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Old 01-13-2013, 04:47 PM   #1
JabuJabule
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Post Critique my story, please?

Hey all! I wrote my first story, and it was approved today!

http://www.literotica.com/s/the-intern-ch-01-1

So far, I've gotten a comment, a great score (4 stars!). However, I also want more in-depth opinions and critiques. Anything would be helpful!

In case anyone wanted to follow me or cares, the next two chapters are awaiting approval. So, stayed tuned if you're interested.

Edit - Also, it's a Gay Male story. Forgot to mention that. ^-^;

Last edited by JabuJabule : 01-13-2013 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:42 PM   #2
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It sort of slowly glumps along to not very much at all (especially for an erotica site--saw nothing at all erotic in it). Two dated messages are dropped in that are head scratchers; no indication what they are/who they are addressed to. It flips back and forth between past and present tense and settles on a somewhat awkwardly delivered present tense. It seemed to be moving toward a realization of mutal attraction, but didn't even get that far before it just petered out.

Think of a situation that arouses you. Here that's apparently that two years after high school a guy still has a crush on his high school English teacher and has arranged regular encounters. Now contemplate why that arouses you, how the other party latches into and buys into the attraction, how this gets translated believably into a coupling, and how it's carried forth to something sexually satisfying. You didn't do that whole erotica part and didn't do much with the just getting in the same room together part either.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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I'm sorry, but I thought this was very poorly written. I didn't mind the lack of sex -- I've written many stories myself where I build the relationship first -- but mechanics of the story are bad. The worst offender is the verb tense, but overall various things confused me.

Who is this narrator and why do we need him/her? He's not Jay or John, as far as I can tell. You wrote "...he held his dream close to my heart." Whose heart are we talking about? Also, some might find it a bit insulting to see a community college referred to as "simple."

Why does Jay strive to be like Mr. Moretti? Okay, he has a big heart, but why else? What specifically did he do?

The first letter, I guess, also came out of nowhere. I thought you were simply setting up scene divider with the "April 21st" line. Who is Jay writing to? And if he wants to be a teacher, I'd bet that his school has some kind of program set up for that. He wouldn't just out of the blue be looking for internships or whatever. In fact, I imagine they're required to get the teaching degree or certificate.

I also find it hard to believe that for four or five years he's nursed this crush on his high school teacher, especially one that was married. In all that time he never met anyone else that at least piqued his interest? Plus, he grew up. 20 is very different from 16. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'd just like to know why.

Who is Jay describing as he looks in the mirror? Himself or his teacher? Why is he trying to avoid being seen by anyone? He's there for a legitimate reason and again, knowing how schools are today, he probably has to present himself in the office to get a visitor's pass.

Some of the dialogue punctuation is incorrect. For example you wrote:

"Hello, Mr. Moretti." He says, outstretching his hand.

There should be a comma after Moretti and "he" should be lowercase. Same in the next paragraph -- comma, close quote, lowercase "he." You got it right a few lines down.

And Jay just sits down to grade those papers with no instructions at all?

And I didn't buy the ending scene at all. I don't think a man who's been divorced for two or three years is going to start crying about it to someone he hardly knows. Nor did the conversation feel natural at all. I think you were trying to get across Jay's awkwardness, but the whole conversation was stilted.

And overall, I didn't get any sense of attraction, really, on either side. Jay seems like someone who never quite grew up, and so far at least, there's no indication that Moretti is attracted to men in general, let alone Jay.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be slamming everything; I know how hard it is to write something and put it out there for public consumption and critique. However, there's no sense in not being honest.

Please keep going and practicing -- that's how we all get better.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
It sort of slowly glumps along to not very much at all (especially for an erotica site--saw nothing at all erotic in it). Two dated messages are dropped in that are head scratchers; no indication what they are/who they are addressed to. It flips back and forth between past and present tense and settles on a somewhat awkwardly delivered present tense. It seemed to be moving toward a realization of mutal attraction, but didn't even get that far before it just petered out.
I in fact did NOT switch between the past and present. I only switched fro mthe past to the present, and stayed in the present.

Think of a situation that arouses you. Here that's apparently that two years after high school a guy still has a crush on his high school English teacher and has arranged regular encounters. Now contemplate why that arouses you, how the other party latches into and buys into the attraction, how this gets translated believably into a coupling, and how it's carried forth to something sexually satisfying. You didn't do that whole erotica part and didn't do much with the just getting in the same room together part either.
Yeah, I sort of wanted to start building up the characters themselves, instead of just rushing into the sex.
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Originally Posted by PennLady View Post
I'm sorry, but I thought this was very poorly written. I didn't mind the lack of sex -- I've written many stories myself where I build the relationship first -- but mechanics of the story are bad. The worst offender is the verb tense, but overall various things confused me.

Who is this narrator and why do we need him/her? He's not Jay or John, as far as I can tell. You wrote "...he held his dream close to my heart." Whose heart are we talking about? Also, some might find it a bit insulting to see a community college referred to as "simple."
There is no narrator. It's simply third person view. And to the quote, it was obviously Jay, because he was the only character introduced at the time. And yes, I agree with you on the "simple community college" part. That's just the way I see it, since I myself will be going to one next year.

Why does Jay strive to be like Mr. Moretti? Okay, he has a big heart, but why else? What specifically did he do?
Don't you put two and two together? He strives to be like him, because he was his past English teacher, and he wants to be one too. So he's his sense of inspiration.

The first letter, I guess, also came out of nowhere. I thought you were simply setting up scene divider with the "April 21st" line. Who is Jay writing to? And if he wants to be a teacher, I'd bet that his school has some kind of program set up for that. He wouldn't just out of the blue be looking for internships or whatever. In fact, I imagine they're required to get the teaching degree or certificate.
It wasn't a letter, but I guess I should have made it more clear. It was more of a journal entry. And yes, you're right about that. I more so just jumped past all of that stuff and went to the stuff the reader/the writer cares about.

I also find it hard to believe that for four or five years he's nursed this crush on his high school teacher, especially one that was married. In all that time he never met anyone else that at least piqued his interest? Plus, he grew up. 20 is very different from 16. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'd just like to know why.
It sounds like you've never been in the situation. Depending on the person, it can be harder for someone to get over a crush/love/whatever. And (obviously) this is a case of it.

Who is Jay describing as he looks in the mirror? Himself or his teacher? Why is he trying to avoid being seen by anyone? He's there for a legitimate reason and again, knowing how schools are today, he probably has to present himself in the office to get a visitor's pass.
Himself. He was comparing himself to his past self. If he was comparing himself to John, I would have written so. And would you want to be seen by a teacher you knew while visiting (without the intent of seeing anyone but one person)? No. It's like avoiding a bully or something because you don't want to interact with them.

Some of the dialogue punctuation is incorrect. For example you wrote:

"Hello, Mr. Moretti." He says, outstretching his hand.

There should be a comma after Moretti and "he" should be lowercase. Same in the next paragraph -- comma, close quote, lowercase "he." You got it right a few lines down.
Thank you.

And Jay just sits down to grade those papers with no instructions at all?
A grading slide was described sitting with the papers. Most of the time, those are used for how many questions wrong the paper had, and thus grading it as such.

And I didn't buy the ending scene at all. I don't think a man who's been divorced for two or three years is going to start crying about it to someone he hardly knows. Nor did the conversation feel natural at all. I think you were trying to get across Jay's awkwardness, but the whole conversation was stilted.
Umm...Jay does know John. Jay had him as a teacher for four years. So of course he'd trust him with something personal like that. But your right, the conversation did seem a bit artificial.

And overall, I didn't get any sense of attraction, really, on either side. Jay seems like someone who never quite grew up, and so far at least, there's no indication that Moretti is attracted to men in general, let alone Jay.
More of that will be explained in the later chapters. You can't expect everything to be explained at first...do you?

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be slamming everything; I know how hard it is to write something and put it out there for public consumption and critique. However, there's no sense in not being honest.
Thank you so much for your critique. To be honest, it hurt at first, a lot. I had to close the tab for a few minutes before I could finally respond to this entire post.

Please keep going and practicing -- that's how we all get better.
I shall! I hope you stick around, I'd love for you to keep critiquing my work.
Thanks a lot, guys!
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:11 PM   #5
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No, sorry, I don't think I'll be looking at another one. Good luck in your writing, though.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
There is no narrator. It's simply third person view. And to the quote, it was obviously Jay, because he was the only character introduced at the time.
No, it is not "simply third-person view." If it was, the sentence would read: "...he still held his dream close to his heart." Right now it says "My heart," which -- since it is only the second sentence of the story -- leads a reader to think that there is another narrator at play. At the very least, it's confusing. Just because we have only met Jay does not mean he is the narrator, or even the main character.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
Don't you put two and two together? He strives to be like him, because he was his past English teacher, and he wants to be one too. So he's his sense of inspiration.
So what? I have past English teachers too who were nice people, but they didn't make me want to be an English teacher. What makes this guy so special? Did he encourage Jay when no one else did? Open up a world he didn't know about? Provide him with a father figure when he didn't have one? When teachers inspire students, I think it is usually about more than having a big heart. He got through to Jay somehow -- how?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
It wasn't a letter, but I guess I should have made it more clear. It was more of a journal entry. And yes, you're right about that. I more so just jumped past all of that stuff and went to the stuff the reader/the writer cares about.
There's nothing wrong with having letters, or journal entries in a story. (I did it myself in a story called "Who Cares What I Wear?") But you need to explain them somehow. If Jay keeps a journal, there's no mention of it. There's nothing to explain the existence of these, and then again you are using "I" and "me" since it is Jay writing -- once again making the reader think there is a narrator above Jay, so to speak.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
It sounds like you've never been in the situation. Depending on the person, it can be harder for someone to get over a crush/love/whatever. And (obviously) this is a case of it.
I admit, I've never had a crush on anyone. But why does this crush continue? With the minimal information we have, Jay has apparently never seen Moretti since graduation. Also, it makes him seem like he's never grown up. Whatever the explanation is, at least start giving it to the reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
Himself. He was comparing himself to his past self. If he was comparing himself to John, I would have written so. And would you want to be seen by a teacher you knew while visiting (without the intent of seeing anyone but one person)? No. It's like avoiding a bully or something because you don't want to interact with them.
Well, again I was confused. Read over that graph, perhaps out loud, and see how it sounds.

The confusing bit is this: That was when his feelings of love truly flourished for Mr. M. As he inspected himself in the mirror, he thought of how he looked in the past. Just about a full beard, instead of a light peach fuzz on the chin and lip area.

You have too many "he"s. I could easily read this as: As Jay inspected himself in the mirror, Jay thought of how Mr. M [had] looked in the past. Not to mention -- how many boys in high school can grow facial hair, let alone have a full beard? That would seem to apply to the teacher.

Your explanation of Jay visiting the school is wrong on a few levels. For one thing, if this is going to be an internship that will count for credit or experience, then there will no doubt be paperwork, so Jay will have to go to the school admin office. If it were to be more informal, it probably wouldn't be allowed, and that kind of thing could endanger Mr. Moretti's career.

Also, more generally, have you visited a school recently, not as a student? I have a son in elementary school. We have to buzz in, go to the office, and get a photo pass printed out before you go anywhere. I take my daughter to a preschool program in our local high school, which has a security desk at the door, which is also in front an admin office. Schools are very conscious of security; they always have been to an extent, but events like Columbine started a movement to much tighter security.

So for Jay to try to sneak into the school it will be difficult, and for someone who is 20 and hoping to be a teacher, it seems immature and unprofessional. Your reasoning, that he wants to avoid other teachers b/c he's only there to see Mr. Moretti, is silly. Someone is going to see Jay. If he does not have the proper ID or credentials, he will be in trouble. Also, if Mr. Moretti is a responsible teacher, he will remind Jay about those procedures or explain any new ones that may be in place since his graduation. It's hard to believe Jay, at 20 and wanting to be a teacher, is going to sneak around a school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
A grading slide was described sitting with the papers. Most of the time, those are used for how many questions wrong the paper had, and thus grading it as such.
Define a grading slide. I've never heard of one. Just because you know what something is, don't assume everyone else does. You don't need a major explanation, but a little more definition would help the reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
Umm...Jay does know John. Jay had him as a teacher for four years. So of course he'd trust him with something personal like that. But your right, the conversation did seem a bit artificial.
John knows Jay as a student, which is very different than being close friends. If they were closer than that during Jay's school years, there's no mention of it. There's no indication that they've so much as exchanged an email for three years. So they are not close friends, and while I would believe John explaining he's divorced, I do not believe he'd break down about it to someone he does not know very well, someone he has not talked to in years, especially when it is three years in the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JabuJabule
More of that will be explained in the later chapters. You can't expect everything to be explained at first...do you?
No, I don't want "everything" explained, but I do want some foundation laid for where you're going. Right now, the foundation is very thin and doesn't make me want to read more.

Edited to try to clarify things

Last edited by PennLady : 01-14-2013 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:16 AM   #7
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Make the characters more interesting

I'm not a native English speaker, so excuse me my grammar.

I think that you should think again the introduction to your story. In medias res – e.g. ‘straight to the business’ is sometimes a good start, but it doesn’t work well here. The actions of your characters don’t awake curiosity. Their behavior is somewhat too rational for a good introduction. It doesn’t make the reader curious. To send and receive e-mails is a commonplace. Where is Jay’s passion? He is a young man and should be horny as hell.

Try to make Jay and Mr. Moretti more interesting. Try to tease the reader a little bit; plan how to hook the reader to read more by letting him know something that makes him curious. Perhaps there are rumors about Mr. Moretti. Maybe Jay looks for some details about Mr. Moretti’s private life before taking a contact to him.

These are structural and technical comments. I have no qualifications of evaluating the erotic part of this story, because gay genre is alien to me.

But write and re-write! It is the best way to improve yourself as a writer.

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Old 01-14-2013, 01:18 AM   #8
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For some reason I can't delete this message.

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Old 01-14-2013, 01:22 AM   #9
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For some reason I can't delete this message.

Last edited by MatveiPavlovitch : 01-14-2013 at 01:35 AM. Reason: Repeated message
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
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For some reason I can't delete this message.
Matvei -- you can't totally delete a post. You can take out the text and write something like "post deleted."
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:20 AM   #11
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Question Thanks, lady

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Matvei -- you can't totally delete a post. You can take out the text and write something like "post deleted."
Strange. Is the underlying database some ISAM variation where deletion may decrease performance?
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:31 AM   #12
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Strange. Is the underlying database some ISAM variation where deletion may decrease performance?
I have absolutely no idea. You could send a private message and ask Manu (upper right corner of this page), one of the site owners, but I don't know if you'd get an answer.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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Right before you go to the first morning would be a great place to put in a flashback to high school. You could describe a scene that shows why Jay loves the teacher so much. Maybe he saved him from bullies or introduced him to a great book--anything that will help us care about the characters.

I agree on the technical part about the school. What kind of guy just emails a teacher and shows up to school the next day? There would be background checks, interviews, paperwork. Use all of that to build up the tension. Maybe he sees the crotchety old secretary still working in the front office or the wise guidance counselor who helped him mature.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:24 PM   #14
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There's not much that I can say that hasn't already been said:

Read, re-write, read, re-write ... And get yourself an editor, or at least a proofreader. Someone that you can trust to not sugar-coat things, but who will still be helpful with their critiques.

Feedback will always be your best friend, especially if it stings a little bit. But, it can only make you a better writer, and in the end, make your writing more popular!
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:55 PM   #15
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JabuJabule,

Without reading your story, only the critiques and your responses to them, I have already identified a problem with your writing:

You could stand a dose of humility.

It is not The Reader's job to comprehend your story. It is your job, The Writer's job, to spell it all out. I know that you've likely had to deal with a lot of "literary" fiction where the modus operandi is, "Say as little as possible, let The Reader figure it out." This is good in moderation. It also requires you to be a really, really good writer--like, Hemingway good, one-in-a-million good. And I hope you aren't offended if I suggest that you're unlikely to be that. =) (Besides, Hemingway... Ugh. Fuck him. He was a genius, I don't deny it, but that doesn't mean his writing style was good, it just means he had the talent to make a bad writing style work.)

Seriously, though. If The Reader writes you back and says, "I don't understand the story," that doesn't mean The Reader messed up, it means you did. Your job is to communicate. If The Reader is dumb as a brick, you still need to be able to explain what you mean and make the story make sense in their brick-dumb head. You have to explain everything. Briefly, sure; loosely, fine. But explain it you must. Who is Mr. Moretti to Jay? That's the heart of the story. If The Reader is supposed to already know the answer, then quite honestly you have wasted your time telling this story at all--it didn't need to be told. If The Reader isn't supposed to know, then don't tell us we're obtuse for not knowing.

Yes, you want to build characters. Yes, you want to stir emotions. Yes, you want to fly. It means you understand the power of fiction, and they're good desires to have. But first? Eat your eggs.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:23 PM   #16
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To me, more than what Mr. Moretti was to Jay back then is what is Mr. Moretti to Jay now and will be in the future? The story just wasn't developed--at all. There wasn't anything in it that I would find to provide encouragement on future writing beyond that the English was mostly OK. Basic, but OK on the whole. I don't believe that just everyone needs to be encouraged to write for others to read--any more than I'd encourage just everyone to become an astronaut. Writing stories isn't something that simply everyone has to do--or that everyone else has to help them get done. This story was just a bust.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:31 PM   #17
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This was only the first chapter, so I did not expect everything to be explained. However, a first chapter is a place to lay groundwork and in this case, precious little was laid, if any.

This reads to me like someone had ideas and rushed to get them down without thinking them through, which I think is a common rookie mistake (and sometimes made by "veterans," as it were). The attitude to the responses is also defensive, which I can understand, but if you want to write, you have to learn to get past that.
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