Saturday, November 24, 2007

What a nice man!

'perryi' wrote:

This is really very good. I like your authoritative attitude, your prose is hard-bitten and emotionless when it needs to be and the clues you present and the characters you describe are rounded and lifelike.

I like the way you play with point-of-view and timescale. It keeps your work original in an area which has been well and truly explored and expolited by other writers and indeed television dramas. You get inside the head of a fourteen-year-old girl very well (to the best of my knowledge, anyway, never having been inside the head of one myself), and when the narrative changes with time, you update your language and dialogue well.

I wonder how long you've been writing. It reads as if you are well-practised in the art. Your air of authority makes the police-procedural aspects of your narrative thoroughly believable. If this is a product of research, then it is well-handled, and you don't let the textbooks cramp your style. If the procedure is imagined, you make it seem real anyway. I like the way you describe weather and other details surrounding the murder scene, and I like the way you hint at backstory for your hardened and embittered police officer and pathologist. I would like to read more of this book.

There are a couple of things which I think need looking at. I mention them here in some detail not to be picky, but because I think you're on to something here and they deserve to be pointed out rather than glossed over. Here they are:"The snow outside is falling hypnotically in large, fast flakes." Kill the adverb, it is your enemy!

"MIGHT have done, or places she MAY..." Capitals are shouting, italics are emphasis. I realise that YWO doesn't allow italics, and you may have written these words in italics anyway, but if you haven't, perhaps you should. If not, leave them unemphasised and allow the reader to place the emphasis.

“I’m Emma,” answers the taller, slender girl, with Louise Brooks hair. “I’m the eldest; I’m twenty-two. Sarah-Jane here is twenty, and Amelia is another two years younger than her". Who is Louise Brooks? I'm a bloke, I know nothing of these things! Is she a famous model or a hair stylist?

"bloody sex life. We can’t seem to talk about anything else without arguing. (Ruefully) I can’t say I bring much to the discussion; we all know about my two 'epic romances',”" Not sure if the (Ruefully) works. It's clumsy in mid-dialogue, and again, the reader can make assumption about the nature of her speech.

I know the Leicester area well, having spent a few years of my misspent youth there. The following is a clue, but only in some people's minds - "“Dad was the only one who didn’t see her last night. He had some meeting in Loughborough and had to stay over." Now, you and I both know that Loughborough is only half an hour or so from Leicester and that Dad could have quite easily come home, so my immediate thought is that Dad was up to something he shouldn't have been. Many readers won't know this geographical fact, so maybe you should sneak it in somewhere a bit earlier so the reader can think "ah-hah!" (if indeed they're meant to, but I certainly did). I felt unfairly advantaged by this.

The following sentence is really, really good. "I expect one of them will ask, ‘Who is Amelia?’ and, although it has been fifteen years, I will begin to cry. A man named Max took her from me. He took her with a velvet glance, with a razor-touch so sharp and swift that, for a long time, neither of us noticed that the other was lost." That's very, very good narrative. It gives an opinion, rather than pointing a finger, too, so we are quite deliberately no further forward in the whodunit stakes whilst the prejudices of the character are revealed. Brilliant.

So, I've been a bit picky there, but only because your story is so good. The points I've made haven't diminished my marks, which were fours and fives, so please don't think I'm nitpicking.

I liked your story very much and I wish you every success with it.


He also emailed me separately, to talk more about it, which has only happened twice, but it's very nice when it does.

Love A

P.S. I also got a straight 'fives' review for my short story 'Privet' today, which was good, because the last-but-one reviewer said it was boring!


Anonymous Ronda said...

Interesting to know.

12:14 am  

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