Old 08-27-2014, 09:18 AM   #1
TheSexyGeek
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Story Feedback

Hello. Recently posted a story I and I would be deeply grateful for any feedback and especially constructive criticisms and observations.

http://www.literotica.com/s/on-changing-ground-pt-01

Thank you, and I'll do my best to return the favor.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:59 AM   #2
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Generic fare. Most readers will swoon over it like they do frozen cheese burgers at the Quickie Mart.
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Old 08-27-2014, 01:55 PM   #3
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Seemed to me a pointless chapter

If you had skipped this chapter and started with the next chapter, would the story be any worse off? All of the characters except the main seemed to have been thrown away. Depressing stories aren't what I look for on this site.

Quibbles:
* We don't have much background on the main character. How old is he? How long has he been married? How did he meet Tina? How long has he been working long hours?
* Tina is just a sexy body in this story. How old is she? What does she do?
* Letting go of the team mid-project sounds insane. It would have been much better if the Nick had been working to turn around a project that had gotten off track and just when he thought he had gotten things straighten out, management decided to cancel it
* The cheating was jarring. They sound wildly in love at the start, like newlyweds. There should have been tension in the morning. Two months of long hours isn't nearly long enough to trigger an affair
* The whole confrontation once he gets into his bedroom was bizarre. Why wasn't he angry when he heard his wife obviously fucking someone else and then couldn't get into the bedroom? Why didn't Tina just tell Nick straight out that their marriage was over and she had found someone else
* Nick seemed to move on from Tina too quickly. Years of life gone down the drain. He probably had a huge amount of joint property he was going to have split. Yet no real questioning of where things went wrong
* Why didn't he talk with Tina again? If nothing else, to make sure she wasn't there when he gathered his stuff
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:24 PM   #4
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8letters, I appreciate your response. You bring up some thoughtful points. I'm going to respond to some of them to clarify some details (for you, but mostly for me, as responding to these points may help me work out what isn't working). So this isn't meant to be a refutation or a "Yeah, but..." so much as a bit of troubleshooting on my part. I enjoyed your focus on certain details, because if readers are not getting those, something isn't working. And because this is a series, sometimes my eye on the big picture may let other little things slip through the cracks. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

Quote:
If you had skipped this chapter and started with the next chapter, would the story be any worse off? All of the characters except the main seemed to have been thrown away.
My gut reaction to this was yes, we need this chapter. But your comment made me think, and evaluate why, just to be honest with myself about it (wouldn't be the first time I started "too early" in the story). I do believe it's important to walk with Nick as he goes through these events. They're the impetus for the series, and there's some tie-in down the road.

Many unanswered questions are intentional, and as the story progresses, the answers will come. Details about Nick and Tina's marriage, more of their history, etc. will come into light. That said, there were a few obvious things that I did miss and you called it.

Things like Nick's age and how long he's been married, should have been in there. In fact, those may be in earlier drafts, and I probably snipped them out as I wasn't convinced they were crucial to the story. Maybe that was an error in judgment. Easily corrected, though. And I can assure you, no character is thrown away. Nick moves, but it's a small world and he's got a messy process ahead of him, depending on what he and Tina decide to do.

It's implied a number of times (maybe too obscurely?) that Nick is more than a little work-obsessed. He says things like "I've lived and breathed corporate culture since I graduated" and things like that. That's all setup to imply that Tina gets left behind quite a bit, without coming right out and saying "Tina gets left behind a lot." I went that way because Nick is our POV character. We can only see and know what's in his head, and he obviously is painfully oblivious to what he's putting his wife through. Basically I was trying (and not succeeding, at least in this case) to say it without saying it. Yes, this project is two months old. But in the grander scheme, if it's not this project, it's another - that should be obvious based on Nick's personality, the things he says, does, thinks. Perhaps it's just too obscure or ineffective. I'll give that a second look.

One of the public comments I got did pick up on Tina's personality as I intended it: which is basically that she probably would have cheated on Nick anyway. She's self-centered, just like he is. The late nights at work provided a convenient excuse, but it was inevitable anyway. I also had to ask myself, would Nick have gotten with Becky had the project continued? The answer... well, spoilers.

Quote:
Letting go of the team mid-project sounds insane. It would have been much better if the Nick had been working to turn around a project that had gotten off track and just when he thought he had gotten things straighten out, management decided to cancel it
It does sound crazy, doesn't it? But it happened to me about ten years ago. That's almost the entire basis for Nick's professional life. Reflects what I went through (getting fired, not banging a hot coworker...just to clarify, lol). Pissed me off to no end. Mind you, I wasn't a "hot shot" like Nick is (we didn't really have one) but the nature of the project (a Windows domain migration) did allow them to cut some of us who were earning more and replace us with cheaper lemmings. Anything to save a buck.

Quote:
The cheating was jarring. They sound wildly in love at the start, like newlyweds. There should have been tension in the morning. Two months of long hours isn't nearly long enough to trigger an affair
As mentioned above, for someone like Tina, two months might as well be two years. And again, this project is two months old. Things weren't necessarily perfect before that.

It's true, the morning the story begins, Nick wakes up into an almost fantasy world where everything is going right, everything is coming up roses for him. Layer by layer, the fantasy is peeled away and we're left with reality. There are hints of it that morning, but the gravity of the situation isn't there - mainly because Nick, as our POV character, does not see it himself. It's a pesky limitation of first person - he can't get outside of himself to see what's going on in her head. All he knows is, he had a great night with her, he woke up early, and everything is going great today. He's utterly insensitive to what's really going on behind Tina's eyes. It's tougher to convey, and I'm thinking I might not have been entirely effective at that.

Quote:
The whole confrontation once he gets into his bedroom was bizarre. Why wasn't he angry when he heard his wife obviously fucking someone else and then couldn't get into the bedroom? Why didn't Tina just tell Nick straight out that their marriage was over and she had found someone else
Why wasn't he angry? He put his fist through a wall. He threw a rock through the guy's back window. It was intended to be kind of surreal. From the moment he loses his job, he's almost completely shut down. All he can focus on is that loss and what it means for him (and for them, to a degree). So when he trips over the shoes, it's like he can't even process them. He can't process the noise from the bedroom. It's too much. He even says as much. The guy has lost literally everything, and now this too. The moment it becomes real is when hears the door open and the guy grabs his shoes. Then the anger kicks in. The rock throwing, wall punching, etc.

Why didn't Tina tell him? How many people have affairs and keep their spouse in the dark? How many people get caught in a lie and stammer through it, try to make it seem like they're not really busted? The circumstances behind the affair haven't been revealed yet. Some questions were intentionally left unanswered.

Quote:
Nick seemed to move on from Tina too quickly. Years of life gone down the drain. He probably had a huge amount of joint property he was going to have split. Yet no real questioning of where things went wrong
Oh, sleeping with Becky doesn't mean he's moved on. He was drunk off his ass maybe, and very, very unstable emotionally due to losing his entire life in the span of a single day. But he's not over her - not a bit, and I don't think that's implied anywhere. He's trying to move on - he's not over her.

The fling was quick, but it needs to be. Nick isn't thinking straight at all, and alcohol hasn't improved that. He's lost, looking for something to hang on to, and Becky's there for him. It's a classic bad decision, and one that I think is eminently justified from Nick's confused, unstable point of view. A few days of thinking and introspection, and I doubt he would have gone through with it. It's in the midst of those unexpected slaps to the face, those karma bombs that go off in our faces, where we are most vulnerable and unstable. That's when we make bad decisions. Not when we've had a good night's sleep and some time to think and reflect. But this need of Nick's...that search for something to hang onto... is a big part of his story.

They have no property, beyond the apartment. He leaves (implying the apartment is hers, or at least that its disposition will be settled later), takes his few items with him, and that's it.

Quote:
Why didn't he talk with Tina again? If nothing else, to make sure she wasn't there when he gathered his stuff
He probably did. I don't imagine he would want to cross paths with her. I didn't think that detail needed spelled out. Deeper than that, though, of course next steps are going to be underway. We cover a period of about 24-26 hours here. Discussions that close to the event are not going to be productive, but full of blame and finger-pointing. Tina's absence when he went back was arranged to avoid just such things. They both need time. Again, I don't show them talking, but I guess to me it was clear they would have communicated. But if it's clear to me and not you, then of course that is an issue.

As I've been answering those, I also made some notes on improving the story. I think there are some easy fixes for some, and other things can be cleared with a scene or by reworking an existing one.

Great points again, and thank you once more for taking the time to give it a look. Very helpful. If I can ever return the favor, I'd be happy to. Just send me a PM.

Last edited by TheSexyGeek : 08-27-2014 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:57 AM   #5
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Thanks for the response!

I hate it when I leave feedback and people don't respond to it.

Nick sounds like a very unsympathetic character. A self-centered workaholic who tosses away women without thinking. It's going to be tough to get people interested in such a character.

That reminds me - the whole "you're a free spirit" discussion from Becky was a bad idea. You should show, not tell and the tell is completely opposite of what Becky is describing.

If I was going to write the story, I would have had the CIO beg Nick to rescue a failing project that the CIO had started. Nick didn't want to do it because it would mean so much time away from Tina. The CIO practically guaranteed Nick a director job if he can turn around the project. With a director job, he would earn enough that he and Tina could start a family. Tina loves volunteering at a pet shelter and spending money; and Nick can't get her to understand that those are mutually incompatible activities. Nick spends a year working long, long hours to turn the project around and three months before go live, the CIO cancels the project and lets go everyone on the project. He doesn't have the balls to tell them himself. Nick can't bring himself to call Tina and tell her the news. He goes home instead and hears Tina fucking someone. He's crushed. He walks out, throws a rock at the back window of the car in his spot and then drives off to a bar. After a few beers, he calls Tina, tells her what he heard and that their marriage is over. Again, I would do that all as flashbacks after he arrives home as when he gets home is when the interesting action starts (hopefully).

The bar - another plot hole. He winds up at a bar around the corner from Becky's place in the part of the city where he's never been? And Becky just happens to walk in? Not believable.

Quote:
They have no property, beyond the apartment. He leaves (implying the apartment is hers, or at least that its disposition will be settled later), takes his few items with him, and that's it.
Nick is driving a fucking Jag and they have no property? Come on. Tina has a car. Nick has a 401K. They have lots of furniture, a big screen TV, car loans and credit card bills.

Quote:
If I can ever return the favor, I'd be happy to. Just send me a PM.
I am finishing up an incest story. It's 10K words and I probably have another K or two to write. I like to have people beta read my stories for plot holes, things I need to strengthen, etc. If you don't mind reading incest stories - it's a brother/sister story - I would appreciate it if you would read it over and give me your blunt thoughts.
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Old 08-28-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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Sure, be glad to take a look at the incest story. No qualms with reading about the topic.

He is a bit of an ass at first. He doesn't stay that way. That's his journey. You couldn't, for example, make Ebenezer Scrooge a likable character at the outset. I'm hardly comparing this to Dickens (not by a long shot, lol), just saying this particular convention is used elsewhere in literature.

It's a bit late to consider completely reworking the entire thing, but I've taken some things under advisement to fix some of the problems. In fact, I did that last night and handed it off to a colleague to beta.

Division of assets would fall under the divorce proceedings. There's no evidence in this chapter whether that's what either of them wants. Regardless of how much stuff they have or don't have (and those details aren't really relevant to this chapter), neither one of them is prepared to say "yes, we're done, it's over" just yet. It's only been 24-26 hours or so. They're separating for a while to reassess things, as is common in these situations. What they decide, and what else we will learn about them, will play out over future chapters.

PM me or e-mail me the story once it's done (my e-mail should be in my profile; if not, I'll check and add it). Looking forward to it!
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Old 08-28-2014, 08:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TheSexyGeek View Post
Hello. Recently posted a story I and I would be deeply grateful for any feedback and especially constructive criticisms and observations.

http://www.literotica.com/s/on-changing-ground-pt-01

Thank you, and I'll do my best to return the favor.
You do have talent as a writer, but there are too many 'annoyances' in your writing. These 'annoyances' are jarring because they yank the reader away from the immediacy of the story.

8letters has wrote about the plot not making sense in the mind of the reader ("thoughtlessness"). I have a more immediate problem with the language and phrasing you use.


* Your adverb count is way too high. Adverbs reduce the simple bold power a verb. They are the devilish words that seduce you with their ease of use, but you must resist and kill as many as you can. Adverbs are not always bad: sometimes you can't live without them, other times you use them to make characters look stupid in their dialogue.

To replace an adverb expand it using other action words. Eg. flirtastiously becomes "batting her eyelids". If you are struggling I recommend you buy "The describer's dictionary" or a thesaurus.

I recommend you find a writing program that highlights all adverbs. A writer friendly programs would have word frequency tools as well. Words that are too frequent also lose their power.


* Your opening is very poor. This is a sin because openings captivate the reader while setting the tone of the rest of the story. The topic is not bad, it sounds like the story is about a sensual affair of a couple in love, but you ruin the opening with poor phrasing. I would start again on the, but if I were to tweak it (I couldn't use strikethrough so I used small text with italics):

Quote:
The cool morning breeze was refreshing as it washed over me, coaxing me from my slumber, or perhaps it was the soft nibbling on my ear that roused me. Regardless of the culprit, my bedroom slowly came into focus. [sound is ordered before you have focused your vision] The dull whirl of the ceiling fan. The pale white of the ceiling (then some other shapes solidify in focus, perhaps the lover). The sound of a world beginning to stir just beyond the open window.

* Which brings me to my next point. Sometimes you use superfluous language: not enough to be a big problem, but enough to be noticeable and something to fix.

Quote:
On one particular night, she told me,. . .
Quote:
However But she did it, and she looked every bit as stunning as she had the day we met.
Quote:
Yet it made things very intense for those of us organizing, planning, and implementing the new technology.
If you disagree and think it needs to be very - then explain it to the reader by expanding the intensity to a visceral reaction.

Quote:
Jane fielded questions from a number some of team members regarding about severance pay, benefits coverage, and a few other topics I didn't really hear couldn't make out what they were saying.
* Sometime you have a monster sentence of too many parts and ideas. They are not common but none should exist.

Quote:
And so,(adds nothings, unless you want these thoughts to sounds a diatribe - which you may) just(just is most often superfluous) as I had risen rose above to attain (adds nothing) my current position (and reputation) (no brackets), just as I had literally risen above the entire city,(makes no sense) I intended to would rise above whatever new curve ball challenge the brass was likely to throw at us.(subject of the sentence is you, then it becomes about the group? use a transitioning sentence or idea)
"I rose above my station and reputation, and I would rise above whatever new challenge the brass could throw at me."
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Old 08-28-2014, 11:22 PM   #8
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Old 08-29-2014, 09:38 AM   #9
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Litmlove that is an insanely detailed and incredibly useful analysis. Thank you very much. I'm traveling today but I'll try to process that this weekend and address those issues, find an adverb app, etc.

Very helpful feedback so far, thank you both.
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Old 09-15-2014, 12:08 PM   #10
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I agree with TheSexyGeek on LitMLove. The review wasn't even about my story and I learned so much from it. I think I'm going to have to start keeping track of my own adverbs now (after my first story here eventually gets approved).
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