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Reasonably_Crazy View Drop Down
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    Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 6:29pm
What did the judges have to say about your story?

''Hopeless Cases'' 

WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ............I was really moved by this story. It's brave and full of complex emotions and difficult conversations. It does not shy away from these things, and though it handles a lot of tough topics, it still manages to focus very much on the characters. I think this writer could expand this story into something much longer. What she has here is already great, and there's a lot of room to keep exploring it.............This story really stayed with me. You do a good job too of showing the awful implications of violence without being too graphic in my opinion.............This is a powerful story with layers beyond the surface. I liked the counselor's part in this; it's refreshing to see school authorities painted as people who actually care about kids for a change, after so many stories in which they're either portrayed as cruel or bumbling. This woman is sensitive but also practical, assertive, and firm, and that's why she can make a difference in Chloe's life.

 WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ............The main question I have is about time--why the action of the story happens six years after Jess's death. I imagine Chloe's been dealing with her family's absence, Jess's death, and so much anger for all of these years. Why now does she suddenly explode? Perhaps the story would feel more immediate if that time frame shrank somewhat?............I think setting this in a specific place--describing the home Chloe lives in, the kind of neighborhood--would bring this even more to life. I also think you need to clarify whether Jess became a sex worker strictly for finances and the extent to which Chloe is or is not tempted to do the same.............Don't use all caps, as a general rule. Run one final check to see if anything pops out as extraneous or repetitive; I didn't find much here to worry about.


Some fair critiques that I've heard from others; I definitely think I'll flesh the story out and add some more sensory detail that I just didn't have the word count for. 
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csderuyter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote csderuyter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 6:41pm
Here's mine. I was surprised that one of the judges didn't "get" my dream sequence and didn't understand that the "Bzzz" noises were the reality of Chrissy's cell phone interrupting the dream. Sigh. That just goes to show that I need to be more deliberate about my writing, I guess.


''Perchance to Dream'' by Cindy Cook DeRuyter - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ...Great voice. Fun story.I love the mom's speech pattern of "Is it a sin…." I laughed out loud at the "seductive water-bottle-opening skills." Cute ending............................Christina's voice is spot on: filled with hope and fear that make it hard for her to settle down and get anything done, without tripping over herself of course. I love how you capture Christina's childhood and relationship to her Mom with the question of sin. And, of course, it's a really lovely coincidence choice to have Jack and Dr. S turn out to be the same person.......I love this story! I love Mom and her "Jewish mother" persona; I love Melvin, and I love Chrissy and Jack. I get a chuckle out of the fact that Mom doesn't know what "open marriage" implies, and Jack is so lovable for not telling her. Great humor, great pacing, great stuff...........................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ...The opening is a bit confusing. As Chrissy had dreamt of kissing this man, I wasn't clear that it really was a dream. Also, the idea of Jack saying, "buzz, buzz, buzz," didn't make sense. Work on this set-up, on making it feel more dream-like. Also be careful in the use of verb tenses. Some times you use past, sometimes present. (i.e. "That dream was never going to come true.

I only know his name because I’d seen it scrawled on his coffee cups.") Pick one tense and stick with it. Finally, the idea of her spititng out her water would be much more believable if this is the first time she has heard about the Open Marriage idea. ...........................Your story is drop-dead funny thanks to Chrissy's wonderful story telling and the circumstances you've placed them in. Now can you find some more time for C and J to get to know each other? I think your story wants to include that--and I think you can find room for that inclusion by cutting the dream at the top: you handle it well, but it's still cliche. I want to see C struggle to overcome her natural tendencies and succeed long enough to make a real connection with J.......There's not much you need to do to this. In a pinch, if you needed to make it a bit shorter, you could cut a phrase or two here or there, but it reads so well right now that you don't want to hack into it too far. Go over it one more time to make sure all your punctuation, spelling, etc., is right--I didn't find anything, but I was too busy enjoying it to check--and then you're good to go...........................................….................................……………………………………………………………

- Cindy

Ch 1 Story: Deception Has Consequences

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WriterByNight View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WriterByNight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 6:42pm
WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ...I love the voice in this piece. I was smiling by the second sentence, and I didn't stop. Very well done. ...........................I love the voice you've created for Petra, teetering as it does between irony and despair. This essential nature of her character creates a rich interior life perfect for your story of rekindled romance. Kevin is puppy-dog irresistible, too. Even more importantly, he feels authentic--like his tendency to notice the flaws instead of the beauty in his own art.......I liked this story, especially the way you used the "open marriage" concept as the actual jumping-off point for Petra's upheaval and change. She's a spunky heroine with a great, dry sense of humor. And, unlike many other stories I've seen that are supposed to be romantic comedies--this actually IS one. Congrats!..........................................….................................…………………………………………………………… WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ...A couple of spots threw me off. ".” sh*t, maybe that was a little too enthusiastic. He’s already pulling up behind my car. " I don't think these two sentences go together--the second one doesn't follow the first. In fact, I had assumed that she was in her own car feeling her heater and chatting with him. Make the placement clear. Further down, there is some discussion about the ice sculputre. I'm not clear who is thinking this/saying this. Should there be quotation marks?: "A tiny scratch runs along her hip. Another flaw? No, it’s a scar, identical to one I have from a rough game of kick the can when we were kids. The statue is me." Other than those two spots, nice, nice job.
...........................Petra is a wonderfully funny story teller and your story is charming. Is there room in it for genuine conflict? This might make the humor pop at moments. Of course, you do have one at the end with the auditioner on Kevin's desk, but I wonder if Petra could have another obstacle to overcome before falling for Kevin again? Don't bend your story out of shape to make this work, but it might be a nice finishing touch on an already great story. Small note: Your title is funny but doesn't really speak to the heart of your story.......I truly don't see anything much that needs work here. Go over it one more time to make sure you haven't misplaced any punctuation or misused any words or the like (although usually I catch those things pretty fast!)...but other than that, this is good to go. ..........................................….................................……………………………………………………………
FFC 2018 R3 | Heaven on Earth

FFC 2017 R4 | My Party at the End of the World | HM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jgochoco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 7:09pm
''The Heir of Asedon'' - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ......I enjoyed the intriguing power dynamic between Vakila and Lisandra, particularly with their sexual history....You can see and feel the passion of these women. I liked the backstory................The plot here is very intricate for a short story. You do a good job of supplying a rich backstory as well through intriguing snatches of dialogue.......................................................….................................…………………………………………………………… WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ......Setting names such as the “Dark Realms” and “Red Desert” make the world seem like a generic fantasy setting. Consider digging deeper, and drawing out what makes this setting unique, emphasizing geographical/climate/cultural differences. I would have also liked more background on Vakila’s relationship to the crown and the king, which could have been used as good world-building material. How can a queen be deposed, but not executed? Did the king divorce her? Are there any laws that ordinarily prevent that, or religious institutions against it?...The ending was a bit rushed which makes it feel overwrought. There were some sentences and paragraphs that need to be tightened. "She turned and walked to sit in the chair in front of the fire." Watch the overuse of "as" because it can become a habit and a shortcut that is often illogical. for instance "The door opened and the guards rushed in to surround Lisandra just when Lisandra screamed as she birthed a baby boy. She cradled him to her chest and wiped his face as his first cries echoed in the room." ...............I think that you need to clarify that Lysandra is pregnant earlier. More description of Asedon itself will help make this world feel more of a real one to the reader as well as supply greater context................................................

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sandyh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 7:20pm
Here's mine. Some of the criticisms are valid. Some were not even in my story. Not sure what story the judge from the final comments was reading, but it wasn't mine. 1. The father only killed the son. There was no mention of any other children killed. In fact, it is clear that he has two living daughters in the story. 2. The "sister" is never mentioned as a confidant of the son. 3. The sister does not kill Abe at the end. His now deceased wife, Sarah (who was mentioned several times as his wife) kills him. So yeah, not happy with the judge who somehow missed or confused all these plot points.



WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - .........A well-written story..........A high-stakes story of an intolerant father and a terrible act. You approach it with a level of seriousness that makes the ramping up action have real stakes, and the ending is brutal and grimly satisfying................You did a great job starting in medias res..............................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - .........The last bit of the story seems to be cut off. It feels a bit vindictive and preachy because of the stereotypical macho dad aspect. There are so many stories that are affected by political trends. If you want to do a story with social issues or trends, amp up the uniqueness of the story by putting it in a different era. Watch filter words like he felt and he heard. .........If the gun drawer is known to stick repeatedly and the ex-Marine is committed to being ready for an intruder, wouldn't he have repaired it? It's a good little action detail in your first paragraph, but pulls our idea of the character in two different directions. The same is true of Abe's decision to actually go to the offices of the foundation he's chosen not to fund--why would he both withdraw support but make the effort of finding out what the Executive Director has to say? Characters can be contracdictory, of course, but a little more explanation is needed to make sense of Abe's actions. ...............You've got enough missing commas littered throughout your story for it to become distracting: "'Maybe I'm finally getting dementia' he said out loud needs a commas after dementia; "her but when he turned around," needs a comma after but; "be but he shook the" should have a comma after be; and "Your wife, Sarah donated generously" needs a comma after Sarah, to name but a few spots. You made your younger character's sexual orientation the entire focus of your tale. I am not sure that this was a choice that helped your story. You essentially have homophobic dad kills poor gay kid and the dead gay kid's also dead sister kills him for being homophobic. So, the main character doesn't learn anything; he just ends up dead. Why doesn't the gay kid finally stand up for himself and kill the father who murdered him? Why is it the sister who does it? Did the dad kill her too? Why is this guy murdering all of his children? More than that, this story is littered with gay tropes: the kid likes cats and dancing, the mom is accepting, the dad is an ex-military person, and the sister was the brother's confidant. So, I don't really think that choosing to make the kid gay added any depth to the story beyond being a plot device-- one I think ultimately hurts your story...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MSquiggles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 7:54pm

''Early Termination'' - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - The 1st person narration was a good choice for this story. The stakes were set high and paid off, and suspense was maintained because it wasn't clear if 1, both or neither would die. Explanations/expository information was woven nicely through the story . ...This is a lovely story. I enjoyed the idea of being able to choose your own time of death and the circumstances. How interesting. I also loved the fact that she and Cal were not on the same page about ending it all. Nicely done............................I love the dilemma you've created: in a world where every part of you can be renewed forever, how do you tell yourself or anyone else that you've had enough. The love between Cal and Elena is unaffected, understated, and deeply touching. The specifics of your world are well chosen: you paint a clear picture without inundating the reader with unneccessary information.................................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - The story felt more plot than character driven and this was in part due to the foreign-ness of the world. A market driven suicide culture that treated death almost as a game.  In such a place would the narrator feel the way she felt? Would Cal? The result felt more like characters from the “real world” were dropped into the story and reacted out of current cultural biases.  ...In the beginning it would help to show me where we are right off. When I heard about checking vitals, my mind went to hospital bed. So I was confused when she was on a porch swing holding a cup of tea. So show me the two of them on the porch, drinking tea before that first exchange. Also, I kind of want to know why Cal has lost all enthusiasm and joy. Did something happen...or can he just not adapt to the ever-changing youth of the day? It would be nice to hear a bit more. Other than that, lovely story............................I love your story. You could leave it unchanged and you would--and do--have a great story. Right now, the tension dies when they enter the simulation, though I like the tag of Elena's continued struggle with herself to agree to live one more day. And maybe that's it. Maybe that's what your story is. So, take or ignore these suggestions as you see fit: 1) is is possible that Elena tries to talk Cal out of it once they are in the simulation? What would that look like? Would that wreck what you've created? 2) What would it look like if in her efforts to save Cal in the scenario she were killed or wounded instead? 3) What if the center screwed up and killed her instead of Cal?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GallifreyGirl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 9:54pm
''Heart of the Sky'' 
 WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ..................A bold choice of setting. The precision with which tools, animals, and traditions are described really make it come to life. A clever interpretation of organ donation, with sacrifice taking centre-stage. .........The world of this story is very richly drawn, with a lot of setting description and cultural detail that drew me in effectively....Your tone of reverence and awe is perfect for your tale from antiquity. I love you quickly you establish the rituals that form the backbone of the society. Most importantly, you have made great and authentic choices by making Ru's self-worth be deeply rooted in those beliefs and rituals. That creates wonderfully high stakes.................................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ..................The overly formal prose does work, but there's a chance to make the paleolithic setting more animated and immediate by deviating from this style. There is certainly an emotional height reached in the final pages, but the life of tribe feels somewhat distant and cool before, due to the formality of the writing. .........Because there's such a depth of detail, it was hard to engage with the narrator as closely in the beginning because I felt that there was a lot of other material I was trying to keep straight. Having a few moments of introspection early on where we're just dealing with the ideas and emotions of the protagonist might help....Establish the need for the Ru's sojourn and why she's driven to undertake it more quickly and clearly. For example, consider starting with her being pressured to go. Once she's on her sojourn, your story really starts to cook. Then you can fold in the background and stakes. Make her battle with the Great Bear cost her a great deal more both inside and out. I realize she does it to save her son, but doesn't part of her mourn to not be there with him through his life? Make the sacrifice painfully hard and then your story will be deeply moving.................................................….................................……………………………………………………………
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Schrifty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Apr 2016 at 11:17pm
I posted mine at the end of my story thread as well, but here it is again:

''Of Death and Gnats and Tea''  - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - .........A very crisp story..........The authentic and intriguing dialogue that you open with sets the pace for a modern-sounding story with a gothic backdrop. Great scary dream sequence. You fit a lot of action and story into a few scenes. ...............Your opening description of hospitals is absolutely phenomenal. You've got so many layers to your story right off the bat: lies, betrayal, death. You're off to a whirlwind start! This story stressed me out-- and that's a good thing. One of the hardest elements a good ghost story needs to capture is an emotional response. Yours certainly does that. Wonderful tale. Packed with action, deceit, and, of course, ghosts and murder! This is also some of the strongest writing I've seen. Your pacing in wonderful. Your descriptions are these vibrant visualizations that capture the reader. .............................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - .........Try to vary your sentence structure a bit. Also some of the sentences feel a bit like directions in a script. .........The plot is slightly over-complicated, and saving the reveal of the narrator's fake disease til near the end is perhaps one surprise too many. If we already knew that she'd been deceptive, the twist could lie solely with what Herb's intentions are. Herb's access to the home is also a bit hard to believe--if she's uncomfortable with him as of yet, perhaps she wouldn't be allowing him in as often as she is. ...............One of the things that gave me pause while reading your story was: what symptoms did the girl have? How would the mom have faked those? Did she starve or abuse her child or something? The part where Kathy and the mother have the pseudo-reconciliation seems glossed over just a bit. I'm not sure that they needed melodrama, dramatic music, and a well-spring of tears, but, since this is presumably what lets the mother pass on to the afterlife (since her smell is gone after she preforms this act of redemption), it seems like it warrants at least a few more lines so that the passing isn't so abrupt and removed feeling. Other than that, positively stellar job!.............................................….................................……………………………………………………………

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Puffindor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Apr 2016 at 9:53am

''Pavlov's Cupcakes'' - WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - ...............Fun piece! Your incorporation of these prompts was really creative. ......The concept is ridiculous, and I love it! I would love to see this story expanded upon where anybody could be classically conditioned to do a wanted behavior through sweets. I think, if expanded upon, this concept and story could have a life outside of this short. What happens when husbands start doing it to condition behavior in their wives? What about, then, when other men give those same wives those sweets? It’s ripe for awkward, comedic situations. ......You've done a nice job of establishing the fraught marital relationship between the two main characters. They're clearly defined and the way that they're working at cross purposes is evident....................................................….................................……………………………………………………………  WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK - ...............The story wasn't apologizing for being on the fantastical side, so these are minor issues. I thought the passage in which Don defensively muses that he doesn't have time to think about cupcakes was a bit puzzling. His smug, contrarian response made sense, but the whole "no time for cupcakes" thing felt a bit forced. Choosing time over cupcakes was just too much of a non sequitir for me. Also, it was hard to believe that a person of Dina's status wouldn't feel tacky bringing her own desert to one of the poshest restaurants on the Upper West Side. Finally, I would downplay the "marital bliss" part and focus on Don's immediate, passionate kisses upon finishing his cupcakes to make the ending work a little better. If everything in their marriage felt so perfect, but Don had no idea these kisses were happening, what happened to his dismissiveness and condescending disposition? I'd focus on the fact that every night, Fiona got a deep, passionate kiss instead. Thanks for a really fun, story!......Right when the piece is getting good, it ends! Fiona went to a con man for a marriage counselor who taught Don to value the cupcakes instead of his wife. So naturally, Fiona faces the consequences of her actions when another woman gives Don a cupcake. It would be hilarious for this piece to explore how this situation can go further. This is already a ridiculous world in which people can be trained to give affection, even to people they don’t want to, through classical conditioning – take this concept and really run with it! ......The opening wasn't entirely effective in that it opens with a very expository speech and not much action in scene. It would be clearer to introduce things a bit so we understand that Fiona is our point of focus and then launch into the speech....................................................….................................……………………………………………………………

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