Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Monthly Writing Contest => [MAR 2020] Undercover gods => Topic started by: ScarletBea on May 01, 2020, 03:33:25 PM

Title: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on May 01, 2020, 03:33:25 PM
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: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: ryanmcgowan on May 01, 2020, 06:17:22 PM
I’d really appreciate critique on my story “Grandad and Goldie”
Title: Re: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on May 01, 2020, 11:52:04 PM
And I for Battlefield Tour.
Title: Re: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: ryanmcgowan on May 02, 2020, 09:36:32 AM
Morning @JMack,

Thought I’d try to critique battlefield tour, though I enjoyed and voted for it. 
Any critique offered is based on personal preference though, I’m afraid my understanding of writing craft is still a work in progress.

Your first paragraph was the only one to really give me pause.  With the bards speech embedded in the main block of text it confused me.  At first read I thought the narrator was continuing to talk, and didn’t realise until Caramagh questions the singing armour that it wasn’t.  Perhaps this needs revision to better indicate someone is talking, or perhaps I need to pay more attention as I read.

The goddess snorted. “Tell me how it ends. I’m going over there to talk to the dark lord.”
I like this sentence, something about it’s phrasing and the thought of a God being surly tickles me.

It was a long, nettled walk through nettles to the rock.
This reads strangely with the repetition of nettles, maybe another adjective could be better used and give more tone to the character, or better tie to the rest of the paragraph. Maybe replacing nettled with laborious would add to the impression given by the next sentence that being constrained by her mortal shell makes everything more difficult.

Wouldn’t that shock everyone? Instead, she hauled herself along, almost losing a traitorous shoe to a sucking patch of bloodweed
Traitorous shoe is an excellent descriptive, it made me grin.

. Immortality was not the blessing mortals imagined if you left everyone that mattered behind.
I like the impression of this paragraph, and understand the point your making, but maybe it could be worded more darkly to give a stronger impression than just leaving people behind.  “Immortality was not the blessing mortals imagined.  Those she’d loved and left buried in the mud stood testament to that.” Or something along these lines.

You live
So I live….
Why “Nothing?”

Caramagh had been deaf to her father’s real meaning all along.
Again personal preference here, but maybe  “was deaf to the true meaning of her fathers words.” Would read less jarringly ?

Now she reached for power, and light blasted the battlefield like the touch of the very sun.
I think Very Sun might be a little redundant, And just “touch of the sun” delivers the same meaning.

Generally though I really enjoyed the story.  I  particularly liked the teenage surly-ness of the goddess, the embarrassment of having followers made me think of a teenagers embarrassment of her parents antics.  For me, (personal preference here again) I think you could have leaned a bit further into this and it would have added to your story’s sense of fun.

Congratulations again, another great story.
Title: Re: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on May 02, 2020, 02:20:12 PM
I’d really appreciate critique on my story “Grandad and Goldie”

Ok, I find I have quite a bit to say, and limited time to say it.   ;)

On second reading, I do find a variety of things I think could be “cleaned up” to improve the effect of the story. And as you say, Ryan, so much is personal taste.

What I liked best:
> Hope is another word for God, Kian.
> I love the absurdity of the gold fish as a god/dragon. With less of a word limit, there is a lot of room for humor on this. Does granddad bow when he comes before Goldie? Does he walk around the village with Goldie in a little sling or wagon?  Do they fish together off the pier? (she’s not a fish, so what does she care?) Does Kian imitate these actions and get teased for it?
> The voice of the child narrator is well done - almost all the time. You immediately fall in love with Kian and granddad because of it.
> The pace and emotional arc of the story. It has a nice, even place that builds in pathos and then in excitement, humor, and finally, awe.

Missed opportunity?
> Granddad makes it clear that Goldie has to die in order to be re-woven, but we never see this - or at least it’s not a beat in the narrative. She goes in the water, and pretty much *poof* she’s a healthy, roaring dragon. Not only is this a disappointment, but imagine Kian’s reaction if he puts Goldie in the water and the old fish dies, floating on her side, eye glazing over. Beat. Reaction. Despair. Hope? What hope? Beat. The water stirs. Mud swirls. What? Hope builds, excitement, fear, awe, triumph - all through Kian’s eyes and reactions. And then, Bam, there’s that *ing word limit.

Two things I think aren’t working like they should:

> Kian’s narrative voice is lovely, cute, heart-warming when it works. But there are many times I feel you put words in his mouth that are far too sophisticated.
She artfully portrays a look of exasperation
awaiting some form of unwarranted military retribution
Here’s one that starts great and then goes off (for me):
A shop keeper juggles expensive silk rolls as he barges past crowds of hurrying citizens, and soldiers march past in motley patchwork’s of old armour, hand-me-down relics from a forgotten war
I love the general bustle in the prior sentence, which becomes specific here about the silk and shopkeeper, and then shifts to soldiers - which is important. But “motley”, “hand-me-downs” and “forgotten war” sound like a fantasy narrator intruding into a 7-year-old’s mind  ;)
Sometimes this effect of the narrator trumping Kian’s voice contributes to some telling over showing.
Wallowing in my failure, I go to wash the street dust from my face and arms in Mrs Niss’ water trough only to find Goldie waiting for me.
Wallowing is just a strange word to me here and has that intrusion. Plus some showing. I think of this: “I go to wash the street dust off my face in Mrs. Miss’s water trough.  Tears leak into my eyes. How could I have failed granddad so,quickly? How — Something spits water into my face. Goldie stares up at me from the water.”

> The transition from grandad’s house to the street is missing a moment to get things set.  All that needs to be done is to flip the first paragraph here (knocked over by the solider) with the next (bustling town), and tweak the sentences to make this smooth.

Apologies, Ryan, but I’m out of time. There are other places where my writer’s brain takes wording in a different direction, but again, so much of this is one’s own particular style. If you’re interested, I can try to share some of that soon. But I won’t unless you want it. And grammar, punctuation, and proofreading, that’s never been what this “contest” is about.

I really, really enjoyed this story.
Title: Re: [MAR 2020] - Undercover gods - Critique Thread
Post by: ryanmcgowan on May 02, 2020, 03:22:24 PM
@JMack Thanks, this is great!

You definitely picked up on two parts of my story I struggled with - Transitioning from inside the house, to outside whilst maintaining action and interest, and by the time I got to writing an ending I was already well over the word count limit and trying to edit down.

I think I over edited and lost the ‘being rewoven’ details like you say.  I think this could easily have been a bigger story, and I may take the time to expand it.

Really appreciate the feedback, think I agree with everything, all good points.  I hadn’t considered narrative overwriting Kians “Voice” it’s a really good point I need to be aware and correct when this is happening.

Anything more you have to share would be appreciated if/when you have time, I’ve been really trying to work harder on the ‘craft’ aspects of my writing, so all advice/guidance is really appreciated.