General Question

Foolaholic's avatar

Who wants to critique my story?

Asked by Foolaholic (5789 points ) March 6th, 2009

This is a very short piece I wrote just the other day. I’m thinking of making one of a maybe 4-piece series about these two characters, and I want to know what people honestly think about it.

Tea Time

Let me know if the link is having problems.

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16 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

The link works fine. How did you do that without its location showing?

You have a real story here, with good potential. I like the premise, and your development balances nicely between revealing enough to help the reader get what’s going on and withholding enough to sustain curiosity.

The writing itself is quite good, although it is riddled with typos, misspellings, and wrong words (“starring”), making it hard to read and hard to take seriously. There are a few places where something comes absurdly out of the blue (field hockey) without contributing anything.

The ending is muddy. There is a bit of a hash of pronouns. The import of the last part of the dialogue between the POV character and “him” is not clear, and so the ending itself does not come across effectively.

Put this one away for two or three months and then read it afresh and fix it up.

wundayatta's avatar

I had the sense that it wasn’t finished. This is only as far as you’ve gotten. You have, of course, created several questions: are we in a world far in the future or a world of magic? Who is the she who shouldn’t be mentioned? Why does he have more power in this world than she does? Why is the cat talking, and what is it’s relationship to him? What is her relationship to him; how does she know him? What does he want from her.

really, this is just an introduction. I think it raises a lot of questions fairly effectively, and it does make this reader want to find out the answers. You’ve got me hypothesizing all kinds of answers to the question.

I’m not sure I’d put it down yet. You’ve barely gotten started. Do you know where this is going? If not, you better write it so you can find out. Is this recent? Or something from a while back?

Is any of this feedback worth anything to you? I mean, you’re getting it for free, so it’s probably pretty bogus.

Jeruba's avatar

Why is it bogus, @daloon? I gave as sincere a response as I would have given if my son had shown me this story. I just didn’t delve as deeply as I might have or actually mark up all the errors; I’m on company time.

(The details section says this was written just the other day.)

wundayatta's avatar

Well, maybe not you, @Jeruba, but I’m just shooting off my mouth. Honestly, I don’t know shit about stories. What I say is pretty bogus, as a result.

But the truth is, who knows what will appeal to an editor? It might be perfect, as is, to one editor, so changing it would make it worth less; and it might need changes of an entirely different sort from another editor. I’ve never been able to crack through that barrier, so I have no clue what they want. Anyway, I think bogosity is cool.

Also, I can’t say I was paying attention. I mean, I probably didn’t even read the details.

mangeons's avatar

Well, as @Jeruba stated, it was riddled with misspellings, and frankly, I skipped through a lot, because I found it quite boring. There were a couple grammar errors as well, where you could’ve used better language, but overall it was okay.

Jeruba's avatar

You know plenty about stories, @daloon. I suspect you of being a real writer, even if an unacknowledged and unpublished and maybe even nonproducing one. If I showed you one of mine, I’d take your comments very much to heart.

Knotmyday's avatar

Well, I can’t access getdropbox.com through my firewall, so my only critique will be…it was probably good…I guess…

Introverted_Leo's avatar

Well first off, I give you props for being brave enough to share this for critique with the rest of us! I don’t want to rehash the things that have already been mentioned, so I’ll try and offer some new perspective. (I write way more than I speak, so I apologize for such the long response; but I hope it’s worth your while.)

(1) This definitely feels like beginning of something larger because as a stand-alone it would not work because no gripping point has been made. Like everyone else said, there are too many questions that still need to be answered. But that’s not a bad thing. It means you’ve got a good start.

(2) Unless the names of your characters hinges on a twist or other important literary element in your story, I would just reveal your character’s names right off the bat. It can add a sense of mystery, but when it is drawn out for pages and pages for no apparent reason it will start to annoy the reader. Ask yourself why you feel it’s necessary to leave out their names and if it’s accomplishing the goal you had in mind. Perhaps it could work for a paragraph or two, maybe a little longer, if you have a good reason for doing so.

(3) Something I noticed is that you cater to the sense of sight by using a lot of imagery, which is good. The only senses you don’t really use much are the senses of smell and hearing. Perhaps you might also consider this. Like, for example, when you first talked about the rain, I felt I wanted to hear the sound of this rain and I wanted to smell it. The same for the flowers, and the tea. Even just mentioning that your characters smell and/or hear these things works. It doesn’t have to be done all the time but at least every now and then to make things feel more real to the reader.

(4) There’s a place where you say, “He’s playing with her.” And then immediately after the girl says, “It’s not very nice to play with people.” This is redundant. I think it would suffice if the girl just said it rather than repeat it. It’s okay to let the reader infer things at first, especially when you clear it up in the next sentence.

(5) One of the most important things you must have to keep the reader’s attention is use conflict. It doesn’t have to be a knock-down drag-out battle between characters, but something with tension must be happening to move the story along. Somewhere I read a suggestion of introducing a new conflict at least after every 500 words because after that point the reader will get bored. Of course, it’s only a suggested estimate, but the idea still applies. You’ve very well established that the female character does not feel comfortable around the male; now we are compelled to understand why. We also need to understand why she’s even going along on this walk with him and what their relationship is. These are the things currently driving the story; and unless the reader gets some more answers within the next 500 or so words after the point where you left off, your readers will lose total interest.

Meh, I feel like a hypocrite because I don’t do this for a living, lol. These suggestions are the best I can offer, and the vast majority of them come from what I recall in my readings about writing. May I recommend a site to you? Holly Lisle (http://hollylisle.com/fm) is a professional fiction writer, and she offers a lot of free articles and workshops to help writers improve their craft. She also sells other helpful things on her site. (I’ve probably read about everything on her site, lol. Everything free, anyways…) I think she offers really good advice, and it’s topical so you can just look up things that you feel you need some more help with.

And there are so many other sites out there that offer great, similar advice to fiction writers, like www.fictionfactor.com, writingfiction.suite101.com, writesf.com, sfwa.org, writing-world.com … I’ve visited all these sites and I think they’ve all helped me in one way or another. (Now, I’m just trying to finish my novel. o_o Less reading and more writing, right?) Yeah, reading is important in improving writing, so use these sites if they help you; but don’t get too carried away (like I did for a while <__<). The most important part about writing is actually writing. As some people might say, if you don’t write then you’re not a writer.

I hope this helps! And thanks for sharing your story, Foolaholic. ^_^

Foolaholic's avatar

@Introverted_Leo

Wow, thank you! Thanks to everyone here for the feedback. Like I said, I think this is only one piece of something larger, and I’ve already started working on another piece. But thanks for being honest with me, because this stuff is great!

@Jeruba

I use dropbox to post my own stuff. That’s why you can’t see the location.

Introverted_Leo's avatar

That a cool tool! I just downloaded, lol. Thanks for sharing the link!

Ria777's avatar

I read it and edited the story (simultaneously) today. some stylistic hints:

—you frequently (always?) use it’s in place of its. it’s: “it’s raining frogs.” its: “every frog has its day.”
—you overuse ellipses (i.e. ”...”). I think that using it more than once in a story of this length pushes it.
—you use gerunds (words that end in -ing) a lot, sometimes where it doesn’t make sense. see “Not Simultaneous” and -ing Disease here: http://www.sfwa.org/writing/turkeycity.html
—you do sometimes overstate the obvious and hammer in what we already know a bit too much and often.
—learn when to use commas, dashes and when not to do use them.
—within overdoing it, I think you could describe a bit more. when the couple come across another man and woman, what do the other man and woman look like? what do the pixies look like?

good things: you have a natural knack for storytelling.

you showed us with a weird funny kind of world I had not encountered before and at the same time I never felt confused.

I have not used Dropbox myself but maybe I will put up my edited version for you to read.

Ria777's avatar

BTW, I second the suggestion about Holly Lisle. I DL’ed her book on created three dimensional characters and found it a good starting point for thinking of what kind of questions to ask.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

(Speaking on behalf of Ragingloli) There weren’t any mention of nanites.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Just to add another site to @Introverted_Leo‘s list, try writersintouch.com . You can get some great peer review there. Also, I definitely endorse sfwa.org and writing-world.com . I’ve spent some time on both and found both of them to be very helpful as well.
-Dan

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