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har134
January 16th, 2014, 09:19 AM
deleted.

DABS
January 17th, 2014, 01:07 AM
​Your writing is in bold and my comments are in regular font. :D

In our defence, it was our cousin's idea, really. I think this first sentence could be improved. When you’re writing a first draft, I wouldn’t recommend worrying over a first sentence too much, but when you go back to revise I think it’s good idea to change it into something that will better immerse a reader in your story. Right now it feels a little vague to really draw me in.

He had recently been gifted a “DSLR” camera on his twentieth birthday and wanted to set up a photography studio. To be honest, he would have been equally willing to set up a multi-cuisine restaurant had he received a cookbook written by a prominent chef. But at least, that project would have been shelved at the idea stage. I've read that it is too expensive to open a multi-cuisine restaurant. Anyway, that was his nature, and we ought to have been on our guard. And I must admit, I had a role to play, albeit reluctantly.

This first paragraph makes it very, very difficult to gauge what this story is going to be about and where it’s headed. I know we’re not that far in yet, but I think a first paragraph needs to make some kind of promise, something that says: “this is what this story is going to be about.” I think if you tighten up your ideas a little bit (as you seem to be beating around the bush, here) you’ll be able to make that promise and, in turn, help the reader better understand your story.


Hm… these next handful of paragraphs are very exposition heavy. I think jumping into the actual plot will make the story more interesting. If you really get into the details, you won’t have to rely on exposition as much and, subsequently, will have far fewer info dumps clogging up your story. I still only vaguely understand what this story is about. Rather, I see the pieces on the board, but it’s as if you’ve yet to move them.

Two weeks later, our studio was open to public. Actually it was the back of our father's shed, laboriously cleaned and barely furnished. Earlier it was a damp, dingy place, smelling vaguely of motor oil and grease. I like these details!

“You see, it's all about the interplay between light and shadow. A camera is nothing more than a device that captures light. Thinking of it that way, it's remarkably easy to wield a camera. Digital cameras make it so easy to take and print pictures. I studied the manual carefully. It's amazing what kind of pictures you can take with this camera.” I’m personally a fan of snappier, briefer dialog, but I think that, even if you’re going for a style that permits more long-winded ways of speaking, you go back and make sure your characters have a more focused direction. Like, I obviously see what this guy is taking about—there’s a subject that his lines are focused around—but a lot of them feel a bit out of place. For instance, he suddenly brings up digital cameras specifically, and then talks about how he read the manual. I understand that he has a lot of knowledge, but the lines just feel unfocused, as if they were pasted together from a few different instances.

Okay, so after reading the next few paragraphs, it seems that this story is about a few guys trying to run a business and are not very good at what they’re doing. This is the plot in the most essential form. I think you need to embed that idea earlier, as I said before, to give us a lens through which we can understand the events and exposition.

“I'm sure we need a tripod for this kind of thing. Otherwise it doesn't look professional,” he said. “Can you do the job without one?” I asked, with an apprehensive glance at the customer, who was just beginning to get restive. “Of course, I can,” he whispered, “But passport photographs need to be perfectly level. And a tripod does help with that.” After a few more minutes of whispered conference, our cousin decided to do it without the tripod. “We'll get one as soon as possible,” he said. The old man was getting fidgety.

You need to make a new paragraph when someone new is speaking.

I’m noticing that now that you’re in an active scene your writing has gotten much better. You’re not just dolling out information anymore, and you’ve actually got a pretty funny scenario on your hands. The characters are just developed enough to keep it progressing and interesting without distracting me.

“But I saw you fellows have got a new one here and wanted to encourage you, but this is what I get for my generosity.” This is a little too overt and doesn’t strike me as realistic.

“Computer? What computer?” I asked. Our cousin shuddered. “What!. I knew I forgot something!” he said, verging on panic. Ehhh, this feels kind of contrived. I think you’ve pushed these characters’ ineptness as far as it can go, and this is stepping over the line of believability. I think you need to introduce a new facet to help give them dimension, complexity the conflict, and introduce some dynamics into the story.

I don't want to recollect all the details of that evening, but I do remember that my laptop had no photo-editing software installed on it and that I had to frantically return home, connect to the internet and download a free one. Besides, the photo printer didn't work with my laptop and I spent an hour and a half, cursing under my breath, trying to install the device drivers for the damned thing. This would make for a very good conflict, but it feels like you’re skimming over the details when they should be expanded. Why doesn’t your protagonist want to recall this? He’s gone through every other pain in some detail, and this doesn’t seem so terribly bad. It’d actually be funny if you delivered this via an actual scene instead of just recollection.

And it looks like the rest of the story is written like summary too. D: That’s kind of a shame, since you have a really strong premise with a lot of potential. You just need to really expand and unpack a lot of what you’ve written. Too much is exposition and too much potentially good scenes are hurried through. It’s cool if you have a quick, snippy style that focuses more on pacing than detail, but that does need to be balanced out with some fiction writing basics that will better immerse the reader in your story.

Further, I think you need to work on some more characterization. It doesn’t need much, as I think the strength of this story is the characters’ ineptness, so taking focus away from that might harm it. But, like I said before, the main gag you had going got kind of tired by the end, so maybe creating more depth in these people will provide more opportunities.

har134
January 17th, 2014, 03:22 AM
Haha.. thanks for the crit. The story was a sudden idea on my part and I wrote it down as I thought of it.

Yes, I wrote the story quite quickly and wanted it as a kind of recollectiong/reminiscing style of story. I actually thought about expanding the story a bit, but the plot really isn't that strong anyway. And that's why I haven't expanded the details too much. That's also why there's a bit of exposition there since it's more of a conversational style narrative. I made some of the dialogues deliberately contrived for heightened comic effect. Not sure if it works or not.

Don't think I'm trying to defend myself though. It's not really meant to be too realistic or serious a story... I understand your critique and I may or may not go back and edit it, depending on whether I consider the story worth the effort.

thepancreas11
January 18th, 2014, 12:14 AM
It's funny that we can go so in depth on something that seemed to come out of thin air for you. I always feel strange saying something only to realize that it's a bit of a draft or maybe even a practice piece in a certain kind of style. I try to put a disclaimer with my piece to let people know the state of it as I post it, just so that they can understand where I'm coming from and what I'm looking for. That might make it easier for the responders to give you the proper feedback.

Now, for the critique: As a standalone piece, I'm not sure this would work. It's well-written, especially for a first draft and for the style you've chosen. Yes, at times the exposition is out of hand, but then, if you're trying to write as a conversationalist, you're bound to get some exposition. First person stories tend to have a lot of opinions from the character. If anything, you should focus some of the explanation sentences to have a certain tone, try to give something away about the narrator as he is generally a very flat character (another hallmark of first person stories).

My suggestion for expanding this piece is to make it a part of a fictional memoir. You can come up with a way of maybe making this character go through seemingly mundane actions that speak to a certain aspect of humanity, maybe the wonder that is curiosity or the pitfalls of over-exuberance, or, if you're a way better writer than me, something far more entertaining. Fictional memoirs aren't very common, and they tend to be far more entertaining than real memoirs, so I'd say, you've got an exciting market cornered.

Good luck with your writing! If you need additional support, you're welcome to send me your work!

har134
January 18th, 2014, 03:14 AM
It's funny that we can go so in depth on something that seemed to come out of thin air for you. I always feel strange saying something only to realize that it's a bit of a draft or maybe even a practice piece in a certain kind of style. I try to put a disclaimer with my piece to let people know the state of it as I post it, just so that they can understand where I'm coming from and what I'm looking for. That might make it easier for the responders to give you the proper feedback.

Now, for the critique: As a standalone piece, I'm not sure this would work. It's well-written, especially for a first draft and for the style you've chosen. Yes, at times the exposition is out of hand, but then, if you're trying to write as a conversationalist, you're bound to get some exposition. First person stories tend to have a lot of opinions from the character. If anything, you should focus some of the explanation sentences to have a certain tone, try to give something away about the narrator as he is generally a very flat character (another hallmark of first person stories).

My suggestion for expanding this piece is to make it a part of a fictional memoir. You can come up with a way of maybe making this character go through seemingly mundane actions that speak to a certain aspect of humanity, maybe the wonder that is curiosity or the pitfalls of over-exuberance, or, if you're a way better writer than me, something far more entertaining. Fictional memoirs aren't very common, and they tend to be far more entertaining than real memoirs, so I'd say, you've got an exciting market cornered.

Good luck with your writing! If you need additional support, you're welcome to send me your work!

Thanks. :)

Your suggestions are good. I'll probably go back and work on it some more and share it when I do.