Specific Prompt - 511 words
"Where in the world did you get all this weird stuff?" Teresa stood at the threshold of the doorway into the small guest bedroom. She looked around the space, taking in all the equipment strewn about on the floor that made the whole room feel claustrophobic. "I get the tripods and the cameras, by all means. The candles, that bag of salt, and the book over there on the desk." She paused for a moment, leaning forward, and squinting her eyes. "Is that a ziploc freezer bag filled with blood?"
John gave a long sigh while placing the last of the black candles down on the floor. "I got most of it from that weird occult store on Maybury Drive." He took a few steps back and surveyed the circle he had made. He nudged a nearby candle with his foot. The whole thing had to be perfectly symmetrical if he wanted this ritual to work. "Are you just going to stand there, or will you help out some? Oh, and yes, that's sheep's blood."
"Creepy." Teresa walked into the middle of the room heedless of the candles, the tripods, or any of the camera cords strewn about the place. Every step she took made John wince. With a single stride she might destroy the sanctity of his work. "So, like, you're really going to go through with all this. Do the ritual, I mean. Film it. Then actually submit that as your final assignment?" She stopped in the middle of the room and spun around slowly, smiling as she twirled at the center of the ritual circle.
"Yes, yes." John reached the nearby desk and picked up the old book. The cover of the thing was slightly burnt. He flipped through some pages, each of them seeming brittle, old, and heavily foxed by age. He pushed his thick glasses higher on his nose. He reached the page he wanted and began to walk back to the circle.
"Alright Gandalf, what do you need me to do?" Teresa gave a chuckle and ceased her spinning. A single errant strand of blonde hair fell over her eyes which she quickly tucked back behind an ear. "Just don't expect to use me as a virgin sacrifice. The varisty soccer team beat you to it." She leaned in toward John, whose nose was still in his book, and grinned broadly.
John lifted his eyes but kept his head downcast into the book. He gave a snort of disapproval. "That bag of de-icing salt over there in the corner. Use the dagger beside it to cut it open and sprinkle it about an inch outside of the candle circle." He flipped a page forward and then backward in his fingers. "The salt line has to be thick. No breaks."
"What?" Teresa moved to the other side of the room, skipping over a few candles, and picking up the heavy bag of salt into both of her arms. "So, a single screw up and this Choronzon dude is going to flay us with his demonic powers?"
First of all, let me say that I've never heard of "foxed" in this context before, so thank you for expanding my vocabulary.
In terms of your scene... It feels kind of like a half scene or maybe a quarter scene to me. You set it up in a way that feels like it would need a couple of thousand words to come to a satisfying conclusion. Try to make sure that your set-up matches the size of the written piece to give the reader the feeling that it is complete in and of itself.
I think you did Teresa's "good-natured" fairly well. She's a casual kind of good-natured, easygoing more than obviously kind.
I didn't get as much of a sense of John's "disciplined". Admirable job with resisting Teresa's flirtation, but I would have liked a bit more description of the way he moved and expressed emotions that also pointed to a disciplined nature. Also, having equipment "strewn" about seems more like a messy, disorganized person.
I tweaked my essay, and ended up with 502. I may have made some detrimental modifications, and was wondering If I could overshoot or undershoot. What range would you consider acceptable.
I'm posting the actual submission in my 'desk'.
“Where should I place the next stick?” John asked as he hovered the stick in the few possible places.
“Maybe there,” she pointed,” I can’t believe that Adam was actually bullying Dave this whole time! If I was judging his punishment, he would be in Juvie!”
“Yeah, but remember, miss said anyone talking about him would be going with him!” John taped the last stick and started the circling of pyramid paper.
“Wow! Your fast! No wonder Miss Cambridge is always commenting on your speed! Can you help me on this corner?”
“I wonder? What kind of punishment is he going through?” John asked as he worked step by step from miss’s instructions.
“Equal to the pain poor Dave had gone through… but twice as hard!”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit over the top? Sure he deserves punishment but that bad!”
“It’s against the law” she moaned it like it was obvious.
“Wow John! Already onto the paper stage! Have another dollar!” John already had gained 274 dollars throughout the year, just another one to the collection.
“How do you get so many of those things?” Teresa had finally cached up when John had finished.
“ I’ve heard that someone was hurt by a car near your house!”
“ What was the victim’s name?” asked John, asking questions was his favourite hobby because he always learnt new things.
“Lucy Cattlework, A.K.A that girl who kept on spilling rumours about you, stole things from, blamed you for things, tried to do anything she could to annoy you!”
“Oh. Well, that’s what happens when you cause trouble, trouble lands on you!”
“But guess what, don’t go mad but, when she could talk, she said it was you who drove the car!”
“WHAT! That’s an outrage!!” fumed John. He couldn’t believe his ears.
“Your joking right? All a joke!” then she pulled that face, that face that showed only truth.
“Well, that’s for tomorrow not today and as far as I’m concerned she’s just trying to ruin my day as much as possible, I’ve finished the picture, by the way,”
“What picture? You’ve never mentioned anything about pictures?”
“Remember, Daniel and me are selling paper folds, pictures and ideas, didn’t you know?”
“Not one idea, what have you made so far?”
“Well, we’ve estimated people would want the folds and traps more than pictures so we made a lot more and raised the price to £2.50 while pictures are 50p but there are less than the traps and folds,”
“Is Daniel making some? And when are you going to sell them?”
“Daniel is obviously making some and we’re holding it three weeks after half term, we’re goin to give half of to charity and share the rest between ourselves! Then the head teacher will have to give around thirty dollars and treat us EXTRA nicely!”
“That’s pretty sweet! Can I join?”
“Sure, we’re going to need to get all the help we can get!”
“Let’s get started!!”
John sighed, with his palm firmly pressed against his face. He and his childhood friend, Teresa, were alone at the classroom.
“John, it’s not that bad, don’t act that way!” Teresa was trying to cheer him up, as she always did since they were kids.
“Tessa, we promised to complete the project over the break. But they did absolutely nothing! We had split the assignment between we four, and the only one who completed their part was me!” John threw his hands into the air, exasperated. “Really, what you did during the break that made you forget about the project?”
Teresa looked away, her finger slightly scratching the side of her face. “Well, my neighbors needed some help with their garden, and I volunteered to help them. And spent the rest of the morning with them”
“That’s not enough to prevent you from completing your part.” He glared at her.
“Well~… I also give a hand to auntie at making some cake for a meeting she was going.”
Both of them sighed.
“Okay, I see how your day was spent without doing anything. But what about your night?”
“That’s a funny story. Remember the jar my mom bought last winter?”
“The one that she put the sunflowers in?” John pinched his nose bridge, already imagining where this was going.
“Yeah, that one. So, my brother went to visit us for an afternoon tea. Mom wasn’t home, so he let my nephew play around the house. Long story short, he broke the vase, and we had to go out to buy a new one.”
“Why he didn’t go alone?”
“You know my brother. He would buy something completely different and would end with a quarrel between him and mom.”
“It was partly his fault. Maybe some shouts would make him get his act straight.”
“Aw, don’t be mean… He gets too down when he fights with mom. I didn’t want to let him hanging there.”
John sighed again.
“Okay, I’ll pretend to accept you story.”
“This still doesn’t change the fact that we are delayed. I’ll go talk to the others and try to make them do their part.” He had already left the room, before turning around and pointing accusingly at Teresa. “And you better finish your part also. I’m trusting on you. And remember that I learnt how to scream with you mother!”
He left, stomping angrily.
Teresa sat down on the teacher table, swinging her legs and chuckling to herself.
“It seems we managed to wake the demon again.”
Her cell phone gave a small beep, and she picked it up. It was another friend of her.
‘Tessa… I need your help with something.’
“No worries, I’ll help you out.” Teresa said, with a happy smile before also living the room.
John suppressed a sigh, opting instead to lean back heavily in his chair and rearrange his posture. The chair groaned ominously, a wooden wreck that the school clearly had no interest in replacing. Mentally fortifying himself, John gave Teresa his partly-divided attention.
"Look, if you don't like that idea, we have others", She was saying. "Actually, I have a whole list". Teresa paused and began distractedly pawing through her bag.. Teresa was a nice person, no really, but no amount of niceness made up for a lack of imagination or plain bad ideas...
Teresa slapped the notebook on the table. "Here. Look, I uh". Pausing, she turned the notebook around, so John could read it rightside up, and then continued. "We could set up any of these for our project. The actual goals are quite open ended. Whatever we choose, the outcomes don't even matter much, it's ...uh... supposed to instill us with responsibility." She finished the last part with the a mocking-deep voice that their professors usually used when lecturing.
John was skimming the list of ideas Teresa had come up with. Teresa apparently had honed her handwriting to ridiculous levels, every letter on the page seemed to be stolen from a perfect typeface. Why did Teresa even bother with paper? Typing on tablets, or the new mental links were so much easier. Sadly, no amount of typographical perfection compensated for the problems in every item on the page.
"Unicorns? Really?" The idea was so laughable it broke John's usual composure, and he spoke his thoughts aloud. Teresa at least had the dignity to blush.
"There was this show a while back I found in the archives. It was about magical...", she trailed off, blushing harder.
John was already shaking his head. "I can't even begin to describe the problems with that. Or rather, I can. Monocultures are problematic in general. Magic is hard, it adds a lot of complexity. A free-will based magic system, that's particularly taxing to maintain. You'd just be dooming these poor creatures to a scarcity-driven apocalypse. We aren't going to get a passing grade by engineering a magical wasteland."
Teresa leaned across the table, flipping the page over in the notebook. How many ideas had Teresa come up with? The list continued on both sides, and John experimentally flipped forward a few more pages. "Did you fill the whole notebook with ideas? How long did this take you?"
Teresa was still trying to stammer a reply, but John was reading over one of the ideas in the back of the notebook. Build a system from first principles. Model off their own rules, but strip away a lot of the complexity. Trade a simpler model that could be run for much, much longer, and let results stack over time. A directed but unknown outcome. There was a lot of prerequisites to get right, but the core implementation seemed straightforward. Teresa had penned a name in for their simulated world project. Earth.
John pointed at the item, "How about this one?"
“Teresa, what are you doing? Don’t we need to put the ground down first before we can even think about buildings or landscaping? Didn’t we agree on that?”
“Haha! Relax John. It’s all good. I am just getting a little head start on the details. After all we only have three more days to turn it in to Professor Laytom. Also, you are doing so well on the mountains and rivers and valleys and stuff. I need to do something to earn that participation grade, no?”
“Grrr… haaahhh. Teresa. We discussed this. We would both work on each aspect so that neither of us felt a burden, we both have two other separate class projects to finish for other professors. I would do the heavy lifting and material acquisition since I am taking metal and wood working technical courses this semester. You would be doing the details and the painting since you told me that you are taking the photography and painting courses.”
“But John! We have been working on this mountain for three days! And the whole thing is due in three more days! I know that you have been sneaking in here on your breaks between classes to work on it and I know that you have actually bought supplies, don’t think I don’t see the brand new clay and brick!”
“Ah! Before you interrupt! Ok, John. I know that you are going above and beyond and I know that you really want to impress the Professor. I know that. That is why I am trying to contribute however I can but until you give me something to work on I can’t really do anything. I also want a good grade but I can’t have that if I don’t do anything! So come on, give a girl a break would you, please? I can just work on the trees and bushes and the paper mache for the grass. I will do the detailed work like you said and just paint and paste, easy peasy!”
“Teresa, I know that it is taking me longer than was planned to get the base down but I think you have a misunderstanding of just how much I am doing. I have scheduled only three hours a day for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to work on this project. The rest of the week I am doing other work. Also, don’t think I don’t see you sneaking out of here to get to Professor Laytom’s class right before it starts. I know you are doing more than you think. So please, leave some for me to work on?”
“Hi Johnny!” Teresa playfully greeted. Walking in with her oversized sweater and skinny jeans, a smile on her lips.
“Hello Teresa.” John replied without looking up. His hands continuing to type.
“So.. how’s life Johnny-boy?” Teresa asked, as she pulled out a chair and set her laptop on the table.
“Oh you know the usual.” John replied, monotone.
“Is it Jennifer again?” Teresa gave an exasperated sigh as she begun typing. “You’re always working, working, working. How are you gonna get back at the dating scene if you never have fun?”
“I do have fun. I have fun in the work that I do, and the research I do with Dr. Hoffman.”
“I know, I know. You do those things, Every. Single. Day!”
“I fail to see why my personal life is so important to you. I just do what I do everyday. Without fail.” John said, turning his head towards Teresa. “And as for my love life, I don’t really want to hear this from Jennifer’s best friend.”
Teresa sighed, “Johnny, if I knew what she would do, I would have never introduced you guys. Johnny, you’re also my best friend. Plus, I haven’t talked to Jennifer in a month. I just can’t believe she would do that to you.”
“Teresa, I don’t want to get in the way of you and Jennifer’s friendship,” John said. His hands stopped typing as he frowned and let out a frustrated sigh. “Whatever it is between Jennifer and I…” John paused while starting to type again. “It’s in the past. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Johnny…” Teresa said, giving John a hard look and closing his laptop. “You can’t keep going like this.”
“Hey! I was using that!” John said as he pulled his hands off the keyboard.
“Don’t ignore me John James Edwards!” Teresa huffed, becoming annoyed at John’s aloofness and indifference.
John sighed and turned to Teresa, knowing that Teresa wouldn’t let this go. “I know, ok? But it’s what keeps me going. I don’t want some stupid relationship to ruin my education and future. And, I was like this before dating Jennifer too.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t work 14 hours a day before you dated Jennifer,” Teresa snapped back, before deflating and saying, “Look I’m sorry for introducing you to Jennifer, but you need to relax a little. We’re already done with the project… Two weeks before the deadline.” Teresa deadpanned, “We don’t need constant revision and review sessions. How about you and me, let’s go out and get some drinks? Just like the old times?”
John lifted his glasses to pinch his nose before giving a deep sigh, “You know what screw it. Let’s go!” He said getting up and pausing. “But… we finish all the revisions by next week, I want to clear my schedule for my other class projects. I don’t need this on...e”
“Johnny!” Teresa interrupted him, “I get it already. Let just go! We’ll figure this out tomorrow, tonight, we go clubbing.”
Grabbing her keys and a jacket, “I’ll drive.”
“No!” John all but screamed. “I… just can’t with your driving. Let’s just call a Uber or something. We’re gonna be drinking anyways.”
“Fine….” Teresa let out.
“The ride will be here in a minute, you got everything?”
“Yep! I’m single and ready to mingle!” Teresa laughed
John shook his head as they walked out the door.
“WHAT now Teresa?” John answered, almost snapping at her while putting his attention on her.
“Aren’t we done soon? I really want to go home soon. There is this new show on Netflix about this super cute dog, and I really want to watch it! “ Teresa answered smilingly while looking him in the eyes.
When their eyes met, John looked away “We have to finish it now. It’s due to tomorrow and we would have been done with the project already, if you hadn’t canceled our session 2 days ago… but if you really want to go home, it’s ok. I’ll finish the rest.”
“Hmm” Teresa mumbled and looked towards the door. Then she looked back to John and said with a big grin on her face
“I think I’ll stay here a bit longer then, I can’t let my partner be alone and do all the work hehe.” She jumped beside John and put her arm around him, while putting her head closer to his head while looking at the computer.
John panicked a little bit and nervously said
“J-Just do the sections i told you to do, and I’ll look at it afterwards”
“But Johnnyy this project is so boring, how are you even able to keep going at it without falling asleep.” Teresa said in a bit teasing way while having a big grin on her face
“Sleep or no sleep, Some things has to be done no matter what, homework could be an example. It’s the gateway for a better future with comfort. It might be boring sometimes, but education can’t be neglected. It’s the stairways, the foundation for the good life, sometimes it gets tiring to walk up the stairs, but you have to keep going, because that’s the only way you’ll reach the top. That’s what my mom always said.” John answered in a serious voice
Teresa looked at him a little bit, squinting her eyes a little bit, then stared at a chair besides them, then nodded while making a expression on her face like mmm not bad
“I have never thought it like that.” then stared back at him and continued “Didn’t think you were like this, you are pretty interesting JohnJohn ” she said with a big grin on her face
John sighed, he didn’t know what to say, so he ended up just gazing at her and then put his attention back on the screen. Hiding his nervousness under the keyboard. The silence were maintained for about 25 seconds, only the sound of the keyboard getting used could be heard, and the silence only broke when Teresa asked in a quiet and calm voice “ So have you been watching any good tv shows recently?”
John answered in a voice just as calm and quiet “ nah, I’m really just focusing on homework and my part time job at the moment, s-so i haven’t had much time to watch any shows.”
“I’ll recommend you some shows when we are finished with this then” Teresa said in a quiet high energetic way
“Sure” John said with a smile on his face
"Beauty, what are you doing just standing there? Come, come! I told you to wear the one Claire gave you, not this dreary thing,” her mother instructed while waving one hand at the dress her daughter was wearing. “He is waiting for you in the office, so hurry!"
"Wait! He is in the office now?"
"Yes, he's been here for…almost two hours now, I believe."
"Two hours? You mean… " Beauty squeaked out with surprised eyes.
"Yes. He has had less than three hours of sleep for your sake. You had better thank him, child. I don’t care what troubles you two have been having lately. He's always been by your side, and you know that. Ah, there is no time for this. Just go and change!" Her mother shooed her away with her hand.
Beauty went into the office. There she saw this man busy putting things in proper order. He looked up as she went in. Their eyes met, that spoke in volumes but no word came out from their mouths.
. . . . .
At this moment, a woman was rush driving her Ferrari on the busy roads of Manila.
"You didn't choose me, now I'll make you and the woman you love to suffer. I'll make you feel the pain of losing someone you loved. I'll make sure the humiliation I got will return a hundredfold to the both of you."
. . . . .
Another car was racing with time. An anxious man dressed in a white suit was driving it. The guy tapped a flat monitor in front and a blue screen lit up with numbers on it. He chose the number 3, 'Beauty' appeared, and he clicked the call button and ringing sounds reverberated in the car.
"Beauty please pick it up. Pick it up." Still, the ringing tone continued.
. . . . .
In a big office. Another man was making a call.
"Claire, did your son answer your call?"
"No, he did not. Clyde, is anything wrong? What is it? Please tell me."
"Where is he now?"Clyde avoided her questions.
"Probably he's in Beauty's restaurant. He's been helping her even before it was renovated."
"Just try to be there now. Change road if needed to get there as soon as possible. I'll try my best as well to be there soon. Don't worry. I'm just concerned that he had not rested well in these past days. Okay, dear?"
"That's all? You made me worried for nothing. He can take care of that. He's strong. See you there. Bye."
That morning when he arrived in his office he received a call from a man named John Marinelli. He called saying that Beauty was in danger and the line ended. That was the only information he got.
"Paul, find me the fastest route we can get to reach Beauty's restaurant."
Clyde left the office while Paul, his bodyguard, was clearing paths and opening doors for him.
These people were in a hurry to reach one destination, Beauty's restaurant, Beautiful Food.
"C'mon John, we've been at this for ages", drawing out the last word, Theresa made her opinion about spending yet another hour of straight research in the library known.
With a sigh, John gave his unspoken response.
"Once we finish, then we can relax. But we need to stay at this first.", He stood and picked up the pile of books next to him and went to place them back
Theresa blew away a lock of hair in exasperation. In a teasing voice, she continued, "It is almost six o' clock you know. You might miss Janice leaving school." The half second that John froze before continuing told her guess was right.
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
-"I'm sure you do. You don't need to slave away or punish us both because Mike didn't show up."
"We need to finish this."
-"I will finish this."
"But you just-"
-"I promise I will finish the parts we had agreed upon, or until the library closes." With that, Theresa stole the pile of books, put them to the side and started nudging John to the exit.
"Wait this is important, it's about our future."
-"Exactly John, your future is important. Go tell Janice all about your plans for the future."
Not actually resisting anymore John wanted to continue working but realized he was tired and had been at it for too long. He looked at his cousin who claimed to be all about his love life, but he knew she was poking at whatever she could to stop him overworking himself. Still, the thought of Janice was about the only thing that could make him less serious and feel goofier.
"Theresa, do you actually know what still needs to be done."
-"Sure I do, we made a written list yesterday, remember?"
John stopped for a moment, there was something he was forgetting. "Just continue what we were working on, and don't forget about."
-"I'll finish the list or until the library closes."
"Right err. Then I'll get to err Janice."
There was nodding seriously.
As John turned the corner, Theresa made a small excited jump. "Yes!"
She would hold to her word. The list they made yesterday after all was incomplete as they found out this morning.
"Alright, Teresa, you heard the Professor. We need to follow those guidelines specifically if we are to pass this assignment." John didn't really like group assignments since it meant trusting in someone else's reliability to finish their part of things. Usually, John ended up completing the entire assignment himself, just in case. But Theresa seemed as dedicated to the classwork as he was and he felt he could trust her. He hoped she wouldn't let him down.
"Such a serious expression, John. Not to worry, I'll take your lead on this and we'll get the best score in the whole class!" Theresa liked John well enough. They had been in class together long enough that she tended to look past his no-nonsense attitude and appreciate his leadership skills. She figured he'd make a great congressman one day.
“Yeah, you’re right. We’ve got this.” John allowed himself to smirk before schooling his face back into passivity.
“Okay, since we chose the library to research this topic, why don’t you grab some reference materials and we can begin working on a thesis.” John directed his partner since she had acknowledged he was to lead their little group.
“You’ve got it! I’ll make sure to scour the shelves.” And she left as John reviewed the notes he had been taking throughout the class. He had already filled half of a notebook. After fifteen minutes, Theresa had returned with a larger stack than John anticipated. The poor girl seemed to struggle under the weight of her tomes.
“That’s way too much! Let me help you!” John rushed over and relieved her of half a stack.
“Phew! Thanks, John. I almost collapsed under the weight of all these reference materials but I think I may have found a great direction for us to go in,” she said proudly. John didn’t seem to hear her as he sorted through everything she brought back. “John?”
“Hm? Sorry, yes. What were you referencing?” Theresa pointed out the specific volume and explained her reasoning. “Huh. You know what? That just might work. Okay. I think we can come up with a plausible thesis statement if we use that.” Together, they discussed their thesis and, upon agreeing, began outlining the rest of their papers. John would call out which volumes he wanted to use as reference and Theresa would write down each one as they went along.
“That should do it. Would you mind taking the rest back, Theresa? While you do, I’ll start on the opening statement.”
“Sure thing, John.” Theresa smiled as she watched him jump to work then carefully stacked the books back up neatly – there were far less this time – and took them back, re-shelving as she went. Theresa was right to pair up with John. She thought she might pair up with him more often, outside classes.
“Hey, you’re back!” John smiled brightly at her when Teresa returned. He was really glad to have agreed to pair up with her and wondered what she was doing Friday night.
Wrote: Just found this and wanted to try my hand. It's 503 words but I think you'll forgive me. I hope this conveys everything properly.
"Alright, Teresa, you heard the Professor. (We need to follow those guidelines specifically if we are to pass this assignment) it's telling something the characters should already know. a typical example of 'maid and butler' dialogue." John didn't really like group assignments since it meant trusting in someone else's reliability to finish their part of things. Usually, John ended up completing the entire assignment himself, just in case. But Theresa seemed as dedicated to the classwork as he was and he felt he could trust her. He hoped she wouldn't let him down.
"Such a serious expression, John. Not to worry, I'll take your lead on this and we'll get the best score in the whole class!" Theresa liked John well enough. They had been in class together long enough that she tended to look past his no-nonsense attitude and appreciate his leadership skills. She figured he'd make a great congressman one day.both of these are info-dumps and tells us about the characters. their personalities and preferences should be shown through dialogues and actions. as of now, it's telling us who they are and what they feel. not showing us.
“Yeah, you’re right. We’ve got this.” John allowed himself to smirk 'smirk' is usually the trait of arrogance. if you are going for 'disciplined' personality, then it's a wrong trait to add before schooling his face back into passivity.
“(Okay, since we chose the library to research this topic) also something they should already know. it's very awkward to read dialogue like this. there should be other more immersive ways to show where they are, why don’t you grab some reference materials and we can begin working on a thesis.” (John directed his partner since she had acknowledged he was to lead their little group) when did she acknowledge that?. when one character is talking without the intervention of another, it's better to keep the dialogue in one paragraph. otherwise, it confuses readers.
“(You’ve got it! I’ll make sure to scour the shelves) Theresa comes off as over-enthusiastic rather than good-natured.” And she left as (John reviewed the notes he had been taking throughout the class) there is an opportunity to introduce what exactly the topic of their research here. e.g. add 'sociology' just before class. He had already filled half of a notebook. After fifteen minutes, Theresa had returned with a larger stack than John anticipated. The poor girl seemed to struggle under the weight of her tomes. again, don't tell but show.
“That’s way too much! Let me help you!” John rushed over and relieved her of half a stack.
“Phew! Thanks, John. (I almost collapsed under the weight of all these reference materials) since we were already told that, this part of the dialogue comes off as repetitive but I think I may have found a great direction for us to go in,” she said proudly. John didn’t seem to hear her as he sorted through everything she brought back. “John?”
“Hm? Sorry, yes. What were you referencing?” you lost me. who's speaking to whom here? a dialogue tag would work better here. Theresa pointed out the specific volume and explained her reasoning. “Huh. You know what? That just might work. Okay. I think we can come up with a plausible thesis statement if we use that.” it reads like Theresa is the one speaking, though I have no idea why she would say that. it's very confusing. together they discussed their thesis and, upon agreeing, began outlining the rest of their papers. John would call out which volumes he wanted to use as reference and Theresa would write down each one as they went along. telling
“That should do it. Would you mind taking the rest back, Theresa? While you do, I’ll start on the opening statement.” Jhon comes off more like a commanding character
“Sure thing, John.” (Theresa smiled as she watched him jump to work then carefully stacked the books back up neatly two instances of awkward adverb use– there were far less this time – and took them back, re-shelving as she went) awkward sentencing. Theresa was right to pair up with John. She thought she might pair up with him more often, outside classes.
“Hey, you’re back!” John smiled brightly at her when Teresa returned. He was really glad to have agreed to pair up with her and wondered what she was doing Friday night. awkward relationship development inserting. it doesn't work at all. if the relationship does develop, show it through dialogues and actions.
the characters are not very consistent. John seems arrogant thinks he's better than anyone else and micromanaging at times, as stated by "Usually, John ended up completing the entire assignment himself, just in case". Theresa seems over-eager and prone to being pushed around. I don't see a reason for a person such as John to trust her other than someone convenient to order around. even that is in contradiction with his micromanaging personality. none of them come off as relatable.
as for the dialogues themselves, you always start the paragraphs with dialogues, and there are almost no dialogue tags. it's very hard to read and 'said-bookism'-ish. all in all, it's not good dialogue, and an awkward read at best.