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The Constructive Criticism Thread:

Please read the rules below before posting. We're taking turns to post text, and text posted out of turn will be hollered.

The discussion over at the "Is being Troperiffic a Bad Thing?" thread got a few of us seriously talking about starting a full-fledged, free for all dedicated ConCrit thread. Thanks go to your friendly neighborhood Herald, Chihuahua0, for giving this the go-ahead smile

This is how it's going to work:
  • This thread is for helping people improve as writers. Please stay away from needlessly gushing or needlessly being mean when handing out criticism.
  • No mentioning your own work when giving out criticism. This is to prevent "Let's talk about ME" derails.
  • Feedback will be given to one person at a time. We're taking a deliberately slow pace; a person's turn to get feedback is generally supposed to last a week, but we're not ending someone's turn until they get feedback from at least five different people. On the other hand, the person getting feedback can end their own turn if they figure they're done.
  • When a turn ends, we wait 12 hours to see if anyone of the people who have just given feedback wants to be up next. If they don't, we pick the person up next from the feedback request list.
  • Yes, it's okay to point out spelling and grammar errors made by the person you're giving feedback to.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the original verse of a piece of Fan Fiction up for feedback, pretend it's a piece of original fiction and criticize accordingly.
  • If and when you step up to receive feedback:
    • Post actual writing (not world-building, concepts, layouts, character lists and so on).
    • Be specific in what you are looking for, or at least mention what is troubling you the most.
    • Fan Fiction is fine, but take into account that anyone not familiar with the source material will judge your piece "blind", essentially by the same standards as original fiction. This means you might get called out on flaws that fan fiction usually gets away with in practice, perhaps even justifiably so. Just like any other kind of criticism, consider it or ignore at at your discretion.
    • Be ready to hear some things you probably didn't want to hear. This should go without saying, but, please: No being bitter, being sarcastic, calling people out for "going too far" or otherwise expressing disapproval of the criticism given to you. If you think people are being unfair to your writing, make your case civilly.

With that said, I suppose we can begin and see whether this goes anywhere. The first person to respond with a post to the extent of "I'll go first" will go first.

edited 17th Feb '12 5:07:01 PM by TripleElation

Dr. Ján Ĩtor
[up]Where's everyone posting their work at? Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. Hell, that one too.

edited 2nd Dec '12 6:14:42 PM by monthefratellis

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
 477 risingdreams, Wed, 23rd Jan '13 4:28:06 PM from Peixeiroland
Insert witty title here
I'm not getting where people post their work, nor how they get into the waiting list.

 478 Conjure, Thu, 21st Feb '13 7:47:52 AM from New England

Wow. That was rude. Too many of this kind of thump will bring a suspension. Please keep it civil.Thumped.
"The Future will be the death of us all."
 479 JHM, Sun, 24th Feb '13 7:57:37 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up] It's not you, it's everyone. This thread is practically dead right now. Taking it personally is not a good idea.

Wow. That was rude. Too many of this kind of thump will bring a suspension. Please keep it civil.Thumped.
I'd say I'm being refined

Into the web I descend

Killing those I've left behind

I have been Endarkened
 481 Willbyr, Mon, 25th Feb '13 6:14:31 AM from North Little Rock, AR Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
With Mod Hat On
Gaaaaaaah...Conjure, while that kind of passive-agressive complaint really doesn't get anyone anywhere, I didn't mean to thump your post. Mea culpa.

edited 25th Feb '13 6:15:20 AM by Willbyr

 482 Septimus Heap, Mon, 25th Feb '13 6:24:06 AM from Muggio Valley, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Puʻu ʻŌʻō
Is it possible to un-thump such an error?

 483 De Marquis, Tue, 9th Apr '13 9:45:29 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
OK, so is anybody paying attention here? Because if so, then I would like to submit some samples of my latest work for feedback.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Euo will do!
<waves>
"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 485 De Marquis, Tue, 9th Apr '13 11:19:34 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
It means abandoning whatever list they were using to keep the posting in an order. I am writing a spy thriller featuring a Lovely Angels duo. So, what would we like, Euo, a sexy scene, an action scene, introductory character introduction, including a very smart, very capable villain?
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Euo will do!
Ooooh... can I be greedy? evil grin Nah... I'll not say "most of that, please!" But, rather: "hit me with a bit you're a bit worried about". smile
"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
I have hideous trouble comprehending the meaning of, and recognizing "showing".

Closest I know how to recognize it is that you write "what the camera sees", as in the mental image you have of a scene.

For example, I have NO idea if this is showing or not, context being jumping off a cruiser boat to walk to the beach:

"He looked down, double taking the idea at first, taking a moment to mentally prepare for the likely coldness of the water. He jumped off the ledge with his backpack held in the air, landing his feet in the sand underwater, the water's depth over chest deep taking him by surprise, the low temperature sending a shiver all over his body. He struggled to walk forward in the water and to keep his bag in the air at the same time, the density of the water making his legs heavy to move. Upon reaching waist high water and judging it was safe to put the bag down, he slung it in his back and signaled the boat captain that he was good for now."

And I apologize if this is the wrong place to ask about this, I will erase this post if so.

 488 De Marquis, Thu, 11th Apr '13 9:43:18 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Sorry for the delay, real life intervened. What you need to know about the following scene is that it features two women, who were raised as children in the same orphanage, and now both work separately in a security-related field. Kay, an American, is a hostage rescue "consultant", and Yuri, who is Japanese, is a government contract assassin. They have been flown to Iceland to be offered the chance to participate in the testing of a new "field training" technology for emergency responders. However, they have begun to suspect that all is not as it appears.

I need advice on how this scene comes across, particularly in regard to the dialogue between the two female characters. I'm esp. concerned about the nude scene in that I don't want Kay to come across as silly, trashy or pure fanservice. Of course, it is fanservice, but I wanted to create the impression of a bold, empowered woman, and I don't know if I achieved that. So the input of female readers would be greatly appreciated.

Here goes:

Iceland on a spring evening is warm enough for shirtsleeves. The setting sun turns the mountains rosy, while vapor from the hot springs seems to glow whitely in contrast to the darkling eastern sky.

As Kay approached the hot spring, she noticed that Yuri was sitting demurely on the edge, still wearing her robe, while some of their male colleagues were teasing her from another spot twenty feet away. She was regarding them silently, wearing a “Mona Lisa” smile and not responding. The second hottest woman here, Kay thought.

Kay stepped up next to Yuri and removed her own robe. She was wearing nothing underneath. Whistles and catcalls greeted this display. Kay leveled her gaze to the others nearby.

“Keep your comments to yourself, or you’ll pay in grappling class.” The voices piped down. Some of them had already wrestled with her, it was not an idle threat.

Kay settled into the scalding water next to Yuri, who removed her own robe. “I was thinking that perhaps this bikini was unprofessional, but it seems that now I nothing to worry about.” Yuri sat in the water herself.

“Yuri, you never have to worry. When I’m around, no one is looking at you.”

“Kay, you are quite wrong. Thanks to you, we will both feature in many erotic dreams tonight.” Yuri didn’t look pleased at this idea.

“Oh, come on. I’m not doing anything the locals aren’t doing.” Kay languidly pointed over her shoulder at another young couple, thirty meters away. The woman was topless. “Viva Scandanavia!”

“Kay, Iceland isn’t in Scandanavia.”

“Whatev.” Yuri rolled her eyes.

The two women relaxed, and silently regarded the sky. Stars were beginning to appear. Yuri looked pensive. “Kay, what do you really think about all this? It seems like an incredible opportunity.”

Kay looked over at her partner, and sighed. “I don’t know. It’s my dream job, but maybe it’s too good to be true, you know?”

Yuri regarded Kay. “You have worked for this man before. Do you trust him?”

“Yes, I suppose. He’s been reliable so far. But, Yuri, you are aware, aren’t you, that this is the same foundation that funded our orphanage?”

Yuri’s expression was unreadable. “Yes, I knew that. It seems a very strange coincidence. This is why I ask if you trust him.”

“Well, did you also know that at least half the people in this program are also from an orphanage? All funded by this same foundation?”

Yuir leaned toward her. “I did not know that. Kay, what is going on here?”

“As near as I can tell, this same foundation, the same guy who wants to offer us this incredible opportunity, as you put it, has taken care of us for almost our entire lives. The orphanage, our schooling, the scholarship I went to collage on, my contracts for the past two years. Yours’ too. And now he wants us to be his employees. Fly around the world fighting bad guys for him. We’re either the luckiest people on the entire planet, or the biggest suckers, I can’t tell which.”

Yuri leaned back, her shoulders level with the steaming water. “The question is, do we mind being the experimental subjects of someone else?”

“Huh?”

Yuri looked at Kay. “It is obvious that he has an agenda of some kind. Maybe not at our expense, maybe even to our benefit, but he is still using us.”

“Fat and happy lab rats.”

“Yes, exactly, a golden cage. But one in which we might be killed at any moment.”

“Well, violent death is kind of what we’re all about, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s been my chosen profession, and yours as well, but I find myself wondering how much of that was really decided for us, and when.”

“You can’t claim he hasn’t warned us about the risk.”

Yuri regarded her friend. “You intend to go along with this, don’t you?”

“Yuri, how can I not? How else can I find out what’s really going on? Besides, Yuri, I like this life. Look at all this, what we’re doing, where we are, ” she waved her hand around, “I mean, damn. But I would like it a lot more if I had someone around I could really trust.”

The two women regarded each other for a moment. Yuri spoke, “If you are in, then so am I.”

“Yes!” They fist bumped, a little self-consciously. Suddenly, a shadow appeared above them. It was Georgio, the Italian police officer from Cowboy team.

“Hello Kay, ” he said, his accent adding a luxuriant quality to his words. Both women shivered a little.

“Hey.” Kay noted that his eyes were able to stay on her face.

“I was wondering if you had some time tonight, we could have a late supper in the town.”

“Not tonight, Georgi. I’m getting up early in the morning. Tell you what, can I get back to you later? Maybe a day or two?”

He looked extremely disappointed. “Oh. Yes, of course. Well, enjoy your evening.” He reluctantly turned back the way he had come.

Yuri glanced at Kay, “Brush off?”

“Hmm, not necessarily. Let’s see how patient he can be. If he stays mature about it, I’ll definitely consider it.”

Yuri smiled, “Warn me, please, if I have to sleep in the lounge.”

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Euo will do!
[up]Will get to this: promise. Been really, really dizzy today. Not the best headspace with which to critique anything (let alone process it). sad
"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 490 De Marquis, Fri, 12th Apr '13 2:33:01 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Take your time, there's no rush. I've been there, God knows...
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Michael G.
Would anyone be willing to read few novel synopses I've devised? I prefer to share them through a PM for personal reasons.
Feel free to visit my yokai blog.
 492 Izon, Sat, 22nd Jun '13 12:35:09 AM from Location
Anomaly of Time and Space
Would also be interested in some constructive criticism for some short fiction, and/or perhaps a one-act play.

Maybe even poetry/lyrics if any critics feel qualified.
Graffiti. My. Page.

due eet nao
 493 Nicknacks, Sun, 23rd Jun '13 9:14:31 AM from Land Down Under
Ding-ding! Going down...
Yes to both of you. I'll take anything but poetry, and I'll be busy this week. But send them to me so I can read them when I get a chance. PM is fine, obvs.


Regarding De Marquis' work. (Is it okay if I discuss this work? I'm a bit tired but it seems like that's okay vis-a-vis the OP...)

  • You seem to be writing a script. I'm not sure how to say this, but that's not an ideal tactic to take. You're not exploiting the technologies of prose fiction to their best capacities. I get very little sense of tone from this passage, and a relatively weak sense of character.

“Yes!” They fist bumped, a little self-consciously. Suddenly, a shadow appeared above them. It was Georgio, the Italian police officer from Cowboy team.

  • Perhaps separate this paragraph. It's two separate ideas/events, and they're unrelated. It's the "suddenly" test. If you're using that word to represent something that's meant to be a shock or a surprise to the reader, then you're writing like a script. Plus, it also indicates a new concept.
  • The language your characters often speak with is highly formal, they address each other by their first name constantly. It makes them remarkably chilly with each other, on top of their nudity and their tendency to use formal language and stiff metaphor. Is this deliberate? Why the occasional lapses into casual language then? They also both seem to have the same voice, going forward you might be interested in distinguishing them from each other. Think about the different words they'd use, and how that would reflect their different qualities of character.
  • Your characters mostly talk in exposition. Show, Don't Tell is a fatuous imperative that many great writers break constantly, but you seem to be breaking it here in a way that's confusing. Is there a reason that your characters are telling each other information that they probably already know? ("But, Yuri, you are aware, aren’t you, that this is the same foundation that funded our orphanage?", for instance). Perhaps when put into context you'll find these explanatory passages disappear.
  • There's little subtext to the conversation. Perhaps it's unclear to me and they are talking in layered dialogue, but there's little indication of an inner life. Both characters are explicit with each other.
  • This scene doesn't come across as fan-service. She's nude, but we can't see that she is. She's not described. It's great.

edited 23rd Jun '13 9:44:35 AM by Nicknacks

This post has been powered by avenging fury and a balanced diet.
 494 De Marquis, Mon, 24th Jun '13 6:39:09 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Ignore

edited 24th Jun '13 6:50:48 AM by DeMarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 495 De Marquis, Mon, 24th Jun '13 6:50:13 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Sorry for missing this, but it had been so long since anyone responded, that I stopped paying attention. Thank you very much for your feedback! I find it very helpful.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I'm writing a script- it's a novel. [Reads ahead] Oh, "like a script" whenever one uses words like "suddenly". OK, I'll take that into account.

"The language your characters often speak with is highly formal, they address each other by their first name constantly. It makes them remarkably chilly with each other, on top of their nudity and their tendency to use formal language and stiff metaphor. Is this deliberate?"

It is with Yuri, because English isn't her first language, and she is someone emotionally reserved as a person. It shouldn't be for Kay, who is supposed to come across as brash and overly casual.

"Is there a reason that your characters are telling each other information that they probably already know?"

Since I only included this passage, you have no way of knowing that this is one of very few expository passages in the work. It's necessary, because the mystery they are discussing, while not a key plot point in the first story arc, is an important part of the setting and background. Occasionally, some exposition is necessary, but I will think about replacing this with some sort of action.

"There's little subtext to the conversation. Perhaps it's unclear to me and they are talking in layered dialogue, but there's little indication of an inner life. Both characters are explicit with each other."

Now there is an interesting point. Looking over my work as a whole, I realize that there is often subtext between these two characters and others, but none between the two of them? Something else to think carefully about.

"This scene doesn't come across as fan-service. She's nude, but we can't see that she is. She's not described. It's great."

Whew! As a male author writing a story that features two FMC's, that was a big concern.

Actually, I've rewritten the scene since then, the new version might come across better.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 496 Nicknacks, Mon, 24th Jun '13 7:41:23 AM from Land Down Under
Ding-ding! Going down...
Sharing is caring. :) It's been so long, I doubt there's much mind. Or would it be against the thread rules?
This post has been powered by avenging fury and a balanced diet.
 497 demarquis, Mon, 24th Jun '13 8:55:08 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Okay, still not much sub-text, but I've tried to distinguish the two characters speaking styles a bit better:

Later, that evening, Yuri and Kay had agreed to meet at a nearby spa to relax and share their impressions. Iceland on a spring evening is warm enough for shirtsleeves. The setting sun turns the mountains rosy, while vapor from the hot springs seems to glow whitely in contrast to the darkling eastern sky.

As Kay approached the hot spring, she noticed that Yuri was sitting demurely on the edge, still wearing her robe, while some of their male colleagues were teasing her from another spot twenty feet away. She was regarding them silently, wearing a “Mona Lisa” smile and not responding. The second hottest woman here, Kay thought.

Kay stepped up next to Yuri and removed her own robe. She was wearing nothing underneath. Whistles and catcalls greeted this display. Kay leveled her gaze to the others nearby.

“Keep your comments to yourself, or you’ll pay in grappling class.” The voices piped down. She had engaged some of them in an unarmed combat session that afternoon, so they knew it was not an idle threat.

Kay settled into the scalding water next to Yuri, who removed her own robe. “I was thinking that perhaps this bikini was unprofessional, but it seems that now I have nothing to worry about.” Yuri sat in the water herself.

“Yuri, you’re never going to have to worry. When I’m around, no one’s lookin’ at you.”

“Kay, you are quite wrong. Thanks to you, we will both feature in many erotic dreams tonight.” Yuri didn’t look pleased at this idea.

“Oh, come on. I’m not doing anything the locals aren’t doing.” Kay languidly pointed over her shoulder at another young couple, thirty meters away. The woman was topless. “Viva Scandanavia!”

“Kay, Iceland isn’t in Scandanavia.”

“Whatev’.” Yuri rolled her eyes.

The two women relaxed, and silently regarded the sky. Stars were beginning to appear. Yuri looked pensive. “Kei, what do you really think about all this? Does it seem to you like an incredible opportunity?”

Kay looked over at her, and sighed. “I don’t know. It’s my dream job, but maybe it’s too good to be true, you know?”

Yuri regarded Kay. “You have worked for this man before. Do you trust him?”

“Yes, I suppose. He’s been reliable so far. Why?”

“Kei, you are aware, aren’t you, that this is the same foundation that funded our orphanage?”

Kay’s expression was unreadable. “Yeah, I knew that. When did you find out?”

“This morning on the bus. I used my phone.”

“Oh, I see. Well, it looks like a very weird coincidence. That’s why I hedged when you asked me if I trust him.”

“Well, and did you also know that at least half the people in this program are also from an orphanage? All funded by this same foundation?”

Kay leaned toward her. “I did not know that. Yuri, what’s going on here?”

“As nearly as I can tell, this same foundation, this same director who wants to offer us this incredible opportunity, this person has taken care of us for almost our entire lives. The orphanage, our schooling, the scholarship I went to college on, my contracts for the past two years. Yours’ as well, I imagine. And now he wants us to work for him as his employees. To fly around the world fighting criminals for him, while testing his new equipment. What do you think, Kei? Is this for real?”

“We’re either the luckiest people on the entire planet, or the biggest schmucks, I can’t tell which.”

Yuri leaned back, her shoulders level with the steaming water. “The question is, do we mind being the subjects of someone’s experiment?”

“Huh?”

Yuri looked at Kay. “It is obvious that he has an agenda of some kind, something that goes beyond just testing this new technology, which may be nothing more than an excuse, a cover. Whatever it is that he is doing, maybe it is not at our expense, maybe even it is to our benefit, but he is still using us.”

“Fat and happy lab rats.”

“Yes, exactly, a golden cage. But one in which we might be killed at any moment.”

“Well, violent death is kind of what we’re all about, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it has been my chosen profession, and yours as well, but I find myself wondering how much of that was really decided for us, and when.”

“It seems to me that we have the opportunity to decide now.”

Yuri regarded the woman she thought of as her self-adopted sister. “You intend to go along with this, don’t you?”

“Yuri, how can I not? How else can I find out what’s really going on? Besides, Yuri, I like this life. Look at all this, what we’re doing, where we are, ” she waved her hand around, “I mean, damn. But I would like it a lot more if I had someone around I could really trust.”

The two women regarded each other for a moment. Yuri sighed, then spoke, “If you are in this, then I suppose that I am too.”

“Yes!” They fist bumped, on Yuri’s part a little self-consciously. Suddenly, a shadow appeared above them. It was Georgio, the Italian police officer.

“Hello Kay, ” he said, his accent adding a luxuriant quality to his words. Both women shivered a little.

“Hey.” Kay noted that his eyes were able to stay on her face.

“I was wondering if you had some time tonight, we could have a late supper in the town.”

“Not tonight, Georgi. I’m getting up early in the morning. Tell you what, can I get back to you later? Maybe a day or two?”

He looked extremely disappointed. “Oh. Yes, of course. Well, enjoy your evening.” He reluctantly turned back the way he had come.

Yuri glanced at Kay, “Brush off?”

“Hmm, not necessarily. Let’s see how patient he can be. If he stays mature about it, I’ll definitely consider it.”

Yuri smiled, “Warn me, please, if you have to miss breakfast.”

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
An apple a day...
Bioshock Infinite- Could have been a much better game if the gunplay was less simplistic and frustrating. The story, while interesting, is rather pretentious with its philosiphy on "killing" and "choices". Also, the 'choices' are barely even there, which I've read is supposed to be satire on the choices in games trend, but the choices themselves are so mind numbingly meaningless and simple that it doesn't matter. The end could have been better if they developed Comstock more. Lastly, many concepts that were hinted at in trailers and interviews are barely even there anymore, which is really, really, disappointing.

All in all, if you liked the first two I'd recommend this one for some of its callbacks and the setting, but it feels rather underdeveloped.

Its worth buying if you're a collector, but I found it rather...overhyped.

 499 nrjxll, Mon, 24th Jun '13 7:46:06 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up]No offense, but this thread is for providing feedback to people on this forum who request it, not posting reviews of existing fiction.

 500 Izon, Tue, 2nd Jul '13 12:37:28 PM from Location
Anomaly of Time and Space
[up][up][up][up] Sorry, I also dropped this thread a little while ago. Will PM now, assuming you're still free.
Graffiti. My. Page.

due eet nao
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