Monday, October 10, 2011

October Writing Critique by the MB4 Team


Good Morning MB4 friends. Following is this month's writing critique. We had some great comments, but they're tough to integrate into one cohesive and easy-to-follow segment. So, we've copied one section of the piece twice to illustrate our ideas. Hope it works for you. ;o)

Thanks, Kathryn, for submitting your writing sample, and best of luck with your future work!

- Ron Adams
- Kim Smith
- Marta Stephens
- Aaron Lazar


Dying to Dream – Kathryn Long

Jack Robesaux decided he was dying, his soul tearing away from him, bit by miserable bit. He pored over his circumstance of life while sitting at the bar, sipping his beer. He had ceased all thought on how many would be his limit five drinks ago. The images of this afternoon at the boat auction had become blurred in his mind. He went there to watch. He figured his time would come soon enough and he might as well learn the ins and outs of it. Depressed as always and needing something to drown the mood, he headed for town, only to decide the bars in Saint Toulere would be too personal. So,[RA1]  he drove to New Orleans with her neon rainbow of lights and buzzing of loud and raucous conversation to bury his sorrows, lose himself in all of it, and maybe never come back out[AL2] .
"I'll have another," he called[AL3]  to the bartender who passed by. Then, he heard the scrape of a chair as someone pulled up beside him. He turned a blurred eye to gauge a rather tall man with gray hair sticking out from under a ball cap.
"Howdy." The man extended a hand and broadened his smile. "Name's Joe Toole."
Jack nodded, but kept his hand wrapped around the beer mug. "Jack Robesaux." Afterward, he turned back to concentrate on the bartender. "Think you could manage to bring me that beer sometime this evening?" he snapped. Though he couldn't think too clearly, he knew his mood dipped into the mean side when he drank enough.
"You from around here? I haven't seen you in Sully's before, and I come regular." Joe motioned for the bartender who nodded and approached without a wait. "Hey, Sully. Bring my friend another beer and I'll have a boilermaker."
"Thanks," Jack said. He wasn't sure about Joe Toole, but then again, he wasn't sure about most people, strangers especially[RA4] . Still, he wanted someone to talk to, he ached for it. "I come up from Saint Toulere. You know it?"
Joe shook his head. "Can't say I do. But then again, I don't travel much. When I do, it's out on the water. At least that's how I used to spend my days." He downed the shot of whiskey and followed it with a swig of his beer[RA5] .
Jack raised his brow. "You fish, then?"
"Yep. But of course after the spill, I lost most of my business. Had to sell the big boat. Nice fishing boat, it was. Now, I'm in business with my brother. Together we manage to support what's ours. How about you?"
Jack stared at the amber and foamy white in his mug. "I fished. Like you though, I lost what I had. My boat sits at the dock, collecting seaweed."
"You got family?"
He thought about what to say. Marie was gone, years ago. And Trent went his own way, rather than join him in business. He saw him often enough, but his son had his life and Jack another. "A son. Wife's been dead for almost ten years[AL6] [RA7] ."


 [RA1]Don’t really need the comma there. Might be better after New Orleans.Or even break it up into two sentences instead.
 [AL2]Love the description of New Orleans. Nice!
 [AL3]Sometimes we can eliminate prepositions to make the flow smoother.
 [RA4]How would this sound..”strangers even more”?
 [RA5]How do you think he felt? Sounds like he might be bitter…
 [AL6]Kathryn – I like your dialogue, it sounds very natural and real. You made me want to know what happened to this guy and the details around him losing his wife and fishing business.
 [RA7]I really like the way this started, Kathryn. I can see the two of them somehow forming a partnership, and the plot spinning from there. Nice job.



Comment from Kim Smith:

Kathy- I think this one is almost there. I could feel Jack’s angst, but didn’t understand why, which intrigued me. Then, I didn’t understand why he was so rude to the bartender after going to a place he KNEW would be loud and busy-and obviously have slow service- and he went there purposefully to stay away from a more personal atmosphere. Maybe this is explained better by reading more than this tidbit? Any way, it made him unlikeable to me. Also, if he truly wished to be anonymous and left alone to drown his sorrows, it seems like to me he wouldn’t be aching for someone to talk to, either, not as you say he was doing when Joe arrived. Just thought I would point out your motivations, and how you may have veered off course. Thank you for your contribution here at Mb4!

Comment from Marta Stephens:

This is quite good and intrigues me enough to want to read more. The only comment I have is that some the sentence are short and choppy. They could be connected (see example) in order to reduce the number of pronounce used. Nice! SEE SEGMENT BELOW WITH YELLOW HIGHLIGHTS.
 

Suggestions from Marta on combining sentences to make it a little less choppy:


Jack Robesaux decided he was dying, his soul tearing away from him, bit by miserable bit and poured over his circumstance of life while sitting at the bar, sipping his beer. He had ceased all thought on how many would be his limit about five drinks ago. The images of this afternoon at the boat auction had become blurred in his mind. He went there to watch and figured his time would come soon enough and might as well learn the ins and outs of it. Depressed as always and needing something to drown the mood, Jack headed for town, only to decide the bars in Saint Toulere would be too personal. So, he drove to New Orleans with her neon rainbow of lights and buzzing of loud and raucous conversation to bury his sorrows there, lose himself in all of it, and maybe never come back out..[AL1].

 
 


2 comments:

teacherwriter said...

Thanks so much, all of you, for taking the time to read my excerpt and giving me feedback. It is truly appreciated.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

You're most welcome, Kathy! It was great having you here. Happy writing!