L.C. Shaëfer and Paul Stewart inspired me to finally participate in the #IronMaiden critique challenge. (Go check out their articles, linked previously.) I have made a list of stories I feel could use more insights, whether from lack of engagement here, or because they were rejected elsewhere, or simply because I've come to cringe at them and would like to like them again.
Below are three stories. Please pick one, if you feel moved to offer feedback.
Thus far on Vocal, constructive feedback has remained elusive, aside from the rare typo comment. I find workshops to be vital for writerly growth, and employing the "Critique" community to that end seems well worth it. That is what I am doing here.
If you wouldn't mind, please post feedback on the stories themselves, so I can have it all in one place. #IronMaiden would be nice to see, as well.
The first story is a flash piece I wrote a while ago, "Land O' the High Endeavor." I found it challenging to write, as I don't normally go for humor. I wanted it to have a dark, absurdist tone, and don't really know if that's working here.
Obviously, there is a question about whether the MC changes enough from beginning to end. This is where I can already see the need for revision. Do you agree? Any suggestions for how I should change the ending?
One other question I have is with regard to the length. It's meant to be quite short, but I could make it longer and it could still work. I'd appreciate thoughts on that too, as I feel it might be too minimal in places.
Of course, don't just stick with my questions. Anything you see that doesn't work, any questions of your own, etc., please give it all to me! 🤓
My next story is called "I am watching you stake out the art thief." This one is also flash fiction, and I wrote it up against a word limit, so some part of me feels it ought to be longer.
My main question, though, is, Does it make sense? Do you understand what's going on, specifically, with the point of view of the story? Is the title working to help or hinder that understanding? I chose it intentionally.
Finally, I'll ask you this. Does the story's supernatural element work to frighten you, or is it too confusing? Does its connection to the painting and the accompanying allegory make sense? Considering it's the biggest part of this story, I want it to hit the reader like it hits the characters...Well, almost.
If you notice anything else that needs addressing, don't hesitate to share! The questions are just guides. 😉
The last story I'll link here is called "Sarah's Mother." Now, I've gotten some good positive feedback on this story, so my request now is not to diminish them. I've always been uncertain in the horror genre, and I really don't know if the short form is working; I think it could very well be hindering the effect of the horror. Does it all happen too fast?
Also, is this really horror or is it more just dark thriller? I'm no good at genre-writing. Please give me any thoughts on this.
The last question I have about this one is with regard to the Reddit frame narrative and what ends up happening to the speaker at the end of the story. How much of that makes sense? Does the allegory of being drained by a device or online chatroom work in the story?
My biggest self-critique is that it isn't clear what's real and what's a consequence of the Reddit demon/entity messing with the MC's mind. The way I pictured it, the MC is reading a creepy story while at the same time being drained of her life force by the device she's reading on. But the events of the story she's reading are actually real, hence the final line, and why she dies like this. It's indicative of an epidemic, or an imminent one.
(Hopefully that context helps with understanding my questions in the previous paragraph.)
As always, the questions I offer here are suggestions. Please share any thoughts you have. 🤩
Thank you to all who take the time to read and participate with my stories! I hope to return the favor, so please feel free to leave me a link for a piece you'd like some constructive feedback on.