Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Crit of PD, part 1

The problem with this piece starts as soon as the main character speaks.

[“Achossebein,” she whispered, “I have summoned you because I need your advice.”]

Vera is supposed to be a young girl, and this seems both stilted and wordy. It could work if, a short while down the line, she slipped into a more natural speech pattern, then made an effort to put on airs again. Otherwise, she should start and finish sounding believable for her age, situation, and character.

As it is, her dialog just gets worse.

[“Don’t even suggest such things, Demon.”]

If I were a magazine editor, I'd probably put this down, figuring this issue holds for the rest of the story. And I'd be right...except, strangely enough, for Achossebein, who randomly slips into common vernacular.

[Achossebein laughed. “Oh, is that all? Well, you sure don’t ask for much...]

On the plus side, dialog tags are being handled well--that is, avoided most of the time.

But the biggest problem this has is that at the end of this short section, we don't feel a strong attachment to Vera, and the central conflict of the story is still rather vague. That's what dooms this to the slushpile.

As to the rest of the story...if the first few paragraphs don't grab an agent or editor, the chances that they'll even read that far are nil.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Does "Personal Demons" Suck?

I've learned a lot over the years, and much of what I know about good writing comes from analyzing bad writing.

Obviously, we can all learn a little something from "Personal Demons."

So why does it suck? Oh, let us count the ways!

We could focus on the stilted language or flat characters. We could talk about the excess of adverbs. We could do a line-by-line critique, or focus on the big picture. We could crit it in a box, we could crit it with a fox. We could crit it with some ducks; we have to crit it, 'cause it sucks!

So that's my challenge to you, oh readers of this blog. Go back and look over the first installment of "Personal Demons." Try to figure out what made it suck so bad, and how we can all avoid those mistakes in the future. I'll give my critique in the next blog post.

Until then, happy shredding!