Post May 30, 2007, 09:23:28 PM

The Solar 1 Incident by C.A. Massa

I felt bad that no one had critiqued this story. Having me as the first, and maybe only, critic could be dubious comfort, I'm afraid.

I may be criticized for preaching my personal views on what a story should be, but, really, our own perception is all each one of us has. I believe that stories require a strong hook, input with all your senses, convincing world building, professionalism in writing, believable dialog, endearing characters that grow and change, and a plot wherein characters try to solve a dilemma (unless it's flash or literary). (Yes, that's the same thing I said about "In Deep Cover".)

Under my definition, this story has serious issues.

First off, I didn't like the hook. I'm a firm believer in the concept that you only get 200 words to win a reader over and make them want to read your story. I think a writer has to think about it in the terms that there are other stories in the issue, and if you want the audience to read yours, even at a free magazine, you need to start with your most gripping part. I stopped reading after the 2nd sentence of the 3rd paragraph, and skipped all the way down to where Helena called to Caesar. None of that backstory interested me.

Likewise, the many times that the flow stopped to tell the "why" of the scene, like that the humans didn't know which planet they came from, I skipped ahead. As a rule, I say that any time you think you need to stop and explain why, don't. It isn't important that we know, only that you know. We'll either figure it out from hints or it just isn't necessary for the story.

I believe in a dilemma/resolution model. Caesar has a problem. He's at war, and his opponent wants him to leave. As I understood it, he goes to find out why. I'm not certain he really found out. Even if he does get the answer, he doesn't seek a resolution. I would have much rather seen him try to fix his problem or fail trying. Choosing not to and losing his temper (resulting in his death) wasn't nearly fulfilling enough to me.

Another thing that bothered me was how Caesar allowed himself and his men to be put into such a precarious position. I'm not sure how they were a challenge to these beasties, but the humans were pretty wimpy here. If you were that weak, why go in and put everyone in such danger? What motivation, or reasoning that would delude himself into believing they stood a better chance? If arrogance blinded him, that would make it tragic, but I needed more character development before I could feel that.

Got to run, so in short, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement here.

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