Author Topic: "The Devils Due" my first short story  (Read 2805 times)

Offline gudmike

  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
"The Devils Due" my first short story
« on: September 16, 2008, 07:04:54 pm »
Hello all, I am as nervous as can be with my first post here after saying hi in the introduction post. Please if you can spare the time and give constructive criticism without the sarcasm, visit my link to my first short story "The Devils Due" and let me know what you think. It was rather well received I think on this website and I am in the process of  writing short story number two entitled "Citizen X". I thank you for your time and wish you all luck in your writing endeavors.

http://www.redbubble.com/people/gudmike

Thank you for your time,
Mike

"all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."- -"Sea Fever" By John Masefield (1878-1967)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 07:54:06 pm by Stephen Theaker »

Troo

  • Guest
Re: "The Devils Due" my first short story
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2008, 12:36:03 pm »

Troo

  • Guest
Re: "The Devils Due" my first short story
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2008, 01:03:19 pm »
Okay. Constructive criticism without sarcasm. I don't have time to do a line-by-line breakdown, for which I apologise.

1: Punctuation use within the story is hit and miss. There are apostrophes where there shouldn't be, no apostrophes where there should be, incorrect capitalisation, missing full stops, and serial comma abuse. Here's a snippet with a few examples all within the same sentence:

Quote
As my words of prayer fell on deaf ears, I watched the animals through my window, birds sang while others rustled for food along the grassy path leading into the woods, no doubt a shortcut made by children, as it lead to the street with the only candy store in town, squirrels played tag up and down a nearby tree while chipmunk?s sat up next to one another as if having a staring contest.

The sentence is overlong and uses commas in lieu of more appropriate punctuation (full stops, hyphens), then adds an apostrophe to "chipmunks". It is a lone example sentence, but not the sole offender.

2: Overuse of simile. The word "like" appears 21 times in this short story, within a simile context. That's 21 similes. To distract your reader further, the similes aren't quick and simple, they are slow and convoluted. Examples include:

Quote
Horses moving closer together, bowing their heads at one side then the other of a companions head then running off swiftly in one direction stopping abruptly, then darting off in another direction like a quarterback in a football game evading his opponents while trying to decide which teammate to throw the ball to.

 - The simile here essentially just repeats the previous information about the horses move. It needs cutting completely.

Quote
When she looked up at me for the first time and I saw those green eye?s sparkling like two giant emerald gemstones, I could not resist her charm and fell deeply and unequivocally in love with her right there on the spot.

 - This simile is overexaggerated. Emeralds are gemstones, so the word gemstones is superfluous. Giant is a distracting word, as it makes your woman here look like an Anime character: Even though the word is associated with the emeralds, it's also linked to her eyes. Add to that the fact that comparing green eyes to emeralds is a much-used cliche (and a wrong one, as emeralds don't have black bits in the middle and white bits around the outside) and you'd do best changing this one altogether. Try to think outside the simile box. Why are her eyes sparkling? Is it happiness? Is she tearful? What exactly about them makes them sparkle? Think about it some more and try to be a little different - but not so different that you compare a woman's eyes to the anus of a diarrhoea-ridden cat and thoroughly throw your reader.

3: The opening paragraph. It's purpose is to grab the reader.

Quote
I awoke at dawn as I did every morning since that horrible day, awaking from a night filled with tossing and turning, dreams not of beautiful scenes but of dark landscapes filled with shadows and inhabited by people walking aimlessly to and fro. On the faces of those who had a face, there was nothing but a blank stare, like a walking corpse you might find in a low budget horror film. I did not do the usual things people do in the morning such as get the morning newspaper from the hallway and make a pot of pipping hot coffee to enjoy with a Cinnamon roll or cook ham and eggs to wash down with freshly squeezed orange juice. No I would do as I have done every morning for the last fifteen years. I rose out of bed, relieved myself in the bathroom and went directly to the living room window for the daily vigil.

Compare with, say:

Quote
It was the day my grandmother exploded.

or

Quote
It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.

Hopefully you can see the difference. Read more, analyse what does and doesn't work, and take those lessons to the table when you write.

4: Dialogue. Writing dialogue is a skill that needs honing. While dialogue needs to have the appearance of realism, writing actual realistic dialogue would cheese off most readers ("So I um uh, oh, you know that woman? Uh, the one with the... ohhh, ummm... Anyway, she died"). However, writing wholly unnatural dialogue is just as offputting. Case in point:

Quote
Then one day the phone call came and I literally dropped the phone from my hands as if succumbing to a stroke myself at the news. ?Mr. Lemore? the voice on the phone said.
?yes this is he?
?this is Dr. Kendel down at Memorial Hospital, your wife has just been admitted to the Hospital in very serious condition and to be quite honest I?m not sure how long she has to live sir, it would be prudent of you to get here a soon as possible?
Suddenly nothing else mattered to me but Lorinda, I threw the phone down and ran from my office not saying a word to anyone, jumped in my Mercedes Benz and was off to the hospital like a shot. When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor on call met me, ?I?m sorry Mr. Lemore but your wife has passed on?
the only words I could manage to blurt out were ?oh no?
?we did everything we could to make her last moments comfortable Mr. Lamore, I assure you we did?
?did?did she say anything doctor?anything at all sir? tears were now welling up in my eye?s and I felt the weight of the entire world on my shoulders at this moment.
?well sir, she just kept repeating your name and then..well it was strange sir?
?what?tell me for god sakes man, what did she say, I need to know?
?her last words were..?Romeo and Juliet?

People don't talk like that. And while people in stories don't talk as real people do either, your job is to convey a sense of realism within the dialogue.

5: Spelling. Words are your tools. Use them well and they will help you. Use them poorly and they will betray you.

Obligatory examples:

Quote
Dow like eye?s.

- doe-like eyes.

Quote
My heart started to pound like a base drum in my ears,

- bass drum

And so on.


I hope that's of use to you.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 01:13:44 pm by Troo »

Offline gudmike

  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: "The Devils Due" my first short story
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2008, 06:19:40 pm »
Ouch, and yes it is of great use to me. Thank you for taking the time.

Troo

  • Guest
Re: "The Devils Due" my first short story
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2008, 11:34:55 am »
You're more than welcome. And thank you for not biting my head off for it  :D

(Believe me, I've fallen into the "please may I have feedback on my story - OMG I FUCKING KILL YOU FOR NOT SAYING IT'S THE BEST THING EVER!" trap once too often)