February 24, 2017, 05:22:21 PM

Author Topic: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread  (Read 445 times)

Offline Lanko

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[DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« on: February 02, 2017, 07:48:50 AM »
I'm opening the critique thread for the Dragon's month.

Anyone who wants a critique for their story posts in here.
Anyone who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

- 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.

- Critiques are great to find strengths and weaknesses in a story. What was well executed or not. What people liked and didn't. And most important, why. All great things to grow and learn.

- Specially here, where we have published authors with entire series out, authors with works in progress, authors who've just began, people who sporadically write only for fun and even those who don't write but read a lot. We are also pretty friendly, so fear not.

- Maybe you don't feel confident enough yet to give critiques to others but still want them for your story. That's fine and understandable. I still say for you to try at least, as it does help with your own writing.
Also, you can just point out the things you liked in a story. People will undoubtedly love to know what they did right.
- Do try to reciprocate if others comment on your story, as a form of courtesy.

- You can also just ask for critiques about specific things. Maybe you really liked your characters and just want to know opinions on your plot. Maybe after re-reading later you know the flaws in your plot twist or magic system and don't want/need more people telling that, but you still want to know about characterization.
All free game, we're pretty flexible.

- If you want a critique, I'd recommend asking for it within the first two weeks of the month, if not the first. That's when most people are recharging the batteries from the previous month and are mostly just mulling over ideas.
From the 15th onwards I believe people are either starting, finishing or polishing their next piece. You can still ask, but I'd recommend asking early.

A small guideline:

                   
Quote
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.”


We also have a template to help. You don't need to use it, you can critique in any form you like.

Selected Quote:
Something Awesome:
Theme Appropriateness:
Conflict and Tension:
Characterization:
Something Confusing:
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 11:20:53 AM by Lanko »
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

Offline Roelor

Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2017, 09:18:47 AM »
Would love to receive any kind of feedback on
Hunt - Roelor

Focus for me nowadays is mostly style and the story telling.
Did I have weird sentences, anything that was unclear, annoying and ofcourse, what could be improved in the story telling aspect. Especially as this was my second story in 1st POV I'm very interested in opinions.

Thanks guys <3

Willing to critique. feel very unqualified for the job, but willing to put in the effort.

Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2017, 10:50:44 AM »
So errrr.... I'm gonna kick things off by critiquing.... myself!

I was having issues with my story as I wrote it this month, and wrote some notes abt it in the discussion thread:

[copied from other thread w/ notes added]

**I feel like I didn't quite capture the voice of my main character properly.  Oil and climate change will be foreign to Berber bedouins, but they won't completely incomprehensible.  I didn't quite capture that in-between balance of distant familiarity when discussing the "car with the seashell painted on it" and other conceptions of the English.  His response to the photograph tho, that was probably right on.

**Speaking of which, the bedouins don't practice human sacrifice, though their neighbors to the south do.  It wouldn't have been a sacrifice to Azi Dahaka though (who, by the way doesn't bring rain).  If they had wanted to bring rain, they would have consulted a soma to commune with the old gods, usually close relatives of the same animist Yourba pantheon found in voodoo.  They would have most likely buried the man alive as a sacrifice to appease the god the soma identified in exchange for the alternative future they desired.  I feel like this story might piss people who know about these things off. [for those of you who actually want to try human sacrifice at home, it's important to know it's not really done this way]

**The description of the desert was lacking, sporadic and uninspired [I added a bit here and there but i think a lot more could have been done.  That said I love writing purple prose and adverbs, I'm sad when it's sparse!]

**It kind of plods along with not much of an arc

**Here's what's driving me crazy most of all: the bit at the end about the dragon coming to tear apart the village if it's called w/o offering a sacrifice-- that kinda drops in out of nowhere.  I had thought about referring to it earlier on, when he first mentions the thing with the blood and the ancient words and whatnot, but it sort of messed with the flow and seemed like an infodump.  The other option was to just cut it out altogether and have my MC tie himself to the post b/c his people need the rain that bad.  That actually might be even *more* powerful.  If I can find some time before the end of the month to write OTHER THAN WHEN IT'S 3AM B/C MY LIFE SUCKS then I might just go back and fix that. [edit: I think i fixed this one-- tied it in more closely to the water and cut out the dragon-wrath-on-the-village thing]

**The balance of description at the end.  I'd actually waffled on keeping or removing that second-to-last paragraph where I describe the dragon in greater detail, jumping straight to my MC's only dialogue. I'm not sure whether I got things right in ramping tension up or just going too far with it.

**One good thing I'll say: the descriptions of the impacts of oil pollution are taken from things I've actually seen in the Amazon-- that said the freshwater contamination is much more immediate there with the river system, where as in the desert underground plumes will move a lot more slowly.  Really the big problem for the Tuaregs in Niger is actually a uranium mine operated by France, but I digress.  There's plenty of oil in Algeria and deep in the desert with unreported impacts.

So those are my thoughts ATM, saved for critique day!

[end copied section]

I'd be especially interested in hearing from those who didn't like the story about what their feelings were
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 10:45:39 PM by Bradley Darewood »

Offline LightRunner

Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2017, 03:18:06 AM »
I'm always up for a critique of my writing.

Here's one for "Hunt" @Roelor

Spoiler for Hiden:

Selected Quote:  “I enjoyed that satisfying, rustling sound of membrane slowly peeling from one another as my wings unfolded.” I can hear the wings opening, and it’s a slightly alien, yet familiar sound.

Something Awesome: I liked the setting and the way the airplanes were described. I haven’t seen dragons and planes often.

Theme Appropriateness: Very high.

Conflict and Tension: I think it should have been higher than it was. More sentence structure variety and shorter paragraphs may have helped. There were a lot of “I did this, then I did that” sequences that caused the writing to fall into a rhythm that dulled the tension.

Some of it also comes from the “Show, don’t tell” adage. For example, “I could feel the projectiles trail of fire warm my scales as the barely hissed by,” could be replaced with, “The projectiles’ trails of fire warmed my scales as they hissed by” or "A screeching hiss crescendoed, and a tingling warmth spread along my side." (That's a little weird, but I hope it conveys the idea - it's definitely something I'm working on myself)

Characterization: I sort of lost the character in the action. There was a mix of arrogance, frustration, and pride at the beginning that got lost by the end.

Something Confusing: N/A

Offline Roelor

Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 08:30:02 AM »
Thanks @LightRunner

I found it hard to keep the story within 1500 words and think I might have butchered a bit too much trying to get the words to fit. I'll definitely make sure to keep this in mind <3

Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 11:14:19 AM »
wow, I think this is the quietest I've ever seen the critique thread!

Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 09:35:03 PM »
For @Bradley Darewood

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote:
Quote
Rain, and the lives it would save, demanded a trade. Tasfin wrapped the rope around his own waist, lashing himself to the stake.

"Allahu akbar," he whispered, and wondered if God would forgive him.

This little twist at the end was damn good.

Something Awesome: I liked the writing and didn’t feel it was purple (As you describe it later), simply pretty well written. How Tasfin viewed the situations was pretty well done too. He passed through a lot that he becomes insensible to Brian’s pleads.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High. Not sure if we should have this topic this month… also, desert dragon was different.

Conflict and Tension: High. Tasfin lost a lot and it scarred him, and now is gonna kill someone for (presumably) the greater good. He’s still gonna kill, no matter how he rationalizes it. Then the twist at the end. 

Characterization: Good. I felt Tasfin was really well done. How his losses affected him is shown very well when he throws away the photo. How he hardened enough to go to the dragon. If Brian got a little more to him it would have jumped another notch.

Something Confusing: Since Brian died mere seconds before the arrival of the dragon and thus his flesh was not rotten or something like that, I wondered if the dragon would’ve cared. Flesh was still warm, specially in the desert. Or if it was sentient enough to know. But of course, Tasfin would be a lot more superstitious regarding that and the victim would really need to be alive to the last second. Superstition + panic probably overwhelmed him to go for that.
And we wouldn’t have that great ending.

Addendum: As for your specific worries:

Quote
**I feel like I didn't quite capture the voice of my main character properly.  Oil and climate change will be foreign to Berber bedouins, but they won't completely incomprehensible.

I thought it was pretty good. Oil could be foreign (and it really looked like) but he just attributed it to be the cause of the problems in his land. For climate change he just sees and feels the desert growing more and more. Thought it was pretty appropriate without getting too technical or out of culture. And the photo was indeed good.

Quote
**Speaking of which, the bedouins don't practice human sacrifice, though their neighbors to the south do.  It wouldn't have been a sacrifice to Azi Dahaka though (who, by the way doesn't bring rain).  If they had wanted to bring rain, they would have consulted a soma to commune with the old gods, usually close relatives of the same animist Yourba pantheon found in voodoo.  They would have most likely buried the man alive as a sacrifice to appease the god the soma identified in exchange for the alternative future they desired.  I feel like this story might piss people who know about these things off. [for those of you who actually want to try human sacrifice at home, it's important to know it's not really done this way]

I think it’s good to know how things really happen or are done but essentially in fiction everything is adapted/modified a little no matter how realistic they claim to be, even something like Game of Thrones or historical fiction.

Quote
**The description of the desert was lacking, sporadic and uninspired [I added a bit here and there but i think a lot more could have been done.  That said I love writing purple prose and adverbs, I'm sad when it's sparse!]

I thought it was a good decision. Tasfin carrying Brian across the desert and Brian trying to plead with him (giving his name to try to stir up some emotion, his family photo, etc) and the offering to a desert dragon was really tightly focused.
I think it would have diluted the character and plot effect if you spent too much time on scenario description.

Quote
**The balance of description at the end.  I'd actually waffled on keeping or removing that second-to-last paragraph where I describe the dragon in greater detail, jumping straight to my MC's only dialogue. I'm not sure whether I got things right in ramping tension up or just going too far with it.

I think it added, specially when you say that one of its heads appeared, indicating he had more than one and wasn’t the average looking dragon.
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

Offline Lanko

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Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 12:04:53 AM »
Better late than never, so here it is!

For @LightRunner :

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote: 

Quote
“She truly is a witch! She called a dragon and escaped burning! She should be dead!” Peter. And behind him, Noah. Her plan depended on the villagers’ awe and acceptance of her talents. Escaping burning could be explained with herbs, just like her medicines. Summoning a dragon could not.

More for the reveal that the whole thing was indeed misguided vengeance.

Something Awesome: I liked the setting and Hannah’s cool headed approach to being sentenced to burn at the stake.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High. Dragons in her house, dragons to the rescue.

Conflict and Tension: Medium. Hannah’s situation is pretty dire. I think if the little dragons were discovered in her house, were used in the charges and also all the things she imagined people doing to them happened or almost happened would give more tension for her to escape and for us - animal violence and all that.

Characterization: Good. Hannah is very sympathetic and resourceful.

Something Confusing: Maybe could’ve explained how she come across the dragons or why the big one allowed her to keep them for so long.

For @Roelor :

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote

Quote
I enjoyed that satisfying, rustling sound of membrane slowly peeling from one another as my wings unfolded. I can hear the wings opening, and it’s a slightly alien, yet familiar sound.

Something Awesome: Dragon vs jets was pretty creative and detailed.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High.

Conflict and Tension: Medium. There’s the curious situation of the dragon against three jets and the beginning that implied some kind of master plan against humankind and something that he appeared to be afraid of losing. But the last two were never mentioned again and I felt the dragon never had any challenge against the jets.

Characterization: Good. He seems bigger than life and also pretty arrogant.

Something Confusing: -

Addendum: As for feedback on the overall style and on the writing:

- I think the dragon using terms like “projectile”, “set course”, etc were a little out of place considering how he saw the jets and other stuff.

- Mostly this could’ve used a lot more editing. I had two main issues overall: all your paragraphs were very long, a lot of words being repeated unncessarily and the descriptions were sometimes a little too focused on smail details, which helped to increase the length.

Quote
Distracted by hunger, something knocked the breath out of my lungs in a deafening explosion. Something ripped and patches of skin was (were) exposed to fresh air as scales were torn from my flank (which flank). The pain (we could see that was pretty painful), the smell and taste of blood and hunger fed my rage and I roared another challenge at them. My flank flared up in pain (we were already told of pain) as I heaved myself upwards with full strokes of my wings. I pretended to flee by toppling forward in a deep curve, beating my wings in a quick, irregular pace. It worked and the birds quickly followed me on my tail. I felt something approaching rapidly from behind and spiraled downwards. A blazing projectile hissed by and I smiled as I spotted the birds close behind me. Too close. I took a deep draft of breath, closed my second eyelid and spun around, a blazing (blazing projectile, blazing flames) stream of flames from my maw (where else would it come from?). As expected, both birds turned on their sides to move away from the inferno in front of them. I was more agile (faster than a jet?) than the birds, and I spiraled along with one of the birds, relentlessly releasing jets of flames on the bird. I lashed out with my tail and hit something hard and got knocked off-course. The bird however spun around and lost height fast. I stabilized myself, then plunged after the falling bird and snapped up the two-legs that jumped out of the birds (birds were used 9 times in a single paragraph) beak.

Hope you don’t mind me rewriting this paragraph as an example for trimming things a little!

——

A deafening explosion knocked the breath out of me. Metal shards hit my left flank, ripping through scales and cutting skin and muscle. I roared and flew away from them, pretending to be more injured than I was.

They followed, braver by seeing me bleed. I dodged another flaming dart and smiled as the distance between us grew shorter and shorter. I would show them who really was prey. I took a deep breath, spun around and spewed a blazing stream of fire.

The birds turned away from the inferno. I anticipated their movement and went for the one on the right, lashing my tail at it with full force. I lost balance but knocked the bird unconscious and it fell from the sky ungraciously. Another two-legs came out of its head and I snapped him, the lyrical sound of bones crushed and delicious taste of blood and flesh sending waves of pleasure through my body.

——

With this we went from 238 words to 157, reducing almost 100 words of the original amount (almost half a page)! Also reduced the amount of words repeated and also cut the big block of text in three separate paragraphs for better fluidity.
Not saying this is the best way or how it should have been, but just a suggestion for your next entries!

Hope this was useful to you.
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

Offline Roelor

Re: [DEC 2016] Dragons - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2017, 08:27:34 AM »
Thank you Lanko!

After so many re-reads, I still missed a lot of the issues that you showed me.
Thanks a lot for the effort and will definitely go over another round of editing next time.

Thanks

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