FRIDAY FEEDBACK – SCOTT CHAMBERS

We’re looking for more volunteers to share their excerpts for Friday Feedback. So if you have a 150 word piece you want feedback on, email it to Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au

Today, Scott Chambers is sharing an excerpt from his adult novel, L.I.F.E.

Lost in the shadows of a gloomy August morning, a satisfied smile played briefly across the face of Mark Woodhouse, serial under achiever. The rapidly fading alarm of his recently acquired personal organiser was soon lost in the drone of distant traffic as it plummeted several stories toward an uncertain, but most likely unpleasant, fate. Sure, he knew it was puerile to derive satisfaction from the wanton destruction of such a helpless gadget, but when life’s pendulum scrapes nadir between mundane and shameful, you learn to take what you can get. 

If you believed the commercials, the LX-2000 Personal Organiser was compact, stylish, and years ahead of its time. In fact viewers that noticed anything in the commercial apart from the cleavage, legs and lycra that constituted the majority of its usual 30 seconds on prime time TV, could be forgiven for believing that the LX-2000 wasn’t just revolutionary, but god-damn psychic. 

If it was so bloody smart, thought Mark, it would have known not to wake me up at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning.

I love the humour in this piece, Scott and your character, Mark has a very strong voice.  I’m thinking the personal organiser has a significant part to play in the story…or at least the inciting incident that starts it off. You set up early that things don’t usually work out for this character so I’m intrigued to see what happens to him next.

Lost in the shadows of a gloomy August morning, a satisfied smile played briefly across the face of Mark Woodhouse, serial under achiever.

This sentence doesn’t communicate clearly. Is Mark lost or is his smile lost or is he lost in thought? I’m wondering if you need the first bit, “Lost in the shadows of a gloomy August morning”.

…when life’s pendulum scrapes nadir between mundane and shameful, you learn to take what you can get.

I’m wondering if the meaning here could be clearer if you said something like when life’s at an all time low, you learn to take what you can get.

Also, I suggest you show this to the reader. The reader will be more sympathetic and care more about Mark’s story if they can see that his life is at an all time low, rather than have you tell them.

If you believed the commercials, the LX-2000 Personal Organiser was compact, stylish, and years ahead of its time. In fact viewers that noticed anything in the commercial apart from the cleavage, legs and lycra that constituted the majority of its usual 30 seconds on prime time TV, could be forgiven for believing that the LX-2000 wasn’t just revolutionary, but god-damn psychic. 

This is a huge amount of detail and it’s funny, but it takes us out of Mark’s point of view. Is it really necessary to the story to give all this information or does the reader just need to know that it is supposed to be top of the range?

It would be snappier if you combined the last two paragraphs with something like

If the now defunct, hi-tech organiser was so bloody smart, thought Mark, it would have known not to wake me up at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning.

The reason I’m suggesting these cuts is that you have done well to engage the reader and make them curious about your character and why his life is a mess and what happened to push him to his limits. If you add too much detail, you lose the tension that you have so cleverly built up.

You have definitely created an intriguing character in Mark and I think readers would be keen to follow his journey.

Thanks for sharing, Scott and I hope you find my comments helpful.

Happy Writing:)

Dee

P.S. don’t forget to email me Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au if you’d like to submit a piece to Friday Feedback.