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Jenwales
April 6th, 2017, 03:17 PM
(Written for a competition in a writers' group, came first for story but couldn't win had to have three entries. Sent to Mslexia no publication. Haven't really had proper feedback. Thanks. First time submitting on here)

Guilty

"We must stick to the facts and not indulge in our own assumptions." Vince slammed his hand down on the table and Kirsty shuddered, the sound echoed around the small deliberation room. "The evidence..” he began.
"Yes. We know. We've heard it." The woman with the long dark braid interrupted. Kirsty remembered that her name was Patricia. She was only annoyed because Vince had been chosen to be foreman instead of her, but he had been the only one to take detailed notes during the court proceedings.
"We will hear it again. And again until we come to a decision." Vince struck the table again.
Why can't this be over? Kirsty swallowed and reached for her bottle of water to quell the nausea in her stomach. She didn't want to hear the detailed facts of the crime again. The wait must be agonising for the accused, she thought, did he pace the floor, or did he sit in numb silence awaiting his judgement? The thought stirred the nausea like a spoon and she hid her shaking hands in her lap.
"We know that the accused left his home at seven-thirty on the evening of the murders. And we also know that his car was seen parked outside the scene of the crime- the victim's house- coinciding with time of death."
The woman next to her tapped her long fake nails on the table's surface. How many hours had she had to listen to that, tap, tap, tap. Stop! It's not going to make time go any quicker!
"...The victim was of course his wife and her lover. So we have motive."
"Guilty," Patricia interrupted; the people closest to her nodded their heads in agreement.
"I would not be so quick to condemn a man without first establishing what is truth and what is conjecture and not your own prejudice. There is a difference between manslaughter and murder and we must discuss this.” Vince said.
"We've heard the evidence over and over. Murder is murder. He was there at the time of death and he has motive. He killed them because he was jealous. End of. Why are you dragging this out?"
Here we go again, Kirsty thought. They're going to start arguing and then Vince will go back to the start again, when will it end? I can't take this anymore! "I don't think he went there with the intention to kill anybody," Kirsty began, trying not to stutter. It was the first time that she had spoken more than a few words, she felt everyone watching her in surprise as she spoke: "He went there to see his friend. He didn't know his wife was there and he finds them together. He has a history of anger so maybe he gets violent but..but..." she moistened her dry lips. "It wasn't planned..premeditated. It was a crime of passion; he sees them together and..and.. He didn't mean to." The room danced before her eyes.
"Are you alright, you look pale?" the woman sitting next to her placed a hand on her shoulder, her nails dazzling to the eye. "Have a drink of water. Don't worry it'll be over soon."
Kirsty's hands shook as she picked up her water, she noticed Vince looking at them and his voice softened when he spoke:
"This is awkward: sentencing someone for a crime. I understand that you don't want this burden but if he committed the crime he must be held accountable for his actions? You shouldn't feel guilty for helping to deliver justice." He smiled at her to console her.
Kirsty forced a smile and took a drink of water, contrary to his intentions his words stung like ice, the cold feeling spread through her body and down her quivering arms and legs cocooning her in a chilling blanket.
Vince continued: "We need to take another vote. We must come to a decision."
She couldn’t really follow the proceedings anymore. It was with relief that the deliberations ended and Vince finally delivered the verdict before the court:
"Guilty."
Kirsty's breath caught in her throat, she didn’t hear what else was said and she couldn’t concentrate on whether it was manslaughter or murder. She couldn’t stop shaking, it’s over now, and she told herself. But the word followed her, it echoed in her mind as she left the courtroom and made her way to the station. Guilty.
She took a deep breath of fresh air to try and calm the nervous feeling that still clung to her. Guilty. The train will be here soon, she told herself.
"Kirsty!"
She turned her head to see her friend Lindsey running down the platform towards her. "I've been trying to call you!" Lindsey's eyes were red rimmed and her face was blotchy.
"I've been doing jury service, my phone's been off."
"I don't know how to tell you this." Lindsey sniffed and took a breath.
"What's wrong? Are you ok?"
Lindsey shook her head. "It's not the place but.. I have to tell you. You need to know."
"What?"
"It's Carl, they found him this morning..." Tears traced lines down her cheeks as she struggled to tell her. "He's been.. He’s been.. Oh god, Kirsty he's..."
Kirsty put her arms around her friend; she made out the words, "killed" and "awful" amidst the sobs.
Lindsey pulled away and managed to compose herself. "I'm sorry, he's your husband I should be supporting you. The police need to speak with you. I'm so sorry."
"Yes." The world around her had dimmed, it sounded as though she was in a tunnel and the sounds were muffled. She felt Lindsey's arms supporting her and she forced herself to put one foot in front of the other. But she wasn't aware of her surroundings; all she could think about was that man on trial. Did he feel like this? An overwhelming numbness in body and mind that engulfed all else?
Lindsey was saying something to her, she was taking her home. Kirsty nodded in response. Guilty. The nausea swirled in her stomach and the word repeated itself in her head over and over: Guilty.

Theglasshouse
April 6th, 2017, 09:28 PM
From what I gather she has health problems and wants to leave the courtroom before she ends up dying. Or collapsing. That she insists that he is guilty could be a mistake.

If that is the case, then we can say she doesn't want to die, and needs to go to the hospital. Her then goal becomes to release this person from having been blamed of guilt because of her own selfish necessity to stay alive. Maybe she has an infectious disease, we don't learn about.

I liked the twist. That's where I would create a longer story from it. Otherwise, the story goal was created imo from health problems (if there ever is a sequel to this conflict). It starts affecting her when the man could be really innocent.

I like it just that it was a little difficult to grab my attention but it was small enough that I finished reading it and those were my interpretations.

Some of this background motivation can be established at the beginning of the story. But it was an interesting read.

Jay Greenstein
April 7th, 2017, 03:43 AM
"We must stick to the facts and not indulge in our own assumptions."It's not a good idea to begin with dialog because we don't know who's speaking, why, or how the line is delivered, and you can't retroactively provide that.
Vince slammed his hand down on the table and Kirsty shuddered,We don't know who Vince is, if he was the one speaking, who Kristy is, or why she shuddered. Words we have, but no context. And without context...

Three things are important to supply at the opening to any scene: Who am I? Where am I in time and space? What's going on? Without them the reader cannot place any anything into context. Open without it a rejection is assured.
the sound echoed around the small deliberation room.You just told the reader that the shudder echoed around the room. Not what you meant, but the shudder is the antecedent. While you might argue that the reader should be able to figure it out, they shouldn't have to. And in any case, without knowing the people the place or the situation, for all we know Kristy is a huge robotic being who rattles when it shudders.

And: Since you haven't placed the reader, the "deliberation room" could be in a castle, where the king goes to think. It could be pretty much anything. See how important it is to place the reader before they need to know it?
"The evidence..” he began.Actually, he began a line before this.And since he's interrupted, and the reader knows this, the tag serves only to slow the narrative. And, the ellipsis shows he trailed off. You want an M-dash where he's been interrupted.
"Yes. We know. We've heard it."Umm...heard what? I seem to have come in after the film started, and missed the part she's objecting to. I also missed who they are, and what they're deliberating. And since you neither describe the setting nor providing visuals, I'm lost.

People I know nothing about are arguing about something unknown for reasons unstated. And since, as a reader, I don't have a clue of what they're deliberating, or why, there's no reason for a reader to care—or want to turn to page two.

What you're doing is visualizing the scene in your mind and listing what a reader would see were they watching. But in a single glance someone watching the film would know how many were in the room, how they were dressed, the era, the ambience, the attitudes, and a lot more. So then, because we have context, and because we can both hear and see what's going on, the action would have an emotional context. But with no visuals or audibles all we have is words.

But let's suppose they were available. Take a look at the opening to this graphic novel (http://www.gocomics.com/lostsideofsuburbia/2011/07/26), one I particularly like: Read a few pages. Then go back and ask yourself how much of the emotional part of the story would be missing if the pictures were removed and only the text existed—in other words, were it like your story. I think you'll find it an eye-opening experience (and you may like the story. It's supposed to be for kids, but I found it great fun.)

My point is that the problems you face aren't related to good or bad writing, or talent. It's that the style of presentation is inappropriate to the medium. Fiction for the printed word is unlike what we learned in our schooldays, unlike verbal storytelling, and unlike stage or screen writing. So spending a bit of time acquiring the specialized skills of the fiction writer would be time well spent. A great place to begin is your local library system's fiction writing section, where you'll find the views of successful writers, publishing pros, and teachers. And when you think about it, doesn't it make sense that if we want our work to read as if written by a pro we have to know what the pros know?

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jenwales
April 7th, 2017, 11:49 AM
It's not a good idea to begin with dialog because we don't know who's speaking, why, or how the line is delivered, and you can't retroactively provide that.We don't know who Vince is, if he was the one speaking, who Kristy is, or why she shuddered. Words we have, but no context. And without context...

Three things are important to supply at the opening to any scene: Who am I? Where am I in time and space? What's going on? Without them the reader cannot place any anything into context. Open without it a rejection is assured.You just told the reader that the shudder echoed around the room. Not what you meant, but the shudder is the antecedent. While you might argue that the reader should be able to figure it out, they shouldn't have to. And in any case, without knowing the people the place or the situation, for all we know Kristy is a huge robotic being who rattles when it shudders.

And: Since you haven't placed the reader, the "deliberation room" could be in a castle, where the king goes to think. It could be pretty much anything. See how important it is to place the reader before they need to know it?Actually, he began a line before this.And since he's interrupted, and the reader knows this, the tag serves only to slow the narrative. And, the ellipsis shows he trailed off. You want an M-dash where he's been interrupted.Umm...heard what? I seem to have come in after the film started, and missed the part she's objecting to. I also missed who they are, and what they're deliberating. And since you neither describe the setting nor providing visuals, I'm lost.

People I know nothing about are arguing about something unknown for reasons unstated. And since, as a reader, I don't have a clue of what they're deliberating, or why, there's no reason for a reader to care—or want to turn to page two.

What you're doing is visualizing the scene in your mind and listing what a reader would see were they watching. But in a single glance someone watching the film would know how many were in the room, how they were dressed, the era, the ambience, the attitudes, and a lot more. So then, because we have context, and because we can both hear and see what's going on, the action would have an emotional context. But with no visuals or audibles all we have is words.

But let's suppose they were available. Take a look at the opening to this graphic novel (http://www.gocomics.com/lostsideofsuburbia/2011/07/26), one I particularly like: Read a few pages. Then go back and ask yourself how much of the emotional part of the story would be missing if the pictures were removed and only the text existed—in other words, were it like your story. I think you'll find it an eye-opening experience (and you may like the story. It's supposed to be for kids, but I found it great fun.)

My point is that the problems you face aren't related to good or bad writing, or talent. It's that the style of presentation is inappropriate to the medium. Fiction for the printed word is unlike what we learned in our schooldays, unlike verbal storytelling, and unlike stage or screen writing. So spending a bit of time acquiring the specialized skills of the fiction writer would be time well spent. A great place to begin is your local library system's fiction writing section, where you'll find the views of successful writers, publishing pros, and teachers. And when you think about it, doesn't it make sense that if we want our work to read as if written by a pro we have to know what the pros know?

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Thanks for the feedback Jay, it's really helpful. I had to laugh when you told me about learning the "specialised skills of the fiction writer" because I've already done one short story course and two novel writing courses. I've also read a lot of books. But I know that I'm out of practice. I'm really grateful for your feedback because I couldn't see the mistakes you were pointing out.

"What you're doing is visualising the scene in your mind and listing what a reader would see were they watching." This is exactly what I'm doing! I'm trying to "show not tell" I thought I was showing where they were and assumed (wrongly) that the reader would figure out that this is the jury in the deliberation room. I'm so frightened to "tell" the story that I didn't realise -until now you've pointed it out- that I'm missing out important details that make sense to the story.At least that's where I think I'm going wrong, maybe I need to read more short fiction too.
I feel embarrassed now that I've sent this story out.
I do wonder sometimes if I'll ever get it right, I did have one story win a competition but I'm not doing so good since then.
Thanks again, I will take all this on board, thanks for your honestly. I will be rereading this advice again :)

Jenwales
April 7th, 2017, 11:51 AM
From what I gather she has health problems and wants to leave the courtroom before she ends up dying. Or collapsing. That she insists that he is guilty could be a mistake.

If that is the case, then we can say she doesn't want to die, and needs to go to the hospital. Her then goal becomes to release this person from having been blamed of guilt because of her own selfish necessity to stay alive. Maybe she has an infectious disease, we don't learn about.

I liked the twist. That's where I would create a longer story from it. Otherwise, the story goal was created imo from health problems (if there ever is a sequel to this conflict). It starts affecting her when the man could be really innocent.

I like it just that it was a little difficult to grab my attention but it was small enough that I finished reading it and those were my interpretations.

Some of this background motivation can be established at the beginning of the story. But it was an interesting read.
Thanks for the feedback. The character wasn't having health problems, she was nervous because she was guilty of a crime and it was on her mind. I guess I didn't do a very good job with this story, keep practiing.

Jay Greenstein
April 7th, 2017, 03:21 PM
I've already done one short story course and two novel writing courses.Try this, instead. (https://www.amazon.com/Techniques-Selling-Writer-Dwight-Swain/dp/0806111917/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491573559&sr=1-1&keywords=of+the+selling+writer) The teacher there is a respected college professor whose student list, when he taught the legendary fiction writing workshops at Oklahoma University, read like a who's who of American fiction.
I'm trying to "show not tell"Local and online classes never do seem to get that right. They talk about showing as if they mean visual details. But that's not what's really meant. The idea is to show the character's moment of now, not the contents of the room. If I can make you know what has the protagonist's attention enough that s/he will react to it; If I present his instinctive and considered reaction to it; If I make you know his/her resources, imperatives, and constraints, you'll be making your own decision with the same input as the character. And if I did it well, you and the protagonist will be in agreement as to what to do, and you'll have an emotional interest in knowing what happens next.

I'm not allowed to link to my articles in the body of a post, but one of them, on writing from the inside out may clarify.
I feel embarrassed now that I've sent this story out.I wrote six unsold novels that I sent everywhere before I discovered that I had not a clue of what I was doing. Fully 75% of what agents and editors receive comes from people who aren't even aware there is such a thing as showing vs telling. Of the remaining 25 they see all but three as amateur. So you're far from alone.

At the moment you're trying to add an entirely new and different way of approaching the act of presenting a story. It's a field larger than the nonfiction writing skills it took us twelve years to perfect in our school days. So of course you're going to make mistakes along the way. But with work, study, and time, you can become confused at a higher level, and the ratio of crap to gold will improve. And that's the best we can hope for. And writing does keep us off the streets at night. Plus, it's the only profession I know where you can be staring out the window, looking at nothing, and when people as what we're doing, truthfully say, "Working." ;)

Theglasshouse
April 7th, 2017, 05:05 PM
Jenwales that information I didnt catch by mistake as I have problems with my reading skills and feel the description was important this time because the dialogue can only help so much ( it didn't aid me to spell out what they story situation was ). However I am just trying to help despite disagreeing. The story question for the reader is was he declared guilty, the conflict that it is her husband and that started the nausea, and the disaster is that she is guilty. Since i didnt know this about the husband being on trial he needed extra information about her being the wife of the accussed or drop clues. There wasnt sufficient information to make me be guided by the narrator . Even then if you take my response seriously or not seriously since I am not prescribing anything but reacting to the story. You will see that this story I thought well of it, because I didnt know this was a court preeciding. The description could defintely need work if it confused me because the description is the background exposition I needed.

I know first hand why writers feel taken by surprise, you need to sometimes hand hold the reader. This is me trying to help, and is not a reply that seems to say the same things already said.

Again when you wrote the word deliberation room that piece of setting meant to me, maybe he is writing about jury duty and not that the audience is there with the attorney and defendant. And the prosecutor and judge who I feel the person who reads the jury's decision talks about what the verdict is. I don't know what a deliberation room is. Why not say they were still on trial. That whole word threw me off.

i couldn't picture anything of that, so I thought this was a person on jury duty. Hence that she was sick, and then that she sent to jail a guilty man who was not her husband. You need to paint a clearer picture. I wanted to help you especially since I see you often on the board posting in the same threads I do, mental health support.

I am not a follower of any school of thought. I may have been recommended the same books for instance and I swear to you I am being impartial.

Remove the small part about the setting of this story, the bit you have right now, and your story would not be understood on dialogue alone as to the plot development and how it advances.

And if you notice at the ending there is no resulting action she has nausea again, and nothing changes but a verdict that changes her life but the dialogue between them is terse and there was no time for me to react to that information, sometimes the information needs to be thought out loud so we can understand as a reader. She had felt that way since the beginning, nauseous. So it is an internal struggle that I misinterpreted because I thought it was jury duty. That is hard for me to say how she changed because of the outcome. It was tragedy. But most conflict I have seen has a resolution that something changes drastically. An embellishment of description taking out the word deliberation room could help you in this story. Plus since this has more than one character make sure who is who and don't hide it for us ( create a question for the reader, why is kristy acting suspiciously and then have people talk to her about it but they never find out? It may have won, on its merits, but it can be confusing to read it I will maintain. No single reader is the same to the other. The is up for debate for you to consider if is deemed helpful advice. Have the mc kristy say it is her husband, that's how you introduce him )

She he has no thoughts feelings that I could gather that would help me think otherwise, that the part in the scene where she reacts to the husband is something you might have needed to give the reader hints, stronger than you currently did to indicate the connection. Did she feel depressed the last couple of months because she loved him. She had an anxiety attack or one that is harmless when seen. It makes no sense to me that you dismissed my interpretation just because I misunderstood it.

And if she is guilty of the crime, I don't know why you put the subtext. It was so difficult to decipher the story and declare that at the climax with no second guessing. I hope you forgive the critique because I want to get along well with you.

plawrence
April 7th, 2017, 08:22 PM
I think my input might be valuable from a reader's perspective rather than a writing critique.

I figured out that this was a jury setting, even though it wasn't obvious, but it never dawned on me that Kirsty was guilty of a crime. I just thought she was a typical juror who wanted to get it over with so she could go home. Did I miss it somehow? I also felt that Vince was abusive and that perhaps that was what bothered her. Maybe she had been abused before, which would explain her visceral reaction to him pounding on the table.

Jenwales
April 8th, 2017, 09:09 AM
In response to 'The glasshouse' :I didn't say anywhere in my post to you that I dismissed your interpretation. I just thought that because you didn't get it that maybe you didn't read it all. But of course you did and I don't mean to be negative towards you in anyway.
Like I said if you didn't get it it's probably because I need to work on this story more. If you didn't get it then that's my fault as the writer for not explaining it.

Just to clarify the story: The husband wasn't on trial. The character is on the jury of a murder trial, she isn't feeling well. This is because she is guilty of the same crime that she is there to judge. She leaves the court and then we find out that her husband has died and that she is guilty of his murder.
It's meant to be a twist at the end, you're meant to think that she feels bad for having to judge someone and send them to jail. But actually she is feeling guilty for a crime she didn't mean to commit. Whether or not I managed to convey this clearly is up to you as the reader to decide.

Look I wrote this story for a competition for a Writers' Group I went to, the theme was "crime of passion" and I thought it would be different if I set it in a deliberation room of a court and the main character is on a jury for the same crime she committed. When you're hearing about the crime the guy in court has committed I wanted the reader to think back and go: 'ah! she committed the same crime. His story is her story.'
I don't think I made that clear though though but no matter I wrote it some time ago.
* * *
Thanks everyone for the feedback, I am so grateful
I just wondered what needed to be improved as when I sent it to a competition before they didn't give me more than a sentence worth of feedback! And it came 1st so I thought that this story was good but now I've had people say that they don't get it. Or that I need to keep learning how to write. So I guess I'm confused.

I won a competition two years ago for a different story. So I thought that my writing was going well. But this story 'Guilty' has had feedback that says it's not as good as I thought. (I put it on here because I needed a little bit of a confidence boast, I've been struggling to finish redrafting some stories lately. But no matter if it need work it's good to know) And another story I wrote was also critiqued recently and the feedback was helpful but it wasn't really good because I didn't realise how many mistakes I'd made.

I guess it's just annoying when you've been reading books on writing since you were a kid and you've done a course. Had a little tiny bit of success. To realise that the stories you are writing are still not that good. I'm worried that they I won't know if my story is good, I'll think it is but someone else will say it's not. But I'm not disheartened, just getting stuff of my chest here.

I know need to write more and practice. I haven't been writing very often as I should, or I've been writing a lot of first drafts but nothing is finished. I'm taking all the critiques on board I am very grateful for them. I'm learning. My experience is proving to me that no matter how many books you read or courses you do the best way to learn it to write and finish a story. And to learn from critiques. The course I did didn't really critique my stories and say this is what you need to learn, they just give you a workbook and that's it. Much like school. School didn't teach me how to write, I taught myself or rather it's part of me.
I'm keeping on and will be brave and post work again on here. My goal is to have 10 finished short stories at the end of year and start my novel.
Sorry, I didn't mean to have a heart to heart on this section of critiques.

Jenwales
April 8th, 2017, 09:11 AM
I think my input might be valuable from a reader's perspective rather than a writing critique.

I figured out that this was a jury setting, even though it wasn't obvious, but it never dawned on me that Kirsty was guilty of a crime. I just thought she was a typical juror who wanted to get it over with so she could go home. Did I miss it somehow? I also felt that Vince was abusive and that perhaps that was what bothered her. Maybe she had been abused before, which would explain her visceral reaction to him pounding on the table.

Thanks for your input. Yes, I think that this story need a lot more work and I've very grateful for people telling me where it's not working. If you missed it and others did it's not you, it's the story (or me!).
Thanks again, much appreciated. :)

plawrence
April 8th, 2017, 07:03 PM
Just to clarify the story: The husband wasn't on trial. The character is on the jury of a murder trial, she isn't feeling well. This is because she is guilty of the same crime that she is there to judge. She leaves the court and then we find out that her husband has died and that she is guilty of his murder.
It's meant to be a twist at the end, you're meant to think that she feels bad for having to judge someone and send them to jail. But actually she is feeling guilty for a crime she didn't mean to commit. Whether or not I managed to convey this clearly is up to you as the reader to decide.
I think, to convey what you want to convey, you need Kristy to be struggling separate from Vince's outbursts. The way you've written it, Kristy's reactions seem to be a result of Vince's actions.

So let's look at what you're written.

"We must stick to the facts and not indulge in our own assumptions." Vince slammed his hand down on the table and Kirsty shuddered, the sound echoed around the small deliberation room. "The evidence..” he began.
"Yes. We know. We've heard it." The woman with the long dark braid interrupted. Kirsty remembered that her name was Patricia. She was only annoyed because Vince had been chosen to be foreman instead of her, but he had been the only one to take detailed notes during the court proceedings.
"We will hear it again. And again until we come to a decision." Vince struck the table again.
Why can't this be over? Kirsty swallowed and reached for her bottle of water to quell the nausea in her stomach. She didn't want to hear the detailed facts of the crime again. The wait must be agonising for the accused, she thought, did he pace the floor, or did he sit in numb silence awaiting his judgement? The thought stirred the nausea like a spoon and she hid her shaking hands in her lap.
1) Vince pounds on the table and Kirsty shuddered. The proximate cause of Kirsty's shudder appears to be Vince pounding on the table.
2) Vince says "We will hear it again....." and Kirsty thinks "Why can't this be over?...." Again Kirsty's reacting to what Vince has said and done.

If Kirsty is feeling guilty for something she did, her actions need to be divorced from Vince's, or at least not a direct reaction to them.

"We've heard the evidence over and over. Murder is murder. He was there at the time of death and he has motive. He killed them because he was jealous. End of. Why are you dragging this out?"
Here we go again, Kirsty thought. They're going to start arguing and then Vince will go back to the start again, when will it end? I can't take this anymore! "I don't think he went there with the intention to kill anybody," Kirsty began, trying not to stutter. It was the first time that she had spoken more than a few words, she felt everyone watching her in surprise as she spoke: "He went there to see his friend. He didn't know his wife was there and he finds them together. He has a history of anger so maybe he gets violent but..but..." she moistened her dry lips. "It wasn't planned..premeditated. It was a crime of passion; he sees them together and..and.. He didn't mean to." The room danced before her eyes.
Someone (we don't know who - maybe Patricia?) is reacting to the last thing that Vince said. Kirsty reacts to that Here we go again...."
Then Kirsty speaks. You portray her as timid or nervous (trying not to stutter. It was the first time...) rather than feeling guilty. We don't need to know WHY she feels guilty, but we do need to understand that the motivation for her speaking is guilty feelings.

"Are you alright, you look pale?" the woman sitting next to her placed a hand on her shoulder, her nails dazzling to the eye. "Have a drink of water. Don't worry it'll be over soon."
So immediately after Kristy speaks, the reaction of someone in the room with her is "...you look pale...have a drink...it'll be over soon." Clearly she thinks that Kirsty is anxious to get it over with, not that she's hiding something.

It was with relief that the deliberations ended and Vince finally delivered the verdict before the court:
"Guilty."
Here Kirsty is relieved it's over, but given what we've already been told, it seems to be because she was tired of Vince's harangues.

Where have you introduced her feelings of guilt? You see the problem?

Now let's look at how you might introduce those feelings.

"We must stick to the facts and not indulge in our own assumptions." Vince slammed his hand down on the table and Kirsty shuddered, the sound echoed around the small deliberation room. "The evidence..” he began.
"Yes. We know. We've heard it." The woman with the long dark braid interrupted. Kirsty remembered that her name was Patricia. She was only annoyed because Vince had been chosen to be foreman instead of her, but he had been the only one to take detailed notes during the court proceedings.
"We will hear it again. And again until we come to a decision." Vince struck the table again.
Why can't this be over? Kirsty swallowed and reached for her bottle of water to quell the nausea in her stomach. She didn't want to hear the detailed facts of the crime again. They sounded all too familiar. They made her sick to her stomach. The wait must be agonising for the accused, she thought, did he pace the floor, or did he sit in numb silence awaiting his judgement? How would she react when that happened to her? The thought stirred the nausea like a spoon and she hid her shaking hands in her lap.I understand that you want to surprise the reader at the end, but you have to drop some clues along the way so that the surprise makes sense rather than leaves the reader reacting with "What the hell?"

Notice that I used "when that happened to her" instead of "if that happened to her". That would make the reader think "Huh? What does she mean "when"?" To accomplish your goal you need to be subtle, not obtuse.

I hope this helps.

Jenwales
April 8th, 2017, 09:00 PM
I think, to convey what you want to convey, you need Kristy to be struggling separate from Vince's outbursts. The way you've written it, Kristy's reactions seem to be a result of Vince's actions.

So let's look at what you're written.

1) Vince pounds on the table and Kirsty shuddered. The proximate cause of Kirsty's shudder appears to be Vince pounding on the table.
2) Vince says "We will hear it again....." and Kirsty thinks "Why can't this be over?...." Again Kirsty's reacting to what Vince has said and done.

If Kirsty is feeling guilty for something she did, her actions need to be divorced from Vince's, or at least not a direct reaction to them.

Someone (we don't know who - maybe Patricia?) is reacting to the last thing that Vince said. Kirsty reacts to that Here we go again...."
Then Kirsty speaks. You portray her as timid or nervous (trying not to stutter. It was the first time...) rather than feeling guilty. We don't need to know WHY she feels guilty, but we do need to understand that the motivation for her speaking is guilty feelings.

So immediately after Kristy speaks, the reaction of someone in the room with her is "...you look pale...have a drink...it'll be over soon." Clearly she thinks that Kirsty is anxious to get it over with, not that she's hiding something.

Here Kirsty is relieved it's over, but given what we've already been told, it seems to be because she was tired of Vince's harangues.

Where have you introduced her feelings of guilt? You see the problem?

Now let's look at how you might introduce those feelings.
I understand that you want to surprise the reader at the end, but you have to drop some clues along the way so that the surprise makes sense rather than leaves the reader reacting with "What the hell?"

Notice that I used "when that happened to her" instead of "if that happened to her". That would make the reader think "Huh? What does she mean "when"?" To accomplish your goal you need to be subtle, not obtuse.

I hope this helps.
Yes, that does help. It makes everything very clear and I can see the problem. Wow! Thanks so much for that :D I think I went wrong in making her overly anxious I could definitely fix that. Don't know how to thank you enough

bdcharles
April 10th, 2017, 03:12 PM
Hi,

There are some great lines in here:

"The thought stirred the nausea like a spoon"
- fantastic imagery, that. Might have to steal it in fact ;)

"cocooning her in a chilling blanket" - good writing.

Problems for me are around dialogue punctuation and comma-splicing, both of which there is alot - too much to be able to write it off as voice

Dialogue punctuation:

"Yes. We know. We've heard it." The woman with the long dark braid interrupted.
-> should be:
"Yes. We know. We've heard it," the woman with the long dark braid interrupted.

Comma-splicing:

"The wait must be agonising for the accused, she thought,[<- in most cases, use a full-stop, semi-colon, m-dash, conjunction, anything but comma!] did he pace the floor, or did he sit in numb silence awaiting his judgement?"

plawrence
April 10th, 2017, 05:58 PM
Yes, that does help. It makes everything very clear and I can see the problem. Wow! Thanks so much for that :D I think I went wrong in making her overly anxious I could definitely fix that. Don't know how to thank you enough
I'm glad I could help. I'm learning as I go myself, so it helps me to critique other people's writing.

I don't think you went wrong in making her overly anxious so long as you make the cause of the anxiety evident. I think you can accomplish your goal of surprising the reader while providing enough information that the reader's suspicions are aroused and the end isn't completely out of left field. What you've written is good. It just needs some tweaking.

Jenwales
April 11th, 2017, 08:42 AM
Hi,

There are some great lines in here:

"The thought stirred the nausea like a spoon"
- fantastic imagery, that. Might have to steal it in fact ;)

"cocooning her in a chilling blanket" - good writing.

Problems for me are around dialogue punctuation and comma-splicing, both of which there is alot - too much to be able to write it off as voice

Dialogue punctuation:

"Yes. We know. We've heard it." The woman with the long dark braid interrupted.
-> should be:
"Yes. We know. We've heard it," the woman with the long dark braid interrupted.

Comma-splicing:

"The wait must be agonising for the accused, she thought,[<- in most cases, use a full-stop, semi-colon, m-dash, conjunction, anything but comma!] did he pace the floor, or did he sit in numb silence awaiting his judgement?"

Thanks, it's good to have some positive feedback. Made me happy seeing your comments, my boyfriend said I should feel honoured that you want to use my lines. Sometimes it's hard to think of new metaphors and similes to avoid the cliches but sometimes they just come all on their own. Just remember who gave you the idea :D LOL
I have a grammar book and a workbook I keep meaning to look over, but I think I knew that rule about dialogue, don't know why I didn't follow it. I am learning how to edit slowly, I've already learnt a lot but there's an ebook I might buy too just to give me a little extra help.