December 10, 2019, 07:32:14 PM

Author Topic: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread  (Read 5025 times)

Offline xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Ringbearer
  • *
  • Posts: 6002
  • Total likes: 2626
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
[May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« on: July 02, 2014, 10:11:04 PM »
After some of you expressed the wish for a possibility to get critiques for their stories entered in our writing contests - and to give critique as well - I thought about an easy way to make this possible.

The thing is, I have no idea how the reception will be. If everybody wants and gives critique, this thread will be pure chaos soon, while 2-3 critiques for as many stories shouldn't be a problem.

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.”

Alright, let's do this! :)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Carter

  • Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Night Angel
  • *
  • Posts: 164
  • Total likes: 60
    • View Profile
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 03:33:28 PM »
I'll go down the rabbit hole first.  If anyone feels like giving my story a critique I'll be happy to receive comments.  I'll also return the favour if anyone wants (although I don't know how good/kind I'll be at it since I know how hard I can sometimes be on my own stuff - there are aspects to the story that I wish I had changed and am haranguing myself for as it is).  I'm considering returning to the settings and perhaps the concept for this if not the character himself so any comments on these would be welcome as well as general thoughts on my handling of the form and overall writing style.

Feel free to either post things up here or send a pm, I'm easy that way.

Thanks.

Offline LisaElle

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2014, 11:43:52 AM »
I'll give this one a go Carter. I remember enjoying the interpretation of the theme, using death as a portal to other places. I'm assuming the disappearance of Dylan's tattoos was like a count down of all the places that he had to die before his final death? I think that idea was the best part of the story and I'd love to have learned more about it... Like that's what I noticed most when I finished reading it. I'm not sure that total mystery is a helpful thing in this case. I felt like I needed more insight on what was happening to appreciate what the story was saying about life and death. Since Dylan's a cold blooded killer and not easy to relate to, I found the story concept more appealing than the character. Maybe the conversation between the two hunters could have been more revealing in this way? Giving us a better idea of what was going on.

Otherwise I really like your writing, I would just suggest it could be tightened up a bit? Like saying he needed to escape twice in the same sentence:

Quote
They ignored him as he shouted and struggled, desperate to get free, to get away. 

and

Quote
He had to run, to flee.
 

And I really liked the description in this paragraph, some nice showing instead of telling, which is always a good thing :)

Quote
A whistle in the air preceded another punch in his back. Tentative hands sought out the source of agony and found a wooden shaft sticking out of his flesh. Breath came in ragged gulps, each lungful uncomfortable and far from satisfying. 

Hope this was of some help!
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

Offline A.J. Van-Rixtel

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2014, 07:06:00 AM »
Hi all I am up for some feedbavk on my work please :) thanks

Offline Maxfield

  • Writing Contest Regular
  • Coreling
  • ***
  • Posts: 28
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • It takes two to tango, but a forum to have fun
    • View Profile
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 05:03:04 PM »
Ok - here we go…

I’ve never been critiqued by anyone I didn’t know before and especially by other writers, so I’m a little nervous of the response, so go easy please :)?

Honestly though, I would appreciate any help and advice, because as in terms of wanting to become a writer - I’m still an amateur.

I have only written one book to date, which is available as a free eBook and is doing ok in free sales figures, but I don’t really get any reviews, so it’s hard to know if my book or more importantly my writing is any good!

I do feel I’m very creative and have no problem making up stories, but I do struggle with grammar from time to time and sometimes the correct usage of punctuation marks.

In terms of helping me to become a writer, I never learnt anything in English at school or went on to further education in that field, so everything I’ve learnt is self-taught.

So basically…and sorry to waffle on, it would be great to get advise on my writing skills and if I’m making simple mistakes etc.

As I writer, my style is more aimed at the teenage and younger adult audience, so I like to make my stories easy reading, with light humour.

I feel I have lots more to learn and to improve on, so it would be great to get advice from more experienced writers, so I can gauge what level I am at. 

kind regards

James G Parkes?       

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7211
  • Total likes: 762
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 05:03:26 AM »
Seeing as Maxfield asked I can point out a small section of his story, which I quite liked by the way, where I felt things could have been worked on a little. If he wants a more detailed critique I'm happy to provide that, but it'll take a little long to do it here, so we could do it via email. I'm in no way a professional. I just read a lot and used to run a review blog.

Before I put the bit I focused on here I'd like to make a suggestion about how to handle the critiques. We had a writing group here a while back and the way feedback worked was if someone reviewed your work, then you reviewed theirs. That's just a suggestion that may help getting the flow of feedback going.

This is from Maxfield's story. My suggestions are in brackets.

Bran woke with a thumping (pounding or aching) head (headache may work better) and feeling woozy. His first instincts were to call out for his parents, but there was no point - he wasn’t in his bedroom anymore. The prickly dried grass beneath (his feet); the smell of smoulder (? Maybe use ash)) in the air and the screams of suffering carried across the winds told him otherwise.

Slowly standing, Bran took his time to take in his new surroundings. He was in a large desiccated (desolate?) field. It was hot – very hot. In the distance some woods were (blazing) set ablaze, encased (shrouded) in think (thick) smoke. The path behind was just as unenticing (uninviting). A dark creepy forest that looked hostile to (even) the bravest of brave.

Overall mostly word choice is what can be reviewed and refined. When seems to be used a lot, where 'and then' would work better for flow.

The idea itself was a lot of fun and quite well executed. Clever to use the website as a portal to a fantasy world.

Hope this helps.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Ringbearer
  • *
  • Posts: 6002
  • Total likes: 2626
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
AW: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2014, 06:59:29 AM »
I intentionally left that out of the rules because it restricts critiquing to people who have a story in this months contest.

If you receive a critique from someone who has a story in the contest it would be nice to return the favour of course. :)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Maxfield

  • Writing Contest Regular
  • Coreling
  • ***
  • Posts: 28
  • Total likes: 0
  • Gender: Male
  • It takes two to tango, but a forum to have fun
    • View Profile
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 01:43:44 PM »
Thanks Elfy, I think you’ve pretty much brought up the areas that I need to work on. I should try and read much more than I do, as my vocabulary isn’t the best at times, so I suppose like most would be writers I do use the thesaurus to try and make my words sound…well I guess more intelligent, which I probably don’t need to do so much, but reading other writers who use big words you kind of feel that’s what you should being doing as well and maybe I over think things, when I should stick to what I'm best at.

Sometimes using thesaurus isn’t always the best option, because you need to make sure that you really know the correct term of that word before putting it in willy nilly and hoping it makes sense – so I’m working on getting better at that.

And yes there was a spelling mistake (in think) as pointed out; it should have been thick, which I do also make sometimes. I must ask though I’m not sure if it’s me or does anyone else have the same problem, because once you have written something and you know the story off by heart, it doesn’t matter how many times and how slowly you go over it, word by word making sure there are no spelling mistakes, I always seem to miss a few obvious ones, it’s like my brain just can't see them.

On a whole Elfy you have summed up my weak points. I believe I’m at a stage where an average reader can read my work and I can get away with it, but I’m still about 20% of being the finished article as experienced readers and good writers will pick up on the odd mistakes, which I need to get better at if I want to get signed by an agent.

Although I’m not looking to be the best writer in the world, I’m just looking to be a good writer who writes great books.

This critiqued has helped me a lot and hopefully others. I am getting better at writing, but like anything the more you practice the better you become, the only problem which most writers have is getting time to write and being a 35 year old man who has two young children and works five to six days a week, it’s very hard to get any spare time, as the spare time that I do get, I want to spend with my kids and partner, and it’s very hard to be at your best when you write late at night - when all you want to do is relax!!

It’s not easy being a writer – but god I love writing.?


Elfy

And I may not be the best to critique you on your writing skills; I can certainly tell you what I thought about your story.

I’m not just saying this, because you critiqued my work, but your story was the one I enjoyed the most. The reason for this, which is a reason why I stick with a book, is because it grabbed my attention straight away and you had the ability in your writing to make me feel like I was actually there. I could picture the room and was very intrigued by how Roger Simmons got there.

I also love trying to work out which direction the writer is going to take the story. I was kept in suspense all the way through.

Even though I think it would be hard to make a full story out of this work, I do think it would have been a great episode for Dr Who. I could imagine The Doctor arriving and trying to solve this case.

And I don’t know if you watch Dr Who, but it’s been my favourite program on TV for the past few years and they have some great writers. So maybe you should try and pitch that one to them :)?

Good work Elfy and thanks for your critique. 

All the best Maxfield
a.k.a  - James G Parkes

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7211
  • Total likes: 762
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 11:53:33 PM »
Thank you Maxfield both for your critique of my story, very pleased that you enjoyed it, and for accepting my own critique in the spirit in which it was given. I have a little advice for you that may help with your own writing. Firstly read, read a lot and read widely. This is something that nearly every author says to do, and it really does help. I'd also try to look at what you do read more critically. I don't know if you review books online or anything, via a blog or Goodreads, but I found when I started reviewing books for my blog I looked at them more closely and began to pick up things that I hadn't before and this in turn helped with how I approached my own writing. Thirdly, after you're written something; a story, a chapter, etc... when you're reviewing it, read it out loud. I know it sounds weird, but it really does work. When you can actually hear yourself saying things you pick up on typos, grammatical errors and if something sounds wrong to your ear when you say it then odds on it probably needs to be altered so that it flows better. You won't pick up everything, but it does help.

I'm glad my story did what it did for you. I think with any piece of writing you need to grab the reader early. with a book it's the opening chapter or prologue, with a short story, especially ones with a 1500 word limit, you pretty much have to bait the hook in the opening paragraph or first 100 - 200 words.
I love Dr Who. Lejays17 is a huge fan of the show. I'm flattered that you think my story could be adapted into an episode. I still thick Blink is one of the most amazing pieces of writing I've ever been privileged to witness and it was one of the best 40 or so minutes of TV I can ever remember watching.
Not everyone may have picked up on it, but 'Lee' was a version of the Leanan Sidhe a kind of fairy vampire, so just a little context there and an indication of where my mind sometimes goes.

Thank you again.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Carter

  • Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Night Angel
  • *
  • Posts: 164
  • Total likes: 60
    • View Profile
Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2014, 03:57:51 PM »
Thanks LisaElle.  You highlight a couple of the issues I had while writing and editing the story so it was good to read your comments.  I struggled a little with the characterisation given how I approached the theme (at least within the word limits) and I knew it might be a difficult one to relate to.  I tried a couple of different approaches to try and squeeze in more of the idea behind the story but I realise it probably needed a bit more even if it's just something the reader can notice, if not the protagonist, since I tried to avoid dropping too much in to such a short tale.  Something I clearly need to work on though! 

This is one concept I might return to at a later date (although possibly with a different character, but we'll see) so I'm glad it worked and thanks again for taking a look over it.