Jo Gatenby

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Jo Gatenby Discussions
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Just got around to reading through some backed up e-newsletters, and came across the ZOMBIE test ...…
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  •  · It was actually a ProWritingAid article that suggested it... and I do run my stories through that, b…
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Does anyone else do this? So, for example, I write:A red brick building with the prison-like appeara…
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I recently found a box of my writing while cleaning out our storeroom, and some of it is so old I do…
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  •  · Hmmm, I thought that was explained when they thanked the teacher for calling them, ๐Ÿ˜ย But things like…
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This starts many years ago, when I created a new mythological creature - a family of them in fact. T…
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  •  · Hi Jo,I was intrigued by the Seanicorns and I think you have done a great job of characterising them…
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... things you've written? Since joining this group, I've been trolling back through my bits of writ…
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  •  · Thanks Angela... I've uploaded version 2, adding some background and timeline as suggested... and SO…
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So I thought I'd show you something simpler, and see what you think of this...ย This is how my mind w…
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  •  · Thanks, something to consider... FYI, I'm registered for 2 more events this month, and my DH just si…

Hmmm, I thought that was explained when they thanked the teacher for calling them, ๐Ÿ˜ย 

But things like that are also why it suddenly occurred to me to wonder (when re-reading the first version) where her skis went, when she stopped to watch the children... they would probably have noticed someone climbing onto the bus hauling skis... so I had her lean them against the building first!

It was actually a ProWritingAid article that suggested it... and I do run my stories through that, but this is an off-the-cuff trick you can use anywhere, any time!

I'm late to the party, but I haven't had too much time to browse lately - actually had to get some work done UGH!ย 

Anyway, in answer to your original question, I agree with everyone who said you got the balance right. I didn't immediately get ALIEN, but I did get OTHER, and by the end ALIEN was clear, and the build was nice.ย 

I also felt the the current urging her on indicated they were going in the same direction, so entirely plausible that her braid was beating her... as was mentioned, just needs a current faster than she is! She could even be racing - either the current or her braid, or both!

As for breathing... I was thinking more seals or whales than fish, but I was assuming she was humanish / mermaidish from the start. If they live in caverns, are the caverns deep water (hence underwater breathing), or shoreline (as this one seems to be) were you could get away with a seal-type breathing... though if you really want gills, she IS your alien! ๐Ÿ˜„.ย 

Also as others have said, I for one would read more! It's been a few day since the original post, have you done your reading yet? How did it go?

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Just got around to reading through some backed up e-newsletters, and came across the ZOMBIE test ... Apparently, an easy way to check for PASSIVE VOICE is to add "BY ZOMBIES" after the verb. I'm sorry, but I got a real kick out of that... ๐Ÿ˜‚ย 

If the sentence still makes sense, then its passive. For example... "A dinner was eaten"... by zombies = passive! ย Now it does say that if you're scared of zombies, it can be anything (try BY FAIRIES).ย 

AND it may not work with really short sentences (for example... "she ran... by zombies")... the sentence still makes sense, but of course it likely has a totally different meaning (unless you're writing a zombie apocalypse novel), so would not be passive.

Just made me laugh, so thought I'd share!

You all probably know this already, but it was well articulated, so FYI, there are 4 times when it's OK to use a passive voice...ย 

1. You don't know who did it ("the jewelry was stolen"). By who? No one knows...

The next example gives us 2 reasons - "The robber was arrested." 2. We care more about fact of the arrest than WHO arrested the robber; 3. Everyone knows the police arrested the robber, so we don't need to say it.ย 

And finally, 4. When you WANT to be vague "Mistakes were made."... the article points out that companies use this a lot when they don't want to accept blame!ย 

As Trevor Noah says, if you didn't know, now you know!

I love the opening line - though perhaps remove the word "always"... and some of your imagery is great - I liked "triangles of respectability" ... though I did wonder why the room made Elizabeth think of fruit? Just because of the colors? Maybe be more specific "... made Elizabeth think of banana and oranges..." just a thought, and as always with these critiques, take it or leave it, as you wish!

Oh yes, I also like the clipping being "severed", I actually said "nice!" when i was reading...

You said you didn't care about grammar and spelling at this point, so I shan't point out any ๐Ÿ˜†. Though I did notice "looked" and "looked" right at the beginning (I'm editing my own work right now, so things like that jar on me), and wondered if "stared" or "gazed" might be better for the second one... unless the repeat was intentional, then my apologies!

Since you mentioned at the start that it was a crime thriller, I was half waiting for Elizabeth to push the old woman down the stairs, ๐Ÿ˜‚, but that's just me, I'm sure!ย 

Might be a tiny bit long in a "she said / then she said" way, but paints a picture of both women. All in all, I thought it was a nice start, with good imagery... I would likely keep reading... I want to know which one is going to die!

OK, if you ladies have the patience and are so inclined, ๐Ÿ˜ , would you take a peek at V2 posted above, and let me know if it's an improvement? I took many of your suggestions, and went over the entire story, removing some excessive glue words, and adding some smells ๐Ÿ‘ƒ etc. I THINK I've tightened it quite a bit, but would appreciate your take...

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Does anyone else do this? So, for example, I write:

A red brick building with the prison-like appearance older school's sometimes have, stood facing her.

When it reads better:

Facing her stood a red brick building with the prison-like appearance older school's sometimes have.

I am always having to go back and fix sentences like that, and it's kind of annoying. ๐Ÿ˜„ You'd think I'd learn, but apparently not! Am I the only one, or is this a common problem?

Thanks for the feedback... and I do like some of your edits, I'll have to give that some more thought. I never heard of magazines for nannies! I'll have to check that out... thank you again for the encouragement and good notes...

Thanks Danny. Looking at what I generally write, I'm starting to think the youth market is where I usually end up style-wise. A couple darker things, and very few short stories - I'm not even sure what inspired this one... as I said, it was in an old box of scribbles, and I just cleaned it up a bit...

Not sure what I'll do with it, but I've started printing and organizing my stories, to see what I have!

Hmmm, that's a good question. Hopefully it's not a true story, so FICTION... but as for a genre... I have a list of 10 genres I found somewhere (adventure; fantasy; SF; historical; literary; humor; horror; romance; thrillers; westerns), and of course they all have sub-genres... but the only one I could see your story fitting in would be LITERARY, as that covers drama.ย 

Your story isn't blatantly dramatic (or do I mean overtly? Same difference I guess), but drama is about conflict, and there is conflict between your protagonist and his habit ... though it seems like he is almost at the end of the struggle, that he's barely resisting now (and did he ever really, or was he just kidding himself, breaking promise after promise). He's now letting the habit have more and more control, not really fighting it any more, so much as trying to keep ahead of it ... that's my takeaway anyhow ๐Ÿ˜ , is it what you were going for?

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I recently found a box of my writing while cleaning out our storeroom, and some of it is so old I don't even recognize it - like an entire outline for a youth level book, complete with ending!

Anyway, I came across a story I hadn't thought of in years, and found it still on my computer (some of the other writing is in notebooks, not yet transcribed). FYI, I'm one of those people who can't resist a fresh notebook... it must be filled with writing! ๐Ÿ˜ย 

Long story short (too late?), I've given this a bit of a polish, and I'm curious to see what you think... my first reaction was that it seemed like something I would read in a woman's magazine... but my DH (often my harshest critic) liked it, so I might be being overly critical myself.

What made me laugh (at myself) was that this story (written in 1998), and the book I'm working on right now, both begin with a girl running away from home - though for vastly different reasons...

FYI, following some of the feedback, I re-worked the story, so if you're just reading it now you can just read V2, or if you're interested, you can compare the two!

There was nothing saying what you wanted, but I'm assuming you're looking for feedback...

This was a very disturbing story, which kept me reading to the end... so good job there! Its a sad look at a world I thankfully know nothing about, but you made me believe every word...ย 

Some editing still required (for example, when he goes to Gerry's, "it takes about a half hour to get AN to answer TO his doorbell..." You probably mean either GET HIM TO ANSWER HIS... or GET AN ANSWER TO HIS... in either case, too many TO ๐Ÿ˜ .

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Jo Gatenby
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