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July 9th, 2007, 10:43 PM
Short Story (sffworld.com/community/story/2528p0.html)

This is a story I wrote fairly recently and I need to be critiqued on it, mainly because it's my first actual short story. It's two pages.:D

James Carmack
July 10th, 2007, 09:49 AM
As this forum specializes in science fiction and fantasy (with horror thrown in for good measure), this piece feels a little out of place here. That's not to say you can't make submissions of general fiction. It's just not the ideal place for it. Regardless, this is still a writers' forum and I'll critique your piece like any other. Be warned that I'm only going to paint in broad strokes. Detailed proofing is reserved for a proper workshop, which I don't do here.

Okay, I'm not going to let my incredible disdain for emo kids and my utter lack of compassion for their plights cloud my judgment here. If you were being deliberate, I would say you have an interesting stream of consciousness narrative that captures the fractured mentality of our heroine. However, I get the strong feeling that what I'm seeing here is simply the standard work of your hand. To spare you the barbs of critics far more unkind than me, I'm going to encourage you to do a thorough proofreading of any work you're prepping for submission here or anywhere else. To be blunt, this piece is simply littered with elementary mechanical errors. I'm going to be generous and attribute the larger part of it to haste on your part.

We capitalize the beginning of new sentences. You seem to forget this rule quite a few times.

You are one of many anemic writers I've come across. Comma-poor prose is the common name for it, but it goes well beyond that. First, you must learn to love proper punctuation, then you must use it.

When not preceded by a possessive, familial address must be capitalized (i.e. my mom, Mom).

You could use a lesson on direct address. Lucky for you I have one here (http://www.palidormedia.com/james/editor/lesson2.html).

On to the quibbles... (I'm preserving this in the form I originally recorded it to express my confusion at the plot's development.)

Page 1
"who would always be made fun of" Does this not sound a touch awkward to you? Try something like "The other kids were always making fun of her."

It's awfully inelegant to just come out and say our heroine is abused. Yes, I suppose the subject of child abuse doesn't warrant any elegance, but surely you can be a little more artful in your presentation.

Exactly how does our heroine get her punishment? I realize the cat thing is meant to be a poor excuse, but it seems rather blatantly preposterous. And scars? I'd think beatings would be more likely. Those would leave bruises, maybe split the skin occasionally, possibly crack a bone or two, but scars (namely those that would be weakly blamed on the cat) would mean lacerations. I don't see that holding up for long. You can't ignore those the same way as simple battery. Either treatment would be sought (which would invariably lead to action by the authorities) or our girl would wind up a frickin' corpse.

"[...]a gang came up and started to beat him." And then what? You started something. How are you planning on finishing it?

I doubt our heroine was on the line, so you can just say her mom got the call from the hospital.

"the mother after about three months[...]" What is it you're wanting to say and why are you using "the mother"?

So Mumsy was inconsolable after the loss of her husband but somehow manages to remarry after a mere three months. That's some recovery. Now, if you hadn't said she never got over what happened, I would simply view her as pragmatically finding someone to provide for the chillens. Which is it? Was she a permanent emotional wreck or did she have the wherewithal to go man-hunting?

Why the parenthetical "starting to write in first person"? Was this whole "past" bit just a summary or something? Why don't you just axe this whole segment entirely and dive right into our heroine's narration. Let her tell the story.

Wait. Our heroine is abused and yet she's the one cutting herself? Or she the only one truly doing the abuse? If it's the latter, this displacement is a very interesting wrinkle. Doesn't make her very lovable, but who said our protagonists have to all be charmers?

"but either was i still shopped at hot topic" What does this mean? (If I'm not mistaken, "Hot Topic" is the name of a clothing store and should therefore be capitalized.)

The pronoun "I" should always be capitalized. I realize our heroine has self-esteem issues, but still...

"Stepfather" is one word, "dam*" or no.

In writing, numbers less than ten (and arguably any number three syllables or less) should be written out. This applies to both cardinals and ordinals.

How do you hope in a car? Is it like wishing on a star?

Do they say "preps" these days? In my experience, it was always "preppies".

"overjoyed" is one word

So a teenybopper is grabbed by a suspicious man in the middle of the road, squealing like a stuck pig, and there's no response whatsoever? Is no one around or are all the Good Samaritans truly dead?

Is Shawn digging in with his nails or something? That's the only way he could conceivably break the skin while grabbing onto our heroine and most guys don't let their fingernails grow out long enough for that to happen too easily. It's not like our heroine is some eightysomething prone to skin tears.

Why is "birthday" capitalized?

How does she know her dad didn't fight back? Did one of the gang members make a report? "Yeah, dude fell like a sack of potatoes and just took it. No hollerin' or nothin'. Kinda makes ya feel like he wanted it to happen or something, some freako predestination crap. That's why I tell my dawgs, 'Never hit up no Calvinists.' Bruthahs jus' don't lissen, you know what I'm sayin'?"

Page 2
Just her "lick", eh? Kinky.

It's "dysfunctional", not "dis-functional".

You don't need periods for "TV", but you do need caps.

Shawn works his "assth" off, does he? Sounds painful. Give that man a muffin.

"Shawn was no practically yelling[...]" We all know that if Shawn is any kind of yelling, it's the impractical variety.

Mum is telling Shawn to stop? "Now, dear, no hitting the girl on Thursdays. You know I don't like it when you hit her on Thursdays. The beatings are on Wednesdays and you know it." Might want to use a more powerful verb unless I've caught the gist of her reaction.

How do you get bloodstains off in the shower? Clothes stain, not skin. (Unless she's playing the part of Cary Grant in Charade. "Drip dry.")

The preps made fun of our heroine's what? Only Jar-Jar can get away with a dangling "my" and that's because everyone hates him and God felt obliged to toss him a bone.

Our heroine is able to bust the face of a student and walk off without getting tagged by campus security? If there isn't a cop waiting for her when she gets home, remind me not to send my kids to that district.

Both letters in "P.E." need to be capitalized.

If she's just cutting her stomach, why does she need to take her shirt off? Or is that all part of the ritual?

It's generally written as "woohoo", not "wooh ho".

Why is "Rolling Eyes" capitalized?

So she sticks her head out the door after midnight and gets cold-cocked by what can only be an ambush by Shawn. That man needs a better hobby.

A "stake knife"? Do they keep that in case of vampires?

So she used her last bit of strength to write her love note to Shawn and then came up with some magical reserve to write to Mumsy? Maybe she should've used that energy to not die.

"It ended up to be a picture with me her and father..." It'd read a lot cleaner if you just said "It was a picture of me, her and Dad." Why is her dad suddenly "Father"? You should keep the familial address consistent.

As with the previous entry, why has Mom become "Mother"?

"Crea-made"? Is that some new fad with the kiddies these days? Ride the wave! Be the first kid on your block to get Crea-made(TM)! Or did you mean "cremated"?

Did our heroine seriously think her suicide could get twisted into a murder conviction for Shawn? They couldn't even pin him for accessory. Yeah, there's more than enough evidence for assault and battery, but that won't send him down the river for too long. Also, divorce goes through the civil courts. There's no way Mumsy could divorce him and see him go to jail on the same day unless he'd already been sentenced and was awaiting incarceration.

I would think it a little unseemly to name your new kid after the old one. Poor thing's gonna end up just as crazy.

And that's all for now.

James Carmack
July 10th, 2007, 10:08 AM
By the way, Tia, I've been meaning to ask, you charming romantic, you. Which hops do you lack: the bunny kind or the beer kind? I suppose if it's the latter, that would make you more of an ale. Now I see why you chose a fantasy forum. ^o^

July 10th, 2007, 03:02 PM
Yea now I feel kinda stupid. First off I'm kinda new and had no clue this was for fantasy. >.< I know there are some mistakes, but I had typed this before I went to bed that night, and I guess I need to fix a whole bunch of stuff.

July 10th, 2007, 03:14 PM
I knew I should have kept to the original script. Well I guess I'm going to be rewriting it.

James Carmack
July 10th, 2007, 08:20 PM
Rewriting is all part of the game. In fact, if you haven't heard this one before, I'll gladly be the first one to tell you. As a writer, about 10% of your time will be spent writing and 90% rewriting. That is, of course, only counting the time you're actually making progress.

I look forward to seeing what good round of edits brings up. Ganbare.

July 10th, 2007, 08:31 PM
Yupp, I'm gonna, try and keep to my first copy this time, it sounds more realistic.

July 10th, 2007, 10:55 PM
hola tia;


I read the story. It made me sad. The paragraphs with all commas were kind of unusual, and made the pace seem to be rushed, and that wasn't the voice of the story. It might have been better to break it up a little. Use some sentences.

I would have written the whole story in first person, even the first part. I think it would flow better, even with the "impossible first person" after she died. I think that was a nice touch. You'll need to do some editing of course, but you knew that.

Better days,


July 11th, 2007, 01:09 AM
Yeah, you've got some work ahead of you, but, don't fret. We all started somewhere.

July 11th, 2007, 01:11 AM
Yupp for sure