A big thank you for pointing me in the direction of your stories. I just finished reading three of your pieces and wanted to get some thoughts to you while your words are buzzing fresh round my mind. I like the way that you cover very different ground in all three, but with such an individual voice that the stories feel related – like different aspects of a single, recognizable world. You’re creating a landscape here so it becomes easy to imagine that all three of these stories could take place in the same town.What struck me most about Puff is how it reads like the first page of a longer work. There are so many details here from which other stories could branch off. The way Nya shields her cigarette right at the start – she’s used to smoking outdoors, maybe hurriedly and in secret. The damaged wall – a lot of good stories begin by throwing in a seemingly unimportant detail at the outset that turns out to be very important later on. How did that wall get damaged, how does Nya get linked in to what happened. There are other examples here which make the piece feel like it could grow into something bigger – the trash: maybe Nya gets pissed at people littering round her apartment and waits up one night to catch whoever does it. The boy on his bike – where’s he going and why turquoise? I did love that line about the kids getting joy from wearing down their shoes – yeah of course because they’re running and tagging. But the reader knows their parents won’t feel so joyful about having to get new shoes, which is what makes it a good twist around of an expected situation.You can see what I mean – these are elements of a bigger environment around Nya and Jeremy and I think what you’ve got here is an intriguing opening to a novel, as much as a story in its own right.Because I’m an obsessive there’s a few nit-picky things bugged me a little. Something I always have to watch out for is tripping myself up with contradiction – that trash under the window, it’s colorful but the brown papers are dingy. Someone like me would think those two words don’t gel. At the shoot, it surely is bad when some crazy bitch throws water on you but, well, it’s water. What if it was some juice that stained and ruined Nya’s t-shirt and she had to find something else to wear home. Then she could be really angry. Another plot point you could develop if you wanted is that Nya burns her nose with smoke. Well, I guess that her boyfriend’s cologne straight after would probably make her sore nose sting. So she’s really pleased to see him, but it hurts – the start of trouble maybe… You could just take this story on and on.A Slave to Her on the other hand couldn’t I think be expanded at all because it’s just right as it is. It’s such a sweet succession of moments, and the repetitions give a great sense that these people are doing the same things day on day, maybe not liking their jobs so much, but it’s routine and repetition brings them together. 11:35 is someplace to begin and from there you feel they could go anywhere. “I am a slave to her absence” is a great line and I love Todd’s lack of push – he wants to ask Gia out but until he can he’ll enjoy what he has. Really sweet.Newsworthy is interesting and works in ways that maybe you didn’t intend at the outset. I think maybe the first three pages could do with a little more work to make the opening a bit more punchy – this is probably wholly the wrong thing to say but the female friends at the start do spend a lot of words talking. Tina’s father is portrayed as a monster yet he seems to give up easily – he leaves in shame but almost I thought too placidly. And Adrian does seem a tad uncurious about who killed her husband.It’s in the second half that the story catches light, with the action moving faster and the focus on Ms Tina and her two pound flogger – what a great detail: not just any flogger, a two pound one! From her opinion that no single woman can live in the city without a gun we know that she’s a bit special and it would be a fine thing to know what she’s doing with the BDSM gear. Does she supplement her teacher paycheck? Her irritation at the dumbass blackmailer got me cheering so of course I didn’t want her to die – I wanted her to kill the pipsqueak and go on to leave a path of destruction. The payoff line is good though, and again there’s some great phrasing: Joe’s bald spot “made his aerial view look like a swimming pool”, I can see that exactly! The line about staying on top of the story and on top of the interns is a snappy wisecrack crying out to be used in dialogue. Maybe Joe’s death and the final fight could take a bit more muscle in the writing – Tina wants to kill Joe, and she doesn’t want to die, and I’d guess she’s not lacking in strength or determination. That could come through a little more. Writing one on one violence is more difficult than it seems – I’m not so great at it.It’s always kinda hard I find looking at other people’s stories because I start to rewrite how I want to see things, so please don’t take any offense at any of my ham-fisted attempts at critique. I really enjoyed these and think you should aim on some longer work if you want to. And definitely don’t let the day job get in the way – keep writing.Thanks again and all the bestMark
I have been diligently working as a writer for sometime now and I have some work published! Yay me! I have links to my work here, please take some time to read my work —> http://about.me/TiffanyChristinaLewis
This is an email I got from a writer that I asked to read my work. I thought it was a great assessment of my writing so I wanted to share. If you have anything to say about my work after reading it, please post a comment here and I will use these reviews on my profile.
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Mark Wagstaff is a GREAT author himself, visit his website to read his work —> http://www.markwagstaff.com
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