Thread: Scars and Cuts
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:42 PM
psyanic's Avatar
psyanic
There's Something About Lamps
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: The USA
Age: 18
Gender: Female
Nature: Bold
The glaringly uniform sentence structure made this a bit boring to read. Almost all of the sentences start with 'he' or 'Dan' or 'Phil.' You want to mix up the sentences; otherwise, it's a bit boring to read. And trying to start with different words gives an incentive for a more creative mind. Win-win right there.

Another thing that struck a nerve was that everything is explicitly stated and obvious. There's very little showing in the story, because all you seem to do is simply state, "Dan is [whatever]." With the high number of emotions and problems running through this story, I found it odd that it's literally said that Dan is [this emotion] or feels [whatever]. You want to show readers how Dan feels rather than just saying it. Show, don't tell. With telling, the story read as far less emotion than it intended to be.

Quote:
Dan looks at himself in the mirror, biting his lip. He hated what he saw. He really did. All he saw was ugly and fat.
He hated, he saw, etc. It's bland. Try describing how he feels.

Also, verb-tense here. 'Hated' is past tense, but you use the present tense throughout the rest of the story. You do this frequently, so be sure to fix those as well.

Quote:
He looks down, checking to see if the door was locked, and it was.
Why is he looking down? Is he on the ceiling and looks at the door to check if it's locked?

Quote:
He opens the bathroom mirror to reveal many of his 'tools'.
Tools is a weird word to use here. Sort of makes it seem like an art or something less dark.

Quote:
Sleeping pills, razor blades, really anything he could use to hurt himself. He knew it was a bad addiction. But he couldn't help it. His mind..the..the 'voices' begged him to. And once he started, he didn't know how to stop. But he didn't dare tell anyone. Not even Phil. His best friend. Which was coincidentally also the man he loved.
You use past tense here, so everything gets all mixed up. Stick with a verb tense and stay with it. Also, 'who' should be used in place of 'which.'

Quote:
He figured if he cut light, Phil wouldn't notice. He wouldn't care.
Who's he? Phil or Dan?

Quote:
He slashes at it, going deeper in some places and cutting in all different places on his wrist.
Muggers slash at you. Fencers slash at each other. Slash implies that he's doing a little more than cutting and trying to tear something off with an exaggerated arm motion or a full swing.

Quote:
He then cleans the blood off, having to take a few times since it just kept pouring out, but he didn't panic.
Do you cut yourself? With the number of cuts Dan's giving himself, it certainly won't just be 'washed off.'

Quote:
It was...somewhat normal for him.
Why somewhat? It's clear that Dan does this on a regular basis.

Quote:
'Oh god. What am I doing to myself? I'm destroying myself. I've turned into a monster. I push the one person who cares about me away.', He thought.
He is lowercased, there is no period within the quotation, there is a comma within the quotation and no comma outside of it. You don't put punctuation outside of a quotation mark.

Quote:
He buries his head in his hands, when he suddenly hears a knock on the door, jumping up.
No comma before 'when.' It makes the sentence stop midway.

Quote:
''Dan? Are you in there?'' He hears Phil's voice. He doesn't answer. He just goes and unlocks the door.
Here's an example of all the 'he's.'

Quote:
He sighs, looking up to see the black haired boy, staring at him.
Just kind of skipped the moment where Dan opens the door, which I think would be more of a big deal.

Quote:
Phil still noticed though. He pulls his chin up lightly.
Again with the pronouns. They're obscure if you keep using them this way. I can't tell who's doing what here.

Quote:
Phil was right and he did know it.
...so you use present and past in the same sentence. That's cool.

Quote:
****. **** **** **** **** ****.
Oh look, stars! You can actually bypass the censor so long as you warn readers at the beginning of the chapter.

Quote:
Phil keeps his gaze on Dan for a while before saying anything. He slowly hovers his hand over to Dan's, pulling his sleeve up slowly before jumping because Dan had flinched his arm away, pulling the sleeve down roughly.
Way too many subjects with too many phrases without making anything clear only made this really confusing.

Quote:
''N...no. I won't let you look at them.'' The brown haired boy slides his back down the wall, crawling back into a ball again.
Why not just 'slides down the wall'? Sliding his back gives me a really weird visual.

Quote:
He looks up at Phil, a helpless gaze in his eyes.
You say 'looks up' too frequently. Mix up your word choice.

Quote:
''T-They won't go away!"' He shouts.
He should be lowercased because it's with a speech tag, meaning that the dialogue on the speech tag are in the same sentence.

Quote:
The black haired boy jumps at how loud his voice was.
Would Dan identify Phil as the 'black haired boy'? I doubt it. Use his name.

And this is just about all I can really handle for nitpicks.

As for characters, I found them to be weak. Phil wasn't exactly characterized much at all, if anything. He sort of existed and was a plot device more than anything, so I didn't find him interesting. However, he is made out to be much more than what you've written. Helping a friend in need, especially one with the trauma Dan has, is no lean feat, so Phil should have more of a personality. All that I gathered was that Phil helps his friends, although that could be specifically towards Dan, and that he gets concerned. Other than that, Phil is a dull character. Dan, also, seemed to have a weak portrayal. He cuts himself, sure, he's slightly anorexic (or whatever eating disorder), but it seems that you relied on those to be telling of his personality more than what you actually wrote. See, Dan has a lot of things going on around him that only causes his mind to cave in to the inner turmoil. The fact that he's so conflicted would mean he gets a better character, right? But you didn't show any of Dan's personality traits. The story focuses almost entirely on Dan's psychological problems rather than what else is going on inside his head. I can't tell if Dan is shy or outgoing or valiant or a liar or whatever, and as your job as a writer, you should be doing this. Also, the fact that you wrote about powerful subjects made it seem like they were what the story's about and not the characters, so you should remember that you have to mind the characters when you write - they're your number one priority. How the characters interact realistically is what drives your story forward.

Another thing, Dan got over his problems way too quickly for my liking. It seems to me that Dan sat in the bathroom for about five minutes before he opened the door and let Phil in. Then he cried in his lap and they got over it together, hoping for a brighter future. That would take about five minutes tops, so I wondered whether or not this was realistic, because that's a substantially short amount of time to get over a ton of mental problems. The fact that Dan had found it normal to cut himself or OD an sleeping pills (someone would notice that, otherwise he'd be dead by now) means that he had been doing it for a long, long time and it wouldn't be solved in that much of an instant.

The entire story, to me, read as horribly exaggerated and hyperbolic. I found most of it difficult to swallow. Essentially, some scenes were made overly dramatic, and I didn't find the execution fully there. This might have something to do with the pacing, however, as this was a rather short story. A lot of things just happened too quickly, which in turn made a lot of things jumbled and meshed into each other. This also mean there was less dedication to making Dan an interesting character, which applies to Phil just the same.
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