Critique Group – He

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Let’s hope Darth is not your critique partner.

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He – by Morgan

Dripping with water, the man dropped to his knees in front of me. As gravity pulled him further toward the floor, it seemed as though I was seeing it in slow motion. The metal on his belt jangled, the soaking wet clothes ballooned and sprayed water in a circle around him. As the smack of his knees upon the cold marble sounded, time seemed to go back to it’s normal pace. The dark, stringy hair upon his head swooped down to cover his eyes as he bowed his head and whispered slowly, “I have done all that you have asked.”

I could see his pitch black eyes staring up at me through the curtain of hair, watching, calculating. I studied a drop of water as it beaded up on the end of a lock and slowly succumb to gravity’s eternal call. More drops came from his chin, but these were streaked with red from a deep cut on his cheek. A cut I had caused. A cut I had inflicted. Pain that my problems and desires had caused. More places on the man’s body bore the deep red pigment of life, though not all of it was from this man’s body. Yet, all of it was on my hands.
This would be my last. One last human, and I would finally be free from the wretched curse that held me captive. Though, those chains would only be replaced with irons of guilt. They already have. And yet, what did I have to lose?
I made my decision and brought the knife down. Time once again slowed as I watched the cold, heartless piece of metal come down for one last stroke.

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5 replies

  1. Morgan,

    This is interesting. You captured the intensity quite well.

    One issue I preach about quite a lot is the need to provide some kind of character context before intense action begins. I had no emotional attachment to either character. I had no idea what was at stake. I didn’t know whom to cheer for. If you could give readers a short introduction that would allow them to connect, that would be helpful.

    “As gravity pulled him further toward the floor”

    I don’t think you need “further.”

    “it seemed as though I was seeing it in slow motion.”

    I think “him” instead of “it” would be better.

    “The metal on his belt jangled,”

    Keys? Weapons? I think “metal” is not precise enough.

    “As the smack of his knees upon the cold marble sounded”

    You wrote that he had already dropped to his knees. Also, this would be a simpler way to write it – “As his knees smacked the cold marble …”

    “The dark, stringy hair upon his head swooped down to cover his eyes”

    Too wordy. I suggest “His dark stringy hair fell over his eyes”

    “I could see his pitch black eyes staring up at me through the curtain of hair, watching, calculating.”

    No need for “I could see.” Just write “His pitch black eyes stared at me through …”

    “I studied a drop of water as it beaded up on the end of a lock and slowly succumb to gravity’s eternal call.”

    No need for “I studied.” Also, “eternal call” seems overwritten. Just write “A drop of water beaded on the end of a lock and slowly succumbed to gravity.”

    “More drops came from his chin, but these were streaked with red from a deep cut on his cheek. A cut I had caused. A cut I had inflicted. Pain that my problems and desires had caused.”

    I realize that putting periods where commas are supposed to be has become popular, but I will always recommend against it.

    “More drops came from his chin, but these were streaked with red from a deep cut on his cheek, a cut I had caused, a cut I had inflicted, pain that my problems and desires had caused.”

    Also, “pain” is not a synonym for “cut.”

    “More places on the man’s body bore the deep red pigment of life, though not all of it was from this man’s body. Yet, all of it was on my hands.”

    I did not understand the above section.

    “One last human”

    This was a sudden revelation. I assume now that the attacker is not human. Is it possible to foreshadow this, maybe in a rewrite that includes an introduction?

    “I watched the cold, heartless piece of metal come down”

    You wrote that he already brought the knife down, so watching it come down afterward seems odd.

    Thank you for submitting this. I’m sure you can make it an intriguing story.

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  2. Wow, Morgan, this was super intriguing! I wish there was more! This left me with a lot of questions, which is good because now I’m interested in the rest of the story and want to find out the answers to those questions:)
    Now, for critiquing . . .
    There were just a couple of things that stood out to me.
    The first is “…though I was seeing it in slow motion.” You use “it” twice in the second part of that sentence. And when you say “it” do you mean the gravity? I was just a little confused at what you were referring to. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of “it.” The word is vague and could be referring to several things.
    Second, this part of the sentence felt a little awkward: “As the smack of his knees upon the cold marble sounded, . . ” I didn’t think this flowed as nicely as your other sentences. If I may offer a suggestion: “As his knees smacked upon the cold marble, . . . ” or something like that. Just a suggestion!
    Honestly, I really liked this! I hope you decide to send in another excerpt!
    Happy writing!

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  3. Very intriguing! I’d like to read more. I agree with what Mr. Davis said about needing to know more about your characters (and everything else he said ;)) Be sure to keep writing!

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  4. This is exceptionally amazing. I just LOVE the dramatic effect and am very interested in hearing more about the characters. JUST AMAZING!!!!

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  5. Thank you all for your comments! I’ve made a few edits. I’m still trying to figure out how to do the backstory, so I will post that when I’m done with it! This was actually a freewrite which means that I took 15 minutes and one writing prompt and just started writing with what I came up with =)

    The backstory that I have so far is that this is a woman who is under some kind of evil curse, and the only way to be released is to kill a set of specific people. I don’t think that it was a list given to her of names, but of people with occupations such as baker, blacksmith, king, assassin, etc. In this certain instance she had saved the “assassin” for the last murder. The catch though is that she made him kill some of the other people (which counts toward her curse because she commanded it). That’s why she’s saying that all the blood is on her hands in this sentence “More places on the man’s body bore the deep red pigment of life, though not all of it was from this man’s body. Yet, all of it was on my hands.”

    Its an inner struggle, and I’m not sure if she’s an evil character or not, or what her motives are for getting out of the curse. Maybe she has friends that need her help, or maybe she’s just an evil villain who doesn’t want to be confined by the restrictions of the particular curse. I haven’t figured it out yet.

    Anyway, here is the edited version of the freewrite. Do you think there’s anything else I should change? Thank y’all again for all of your comments! They really helped me see where I needed to improve =)

    Dripping with water, the man began to drop to his knees in front of me. As gravity pulled him toward the floor, it seemed as though I was seeing him in slow motion. The iron weapons on his belt clanged together, the soaking wet clothes ballooned and sprayed water in a circle around him. As the smack of his knees sounded upon the cold marble, time seemed to go back to it’s normal pace. The dark, stringy hair swooped down to cover his eyes as he bowed his head and whispered slowly, “I have done all that you have asked.”

    His pitch black eyes stared up at me through the curtain of hair, watching, calculating. A drop of water beaded up on the end of a lock and slowly succumbed to gravity. More drops came from his chin, but these were streaked with red from a deep cut on his cheek. A cut /I/ had caused. A cut /I/ had inflicted. Pain that /my/ problems and desires had provoked. More places on the man’s body bore the deep red stains, though not all of it was his own. Yet it all soiled my soul.

    This would be my last. One last human, and I would finally be free from the wretched curse that held me captive. Though, those chains would only be replaced with irons of guilt. They already have. And yet, what did I have to lose?

    Time once again slowed as I made my decision and watched the cold, heartless piece of metal come down for one last stroke.

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