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Author Topic: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread  (Read 12718 times)

Offline Nora

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[NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« on: January 01, 2017, 09:45:37 PM »
  • Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
  • Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

* 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.
It is also fine to ask for a critic to end, as we can get carried away as a community. If you don't want any more reviews, say it. If offering reviews, make sure the person has asked for it or (still) welcomes 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.”


Special addition :

Since Lanko used with pretty great success the template created by m3mnoch, here are the basic questions used last month, that help make a fast critic. Let it not stop you to go into great analytical dissection of a story if you feel inclined and have time for it and it has been asked for.

Selected Quote:
Something Awesome:
Theme Appropriateness:
Conflict and Tension:
Strength of Characterisation :
Something Confusing:


« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 11:53:44 PM by Nora »
"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: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2017, 09:50:54 PM »
Let it be known that I'm keen to receive any critic on Time's Arrow. I know my "Theme Appropriateness" is a bit off, so especially interested in knowing what people thought of it despite that, whether it still worked or not, hampered them in voting or not...

Most importantly I want to know what you thought of my attempt at romance in my characterisation. I don't often do lovers (gee, married people here!) and since it's the point of the tragedy here, it couldn't afford to fail. What worked, what could have been better?
"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: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2017, 11:16:33 PM »
I'm in for a Pride and Prejudice's critique.

I will start giving them after I finish my Dragon's story.

About the template, I thought about adding a Characterization topic, since in all books we read and stories we write, the characters are the most important thing that hook us in, so I think it would be important and cool to give/have feedback on that.
The next would be Plot, but I think Conflict and Tension can handle that... I also thought on separating them, as some stories had a lot of one and not a lot of the other. Conflict would be more about the characters inside the story and tension maybe would be more about the reader interest/feeling about the story/situations.

Let it be known that I'm keen to receive any critic on Time's Arrow. I know my "Theme Appropriateness" is a bit off, so especially interested in knowing what people thought of it despite that, whether it still worked or not, hampered them in voting or not...

About the theme appropriateness, I think some people asked about different calendars from other countries being... different. Some did use different calendars. Which kinda of made me think to even remove the topic this month...

And in yours the bombs wrecked everything so hard that society seemed to have went back to the industrial age of sorts.
I don't remember if time travel to the past was part of the theme, though.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019

Offline JMack

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2017, 11:25:41 PM »
Yeah, @Nora's theme-appropriateness wasn't a strong point. I forgave it on the strength of the prose.  :)

I know my own main criticism of "Tim Tripper: Lost in Time", which is that it's more of a skit than a story. Just a premise with a ha-ha/hmm at the end. Still, I'd welcome any other criticism beyond that, but especially: where could it be improved in order to better achieve the effect it's aiming for?
« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 11:59:47 PM by Jmack »
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Nora

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2017, 11:55:46 PM »
@Lanko : edited main post for characterisation, as you're right, it's important, though often a hard task in such short stories.
"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 Crystallynnfairy

Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2017, 12:36:57 AM »
I would like to hear thoughts on The Witches Bottle. Thanks

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2017, 09:03:03 AM »
I would like to hear thoughts on The Witches Bottle. Thanks
My thoughts:
Spoiler for Hiden:
You had me at amazonite.
Spoiler for Hiden:
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Osahon

Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2017, 12:55:19 PM »
I would love some critique for my story "conflict of interest"

Offline Crystallynnfairy

Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2017, 01:07:07 PM »
@The Gem Cutter lovely!
My part time job is at a metaphysical gift shop and we have a good bit of different stones/gems/crystals. Is amazonite your favorite? Labradorite I adore. Selenite just has this soft etherealness that I love. In my "money is no issue" fantasies, I would have a giant smoky quartz geode cut for the headboard of a bed.


Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2017, 03:15:11 PM »
Aesthetically, I cannot make up my mind and don't think I ever will. My favorite gemstone from a symbolic standpoint is probably schorl, which has an interesting relationship to your quartz: http://m.minerals.net/MineralDefinition.aspx?name=schorl  Like quartz, schorl is one of the gemstones that is both piezoelectric and pyroelectric - meaning both the pressure and the warmth of one's hand have a scientifically verifiable impact on the stone. This is as close to real magic as someone is going to get. The energies are too small for fireballs and Force-pushing, but they're there.  I come from the Granite State, and as a child I scaled cliffs and extracted broad sheets of quartz and ... well it's always been an interesting and captivating thing.
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Nora

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2017, 03:29:41 PM »
For @Lanko :

Selected Quote: “It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a Congress.”

Damn that P&P entry quote had me entirely committed to the story from the very start.

Something Awesome: The whole thing. It was perfect timing, coming out just after the election, and it was light and satyrical, yet with jokes not so deep that I would have needed to follow the elections close up to understand them, so very well done.
It wasn’t perfect, and I’d say that humour isn’t yet you strongest suit–not like Rukaio who has had a century to practice–but could become one. At least in satire you’re doing pretty good.

Theme Appropriateness:
High and delicious. Loved the part where Trump insists they’re in the middle ages because se-ven-teen duh!
The end line was also quite chilling, despite it being set in 1750, they might well reset the history of the world from now on.

Something Not-so-good: The light-house passage, as you already know, didn’t work with me. I LOVE that joke, but it’s too well known, too literal.
It really crashed your story in my eyes. I had a long moment of internal struggle, wondering whether that was going to cost you my vote, because a lot of other stories were excellent this month. In the end I figured the satyrical nature of the story, more written meme than anything, made it fine. But I would not vote for anything doing that level of appropriation otherwise.
Prose was also a bit meh. The accent was on the fun, but you could have polished things in places. It did have a bit of a rough feel, like a fast written piece. (who the fuck am I kidding with? pretty sure you wrote that in the hour before the deadline)

Conflict and Tension: Not much of that, but the ‘problems’ these two faced were excellent and well chosen, making for legitimate action.

Strength of Characterisation: Satire of real people comes with its host of problems and perks. You didn’t have to establish them at all, but still made them grow a little bit… It was a bit awkward in places, like when romance sips in (Yerk!). I found trump more compellingly written than Hillary, but then again he’s such an overwritten cliche IRL, it felt pretty true to character.


Good work overall, it made me laugh out loud several time, and smile a lot. I voted despite other stories being equally good because yours really made me laugh and was memorable for it.
"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 m3mnoch

Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2017, 03:44:28 PM »
for @Nora.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Selected Quote:
"if the dinosaurs are back, I'd want to be there to defend you, tame them and learn to ride them..."

Something Awesome:
this felt like some of your best, smoothest prose.  it was fab, and my favorite prose of the entire month.

Theme Appropriateness:
time travel was there, and critical.  but the 1750-meaning-juggling part of it didn't bother me too much.  and the "our plan is just to escape" not being "here's us changing world events" didn't bother me too much.

but, the combination of the two was enough to knock it down a peg.

Conflict and Tension:
the bones of the story was really where i had my issues.

there was no real driving agency for me.  like, ellen never did anything to drive the story forward.  she never took action.  stuff just ended up happening to her until, finally, it took away her love.

since she never got to make that corner to take some kind of action, it just felt like act one in a larger story.

Strength of Characterisation:
a bit on-the-nose in places, but overall, it was really nice.

something i'd recommend when writing dialog like that -- folks tend to speak in shorter, clipped back and forths, basically one breath.  that is, until someone infodumps.  then afterwards, there's lots of back-and-forth digging into the infodump.  the dialog between these two is a pretty big mouthful.  so maybe isolate only the dialog, and read it back and forth with someone.  lemme know if i'm crazy.

also, parts of it felt like she was more the foil for their conversation, rather than a tit-for-tat participant.  like he was doing all the work.  handing out all the situational cleverness and she was there to be the expositional dr. watson.

oh!  and last thing, when people talk to each other, especially close people, they don't use their names.  non-verbal communication does most of the addressing.

but, yeah, when she goes through his letter?  ow.  you punched us right in the heart, man.  nice work.

Something Confusing:
who are these crazy people at the end?  what happened to the world?  what is she going to DO about any of this?


Offline m3mnoch

Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2017, 03:53:02 PM »
Something Not-so-good:

it's funny, at disney, we say things like "even better if".

as in:
Something Even Better If:

heh.  and it's not "in case she gets hit by a bus", it's "in case she wins the lottery".

Offline JMack

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2017, 04:30:18 PM »
For @Osahon, "Conflict of Interest"

Spoiler for Hiden:
Selected Quote:
Quote
With the end of the world near, Biyu thought it was best to start breaking chains before she disappeared.
I loved this opening; it really made me want to dig in.

Something Awesome: The Chinese mother felt very real. Her fear and desperation jumped off the page. I also liked the moment of time travel when the MC grasps the blue ticket.

Theme Appropriateness: I have to infer that 1750 refers to the Tibetan calendar; there's nothing in the story to tell me this. If there had been, I might have gone more for the calendar switcheroo.

Conflict and Tension: OK, there's tension, but there's no conflict. I think of conflict as "A wants X, and B is blocking A. Will A succeed and how?" And where there's a protagonist and an antagonist, you can flip the math and say "B wants X (or Y), but A is in the way. Will B succeed and how?" In "CofI", the MC wants a peaceful life in the past. But no one in the story is blocking her from getting that.

Strength of Characterization: The selfish, self-centered nature of the MC comes through, and as I said, I liked how real the mother came off. But there's a ton of backstory you reference but don't explore that would have made the MC more interesting. The whole "none of them had been through what I'd been through" business. And how did she get the ticket at all? Why is she so special?

Something Confusing: I feel as though this story is an example of something I've done plenty: I know what's going on, and I think I've communicated it. But I haven't. First, many folks won't know the background of Chinese people living in Tibet during protests. Second, what's with the "creatures and the blue tickets"? Why is the world ending? How did the mother know to switch to English? Was her own English easy to understand? And finally, I just didn't get the joke/comment about Korea. Why would she wish to be Korean, and why would that be funny? Also, what is the meaning here of "Conflict of Interest" as the title?

Could have been improved by: What's often difficult in the 1,500 word limit is telling a full story. I feel as though "CofI" is a "scenario" more than a story. It presents a situation and somewhat of an outcome. But there's no conflict between characters, and no choice being made by the MC with that choice having consequences good or bad.

I hope this is helpful feedback

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You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Lanko

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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2017, 04:59:33 PM »
Thank, @Nora !

The lighthouse was my fault of expecting people to feel a specific way about that passage. Like, "that captain/Trump from the joke SO looks like Trump/that captain!" became "Wow, the joke you took this from, dude, wtf?"
I wondered later that I should have added a line like "And Trump immortalized the joke 200 years before the original" to make the self-awareness of the inspiration pretty clear and maybe even adding another layer of humor with it.

And yes, my traditional writing starting time does cost me in editing, that's true hah... need to change that this year.

Overall I'm happy how the story turned out, as comical stories are not my specialty in any way, and glad you enjoyed it!
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019