MobileRead Short Story Anthology - [DISCUSSION & REVIEW]
#1  Katsunami 03-06-2014, 02:32 AM

Welcome to the discussion thread

Over here, the short stories can be discussed and reviewed, so the other thread can be used for organizational purposes.

#2  Dr. Drib 03-06-2014, 07:22 AM
Now stickied. Title made a bit more prominent.


#3  gmw 03-06-2014, 10:20 AM
Annie the Dreamer is a rather disturbing tale. I did like that you managed to convey that feeling without needing to be too explicit. I liked the jazz, and the raven, I think these worked well with the scenes. But (there's always a but ) ...

I found myself floundering a bit through the early paragraphs. It got a bit better when I reached the jazz, but my interest was really only raised when the raven landed.

So I think the first third/half of it needs to be smoothed out - and maybe re-ordered a bit. I wonder, if you're going to open with hanging up the telephone, whether you can make more of that as a way of providing the background information - rather than as a direct recital.

Touching the rings on her fingers was a potentially good element, but I think your story may need a bit more room (be a bit longer) for the effect to come through. It could just be that I like stories to be a bit longer.

The confrontation scene felt a little forced, but not too bad. But it did feel a bit sudden (I guess it was supposed to be), and too short. I think there is room here to increase the tension by expanding the scene - not necessarily with more action/violence, but with more lead in (scene and tension building) to the actual confrontation.

I did like the way you concluded the story, though - again - I wonder if a bit more meat on what came earlier may give the ending some added depth.

Spoiler Warning below

There are some elements of mystery with regard to the raven and Annie's memory, I am presuming these are intended to remain mysterious. I sort of like them, but I felt as if a few more hints about what you meant might have been a good thing ... but that's really hard to say for certain.

This should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: The above is all just my personal reaction to the story, offered because that's what we're here for. Take whatever parts of it seem useful to you, and ignore the rest.

#4  Graham 03-06-2014, 10:35 AM
I also read Annie the Dreamer this morning; as you say, quite a disturbing tale, but I was drawn through the story nicely and it's memorable. I was thinking about it for quite a while after reading it as with a little rework I think it could pack even more 'punch'.

I'll put my comments in spoiler tags as they're specific to plot elements. I recommend that if you've not read the story yet, please do so before opening this spoiler:

Spoiler Warning below

It jarred that Annie would leave the younger children behind and go off at the end. I had to come 'out' of the story to justify it to myself: i.e. something along the lines of, 'she’s mirroring what Sissy did', or 'she's running away to try to escape being done for murder'. I think you could plant a justification more clearly here.

Two things made me hesitate in the first two paragraphs, which was a little obstacle to reading the story, so you might want to consider recasting these slightly.

First, I wasn't immediately sure who was making the phone call, i.e. whether the opening sentence was spoken by the person on the other end of the call or the person putting down the phone. We don't find that out until the third paragraph.

Secondly, I didn’t know what 'kraft pulp' was, so again I took a beat out of reading the story. Do you need to mention that the cargo is kraft pulp? Would Annie necessarily know? Could you just say 'a ship that was taking on cargo'?

Annie's silver rings are mentioned in the very first paragraph, and again later on. As a reader, I immediately assumed that the rings were going to be important to the story, perhaps bound up with her dreams in some way. I felt that this was a loose end in the story, not really resolved by her seeing the rings along the side of the ship at the end. Consider making the rings have more impact later on: for example, could they be sharp enough to hurt her assailant? Do you actually need the vegetable knife (which appears a bit conveniently)?

Or does her mother give her the rings for 'being good'?

Is the window open or closed? As it's night and you don’t mention the noise of the pulp mill or the rattle and crash of the ship being loaded I naturally assumed it was shut. But then we hear the raven croak and the beat of its wings. I think you need to state that it's open, and maybe have Annie celebrate the noise or the fresh air. This could give you an opportunity to suggest further that this is a young woman who is on the edge.


#5  Graham 03-06-2014, 10:39 AM
In Annie the Dreamer, there is one paragraph where the point of view shifts from being in Annie's head to being inside someone else's:

Spoiler Warning below

It switches to her mother in the paragraph:

She saw the way her man looked at her daughter, and she didn't want to lose him. Bringing these men home was the only thing in her life that made her feel worth something. If she had to let them molest her children a little bit, that was too bad. But she felt betrayed when they fell asleep in her daughter's bed.

Did this bother anyone else? How do you feel about point of view switches like this, generally?


#6  mrmarlowe 03-06-2014, 01:11 PM
Nice going guys. Pls don't forget about me though.

#7  arjaybe 03-06-2014, 03:27 PM
Quote mrmarlowe
Nice going guys. Pls don't forget about me though.
I think we're trying to be respectful and not talk about things until we have a definite go ahead. I see your story is v1.0, so it should be free to discuss, but I think we're just being careful. I've read it, but I'm hesitating. I've also read Graham's story, but he's requested no comments until v1.0.

Am I being too cautious?


#8  arjaybe 03-06-2014, 03:35 PM
Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I'm going to digest them before making any changes. Both reviewers so far have mentioned the first few paragraphs being confusing, and the rings being underexposed.

As I told Graham in a PM, I think of this story as being like a quick slash of a knife, so I'm reluctant to expand it too much. Expect me to chisel away at the points you mentioned, though.-)


#9  Katsunami 03-06-2014, 03:35 PM
Quote arjaybe
Am I being too cautious?
No, I think you're doing fine. I've posted version 0.1 myself, but the story is not even finished. It's at (I estimate) 40%. I planned four acts; there are two now, and still have two more to go. (One very short act crept in between the two longer ones )

You could read it, but you might be surprised to see some names changing. For this story I'm using names derived from Greek ones, but a name I thought to be Greek, suddenly turned out to be Gaelic. (I shelved it for possible use in another story, that would be in the same world, but not in the same country; that story will indeed have Gaelic names.)

If there is one thing I don't like in many fantasy stories, then it's inconsistent names. (I'm looking at YOU, Terry Brooks.) If you can have an Elf and a Gnome switch names without seeing anything out of place, then you're not doing it right. (IMHO.)

Tonight I'll read the posted stories, and comment on the 1.0's tomorrow.

#10  arjaybe 03-06-2014, 05:19 PM

Since you've updated to v1.1, I'll assume you're open for comments.-)

I see a story here, but I had trouble getting into it. The story feels disjointed. I get the feeling that you wanted to make sure to get the ideas down, but the result is a bit scattered.

In one sentence I first thought you were living in one room, before learning that there was at least one other room, where a light was left on.

Some questions:

1. What contracts? You mentioned contracts and never got back to them.
2. Why was he clattering utensils? Was he a cook?

I think this story can work, with work.


Spoiler Warning below

3. It was just a dream? People tend to feel let down when they learn that.

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