If you write, join a critique group: other writers who read and critique your writing. Yesterday, my critique group liked the conclusion of “The Criminal Cupid!” (click to read it) I’ll share their comments. (And I will likely do that again for future critiques.)
One newer lady had said this was the first story I’d turned in where she could easily visualize what was happening. She said I had a little more description that slowed down the action and let her keep up. (I still have concerns that I skimp on description.) An older lady who wrote wonderful prose-poetry said, “This is slower?”
My methhead description felt awkward. (I agree.)
One writer said the Billy Jack banter felt flat and did not contribute to the story progress. Another writer really liked it. (That bit is there because Bennie is delaying the arrow girl so Holly has a chance to break free, and so I can take a shot at Billy Jack. I’ll rewrite it to show the former.)
Late 60s Bennie the cop needed to resist 25-year-old Holly more lest he come off as creepy. (I am putting more effort into Bennie holding off love-arrow-smitten Holly. I must make sure the reader knows what Bennie is thinking: Holly needs to back off and get back to police work! It’ll make for better, funnier conflict.) And as a corollary, a writer also said the badge cam felt creepy. (The camera stays! All the cops wear them! I will foreshadow the camera earlier, Holly will also wear one for her day on the police force.)
When Holly struggled against her bonds, followed by her dialog, one writer did not know who was speaking. (I have erased dialog tags too often! Readers MUST know who says what! I will tag that.)
I stole a line from Time Bandits when the villain is about to cast a spell: “Half-warthog? Half-donkey? Half-oyster? Half-carrot?” Arrow girl says, “Half hippie. Half hipster. Half commie. Half socialist. Half angry poet. Half stoned rock star. Half vegan. Half beatnik. Half tie-dyed anti-war protestor. And no cop!” One writer said, “That’s a lot of halves.” (I added a Bennie wisecrack about the girl being bad at math.)
One write gave me the line “untidily bowled over” for the shattered toilet knocking people down. (I took it!)
A writer wants a better description of the arrows. (I will describe earlier in the story, maybe Holly can say superpowered exposition stuff?
A writer liked the collard greens joke and the mocha brown face and Holly’s pale Swedish face gag, but did not get Holly’s beaky nose as deadly weapon. Also said the fascist references seemed to refer to our current government. (Actually, that came from annoying Marx worshippers I met decades ago in college. They’re likely tea-partiers now, wimps who always stuff their little pea brains into a comforting ideology. “Ew, this capitalism sandwich tastes like crap! I’ll hoark down this communism sandwich in one swallow, I don’t need to smell or taste it, it must be good cuz the other is bad!” The epitome of willful stupidity!)
P.S. Ugh, the story is up to 7000 words, that is TOO MUCH! But I have the middle and beginning to rewrite, and a big scene to cut out, so I hope to get it to the ideal length of just over 5000 words. Ideal in not too long, and maybe can be split into 2500 parts for shorter audio files.