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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Our Feedback made easy to find!
    Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 9:42pm
I love reading others feedback but hate chasing it down, so I will start by posting mine here and hopefully others will follow?

Ghost story - waiting room - jar of honey.

Here is my feedback.  The first and last paragraphs were mentioned just as
some of the feedback from the forum, sigh - no room for personal creativity, lol. 
A couple of places I can see a judge did not understand the nuances of my
writing - had none of that from the forum reviews.  All of these judges wanted
it rewritten to some degree to their own way of writing - I will clean it up, but
I like the way it is structured, we can't all dance to the same drummer.  There
are a lot of great ways to improve the writing mentioned, I am surprised
by this as in the past the judges would not be so thorough - there is a lot of
ground covered there.  All and all the feedback is good.

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1830}  I thought that there was a lot of strong writing in the fourth paragraph when a concrete setting is described - the old building, the main character walking her dog. It really set the scene up and felt like the story was beginning.  {1955}  I like the symbolism behind the (sticky) honey and the dream that “sticks” with this main character. Nice use of the prompt. The nurse is vivid, especially when she snatches the honey away; it makes the reader feel sorry for the girl.  {1942}  The story progress is is great. There is definitely a bigger and further exploration of this story that should be developed.

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1830}  I actually think that fourth paragraph is a good starting point, and I would consider starting there instead of during the repeated dream. The dream opening feels a little disjointed and disconnected from the actual story's beginning point, which really gets started in that first paragraph. I would also consider revising the last paragraph. It feels a bit too explanatory - what if you ended the story in real time with the haunted interaction that the main character is experiencing? Perhaps it would have a spookier ending that way.  {1955}  Consider starting the second scene with the main character on her walk (rather than a description of the building) to make it more active and give a stronger sense of the character. She can then stop and notice the neglected building actively from wherever she is standing on the sidewalk.  Consider removing modifiers such as “seemed” and “almost” to strengthen the imagery. For instance, “The girl’s seemed blatantly uninterested, her mouth an almost cruel twist” could be changed to (a reference to “Both sets of eyes found me”), “The girl’s uninterested, her mouth a cruel twist.”  Also, consider revising the phrase, “the nurse somehow conveyed disdain, disgust, impatience” to describe what that looks like on the nurse? How does her body language show these things?  Why does the nurse use the pronoun “she” rather than “you” when she snatches the jar from the counter? Is she talking to the dog walker? If so, consider revising for clarity. It seems she is talking to the girl.  {1942}  Some explorations that may be explored are the story’s theme and how our protagonist gains a lesson through this event. Of course, not all stories need profound messages but there could be personal changes or realizations that are recognized by our characters. The idea that torment could be lessen is so interesting. Explore this more.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Helou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 9:46pm
Yeah, happy to share~ I've just copied and pasted this from my story thread.

Group 51: Horror | Halfway House | Tap Shoes

UPDATE: got 7th place (9 points) in my group for this piece, which placed me 4th(technically tied 3rd?) overall! On to the next challenge! I went into this competition with no expectations so its a very nice surprise. In terms of this feedback, I'm quite happy with it. It's nice to see a variety of things cited as being strengths, and the same things being cited as weaknesses. 

I think its interesting that the metaphor of addiction/alcoholism was easy to pick up on, but that that (coupled with the more supernatural angle of the story) wasn't enough of a compelling reason for the MC to stay at the house in the judge's eyes. I don't think this was something any of you lovely commenters mentioned, so I was actually pretty surprised to read this from two judges. [1730] especially seems to praise and criticise almost the exact same aspect of the story, which is admittedly confusing. 

On the other hand [1890] addressed literally every concern I had about this story. Their hilariously ironic typos aside, they almost verbatim talk about the aspects of this story that I thought I needed to improve on. So, really, its reassuring that I can identify my own mistakes. The lesson learned is: give yourself enough time so that you don't end up submitting first drafts that you write at the last minute.

And, of course, the plain compliments are always nice to read :)

Regardless of score or placement I truly think everyone should be proud of themselves for doing this and putting themselves out there, and yes, I realise that it's much easier for me to have this sentiment given that I did manage to progress. All the best everyone.


{1739}  The story seems to be a metaphor for alcoholism and how the call of the siren is just slightly louder than the voice of his daughter, but louder it is.  

{1890}  Great use of sound. Your inclusion of the tapping of the shoes helps create an air of unease in readers, building a foreboding and ominous tone.  

{1909}  The receipt reveal was excellent. It was shocking, well written, and unexpected. I also loved the way you rooted this story in Jared's relationship with his daughter.  


{1739}  On first read, Jared agreeing to stay is a bit odd. His little girl is waiting for him and the opening of the story talks about him promising to come home. Obviously, a talent show will take a very long time. Simply saying he has a compulsion to stay doesn't quite legitimize his decision. Although the payoff reveals how bad his decision making process has been in his life, the narrative still has to carry its own logic before the payoff comes. We don't want to lose sympathy for him before his addiction is front and center.  {1890}  Be careful with repetition. In your opening, you repeat loading and loads, as well as telling us in two seperate sentences about the tempreture. Consider instad how you could make the most impact about the tempreture, environment, and actions without repetition.

Careful with your tenses; the opening paragraph is in present, but switches to past as you speak about the house. This can be jarring for readers.  

{1909}  Jared's reason for staying for the 'talent show' didn't make a lot of sense to me. I would recommend strengthening his justification for not just leaving immediately, especially since he knows he wants to get home to his daughter.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LaissezFaire Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 9:54pm
The following crits are fair, but I have gotten into trouble every time with being subtle with NYCM judges. Point: set it up with clues to presume Makya was human (or at least not Thau) and what happened? You want scifi in 1000 words? Fine, I'm going to shoot photon torpedo at you to be sure I dot those I's.


{1907} I think Makya was an interesting and endearing character in her description and dialogue.

{1908} You do a great job of incorporating sci-fi elements here. I like the bits of technology and also the terminology and slang that make appearances.

{1569} Personal Ebot Techmates = P.E.T. = a futuristic pet store! Makya was a strong protagonist; funny, resilient, and a darn good actress. The plot and pacing were very good, with the final plot reversal well set up and paid off nicely. The romantic finale capped the story off.

{1907} Details of the world could've been done with more subtlety via exposition and felt like we broke away from story to give some facts to fill in the world.

(Yes. It's true. I shoe-horned it in there. It wasn't smooth. It stuck out. But I wanted to be darn sure there'd be no question about what that tidbit covered. I'll take that punch.

{1908} I'm a little unclear on which characters/beings in the story are which species. Is everyone Thau other than the man and woman who come into the shop? Is Makya posing as human? If the humans know that the Thau can shapeshift, why don't they anticipate them shifting their way out of the cage? All of the details are great, but these could just be clarified a little more.

(Ah for more words. But, yes, everyone is human and the only species in shop other than Thau are humans and electronics. Though, they didn't have to be human just "the only ones who aren't shapeshifting in the story".   I did try to show that the technology existed to hold a Thau but it as all a ruse so they were always free -- tech or no tech. Only the baddies didn't know that. With more words I can clarify, for 1000 words I left it up to assumption based on context.

{1569} the Personal Ebot Techmates definition/explanation felt a little expository and heavy handed. More subtlety might work better.

(Nope. Not doing subtle. Subtle never works. :D)

Edited by LaissezFaire - 08 Nov 2019 at 9:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SLK43 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 10:44pm
This is actually the most useful feedback I've received in all the years I've been entering. 

''Waiting For Mel'' (Romance/ Backstage of a theatre / A For Sale sign

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1906}  I thought the dialogue in this story was very natural and true-to-life, and the descriptions of the theatre and the characters were well-done. I could picture the scene very well and felt drawn into the world.  {1845}  I loved the way that you built up some intrigue about who Mel was sitting next to at the beginning of your story. I also really enjoyed that you used a bit of parallels to Waiting for Godot in the plot. That was a fun choice as well!  {1943}  This is an excellent romance, with all the elements that are true to the genre. You do a great job keeping the plot simple, so we can focus on the dialogue and the connection between the characters. You set a great tone with Charlie's comment to Chrissy, "Soulmate, Chrissy", then increase the impact with the repetition, "I think she's my soulmate." This is awesome writing, and at this point, you have the reader hooked. The ending is sweet, and again, really true to the genre. A great story - well done!  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1906}  I thought the dynamic between Charlie and Mel could have been developed a little better. There really isn't a lot of tension here, and the parallels with Godot suggest that there should be a little more to the story than he wants her to show up and then she shows up.  {1845}  I would have loved to experience a bit more subtext in the dialogue between Charlie and Mel. They always seemed to say exactly what they were thinking, which is not a very common thing for people to do. I would just suggest playing around with having them say something while thinking something entirely different - at least a couple of times throughout your story. It might even be fun to incorporate some snappiness and strangeness into their dialogue in order to better parallel their story to Waiting for Godot, but that's just a random idea!  {1943}  I wouldn't suggest you change much in your story, as it is extremely good.

It can be a useful exercise to listen to conversations between friends, and notice how much information is not spoken, because it is understood between them. The trick when you're writing is to give enough context to help the reader, but not so much that the dialogue feels like an info-dump. A couple of times, I did feel that your characters gave information that didn't feel natural. For example, it sounded odd that Charlie used the words "in the school play" in "And when we played Romeo and Juliet in the school play?" In real life, they'd both know it was in the school play and this is such a huge event, he wouldn't need to clarify where it happened. Similarly, "when we went to the river" is excess information, and in real life, he would just say something like "Do you remember when I capsized the boat?"

R2 G29 - The Hamadryad's Curse
R1 GR42 - The Chameleon Operation

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote northernwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 10:57pm
Mike Hawk-Roach vs The Ex-Terminator'' by Alex Otto -   
{A}  I knew at the end that Billy was grabbing a roach for a bearded dragon snack. I was so happy that Mike made it out alive. What a ridiculous and hilarious story. I would love to see this in cartoon form. I think it would sell well as a pilot episode for a cockroach cartoon series.  
I think you are my new favorite judge!

{B}  The persona of Mike Hawk is comical and well developed.  

{C}  Mike Hawk is such a great narrator! His motivations are clear and his sense of adventure is strong. He navigates such a stressful cockroach-specific conflict so well and with such hilarity.  

{A}  I realize that this is a comedy but I would suggest maybe having the Ex-Terminator opening the door so we're not having to suspend our disbelief with regards to the roaches being able to push open the heavy door.  
I will take that critique as a compliment, as in "I couldn't really find anything wrong with the characters, overall plot, or conflict, so I have found a small detail to critique." :) 

{B}  While the backstory is fun, it does take a minute to get into the meat of the story.  The conclusion or resolution shouldn't feel rushed, which is the trick with short form storytelling.  
Fair enough. My forum readers said the same. And yes, I always seem to spend 3/4 of my time setting up the story and conflict and rush through the end. Very fair and helpful to consider for the next round.

{C}  Was Billy in fact planning on feeding Mike Hawk to his new bearded dragon? He had no sense of loyalty or sadness about losing his former pet? This is the only part that's a little unclear to me.
Yes, that was kind of the point, showing the fickle nature of humanity - humans will destroy whatever is in their way, whether it is a cockroach, a rainforest, an old pet, etc. in order to make way for the trendy new things they want (like the bearded dragon.) In contrast, the roaches had more loyalty in this world (and maybe our own!)

Thanks for the feedback, everyone - judges and forumites! Good luck!
Short Screenplay R1 Little Miss 4th of July
Short Story R1 The Anti-Wedding Planner
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zelda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 10:58pm
I got four points for this story + ten previous points, which put me in seventh place in my group! Sad face. Unhappy I'll add my running commentary in red: 

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1921}  I liked the concept for this story, and I think you did a great job world building. With only 1,000 words, it was nice that you fit the entire background into a single sentence. Thank you!  {1927}  A well-plotted story. June is a complex character who the read will cheer on as she rises to the occasion. Writing filled with active verbs and takes the sense of sound into account. Thank you! {1774}  Great action propelled this story. You established strong characters quickly, allowing the reader to get immediately invested. June and Damian's interaction grew increasingly more thrilling, especially as June obtained and retained the upper hand. It was an exciting premise, with a deadly plague onboard, and a very satisfying ending.  Thank you! WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1921}  You had me all up until the last paragraph. It felt so weird and out of place. If Damian had been trying to kill just the captain because he was cheating with his wife, why did he do it using the plague virus that would kill everyone? I have no idea! I think he was just a bad person. Huh.... Oops!! It doesn't make sense, and it weakens your story. Oh well. These things happen.  Also, the line just above it "Maybe he was evil. Could it be so simple?" is SO strong, and would be a perfect ending line. Eh, I dunno, but you could be right. {1927}  Jill questioning he sanity should be a bigger obstacle to overcome. Would like to have seen more of her inner struggle.  A thousand words!! It's not doable! Damian is too obviously the villain. The reader should believe him at first. Interesting take on it! [Nods.] Not a bad idea. 

The backstory of the plague and June's connecting to her parents should be hinted a little earlier in the story. Her saying she misses them seems to come out of nowhere. There's a reason for that... it did come out of nowhere! Tongue The sneeze should remind her of their fate. And there should be a hair more hesitation and reasoning for her destroying the picture of them. A thousand words! I'd destroy it in a heartbeat too if it held the antidote! 

That she's carrying the captain's baby seems to come out of nowhere, that should be hinted earlier in the story. I did hint at it! AARGH. 

I wonder if we need the first sentence since it's the title. Oh, no you don't. If I'd taken it out, you'd lecture me for using the title to open the story. I see how that works! Hmmph. May want to see how it reads gong right into it.  {1774}  Give the reader some hint of a motive for Damian's murder attempt. He was villainous! Had he learned of his wife's infidelity? Interesting question! You'd think I would know... Also, consider establishing the distance that existed between the couple, and which caused her to turn to the captain. He was a psychopath! Who wants to be married to a psychopath? Raise your hand. 


So, yeah, I'm just arguing with the judges, mostly good-naturedly. OuchLOL

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tess2019 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 11:16pm
I was happy with the judges’ reviews of my piece. I was glad they understood what I was aiming for. The “do better” comments only made me think “not with this word count” so I either need to make it a longer piece or refocus to a smaller portion. 

Hist fiction/Chinese restaurant/tape measure

'Too Many Sisters'' by NYC Midnight -   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - {1699}  I was most captivated by the structure of this piece. The plot progresses as traumatic events unfold and push Miss Rushi's life in different directions. The measuring tape scenes create bookends to Miss Rushi's life at the Peking Noodle Parlor while harkening back to the opening scene where Miss Rushi is being measured by Madame Zhou's analytical eye.  {1904}  The dialogue is strong and vivid. Lines such as "...she rested without sleeping" or "feeling the tape measure set her future" are particularly effective. A strong ending with the different meaning/use of the tape measure. The tenderness that develops between Madame Zhou and Miss Rushi is moving and well sketched.  {1952}  The concept is really great. There's a lot to work with here to make something fun and unique. Continue massaging the elements of a girl coming to the US in hopes of a better life but encountering a scam.  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK - {1699}  I feel there is room to further develop Madame Zhou and Miss Rushi's relationship. We get glimpses of their bond, but I wanted more depth and complexity. They operate as employer-employee in one regard, but they also become family. Elaborating on their relationship will increase the emotional stakes of the ending.  {1904}  There are many opportunities to not leave the reader with any question. This goes along with the suggestion that you don't miss any opportunity to show more than tell with a well chosen, specific, image, e.g.,  "She was the smartest, prettiest, and smallest of the five." How? Smartest because she could spell a word? Her face was shaped in some "prettiest" way? Her ankles were smallest? 

How did she know she had "too many?" 

What did the suitcase look like?

How did she lose track of time and transport? Did she at least log/notice changing scents, light, accents?

What did she think "Butte" would look like versus what she sees?  {1952}  It's a little bit too vague, and there are a lot of "historical" elements that don't really play out. Choose one specific element to really hang on to, and let the story be more specific as well.


Please read my 250-word Microfiction 1st Round story titled We Loved with a Love
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jdadams1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 11:50pm

{1815}  I love, love, loved this sweet story of two best friends who might be more. The world-building is excellent -- I felt like I was back in high school. The dialogue is natural. The prose is clear and vivid. Ollie and Matt were easy to love and easy to root for.  

{1912}  I enjoyed this touching, sweet story. The friendship between Matthew and Oliver is established well, and the affection they have for each other is apparent. The dialogue is engaging and seems true to how teenagers speak. The conclusion is entertaining and emphasizes the boys' shared history.  

{1610}  ~ Yours is an utterly delightful opening paragraph - I especially enjoyed "the science-iest science nerd" - an intro which left me feeling that I was in good hands.
~ Your dialogue between these two pals sounds seasoned and natural: Very good job!
~ The all-around romantically-tragic "tighty-whities" scene was very deftly composed!
~ "deceptively burly" is choice!
~ Awwwwww ~ the BEST finale!  


{1815}  There is a lot of space at the beginning of the story spent on describing the prom proposal, and not quite jumping into the action. I think some of this could be cut out in service of making some more room to describe Ollie and Matt's relationship and history together.  

{1912}  I'm curious as to whether Matthew interacts with Brody at all after Oliver races away. Does he confront him for being a bully? Does he confirm that their relationship is over? I think including a brief scene between the two boys would contribute to the tension, and show the strength of Matthew's friendship with Oliver. It would also be great to see more of Matthew's perspective after the incident with Brody and Oliver. Is he disappointed or heartbroken at all, having discovered his boyfriend's true nature? 

{1610}  ~ Your log-line both succeeds and falters.
In the plus column, it fires on all three cylinders​ of the best of them which are comprised of these elements:
your Protagonist(s) -two best friends,
their Goal- inviting their crushes to the school's big dance,
an Impediment to that Goal - plans going awry.
Your problem is that your impediment sounds too definitive, predicting failure when​ its purpose is to be enticing and open-ended enough to leave your audience rooting for (or against) your players and eager to learn more.
~ The ferocious hug at the fabulous finale had me suspecting that Oliver was coming out of the locker, er, closet, but I wasn't absolutely sure.
My stuff:
SS 2

SW 1

100M 1
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stephenmatlock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 11:52pm
"Amal's Night Visitor" by stephen matlock

{A}  The stakes feel high and the gunman presents an overwhelming conflict for Amal and Birdie. Amal has a good amount of development to shape him.  

{B}  The exposition was provided through moving dialogue, conveying Amal's loneliness through honest revelations. Also, it's clear how much his post-work routine with Birdie means to him.
The climax was riveting, especially as Nevin's desperation grows over the course of the story. Amal handles the situation in an appealing way, with grace and compassion.  

{C}  ~ Yours is an atmospheric & exotic Title.
~ It was wonderfully unnerving that you noted thunder rumbling as soon as the huge black revolver was revealed.
~ You certainly played it as it lays, as the saying goes: Amal couldn't move on from his abject grief until encountering a young man who gave him a chance to take up where he left off with his own son.
~ The larger, natural, context of the sky being dark and the other shops in shadows conveyed their grim isolation.
~ VERY poignant finale!  

{A}  Amal could use more motivation to help Nevin, even in the face of his and Birdie's death. Has he always been this brave? Is it just because Nevin reminds him of his son? This should be developed further so that the reader believes that Amal would take this action. It might also be worth developing Nevin as well, so that we understand why he breaks down and just doesn't kill Amal.  

{B}  Once Nevin enters the scene, the dialogue comes off a bit heavy-handed. This was particularly true when Nevin starts sharing details about himself on page 3: "I'm ex-Army. I'm taught to kill. I'm hungry and cold - but I'm mean." Amal already knows that he's cold and hungry, and he's shot Birdie. Why not trim the dialogue there? Amal could study him instead of Nevin rattling off certain things about himself. Likewise, on page 4: "They had much hope for you, yes?" That may not necessarily be correct, so it's worth showing Nevin's reactions when Amal's mentioning his parents. That will tell the reader far more and Amal's assumptions could be wrong. Make sure that the dialogue flows naturally, and to include the characters' reactions during critical moments.
"Amal's Night Visitor" has several admirable strengths. Once the author refines the dialogue on the last two pages, it will be in excellent condition.  

{C}~ In the world of Journalism, a study was done which determined that the beginnings and endings of paragraphs are what impact and stay with the readers most.
This line of yours is too good to be left mulched in the middle of a paragraph:
"He released the day’s worth of strain with his breath."
I strongly recommend that you end your paragraph with that, giving your readers opportunity to viscerally echo that sigh and downshift with Amal.

SWC2020 G75 | Ghost | A Canoe Trip | A Servant | A PLACE TO LAY MY HEAD
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LyndaD View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LyndaD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Nov 2019 at 2:36am
I was rather surprised by the judges' feedback. Aside from the usual 'I want more' mantra, I felt that it was mostly positive -- even the what needs work comments were only marginally negative. Judge 1689 seemed to read a more deeper message into my story than I was aware of. But hey, if it works for them, I'm happy!

''Mala Suerte'' - (score 13)
{1689}  Great choice to explore the effect of believing your have been cursed with Mala Suerte. Clean portraits of Clyde and Heriberto--the cock fight--help keep your story simple and drive it forward. Strong moment when Ramón rushes Clyde--culminating in the accidental deaths of both Clyde and Heriberto at the "hands" of their winning bird.  
{1774}  It felt like poetic justice that Clyde and Beto were taken out by the roosters they'd raised to fight. Your dialogue seemed realistic and very natural. It helped convey the feelings and mindsets of the characters.  
{1845}  I really enjoyed the detail and creativity that went into this story. The intensity was high, the dialogue was strong, and the plot was thrilling as well. Great job with all of that!  
 {1689}  Your ending works brilliantly: don't touch that. But I think you can invest in your theme--of Mala Suerte--even more deeply without disturbing the clean nature of your storytelling that I so admire. In particular, work to clarify this point: does the underlying belief that they are doomed--which they pretend to shake but cannot--lead to their doom? Or is it more like, they feel that they have broken the curse and so let their guard down--and in that one moment, their Mala Suerte asserts itself to take their lives? Either one can work, but I think your message will carry more resonance and power if you invest in one of them.  
{1774}  Clarify why Ramon rushed Clyde at the end. Was he simply angry that his bird lost? Also, for readers unfamiliar with cockfighting, please explain the spur/knife set up (its size and potential for doing bodily harm even to humans). Explain if Ramon was hurt in the final skirmish. Consider sharing more about Clyde, Heriberto and Ramon--their motivations and backgrounds--to help round them out as characters.  
{1845}  I would have liked to get to know your characters a little bit more throughout. What drives them in life? What do they need the money for, and what are they fearful of? These types of character traits might just help your reader to develop an even deeper connection to the people in your story and the story itself. But you are onto something really great here!

Edited by LyndaD - 09 Nov 2019 at 2:37am
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