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Hi everyone! I know I have been a little absent for awhile, (blame university and dissertation research!) but I'm back now, and for the past 3ish months a friend and I have been working on a novel. We are about 3 quarters of the way through chapter 3 and have nearly 10,000 words. (eek... I wish I could write my dissertation this fast!) Really I'd just love if you have a spare few minutes, for you to read the insert I've pasted below and give me some honest constructive criticism... I'd rather have some feedback now on any areas where perhaps we are going wrong than write another 10,000 words and repeat the same mistakes! 

So if you do have a few spare minutes, please read and let me know (honestly) what you think!

Thanks, 

Cheryl x 

So just a little information about the story for you... The excerpt below is the beginning of Chapter 1 (you've only missed the prologue). 
 In the prologue, we find that an elderly ladies granddaughter has been having sleepless nights full of flashes and snippets of dreams. This seems to unsettle her grandmother who then locks herself in her room. The granddaughter explains that whilst in her room her grandmother wrote out some memoirs...not a biography but some specific memories from a time in her life that she feels may be important to her granddaughter... so begins Nanny Jays Memoirs. 

Chapter 1 - It's A Man's World?
Where to turn to? I look but you’re not there. Who to turn to? Is it too late to give you my life? Is it too late to replace me with you?

It all began in the first semester that followed Christmas in my Sophomore year of College. I traversed the same familiar oak plaid corridors, with the same familiar feeling of dread that always hung over me at the beginning of a new term. This feeling of dread was exacerbated by the fact that I had just been through the ordeal of another night’s restless sleep. It was always the same image that haunted these recent dreams, I could barely make out the shape of him, nothing more than a fading silhouette and yet prominent enough to keep me intrigued. The young, girlyish side of me wondered if he would emerge from the shadows like those beautiful actors did in the movies
ready to whisk their leading lady away on some romantic but highly improper elopement.

“Jay? You ready for this? I hear Professor Clark is awful strict on late students,” my best friend Maddie interrupted my abstract train of thought with a face etched with worry. It turned out that Professor Clark was strict on tardiness – especially from women. I distinctly remember him chiding us for being late – apparently ten minutes early is on time, on time is late and ten minutes late is simply unacceptable, at least for women. As always a million intricate details swirled around in my overzealous brain, taking in little of what Professor Clark was actually saying but understanding quite clearly his intended meaning. Words like ‘homely’, ‘lady like’, ‘proper’ and‘fashionable’ delivered to me the full extent of his ideal for women and from our very first meeting, I knew Professor Clark felt that certainly they had no place in an academic classroom. Maddie too caught on to this but only after witnessing the course of his first lecture, as we both watched student after student arrive late – the women chided with almost exactly the same speech delivered to Maddie and I, the tardy men however were hardly reprimanded until at last one wondered in fifty minutes after class had officially begun, male of not Professor Clark
seemed to think this was inexcusable. 

When you have lived as long as I have, you may find that certain types of memories begin to fade. For me the first to go were first impressions. Never could I remember how, when or where I met and became friends with some of the most important people in my life – that is except him, the inexcusably late boy. Not because it was so extraordinary – sparks flying across the room and all sorts of such clichéd things – I think perhaps what cemented this particular event in my long term memory was how unspectacular the whole thing was; oh certainly I felt sorry for him, but I also felt slightly resentful towards the stranger for giving Professor Clark and I something to agree on, after all I had to admit being fifty minutes late to anything is rather rude and when you consider how much we all wanted to make positive impressions on the people who would be marking this semesters assignments, pretty darn foolish as well

The most prominent feature I remember about him was his eyes. Smiling, carefree blues. They remained impressively unflinching during Professor Clark’s onslaught. They didn’t seem to settle on any particular spot in the room, least of all Professor Clark’s face. Then again I couldn’t tell if
there was anyone place in which his gaze would settle, not without looking like I was staring at him. So he sat at the desk to my right, occasionally scrawling in his notebook, flexing his long fingers. When the class came to an end he was the first to stand up and flip his flat cap over his cornflower hair. Disappearing before I could muster enough courage to discuss the joys of having
Professor Clark.

As I recall, the next month of classes with Professor Clark passed in much the same routine. Maddie and I tried our darnedest to be Professor Clark’s definition of early – the blue eyed gentleman however, did not. He continued to arrive late to every single class, delivering the same apathetic stare to Professor Clark as he chided him with all the ferocity of a hurricane. He was always allowed to take his seat at his usual desk to my right, unwind swept. Not even slightly dishevelled. It wasn’t until one particularly stormy Friday that Professor Clark finally snapped. 


I'm sorry if this is too long... I didn't know how much to post?!!? I hope you enjoyed it a little! 

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Cheryl, I've been very busy at work. I'm sorry for the delay. I will take a look over this in the next few days. I wanted to let you know it's not forgotten about and neither are you! Good to see you back. :)
Cheryl, I always enjoy reading your writing. I'll be honest: some parts strike me as repetitive and longwinded. For example:

I traversed the same familiar oak plaid corridors, with the same familiar feeling of dread that always hung over me at the beginning of a new term. This feeling of dread was exacerbated by the fact that I had just been through the ordeal of another night’s restless sleep.

You could replace the entire second sentence for example with "Another night's restless sleep exacerbated the feeling."


"Same familiar" isn't a good phrase. Both words are too close in meaning. Use one or the other. I'd keep familiar in the first instance and use same in the latter. Compare this version of that paragraph to your original one. It's simpler and clearer. If your sentences are too long, your reader's mind will wander.

I traversed the familiar oak plaid corridors, the same dread hanging over me that always did when a new term started. Another night's restless sleep exacerbated the feeling.

I suggest you tighten the whole thing. Look for repetition and ways to trim the length. And show, don't tell. Show us Professor Clark chiding someone and what he says. Write dialogue where a girl walks in and gets into trouble and then a man follows and barely does. Readers don't need everything explained to them. The obvious difference in how he speaks to them both will show his gender bias if she gets a long disapproving speech and the boy gets a quick "take your seat quickly please, Brian" or something like that.

I hope that helps. Do what you want with that advice, if anything. :)
Cheryl, I like the idea and the way you're taking it. I agree with what's been said already about it needing tightened up. You may not have realized that this section below -

Not because it was so extraordinary – sparks flying across the room and all sorts of such clichéd things – I think perhaps what cemented this particular event in my long term memory was how unspectacular the whole thing was; oh certainly I felt sorry for him, but I also felt slightly resentful towards the stranger for giving Professor Clark and I something to agree on, after all I had to admit being fifty minutes late to anything is rather rude and when you consider how much we all wanted to make positive impressions on the people who would be marking this semesters assignments, pretty darn foolish as well

- is one whole sentence. Even if you'd used a period instead of the semi-colon the second sentence would have been far too long. I'll go over it for you more once you've had time to review the piece.
Hi, Just wanted to say, I'm not ignoring your constructive criticism, I appreciate it greatly! However a monster also known as my dissertation is unfortunately the only thing I seem to have time to write at the moment... I will return to this though when I get a break at Christmas and make changes according to your thoughts below guys.

Thanks again! Hope you are all well!
xxx

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