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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Revival and Other Stories

A blogger friend published his first book. I bought it at Amazon for my kindle. It's only 60 pages with six short stories and a final poem. I promised him a review, which I post at Amazon and now a more detailed critique.
As a writer I want people to tell me what they think of my writing, but all I get is superlatives because they are afraid to either tell me they didn't read it or don't want to hurt my feelings.
A fellow blogger, no longer blogging did a bang up review of my first book right after it was published and it is still deeply appreciated. I wish I could get some for my other novels as even if the words hurt, they make the writer stop and think about how to improve his/her work. With that said, here goes:

Of the six short stories the first five have a good premise, and offer suspense, but little beyond that. If Gambrel is shooting for horror he's a little short of the mark, not that the stories couldn't be revised to instill a better sense of dread, creepiness and even fright. The beauty of e-books is that you have do-overs. I've published a number of my stories and after a little time do a quick re-read, find mistakes, correct them and republish. Can't do that with the printed word.
Here's my thoughts:
Gambrel states in his blog that he found criticizing others work is much easier than trying to write it himself. Good self realization and with an open mind he'll become a fine author as the plots of the stories are solid. I'm going to speak about the first short story as the problems in it are reflected in the next four.
They are the skeleton of the story. Its bones are there (plot), but blood (dialogue), flesh (description) and skin (polish) are missing. In short he tells the story instead shows the story. In Griffinfield Cemetery two boys go into a mausoleum and find a tunnel which leads to a house where they witness something horrible that haunts them the rest of their lives. A good premise, but by using only narration in first person the story is flat. Two boys daring each other to do something creepy would be talking their heads off. It needs dialogue. The tunnel is described as creepy (don't want to give away too much), what's missing is touch, taste, smell, the senses that get the reader to feel the story other than what the narrator is seeing. The two boys in their dialogue could provide this. When they raise the trap door and see what's happening only their reaction is told, not what they see. Gambrel led the reader up to this point and without giving the reader a clear picture of what scares them and haunts them the rest of their lives makes the story pointless. (Sorry if that's a little harsh). As they're being chased down the hall there needs to be more drama, nearly being caught, having shirts ripped off, stumbling something to draw in the reader giving a sense of danger and panic. Mystery Man I hope this is helpful.
The other four stories suffer from the same problem of telling, not showing. Good skeletons with a little work will make fine stories and when fully fleshed could become novellas or even novels by the time they're done.
The last short story: The Quarry is a prime example of what I've been talking about. It has dialogue, it shows more than tells. It's very well done, maybe a little more of the senses like smell and taste, but otherwise a really good story.
The poem is well done, one piece of advice on poetry: Center it instead of using full page. The eye recognizes it as a poem and you pick up meter and cadence easier.

Overall this is a very good first try and I recommend my few other blogger friends check it out and post a review at Amazon to help Mystery Man out.

4 comments:

Michael Manning said...

An interesting review, P M. I avoid horror movies and books because they're just not my thing. But this is an honest review that needs no apology.

P M Prescott said...

Thank you, Michael

Mysterious Man said...

Thanks very much for the review, and very helpful critiques--you are right, it's far more helpful as an author to read an honest review that points out things to fix in the stories. I really appreciate your taking the time to write this.

P M Prescott said...

You're welcome, Mystery Man