May 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm #42617
Short Story: “Madman Billy” by vedabitsaha
Dear Writer, thank you for asking us to review your short story ‘Madman Billy’. Please find below our objective review comment based on five key elements of short stories:
Character: Story has two main characters – the adventurous narrator and the ghost of Madman Billy. There are few more characters such as Huck and parents but they appear for very little in the story. Having fewer characters, as is done in this story, is very important for effective short story writing. Furthermore, the ghost Billy is beautifully characterized precisely for the theme. Legend is used nicely to bring out character of Billy. On other hand, story misses characterization of the other main lead, the narrator, and thus tones down very aptly projected suspense.
Setting: Setting makes short story lively, letting readers to experience the story by not only ophthalmoception (vision) but also other senses such as audioception (hearing), olfacception (smell), gustaoception (taste) and tactioception (touch). There are many instances where story fails to appeal either any sense of readers such as when the narrator first time sees the haunted house, or more than one sense such as, on fateful night when the narrator is climbing to the attic, setting beautifully albeit only touches hearing sense. It is almost mandatory to provide setting appealing to more than one sense of readers. Another important point in setting is timeframe. It should be short and single as is used in this story.
(On personal note – Your writing is superbly biased to audioception. For example accent of Huck, pelting of rain on windows, snoring of parents, creepy sounds etc. You may use it for your advantage by selecting appropriate plot. For example write on theme of love feeling of a blind girl or suspense thriller in a dark setting.)
Plot: Story has “creepy” plot. It starts with very powerful line, “The Happy Cottage is haunted”, generating curiosity and question in mind of readers. However as story progresses it misses the same hook until eventful fifth night. Typically in a creepy plot, happenings should be slow, very slow, describing each and every detail before key event. (For example refer this creepy story Aitama). Furthermore, typically creepy plot should end when climax is heightened. Providing messages and lesson may dilute beauty of the plot. If this story is to be rewritten, we would recommend ending it few lines earlier.
Conflict: Typically setting is key element in creepy plot and hardly anything is left for the conflict. However proper characterization of the narrator about his adventurous nature and disbelieves in legends would have made the climax more interesting. Before hero fails in story, it almost every time works to show the hero very powerful.
Theme: Theme is very clear and well supported mostly by all other elements.
Having said the above, we strongly believe that story is an art and every art is invaluable – there is nothing good or bad as art is beyond boundaries of these adjectives. Therefore the creator is the best person to decide whether the creation meets her expectation. We like your story in total and our comments are just objective comparison with the patterns we observed in most liked short stories.
We also recommend you to read 10 Tips for short story writing by our Chief Editor.
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