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Rip This To Shreds (Please?)

A Request for Fiction Critique

By Mackenzie DavisPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - September 2023
Rip This To Shreds (Please?)
Photo by FORTYTWO on Unsplash

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 Stories

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.

Cheers, everyone!

Feedback Requested

About the Creator

Mackenzie Davis

“When you are describing a shape, or sound, or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” Lewis Carroll

Find me elsewhere.

Copyright Mackenzie Davis.

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Comments (15)

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story🎉

  • To me, the #IronMaiden concept is just an excuse to validate bullying. Criticism should be constructive. My writing has been attacked many times viciously and when I have contacted the people they just say they are allowed to say things like that because of #IronMaiden . We should be building not attacking.. Glad you got rewarded for this and you put a lot of work into it, keep writing and keep pisitive

  • JBaz2 months ago

    I will read and think hard on the critique part. My critique would be based on personal thoughts as I could not give proper literary advice.

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Excellent piece, Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Rob Angeli2 months ago

    I haven't read a couple of those, I will do this tomorrow after work, sounds like fun.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Excellent!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!♥️♥️💕

  • Paul Stewart2 months ago

    Well done on this getting Top Story, Mackenzie!

  • Gerald Holmes2 months ago

    This is very courageous of you. I have read all three stories and have left you feedback.

  • S. A. Crawford2 months ago

    This is very brave and inspiring of you; getting critique is always nerve wracking and I applaud you putting these out there. I've already read the flash fiction piece you listed and I really enjoyed it - I'm not a fantastic critic, but I'd look at the other two and give my thoughts if I think they'll be at all helpful :D

  • Paul Stewart2 months ago

    Yay! Good for you, Mackenzie! Impressed and proud for doing this! I shall read them later and think about your questions and anything helpful I can provide. I'm not an amazing critic, but will give my thoughts! Hope that's cool with you?

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    I put something in the critique community myself asking for criticism but found it did not pay dividends! Its such a useful process though, from both ends.

  • The Critique community is by far the one place where I'm useless. I just suck so bad at giving constructive criticism. I always feel everything is perfect. I'm so sorry Mackenzie 🥺

  • Got them read, now it's time for bed. Thanks for inviting us to be a part of this with you. That's some great writing to which you have now exposed us. I am humbled simply to know you, my friend.

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    This sounds interesting! Will read! Great work!

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    I'm a terrible critic, but I'll take a look tomorrow and see if I can answer some of questions. Please respond to remind me. Lol. Yeah, I am likely to forget I even saw this. Blame the alien.

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