View Full Version : Critique: short story: "Assassin's Road"
April 7th, 2007, 02:18 AM
this is a short story i've been working on for the past week or so and finished tonight. I'm hoping to enter this in the writersdigest short-story contest, in hopes of building up some credentials when the time to send out query letters comes.
Anyway, its more or less an origin story for one of my assassin characters from my other story, The Last Light of Hope. Let me know what you think.
April 9th, 2007, 12:19 AM
April 9th, 2007, 01:41 AM
Kawaisou ni. Well, I actually read the story earlier today, but I've been juggling some other things. I can at least spare the time to give you some general impressions.
It's not a bad story by any means, but it has a really rushed, cursory feel to it. The end in particular goes by too fast. There just wasn't the sort of tension the scene calls for. Admittedly, I read through it rather quickly, so I'll try going over it again later and see if my perceptions have been unduly colored.
You say you're wanting to submit this piece to a contest. Are you sure that the level of profanity you're using is kosher? I don't know the rules or the standards of the hosts in question, but there's no point in your story getting dismissed on account of a few F-bombs. Just be sure of your venue, okay?
Also, what are the length requirements for the contest? I mentioned before that the story felt a bit rushed. If you're dancing near the upper limit, then it explains a lot.
I'll try to have something more substantive to say later.
April 9th, 2007, 01:51 AM
the word limit is 4,000 words max, so thats why it might feel a little rushed. I got about half way through and realized I would have to start moving things at a slightly faster pace if i wanted to keep it under the limit.
As for the profanity, I'm sure I've read some of the other stories they've posted on there that have had the occasional f-bomb or worse.
I have to admit I usually don't write short stories simply for the reason that I feel restricted in how much you can actually tell. For this story for example, if it was a longer tale I would have started with him as a very young youth, kicked out by his mother, and his life on the streets and all the events that lead up to his change, and afterwards as well. As it is, I had to start right in the middle and end it sort of in the middle.
April 9th, 2007, 02:37 AM
You might be better off just limiting the excerpt to Elric's revenge. Yes, you won't have much exposition, but if you can execute it right, you'll have a taut little thriller that makes the audience beg for more.
Basically, you start out while he's on the hunt. All the audience knows is that our hero's banged up, full of rage and out for revenge. There are three ideal starting points for this approach:
1. Stalking the first victim.
2. "Dealing with" the first victim (for a stronger sense of in medias res)
3. Immediately after the first victim has been disposed of
The trick to making this work is to master the art of tension. You tell the audience as little as you can get away with to keep the whole deal streamlined. It won't be easy, but I think it'd make for a more robust, satisfying piece within the given space requirements. As it stands now, you've got too much ground to cover and too little time to do it in.
April 9th, 2007, 09:54 AM
"What the hell are you doing, you little ****? Howling at the moon like an idiot."
Disgust made Rasen's voice thick with contempt.
the last sentence is redunant. disgust is contempt so you could eliminate disgust because it's past tense and just use thick with contempt.
another thing...is elric suppose to look this pitiful and pathetic in the begining? if you're trying to show up his suffering, as it seems to me, i think i would be more effective if you just showed instead of having Elric complain. unless the complaining is characterization. well...let me read on...
the grey-haired woman... when she first talks with him she's cautious, but the next moment she peers at him closely? delete one or the other, it's a small refinement, but little things can enhance your writing so much.
There is a part on page 6 that confuses me. your tenses change from 3rd person to 1st at the end of a sentence. im sure it's his thoughts, but i gave me a pause nonetheless.
well, finished the story now. the main weakness of this piece is the rushed ending i think. there are also a few grammatical errors, but that could easily be corrected with a good, slow edit. at the end though, is elric amon or has he just changed his name? and elric doesn't sound much of an assassin, more like a murderer. :D
i like the story though, overall, it would really be interesting if you:
cut the begining off (it feels like you're telling two stories: elric's... um did he get raped? then elric's rampage.)
and make your city come alive. describe this dark, unforgiving city for me. paint me a picture.
April 9th, 2007, 10:05 AM
James, I like the approach you suggested. I can already imagine it's going to be more difficult to write it like that, and possibly shorter, but I think it would definitely make it more interesting.
Darkness, thanks for your input, it's the little things that kill. I think my problem with this one is that it explains everything too clearly, taking any mystery or tension out of the story, as James commented. I'm going to work on that.
Btw James, are you Japanese? Your english is really good for someone living in Japan.
April 9th, 2007, 07:50 PM
I only think I'm Japanese. It's what happens when you're the only gaijin you come into contact with. I swear, whenever I look in the mirror, I'm all "Aa, gaijin da. Mezurashii naa... Oro? Aryaa ore ja nee ka?" ^_^;
Anyway, good luck with the rewrite Penny. We'll let you know how you've improved on the original.
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