First-time Fiction Writer
I'm writing a short story (my first) and I'd love to really tough criticism, or even some fresh ideas and perspective, on what I've done so far. I would hate to invest a ton of time only to realize when I'm done that I've written thousands of words of hot, wet garbage.
Specifically, I'd love to hear some feedback on:
- Large-scale structure
- Readability and Pacing
- Thoughts on the MC and supporting characters
Additionally, I'm worried that I'm not portraying my MC's traits, personality, and reasoning very well. While I plan to show off the "real" him later on in some dramatic situations, I don't want to be one of those writers accused of writing a "blank slate" character. I intentionally left out details of the MCs PHYSICAL description, but EMOTIONALLY I want the reader to feel like they know just what he's going to do and why he's going to do it.
Anyway, I'm sure you get these kind of posts constantly, so I sincerely apologize if I'm using these threads in the wrong fashion. And lastly, the more specific and critical, the better! My friends keep telling me stuff like "it's so good" and "wow, so creative" but that doesn't help me improve and streamline the story.
Thank you so much!
EDIT: I didn't know what I was doing when I uploaded my chapters, so the first chapter on my page is the one with the picture of a dark tavern and the second chapter is the one with the swamp-like pic with the boat. I hope that's helpful...
First off, you'd probably want to post something like this in the Reviewing subforum. There's loads of people there looking for feedback and critical swaps!
But, since we're here, may as well go for it. For your first short this is fantastic. I only skimmed the second chapter but I'm encouraged to keep reading, if just to see how your writing develops. As far as feedback goes I think I'd need to see a lot more before giving you any hard critiques. One of the first (and I think most important) things you need to learn as a writer is to chill a bit a get a decent amount of content before seeking edits or feedback.
I'll do what I can!
Large-scale structure: Not entirely sure what you mean by this. Narrative design? Technical craft?
Plot: Kinda need the whole story for this. Plot can vary dramatically from start to end.
World Building: Some good things here to start! Naming your currency is great, and it's evident that this region/world relies heavily on adventurer/mercenary types to fill in for what should normally be government/lords/police jobs. We know there are monsters and that magic is common (lighting the pipe) and that there are local variants of what we'd know as tabbaco and sweet wines. Small details like that do wonders for world building, so full marks here.
Readability and Pacing: Break up your dialog more! Big cluster paragraphs filled with dialog and motion too often can become jarring. Your banter at the end of the first chapter is good, but earlier on some things get lost by trying to sort through the block paragraphs. As far as pacing goes the story is a bit too fast. Slow it down, pick a perspective and stick to it. If you're going to give me some time get established and know the setting then let it ease in -- if not, then hit me with the action and plot right out the gate! Something that helps me with pacing is to focus small then expand as you go. IE, start by describing one thing/action then as those things interact with the world you start to describe that as well!
Characters: Okay, you may hate me for this, but your MC is a little on the boring side. I liked that he pretended to be an experienced fighter at first, but I'm way more interested in the two mercs gaming the system as it is currently. Also, is his name the stranger or is he a stranger? Why don't we know his name if the perspective is his? Funny enough, I actually have a character named The Stranger in my story, but that's his actual name as far as the story goes. It's more confusing as written atm than mysterious. Also ease up on the dialect in your dialog. It's difficult to read and needs a bit more clarifying. You can hint a lot at dialect with just a few, subtle clues at certain words. Like, if I hear Idjit, I don't need anything else, I instantly go back woods Americano.
I don't want to overload you with too much, but you're off to a really great start! The biggest take away here should be to slow it down a bit, focus on each scene and the conflict within that scene and what your character/characters need to do to resolve it. Action will come on its own.
Assuming you're too foolish to follow my suggestion, I'll welcome you to the fold.
Have you written thousands of words of hot, wet garbage? Yes, you have. Writing fiction is like drawing in that regard. When you begin, it looks like crap. If you're not willing to invest a ton of time, knowing that what you produce is bad but will help you grow as a writer, you're going to be disappointed.
So, you've listed a bunch of different things. Cool. We're not being paid to help you with them. Pick one and maybe someone will try to help, and maybe that person will know what they are talking about.
That you are able to identify the issues in your work puts you ahead of the game, however. Lots of new writers spend time struggling with just that.
I'd suggest you use a service provided on the board and have your first chapter given a simple pass/no pass.