Alright, you don't listen to reason, so let me show you what a difference an editor can make even in your professionally unedited writing.Your version, chapter 1, paragraph 2:It happened two days ago when I was walking home from work. Since graduating from high school twoyears ago, I have worked at Movie Time, the local movie rental store. It’s a cool job when the jackassmanager isn’t yelling at me to get to work. I get to watch the newest movies before anyone else in townand they are free for employees to rent. I also don’t have to do very much. I basically put tapes awayand run the cash register.Edited version:It happened two days ago when I was walking home from work. The whole world changed then.I graduated from Meyerson High School two years ago. I knew college wasn't for me, so I took a job at Movie Time, working the cash register, renting videos, selling movies; sitting on my ass when I can, watching the latest releases when I want, avoiding the mangager, Joe, a dude who was only four years older than me, and a total jackass. Joe thinks he's cool because he wears a goatee, and sports a leather jacket, like Brando in The Wild Ones.Again, JJ, your writing has no bite, no foreshadowing of events as they unfold. You're trying to link things together that have no link, and because you're providing no color, or background for characters, setting, or even the plot, this book reads as very dull.It takes a lot of skill to write in the first person to not make the mistakes of timing, or the balancing act of switching between viewpoint characters and keeping their personalities separate. You haven't succeeded. These are the problems you clearly can see in your second paragraph (and I picked this one at random, because it's worse than the first one).Your version, chapter 1, paragraph 2:It happened two days ago when I was walking home from work (What happened? You need to name "something", be vague, but draw the reader in with a bit of dread, ever heard of "in medias res?"). Since graduating from high school twoyears ago (which high school?, is it that Chad doesn't remember? Or it's not worth mentioning?), I have worked at Movie Time, the local movie rental store (There's only one movie rental place? Your language here is way too generic). It’s a cool job when the jackassmanager (what's the manager's name? Is he fat? A movie buff?)isn’t yelling at me to get to work. I get to watch the newest movies before anyone else in town(I have never, ever heard of a store providing this kind of freedom to their employees; most small places can't afford not to have movies on the shelves for fear that they won't get a rental fee . The logic here doesn't hold water) and they are free for employees to rent (impossible). I also don’t have to do very much. I basically put tapes awayand run the cash register.There are so many glaring inconsistencies in your writing. This puts the reading off, and you wouldn't get one paragraph past an editor if you ever decide to submit work to one (and by the way, no publishing house would deign to publish a vanity work--which is what this is.
Let me give you a brilliant, flash fiction example of a perfect first person story.Notice the details used, how smooth and logical the story flows, and how much "music" this writing taps. Aspire to this, and follow my original advice. go to an in-person workshop, with at least one legitimately published author, let them tear you a new one, and learn from the experience. Read what's below.In Dublin, One almost got away.He was halfway out the door when they caught Him, the spikes cast aside, His wounds already healed. It took five strong men to hold Him to the cross while the others drove the nails back in.I know how hard it must have been. I had cross-watch duty at our church (St. Luke's) last Friday, when Ours awoke and I had to hammer back the spikes. I'll never forget the look of betrayal on His face, the blood from His crown of thorns trickling down into His accusing eyes. He turned back to wood that way, still facing me.He didn't stop bleeding.We've grown used to the blood, all of us. When the crisis first started, we had to dump the buckets once a week. Now we have to do it twice a day, and soon we'll be doing it every hour.But the worst time was when He came alive Sunday morning, while Minister Farley was reading from John. It took Him almost a half-hour to turn back, the sound of the hammers and His screams drowning out the sermon. The congregation had left as fast as they could, their eyes wide with terror and shock.I pray every night, and when I pray I think about the look in His eyes. I pray desperately for guidance, for a sign that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm still worthy of salvation. And yet I still feel the fear, the cold uncertainty that grips my every waking hour.But we dare not stop now. I saw pictures of the congregation of St. Jude, the one that let Him escape, the blood oozing from the wounds that appeared in their hands and legs. I saw their faces twisted in pain from the stigmata, their eyes blinded with blood from their invisible crown of thorns, and knew what we had to do.No one knows how it started, what war or genocide finally tipped the scales against our redemption. All we know is that the period for our grace, once given so freely, has now expired, and the Savior upon which we have all leaned for 2,000 years now wishes an end to His sorrows. Dear Jesus, please forgive us, but we cannot let You go. Is it any wonder that we, frail creatures that we are, run from the shadow of our own Golgotha? Our sins are many, and we dare not bear the weight of our crosses alone.And so I watch when I have to watch, and nail when I have to nail. And pray.In fact, I pray now more than ever, four or five hours every night. I pray fervently that Our Lord's bleeding will stop, and that neither I, nor anyone else, will have to see those accusing eyes, or drive in those nails, ever again. And most of all, I pray that there is still salvation, that mankind has not filled our world with so much blood that even the infinite mercy of Our Savior can no longer contain it all.And still the words of Luke 23:34 haunt me, for though those Roman soldiers may not have known what they were doing, dear God, we most certainly do.JJ, if after this you don't heed my advice, then you're lost. It's hard to develop your writing at nearly middle age, especially when you don't take an honest look at your work. Good luck, either way.
Thanks for your comments. I welcome all constructive criticism and try to learn from it. It helps much more than criticism for criticism's sake.
Good, I suspect, and this is my suspicion only, of course, that you can build much more with your work if you take the plunge, and find a mentor. I also suggest you write short stories and start submitting them to any and all markets. Good luck.
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