What I gleaned about the story: A grieving loner walks across campus and finds the “strange girl” classmate up on a rooftop, waving gadgets in the air. Then she falls on him. Could this be love?
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Analysis: If only she lived, maybe she could help him remember, actually remember. Sure, Matt told him the facts, like a dossier on his life at the university, but you don’t live a grocery list. That should be “had lived,” and “had told.” And particularly in the first paragraph, this weakens my sense of trust in the author/editor.
Details: He felt out-of-phase with the others, floating by as witness instead of participant. It’s a simple sentiment, but I like the way this imagery works.
Analysis: I’m only a couple of pages in, but there have been a number of grammatical misfires that keep slowing me down. Example: The girl pulled a gadget from her bag with a handle and a small screen. With this dangling modifier, it’s clear that the handle and screen should go with the gadget, not the bag, but it takes a moment to reconfigure the sentence in my head, and that slows me down. By the time I’d hit three or four such miscues, I’d begun to notice the effect, so the flag went up.
Analysis: This is a take-your-pick situation. Three echoing headword pairs happened along at about the time I was noticing the trudge-trudge of declarative sentence parade. And when another MIA past perfect closed out the paragraph, I found it to be too many issues too close together to let it slide. Unfortunately, when enough of these issues aren’t caught by a good editor, the resulting scar tissue on the prose keeps me from seeing past the errors and immersing into the story.
Note: The situation being explored in the opening scene looks quite interesting. A grieving loner walks across campus at night and sees the “strange” classmate climbing up onto a rooftop with odd gadgets. I’m intrigued. But unfortunately, the prose needs a solid polish before I can slip through the words and start enjoying the scenario itself.