View Full Version : Looking for critique on something I've written.

08-22-2014, 03:33 PM
Here goes. I just posted the first chapter of my slice-of-life coming-of-age story in seven parts, and I would appreciate some critique on it. I've checked this subforum out and it seems that most of you critique visual art. But if there's anyone out there willing to critique a piece of writing, I'd love and adore you for it forever. I know it's a bit long-ish, but I really could appreciate the advice.

Have a link, then. (https://www.weasyl.com/submission/704251/american-slang-chapter-1-voyage-1-7)

Thanks in advance!

08-26-2014, 02:44 PM
Your opening paragraph reads a little procedurally. Your character wakes up, looks around and describes the setting to us through his narration. The way your narrative goes about between these points is a slight stilted tho... your character wakes up and we get his thoughts and feelings, and then we get a line that basically amounts to "and now I'm going to describe the setting to you". MLR had a word for this sort of thing, something like "looking in the mirror syndrome", where a description of setting prefaces itself with some sort of justification ("he looked in the mirror", "she looked around her office"). It's not dissimilar to when a speaker says "to conclude my presentation" or when an essay says "and onto my next point"; your reader will say "you don't need to tell me, just do it".

Your description of setting doesn't need justification, just get right into it. "The announcement woke him, hunched and arthritic in his seat with his head in his arms. He unbundled his angles, individual joints and vertibrae popping as he rubbed his sleeping eyes. A child near him was bothering her mother for a candy bar, and the noise of it fell on his ears as he groaned, a paw rubbing at his forehead. 'Fuck airports' he said, a half grumble under his breath."

What I mean to say is, keep in mind the way the mechanics of your writing interact with your reader. When something seems redundant or unjustified it stilts the flow of the work, exposes the "procedure" of the mechanisms and pulls the reader out of the world you're constructing.

Frank LeRenard
08-31-2014, 02:22 PM
Echo what Manna said about the mechanics; the description does feel a lot like a list right now, and quite a few things feel rather shoved-in there (the description of the airport terminal, the description of the main character). My word of advice would be to make friends with the Delete key. You'll find that if you go through your story after your first draft is complete and just knock out every passage that disrupts the flow like this (where you have a `STOP: here is what character A looks like --- NOW RESUME', or whatever) completely, you'll end up with a much tighter and more interesting manuscript. If you absolutely feel the information presented in these info-dumps is necessary, find some other way to incorporate it without stopping the story. And sometimes you just can't do that, and that's okay, too; it probably means it wasn't all that necessary after all.

Another thing I noticed is that you've got some tone issues, and I think part of this is because of your tendency to description-dump. You start the story off with this kind of snarky look at the misery of airports (which, by the way, you capture quite well), but then we transition very quickly (in between paragraphs, really) into a tender goodbye and then reflections on big life changes on the plane. I suppose you could argue that the kid is confused and so he doesn't know what to think and hence that's why we get drastic shifts in tone, but I wouldn't buy that and neither would anyone else. You want to maintain a consistency in this regard throughout the whole chapter; in your case, I would go with the melancholy and introspection, since that's already what most of this chapter focuses on.

Otherwise, I rather like your word choice a lot of the time ("marinating in the filth on the ground"), and aside from the clunky description the majority of this piece feels pretty natural. I'd say just try avoid general words that require qualifiers ("quite tall"), and modestly pointless sentences like this: "It was a magical view." (The latter is because you should respect the reader's ability to determine such things for him or herself based on what you hand out.) But yeah, in general, pretty good.

09-11-2014, 03:47 PM
Okay, I've read your critiques, and I'd like to thank you a whole lot from the very bottom of my heart. The reason why I'm replying to this only now is because my life has been pretty hectic as of late and I've got no free time what so ever. What little of it I have, I spend writing, so for a while responding to threads on Weasyl forums has been low-priority.

So, about the tonal dissonance. I get what you're saying, but when I posted my work to the page, I had to break it up into smaller chapters, and each individual chapter has a certain tone to it, or at least I feel it does, thus eliminating some of the tonal problems. But I will definitely take your advice to heart, and try to make things a bit more uniform down the road.

I will try to avoid general sentences, but a lack of experience causes these to occur, and not my lack of attention. Okay, maybe a little bit of a lull in my attention to span. Just a teensy bit. I should read and re-read and try to smooth things out, basically.

Also, both of you said it's good! That's fantastic! I felt as if it was a piece of crap, but here's to me being proven wrong. Expect more chapters down the road. I just don't know if I should start a new thread for each new chapter or just edit my earlier posts or not post about it on the forums at all. I'll see about that yet.

But yeah, many thanks and hugs and stuff. :)