Hullo there! Ac here reviewing for the Improvement challenge. Sorry its taken a little time for you to get this review - I've been ever so slightly crazy busy (moving out next week, still so much to do) and there were lots of reviews and things so things got way hectic.
First thing, I really like your first sentence. That little paragraph actually, is utterly wonderful. First sentences have to really reach out and grab you (like that suffocation).
But the second paragraph I found... slightly heavy handed maybe? I think it might be that line of speech just came off slightly wrong to me. I didn't like the repetition of 'don't you see' the way you had it either. For me I thought that bit would be more effective if you had it as 'The line echoes all around me until I'm sure... even if it lasted mere moments. Don't you see. Don't you see
I also figured that the moment of passing through the barrier was brought on the sudden suffocation? I thought you should make that a little clearer too. Just so we all know where we are :)
Then, crying. Right. I always seem to say a lot about crying in these reviews but I guess I write about it a lot. A lot of crying seems to happen utterly spontaneously and go from dry eyed to sobbing all at once, which does happen but not that often. In terms of 'tears fall from my eyes, and my eyes sting' well, for the most part eyes sting when you're about to cry but haven't started yet (unless when crying you've managed to get mascara or something in your eyes) but, well, I know this is picky. But I'm a big believer than proper descriptions of crying/nearly crying/ not quite crying carry the emotion of the piece. So, I'd have Rose's crying on more of progressional chart. Maybe at the beginning her eyes are stinging and she's blinking a lot because she's trying not to cry when anyone can seee her (as like you said, hard to explain) so is all sucking in breaths of air and fixing all her energy on getting somewhere she can just cry . Before, when she's finally on her own, starting to cry. Its just crying is something that pretty much everyone has experience of and explaining the little preventative details and the like make it more relatable and your reader can feeel the emotion of it all.
I really liked the description of the flowers too. They were really pretty and made me all smiley.
Okay so, the Scorpius bit. For one I find it relatively unlikely that Rose could burst into a compartment and not notice that he was there - even without checking - so I think you should clarify that slightly. Work out the logistics of everything. So, maybe Scorpius is sat with his trunk next to him on his seat, so his presence isn't completely obvious? Or Rose could mutter a 'sorry' before staring to properly cry.
On a note of the Scorpius bit... he does come across as having a lack of worry about Rose and more excitement over the prospect of her being single. Which is fine, actually, but I think you should highlight the fact that isn't exactly a nice immediate response. Also, prehaps have him flapping a bit? Most of the teenage guys I know are absolutely terrible with crying girls. Seriously.
Eeeeh, and then we're back to Rose. Okay so my main problem with this section is Roses's description of Scorpius. Put yourself in that position: you've just burst into a compartment and started crying, then you realise that there's someone there who used to be one of your best friend whom you don't talk to any more - I wouldn't then start thinking about his physique. At least not straight away. So, either shift that description to a later point in the conversation or spread it out so it's more subtle. Maybe start with the bit about his eyes? Then moving onto the rest.
Now the rest of it I couldn't see anything much and I really enjoyed it. You have a nice flow to things, actually, and you've sustained your present tense in a really lovely way. It was honestly a really pleasant story to read.
So, I guess the things for you to improve are being more precise in terms of detail. Just knowing where each character is in each scene and making sure that the distances between them make sense and can be understood from a readers perspective. Then getting under the skin of the characters more (you're already really good at this, but it never hurts to go in deeper) and make sure all their reactions and narrative are believable and make actually sense in terms of characterisation.
Thanks for entering my challenge and I hope to see your second entry really soon! Thank you :)
Author's Response: Hi AC! Oh my gosh, I am so incredibly sorry for not getting to this sooner! Real life has been insanely crazy, and I didn't even see you had posted this until about a month after you did! :/ So you have nothing to apologize for at all!
Thank you! One of the things I really felt I needed to focus on with the re-write of this story (which is it is, by the way. The original story was begging for a re-write, really) was to make the first chapter more exciting and something that pulled the readers in. I'm glad that worked out! :)
Hmm, re-reading the second paragraph, I agree it could use some tweaking! Hopefully I will get around to editing this chapter very soon! :)
Yes, I think the suffocation was partly due to passing through the barrier and also the fact that Rose felt as if she were almost stuck inside that moment for far longer than she should have been. What I mean by that is that when she stepped into the barrier, in reality and to others, it didn't seem as if she got 'stuck' if you will, but all those things that happened to her in that moment made her feel like she was suffocating and couldn't breathe. All in her mind, really, but I will definitely make that more clear when I edit the chapter :)
Ahh the crying. Never can get that right, can I? My original version of this began with crying, since I thought that would be a point that would draw the reader in xD You're correct in saying it's often spontaneous, and that I have a hard time with sequencing emotions correctly. Often times I forget to put myself in the characters shoes and think about what I would do if I were them xD All of what you've mentioned makes perfect sense of course, though!
Ahh that description took me aggeeesss to get right it seemed! I wanted the reader to be able to picture them perfectly and yet not make it dull, you know? So I'm glad that was something that worked out well!
Ehehehe... I think I was guilty of this in the original version as well, to be honest... It's always something I have an issue with. Instead of making it the proper thought process of the character's point of view that I'm writing in, I think of how my readers NEED a description now dammit! xD Yeah, the point there was she didn't notice anyone else was in that compartment (although an empty compartment, again, is probably quite unlikely unless Mean 'ol Scorpius scared all the others away! xP) But I really like the suggestion about him being hidden by his trunk! That could really work!
I think I'll reword the sentence about Scorpius caring more about her being single than he does for her happiness. Although flaws are good to have in a character, that's not really one I'd like Scorpius to have, to be honest. That's really one of the things he's got going for him! He genuinely cares about Rose so much he'd do anything to make her happy.
I'm glad the rest was good! However, it's really important to me to get conversations and interactions (especially between two main characters) written right, because I think that's essential to any story, but honestly, especially mine since it's a lot of relationships that drive the story. (but hopefully in a good way!) I will try to get detail down more in the next chapter for sure!
Speaking of the next chapter, I think I had about half of it written before I entered your challenge, but I'm planning on revising tons of it. I hope that's alright! And I'm also trying my hardest to get it in the queue before the deadline (esp. since the next day is NaNo, but if I don't, is it okay to PM you anyway for the link? I don't expect to win or anything of the sort or even be considered for the challenge, but I would love for you to see that I took the advice you took a long while in thinking out for me and that it wasn't a complete waste of your time!
Thank you so so much for such an in-depth review! This was an amazing idea for a challenge-- so creative and exactly what I needed for this story!