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freaksgeeks's avatar

Can someone critique my (rough) story?

Asked by freaksgeeks (25points) March 9th, 2010

In short, I’m trying to become a better writer all around. I’ve been doing all kinds of writing exercises and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. A friend suggested I try something I have yet to do, which is to write a short story. Something crazy and totally out of the moment, not really giving it a lot of thought, just going for it, etc…

I did it! Then, I revised it. Now, I really think I need some hands-on critique in order to improve my skills. I’m not really a “writer” (but I want to be!), so if someone could take a look and help me out I would really appreciate it. This is probably really rough and that’s ok (for me!), the idea of the story is that if successful it would attach itself to a bigger story. Clearly this isn’t a stand-alone, but you will see that if you read it.

ps. Scribed kind of drowns out my spacing and paragraphs so sorry about that…

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16 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Find a better place to post it. That site is an abomination to any kind of writing. And this is the first time I’ve seen it.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Ack adverbs! Now that I got that out of the way, I shall move on to sentence 2…..

ZAGWRITER's avatar

god i meant adjectives. sorry. I know what I want to respond with here, but clearly my mind is cluttered this morning. I apologize and will come back after more coffee and a fall down the stairs.

absalom's avatar

I would suggest taking a look at this thread for some general advice on adverbs and adjectives. There are some useful links there.

Otherwise, some problems I notice:

1) Your opening could not be any less reminiscent of Bulwer-Lytton’s “It was a dark and stormy night” beginning, which you should read about here. A good thing, though, is that you don’t linger on the weather but get straight to the character.

2) You shift tenses (past to present).

3) You often employ stock phrases or clich├ęs. They color your writing, but not in a good way. Random examples: fiercely dark December night, flooded her mind, stalking the streets, by her lonesome, To make matters worse, dressed to kill, too much to bear, for dear life, a matter of life or death. In some cases, entire sentences are composed of these phrases. E.g., “To make matters worse, she is dressed to kill.” We’ve all heard this kind of stuff before. It’s so common that it’s become meaningless.

4) You try to use interesting words (usually adjectives or adverbs), which would be halfway okay if they made sense. I encourage you to continue to use the thesaurus, but only when you can’t find a fitting word by yourself. And if you must use one, please make sure you learn exactly what the word means so you can apply it well. Otherwise you will end up with phrases like intently stupid, sear with uneasiness, flippantly alert brain, and so on. Some of these almost make sense.

5) In a similar vein to #4, it seems you’re afraid of using the same word twice. You use the phrase dainty hand in once sentence (cf. #3 here), and then refer to that hand as an “extremity” in the next. Variety of language is necessary, and it’s good that you know that. But some words just don’t fit into where you’ve put them.

6) Similar to #4 and #5. You may want to use more discretion when choosing adjectives. It’s not enough that they sound good. Your character is drunk and has just fallen, rather clumsily, and cut her hand open. But you call her body “nimble”.

7) Skipping ahead to the ending. I like the way you build tension. For the most part it is successful, but then you undermine all that work with an ending that is incredibly cheesy and out of place. “It is too late. Much too late my friend, she is yours now!” Muahahahaha! I can almost hear the evil laughter. I can almost see the unambiguously evil presence rubbing its unambiguously evil (“dainty”?) hands together.

And then I feel trolled.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@absalom I salute you. I couldn’t even penetrate the prose, and you not only did, but you offered very cogent criticisms.

john65pennington's avatar

Read your story. double spacing would have been a great help on my 66 year old eyes. good story. overall bottomline grade is a B-. keep on trucking!

ZAGWRITER's avatar

I agree with @CyanoticWasp , that was a fantastic response @absalom .

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I still recommend finding a better site to post. It took me awhile, but I found one that I have visited in the past. Not only will your prose be treated much better (with proper spacing, paragraph and word breaks, but you can also get criticism from other writers on that site, as well.

Set up an account at, post there, and come back again.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Get a free account and submit your story to

Likeradar's avatar

I just started reading it:

When she gets dropped off with her cheeks flushed in the wind, why the heck is her tongue visible? She’s alone, so she’s not talking to anyone. Why can we “see” her tongue?

I find it distracting that you refer to her as “the young woman” and “the girl.” They are not synonyms.

I agree with everyone else about the use of adjectives.

absalom's avatar

@CyanoticWasp, @ZAGWRITER: Thank youuu.

@Likeradar: A toque is a kind of hat. I also read it as “tongue” at first, which is why I now know what the heck is a toque is.

Likeradar's avatar

@absalom Lol… I know that but totally read it as “tongue” and I was picturing this lady as part dog with her tongue hanging out. :) Whoops.

Ria777's avatar

@freaksgeeks: I have seen conventionally formatted works posted up on Scribd. you just have to find out how to do it. maybe even ask around here.

Jeruba's avatar

If you are writing from the point of view of the young woman and seeing through her eyes, she is not looking at her own violently flushed cheeks and brilliant brunette hair.

If you are writing from outside her and giving us an exterior view, how do we know her thoughts? and how visible are all those details, anyway, when it is fiercely dark?

Keeping your focus clear will help somewhat with the problems of diction and excessive use of modifiers.

Coloma's avatar

I like violent brunette hair! hahahahahaha

Fiercely flushed cheeks maybe?

I happen to LOVE the Bulwar Lytton-any….‘course humor is my cup ‘o tea…..bah to any sort of seriousness. lolol

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