| Good morning, Sumojo , and I hope it finds you well.
You know me. Jack Tyler, former steampunk author who has transitioned to former horror author, at your service. I bring an opinion to share, and you should keep in mind that I am nobody special, just a reader with an opinion. I hope you find it useful. Hopefully, my comments will give you some ideas to take your writing in directions you hadn't previously considered. Let me just drop a warning here, and we'll get started.
THIRD-PARTY READERS TAKE NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD
PRESENTATION: This aspect deals with the first impression your story makes when a reader clicks on the title. Call it the cosmetics. I'll be looking at abstract items from text density to scene dividers in a effort to ferret out any unfortunate habits that might cause a reader to move on without actually reading anything; before you can dazzle him with your show, you have to get him into the tent!
I like the font you changed to. WdC's default is very bland and boring. I would recommend that you open this up to at least a 1.4 linespace, as it does create a very dense wall of text, but that's a nothing point.
The half-star is for your paragraphs. Your scenes are set off well with the double-spacing between, but within the scenes, the paragraphs need to be indented to prevent an awkward reading experience. Alternately, you could separate scenes with a centered asterisk...
...and double-space each paragraph, but the reader needs that help from the author in keeping the story effortlessly flowing.
STORY: This is really the basic element, isn't it? If you can't tell an engaging story, it doesn't matter what else you can do, because nobody's going to read it anyway. You should note that if you're reading this review, it means you've garnered decent to high marks in this category, or I would have moved on to something more engaging. I will try to explain aspects from characters to grammar, but I don't know how to teach someone to have an imagination, so congratulations; you've done something well already. Now let's examine the individual parts of the whole and see what makes it successful. We'll begin with the story itself, the theme, the flow, the impact, to see what made me stay instead of clicking on to the next one.
Here's a delightfully ghoulish tale masquerading as a small town melodrama. It promises much, and delivers in spades. I'm pretty sure I can say that nobody saw this coming. Even when Katarina was being held before the table I suspected they were a cult that was going to kill her, and maybe eat her. I didn't get in synch with what was happening until I saw that they were all dead. Excellent masking of a grisly ending!
CHARACTERS: This section discusses all aspects of the characters, the way they look, act, and talk, as well as the development and presentation of backstory. Allow me to present "Tyler's Axiom:" Characters are fiction. Rich, multifaceted characters with compelling backstories will seize the reader in a grip that will not be denied, and drag him into their narrative, because he can't abide the thought of not knowing what will happen to them. Conversely, lazy, shallow stereotypes will ruin any story regardless of its other qualities, because the reader will be unable to answer the second question of fiction: Why do I care?
Katerina and Tom combine to deliver an awesome tale that suddenly changes direction at the end to become something completely different than what it seemed to be going into it. The skeptical cops fill in what would otherwise be a question mark (why they dismiss a citizen's concerns in such a cavalier manner), and the whole story becomes a tour de force of these two characters building a story. Beautifully executed.
SETTINGS: This section deals with the locations you've established for your action, the ways in which they affect that action, and your ability to describe them clearly and concisely. You could say that this aspect answers (or fails to answer) the first question of fiction, What's going on here? Setting can be used to challenge a character, to highlight a skill or quality, to set the mood of a scene without overtly saying a single thing about it, and a host of lesser impacts too numerous to mention. You might think of it as a print artist's equivalent of a movie's "mood music," always important yet never intrusive. All in all, a pretty big deal, then. So how did you do?
Two buildings on opposite sides of a square, one containing a mysterious room. Concise, compelling, and completely unobtrusive. Settings used exactly as they should be.
MECHANICS: Whether you're writing fact or fiction, prose or poetry, the "holy grail" that you're striving for is immersion. This is an area that no author, myself included, ever wants to talk about: I've done all this work, and you want to argue over a comma?" But those commas are important. What you're really doing as a writer is weaving a magic spell around your reader, and your reader wants you to succeed. He wants to escape his mundane world for a period, and lose himself in your creation. Errors in spelling and grammar, typos, "there" vs. "their" issues, use of words inconsistent with their actual meanings, all yank him out of his immersion while he backtracks to re-read and puzzle out what you meant to say. This is never good, and this is the section that deals with that.
I did find a couple of tiny points. First, in the "killing room," Katerina knows that it's filled with things like old washing mangles. Now, here's a word I'm not familiar with, and if this was a text message, I'd suspect that autocorrect had a hand in it. But I Googled it, and while it isn't a top choice, I did find reference to the old hand wringers of early 20th century appliances. My grandma had one of these while I was growing up, but she just called it a wringer, so thanks for my daily education.
The other little thing I found was tableaux. A tableau is an arrangement of still figures, live or not, telling a story with their composition. Tableaux is the plural form, and if there is more than one group of figures in the room, I completely missed them.
SUMMARY: So, the minor nitpicking catalogued here warrants at least 4½ stars, and it is my honor to provide them. I thank you for sharing this grisly little tale, and hope you have a few more up your sleeve; you're really quite good at this. Take care of yourself, be safe, and no matter what you're doing, writing or otherwise, don't forget to have the fun! It's the only thing that matters in this great big hairy world!
Read well, and write better,
My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!" .
| You responded to this review 04/03/2020 @ 12:58am EDT