Today on Friday Feedback, we thank Vicki Griffin for sharing 150 words from her YA novel.

UGLY-FACED GNOMES mocked and cat-called as she slid down the murky, maggot-infested slime. She had no idea what to expect as she continued her revolting journey through the gruesome tunnel. When she had reached the end, or what she thought was the end, an enormous bug-eyed creature with hairy legs jumped out, grabbed her plaits and started pulling on them at the same time as he squeaked and squealed.

‘Stop that! Stop that right now, you ugly thing!’ She yelled at it trying to get loose.

I beg your pardon? A stern voice echoed behind her. ‘Molly Amelia Pottswaddle you need to standup right now and let the whole class in on the joke!’ Mrs. Snedden demanded, tapping her ruler on the edge of the desk.

‘Crikey, Mrs. Snedden do I have to?’ She stuttered realising she must have dozed off.


Vicki, this is great. I love the sound of Molly and the humour you have injected into this piece.

I’m not sure exactly where this comes in the story, but I think you could strengthen the ‘dream’ by using more specific description and using the setting as part of the action. You could even use some dialogue.

Here’s what I mean about the description.

With the ugly-faced gnomes, what is ugly about them? Do they have bloodshot eyes, sharp teeth, large noses, bulging eyes, slime coming out of their noses? By giving specific description for the reader, you will give them a more vivid picture.

Also. when the gnomes mock her, you could show it with dialogue.

 For example. “Not so smart now, you revolting child, the gnome glared at her through one bulging eye as she slid past, down the murky, maggot-infested slime.” (You could even mention here the feeling of maggots in her hair and wriggling all over her)

How is Molly feeling about what’s happening to her?

Try to include an emotional response. If you say, “She thought her revolting journey through the gruesome tunnel would never end,” this tells the reader her emotional response to what is happening – that it’s a terrible experience for her and she wants it to be over with.

You could use a simile or metaphor

Give the reader some idea of how enormous this bug-eyed creature is – and is it a spider or something else? How many legs does it have?

Here’s an example of what I mean: “A bug-eyed creature the size of a large hippo grabbed at her plaits with its six hairy legs and pulled them.”


Use as many senses as you can to evoke strong images for the reader. Molly could even accidentally swallow some of the slime and you could describe how that feels and tastes.

I think the reader would be interested too in examples of the noises the creature made. What did the squeal sound like for example?


‘Stop that! Stop that right now, you ugly thing!’ She yelled at it trying to get loose. 

You could make this a bit more vivid for the reader by showing how Molly tries to get loose. Does she poke the creature in one of its bulging eyes? Does she pull on its hairy leg? By showing her frantic struggle, this creates more tension for the reader.

Also, I’m not sure how old Molly is, but I’m wondering if she might say something like “You ugly creep”, instead of “You ugly thing”. Seeing as this is a YA novel, I’m assuming Molly is in her teens.

How often does Molly have these dreams?

If Molly often has dreams or visions and this is an important part of the story, you can foreshadow this for the reader just by adding the word ‘again’ to the last part of the second paragraph. (eg,  She must have dozed off again.)

Vicki, you have created a great sense of Molly’s character here and interest for the reader. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to know how Molly is going to explain all this to her teacher.

Good luck with this story.

I hope you’ve found these comments helpful, Vicki. If anyone else has constructive feedback for Vicki, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Do you have a 150 word piece you’d like feedback on?

Email it to Dee*At*Deescribe*Dot*Com*Dot*au

Happy writing:)



  1. I’m really enjoying your Friday Feedback Dee. It’s like being in my writers’ group weekly and receiving appraisals on our pieces constantly without the monthly waits. Brilliant. I enjoyed the extract but find it even more facinating that I am able to learn something new from your detailed feedback each time. Having someone else able to point out the beauty or oddities of a rainfall makes it all the more worthwhile to behold. Thanking you (both)!

  2. Hi Dimity,

    Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m so glad you are finding this valuable. Sounds like you have a great writers’ group.

    You are welcome to submit 150 words to Friday Feedback any time and let other writers know about it. I set this segment up because I really want to help as many writers as possible. I know how hard it can be to get feedback on your work. It’s always great to have other perspectives and our Friday Feedback sessions give other writers the opportunity to provide feedback too.

    Hope your writing is going well:)


  3. How cool is Friday feedback!
    It’s great to see an analysis of someone’s work. it’s a useful learning tool, not only for the writer who is receiving the critique. I’ll be looking forward to more Friday feedbacks in the future. Fab idea.

  4. Dee, sometimes I feel like my writing is going nowhere! But I continue to look and learn. Spookily enough, I was considering submitting to you for Feedback Friday…back to my drawing board first however. Speak soon .

  5. That is spooky, Dimity:)

    I think we are always making progress with our writing, it’s just that sometimes it’s hard to identify where we are making it – but just by reading books and thinking about the way others write is progress:) I’m sure you are moving forward. I look forward to reading your Friday Feedback piece when you’re ready to send it:)

  6. Nice one, Vicki.

    Constructive comment one: the language suggests a much younger age group than YA, so I agree a dialogue-upgrade is worthwhile.

    Constructive comment two: I’m useless at descriptive prose. I have no literary flair at all so I take the less-is-more path. I shouldn’t comment, frankly, but…’ugly-faced gnomes’ – well, it’s a tautology for starters – ‘ugly’ usually refers to facial characteristics – and might be tweaked to put the reader straight into a context, e.g. ‘misshapen gnomes, faces twisted in sneers and mockery, stood in the maggoty filth of the tunnel…etc’ Not a great example, I grant you, but object-context-action might work a little better. I think with the ‘bug-eyed creature’ you need to name it – a ‘creature’ could be anything so it could be as simple as a ‘spider-like animal’ or ‘the first thing she saw was a hand, incredibly hairy, attached to an equally hairy arm. Then she saw the first of the eyes, a globe of ferocious intent, looking right at her…”

    So there you have it. I’ve completely contradicted myself by advising you to write more not less descriptives. I told you I shouldn’t comment.

    All the best with this one!


  7. Thanks so much Ben any comments as far as I’m concerned can only help enrich the story. Thanks again Mate.

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