Thursday, January 05, 2006

Beta Reader Comments (Dead Dreams)

Dead Dreams

I have finished rereading Dead Dreams. I really loved it. Still more than last time. And where I got lost the first time it was OK this time. So you needn’t worry and change any of the contents for the ending. It is very clear. I don’t know why I reacted in this way the first time.

First I’ll tell you where I think your story is very good.

The premise is excellent. Original I can’t say as I am not used to reading horror, maybe it’s been used before, I don’t know. But I liked this intrusion into a bizarre world between life and death. I think it serves as an excellent basis for a story.

The content is excellent. The story has all the ingredients to make it thrilling: the good opposed to the bad; inexplicable murders; chases; the hero’s beloved in danger; the hero in a constant threat for his life; déjà vu situations; a friend who turns out to be a fiend, etc…A love story; although I think that it lacks passion, and I’d definitely add a sex scene at the end of chapter 32 and put together into one all three chapters 31, 32 and 33.

Now what I didn’t like too much.

The paragraphing: when you make a new paragraph at each sentence or quite, I think it breaks the rhythm and the telling doesn’t flow. I’d bring together more sentences to make longer paragraphs, reserving shorter ones to put the stress on an idea or a feeling or something. However I have noticed that a lot of the excerpts which are posted on WN have that same “flaw”, so I wonder whether it is the American way.

Nominal sentences (without a verb) should be used parsimoniously, when you want to insist on something. But I’ve already told you that, and I know that you don’t agree.

Don’t use question marks at the end of statements to give them an interrogative meaning.

For example:

In the middle of chapter 17: “I don’t know what else I can do to help?”
should be: “I don’t know what else I can do to help.”
Or: “I don’t know what else I can do to help. Do you?”

Or again at the beginning of chapter 22: “He didn’t know what the future held for him, but it couldn’t be worse than what he witnessed daily?”
Should be: “…. but it couldn’t be worse than what he witnessed daily.”
Or: “…but it couldn’t be worse than what he witnessed daily, could it?”
I know it is commonly done, but it isn’t correct. There are several occurrences in your book.

Now I’ll make a few comments on some chapters.

Chapter 17: I never knew where the actions took place: kitchen? Bedroom? Bathroom?

Chapter 21: perhaps too many details, which made it hard to follow.

Chapter 30: Jenny doesn’t show enough terror. She looks quite cool when she talks to Jimmy. For example, when she bumps into the desk, she rubs her thigh, as if she had no other concern. She is calm enough to lie to him. I’d make her more terrified. It’s thrilling though.

Chapter 37: wouldn’t Linda rather try to leave the gallery knowing that Jimmy is there, and not go back to the attic? I know she’s got to stay, but I’d make her try to escape and fail. She doesn’t look terrified enough either.

And to finish, there are two things I didn’t understand:

Who is the woman in the photo that Jimmy has lost?
Does the last sentence mean that someone is trying to kill him?

I have already told you that I find the prologue a bit long. I have made a few cuttings. Would you like to see them?

Well, it's just my opinion, and of course it's not gospel truth. But I repeat, I think on the whole it's very good and very enjoyable. I was sorry when I had to stop reading. You put it down because you have to, because you have other urgent things to do, not because you've had enough. So that's what matters, isn't it?

I'll be looking forward to your email. Don't exhaust yourself and get some rest.

Bye for now.