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for The Tradedy of Knowing the Debt Collector

1/21/2005 c1 Carolyn
Hi, the story is quite interesting and gives a sense of dark drama. I think the idea is good and your events unfold nicely. There were some "hitches" in it, however, that threw me, the reader, off in places. I took the liberty to point out a few things, sentence by sentence. I hope you don't take offense. Since I've never critiqued your work before and don't know your nature of receiving crits, I only went as far as the first part with my edits & suggestions. If you would like me to continue, let me know and I will gladly offer more help or insight. Bear in mind, these are ONLY suggestions and you may use any or all or none of them. I have been a member of several writers groups for a few years and have had my own share of good and bad crits. It takes thick skin to accept criticism, but I find that honest feedback is the only way to improve. However, you may be happy to know that I am usually one of the nicer "critters" out there. LOL! Well, enough chit-chat- take a deep breath, here we go! :)

1. "The path looked bottomless"

While you follow up with "it was open to so many possibilities for Ernie to discover", it first sounds less than hopeful, like someone falling into a "bottomless" pit of depression. Would "infinite" work better there?

2. "The 15-year old might boy as well be..."

"Might" throws me off here. He "might" be a boy? It "might" read better to remove "boy."

3. "He sprinted down the bush track, a coke can jammed in his rear reflector."

My first picture is that he is running, as in sprinting, although the coke can threw me off & gave me a giggle when I pictured where it could be jammed. The next sentence you confirm he's on a bike. Do you think maybe that should be established first?

4. "The surrounding foliage looked lush and fresh, his face tilted upwards, complementing it."

Did his face make the foliage look better? I assume you mean he appreciated how the foliage looked. Maybe something like: "He couldn't help but admire the fresh, lush foliage as he whizzed by." Perhaps incorporate this thought into the next sentence so it won't be repetitious? I like your description in the last line of paragraph 1.

5."He looked at a rose bush he passed, he turned back in the direction his excited feet were peddling, then he had to look back, to re-check what he had glanced at."

This sentence is choppy (& ends with a preposition, hehe ;) Rewrite example: "A rose bush caught his eye as he peddled by. Something about it struck him odd, so much so that he turned back to double check what he thought he had seen. He parked his bike and walked back down the path, a cold chill passed over him as he took in what he saw." Then place your description here (it was very good, by the way).

6. "In one foul swoop of fortune all his fun, his lack of worries had turned into an uncertain path towards doom. He felt in his mind that he was walking towards disaster."

While this is good, I'm not sure all of the wording is needed. Rewrite example: "In one foul swoop of fortune, his happy, carefree feelings were suddenly replaced with an impending sense of doom."

Ok, that'll be all now. Let me know if you wish me to continue. And again, please remember these are only suggestions. No matter the critique, you must always keep it your story. :)CarolynThe Ginger Quill
1/21/2005 c1 Jack

I'd say you've done a great job of conveying emotion. That said, the story also had its fair share of problems, namely the plotline.

Some plot problems I identified:* Why kill Ernie's father? If this is solely about money is there any point in killing the man who owes it?* Why murder the mother? Again, I'm sure the debt collector is disgruntled about the late payment, but a double homocide would attract far more attention from police than an abduction, and if the man is to get his money he surely wants as little interference from police as possible* Why abduct Ernie? He's not likely to know much? Would be much easier just to abduct the father. Could have been done very quietly and easily - no bullet noise, wouldn't alert family.* Perhaps Ernie's emotions are wrong for the particular moment. Very few people at all would be talking back to a man who kidnapped them and is brandishing a weapon in their face, let alone a 15 year old. Generally speaking all of the characters are very quick to anger, and probably not in fitting with a normal human response.* Boiling vinegar? The resources required for that would be massive. Are you sure a man of seemingly middle-class background could owe so much as to make as extravagant a torture method worthwhile?

Other problems:* Too much swearing in my opinion. Authors sometimes use it in dialogue, however a lot of people would say the use of profanity in your descriptions is indicative of a limited vocabulary. Perhaps try to express anger otherwise.* Incidents of incorrect expression - "With his face upright, you could clearly see a bleeding scar on his formerly pure cheek" - cuts are different from scars. "The roses were black. Black as night." - Dead or diseased roses go brown. A black rose would generally be healthy.

But that said, some parts of your story were very good. The debt collector character was tremendously menacing. Perhaps if you ever do a second draft of this you could enhance him even further with some more extended dialogue. Using such dialogue to hint at the man's motivation - not giving it away entirely, but just something to fuel speculation, would really make this a brillant story, or at least an interesting experiment, if coupled with a more logical plotline.

Congratulations on a great attempt!

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