|A Review of
Story Reviewed "Forever Changed"
Reviewer One Solitary Voice
Your review of Forever Changed as per your request.
First a quick note on my review method and style:
I use what is referred to as The Eight Point Story Arc. I learned about this eight point Arc method from an email subscription I receive from the “Daily Writhing Tips” web site which though very brief; I found extremely helpful.
The Eight Point Story Arc according to the article I read on Daily Writing Tips “is considered to be a fool-proof, fail-safe and time-honoured way to structure a story.”
The arc points are listed below in order with a brief explanation of each (excerpts from that article).
1 The Stasis
This is the “everyday life” in which the story is set. Think of Cinderella sweeping the ashes, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) living in poverty with his mum and a cow, or Harry Potter living with the Dursley’s.
Something beyond the control of the protagonist (hero/heroine) is the trigger which sparks off the story. A fairy godmother appears, someone pays in magic beans not gold, a mysterious letter arrives … you get the picture.
3 The Quest
The trigger results in a quest – an unpleasant trigger (e.g. a protagonist losing his job) might involve a quest to return to the status quo; a pleasant trigger (e.g. finding a treasure map) means a quest to maintain or increase the new pleasant state.
4 The Surprise
This stage involves not one but several elements, and takes up most of the middle part of the story. “Surprise” includes pleasant events, but more often means obstacles, complications, conflict and trouble for the protagonist.
Watts emphasizes that surprises shouldn’t be too random or too predictable – they need to be unexpected, but plausible. The reader has to think “I should have seen that coming!”
5 Critical Choice
At some stage, your protagonist needs to make a crucial decision; a critical choice. This is often when we find out exactly who a character is, as real personalities are revealed at moments of high stress. Watts stresses that this has to be a decision by the character to take a particular path – not just something that happens by chance.
In many classic stories, the “critical choice” involves choosing between a good, but hard, path and a bad, but easy, one.
In tragedies, the unhappy ending often stems from a character making the wrong choice at this point – Romeo poisoning himself on seeing Juliet supposedly dead, for example.
The critical choice(s) made by your protagonist need to result in the climax, the highest peak of tension, in your story.
For some stories, this could be the firing squad leveling their guns to shoot, a battle commencing, a high-speed chase or something equally dramatic. In other stories, the climax could be a huge argument between a husband and wife, or a playground fight between children, or Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters trying on the glass slipper.
The reversal should be the consequence of the critical choice and the climax, and it should change the status of the characters – especially your protagonist. For example, a downtrodden wife might leave her husband after a row; a bullied child might stand up for a fellow victim and realize that the bully no longer has any power over him; Cinderella might be recognized by the prince.
Your story reversals should be inevitable and probable. Nothing should happen for no reason, changes in status should not fall out of the sky. The story should unfold as life unfolds: relentlessly, implacably, and plausibly.
The resolution is a return to a fresh stasis – one where the characters should be changed, wiser and enlightened, but where the story being told is complete.
(You can always start off a new story, a sequel, with another trigger…)
I've only covered Watts’ eight-point arc in brief here. In the book, he gives several examples of how the eight-point arc applies to various stories.
He also explains how a longer story (such as a novel) should include arcs-within-arcs – subplots and scenes where the same eight-point structure is followed, but at a more minor level than for the arc of the entire story.
You can buy Writing a Novel from Amazon.com – and I highly recommend that you do, as it’s an excellent book for any writer of fiction, and deals with all aspects of the craft (not just eight-point arcs!)
Here‘s the Link to the article if you’d like to read it in its entirety for yourself.
I like this in-depth approach to reviewing because I’m fairly new to writing and it helps me learn and better understand the craft, which in turn I hope, will help me become a better writer.
I also give brief comments on:
My General Impression
My Favorite Parts
Imagery/Use of Descriptive Wording
Please keep in mind That my views and opinions are just that: My own personal views and opinions, and I’m new at reviewing, I only offer them in good spirit with the hope my thoughts might help you make this great work
A TRUE MASTERPIECE
And always remember: It’s your creation and masterpiece and only you know what is truly right for your story.
That being said here’s my take on ‘Forever Changed’
I thought this was a really great story, and was well written. A real tear jerking, heartwarming, heart wrenching, tale that pulled on the heart strings all throughout, and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to the end. I got teary eyed more than once, and had a smile on my face and laughed just as much.
The ending was not the tragic one I expected which really surprised me, I like that you gave it a happy ending that was a really nice touch. Instead of walking away with sadness I walked away from the read with a warm smile on my face. This is beautiful work. It was a very powerful and moving piece.
I looked at you portfolio briefly and seen that you’re only eighteen, and must say you've got a lot of talent kid. (I’m fifty four, and just began thinking seriously about writing about five or six years ago. I hope you never stop or put it down. I was about your age when I first realized I had a desire to write, not because I loved writing but because I thought I had a story that needed to be told, but didn't have the English and grammar skills at that time, (I went to a trade high school and college was not an option for me at that time) but did continue journaling and writing poetry for a while then stopped, mostly out of the overwhelming fear, doubt, and insecurity I had back then. I've heard many writers say that they stopped and put it down for a period of years or decades, and it’s always the same result; they regretted it, myself included; So please Keep at it and don’t give up.
Definitely Winning the Cup because it wasn't the tragic ending I expected and was bracing for; but there were other parts I liked that you sprinkled throughout the story.
See the Eight point Story arc section below;
Alana is an amazing little girl you did a great job fleshing her out as a character, perhaps a little too good. Although she was a great character, at some points she didn't seem natural, Her personality, and intelligence seemed, seemed over done for her age.
I’m not sure what to offer you for suggestion here, I’m not what the best option would be here, making her a couple years older or just toning down the dialog.
I guess that would be up to you as the author. However, regardless, it’s still an awesome story, it might be best to just leave it as is.
I loved the role of Niklas as the main protagonist; the way you fleshed him out as a genuine down to earth warm hearted guy. I like the way he befriended Alana and became more intricately involved with the family and was there for Alana. Great job all around in all area’s with developing and bringing Niklas to life from a ya sure what the hell I’ll meet the little girl type of attitude to a really loving and warm hearted guy…Nice work.
Tyler and Carol
I liked the role you gave them throughout the story. Tyler’s presence in the background and the way Carol was the stronger and more out spoken and active one. The roles she played as a mom with her high and low emotional points seemed very natural and helped push the story forward. Nice Job!!!
Hank was a likable character. You fleshed his personality out nicely through the dialog, without bogging down any of the scenes with details. Aside from that I’m not sure you needed to repeat mentioning his nationality once it was established it had no bearing on the story that I could tell, but no harm done. It didn’t hinder the story or make me stumble through the reading at all, but at any rate… Again! Nice job with Hanks character.
Not sure what to say about the coach other than you used his presence and role to push the story forward nicely.
This scene and introduction of Stewie was a nice addition, and very creative way to introduce the patches the team wore on their uniforms.
Personally, I’d revise or cut this intro of him and what Alana overheard. Give her a different worry and or fear (e.g. she knows she will die and is worried about what will happen to her parents and Niklas) I’ve had personal experience with medical professionals when my daughter went through a couple open heart surgeries years ago and the doctors, surgeons, and nursing staff were of the up most professional behavior and totally sensitive to the emotional trauma me and my wife were going through. That would never happen, and certainly not in the Childs room. Usually when the doc’s surgeons etc. discuss things with the patents it’s in a closed conference room or private waiting room or area, likewise as when Niklas arrives a from the airport that would not naturally have happened in the room in front of Alana
Just my humble opinion, ultimately it’s up to you, it’s your masterpiece, but I’d consider revising the scenes where Dr. Howards involved.
Imagery/Use of Descriptive Wording
Here again this is not one of my strong points, but I thought the story gave a pretty good visual even though a lot of the story was dialog. Perhaps more of this to help flesh out the and give a clearer visual of the characters and/or some of the scenes might help…(I’m honestly not sure if it’s needed though…Shrug’s)
Perhaps maybe the repeated “Bouncing up and down” reference to describe Alana’s reaction in the different scenes could be replaced with some other descriptive language.
Grammar and Punctuation
I can’t help you here in this department. This is one of my weakest points; my English and grammar skills are horrendous.
Now for The Eight point Story Arc.
The Eight Point Story Arc is new to me. I only discovered and heard about it recently and only have a very general and basic understanding of it. Other than generally, I don’t understand it’s use and full application and/or it mechanics within various genres. I only use it because I like it and the brief explanation given of each aspect of it in the article I found it in, and figured using it with reviews will not only help me give better reviews, it will help me better understand the writing craft and become a better writer. I have yet to read the book referenced in the article I read, that mentioned the art. But I’ll do my best with it and how your story measured up to it.
For the arc, I will use a three colored ribbon system, a green, a blue, and a red, to denote my view on how well I feel the story met the criteria of the Arc.
The color of the ribbon to the left of the category title will denote my feelings on each aspect of the story arc.
A Green Ribbon Will mean I feel the story met this criteria and was met and is present in the story.
A Blue Ribbons Will mean I feel this section is somehow incomplete, lacking, and I will explain as best I can, and offer any suggestions I can think of.
A Red Ribbon Will mean I think the story missed this topic is absent completely
A Face Palm Ether standing alone or along side a ribbon Will mean I don't know, or I'm not sure.
1 The Stasis
Good job here with hospital and locker room scenes
2 The Trigger
Couple nice triggers Alana’s illness and getting to meet her Idol
3 The Quest
I like the way you used/interweaved a couple different quest’s making Alana Happy, Winning the cup
4 The Surprise
Nice job weaving the surprises in throughout the middle story. To many to list Nice job!
5 The Critical Choice
Beautiful job here and very creative using Niklas to make the decision to go beyond the initial meeting of Alana and offering his phone number etc and how it is interlocked with the surprise. Nice Work!
6 The Climax
Again you weaved in a few climaxes as a result of Niklas’s critical decision (s).
7 The Reversal
Winning the Cup and Alana being at the game Mice work!
8 The Resolution
Wow this review really got me thinking. Here again I think you incorporated more than one resolution. You did such a great job interweaving them they are hard to sort out but clearly they are all present and part of the story structure
Summary and Closing Statement
Beautiful! Absolutely Beautiful work!
Just a couple things I like to bring to your attention though if I may…