'A night you will not soon forget' provides an intimate insight into the desires of the heroine Sherri. It explores steamy sensual fantasies against a tepid reality.
There is a wonderful attention to detail and focus on sensation that lends itself perfectly to sensual and erotic writing. That said, there are a lot of other little things in the narrative that interfere with my ability to share Sherri's fantasies. Enough that by the time I got to the key scene in the story, I was quite put off.
As such, please tack this review with a pinch of sugar. The story does have a lot going for it. Even if all you do is review your verbs and adjectives and change nothing else, 'A night you will not soon forget' could easily jump to a 4-star rating.
Larry is the bath. I like that parallel between Sherri indulging and soothing her body with a bath, and then doing the same for her feelings with her dream. Bother offer a temporary reprieve from a life she's dissatisfied with.
I also liked the transformation of the bathroom into the dream room, which pulls the world into Sherri's cosy escape. Now it's not just Sherri in the bath, the bath has expended to include the room, her lover, and the reader.
Sherri... I have a few problems with Sherri which I'll detail at the end of this section.
However, there are some things about Sherri that are demonstrated well and make her quite real. She seems to be a lonely woman waiting for one specific man to recognise her attention. Her interest in Larry is expressed in a brave breach of her boundaries: Sherri gives him her number. Shy Sherri tells Larry she wants him to call. She leaves her safe self-isolation and exposes herself to rejection for him. This is complimented by her fantasies of him. Sherri takes risks for Larry, just Larry, because not only does she desire him, she trusts him enough to invite him in.
Sherri is also, despite her shyness and lack of experience, a deeply sexual woman. Her fantasy is undeniably sexual. It's not a simple romantic fantasy. I like this as well. Behind closed doors she knows what she wants.
There are a few places where the language puts a distance between Sherri and what she's experiencing ('She felt', 'she was becoming') which is exacerbated by a very detailed list of actions she takes. The balance is off. There's a lot of 'telling' when it comes to how Sherri feels and when that's offset against detailed choreography, it undermines what emotive charge is building.
I do not like the way Sherri is portrayed in the first scene. I do not like the way she, a supposedly shy woman, pretends to strip for the man she likes. That doesn't ring true. It feels like something a man would write in his own sexual fantasy. I do not like that she describes herself as having 'fiery red hair', again because this feels like the way a man writes about a woman, not the way a woman thinks about herself. Given the entire next scene is Sherri's fantasy, it's important that this provocative, sensual tone doesn't bleed backward through the earlier scene. Removing these things from the first scene, including cutting back on the details of how she bathes, would make the second scene significantly stronger.
I especially do not like that 'it was hard to believe that this beauty did not have a line out the door of guys wanting a piece of her, just to be seen with her would fill most men with pleasant dreams to their dying day' and that the reason she doesn't get this attention is supposedly because she is shy. This is not how men work. If Sherri is this beautiful, she would get that attention whether she wanted it or not. I think you're missing a trick when you could be using that unwanted attention to your advantage. You can compare gentle, charming Larry to the over-confident, sexually intimidating men who trespass on Sherri's personal space. Just like comparing the fantasy of the bath to the reality of her office job (see 'Other Comments' below), you can compare the fantasy of Larry to the reality of the men Sherri is afraid to grant intimacy.
There are a couple of places where the text is overly concerned with including every detail as early as possible. This results in slow, clumsy delivery that can provoke skim reading. And skim reading is the death of sensual prose. The trick to world-weaving and description in general is to thread information through between activity.
'Sherri opened her eyes. She was in the same room, but it was somewhat different. There were at least two dozen candles, deep red and ivory, ranging in size from quite small to relatively large. The aroma of cinnamon and vanilla filled the room.'
Now my questions:
1 Why, when we have a clear break indicating scene transition, are you starting the new scene by telling us Sherri opens her eyes? Of itself that's not a problem, but why is it a sentence all by itself? It doesn't show us anything. The only thing it tells us is we are still with Sherri.
2 Why tell us Sherri is in the same room when there's no reason to think she has gone anywhere? Why tell us she's in the same room and then describe a different room? You have essentially said 'this is a fact, except it's not'. All this sentence does is waste word count.
3 Your third sentence amounts to 'various candles existed'. Why? If they're not doing anything else, why are they there? This is unsatisfyingly vague with an illusion of detail. It's easily fixed by giving the candles something to do. Make them take responsibility for the fragrance, or light, or make them stand. Make them work for you.
4 Why cinnamon and vanilla? When making an actual candle (or food) vanilla is added to a lot of things for its mild, creamy fragrance. Sometimes it's added just because 'cinnamon & vanilla' looks more luxurious on the label and fetches a higher price tag. But these aren't real candles. These fragrances are selected by the writer for the reader to imagine. Is there an appreciable and significant difference by the addition of vanilla here? I don't think there is. I think it's just another example of trying to cram in as much sensory detail as possible and I don't think it works.
Take care with the use of adjectives. Ideally, you want to stick to one per object, or at least to concentrate them on one object within a sentence. This is too much: 'The large, oval tub was full of frothy, steamy-hot water by this time. She lit a cinnamon scented candle, turned out the light and entered her bubbly retreat'. In the first sentence you use four adjective (and that's only if you count the hyphen), but that sentence isn't needed at all because you describe the bath again when Sherri climbs into it. So in two sentences we have a 'large, steamy-hot, frothy, bubbly, oval retreat'.
The same goes for adverbs. Try to use them only when you have to move them. When every sentence is stacked with adverbs and multiple adjectives, the text gets bogged down.
Again, the idea of a world where someone as beautiful as Sherri has never been on the receiving end of male attention is absurd. If she's so beautiful that gorgeous Larry thinks he doesn't have a chance, then Sherri must have been approached by men before, even if she didn't allow it to go anywhere.
The opening paragraph could be a lot stronger. The first verb in your entire story is 'was': a passive word meaning that a thing exists or exists in a certain state. The first subject (actor) of your story is a day. Essentially, your first sentence says 'a day existed'. You don't want that as the first sentence and you certainly don't want you second sentence to start with the same verb 'was'.
Your first paragraph wants to be laden with magnetism. This is the teaser for the rest of the story. Try picking out the images you want to establish here and delivering them as tightly as possible. Something like 'a steaming bath awaited Sherri at the end of a desperate day, promising to caress her with rosy water and soapy clouds'. You can use the intensity of the fantasy as a substitute or contrast how terrible she feels.
I don't feel the epilogue with Larry is necessary. I realise it parallels Sherri's perspective, but I don't feel it adds anything. This story is about Sherri and her feelings and desires.
Technical and Grammar ▼