Do Not Be Tedious or Boring

The worst offence a writer can perform is to be dull or boring. It is a very woeful offence to be boring. The reader will stop reading and move on to another book while keeping in mind the author is not to be seen again. If a crime novel becomes boring, there’s a very high chance it is because the writer was fatigued while composing the words. The worst bit of guidance I have ever been told, and it’s slung around like a rule that must be followed is; ‘Write what you know.’ It’s not entirely honest, as you should ‘Write what excites you.’ With research into what is exciting to you, so you then understand what you write, and that excitement will come across on the page and excite the reader.

Short Story Review

My Short Story –Newton’s Second Damn Law in Short Fiction Break – 8th Nov. 2017 was reviewed and here is the feedback:

You nailed the countdown theme with this one. I really like the self-aware humor, like “my face was experiencing a strange reorganisation by the wind.” The tension really ramps up when the parachute fails to come out.

The technical terms are interesting, but to be honest, something which the reader will probably skim over. It’s hard to know what those values mean, but if you can put the speeds in context (say, x times the speed of a cheetah, for example), it makes it more relatable to the reader.

Also, reading this felt somewhat more like reading someone’s journal than reading a story. It has the countdown theme, it has a climactic occurrence, but there is no decision on the part of the main character, no choice he has to make to reach the climax. It all seems to happen to him, in a way. If, for instance, something had happened to the instructor and he was left in charge of pulling the parachute, this would force the character to act, which is what makes for a strong story.

You have a lovely writing style, and I hope you keep writing!

*****

This is a well-written story, with all the factual elements added giving it more sense of realism. As the MC prepares to jump, then does so, the protagonist’s doubts and fears are well-shown. The views and experience of free-falling also described well the situation.

What I think lacked for me is perhaps a sense of danger in the story. There is no indication until the end that something could go wrong. Perhaps if a hint was given early in the story, I would be mentalized that this wonderful experience could go terribly wrong.

While the technical information gave the story credibility, I think it might have been better to keep it to a minimum, and use the available word count to emphasize more the potential dangers.

The ending did indeed almost end in tragedy, but there wasn’t too much sense that the protagonist’s life was in danger, or great panic from him.

By enhancing that sense of urgency or panic, a good story can be so much better. Good luck

Fall Short Story Feedback

I submitted a short story and have now got feeback on why I did not win:-

  • I’m always impressed when writers create a whole new world. Nice work. This story was interesting, but did not connect to the contest thing of fall/autumn, etc. However, you’re clearly talented. Keep writing.
  • This is an imaginative alternative universe, one peopled with characters I can relate to. Although there is love (and betrayal) in this story, I didn’t see the connection with the other part of the contest’s theme, fall–but I hope this writer continues to hone their craft.
  • This is a fantastic premise: a couple go on holiday to one of Jupiter’s moons, flying out on a budget spacecraft. She’s called away briefly on a work emergency, but a solar flare damages the craft and they have to fight for survival on an abandoned moon. What a ride!
  • A few problems prevented this story from moving further along in the contest. The climax of this story is Skena and Max’s liftoff and escape from Amalthea. That scene happens quickly and easily, though, so we don’t get to experience the full tension and excitement of their death-defying escape. In just three paragraphs, all the conflict in the story is resolved and wiped away:

Max was becoming unconscious but managed to say, “Look, sit in the pilot seat, and I’ll try to show you how to fly the shuttle. Bu-but, if the thruster stops working at any point, w-we will continue moving on that trajectory for ever more. Then run out of oxygen and die.”

The shuttle lifted off the moon, and Skena got them back to Europa. The shuttle lost the last thruster, and it splashed deep into the water. Max was now unconscious, but they were close to a ship with people who saw the crash.

The people on the ship rescued both of them and took Max to a hospital. They had spent a long time together helping each other to survive.

  • If it were that easy for Skena to fly the broken ship away even when Max was unconscious, why didn’t they try this earlier? And the perfectly-timed ship full of rescuers feels rather d eus ex machina —a convenient fix that saves us writers from having to wrestle through the real problems our characters are facing. Take your time in this scene to describe the moments where it looks like things will go wrong. In addition, the story reports more than it shows , so it feels like we’re hearing about things that happen rather than experiencing them ourselves. Because of that, I didn’t connect strongly with the characters or feel their love for each other. For example: S kena and Culbert talk about what happened, and Skena finds out Culbert had slept with Deidra. Skena said, “Oh, I’ve fallen out of love with you and in love with Max.” That’s a pretty understated and composed response to Culbert’s unfaithfulness. What did Skena do when she heard? Did she gasp? Or cry? Or do we now see that she never cared about him, because she’s callously glad he was unfaithful to her? Little details like that will help us see what’s happening and get invested in the characters and experience of the story. As my fellow judges mentioned, this didn’t connect to the season of Fall. However, you clearly have a fantastic imagination, and as you write more stories and practice your craft, you’ll gather a following of readers who love the amazing worlds you create. Thank you for sharing this one with us, and keep writing!