One of the assignments from the creative writing course was to outline a Young Adult fiction book. A relatively easy assignment since I’ve already begun and outlined several novels. Though, sending them off to a professional at Oxford University to critique is anything but easy…
Halfway through a bottle of wine, I dared to open the attachment with the grading and teacher’s feedback.
Quote from teacher about overall novel outline and plot:
A complex but satisfying plot with plenty of tension and jeopardy. The main protagonist finds the truth of her past and comes to terms with her ‘curse.’ Think about simplifying your sentence structure to make your writing easier to follow. I think you should definitely write this.
A sense of relief washed over me. I had not written total crap. I just write it overly complex. Perhaps as this blog proceeds, my sentences will be easier to follow 😉
A second assignment was to hand in the first chapter of the novel.
The feedback here too was positive and constructive. There were notes about what worked and what could be improved. Here are some abstracts:
This is potentially very good. The characterisation is arresting and some of the metaphors really interesting but it would benefit from some ruthless editing and clarification. Sometimes your focus on the internal state of your protagonist leaves the reader confused: eg ‘the smell of coffee snapped the puppet strings.’
This is a really interesting story idea with plenty of potential, just perhaps shape it more carefully so that there are moments of calm as well as moments of high tension. If the whole story takes place at one pitch it is more difficult to keep the reader interested.
You might consider drip feeding the information the reader needs a little more clearly. I really like the fact that you haven’t treated the reader to an enormous info dump, but I think when you do convey information you could do so more effectively.
All in all, however, this is a good piece of work with an interesting protagonist, a suitably intriguing plot and a great sense of jeopardy. Well done.
After letting the feedback sink in, I’m feeling motivated to continue the novel and thereafter attack the writing with ruthless editing as recommended by the teacher.