Rustic Alibi: Prologue“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”
Hey there, my name’s Ed, and I’m here thanks to your submission to #GrammarNaziCritiques!
I wonder why you used the quote. I’m sure I’ll have a better idea once I get to the end of the prologue. Yeah, I see why it relates. It’s nice (even though I don’t quite see the reason you included it – what has that woman got to do with anything? haha)
I can tell that you knew exactly what was going to happen from the start. I mean, you chip away at the situation slowly so that everything makes sense. You’ve got a plan. That’s good, and actually quite rare in some of the writing I read.
Some specific comments:
-Watch out for overusing adverbs. Sometimes they don’t actually add anything to the story. For example, ‘suddenly sprinting’, sprinting is usually fast so the act of being sudden is probably implied.
-Your word choice is fantastic, you’ve pick words that have a good descriptive quality to them. You could cut down on superfluous words like:
“…like a limp puppet which has just had its strings hacked off.”
“…like a limp puppet with hacked off strings.”
-Be careful of using too many ‘specific words’ which then makes the narrative hard to follow. Sometimes, it’s much easier to understand something processing in your mind than in your cranium.
-Good use of a short paragraph to make a point.
-“It’s now soaking through the fabric of the trousers…” – ‘my’ trousers?
-“…the world than I was to originally begin with…” – I don’t know what this means.
-Another example of where an adverb can be exchanged: “Snowflakes noiselessly drop from the heavens” – ‘Silent snowflakes drop from the heavens…”
-“It was him.” – you’ve just had a paragraph starting with ‘He’s a few…’ so you’ve got two mysterious ‘he’s now. Is it possible to give them names from the start? So there’s no chance of confusion.
-This is more of a personal choice, but I never think ‘kinda’ is a good word to use. It’s so vague and colloquial. I think there are better words out there.
-There’s an interesting line when using present tense. You’ve set up a future narration style I think. Where the main character is recounting the story. This is clearest in ‘I certainly don’t expect what actually happens next.’ which should fall into the future tense. But because you’ve used ‘don’t’ it keeps it in present. Something doesn’t feel right about it.
-Again, another inconsistency with present tense:
“He doesn’t say anything, but shakes his head softly; his curled, light blond locks bouncing slightly as he does so.”
Because of the way this tense works, the moment he shakes his head, he is shaking his head. So saying ‘as he does so’ doesn’t work, he’s already finished. You could get away with saying ‘as he is doing so’, or at least ‘as he did so’ because in the present tense the moment has passed and it is now in the past. If that makes any sense… There’s a reason not many people chose to write in this tense: because it’s much harder! You’re doing well though. Better than most.
-“…gravity to take its toll and push it to the ground.” – push what? This is unclear.
-Watch out for using too many ‘now’s to force something into present tense. Usually, it doesn’t need to be anyway. Eg, “I’m now sure of it.” – saying ‘I am sure of it.’ is more than enough.
-“Soon there’d be no evidence either of us were ever even here, not that anyone would ever come looking for either of us. “ – repetition of ‘either of us’ stands out a bit too much and doesn’t sound planned.
-I do like the end. Is the man the same man as before? The one who shot the other man? It’s still a bit confusing without names. Is there a reason you don’t have names?
The characters were all good though. Names would be helpful, still! If the man is the same one from before at the end, there’s some nice questions about what his intentions actually are. The short paragraph explaining why the woman is there too is nicely placed. You could still afford to answer a few more questions, like where they are, what time period it is, what country? If you want to keep it ambiguous, you’ll still have that. By answering some of the simple questions, it actually raises more in the readers’ minds. If I told you that ‘The cup was hot’, you’d ask, ‘Ok, why?’ but if I said the ‘The mug was hot to touch’, there are more questions surrounding it. What’s in the mug? Who is touching it? Why are they touching it?
Let me know if you have any questions
Oh, gosh, thanks so much for doing this for me!
I've gone over the specific points and will make an effort to fix the mistakes you've pointed out.
As for your questions, it's meant to be ambigious, as it's a scene that takes place literally a few minutes after the story itself ends. It's purpose is to be confusing until the reader comes to the end, hopefully skips back, and realises that they have come full circle.
I hope that it's a little more clear, and I'm sorry for any confusion.
I'm really grateful for the critique, and it was awesome of you to put in the energy to write it up <3 Thanks so, so much.
You're welcome. I'll tell you what though, when someone actually replies to a critique like this, it makes it so much more worth it. You wouldn't believe the number of people who just don't reply!
I have nothing against ambiguity, and you do it well. But we still need to be able to see the scene in our heads, so a little more description would be nice. We can still get the ambiguity through not understanding the reason for the location, and it's there the questions will arise. This doesn't stop the loop at all, in fact, by ending up in the same place (and it's clear you are) you realise how to story is going to end and it works as a really nice climax.
Of course, I do like the way you've done it, and I understand the effect you're going for. I'd just like to see a little more information, so the scene makes that little bit more sense the first time you read it ^^
Say what? Oh, that's horrible. The fact that people such as yourself put in a lot of time and effort to look at one's work and go over it's flaws in an analytical fashion should be dealt with gratitude. Outright ignoring it just seems like a horrible waste D:
Well, I'm glad that you think I did it well. But, I will take on board that it does need more description to it (I've recognised that to be one of my bigger hurdles to get over), and I'll have a crack at slotting it in.
Yes, I understand. I didn't realise that first time readers could very easily be confused, as well as put off, by a lack of description to allow them to realise what's going on. The other bulk of the story itself is written in third person rather than first, as in the prologue. The reason why I chose to do a swap in-between the two was because I felt that it'd be interesting to add a personal touch as to what the character who was experiencing the end of the story was feeling, and first person really seemed to be the best way forward for me.
I'm planning to do the same for the sequel in this regard, so it's a running kind of characteristic to the story structure xD