Skip to main content

Distortion Critique 4

So I put out scene one from Distortion for a writer's critique. Here was the result:

It's amazing how awesome this feedback was. You can live with your stuff long enough that you become blind to it. I have a lot of work to do (first novel) but I've studied the craft long enough to understand everything everyone is saying. Besides all the specific points, the two themes I noticed were a lack of emotional/physical reaction (nothing to keep you in Ash's head) and the Great Sin (show don't tell). I also changed tense and didn't notice (no that was not on purpose). There were many other great points, and I have a lot of work to do. Thanks again to for making a community for writers.

Opening Comments

Hi, Darell.
I'll mention anything that jumps at me.  I'm not good at rewriting sentences. Instead, I'll point out what I think needs work.
See you inline.

Inline Critique

I read a few paragraphs down and realised that the description of the setting doesn't flow. So, I'll point out those places I think need work.Out of the corner of his eye, through the window of The Grounded Cafe, Ash saw two men dressed in black combat gear duck behind a car
Here, it'd be great to be specific with type of car. Is it a pick up? a 4x4?.

Coolness rushed down his spine, and his muscles tensed.

He reached for his sidearm.

He shook his head
Is he shaking his head as a result of having a second thought?, and looked again, they were gone.
If yes, then you can rewrite this as: He shook his head upon a second thought. When he looked again, the men were gone. I decided to split the sentence into two because I thought the original one was choppy.

Ash relaxed and sank back into the leather bound chair;
I'm not sure this is the correct punctuation mark for this sentence. I think...alone in the corner of his favourite coffee shop is a fragment. One way to do this is to bring it close to the Subject. E.g., Ash, alone in the corner of his favorite coffee shop, sank back into the leather bound chair. This is just one example of how to get rid of the semi-colon. Also, I deleted relaxed, as the action of leaning back into the chair, especially after he almost drew his gun, means he relaxed. This is just my opinion. alone, in the corner of his favorite coffee shop.

Always keep your back to the wall, be near the most exits
do you mean the most used exits? If so, make it most used exists., but never too visible
once he seated in a cafe he would be visible. But something like he should glance at people suspiciously or he shouldn't be engaged in anything that would draw people's attention to himIt was like breathing, it never stopped... even in civilian life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.
Here, swap the order of these two sentences. Bring the condition first, so that we know what the 'it' is referring to.That was the diagnosis they’d assigned him.

As Dean of Military Science, Ash's job primarily lay in administrative work and policy these days, plus a few sessions counseling the younger cadets,
you don't need a comma here. You are only listing his roles.and would-be trouble makers. He was quite overqualified for the position, but he ran a tight unit.

He stared at the faces of the pedestrians as they passed by the window. Hurried. Busy.
I know what you are trying to do here, but it doesn't flow. Make these three into one sentence. Besides, if the pedestrians are passing hurriedly, how long can he actually see someone's face. It'd be better to say that, He stared at pedestrians who hurried by, buried in their smart phones, oblivious to the world and the little clouds that floated around their shoulders. Buried in their smartphones. So oblivious to the world around them, or the little clouds that float around their shoulders.

The leaves began to fall, most turning shades of orange and yellow, matching perfectly the Pumpkins that were dotting porches and windows through the city the past few weeks.
Here, you need to make reference to a particular tree. Which tree exactly is he looking at? Is it the one across the cafe? Beside the cafe? Do you get what I mean? Also, it'd be better to say that a leaf fell from the tree. It is easier to picture what is happening to the tree in question. Since it's a regional thing that at a particular time of the year the leaves change colour, once you mention the colour of the leaves, we would be able to picture the time of year. There would be no need to mention the pumpkin, unless the pumpkin is there to convey another message I'm not getting.

Some commotion outside broke his train of thought... Everyone was stopping, turning, and staring in the same direction, a few moving toward the distraction.
Since from where he is sitting, he can't really see the commotion, you can't say that there was a commotion. These people could only be admiring a couple doing a crazy dance. So you can say that, suddenly every halted and looked in the same direction. The voice of people arguing reached him. (INSERT A THOUGHT HERE) Ash stepped outside to see what was happening.

Ash stepped outside to see what was happening, turned a corner, and 
nearly ran into a bystander. A brisk evening breeze broke past his collar.
If the thing is happening in the next alley, then people on the side of the road where Ash is looking would not see what's happening. I crossed out ...nearly ran into a... The question is, did he run into the bystander or not? If not, what exactly happened? To avoid these type of questions, it's better to say exactly what happened.

A man in a tattered and dirty suit with a graying beard was standing on top of a pickup truck screaming at nobody in particular.
I'm finding it hard to picture what this mini scene is happening. Is this on the next street? It'd be great to show the exact location for the scene. Also, how were people gathered around them? Are they watching in clusters? Or they formed a circle around them?

"You always did love Mother best... I know... That's why... You couldn't keep your mouth shut..." On he went, incoherently.

Just as Ash took a step closer, the man turned to stare him directly in the eye.

In a deeper, gravelly voice: "You... What do you want with us?"

Ash took a step back.

Then the man turned back to his one-sided conversation.

Ash could see
I don't know if you've heard this. But we're not allowed to use filter words in writer. Filter words indicate telling instead of showing. So, in this case, you can say that, Behind the man was a large, black figure with the head of a bull and the lower part only a mist. White streaks ran across it's torso, and it's eyes were red like a hot iron. a large creature behind the man. The bottom half was more mist than form, as though it were made of smoke.
Oh! The top half was like a man, with the head of a bull. It was charcoal,
andwith streaks of white painted across the chest.

so, here were delete thiscould feel his
because it's a filter wordpalms turn
ed cold, and
he felt as though
filter wordshe couldn't move his legs.
You simply say, Ash halted, his palms turning cold.

A smaller creature was on the homeless man's shoulders, screaming into his ears. 
Wouldn't this be the first thing Ash would notice when he arrived at the scene?He couldn't hear the conversation, but Ash could tell that the homeless man was responding and that he had only been hearing one-half of the conversation. Ash looked around and nobody else seemed too surprised, as usual.
It'd be better to show what they were doing instead.

The large creature stared directly at Ash, cocked his head to one side and disappeared along with the smaller one. The homeless man was by himself again, then his eyes narrowed. He leapt off the truck and ran at Ash.
Hahaha, trouble.

It took all his training to keep from being pinned down.
Okay, did he run for his life? Or he stood there, waiting for the man to pounce on him?The old man was wiry but stronger than he looked.
This is telling. Instead, have him struggle and to push the thing off him and let's him grunt in the attempt.

Ash let out a cry, "Jesus!"

The wiry man stepped back, his eyes darted around,
The wiry man jerked and looked around, confused.
as though he looked confused.

That was all Ash needed. In 30 seconds he hog-tied the man with his own belt.

The police were just arriving. "
Let's hear the siren.Charlie's at it again... Let's take him in."
Let's have a dialogue tag here.

Three big men in uniform put cuffs and a muzzle on the old man, and threw him, rather harshly, into the back of the squad car.

Ash heard someone behind him, "Those were some moves, Marine."

"Airman. Uh... Thanks. No harm done." Ash noticed his cup crushed beneath him, the ice, coffee, and cream covered the sidewalk, and his jeans. "Well... Almost no harm anyway."
I don't understand this. It read like he was carried a cup of coffee with him when he ran out of the cafe.

"Why don't you let me get you another… on me."
You need a dialogue tag here.

Ash looked up to see a balding man in blue slacks, yellow polo, and a pile of papers in his arms. A logo with two E’s overlapping bore prominently on his chest.

"The least I could do for a man who'd be willing to step into a situation like that, protect all these people. What's your name son?"
Same thing here. We need a dialogue tag.

"Ash. I need to get some new clothes. I don't think I need any more caffeine right now. But thanks for the offer." With a wave, he set off toward home.

Ash headed down the sidewalk, past the shops and restaurants. There is a girl crying, typing away on the phone. A little red frog on her shoulder was yelling into her ear. Ash could only imagine what it must be saying.
You've switched to present tense. Why?

A little old lady is sitting inside a window at the nursing home. She is knitting something, probably a blanket. A large man in all white, stands behind her, smiling. He looks up at Ash, his smile fades slightly, and then returns. He looks down to her again.

Let's see the distance between the phonebooth and the nursing home.
Ash could not see the figure accompanying each person, only certain ones, here and there. Most were just clouds or mist.

"Don't worry so much." His doctor told him, "These may be after effects of the war. We’re just beginning to understand PTSD. The mind is a marvelous adapter to stress. As long as these phantoms do not interrupt your daily work, or cause you to want to harm yourself or others, you should be fine. Consider yourself lucky. Just think of them as a construct of your active imagination, an amusing distraction from the mundane realities of life."
Here, add what Ash thinks about the Doctor's statement.

He turned off the street into an alley between two old buildings,
How tall are these buildings? and up a well-worn path into the woods, his refuge from the masses.

Ash opened the door of his cabin.

It wasn't a mansion by any means, but it was more than sufficient for him. 900 sq. ft., one large open room, a loft, and a balcony.
This is telling. Instead, have him enter and describe how the space between the television and the bed is so small that, he can control the buttons on the TV with his toes without having to get up.

Yes sir, he owned one fine cabin in the woods. All to himself. 
I don't like this.How he'd managed to live here eight years and still not have a single friend invited over was a mystery, even to himself. Then again, you'd have to have a friend to invite one.

He liked things just so. He liked the solitude.
I like this.

At least that's what he told himself.

Ash took a seat on his balcony, overlooking the hills and lake. He stared at the expansive forests, lost in time. The clock read
where's the clock?: 6:00pm, he laid down in his hammock, bundled in the overpriced winter resistant sleeping bag, and watched the stars from the balcony until he drifted off.

As sleep overtook him, he thought to himself "Yes sir, this is one fine cabin."


An explosion knocks him against a wall. He barely sees, through the smoke, troops running about, hauling rubble off of bodies, checking pulses. Some are screaming in pain. Others shouting to one another. Half the mess hall is completely gone, all that is left is fire and rubble.
You have switched tenses here. Are you doing it deliberately? If you are not aware, then I have just told you that you have switched to present tense. Also, it'd be interesting to describe this vividly. Which people are screaming in pain?

Ash can feel the beat of his heart in his neck,
if this is a metaphor, then ignore me. Otherwise I don't understand it. his forehead rushed with sweat
Same thing here. If this is a regional thing, then leave as it is. But I really haven't heard anything like this beforeHe
who is the 'he' referring to?sees them all running around, but all he hears is intense ringing
ringing of what? Bells?.

As the numbness subsides
I don't think I realised his brain was numb in the paragraph before this one.from his brain, shock waves
IMO, this should be waves of shock hit his chest as more buildings are getting hit nearby.

Ash uses the wall to steady himself and works to stand on his feet.

Others will tend to the wounded. This band of Jihadist miscreants found upgraded weapons; Russian no doubt.

Ash shoots out the building, down the road to the artillery unit. He grabs his rifle and heads for the highest structure, a radio tower toward the side of the camp.

He can see the launch area where the rockets are being fired from. He takes a few quick breaths, hyperventilating floods the lungs with oxygen, one last deep breath in and hold, steadies his body.

Through the scope, he can see about 10 of them.
10 of which people? Are they even people or aliens?

They only have two missile launchers. They have very little cover, firing from open desert, mostly hiding behind their Jeep and a few large outcroppings of fallen mountainside.

He fires two rounds back to back, taking out both missile launchers, one exploding in the handlers face. Ash then begins firing one round after another as the attackers fall like Coke cans on a fence post. The rounds hit their targets with extreme prejudice.

Three remain, cowering behind the Jeep. Jeeps are great vehicles for driving through tough terrain quickly, but they are built light, not armored. He sees one peek through the glass, gone.

The other two attempt to climb in the vehicle keeping their heads down and drive away. The problem with that is that both seats are occupied. He doesn't need to see them. Two. One.

The Jeep speeds up as it drives erratically,
You need only one.then crashes into a mound of rocks.


Ash woke up... another nightmare, if you can call a memory a nightmare.

He rubbed his eyes and glanced at his wrist.

Red numbers flooded his vision, 3:00 am.

He rolled over and went back to sleep.
Nice way to end the scene. But then, where do we go from here? Why would I turn the page? That hasn't been added. So you need to end the chapter with a cliffhanger and what to expect next.

Closing Comments

I commented on most of the things that jumped at me. I focused on the narration, but not on the character. I hope something in this critique helps!
It was an easy read for me. 


By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite


    Darrell's Reading List

    Here are some books I've been reading lately:
    • Hacker: The Outlaw Chronicles (here) by Ted Dekker (Author). The story of a young Hacker girl, who went on a wild adventure into the supernatural realm beyond trying to save her mom, but saved her self too in the process.
    • Saint: A Paradise Novel (here) by Ted Dekker (Author). He's an assassin, or is he? He finds a secret to his past that unlocks supernatural abilities, at a cost.
    • For a full list of all my book suggestions, see my Amazon Store.

    Popular posts from this blog

    New Post at Wolfe for Office

    I wrote a new post: I am a Conservative-Liberal | Republicans and Democrats are actually the same party, here's why I'm a #ChristianLibertarian

    Darrell G. Wolfe

    Story Teller | INFJ | Futuristic | Intellection | Learner | Ideation | Achiever | Command | Input | Focus | Multipotentialite

    An Open Letter: John Stumpf, Wells Fargo Board, and Policy Making Departments

    On 12/28/13, I wrote the following letter to the then CEO & President of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf. It was in part, a response to the LA Times Article and the poor response from Wells Fargo leadership.

    I later worked for the executive office and saw how they handle these letters. They assign them to a paper-pusher who could care less. They draft a form response, and it gets tallied in the statistics.

    By the time it makes it to the CEO, it's only data in a pie chart. "We had 365 complaints this month. x number of complaints about checking, y number about sales practices, Etc." They tally it up, if it's not a big enough stat, it gets zero attention. Most things that do require attention get just enough to make it go away, but never deal with the root.

    I was one of many hundreds who spoke up loudly and actively for years before 2013 and years after. The news cycle of 2016 showed that it cost them $185 Million dollars to ignore the feedback their frontline Team Membe…

    Logos, JPG's and More

    The best Subheader EVER!
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque elementum at nibh vel placerat. Curabitur id efficitur dolor. Cras ac nulla elementum, laoreet erat ultrices, hendrerit magna. Duis vestibulum vulputate arcu accumsan consequat. Praesent ornare porta tellus, mollis ultrices ante euismod ut. Cras at augue ac est lacinia laoreet. Cras posuere auctor magna ac auctor. Suspendisse rutrum odio non placerat dictum. 
    The best Minor Header EVER! Maecenas mattis ornare urna. In hendrerit lacus ac porta molestie. Etiam hendrerit sem et ante egestas, et imperdiet magna efficitur. Maecenas auctor orci lacus, eu porttitor tortor dictum sit amet. Nam rutrum malesuada dolor in fringilla. Aenean volutpat nunc quis libero dictum dapibus. Vivamus tristique eros eget velit malesuada rhoncus sed auctor tellus.

    Quisque ac nibh leo. Vivamus quis arcu vitae nibh feugiat auctor a sit amet velit. Maecenas posuere tempor vehicula. Suspendisse tincidunt nunc a bibendum …

    404 Error Page

    You got a 404 Error? Can't find the page you were looking for?

    I'm sorry about that. 

    You can search this site for the right page, or email and tell me what you were trying to find.

    Click Start Here if you're new here, or The Hub for a list of all my sites.

    Or just watch this cat in slow motion by The Slow Mo Guys (just for fun) as my gift to you for finding this secret page, thanks for stopping by!

    Oh by the way... would you like a Hippopotas for Christmas? I do!

    Thanks for stopping by!


    First Draft First Novel... Done! On to Edits...

    So... I completed the first draft of my short novel White Noise - The Tower (Episode 1). 
    You can read it (warts and all) below. I'm going to go back through and start editing (I already have). But it's mostly done now. I've also roughed out a book cover (we'll see if I stick with this direction).

    Of course, I'm taking a big risk by calling it "Episode 1"... that means I have to write Episode 2, 3, & 4 at least. (That's where I have the story sketched out to at this point.

    I hope you enjoy!

    (Click here to read online) OR, email and I'll put you on a list to be a beta reader when the final edits are done. 

    Comment on this post or the Author Fun post about the Book Cover. Any feedback will be taken into consideration.

    First round of critiques for Distortion Scene 1 "Street Noise"

    One of the scariest things for most authors (especially fiction authors) to do is open their work to the blatant critique of others. The author got to know their work so well, they know the backstory (that never made it onto the page), etc.

    This very intimacy makes them blind to the things the reader sees immediately.

    As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is *crap.”
    I put out the 1st scene of Distortion, "Street Noise", for a writers critique. It was quite illuminating. I chose not to take it personally but learn from each point. Some things I agreed with, some I didn't. Some were clear craft mistakes while others were stylistic choices I could take or leave.

    I have a feeling that my re-write will be so much better due to this experience. I also found a critique buddy (Hey Ashleigh!) who I can work with as I go through re-writes.

    Distortion Scene 1 "Street Noise" can be read in its current form (as of today) in the second draft on my It…

    Vote @GovGaryJohnson for President in November 2016

    Gary Johnson #Libertarian For President #LiveFree | #MakeAmericaSaneAgain
    After much thought, review, and internal debate this past 12 months. I have taken a stand. I endorse Gary Johnson, Libertarian, for President of the United States of America. I will be voting Libertarian at every level (President, Senator, Mayor, School Board... etc) in November 2016.

    I ask you to support a common sense approach, and to run from the Tyranny of Donald Trump AND Hillary Clinton (and their parties).

    When men and women are free from government and corporate interference, they are the happiest and more prosperous people.

    You and I may have honest intellectual disagreements on the moral quality of one choice or another, and we can debate and discuss those choices openly and freely in a free society.

    However, as long as you are not harming my person or property, and I am not harming your person or property, we should not attempt to control each other through government force. We should each be free to…

    I left the #GOP forever and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

    #Election2016 Clarification:
    I heard another talk radio guy (Grant Stinchfield) jump on the Trump Train this morning... another person claiming to be a conservative who is so blinded by his hate for Hillary Clinton, he cannot see that the devil he chose is worse than the one he rejects.

    Hillary and Obama combined couldn't harm this country as bad as Trump could. That's what worries me most about this coming election. But here's the thing Grant doesn't get. He thinks I'm voting for Gary Johnson because of Trump.

    I left the #GOP forever and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.  Read on (HERE) to find out why...


    I want a Hippopotas for Christmas!!!! #Pokemon #Fan

    I want a Hippopotas for Christmas!!!!  #Pokemon #Fan
    OK... so several years ago I decided that the song "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" was my favorite Christmas song.

    Then, after learning about Hippos, I decided they were one of my favorite animals.

    This morning, I found a Hippo Pokemon set to the Christmas song... and I just HAD to share!


    Hello.... Welcome

    I'm setting up this site to be a single HUB for all of my various creations. I'd rather not hand out a different business card to each person, as the topic of interest changes and I happen to have written about it.

    Since I'm a Multipontialite, I figured it fits to have a single hub. If it works for Seth Godin, it works for me!

    Thanks for stopping by, Darrell


    Show more

    Other sites I follow: