|Reviews for The Beauty in the Breakdown|
| C. Tattiana H-H 7/31/10 . chapter 1
I thought this was a really solid piece. For a second it reminded me of the movie Angel-A because of the brief mention of Zoe thinking herself to be some sort of angel. You added a nice splash of uniqueness, though.
I thought the dialogue was incredibly well written. It had a light comical feel to it despite the grim mood of John. Your sentence structures were varied enough that everything flowed smoothly and I fell into a sort of trance when I read this. Ha-ha. Perhaps an odd way to describe it, but I was truly very engrossed in this piece.
I thought your descriptions were clear and just long enough to paint a clear picture in my mind without boring me. Everything was easy to imagine and further improved my overall reading experience; I really felt like I was standing outside on the bridge beside them (my bedroom window was open, as well, when I read this, so I was actually shivering a few times. Ha-ha).
You have a really solid piece here that was a joy to read. You take a grim situation and add a nice fresh splash of colour to it; I didn’t ever feel bogged down by John’s self-pity. I think Zoe’s character contrasted him nice; which helped balance out the light with the dark.
The last paragraph didn’t fully do it for me, though. I almost feel that it would be better if it ended with John saying “Merry Christmas”. I don’t know, what you have now is good, it just didn’t hit me like could of. I realize you may not want that effect, and I don’t mean that I think this needs an in-your-face ending, I just think it might work better if it ended with the dialogue. Definitely only one woman’s tired thoughts, though. Feel free to ignore. :D
| Elementer 7/18/10 . chapter 1
Enjoyment: I enjoyed this, it seemed like a romance story and I'm not a huge fan of that genre, but this story is unique which is exactly what I think that genre needs.
Language: I really liked the descriptions you gave they were vivid and colorful. And really helped the flow of the story. The words you used weren't to simple or too complex either, there was a perfect balance.
Characters: I though John and Zoey's relationship was very cute. Odd and a bit bizarre, but cute nonetheless. They also felt human, which is hard to do when writing short stories.
Dialogue: It was very realistic, that's what I enjoyed most about it. It sounded like two people were actually talking to one another. I admire that, it wasn't stale or bland like most works on this site.
I know I owed you this review a long time ago, but I've been busy with several other things. I did love the story though.
| Black Cap 6/18/10 . chapter 1
Okay, I really liked this. Beautiful work, right here.
| Charactarantula 12/30/09 . chapter 1
This is coming ridiculously late, but I'm sure you won't mind. A review's a review. ;)
Congratulations on the win, by the way.
“I could do,” she agreed. “Or...”
'I could do that' or just 'I could' might sound better here.
“Which ceases to matter one the lava destroys your house and kills you?”
Now, if I'm being completely honest, I didn't care for the story itself. There is nothing wrong with it; I mean, your writing is very detailed and flows quite well. More in regards to plot, I believe, as the ending of the story left me feeling empty. Both characters were built up quite well, even though I saw them as caricatures (the cynic and a happy-go-lucky.) And your dialogue is strong, it flows. Almost refuses to be choppy because even though I might have seen them as caricatures in personality, they still seemed... real, you know?
I always read the dialogue as an actor: as if I would need to speak it, and it was all definitely there. My gripe was just that, being a cynic myself, I guess I don't like the dissuasion of John from jumping. Maybe I just like a bloody ending but I said to myself about halfway through that either Zoe was a figment of John's imagination, or John was just going to say fuck it and leap at the end regardless. Wrong on both counts; but, hey, they are your creations. I can't fault you for it. Just not my cup of tea.
Also, I have to say, about me considering Zoe might just be a part of John's imagination; that's kind of how I pictured it, with her being... how do I describe it... ah, like wispy, or something. With all the beautiful imagery she was pounding out it all kind of made sense in my head.
Anway, congrats again, and good luck with this other competition thing that this guy got entered into. I hope you win that as well!
| Pink Parfait 12/4/09 . chapter 1
Review for the October WCC (in which I participated but failed to give you a review which is now over a month overdue)! Haha, sorry this took so long, I've been busy...
PLOT: I think it was very unusual, I've never seen a story of this type before. Masterfully executed, and though it was brief I think almost everything was very balanced. The analogy with the volcano though came across as a bit odd, and towards the end it seemed like you were trying so badly to fit it with the prompt that you didn't consider how the actual story would be effected. It did become a bit pell-mell, neither-here-nor-there towards the end.
LANGUAGE: The writing was very beautiful, the descriptions clear, delicate and lovely. The city came across as a living, breathing thig. It was like reading a sort of Christmas parable in modern times, something innocent flavouring the language
CHARACTERS: I think it's wonderful how you managed to convey John - someone lonely, pushed to the brink but still unwilling to commit the final act. Zoe came across the helping hand - again the same parablesque feeling. Their 'relationship' was very sweet.
ENJOYMENT: If you haven't guessed I enjoyed it very, very much! Very interesting to read, charming and heartwarming and very Christmas-season-tinged (brownie points for the wonderful setting of this story at Christmastime, with the apt backdrop of the city framing it :)
| sophiesix 11/4/09 . chapter 1
oh lovely! neat and natural and wonderfully atmospheric. natural, but with all those little real world awkwardnesses too (love the jesus line!). i like how she is just trying to make him not be alone, for once in his life, and how she tries to point out the beauty to him and gets her metaphors snagged XD Thanks for a great read!
| Pandora's Flight 11/2/09 . chapter 1
Terribly sorry this review is so late! I've been really short on time lately, and completely forgot about reviewing until I got the email for the November WCC.
Congratulations :) I don't always feel that the pieces that win the WCC deserve the honor, but your's certainly did. It's very well written.
[Dialogue] First off, I adore your dialogue. It helps characterize John and Zoe very well. It was very natural and casual in the heat of an intense situation, which I really enjoyed.
[Plot] - I definitely enjoyed this idea. Perhaps a bit cliche with Zoe, our suicide savior, but overall, the idea of beauty in the breakdown is just great. I definitely see the connection with the prompt.
[Writing] - You have a writing style that flows really well. I didn't feel distracted from your writing whatsoever. I found a very natural balance of dialogue and sparse, but aesthetic imagery. Details fit in subtly, I was glad to see there wasn't too much John backstory, I don't think you needed to know him any more personally than you described.
[Ending] - Although, I definitely liked the small time frame the story was written with, the ending did seem a bit unfinished to me. I liked the fact that Zoe and John introduced themselves and said, "Merry Christmas," at the end, but perhaps you could add more before that point. Zoe gave John her perspective of 'beauty in the breakdown', leaving the reader with something thought-provoking, the meat of your story. When John, being the cynical character he is, questions Zoe, saying:
“Which ceases to matter one the lava destroys your house and kills you?”
She doesn't defend it, but rather says, “All right, so it's not a perfect analogy." I think I would have liked to see her have a defense against that. I suppose it all depends on your personal opinion as the writer, if that's what you believe, so be it. But I think there are many ways to make it fit.
Just something to think about :)
Fantastic job. You're very talented!
The Eternal Masquerade
P.S. Something else I found really coincidental that I thought I should tell you. About a week before this prompt was released, I was working on this poem called "Shooting Stars vs. Meteors" (which is still sitting unfinished in my document list, but perhaps I'll post it sometime) and it was really similar to your idea of beauty in the breakdown. Oddly similar. I believe I had a stanza in it that when something like:
"How beautiful," she said
And I laughed
Because I knew it was just anothe Weird? _
| Mazkeraide 11/1/09 . chapter 1
First of all, congratulations on winning WCC. I was unable to find time to vote, regrettably, but upon reading this I see that you totally deserved it.
Your characters in this piece were interesting. John's suicidal tendencies, as well as his reluctance to commit to suicide, were quite well expressed. I thought Zoë was a little bit cliche with her purple hair and "do whatever you want" attitude, but that doesn't mean I didn't like her.
I did think the setting was a little bit commonplace. A man is about to jump off a bridge on Christmas Eve. It's a valid and probable situation, but it seems (and I hate to use this word again) a little cliche. I do agree that Christmas is a hard time of year, especially for lonely people, but I feel almost like setting it on that particular day almost cheapened the value of it, where it was meant to increase the drama of the entire situation.
I feel like I'm leaving a very negative review! I'm sorry! I really did like the dialogue. It seemed very natural and realistic, which is difficult to achieve (I know I always read my dialogue out loud to see if it sounds real). Both characters' dialogue seemed to fit their characters very well.
I also feel like this story really dragged me into the characters. I found myself wanting to know more about John and the circumstances that led him to suicide, and I wanted to understand Zoë better and find out why she was walking around late at night on Christmas Eve. I want to know if John decided not to commit suicide and stuck to his resolution, if their relationship went farther from this point, just what happened to them, I suppose. But at the same time, I feel like to add more to it would be a travesty, ruining the beauty that this piece has in its shortness.
Anyway, I feel like I've rambled on quite a bit. Again, congratulations! You totally deserved it! And good luck this round, I suppose.
| xenolith 10/17/09 . chapter 1
I wanted to check this out, and I'm not disappointed. Out of the whole thing the part I liked the most was that he counted on being killed by the pollution. I think the thing that's so great about this is how you managed to give so much insight into the characters in such a simple situtation, and in so little words. I mean, John seems so real to me, so real and sad and alone and Zoe is interesting not only in the contrast, but, I don't know. I felt like she could be him in thirty years... even though she's all perky. The writing style was simple enough and the tone was perfect. All in all, a great read! Congratulations :)
| Kit-Kat Punk-lover 10/16/09 . chapter 1
I'm so happy you won! No seriously because your story is flippin' amazing! Yes, FLIPPIN' AMAZING XD I would have voted... for you... but I never got a chance to go on and read the stories and votee for a winner T_T but reading them now and seeing the poll, IT'S CLEAR you totally deserve the win :D
Anyway onto the actual review...
Idea: A very sad christmas indeed :O. The way you approached such a topic was abrupt and truthful and made the story much more powerful. Suicide is commone but I bet THIS sort of thing doesn't happen every day :)
Characters: I love the girl, or zoe as it's revealed XD. Shes full of life which contrasts heavily to John who is at the brink of death. Maybe that's why she can convince him to not jump :)
Detail: There wasn't alot of detail in this story, but I think it works well with what you pushing at here. Moreorless, it's about zoe and john, not flowery writing -which I tend to do... alot...*FAIL* XD
Ending: -falls out of chair- LOVED IT TO PIECES! I really thought we were going to lose John for a seond there -wipes forhead- whew! your ending is very motivational :)
So yea, I'm bad at critiquing things, but perhpas the reason I have nothing bad to say about this is because there is nothing bad about this :D Can't wat to see the prompt your gonna givefrac! -cracks hands- I'm ready for it XD
| Plej 10/16/09 . chapter 1
Love the title of this story, you name it after Imogen's Let Go?
good choice considering the subject content of this story.
I know loneliness sucks, but my idea if I were in his case- superhero! 8D
The description of the London city's Christmas lights and the contrast with how violent cities are, you did well. I like that that was used instead of what John said would not work on him.
The flow of this story is really nice, everything is concise where it needs to be and short and to the point where it is preferred. Good job!
check it: “I could do [that?],” she agreed. “Or...” [This sentence doesn't make sense after what he said, i believe (that) is suppose to be dere.]
Happy Writing, ja ne.
| 3M2R 10/16/09 . chapter 1
I just came to read out of curiosity, as to why you could win. Well, after reading this one shot story, I'm not amazed or surprised at all that you're the winner. This story is like a suitcase packed with emotions which pour endlessly once you unlock it. Even up till the last word. Angst, confusion, wonder, beauty, smiles, touched. A constant flow of carefully pieced emotions, one after another. Before you know it, the story is over. The conversation makes use of really simple terms like 'big' instead of something more profound, which makes it more natural. It simply drew me in from the first word to the last. I thought there would be another chapter, but I realized otherwise when I checked the top and remembered you entered this as a one-shot story for the competition.
| Kristin Teabag 10/11/09 . chapter 1
Well first, I really like the title of this piece, it definitely draws me in. I also liked the description of the girl and I thought it was a good story. The writing flowed well even though I did think the dialogue got a teeny bit repetitive.
| Faithless Juliet 10/10/09 . chapter 1
This is a really good story - really, everything you’ve got going on works well in this context. I loved John’s snide bitterness, and Zoe’s at first transparent cheerfulness, that later turns into a depth that the reader can’t ignore. Really great job in terms of characterization.
I feel like the only thing that didn’t mess well (and I know this is the prompt) but I just couldn’t envision the lights compared to a volcano. I get what you were trying to present but at the same time I didn’t really see a similarity in my mind, but that could just be me. Keep up the good work, and good luck with WCC.
| MahinaMoon 10/9/09 . chapter 1
Wow. That was interesting. I liked the pacing and the open ending. There is no tidy conclusion, which leads the reader free to think. At the same time, it's pretty clear that John probably won't jump off the bridge.
One note, I'm not sure half of a brick would be enough to weigh a person down, unless a half-brick means something different in the UK than it does in the US. Still, I'm no expert on suicide.
Hinting at "Cat," that all is not well in Zoë's life, either, is a nice touch that adds subtle depth to her character.
I'll have to read the other entries, but this is a strong piece and I'm inclined to vote for it in the contest.