Most Evil Critique Master: Sarah
Working Title: N/A
She nearly missed him.
Work had finished an hour before nightfall. The rain was filtering through Miko’s hair, and pooling in the little trench in the lid of her empty thermos. She exhaled slowly, the weight of the mist and her weariness compressing her chest.
She glanced, out of habit, at the space between buildings— not really wide enough to be called an alley— that marked her as only a block away from home. Brownish brick walls, unmarked by doors or windows, extended back to the dead end. On a sunny day, the light picked out the green leaves against red-tinted brick, the cement bluish, giving the spot an unkempt prettiness. Sluiced with rain, the colors muted to monochrome and make the whole place feel sketchier than it was already.
Obscured by overgrown blackberry canes as he was, she would have missed him, if not for his hair.
Startlingly white, it was rain-plastered against his face. She guessed him to be around her age, mid twenties or so. A ragged tee shirt and jeans, at least two sizes too big, were also saturated with rain and clinging so that Miko could see that he was skeleton with muscle and little else on top. He’d been sitting scrunched up in the space with his eyes shut, but at the scuff of her feet, he moved his head off the wall and hung it, looking up at her through his curtain of sopping hair.
His face bothered her, because she recognized him,
Strong Points –
This is a really good intro. Structurally, with hints of character voice and an easy flow of varied sentences, I can see style developing and being explored, and that’s awesome. What I love most are the little artful details, the little nuances of description that might have seemed superfluous if not done well, specifically, “Pooling in the little trench in the lid of her empty thermos.” This tiny detail gives a sense of setting, of time and place, right up front, and it also hints at the character.
I also love the detail of the overgrown blackberry canes and the contrast of the alley-non-alley in the light and in the rain. Everything is extremely visual, and being that I’m also a visual person, I love when visuals are done with the least amount of words possible, because I’m also hungry for fast pacing. I like the question posed at the very beginning, and I like the way details are unpacked.
Some Tips –
There are only a few things I can suggest. One, there are a couple times where the passive voice weakens the sentence. As an example, here’s a passive sentence:
“The rain was filtering through Miko’s hair, and pooling in the little trench in the lid of her empty thermos.”
Same sentence, active:
“The rain filtered through Miko’s hair and pooled in the little trench in the lid of her empty thermos.”
My last suggestion is, I think, a combination of two things. The description is good, but I was occasionally confused, felt like there were pieces missing in the setting, something that I wasn’t getting. My understanding was that the alley-non-alley she looked in was a dead end, and I didn’t understand why there were leaves because I hadn’t been shown there were trees or plants yet. The second part of my occasional confusion was I think because of vague descriptors and subjects.
“Startlingly white, it was rain-plastered against his face”, as an example. Especially since this sentence begins a new paragraph, the subject “it” is muddled. It’s always good to lean toward the specific over the vague, the concrete over the ambiguous. Combine sentences and ideas if needed.
Another line I was confused with was “He’d been sitting scrunched up in the space”, because I didn’t know what “the space” entailed. Don’t hesitate to root the reader, to ground them in things that are easy to see versus concepts. Concepts are misleading. Victoria does this sometimes too, when she describes something along the lines of, “His hand hung there.” What is “there”? Where is it? What does it mean? “There” is an empty word, like an invisible place marker, it doesn’t carry its weight. Neither does “the space”.
Would I Keep Reading?
Yeppppp. I’m intrigued by this guy, even by just the shape of his body. I love, love, love visual writing with good pacing, and I would definitely keep reading to see if the pacing keeps up with what I like.
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