Clarity Of Night Contest Feedback…

I thought that I would post my Clarity Of Night contest entry along with the feedback that I kindly received from Jason Evans, the host of the competition.

I count this as my first serious ‘rejection slip’ and have took onboard the comments he sent me.  If you have read this then you can just scroll down to read the feedback but if not, I hope you enjoy…

Nature Is Cruel.

I watch you circling, your beauty and elegance gliding with ease on the uplift of cold winter air. The crows harass you, attacking you in two’s and three’s, trying to ruin your flight, but you take no notice. You could take them easily with your razor sharp talons, your strength and your split second timing. You are an aerial warrior, a gladiator of the skies.

But, today, you are no match for me. I plummet from high above, reaching speeds that you could only dream of. The bird watchers, busy getting their cameras and tripods ready, would think this to be something to behold; a peregrine falcon attacking another bird of prey, especially a large buzzard. But they are wrong.

Pushing speeds of three hundred kilometres an hour, I reach you within seconds, my talons splaying at the very last second. I hit the crow, claws first. It was coming in on your blind side, but is now falling to the earth, its neck broken and bleeding.

I would never attack you. Again, I have protected you and I will continue to do so. I will continue to love you also, yet nature is cruel and will never allow us to be together.

* * * *

Here is the feedback I received…

David,

 You scored very close to the 40 mark. The writing had a lot of strength. No doubt about that.


It’s always hard to critique pieces without glaring faults. My feeling about yours was that the storytelling was a bit nebulous at the beginning. I wasn’t entirely sure what was important and where it was going. I realize you have a reveal at the end, but from a storytelling perspective, I would have liked to have seen a bit more anchor and hook into the scene right up front. The first sentence evokes stillness and elegance. Then crows are trying to “ruin” the flight. But the winged something is much stronger than they are. Then, the speaker is attacking. On first read, I just wasn’t sure what the problem was that the story was grappling with. Each element had roughly equal emphasis.


Also, breaking it up some might help. The second paragraph contains the subjects “you,” “I,” and “bird watchers.” That’s a lot of shift for one paragraph.


All that said, the piece was strong and solidly written.


Hope this helps!

* * * *

I was pleased with the feedback and will go back to the piece, taking the comments into consideration.

Also, please take a few minutes to visit Jason’s blog.  There is some superb work knocking about there and there may also be another contest later in the year.

You can leave a comment if you wish, your feedback is also very much appreciated………

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6 Comments

Filed under contest entry, david barber, david barber's fiction world, feedback, nature is cruel

6 responses to “Clarity Of Night Contest Feedback…

  1. I liked the story, but in some ways I agree with Jason. The difficulty with the low word limit, is that it tends to hamper cohesion, and that's true of most of the entries.Please take solace in the fact that Hemingway wall-papered a room with his rejection notes.

  2. You have some great material there, love some of the phrases, but I do agree it was a bit vague on speaker until the end.Kudos to you for posting this – it helps other readers to evaluate the critique. And as far as rejections go, that was a mild one: someone told me once my plot was great but they didn't care for the style. Aka-my writing. Fuck. But I have learned more from critiqued rejections than most writing books.You should be proud of your entry nevertheless; it is still good and that was a very tough contest.

  3. I think Jason's critique is accurate, but my personal preference is for more nebulous/less anchor. I'm more about sentiment than plot which is probably why I dig poetry more than fiction, you mechanical, unfeeling bastards. 😉 But the key is constructive criticism IS okay. We Anglo-Saxon types have this weird need to break out the battle axe when someone does such a thing. Hey, we're all trying to improve. Otherwise, we'd settle for being a drunken Chimpy.

  4. Thanks guys. I was pleased with the feedback and have took that onboard. My first contest entry since back in the fold and I'm happy with 'almost' making it. Next time…who knows? A constructive critique is always helpful. Although I wouldn't want to wallpaper a room with rejection slips… 🙂

  5. Sharing your critique was an inspired idea David and well done to you for that.I think you should be pleased with the feedback and take the positives – it was a fine piece.I never got around to asking Jason for my critique but your post got me thinking and I fired off an email to him last night. Not wishing to rip off your idea but I thought I would post my feedback, if you are OK with that? And of course providing Jason does not say the piece totally sucked!Great post David and kind regards.

  6. Alan, thanks for your comments. Go for it mate. I toyed with the idea of this post for a while and just thought 'sod it', as it is constructive after all. With 'rejections' comes success….I hope, one day. 🙂

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