I am flyfishercatcher and I am responding to your review request. I hope you find this feedback useful.
I am reviewing it for
Title: "Bleeding Flowers"
Objective / Notes from the author:
— This is a short story that I am hoping to publish. I would love any feedback, criticism, opinions that you can throw at me.
— Miss Cali demanded to meet the girl her stolen roses were going to, so Kyle obliged.
Was this written for a contest? If so, what were the constraints?:
Word Count: 1,029
— I see that you are a brand new member of Writing dot Com (I use WdC as the abbreviation). Welcome to the site.
— I do not know what that means about your experience as a writer, so I have no idea where to place my emphasis. All I can do is tell you what I saw when I read your story.
— I applaud your willingness to step out and take some heat. What follows may seem harsh, partly because I am not into frilly words and sugar coating rather prefer communicating thoughts that I hope will help you (and me) improve our writing.
— This is a nice story but it needs a lot of editorial work.
— I think you had a lot more story in your head than on the paper. The reader can only see what you wrote, not what you thought you wrote.
— To help us stay oriented, I have numbered the paragraphs as you have assigned them.
— The text beginning “I never realized … ” is paragraph 1.
— The text beginning “She was pretty enough” is the last paragraph which becomes paragraph 20.
— I wish WdC had some way to assign line numbers, but they don’t so we are stuck with just paragraph numbers.
— Taking the garden owner to the cemetery is a good idea for a story of this nature. I like it.
— Most of the plot is in the telling of a story from the past.
— Witness Protection is a bad idea. First, because it does not fit the situation. Second, because it forces you to deal with two names for the same character. Third, Mika is killed by someone for a reason that has nothing to do with her being in Witness Protection.
Style and Voice:
— First person works well.
— You shift between present and past tense several times, incorrectly.
— Two settings – garden and cemetery. Both could use a few more words of description to set the mood.
— Miss Cali’s garden can reflect her personality. It is worth more words.
— Cemetery can set a mood: pleasant, restful, foreboding, haunting. Use it to help carry your message.
— Miss Cali sounds like a nice lady but not a softie. Give her more words of description.
— Kyle / You: Do you want to be invisible? If so, that’s OK, but you need to give some explanation of why you are in the story. If you want a bigger presence, you need to add a bit of narrative describing yourself. What was your relationship with Mika?
— Man, boy, girl. Stories are always richer when characters, places, and events have names – even fictitious ones.
— There are many rules for handling dialogue, but these three will keep you safe most of the time:
— New paragraph every time speaker changes.
— Action goes in the same paragraph as the words.
— Use a comma at the end of the speech only if a tag follows. Otherwise use a period (? !)
— Review carefully for correct and complete punctuation (especially closing quotation marks). To me this is the hardest part of writing. I hate it.
— Always read your story out loud. Your tongue will force your brain to slow down, allowing you to catch many mistakes that your eye would pass over.
— Paragraph 1 "I can" s/b "I could"
— Paragraph 2 Too many unnecessary quotation marks.
— Paragraph 3 "Mica" s/b "Mika"
— Paragraph 6 "...favorite," yeah ..." s/b "...favorite." Yeah ..."
— Paragraph 8 "explain why" s/b "explained why"
— Paragraph 9 "I breathed" No! You can't breathe a sentence, you can't smile a sentence, you can't laugh a sentence. Speech tags should always be something that the human mouth can actually do while speaking.
— Paragraph 10 "who Mika is" s/b "who Mika was"
— Paragraph 14 "about 2 years" s/b "about two years" (in text spell out numbers less that ten).
— Paragraph 14 "deep breathe before" s/b "deep breath before"
— If you follow the rule for paragraphing dialogue, the paragraphing of this story will change significantly.
— Paragraphs 3 and 4. These two paragraphs are confusing and appear to add nothing to the story:
— "I told her" - who?
— "just text her" - who?
— "on my way to see her" - who?
— "text to my girlfriend" - who? why?
— "Sorry, Kyle" - you are telling the story in first person so you never introduce yourself as Kyle. The reader will not know and never learn who Kyle is.
— Even if I could straighten all this out, the text message and the girlfriend are not mentioned again and so have no impact on the story. I suggest you drop these two paragraphs.
— Paragraph 11 "literally lost time with her education and her life" I cannot figure out what this sentence means or why it is here.
— Paragraph 12 "pausing at the entrance to Mika, no Lyla's place" Wow! You are going to throw your reader off the rails here. Later, one figures out that two names apply to the same person because of Witness Protection (which I think is a bad idea), but at this point, there is no indication of that. If you persist, how about just "pausing at the entrance"
— Paragraph 14 This paragraph has way too many ideas for one paragraph, and too many unnamed characters – a man, a girl, a boy. It confuses rather than explains.
— Paragraph 14 "The man has a son who was placed in the foster care system and his social worker made certain to place the boy near the girl because of the PTSD issues that his past gave him." I cannot even get my head around this sentence. What has the girl got to do with his past life and present PTSD?
— Paragraph 15 Same problem as paragraph 14. This paragraph has way too many ideas, and too many unnamed characters – a man, a girl, a boy. It confuses rather than explains.
— Paragraph 15 Why is a jailbreak necessary? Why not just released from prison?
— Paragraph19 "countless lives" seems to be a bit over the top. The story tells of her saving one boy. How does that get to "countless"?
How did the writing make me feel? Did it invoke any emotions?
Can I relate to the writing through a personal experience?
— No. I have no personal experience to inform this review.
Did the plot interest me? Were the characters believable? Did the dialog flow naturally?
— At the beginning, the plot interested me and pointed toward a nice story. But it soon got confusing for reasons mentioned elsewhere and I became more of a critic than a reader, which is not good.
What did I like most? What did I like least? Did anything stand out?
— Most: The idea that Miss Cali wanted to meet the person who was worth stealing roses for.
Is there anything I would change within the writing?
— See all comments elsewhere.
— Get rid of Witness Protection angle
Was the writing memorable? Why or why not?
— No. It left me confused rather than satisfied.
If this were my own writing, what would I want to know from a reviewer?
— Did I meet my objective? Ready for publication
— Answer: No. Still a long way to go. I hope the ideas expressed above will get you the rest of the way.
— Writing is a craft but publishing is a business — a brutal business. Your manuscript must be perfect. Editors will not spend a minute trying to help you improve. Their In-Basket is full and it is cheaper and faster to throw your manuscript in the trash and move on to the next one.
— Keep writing and if you don’t do it already, start reviewing.
This advice I give totally and without reservation or exception:
— “Stories are always richer when characters, places, and events have names – even fictitious ones.”
— Always read your story out loud. Your tongue will force your brain to slow down, allowing you to catch many mistakes that your eye would pass over. Our eyes are very forgiving, but our ears almost never let us down, alerting us to something that needs fixing, even if we can’t describe the problem.
Thank you for sharing your story. I believe that one of the best ways to improve my writing is to review the work of others. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to help both of us write better.
Please remember that you are the best judge of what is right for your story! Whatever another person says -- especially me! -- whether positive or negative, is just their opinion! You are the only one who can decide what is right for your story.
This is my work in progress. I would appreciate review and/or comment on any part of it. Thanks.
A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. ... make every word tell. – Will Strunk