Book Jacket

 

rank 441
word count 20894
date submitted 26.11.2013
date updated 27.11.2013
genres: Children's, Young Adult, Comedy
classification: universal
incomplete

My Little Brother Just Discovered Rock 'N' Roll

Benedict Brown

P.E., Maths and Rock n Roll...

 

Dennis is too busy pining over the prettiest girl in school and being pushed in the mud every P.E. class to notice what his little brother Jake is up to. When Jake's band suddenly become the hottest thing in Stanley Hall, Dennis is left questioning the building blocks of his existence. Important questions like why everyone thinks Jake Jones is cool, why no one thinks Dennis Jones is and who gets to decide what cool is anyway.


All this is and his secret pursuit of his one great passion, Daniela Valentina, his escape from her boyfriend's fists and the looming school talent show make the habitual horrors of maths and chemistry seem like minor irritations. As his little brother's star goes shooting into the heavens, all Dennis wants to do is survive high school, get the girl and pass his GCSEs. Is that really too much to ask?

 
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tags

, band, first love, indie, music, school, teenagers

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28 comments

 

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BunnyHopwood wrote 79 days ago

Yarg review

Hi Benedict.
What a great hook! I like the way you have set it out with the intro and play on musical terms. There is not much more I can offer in the way of constructive criticism of ch1. very well written and polished. We instantly like the main characters and by the end of the chapter feel Dennis' pain acutely. I love the fact that he was so proud of friending her on Facebook. Made me laugh.

Ch2
After such a great ending to Ch1, the opening of Ch2 was a little bland. I felt more gutted about the kiss than Dennis. Can you maybe put in a little more horror at the sight.

'affection on display' - affection is perhaps a bit soft and romantic for this situation. Can you re-word? Perhaps face-sucking, or have you used that later, I can't remember.

I loved that Mike had his face in the wall, I thought there was some great sub plot coming and although it was a good way of introducing Mike's character, the thing with the wall never really went anywhere. Can you interweave a subplot - perhaps Mike is looking for something, that will involve Dennis later. Or there is some myth about something in the school walls. Just something to think about.

When they go into the classroom and the register is being taken, I felt that it was a bit long winded. The pace of the 1st chapter is so good that this slows it down a bit too much. I desperately want to get to the assembly where you have set up that hook so well. I know the hook will keep the reader going but you don't want it to lose it's impact.

It's great the way you set up Dennis' world by describing the great strong characters around him, but here perhaps in the classroom you might consider editing a little to keep the story moving.

The first time the teacher calls them children it is fine, in fact it adds to her character with the sarcasm, however when she does it again in the classroom it stands out as a little unrealistic, I don't think a secondary teacher would call her pupils children in that context, to their face anyway. Also calling them rabid animals is a little strong, I get that she is stressed but I felt that was going too far over the line of unprofessionalism and she would receive complaints. Of course that might be where you are going with it. So will leave it with you to ponder.

The pitch grabbed my attention and I enjoyed what I've read so far. Will soon read more and review when I have a little more time.

Hope some of that is helpful
Faith Gore
Red Running River

Taps wrote 189 days ago

Hi Benedict. Reading this has been absolutely brilliant. It really did take me back to high school, showing that it is pretty much the same where ever you go. It also taps into every kids dream to do something that will earn his peer's admiration. It may be sad, but I remember slaving over my guitar, brutalising "The Blue Bells of Scotland" and dreaming of the day I would stand on the stage, crank out a power chord and see all the kids jumping to their feet and shouting my name.

Your writing flows very easily and is enjoyable to read. The characters are likable, and I think we can all identify with the bully with the overactive thyroid gland, hitting you up for pretty much everything. The dialogue seems very natural and the emotions very real. I have no hesitation in putting this on my bookshelf.

Meike Buechler wrote 206 days ago

CHIRG review.
Your characters come to life in no time at all. I feel like I've just time-travelled, back to my teenager years at school... Your dialogues are captivating, your descriptions beautiful. Will be back to read more and provide detailed feedback....

C. A. Thomson wrote 211 days ago

CHIRG

Hi Benedict,
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you, but I'm sure you know what it's like.
Anyway... I love your story. I don't do total break down reviews (I'm usless at them) but I can certainly try to inflate your ego a little. Your writing style is great. Straight down the line and easy to read. The subject matter is fantastic. (A subject dear to my heart) and in the main, brilliantly written!
I know you are only in the early stages of this story, and already you have published in excess of 20,000 words, but the one grump I have got is, and this is only my oppinion, there is a little too much School etc. and not enough Rock 'n' Roll!
Although I am sure it will kick in later, I think you would do well to look back at the first 10 Chapters (as many times as it takes, you know the proceedure!) and see what bits you could do without. I fear you are a bit like me. You tend, sometimes, to write too much. (I do exactly the same) But fear not. This is a good thing. It's always better to have too much than not enough. At least you can dump the excess. Do you kind of know what I mean?
On a most positive note.... This is a really good story, and I'm dying to know what happens in the end. I'm also certain you will get a massive audience!
High stars for now, and as soon as 'Featherlight' hits the editors desk, which should be in the next few hours, you will be straight onto my Book Shelf to take its place.
In the meantime, I wish you a very happy and healthy new year, and I look forward to keeping in touch.
All the best for now, Craig.

kkobylar wrote 214 days ago

CHIRG review (part 4)

Hi Benedict,

I finished reading your chapters. Here are my thoughts on chapters 6-10.

I do have a few nit-picks; those are below. But I do have one overall concern: while Dennis is an entertaining narrator, I'm not seeing any real conflict here. He has a good relationship with his brother and sister, and at school, he seems like more of a bystander. I like the Jake vs Daniela popularity contest, but I think it would have more punch if Daniela actually was Dennis's friend or showed at least some possible interest in him. Right now, Dennis doesn't seem to have a chance in hell with Daniela, so if he supports Jake over her, he has nothing to lose.

I'd also like to see more inner conflict in Dennis. Maybe he's supportive of Jake on the outside, but inside the seeds of jealousy are starting to grow.

Just some food for thought.

Specific chapter comments:

Chapter 6

Would they lock me in my room? Would they put me up for adoption? (I'd prefer this without the second "Would they." Try: Would they lock me in my room? Put me up for adoption?

Dennis's sister seems to come out of nowhere. I don't recall him mentioning her before. Up until now I was under the impression that he only had a brother.

Chapter 7

The part about the fish dinner felt like it went on a little too long. I'd suggest tightening up some of the dialogue. Particularly watch for repeated information (Jake's age seems to be mentioned a lot) and for information the reader already knows.

Chapter 8

I'm not sure this chapter moves the plot forward much.

Chapter 9

I would have loved to know what song Daniela was singing.

Chapter 10

"I might stop talking to either (both?) of you."

I hope some of this is useful.

Best wishes,

Karen
kkobylar
Kingdom of the Serpent

kkobylar wrote 218 days ago

CHIRG review (continued)

Hi Benedict,

I'm back with comments on chapters 3-5. All 3 were really well-written. I just have a few nits and such.

Chapter 3

The description of Mr. Daniels seemed to tell more than show.

I found a couple missing commas: No[,] of course we didn't[,]...

I'd suggest reconsidering the end of this chapter. It didn't feel like a proper closing. With Dennis's obsession over Daniela, I kind of expected him to be mulling over her reaction to Jake's band, wondering why she wasn't impressed.

Chapter 4

I love Dennis's view of PE!

I also liked the description of Mr Bath. I could really picture him.

Chapter 5

I laughed at the description of the canteen food. It reminded me of the cafeteria food I used to endure at college. My classmates and I used to make jokes about "Unidentified Rodent under Glass."

Observation: Dennis seems to be taking his brother's new-found popularity in stride. I can understand him being proud, but Jake's performance did take him by surprise. I think it might be natural for some negative feelings to be mixed in as well--maybe a little jealousy.

I'll be back for more later. Hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Karen
kkobylar
Kingdom of the Serpent

Michelle Richardson wrote 222 days ago

This was very easy to like. The school was familiar, the characters relatable, and your voice is perfect for your audience. After reading just two chapters, I will be backing at my next shuffle. Great job ;)
Michelle 43 Primrose Avenue

Alan Barbara wrote 225 days ago

Hi Benedict,

A CHIRG review - sorry it's taken a while to get back to you.

I like the name of the book and have read the first 3 chapters. I like the little band of friends that Dennis has. Your description of the school bullies was excellent – reminded me of my school days in the late seventies. This flows well and the pace means that the story moves along nicely.

I’ve noted a few things – feel free to ignore as I’m no expert in these matters!

Chapter 1

You set the scene nicely in this chapter – uncovering the brother’s hidden talents and the fact that Dennis is in love with Daniela. I like the names of your characters.

Stanley Hall had once been an accomplished selective school which parents across the area were desperate to get their children into…
This sounds clunky – I think it’s because the ‘which’ and ‘were’ are too close/used together.

When Neal and Amrita first arrive, you say you trek towards your form room. Later, you have “You can’t say that about your grandmother,” I said as we entered the school. I would swap these around – you enter the schools and then trek towards the form room – the school is the larger area – hope this makes sense!

Chapter 2

‘We stood there motionless, unable to fully….’ – I would remove ‘there’.

‘I could see that he had carved some small holes in the wall so that his face fit perfectly inside’ – should be ‘fitted’?


A very good job.

Regards

Alan

rikasworld wrote 227 days ago

No niggles in ch. 5 and 6. It's cracking along. Bits about food are always popular with teens. Loved the ants dialogue and Aunt Sarah.

kkobylar wrote 227 days ago

CHIRG Review

Hi Benedict,

I’m back for chapter 2.

I just had one area of confusion and some nit-picks:

1. I’d like a clearer description of what Michael is doing when his face is in the wall. I’m from the U.S. and am unfamiliar with what form class is. I also teach in a building where the hallway walls are concrete, so it’s hard for me to picture what Michael is doing.

2. I agree with the other reviewer. I think DJ4DV4EVA should be DJ+DV4EVA.

3. My teaching experience is kicking in here. In most school districts that I know of, attendance is taken electronically/on the Internet. The roll call feels outdated.

4. Part of me wants Jordan Gutierrez to reply in Spanish, not French.

5. Les Miserables: The musical version? I’m asking because I have a friend who works in community theater and it’s rather difficult to get the rights to popular musicals. As far as I know, Les Mis isn’t available to community theaters, colleges, etc. It also seems to be a rather heavy production for high school.

That’s my two-cents, anyway. Use what you find helpful and discard the rest.

I’ll be back for more soon.

Best wishes,

Karen
kkobylar
Kingdom of the Serpent

Willow Fay wrote 228 days ago

YARG

Hi :)


Both your pitches are great. I would pick it up in a book store! Sounds like this is going to be a fun read!
I love the opening, and the last line -'This would make a great ending to a story but sadly it's just the beginning of mine.' Good hook!
'Jordan gutierrez emerged celebrity-like from his fathers car where he was mobbed, celebrity-like...' - Maybe you could try a different word here rather than 'celebrity-like' because its repeated three times in the same line. Or not :) Just a suggestion. (Not that I can talk, I'm terrible for repeating words!) or maybe you intended to repeat them.

Okay, so I usually take notes as i go along...I kind of got a bit dragged into the story, and ... i forgot to take notes, because i was too busy reading. I'd like to echo what a few other people have said, maybe you're fed up of hearing it, but it definitely has a 'diary of a wimpy kid' feel to it. What I've read so far, is very good. Your dialogue is good, an sounds the way I'd expect young teenagers so converse. I love his HUGE crush on Daniela.
You have some great one liners in here, and you're humor is good, i did definitely find myself smiling throughout what I've read.

You write very well, you characters really come through and stand out, each with their own distinct personality. You've done a very good job of this.
Good luck!
I've given you 6 stars, and I shall be back to read some more soon.
Thanks for the enjoyable read.

Willow x

rikasworld wrote 229 days ago

CHIRG Review
Hi Benedict, I thought you would have plenty of crit. on the early chapters so I would start in depth comment in Ch. 3. I have to admit thought that the form teacher in Ch. 2 could have been me in my last few years teaching!
Ch. 3 A great pivotal Susan Boyle type moment. Some nice humour I loved the Hitler as a teenager comment and the Dennis Jones font from Mrs Hale. Also the grandparents getting up to things. Never read anything like those before. Really made me laugh.
My suggestion would be trimming the early parts of the chapter, creating the mood and description of the school without going into quite so much detail.
Nit-picks.
Not sure about 'hall-slash-gym'
No comma needed after 'I guess that ' in the ropes bit.
Also does the Headmaster mean 'progeny' or 'prodigy' ?
I think your style is like Anne Fine Flour Babies or Terry Pratchett Johnny novels! The book is going to work really well.
I'll come back to do another chapter later.

Mayes wrote 233 days ago

I have read chapter 1 and was definitely pulled into the story. This makes me feel very immature, since I am aImost 60. Your description of Jake is perfect, you made him my favorite character so far, hope Daniela doesn't fall for him and leave Dennis out in the cold. I will be back to finish reading.

kkobylar wrote 233 days ago

CHIRG review

Hi Benedict,

I took a look at chapter 1 today and enjoyed it. Some great turns of phrase. (I particularly liked how the building "sat aptiently" and when Amrita's face "bananaed into a smile."

I also like the first-person, conversational tone of your narrator. I teach 4th graders (9-10 year olds) and they love reading books with first-person narration (like Jeff Kinney's DIARY OF A WIMPY KID BOOKS). Your story would definitely appeal to some of them--and to their slightly older brothers and sisters.

Some parts did slow me down a bit. I'm not a big fan of passive verbs and direct telling about characters. I'd rather be shown what they're like, even in first-person narrative. The section where Dennis talks about his great passion was one of these. It didn't work for me because it didn't really reveal much about him. Perhaps he could bring up his hobby (the replicas) and some how weave it into his interest in Daniela.

Another area you may want to take a look at is Amrita's dialogue about her family. I got the impression that she, Dennis, and Neal have been friends for awhile. If that's the case, wouldn't they already know where her dad is from? It felt like too much info was crammed into the dialogue, making the dialogue sound unnatural.

I hope this helps.

I'll be back for more as soon as I can.

Best wishes,

Karen
kkobylar
KINGDOM OF THE SERPENT

Michael Matula wrote 234 days ago

Very good sense of humor and excellent writing, with some great details and descriptions, and some very fun and clever use of simile, which I always enjoy. After the first two chapters, I did kind of want a bit more from the protagonist, as everyone around him seemed a little more interesting and more fleshed out to me than he did. He admits he's not interesting, but I wanted a bit more reason to pull for him to win Daniela's heart, and I wasn't quite feeling it yet. This is probably just me, though, as I'm a bit older than the demographic, and I'm sure kids his age will easily identify with him.

CHAPTER 1:
I got a tiny bit confused at the beginning, as I got it stuck in my head that he was talking about himself in the intro, and it took a while into the first chapter before I realized he'd likely been referring to his brother.

“the most interesting thing about me is my one great passion” - I wasn't sure how his interest in someone would make him interesting, especially since—with how Daniela's been described in the book as possibly the most beautiful girl in the world—I would think most boys his age would be interested in her.

“big round eyes like tiny full moons.” - it's probably fine as is, but the use of both “big” and “tiny” in the same description seemed a bit at odds with one another.

CHAPTER 2 -
This could simply be a regional or generational thing, but should “DJ4DV4EVA” be “DJ&DV4EVA”? - I wasn't sure why “4” was in it twice.

All of my issues were quite minor, and could simply be personal preference. I thought you did a great job with this so far.
High stars.

Mike
What, the Elf?

vee8 wrote 235 days ago

YARG review.

I confess that this kind of book will always appeal to me because I am still young at heart. Or, a stupid, overgrown kid, as my wife calls me. I need to grow up, I'm always being told. Why, I answer, acting half my age is more fun! Your book transported me back to a more youthful time, a simpler time, before jobs, and mortgages and maintaining a lifestyle.

Opening chapter, the end of the story, is great, a nice about turn. I feel for the MC, because I too wished I could do something to propell myself from my grinding anonimity at school, find the courage to break out and escape the attentions of the class bullies. If I could have only learned 'Stairway to Heaven' on a guitar!

But it's details I love, and being a bit of a non-conformist all my life it's details that stand out, are different to the norm that I love. The choice of the MC's friends. Not just having one of his friends as a girl, that's unusual but not that rare, but making her an Indian, or, I'm not completely sure, mixed race part Indian. That is a very nice touch. Sure, maybe it wouldn't register to many, but that's just me. And, being a non-conformist AND a soft hearted old romantic, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Dennis never achieves his dreams about Daniella, and wakes up to the little treasure right under his nose, Amrita. Yes, I hope they finally get together!

Chapter.2 Hiding in the bushes with a camera flash. Great idea, I love that, but I'm not sure why he made a hole in the wall to hide his face in. Didn't any of the teachers see him and stop it?
Shaving since primary school, that brief description filled my head with images of thugs perfectly.
I want to live inside her mouth. That genuinely made me laugh out loud! And despite being a grown-up yourself you haven't forgotten what it's like to be young!

This is a hugely enjoyable romp back through my adolesence. I will return to continue reading, if for no other reason that to see if Dennis and Amrita do get together!

Max stars and backed.

Vee8
Daughter of Chronos.

Chris Bostic wrote 235 days ago

Benedict,

A YARG review. Continuing on from where I left off a few days ago. The following are my comments:

Chapter 3:
-C3, P3, I wouldn’t mind seeing you drop “and Mondays were abolished”, but that’s obv minor.
-C3, P5, oftentimes ‘that’ is an unnecessary word. I’d remove this one “…they decided that climbing…”
-C3, P6, the present tense feel of “He is young” seemed jarring. Also, not sure that you need both “aloof and apart”
-C3, P8, the “up” in “rise up above” is unnecessary. Rise is up.
-C3, P9, I’d use a semi-colon rather than comma after “…telescopic vision”
-Farther below, during the song, this line is (perhaps intentionally) clunky: “Four minutes we had to listen for.”
-Below that, it seems like you really need some punctuation for “No of course we didn’t but that…”
-I’m thinking “came forward”, but maybe “came forwards” the way you have it is right. Not sure.
-At the very end, you use a semi-colon in dialogue. I’ve been told that stylistically the only allowable pauses in dialogue are … and commas. But I’m assuming you would know better with the Masters in Creative Writing.

Chapter 4:
-This chapter for me was more of a read for content and less on proofreading.
-I thought this chapter might be a bit clichéd. It’s pretty common to pick on gym class, but you did it in a unique fashion. It felt fresh and was pretty funny.
-BTW, what is “short tennis”? Never heard of it.
-Interesting that the other kids know about Dennis’ crush on Daniela. Of course, he does make it pretty obvious, but I like that this tidbit comes out now. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of new ground covered in this chapter.
-Similarly, a kid not like math is pretty clichéd too. But again you get through it quickly with a nice little Pythagoras joke.

So this is really reminding me of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, particularly with the brother in a band. Only it’s nice that the brother is actually talented rather than Roderick’s rather lame Loded Diper band. It’s a fun read that brings back lots of suppressed school memories.

Best Wishes,
-Chris
Game Changer

RubenFonsbo wrote 237 days ago

Hi Benedict
Reading your wonderful book brings back schoolday memories, only your book is a lot funnier than school ever was. It is truly well written, has lots of funny observations, and I love sentences like 'Her face bananaed into a smile' and 'Sometimes talking to Michael is more trouble than it's worth'. That's wonderful! I'll be back to read as much as possible of this wonderful and imaginative tale! Thanks for the great read!

I found a few typos in case you're interested:
Chapter 1, '"Sorry, Dennis," he said before, pulling his headphones ... Comma in the wrong place, I guess.
Chapter 2, paragraph 2 '... Neal shouted but ...' This bit might need a comma.
Chapter 2, '92%' - there should be a Space between 92 and %

Best regards,
Ruben

billydot wrote 238 days ago

YARG review... And CHIRG too, I think...!

Benedict,

Gaaah, this sounds just like the high school I went to! Oh dear, memories are flooding back... Which is bad for me but surely an indicator of good writing on your part! The medley of characters is great, and well-introduced. Introducing so many characters in just two chapters can be confusing, but you've somehow managed to present each one so that they stick in the mind. I particularly like the dishevelled Michael :)

The picture of classroom chaos is well drawn; I laughed at the image of kids seeing how far they can bend fingers back without them breaking, stapling ties to the desk, making substitute teachers run crying from the premises... The apathy of the children and teachers both is effectively insinuated. I especially liked the sentence: <"Good morning, children," she said somehow making the greeting sound sarcastic.> Oh, how I know that tone of voice!

I would perhaps suggest being careful with the lingo used in the dialogue. For example: "Daniela's never going to add you online, become your friend and fall in love with you." I don't think teenagers of that age are likely to put it that way. Perhaps something along the lines of "Daniela's never going to add you on Facebook, and she's definitely never going to be into you..." Or, perhaps, alternatively, "Daniela's never going to add you on Facebook or have the hots for you..."

I am not sure I know the best lingo either, and I guess these things are country-specific, but I am just throwing some thoughts out there :) These are some things I remedied in my upper-MG book, too.

It is a great start to a book. I give you many stickers (Um... I mean, stars!), and I am sure this will find it's way back onto my shelf when there is space again :)

MMaguire wrote 238 days ago

Great concept and pitch. Most importantly -- a great, entertaining read. Pitch perfect dialogue, likable characters, and funny and witty surprises. Literally the only thing I don’t like about this in what I’ve read so far is seeing those double quotation marks so close together: “I watched “A Matter of Life and Death” last night … which just looks yucky to me. Maybe italicize the title of the film instead?

Anyway, very nice work. Added to my shelf, where it will stay a decent while.

Chris Bostic wrote 239 days ago

Benedict,

Welcome back to YARG. I was wondering when you might be back; it’s been a while since the Peach thing. This one sounded more like something I would devour. So I’ve read your first two chapters and found this to be well-written, of course. The following are my comments:

Intro:
-P2, not a big deal, but I think you might over explain a bit with “he is holding”.
-P4, I don’t really get what you’re going for with “tasting their empty polystyrene cups”
-I like the closing line very much – so much that I no longer like the very first line of the intro as much now. Great introduction! Very solid stuff.

Chapter 1:
-C1, P4, when you use the slang abbreviations like ‘Ere and later ‘Am, it looks wrong to me. I don’t know that it is. I just thought they should be lowercase like ‘ere, but maybe not since they start a sentence?
-C1, P11, I’m not great with tenses, but this paragraph seemed off to me. I expected it to read “I’d spent four years…” and “…were notorious school-wide…”
-C1, P12, I get what you’re trying to do with this paragraph, but something is weird about saying “the most interesting thing about me” turns out to be his crush on Daniela Valentina. The idea that she is his “one great passion” doesn’t really make Dennis interesting – though I suppose that’s the point.
-C1, P27, the “bananaed” part was honestly a bit odd to me. I’m not sure that it’s a real word, and it even took me a second to understand that this was apparently a play on banana. Maybe it’s a UK-thing. I’ve never heard that description before.
-C1, P31, you say “Neal replied” but I thought he was the last one to speak in the line above. Didn’t he say “Yeah…hilarious”?
-At the end, I have no idea what “pashing” means, but I can guess.
-Overall, the first chapter is well-written, though I wonder if it’s a shade too long in places. There are some excellent bits of humor throughout. Most every attempt seems to work. The reader gets a really clear picture that Dennis is a bit of a nerd, Amrita is an underachieving Indian that’s surprisingly not good at math, and Neal is a bit of a hot head. It’s a unique mixture of characters. I’ve enjoyed it so far.

Chapter 2:
-C2, P1, Apparently I guess correctly on pashing.
-C2, P4, seems like you need a comma between “beautiful disheveled”
-C2, P8, not sure that “panic” is the right word. “A little” is a bit weak too. Probably intentional, but I’ve it’s best to write confidently.
-C2, P14, when I think school buildings, I think concrete block walls. As I result, I thought it strange when I read “carved out some small holes”. What kind of wall can he carve? Sheetrock (gypsum)?
-There are some repeats and I wonder if it’s all entirely useful. We hear again that Jordan is an awesome athlete, only this time it’s more sport-specific. And we hear that Sherry is rich again, but with more detail about her extravagant parties. I’m not sure if this is an excellent way of reinforcing the characterizations or if it’s too repetitive.
-I also wonder if Dennis’ love for Daniela is a little over the top by the end of the chapter. I get that it’s the whole idea, but maybe a little overkill.

As expected, it’s a really solid opening couple of chapters. Despite what might sound like a bunch of crits, they’re mostly tiny nitpicks. I’ve enjoyed it. There are some great, unique observations and solid humor. High stars from me.

If you would do me the favor of a return read, I would appreciate it.
Thanks, and Best Wishes,
-Chris
Game Changer

DLH Author wrote 240 days ago

CHIRG Review

Hi Benedict!
Here is my return read. :)
I love the introduction, but I think it sounds better without the opening line (“This would make a great ending to a story”). It sounds perfect at the end of the intro—it is powerful there—but isn’t needed at the beginning.
Technically, there are a few commas missing, too.
“He is small and the instrument…” (Insert a comma after “small.”)
“Feedback screeches and the Year Sevens…” (Insert a comma after “screeches.”)
With the next sentence, it is the same—wherever you can create two grammatically correct sentences out of one (taking out the coordinating conjunction), you should insert a comma. There are many similar instances throughout the rest of the text, but because you are an English teacher, I know you’ll know what I’m talking about (and I don’t need to point out each one). :-)
First Verse:
“…just like any other day.” (This should be “just like I did on any other day.” Any other day is not the one who waited on a daily basis—you are.)
“…an accomplished selective school which parents across the area were desperate…” (Incorrect use of “that/which”; here and elsewhere, you need to use “that” with essential clauses (without a comma preceding it) and “which” with nonessential clauses (with a comma preceding it.)
“’Am sandwich…” (Change the direction of the apostrophe to point toward the missing letter. That is the proper way to indicate omissions.)
“cooing Year Nine girls who he…” (should be “whom”)
“since we were eleven years old but, instead of…” (Misplaced comma—should precede “but” instead of following it.)
“I’ve spent four years…” (In this paragraph and the next, you suddenly switch to present tense, though you write in past tense (in First Verse, not in the intro) both before and after this point. I suggest that you maintain consistency in tense within sections.
“Sorry, Dennis,” he said before, pulling…” (Misplaced comma here; it should precede “before” rather than follow it.)
There are similar grammatical issues along those lines, but I think you may be looking for reviews more along the lines of content, so I’ll move on.
I’d consolidate two paragraphs, starting with this sentence: “With his giant guitar case strapped to his back…” They don’t really tell the reader much that we need to know at this point, and the flow would be better with just a brief comment about what surprises you about Jake.
I would also shorten the banter between you, Amrita, and Neal, especially the description of Neal. Maybe reveal things about him little by little instead of all at once.
I do think the rest of the chapter flows nicely and has a strong ending. The only thing is that if “Dinner and a movie…” is said by the girl spoken to, it should follow “Biting her lip, the girl paused again.” It shouldn’t start a new paragraph (which indicates a change in subject/speaker).
All in all, I think you have some very interesting work going on here! High stars for creativity. :)

TSW Sharman wrote 240 days ago

YARG, continued...detailed notes

Please see prior comment about all the positives – which really outweigh what may seem like negative criticism that follows. Caveat: this is all my opinion, and I may well be off the mark – wait till you see a pattern from other readers.

What I see as the big areas to tune up:
1) A consistent voice for Dennis, and a more individualistic worldview and outlook. He sometimes sounds like an older writer, sometimes like a teen.
2) Get more quickly to the point at which the band comes on stage. Also, think about the precise timing of the band and the audience response, does it have real authenticity? It’s such a critical moment. Also, see if you can live without the lyrics in Ch 3.
3) Cut some of the dialogue, especially if not clearly funny, or doesn’t move the plot along, or doesn’t really add to characterization. In Ch’s 1-3 this could be a quarter or more of the dialogue. Be harsh with yourself where it isn’t funny, and is just kinda clever. I point out some of these in my notes.
4) Make sure the dialogue rings true – sometimes it just doesn’t sound like something a teenager would say (or what a teacher would say) – there are examples in my notes.
5) Perhaps de-anglicize this a little to make it more accessible for non-UK readers might, but of course this isn’t required.

Title. I’m sure you’ll get lots of feedback here. My only thought is whether Rock ‘N’ Roll is the best term to use – it feels so old-fashioned. Also, the capitalization of the N looks odd.

SP. I like it, grabby. FYI, maths is a UK term, here in the US it’s math – what if it’s another subject? Also, you spell Rock n Roll differently (small stuff.)

Synopsis: ‘All this [is] and his’ -- not sure what’s happening there. Other than that I like it the synopsis, it doesn’t give too much away. However, I’m a bit at a loss to remember what GCSE’s are (are they the old O-Levels)? So the MC is 15-16 and the little brother is around 14? That kind of sets the age range in my mind – so your target audience is 12-17?

Intro…
Intro is very grabby, but I felt I needed to know a little more about the music. “Cries out” doesn’t seem quite right. It feels like the crowd respond too quickly – they bob too soon (one line in or before the rest of the band is revealed), they rise on the first line of the chorus.

First Verse
Not sure about the use of ‘patiently.’ Feels like an overuse.
Do kids of this age use the term ‘kids’? Similarly ‘adult.’
‘accomplished selective school’ is a mouthful of words for your MC and your target audience (if I’m correct) – what not just say it was a top school with awards etc. I might say ‘desperate parents’ falls into the same category – it undermines the tone of voice, sounds too authorial.
How would he know the teachers call them the Axis of Evil? (I know, someone overheard – still, it kinda hints at a more omniscient narrator than Dennis can be expected to be.)
The bully dialogue is good, funny.
‘With his years of bullying…supervisory role…’ – this is words, but somehow captures the kind of voice I expect to hear.
I don’t know what age Year Eleven is.
“They’re [not toys, they’re] collectible figures” strikes me as what he’d more likely say.
“Make him [get] cut.’ Not sure, may be an englishism, seemed awkward.
‘He was thirteen and my brother…’ suggest then use a dash rather than a comma. Made it harder to understand.
“Maybe she’ll respond…” I felt you lost the voice a little there. Didn’t feel like this would be volunteered – perhaps if he had said he had sent her a friend request, and then was pressured into explaining why he had acted so rashly…(would be funnier too IMHO)
“Me?” – that is very funny. In fact it’s a funny exchange. However, it throws into reflection earlier sections of dialogue like “And you can shut up, Amrita,” that clearly aren’t funny, and don’t seem to serve a dramatic purpose.
‘Pashing’ – man, I really am out of touch…I don’t know that word at all, but I can guess.

Ch2
‘…it will…’ deserves a contraction in dialogue (para 5.)
‘flashed the flashbulb’ – IMHO, I think this tricky wordiness/usage could be resolved if you can get deeper into inarticulate teenspeak: “I flashed them” “you FLASHED them?” “No, with the camera…thing…the light thing.” “The flashlight?” “No, it was a camera.”
“Good morning children,” – would a teacher use ‘children’? I see you address that later, so it is clearly sarcastic, yet you say ‘somehow making the greeting sound sarcastic.’
“Sherry is a total cow” – perhaps be careful making your MC mean and unpleasant.
‘Looks like an old stray’ is funny. Not so mean either.
“rabid animals” didn’t quite work for me.
Somehow I feels there needs to be a different inflection for “Well, Stephen, you’ve obviously…” It seems too much disclosure for a teacher, maybe it should be more abstruse.

Ch3
‘[He is] young and presentable’ gets you out of a problem with tense. Again, doesn’t quite sound like Dennis’ voice in the commentary. Every description is an opportunity for you to show Dennis’s inner character and monologue, and even raise a smile – young and presentable does neither IMHO.
Again, my comments from the intro hold about how quickly the audience responds – I think they would be holding back waiting for something to go wrong.
I’m not sure of the lyrics – is that a real song? I feel somehow you need to convey the song without lyrics (or music, obviously) and convey its genre, energy, theme etc. with strong descriptions (like, they sounded like Oasis without the cussing, like Queen without the strange teeth…)
Could you maybe give Daniella more dimension and character? If she were more than just a pretty face that would make it easier to emphasize with Dennis – a stupid hobby that he adopts (unless you use that romantic device later.)

Ch4
I’m surprised by the first paragraph – he seems to be far less shocked than I’d imagine. Wouldn’t he have a dozen questions about what had just happened?
Why would he ask if he can stay with the girls for PE – wouldn’t that be embarrassing? Perhaps he suggests inside sports against the girls. I dunno, I went to an all-boys school.
‘down to the floor’ – I think ground. And a bit later too.
It’s funny when he discovers everyone knows about his crush. You could exploit that agony more, yet you let it go with the short paragraph ‘I did not reply…’

Ch5
The ‘surge of joy’ is unexpected and unexplained. Seems too radical a change in tone. I would have thought he would be desperate for something good to redeem his day.
You use lunchtime and dinnertime in the same sentence.
The band doesn’t have a name yet?
“No obviously not either of those things…” This explanation isn’t really required – he can just say everyone knows. Daniela knows. I sent her a friend request. Jordan’s going to kill me. Right now it seems too wordy.

Ch6
First para – again, I think this might be an under-exploited opportunity for humor. Wouldn’t Jordan be showing it around etc. etc. making jokes about what’ll happen to Dennis?
So, he’s fifteen – I guessed right. That’s a good sign.
The end of this chapter (checking the friend request) seems to settle down into something that reads faster and easier.

Ch 7
See last comment on Ch6. This reads more easily, and even has a bit of drama to it (going to the gig.)
Lucy is very under-developed as a character at this point – but I see you really develop her well in the next chapter. I wonder if maybe don’t introduce her until Ch8 (not a big deal.)
Ch8
Quite a different chapter focused on Jake and Lucy. A more thoughtful family study, almost a sad tone to it. I like it, and it feels like a break from the more comedic. I’d love to see more of that funny-sad / tragicomic in the preceding chapters. I’d love to see this chapter come much earlier.

Ch9
Funnily enough, the description of Stanley Hall also feels like it belongs earlier.
“These are the end times,” is funny.
‘The Chinese shop in town.’ Is this accurate, are there such things? Aren’t knockoffs sold on the street?
Daniela’s impromptu performance took me by surprise, made me wonder about its plausibility. I would have thought it would take a little more planning. I get her motivation though, I just wonder if there’s a better way of handling it.

Ch10
‘(excuse the pun)’ feels a little forced. And twice in succession.
‘Just like that, with a question mark for no obvious reason.’ I don’t understand that.
I guess I missed that Essie and Sasha were in the band.
I like the emerging confrontation between the band and Daniela.

TSW Sharman wrote 240 days ago

YARG Review

Great concept, very appealing fresh and grabby – and likely very commercial. I backed it because I think it’s going to do well on Autho and because it ought to do well. I like the YA school experience from the boy’s perspective – so often it seems from the girl’s viewpoint. Works particularly well when you blend humor with more realistic and thoughtful moments (such as in Chapter 8.)
Detailed notes follow.

TSWS

Josephine O Brien wrote 240 days ago

Hi Benedict,
Don't ask me how I stumbled across your book because the criss-crossing paths of authonomy are labyrinthian!

Any how, your pitches are great and I started reading.....

Loved the intro but I wondered why were the teachers tasting their EMPTY polystyrene cups? Maybe 'teachers stopped sipping their polystyrene tasting coffee..'

Even after Jake humiliated Dennis by the mention of the toys, surely Dennis would register the guitar on his brother's back. Mind you, (total nit-pick) if it's an electric guitar- it wouldn't be on his back, it'd be in a case.

I loved the interaction between the friends.

Somehow deep brown eyes didn't fit with the imagery of full moons, perhaps chestnuts or something?

Even to his best friends 'I felt all gooey and happy inside..' seemed out of character for a sixteen year old boy. It would work just as well without it.

Great last line.

Chap 2: Not too sure about 'dishevelled face' can a face be dishevelled? Hair, clothes, yes but face?

Right, I'm curious as to why Trinidad seems to have given a pass to Dennis.

Love the sentence about wanting to live in her mouth!

I'm sure I had Mrs. Long as a teacher!!

Chap 3: Is this the first mention of Lucy? Maybe she could be referred to earlier? Perhaps I missed it, but I have a very clear idea in my head about Dennis and his family dynamics.

Why did he suddenly ' desperately want to check for messages'? We didn't know he was eagerly awaiting anything apart from a friends response from Daniella. Probably make sense without the' desperately'.

Liked his rant about parents and teachers, funny and true!

I wonder, with typical teenage self obsession, would Dennis have wondered how his brother's imminent humiliation was going to reflect on Dennis himself?

Just to tie it back into the intro, maybe mention the feed back.

I'm sure that after such an extraordinary event his friends first words would have been about Jake rather than bickering about the headmaster?

This is really good Benedict, I really look forward to continuing. Not sure if I've been a¡ny help, but am delighted to continue with thoughts as I go.
Cheers,
Josephine Shared Skies.








John Lovell wrote 241 days ago

CHIRG Review

Hey Benedict,

I've just finished reading all of your uploaded work which I don't think I could have done if I hadn't of enjoyed it as much as I did. As I've already let you know I don't really look out for mistakes and can honestly say I didn't see any, the content is what I look for.

The story is more than just Dennis'. All around him are unique individuals, kind of going through their own stories and changes which makes it more interesting. Dennis being the lead amongst all of this is quite the shock, at the moment he doesn't seem to be the hero in any kind of way but for that reason it makes it more real.

There's already a few antagonists, I personally like Trinidad at the moment. His actions of taking on the kind of body guard role remind me of Eric Cartman (whom I regard as the greatest villain of all time). The way he controls his gang and the terms he uses "germs" just make him even better. At this point I'm thinking perhaps he could develop into a real nasty piece of work or even the opposite and become a good guy.

Jake's personality is very fitting to the story. Especially towards the end of chapter 10. Him, Dennis, and Lucy do feel like natural siblings. The way the family are introduced into the story doesn't drag on, again the flow working well. I did kind of cringe at the entire "cool" conversation, not sure if that was your intention?

Michael is a great addition, I like his presence. Neal has been good. If I were being really picky, I'd say Amrita has been a little flat so far, not that she doesn't fit into the story because she does seem like the kind of friend Dennis would have, this also gives room for a little development.

Overall, your writing is excellent, I haven't had to go back to read anything twice to remind myself of who characters were. I think the target audience would absolutely love this as you've managed to capture the kind of personalities that fit into a school, made it entirely relevant to the generation that is there now, and you've given plenty of laughs along the way.

Well done with this so far.

John

C. A. Thomson wrote 242 days ago

CHIRG. (No review yet) I've only read ch.1
Reminds me of my Rock years!
Craig

John Lovell wrote 242 days ago

CHIRG Review.

Hey Benedict, it's good to see you've uploaded more work to the site. I've just finished reading chapters 1-3, I wasn't looking out for mistakes (probably wouldn't find any even if I was). I just wanted to see what the story was like.

So far it's very enjoyable and it instantly felt real. The introduction of the number of characters you gave in the first chapter can be risky but you've done it flawlessly. The narration is very funny, along with some the things that Neal has said. The way Dennis thinks is brilliant, I think anyone will be able to relate to him in some kind of way which makes him such an easy character to follow. Only three chapters of gone by and already we know quite a lot about him, with enough background on those around him to feel the right connection.

The fact that Daniela was the only one who didn't show a lot of enthusiasm after the band had finished playing makes the reader want to know more about her. I think we all had some kind of Mr Daniels in our school too, and Neal's reaction to Michael Jackson and Britney Spears being suggested as role models was great.

It'll be interesting to see where the story goes from here, but already we kind of want Dennis to succeed.

John

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