Review Request: The Wonderland Effect

5 years ago | Hatter57 (Member)

I would appreciate any reviews anyone here would be willing to provide for my novel in progress, The Wonderland Effect. You can view it at http://www.dispatchesfromwonderland.com. Click on the menu item "Start Reading Here!" to go directly to Chapter 1. I would particularly appreciate reviewing the novel and site from the listing here in webfictionguide.com. Thank you for your time.

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Responses

  1. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Reading through the first chapter, I'm going to suggest you look up forum topics here and also Google, looking for the phrase "show, don't tell.". The entire first chapter is "telling" and it is not an effective or engaging style, especially if you want to base yourself off something as creative as Lewis Carroll.

  2. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    As above. A lot of telling here.

    The first chapter is tough. You need to introduce a lot of elements, but you don't want to be listing off the things that set up your setting and your story. You also don't want to get your reader lost with unexplained standards your world fits to.

    I'll pick out a few things that really stand out to me though. In general, it's a bit of conversation with a LOT of exposition. And it doesn't feel like it belongs. Of the first 600 words, 400 or so are explaining past events/context/relationships that really should be demonstrated through events and interactions rather than stated, especially when it's those first grabbing sentences that need to catch the reader.

    First off: First sentence. "It was a beautiful cake." That does nothing for me. I can't picture a "beautiful cake". Saying it's beautiful is cold and removed. Show it's beauty by description, or by the characters reactions/lust for it. Show off a bit of prose here.

    You can demonstrate the fraught relationship between the parents in chapter two. It's not essential to the reader in this first part - let the other factors settle in. Or, make it one of the focuses of the chapter: Have the dad there, or at least drop in to demonstrate. Otherwise, miss it out. We don't start describing the fraught relationship between elves and dwarfs in Bilbo's hole before we've met any elves. We wait until we get an elf and a dwarf together and have them all sassy with each other later on in the story.

    "But then Alice had started displaying a number of paranormal powers. In a short time, she found herself experiencing many of the same effects that the storybook Alice had encountered. Plus, the characters from Carroll’s books became frequent visitors in the Littleton household. Alice felt special and loved exploring her new abilities."

    Same effects?? We're talking about magical beings and mystical entities! Physics breaking, throw the rule-books out of the window all of known science has just been turned turned on its head! But our first introduction is 'paranormal powers' and 'same effects'. Give this a little drama, or, scratch that: Show the reader. Show them the effects. We don't need to be *told* that she's psychic, show her reading someone's thoughts, moving chess pieces with willpower alone.

    A girl called Alice, a cat called ches: You could get away without ever mentioning the book, and definable not the author. It seems a little robotic. Let the audience wonder at the connection then confirm it with things happening. Leaving the audience in the dark isn't bad. It's a good thing. A reader *likes* having to work things out, and *likes* having to wonder about things. An active reader is happier than an inactive reader just being fed facts.

    "Her father was worried someone would take her away to study like a lab rat. Her mother just seemed frightened they would all be labeled freaks."

    Demonstrate her father's worry, don't tell us he's worried. Try doing it without using the word "worried" (i.e. no "He had a worried frown"). Same with the mom, why would she worry about them being labeled freaks, was she bullied when she was younger? Have her explain to her kid that other children don't like you if you're different, and they can be mean etc etc.

    "Ches, especially, seemed to delight in pushing the bounds of safety by appearing behind people, only to disappear when they looked his way."

    Have him do it.

    "the tension level at home was almost unbearable"

    I don't feel tense reading this sentence. Don't say it's tense, write a tense scene. The mom drops a plate and it smashes so she swears, then swear's cos she just swore. She's clenching her jaw. She snaps at Alice, sighs, and rubs her temples. When the creatures are there she's twitching the curtains closed so no one can see in. You even say this: "and tended to snap at her over the least little display" Don't say she does that: Have her *actually do it*. I want to read a story, not have someone tell me that a story happened.

    "Sometimes, Alice almost wished someone would discover her secret. It couldn’t be worse than the stress of constantly trying to hide what she could do." Have her show a bit of reckless behavior and wangle this into that so it has context. Or, have Alice snap back at her mom's "Someone might see" With a "So what?"

    "Alice quickly enlisted her best friend, Miranda Sullivan, to help plan the party. Miranda had been present when Alice’s first ability had activated, so she was in on the family secret."

    Have her friend being over to help and plan. Have her not react to seeing the 'secret' - this shows us she's in on it. Have her comment on it maybe to wangle in that she was here first. How does she react? Is she at ease, does it still freak her out a little? Is she nervous? Showing her reaction tells us so much more than simply saying she was "in on the secret".

    "Together with Ches, Hatter, and Marchie, the girls took refuge in Alice’s bedroom after school, tossing out ideas while watching the movie on DVD."

    Similarly, you're telling me what happens in a story, not telling a story. If you get what I mean. You're needlessly putting distance between us and the events by telling us the events happened, rather than describing the events. It makes things distant and cold. We don't get to know anything about the character by being told they are 'tossing out ideas'. Is Ches a joker, always saying stupid ideas? Is Marchie the sensible one, with reasonable ones? Does she get annoyed with soandso. *You actually do this later: Cut out the earlier bit then!* The bit after this is a lot better, it's going through the conversation and we can see Ches is a bit sarcy etc.

    Anyway, I stopped here. The first chapters are the toughest. I think you need to concentrate on telling the story as it happens, rather than focusing on the set-up and what's happened in the past leading up to this point. If you want to go into detail on that: Start your story there. I don't want to start, then have to read up on the history. It's not a history textbook! Keep things current, and try get your reader *interested* by making them ask questions.

    There's a lot of focus on a hook with the first chapter, hell, even the first sentence/paragraph. A girl chatting about a cake and some party decorations doesn't really grab me. A girl trying to talk an 8 foot imaginary rabbit out of eating the cake (I dunno) makes me think: Is the girl crazy, are the things real? Do her parents know? That makes me read the next sentence.

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