Welcome to the 6th episode of #Pyro! The rules are short and easy: your job is to read this story and critique it! Please remember our purpose is to HELP the writer, so (1) focus your comments on the story, not the writer; (2) try to address story elements specifically (WHAT works/doesn’t work, and WHY/HOW); (3) be honest but kind (imagine someone is giving you this feedback). Ad hominem or mean-spirited comments will be deleted. And now, here’s a story for your reading & critiquing pleasure, with many thanks to the writer who courageously volunteered it.
A Writer’s Life
Written by One of You 🙂
The police detective followed the med tech down the long hallway. Painted the universal hospital green, the walls seemed to stretch to infinity, the doors evenly spaced. The whole thing looked like a scene from one of the Matrix movies and was a bit unnerving to a newly minted detective.
The med tech, also in the ubiquitous white outfit found in mental hospitals, paused before one door and slid the cover over the small observation window to the right. The detective peered inside then looked at the med tech.
“That’s a padded room,” the detective said.
“Yeah, we keep a few of them ready,” replied the med tech. “For special cases.”
The detective peered inside again. The creature crouched in one corner of the padded cube was the epitome of wretched. Gaunt, hair and beard unkempt, eyes darting wildly about, dark circles like black holes in his face. He had curled into a fetal position, hands clenched beneath his chin, his mouth gibbering, drool pooling beside his head. Yellow and brown stains marred the crisp, white padding in the room.
“Geez,” the detective said. “He’s a real nut case.”
“Which is why he’s here,” the tech said. “I assume you saw the apartment we took him from.”
“Yeah. A hoarder’s paradise. We’re more interested in the fact that the iMac he tossed out the window almost hit a woman with a kid in a stroller on the street. It was the usual thing. Neighbors said he was quiet, they hardly ever saw him outside the apartment, then he went nuts,” the detective said. “So what’s the diagnosis? Paranoid schizo? Psycopath? PCP? What?”
“Naw,” the tech said, sliding the door over the observation window closed again. “More basic than any of that.”
“He’s a writer.”
QUESTIONS you may wish to address:
- Does the first line catch your interest?
- How is pacing — does the story move smoothly from beginning to end?
- Does the dialogue sound realistic/natural? (If not, which lines?)
- Are the characters developed effectively within the confines of this piece? Are they realistic? Sympathetic/resonant?
- Is point-of-view clear and consistent? Is the voice unique, interesting, compelling?
- Is the story mostly free of grammatical/punctuation errors?
- Is the plot clear and believable? Are there any plot holes that need to be addressed?
- Does the story follow the rules of its genre? If not, were the rules broken well?
- Is language used well: does the story rely on cliches and too-common devices, or does the story contain striking imagery, colorful and vibrant descriptions, powerful metaphors?
- Does the last line effectively conclude the story?