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Author Topic: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread  (Read 13274 times)

Offline Nora

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[Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« on: March 02, 2017, 09:20:54 PM »
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:
"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 Alex Hormann

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2017, 11:49:57 PM »
I'm looking for critiques on Dead Mens' Diets, particularly on plot structure since I tend to have difficulty with resolutions.


Offline Lanko

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2017, 02:06:45 AM »
I will toss Crossroads up for a critique as well.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2017, 06:33:13 AM »
I will toss Crossroads up for a critique as well.

 Critique as requested. I voted for this story for several reasons.
Spoiler for Hiden:

I liked the fourth wall play, the value judgments, and the immediacy of the present tense. You achieve some good setting and description via direct narration thru the 4th wall, and I thought that was interesting and effective.
Overall, as usual, the story functioned well and brought me where you wanted me to be. Most of my suggestions are down-in-the-weeds issues.

"I believe someone living on the road constantly restart their lives with one finality: freedom. Freedom in various forms that was somehow lost or subtracted at some point, whether they know it or not. They want to prove to themselves that they really changed, recovered, or to simply leave something behind. To never look back, and if they do, it’s to say ‘never again’."
- I loved this direct value judgment. It was deep but not preachy, substantive but not overly complex. Perfect in sentiment. Some issues in execution: "finality" is unclear in how it relates to freedom. I was unsure whether you meant finality to mean a cause or a purpose/objective, so I wasn't sure if you meant that people are trying to get freedom, or are restarting their lives because they never had freedom (and are now perpetually seeking it). Either sentiment (or perhaps some other) works.

This sentence was a fragment "Freedom in various forms that was somehow lost or subtracted at some point, whether they know it or not."

"They want to prove to themselves that they really changed, recovered, or to simply leave something behind. To never look back, and if they do, it’s to say ‘never again’." I would restructure this for flow:
"They either want to prove to themselves that they really changed or recovered, or to simply leave something behind and never look back. And if they do, only to say ‘never again’."

   "That’s what I must do."
- Thought this was a good transition.

   War isn’t hell, prison is. You don’t know allies from enemies. Who to trust. Here and in life the game is different. More cruel perhaps, as some who claim to be helping actually want you to sink deeper. Trusting is like gambling.
-Loved this part for its directness and strength, and its truth.

   DNA, dental identification, that’s for foreign movies. No such database here.
- This succinct bit of narration was one of several that painted a great picture and enriched the otherwise sparsely described settings. They are also consistent with this well-read character's place in the world, knowing of better things but living outside of them, so they do some part-time work as characterization. That's a lot of mileage imho.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 06:34:47 AM by The Gem Cutter »
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2017, 09:38:52 AM »
I will toss Crossroads up for a critique as well.
I know it's a crap critique, but what I can say is that I voted for you for the emotional punch, despite what I felt were some "writing problems" (though don't ask me to specify what those were, again it's a feeling ::) )
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Offline shadowkat678

Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2017, 03:45:45 PM »
If anyone can critic mine I'm going to try to look through and do some critics of my own this month for people.
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.

Offline Lanko

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2017, 04:15:29 PM »
Thanks @The Gem Cutter , glad you liked it!

I will toss Crossroads up for a critique as well.
I know it's a crap critique, but what I can say is that I voted for you for the emotional punch, despite what I felt were some "writing problems" (though don't ask me to specify what those were, again it's a feeling ::) )

Not sure if this is what the problems were for you @ScarletBea, but if I'm allowed to critique myself  ::)

Spoiler for Hiden:
While I finished this story early it clocked around 4k words around a week before the deadline. At the last day it still had 2,5k that required some frenzied cuts.

I think the beginning flowed well but from the midpoint to the end it was pretty wonky with weird scene transitions.
For example, when he goes to the studio then "kills" Carla. Originally it took longer for him to go face Marcos and left a longer impression for the protagonist as an asshole for having killing her, then surprise, it was all to trick everybody.
In the final version this all happens in like, two paragraphs...

Another problem is that the story had 5 characters: MC, Carla, Marcos, the captain at the beginning and the German. In the original it was 6 with the governor also appearing.

It was just too much for a 1500 word short story. Even for a novellete/novella I would say 3 tops with the others just making small cameos at best.

Thinking now, I should have cut Captain Fábio and the German, as much as I liked the latter description. It would have opened up like 300-500 words that I could've used to further characterization on Carla and specially Marcos, who was the villain and did pretty much nothing (yea, making my villain do nothing and just get described was such a flawed portrayal I couldn't believe I did it when reading it later...)

And the German died in two paragraphs too, probably in a bit wonky way as well, so...

But it's hard to kill such darlings in just two or three hours...

Maybe it also had too many settings: prison, beach, hill, "studio"... I think just prison and beach would've been best. It's hard to mention Rio without the favelas at the hills (specially with the MC background) but probably another case of failing to kill darlings.

Well, at least I'm not sugarcoating the issues and am well aware of all the failures!

But do tell what it was if you can, or even what emotional punch punched harder  ::)

Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2017, 05:35:32 PM »
But do tell what it was if you can, or even what emotional punch punched harder  ::)
I can't even pinpoint things, not as you did: it was just a general feeling :-\ (hopeless non-writer, sorry)
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2017, 05:58:45 PM »
Ah, now I understand, Lanko. While I liked the content of the story, its execution (spelling/grammar) was far below what you normally produce and it made me wonder why. Sometimes one must produce a gallon and then spend a lot of time and energy boiling it down to the teaspoon of what will both work well and fit, and it seems you were rushed.
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Offline JMack

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2017, 12:32:26 AM »
I'm looking for critiques on Dead Mens' Diets, particularly on plot structure since I tend to have difficulty with resolutions.

Hi, @Alex Hormann

Here are some thoughts on Dead Men's...

Transitions:
> The coroner wants an intact brain. Why? If "we can't get much out of him", then the discovery of ring breaks that thought
> I was jarred by the "Did you say he had a take-out menu?" Why would the coroner find that? Wouldn't the cop? This threw me. (Would be funny if thebtake out menu was in the stomach.)
> They're going to feel the wrath of the police. The bell tinkled.
The two don't mesh, unless the narrator is being facetious about wrath. If it's wrath, he comes in pretty politely. Even if he taser's the guy shortly.

Plot:
> it's a situation with no conflict. This was my key problem. The situation is grossly fun, but there's nothing at stake.
> Therefore it reads as a joke with a punchline rather than a story with an arc.

Putting aside word limits, here is an example of what occurs to me riffing on your premise.
>They took away his gun. He's in deep shite and about to be fired. He has to solve this or he's busted to traffic.
> He tells the department to get ready to bust this huge smuggler. Now he NEEDS this to be smuggling.
> The facts it's obviously a zombie workforce and not a smuggler is a problem. So he gets into with the manager.
> The police raid is coming any second. Now what does he do? Does he win out? Fail?

I'm not suggesting my solution is any good. But it feels like a reasonable example from your premise.

Hope this is helpful in any way.

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the concepts, and loved the exchange with the coroner about being grossed out by the innards.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 12:36:35 AM by Jmack »
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Offline JMack

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2017, 12:38:22 AM »
Yeah, I may have monthly bragging rights, but "A Sliver of the Sky" could be better. I have some ideas on that. I'd love some others.
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Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2017, 12:40:56 AM »
I'm looking for critiques on Dead Mens' Diets, particularly on plot structure since I tend to have difficulty with resolutions.

Hi, @Alex Hormann

Here are some thoughts on Dead Men's...

Transitions:
> The coroner wants an intact brain. Why? If "we can't get much out of him", then the discovery of ring breaks that thought
> I was jarred by the "Did you say he had a take-out menu?" Why would the coroner find that? Wouldn't the cop? This threw me. (Would be funny if thebtake out menu was in the stomach.)
> They're going to feel the wrath of the police. The bell tinkled.
The two don't mesh, unless the narrator is being facetious about wrath. If it's wrath, he comes in pretty politely. Even if he taser's the guy shortly.

Plot:
> it's a situation with no conflict. This was my key problem. The situation is grossly fun, but there's nothing at stake.
> Therefore it reads as a joke with a punchline rather than a story with an arc.

Putting aside word limits, here is an example of what occurs to me riffing on your premise.
>They took away his gun. He's in deep shite and about to be fired. He has to solve this or he's busted to traffic.
> He tells the department to get ready to bust this huge smuggler. Now he NEEDS this to be smuggling.
> The facts it's obviously a zombie workforce and not a smuggler is a problem. So he gets into with the manager.
> The police raid is coming any second. Now what does he do? Does he win out? Fail?

I'm not suggesting my solution is any good. But it feels like a reasonable example from your premise.

Hope this is helpful in any way.

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the concepts, and loved the exchange with the coroner about being grossed out by the innards.

Thanks @Jmack

The wrath/bell thing was the narrator being facetious.

The menu being in the stomach is so good! Wish I'd had that originally.

I like your suggestions for conflict within the department. It's definitely the conflict and conflict resolution that I have problems with. Thanks again.

Offline night_wrtr

Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2017, 01:32:57 PM »
I will toss Crossroads up for a critique as well.

Here you go!

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote:
“The peace dove took two shots in the chest long ago.”

This set the mood and made a loud and clear statement for the setting.

Something Confusing:
I think I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the what and why, at least in the first half. Who is Roberto and what is he doing. The first paragraph didn’t get me settled into the story. It wasn’t until around this sentence-
“I meet Captain Fábio at a cliff by the sea to assure everything is well. For years my powers helped kill a lot of his men. When I offered my abilities to the government he tilted.”
-that I started to understand what was going on, then I could start to enjoy the story. That didn’t give me much time as it was around halfway finished.

It was at this point I started to understand the opening paragraph also, especially here-
“Can’t. Doesn’t matter where I run, I won’t be left alone. Only one way to put everything behind and start anew. You know it. Join me.”

Is the German smiling because he and Marco know what’s up and they are about to take him out? What is a “conditional?” Is this a release from prison? Because he goes from that to visiting his shack on the hill the next day, so I was a little thrown off there.

The opening scenes flashed by. There wasn’t enough time to settle in because there is a meeting with Fabio, time in the prison, at the library, with Marcos, then he’s out and the plot thickens.

Something Awesome:
Using the invisibility and portal magic like that was kickass. Really cool moment. And the German falling was +1. The set up was complex, which is great, but in 1500 words, it didn’t allow enough meat on the bones for the story. But still, I really liked the set up regardless.

The setting was great, especially using Cristo Redentor throughout.

Theme Appropriateness:
Works perfect for UF, especially all the references and comparisons to popular characters like Mario! That was really cool and clever to do.

Conflict and Tension:
Tension started when we learn that Marcos knew that Roberto was making a deal with Fabio. After reading the ending, the conflict was good. The speed of the story reduced the tension though as I didn’t have enough time to really get invested as far as I needed to.

Characterization:
I think this goes back to my comment about the complex set up of the final moments and all the threads in play. It didn’t leave a lot of character development. Roberto was solid as the narrator and showed his motivation well. His description of his surroundings helped here, as we get an idea of what he thinks of everything.

The other characters in the story were mostly just names and titles for me(except Marcos, because we know his role in the story). Some consolidation would be good to fit the wordcount needs, which would also put more investment between the reader and the characters.

Offline gennerik

Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 03:24:47 PM »
I would love any comments/critiques of The Chase
Author of Lamentation's Peak
Part-time Dreamer / Full-time Speaker

Offline night_wrtr

Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Critic Thread
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2017, 04:58:11 PM »
If anyone can critic mine I'm going to try to look through and do some critics of my own this month for people.

@shadowkat678

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote:
“The entire scene descended into chaos within moments. A dance of the elements, brightening the room with flashes of lighting; chilling the air with ice; scorching skin with the heat of flames.”

Something Awesome:
The whole damn battle was great. I liked the pov breaks too because it opened up the story to see more than one side, but this also caused some confusion with the rest of the story. See below!

Theme Appropriateness:
It didn’t keep me in the UF feel through the story. Apart from the opening lines about Chicago and a warehouse, the setting faded away as the fight started. The references to Merlin and Arthur immediately threw me into an old typical fantasy setting and I had to remind myself it was UF.

Conflict and Tension:
I liked the fight and the duels and pov breaks was interesting, but the conflict itself was a little hollow. This goes into the Something Confusing below, but I didn’t get emotionally connected enough to really feel it.

Characterization:
The battle took a lot of words, so that left little room for deeper investment into the characters.

Something Confusing:
I wasn’t really sure who I should be rooting for. Most of the story was a battle, but outside of knowing the name Merlin, I didn’t have enough understanding of the characters to determine motivation etc.

Did Mordred only have power because his mother healed him? I felt like I was missing something when the link was gone at the last scene. I would have liked to see more development into the why's of the story.