So, yesterday, I posted my latest short story. If all goes well, as few as four people and as many as six people will read it. I like my readers, but one thing I can be sure of, none of them will rip the story to shreds.
That’s why I’m here, to show how it’s done.
But first, I played with making a few covers for the story. Mind you, I didn’t waste a whole lot of time on it. First, I went to Pulp-O-Mizer. This is what I came up with after a few minutes of playing around.
The problem? Pulp-O-Mizer is slanted toward the Science Fiction Genre. No one in my story was wearing a fish bowl. Then, I remembered I’ve been known to do a few cover . . .
That was just as quick an effort because I didn’t come up with a good idea for a background, so I just used a gradient. I did play with a couple of different color choices but eventually stopped at that one.
Right. Onward, then.
Most of the feedback I usually get is what I would call benign. In fact, let me just go ahead and call it what it is: benign.
And, that’s understandable. My readers are not writers and their impetus for reading anything is to be entertained. In other words, general impressions are what I’ll get back. No in-depth analysis of the plot or characters. No details about pacing, no assessment of the plot, potential pitfalls, etc. etc.
And, that’s fine. I should probably get proper Beta readers, preferably writers who hate me. Then again, that would mean befriending even more people than the vast number currently sharing their orbits with mine.
There is one person who might come through, but for the others, let me give you an example of the kind of feedback I give/want.
First, another Deep Dream contribution . . . ah, heck; let me do two.
OK, the feedback on “Dead Girls Tell No Tales.”
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Disperser, if that is his name, is a sporadic — and some say, erratic — writer. Nowhere is this more evident than his latest effort. Touted as the product of eight months of dedication and hard work, this particular offering nonetheless falls well short of many of Disperser’s earlier offerings. Offerings he’s written in a lot less time. One wonders what was going on during those eight months.
Mind you, this reader thinks the idea was both interesting and ambitious. This notwithstanding the obvious borrowing of a few plot points and characters from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. That can be excused as there are no unique ideas in literature.
What can’t be excused is the haphazard way the plot and characters are developed. For one, while touted as a stand-alone, this effort borrows things from the introduction of Michelle Maul in his previous work. That was a few years ago and was specifically an effort to exercise the thinking behind the Lester Dent method for writing pulp.
Unfortunately — and rather obviously — Disperser quickly departed from the tried-and-true formula popularized by Lester Dent. That formula produces a tighter and faster-paced narrative that grabs the reader and holds him to attention, something that was not present here and thus failed to hold this reader.
As great a character as Michelle Maul is, she actually did very little in this tale. A few action scenes, but the bulk of the exciting action either happened off-page or Mich wasn’t directly involved. Also, because of the darker nature of this tale, gone were the familiar banter and clever retorts so prevalent in the first offering. That put pressure on the action scenes to carry their share of the weight and then some, and they just weren’t up to it.
One scene, the attack near the elevator, is completely superfluous. We learn nothing from it, and nothing comes of it. Mind you, not a bad action scene (I’m getting me one of them knives) but you could cut that whole scene out and the story would lose nothing. Just padding, it be.
It was also obvious Disperser was more mindful of making the interaction with Law Enforcement a bit more realistic while still catering to specific demands of the plot. Again, the result weighed in on the negative side of the scale. In part, because we read these stories with the understanding and expectation of the suspension of most real-world beliefs. As it was, and as described, the interactions came across as contrived. Yes, I know it’s a piece of fiction, but one could still make the effort and aim for realistic scenarios.
Perhaps the biggest complaint is the choppy writing style and the significant jumps between scenes. Jumps the author makes without looking back to see if the readers are keeping pace. At the very least, these abrupt changes disrupt the flow of the story. The full negative effect is the risks of completely losing the reader.
One other tendency of this writer is to present a certain casualness to killing. Without knowing his intimate thoughts — or judging them — one might point out that the majority of people lack this cavalier attitude toward killing people, be they bad guys or not.
On the other hand, the sense of justice, the meting out of severe punishment for severe infractions, might attract readers who are sick and tired of being told problems can’t be fixed. They can be, if only in a work of fiction, with the judicious use of weapons.
As mentioned, this falls short of Disperser’s other efforts and one especially wonders if this is a good length for his writing talents. He does reasonably well in shorted offerings and has shown himself capable of carrying a longer effort. This offering appears to highlight a hole in his skill-set.
As far as actionable items, plot and characters are mostly OK, but pacing and flow of the story could use a bit of work. Also, there needs to be more tension. It seemed — at least for a while — that Dan might be called upon to step up and face the possibility of violence, but nothing came of it. One could also point out that the main character was never in danger and we — as readers — were left without an anchor for whatever emotions we float around as we read. The traditional milieu of the PI novel has the PI be in some sort of physical or moral danger, facing a challenge or obstacle that she must negotiate at some personal cost.
None of that was present in this mostly vapid tale. I give it a 4.5/10.
~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~
See, something like that helps me out. I won’t even argue it; I’ll just say thank you.
Mind you, I would be tempted to mention the inordinate span of time and numerous interruptions as a mitigating factor. I would be tempted, but I wouldn’t do it.
Anyway, it’s tired and I’m now cranky from having read nothing but negative reviews of my story. Still, useful stuff. Something I can actually work on improving.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.
Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, sympathy, or complaining about my life, or asking for help and advice, know you’re likely missing my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor.