Kait: I really liked the journal entry idea, and I think it really helped to move the story along. Having each day helped us to not feel stuck and like we were waiting for something to happen, since we were always placed right into the action. I’m also a huge fan of dialogue, but I think this story really worked without it! It ran smoothly and having only the main character’s thoughts really helped. There wasn’t any muddying of the water. I’m so curious to know what happens next! I want more of what she does, and if she gets caught. Because obviously he’s moved on and she isn’t happy at all. And it ends with such a dramatic calling of what she wants, that I feel like we need closure to know what happens. Not necessarily a nice “bow” ending, but something that tells me whether or not he’s actually a monster, and if she gets caught or not. The only thing that messed me up throughout the story was the changing between present and past tense. I don’t know if it was intentional, but maybe checking on that and editing it could help ease some confusion.
Delaney: I really liked how you alternated between the two characters and the “two stories”. I think having the two different point of views also really helped develop them. I was a little confused at first, but once I understood that it was two points of view, it all made sense. I also really liked how the voice of your story was so clear, and it fit with what you wrote. It didn’t feel out of place or forced, it just flowed really naturally. I had so many questions throughout the story, but it progressed so naturally that I felt like I was just waiting for all the puzzle pieces to come together, and it didn’t really bother me to have so many questions. Your ending was also such a shock! I liked it, and I liked the surprise factor. However, it did seem a little sudden, so maybe adding more aspects into Dirk’s part that show he has a medical condition might help. I want to know a lot more about the “ghost stories” and “Death Valley” parts though. I think adding a little more into the paragraphs/ point of view sections might help address some of these things and just give the reader more of a background.
Adam: I liked how easy it was to understand this story, despite knowing nothing about dog racing. You made it really easy to follow, and it felt really relatable, especially the dumb college moments, despite not knowing anything about the main topic of the story. I also really liked the way you wrote the story with little subtle hints of tension, whether it was between the two main characters or the dog racer and his sport/ competition. It really added to the story and helped make it feel like we were there in it. I liked how abrupt the turn around was from him saying he’d never do another crazy scheme, to then being immediately in the scheme and leaving it. I think the way you wrote it so that we weren’t stuck in the scene of his being talked into it or stealing the dog was really nice. It helped move us along, and keep the story going. My only suggestion would be to maybe add more in between them stealing the dog and her showing up to get it? I felt like it came on really fast. It does make sense for her to have a tracker and get there right away, I suppose, I just wonder what would happen if he had gotten away with it?
Sinead: I liked all the descriptions of your story. They were so detailed and striking, that it was hard not to notice them. They really enhance your story. I also liked how you wrote Marie getting distracted. I think it showed just how nervous she was, because she kept thinking of different things, things that could distract her. It’s something people do, and I think it really worked and really helped show more of Marie’s personality. The way you describe her diagnosis and how she processes it also really works, and from what I know, it feels really accurate and true. Nothing seems forced or fake. I also really just want more. I really like the story and I just want to see where it goes, and how it gets there.
This is the story of the last day of Dirk and the subsequent day his child finds out about his death. I really loved how these two seemingly separate stories converged at the end. At first they felt unrelated, but the more I read the more similarities I saw between the child and Dirk: their constant wondering and thinking, similar thought structure, etc. As usual I loved your repeating ideas and description, especially when you were describing the smiles through memories or relatable events. Some questions I have is why are the mother and Dirk not together? Who needed a donor that would require Dirk to be on file? Why were the children and mother told by the bank rather than the hospital who received his body? I don’t have too many suggestions other than considering using contractions because some points using “I am” or “it is” feels clunky compared to “I’m” or “it’s.”
This is the story of two old college friends hanging out, drinking, and eventually stealing a greyhound pup for racing. I really like the repeating idea that their friendship is based solely based in the past and is superficial. I like how the friend doesn’t have a name- although the narrator has friends with names (those that are supposedly important), the tension on the lack of understanding in their current lives, and the reliance of doing things “for old time sakes.” The biggest question I’m left with is what happens now? It felt like the story was ended at the climax. As the reader I need to know what happens. Does the friend abandon the narrator and say it was his idea? Does Charlotte press charges for the theft? Is the narrator’s career over? I would suggest just finishing it out and consider some grammatical issues.
This is the story of a woman who gets diagnosed with lung cancer at a consultation. I like the description and closeness the reader has with the main character, Marie. We get to hear everything in her head and the memories things are tied with, like the eyebrows. I like the repeating ideas of the hand sanitizer and the swimming pool. My question is what happens after? She’s gotten her diagnosis so what is she going to do now? It felt like this was a great introduction, but hasn’t gone anywhere just yet. You could have her change from being aggressive and upset to acceptance, or slight discomfort to completely falling apart at the end, but we need some kind of shift to feel like we’ve reached some place at the end. Obviously you don’t have an ending your satisfied with, so take these as simply suggestions.
Your writing style is so unique. They way you heavily describe things using metaphor forces me to constantly be thinking about the significance and meaning of them while reading them and long after. This could be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s beautiful and powerful when the message is received. However, I am left with so many questions without clarity. I can’t figure out if the narrator of the parts with the mother speaking is someone other than Dirk. Is Dirk their father? Something you do really well is building suspense. The fact that you drag on the letter was killing me in a good way. I was also interested in the repetition of survival but I was unsure of the connection to the story. Maybe make this more explicit as a theme?
First off, I love the playful dynamic between the two college buddies. Maybe it would be helpful to include a scene or two of flashbacks of them during that time in their life instead of just having them reflect on it. That would strengthen the clarity of the relationship between them as well as the understanding of them as characters for the reader. I liked the theme about nostalgia but I’m unsure if the message was that reliving old times might not be the best idea because of getting into trouble? Also, when the friend is trying to convince him to go steal the dog, I’d like to see him have more of an internal/visible struggle to decide. Maybe he could consider the pros and cons of it. It would also be interesting to see them planning how to execute it. I feel like this is just jumped over quickly.
This story is about a girl that’s going through a cancer diagnosis and it’s all about how she’s grasping the information. The way you describe things is so vivid that I could actually see the scene that was happening on the page because of the details you focus on. Like how you talked about the sterile hospital having a strong smell that is meant to mask death like she used to mask her smoke smells. Connecting things to memories is very cool. I’d like to know more about Lauren. Does she have more significance in the story? Maybe include a flashback scene to show what the narrator’s life was like in the past which can really differ from how she is now. I’m unsure what significance the reflection on her mom’s boyfriend has to the story. I like how you started off with her being just in shock and then she shifts to being mad when the doctor calls it her cancer. Which is a big shift from the beginning when she wants to say a sassy remark, but keeps herself under control.
This starts out like it is going to focus on a sociopath, however, it’s more about how the victim of his games obsesses over him after their break-up. The fact that this is presented in diary entries gives us a look into the person’s brain and thus the reader is left to make assumptions about what’s going on under the surface here. By this I mean that there is no commentary on her actions allowed by diaries so the commentary must come from the reader. I’m unsure if this man is actually a sociopath because there is such little detail given about him other than when the narrator is explaining what she thinks he is. But he seems normal as they come. I know she keeps saying that nobody believes who he is but maybe we need an entry that describes her trying to tell someone about what he’s like where they don’t believe her. Because she is constantly saying that but we don’t see it happening. See what I mean? Some of your phrases really hit me; especially the one about singing him to sleep. Ouch. It shows a real connection but I wish I could see more into his head. Maybe have alternating journal entries for each person. That would be interesting to get both sides. You do a great job showing her desperation though.
I really liked the way it started out seeming like the pov person was trying to do good. but as the plot advances and we see more of them we see how they slowly unravel and become less stable. Especially at the end where it seems like the pov person finally snapped is planning on killing the person they’ve been stalking.
A few times it seemed like you forgot to hit the spacebar to separate words but other than that the spelling and grammar look good to me.
I liked the story, the way things were described and the inner monologue of the character fits really well and feels very natural. However it was a little hard to follow at times but it was a good story overall. I liked the ending and the kinda soft sadness that I felt through most of it.
Good premise, good execution, good ending. Overall really liked the story, it was funny, interesting and had a unique setting. I like to focus on the background connections the two main characters have. I also liked the ending and the details included to make the main character seem like they do know a lot about greyhound racing.
Short story two
There have been a lot of stories about people reacting to a cancer diagnosis but despite that this story still manages to stand out from them. The descriptions of how the character sees their cancer and the world around them is very descript and engaging. I agree that the ending needs something more but aside from that I very much enjoyed it.
You start with a good use of description to show where the narrator starts us off instead of just stating it. You do a really good job at developing the protagonist very quickly so that the reader has a good grasp of their attitude and opinions right off the bat. It makes the story more engaging. All of the characters in this story are very nicely layered and you are very successful in slowly peeling back these layers for the reader. I’m a little confused at the mention of the mom’s boyfriend. I don’t entirely understand how it is relevant to the story. Also, I wish Lauren was touched on a little bit more. She seems like she could be a really interesting character. Overall, I think that one of the biggest improvements you could make to this story is the length. I feel like it would be really good if it were a little longer OR if you really cut it back and made it into a flash fiction piece.
In the beginning of your story I was hooked by the idea that we didn’t know what happened at the grocery store and thus wanted to read further. However, I feel that the structure could be improved upon as it reads in a very cliche way. Be careful of your tense. At the end of your first real paragraph, you switch between past and present and since it doesn’t seem intentional it makes everything around it sound confusing and muddled. Again, in the next paragraph, I am continuing to pick up on tense changes that are really making things confusing and honestly take away from the story. I like your structure with the multiple journal entries with different dates. It’s a very clever way to highlight events and show time progression. The way the narrator talks about “him” is so accurate. It hits me right in the feels. Your use description really paints a picture. It creates very rich imagery. I think there are certain areas when you can go into more detail. Like when you say he was frustrated and punched a tree. Why was he so frustrated? Did she do something that was wrong in his eyes? She’s lowkey a stalker and I feel like that makes her more relatable. The trash can placement seems too convenient. It would be more realistic if she had to move it, even just a little. Your main character went from revisiting and reliving trauma to “aight, Imma go into his house and FIND HIS FAMILY in like a few sentences. I think you need a more gradual shift.
Starting off the story with dialogue is a great way to hook a reader. It really just throws you right into the characters reality. “State College” seems a little too vague. I would use an actual name, even if it’s a made up name. There is an odd play in this story between leaning into stereotypes in some areas but then totally defying them in others which gives your characters a deep sense of complexity. This story seems to be a tale of friendship between roommates drifting apart, at least in the very beginning. I enjoy the use of scars as a metaphor for their friendship. The friendship seems to be portrayed as superficial through depictions of shared moments. The idea of living in the past and never being able to completely move on seems to be very prevalent throughout the story. I may be wrong, but I think you’re using greyhound racing as a metaphor for running away and the fact that he has never one shows that he can’t escape the past.
The line “These choices know how we die, I think- feeling the world slow down.” is by far one of the most intriguing and well written lines in this story. It really makes me think as a reader and reflect on my own choices and such. The point of view and narration changes with the addition of third person in the second paragraph is a little confusing. While I do love the further insight that the third person perspective gives us, I feel like with everything else you have going on, it’s a little confusing. I would personally remove the third person and find a way to make your other point of views give the same amount of rich detail. I very much so enjoy the shorter paragraph structure. I think it added to the story telling quality of your piece. The character relationships were confusing at times and I didn’t always see where they connected. The mentioning of ghost stories throughout the work is very well executed. The twist ending and all of the unexpected turns in the character to character relationships, and all of the questions that are proposed and briefly brought up throughout the story that never really get answered brought another level of wondering and contemplation to the reading experience.
Kaitlyn- Wow, I really liked it! A terribly horrifying read. I caught on pretty quickly that the narrator was a little off- they had a surprising amount of knowledge on sociopathy and quickly all but admitted they were stalking him. I liked reading the decline into madness and how one obsessive behavior, writing about the man in their diary, can spiral all the way into threatening his livelihood and reputation by spreading rumors to his coworkers or even potentially harming him or his date. It was short but sweet and while I wouldn’t mind more journal entries, I feel like what you already have is a good length and adding more could potentially be fluff.
Adam- Overall, I feel like this story has an interesting premise, I have never read a story about dog racing before, but it doesn’t feel fully realized. We never learn the main characters’ names and I had a hard time connecting to the narrator’s personality. I thought we would learn more about him through his friendship with his college buddy, but he is also really hard to get a read on. The one real problem I had with the story was an offhand mention that Charlotte once held an auction where the winner would receive one of her puppies. I know many professional dog breeders, and where the puppies go and who they are bred with to compete and sell puppies is strictly monitored and maintained, so it is highly unlikely that this would even be on the table, even if Charlotte never fully intended to give the dog away. I’d really like to see where the story goes from here; Charlotte could easily press charges for stealing her dog and deciding what she does next and where that pushes the story will be interesting to see.
Sinead- I really liked the start you have. Being able to sit down and read this, I can really appreciate your writing style, specifically how you write imagery. The main character, Marie, has an interesting way of seeing the world and you describe it well as her. Her reflection of easier days in the past compared to her resentment of her doctor pair well together to show how things have changed, especially Marie’s outlook on life. You said that the story didn’t have the ending you wanted and I can honestly say I have no idea where you can go from here. The possibilities seem pretty limitless as to what Marie can do now and what part of her life you want to observe. Whether you want to focus on her diagnosis and the future or continue as an introspective moment-in-time, I feel like Marie can carry the story on her narration alone. You have a lot to work with here and I’m interested in where you will take this story.
Delaney- Okay, I have so many questions! I really like your writing style, and I am especially fond of your scene cuts, they always work really well and never feel out of place for the tension you are writing with. Even though the story feels done, I really, really want it to continue because I want to know more. What I understand so far: Dirk is set to be an organ donor for someone in the family of many aunts and Dirk’s death seems to have complicated this greatly. I’m not sure who the donation was for, the first person narrator, the mother, or the brother, but I feel like it could have easily been any of them and still had the same impact on the narrator. The narrator sharing their family history and admiration of their mother lends a feeling that they really care for their family, and that a loss like this could be devastating to them for whatever medical reason. I want to know more about who Dirk is and if he has any other relation to the narrator. I want to know more about the narrator and what this loss means to them and their family. While I feel like I have a strong grasp of the family just by how the narrator spoke of them, learning more about them too couldn’t hurt. Overall, I really like this story and I just want more.
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