Reviews for Incarcerated
storm101 chapter 5 . 10/17/2012
Ohhhh dear. Okay. This story has gotten so, so much better. I'm much more invested in the characters-both of them, shockingly-than I was in the beginning. You're writing has improved SO much. Seriously. There was NOTHING in this chapter that made me pause and think "This is another thing she needs to work on." Nothing brought me out of the story, at least not noticeably. If you still want me to give advice, I can go through and start 'red-penning' as I call it. Namely, editing for specific details, rather than over arching, this-in-general-can-be-improved.

Note me about it? I'm also extremely curious if you were planning to bring in the whole Justice-in-charge-of-Riff's-personality thing BEFORE I mentioned it, or not?

Also, evil cliff hanger.
storm101 chapter 4 . 10/13/2012
Sorry it's been so long with no word from me! College... Ugh.

Things I am noticing that you can continue to improve on-cutting unnecessary words. "I was experimented on."-"I'm an experiment." "whispered back frantically"-"hissed." (A lot of writers suggest using only 'said' to describe dialogue, with no other descriptive words, and... I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I can see it's merits, but it's definitely something I need to work on myself.)

I like their own confusion about permitting the alliance. I like Cain's discomfort when Cassandra kills the people. (Cain strikes me as someone who prefers distance between himself and his victims, and doesn't like blood or bloody situations. He's not quite SANE, of course, but with the amount of blood you're describing, I'd be a bit surprised if he wasn't feeling sick.)

I'm also newly intrigued by the relationship between Justice and Cassandra. Hmmm... Also, and I'm a Riff/Cain shipper, I know, I know, but... Justice was the one controlling the hypnosis on Riff. Now that she's dead, is that stuck in place and no Tower? Or will it weaken and reveal Tower sooner than people expected? Because Riff was only able to return because Justice opened the door a bit, trying to control the Tower, and then died... Something to consider in the overall continuity-and a plausible sequel starting point, should you ever wish for one, or wish to write about Riff and Cain.

Either way, the last scene with Justice leaves me with questions that I'd like to have answered. Good luck, and continue writing! (I'm quite serious when I say 'look, it's already SO MUCH STRONGER.')
storm101 chapter 3 . 9/15/2012
Look at your first chapter and compare it to this. Seriously. This is easily the strongest writing I've seen from you yet. There are a few phrases that could be stronger, where you use mildly redundant descriptions. The "sharp, curved blade," for instance.

You've gotten a lot stronger with your dialogue, and some of Cain's natural snarkiness is starting to shine through. "Even if you're, well, oozing pus and blood." You've really started to show the internal struggle with whether or not to trust Cassandra. As far as that's concerned, I'll encourage you to make it less 'little voice in the back of his head' and more 'second guessing himself' or 'being unable to forget.'

I REALLY like that Gladstone is the one who's mastermind-ing their little escape attempt, and the description of his body as a weapon. That's such a good, distancing line. I love it. And the brutal killing of Moon... Interesting touch, and very animalistic. I'm a little surprised Moon didn't fight back, or wasn't expecting it-I remember her being EXTREMELY COMPETENT. But she was taken by surprise, and the whip was a bit of a distraction, I suppose...

My biggest complaint in this chapter is how it seems to jump in the chronology. It opens with some musings of Cain's, and then jumps backwards to right before Moon opened the door, then jumps back forward to after Moon's opened the door. There is some transitioning, but it's rough, so you might want to keep it in mind.

Seriously, though? This is so much better. So. Much. It's easier and a lot more enjoyable to read, and you've clearly put effort into writing this fic. It's impressive, to see how much you've improved in, what, two weeks? At the most?
storm101 chapter 2 . 9/5/2012
I can already see a lot of improvement! You definitely paid a great deal more attention to how the dialogue fits with the narration, and good show on the absence of ellipses! The (what, three?) that I see have a clear and obvious purpose and are hardly noticeable. The descriptions of actions in between the dialogue is much, much more helpful than straight lines of concentrations. (Dialogue is more than just speaking, after all, it's the actions the characters perform WHILE speaking.) Cassandra's frustration and anger are already much more apparent, and Cain's reactions seem less computer-clinical and more scientist-clinical. I liked the details you added from when Gladstone has pulled Cain close to his face, particularly the addition of the 'hot breath.' The disgust Gladstone has for himself, too, is a great detail and an interesting tension I think you could do more with. He was so full of himself and so sickeningly superior. How the mighty have fallen! I'm sure Cain and Gladstone both are thinking of it. Play up his shame, it could be interesting.

I liked the simile about honey from a beehive. Strengthen the earlier sentence by using detailed, specific words. ALWAYS think about your word choice and how it impacts the style and the tone of your writing. Instead of "and blood trickled down the scarred back like honey dripping from a beehive," try "and the congealed blood slid over the scars like honey dripping from a beehive." We already know the wing is attached to his back. Repeating it is only redundant.

I am still having a bit of difficulty seeing the canon characters doing things like this, but it might be because of my own previously confessed dislike of Gladstone. Still, I would try to blend the characterizations from the canon into this story more thoroughly. I'll reiterate what I said in the last review: You need to make the characters BELIEVABLE, even if the AU lets it be not purely accurate to canon. At this point, I'm not believing it and I'm not invested.

Couple of other, more technical points. I feel the numerical ages are unnecessary. "Teen" suffices for Cain, and "older man" for Gladstone. Being so specific is mildly distracting, particularly when you use numbers (17 as opposed to seventeen.) If I remember correctly, one of my high school English teachers encouraged us to write out the numbers, assuming they were less than... oh, 1,000 I think was her benchmark, though it might have been higher. Most writing doesn't demand specific numbers, either way, and can use generalizations. (Note for future reference.)

Paragraph with Cassandra vomiting: "vile" isn't a noun, it's an adjective. What you meant was 'bile.' Understandable mistake and I assume it's a typo, but it shows you didn't proofread, or, if you did, you didn't proofread very well. PROOFREADING IS NECESSARY. (Also, you repeat the same mistake later on, when Cain waits before speaking.)

Jumping around, but again: Word. Choice. The paragraph of Cassandra describing the torture/experimentation is decent and I'm glad it's there, but it could be a LOT better. Consider your word choice, and the way your sentence structure describes how he felt. You're using a great many long, flowing sentences, and shorter, choppier structures would serve to demonstrate the pain he's felt and the humiliation he's feeling at having to explain all of this, again. Add more descriptions as well, here. (I'm picking on this paragraph because it's a long piece of practically pure dialogue that has a great deal of potential as a moment.)
For instance, try opening the description with an admission that he cannot remember much, because he was unconscious for most of it. "Whenever I did wake, the room was unfocused, as if I was underwater. ((or some other metaphor, you've a pretty decent hand at those.)) I do remember the acid eating at my skin, as flames devour a sheet of paper. ((I LIKED THAT METAPHOR, solely because of the word 'devour.' 'Sheet' doesn't seem a sophisticated enough for Gladstone's speaking style, and the imagery itself is common and borderline cliche, but 'devour' is both an appropriate word and gives it a bit more of a punch.)) Wires held me in place so they could work. They sewed this... this thing into my back..." Etc, etc, I think you get the point? Make it PAINFUL. Make us pity him! You're right in that a lot of the fandom doesn't care much for Gladstone. You have to make us care, because we already don't. Don't just describe his pain, you have to make it present, and show it to us, and show us the way he STILL feels! The closest you come is when Cain grips onto his wing.

On the subject of Cain, one more thing. If Cain is your pov character, you really need to commit to that. The reader is supposed to be inside Cain's head. Let's see some of his inner thought processes, his mingled disgust and pity for Gladstone, his anger at his father, at the situation, and especially his reactions. Cain can be a bitch! I want to see that. You're focusing a great deal on Gladstone, and yet you're writing from Cain's perspective, and while I understand the need from a narrative point of view (Cain's the one who's just been introduced to your setting/situation/plot, it makes sense to pick up the story with him), it doesn't make sense with the way you're actually delivering the story. The focus is almost purely on Gladstone, and it's not working, because we're not seeing it presented as Cain's thoughts and Cain's reactions. You've gotten close a couple of times, but you need to keep going. The readers' eyes into this situation are through Cain. Keep it in mind. Make Cain pity Gladstone, justify the choice to help him, and it'll be all the easier for your readers to do the same. At the moment, Cain doesn't seem to be invested, and neither are we.

Final note: I like the inclusion of Ida/Moon and I'm interested to see what you do with her. (There are some words in your description that are unnecessary. The mention of the scars doesn't need to be there, not the specification of holding the whip in her 'right hand,' as hand is redundant. Also, 'holding' itself is a weak word. Try 'brandishing' for a bit more of a threat. Or, if she's more casual, 'dangling a whip in one hand' suggests she doesn't view them as a threat at all.)

Okay, final note wasn't as positive as I'd meant for it to be... Summary! MUCH better chapter, I can already see a serious improvement. Make us care more about the characters, and use your perspective as Cain to it's fullest extent. Consider word choice to strengthen your sentences and description. And the inclusion of Moon/Ida shows promise and catches my interest for the next chapter! As always, keep writing and practicing!
storm101 chapter 1 . 9/4/2012
I'm not much of a horror or a suspense writer, so I don't know how much help I can be for this, but I'll definitely be keeping track of it. I like the idea, of Cain and Cassandra, two people who hate each other, having to work together in order for something they both want. A word of warning however. AU it may be, but it's clearly very close to canon (set immediately after Castrato, you said?) Keep in mind that this is going to make writing the characters believably much more difficult. Even if it's an AU and that means that accuracy to the canon is less necessary, saying it's AU doesn't mean the characters should be any less believable.

A few other critical things. You repeat a noticeable word in the same sentence a couple of different times. "Dusty, dusty floor" is good use for emphasis, but the following (brilliant!) metaphor about the blood orange loses some of its punch when you repeat the word 'sweet.' I think it would be a stronger sentence without the first one. (Nitpicky, I know, I know, but it's one of my major pet peeves.)

Try not to use abbreviations. "no. 5" threw me for a loop and pushed me out of the story. The same with DELILAH. I don't think it's explained as an acronym, though I might be wrong in that, but I think it's usually just "Delilah."

You have a great love of ellipses. I like them, too, and I really shouldn't. I'd advise cutting back on them at least a little bit, particularly in non-thought-related narration. Also, Gladstone's using them a lot while speaking. Is he having difficulty breathing? Voice rasping? Trouble speaking? Just doesn't want to talk in general? There are better ways to express any and all of those, aside from ellipses. I feel like it's weakening the text a little bit, and while judicious use is fine, at the end of a sentence to show some hesitation, or to demonstrate searching for a word, I'm not sure about here.

Nicer things! You have very strong descriptions and decent characterization already. I liked the moment when Cain thought 'if he was Gladstone, he would have strangled him already.' It says a lot about Cain's own motivations, and also makes the reader wonder as well why Gladstone has yet to move. Also, Gladstone snapping 'Do you think I take orders from you!?" because yeah, Cain does tend to give orders a lot.

Now, work on making those descriptions and moments of characterization stronger! The one I can seriously point to is at the end, when Cain finally sees Gladstone for the first time. It's meant to be a moment of "horror," but I don't really feel it right now. It feels too clinical, like a checklist. Take advantage of where they are to describe the way Gladstone currently looks. Linger on the wing (because WHAT?! That's FREAKY and FASCINATING and how is that even possible?!) that Gladstone has apparently grown or had grafted to his body. Describe the way his clawed hands rest upon lichen covered and cracked stone, how the acid burns are still healing, perhaps oozing pus. Have Cain react, too-scuttle away, shrink back, cry out in surprise, etc. That has the potential to be an incredibly powerful moment, and you NEED to take advantage of that! I know you can-the metaphor with the blood orange and the mention of Cassandra's voice 'quivering' (GREAT word) show that you can live up to it.

Overall (and I'm almost done, I promise, but I really feel like I need to give good concrit on this so I can help you as much as you've helped me!) I think the idea is really interesting and has a LOT of promise and potential. I REALLY want to know what is up with Gladstone, the experimentations. Clearly they're designed as punishments, but beyond that! There must be some sort of reason, and I'd LOVE to find out what it is. Keep writing and keep practicing!

((I also want to reiterate that I am extremely flattered by the dedication and that all of the above is designed purely to help. I hope it did.))