11 thoughts on “JOURNAL # 16

  1. Adam: I admired the flow and tone of this piece. It gave me some real Ernest Hemingway vibes in some sections with the journalistic style of writing that appeared. I also felt that where the reader was shown, rather than told, what was happening/who the narrator was/what the community was like, the story gained strength. I think the narrative could be improved overall by emphasizing these sections. I think sometimes we, as writers, fall into the trap of showing over telling because it can be difficult to trust that we’re conveying what you want to/that the reader will understand what you’re saying. Ultimately, I think that it is more meaningful to the reader if you show them less (so they can figure out more) than if you tell them everything (then reading becomes less fun). I think the flashback section could benefit the most from this. As the reader I want the privilege to access the narrator’s vulnerable emotions. During the flashback, I felt as if the narrator was keeping me away from these parts of his emotional spectrum, and I was left wanting a little bit more. By showing instead of telling, the narrator is trusting the reader to interpret who they are and ultimately allowing the reader to, as Wordsworth might say, (S/O to Dr. Frank’s Brit Lit 2 class) see into the lives of people. However, overall, the genuine nature of the narrator’s voice and stream of consciousness kept me interested in what he had to say. I think that because of the establishment of this voice, the story has a strong foundation that will be well-adapted moving forward.

    Sinead: I really appreciated the description and pacing of this piece. Normally, I feel as though description/imagery can slow me down as a reader or act as a distraction from the greater meaning or plot. However, in your piece, I felt as though most of the description was necessary as it truly transported me into the narrator’s brain space. I did feel as though some of the dialogue could be made a little bit more descriptive (not actually, but be changed in a way to insinuate something unique about the characters). I think I’m specifically thinking about the dialogue between the the couple at the beginning, because the dialogue during the flashback was very representative. Additionally, I think the concept of the piece is interesting— it left me with a number of questions, and helped me connect some of my own thoughts about real-world problems (i.e. gentrification). I also feel as though the narrative was genuine and convincing. I believed the protagonist and her representation of her past, and I felt the feelings I believe she felt too. I do feel as though I wanted some more context for the flashback. I was left questioning why she would subject herself to relieving the trauma of her past. I also wanted more information about who she was, and what she wanted (but maybe less of being told that, but rather more access to her internal monologue/her interpretation of it). Overall, this piece kept me the whole way through, and the tension throughout it never truly felt broken (in the best way possible).

    Kait: I was captivated by your ability to slow the narrative down. I also loved the concept of the story— it truly offered a unique perspective on something others might take for granted. This helped develop understanding, empathy, and tension. In some places this pace quickened— I liked this change in pace for the most part, however ins one sections I wanted your original methodical flow back. I also liked your development of Beatrice. However, as a reader, I wanted to know more about her— who did she spend time with? What made her skeptical of the mechanics? And what does she do for work? I think I wanted to be shown things about Beatrice’s life that helped me gain a better concept of who Beatrice was— this would have grown my care for her even more. I would like to note, however, that the description is so on point it develops a lot of the tension for this story . When Beatrice initially gets overwhelmed by the flashback, (the sunset becoming engulfed by the night sky) I was totally captivated. I think that this, paired with a little bit more character development in the form of demonstrative details (because I truly am curious about who Beatrice is) would push this story over the edge. Additionally, I liked the ending. It felt like something I could hold on to for a little while, and showed me how to feel all of the emotions that Beatrice was feeling. Overall, I feel as if this story has a strong narrative backbone, but could be made even stronger with some unique character development.

  2. Megan: I really loved the way you incorporated the song lyrics and ideas behind love songs into your story to show the broken heart. I think it was really powerful and helped to add to the somewhat sad dynamic of the piece. I also really liked the detail you used, and how each scene/ part had its own extremely powerful wording and message behind it. It all felt real and relevant to heartbreak. I did get really confused on the timing of the piece, not always able to tell if it was a flashback/ something of her past relationship, or if it was the present. I think a little distinguishing between them would be really beneficial!
    Grace: Wow! This story really hit to the awkward craziness of college, and felt super relatable to all the dumb things we do and then have to handle. The voice of the girl was really good, and I liked how she felt like just another college girl, and not some big philosophical character. I also really love how delicately/ sensitively you handled the subject of sexual assault and rape. It wasn’t disrespectful, or preachy. It just worked, and it showed how awful it was without being overwhelming for the reader. Also, the ending with the wet and close line from the rain scene was so good! My only critique was that I was kind of confused with how everything tied together, from the beach, to the rain, to the bar. I wasn’t sure if they were all instances of the trauma, or just supposed to show what had happened before. A little more tying together could be good!
    Vic: I really loved the description of your story! Each line gave such a punch and such a vivid image in my mind, that I felt like I was watching it all happen in front of me. The story was also really good and kept me guessing to almost every situation that was happening. The ending also surprised me a lot! To talk so much about how broken he was since his wife left him, and basically go through life not enjoying it, and then to have her come back at the very end was such a twist. I think it really adds a new dimension. I was a little confused on the wording of some sentences, and some of the time frames confused me, as I wasn’t sure where we were in the story. A little clarification may help!

  3. Grace-
    I really love this story. The way you entwined the characters past trauma with alcohol and alluded to the idea that the mother was also a victim of sexual assault or rape without ever explicitly saying it was just beautiful work regarding both the structure and the content. The ending was a really nice tie together as it finally breaks the tension between the mother and daughter, but not in a happily ever after sort of way.

    Vic-
    I enjoyed the concept of your story, but I felt as though some of your lines got tangled. There was just so much going on between the main character, the girl at the bar, the eviction notice, the dreams, the boss, the ex wife, and it just never seemed to entirely pull itself together for me. This may just be my personal opinion, and others may not feel the same way I do. The ending felt clunky but in a good way. It was like the man was so stressed about Carrie being there that everything kind of jumbled around in his mind. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

    Jordan-
    I really liked your story. I thought it was interesting that I for one did not pick up on the fact that the narrator was male. I’m not sure how that enhances the story in my head, but it does. I thought as though the ending could be a little bit extended as it seems to end in a confusing and abrupt ways. Other than that, I thought it was a great concept.

  4. Vic- For me, I found it very difficult to relate to the character of Zuko in this story. He is at his most interesting when he is reminiscing on other characters like Carrie, but when he is on his own his personality is very hard for me to grasp. I’m sure this is because Zuko himself is very depressed, which I should bear in mind, but I wonder if there is a way to bring his personality and sense of self to the forefront of the narration. I also really want the story to go on longer than where it ends. Ending it on a cliffhanger is a good way to keep an audience invested for more, but knowing that this is a short story, there will not be more. I actually think the story would benefit from having it begin with Carrie telling Zuko she is pregnant and watching him work through his conflicts from there.

    Grace- A very interesting story! Stories of generational abuse are hard to come by and even less rarely so well thought out and planned. I think the short story format works well for your story, keeping each scene short but relevant and tying the audience back into the main scene that commands the whole story. The themes are strong and punch hard where they need to, leaving the story off on the strong crescendo that will stay with the audience for a very long time. All in all, I liked it very much and it was one of the few cases where I was so drawn in I forgot I was reading an unpublished work.

    Jordyn- One of the most creative stories I’ve read so far. I really like mysteries and the plot was intriguing to watch unfold. If there was anything I would change, I just wish it was longer. There is still so much mystery to be solved and the story feels incomplete without the answers both the audience and the main characters are searching for. The short story format really hampers what I could easily see as at least a one hundred page or more story. I feel like I turned off a TV program halfway through and I desperately want to know who the real murderer is, if it truly is not the main suspect.

    Megan- It took me right up until the end of the story with the mention of the car being named Helen to realize that the whole story was written backwards. I feel like this aspect of the story is both its greatest strength and biggest burden. On one hand, the story has a lot of reread value, and rereading it a second time gives the experience a whole new meaning. This is the strongest benefit to writing a reverse story which you make work very well by giving certain details at specific key moments and creating tangible periods of time to get to know the characters. On the other hand, if the audience cannot understand what is happening, the story can really suffer. Ultimately I think it is down to personal choice whether or not you want to keep it in this format and how much your peer reviewers and beta readers like it.

  5. Grace
    This story was really well written, and was a very interesting piece to read. I really enjoyed the way you were able to flow in and out of the different scenes and flashbacks to the present like this story did. The story lines, each one themselves, is very powerful to the final ending of the story. I believe the beginning, which started out feeling more light and joking tone, changed quickly into a darker tone when she mentioned the one story she cannot tell her mom. I think you changed in and out of this suspenseful feeling very well. The dialogue in this piece was also very well written, consistent, and very relatable to how a senior in college would act and address things, especially when getting drinks with their parents. The narrator has a very distinct personality and attitude/tone, and I appreciated how well you were able to carry this voice throughout the story. I think the name of the story does a lot for the piece. I felt a contrast throughout because you can tell the mom had bad experiences with tequila, but the daughter seems to like it a lot.

    Megan
    This story was really well written and I liked a lot of the different pieces of your writing. I think the choice of your narration was interesting, as I felt it was similar to reading a love letter addressed to this person almost. I think the story seemed to not be ‘moving along’ too much as I read through it. Sometimes I felt like her thoughts were repetitive, but I also think that this repetition helps drive in her obsession for this person very well. I think your dialogue paints a picture that the man in this story is kind of an asshole to her, although it isn’t implicitly said the dialogue surrounding him says a lot which was done nicely. It actually creates a strange tension between the fact that he says nice things like calls her “babygirl” and seems to like her, but his actions show other wise and that heightened the tension for me.

    Jordyn
    I really like this story. I remember the idea from when we did the two page reading exercise, and I really like where you have gone with the idea! I think you did a lot of things really well this this story, especially the use of dialogue throughout. I often find it hard to formulate honest dialogue that flows naturally, and I think you did a very good job of doing this. I think your use of page breaks worked very nicely, especially in the first one, where you discussed the man leaving to get the warrant and then after the break it was them entering the house, that flowed very nicely for me. I did think that the last scene in the court room could be built up a lot more, playing on the suspense of the trial and the relationship between the two men. I liked the continuous repetition of the playing with the hair, I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but it is one of my nervous ticks as well so this worked well with me.

    Vic
    I really like the way that this story was written. I think you were able to capture the character and personality of the bartender – narrator very well which was something I seemed to be struggling with when writing my story about a character who was also a bartender. I think that the conversation and dialogue throughout seemed very realistic and honest, which made it flow and read very nicely for me. I think your use of page breaks and spacing moves the story along very nicely. I think there were some aspects of the characters life that seemed a little strange, or forced, like how he was sleeping behind the bar or behind on rent so badly. I think that it could maybe be built up more how much he is struggling, and maybe the comparison of when he was happy (maybe) with her and how he beat up he was after. This would add a lot more to the ending and suspense, for me. I did like the ending, and I think the last line “I’m pregnant” is a very powerful way to end the story. It left me wondering how and what was going to happen after, what is the fate of the man and their child/relationship, so I think that was very nicely done.

  6. MEGAN.
    I absolutely love how your piece is so heavily linked with lyrics that so perfectly fit the moment you’re describing. Especially on page two where I’m assuming you referenced, “All I Want” by Kodaline. Either way, it connected with me enough to get the song stuck in my head for the rest of the night. I feel like this is a good move because then it makes your reader connect with your story more because you include actual songs that they may know and love. One thing I will note, however, that your entire story tends to blend together as one and it’s hard to tell when there is time break. Maybe separate these with space or lines to make the separation more clear. On page four, your last paragraph seems to jump after the quote. Maybe add a paragraph at, “I’m brought…” I also love how specific some of your descriptions are. Some that really jumped out to me was the chlorine burned skin and promises to be limitless and dead. Your text messages are a nice touch both story and format-wise. These types of texts really hit me because I’ve experienced it a lot. You did a good job showing an emotionally abusive relationship without being explicit about it. 

    GRACE.
    First off, I really like how relatable and real your story is for a typical female college student. Especially the scene with her friend about being bored and going shopping. That made me laugh. I think the atmosphere/setting/body language/tone could be more deeply described. I noticed this a few times. Like when the mom said, “oh stop it” on page one. I’m not really seeing her implications of that from the shoulder prodding. Maybe add some tension? Also, when her mother is embarrassing her, showing people staring and whispering to add to the embarrassment? Thirdly, you seem to have a lot of different settings in this story. I think the setting needs to be described more in order to set the scene and mood. Later on, on page 5, there is a cut scene that I feel is out of place. I kind of get the point of it, but I feel like it should be fleshed out more for more effect. I also feel like the traumatic scene could be more dragged out to show how much it sticks in her mind. Just some thoughts. 

    JORDYN.
    Nice start so far. I like how you use imagery to show some tension in the story. One example I noted was how you said their eyes crashed like the ocean and sky during a storm. That really painted a picture of how their interaction started. I also liked the part where the narrator is having an internal conflict but then someone responds which brings them back to reality and tells them that their conflict was oral since they were unaware. I feel like you could have more detail about the emotions of the narrator. This is especially noticeable when they are going in to interrogate the suspect. You’d think they’d have a little more of internal conflict to approach the case. Right now, the character seems kind of flat right there. I also feel like the story would be more interesting if you went into more detail with the court scene. Like maybe show the lawyers presenting their cases through dialogue so the reader is brought in closer to the story. Maybe it would also be nice to see what broke them up in a flashback to see what this suspect was like that maybe alluded more to why he might do this. Or even have a cut scene of what actually happened at the crime scene? Just some suggestions as you move forward and develop this story. 

  7. Vic
    If I had to say what this story is, I would say it’s the story of a man who has lost himself after his love left him. I think you have some great descriptions going on in this piece, which works well with the style you’re working with. I like the dialogue but also the sort of inner thoughts of Zuko as he seems to be in combat with his thoughts, specifically of Carrie. As far as questions, I’m unsure of the transition of Carrie leaving to where he is now. Judd found him behind the bar and offered him a job, so was he homeless and the place he has now is from this job? Also, this says a lot about Judd, but we don’t see much from him so I’d question why does a bar owner hire a man sleeping behind his bar? As far as suggestions, I’d suggest, even though I love the detail you use, being a bit more picky with what details to include. For example, you passingly mention Zuko’s hand is scarred, so now I want to know why. Another thing is his interaction with the man at the bar, who said his wife and kids but was called from work, then you ran with the idea that he’s jobless. Really like this piece though!

    Grace
    Really loved this story, which seems to be about a college graduate at dinner with her family reflecting on rough or traumatic moments concerning her and her mother. I think you do a great job with dialogue, description, and writing style. It’s constructed smoothly enough to be believable and not too much that we caught up in flowery language. Also, the repeating phrases worked well too. As far as questions, my main ones would be about Clara and the Dad. I know they’re not the focus of the story, but maybe inserting more of their dialogue would make them more three dimensional. I’m also questioning the interaction at the bar with the narrator and the man she thought was someone else. Perhaps this area could be clearer because this is definitely something big and meaningful but there’s not enough there. Similarly, the section where her mother calls is super short and an interesting interject, but what’s its purpose? What’s the setting? Is it just to show their relationship, the narrator being closed off? Needs just a little something. But overall, I really enjoyed this story and hope you do more with it!

    Jordyn
    If I had to say what this story is about, I would say it’s about a detective on a murder case which points to his ex-boyfriend who is claiming innocence. I think the story and plot of this piece works well, and is super intriguing. I think the transition of events, from station to arrest to interrogation to meeting to court is a good choice. I do have a great many questions, such as why does James do this job? He wants justice, but yet says it’s just a job and then also mentions he likes to watch people panic. Hard to get a read on him. I’m also questioning the believability of police and justice protocol taking place. They take him in unconscious, no rights read, doesn’t ask for phone call or lawyer, they release the prime suspect but not on bail, has a trial already set-up in two days, and the jury comes to a conclusion in a split second. Much of this doesn’t seem to line up with the actual procedure of things, but I think maybe that’s just because it feels so rushed, like we’re running towards that verdict. Maybe you could try to slow it down, use that slow process of events to dig into James and Ben, show us who they are and how they feel because I want to know. You’ve got a lot of great things here but I think it just needs to slow down.

    Megan
    If I had to describe this piece, I would say it’s the story of a woman who is reflecting on her lost love, starting from the most recents events through to how it began. I think this whole stream of consciousness, stuck-in-the-narrator’s-head style is really working for me, not to mention the song lyrics (I think??) which are in the italics. We can really feel what the narrator is feeling, because so much of it is swirling around in her head. The question raised by this would be what about any other characters? The boyfriend or family or friends? So much is tied up in the narrator’s head that there’s no wiggle room for a larger cast, and the boyfriend’s interactions are usually a lack of interaction which makes it difficult to dimensionalize his character maybe. Obviously, he’s not a great guy but who is he? As far as suggestions, I’d look at some of the transitions which come off a bit clunky and kind of threw me sometimes, made me wonder where I was. Even though that style you have going is working in my opinion, you could slow it down to let the reader know where they are while still focusing on the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. Still a super interesting story and I enjoyed the read!

  8. Megan: This is a story about a girl and her relationship with a manipulative guy. The story is told in reverse chronological order, which I think is key to the way the story is told. I think it really makes us aware of what the main character is getting herself into. It makes us wish that we could tell her to stop now, to try and save her from the heart break she would feel. My concern is that I didn’t realize it was going backwards until half way through. I would suggest whatever you can do to clarify that a bit. Was him being absent a lot the only thing wrong? It felt like you might have hinted at him cheating, but I wasn’t certain.

    Jordyn: This is the story of a detective working a case where an ex is the prime suspect in the murder. The detective starts out relatively convinced that it’s him, but by the end he seems to have a change of heart right as the guilty verdict is reached. I think the story is a good idea, working through this guy’s very logical, distrusting nature towards the end where he suddenly believes him. I would suggest doing more description instead of flat out telling, because the things that were described were done really well. Why was the detective allowed to work the case but not allowed to read the statement? If they were worried about him messing up then he should’ve have partaken from the start. That could’ve come in the trial because the detective had a bad relationship with the suspect.

    Vic: This is the story of a man after his divorce, trying to continue through life before finding out that his ex is pregnant. Your word choice and imagery were incredible. I could see everything put in front of me. I got very invested in the male character because he had so many quality traits among his faults. There were a few grammatical errors, but otherwise I don’t have any huge revision ideas. Obvious question: what will happen to them now?

    Grace: Wow. That’s all I could say after reading it. Your writing style and imagery was so smooth and vivid. This is the story of a girl after college graduation recalling the time she was raped, while having drinks with her family. You did an amazing job connecting all the ideas, and answering most questions. It felt very relatable and humanized. There were a few grammatical things/word choice I would reconsider, but otherwise it was great. My only question is what happened during spring break before her mom got her? There was the boy who raped her when she was sick, but I don’t think that was the same event. Was the rape what made her cry and panic during spring break?

  9. Final thoughts on the short story
    Grace Fortin: Over all really liked the realistic feeling and sounding conversations. The dark underling implied connection the mother and daughter have is portrayed very well as well as being quite sad.

    Megan Spina: Incredibly accurate and real feeling portrayal of an abusive relationship. The portray of the feeling of heart break is also excellently described

    Jordyn Ransom: Interesting set up and premise but is hard to follow especially with all the jumps and transitions. feels like it is setting up a larger story.

    Vic Wilbur: Really good premise and well executed. I like how it shows how the small things and reading small goals can help you to stay sane. Good portray of depression

  10. Vic: I feel as though this piece hi-lighted your skill with imagery, and character development. However, I wish you trusted your ability to show the reader what they need through action— because your character development was strong enough to allow some pretty concrete representations of what type of person Zuko truly is. Additionally, I feel as though the story pacing would have also improved if there was more concrete action for the reader to rely on. However, I do feel as though the plot is interesting enough to warrant some fascinating scenes leading to the climactic action of the story. Ultimately, it’s a solid draft that could improve with some more concrete representation of action to give the reader a more realistic sense of time and space.

    Megan: I liked the unique concept of your storytelling and interweaving of song lyrics. As a reader, I wanted a little bit more context of who the character was outside of the music, though— in order to give me a better understanding of exactly what the song lyrics meant to her. Additionally, I was a little bit confused by the series of events throughout the short story. However, I liked the circuitous concept behind the beginning and ending. I felt as though you masterfully indicated the anxiety/tension of the situations the speaker was placed in. Ultimately, I feel this story has a unique concept but could improve with some more character development to push a more solid representation of time/interpretation of the referenced lyrics to contextualize the story.

    Jordyn: I liked that you took a crime/detective narrative approach! (I’m obsessed with Agatha Christie so I really enjoyed the topic). However, I feel as though the dialogue ran the show a bit and rushed your pacing. As a reader, I wanted to know all of the nitty gritty details of the case, whether or not there was any chance of redemption, and what happened in between each plot point. To that end, I think that some more clear examples of character action would better represent the tension and indicate some more suspense (might even be a good opportunity for a flashback). Overall, I liked the concept and the end had my hooked!

    Grace: Your story totally gave me the best Carrie Bradshaw vibes. I like the genuine connection that seemed premeditated between your characters that pushed the flow of the story. However, I did feel that some sections of dialogue transgressed the quality of those relationships so I’d be interested to see how those might be manipulated to better represent the unique relationships you manufactured. Additionally, I felt as though the general plot could use a little bit more clarity. For the story being such a central theme, the time spent on it was relatively minimal. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the scene in South Carolina gave me a lot more context so I’d love to see something similar attributed to the other scene. Overall, a solid draft that was made unique by your care and attention to character contribution and internal monologue.

  11. Grace-
    I thought this story was really good. I loved how you immediately can hear (see?) the voice, the narrator is so relatable though maybe because I am also a girl in college but also because of how you use certain language to describe things. The way that she can’t tell her mom about the time she was raped, the flashback to telling her friend and the realization of what happened-the tension that this builds- is all really good writing. I did want to know more at the end, like what happened/was resolved. I was unsure exactly why her mom was crying (obviously they are drunk) but maybe having it be more of a resolution or something could be helpful. In general, I liked the story and I liked how it all took place during one night, yet we also see back to the past and outside of that moment (if that makes sense). Though I said this already, I think knowing what the narrator has gone through and what she can’t tell her mom really engages the reader in a way that moves us through the story.

    Vic-
    I thought you had a really interesting story. I like that it’s from the point of view of a lonely man, though I think you could find some ways to make his age clearer. I was picturing a younger man while I was reading it, especially from his conversation with the girl at the bar. I wonder if there is a way to sort of “show” his age as older. I thought that the flashback part was necessary because it helped to show his relationship with his ex. I do wonder if there was a way to sort of stress his “shitty” life in order to make the ending more complicated. I did, however, like how you ended it on that. At first I was going to suggest that you add more-what does he feel about it? Does it change his character? But now that I have read it again I think that it may not necessary because if you were to focus on certain parts of Zuke and Carrie throughout the story more-like their relationship- it would be enough,

    Megan-
    I thought you had nice descriptions and I like the title. I did feel a little as though the story wasn’t getting anywhere, that it was stuck in the details. Though I think referring to the boyfriend as “you” can be effective, in some cases it was a little confusing. I think that adding some more “action” as opposed to description could be beneficial and help move the reader through the story. While you did a nice job conveying the emotions of the narrator I wanted to “see” it more and have less time in the narrator’s head. I might also suggest that the lyrics be taken out as I think it draws away from the storyline and this might help with some of the missing action as well.

    Jordyn –
    I really like the idea of your story and the characters. I think that Ben being the narrator’s ex-boyfriend really adds tension and if there was a way you could further explore this I think it might make their relationship seem more dynamic and also up to his moment of realization at the end. I also liked how instead of being a murder mystery it ended up being almost more of a love story -I think that if you were to build on this element, maybe through their affection for each other or a flashback to a moment together- it would play on the emotional aspect. You also had really good use of dialogue and I think for a story like this is important, especially because of what it shows about your characters. I did have some questions-like would the detective be able to interview an ex-boyfriend? And would the trial happen that quickly? I realize that it doesn’t necessarily have to make

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