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Old 02-17-2009, 07:58 PM   #1
StanislawKaslowski2
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Post Story Discussion, February 17, 2009: Eros Academy, Part 1

Hi. The story I'm linking here is "Eros Academy, Part 1." I'm trying to tell the story of an orphaned high school senior trying to find his way in a new school with a dark secret. Link to follow in second post.

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Old 02-17-2009, 08:01 PM   #2
StanislawKaslowski2
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As promised, here is the link to the story. You'll have to excuse the non-existent formatting of the link; I can't seem to find any of the appropriate formatting buttons.

http://www.literotica.com/stories/sh....php?id=404126
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:05 PM   #3
StanislawKaslowski2
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You'll almost certainly have some questions regarding the nature of the school. That's intentional, and I plan to answer them in future chapters. (Like, the very next chapter) But yes, I do have a backstory for the school and its situation.

I was going for a kind of snarky, sarcastic protagonist, and I'm aware it's tough to walk that line without falling into "just plain jerk" territory. I leave it to you to decide if I did that.

And like any good ex-journalist, I'll ask you to answer any questions I should have asked but didn't and level any criticism I should have invited but didn't.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:40 AM   #4
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I got as far as the feet up on the lady's desk before I bailed. I need to feel empathy, or utter disdain for a character. Either one will do. All I felt here was annoyance.

Quoting your opening couple of paragraphs:

Quote:
My parents died on my 18th birthday. Later that year I slept with three of my high school teachers.

The roads were icy, we couldn't see and we were driving too fast on the way home from a family dinner.
(What does this have to do with sleeping with your teachers?)
Quote:
I never really dropped out of my last semester in high school; if you just stop going, they eventually stop calling your house.
(Wait! Weren't you driving down an icey road a second ago?)

Quote:
When she was around, the aunt who had taken me in was very understanding. But after a summer of video games and bad pizza, come fall, I found myself walking up a well-maintained brick path to the front entrance of a massive stone building built in the gothic style.
(Was that before or after you wiped the pizza off your face?)

As you can see by my inserted comments, there was no flow in those opening paragraphs. It was as if you had inserted things in your WP during the second draft. I do that all the time, and then I realize it doesn't work and I have to start the paragraph from scratch.

After the guy made it through the front door, the writing seemed to settle down, but I was liking the character less and less. I can put up with that if there's some comic relief, or peril, or a political angle, but I wasn't getting that - just annoyance.

Perhaps I chose the wrong day to (attempt to) read your piece. You do seem to be an accomplished writer with a good eye for detail. You got anything cooking for the Earth Day contest? You sense of detail could serve you well in that context.

(No, I'm not always an asshole - just most of the time.)
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:50 AM   #5
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I am sorry but I couldn't get past the first 1/2 page.

I was so confused by mid page that my eyes were blurring - The points DeeZire makes about this were the ones that also stuck with me -

The first Paragraph - and Second one - I found myself saying WHAT? What? Egads !

You're descriptive work is good - again pointed out - but overall just the first page had me disengaged and not wanting to finish reading it.

I will try again - but not today - perhaps tomorrow or the next
eta: It was really late so that might have had something to do with not being able to continue to slog through it.... More later I promise

Heheh - Earth Day - if you enter be prepared for a rollercoaster ride unlike anything you've done before regarding your writing.....
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Old 02-19-2009, 05:09 AM   #6
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Hi Stanislaw,

Thank you for sharing your story with us!

My first reaction to that opening paragraph was to read it again and try to see what I was missing. I didn't like it the first read, but I kinda did the second because it was so bizarre. I wondered what manner of twisted character would start telling a story like that and also how these two apparently unrelated events were linked. I think they really need to be directly connected for this opening to work, and I'm still not sure if they are. After he arrives at the school, the narration assumes a coherent form, which really made me wonder what that disjointed opening was all about?

Is this really your first story? Beyond those first several paragraphs, I thought the prose was excellent, the pace fine, and I liked the voice too. Ok, maybe admired is a more accurate term than liked. The narrator's character really comes out through his words- and this may have been the real issue I had with actually enjoying the tale.

Quote:
I was going for a kind of snarky, sarcastic protagonist, and I'm aware it's tough to walk that line without falling into "just plain jerk" territory.
Excellent point! I really thought you did a good job of portraying a self-centered, unempathetic character- you know, a teenager. For me, you did too good a job and crossed that fine line. I thought he was a total jerk and wanted nothing to do with him. It's an entirely accurate portrayal, and perhaps why so many teens in stories don't actually behave like teens!

While I thought you really pegged his character, and the other students also, (I really liked "Slow down, turbo") I can't say I much believed the adults. I've no idea why Ms. Mitchell tolerates his insolence. If this really is a prestigious, private school, she should have dismissed him on the spot. Miss Sharp I believed even less. Hitting on a student the first day? I couldn't believe it enough to read on.

So that was it for me. It's hard to say much more without knowing what you wanted to achieve with this piece. I totally missed the entire dark secret angle to the tale. All I see is a smart aleck adolescent bragging about how flippant he is and, I assume, later bragging about how he nailed his 'blessed in the chest' teacher. His story seems little more than a trite anecdote, and in a weird way, it's almost too well-written to be just that. So maybe I am missing something.

Thanks again for sharing your story with us.

Take Care,
Penny


P.S.

Having read the other comments, I guess if I was missing something, I wasn't the only one. It's amazing how our responses are so similar, yet so different from the public comments- not that public comments shouldn't be positive. Maybe it shows you reached your target audience and we just aren’t part of that group of readers? Regardless, I hope our generally negative reaction hasn't dampened your spirit for writing fiction.

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Old 02-19-2009, 01:00 PM   #7
StanislawKaslowski2
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I'll assume it's kosher for a writer to participate in his own criticism thread.

I have to be careful here, because there's sort of this idea that if someone asks for feedback, they're obligated to accept with grace and equanimity everything the critic offers. So I don't want to come off as ungrateful for the input or unable to deal with criticism.

That said...

Those opening paragraphs are back story. I wanted to let the reader know why this kid was going to this school, but I also didn't want the backstory to dominate the early part of the story. So the paragraphs weren't really supposed to "flow." They're the product of someone who's writing this story years later, who wants you to know the context but isn't anxious to spend much time on the story of his parents dying. So he rushes through them.

Now, I'll readily admit it's fairly clumsy exposition, and I could probably do it better. Those three paragraphs certainly don't represent the best writing I've ever done.

But the idea that they're so confusing as to render the story unreadable, or that they're so poorly written a reasonable reader making a legitimate attempt to get through the story can't do so...well, I have trouble accepting that.

Penelope, I'll quote some of your responses, because they're eminently reasonable both in tone and content.


"My first reaction to that opening paragraph was to read it again and try to see what I was missing. I didn't like it the first read, but I kinda did the second because it was so bizarre. I wondered what manner of twisted character would start telling a story like that and also how these two apparently unrelated events were linked. I think they really need to be directly connected for this opening to work, and I'm still not sure if they are. After he arrives at the school, the narration assumes a coherent form, which really made me wonder what that disjointed opening was all about?"

I addressed the "disjointed opening" point above. But the opening paragraph (really, the opening two lines) was nothing but an attempt to grab the reader's attention and make you go on. "Wow, he slept with three of his teachers? I want to see why!" is sort of the reaction I was going for. Possibly failed in that.

"Excellent point! I really thought you did a good job of portraying a self-centered, unempathetic character- you know, a teenager. For me, you did too good a job and crossed that fine line. I thought he was a total jerk and wanted nothing to do with him. It's an entirely accurate portrayal, and perhaps why so many teens in stories don't actually behave like teens!"

Yeah, "self-centered, unempathetic" wasn't quite what I was going for. I was aiming for a reasonably self-centered, defensive kid with some issues, yes. But the audience reaction is not supposed to be "wow, what a horrible jerk. I hope they kick him out of school." That's certainly my fault.

Luckily, I've got some plans to make him at least slightly more palatable in part 2.


"While I thought you really pegged his character, and the other students also, (I really liked "Slow down, turbo") I can't say I much believed the adults. I've no idea why Ms. Mitchell tolerates his insolence. If this really is a prestigious, private school, she should have dismissed him on the spot. Miss Sharp I believed even less. Hitting on a student the first day? I couldn't believe it enough to read on."

These are perfectly fair questions. But I can assure you that I have answers for them. They might not be good answers, per se, and when (if) you see them in the next story you may find them flimsy. But I do have reasons.
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Old 02-19-2009, 04:30 PM   #8
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And now for something completely different…

Stan, I liked this story. You have excellent pacing, fluid prose, and snappy characters. Yes, your protagonist is lippy and sarcastic but he’s a teenager who has obviously dealt with some trauma, so I cut him some slack. And you do slip in a few bits here and there to show he’s not a complete asshole.

I got the opening. Yes, the first two paragraphs made me do a double take but having to read something twice doesn’t mean it’s bad. In this case, it gave me immediate insight into the mind of the narrarator. It can probably still stand some tweaking but I like the idea. Well done.

As for the school, you dropped a fairly hefty clue, (with the unusual gargoyles and the school’s name), that this is no ordinary boarding school. I figured there would be some strange student-teacher interaction so I wasn’t at all surprised at Miss Sharp’s behaviour.

Here are the bits I did have some trouble with. I had trouble with Jeff’s reaction to Miss Sharp’s advances. He’s obviously a horny teenager. He may be sarcastic but some of his lines come across as over the top.

"No, you silly little witch," I said. "Silicone-filled hags who dress like that in a school aren't my type. They disgust me. You disgust me."

If I wasn’t aware that she was turning him on, maybe that would be more believable. That scene, as it stands, is lacking some plausibility glue.

One of the other issues I had – and I’ll admit this is a personal bias – is that when I read erotic stories where all the women are described as having big, perfect breasts, (real or otherwise), as a woman, I get tetchy and it pulls me out of the story. Why must all female characters have firm, ripe melons to be sexy? There are so many lovely varieties of breasts that the fixation with this particular brand leaves a bad taste in my mouth. (I’m sure someone can find a joke in there).

I liked the transition of Jeff’s description of Miss Sharp naked, to image of the handcuffs and strap-on – very humorous.

Yes, the story can use a little tightening but I thought it was a well-written, fun piece and it left me wanting to read more. And I like your protagonist; his bad attitude leaves room for a nice character arc. Good work.
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Old 02-19-2009, 04:35 PM   #9
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"One of the other issues I had – and I’ll admit this is a personal bias – is that when I read erotic stories where all the women are described as having big, perfect breasts, (real or otherwise), as a woman, I get tetchy and it pulls me out of the story. Why must all female characters have firm, ripe melons to be sexy? There are so many lovely varieties of breasts that the fixation with this particular brand leaves a bad taste in my mouth. (I’m sure someone can find a joke in there)."

I hear you. Large breasts are just my little predilection; I'll admit to shamelessly using the character as an author avatar in that specific area. And I can't promise that will change in future editions, either.
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Old 02-19-2009, 05:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StanislawKaslowski2 View Post
"One of the other issues I had – and I’ll admit this is a personal bias – is that when I read erotic stories where all the women are described as having big, perfect breasts, (real or otherwise), as a woman, I get tetchy and it pulls me out of the story. Why must all female characters have firm, ripe melons to be sexy? There are so many lovely varieties of breasts that the fixation with this particular brand leaves a bad taste in my mouth. (I’m sure someone can find a joke in there)."

I hear you. Large breasts are just my little predilection; I'll admit to shamelessly using the character as an author avatar in that specific area. And I can't promise that will change in future editions, either.
Fair enough. Just remember, we of the perky-and-cute-but-not-gigantic variety also read these stories and like to have our egos stroked now and then. (Also, the busty babe and the well endowed dude can become pretty cliche to everyone after awhile).
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Old 02-21-2009, 04:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaw
I'll assume it's kosher for a writer to participate in his own criticism thread.

I have to be careful here, because there's sort of this idea that if someone asks for feedback, they're obligated to accept with grace and equanimity everything the critic offers. So I don't want to come off as ungrateful for the input or unable to deal with criticism.
Yes & yes! If the author doesn't interact with the participants, the discussion tends to wither and it can discourage others from joining.

I don't know if we're getting into spoilers or not, but I figure anyone who doesn't want to read anything that might ruin the story can just stop reading now. Right?

Ok, I noticed institution's name and the possibly erotic gargoyles, but then Ms. Mitchell claims Eros is but the founder's surname and has nothing to do with anything Greek. Was I wrong to believe her?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaw
I'm trying to tell the story of an orphaned high school senior trying to find his way in a new school with a dark secret
Does the student or the school harbor this dark secret? If this is one of those sex training school stories, I think it's ok to just say so at this point in the discussion. Assuming it's something like that, I can see how it might work even though it's not my kind of story.

This is one case where believing the story is meant to be primarily an erotic fantasy lessened my interest. If I had imagined the heart of the tale to involve the character learning, maturing, and getting over the tragedy, that might have been different.

Whatever the story is really about, now that I have a little better idea with respect to the intention of those initial paragraphs, I think the tale would be stronger if it just started with the gargoyles. The tragic circumstances that led to the student arriving at his new school are touched upon in the initial conversation; that's soon enough and I don't see any reason not to leave exactly what happened something of a mystery for later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroin
I liked this story... I like your protagonist; his bad attitude leaves room for a nice character arc. Good work.
I'm happy to hear from someone who liked it, because it'd be a pretty dull discussion if we all had the same reaction! And while I still don't like the narrator or his attitude, I do admire his characterization.

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Old 02-21-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
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"Ok, I noticed institution's name and the possibly erotic gargoyles, but then Ms. Mitchell claims Eros is but the founder's surname and has nothing to do with anything Greek. Was I wrong to believe her?"

Yes and no.

"Does the student or the school harbor this dark secret?"

The school. You know everything relevant about the character's background at this point.

"If this is one of those sex training school stories, I think it's ok to just say so at this point in the discussion. Assuming it's something like that, I can see how it might work even though it's not my kind of story."

It's not, per se, a sex training school. It's not there for the purpose of training students to have better sex.

"Whatever the story is really about, now that I have a little better idea with respect to the intention of those initial paragraphs, I think the tale would be stronger if it just started with the gargoyles. The tragic circumstances that led to the student arriving at his new school are touched upon in the initial conversation; that's soon enough and I don't see any reason not to leave exactly what happened something of a mystery for later."

This is a fair point, and largely a matter of stylistic preference. As I wrote earlier, I sort of wanted to introduce and dispose of those "tragic circumstances" quickly. It's the student writing this, remember, and he doesn't want to spend a lot of time on those circumstances. Notice how insistent he is to move on when Mitchell brings them up?

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Old 02-21-2009, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaw
This is a fair point, and largely a matter of stylistic preference. As I wrote earlier, I sort of wanted to introduce and dispose of those "tragic circumstances" quickly. It's the student writing this, remember, and he doesn't want to spend a lot of time on those circumstances. Notice how insistent he is to move on when Mitchell brings them up?
Yep, I noticed. For me, that sharp exchange was so effective the earlier intro ended up being counter-productive. Isn't it amazing how different readers can draw such contrasting conclusions when presented with the same narrative? Hopefully we'll hear a few other differing perspectives before this one wraps up.
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Old 02-22-2009, 04:47 PM   #14
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Good writing. Very slick and has a fast pace to it.

I quite liked the two opening paragraphs as the sentences of each provided nice contrasts with each other. The opening line is a good hook in my opinion.

My big problem was with the main character. He's uber snark all the way through, but not enough to fall into the 'so bad they're good' territory. He sort of falls into a no-man's land where he's not really rounded enough to evoke enough sympathy and he's too much of a boring cliche to be the kind of character people might not like, but they'll keep reading about anyway to see what levels of ghastliness that character will stoop to next.

The turnaround with Miss Sharp was good but again serves to highlight the problems with the main character. As he stands he's a little too unbalanced with respect to the world around him. If the school is supposed to have a dark secret then there needs to be a challenge to him. All I see at the moment is a jerk beating up on a world of paper cutouts.

On the plus side I thought the writing was polished and it was easy to read.

I think you need to pick a direction with the main character and push it harder.

If he's supposed to be sympathetic then there needs to be some hints of vulnerability (While I liked the interplay with Brock and Tricia aren't these the kind of characters the badass loner types purposely try and avoid?)

If you're going for an anti-hero he needs to be blacker, funnier and less normal boring snarky teen.

I hope I've been helpful.
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Old 02-27-2009, 11:28 AM   #15
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My two cents on your story:

First of all, I have to chime in with the song about your first sentences, they really need some work. You lose to many readers that way before you have really netted them with your skills. That you can write better you show later on, with the small exception of the '(The floors were just tile here)', I don't like brakets in tales, though I like to use them in comments. With this exceptions your style is really good.

The issue of characters was invoced. I liked Tricia and Brock, and Janice Mitchell is good also, with the exception of the forename-problem. Since she made this an issue early on, she would have to stand up for this as the person she seems to be. It's believable that she bites down some of the behaviour of Jeff due to his personal tragedy, but she wouldn't accept everything. I like your description of her silent phases, though, like 'She didn't say anything, but a vein in her neck began to throb.' Mrs. Sharp is described good also, with the minor detail of her changing her cultural background from Celtic war godess (that was a good one!) to Greek godess (more of a cliche) in a few sentences. I know she is neither, but Jeff should keep his picture of her nonetheless. Your description of the persons is rich in detail and even marks things like perfume which many writers forget. But you should really abstain from making every single woman in your tale chest-overloaded.

Jeff has his moments and lines, but I think he is overdone. His reaction toward Sharp coming to him in the computer room is unbelievable, as it is in Sharps apartment at times. He overdoes things with Mitchell also, though to a lesser degree. I liked his dealing with Brock, he plays with him (and Tricia) and plays thus with the cliche Brock represents. That parts are really good.

The secret of the school isn't detectable very well. It's too cold, the name is strange (though explained) and the gargoyles do get a line, but that's all. I don't think a reader will recognize those hints, I did put an eye on those details only cause I read the comments. If this is your focus, you'll have to put more into it, and right at the start. On the other hand your cathegory is Nonconsent-Reluctance, not Horror, so a haunted house may only be a minor plotline if at all.

All in all I'm interested in reading the sequel of your story for there are more ups than downs in your story, but the downs do affect cores and thus need work.
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Old 02-27-2009, 11:41 PM   #16
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But you should really abstain from making every single woman in your tale chest-overloaded.
You know, Stan, I was thinking about your explanation (excuse) for the big breastedness of all your female characters and it's not so much the size but the repetition that is annoying. I tried to read a Clive Cussler novel once because I'm a diver and a water baby, and it seemed like his stories would be right up my alley, but, after the third "Amazon woman" and "muscular man with chiseled features", I gave up. Most readers aren't idiots and they know that in real life human shapes have variety. Unless the women in your story are all Stepford wives, the commonality of their upper body endowment will pull readers, (well, female readers, anyway), out of the story.

Sorry, had to chime in after I read the above comment.
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Old 02-28-2009, 10:16 PM   #17
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Old 03-01-2009, 02:50 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by PrincessErin View Post
I was confused because I didn't know how your parents dying, sleeping with your teachers, icy roads, dropping out of school, and your aunt had any relation to each other.

When you described Tricia the first thing I thought about was the fact that these are senior students and how common is it for girls that young to get breast implants.

Erin
Sorry, I have to respond. Among the wealthy, plastic surgery of any type is very common for young girls.

And this is just a pet peeve of mine, (see the "your"s in bold), when someone writes in first person, they are not necessarily referring to themselves. I write a lot of first person stories and none of them are about me. When the story is in first person, we're discussing the protagonist or the character, not the author.

Two cents for the day.
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Old 03-01-2009, 04:04 PM   #19
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Old 03-01-2009, 04:31 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroin
And this is just a pet peeve of mine, ... , when someone writes in first person, they are not necessarily referring to themselves.
It's a peeve of mine too- though not a pet peeve. It's so easy to address the narrator instead of the author when one is chatting in this format. I don't imagine anyone actually believes the author is the character. What's weird to me is that many still seem to get the author and narrator mixed up even when the perspective is third-person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroin
Among the wealthy, plastic surgery of any type is very common for young girls.
I've known a few couples who had their daughter's nose 'fixed'- as if it was broken to begin with, but breast augmentation for a minor? That seems like it ought to be against standard medical practices, not that I have any clue if it is or not. Either way, it's all so sad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydra
All I see at the moment is a jerk beating up on a world of paper cutouts.
Me too. Tention and suspence were definitely on the light side- but that's not unusual for gratuitous tales, so I still don't know if this is an issue or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanislaw
Large breasts are just my little predilection
I think that's fine- to write a story with characters you're interested in and maybe even attracted to; I think we all do that to some extent. Even though the majority (maybe all?) of the participants had a negative reaction to the whole 'blessed in the chest' thing, that still may not be a problem if we're not part of your intended audience. This tale seems to be aimed squarely at young men- who may well enjoy that particular predilection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarakin
The secret of the school isn't detectable very well.
Did you detect the secret at all? It's not even so much that I don't know what the secret is, I'm not getting that there even is a secret. And mystery can be so much fun! I can't imagine the secret has anything to do with Miss Sharp's orientation agenda. How could that stay a secret for five minutes, let alone five centuries? But if her activities aren't part of an accepted, if clandestine, curriculum, why is Miss Sharp is still a teacher?

Even if all this will be explained later in stunning fashion, it can still be an issue- especially on an amateur site where the readers aren't that familiar with the author. Unless a reader has faith in the writer, it's easy to give up early on a story and just look for another one. Except the readers that do just want to see the teen bed the teacher- in which case it wouldn't surprise me if they just skipped right to that part of the story. So I'm kinda back to the end of my first post; the tale seems too well-written to be just a sexy romp between a student and a trio of teachers, but I'm unable to see what else it might be after reading the opening and everyone else's responses.

Last edited by Penelope Street : 03-02-2009 at 03:18 AM. Reason: missing word
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