Writer's Life, Writing Classes

Best and Worst of Critique Comments #4

The final verbal critique of the quarter. The 500 word short story I wrote for class was one I’m very proud of. I spent a few weeks on it and even volunteered to read first two days before we had to sign up for days to read. Saying I was excited is a bit of an understatement.

The story is set in Ireland sometime in the 1300’s. Colin is an arrogant man who repeatedly beats his wife and suffers from a leg injury he treated himself. After the wound gets infected, the wife sends for a doctor and Colin succumbs to a fever. When he wakes up, he discovers his wife has left him and the doctor amputated his leg.

This is probably my favorite short story that I’ve written. For those interested, you will be able to read a copy in the near future. In the meantime, here is what my classmates said:

“I enjoyed it. My only concern is the word ‘healer.’ This story seems to take place in the past, but not so long ago that the word ‘doctor’ did not exist.”

“Love the characters. Very gruesome little surprise for Colin.”

“I enjoy the sense of irony throughout the story and dark (…almost comic) end that it had.”

“I enjoyed the second part of the story the best… I feel that the selection is very strong and is the perfect glue to hold the 1st and 3rd parts together.”

“I love the middle part; the image of him struggling alone in the dark is very cinematic & creepy. Big impact.”

“Only the wife’s character seems a little inconsistent–first we see her as a complacent beaten wife, then a little fiery/sarcastic with ‘big lout,’ then she cares for him (calls the doctor), but then she leaves–a bundle of contradictions.”

“Perhaps if you had read it a bit louder and with more inflection (it was quite monotone) there would be more tension or emotion. Great story though! When I went back and read it a second time I found all the components I felt were lost in translation from your reading.”

“Nice! Seems to have all the major needed elements. I enjoy the idea & for only 500 words it does the job. No real suggestions/corrections on my behalf. Extremely nice!”

“F*** yeah! Water of life, yo!” (Written over the word “whiskey.”)

“Great ending! Your flicks are superb, especially for people who like historical fiction. TAKE RABB’S CLASS! It’ll forever change your writing style.”

“Bummer, he lost his leg! But I s’pose he deserved it.”

“The wife’s got her chance to escape. Though the story is interesting as is, I’m left wondering of her fate–maybe that’s what you wanted!”

“Why did it take so long for his wife to leave? He’s obviously a drunk, couldn’t she have snuck out sooner?”

“I wasn’t surprised when she left because she didn’t seem scared of him, and I didn’t feel bad for him because he hit her. So I wish there was something that added drama. That aside though, this is really well written. It has good pace and is well put together.”

“Awkward opening sentence.”

“‘Ass’ would be a stronger word.”

“If this is what caused the wound, make it seem a little more like a hackjob. Like, a little more detail on how it festered.”

“Nice premise from start to finish. Very ‘olden’ days style but it could work. I like it. Make it a little more clear she only stays because he supports her.”

“Awkward sentence/gesture.”

“AAND I love the inclusion of the ‘putting him out of work’ comment in the third paragraph. PERFECT way to just slide that information subtly. Nice job! Overall, great job! But you already knew that. :) If there’s one thing I’m gonna miss from Fiction, it’d be reading your pieces.”

“Post discussion: Since when does location matter? That’s not the point of the story, man. Why are people SO nitpicky about silly things. :(“

“Can I ask the writer where exactly his leg was cut off at?” (Actually a question presented during verbal critique. I told her I would get back to her with an answer once I was certified to amputate legs.)

“I don’t totally understand how he got the injury or what exactly kind of injury it is besides something with his knee so maybe clarify that a bit more. Also, I’m not sure about using the word ‘healer’ instead of just ‘doctor.’ Healer makes me think of magic & spells, but this guy just amputated the leg. It doesn’t seem like he really does anything like a healer would.”

“I like this a lot. Your style of writing shows us the characters without dialogue or a real physical description which is great. I would like to know if the wife really did leave him or just couldn’t be there for the removal of the leg.”

“I love that you wrote this from the abusive husband’s point of view. Usually it is from the wife’s perspective.”

“You should try to read with a bit more emotion. I think that it would enhance your style. This is great writing but more emotion when read would show that off more.”

“It’s tough to get a story arc in just 500 words, but you did it well and so cleanly. (is that a pun? I’m not sure.) I wonder if Colin’s wife left him for good. I’d think so, but the ambiguity there is oh-so-good.”

“The story was interesting because it was about the tense feel of the situation rather than two people trying to connect. Actions instead of dialogue was a good idea. His leg was amputated right?”

“I really enjoyed your story. It was bright and happy and filled with joy and butterfly farts. I wanted to rub this story down with vasoline and call it my sugardaddy.”

The last comment is definitely one I’ll remember. I kind of wish there had been more outlandish or negative comments to amuse you with, but it seems my class is of the opinion the story is good. Also, my reading voice could use some work.

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