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seancuig
April 29th, 2005, 09:45 AM
Trying my hand at short stories (was supposed to be less than 2K but just failed slightly!). Finding it pretty tough to keep it short yet have somthing complete.

Here's the first attempt anyway and any feedback you might have would be great.
http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/443p0.html

Cheers all,
JF

Zanzibar
April 29th, 2005, 10:29 AM
I've pointed out some things that I think could be revised, along with suggested ways to correct them. I completely empathise with the length dilemma; it's hard to write anything so short that doesn't sound chopped up or rushed. I noticed some comma slip-ups but that stuff's all minor anyway. I'd add that you should probably seperate the paragraphs with empty lines. Stories are much easier to read that way. It's kind of annoying that indents are ignored by the site.

"He laughed to himself, slightly bitterly, at the thought, knowing it to be unfair."
-This reads a little awkwardly. You've divided it up into too many sections. Maybe something like: "He laughed to himself, a little bitterly, knowing the thought to be unfair."

"He settled for the first station which was actually playing music, paying no attention to the song at all, bar noting tiredly that it was a woman singing and that it sounded bland enough."
-The last third of the sentence sounds like it could be revised some. Consider: "..., paying no attention to the song beyond that it was a woman singing and that it was appropriately bland."

"The man seemed content enough to be sitting there, and seemed to be currently in the process of trying desperately to remove a portion of his brain through his nose."
-The two "seemed"'s are redundant. Just change the "seemed to be" to an "appeared".

"At least that would provide some welcome distraction, though currently he felt slightly nauseated every time he glanced left and so had given up on it."
-The "currently" contradicts the "every time" part (the current time can't be every time). Consider: "..., though he'd given up hope of it happening as every time he glanced to the left he felt slightly more nauseous", or something to that effect.

"Behind him, the couple were still arguing."
-This reads like you've introduced the couple already, though you haven't. Maybe change it to: "The loud couple parked behind him was still arguing." (the "were" should be "was" as, while there are two people in a couple, couple itself is a singular word).

"They both had that slightly frazzled look that seems to strike those who are suffering from sleep deprivation caused by the erratic sleeping habits of small children."
-The "sleep" and "sleeping" are a little repetitive. You could just change the "sleeping" to something like "nighttime".

"He had long been convinced that roadworks where just someone’s malicious plot to drive him insane and some mornings lately he had begun to feel that they were starting to succeed."
-You don't need the "some mornings" part.

"This brought with it blissful relief from the pain in his head, and the boredom of his situation."
-The "this" at the beginning clashes with the "this" of the previous sentence. Maybe change it to: "With the rest came a blissful...".

"“Lovely” he thought as he tried to clear the cobwebs, “Dribbling on myself now, to add to it all! I am losing it” "
-You should probably add "in his head" after "cobwebs", just to avoid confusion.

"To his left, his middle aged friend was still trying to acquaint his finger with the back of his skull, and it didn’t look as if he had caused Billy’s sudden awakening."
-I just like this line :).

"He was instantly struck by something odd, but couldn’t quite out his finger on what it was."
-I think you meant "put" instead of "out".

"As far as he could make out, the car had only one occupant - a fairly tall man -by the looks of the shape that was visible from the driver’s seat."
-You don't need the hyphens here. The sentence also sounds a little off. I suggest: "..., the car had only one occupant, a fairly tall man by the look of his silhouete." (we don't really need to know he's in the driver's seat since he's the only one in the car)

"Tentatively he lowered his hands again and looked front, hoping that he had cleared whatever was causing his distorted vision."
-Add "to the" in front of "front".

"He walked up past the bonnet of his car - alongside what he know realised was a new model Hyundai Coupe - until he reached the drivers door."
-"Now" for "know" (I do the same thing).

"Feeling slightly stupid and more to the point, very nervous and hesitant, he leaned down and knocked on the window."
-What point? I would suggest trying: "Feeling slightly stupid, a little hesitant, and very nervous, he leaned..." or something to that effect.

"As he did so, he slowly reached one hand up - from where it had been clenching the steering wheel - towards the sunglasses."
-The "slowly" is redundant with the "slowly" from the previous sentence. You also don't need the hyphens here.

"Billy cried out in horror, and bolted back away from the car, catching his heel on the kerb and tripping to fall onto his back on the grass verge in the centre of the motorway."
-Isn't "kerb" spelled "curb", or is this an Irish thing ;) ?

I think it's a great story overall, and very unique! I found myself feeling bad for poor old Billy as the vampire blew his mind. Didn't think traffic could get any worse but then I've never been stuck behind a maggot-eyed, blood-sucking fiend. I love the maggot eyes, by the way. Never seen that before. I've always wondered why you can't see a vampire's clothes in a mirror, though.

seancuig
April 29th, 2005, 10:52 AM
Wow.

How many mistakes can you fit in 2000 words :eek: To think I thought I had proof read this! I guess I need to work on my revision techniques!

Cheers for all the pointers, some really good suggestions there.

I've always wondered why you can't see a vampire's clothes in a mirror, though
I don't actually know if it is a vampire. I tried not to give it any specific 'label' but I guess the mirror thing is pretty standard vampire stuff!

Ah well, it's friday evening. Time to get drunk and think of new stuff to write about :cool:

Zanzibar
April 29th, 2005, 10:56 AM
Just bein' thorough ;) .


Ah well, it's friday evening. Time to get drunk and think of new stuff to write about :cool:
You're inspired when you're wasted? All I get's a headache :( (and it's noon you alchy!).

seancuig
April 29th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Not in Dublin it ain't :D

Zanzibar
April 29th, 2005, 01:55 PM
Lucky basta......

kater
April 29th, 2005, 05:47 PM
Its not bad for a first effort at all, it reminds me a little of a Brian Lumley style story - if you like vampires and stuff read Lumley's Necroscope series, top stuff - aside from the obvious sentence structure problems and those damnable commas again :D there's nothing wrong with it as a short. Just polish it up :)

michaelS0620
April 30th, 2005, 08:05 AM
Not too bad. Yes, writing up against short word limits is tough. When you have to do it, its even more important to make ever word count. By removing extraneous words you are able to save up for more important things. I like these kinds of exercises because I believe you should always be trying to keep the number of words to only what is necessary.


Billy sat in the car, idly flicking between radio stations, looking for something to take is mind off the fact that he hadn’t moved in the last ten minutes. He was used to this; traffic jams at 7.45 in the morning were not exactly news in this city. He was only half listening to the radio, as a broken train of various DJ’s voices flashed by, all apparently clones of each other, speaking in that false ‘radio voice’ that they all managed to obtain. “Did Irish DJ’s not used to sound Irish at one point in time?” he though to himself.

Looking at the first paragraph, there are a couple of places where you could cut without sacrificing the story.

1) Do you need the second sentence? Its true of cities in general, and I don't see too much need for it.

2) "..all apparently clones of each other..." apparently is a bit of a hedge and could be dropped. The audience knows they are not actually clones, and it makes the comparison stronger. Also "of each other" is a bit redundant.

3) Also your last sentence. "He thought to himself" is redundant unless he has ESP :) . You could keep it to "he thought". Better yet, since Billy is the only character so far, and we are already inside his head a bit, drop the quotes and "he thought" all together.

So putting it all together, your paragraph could be rewritten like so (I am not claiming this is the best, or only way to re-write it).


Billy sat in the car, idly flicking between radio stations, looking for something to take is mind off the fact that he hadn’t moved in the last ten minutes. He was only half listening to the broken train of DJ’s voices flashing by, all clones speaking in that false ‘radio voice’. Did Irish DJ’s not used to sound Irish at one point in time?

Your word count drops from 101 to 64. Just under a 40% reduction. Looking at the story, there are probably other areas as well. Being able to cut 30% from a 2000 word story leaves you with 600 words left over that you can use to better flesh out characters, plot, and setting

Michael