forum I can help you make your work less amateurish (openers, sentence structure, punctuation, pacing, ect.)
Started by @n o s t r a d a m u s location_city

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@n o s t r a d a m u s location_city

WARNING: I am not a critiquing service, if you want your work critiqued post it on the critique page. I am here to answer questions about sentence structure, punctuation, pacing, the creation of characters, ect.

Are you tired of your work sounding like a nine-year-old wattpad user's crappy 'Riverdale' fanfiction (ohh, edgy)? Do you want your reader's head to buzz from your amazing pacing and syntax? Do you struggle to use punctuation correctly? I'm your girl. Come at me.

  • 3 ICAS English high distinctions, and 1 distinction.
  • A half-complete Bachelor's of science (Literature).


Thursday, August 18, 2016.

6:11 AM.

Beowulf meows, circling around Paul's feet as he brushes his teeth. After finishing he rinses off the brush and gargles some mouthwash, Beowulf rears up digging her claws into Paul's leg. Paul winces swallowing some mouthwash and spits the rest out into the small sink.

"Why do you make me suffer?" Paul coughs rushing out of the bathroom and into the hallway, Beowulf follows meowing loudly. Paul reaches his bedroom at the end of the hallway and opens the door, Beowulf lunges between Paul's legs and plants herself in front of him meowing louder than before. "I'm getting your food," Paul steps over her and picks up the small bag of cat food by the door and takes it over to her pair of bowls, one is still half full of water while the other is barren. Paul carefully scoops some food into the proper bowl while Beowulf purrs and tries to get around him to get to the food. When he finishes, Paul approaches his nightstand picking up a brush and absentmindedly running it through his hair a few times. His phone vibrates a few times but he ignores it pulling a gray sweater with the words One-shot across the chest over his head. He then picks up his blue backpack from beside his nightstand and tosses it onto his bed before sitting down next to it looking at the clock. 6:13. "Plenty of time," Paul picks up his phone and unlocks it, he has some messages from Logan, his best friend on the server chat.

Roatsed Earbuds: @Liquiglass04 I'm skipping today
Roatsed Earbuds: Writing, don't @ me

Liquiglass04 was Paul's username, Roatsed Earbuds was Logan's. He turns the phone's screen off places it down and gazes silently at the mirror, his hair is barely passable for "brushed" he looks like a homeless person, baggy sweater baggy jeans flip flops and socks. At least I'm not ugly he offers himself smiling in the mirror before noticing some kind of a pimple on the right side of his chin and solemnly poking it. Movement catches his attention and he sees Crystal opening her door by the bathroom. She is all dressed, wearing a striped t-shirt and skinny jeans backpack hanging from her left shoulder. Her neon purple hair is laid flat on her shoulders. Crystal is Paul's twin sister. Naturally, his absolute opposite, where he is lacking in intelligence and physical activities she has advanced classes and is more fit than some of the boys in their grade. But that doesn't matter to Paul, she's protected him from bullies and such all their lives, its good to have her around. Crystal walks down the hallway and into the living room on the other end. Paul listens to Crystal and his father's muffled voices.

"Just be careful"

"Nothing will happen"

"That's not what I'm worried about, that boy has no balls. I'm worried he'll come out of the closet and you'll be heartbroken."

"Luis isn't gay dad!" Paul gets up, lifting his backpack onto his shoulders and starts towards the living room, his phone remaining on the bed. Stepping into the moderately sized living room, Paul notices Crystal and his dad sitting on the sectional sofa to his left in the middle of the room. They both look at him and Crystal noticeably cringes, their dad gives him a soft smile.

"We need to buy him better clothes," Crystal says, their dad responds with a light chuckle. The two of them look very similar. The same auburn hair, though Crystal has dyed hers. The same light brown eyes. Paul, on the other hand, Takes greatly after his mother. It's not as if his father or Crystal ever treat him different, barring a long look every now and then from their father. Crystal and Paul have only seen their mother in a photo framed in their father's favorite diner Her and their father competing in an eating contest. Richard, their father didn't react when the owner naively showed the kids the picture making a comment of how similar Paul and the woman looked. He simply laughed it off, Crystal, as intelligent a girl she has always been noticed the way her father's eyes fell. Paul though, couldn't get it out of his mind. Eventually, he asked Richard about it. Richard admitted that Paul was very reminiscent of his mother, but that didn't matter. Paul was different than she was, better. The long look on his father's face brought that conversation back to Paul's mind.

"What are you going to eat?" Richard asks getting up from the sofa and walking to the kitchen on Paul's right.

"Maybe an orange or something," Paul says following his dad into the kitchen and getting an apple from the large bowl on the counter after seeing that there were no oranges left. Richard opens the fridge and pours himself some water from a jug. Paul sits down on the sectional couch a few cushions away from Crystal who is on her phone. She glances over her phone at him eating his apple. "Morning," Paul says


Jessica Rhoem's morning was, contrary to Paul's, loud. Her mother, Angela was angry with her father, George for not calling to get Jessica's prescription filled. Jessica was sitting on the toilet playing Angry Birds ignoring their voices echoing through the house. Swiping down the scroll menu, she sees that it is almost 6:20. She gets off the toilet picking up her pants and moves to the sink. After a few moments of staring into her own eyes, she opens the medicine cabinet and gets her toothbrush and toothpaste. Her eyes linger on the empty pill bottles in the higher shelf before closing the cabinet and rinsing her toothbrush. As she brushes her teeth she considers putting her hair into a bun for school,

"Jessica!" Angela's voice surprises Jessica from the other side of the bathroom door. "Hurry up we're leaving in ten minutes!" Jessica finishes brushing her teeth and exits the bathroom hurrying across the living room and into her bedroom shutting the door behind her. Jessica's room is small, a bed, a drawer, a desktop computer on the floor beside the bed. Jessica gets dressed putting on a red button-up shirt and a pair of black jeans. She ties her black hair into a tight bun and takes a moment to look it over before undoing it and putting it into a ponytail. she could always change it later. She takes a long look into the mirror, there are dark rings around her eyes, her skin dry, a patch of acne between her left eye and her ear. She would like to buy some sort of cream or moisturizer to help her skin or even some makeup to cover her acne up but her mother would never let her insisting that only sluts use makeup. As if summoned by Jessica's thoughts, Angela knocks on the door, "Are you done in there?" Jessica jumps at her mother's voice and picks up her backpack from behind the bed. She opens the door and follows her mother out to the car, she and her father share a knowing look before he picks up his phone and makes a call. George is cheating on his wife, Jessica is aware of this, she caught him in the act on a day Angela was visiting her own mother. George, having the woman leave, tried threatening Jessica into silence but she was apathetic to his threats. He then turned to bribery, Jessica had been wanting a computer. She got that computer. The two get into the car, Jessica in the back seat, Angela refuses to let Jessica sit in the passenger seat until she is 18. The drive to school is short, Angela complains about the weather and her husband's faults while Jessica loads up Angry birds on her phone again. They reach a red light just before the bridge, Jessica loves the bridge. It's not a terribly large or high bridge, it is built over a canal, almost two thousand feet in width. capping at about 28 feet above the water, the bridge is a third of a mile across. The light turns green and they start across the bridge, Jessica rolls her window down unconcerned with her mother's complaints to it. The sun is above the water rising steadily, a mixture of yellow and orange shades reflecting off the water. Jessica takes out her phone and snaps a few pictures. "Get back in here!" Angela almost shouts at her, Jessica sits back and rolls her window up without a word. Getting off the bridge, the rest of the way consists of a few red lights and a right turn. The school, Raulerson High, was a fairly large school. 9 buildings a large football stadium and a soccer field. "Don't get in trouble, my heart can't take that principal yelling at me," Angela says pulling the car to a stop. Jessica opens the door and steps out, "You hear me?" Jessica turns and nods before closing the door behind her.

@n o s t r a d a m u s location_city

*I am typing this as I read along, also my internet cut out in the middle of this so some of my critique is re-typed. Also this is not what I meant by help. I am not here to critique writing, if you wanted that you should have posted on the critique board, I intended to answer people basic questions on how to structure sentences, paragraphs, use correct punctuation. But seeing as you are already here, I'm going to critique anyway. *

The first problem I have with this is the laundry list. You are simply listing thing that are happening - the writing doesn't flow - and you are telling instead of showing.

Second, as a rule in writing a novel, a pet should have as much significance as an arm chair. Unless it is a cat mystery novel, a pet should only be mentioned once every few chapters (every 12,000 words or so).

You do not have to tell the reader that there is a group chat happening or which user name is his or his friend's. The reader should already be able to surmise this from the fact that he is checking his phone and not typing.

For the love of God please use a comma after talking marks (' or ").

The tenses in this do not help with the tell don't show vibe you have going. Please never use present tense, it sounds horrific in novel format, use past tense for my sanity's sake.
ie: 'He turns the phone's screen off places it down and gazes silently at the mirror,'
This should be written as: 'He turned the phone's screen off and placed it down, then gazed at the mirror silently,'

Punctuation tip, if you are adding a new action or new information, place a comma or dash.

You need more paragraphs, as a general rule, add them every 3-4 sentences. Also add a new paragraph every time a new character speaks.

The reader does not need a three sentence long description of each character and their bedrooms. DO NOT put useless information into the damn story. A physical description of a character should be one or two words at most at any one time.

Speaking of story, if the audience can't get a clear picture of what the story is about after a few pages then you have done something wrong.

A last note, you don't have to use the character's names all the time - you can use 'he' and 'she'. In fact, it probably doesn't help with the laundry list feel. You can also use the word 'said'.

Another punctuation thing, add a comma after dialogue unless it is a new passage.
ie: "dialogue in here,", words that are not dialogue.

Overall, you have a lot to improve on. From the way you write I can assume that you are not in high school yet, and if you are then I have no idea how you managed to pass English. Sorry this was so salty btw.
Thx :), nostradamus.


Oh, I'm sorry. Thanks for doing it.

Okay, I don't understand how I am telling not showing. If Paul were to be telling the reader what's happening in dialogue I would get it but its just like you said a laundry list of events happening. Being a laundry list aside, is that not what show is?

Wait, what? That is more of a preference than a rule, Paul spends a lot of time at his house so it would make sense for Beowulf to be present.

It's best to explain it, maybe in a less blocky way I get what you're saying.

I am not going to write the novel in past tense. I still don't get the tell don't show thing, the only way I could show more is by drawing an actual picture.

Sure, okay.

It's a story about the two characters introduced. Seems pretty clear to me.

Alright, that makes sense


alrighty thanks for the semi-critique.


So, I'm not gonna copy and past my work into the forum (lolz). But I have a few questions, I have trouble organizing my ideas and plot points into a story that's paced well. I don't struggle terribly with grammar, though I do have a problem with run on sentences. I just wanted to know if you have any tips about how to pace stories well, and how to organize ideas into something that has a plot to it lol. Plus the run on sentences, if you have any tips on that.

@n o s t r a d a m u s location_city

Pacing really depends on the genre of story you are writing and the feel you want it to have, and sometimes on the narrator. I recommend setting up your story the same way that films are often set up, with three acts and a mid point. Act 1 should establish your characters, plot, setting, ect. If a reader comes out of act 1 without basic knowledge of the who, what, when, where, and why of your story, then you should probably re-write this section.
Act 2 should help build the tension of your story, this is also the section where things start to go wrong for your protagonist(s). The end of act 2 should be the midpoint (Which is not necessarily the middle of your story). The purpose of the midpoint is to establish that there is no turning back for the main characters, they are stuck in this situation and they have to deal with it - in some cases this is the climax, but it doesn't have to be.
Act 3 is when all hell breaks loose and the spot where you should put your final battles, ect. Act three should finish with the resolution, which is where you tie up loose ends or at least put an end to some of your universes problems depending on if you are writing a singular story or a series.

As for running sentences, you may have good grammar but you should brush up on your syntax. Syntax is the way your words/sentences convey meaning based on their order (otherwise known as writing flow). If a sentence doesn't add to your story - be that a character's inner turmoil, setting descriptions, action, ect - it is a general rule that you cut it.
If your sentences tend to ramble it is best to think of a sentence as a pocket of information. Each sentence is a piece of information you give your reader and any ideas that come as a part of which should be comma-ed or dash-ed off. If that doesn't make sense, observed the way I have written in this response; A key idea followed by any relating information.

I hope this was helpful and made sense. Happy writing :).


That was extraordinarily helpful, honestly. I never thought of mapping out my book like it was a film, I've always sort of just planned it by scene. Also! The advice on syntax was very helpful as well, I think I've gotten better at it over the years, but I do know I have problems with unnecessary inner dialogue lol. Thank you very much, I will definitely take your advice :)