Monday, October 15, 2012

Workshop Result

After reading the criticism I asked for the other week on a massage I shared, I reworked the excerpt with everything in mind, picking out what I agreed and disagreed on changing. It's safe to say that I am much more satisfied with this short piece now. So a big thank you to everyone who gave me feedback! Though there were some points I had to disagree on because it clashed with style, etc, your input was much appreciated and a great help!

They walked back, around the perimeter of the school. The rain had let up and sunlight was breaking through the clouds, reflecting off puddles and the wet cement beneath their feet. Between the tall buildings and meticulously planted trees, the walls surrounding the city stared at them: a constant reminder of the too-structured society which smothered them: the same society that kept them safe from the dangers of the outside world; dangers that his father was causing, dangers that her father was fighting. 

Now I'd like to ask for everyone to look at it again. There are a couple of specifics I want to ask you about.

1) The second sentence. 'The rain had let up and sunlight was breaking through the clouds, reflecting off puddles and the wet cement beneath their feet.' I still think this is a little choppy, especially after the comma. What do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree? Any suggestions? Throw them at me :)

2) In the original excerpt, Giora pointed out that my last sentence was too long. I agreed. But in editing, I've only been able to make it longer. Now I'm reluctant to shorten it again, but I feel it is necessary. I've used two colons and a semi-colon to break it up though, so I'm not sure if I'm just being too critical or whether I'm right in feeling this need to change it. Reading it, I love the way it reads. I just don't feel comfortable with the length. I'm considering breaking it into a second sentence at the colon '...which smothered them: the same society...' and simply playing around with words to start the new sentence properly. What do people out there suggest?

If there are any other points of criticism you'd like to bring up, please feel free, though I'd appreciate new stuff rather than a repetition of comments from the previous entry.

Any snippets you'd like to share?

- Bonnee.


  1. Why the puddles AND the wet cement? Why not just "the puddles beneath their feet"?

  2. My first thought is to revert to the original for that last, long sentence. It had better 'flow' than this one. There's something more in my brain about overall intent that I can't quite get hold of yet; it's just after six AM here and my brain isn't fully working yet, I may have to come back later and explain.

    As far as the second sentence, maybe all you need to do is change it to '...the sun broke through...'

    1. Now I'm all curious what it was that you have bubbling that brain of yours about overall intent. WAKE UP AND COME BACK WHEN YOU GRASP IT! :D Reverting back to the original might be a good place to go... Hmm...

      Hmmm, ooh that little change is perfect with a little bit after the comma changed too :D Thank you JeffO!

    2. Glad to help!

      Regarding what I meant by 'intent' - what *I* see is you're establishing what the society is like and how the two characters feel about it. So 'meticulously-planted trees', the 'too-structured society that smothered them', and also 'protected' them. So I think your intent is to communicate that this society is rather overbearing, and that these two are at best ambivalent about it. Given that (if that IS your intent, and I'm not seeing something that isn't there), then the word choices in this version may be better, but I think I like the softer sell of the first a bit more. If I'm making sense, some 14 hours later.

      And I know I advocated for dumping the word 'peeked' in favor of something a bit stronger and more menacing, so it's funny that now I'm kind of going back on that a bit.

    3. I am considering reverting back to the word 'peeked', I really liked the juxtaposition, though I could also see where you were coming from when you suggested I use something else... hmmm that is a pickle. Rest assured, you've hit the nail on the head with guessing my intent. That is EXACTLY what I am trying to say about the city and how the characters feel about it. :)

    4. Woot! I guessed right!

      Always a risky business when you presume to know what someone meant.

  3. First, please don't view our responses as criticism. View them as comments and suggestions. I am not an avid reader, but in the books I read I don't often see many colons. It's easy to break the third sentence into two sentences like this in the way you suggested.
    "Between the tall buildings ... society which smothered them. It is the same society that kept them .... her father was fighting."
    I am now going over my second novel and adding smells and sounds here and there, making it more lively. You might want to add another sentence of what they smell or hear.
    I am googling right now to see if there is "Smell after Rain". Some people say that they can smell after the rain. If the characters feel optimistic at this point, you can add that they see a rainbow after the rain. Some view Rainbow as a symbol of optimism and hope. You don't have to add smell and sound in this passage, but maybe it will fit in other places. As I posted before, Bonnee, my writing style is simpler. Best wishes with all the exams.

    1. Criticism, comments, suggestions... no matter what I call it, I'm viewing all of it as positive and constructive feedback with which I can evaluate my work, experiment and improve. But thank you.
      I think I will change that into the two separate sentences. It is very easy and now that I've had an extra moment to think about it, I don't see why it wasn't obvious to begin with. Thank you for helping me on that spot.
      I LOVE the smell of rain. I've been making references to rain and the way the characters feel about it both earlier and later in the story, so rest assured... though I will admit, I didn't consider SMELL. I talk about sound a lot, but adding smell, even just once, somewhere, might work well :) I'm leaning towards rainbow as too cliched and too representative of optimism at this point in the story. I might use it later, but I'm not sure I like it personally.

      Thank you so much for your input Giora, I find these conversations extremely valuable, no matter how short or long. :)

  4. Best is to follow advice of best selling author for YA fiction. Yesterady I looked at this website
    There is a lot of advice in her October 9 blog, especailly at the sections in the end. Her book "Divergent" was selected recently as number 1 read by teens.
    Go to
    put her book "Divergent" and click on the "Kindle version" then click on the cover and read the first pages for free. Do the same for "Hunger Games" and you will see that the writing for Mega Best Sellers YA fiction these days is simpler.
    Don't dwell too much about each sentence. Teens want an interesting story to read, not a litetrary masterpiece.

    1. I love reading other people's advice, thanks for that Giora.

  5. thx for your comment !
    Keep on writing ! Fighting ! xx

  6. the multiple colons in a sentence seem strange. i guess i've never seen that before. otherwise i like the content of the words.

    1. Glad you like the content, and the colons is what was bothering me most about this. I've fixed that problem now though, so thank you :)


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