Hi. Max again. Thanks for asking me to read your story. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and I'm sending you some comments.
Item Reviewed: "Adam's Honesty"
Author Misty Shade
Reviewer: Max Griffin 🏳️🌈
Please remember these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story. I've read and commented on your work as I would try to read my own. I hope you find something here useful , and that you will discard the rest with good cheer.
Since you are relatively new to Writing.Com, I'd like to add my personal welcome to the site. This is a great place to post your work, to learn and grow as an author, and to make new friends. You'll find a wide range of opportunities here. The site can be a little overpowering at first, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to drop me a note. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out.
Okay, then. Here we go with my comments!
What I liked best
There is so much to love in this story. The characters, for example, have a charming innocence as they confront their feelings. Both characters have clear goals, the stakes are high, and the obstacles are primarily internal--the most difficult kind to surmount. The plot is filled with tension, that is released in a marvelous, romantic moment.
So, the story hits on all the major points: characters, tension, plot, and romance. Good job!!
Openings are critical in any work of fiction. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on your first sentence.
Your opening is your best opportunity to draw readers into your fictional world, to induce a dream-like state in which your words guide their imaginations. The readers become the author's active partners in imagining the fictional world, in a state of suspended disbelief. In crafting the opening of any story, it's the author's primary task to launch this fictional dream.
Your lead sentence does a great job of framing Adam's dilemma and establishing the stakes. It draws the readers in.
I do have a suggestion for a different opening in the line-by-line remarks below, but the one you've got works well.
Will he or won't he? How will Joel react? Will they still be friends? You keep the tension going until the big reveal. Nice work!
Your first sentence hooks the reader. THen you keep hooking the reader as we learn more about the situation and more about Adam.
This was sufficient for staging--I could keep track of the characters in relation to one another. This was especially critical at the climax (so to speak). However, the actual setting was a bit sparse. I almost always want a touch more description--not a lot, just enough to help me visualize where things are happening. Setting can also help establish character, both by revealing what's in Joel's room and by revealing the things Adam notices.
Some things you might think about.
Compelling stories almost always start with compelling characters. Authors thread together other elements, such as plot, tension, and setting, to build a fictional world. One way to think about this is that that we lead the readers on a guided dream. We engage them as active participants, so that they become the our partners in imagining the story.
The "guided dream," or "fictional dream," is a fundamental idea in modern fiction. It's the guiding principle behind most of my remarks in the line-by-line comments below. You do a good job with this, but there are little, nit-pickky details where small changes could make things even better.
Show, don't tell.
I know, everyone says this. It's one of the hardest things to learn. It's also the single most important way we engage readers and increase the intimacy and immediacy of our writing. Again, you do a good job here, especially at the climax, but it's important to be relentless about this. Again, I've made a few comments in the line-by-line remarks below.
Point of View.
See below. The general rule is that every short story should have one--and only one--point of view.
I notice you are using Proper English as opposed to the American version. I don't read for grammar, but didn't find anything to whine about here. Good job!!
Just my personal opinion
I'm grateful for the opportunity to read this story. Your writing shows talent. This review is mostly just first impressions. If you'd like more in-depth comments, please don't hesitate to visit
Thank you again for sharing your work, and please keep on writing!!! I can tell you have marvelous stories in your head that need to be shared!
As Adam rounded the corner onto Joel's street an came up to the walkway leading to his door, he became anxiousMy Comment: This is good, in that it builds tension. But, it's telling the reader he's anxious instead of showing it. It's almost always stronger to show rather than tell. Here, it might be something as simple as hesitating at the door--something you have him doing later. Or, alternatively, his palms might be sweaty, or he might draw a tremulous breath. These all reveal through intimate, physical details, how he's feeling. It's that intimacy and immediacy that helps bring the narrative to lifle.
She opened the door wider and I entered the house.
"Hi Mrs Lincoln," I answered, "I'm good thank you and yes I did. Is Joel home?"My Comment: Prior to here, the narrative voice has been third person--"he came before his friend's house," for example. But it shifts to first person at this point, where "I entered the house." Either choice of voice is fine, but a short story should generally choose one or the other.
As I came up to his room with the big 'Knock First!" and 'Enter at Own Risk!' boards attached to the door, I hesitated. My Comment: Here, the hesitation shows his state of mind, rather than telling us he's anxious as before.
He was well built with broad shoulders, My Comment: This is part of an awesome description of Joel. It not only describes him, but reveals Adam's feelings for him.
The only things I might consider adding at this point are one or two details about Joel's room. We've already seen the signs posted on the door--a great detail!--but I'd like to know a touch more about the room. Is it neat or disorderly, for example. Is the bed made, or unmade? Are there athletic trophies on the walls, or maybe photos of Joel performing in a play? Little details about what is in the room can both set the scene and--more importantly--reveal things about Adam's character.
I laughed, it sounded nervous to my own ears, but I closed the door and walked over to got a pillow off his bed and flopped down to lie on the floor.My Comment: I'd consider a period after "laughed." This is a comma splice, where two sentences are joined with a comma when a period or semicolon would be clearer. Technically, it's no longer a grammar "error," but every editor I've ever worked with has flagged these and makes me change them.
"Wait, did you see Abby again after prom?My Comment: Great way to crank up the tension!
I'd broken the kiss and told her that I'd had a great time too, and watched her walk up to her house, feeling wrecked, and knowing that I had to face the facts. Which was why I was here.My Comment: Earlier, you told reader Adam was always honest and did the right thing. This incident shows him being honest and doing the right thing, including--later--not wanting to mislead Abby. So, from the perspective of revealing character, this is excellent.
But...it's a time reversal. For a couple of paragraphs, we're in the past, at the prom and after. A time reversal tends to pull the reader out of the here-and-now of the present. When that happens, it tends to also disrupt the "fictional dream" playing in the reader's head.
In fiction, we try to simulate life. We experience life sequentially, so flashbacks are a difficult technique to execute. In a short story, they are particularly challenging.
At the same time, this is an important bit about Adam's character, and no small part of his motivation for where he's currently at. It's tempting to suggest that you *start* the story with Joel and Adam double-dating at the prom. You could have Adam noticing all those physical features of his friend, while only being semi-aware of the significance of noticing them--or even fighting against it. Then, have him try the kiss, take her home, and resolve to talk to Joel. By adding a scene at the start of the story, you would set the stage for what is about to happen, and reveal things about Adam's character through his words and deeds. You'd need to take care to have the first paragraph reveal that he's conflicted, if only subconsciously, about his feelings for Joel, but I think it might be worth considering this revision.
I concede this would be a big change, and make the story longer, but the plus of showing Adam's character and his attraction to Joel early--as opposed to telling the reader these things--would be significant.
"So," he said, his voice gravely as if he'd just woken, "who is it?"My Comment: typo: gravelly. Great way to show his state of mind, BTW.
Joel was stunned, looking at the guy who's been his best friend for the last 7 years, he couldn't believe what he'd just heard.
My Comment: Here, the point of view shifts from Adam to Joel. You correctly used three stars to alert the reader to the change.
But here's the thing. A change in point-of-view mid-scene is a disruption to the fictional dream playing in the readers' heads. Up until now, we've been deeply inside Adam's head, seeing things through his eyes, feeling his emotional turmoil. Now, suddenly, at the most critical point in the action, we're in Joel's head. That runs the high risk of pulling the reader out of the fictional dream, and hence out of your fictional world.
The general rule-of-thumb for short stories is to use only one point of view. In a novel, you can often will use multiple points-of-view, although there the rules is "only one point of view per scene." In a novel, multiple points-of-view add variety and you, as author, have the time and space to make smooth transitions from one point of view to another. In a short story, multiple points-of-view complicate everything, both for the author and for the reader.
I see why you shifted here. You wanted to show Joel's internal feelings. But you kept the essential reveal--that he's had similar feelings for Adam--secret, and thus maintained and even built on the tension in the plot. Indeed, the dialogue in this segment is spot-on, both realistic and emotionally potent.
But you could do all of this by remaining in Adam's point-of-view and showing Joel's reactions in his tone, facial expression, and body language. You don't have to reveal Joel's explicit inner thoughts, and in many ways it's stronger to have the reader infer these things. That's part of why showing is stronger than telling: you've engaged the readers' imaginations, and they are then filling in the details for you.
There chests collided and he felt the rise and fall of Adams chest. My Comment: I love the way you are lingering on that first kiss. I learned from a best-selling romance author that the first kiss is an essential part of romance. The physical details, the sensations, the smells, the tastes, the electric thrill--these all contribute to affirming the romantic feelings. You're doing a great job here.
Oh, and this is a minor typo: "Their chests..."
"Me neither." Joel said, and drew Adam close.My Comment: ...and you ended when it's over. That long kiss dissipated the tension that had been building throughout the story. You might have lingered a tad too long for my taste--the tension really went away at Joel's revelation of similar feelings--but it's satisfying to see the resolution through.
I only review things I like, and I really liked this story. I'm a professor by day, and find awarding grades the least satisfying part of my job. Since I'm reviewing in part for my own edification, I decided long ago to give a rating of "4" to everything I review, thus avoiding the necessity of "grading" things on WDC. So please don't assign any weight to my "grade" -- but know that I selected this story for review because I liked it and thought I could learn from studying it.
Again, these are just one person's opinions. Only you know what is best for your story! The surest path to success is to keep writing and to be true to your muse!
Thanks again for sharing this item. Keep on writing!
Max Griffin 🏳️🌈