My apologies for taking so long to get around to this! I've been rather busy the last few days with work, but I finally managed to get some time to write up the critique like I promised you! My apologies again.
I think the first bit of critique I can give comes from the first sentence: "A blanket of snow stretched out before me, representing my freedom." This is probably the most upfront way to tell the reader that this is the character's "freedom". This sentence would be much more effective without "representing my freedom". Leave it up to the reader to determine that this is what the snow represents. Overall, it would make a much smoother opening paragraph, as well: "A blanket of snow stretched out before me. The surface was just as desolate and harsh as the last time I'd stepped out into its unforgiving embrace." The part that was taken out made a harsh and jarring stop when reading it the first time. With it removed, not only does it get rid of the telling aspect of the opening, but also makes the writing flow much smoother and makes it stronger on the ears.
My critique to every writer that I critique is to always remove needless words. They're throughout every first draft (and even second and third) and can only be caught by reading multiple times. One way to really catch them well is by reading aloud: the ear is a better critic than the mind. I added that bit of advice here, just because it ties in well with the statement I had made about the opening sentence: eliminate needless words, get a better flow for your writing.
You do a really great job with your description I must add, however! Everything is beautifully painted and strong and really works with your ability to ground the reader in this world that you've created. For the most part, I feel that it's a very balanced description, as well. It's not too much or too little, but a nice, even place right in the middle. I think that's what really makes this effective.
There wasn't a lot of dialogue in this chapter, and while I usually always make it a point to comment about how vital it is for a balance between dialogue and description, I think that this piece works well just how you have it. We are so invested in the main character and deep in their mind that the extra dialogue isn't necessary (what you have is perfect). In a way, while reading, it feels as though the reader and the narrator are having a dialogue with one another: I think this is why it works so well in your opening chapter to mainly have description. Well done!
That's about all I think I can really say about this. You have a strong writing style and for the most part, it flows smoothly. Your punctuation and grammar is good and you know how to structure your sentences. The only thing I think I'll stress again is to just be aware of those unnecessary words that lurk in all drafts of manuscripts! If you run through and read your work aloud, I'm sure you'll pick up on them a lot more.
Best of luck to you! You're off to a great start!
Thank you so much for taking the time to review my piece. I really appreciate it Sorry I'm just now replying to your critique. I totally understand that real life tends to get in the way sometimes
Yes, I see what you mean about that opening sentence. I always struggle with it because I want something that grabs the readers attention.
Yes, I will definitely have to re-read it out loud in order to cut out those unnecessary words or repetitive words. I tend to repeat myself but just using different phrases.
I just wanted to ask, though, when you finished reading this chapter, did you want to read on to the next chapter? Granted, I understand sci-fi, young adult might not be your thing, but in general, did Eliana's character intrigue you enough to want to read on? And if not, is there somewhere that could be improved in order to hook you more?
Sorry for all the questions but I do plan to submit this to agents very soon, so I'd really, really appreciate your honest thoughts Thanks so much! Again, sorry for taking so long to respond
You're most welcome!
Yes, when I finished I did want to continue on, you don't have to worry about that I'd be happy to read along further when I get some time! (I was planning to, anyway!) I'll get to it as soon as I get some more time (this week I'm going to be very busy since I'm in Seattle visiting my girlfriend, but when I get home to New York, I'd be happy to!
Oh, yay!! That makes me happy to hear that I always want to know if I've managed to intrigue my readers.
Oh, and take your time. I, too, am working on revising chapter two. I should have it done soon, but still, there is no rush for you to read it.
Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on future chapters