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haim
August 3rd, 2003, 06:14 AM
Hey everybody I'm new here and my short story has just appeared on this website. I'd really appreciate it if you posted your reviews here or send it to my Email. Your opinion is very crucial since I'm planning to attempt to publish a whole novel based on the ideas of this short story so please check it out and don't feel bad, negative criticism will be even more helpful as long as you point out the negative points.

my story is called "The Gathering of the Powers" so check it out!

Thank you all! What a great website!

haim
August 7th, 2003, 08:05 AM
I'm just writing to say it's not very nice of u 23 people that viewed my request and simply ignored it. It's really frustrating to wait for commemts! please check out my story! I'd be really gratefull.....

Thanks everyone and here's a link:

http://www.sffworld.com/authors/a/avihail_hm/fiction/gatheringofpower1.html

KATS
August 7th, 2003, 08:31 AM
Please try to be patient. Twenty pages is a lot to read and review. Also take into consideration that the short stories are sorted by names, not by titles. I realize that your story is fairly easy to find as it is on the most recent 20 list, but others may not have realized that and faced a difficult time finding the story. Thank you for providing the link in your recent post.

If you would like, I will read your story and give you a critique. However be forewarned that I am brutally honest, even when editing my own work. I do not have the time to do a line by line critique, but I will do my best to give you a thorough critique by the end of today.

Kimberly
a/k/a KATS

haim
August 7th, 2003, 08:34 AM
Yes! please check it out! I like honesty! I'd really appreciate it....

Thank you....

I'm sorry for my impatience

KATS
August 7th, 2003, 02:23 PM
General Observations:

Positive: (always start with the positive)

1. The plot is doable. At its core it is an interesting story. Perhaps not unique (man’s greed leads to disaster), but there are some unique twists.

2. The writing is passable. Definitely shows promise.

3. The characters also show promise.

Where it needs more work:

1. There is an awful lot of telling (using passive verbs). The story would liven up a bit if you could change the passive verbs to action verbs. (ie “It was at the lake of Futurela when they first realized that they were being spied on . . . ” instead this could be written “At the lake of Futurela they first realized someone spied on them.”) Also, there are many places where “had” is repetitive. (ie “he had reacted to both” is the same as “he reacted to both”.) Delete these “had’s”. Just so you can see what I mean go though the story and highlight every “to be” verbs, that is all “is’s”, “are’s”, “been’s”, etc. and for kicks, highlight the “have’s” as well.

2. Is the history lessons terribly important to the story? Can the plot stand without them? I’m not just talking about the beginning of the story. Throughout the story the narrative jumps out of the flow of the story to give information relevant to the world, but irrelevant to the story. For instance at one point you stop the story to tell the reader that Globernor is the biggest part of land not covered with water in the first earth. How does this further the story? From what I can see it has absolutely no bearing on anything in the story. And if it doesn’t contribute to the story, it is detracting from the story and should therefore be cut. About half of what you have in the story could be cut and not loose anything vital to the story. And in fact it would strengthen it.

3. Another problem that crops up occasionally relates to the use of flash backs. A good portion of the story takes place as the main character reflects on the events leading up to his current predicament. This flash back is not always clear, almost like in the middle of the flash back the story returns briefly to the present. These breaks in the flash back are only a phrase or two long. Like the previous issue these cause not only confusion to the reader, but also they interrupt the flow of the story. Readers don’t like to be reminded that they are reading a story. They want to live the story. When you cut back and forth like that, readers tend to get frustrated and quit reading.

4. The characters need a great deal more depth. I will admit that I favor character driven stories, so my view may be biased. As is, the story gives the reader only a glimpse of the characters’ individualisms. They currently are, quite frankly, flat. What makes these characters tick? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What vices are they striving to overcome? There’s so much more to these complicated characters. Just remember that the writer conveys this by many methods, none of which are “telling” the reader. For instance, Starfiuse is a stubborn man. You never outright said that, but his “actions” conveyed it. His dialogue, every word choice, shows a little something about the man. Every action & thought shows the reader what kind of man he is. You can also show the reader something about his character by what he doesn’t say, do or think.

5. I do have a problem with the animals in your world. I don’t understand why horses and elephants and such exist but not cats. I’m just not sure why some modern day animals exist at that time, but not others. I assume the action takes place before the ice age, before the dinosaurs, before the cave man even. Unless you are discounting that any of those things existed and this story is an alternate history.

6. Some grammar errors, though I won’t get into that as the story may be entirely different should you choose to revise it.

Well, that’s my opinion anyway. Take it or leave it as you please.

Kimberly
a/k/a KATS

Bracken
August 7th, 2003, 04:03 PM
Originally posted by haim
I'm just writing to say it's not very nice of u 23 people that viewed my request and simply ignored it. It's really frustrating to wait for commemts! please check out my story! I'd be really gratefull.....

Thanks everyone and here's a link:

http://www.sffworld.com/authors/a/avihail_hm/fiction/gatheringofpower1.html

This seems to happen a lot.

Your thread subject does not necessarily indicate that the thread would be about your short story. I clicked the thread to see what you wanted an opinion on. There is no way I could have realised that you expected everyone who read your post to respond to it. I didn't have time to do a critique for you just then, and that does not make me a bad person.

But you shouldn't expect a response whether the reader of the post has an excuse or not. People are not obligated to do critiques just because someone asks for one. Often people will, because they're nice like that, but you really can't expect them to.

When I said 'this seems to happen a lot' I meant that this kind of post seems to crop up fairly regularly, and so many of these comments are aimed at more people than just the originator of this thread.

I do not understand how people can come to this website, give nothing, and expect critiques in return. Most forums I've visited where critiquing goes on have an unwritten (sometimes written) policy of - if you expect a crit - do one for someone else. When someone comes on here and basically demands a crit (especially when they've only made a handful of posts) - I always think why should they get one when they have fed nothing back into the community?

There are some really great posters here (no, not including me) who give a lot to this place. They respond to nearly all of the requests for critiques, and yet I could almost guarentee that if those same great posters asked for the same, they might get a response from the regulars, but I doubt they'd get even as much as a fifty per cent response rate from the people who'd originally requested critiques. They're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, which is great - but why should they?


Just hang around a bit before making demands! (or better still don't make them - give and you will receive!) Argh. Rant over.

haim
August 7th, 2003, 04:57 PM
Thank you very very much KATZ.
I found your review very helpful and I will definitely consider it. I see what you mean about the awful lot of story telling and the history lesson. It really isn't very important it's just once I build a world up in my head I can't help but put it down in writing. I will, however, change that since I see it's on the negative list. I thought the use of flashback would be nice as I personally love stories with a known destiny, so I'll see about that once I get more reviews.
There's one thing I did not understand- Does Starfiuse need more depth or not? Since you said his personality is clear through his actions I'm not clear about that.

I'd also appreciate it if u take the time to mention actions or behavior that should be explained (I thought I gave clear motives to most of the actions-
Starfiuse being treated badly by nature, Pnomera believing her sister would have them killed if she wouldn't kill her, and Nimpsy seeing the horrible destiny.....
then again I'm probably wrong......)

Thank u again and feel free to add anything.


and Bracken- You're right- I'll write a review as soon as I can.

Thank u all and keep reviewing!

KATS
August 7th, 2003, 06:54 PM
Originally posted by haim
Thank you very very much KATZ.

You’re very welcom!!


Originally posted by haim
I see what you mean about the awful lot of story telling and the history lesson. It really isn't very important it's just once I build a world up in my head I can't help but put it down in writing.

Don’t worry. It is a common desire to put everything about your world into the story. I have cabinets full of detailed information on my worlds, down to the weather patterns and tectonic plate movements. However less than 1 % of all that information gets into the stories. But that’s OK. Knowing so much about the worlds allows me to write more clearly and with more depth.


Originally posted by haim
I thought the use of flashback would be nice as I personally love stories with a known destiny, so I'll see about that once I get more reviews.

I wasn’t trying to say that you should get rid of the flashback all together. I just meant that it would read better if you didn’t jump between the flashback and present. Once you start the flashback, stay in the past until you come back to the present. As it is there were several places where it was confusing which time frame the action was taking place in.


Originally posted by haim
There's one thing I did not understand- Does Starfiuse need more depth or not? Since you said his personality is clear through his actions I'm not clear about that.


Sorry if it was confusing. Starfiuse could use more depth. Though he is the most well rounded of your characters, he doesn’t come off as sympathetic and he should. I used his stubbornness as an example of one of his qualities that came through very well. However the rest of what I wrote was to explain how everything the character does and doesn’t do better fleshes out that character. Not to say that those example were from Starfiuse.


Originally posted by haim
I'd also appreciate it if u take the time to mention actions or behavior that should be explained (I thought I gave clear motives to most of the actions-
Starfiuse being treated badly by nature, Pnomera believing her sister would have them killed if she wouldn't kill her, and Nimpsy seeing the horrible destiny.....
then again I'm probably wrong......)

The thing is, you should never have to explain a character’s actions or behavior. Their actions and behavior speaks for itself. For instance if a character is hunger you could say that his mouth watered as the smell of a nearby roasting fowl reached his nose. The reader will infer that either he is hungry or the smell is making him hungry. You could of course expand on that phrase depending on what you want the reader to get out of the passage. You should never have to say he salivated because he was hungry.

In reference to motive, it’s not a matter of giving clear motives to the actions, its more of how that motive is conveyed to the reader.

Your example of Starfiuse being treated badly by nature is a good one. You give all his motive more or less in one lump exposition. And let’s be honest, most expositions are boring. This same information could be conveyed in a subtler way. For instance he could avert his eyes every time he sees his reflection or he could glare at a mother or father interacting with their child. The reader can then infer that something about his reflection bothers him, something about the loving relationship between parent and child upsets him. Then with a brief flashback to when his mother/father died, the reader instantly understand and needs no explanation. When he inadvertently sees his grotesque reflection the reader understands why he had avoided the reflection and consequently why he feels nature betrayed him.

In my opinion Nimpsy is the next best character. I get the feeling she’s more complex than what is expressed in the story. The scene where she dies could be much more moving. Using her point of view for that scene could make a big difference. Her plea to her sister is poignant, but you miss out on a chance for an entire scene that is poignant. Her decision to betray Starfiuse was a difficult one and she undoubtedly is conflicted about that decision. You let us into a bit of this internal conflict, but only a shadow of what it could be.

Sorry so long. I think I got a little carried away. Hope it helps.

Kimberly
a/k/a KATS

haim
August 7th, 2003, 08:50 PM
You're being so helpful! Thank you so very much! I'll definitely use most of your suggestions.
Those were excellent ideas about Starfiuse.
Since the story is all told from Starfiuse's prospective I think it would be rather awkward to swith to Nimpsy in her death scene I'd welcome suggestion there though.
I would also appreciate if you pointed out the flaws in Pnomera's character.
And finally- I was wondering what you thought about the end. Some people who read it told me it felt rushed. I was wondering if you felt that as well and if the ending (and the whole story) would make you read a full novel based on the ideas of this story.


Thanks again. I cannot describe how grateful I am.

KATS
August 7th, 2003, 09:57 PM
Originally posted by haim
Since the story is all told from Starfiuse's prospective I think it would be rather awkward to swith to Nimpsy in her death scene I'd welcome suggestion there though.

Unfortunately I don’t have to many suggestions. Limiting the narrative to Starfiuse’s perspective is, well, . . . limiting. Only suggestions I have is work with the senses he has left, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Maybe open him up a little so he’s not so indifferent to the inflections of Nimpsy’s voice.


Originally posted by haim
I would also appreciate if you pointed out the flaws in Pnomera's character.

Pnomera has very little character. I’m sure she has some complexity inside her, but she was very flat. Blind obedience to Starfiuse is the only thing that I got from her. I just don’t know what direction you wanted to take her. Starfiuse and Nimpsy had a bit to go on & I could read a bit between the lines as well as logically what their reactions and feeling would be based on their situations. Pnomera came out a bit at the very end when she killed Nimpsy (did she kill Nimpsy or turn her into something else?). She needs more layers. Sorry I couldn’t give you any more on this.


Originally posted by haim
And finally- I was wondering what you thought about the end. Some people who read it told me it felt rushed.

You’re post initially said it was the forerunner to a novel, so yes it felt rushed and no I assumed the true ending would be in the novel. Now if you plan on publishing this story as a short, then yes the ending may need some work.


Originally posted by haim
I was wondering if you felt that as well and if the ending (and the whole story) would make you read a full novel based on the ideas of this story.

Unfortunately no, I probably wouldn’t read a novel with this plot. But don’t go by me. I don’t read much. I figure if I have time to read, then I have time to write and therefore I should be writing not reading. I do make exceptions for a few books by favorite authors, ie Jordan.

Kimberly
a/k/a KATS