GunShyMartyr's Workshop: Results

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GunShyMartyr's Workshop: Results

November 25, 2007

A word from BeccaJS "What a fantastic start to our workshop! Firstly I want to thank GunShyMartyr for kick-starting our new community with such a simple but effective workshop. It’s certainly sparked off some interesting and inspired pieces from those who participated! Although a lot of the twists seemed to revolve around murderous acts (including my own), they did have some great potential that with some of the comments taken on board could be developed into some really strong prose pieces.

"The first workshop has highlighted some elements of prose that were a consistent issue and ones I hope future prose workshops may focus on. This included things I know are in our pipelines, including some work on character and dialogue, but others that we may need to look at such as pace and even the essential need for that decent opening paragraph. These are not negative things at all, in fact picking them up now means we know we’re going to have some great future workshops which may help those participating develop a sense of awareness that it is not just having a good idea that makes a story.

"For me the pieces that stayed in my head were actually those who had some slightly different ideas on how to make their story twisted. This included xCamix whose episodic style worked quite effectively, which a great effort for writing in a language that is not her first. kittyfantastic24 had a rather emotive piece bringing out the true meaning of affection to our pets, and apocathary chose to place his as a journal entry instead of a deviation, which again provided a desired effect. As a whole, a great effort from everyone--I look forward to our next workshops!"

A word from lovetodeviate "It was fantastic to see stories come in from a wide range of writers, some more experienced than others, and some writing in a language that is not their first!  I was also happy to note that many of the participants took critique quite well and showed a genuine interest to improve their stories. I'm sure they will appreciate GunShyMartyr's comments as well. A workshop environment works two ways, however. Giving critique is as important as receiving it. I would like to commend the following people for having taken the time to read the other entries and comment: CrystalSeeker, kittyfantastic24, xCamix, dr3amup and Valkirie.

:star: Special Mention: Of all the participants, Valkirie did the most critiquing and I thought this admirable. An example of his critique is the comment he left at BeccaJS's entry. Good going, Valkirie!"

And now, the good stuff. GunShyMartyr was asked to read all entries, pick his favourites, and critique them. He did pick his favourites (which are at the bottom of this page) and comment on them, but he also critiqued ALL of the entries. I hope you guys know how lucky you are. :)

GunShyMartyr's Comments: "By and large I was very surprised and pleased by how many submissions this workshop got and the quality of them. I enjoyed doing this and I hope you enjoy reading. Typically, my critiques are a bunch of errors that I have copied from the text and pasted a correction below it, followed by a summary of my thoughts about the story as a whole. Since this is a workshop I will be just as critical as I usually am, because I am assuming that an in depth response was desired for the work to be submitted to a workshop. I want to stress that the following is only my opinion and that I am only one man who occasionally puts the wrong shoe on each foot. Off we go then:"

(in alphabetical order of author's username)

I too, was powerful by BeccaJS

This is the longest of all the entries so I won’t be doing my usual copy edit of errors. There weren’t that many and a proof read would catch them all. I think I only spotted two, but I wanted to keep with the flow of reading it and I’m very glad I did. This is an excellent story.

It has an extravagant feel to it, almost like something that could be dumbed down and told around campfires at night, but with this added sophistication it makes great reading anywhere. I sometimes write in a style like this, with two alternate narratives that interchange and tell two sides of the same story, or two stories that eventually collide. I really enjoyed it. I was afraid that it would turn into a cliché story of regret and redemption, especially when it came to the little girl and her doll, but no, you kept it original and that made it great. There was no moral objective here and no grand lesson for the reader to learn. It was just good storytelling.

My only problem is that I don’t see the twist here. It’s a great read and all but I can’t for the life of me see where the twist is at. I’ve read a lot of other twisty stories (I read yours last) so maybe my brain is fatigued and can’t see it, but the only thing I can grasp out of this is that the twist is that the narrator does not seek forgiveness and goes on to be a horrible power-hungry person forever, which is a good thing. If that’s the case then it’s subtle, and that’s okay, but if I missed something then please let me know.

The beginning is rocky, but I find most people falter there and also at the end. You have a good ending so I can only suggest that you look over the opening. Beginnings are tricky beasts because you want to grab the reader’s attention without being melodramatic, but that’s half the fun. I think a start that focuses on the little girl immediately and then comes back to her later would be better and gives a tangible thing for the reader to grasp when they are floating in some of the heavy (meaty, as you put it) description, but ultimately it’s not a very big problem and it’s up to you.

Well done!

Goodbye Mama by danielzklein

The muted piano chords come slowly, as if unsure if this is the time.
I can really feel the if’s here. I feel them beating twice at my head like a baseball bat.

There are garlands and party hats, and there is a bottle of champaign on each table, the cork waiting for that moment.

God what an awkward word that is. Damn French.

There is a print of the Mona Lisa next to a pop-art portrait of Einstein, a TV screen looping ten seconds of footage from the moon landing next to a framed page from a Bach score, a bust of Shakespeare next to a large print of a page from Alan Moore's Watchmen.
Ha, awesome!

And up very high over the clouds, where the sky is first black and then blue, a rocket engine cuts out and sends a large cylinder tumbling down. Slowly it revolves around its axis, slowly the world flows by. Someone has named this bomb and painted the name on its side. Its name is “Goodbye Mama.” Lazily, Goodbye Mama breaks through the layer of clouds, still turning, still seeing the world spin by.
How Vonnegut of you.

Well, damnit Daniel, I had a whole plan in my head about how I was going to find every flaw in this and then make a huge joke about how you’re obviously a beginner and say things like yeah you have to learn about show don’t tell and this is probably the first time you’ve shown your work to anyone so congratulations on your first step, but this is very good.

I felt like I was there, or at very least watching a camera go around seeing all of the things you described. You certainly have come a long way since I first started reading your work. This reminded me very much of Home Alone, but I like this better. I thought it had more character and it was easier to identify with, but that of course could be because this one has people in it. Hell, this could even be the same world as Home Alone, just at a different place.

My one quibble isn’t really a quibble at all, but a curiousity about the ending. This is meant to be a twisty story, and I think it was so obvious that the world was ending that I can only conclude that the twist is that the world doesn’t end and that the bomb doesn’t go off at all. But then, that last could also mean that it doesn’t go off _this year_ because the new year’s countdown isn’t over yet and it will the moment that the year passes. Either way, it didn’t stop me from enjoying this.

Thanks Daniel.

City life by CrystalSeeker

The toxic stench was overwhelming, and the constant flow of heavenly water felt like knives from Hell, ripping the atmosphere around me and robbing it of any fresh oxygen I might run into.
Knives from hell! The worst kind! I think that’s a bit too dramatic.

Ah, Laura. With her dark, deep blue eyes, her tall, beautifully kept ginger hair, her radiant baby face, with a little pointy nose, tempting eyelashes, seductive lips and yet an angelic, mystifying aura around the canvas of her bright red cheeks, teeming with happiness, she could entrance anyone in an instant. I fell to her as well.
Most people will jump up and down and say show don’t tell, but there seems to be a general exception when it comes to describing people. I think this comes from the hundreds of descriptions like this that we’ve had to read over the years that we’ve been, uh, reading. When it comes to people, it’s best to drop hints and let the reader get the image themselves. I already had a picture of Laura in my head before I finished the first line in this paragraph, and whatever you said about a pointy nose and seductive lips didn’t change that, because your words, or anyone’s words, will never be able to overpower my imagination once it has decided on a face. This isn’t too bad though, I read it without skipping over anything like I have in the past when it comes to long introductions of a character.

You kept my attention throughout the whole story. I got a bit intense toward the end, but there are a few problems I want to outline:

The suicide – it was very abrupt and didn’t follow with the narrator’s personality up until that moment. He was indecisive and emotional, and all of a sudden he blows his brains out. This ties in with the story-breaking problem that I have with this that I will get to in a moment. For now I will say that you need to draw that paragraph out more and make it feel real.

Setting – I see this story taking place near an industrial sector of an abandoned city somewhere with a green rain pelting down all around throughout the whole thing. That’s not a bad setting, but when you described people climbing up buildings and throwing themselves down to kill themselves I was only lost and confused and skipped right over it. If it’s not important to the story, cut it out. Don’t bog down the reader with details they don’t need. To use a horrible cliché: plant a seed for their imagination to grow out. The main job of a writer is to give subtle suggestions of things so the reader can get their themselves. There is a place for wonderfully fleshed out imagery of course, but you will mostly want to keep that for when it is really important.

The Big Problem – is that you are lying to the reader. The narrator is an emotional wreck until he pretends to kill himself at which point he becomes a cyborg killing badass or something. I know this is needed for the twist, but it still doesn’t excuse it. Of course, you have left a lot out here and providing some more information could fix it but to do that without spoiling the twist would be difficult. Simply, the story doesn’t fully make sense. If she’s the last human left, why is she doing what she’s doing? If he knew all along, why didn’t he kill her? Was he trying to make sure? Well if she wasn’t human all he had to do was shoot her in the head because she wouldn’t have died anyway, right, because he didn’t when he did it to himself.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the twist and I didn’t see it coming which is always a good surprise. I think it could be better and more consistent if you work on it a little bit more.

Not Even A Mouse by evilredcaboose

Ha! This is a fun little story. The twist is light, but I guess you were going for that the mouse wanted to be seen all along to get the kittens in trouble. It’s charming in its own way. It reminded me of Tom and Jerry cartoons.

It’s a light story so I don’t know how you could improve on it. It does the job already. You really wanted to, you could make it longer, draw out the chase scene and have more description of him sneaking about at night before the chase ensues. You could get into more detail about the Big Ones in their Big House and talk about their Big Objects. This has all been done before but you could have some fun with it and get in some more laughs instead of just the final one with the end.

Special. by inspiredimperfection

I’m afraid that lovetodeviate may have beaten me to the punch on this one as I share the same problems that she had with this and have the same suggestions. The only problem here is that the coffee is apparently made of magical coffee beans that were grown on a magic island by a clairvoyant witch. The coffee can’t know these things about the characters, but we can let that slide to enjoy the rest of the story which is quite good.

For some reason I read this very quickly. I didn’t enjoy the beginning but I don’t think that can’t be helped without saying something along the lines of “Hi, I’m a cup of coffee”, but it got better when He and She began their exchange which I thought was particularly well-written and engrossing enough to keep me reading on and on. I guessed the twist, but I have to give credit for maintaining that point of view and being able to tell a story. I think that the liberties you took with the coffee knowing more than it should help that, but now I think about it, it’s strange that we don’t like that the coffee is all-knowing, yet we accept that the coffee can think and have feelings at all. I thought that the coffee wanted to be drunk was a very nice touch, too.

The ending should also be cut back to “Damnit, there’s coffee all over the place.” That keeps the slap in the face radiating after we’re done reading the story, and is even better for those who didn’t see it coming.

Writers Workshop Story I by itzjusdrama

Well, I was getting that déjà vu feel right now as a matter of fact.

Streetlights stood on corners and a few neon lights hung above my head, casting eerie shapes upon the pavement. Everything seemed familiar, even the darkness so black, it was blinding. It was as if I visited the world in another story, another life.
Your transition here doesn’t follow and should probably be a new paragraph with another sentence tacked onto the one before it. Before this part your narrator is talking directly to the reader, and then suddenly there are streetlights casting shadows and we are at a physical location instead of a black empty void where there is nothing but your ears and the narrator’s mouth.

Waiting for the man, said to be as Jet black as the shadows themselves, as ruthless as death, and just as silent.
Jet = jet-black

With that, I slammed the book shut. I finished reading chapter sixteen.

So what we’ve read so far is just someone reading a book? That’s the twist? That’s like “it was all a dream”!

This story reads more like a comic book than a short story. There’s a lot of action, a lot of dramatic dialogue and exchanges between people who want to kill each other. The further I got into it the more I realised that this would be better suited with a visual aid or maybe even in a video game of some kind. That’s all I can really offer here.

Kisses Don't Lie by LadyLincoln

Alrighty. I want to preface this comment: this is not something I like. I’m not a fan of romances, especially romances that involve fate and people instantly falling in love with each other. So it isn’t a personal thing that I do not care for this story. You could have written the best romance in the world I would still feel the same way about it. That being said I obviously cannot criticize the plot and the actions of the story. I know people who would love something like this. Unfortunately I am not one of them, which is more likely my loss than yours.

The advice I can offer is that you need to carefully proof read and catch your mistakes. I would normally copy and paste them down into a critique but there were a lot of errors that kept cropping up and repeating themselves. For example, you kept saying “alittle” when it should be “a little”. I think you did it with “alot” too. You also need to start a new paragraph after someone speaks a line of dialogue. There can be exceptions to this rule, like every rule, but in the way you structured this story and how you wrote each paragraph (you were traditional in format), you should follow the normal regulations of a new paragraph after dialogue ends.

Your descriptions were good, but they were mostly centered on their romance and their feelings, etc, which comes with the territory of your chosen plot, so while I appreciate them, I cannot outright say that I enjoyed them. Again I want to stress that this is my fault and not yours. You did, however, throw a lot of ellipsis around that you should try to avoid in the future. Usually a comma will do the job just as well and won’t grate on the nerves of some of your readers.

K Prabhu by lovetodeviate

I met Kavita many, many years ago. A few years after my death. She was sitting in a library, apparently suffering, being oppressed by all the books she had never read.
When I first read this I thought that Kavita was also dead, and that K was meeting other ghosts as he wandered around in the afterlife. I know now that this isn’t the case, of course, but I think you should somehow clarify this here. It’s not a big thing, but it niggled me the first time I read it.

People like Kavita are never really human; they imagine themselves as protagonists of life’s great novel; they are always waiting for someone to pick them up, suck out their stories, cradle them, justify them; she thought she was walking, talking poetry.
This is my favourite part of the story and I love this to death, if you pardon the lame joke I just made. I’ve made this observation myself and it’s disconcerting. It’s practically a widespread epidemic over here.

I remember the day was the twelfth of August, another square marked in the interminable calendar of my death.
The day he met her, or the day he died? You should clarify this. It wouldn’t be too difficult. “The day I met her was the twelfth of August, another square…” doesn’t take anything away from the story and adds a little bit.

When the dead laugh too loud, it can cause storms.
I’m also fond of this line.

In the same way, Kavita and the flower seller are fragments of my life as I recall it now.
The flower seller is the elderly woman on the bus, correct? I hate to be a broken record, but this also requires some clarification. I wasn’t aware she was selling flowers and it wasn’t until now, my third read through, that I made the connection.

Sometimes I remember friends too
I think this is the weakest part of the story because I could skip over it entirely and not miss anything. Nothing is gained from this passage. They are unimportant characters that don’t have any impact on the story and just slow the reader down. However, I hesitate to cut them completely because they do add that K had a life with people in it, instead of the people in his ‘afterlife’. It is also a good setup for the next section about Sharon that I really liked.

There’s not much I can critique here. It’s a solid story with a poetic feel about it that I’m guessing is a trend to your work. I got the same impression when I read your Lit Horror piece. The strange thing is that it works. It wouldn’t for a lot of people, but somehow you manage to make your prose poetically sublime yet as accessible as most good prose is. The topic and approach to death here, even though it isn’t true death, could also be a major pitfall to another writer and yet you not only made it readable you also made it enjoyably so.

I think that a lot of this story’s success is due to your presentation. When I first saw this it struck me that it looked like an article or an essay, but the only important thing is that it works. You were able to categorize the story into logical chunks that had a common thread keeping them together, but it also gave a presence to the story. The protagonist, K, is there saying this to you: right, this this, that that, and then this, underline this for this topic that explains this, and then that happened. It gives order to what would normally be chaos in a setting like this, but it is also unusual enough that it has a feeling of otherness that is appropriate. I feel like I’m getting a little arty-fartsy here and letting my university show, so I’ll stop this here: this was very well done and could be published.

Family Secret by dr3amup

I have read this story several times and I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why few people have lived to see the “great imperial courtyard and the perfect stones of its pavement gloriously aligned with the horizon” or why the girl’s head is chopped off at the end. It’s not clear who says “father please!” to the emperor there, because it could be a friend of the speaker pleading with the emperor not to execute the other girl, or what. The long speech before that explains that only the emperor knows about the hidden village, yet he claims they’re lies and has the girl executed. Why? What for? I keep reading this and I am left with the distinct impression that I’m missing something key.

This is a real shame because apart from the opening line that doesn’t make sense, this is written very well. I could picture everything you said and followed it perfectly until the end. I thought the idea was an interesting one, and you explained it in a believable, even-handed way, without making the spies into super invincible manga-inspired assassins. They were simply information collectors that returned after they lost their ability to blend in. I like that, it’s refreshing that the idea wasn’t taken and warped horribly into something I’ve read five thousand times before.

Mrs Sarah Breecher by trippedinahole

It was, after all, her anniversary, and she oneeded t hurry, for her husband would be expecting dinner when he returned home from teaching youth group.
needed to hurry

her rain saturated jacket
Rain saturated? Wet will do. ;)

Sarah wondered how her husband of one month's day at work had gone.
One month’s day is a bit awkward. I would rewrite this sentence to avoid it.

Miss Beecher set them in the microwave and floated the stairs to change.

"Mrs. Beecher," I am sorry to tell you this, but your husband was involved in an accident."
Drop the “ after the Beecher,

Sarah's heart dropped to her stomach, "your husband was involved in a collision. He appears to be in a coma, you need to come down to the hospital."
You might want to combine this to a larger sentence above it to make:
"Mrs. Beecher, I am sorry to tell you this, but your husband was involved in an accident," Sarah's heart dropped to her stomach. "Your husband was in a collision. He appears to be in a coma, you need to come down to the hospital."

"Of course, I'll be right over" she said, stunned and confused.
Comma after over.

The front desk directed her to the seventh floor coma ward.
Coma ward? There are coma wards? I’m not sure about this, and I can’t find anything on google about them.

A nurse came in, and said, "It is hospital policy to hook up life support, and many people do wake up honey."
I don’t think a nurse would be explaining hospital policy to a woman who just arrived to see her husband in a coma. This reads like the nurse is somehow psychic and knows that Sarah is against such things. Instead, make the nurse sympathetic and explain the same information but in a more natural way.

I would say that the story’s weakest part is during the hospital scenes. I think you need to do a bit of research to make these feel real. You make your characters focus on the feeding tube, the feeding tube, they’re all talking about the feeding tube. Even when the guy at the end wakes up he mentions the feeding tube. Sarah also doesn’t show any remorse or hesitation until the very end which isn’t human at all.

To be more specific, I think the places that need the most improvement are as follows:

The doctor’s dialogue – this sounds flat and fake. He doesn’t sound real, he sounds like he’s saying what you need him to say, instead of saying what a doctor would actually say but still including the information the is required to continue the story. There are also things that absolutely no one would ever say, like “Excuse me I have lives to save”, unless they were in the middle of a day time soap opera. This story is better than that. It has a very good beginning and a morally charged, if predictable, ending that I’m sure a lot of readers would enjoy.

Pacing – the beginning has this perfect pace. You go through the motions of her setting up dinner and getting ready and it’s all described in this crisp and clear narration that tells us exactly what we need to know. Then we get to the hospital part and I can read where you start getting uncomfortable and want to rush through to the next part. It’s as if you knew exactly what you wanted each scene to say, but not how to say it, so when you got there you dropped the information load in the quickest way possible and then quickly moved onto the next part. Slow down, read up a bit on this kind of scenario, and always keep in mind that even doctors and nurses are people too. They will sound and act like people. Not all of the nurses are going to be engrossed with what is going on with Sarah and her husband, and the world does not revolve around them even though this story does.

Lastly, you need to add something about Sheppard earlier in the story, most likely in the protest during the first paragraph, because he is critical to the ending and comes out of nowhere. Basically my advice comes down to this: put this back in the cooker and give it a little more time, and you’ll have a decent story on your hands. Also, proof read. There were a few too many mistakes here that a careful proof read would have caught.

Dying Lavender by Valkirie

Fergus ushered William from the hall into the living room, "Ach, William it sure is grand to see ye," he reiterated.
I’d cut “he reiterated” and just finish the speech with a period.

I couldn’t find any other glaring errors or points that I think could be said better for reasons that I’ll get to in a moment. I’m half Scottish and was born in Wales before I moved to Canada, so I understood the dialect perfectly. To read it was a wee bit (hurr hurr) cheesy to begin with because the narration was typical Proper English yet the dialogue was reasonably heavy on the accent. I’m not sure how people who aren’t familiar with it would react. I doubt it would cause a significant problem though.

What did set off alarm bells is the story itself. Here’s what I got:
A guy went to visit people in America and he has now returned to tell William about his adventures. He has to break the news to William that his cousin is dead. His cousin used to be a postman who started making model airplanes in his garage. One day he got a piece of the wing stuck to his dentures with glue and had to be drove by Fergus to hospital. On the way they had a car crash and because the cousin, Amos, was a vain sort he still had his dentures in with the wing and all. The crash made a parachute go off in the wing that went down his throw and eventually suffocated him. Fergus told William this story gently leading up to the eventually reveal (and the twist) that his cousin is dead, punctuated with a brilliant black humour punch line.

Is that right? I want to be clear that this is how I understand the story, because despite having that great line near the end, this is ridiculously unbelievable. You wouldn’t go to hospital to get a model airplane bit removed from false teeth, and you certainly wouldn’t find a man who is vain enough to not go out without his teeth, yet willing to put with something stuck, jutting out of his mouth. Also, there was a parachute on the model part that was big enough to kill him? I feel like I’m missing something important to the story here because I can’t wrap my head around it.

Everything else is great. The story is told well, the dialogue is believable, and the narration is only unclear in places because I’m not sure I can believe what I’m reading.

No More Life, No More Love by xCamix

The room was little and grey, except for some pictures on the walls. The sofa was anonymous, the tapestry old, and there were a couple of books with worn covers on a pair of shelves. In a word, an ordinary apartment. Apart for the corps left lying in a broken up position, obviously.
I really understand what you’re trying to do here because I do this sort of thing all of the time. You are focusing on the normal and then slapping the reader with the abnormal once you have secured the monotony of the rest of the setting. It’s a decent opening, but I think it could be better if you stretched it out a bit instead of getting cold feet and ending it with “In a word, an ordinary apartment” so soon. That is a good ending to provide a comparison for the following sentence, but I think an extra sentence or two before that would be better.

Also, check your spelling: corps = corpse.

<< So, what are we gonna to have today?>> said the man coming into the room.
Two things: why are you using <<>> instead of “”? You’re still using an indicator to sandwich your speech, so you should keep it to the standard one to not alienate your readers for no good reason. Secondly, you need to read this out loud to yourself: “So, what are we gonna to have today?”

Okay, I’ve just read ahead all the way until the end and there’s not much I can say except that you need to proofread. Your deviant user page says you live in Italy, so I have to assume that either English is your second language (in which case, well done for even writing a story in the first place), or that you wrote this very quickly and did read it over. You have many, many spelling mistakes and lots of sentences that simply don’t make sense. There are instances where you don’t tell us who’s talking, but rather just say “said” at the end of speech. Spelling errors only give your work the feeling that you don’t care about it, especially when they are simple ones like “wan’t” instead of “won’t”, and “angey” instead of “angry”.

Fix this up and I’ll be happy to look it over again with you. Once you fix the mistakes we would be able to work on the awkward phrases and sentences.

GunShyMartyr's Top Three Picks

(in alphabetical order of author's username)

:star: Dogma on a Leash by apocathary - faved by journalfav here.

Well you automatically lose points for making me hum Korn for the past half hour.

You’re the only one I’ve spoken to about their work outside of these comments so I feel like I am at a disadvantage, especially since your username begins with A and you are the first critique that everyone is going to see when these are posted. Thanks, Phil!

Seriously, though, this is a wonderful story and proves once again that one of your true god given talents is to rant. You have the uncanny ability to capture a foreign voice and run with it while making sure that it remains believable, accessible and, above all, entertaining. You even managed to throw in a very clever play on words in the title that can snap the whole thing into perspective after reading it in a “Oh” moment, a good-Oh moment, that left me with a stupid grin on my face.

But again, I feel like I am in a bad place here. This is only 556 words long minus title and if it was half a word longer it would lose its wonderful intensity and the feeling that we are actually witnessing a conflict between a demonic dog and demonic character from King of the Hill. There isn’t a single error that I could find (and believe me I looked) and there’s nothing I can tell you to change that wouldn’t spoil this or start taking it off into a different, unnecessary direction. So well done. Keep it up. Rant more.

:star: Goodbye Sarah by kittyfantastic24 -  featured in HotLits - The Third!.

Starting the engine of the Land Rover with an unenthusiastic splutter, he waited until she had climbed into the passenger seat beside him, and then pulled out the dirt track.
You’re trying to say too much in this sentence. Slow down and split it in half, or condense it so it doesn’t lose its momentum half way through.

Wow, you had me going all the way until the end. I have a border collie so I had to go see her after I finished this. Well done for keeping that twist hidden right up until the last line. Reading it again it’s now so obvious, especially with that line “without praise or reward”, which is typical of sheepdogs. Really well done.

You nailed the voice on this. It’s not a eulogy that preaches or uses overly verbose language to glorify someone. It was very much “this is what happened, take it or leave it” which makes the whole thing feel much more honest and genuine. I was really into the story and was braced to be letdown by the end, especially so when the sickness cropped up and I thought that was your twist. I’m very glad I was wrong.

I know this is a workshop but I don’t know what I can say that could help you improve. You are essentially fooling the reader but, in most cases, when you read back you can see how what you applies more to a dog than to a woman. The exceptions are the dancing and the men in the tavern are claiming they don’t understand dogs, apparently. But we can let those slide.

Since I can’t offer any constructive criticism here, would you please link me to something else that you would like me to look at? I feel like I’m not holding up my end of the bargain here.

:star: Red Dress by Queen-of-Marigold

Customers wandered in and out, shuffling feet marking time to the muzak that floated down the aisles.
Ack. Awkward sentence. Also “shuffling feet marking time”?

"Don't worry, love," He said kindly, "I understand."
love,” he said kindly. “I understand.”

There was more clothing on the floor then in the cupboard and her bed looked as if it had never been made.
then = than

I liked this! I had an idea that the ending was going to be something like this but it didn’t matter because you pulled it off very well. You didn’t shove it in my face, or make it a “AH HA FOOLED YOU DIDN’T I” moment, which is one of the best ways to pull off a twist ending.

I followed everything perfectly. Your diction was above the usual quality I read, but it wasn’t pretentious and didn’t try to show off. I was especially impressed with the transitions that you pulled off. You could have easily screwed them up and that would have ruined the story, but they were clean and made sense without knowing the ending. Everything there was a wake up the story did a jump-cut ahead and replayed the moments up until the crash that landed her in the coma. It was interested that you made it seem like she was just blacking out between these scenes, and that her body was going on without her and she was waking up to each moment with memories of the previous one. Almost like a dream. Well done.

My one complaint is that it went on a bit too long. I knew how each part was going to end, with a wake up so the penultimate one was an exercise of going through the motions to the inevitable ending. The only way I can think of to fix this is to either have some scenes that don’t end this way (which may ruin the intensity of the story), or have them happen in a variety of creative ways. The one with the note dropping was my favourite, because it was tied in with the environment that she was in at the moment.


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Amberlouie's avatar
Nicely down, Thomas. :)
It makes me wish I had of entered.