Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Monthly Writing Contest => [APR 2020] Imprisoned => Topic started by: ScarletBea on June 03, 2020, 11:45:46 AM

Title: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on June 03, 2020, 11:45:46 AM
Here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in the writing contest - and to give critique as well.

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

If this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has its own one to avoid confusion.

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:
This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
Critiquing Other’s Work

            1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
            2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
            3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
            4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
            5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
            6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
            7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on June 03, 2020, 11:49:01 AM
Invitation to one and all for comments on “A Momentary Weakness.”  :D
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: Liselle on June 04, 2020, 03:58:42 PM
I would also welcome some feedback on Finally Snapped. :)
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: Liselle on June 04, 2020, 04:04:12 PM
I'll start by saying I gave "A Momentary Weakness" one of my two votes because I thought it was a great story. For me, @JMack did a wonderful job in striking a balance between developing the characters and pulling together a satisfying plot within the fairly tight word limit of 1500 words. I think we all know that's not always as easy to do as it seems! ;D

I don't have a whole lot to say by way of constructive feedback, I couldn't find many points to improve on to be honest, a good complaint. :) If I was being picky about the details I would mention a couple of phrases like this one:

"He laughed and said what food, and left me to my own devices."

This sentence caused me to stumble a bit in reading and took me out of the story as I needed to spend more brain power on figuring out what it meant. I think I would have preferred to see it as a piece of dialogue. I was also confused by this one:

"I saw the hit in a twist to his lips."

But again, these are just small editing issues.

One point that I might make about the jail break idea was that I found it a bit too familiar as a solution, like Gurdig pulling the grate out of the wall reminded me of an old western movie where dynamite might be used to blow a hole in the bricks. (But other people might enjoy this reference so maybe it comes down to personal taste.) I was pleasantly surprised though by the idea that Priscilla and Gurdig had planned to get tossed in jail for the sake of robbing something from the museum above the cell. I thought that was interesting and was curious to see what would happen if the story had gone in a different direction.

Overall though I was really satisfied with how it turned out. Well written piece, solid ending and I would enjoy reading more about these characters. :)
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on June 06, 2020, 09:21:56 PM
I would also welcome some feedback on Finally Snapped. :)

Hi, @Liselle.  Be careful what you wish for?  ;D

I have a whooole bunch of thoughts. Please disregard any that don’t work for you, and I hope you’ll take me at my word that I want you to both feel good about what you’ve written and, maybe, opportunities to improve.

What I really liked:

See the next post for opportunities.
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on June 06, 2020, 09:55:33 PM
So, @Liselle, where do I see opportunities?

Let’s start with big picture stuff. Story structure.

1. This feels like part of another story, not a complete story in itself. We don’t know who Astora hitched a ride with, how she encountered pirates, why they put her in the pit, whether they knew about the crab, what happens to the crab, or how Astora gets off the island.

1b. Even if we stick with the exit from the cave as the very last moment, and if this is a stand alone story, then I think the final line needs work: “...she climbed out the mouth of the tunnel and looked around.” One solution is tie this to an earlier passage. thinking about the lovely “stars” passage, a simple change to: “...she climbed out the mouth of the tunnel into freedom, and a sky of stars she swore she would reach again.” (If this were a SF story  ;))

2. I think we need more conflict. One way to do it, would be to bring the pirates “on stage”. Let them jeer, laugh, trade insults, threaten, and anticipate the fun of Astora’s death - panicked drowning or gruesome butchery. Another trick is to use try-fail. Astora could try something, fail. Try again, fail worse; in fact, make her situation worse. Finally, try again, and succeed.

3. Astora, as our main character, is the one whose actions should matter. I think you’re almost there with her trying to get the crab to snip her bonds. But, really, the crab, for no obvious reason, is the initiator of the action, and Astora is the responder. I’d encourage you to think about how to do this, and still retain the twist that the crab will help, not hurt: perhaps Astora has an insight that the crab is more nervous than she, maybe it eats metal and Astora is inspired to suggest the chains snipping.

4. Getting a little more detailed, you’ve done a good job putting a deadline on the action - the oncoming tide. Since I’m suggesting putting some More framing onto the story (why she’s traveling; why she was imprisoned; how she’s hoping to continue her travels if she gets out), there could be more intensity to the deadline. Just by way of example, not suggestion, a rising tide could open a way for the ship she was on to escape the rock-encircled harbor of the island. Not only does a\the tide threaten her with drowning, it also takes away her one way forward. She’ll be utterly stuck, marooned. How about them apples?

5. Having the crab disappear into its hole and from the climax of the story feels... off. It’s such an important player. Short of the too-obvious “crab leads Astora to the exit”, what else could happen that involves the crab and leave Astora as the key mover in the tale?

Also, finally:
6. The exit from the hole feels long compared to the rest of the tale. Is this the climax, or is the crab freeing her the climax? Obviously, we need both events.

See the next post (maybe a little later) for annoying word-smithing suggestions, as though I’m a pro editor or whatnot.
Title: Re: [APR 2020] - Imprisoned - Critique Thread
Post by: Liselle on June 09, 2020, 01:04:16 PM
Thanks a million @JMack for such a detailed response! I agree with a lot of what you said -- it did feel like part of a bigger story while I was writing it and I think I was aware on some level that the story structure wasn't getting the attention it needed. I was having too much fun with the characters and descriptions. ;D Your feedback was really helpful in pointing out the areas that needed a bit more thought. (Sometimes when I'm writing I'll feel that something isn't quite right but I'm too close to the story to recognise what's causing the problem. It's why I find critique so helpful, I'm sure I'm not the only one.) But yes, some great tips here for knowing what to focus on next time around.