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Short Story Critique! 700 Words


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#1 efowler

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:11 PM

It's for a contest. Has to be under 1000 words. Message me here and I can send it to you! Thanks!

#2 E.B. Black

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:15 PM

You can go ahead and send that to me, too, if you would like along with the novel I am helping you critique.

It's such a short amount of words to critique that I'd be happy to look it over for you. If you ever start writing short stories as well more often, I have a few written and we could exchange works some time.

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#3 efowler

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:56 PM

Yes send me some if you want! If you have some under 1000 words and are fiction, you should send them in here: http://www.americans...6-announcements

#4 efowler

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:21 PM

Anyone else want to take a jab at it? Here it is:


A very selfish boy lived a very selfish life. He cared little, if anything at all, for other people and rarely considered the consequences of his actions. His parents had no idea what to do with him, for every time a punishment was inflicted, they seemed to be punished more through rude words and abusive gestures. The boy stole, lied, cheated, and mistreated any living thing in sight; his jealousy created a new standard of envy amongst the people. In his town he was known as The Fox for his sly demeanor.

In this town, a ritual was preserved from the beginning of their settlement. Every old woman and every old man, when the time came where their wisdom was all they had, would walk through a great white door placed in the tall grey walls that enclosed their society. Every day the selected elders would say goodbye to their families and venture into what lay outside. Although they would never return, their families seemed happy for them. It was seen as a graduation. No one knew what was behind the vast grey walls, no word has ever been relayed back to the trapped town, but no one ever cared.

Except for now, as The Fox watched this happen day after day, he was struck by envy. He gravely wished to follow the elders outside the village walls, as the expressions of each old man and woman were enlightened by happiness every time one had to leave. And with everything inside the grey walls now boring and lacking in curiosity, the white door intrigued The Fox even more. Though, every time he attempted to walk through, the guard would pull him back before he could even touch the knob.

“You are not ready, my dear boy.” the guard would say lightly. The Fox noticed his consistent reaction and decided to take advantage of his friendly warning. He also saw that the guard stood defenseless, as no one before had been so anxious. The selfish Fox had to get his way.

So one day when the sun was shining high in the sky, The Fox attempted to walk through. Though this time, he had a plan deep in his pocket. When The Fox walked to the door at the outskirts of the town, he was extra friendly to the guard, making it obvious he was up to something. Though the guard, blind to the ways of the sly and mischievous Fox, did not see this as wicked, just friendly as most people acted in the town.

When the boy headed towards the door, the guard pulled him back again with the same behavior as before; but The Fox took out a rock from deep in his pocket and hit the guard over the head. The guard fell to the ground, red rivers leaking from his head and his eyes were closed from the outside. The Fox kicked him to confirm he was safe, and the guard did not flinch. The Fox was finally alone. His plan worked and no words of warning were said.

The Fox moved on from his crime, not concerned with the health of the guard, and turned the white wooden knob on the white door. He opened it to find the other side was black, a canvas that seemed impenetrable to him. There was no vast forest that he had envisioned there to be. He grew furious and disappointed, but could not close the door, no matter how hard he had tried. Then, out of the dark, a herd of red foxes latched their sharp teeth onto his neck and scratched his arms. The Fox cried and cried as his own kind mutilated his body, though the guard lay motionless on the ground, and the town was too far away for anyone to notice. The foxes dragged him from the town where he once lived and into the darkness on the other side. The Fox regretted all he had done, all his actions and his words, all his crimes and his mistreatments. Though, it was too late. He was already being dragged across the unforeseeable darkness and there he lived forever, constantly being pestered and harmed by the herd of foxes that took him away in the first place.

#5 Revo

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:12 AM

I'd cut down the repetive word use and clarify what's going on in the final paragraph.
Was the 'other side' a form of instant judgement for how those that pass through lived their lives, or did everyone get eaten? I suspect that's not the case but it could use a dash more explaining.

my $.02. Good luck with the contest.

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#6 efowler

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:13 PM

Okay thanks! I used some of the repetition as a poetic-like feature of the story, so I kept some in. And I added the elders would have a reflective glow on their faces when the door opened, and mentioned it in the end that The Fox didn't go to the same place as the elders. Thank you!

#7 Minx

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:36 PM

Greetings Efowler, :smile:

I would change your beginning just a bit. And this is only my little two bit idea...just a sample...I would begin with your second paragraph and make it your first one. Kind of like this...

In a town called (any name you like) a ritual was preserved from the beginning of their settlement...etc...

Your first paragraph now becomes your second...In that same town lived a selfish boy who indulged in a selfish life or lifestyle...etc.

Now to your third paragraph to tie in all in...As The Fox watched this ritual happen day after day, he was struck by envy...continue

Quite a good lesson is being taught in your story. Makes me think of the morals...look before you leap, curiosity killed the cat and what goes around comes around! Cool.

Best wishes wishes with your submission.

Regards,


Kisha B.
Minx
"It is when the horizon is the darkest and human reason is beaten down to the ground that faith shines brightest and comes to our rescue." ~ Gandhi

#8 efowler

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 02:03 PM

Wow, mind blown Minx! I always though it lacked something and I think this may be it. Here's a revision:


In a town called Purgathy, a ritual was preserved from the beginning of their settlement. Every old woman and every old man, when the time came where their wisdom was all they had, would walk through a great white door placed in the tall grey walls that enclosed their society. Every day the selected elders would say goodbye to their families and venture into what lay outside. Although they would never return, their families seemed happy for them. It was seen as a graduation. No one knew what was behind the vast grey walls, no word has ever been relayed back to the trapped town, but no one ever cared.

In this very same town lived a selfish boy who indulged himself in a selfish lifestyle. He cared little, if anything at all, for other people and rarely considered the consequences of his actions. His parents had no idea what to do with him, for every time a punishment was inflicted, they seemed to be punished more through rude words and abusive gestures. The boy stole, lied, cheated, and mistreated any living thing in sight; his jealousy created a new standard of envy amongst the people. In his town he was known as The Fox for his sly demeanor.

As The Fox watched this ritual happen day after day, he was struck by envy. He gravely wished to follow the elders outside the village walls. Every time one had to leave, their expressions were enlightened by happiness and their face seemed to reflect a glowing light from what lay outside. And with everything inside the grey walls now boring and lacking in curiosity, the white door intrigued The Fox even more. Though, every time he attempted to walk through, the guard would pull him back before he could even touch the knob.

“You are not ready, my dear boy.” the guard would say lightly. The Fox noticed his consistent reaction and decided to take advantage of his friendly warning. He also saw that the guard stood defenseless, as no one before had been so anxious. The selfish Fox had to get his way.

So one day when the sun was shining high in the sky, The Fox attempted to walk through. Though this time, he had a plan deep in his pocket. When The Fox walked to the door at the outskirts of the town, he was extra friendly to the guard, making it obvious he was up to something. Though the guard, blind to the ways of the sly and mischievous Fox, did not see this as wicked, just friendly as most people acted in the town.

When the boy headed towards the door, the guard pulled him back again with the same behavior as before; but The Fox took out a rock from deep in his pocket and hit the guard over the head. The guard fell to the ground, red rivers leaking from his head and his eyes were closed from the outside. The Fox kicked him to confirm he was safe, and the guard did not flinch. The Fox was finally alone. His plan worked and no words of warning were said.

The Fox moved on from his crime, not concerned with the health of the guard, and turned the white wooden knob on the door. He opened it to find the other side was black, a canvas that seemed impenetrable to him. There was no vast forest that he had envisioned there to be. He grew furious and disappointed, but could not close the door, no matter how hard he had tried. Then, out of the dark, a herd of red foxes latched their sharp teeth onto his neck and scratched his arms. This wasn’t what the elders saw, the expressions of happiness did not come across The Fox and the glowing light did not blind his eyes. Instead, The Fox cried and cried as his own kind mutilated his body, though the guard lay motionless on the ground, and the town was too far away for anyone to notice. The foxes dragged him from the town where he once lived and into the darkness on the other side. The Fox regretted all he had done, all his actions and his words, all his crimes and his mistreatments. Though, it was too late. He was already being dragged across the unforeseeable darkness and there he lived forever, constantly being pestered and harmed by the herd of foxes that took him away in the first place.

#9 Minx

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:01 PM

Ah yes, that reads much better. Again I wish you the very best with your submission.
Regards,

Kisha B.
Minx
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#10 CFAmick

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:27 PM

I read a lot of passive voice. Also, when you introduce the reader to the nickname "The Fox," we should probably know why he's called that from the preceeding description. You shouldn't have to tell us.

#11 JayMG

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:08 AM

What's the comp, efowler?

I'm a bit torn. I get that you're using a kind of aesop's fable technique here, and the language works well in some places, but I am just failing to connect with it. Maybe because it's from an omniscient POV, storybook stylee, or maybe because it's a little predictable - I don't see depth of character and that makes it hard to get absorbed in the tale. Sorry if that's harsh, but I've subbed a helluva lot of short stories in my time and I know what kind of thing you're going to get rejected for.

In a town called Purgathy, a ritual was preserved from the beginning of their settlement. Every old woman and every old man, when the time came where their wisdom was all they had, would walk through a great white door placed in the tall grey walls that enclosed their society. Every day the selected elders would say goodbye to their families and venture into what lay outside. Although they would never return, their families seemed happy for them. It was seen as a graduation. No one knew what was behind the vast grey walls, no word has [HAD, you're in the past tense here] ever been relayed back to the trapped town [you can't leave this unexplained], but no one ever cared.


Repetition underlined. Look, I know this is partly the style of the story but all we've had so far is telling. Not the experience through the eyes of an elder, or their family, just an outline of the story. It sounds a bit like a synopsis.

In this very same town lived a selfish boy who indulged himself in a selfish lifestyle. He cared little, if anything at all, for other people and rarely considered the consequences of his actions. His parents had no idea what to do with him, for every time a punishment was inflicted, they seemed to be punished more through rude words and abusive gestures. The boy stole, lied, cheated, and mistreated any living thing in sight; his jealousy created a new standard of envy amongst the people. In his town he was known as The Fox for his sly demeanor.


All telling. Why is he selfish? How did they punish him? What was he jealous of? How did he feel about the rest of the town? Were they scared of him? You need details to show that they're not all 2 dimensional.

As The Fox watched this ritual happen day after day [BIG town if people are dying every day], he was struck by envy. He gravely wished to follow the elders outside the village walls. Every time one had to leave, their expressions were enlightened by happiness and their faces seemed to reflect a glowing light from what lay outside. And with everything inside the grey walls now boring and lacking in curiosity [objects can't lack in curiosity, only a person], the white door intrigued The Fox even more. Though, every time he attempted to walk through, the guard would pull him back before he could even touch the knob.

“You are not ready, my dear boy.” the guard would say lightly. The Fox noticed his consistent reaction and decided to take advantage of his friendly warning. He also saw that the guard stood defenseless, as no one before had been so anxious. [This read awkwardly for me - surely anxiety would not leave the guard defenseless. It might give the fox more of a chance to get past him if he could play upon this nervousness (which is what I thought would happen, but instead he just hit him with a rock). The selfish Fox had to get his way.


In bold are all the adjectives/adverbs you probably don't need. Especially if you're going with a sparse style of narration like you have been. They just jump out as unnecessary embellishment.

So one day when the sun was shining high in the sky, The Fox attempted to walk through. Though this time, he had a plan deep in his pocket. When The Fox walked to the door at the outskirts of the town, he was extra friendly to the guard, making it obvious he was up to something. Though the guard, blind to the ways of the sly and mischievous Fox, did not see this as wicked, just friendly as most people acted in the town.


Cliches are in bold. And hang on a minute. The fox makes it OBVIOUS he's up to something, but the guard doesn't know the ways of the sly fox (clue's in the name, dude) even though before you said he was kind of notorious. If these townspeople are so naive, why do they bother posting a guard at all? And once again, I'd prefer to hear the fox's/guard's thoughts from him, not from the narrator.

When the boy headed towards the door, the guard pulled him back again with the same behavior as before; but The Fox took out a rock from deep in his pocket [where he was keeping his plan, right?] and hit the guard over the head. The guard fell to the ground, red rivers leaking from his head and his eyes were closed from the outside. [As opposed to...? I've been trying to close my eyes from the inside - can't do it.] The Fox kicked him to confirm he was safe, and the guard did not flinch. The Fox was finally alone. His plan worked and no words of warning were said.


This is moving into biblical language here. Either do this the whole way through as a motif or not at all.

The Fox moved on from his crime, not concerned with the health of the guard, and turned the white wooden knob on the door. He opened it to find the other side was black, a canvas that seemed impenetrable to him. There was no vast forest that he had envisioned there to be. He grew furious and disappointed, but could not close the door, no matter how hard he had tried. Then, out of the dark, a herd of red foxes latched their sharp teeth onto his neck and scratched his arms. This wasn’t what the elders saw, the expressions of happiness did not come across The Fox and the glowing light did not blind his eyes. Instead, The Fox cried and cried as his own kind mutilated his body, though the guard lay motionless on the ground, and the town was too far away for anyone to notice. The foxes dragged him from the town where he once lived and into the darkness on the other side. The Fox regretted all he had done, all his actions and his words, all his crimes and his mistreatments. Though, it was too late. He was already being dragged across the unforeseeable darkness and there he lived forever, constantly being pestered and harmed by the herd of foxes that took him away in the first place.


This would be so much stronger from the fox's POV - describing the rise of adrenaline as he opens the door, the frantic attempt to get back, the feeling of the foxs' teeth sinking into his flesh, the flashback of all his misdemeanors, the eternal darkness... Ham it up, baby! At the end of this I just think, "huh, fair enough, kid got his comeuppance, and those townspeople should really employ a better guard." UNLESS the townspeople orchestrated it all just to get rid of him. Now THAT would be interesting.

#12 efowler

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:10 AM

Wow thank you very much. I'll look over it and change a lot of things.

#13 efowler

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:09 AM

And the comp is the American Short(er) Fiction Competition




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