exchange writing

For confidential exchange of story critiques
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exchange writing

Postby capt367272 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:50 am

I have several short stories, Sci Fi and other topics. I also have a novel done, almost done with the second novel. I would like to get helpful feedback. Jim

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Re: exchange writing

Postby Ishmael » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:38 am


I also have a novel sitting and waiting for me to make myself a little more visible through short stories. Since it is usually thought that first chapters are crucial in grabbing the attention of the reader, I wonder if you would be interested in exchanging crits on first chapters. My first chapter is around 1840 words. I have just looked at it for the first time since joining this forum and I see some problems for myself, but a second pair of eyes couldn't hurt.

If this idea is of any interest, please drop me a PM.
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Re: exchange writing

Postby ztys89 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:55 am

Here's a story I've been working on, and just finally finished (it'd be quite a while since I finished a piece of writing)
I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone who reads it thinks.

Eyes. The surrounding blackness made it difficult to know for sure, but she felt certain that’s what they were; eyes, staring impassively from the wrinkled hollows of some unseen face. She found them both, frightening and alluring: cobalt blue at the center-most part, fading in to a blue-grey translucence that reminded Susana of the clearing sky after some great downpour. Pale skin hugged prominent cheekbones, creasing slightly at the corners of the mouth like saran wrap pulled a little too tightly over a concave surface. It’s smiling, Susana thought to herself.
She stepped forward through the doorway, into her bedroom which was meticulously clean, aside from the crumpled mass of clothes she had shed before climbing into bed. The mattress between her and her nightly visitor now sat empty, sheets peeled back. The curtains were pulled, limiting the light in the room to a subliminal pale orange glow as it had every time since she’d first had this dream. She knew that was all it really was; and she also knew that any moment now she’d awaken in a cold sweat, sitting bolt upright, alone in the room with her heart finally winning the race against her terrified mind. That didn’t make it any less frightening.
The thing at her window lifted an impossibly thin arm from the shadows; extending its long, grossly disproportionate hand towards her. Susana took a step forward despite her screaming brain’s protests. This is how it goes. Don’t worry yourself; just let it play out. Any second now you’ll be awake, and everything will be okay. The Calm One’s voice came from nowhere and everywhere, both internal, and external. Her voice, and that of a stranger all at once.
She was at the bed now, strenuously lifting her leaden arm out towards the thing, which beckoned her. A spider web-crease spread from the corners of the other’s mouth up toward lobeless ears, as the oblong head seemingly split open, revealing hundreds of needle-like teeth jutting forth from blackened, filth encrusted gums. Okay, panic. Panic now. Wake up. Grab the lamp on the nightstand, and club the bastard. Do SOMETHING! The Calm One now sounded as crazy as the whole dream appeared.
There is no lamp, Susana noted woefully. There had been before she’d fallen asleep. Only a month ago, the lamp had been there in the dreams, as well, well within reach. Not this time, however, and her fingers were trembling so badly as they made contact with moist chalk-colored flesh that she knew they were too far out of her realm of control to perform such an act of retaliation even if it would save her life. No, this time all she could do was watch in horror as the top half of the only somewhat human head fell backwards, and the countless glittering deadly needle-sharp teeth protruded out towards her like those of a viper in mid-strike. It pulled her, with immense strength, so that she stooped at a near 90-degree angle over the bare mattress, her gaze transfixed on the large, globular eyes that had frozen her still so many times before, a scream of terror barely past her larynx as the creature lunged toward her with lightning speed.
She was still screaming after she’d realized the dream had ended. The blinds, in actuality, were wide open, and bright morning light entered through the grand window to the right of her Victorian-style bed, emanating from the cloudless Vancouver sky, and bouncing off the crystalline waters of Buntzen Lake. A flock of geese flew above two multi-party canoes that rowed dreamily through the center of it all. Despite the 73-degree reading on a digital thermometer to the right of her doorway across the room, the sheer cotton nightgown she wore was matted to her body with perspiration.
As the thudding in her chest decelerated, Susana swiped the little white Imitrex bottle from it's location next to her laptop on the bedside table, and choked two of the pills down dry. The migraines, amplified by the incessant bleating of an old fashioned alarm clock which Susana now smashed into submission with the palm of her hand, had coincided with the emergence of the nightmare a little less than a month and a half ago. "It's just the stress of being out on your own, sweetie. It'll pass", the glaring flaw in with her mother's attempt at reassurance was that outside of meeting her self-assigned deadline for completing the murder mystery novel she had hopes of getting published, and constantly waking up in fear for her life, Susana didn't have much to stress over. The landlord of the townhouse apartment she was staying in had accepted payment for the entire year in one lump sum, and a part-time barista gig at the Starbucks up the road paid enough to support her quazi-minimalistic lifestyle.
Swinging her legs off the bed, the Imitrex kicking in to quell the pounding in her skull, Susana rose groggily to her feet. The dream changed again she thought to herself, raking a hand through the raven tresses of hair that hung about her face, stinging her eyes as she moved to close the blinds. Early on, the dream hadn't been nearly as malicious, consisting mostly of her heavily shadowed apartment, and the shallow breathing of whatever it was that had attacked her. If not for the undeniable sense of a second presence in the room, and the consistency with which the uneasy emptiness invaded her sleep, there really wasn't any correlation between those dreams, and what they'd given way to in later weeks. The progression from frightening her to killing her didn't exactly evoke a feeling of relief, as Susana slid out of the night gown, the nocturnal images fell from her memory, becoming slippery and thin, as dreams often times do upon waking.
Pulling a topaz V-neck t-shirt over her head, Susana turned to leave the bedroom, but before she could reach the door something caught her attention. She crossed the room, back in the direction of her laptop, which rarely ever slept, grabbing a mismatched sock from the woven clothes hamper at the foot of her bed, and wiped the growing rivulet of red liquid from the computer's screen which displayed an image from Clive Barker's "The Thief of Always", in which a young boy sits calmly, his face peering through the open mouth of some fanged, demonic beast. A shiver ran up Susana's spine as she cleaned a second bead from the jagged teeth. Whatever it was held the consistency of Karo syrup, and the distinct scent of copper.
A sudden knock came from the front door, further in the apartment, accompanied by a familiar muffled voice, "Suze, it's Ryan, you home?"
Work, had the word left her mouth as it entered her mind, the amount of venom it carried would have been enough to put down a small army, or village population. As she made her way through the apartment, passing clusters of photos that adorned both walls of the creamsicle-colored hallway, and into the foyer with its impressive stone hearth, the image of her bleeding monitor still had her mentally floored, making it nearly impossible to think of anything other than what dear 'ol mom would think when she was delivered the tasty bit of gossip that her daughter had been committed to Riverview Mental Institution nearby. Another set of knocks began as Susana removed the chain lock, and opened the door to the third floor hallway where Ryan waited for her smiling warmly. He'd begun working for Starbucks the very day Susana had flown up from California, and was the closest she'd come to developing an actual friendship since then. Ryan stood a slight 5'9, and the large dew-drenched leather jacket he wore now gave him a mousy appearance. Beneath the jacket, his forest green coffee shop uniform both mimicked, and amplified the hue of his eyes to near perfection.
"Hey", Susana smiled half-heartedly, swooping her uniform from its resting place on the ruby colored leather DHP Delaney double-sleeper chair.
"Hey", Ryan returned the greeting, "how're you? Been writing any more lately?", Susana turned in the direction of Ryan's gaze which was fixed on a stack of typed pages on the fold out dinner tray in front of the double-sleeper.
"That's...something new, I've been so sidetracked lately", Ryan was in the progress of earning his BS in English with a concentration in creative writing at Douglas College which made him a useful editing partner. "Actually, did you want to take a look? I can bring it with us. It's just a first edit"
"I'd love to. I know what a headache it can be when you're stuck on something day after day", you have no idea, Susana thought to herself, picking up the loose leaf sheets, feeling the relief sweep through her body, thankful he hadn't asked her to fetch the laptop, the Imitrex bottle peeking from her shirt pocket as the two left for work.
Mornings were always hectic, people lined up shuffling to the counter dead-eyed as most pre-caffeine early morning business-zombies do. A man in his early 40's with a square jaw, and buzz-cut hair, obviously dyed the same deep nutmeg brown as the cup of joe Susana now handed him smiled sleepily, thanking her as he walked through the horde of lazily trudging individuals who fortunately had not yet developed a taste for human flesh, but who, Susana guessed, were only a poorly made coffee, or 10-minute wait away from making that transformation.
"Wells, you can take your ten now, or wait 'till I get back from my half. Which'll it be?", Tracy, a surly, bronzed slab of woman from Brazil stood in the nook by the drive through window at the back of the restaurant.
"I'll go now" Susana replied, suddenly full of pep and vigor, struggling to keep herself from lunging to the register where she'd be able to clock out. After doing so, and making her way to the twin glass doors at the mouth of the store, Susana vaguely recalled hearing Tracy ask her to fill the espresso mix when her ten minutes were up.

 "The preacher lifted the sickle, holding it out in front of him, the silver blade glinting ever so slightly in the glimmering illumination of a nearby street light. 'I shall request or desire, declaring also to me my very name. And this I command in thy part to do, and to obey thereunto, as unto thy own lord and master', I could see Emily's face, illuminated more by the circle of ruby-colored candles shimmering at her feet inside the preacher's garage. The expression on her little face was one of absolute horror, one I wished would fall from her countenance immediately, but it didn't. Even as the flame of each candle grew to tremendous height, and fell on her, the scent of burning hair, and flesh coupling with the angry screams of those of us standing in that court, all buried beneath Emily's own cries, leaving only the imagery of whole patches of her seared flesh falling away, and dispersing, upon contact with the ground, in repetitious plumes of ashes"

"That's...kind of intense for a murder mystery", Ryan looked up from reading, the expression he wore was indiscernible, either a "wow, good job on your story", or "what in the World is wrong with you?"

"I told you it was different", Susana smirked, and taking the cigarette from Ryan, and inhaling deeply. "It's just more...eager to be told, than the other one, you know?", he smiled and nodded. She liked him. What she didn't like was how quickly time seemed to pass when you weren't "on the clock". Susana flicked the butt out the window, and took the few pages from Ryan's grasp, as they both climbed out of his '99 Mustang, already stealing themselves against their return to the daily drawl.
Tracy wanted the espresso filled, check. Hefting the bag of high fructose corn-shit to sit atop the square metal mouth of the machine, and removing its lid with her free hand, Susana was about to commence pouring, but was distracted by a strand of garnet amidst the swirling chocolate, starting at the stainless steel focus of the circular bowl, and twisting hypnotically in the brew. Susana regarded the red streak curiously, as other apparently solid shapes made their existance known, and something horrible, and unreal floated to the surface. Her own face stared back at her, soaked with coffee syrup, it stared up at her from on intact eye. The other protruded horribly from her broken face, swollen full with blood. Below the mashed upper half of her face, pale and beaded with condensation, the pale blue lips of the face that stared back at her peeled back, tearing the skin at either edge of her mouth, inside of which numerous pointed teeth glistened with a grotesque mixture of blood and saliva.
"Fuck!", Susana jumped away from the machine, losing her grip on the bag of liquid, which sprayed freely, spilling on to the floor in a massive puddle.
"Susana!", Tracy cried, sliding to a stop at the puddles edge. Everything felt slow, as if happening under water, and then her vision began to fade, transitioning from wriggling, cloudy lines that distorted the faces of her concerned co-workers, to a horrendously painful feathery, purple mist-like cloud, and then nothing. When she finally came to, she and Ryan were rolling up the drive way, into the parking lot at her apartment.
"What happened?", Susana asked, blinking the sleep from her eyes.
"I was going to ask you the same thing. Are you feeling any better?", the car came to a stop, and Ryan eyed her suspisciously, but obviously with good intentions.
"I feel fine. I-I...don't know what happened. Fuck, my head hurts..."

"You passed out, I guess. Stayed on the floor for a couple minutes, but seemed to wake up, and said your head hurt, so I got the okay from Tracy to take you home for the day. What was the screaming about?" that's when it all came back to her. Coming back from her break, seeing herself all mutilated, and torn apart.

"Nothing. I uh, I twisted my ankle, and it hurt. I fell, and hit my head. Seriously, I'm fine" I can't believe I freaked out at work, it was easier to tell herself that she'd "freaked out", seem something that wasn't really there, and fallen than to believe anything else. That's all it was, and that's fucking all it was. "Thanks for driving me back, that was really sweet of you. I don't know many guys who'd get in a car with a psychopath who just cracked their head open on nothing" a socially awkward tear of embarrassment coupled with fear slid down her left cheek as she smiled.
"What makes you think you're a psycopath?" Ryan poked, giggling lightly as he too smiled, and then it was just a matter of time before they both liked the way the other one smiled so much that they had to taste it. The kiss was a sweet, soft, reassuring one, oddly, and utterly void of "what am I doing?” His saliva was sweet to the taste, Ryan’s toung, soft, and warm, seemed to bulge, and wriggle in Susana's mouth, and she felt inexplicably sick. Something split in her mouth, spewing liquids down her throat, and she fought against Ryan's body to pull away, only able to back away so much, she finally lunged forward with her shoulder, knocking him back against the driver-side door of the car, but what stared back at her was a perfectly human male, looking like he suddenly wished he hadn't given the troubled girl from work a ride home.
“Listen, I’m sorry”, Ryan spoke quickly over Susana’s sputtered excuses, and confusion, “I’m just gonna go. Are you…are you sure you’re okay?"
At this moment, there were only two things she was sure of: she wasn’t okay, and she didn’t want him to leave her alone, but a migraine erupted; localized in her temple on the right side of her head, and she winced, nodding absently, and climbed from the passenger door, into the brightly lit courtyard, watching as he backed out of the parking lot.
"What's wrong with you?", Susana asked herself, shaking her head, turning to enter the apartment complex. Thinking of what a fool she'd just made herself out to be caused the boiling ache in her head all that much worse, and she quickly popped two more Imitrex, walking through the empty lobby, cursing herself silently as she went. What she wanted was to lay down, but what she needed was to have her head examined. Obviously she hadn't seen anything in the machinery at work, it was an odd reflection of light off liquid. It was the lingering thoughts that accompanied her brain through every day she woke from that damned nightmare. It was diminishing her quality of life is what it was.
The elevator pinged as its doors slid open, and a group of five eagerly chattering individuals spilled forth from the pale yellow luminescence, regarding her coldly with their large, glassy eyes the color of an interminably deep iced over body of water. Fuck! Susana turned from the open elevator doors, and the emerging bodies in favor of the stairwell. Walking at a heated pace, the shimmering purple-white haze at the edge of her vision barely registered with her as she reached the second floor landing. At the top of the stairs in front of her, multiple cardboard boxes sat by an open door, packed full of clothes, children's toys, and other miscellaneous objects.
"Susana, I-" Ryan's voice from somewhere behind, and below her broke the concentration she'd devoted to pretending her head might actually not explode, and as Susana turned to look behind her, she only managed one more step of forward momentum. Her right foot came down on an R/C car that had apparently spilled out of the tennant's belongings causing her legs to slide out from under her. Falling into the now very apparent cloud of blurred colors, and fuzzy, worm-like lines that peppered her field of vision, Susana only felt the first contact her body made with the ground as she fell backwards down the stairs; her head hitting the wooden step with a frightening crack.

"Hey, hey! She's opening her eyes, look!", it was a female voice that woke her.
"Susana, how are you feeling? It's me" this time definitely male. Blinking her eyes repeatedly, hoping they'd adjust to the lighting so the multiple unnamed voices could be identified.
"Susy, you had me so scared!", a weight fell on her, but not heavily; arms enveloping her with a maternal sort of loving softness. Mom?
"You're blinking an awful lot", no shit I am. I can't see, don't know where I am, and the last I remember, I was going..."I appologize if you're having trouble seeing. You took a pretty nasty spill at the apartment", another male voice; this one she didn't recognize, but felt almost certain the other voice belonged to Ryan.
"I took a what?", she saw them clearly now. Susana was laying in a hospital bed with her mother, Ryan, and a man who's medical garb said he was a doctor from Eagle Ridge hospital several miles south of her apartment standing over her.
"You fell. After I left, I felt really bad for doing it, and I drove back to your place. You were going up the stairs and, when I called your name you fell down an entire flight of stairs. I brought you here, and the hospital staff called-"
"Me, they called me, oh sweety, are you really okay?", the noticable amount of worry in her mother's eyes said there was something more than what Susana had been told, and then it spilled out into the world of terrifying audible news. "When I got the call that you were in the hospital with a tumor, I-"
"Wait...a what?", a tumor.
"That's why the lights are so low. If it's bothering you, I can turn them back up. It's just the drops we use to dialate your eyes. You had a small, benign tumor on your brain's temporal lobe. After I heard about the migraines you'd been suffering from, and the incident at your work place, it made sense. They're called familial hemiplegic migraines. Brought on by the tumor, they can cause ephemeral visual hallucinations, which are fairly common. A foggy, out-of-focus light, and insome cases, more complex visions. I wanted to be sure that it hadn't spread to your retina, and become Choroidal Melanoma", so you dilated my eyes.

This was a hell of a thing to wake up to: "the reason you've been seeing all sorts of weird, fucked up things is that you had a brain tumor. Congratulations, who knew?", at the same time, she wasn't crazy. At least there was that to fall back on. Plus, she was alive, there was that too.
"You're going to have to stay here for the next few days so we can monitor if in fact, it does reemerge, but you're doing incredibly well. I'll leave you with your visitors for a while, and if you need me for anything, press the button on your bedside" then, with a smile, the doctor vanished from the room.
Nothing weird, no monstrous entity, no chopped up Susana in the machinery at work...just a brain tumor. Her mind kept going back to that point, and why shouldn't it? She was sane and alive, and incapable of asking for much more than that. Ryan knelt down beside her, the smile he wore caused dimples to form at his cheeks, much the same way saran wrap does when pulled ever so slightly over a concave surface. Ryan raised his hand to brush a few stray bits of hair from her face. Susana strenuously lifted her leaden arm from its resting place on the hospital bed, and he took her hand in his. Silly boy, his hand was slightly moist to the touch, he'd been worried about her.
Those medical eye drops were rough, she could see much better now, but it was still somewhat difficult, her relaxed pupils craving any bit of light to intake, and form into visual information for her befuddled brain. For how skinny he was, Ryan was surprisingly strong. He leaned in toward her, smile still spreading out across his face. Take that life! I had a BRAIN TUMOR and I'm still here. I'm sane, and I'm here with such a sweet guy. I'm-
Susana never got to finish her thought, as the top half of Ryan's head fell back, the numerous needle-like teeth that filled the hollow of his face glinted, sinister, and deadly in the encroaching darkness. Just as a scream began to leave her mother's throat, Ryan lunged forward at lightening speed, those razor sharp teeth cleaving a good portion of Susana's face from her skull.

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Re: exchange writing

Postby MJNL » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:13 pm

Hi Zach,

Just FYI, this forum is not for directly posting your stories. It's for asking if someone would like to privatley exchange work for critique. This is for two reasons:

One, it's not a password protected forum, which means that whatever is posted here is considered published--just like if you were to post a story on a blog, for instance. Most editors do not want to buy stories if they are available elsewhere, or have been avaiable, for free access to the public. So we don't post full stories here in order to protect our sales rights.

Two, asking for a formal exchange ensures you know what type of feed back you're getting, and that the two parties are happy with what's being exchanged. Sometimes people only want to exhange small portions, other times the entire peice. Also, formatting is preserved in a private echange. Right now your story has lost most of its formatting, making it hard to read.

So, at this point I recomend you edit your post to remove your story (it's been up breifly enough at this point that I don't think you're in danger of losing first rights) and start a new topic asking for an exchange.

Welcome to the forum!

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Re: exchange writing

Postby geoedwar » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:09 pm

I know most everyone on the forums knows about but, if not, it's good. I submitted a story and have received 17 critiques so far (and I still have a day left). None of them have made me want to cry myself to sleep yet wotf007

I've learned A LOT reading these critiques. They come from all different angles. Some of the "critters" specialize in grammar, others point out inconsistencies. I must say... it's pretty great.
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” -Voltaire-

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