A CRITIQUE TO DIE FOR
This critique for my book, “The Tail on my Mother’s Kite,” came as one
of those wonderful surprises you can only hope for as you’re writing the book.
Here are the words from the judge for the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
It’s long. My penance is, I’ve got to type it all—or leave out some wonderful stuff. Well, here goes:
“Lovely sense of setting at the start, with the narrative leading us right up to the aforementioned fire that the author used so successfully as a grab for the reader’s connection. Very well done. We can see that the author knows her way around descriptions, and as such, we’re present in the scene and eager for all of the action to come. Very well done.
“Beautiful phrasing and sense of movement throughout. “stood there alone, poking at the sky,” stands out for its imagery and we also get a sense of movement in her actions. This is where the author flexes mighty narrative muscles, going beyond simple physical description to what makes an action or observation come alive: multi-layered details in the sensory realm. Excellent choices here.
“The author spent time on every sentence, crafting without the effort showing. “I wanted to peel off my skin to get cooler” is another of the sensory details that grabs the reader. My heart dropped at, “I need a father.” We’re getting very deep into emotions. Pace is stellar, with no bumps on the path, engaging transitions between chapters, dialogue is fully fleshed-out, with differentiated voices for each of the characters, and I loved that the author cared about sentence structure in each character’s voice. Impressive.
“’The harm that came to him was mostly because our mother stopped being a mother” stands out as a dramatic wallop at the end of a chapter, one of the finest cliffhanger insights I’ve seen in this competition. The stomach sinks when the truth is put out so plainly, and brutally. All through the middle third of the book, we’re immersed in dysfunctional scenes, and now we see that the flame has turned up gradually, so that we might not even have noticed, but the laser-focused truth in the author’s voice shows that she has been changed by the progression getting this far along. Subtle tone intensity has led us expertly here, and we’re at the point where we are changed as well. “Even our mother was not able, ultimately, to ruin a basically sound son.” Nice! A statement of strength, realization, and a Glass Castles-like overcoming story. Very well done.