r/WritingPrompts is one of my favorite subreddits on the social news sharing site Reddit. Basically, users will share a one or two sentence writing prompt and other users will reply with a short story they come up with based off the prompt. I decided to take a slightly different approach to this story critique and read a fictional story (linked) based off this writing prompt: “An alien court system picks jury members by warping in randomly selected intelligent lifeforms from throughout the galaxy. You’ve just been selected to witness the trial of an alleged alien murder.”
For my critique of this story, I will be evaluating the story, writing, and flow. I chose these three traits because I thought they were the most essential to the telling of this short fictional story.
The plot of this story was very clear and I appreciated that there were technically two plot twist at the end. We already knew the first plot twist was coming because in the writing prompt it clearly states that the author was selected for jury duty. I was just waiting for the point when it would be revealed. I did not see the second twist, for what will happen to the author after the trial, coming and that made me appreciate it a little more. Two elements of this story that I thought were lacking include the character development and setting. The story started abruptly for me and did not make me feel attached to the main character. The setting was also lacking because I assumed it was taking place on present day earth before it suddenly became scifi.
For the most part, the author of this story did a great job with the writing and adding details to this fictional world. There were; however, a few parts that I thought could have been written a little differently. For instance, I had no idea what a “small, wooly square” was. I felt that this was just pulled out of thin air without much consideration. I’m guessing it’s some type of alien species, but I think we could have been introduce to it slightly differently. It was weird to me later on when the author kept referring back to this “square.”
I already knew where this story was headed which probably helped me understand the flow more than if I had not. I had no real issue with the organization, but I do think the flow was moving a little too fast. It could have been slowed down a bit by adding additional content and expanding on key elements. The “small, wooly square,” I previously mentioned caused a little hiccup in the flow as well.
If I were to make changes to this story, I would have started it out by making the setting more clear from the start. I personally think it would have been a better story if it took place on present day earth as we know it (not knowing about aliens) when all of a sudden the author was teleported off of the train. Well the author was still on the train I would have built his character up a little more by making his life seem mundane and nothing special. Once he is teleported to this new world I would describe his shock and everything he is seeing. I think for this particular story, really detailed descriptions would help bring readers in.