Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Name That Genre: Critique Round #7

GENRE: Adult fantasy/noir

Late as usual, Ree flew past the patrol without them seeing her. Satisfied she didn’t get caught, she yanked open the back door to the club and ventured inside. She made her way through the jumbled mess of old club furniture, down the hall to her dressing room. The dim lighting made the lumps into an obstacle course but she circumvented them with ease. It was hard to stretch out her wings amid the boxes so she sprinted instead. The closer she got to her dressing room, the louder the music got.

The steady boom-boom of the music reverberated in Ree’s brain. God, she was tired. Too many late nights caught up to her. She needed to make an effort to get to bed right after her set. Alone. She grinned at her reflection as she peeled off her jacket, top and tee, leaving them in a heap on the floor. Her boots came off next. The sequined red dress draped over the chair mocked her and she stuck her tongue out at it. Childish but satisfying. Standing, she pulled it on, careful of her wings, then put on the red wig hanging on the back of the wooden chair missing one of its rungs. The least Joss could do was to get her some decent furniture. I’m the reason this ratty club stays open. She wrinkled her nose as the odor of mildew that permeated the walls from a leaky pipe last winter wafted over to her. She hopped on one foot then the other as she slipped on the four-inch shoes that made her close to six feet.

A knock at the door startled her. The door opened before she could say anything.

“Two minutes, Ree.”

“Stop coming in without knocking,” she said. “What if I’d been naked?”


  1. I'm not getting a noir vibe from this but I might not have a full concept of noir. It is well written but I was getting lost in all the set up with the long prose that starts this.

  2. This entry was fun to read. I got a good idea of who the character is and the sort of life she has. And the wings are intriguing.
    I would have liked to see more details. You mention "lumps" but they are old furniture. You could name the type of furniture there and why they are all over the place. What year is the novel? Why is the hallway dim? I thought it was after hours at first. At first, I got the impression there had been a battle in the club. And I thought the police or army guys were watching the club after something happened there. I did not understand why the dress mocks her.
    Despite what I mentioned, I got caught in the action very quickly and was intrigued by the setting and the wings. I would read further.

  3. Intriguing set up. It feels like a seedy part of town but the wings make you sit up and take notice. I think that would even be heightened if you just start with the second paragraph. We would have someone getting dressed and then suddenly wings. I think that will put us immediately into the world and make us want to read on to see why she has wings, etc.

  4. This piece starts out interesting, but the second, long paragraph of getting dressed really curbed my interest. It feels like an inorganic way to show both her natural attire and her costume, so it's not working for me. I think you could show some of the accessories by interspersing them with other things—like maybe her red wig shifts as she whips around when the door opens or something.

    Speaking of doors, I think you can edit some on the third paragraph. The length of the sequence seems a little too long and a slight bit telly to be sudden. I think the knock and opening need to be part of the same thought. Also, I'm not sure you need, "before she could say anything," because that's all evident and she also comments on it in the following dialog. Also, maybe change "coming in without knocking," to "busting in on me" or something.... this person did, technically, knock... unless, I suppose, the next line is, "I did knock!"

  5. To venture inside seems like sneaking into an unknown, but it would seem that Ree is a regular at this place - she has her own dressing room.I would expect her to "duck inside."
    Tighter sentence "She made her way through the obstacle course of old furniture and club chairs, down the hall to her dressing room."

    The leaky pipe sentence also needs tightening.

  6. I like the wings, and I'm curious what she does, but to me it felt like too much description that doesn't do much except show her getting dressed. I wanted to know more about the patrol - who was patrolling and why? And why was she satisfied she hadn't gotten caught? Is she trying to hide the fact she can fly? It feels like that part of the scene has more conflict and intrigue than simply her getting dressed. The concept of fantasy noir intrigues me, so it seems like your idea has lots of potential!

  7. I like that you've got an attitudinal winged protagonist who sings. I can honestly say, I've not read anything like this before!

    I did think some of the prose could be trimmed back. For instance, I don't think you need 'in Ree's brain' after 'The steady boom-boom of the music reverberated'. I think by trimming that out you'll create a greater sense of immediacy. I also suggest cutting 'caught up to her' after 'Too many late nights'

    As she's pulling off her clothes, I was curious how this impacted her wings. Perhaps add in a bit of detail here so the reader can 'see' this? I thought the following sentence would benefit from a trim: 'She wrinkled her nose...over to her.' The sentence seemed a bit long and unless the fact the club had a leak the previous winter is significant, I think taking it out would make the line read more smoothly.

    This looks like it'll be a fun read.

  8. I get the fantasy, but not the noir element yet. Editorial...I'd delete "wafted over me" as redundant. Good luck

  9. It seems an interesting premise, and it includes hints of a problem, so on that level it works. The main issue, I thought, is that it's over written. There's a lot here that isn't necessary, things that can be said in a simpler, clearer way, better word choices could be made.

    We really don't need step by step actions of her getting dressed. If her dress is mocking her, we need to know why and how. If you're not going to tell us, it's unnecessary info.

    Consider what is important in your opening -- probably that she can fly, and that she's avoiding the guards, and why she's doing that. My thought was that if they're looking for her specifically, wouldn't she be easy to find if she's performing at this club. So it's probably for some other reason, and that might be good info to provide to create some tension and suspense. As is, we basically have a list of what she did. Rather that the 'what' of it all, try to include the 'why.'