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Fancy looking at my story

Hello everyone. I've pulled a version of an old story out of the archives to play around with, and would appreciate your wise words. If you don't mind.

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  • What are you looking for with feedback on this excerpt? I ask because I feel like I'm walking past someone talking to themselves and I've caught just a snippet of the conversation being had.I don't have a context, and it feels there's insufficient to connect to what's going on. Does that make sense?

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    • Hello Zoe. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

      I forget to mention that this is from a prompt, using 'disguise' as the theme. I was looking to build on it, and s'pose I'm asking if its worth the effort, and for any ideas that could help.

      Thanks for taking the time.

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    • So, I'm not exactly sure where the story is supposed to be going or what it is about. I'll be honest, when I first started I was thinking it was some kind of morbid shapeshifter/selkie thing where the MC has the skins of their forms hanging about (the selkie part being how they shapeshift) and Julio was going to become the newest 'skin'....

      Obviously, I was wrong. It's interesting, but I really have no idea what is going on or what to expect. The MC is physically a male, dresses like a female/pretends to be a female (possibly a tran?). Basically a queen? (I'm not the best with that stuff so could definitely be wrong)

      I'm assuming the ritual has to do with becoming someone else (and obviously these someones the MC has made personalities for) and not anything morbid. But, again I have no idea what type of book this is, or where it's at or what not. 

      I do like the writing though (usually I'm not a fan of first person)

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      • Hey Jewlyn.

        The original story was just a bit of fun, and was quite light hearted, but I tend to prefer the morbid stuff, so made it a bit more sinister. Julio wasn't originally in it. It was just a man exlporing his vice of being a woman, but then I felt that he needed something to pursue, a purpose, and an edge.

        I'm glad you like the writing. I like first person, but don't find it easy so like to play with it sometimes.

        That's really interesting about him wanting Julio to become his new skin. I've been searching for something to end with, so could hint at that.

        Thank you.

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      • I have to agree with the others. My advice: less telling, more showing. I think that would help get us into the scene. E.g, instead of telling us about the date, show us how he affects her. 

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        • Thanks Sibo. I'm not even entirely sure Julio needs to be in it, but I'll certainly bare that in mind.

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        • Hi Charlie. Were you going to send this out to publications or just going for feedback? And am I right in thinking that when your MC adopts these different personas something very bad happens? ( I'm only wondering that from the 'sinister smile', the 'smooth, cold metal inside', the wolf howling. They suggest violence is coming)

          If so, I'd say trans psychopaths might not be so welcome in the current climate (read the backlash against JK Rowling's current thriller). Just my opinion and I'm not saying this subject shouldn't be explored necessarily, but rightly or wrongly, I'm guessing it would be a tough sell just now.

          I also find the stereotyping of his female skins problematic too - from the mousy Julia with her glasses, the common Chenise and the red stiletto wearing Scarlet. I'm not saying these women don't exist, not saying a troubled individual wouldn't use them as personalities, just that they're stereotypes.

          Forgive me if I have your intentions wrong.

          Perhaps the others are right in that it needs some clarity and direction. Perhaps we should see your MC out of her dressing room and venturing into the world, interacting with her target, the gorgeous Julio?

          There's books writing here and I'm really interested to see where you take this story next.

          Good luck with it all


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          • Hello Lynn. Im not sure if I was going to send this out at this stage. I was just going through some old stuff and came across it, and fancied building on it for now. Someone giving feedback the original said it gave them a huge smile, so maybe I should take it back to a lighthearted drag anecdote.

            You're partly right, in that trouble only happens when Scarlet is around. Serious trouble. She doesn't come out often. The rest only give him confidence and satisfy his desires.

            I get what you're saying about the stereotypes. I'm not sure it's a massive deal, beause they are relatable, but I think different characters that are more personal to him would probably work better.

            I also get the point about the current climate. This was written some time ago, so that wasn't taken into account. I don't want it to influence the story or even what I do with it, but I do understand the sensitivity.

            Cheers for your time and your comments. I really appreciate it.

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            • Sounds good, Charlie. Yeah, it's a balancing act, being sensitive to the times and treating all people fairly and equally and being true to your writing and honest.

              I heard Nick Hornby interviewed about his latest novel, being asked whether he was concerned about being accused of cultural appropriation because one of his characters is a young black guy. He, rather sensibly, answered that it would be disingenuous of him to write about certain areas of London without featuring a cultural mix and he'd sent it to sensitivity readers. 

              I've included several LGBTQ+ characters in my own writing, though their sexuality had never been central to the plot, just part of who they are. These differences are part of our individual experience, shape us in many ways, but we are all just people in the end. 

              Looking forward to seeing where you take your character in future re writes. All the best

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              • I totally agree, Lynn. Thanks. I would never intend to offend or alienate anyone with my work. 

                But I do think people get offended quite easily these days. There's some quality, geniune entertainment that would never see the light of day if the thought of rocking the boat a little hindered the artists. Take Diversity's dance for example.

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              • Do you know Almodóvar’s movies? All About my Mother has the most brilliant trans characters. It is one of my favourite films.

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                • Ooh no, but that's defintely worth a look. Thanks.

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                • As usual, Charlie, some lovely evocative writing. Being inside this disturbed person's head is quite gripping even if, like the others, I wasn't always entirely sure what was going on.

                  I like the idea of slipping on these other skins, but I'm wondering if this is a true multiple personality, or a psychopathic killer. I wasn't certain if the wigs were real scalps or just wigs. Whether the make up and outfits are someone else's in the sense of her/his other personality or were actually taken from a living equivalent. 

                  This is a fabulous line 'A reminder of what was wrong yet so right all that time ago, when the whispers dared not whisper and the wolves howled with delight.' But I'm not quite sure if it's from a time when she/he had the other personalities under control or whether it relates to something darker.

                  I also think Lynn makes good points about the stereotypical females, and the current climate ref trans psychopaths.

                  Possibly a fair bit of reworking to do, but I think it would be well worth it. I'd like to see the next version.


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                  • Hi Kate. I'm glad you like the writing. You're right, the story does need a lot of work. I suppose that's why I reached out, and I wasn't dissapointed. 

                    He definitely has multiple personalities, but only Scarlet does the killing. She is who your favourite line is for. People whispering about her, but being intimidated by her so not wanting her to see. Then the wolf whistles.

                    I don't think I'd have him use his victims outfits and scalps. It's a bit too Silence of the Lambs.

                    I appreciate your comments. Thank you very much.

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                  • Not sure why but my first reaction was that the MC was male. Something subtle tipped me off, perhaps because the comments come across as a male voice rather than a female one. I thought you made the psycopath believable if a bit random. I am confused as to Lorraine. Was she his wife? Did he kill her? Is the ritual self mutilation or in preparation to kill Julio? Creepy either way.

                    I agree with Lynn's comments overall. Tighten the story and you could have a character worthy of Dean Koontz.

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                    • Thanks Connie. Yeah I kept taking Lorrain out and putting her back in. I'm not sure she's needed. She takes the focus away from the core of the story.

                      The ritual is purely him getting her ready. It's a real pleasure for him.

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                    • As Kate says, there's some lovely evocative writing here. And while I didn't get as thrown by the stereotypes as the others, there were some small elements that did hit me as off key.

                      Perhaps the largest was the line: He also knows I haven’t had the guts to pursue him. To me, that comes as an inversion that doesn't fit the flow to that point, and you go on to prove a lie. Flipping this - to Julio not having the guts to act on his obvious interest - would build so much better into the narrative, with the MC being allowed - nay, encouraged - to take the lead, to become the predator in response to passive desire…

                      That one change would allow you far deeper into your MC's head, to show his hunger, his need to dominate the relationship, whether Julio is aware of who he is. And is Julio's awareness - or lack thereof - part of the MC's fantasy? How does what Julio knows - or doesn't - feed the intensity of need?

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                      • This makes  a lot of sense. His frustration of Julio's lack of action drives him to do something about it. He's not the forthcoming type so uses his girls to do it. 

                        Thanks Rick

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                        • In reading some of your other replies, the other line that snagged came back to me: My loins tingle and I almost can’t touch it, but the lure is too strong. That read, at least initially, as my loins tingle, and as desperate as I am for it I don't dare, but I do anyway. The "almost can't touch it" is too easy to misinterpret, too confused. Again, there's a ton of extra depth just waiting behind some better phrasing.

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                          • Mmm, okay. Nice one.

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                          • Hi Charlie this is the first piece I've read of yours and it's certainly intriguing stuff. A lot of backstories waiting in the wings - maybe, if this is supposed to be the beginning, too many of them referenced this early? It's a lot of names to deal with, even if some of them are not 'real.' Anyway it's certainly atmospheric and I would keep reading based on that excerpt. 

                            By the way just read a fantastic Norwegian crime thriller 'The Butterfly Effect' by Pernille Rygg which uses a cross-dressing character to great effect. 

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                            • Thanks for the comments, Sam. And for the recommendation. Does it translate well into English?

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                              • I guess so. The translator herself won an award for the book. 

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