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Old Mar 18, 2010, 05:10 PM   #21
Nowhere Man
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Well, Jude, having read all of the discussion above about frank, objective criticism and candid but constructive suggestions, I went to your site and prepared to offer my fearless opinions on the weak points of the sample chapter.

I can only say that I almost feel as if I'm copping out now by saying that I enjoyed it!
In searching for suggestions that would improve it, I'd say that there's very little physical description of the scenes in the narrative or of the characters.
Of course, these may have been covered in another chapter but the sample doesn't give me much visual information.
For example, is there a contrast in the appearance of the two sisters that's worth noting? How does Julia's accommodation compare with Mimi's? What does George look like?

Readers who are not already familiar with the setting or the appearance of Menlove Avenue would be none the wiser after reading this chapter.
Without bogging yourself down in long, tedious descriptive passages of Dickensian proportions, I think it might be a good idea to outline some degree of the visual aspects of the settings and characters as they are introduced.

Halfway through the chapter, there's this odd sentence;
He liked Menlove Avenue so much to see on the busy dual carriageway and even more to get into.
Either there's a typo here or a grammar issue needs to be addressed.

So that's my effort at a critique, Jude! :smile:
I honestly enjoyed what I read and I was keen to read more when I finished.
Good work!

P.S. Here's a direct hyper-link to the site.

Last edited by ManAtTheWindow : Mar 18, 2010 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Added hyper-link.
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Old Mar 20, 2010, 08:19 AM   #22
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Partly I agree with ManAtTheWindow. Maybe a few deft touches here and there would bring the background more sharply into focus. If John is three, the war is still on. Windows are criss-crossed with tape; air-raid wardens patrol the streets after dark, enforcing the black-out; eggs are hard to get, bananas are unknown, etc, etc... Don't let that pass without mention.

But with characters I'm always looking for dialogue to do the job of making me see them. On the whole, it isn't bad, but your own origins (and era) keep peeping through.

What on God's green earth does he find so infernally fascinating at my sister's? There're no toys over there, no teeter-totters, no games or swings... and other than a currant scone or two, Mimi never gives him anything tempting. What on earth makes Mim 's "Mendips" so compelling?

Julia is from the slightly better-off section of the working classes. She'd have an education of sorts, but not so much as to justify the use of "infernally fascinating" or "compelling" in her daily speech. Those words betray that it's the author talking, not the character. I had to look up "teeter-totter". Seems it's an American word for "see-saw".

Why you'll be tall as the tower of London before you're through, won't you?" - Better say, "before you're done". "Through", meaning "finished", is an Americanism. You might hear it now, occasionally, but not in the 1940s.

John threw a sideways glance at the boys waiting on the sidewalk. - That's American for "pavement".

"I'm simply not up for it" - Too modern for the 1940s.

In the pristine Mendips foyer, George hung up his jacket and slipped off his work shoes, placing them neatly outside the front door, in the glassed-in vestibule, just as Mimi desired. - Not sure what part of the house the "foyer" would be. Usually it's a word reserved for a large area in a public building, like a hotel. Probably you mean "hallway". And by "vestibule" you might mean "patio".

The biggest problem is John's age. At the start of the chapter he's talking baby language: "I know sounds, sh, ch, tr, bl, br, thr, dr.. Ge'rge says I'm fast." Then we get this -

"All right," John instructed them, hands on his hips, "I'm the Indian. You're cowboys."

"But I want to be an Indian, too," one brave boy with a jagged Prince Albert managed to stammer.

"Shut up. You're not." John was firm. "I'm the Indian. You're a cowboy. Right?"

"Yeah, right," the child scuffled his toe across the lush grass of Mimi's walled-in garden.

That battle won, John pressed on, "If you're shot, fall down. No getting up, no getting well."

At that point I was thinking there was a chunk of text missing, where John has aged three or four years. I'd expect dialogue like that from boys the same age as those in the William books that John likes so much - i.e. at least seven. How did he develop so fast in the course of one day? The problem is more or less condensed in this line:

"No," the three-year-old said flatly. "You never are." - Try as I might, I can't hear a three-year-old's voice.

I should also say that John is too young for Dick Barton, Special Agent (in fact the whole country is too young: it's a post-war radio programme). But, to tell you the truth, he's too young for the William books as well, even when they're read to him by someone else. On the radio, he'd catch Children's Hour; his books might be Rupert Bear or Chicks' Own.

What I do like about the chapter, though, is that it has some atmosphere. It captures the confusions and contradictory loyalties of childhood, and shows us how this tug-of-war might develop later into a major theme in Lennon's life. It's well above the average fanfic, anyway, and deserves to be worked on.
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Old Jun 01, 2010, 05:53 AM   #23
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Well, I've been an editor and a writer for over 40 years.
FORTY YEARS!!!!!!!!!!! :)
I only became a real author (in my own write) about a decade ago.
I have heard EVERYTHING - from: that stinks on ice, it sucks, I loved it, and it's my favorite book!
Of course, there are nicer ways of saying certain things, and no need to grind an ugly axe just because you can.
Writers... take the good with the bad - as in all things in life. It's how you learn and grow and create better things.

Remember: Write with love and passion.
...No tears in the writer no tears in the reader. No joy in the writer, no joy in the reader!
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Old Feb 16, 2011, 06:43 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by HMVNipper View Post
Just a word of warning here...I have seen a lot of threads recently where people are posting their fics for critique, and that's fine. But I thought, as moderator, that maybe there should be some ground rules as well. (I'm going to make this a sticky topic so it's easy to find in future, btw...)

I tend to find, from vast experience in many writing groups over the years, both online and in person, that if you post your stories on a public board such as this one for feedback, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to be TRULY honest. By that I mean, would YOU post "well, your story is weak and needs work in this area and this area and that area" on a forum such as this? It would crush the author to hear that, I think, and I personally would never embarrass anyone publicly by saying "your story sucks." (Not that I'd say that in those kind of words anyway!) Mind you, hearing nothing but praise is also not good for a writer's growth, so keep in mind where the critique is coming from and don't take anything personally. (Yes, easier said than done...but try to deal with it.) point is this...if you guys want to post stories here on these forums and have people actually critique them honestly, then two things have to happen. One, you have to be prepared for someone to say something to you if they feel that the story needs work. (And NO writer is above critique -- if you can't bear to hear that your stories need work, then you aren't a writer. NOTHING comes out of even the most experienced writer's head in a perfect state that requires no revision. No matter what some people might think.) Two, I think it would be best if you have REALLY serious criticism of something that is posted here, to send the person a PM and not embarrass them on the forums. We do not want to hurt anyone's feelings or embarrass anyone, and I really don't want to have to step in and stop someone from crying because someone else didn't like their story.

I know it takes a lot of guts to post your work on a board like this one. After all, a story you've been working on for a long time is like your child -- you think it's perfect, you want everyone else to love it, and you want them to tell you that they do. But bear in mind -- putting stories out in the world for open criticism sometimes yields comments about your baby that you'd rather not be prepared for it.

Oh, and please do me and my co-mod a big favor. If your stories contain sexual content that is other than a PG-13/mild R sort of rating, please either warn us in the thread title, or don't post it here and give us a link. (By that I mean, if your story contains tastefully described sex, it's okay to post here -- but nothing graphic and nothing vulgar, please.)

Hope no one minds my saying something, but I wanted to nip any potential crises in the bud by suggesting these things.
and you are
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Old Feb 16, 2011, 11:18 AM   #25
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HMVNipper chose to leave Beatlelinks a few years ago for personal reasons, but she is/was the editor of Rooftop Sessions, a Beatles fanfic magazine. She also moderated this particular forum before me.
My Website
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My novella, Lyon's Legacy, about a scientist traveling back to the TwenCen to visit her fictional rock star ancestor, is now available as an e-book from Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords and in paper from CreateSpace and Amazon.

Last edited by SF4-EVER : Feb 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM.
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