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Author Topic: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread  (Read 3929 times)

Offline Nora

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[DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« on: February 01, 2016, 12:53:11 PM »
Alright guys, the critique threads seem to have been dying a little these last months, but let's keep the habit alive, it's good for our writing!


So here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our 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 it's 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.
   

Quote
    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.”
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Nora

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2016, 12:54:11 PM »
For one I'd love to have critiques of my short story (Map of Hope) and will reply in kind to anyone interested.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2016, 01:25:28 PM »
@Nora
Your story had some odd points making it hard to understand.
The pacing was a bit off in that your explanations about the MC come a bit too late. I was confronted with terms such as Maas and the like without knowing what they are, so it was pretty hard to get an image. She puts the maas down and later it is implied that it is instead a title so I guess she put the person she was carrying down.
That was what I thought was the hardest about your story.
In hindsight it was a pretty nice scifi story, but only because then I knew what a maas and such were.

Also this was a really strange opener:
Quote
"Maas'Haku, are you bleeding all over me?"
Eh what kind of a question is that? Wouldn't you notice if someone was bleeding over you?  :o

The protagonist's backstory is neat, being sold into slavery and losing her hand. She's pretty well-rounded and it captures the reader's attention.

The ending bordered on being a bit too sugary, but you managed to keep it well in line. Well done there.

Offline Nora

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 01:33:41 PM »
Aha! Yes, I thought my liver was in danger with that love declaration at the end.

I can see your points Henry, and I wondered about using 'xe' instead of 'it' to talk about Haku, but I wanted it non-gendered as in "it's not human and we're not sure what it is" instead of Haku having a sort of alien third sex, as xe would have conveyed, I think.

But I did try to drop hints, as when Haku says "don't call me Maas' anymore, Haku will do fine, you're not my retainer" I really hoped it'd be clear enough, but I knew it'd be murky what with the gender also being in question.

I'll defend my opening line : if you're walking in darkness, holding someone close as you help them run away under star light, you can't necessarily see if the hot wet thing against you is sweat or blood right? That's why they stop and Noor the MC flashes a red light - this is just the bush dweller in me : red light doesn't burn your eyes, so when you shut it off you still have intact night vision.

I guess ultimately this is a story I'd pull off better written in 2 or 3k instead of 1.5... But I'm glad to see you made up your own mind, sounds like you see the MC as a girl!

But Henry, you didn't say if you wanted a review of yours!!! Do you?
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 01:37:48 PM »
Go ahead Nora, no need for drawings like big beasts month this time.
Gotta keep it Sfw.  :P

Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 02:39:31 PM »
I had a lot of trouble writing this. First short story ever, while I like to go fot the epic stuff. In the past months I put a minimum word count to write, and here I reached a maximum word count  ;D
When I start I keep the momentum and don't stop until the gas runs out. So I ended up with +3k of story and ~1,5k of notes. Didn't help I only started editing in the very last days and failed to "kill the darlings", as Stephen King says. Instead I tried to condense everything I wrote and it turned into a rushed mess and giant blocks of dialogue (missing dialogue quotes, no less).

Ended up with this girl, who despite hearing good counsel, runs away anyway and the guy who quickly opens his life to a total stranger, calls out every noble girl (while probably sleeping with their mothers) and does so in front of the whole court in the middle of an iminent war. Well, it worked a little better with 3k+ words  ::)

A critique would be pretty invaluable to me. So be merciless! Hold nothing back!  ;D

As for @Nora : I liked the story, specially the flashback. You put a bit of character, setting, culture and time frame in one go. You didn't mention genders, but I agree with Henry, Noor looked like a girl for me as well.

As for the blood thing,  They were running away, carrying equipment and with Haku on her back, so there could be a lot of sweat. Could have been a broken bottle of water, if they were carrying supplies (she mentioned medkits, I think, could be more stuff). I think they were running through vegetation. I don't remember what kind, but it could be a wet place, depending how dense it was. But I think it wasn't much, I think she mentioned the moon. They seemed to have fought another group, so it could be someone else's blood, so I guess Noor was trying to be certain of the situation.

@Unsummonable: Your vampire was pretty ruthless and vicious, and you portrayed it very well. The setting too. But I don't think the girl fell in love, naive as she was portrayed. She seemed more surprised and pleased in being seduced by a hot vampire. 

« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 02:42:53 PM by Lanko »
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 03:09:14 PM »
I would love a balance of people who read my story as an ordinary rapist and those who read it as a glittery vampire  :P

@Lanko
I haven't voted for you because while you had very decent writing, I lacked a real scene with action and description. Instead we have three or so conversations that made up a plot and while that's an ok thing to do, I felt it wasn't balanced with those other two elements. (Action and description).
If you can rewrite this with more descriptions and action in it I bet the story would lend itself well to grow into something bigger.
Hope this helps.  :)

Offline Nora

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 02:22:35 AM »
So Henry, I really liked your story, overall felt more like it was a rapist/murderer than a vampire, though I could tell it was a metaphor used in it.

Little thing that bugged me :

"The grass was wet with fresh rain" quickly followed by "When I was done, I used the grass to dry myself."

" I love you too, I’d whisper but the night wasn’t over yet." this is either weird or has bad punctuation. A dot or semi colon between whisper and but would be better.

"And you? The red stroboscope lights danced in your eyes filled with death." great image but I'd have preferred something like "The red stroboscope lights danced over/in your dead eyes" A bit more blunt, a bit easier to picture, eyes "filled with death" is odd to picture so not ideal to me as a last sentence.

Overall I think it'd have been even better if you had managed to convey some sort of fake/delusional/sick love on the part of the murderer as well. All love references come from the lady, and it's after such a brief encounter that one wonders if it's only the drugs. If it had been more obvious that the vampire/killer/rapist had his own twisted feelings about each of his preys, it'd have fit the theme a bit better.

But otherwise found it good in its descriptions. I managed to make my own scenes really well. I'm not a usual fan of second person and yet you managed it very well, though I kept identifying with the vampire, not the girl.

This :
"Your friends had left for the dance floor to shake their bodies at the arrhythmic beats. They had probably dragged you here, rather against your will. Where would you rather be than here in my sight?"

and this : " I believe you liked it but who can tell? You no more my love."

and this : "I brought you back to the dance floor, the music, the sweaty crowds. They had never noticed our absence, so high on music they were. Here we danced. There was a certain tragedy about it. These people didn’t know and neither did you, I was the only one."

were all really good, really well written. Bravo!


----


And for Lanko's story... alright. Here is why it didn't work for me.

It started poorly to me as the dialogue evolves and we slowly realise that whoever Eleonor is, she's completely made up her mind that the 19 yo boy is after Jeanne only to manipulate and abuse her, even though she only learned about the boy's existence two sentences ago.
That seemed very forced, and not what any mature parent would do. You'd want more evidence, even though the age gap is a bit critical, it doesn't necessarily ensue that the boy is a good for nothing after a girl's virginity.

Quote
“He loves you with his eyes, not his heart.”

The girl uses arguments that are very simplistic and cliched (he helps at the orphanage, he said he loved her...) but I've got to side with her there : how does the mom know? She's never even seen the boy.

Then the monologue starts and I felt like no story was evolving at all. I genuinely felt I was sitting next to someone reminiscing past love life in easy to grasp words, in order to dissect what love ought to be about, and what is the purpose of marriage. Which would maybe been fine in a bigger piece of work, but at the end of it, I'm halfway through the story with still no action, everything centered on the mother rather than the young girl, and my interest waned a bit.

One of the main advices in short stories that I believe in (I usually dislike rules) is that you should arrive in the middle of the action, fill in the reader as it unfolds and resolve it at the end. The resolve and the filling in being optional, but the arriving in the action is critical if you want to make anything happen in 1500 words.

Now this "      “Did this boy ever wrote you something?” Eleonor had a box full of love letters." felt weird. Your mother character kept merging with the kid character to me, and this sentence typically creates that ambiguity.
She has a box full of letters from whom? Her husband? New fans? And why is she taking so hard what worked for her a standard of the expression of true love?

Quote
“Just as nobody duels a prince to the death. Why he went so far? This tells a lot about this boy. Well, he is dead. If the prince doesn’t kill him, the crown will have vengeance anyway.”
   
        Jeanne paled and ran outside.

Besides some excusable English mistakes here, again it seems like a really harsh and blunt thing to say to your in-love kid that sits poorly after the long monologue she just made to try and calm her daughter.
It's be "why did he go so far"
Also "He's as good as dead" would fall better.

It's only on the next paragraph that I realised that maybe the real MC might be the mom, and not the daughter.

"Now she feared returning to her home every day and just become a gatherer of dust, living as a ghost to haunt Jeanne’s husband now and then."
The whole issue on fear of being forgotten or the fear of being a ghost for a future husband felt unrealistic to me. As someone who actively tried to forget 2/3 of my family, I can guarantee you that one doesn't forget about their parents. How could you forget your mom? Especially as a daughter. Even more as a daughter raised by her mom. I can't ever forget mine forever and I'm not sure we spent more than 6 years living together in my entire life.
Your parents are what make you. I think it'd be more realistic for her to worry about the heritage she'll leave (I mean the mental one, not physical) or the education she delivered (the fear of failing as a parent, of alienating one's child...) rather than being "forgotten", while nothing seems to hint at her family being an unhappy one (loving grand parents, daughter sits by her knee to listen to love monologue, ect).

"didn’t spoke" - "didnt speak".

Quote
Eleonor had trouble sleeping, and it was worse when she saw the letter on the table at morning, saying how Jeanne felt about Raimond and apologizing for forging a document in her name so they could go south.

       Eleonor went to the gates, but they were barred. A messenger had arrived with terrible news: the enemy kingdom attack on the east was a feint; the true one was coming from the south.

On first read I found this entire passage extremely confusing. I had problems sorting who was who.
Retrospectively now that I read along my review, I'd say it's a problem of PoV. We're following the mom's pov, but every person is always referred to by name.
It'd be easier if Jeanne was sometimes called "her daughter" or thought of as "her kid/child". The first sentence of this extract was jumbled and confusing.
The way you say she has "trouble sleeping" and then use "and" before "it was worse when" makes it completely sound like her problems sleeping got worse when she found out the letter. I think you're referring to feelings of unease that made her struggle to sleep and grew worse when she found the letter, but as it is it's not what it felt like.

The content of the letter also comes out weirdly. something like :
"it was worse when she saw the letter on the table at morning. In it Jeanne told her mother how she felt about Raimond and apologized for forging a document in her name so they could go south."
would be clearer.

Quote
       She ran to the castle and requested an audience.
     
       “It’s about the prince’s duel.”

        The guard studied her face, went inside and returned, motioning her to go in. The nobles waiting were shocked.

        Prince Julian was sitting on the throne. This explained everything. Only seventeen and looking more regal than his father. Could have any girl in the kingdom, but preferred to bed only older women.

        Eleonor felt his stare as she approached the throne and did her best to not shiver.

Now this really sat poorly with me for a few reasons. First off I'm told Raimond ran away with Jeanne, so I guess he did love her enough to abandon the idea of a duel. Or else, he dueled and survived before running away?

Then, how "it's about the prince's duel" qualifies as a pass by guards? Is this duel public knowledge? How does having to say something about it a good reason to be granted entrance, or a better reason than "My daughter was kidnapped by the prince's wanna be duelist", which would still be a potential lie (since Jeanne apparently actively eloped).

Why are the nobles shocked? It never seems explained.

Then the prince sitting on the throne explains everything? Everything what? Why the nobles are shocked? I'm still puzzled.
But the nail in the coffin is "Could have any girl in the kingdom, but preferred to bed only older women." really don't understand what this does here. Is it relevant? Does it mean he's going to hit on Eleonor? I still had no fair idea of her age, despite her having a kid.
If it's the expected foreshadowing, then its delivery is way too brutal. Especially after the ominous "this explained everything".
Something more subtle like "the young prince was said to prefer bedding older women" would feel a bit more like the story is filling you in with details, but it's still crude as it is right now.

IMO Eleonor walking in the room and feeling unconfortable under the prince gaze as the dialogue evolves, and then wondering to herself why he's eating her up with his eyes before the story telling us the prince does have a reputation for preferring older women, would be the way to go. Make the sentence justified, and not a blunt fore-explanation to everything that follows.
It would also help to make us feel like Eleonor is middle aged and conscious of her being in that range of desirable age.

"He kidnapped her and ran away south." > To me this is a complete lie. Why is she lying? Her daughter left her a note saying she was eloping, going as far as forging her signature to provide papers. Elopements are not the same as kidnapping. They were worse, back in the day, for it meant that the daughter had no great sense of virtue, and it reflected extremely badly on the entire family, which must have poor morals and bad upbringing to have such a wild daughter being so improper. That's the second plot line of Pride and Prejudice.

Quote
“What? By the gods, they may reach the city during the siege.” He stood from the throne. “I will send direct orders to look for them. When we march tomorrow, you will come with me.”

The prince seemed extremely interested in the benefits of the one single young maiden. Felt odd that he'd be so intense about it, after we learned the city might be under siege. But then he says they might "reach the city during the siege" and I'm again confused : what city? What other siege? There is no great spatial information, so it's confusing and I feel nothing towards the possible fate of the girl.


Then what finally bugged me most : the Prince's entire monologue reveals in minute details his sexual preferences and the gossips about his sex life in front of the entire court! That's when "The nobles waiting were shocked" should be!
Besides, a Prince of a kingdom justifying himself in a full court in front of a woman who did not actually accuse him of anything is out of character. For a prince, or for most adult male speaking in public, I guess?

Quote
Funny how their makeup, hairstyles and dresses are not for us men, but to compare themselves against other girls. Their battlefield and weapons are different, but it’s there.
Says he, in front of an entire court of Nobles.

Quote
This made much more sense. “Noble games are like an affair. They attempt to hide or justify it, but don’t truly care for who gets hurt in their lust for power.”
Said she, in front of an entire court of Nobles.

Quote
Raimond misunderstood things because of this
And yet we don't know at all what pushed Raimond to challenge him in a duel that did not happen! Did he think the Prince bed his mom?? Did he feel like protecting every mature woman from the Prince's wiles? Too unclear to explain anything.

Quote
Julian smiled. “Please stay for the night at the castle. I would love to see you at dinner. Father will hear your request directly.”

           “The rumors, my lord.”

This really felt lewd. He defends and justifies himself to a common woman because he thinks she acted disgusted by his first invite, and then goes on to make such an obviously interested invite - again, in front of an entire court...

What shocked me here as well is that I don't recall ever reading that Eleonor's husband is dead. On my first read I was like "whoa, where's the husband in all that?" and if we knew the husband dead, does the Prince know that she's single at all??

Quote
“We will bring your daughter back and hang Raimond, I promise.”

Again, why? We never hear the poor man defending himself. He got a girl in love, she willingly ran away with him, instead of challenging the prince, and for that he'll be hanged? That's grim dark.

Quote
“I will see you tomorrow, lady Eleonor.” He smiled, but she saw no malice and didn’t recoiled her hand. She nodded. He had half her age.
This, and what followed, didn't feel like a conclusions at all.
Eleonor doesn't seem in love - the half her age reproof felt like she was definitely setting herself a barrier anyway.
Jeanne is still running away and we don't know what'll happen of them but I'm rooting for them to get away.
I don't see what the action was. It was mostly monologues, and the one from the Prince felt terribly out of place, out of character in a setting that you seemed to have forgotten. It's as if you wrote the throne and nobles but forgot they were there.


Overall your style isn't bad, but you obviously need practice in short stories.
But don't we all in the beginning?

I'm sorry my review is harsh, but let me reassure you, I'm known for it.
It's only my opinion, and it obviously won't be the opinion of the two people who voted for you, and more who voted for others but probably didn't find so much to critic in your work. Shoot out to the people who voted for you and ask them what to give you a crit to balance mine.
I think you'll do better and better with time and practice, so keep participating!
Short and long stories definitely aren't similar formats.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2016, 08:23:09 PM »
@Nora, many thanks for the detailed critique! 
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 12:23:00 AM »
Quote from: Nora

Quote
“He loves you with his eyes, not his heart.”

The girl uses arguments that are very simplistic and cliched (he helps at the orphanage, he said he loved her...) but I've got to side with her there : how does the mom know? She's never even seen the boy.

What I attempted here was the mom assuming the worst case scenario after suddenly discovering her young daughter was secretly meeting an unknown, much older guy. But I could have worket that much better..

Quote from: Nora
She has a box full of letters from whom? Her husband? New fans? And why is she taking so hard what worked for her a standard of the expression of true love?

Thanks for pointing this out. Her husband is dead, but I had to cut the mention for word limit and didn't even thought how confusing it would be to read when I did it.

Quote from: Nora
Also "He's as good as dead" would fall better.

Thanks.

Quote from: Nora
It's only on the next paragraph that I realised that maybe the real MC might be the mom, and not the daughter.

Thanks for pointing that. Again me screwing up because of the word limit. The "original" had over 3k and it did start with the mom pretty clearly, but I had to cut it. Only now I realize that starting with the daughter was a pretty bad move. Didn't saw that. Total lack of attention.

Instead of a character feeling love herself, I tried to write the parent seeing his/her kid falling in love and attempting to counsel him/her. She wasn't trying to force her way, only trying to show what didn't and what worked for her. Make the daughter think about it, as she was, as you said, throwing cliches right and left. Well, at least that was the attempted intention  ::)

With more 1,5k in notes, you could say I had almost 5k on this. Mom-daughter, then mysterious guy, the prince, a war and the couple running away directly to it...yea, I failed to keep the scope short. Instead on focusing on just one or two of those I tried to condense everything, that's why the giant monologues. It flowed a bit better in the big version, but it was just too much stuff for 1,5k words hehe.

Quote from: Nora
The whole issue on fear of being forgotten or the fear of being a ghost for a future husband felt unrealistic to me. As someone who actively tried to forget 2/3 of my family, I can guarantee you that one doesn't forget about their parents. How could you forget your mom? Especially as a daughter. Even more as a daughter raised by her mom. I can't ever forget mine forever and I'm not sure we spent more than 6 years living together in my entire life.
Your parents are what make you. I think it'd be more realistic for her to worry about the heritage she'll leave (I mean the mental one, not physical) or the education she delivered (the fear of failing as a parent, of alienating one's child...) rather than being "forgotten", while nothing seems to hint at her family being an unhappy one (loving grand parents, daughter sits by her knee to listen to love monologue, ect).

Here what I was attempting to do here:
I saw a scene somewhere a guy was gonna marry his daughter to someone in another kingdom. The mother didn't agree, but couldn't do anything about it and she felt pretty bad at her daughter being sent to a far away country.
So I imagined that situation, but instead of a forced situation, the two people involved (at least one of them) were in love. But the mother (a widow in this case) of the daughter doesn't accept that. And the guy would get killed if he remained where he was, so they run away.
If the guy runs with the girl because of love or just to save his skin - she was the one who forged documents and got horses - was purposely left vague to make you question that. 

About the mother, her husband died tens years ago in a previous war (but I had to cut this, maybe should've kept) and she pretty much made her only mission to raise the daughter, not even marrying to avoid problems (potential heritage disputes between half-siblings later, most children don't react well to someone "replacing" a parent", etc). Again, I also cut this part.
She also was intended to have an "empty nest syndrome", that's why she overreacts about the boy and this. "Forgotten" was a wrong choice of a word and focus, I totally agree. She just didn't want her daughter to go too far away. But then again, it was a guy in the same city, so I failed on that too. Should've made someone that would need to run to another kingdom to escape the prince, not just to another city.

Also, it was the medieval times, so travels, specially between countries could take weeks or even months. The same for messages, that could not even arrive for a myriad of reasons. Add that to the mother syndrome, and you have someone overreacting and later lying to the prince just to put urgency and gravity on the case just so he would help to get her daughter back as fast as possible.  But yeah, it was poorly worked by me.

Quote from: Nora
"didn’t spoke" - "didnt speak".

Urgh. Thanks.

Quote from: Nora
Retrospectively now that I read along my review, I'd say it's a problem of PoV. We're following the mom's pov, but every person is always referred to by name.
It'd be easier if Jeanne was sometimes called "her daughter" or thought of as "her kid/child". The first sentence of this extract was jumbled and confusing.

I actually did! But I left to the last days of the contest to start editing and I had over 3k! So using the names was only 1 word against 2 of "her daughter". Everything counted! Hehe, another big failing.

Well, my power supply just died this morning and I'm using my younger brother's PC. He is back now, but I will come back tomorrow! If he gets my "love story" I would never hear the end of it  ::)
Thanks again for the critique. It was very helpful, specially about how confusing ome parts became from the original intention.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019

Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2015] Young Love - Critique Thread
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2016, 04:51:21 PM »
Quote from: Nora
Why are the nobles shocked? It never seems explained.

Sigh. Forgot to mention she was a commoner. Thanks.

Quote from: Nora
Then the prince sitting on the throne explains everything? Everything what? Why the nobles are shocked? I'm still puzzled.

I tried to be a little subtle here and failed pretty bad. When the guard studies her face and allows her in before the nobles, it was supposed to imply the guard had orders to give preference to pretty women, even over other nobles. Given the rumors about him, that would "explain everything" when she sees him.

Quote from: Nora
IMO Eleonor walking in the room and feeling unconfortable under the prince gaze as the dialogue evolves, and then wondering to herself why he's eating her up with his eyes before the story telling us the prince does have a reputation for preferring older women, would be the way to go. Make the sentence justified, and not a blunt fore-explanation to everything that follows.
It would also help to make us feel like Eleonor is middle aged and conscious of her being in that range of desirable age.

 ;D Indeed.

Quote from: Nora
"He kidnapped her and ran away south." > To me this is a complete lie. Why is she lying?


This is the only part I'm gonna try to defend. Imagine parents suddenly discovering their very young daughter is meeting a much older guy (for the age range anyway) in secret for quite some time.
Then tomorrow or even a few days she leaves a letter that they will run away, be it by bus, train or even getting your own car (like the horses). She really could have done it as her own idea or in the worst case, manipulated. Wouldn't you call the authorities assuming the worst? Maybe we wouldn't accuse anyone of kidnapping, but the possibility would be considered by the authorities anyway. If later it turns out no harm was done, you could simply remove the accusation, but better to be sure, right?   

Quote from: Nora
But then he says they might "reach the city during the siege" and I'm again confused : what city? What other siege? There is no great spatial information, so it's confusing and I feel nothing towards the possible fate of the girl.

Urgh. Thanks.

Quote from: Nora
Then what finally bugged me most : the Prince's entire monologue reveals in minute details his sexual preferences and the gossips about his sex life in front of the entire court!

Says he, in front of an entire court of Nobles.

Said she, in front of an entire court of Nobles.

Hahaha, yes, I noticed that a few days after I posted it and I was like "What the heck did I just wrote?". To make it even more comical, if the court was full of nobles, then why the heck there were nobles waiting outside? *bashes head in the keyboard*

Quote from: Nora
And yet we don't know at all what pushed Raimond to challenge him in a duel that did not happen! Did he think the Prince bed his mom?? Did he feel like protecting every mature woman from the Prince's wiles? Too unclear to explain anything.

It was supposed  to be a bit vague and let you wonder it probably was the first case, but I guess it backfired.

Quote from: Nora

This really felt lewd. He defends and justifies himself to a common woman because he thinks she acted disgusted by his first invite, and then goes on to make such an obviously interested invite - again, in front of an entire court...

Forgot the court again... *bashes head in the keyboard again*

Quote from: Nora
What shocked me here as well is that I don't recall ever reading that Eleonor's husband is dead. On my first read I was like "whoa, where's the husband in all that?" and if we knew the husband dead, does the Prince know that she's single at all??

I ended up cutting it and didn't bring it up earlier. Big mistake. And totally missed about the prince simply not caring whether she was single or not. Urgh.

Quote from: Nora
Eleonor doesn't seem in love - the half her age reproof felt like she was definitely setting herself a barrier anyway.

Urgh. Mentioned he had half her age. Then forgot to tell what the prince age was. 13 with a 26 or 30 with a 60? Sigh... *bashes head in the keyboard again*

Quote from: Nora
Jeanne is still running away and we don't know what'll happen of them but I'm rooting for them to get away.
I don't see what the action was. It was mostly monologues, and the one from the Prince felt terribly out of place, out of character in a setting that you seemed to have forgotten. It's as if you wrote the throne and nobles but forgot they were there.

Right on point. The monologues weren't in the "original", they were small talks over many days and the prince's was after they were searching/in the war with Eleonor for a week or so, but I had to condense and that ended up being the result.

Quote from: Nora
I'm sorry my review is harsh, but let me reassure you, I'm known for it.

Don't worry, I read some of them before and loved them  ;D  Thanks again.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019