Tylluan Valley Feedback

As part of the entry fee for NYC Midnight, you get to receive feedback from the three judges who read your piece and marked it for round one. I got the email with my comments in yesterday; they’re not as in depth as I might have hoped, but still useful. Each marker gave a comment on what they liked about the story, and what they felt needed improving. Here’s the feedback:

Marker 1
Liked – The narrator’s walk through the forest and slide that almost took him into the river contributes to a sense of foreboding that dissipates when he is mesmerized by the woman at the river and then accelerates when violent shrieking of a crow breaks the spell he was under watching the woman. The hostel and the warden are deliciously creepy.

Improve – The narrator’s guilt about drawing the woman seems a bit out of place because he was an artist. He didn’t have a purulent(sp) interest; he was compelled to draw her, and he didn’t appear to have any intention to exploit her.

So Marker 1 didn’t empathise with someone who felt bad about their voyeurism; on the other hand they enjoyed the pacing and sense of foreboding, the setting and the character of the warden.

Marker 2
Liked – I enjoyed the dreamlike voice and tone of this story. It’s a nice contrast against the dark turn it takes.

Improve – The narrator can be difficult to connect to at times. I wonder if there is a way to deepen his characterization so the reader can empathize with him more.

Marker 2 found it hard to connect with the story, and makes a good suggestion for an improvement. It’s feedback I’ve had before, I need to make sure the reader gets the same emotional connection with the characters as I do.

Marker 3
Liked – Wow! What a lovely story. There’s an old-fashioned feel to it, and the language is so stately. The narrator’s desire was palpable and his decision at the end was a perfect culmination of the story.

Improve – The story is perfect. There were a few instances where “there was” was overused. But that is a small nit.

Marker 3 is clearly an astute individual with great taste in literature 😉 Besides the very complimentary nature of this feedback, the marker connected with some of the main elements of the story from my POV as a writer; the ‘old-fashioned’ feel and stately language were a concious choice to give it a gothic flavour. The ending changed a few times over the week I wrote this story, so I’m glad that the final choice went down so well.

So, when I look at that feedback I can see that I’m not making any major mistakes. One judge marked it down because they didn’t understand the characters motivations, and that feels outside of my control. I can’t predict what attitudes a reader might have, only those of the characters. Marker 2 didn’t connect with the character, and that I can improve on. I need to detach myself from it and make sure there is a compelling reason for readers to feel the same way that I do about my characters. And Marker 3? Well, thank you. Your feedback was a real confidence boost.

So what’s next for Tylluan Valley? Well, I shall do some edits in the light of this feedback and then find another competition to submit it too.


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