Thanks for posting up your first chapter. It's a heart-thumping read! From this snippet, the main character information I've picked up is the MC has huge power she tries to keep locked up; her father is violent towards her (either because he is afraid of/doesn't understand the power or because he's prone to violent episodes); her mother has mental illness, and Liela has two other siblings.
The questions I am left with are: what was Leila's plan that went wrong? Why is she running back to her own room and not down the street (to alert the neighbors, for instance)? Is the frailty of her body related to the power she possesses, or an illness separate from the mutation? And of course, what is going to happen next? (I am not suggesting you have to answer these questions; purely that this is what I expect to find out in the following chapters!)
A few notes on the writing itself that I hope will be useful. They are tips from a writing course I took:
- Think about whether you can remove the word 'could' and rephrase the sentence without it. Usually, it shortens the word count and brings the action much closer to the reader. An example is 'She could hear his sickening thud...' Instead (just as an example!) you could say, 'A sickening thud...' It also has the added benefit of giving you different ways to open sentences, without having to start with 'She'.
- Consider whether your adverbs are slowing down the action in your sentences. For example, '... her father's fist awkwardly hit her right side...' could change to '... her father's fist hit her right side...' without losing any meaning, and the impact would arrive without a three-syllable-word slowing it down. However, if his hit is awkward because he is impaired by alcohol or brain injury etc., you might wish to keep the 'awkwardly' because it has a purpose. These are only suggestions and I wouldn't presume to know anything about what any of your words might be foreshadowing!
- There is a run-on sentence here and there (I am guilty of this too!) where there are too many things happening for one 'breath'. For example 'The water in her eyes spilled over and she took deep sharp breaths as she tried to remember how to breathe as the pain shot through her.' A sentence with one 'and' and an 'as' is often okay, but an 'and' plus 2 x 'as' equals a sentence that is too long (usually). Consider splitting them up :)
- You have used the word 'carnal' for the parts of Leila's neighbours' lives that she is being driven down into. I was just wondering whether that is the word you meant to use? The most common usage of that word in UK English is in referring to sexual physical needs. That might be what you meant, which is fine! Or it might be that the usage is a little different in American English anyway.
- Just a really small thing: you used the word 'bounced' on the first page for the sound of Leila's father hitting the wall before turning the corner; for me that has connotations of a child with a bouncy ball. For the seriousness of the situation, there might be a different word such as 'rebounded' or 'ricocheted' that doesn't lighten the mood in the same way as 'bounced'?
Overall, I'm only picking at the syntax because the actual content seems compelling to me. It is an action-packed opening that makes me want to know what happens next! I look forward to seeing more chapters :)
And of course, ignore everything I've said if it doesn't serve your meaning etc ;)
Sorry, I missed one other thing: point of view. We are engrossed in Leila's point of view from the start, but you seem to switch to an omniscient narrator near the end of the chapter. Was this intentional? Often there is a break or a new chapter before a different point of view is introduced. The change is when we hear that Byron's balding head is glistening with sweat. This is something that Leila would not be able to see through the door, unless it has clear glass in it (possibly an odd choice for a bathroom?) so it changes the point of view from 'third person limited' (limited to what Leila can see/think/hear/feel) to 'third person omniscient'.
Ali! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments they are so helpful. I loved how you picked out issues I didn't even noticed. I will be going back to the first chapter to implement as many as I can. It was fantastic feedback and I really really appreciate it. All of my other reader would just tell me if they liked the story and I wouldn't be able to fix the writing mistakes that I know I have.
Your attention to detail was amazing and you truely did me a great service today. Thank you. I'm excited to talk to you a little bit about my writing perspective because you have been the first person to comment on it without implying that I needed to change it. I do have an omniscient narrator and I love writing in a way where I can pop back in and out of third person to that narrator. It has been my goal to not confuse readers and write it in a way that doesn't sound like head hoping. I never want that but my narrator is telling the story and focuses on charactersthird perspectives to convey that story. Let me know how you think I'm doing on that. Most people avoid discussions of the omniscient narrator. They can tell me how hard it is and how hard it's going to be to get a reader to stay involved in my story if they can't find an attachment to all my characters. But I love to write that way and will never be able to give it up.
PS. I will have to revisit the English definition of Carnal I implied all of mankind's desires and emotions not just sexual. I'll have to revisit it because I love the implied meaning but not sure if I just want it to be sexual.
Hey! Regarding the omniscient narrator, I would say that there is nothing wrong with it in itself, but that it has to be the appropriate choice for the story you are writing. Personally, I would be happy to try out several different methods of narration if an agent or publisher suggested it to me. I like the idea of experimenting. At the moment, I am using deep third person limited for The Sylvan Gate because my MC is very centred on her own thoughts and worries all the time. She is introverted and I think having only her perspective (although it has its limitations!) is quite an appropriate choice in this scenario. However, if somebody told me that I should consider first person narration and/or adding the perspective of one or two others characters, I would think it fun to try out!