Jennifer M Eaton’s doing a blog hop critique–250 words (plus the end of the last sentence)–you post, critique others from the list, and critique back anyone who gives you a critique.


This is from Changeable, which will be a YA urban fantasy with two narrators. I’m experimenting farther from my comfort zone on this one, so I may fail, but I’m enjoying the effort.


Evelyn’s POV: At the beach, Evelyn is watching two dolphins when her friend Mabel yells that they need to go. Both spot a swimmer headed to shore, and wait. The tide washes seaweed on Evelyn’s bare foot and she does a ‘get-it-off’ dance, which the swimmer makes a snarky comment about. Ev starts to leave, but when he yells ‘Run, that’s what they all do!’ after her, she scolds him for being rude. He reveals that he was one of the dolphins she watched–and one of the Changeable. When Mabel tries to apologize for her friend, he interrupts.

Anthony’s POV: Anthony and his sister Cynthia went swimming that morning, hoping to have the beach to themselves. When he spotted Evelyn watching them, he changed to human and confronted her. Evelyn tries to apologize a few times, following him when he retreats to the ocean, and finally redirects him by asking his name.

*    *     *     *

Now Mabel stared at me, her face hopeful, hands still dancing.


“I’m Evelyn. That’s Mabel.”

“Right.” I’d already heard their names. Where was she going with this?

“ So…” She trailed off, studying the water washing over her feet before finally meeting my eyes. “I was watching some dolphins and talking to my friend when a guy came out of the water and called me a wuss and a coward.”

“I did not!”

What was she talking about?

I saw Evelyn standing on the shore, faced out to sea, so she had to have seen me change! Unless she turned away at the right moment. The change from dolphin is quick. And if she had missed it… A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach warned that if I’d been wrong, I acted like a jerk.

I definitely hadn’t called Evelyn a coward. But I had interrupted Mabel, who’d gone back to huddling, head down.

“Hey.” I waited until Mabel lifted her head. “Sorry.”

Mabel flashed the most sincerely happy smile I’ve ever seen. “It’s okay.” Her lavender eyes sparkled like there’d never been tears in them.

“Just because someone’s different doesn’t make them wrong,” Evelyn said.

I stared at her.

She’d dropped her arms to her sides, and braced her feet against the shallow waves. One corner of her mouth quirked up, and the tension pulling her eyebrows together vanished. She didn’t act at all like a scared norm.

“Cindy! Come join us!”

Cindy changed, and came out of the water. She stopped beside me, swimsuit and hair dripping onto the sand.

“Siblings?” Evelyn’s gaze flicked from Cindy to me.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Good for you,” she half-smiled again.


*    *     *     *

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About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

8 responses »

  1. I like how the story is including Cindy now. Interesting reveal. Will they all be friends now and how I wonder. I’m enjoying the read.

    I keep stumbling over:
    ““I did not!” She’d stood right there, faced out to sea, and … Well, she could’ve turned away at the right moment. The change from dolphin is quick.

    I hadn’t called her a coward. But I had interrupted Mabel, who’d gone back to huddling, head down.”

    I believe I know what you’re saying–that’s Anthony talking right–I just find it’s not quite clear and I’m not sure about the ‘huddling’ (with whom? how in this sentence?)

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’ll think about a synonym for huddle. (I was using the ‘crouch’ definition.)
      Not entirely how to fix the dialogue/thoughts. Do you need an ‘I” label earlier on? Like “I saw her standing…”
      It feels like ‘tell’ to me.
      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Maybe call her by name and say ‘she had’ instead of the contraction?
    Do you suppose “She MIGHT have turned away…” is more clear in his thinking?
    I don’t want to sound I’m nitpicking. Hope this helps? I LIKE the story.

  3. M. Ziegler says:

    Good job on POV switch so far. It’s so hard to switch all the time. I was a little confused on this sentence ““I did not!” She’d stood right there, faced out to sea, and … Well, she could’ve turned away at the right moment. The change from dolphin is quick.” I think you are saying that she was facing him when he made the change and there was the possibility she missed the transition. I think the the dialogue of name calling and then the transition to him referencing his transition might be what’s hard. You could add a different tag line after “I did not.” and move the thoughts on how much she saw to a new paragraph. That or maybe you could you say something like -“I saw her facing me out in the sea,” or something that clarifies. The only question I have left is why is she taking this so casually? He addressed that he noticed this, but doesn’t really seem to question it. Great job on first eluding to him being a dolphin from the start. It has kept me reading to see if he was indeed.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Yeah, I see this section was completely unclear.
      What I meant: at first Tony ‘knows’ Ev saw him change, and then he realizes he just assumed it. You know, like when you do something embarrassing in public and fumble to explain/fix it and realize no one noticed, or cared.
      As for her reaction, I have no idea how to really explain it in the story. The original back and forth POVs showed her thoughts on why she backed down/apologized.
      He does think her acceptance is weird, but I didn’t want to over-exaggerate. It’s not as if normals are lynching changeable every day in the streets, or anything.
      Thanks for your compliment and critique! I think I have a better handle on what to change in the weak section.

  4. I’m really enjoying this story and I’m enjoying the POV changes as well. Telling a story with two voices is a great idea, and it’s brave too, but I stumble over how close together these changes are.

    So far, this is one scene, but the POV has changed several times. It means that I’m having trouble connecting to these characters.

    That aside, I’m so intrigued by the idea of these changling type characters versus ‘norms’ that I’m holding on.

    I understand Anthony’s confusion in what Evelyn’s saying, and his assumption that she saw him change matches his sensitivity over the matter. It’s very telling of his personality and what he’s experienced in the past.

    When Cindy changes and leaves the water, I found it strange that she had a swimming costume on. Does it appear as part of the change, or did she have one in the water? Or did she still have it on while in dolphin form? That may sound like a silly question, but consistency is important. 😉

    • caitlinstern says:

      Several others commented on how I can’t hop around so much–I went back and rewrote my draft so this is only change 2, the first big chunk being Ev and this bit being Tony.
      Of course, you’ve been reading all along, so you didn’t see the rewrite, but I promise I did it! 😉
      Yeah, I decided I had no need for naked/half-naked teens running around, so the changeable keep clothes that fit closely to the skin. After all, the change from a dolphin to human is a difference of several hundred pounds, so I’m already asking for suspension of disbelief.
      I’ll work in an explanation as soon as feasible and see how it goes…
      Thanks for your comments!

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