As you requested, here is my review of The Bodhi Tree . Before you read further, please keep in mind that my comments and suggestions below are only offered as suggestions. Take whatever seems helpful, and ignore the rest.
I really like the premise of your character study/short story. So simple, yet complex.
In some writing instances, less is more. Meaning that succinct phrasing and selecting the 'perfect' descriptive word will do more to enhance your writing and descriptive pictures than '50-cent words' that some readers may have to look-up to understand. We never want to break the pace, tension or flow of a story for a reader.
WHAT I LIKED MOST:
"the night-ripened stars and the seashell moon above the sleeping city." Beautiful phrasing that creates a lovely picture. The phrasing is tight and every word works to create the image. Exceptional!
"the road turned north and the forest floor descended to meet it" Simple, yet well-crafted phrasing that creates a lovely memory-picture for the reader. You've struck a positive chord with this word picture. By giving your readers memory-pictures, such as this, the writer captures and holds the readers' interest. Again, every word in the phrasing works to create the image. Good job!
"A lone, straggling prayer-call was ringing in the air" Nice!
"The leaves whispered and the wood whistled" Oh wow! I love this image. Awesome.
PLOT DEVELOPMENT AND RESOLUTION:
You've done a good job organizing your story! I have a clear picture of Ana's path from awakening, to her jog through the forest until she arrives home.
PACING, FLOW AND TENSION:
Pacing, flow and tension gives your story rhythm.
Just like music, rhythm is the backbone of the melody and a story.
If there is no change in the rhythm, the reader will either become bored or exhausted.
You may want to review your character study to look for areas that stream - i.e., where the sentence structure is the same throughout a paragraph or section. Perhaps look for sections where you want the reader to feel Ana's rising excitement or tension. Also look for areas that you want the story to slow its pace to enhance the visual images or when you want to delve into Ana's reactions, emotions.
I've found the following helpful when developing tension in my stories:
Shorter, focused sentences create stronger feelings of tension.
Longer sentences ease the tension.
Shorter, focused sentences begin to build tension.
Use fast, single action sentences at the climax; then relieve the tension with longer sentences between each 'conflict'.
You may want to review the 2nd paragraph of your story. Perhaps look for ways to change its pace; Show the reader Ana's rising feelings by changing the length and focus of your sentences to build tension.
Pace and flow are also impacted by the focus, action, and/or intent of our paragraphs.
For example, in your 3rd paragraph there are a number of separate actions/descriptions that occur within it. You may want to review the paragraph to decide whether there are sections within it that you want to separate to enhance their impact, flow, tension and pace of your story.
A streaming (run-on) paragraph can have a negative impact on your reader by interrupting/snagging the flow/pace of your story. Rather than using semi-colons, consider biting the bullet and use periods instead. In my humble opinion, semi-colons should be used rarely within a story.
First and foremost, I like Ana! Although I'm not sure I understand her motivations.
I noticed areas that you may want to review. These are areas that, as a reader, I wanted to know more.
"...she thought: So this is the part they leave out in the movies.
I like the thought, because it's open ended and can lead into so many interesting areas. However, it created questions for me. The first question is whether she's angry, disappointed, or just frustrated. Then the important follow-up question is - Why?
In this instance, her thought occurs in the early stage of your story. Your reader doesn't know anything about Ana other than she has just awoken on a balcony and is looking through the glass door at a sleeping person called Junaid.
It's easy for us (writers) to forget that the reader isn't in our mind and can't see what we are visualizing. They also don't know what we do about our characters.
"The tactile warmth of the rug below her feet made her stop on the way to the bathroom. She sat down on the edge of the bed."
Did Ana stop, then sit on the edge of the bed because her feet touched the rug, or was her motivation the sleeping Junaid? Who is Junaid? I ask the question because at this point in the story - assuming I haven't read the story to its end, I want to know.
I feel as if I missed the importance of the Bodhi tree to Ana. Is it a symbol to her? Or, perhaps it's an analogy, since you continue by tell us: "In the middle were the two of them, fearing no intrusion, human or animal, in that part of the forest off the beaten path."
Airaz, this may be an area to review and perhaps enhance, if the Bodhi Tree is an important element to the story and the reader's understanding of Ana.
SHOW VERSUS TELL:
As the Author of The Bohdi Tree you decide how you want to share your story with your readers.
'Tell' is passive. The reader listens to the narrator telling the story and relating facts. Stories involving action, emotions or centering on one character, as in a character study, usually require more show than tell; essays or journals may require more tell.
'Show' is active. It allows the reader's active involvement in the story and character bonding. Show allows the reader to relate to the characters' 5 senses - (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting) This is accomplished through the word-pictures the author develops.
Airaz, you may want to consider increasing the ratio of 'Show' to 'Tell' in your story. By incorporating more 'Show' into your story, there are more opportunities to provide your readers with a keener understanding of Ana's thoughts and motivations.
Try it; you might like it.
Excellent! I didn't find any spelling errors. Great job!
Semi-colons, run-on sentences and paragraphs - which I mentioned above. In my estimation, that's least onerous error within the category because it's the easiest to correct and move away from in your writing.
When I began writing I adored finding the longest, sometimes the most archiac words, to create what I thought were profound word-pictures. The best word I found at the time was Tintinnabulation.
I was trying to describe the sounds of trebuchets buffeting a castle's walls during a siege. I missed the mark - Tintinnabulation means tinkling bells - LOL. The morale of the story is that my readers spent more time in the dictionary than reading my story. Most stopped reading my work.
The bottom line: I wasn't impressing anyone with my choice of long, 50-cent or archaic words. 'Big or archaic words don't improve , or make your writing more readable. Many times they can diminish the quality of your work. Instead, look for words that paint the strongest visual picture.
Before using a word found in a Thesarsus, Ideanary, or other synonym finder, look up its definition! Words can have different meanings depending on its part of speech - verb, noun, adjective, etc.
TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID WORDINESS:
Put every word to work in your sentences.
Delete any non-essential words that may be cluttering your sentences. Be ruthless in your editing of sentences and paragraphs.
Avoid words that sap the strength of the sentence and blur the visual image. Instead, use the subject and verb to carry the sentence's strength.
Avoid stating the obvious.
*Cut* delete or reword passages that explain or describe in detail what would already be obvious to readers, or has already been explained in the story.
*Cut* Do not show every mundane movement of a character. If they are opening a door, you do not have to tell the reader the key went into the lock, the character turned the key then the knob, pushed/pulled and then saw the door open.
Avoid redundant phrasing
*Cut* sat down, stood up, past memories
"It was cold, and she had woken up with her elbows tucked between her knees. She was fumbling for the blanket, and not finding it, she tried to open her eyes. Blinking in the cerulean light of dawn, she saw it. Through the glass door to the room, she saw Junaid's foot hung over the side of the bed, the upper part of his body disappearing into the blanket. Watching it indolently moving with his breathing body,..."
The early morning air felt frosty against Ana's body. Elbows tucked between her knees on the balcony recliner, she softly moaned within the shiver rolling down her spine. A sleep-numb hand reluctantly left its warm pocket to chase away goosebumps, then blindly searched for the warmth of her husband's body.
An inaudible mumble of disappointment forced her mind beyond the soothing abyss of unconsciousness. Rolling on her back, Ana's hand searched for the blanket. "Damn," escaped her lips in a soft whisper.
Her eyelids fluttered. Capturing tiny snatches of the Cerulean hued dawn before quickly closing.
Rolling on her side, she slowly opened her eyes. Through the glass patio doors she looked into their bedroom. Cocooned within the warmth of her blanket, her husband slept. Ana's eyes studied the details of Junaid's disembodied foot dangling over the end of the their bed.
"She straightened out her legs"
she expanded out her arm to reached for the edge of the white sheet drooping
she dropped her feet to the stood on the cold floor and let them carry her inside. slowly walking into the bedroom
The undulating flesh of the calf above Junaid’s foot was visible where his leg emerged out of the blanket.
Is "undulating" the correct word? Undulating usually describes motion, i.e., moving as waves. Perhaps there is a better way to describe the curve of his leg.
A lone, straggling prayer-call was ringing in the air when she hit the asphalt, but she drowned the plaint by turning up the music in her ears.
"hit" breaks the image. While we may use the word 'Hit' conversationally, as in "hit the road", in our writing we want to avoid colloquial expressions, unless it's conversationally appropriate to the character.
"plaint" hmmmm, is Plaint commonly used to describe prayers?
She cut through the empty lot to make for toward the road heading east. to meet the It was the fastest path to the woods.
Airaz, I like your story, Bohdi Tree. It's got so much potential, especially with your ability to create such pretty word-pictures.
If there is anything I can do to help you further, please contact me.
Keep Writing! You've got talent!
All my best,
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