Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. So, I am continuing the post about why first drafts suck by including more of the feedback I gotten from my professor in my thesis writing class. In it, she gives us her view of what she is seeing as a reader and as an author and provides notes on what needs to be improved when it comes to the novel overall.
Please be on the lookout for the final version (part four) of Why First Drafts Sucks very soon. In the meantime, please read this post and let me know your comments and suggestions on it in the comments section. See you soon.
I’m sorry to say that I have a number of issues with the piece. A lot feels forced and there isn’t enough showing. I’ve detailed those things below. I feel like you’ve got great characters, but that they appear flat because you’re not delving more into the emotional journeys they are taking. I don’t understand some of the plot directions. They seem to come out of nowhere, particularly the stopping the friendship with Liam plot. It isn’t organic to the characters and situations and really doesn’t make any sense.
I also want you to work more on bringing in sensory detail. Concrete detail. Show a lot more than you do.
I think you’ve got some work ahead of you, which I know will be hard, but you can totally do it. One thing I really want you to think about is this: you are very close and engaged in your story, but how much of what’s in your mind has made it to the page? I think it’s a lot less than you know and that’s part of the confusion.
Thoughts on the submission:
If the transforments have all been killed off, then who killed her mother? Wasn’t that a recent death?
If the Ormans and S.E.T. have been around since ancient Egypt, I’m confused about how the technology developed. Did it develop back then and become refined in terms of transforming people? I’m not sure if Ormans are born that way, or if they have to get injected to become so. If the latter, how are they chosen?
If Evita is ‘on the team,’ and is S.E.T., how come Ford doesn’t know about her? And how come she doesn’t make more use of those resources in the course of the novel?
The fact that Ford asks about trouble and she doesn’t tell him because he has more important things to worry about just doesn’t ring true. Not at all. And her little cryptic statement is way too cryptic. Show what she sees and he ought to react and doesn’t. Why not?
You don’t explicitly say she goes to the beach. You don’t give a sense of what it’s like in a sensory way exactly what she’s doing before Shawn attacks.
When Amelia sees the attack, show more of how she feels. Show more of the details around them. Make it more personal. She thinks about using her powers and doesn’t struggle with that decision. Show her stalking the guy and does anybody else notice? What does the place look like? Does she worry about being seen? Basically I’m saying Show a lot more.
When Amelia is watching, it says: “Evita’s eyes were closed and her face was covered.” Then below that, Amelia realizes who it is. So you’ve got a little problem there. Also, doesn’t Amelia recognize the clothing Evita was wearing earlier?
You have a tendency to undermine your pacing by stopping the action and explaining how the character feels. For instance. Amelia sees Evita and her powers spike. Then you talk about the fact that she knew she couldn’t waste time, that Liam had told her things, and etc.
Instead, show what happens. Something like: Amelia’s power spiked. She grappled to bring them under control. Losing it wouldn’t help Evita. What if she was already too late? Fear sliced through her and she …. And then describe what she does.
Even if Jacob was bisexual, Shawn did steal him in the sense that he actively lured Jacob away. Jacob’s sexuality doesn’t really come into question. Does that make sense?
The argument Shawn and Jacob have doesn’t exactly ring true. Why would Jacob keep arguing instead of trying to help Evita if she was in that bad of shape? Why does he start asking about what is going on with Wen? He needs to stay in the moment. It doesn’t make sense that they’d have this argument with Evita dying on the floor right next to them.
Really? Liam thought about ignoring her call for help? I don’t buy it, especially not given his feelings, but on top of that, there’s been an attack and he should feel her desperation and need and know she’s hurt through the psychic link.
When he can’t touch her mind all day, does it feel different than normal? Is he pissed that she’s walling him out? Or is this an unusual enough situation to make his worry legitimate?
Then when she calls for help, he ought to be scrambling, not taking his time and he should totally blow Wen off fast as he’s racing off. It makes no sense.
Would Jazu really answer a call if he was operating? And why doesn’t Liam reach out telepathically? It feels like using their powers is pretty arbitrary sometimes and I don’t understand the rules at all for how it all works.
When he finds Jacob, he goes off on the “isn’t it enough what you did to her,” thing, even though he knows that she’s in trouble. Again, it doesn’t fit the situation that he’d stop and have a conversation. He’d drag Jacob to find her and demand to know about Shawn and what Jacob knows.
You say he’s panicked, but nothing about the way he’s acting shows that.
Why doesn’t Liam immediately fight back with his powers instead of talking to Shawn? It makes no sense. He should also be trying to talk to Evita.
What does “Say your goodbye to your demise” mean?
Jacob’s reaction is kind of ridiculous, honestly. What did he expect them to do? And how did she explode him?
How does Ford just show up? Why does Jacob know him or of him? The conversation doesn’t flow for me. The focus just seems to shift around oddly and the characters don’t seem to have much real feeling. Evita killed a man. She’s supposed to be saving lives. Why doesn’t she feel shaken, horrified, and guilty? Her friend was murdered, why isn’t she crushed about that? Ford and Lucas seem to be nonchalant. It’s like they are discussing bad service at a restaurant. It doesn’t feel believable.
I don’t think he gets to keep being a heart surgeon while also being a leader. And why offer the job to him? So far, there’s nothing really that shows what the S.E.T. does, how everybody fits n and the roles they play, and what the job of leader would entail. It doesn’t feel integral to the story, more like decoration, if that makes sense.
None of them seem particularly broken up about Amelia.
Given how much Shawn’s and Amelia’s deaths cause concern—everybody just seems to take that in stride and be kind of nonchalant about it—I can’t fathom why Liam’s relationship with Wen would cause any stir at all. That doesn’t make sense.
A break from their friendship? Really? Why?
The love scene comes out of nowhere and feels forced. Same with the friendship ending. It feel like you wanted to include both of those, but that they don’t flow from the story or what’s happening.
By the way, if you missed out on the first two posts, click on the links below for more information.
Why First Drafts Suck, Part One
Why First Drafts Suck, Part Two
Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/.