Distortion Critique 2


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 http://www.scribophile.com/ for making a community for writers.

Opening Comments

critiquing this based on the cool name and nothing else... gonna comment as I go...

Inline Critique

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.

Coolness 
Or you could say, 'A chill' or 'ice' or my spine became a stalactite... okay that my be overdoing it, I guess. But to me coolness is usually a good thing. Like, people are cool. Plus coolness is kind of 'tepid'. It doesn't seem harsh enough.rushed down his spine, and his muscles tensed.

He reached for his sidearm.

He shook his head, and looked again, they were gone.

Ash relaxed and sank back into the leather bound chair; alone, in the corner of his favorite coffee shop.

Always keep your back to the wall, be near the most exits, but never too visible. It was like breathing, it never stopped... even in civilian life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. That was the diagnosis they’d assigned him.
Oh this is great. Love it.

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, and would-be trouble makers. He was quite
again this seems a bit tepid. Either cut it or commit to it. 'extremely' overqulified might have more impact. 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. Buried in their smartphones.
oh yes aren't they always.So oblivious to the world around them, or the little clouds that float around their shoulders.
this is awesome.

The leaves
fell
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.

Some commotion outside broke his train of thought.
.. Everyone was stopping, turning, and staring in the same direction, a few moving toward the distraction.

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.
is this relevant?

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.

"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.

creepy!
Ash could see There wasa large creature
appearedbehind the man. The bottom half was more mist than form, as though it were made of smoke. The top half was like a man, with the head of a bull. It was charcoal,
and
withstreaks of white painted across the chest.
I dded appeared here because at first Ash seems to think the man is having a one-sided conversation. But if he w=saw these creatures right away, then he'd never had reacted as if he thought the man was having a one-sides convo. The issue here is, you seem to have described the way everyone else is seeing the situation but you've done it from Ash's perspective. So either he needs to see the creatures right away or they need to gradually - or suddenly appear.

Ash
's could feel his palms turn cold,
and he felt as thoughand he couldn't move his legs.
I feel there should be a more extreme reaction here from Ash. he's seeing this wholly unbelievable thing right now and he's not freakling out at all. At least, you aren't showing us he's freaking out. This would be a good place for some inner monologue, or maybe some swearing under his breath or something. I wat to know how he's feeling right now.

A smaller creature was on the homeless man's shoulders, screaming into his ears. 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.

The large creature stared directly at Ash, cocked his head to one side anddisappeared along with the smaller one.
Confused. Where did he disappear?The homeless man was by himself again, then his eyes narrowed. He leapt off the truck and ran at Ash.

It took all his training to keep from being pinned down. The old man was wiry but stronger than he looked.

Ash let out a cry
., "Jesus!"

The wiry man stepped back, his eyes darted around, 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. "Charlie's at it again... Let's take him in."

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."
ha ha. I dunno. I'd be pretty grumpy to lose my coffee like that.

"Why don't you let me get you another… on me."

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?"

"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
wasa girl crying, typing away on
athe phone. A little red frog on her shoulder was yelling into her ear. Ash could only imagine what it must be saying.

A little old lady
is
wassitting inside a window at the nursing home. She is
wasknitting something, probably a blanket. A large man in all white, stands
stoodbehind her, smiling. He looks
looked up at Ash, his smile fades
faded slightly, and then
returnedreturns. He looks
looked down to her again.
you've changed tense. That's a shame. It was going so well. unless its purposeful for some reason i'm missing. if so, I don't think it works.

Ash could not see the figure accompanying each person, only certain ones, here and there. Most were just clouds or mist.
how did he know figures accompanied everyone. maybe they didn't.

"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."
ah, so this isn't a new thing. This has been going on a long time. Cool. No wonder he wasn't freaking out and shocked. You might need to get a line or two in early on, saying something like, 'Ash had learned long ago to stifle his reactions of such creatures'... or something much more tactfully worded than my iffy skills allow.

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

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.

Yes sir, he owned one fine cabin in the woods.
cabin in the woods. Oh this won't end badly at all. Ha haAll to himself. 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.

At least that's what he told himself.
nice

Ash took a seat on his balcony, overlooking the hills and lake. He stared at the expansive forests, lost in time. The clock read: 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
in fear. Half the mess hall is completely gone, all that is left is fire and rubble.

Ash can feel the beat of his heart in his neck, his forehead rushed
are you mising up tenses again? should this be rushes?with sweat. He sees them all running around, but all he hears is intense ringing.

As the numbness subsides from his brain, shock waves 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.
hmm. i liked it better when the enemy was unnamed. I strongly feel that unless you are writing a piece about a particular war, leave naming the enemy out of it. I feel this is unnecessary and encourages hate and spreads fear. As far as I can see, this story is about the effects of war. Not the actual war. If that's the case, is it necessary to name the enemy?

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.

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, 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.

Closing Comments

This is a great start.  From here it could go anywhere.  Will he lose the plot completely and start believing in his monsters?  Or will the monsters turn out to be real? Or maybe I'm on the complete wrong track and it will be a great surprise.  
The only main issue I saw with this was the occasional tense change.  I get the dream part - that works well.  But during the other scenes it happens a couple times too.  I marked what I saw as a problem.  Do with it whatever you wish.  
I hope my thoughts and idea are helpful to you and I look forward to reading more.



By Darrell Wolfe

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

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Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at DarrellWolfe.com.

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