Thursday, December 15, 2011

I got a critique for a short story I wrote

So I wrote a short story recently called 'A lullaby for Bosco Sweeney' - and submitted for consideration to a big Irish short-story competition. The Fish Short Story Competition is a bit of a hero-thing of mine, so it was great to hear back from them.

One point though - the character of 'Val' is supposed to be a man...just saying haha

"The direct appeal to the reader/listener in the opening paragraph succinctly creates a sense of immediacy and orientates the reader swiftly within the narrative, raising expectations and creating ample space for the unexpected. No explanation about who the narrator might be is necessary as the writer has trusted the reader to find the answer through the language presented which in turn motivates us to ask all the right questions essential to propelling the story forward. The anecdotal and informal voice of Johnny draws us to his story with ease and peppering the prose with unique word choices and syntax works well to render his voice distinct and credible however the repetition of the phrase “I mind” is overly intrusive. Phrases such as these, (I felt, I saw, I remember, it seems) tend to distance the reader from participating imaginatively in the story and notably in this work, fractures the tension in pivotal moments of the plot, in particular in the passage: I mind taking Bosco into the toilet.... where the character of Bosco is revealed both physically and emotionally before the climactic fiddle playing scene. Reducing the frequency of this phrase will mean the prose is stronger and slicker. The author has skilfully guided the reader’s interpretation of Bosco through a compelling and well-observed selection of detail. This is the story’s strength; the creation of this three dimensional and complex character that the reader is compelled to invest in emotionally. This astute attention to detail extends to the setting and the writer has created a vivid living that serves well to engage all the senses and convinces us that we are surrounded by this fictional universe. The narrative arc is crafted and consistent, building in a structured and suspense-sustaining manner and the shift from the “story” to “real time” marked by the inclusion of Val the bar maid propels the plot forward, apart from the interjection beginning “No, he didn’t show up at all, Val...” where its length causes this traction to waver slightly. This aside, the subject matter, structure and narrative perspective work successfully in producing a tender and insightful short story where all the elements of story-telling have been satisfied"

I can tell you, after years of rejection letters, this sorta stuff is like tuna-flavoured crack to a ghetto cat. Huzzah!

1 comment:

  1. Told my Da (who is a writer) that you were getting a fair few rejection letters. He says they're a pile of shite and don't listen to a word because perseverance is gold-dust.

    Myself, just want to interject that with Malcolm Gladwell who said you need 10,000 hours to be a master at a chosen subject.

    But you have both so - be grand.