many others have tried this thing? Only to fail miserably. Only to be labeled as a tyrant, a-”
    I clapped my hand over her mouth to stop her babble. I knew her well enough to know that this was just her preamble. She would ramble on and on for hours if I let her. I twisted, letting her fall in to my lap to stare at me with anxious eyes. I frowned at her and lifted my hand to tweak her nose. Chloe might be a pain, but at least she’s fun to fight with. She snatched my hand and splayed my fingers against her own, for the moment quiet. I sat there for a while, letting her play with my hand as I thought about what she said while lifting my other hand to adjust the position of the black frames of my glasses.
    She was right, I had had many predecessors. But none of them had really stood a chance, not like I did. For the most part, they were ruled by hate, where I was fueled by love. Well love and righteous fury. How could I not be angry?
    This world had started out so beautiful. Perfection in completion. And what did they do? Destroy it. Run it right into the ground. Bit by bit, humans were destroying every facet of the earth’s ecosystem and their own lives in the process. And with every slip, I found myself hating our own species all the more.
    My hand in Chloe’s twitched into a fist, my rage building. She reached up to my face trying to calm me, her empathic abilities allowing her to easily recognize my festering emotions. Rather than let her draw her calm into me, I stood, tumbling her off the low couch onto the floor. Agitated, I paced across the room.
    “How can I not, Chloe?” I fumed without looking back at her. Without waiting for her to respond I continued, it was my turn to rant. “How can I look everyday at the shambles of the world, and not desire to take things in to my-our own hands? How can I stand by when I know that I can do something about it?”
    I spun around to watch Chloe collect herself from the floor, cringing with each word that came from my mouth. I softened slightly, knowing that she was feeling every emotion that was racing around me, whether she wanted to or not. Her face was flushed with my passion. I had intended to go on, to rant for hours about the injustice she was imposing on me by denying me, to prove her wrong in every facet of her previous arguments.
    But the look on my sister’s face floored me.
    It was pain. She was suffering because of me. I knew she hated this side of me, but I’d never before known the pain it caused her. Usually she was pretty good at pushing it back at me, she’d make sure I could feel just as she was feeling, or she would draw Claire’s calm into me, whatever was more convenient. But now, she was just sitting there. I gauged myself, trying to see if she was drawing anything into me that wasn’t mine. No.
    I stopped to look at her closely. Chloe just sat there her eyes closed, her long bangs falling softly, creating a blonde veil for her closed green tinged grey eyes to hide behind. If it weren’t for the pained expression on her face, she could have been asleep. She was completely motionless against the couch with the exception of her slow careful breath. I crept toward her, warily, my rage already forgotten. My little sister…
    It took a painfully long amount of time to reach her. Each fraction of a second weighed heavily upon me. All I could think about was that there had to be something wrong. She never took that kind of abuse from me or anyone else if she could help it. Why would she allow it now?
    I crouched in front of her and held my breath as I reached my hand out to pull her chin up so her eyes would meet mine. My lips parted as I prepared to say her name. But she flinched away from my touch, as if I would cause her actual physical pain in addition to this mental anguish she was suffering from now.
    “Don’t-” she whispered.
    I rocked back from my crouch, stunned, and sat on the floor beside her. But apparently my proximity was too much for her. She shifted her weight away from me, not even looking my way. I sat there for a few moments before trying again. I raised my hands to pull her to me. All I could think of was this desperate need to correct this, to hold her, for some kind of contact. But again, she flinched away from my touch.
    Chloe stood warily and moved away from me. I moved to follow her, but she stopped me with her sudden stillness again.
    “Don’t.”
    Is it possible for a simple four letters to break a brother’s heart? It sure felt that way.
    I watched silently as she fled from the room, silently cursing myself. I had fix this. I couldn’t get anything accomplished without both of my sisters at my side. I needed to win Chloe to my side, or at least convince her not to be an active participant in opposing me.

  16. Holliequon 30 Mar 2009 at 3:07 pm

    “Or at least that was how I saw it.” – This adds a bit of uncertainty. Sebastian doesn’t sound uncertain. I’d recommend tweaking this a little (“Some people would disagree with me.”)

    “A fact that a certain member of our family was not pleased with. Chloe.” – This leading sentence seems a bit off. Chloe’s not happy that she and her sister will make him powerful? You might want to try something more like “If only Chloe could share my vision.”

    -I don’t get the feeling he’s trying to make this argument more light-hearted. Did you decide not to tweak this bit?

    “But she flinched away from my touch, as if I would cause her actual physical pain in addition to this mental anguish she was suffering from now.” – The latter part of this sentence could probably be worded a little more smoothly. “. . . as if I would cause her physical pain.” I think the reader can infer she’s got some bad emotional vibes. (Um, emotional vibes. Yeah.)

    -I find it odd that he hasn’t said sorry by this point.

    “I had fix this. I couldn’t get anything accomplished without both of my sisters at my side. I needed to win Chloe to my side, or at least convince her not to be an active participant in opposing me.” – This implies Sebastian thinks of his sister as a tool for his goals. I would recommend simply saying something like, “My sisters mean the world to me. I didn’t like the feeling of being hated by one of them.” If you want to relate it to his goals, I would suggest something like, “I need their help to save the planet.”

    What do you think?

  17. Kynnastonon 30 Mar 2009 at 6:12 pm

    -Noted. I will work on it!

    -She’s not happy that he’s relying on her. Because, quite simply, she doesn’t really support Sebastian’s desire to rule the earth. She’s seen too much negative to see that Sebastian could really be good. Even if he is her brother. I’ll see how your line fits, if I’m comfortable with it, I’ll probably keep it.

    -He’s not. I decided not to tweak this first argument, because I need her to be angry. If this chapter is all about him trying to repair their relationship, I want him to really be an ass in this first argument.

    -Noted. Changed.

    -He’s not really sorry yet. He would have apologized, but she cut him off.

    -What would you think of me leaving the first bit and then adding in your improvements. Sebastian does think of the girls as tools at the beginning of the book, it’s one of the things I work on in his character. Each of the siblings have a fault. Sebastian’s is the fact that he thinks he cares more about the earth than anything else. By then end of the book, he learns that even if he achieves his goals they aren’t worth it without the girls by his side to experience it with him.

  18. Kynnastonon 30 Mar 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Okay so it’s probably not much better, but I DID make an attempt. Here it goes, the new version of Ch. 1. Even longer than the first! I hope you are excited. =/

    I Discover My Purpose.

    Sebastian
    I was born to save the world. A true Chosen One.
    I saw that early, with the first vision Claire shared with us, filling my mind with plans that would fulfill it. I think I was the only one who saw the benefits of her future gazing so clearly. If you can see the future, you can mold it to your choosing. With Claire and Chloe at my side, I would be unstoppable.
    A fact that a certain member of our family was not pleased with. Chloe. She always seemed to be meddling in my plans, always one step behind me, judging. Even now…
    “All I’m saying, Sebastian,” Chloe said as she flopped down beside me on the couch in our hotel room, curling against my side. “Is that you can’t rule the world. Do you even realize the connotations of such a thing? How many others have tried this thing? Only to fail miserably. Only to be labeled as a tyrant, a-”
    I clapped my hand over her mouth to stop her babble. I knew her well enough to know that this was just her preamble. She would ramble on and on for hours if I let her. I twisted, letting her fall in to my lap to stare at me with anxious eyes. I frowned at her and lifted my hand to tweak her nose. Chloe might be a pain, but at least she’s fun to fight with. She snatched my hand and splayed my fingers against her own, for the moment quiet. I sat there for a while, letting her play with my hand as I thought about what she said while lifting my other hand to adjust the position of the black frames of my glasses.
    She was right, I had had many predecessors. But none of them had really stood a chance, not like I did. For the most part, they were ruled by hate, where I was fueled by love. Well love and righteous fury. How could I not be angry?
    This world had started out so beautiful. Perfection in completion. And what did they do? Destroy it. Run it right into the ground. Bit by bit, humans were destroying every facet of the earth’s ecosystem and their own lives in the process. And with every slip, I found myself hating our own species all the more.
    My hand in Chloe’s twitched into a fist, my rage building. She reached up to my face trying to calm me, her empathic abilities allowing her to easily recognize my festering emotions. Rather than let her draw her calm into me, I stood, tumbling her off the low couch onto the floor. Agitated, I paced across the room.
    “How can I not, Chloe?” I fumed without looking back at her. Without waiting for her to respond I continued, it was my turn to rant. “How can I look everyday at the shambles of the world, and not desire to take things in to my-our own hands? How can I stand by when I know that I can do something about it?”
    I spun around to watch Chloe collect herself from the floor, cringing with each word that came from my mouth. I softened slightly, knowing that she was feeling every emotion that was racing around me, whether she wanted to or not. Her face was flushed with my passion. I had intended to go on, to rant for hours about the injustice she was imposing on me by denying me, to prove her wrong in every facet of her previous arguments.
    But the look on my sister’s face floored me.
    It was pain. She was suffering because of me. I knew she hated this side of me, but I’d never before known the pain it caused her. Usually she was pretty good at pushing it back at me, she’d make sure I could feel just as she was feeling, or she would draw Claire’s calm into me, whatever was more convenient. But now, she was just sitting there. I gauged myself, trying to see if she was drawing anything into me that wasn’t mine. No.
    I stopped to look at her closely. Chloe just sat there her eyes closed, her long bangs falling softly, creating a blonde veil for her closed green tinged grey eyes to hide behind. If it weren’t for the pained expression on her face, she could have been asleep. She was completely motionless against the couch with the exception of her slow careful breath. I crept toward her, warily, my rage already forgotten. My little sister…
    It took a painfully long amount of time to reach her. Each fraction of a second weighed heavily upon me. All I could think about was that there had to be something wrong. She never took that kind of abuse from me or anyone else if she could help it. Why would she allow it now?
    I crouched in front of her and held my breath as I reached my hand out to pull her chin up so her eyes would meet mine. My lips parted as I prepared to say her name. But she flinched away from my touch, as if I would cause her actual physical pain in addition to this mental anguish she was suffering from now.
    “Don’t-” she whispered.
    I rocked back from my crouch, stunned, and sat on the floor beside her. But apparently my proximity was too much for her. She shifted her weight away from me, not even looking my way. I sat there for a few moments before trying again. I raised my hands to pull her to me. All I could think of was this desperate need to correct this, to hold her, for some kind of contact. But again, she flinched away from my touch.
    Chloe stood warily and moved away from me. I moved to follow her, but she stopped me with her sudden stillness again.
    “Don’t.”
    Is it possible for a simple four letters to break a brother’s heart? It sure felt that way.
    I watched silently as she fled from the room, silently cursing myself. I had fix this. I couldn’t get anything accomplished without both of my sisters at my side. I needed to win Chloe to my side, or at least convince her not to be an active participant in opposing me.
    Also, it wasn’t the best feeling in the world to know that your sister hated you.

    *

    Claire and I lounged across the couch in the main room of our suite, flipping through the Saturday morning cartoons. No matter how old I get, I will never tire of this routine. The three of us staring mindlessly at the flickering colors on the screen every Saturday morning is more habit than anything. I can’t say that I get anything out of the actual show; it’s more about being together.
    Saturday mornings we get to be kids again. Saturday mornings we don’t have to be anywhere. We don’t have any crazy powers. We’re not future world leaders. For the span of a few hours we get to be just a family. Nothing more, nothing less. I live for Saturday mornings.
    It’s a habit that we never got rid of. We’ve had it since before the unhappiness of losing Mother, through foster home after foster home. It has followed us through leaving our grandparents and into this suite. Twenty two years of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings.
    This morning is unlike any other Saturday morning that we’ve had in a very long time. Chloe is not here. The couch seems lopsided without her. My left hand strangely empty.
    I squeeze my right tighter, relying on the hand that is there. Claire smiles at me encouragingly, although her eyes never left the screen. I was used to it. Claire never made eye contact if she could help it. It was too painful for her. She could see me well enough without having to look at me, she always said. Why cry when there is no need?
    Out of the twins, Claire is the easiest to relax with. You don’t have to hide anything from her; she already knows it all. You don’t have to ask for anything. If you are bored with the channel on the TV, she changes it before you ask. You consider going out for a walk; she’s already pulling on her shoes. My baby sister is the best of friends, the keeper of all secrets, and the oldest of souls.
    My eyes drift to the doorway to their shared room. Presumably, Chloe is there now. It makes me anxious, her being apart like this. On this day especially. I hadn’t really seen her at all since last night when she ran away from me. Normally I wouldn’t worry; she’s always off somewhere. But we never miss our Saturday Morning cartoons…
    Although, I can’t really blame her. She hadn’t come to dinner last night because of me, no matter how much I begged at the door frame to her and Claire’s shared room. For once we were all as silent as Claire. And for the first time, I didn’t feel like watching cartoons with my dearest sister. As always, the TV flickered to black, before I even began to process the thought to ask if she minded. I squeezed Claire’s hand again, thankful as always for her.
    It was time to try and make amends.
    Again.
    Claire leaned over to kiss my cheek and winked one of her pale gray blue eyes. “Be good.” She mouthed as she pushed me up off the couch. I smiled and tousled her hair as I left, effectively scattering her carefully parted side swept bangs.
    As I made my way to Chloe and Claire’s room I took in the suite. It had been quite an adjustment coming from our grandparent’s estate in Georgia back to downtown New Orleans again. We’d been born in this city, but it had been a while since we had been back in the Big Easy. Before we lived with our grandparents for those few short months before my eighteenth birthday, we’d drifted from foster home to foster home all over the southern state. I’d taken the girls back home the moment I was able and had leased this suite in one of the smaller hotels in New Orleans with a portion of our inheritance.
    The presidential suite had become our home. The main room was wide and open. We’d added little to the décor over the four years we’d been here. It still looked very much like a very posh hotel suite, not the home of three young people. Chloe’s fault, she couldn’t stand clutter. The door to their room stood opposite the French doors to the balcony where I spent most of my time.
    If I could, I would spend my entire day and night out on that balcony. The view was not a pretty one in my opinion. The city in all its lackluster wanton wonder spread out before it. The lights bleaching the stars above. Filth clogging the very air. It wasn’t the view that made me fall in love with the balcony.
    Standing out there, I felt very much in charge. I could envision every little change I would make in this world. Saw in my mind’s eye, each building demolished and replaced with the forested swamplands it had been originally. It would be beautiful.
    The balcony’s doors stood just to one side of the kitchen nook. Here Claire was best; she’d wow us over and over with her skills, knowing in advance what each of us would love the most to eat before we knew ourselves. There wasn’t a single cuisine that she hadn’t mastered. Most mornings I woke to the smell of breakfast being cooked.
    The kitchen and the adjoining bathroom to the girls’ room and mine flagged my room. My little sanctuary. My room was a trove of information. We’d moved in a few bookshelves that were now packed with books on environmental reform, leadership skills, and anything else that I could think of to help better myself. The classics, of course, were there as well as a large collection of maps and globes. It seemed a pretty good representation of me.
    It was the girl’s room that had the greatest difference since we moved in. Here, Claire and Chloe split their space evenly. Chloe’s matched the exterior. Very clean and orderly. But our little sister had a very different version of how a room should look. Her side was a spectacular display of floor to ceiling collage. If anything she saw sparked her interest, Claire would find a way to mount it to her Wall so it could become a permanent part of the display.
    It had started out with just a few newspaper clippings and photos that barely covered a standard sheet of paper. But thing about Claire’s wall was, it never shrank. It was rearranged occasionally, but those original clippings and photos were still there, as well as a million others that she’d collected over the years.
    I smiled and looked back to her in her place on the couch, flipping through a new magazine, scissors nearby, no doubt searching for new additions. I chuckled softly and turned my head back to my destination. Chloe. Sighing, I rapped my knuckles gently against the wooden door. Inside I heard the rustle of bedclothes and the sound of one of their wingback chairs being scraped across the floor.
    I blinked. It wasn’t immediately obvious if she had moved the chair in front of the door, or if she had moved it out of the way of the door. I tried the doorknob.
    Locked. I cursed silently. She was acting like a four-year-old! I rested my head on the door. “Chloe? Come on…” I said into the door. “Just let me in.”
    No response.
    I looked to Claire, trying to see if she would help me in this matter, but she was already up from her place on the couch and in the kitchen, magazine and all. I swore again and knelt in front of the door. Now eye level with the lock itself, I flexed my fingers, preparing to Shift the inner mechanisms to unlock the door. Inside the room I heard another rush of feet and the door to the bathroom being opened.
    Slowly, I rocked back on my heals and called loudly into the large suite. “Chloe, just come out. This is ridiculous!”
    The door to the bathroom swung open into the main room. I stood abruptly and backed against the wall, an unnatural fear drawn across me. Chloe stormed out of the bathroom, tooth brush still in hand, bunny slippers and all. If it weren’t for the angry expression on her face, I would have laughed.
    “No, Sebastian,” She gestured wildly with the toothbrush, flinging flecks of toothpaste in my face. “Ridiculous is having to deal with all of this rage! You claim that you’d be better at all this world leadership stuff, but won’t listen to my reasoning. A good leader listens to all sides of an idea.”
    Chloe took in a deep breath, seeming to build up her strength. Her arms flexed as if she wanted to grab hold of me and shake me into understanding, but she thought better of it and dropped them to her sides. She sighed and took a step back.
    “You do not see what I see Sebastian. I’ve seen every leader throughout history make promises they don’t intend to keep. I’ve seen Hitler at his best and worst. He didn’t seem like a bad guy to start out with either,” Chloe leaned against the wall, just across the doorway from me.
    “I know you mean well, but how can you be any different from any other person? Power corrupts, B,” She whispered using her own nickname for me.
    I forced a smile and closed the distance between us, enveloping her in what we had called a “Big Brother Bear Hug” all growing up.
    “How can I be different?” I asked incredulously. “How can I even compare, Chloe?”
    She leaned away from me, her eyes showing her confusion.
    “I have the two of you to keep me in line.” I laughed, trying to make light of the situation. Inside I was growing frustrated. Why couldn’t she just be on my side of things for once.
    Chloe frowned and tugged her way out of the hug.
    “Sebastian, please!” She fumed. “Do you forget that I can feel it when you lie? Do you forget that I know when you are hiding things from me?”
    I shrugged, slightly embarrassed.
    “Has everything I’ve ever said to you floated in one ear and out the other?” Chloe sneered.
    I flashed her a smile, hoping to calm her. It didn’t work.
    “Sebastian, don’t count on me. Don’t count on Claire. Don’t count on them-” Her hand flung emphatically to the window and the city sprawling below. “Dreams will get you nowhere, Sebastian. Ideas will get you nowhere. All of the fancy writing and speeches. Knowing the past. Knowing the future. Fancy tricks will get you nowhere!”
    Chloe’s brows furrowed. “You can be the best hope for the future, Sebastian. You could be the one who changes the world. But being a great hope does not make a great success. Being the one who changes the world does not make you one who changes it for the better.”
    Finally finished, Chloe pivoted and made her way back to the bathroom, her toothbrush hanging limply in her hand. She was beyond reach now. It didn’t matter what I said. If I would have gotten down on my knees and begged her forgiveness, I would have seen the same response.
    The bathroom door shut was a final slam and my sister was out of my sight.
    I stared at the door for a moment or two until I heard the water in the sink turn on. It was over then. I’d made my case and had still lost. Sullen, I turned away from her and went to the kitchen where Claire stood carefully observing a closed jar of apple butter.
    Behind her, a pan full of frying potatoes popped and sizzled over the hot burner next to a simmering pan of gravy. I came closer to find a tray full of biscuits baking in the oven beneath. My little sister had been busy.
    Claire’s gaze flicked up at me from the jar, a half frown still visible on her face. She pushed the jar in my direction and turned away to tend to the food on the stove. I sighed and picked up the jar, twisting the cap open.
    She could never open jars herself.
    Not like Chloe. Chloe would never ask for help. Even if she couldn’t open the jar, the middle Sullivan child would rather do without than ask for help from me. Not that she would ever need help.
    Claire was weak, not like Chloe at all. It was obvious which was which even at a glance. Their eyes were a given, of course. Chloe’s had tiny flecks of green in her version of the Sullivan grey eye. Claire’s had flecks of blue at the edges of hers.
    But there was more to it than that.
    Chloe was stronger, her body was lean and muscular beneath her smooth skin. She was well-toned. Claire was just thin. Neither was rail thin, each had a healthy roundness to them. They were soft looking, their curves proportionate. But Claire was just a tiny bit smaller.
    Where Chloe’s muscles stretched and flexed under her skin, Claire’s strained. Maybe I had been too careful with her. Maybe I should have made her make her own choices, rather than just covering for her time after time.
    I set the now open jar of apple butter down and stared around the kitchen, looking for something else to help with. It was useless to ask her, she wouldn’t answer anyway. It had been almost a year since the last time she had spoken.
    I could easily remember every word she had said since Mother.
    “Keep us together, Sebastian.”
    She had said that as they were putting us in the car to take us to the group home. No one wanted us. We had waited a month before anyone had noticed that we were alone. And then everything was sudden. Bam! We were shipped to a group home. Whoosh! We were placed in a foster home. Bam! Back to the group home when the foster parents discovered our strange Gifts. Whoosh! A new foster home, a new school. We kept our things in trash bags because no one cared enough to notice that our suitcase had been stolen in the group home.
    Over and over. Somehow, I managed to keep my promise to her.
    “Get her!”
    She’d screamed this at me and I had stared at her, confused, for the space of several moments. And then I heard the crash and Chloe’s scream. I’d raced out of our room and found Chloe at the bottom of the steps, leg contorted at an angle that didn’t seem possible. I’d carried her the forty blocks to the hospital because our current foster parents weren’t anywhere to be found. Chloe had hobbled around the neighborhood on crutches for months.
    Claire didn’t speak for years after that. I’d almost forgotten the sound of her voice when she had spoken up a year ago. We’d been walking down the road, strolling really. There was a car lot across the street and Claire had looked up and pointed her finger across to a shiny silver car sitting in the middle of the lot.
    “Sebastian, that’s our car,” she said, matter-of-factly.
    I paid cash.
    The same silver Volt she pointed out sits in our parking space below still. It was a plug-in car. Not the Roadster I had originally picked out, but it was homey. Claire had been right, it was our car. I couldn’t envision us in anything else.
    I pulled three plates from the cupboard to set the table. If Chloe chose not to join us again, it wouldn’t be because of anything I did. Claire looked at me with sympathy and shrugged. I wondered what that meant.
    Soon, our meal was ready and Claire disappeared to collect Chloe. After a few long moments, the twins joined me in the kitchen. We gathered our food and sat silently around the table.
    I couldn’t stand the silence. “Chloe, I-”
    “Please,” she cut me off. “Just let me eat in peace.”
    I forced a smile and pushed around the food on my plate, the unspoken sorry destroying my appetite.

    *

    She was cleaning the already spotless room.
    I was staring at Chloe from behind my dog-eared copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince from my place on the couch. I couldn’t stop. The words on the page didn’t make sense when she was in the room. They were hardly letters.
    She wouldn’t let me apologize.
    Could she tell that I wasn’t sure that I would mean my apologies? I hated hurting her, it was true. I loved my family, broken or no, and to know that one member was in agony because of me was tearing me up inside.
    But I wasn’t sorry that I had thought what I did. I was right, we humans were a scourge-
    “Sebastian!” Chloe interrupted me, obviously annoyed.
    “Sorry,” I said quickly.
    It was amazing how much relief one small word could give.
    “Chloe?” I asked, my eyes searching for hers. “I am sorry, for what it’s worth. I don’t mean to be such a pain.”
    She nodded curtly, obviously smug, and turned away from me to finish wiping down the glass door to the balcony.
    “You missed a spot,” I joked.
    Chloe whirled around, anger blasting from her. I felt my eyes widen in fear. Her face instantly softened. I offered her a tentative smile. She closed her eyes for a moment, her mind obviously trying to process the situation. Slowly, the corners of her lips pulled upward. I felt my own smile, grow in return.
    “I suppose it’s my turn to apologize now,” Chloe said, opening her eyes to meet mine.
    I shrugged. As far as I was concerned, I was the only one in the wrong here.
    Chloe set aside her cleaning supplies and crossed the room to me. I held out my arms, waiting for her. She curled into my embrace easily. I sighed in relief. The three of us were closer than any other siblings I knew. For us to be fighting was a hard struggle.
    It was as if our very nature recoiled against being apart from each other too long.
    I held Chloe out again, trying to assess what emotion lay in her eyes, feeling at an extreme disadvantage. Both of the twins could tell exactly what I was thinking or feeling in a quick second; it took me an unbearably long amount of time to realize that Chloe has truly happy.
    “Let’s not fight, okay?” I said slowly.
    She nodded and found her way back into my embrace.
    “Silly little girl,” I whispered lightly. “This would be so much easier if you could see my point of view.”
    She stiffened in my arms.
    I froze. Crap. All of that and I’d probably just ruined it again.
    “Sebastian,” she said, pulling away from me on her own this time. “I’m just trying to look out for all of us.”
    “Is what I’m doing any different?” I asked, trying to keep my voice playful. “My ‘us’ is just considerably bigger.”
    Claire peeked out from the kitchen; I threw her a desperate glance. Her eyes wide, she shook her head and disappeared into the kitchen again. The clatter of pots and pans was even more audible now.
    Chloe shook her head at me in a move that seemed a moment’s later reflection of her sister’s. She stood up and crossed back to her cleaning gear again.
    “You just don’t get it, B.”
    I hated myself.
    If I’d just shut up and left well enough alone, everything would be golden now.
    “Chloe, come on,” I laughed nervously. “It’s not like that.”
    “How is it, then, Sebastian?”
    “I’m just trying to fix things,” I said casually, fighting the urge to argue with her again. I couldn’t lose her again. Not for two days. Not for two minutes. “I’m just trying to do what no one else has before.”
    “You think you are so different,” Chloe replied. “You should see what I see…”
    I watched as her eyes became unfocused and her face grew fixed. It was an expression I’d come to recognize easily. She was linking with the past. She sighed; it was as if the whole earth sighed with her. Once again her eyes sharpened. “For every Gandhi, I see a million others seeking out a change, only to fail. What made him special? For every Alexander, I see a thousand others reaching out. What greatness was his that he succeeded where so many others fell by the wayside? For every Elizabeth, every Pocahontas, every person who ever affected great change for the better, I see one Hitler, one Mussolini, I see one who caused it to change for the worse. I see billions more who have sought to change the world, who will go down in history nameless, faceless. What spark was formed in them that made this be? Where is the dividing line for Greatness and Great Evil? In Stalin’s mind, his goals were pure. How do yours differ?”
    I shuddered. Could she be right? Would all my attempts be in vain? I shook my head as if to shake the idea out of my brain. I couldn’t get angry, I reminded myself.
    “I am different, Chloe, because I have to be,” I began slowly. “I’ve known that this was my course since Mother–it has to be because it’s time.”
    It was my turn to gesture to the window.
    “Do you think this can go on for much longer?” I continued, struggling to keep my composure while discussing the things that made me the most furious. “All this destruction? This pollution? This mass population?”
    “Careful, Sebastian. Population control? Who do we sound like?” She threw back at me. It was almost as if she were bating me on.
    I broke, unable to control myself any longer. “I’m not talking about Population control, Chloe. I’m not talking about Communism. I’m talking Global reform. Mass reconstruction. I’m talking about tearing down every preconceived notion and building it back up the right way. Tearing down society, the world, and building it back up the right way.”
    “You mean your way.”
    “I mean the way that works. If my way is the only one that works out of all of those other ideas, then yes. My way. Our way.” I concluded.
    Claire took reprieve from her place in the kitchen. Her eyes alit with the future. Chloe’s expression when she looked to the past was always one of pain or determination. Here they differed. Claire’s future was always full of hope, even with its fragility. She sighed and again it was like the whole earth sighed with her as it had with her twin, but it was vastly more content.
    She blinked, her eyes refocusing on the room and her two quarrelling siblings. She smiled lovingly at the two of us and opened her mouth. As always, when the words dripped from her mouth, they were full of caution. Her eyes turned to me.
    “Hope against hope, brother, for if you fail all will be lost. You must be the spark of change as well as the flame that destroys and renews.” Claire said gravely. Her eyes focused on Chloe. “Remember, sister, that the past does not always determine the future.”
    Yes! I was victorious! Sebastian-1. Chloe-0.
    Claire’s eyes cut to me. My thoughts were clear in her face. “Careful, Sebastian. Pride cometh before the fall. And you cannot risk such a thing.”
    Chloe stuck her tongue out. I rolled my eyes. Eighteen was a bit old to be sticking tongues out. “Grow up,” I groaned.
    Claire speaking always put us into a good mood. No matter what the situation. It didn’t matter that we had just been arguing a minute ago. Chloe’s eyes sparkled with mischief. I shook my head. I didn’t have to have Claire’s precognition to recognize what was coming next. Chloe laughed and rushed me, flipping us over onto the couch in a tackle. Claire’s laugh rang out and she joined the dog pile.
    Of course, girls being girls, they attempted to tickle me into submission. I grunted and tried to roll them off to no avail. And just like that we were kids again, goofing around on a Saturday morning.

    *

    “It begs the question though, Sebastian,” Chloe said over lunch just an hour or so later.
    “Hmm?” I managed to mumble through my bagel. “What question?”
    Chloe lifted a forkful of omelet to her mouth, pausing before she shoveled it in. “What’s your game plan? How will you do it? Mass reconstruction, global reform. How will you accomplish what no one has ever done before?”
    I frowned, unsure. For all of my ranting, I’d yet to come up with a plan. I’d only known that it was what had to be done and I had to be the one to do it. Suddenly an idea sprang to my lips. It wasn’t an answer, but it would do.
    “Dreams. Ideas. Fancy writing and speeches. Knowing the past. Knowing the future. But most importantly, fancy tricks… Fancy tricks and,” I smiled at my sisters, “Hoping against hope.”
    Claire flashed me a brilliant smile, her eyes holding mine for a fraction of a second, while her sister mumbled something about “the best laid plans of mice and men”.
    Yes. Fancy tricks would get me everywhere.

  19. Kynnastonon 30 Mar 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Ack. okay I posted the wrong one. I hadn’t included the previous changes in this one.
    Whatever. they’re changed in my version.

  20. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:19 pm

    It was recently suggested to me to begin the chapter with Sebastian out on the balcony, thinking about their history/his plans to change the world.

    Also, should I change the hotel room they are living in to an apartment or a condo that was left behind from their mother/father? I worry that them staying in a hotel long term will be troublesome for my readers. But at the same time, they won’t be staying in the hotel for the entire length of the book. They move to Montana in chapter 5 and never come back to New Orleans during the course of this book.

    Any one have any advice?

  21. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I think it’s okay if they temporarily stay in a hotel.

    And for future reference, I’d recommend posting shorter excerpts at a time. That way a newcomer won’t be daunted by the length of your piece. Also, that helps us keep the reviews central, as opposed to randomly talking about each section.

  22. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Like a page at a time?

  23. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Sorry, I’ve never been a part of anything like this before. I don’t have mad skills…lol.

  24. Holliequon 31 Mar 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I’d say we can handle more than a page. My excerpts are about 3-4 pages in word.

    I’m not sure on Sebastian’s starting. I don’t think it would make much difference where he starts, but I do think the backstory needs to be kept to a minimum at this point.

  25. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Sweet. I’ll definitely change how I submit it.

    I agree. There shouldn’t be so much backstory in the beginning. It makes it slow. I do have misgivings though. The group that I have reading my novel loved my original beginning. They loved the drama of their Mother. They liked learning about the craziness of how Sebastian got his name and the birth of the twins being coincidental.

    I submitted the changed chapter to another writing group. They got confused. They thought that Sebastian and Chloe were boyfriend/girlfriend rather than brother/sister. I fixed it so they wouldn’t be able to confuse it anymore.

    If I don’t put the backstory in the beginning where I had it, where do I put it? I don’t really have the space to put it in the later chapters, there’s already too much going on. So it would have to be in this chapter… I just don’t know where to put it.

  26. B. Macon 31 Mar 2009 at 8:57 pm

    The writing group that liked your opening… is it an in-person writing group?

  27. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Yes.

    But before you judge and say: Well they are just trying to be cool to your face…

    These MF’s are horrible. I once saw them tear down this chick’s entire novel to her face. They are not ones to be trifled with. If they don’t like your shit, they will straight up tell you that it sucks.

    Also, they might not have actually loved the actual beginning… But they did like the part about their Mother. I don’t know this from the actual group session. But rather, I overheard them talking while I was in the back room putting the spawn to sleep…

  28. Kynnastonon 31 Mar 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Also, I love how you slide your imput in, but don’t really put in any imput, B.Mac…

    lol

  29. Kynnastonon 01 Apr 2009 at 7:40 am

    I was joking of course, you know…

  30. Kynnastonon 02 Apr 2009 at 9:12 am

    Hey, B.Mac?

    Would it be possible for you to delete my giant posts of chapter? I’d like to start over.

  31. collisionon 21 Apr 2009 at 9:50 am

    [EDITOR: This comment has been moved to Collision's review forum.]

  32. B. Macon 21 Apr 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’m sorry, Kynna. Which comments would you like me to delete here? Could you list the times of the comments in question?

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