What Stace had to say on Friday, August 21st, 2009
On Critiques 9: Bad Crit 3

Once again, sorry I was so inattentive this week. Thanks for hanging in there.

Standard disclaimer: This is a Bad Crit, designed to show how NOT to critique. It is strictly a learning exercise and does not reflect my actual feelings on the piece being critiqued. Please do not take any comments in the following seriously.

Okay. In today’s Bad Crit I’m doing something sneaky. I’m slipping two GOOD comments in there. See if you can find them:

You gotta have the right bait when trolling for vampire. What does this mean? You shouldn’t start a book with something that doesn’t mean anything.

I wore all black leather: corset and pants stuffed into lace up knee boots. That sounds uncomfortable. You should mention her being uncomfortable. Otherwise it doesn’t feel REAL. My makeup was all Gothy, with dark smoky eyes and glossy blood red lips. I felt like a hooker clown on steroids. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror — a tiger among sheep, hunting undead wolves. Are there zombie wolves in this?

“Mmmm.” I rolled my last three M&Ms in my mouth, savoring that chocolately flavor. But have they melted? And why is she eating M&Ms anyway? Is she a candy addict? You should tell us that. Then the chocolate soured in my mouth as I spotted Valerie St. Clair. Valerie owned the club, among others, and was a notorious fang whore. “Valerie St. Clair” sounds like a porn name. Are you making fun of the reader? She was also President of the Vampire Defamation League in Dallas, and a first class vampire enabler. Unfortunately, she knew my by sight as a vampire hunter, though not my name. I think a woman who owns a bunch of bars and moonlights in porn would have found out her name by now. She has connections.

My heart began pounding. Why? Is she nervous or scared? Don’t make me guess these things. How about “My heart started pounding from fear.”? Valerie employed vamps and werewolves. Zombie werewolves? If she spotted me, I was toast. The vamps could mesmerize me, and force me to betray my friends. If she’s that weak-minded she shouldn’t be doing this job.

I stopped and glanced left. Ten feet over stood a tall, dark man. Well, that really narrows it down. He wore a blue shirt and black leather pants. Dane was the unofficial leader of Dallas’ small cabal of vampire hunters. Valerie was to my right, across the crowded dance floor.

Dane indicated a man, and nodded. How did he indicate? Did he point? Mime? Dhampirs had a knack for picking vampires out of a crowd. More out of curiosity than anything, I checked out the vampire.

He was a tall, man dressed in an red silk shirt. I noticed his smile looked predatory as he danced with two bleach blonde Goths. The girls watched his face with open-mouth awe. They looked entranced to me, but he looked pretty enough to mesmerize some women without vamp powers. You need to show us how pretty he is, don’t just tell us.

Past him was an open alcove. A place built into the club for vampires to take their prey. Don’t people notice them carting dead bodies out of the alcove? Also, where are the zombie wolves? We could take him out so fast, so easy. Valerie was still across the club, and slowly moving away from us. I nodded at Dane, and got the whole thing started.

The club was dark and tightly packed. The music was loud and rather disturbing. Little Goths and Gothettes frantically danced to it. I smiled and pretended to enjoy it as I slipped through the crowd towards the vamp. But more disturbing than the music was the vampire pheromones in the air, and they grew thicker as I closed on the vamp. Vampire pheromones? That is such a cliche.

Vampire pheromones were the most potent aphrodisiac known. I could defend against their hypnotic eyes, but not against pheromones. I haven’t mastered the fine art of not breathing yet. I bet a zombie werewolve would have had that down pat by now. So my libido reared its ugly head.

I stepped up behind the vampire and spoke into his ear. “They’re pretty, but I think you need a real woman.” How tall is he?

The vamp turned to regard me. I hid the fact I averted my eyes by looking the two Goth girls up and down. Up close, they looked mid-teens. How? What were they wearing? Way too young to be in the Black Rose, much less cavorting with the undead. The fact they didn’t protest my poaching attempt proved he mesmerized them.

The vamp was still trying to catch my eyes, so I turned my head and flipped my long, black hair back. Back where? My exposed throat drew his interest. His dark eyes locked on it as he licked his lips.

“Give me what I want, and you’ll get all you want, and more,” I said. What does she want? I don’t get what she’s implying here.

“I am Yves Picard.” His accent was French, thick and sexy as Hell. Is Hell really sexy? He took my hand and bent to kiss it. “What is your name, pretty lady?”

As he kissed my knuckles oh so lightly, I looked over and above him to find Dane and another of our group. Gabe stood next to the closest alcove, watching me with a playful smirk. So is Gabe another member of the group? The bastard was enjoying himself too much at my expense. Why is she in a group with bastards? They should be all good friends. The alcove’s curtains were open, so I nodded before returning my attention to Yves.

I must always tell the truth when speaking to a vampire. They can tell when mortals lie. Every time. How can they tell?

“My name is Sable. Sable Hart. Another porn name Pleased to meet you, Yves.”

Feeling safe, I looked him full in the face. Why does she feel safe? Most of the time vampires don’t bother enthralling their victims, if the victim was eager. Eagerness filled me, and I was aroused by the vamp pheromones. How? Explain her arousal. I sucked in a deep breath, filling my lungs with pheromones so my revulsion didn’t rear its ugly head. Why is she revolted?

Yves was aroused, too. He pumped pheromones out in his excitement. I felt my belly erupt with butterflies and my nipples stiffen and tingle. My mind went straight to thoughts of wild and wicked things I wanted to do with him. When our eyes met, he thrust his power into me. Heh heh heh I gasped and tensed, and then he released me.

Yves smiled, exposing his fangs. He seems awfully dumb to just agree to wander off with her. “A woman indeed. Shall we find a more private place to…speak?”

I nodded, and pointed at the empty alcove. I didn’t trust my voice yet.

He smiled he’s already smiling and placed his hand at the small of my back, and ushered me towards it. Dane I just realized his name is Dane, like a Great Dane. Is he the zombie werewolf? Is this clever foreshadowing? and Gabe were speaking near the alcove as we passed. I saw no indication they even noticed us.

I turned to face the vampire as he pulled the curtains closed. My partners couldn’t just charge in. I had to distract the vampire until they slipped in stealthily, and dispatched him. But Yves had other ideas.

The vamp pressed up close, grabbed my hair and yanked my head to one side. All I could see were his long, white fangs.

“Hey. Why so fast? We have this little thing here in Texas called foreplay. You should try it.”

“I feed, then we play.” He’s awfully demanding. She should walk right out of there.

Dane and Gabe couldn’t see what was happening. Immortals aren’t exactly pressed for time. Just my luck I seduced the hungriest vampire in Dallas. Is she sure about that?

With no choice, I dug up under my stiff, thick leather corset with both hands. Sucking in my belly for more room, I got hold of the two pieces of wood. The corset was thick enough to hide the four wooden stakes are there two or four? I’m confused underneath, each eight inches long, flat and thin. I’d consider mentioning these back when you describe her clothes, to add to the tension. I yanked out the stakes, startling Yves. He pushed away and looked down even as I thrust one up under his breastbone.

I missed the heart, of course.

“Ugh!” Yves reached for me. “Die!”

I kicked up and around, catching his reaching arm and blocking it aside. My kick caught his arm solidly enough to turn him aside. Girls can’t kick that hard Thrusting the other stake into my right hand, I spun around and drove it into his back and right through his heart. Girls aren’t that strong either That did the trick.

Yves dropped to his knees, and pitched face first to the floor. Dane, then Gabe, came in at that time. Some help they are, yeesh. I expected more from a zombie werewolf.

5 comments to “On Critiques 9: Bad Crit 3”

  1. BernardL
    · August 21st, 2009 at 1:49 pm · Link

    Your zombie werewolf comments were hilarious. I’ll pick those and your comment asking for expansion on how the vampires know when a mortal is lying. This one was very entertaining. :)

    • Tom Gallier
      · August 21st, 2009 at 3:47 pm · Link

      I love the zombie werewolf idea.

  2. Felicia Fredlund
    · August 21st, 2009 at 5:30 pm · Link

    Fun fun. Another cool story I want to read.

    Okay the zombie werewolves were literally fixation again. Although they were funny to read. I wonder if it would be possible to write a funny serious novel by having a commentator on every other place. (Something close to that idea is of course Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (and other Terry Pratchett books according to friends that has read more of him).)

    I believe the two serious comments are:
    – “he’s already smiling”
    – “You need to show us how pretty he is, don’t just tell us.”

    Although it could maybe be “I’d consider mentioning these back when you describe her clothes, to add to the tension.”

    But I’m not sure which of the two first that wasn’t serious.

    At least this is what I think, and since I technically have three comments I have to be wrong, heh.

  3. driftsmoke
    · August 21st, 2009 at 5:37 pm · Link

    Good comments: (the ones I liked, at least)

    1. He’s already smiling

    2. Are there two or four?

    The rest of the comments fell into four categories: (that I found)

    1. Be very, very clear. Critiquer doesn’t read between the lines or make connections.

    2. Humorous comment (zombie werewolves) inserted every few paragraphs — Critiquer is either obtuse or has a wicked sense of humor.

    3. The critiquer attempts to rewrite the piece in her own image. This includes comments character’s actions, comments on name choices, description comments, and comments on possible clichés. The comments might be helpful to the writer, and they might not. They’re totally subjective.

    4. The critiquer does not like figurative language. (Sexy as hell and narrator’s friends are bastards.)

    Stacia, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to do this. I’ve seen myself in many of the purposefully bad comments. It’s been both humbling and educational. Oh, and humorous. It’s been really humorous.

  4. Cora
    · August 21st, 2009 at 8:46 pm · Link

    This critiquer really everything explained right away and also tries to rewrite the story in his/her own way. Plus, there is that fixation on zombie werewolves, which I actually found quote funny.

    Good comments: “He is already smiling” points out a continuity problem.

    The comments about the clothes and the hidden stakes also made sense to me, because hidden stakes not even hinted at do sound like deus-ex-machina to me. And just for once, I’d like to hear an urban fantasy heroine complaining that corsets and leather pants aren’t the most comfortable of clothes.

    The comment about the Gabe character suddenly appearing out of nowhere also made sense to me.

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