Words forum: Learning to give and accept Constructive Criticism

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Mar 13, 2011 4:40 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Writing is very personal. We write from the inside out, pouring our heart into our words. It's often difficult to accept criticism, even when we know it's constructive. For that reason, here are some points to consider:

*Read the manuscript carefully to get an overall view
*Balance the positive comments with the negative
*Give an honest critique in an encouraging way
*If change is needed, try to find a fixable suggestion

In this thread we can discuss different points to look for within a writing, and ways to give positive feedback to the author. Once we learn to give and take, we can be more comfortable with critiquing and with being critiqued.

Mar 14, 2011 1:29 PM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!
I'll be the first victim...er...volunteer Big Grin

I've begun this story and would appreciate any constructive criticism.
**taking a deep breath in preparation**

Shattered Shadows:

She awoke with no recollection of where she was. It was beyond dark, that kind of darkness in which you can't really be sure if your eyes are open or closed. She was cold too. And wet. Ugh. She obviously wasn't dressed for her surroundings. Bare feet, shorts, and a tee shirt. She lay still and took stock of all of her parts. Wiggled her fingers. Wiggled her toes. Everything was in working order.
She felt something wet and kind of furry rub past her ankles and she screamed. A high-pitched, girly scream. She sat up fast, pulling her legs up, and whacked her head on something above her.
She had to pull herself together, figure out what was going on. Had she been abducted? Likely not, her hands and feet would probably be bound if she had. Then again, they wouldn't need to be bound if she was locked securely into some kind of damp, dark prison.
She shivered. Her mind drifted off to thoughts of unspeakable acts being done to her against her will. She could almost smell the foul breath and feel the rough hands groping her. She whimpered and gave her head a hard shake. Enough of that crap! She needed to think. She wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her forehead on her knees. Took a deep breath.

It was one of those miserable, drizzly, Spring days. A single temperature variation of one degree either way could turn this drizzle into either freezing rain or snow, take your pick. Water was dripping off of my hat right down the back of my neck. I adjusted my coat and hunkered my shoulders higher. My name's Richard, folks call me Rick. First initial P. I get immense pleasure out of signing my name P. Rick and then daring anybody to state the obvious. I grinned an evil grin, thinking of the last unfortunate dude that had the gall to ask for Mr. Prick.
I'm a private investigator, hired to find a missing woman. She didn't show up for work this morning and her co-workers were concerned. Being that it's Friday, I had my suspicions...but they were adamant that she wasn't like that.
I'd parked my ancient Chevy pick-up two blocks away, figuring I'd walk up to the house letting the dusky, storm clouded day provide some concealment. Bright idea that was, I was soaked through to the skin. I stood just outside of number 36 Centre Street, using the storm and the darkness of a high cedar hedge as cover, and watched the house.
It was a small bungalow. Neat and tidy, old wooden siding painted a redwood colour. Well kept gardens, from what I could see. One of those mass-produced war time houses they built by the thousands. Single level, no basement. No lights in any of the windows either.
I stole a furtive glance in the direction of the houses on either side, not wanting to be noticed by the neighbors. The last thing I needed was a surprise visit by the local constabulary. No signs of life anywhere. No barking dogs. No traffic. The neighborhood was eerily quiet. Nobody was straying to far in this weather.
Keeping to the shadows as much as possible, easily accomplished on such a nasty day, I made my way to the screened in front porch. Two heavily cushioned patio chairs with a low table between them. An empty vase in the middle of the table, waiting for the seasons first freshly cut flowers. A “Beware of Cats” welcome mat in front of the door. I opened the screen door and rapped lightly on the heavy wooden front door, just in case there was a dog on the premises. No barking emanated from within. The coast seemed clear enough. I slid my lock picks out of my pocket and started working on the lock. Prayed there was no chain, I was NOT walking back to the truck in this crap to get my bolt cutters. The lock clicked open. I tried the door, gently, breathed a sigh of relief...no chain. I let myself in.

She was starting to panic...totally freaked out. She was also cold right through to the bone. A deep, mind numbing cold that sent uncontrollable shivers throughout her body. She was beginning to wish that whoever was holding her captive in this bleak space would come and get her, get it over with. At least then she might be warm. If only she were warm, then she could deal with whatever might happen next.
She'd taken the time to grope around her, trying to get an idea of where she might be. Hard, bare, wooden floor. Low, roughly hewn, square timbers above her head. Cobwebs, hanging like a curtain all around her. She hated spiders. She could almost feel them crawling all over her body. She shook her head again, making herself dizzy this time. She shuddered. She had to curb her imagination. She'd almost prefer the foul breath and rough hands of an imaginary attacker to hordes of spiders creeping all over her.
Mar 14, 2011 1:49 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Lee Anne...Ahhh! I was left holding my breath.

OK: critique...

You have set the scene, two locations, one unknown, one perhaps the girl's home.
You have two characters, a sleek detective, a girly girl.
You have set this to be a mystery, with the description of her hideaway, the fact that she didn't show for work, the furtiveness of the detective.

So, with your descriptive words you've set the tone of the story and you've slightly fleshed out the characters. At this point we know more about Mr. P. Rick than we do about the young woman. And you've added a touch of humor to the detective character with his name!

We know the weather, we know something of the location of the house, and we don't know where the girl is in relation to anything else.

So far, so good. Perhaps Toni might view it differently, but at the moment I'd say just keep on writing. For the sake of continuity, you could go back into your original post and continue to add to it as the edit option allows. That would keep it all together so we could read it more easily.

It's becoming an intriguing story...keep right on writing and we'll see where it leads.
Mar 14, 2011 1:52 PM CST
Name: Lee Anne Stark
Ontario, Canada
Perpetually happy!
Thanks Sharon :)))

I'll for sure keep adding to the original post as I get it written.

ps. please see my post asking about conversation...that's what's in my way right now kinda
[Last edited Mar 14, 2011 1:53 PM CST]
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