Critique on Methuselah
From the instructor:
As I said in class, this is a fascinating, original setting and character. I have never read anything set in a gin before, and I thought your use of detail about it, history and the particulars of how it worked were very convincing, and gave the sketch real authority.
I think it was quite brilliant of you to chose someone you didn't like and write his point of view. Nothing more important in fiction than being able to understand all your characters, even the most difficult (or unsympathetic) ones.
Your writing is basically good, but there are a lot of extra, unnecessary details and too much tracking of the character's every move. The reader will get it, see it, if you have just the right amount of detail without putting in each movement.
I really enjoyed this.
So, what do you think I focused on first? Here's a hint. Both start with "b". Yep, "brilliant" and "basically".
When I read it a second time I focused on "extra, unnecessary details". (Hello? Ask about a watch and OB Mitter (Dad) and I can tell you how to MAKE one!) Actually – this is a criticism I need to be mindful of in many parts of my life. I expect I spend (waste?) a lot of time and energy on "extra, unnecessary details" … in my job, my housecleaning, my relationships, etc. (I can also tell you the first time Talla Paula throws this in my face there will be hell to pay.)
This week's assignment was working with "dialogue". The lesson called for 2-3 pages. I had 6 then 12 pages. It was turned in before I got this critique back. But even without the instructors comments I knew I had to respect the page limitation. I kept paring it down and down. Trying to get the essence of the story down to 3 pages. I ended up at 3 and a half. I guess that's really FOUR pages. *sigh*
Then when we got into class and we re-read the assignment – I remembered it was supposed to be an "argument or conflict". Each side has a position that's important to them – and I needed to argue both sides.
WELL … it will be interesting to see THIS critique. There is a conflict – but I only allude to it. I don't think the characters are even willing to acknowledge to each other what conflict they're facing. I end with a cliff hanger. But I pared it down to FOUR PAGES DAMMIT!
Oh you have no idea how badly I wanted to turn in BEFORE and AFTER … and show her all the WONDERFUL, SQUISHY, LOVELY, INTERESTING details that I so ruthlessly TOSSED ASIDE. Like yesterday's garbage.
Verbose … who ME?