The Eye of the Heron (a short fiction story)

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Ego, What Ego?

Below is an excerpt of a comment I received recently on one of my short fiction stories:

"The writing is good but this doesn't really qualify as a short story. You leave too much open space at the end. You want the reader to surmise the conclusion, and this is dangerous territory. You are dealing with a life or death issue, so you have to be brave enough, courageous enough to spell out the conclusion. The whole concept is a bit overwrought and not very realistic, but even shoving this part aside, you really messed up with how your story ended. You cannot suppose that your audience consists of mind-readers... You have the seed for a real story but you shrink from it. Being a good short story writer requires a kind of boldness, an ability to avoid being coy and rely upon the merits of your writing talent to deal with one of the hardest aspects -- a satisfactory conclusion... you have a good command of the English language, so I read the entire piece. I didn't like it. Having a command over the English language does not equate with having a gift for storytelling. You need to take some classes or at least listen to a few audio books on the subject of creative writing. You do much, much better with your poetry, and this is admirable. .. Good short story writing is on a par with writing poetry -- it's damn difficult. So while I appreciate your ability to use language to establish mood and character -- these things alone don't constitute a satisfactory short story... Consider this as a mixed review. You clearly have writing talent, a great command of the language, but you aren't a storyteller (in my estimation) at least not yet. I think you should just hone in on your ability to create poetry (no small feat) and abandon short story writing."

Constructive criticism is necessary to make us grow as writers and continue to improve

Make Negative Advice Work for You

Admittedly this comment was about one of the very first short stories I ever wrote, probably 35 years ago for an assignment in a Writing Course I was doing at the time. I dug it out of my old files, dusted it off and updated it a little before publishing it as a hub.(Ding Dong! Avon Calling)

I am not trying to denigrate the commenter. Constructive criticism is necessary to make us grow as writers and continue to improve. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to review my work and offers advice, so for this I thank you, and it also inspired me to write another story.

I did invite this commenter to read one of my more recent short fiction stories and critique if he thought my writing had improved, but as far as I know he hasn't done so.

Anyway, this comment certainly did put a little dent in my ego. Maybe I was wrong to think my story good enough to put out there for others to read. I started to doubt myself and subsequently mentioned this when commenting on a short story written by another hubber and said I would probably take the advice provided and concentrate purely on writing poetry this year.

This fellow hubber (Mike) made me see some sense. He said after all the thousands of positive comments I have received on my writing why was I letting one negative comment affect me? He more or less suggested I get back on the horse that threw me but in other words advising me the best thing to do was write more short fiction stories.

Actually, I do tend to rebel whenever I'm told I can't do something, so that along with Mike's advice has resulted in this story. It's also a genre that I've never tried before, so I found it a challenge. Once again, as all my hubs so far this year, it is based on the title of an Ursula Le Guin book.. "The Eye of the Heron." It took me some time to decide how to use this title.

When you receive negative criticism/comments on your hubs, do you..?

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Purple Heron
Purple Heron | Source
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David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, The Rollingstone cover 2012.
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, The Rollingstone cover 2012. | Source

The Eye of the Heron

Journal Entry: Thursday 21 January 2016

My name is James Heron. Jim Bird or Jimmy Bird to my friends. In my circle anyone who's anybody is given a nickname or alias as some like to say. Some are just plays on words and obvious like mine, others not so much. Take my friend Leonard P. Reynolds Jr. aka. Little Lenny.

Little Lenny is 6'5" tall and weighs 280lb. He got that monicker as a kid because his dad, Leonard P. Reynolds Sr was called Big Lenny, and he's still alive and kicking. I guess it fits anyway, the same way Little John from "Robin Hood" fits.

Anyway, enough about Lenny. I am writing this just as a personal record for myself and to record recent events that I can't reveal publicly or even to my friends and family.

Overall I would describe my life as quite mundane. I am 30 years old, still single, and dating a supermodel (but only in my dreams). I don’t come from money, nor do I have much of my own. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor do I have a silver tongue. I am no celebrity and my parents aren't famous. I'll never get my picture on the cover of Time magazine or The Rolling Stone. Nor will I win the Pulitzer Prize for literature or the Nobel Peace Prize.

But I do have an ability that even I don’t fully understand: I see evil where it lurks. So, in my own way, I have decided to make my mark. Sometimes I feel I have been chosen for this.

Dreams and nightmares
Dreams and nightmares | Source
Artist's depiction of a Yarama (based on description by Aboriginal Australians)
Artist's depiction of a Yarama (based on description by Aboriginal Australians)

I'm not sure how to describe my - um - special ability, but I'll do my best. I sense - no - see evil. Nightmares have tormented me since childhood. My parents even took me to see a shrink for almost a year but that didn't help at all. It wasn't until, in adulthood that I began to realise these dreams have some sort of other-worldly connection.

Sometimes I dream of murders or other acts of violence. Occasionally these dreams occur before the event and may recur until I hear or read about the tragedy in the news. Other times they happen weeks, months or even years afterwards. It seems I am prompted to either try to prevent the act, or solve a cold case and identify the perpetrators.

But it's not only dreams that speak to me. I feel people's auras - it's as if I can sense the presence of evil and what's about to occur. I see things too, small reddish creatures, with big heads, mouths and bellies, that appear before impending violent or catastrophic events.

No one else sees them. Or so I thought, until I encountered an elderly Aboriginal man while visiting Kakadu National Park. He was my guide and we were walking by a river when a group of these small red creatures appeared from nowhere.

My guide, Albert, suddenly became very nervous, pointing and whispering "Beware Yarama, spirit creatures! Them fellas seek blood, like vampire." Suddenly, a huge crocodile launched itself four feet out of the water, clamping its massive jaws around Albert's torso and dragged him under. I stared in shock for a moment, then retreated quickly up the river bank. The Yarama laughed gleefully at the tragedy before disappearing.

Huge crocodile
Huge crocodile | Source
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Yesterday: Wednesday, 20 January 2015 (9:45pm)

I was about to close up the bottle shop (liquor store) "The Thirsty Camel" where I work the night shift. A customer came in just as I was closing down shop. If you can judge a person's occupation by his appearance I would guess an accountant, bank teller, or office clerk - black trousers, white shirt, tie. But there was something else; he appeared to be nervous. His late night trip to a liquor store was outside his normal behavior

I wondered what someone like him was doing out on the town at this time of night. Maybe he'd just come from a failed business dinner, or found out his wife left him and was looking for alcohol to drown his sorrows. My mind works overtime, but I was probably wrong on all counts - looks can be deceiving.

Besides, he wasn't alone. Two ghostly red figures slipped through the door after him. Although only I could see them, more Yarama appeared as my customer approached the service counter.

The hairs on my arms stood up. I didn't know if this man was about to commit some violent act or he was about to become a victim, but the Yarama's presence indicated something horrific was imminent.

.. four figures appeared from nowhere, if nowhere's a dark alley

Jack Daniels
Jack Daniels | Source
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He asked for a bottle of Jack Daniels which I fetched from the shelf and placed into a bag. I had already balanced the day's accounts, so I pocketed the $50 bill he handed me and gave him change from my own wallet. I made myself a mental note to reconcile the till in the morning.

I closed up immediately after the man walked out (still surrounded by the Yarama, hovering like vultures) and followed him along Brunswick Street, at a distance and careful not to be seen.

As he turned the corner into Wickham Terrace, four figures appeared from nowhere, if nowhere's a dark alley. The overhead streetlight must have been faulty because it was barely illuminated.

From my vantage point in the recesses of a doorway two buildings away I determined that the figures were youths, two white and two black. I am no hero, and I watched helplessly but intently as they surrounded the man. He pleaded with them and offered up the bag containing the bourbon he had just purchased. "Please don't hurt me. Here, take this. I shouldn't be drinking anyway."

"I think you have a lot more than just a bottle of Jack," one of the gang members said as he removed the bottle from the bag. "You look like a money man to me." They all laughed.

Then I saw a quick glint of light on metal as one youth thrust forward. Seconds later the victim doubled over and staggered to the pavement as if in slow motion.

I saw a glint of light on metal
I saw a glint of light on metal | Source
Source

The youths took turns at stabbing the prone man over and over, then one began rifling through his pockets. Removing a fat wallet he held it up, fanning it open so that his associates could see the impressive bounty.

As blood pooled on the pavement one gang member kicked the body to see if there was any sign of movement. Then they moved on, passing around the bottle of JD, as though it was just another night on the town. Meanwhile the Yarama, that had been watching intently, moved in on the bloody corpse. Once the attackers had gone I stepped out of the doorway and dialled 000 (Australia's emergency number) while following in the direction they had taken. "Mugging on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Brunswick St. Looks serious," is all I said and hung up, before the operator could question me or ask for my details.

I knew from experience the police would spend more time questioning me than actually investigating the crime. Oh, if the guy was dead they would conduct a basic investigation, depending upon who he was .. but it was highly unlikely they would catch the offenders.

Besides, how would I explain why I was following the guy? Cops have trouble taking me seriously and treat me as some kind of loony when I tell them I see things, or can sense when a violent act is about to happen.

Source

Whoever or whatever bestowed this gift on me obviously wants me to act on it. However, if that means taking matters into my own hands, so be it. We are all put on this earth for a reason - right?

The bottle I had stuffed in my shoulder bag slapped against my hip as I increased the size and speed of my steps to avoid losing sight of the assailants. It seems they had suddenly decided to stretch the distance between themselves and the crime scene. The sound of an approaching police siren may have also helped spur that decision.

The quartet entered a run-down two story apartment about four blocks away from the crime scene. It may have at one time been called a townhouse, but that sounded too trendy and no longer seemed to fit given the current state of the joint.

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Bacardi 151 (76% alcohol)
Bacardi 151 (76% alcohol) | Source
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There were two heavy stone planter pots at either side of the front steps. Probably having once held a couple of impressive trees, maybe palms, but now long since dead from lack of water or care.

I waited a few minutes, surveying the street to ensure there were no witnesses. Then with some effort managed to maneuver one of the pots against the front door. That should bar anyone from escaping through the most obvious exit.

Removing the bottle of 151 Bacardi from my bag, I unscrewed the lid. Then I took a handkerchief from my jeans pocket and soaked it in the rum before stuffing the damp fabric into the neck of the bottle.

A movement caught my eye. I turned to see a number of Yarama gathering excitedly around the outside of the apartment. I took that as a sign that my plan was likely to succeed.

Ignoring their evil ranting I picked up a brick from the ground at the side of the crumbling building. Then I threw it, with all my strength, at a ground floor window, smashing it. Quickly, I lit the molotov cocktail and also tossed it through the broken window, before beating a hasty retreat from the scene.

I sipped a cappucino as I watched
I sipped a cappucino as I watched | Source

Crime in this city is out of control and the authorities seem helpless to curb it.

Watching from a 24 hour coffee shop about a block away and on the other side of the street, I sipped a cappuccino. First clouds of smoke, then flames filled the skylight as they engulfed the building. The noise of sirens drowned out all other sounds.

I sent a text to my friend Little Lenny to see if he wanted to meet me here for a late night coffee. I knew I wouldn't be getting to sleep for hours.

I felt satisfied that once again, I had done my bit towards restoring the balance. An eye for an eye, so to speak, or courtesy of The Eye of the Heron (that's how I refer to my special gift, or maybe it's really a curse).

Source

Postscript

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The headlines across the news media the next morning read as follows:

Fortitude Valley Fire Claims Four Lives

Fire investigators and forensic detectives are trying to ascertain the cause of a fire that engulfed a Wickham Terrace apartment last night.

Four bodies have been recovered but as yet no firm identification has been made. Police are not ruling out arson as a cause of the fire.

Honest Critique Welcome

I know this was a long hub and I'd like to thank everyone who has read it all the way through.

As I am constantly striving to improve my writing in all forms I would be pleased if you would leave honest comments below. It doesn't matter whether they are positive or negative, but if negative I would appreciate you giving some advice of where or how the story could be improved. A big thank you to Ann Carr (anmart) for the suggestion that lead to the postscript being added.

Thank you all,

Jodah

© 2016 John Hansen

More by this Author


Comments 84 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 10 months ago from Shelton

This vibrant, tender, and moving tale pulses with the excitement of a Jodah can do short story.. I guess Jodah comments help good and bad and mixed... my loyalty does lie with your past work so I see no fault.. and I know good writing when I read it.. and this is good writing :)


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 10 months ago from london

All very interesting. Some people, like you've just done, asks for advice on improving their story, in other words, constructive criticism. Some don't. Seeing an unexpected negative comment on one's Hub can be difficult to deal with for many!

I found the comment that you included up top easier to accept only at the end, when you said that it was an assignment for a writing course. In this scenario, it can sometimes be very useful, although I would worry about the last four words: 'abandon short story writing."

Your short-story is fine. I write with a faster pace at the beginning, and I tend to like to start strong. A conclusion of substance is also great. Since you're asking, to me it read a little slow at the beginning, lacked pace. But once you settled into the character it soon got better, and finished strongly.

About the poll, it does not quite suit me. When I had my share of negative experiences, I went away to reflect for about 6 weeks and then came back, not doing much different really.

I came here six years ago as a God-lover, with the purpose being to serve, to inspire, to elevate, to reach the Heart ...

I can at times respond in a way which I feel is best to serve, but could also be seen in a different light. I see humanity as my brothers and sisters. When things do not follow the plan, I tend to have one, at most three possible responses, not more. I know when they are not working or going to work.

I always ask myself how I can improve; what could I have done differently. So far, I seek the solution in response, which is usually an act of what I call 'silent Love' or a gracious approach (The use of the sincere Heart). Much of my prose and poetry or Q'a and A's are coloured with this. I know no enemies here or elsewhere.

I hope that all this relates well with your Hub. I don't know that too much comments are always a good thing, and it is useful to respect the Hub. I trust that this one here helps and not hinder. Much Love, my Friend.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this Frank, and for your most welcome comment. If anyone's opinion of short story writing matters to me, it's yours. Cheers buddy.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 10 months ago from Hereford, AZ

I loved this story, and felt that it was a good read. I liked the plot and the ending.

As for the constructive comment, I felt it was a bit harsher than it needed to be. I would have felt hurt over it. I have never received one that harsh. I have been told to work some more on one. I took it with a grain of salt and tried not to let it affect me negatively. Everyone does not need to like your work.

I know of many people that have learned how to write a short story by just writing and getting opinions. One of them is now one of the most effective and prolific writers on the Hubs. He is also a prize short story writer. I read his first story and it really needed worked on, but the bones were there. As he wrote, you could see the confidence grow and see his writing improve. I believe that the best way to learn to write, is to just do it. I am still learning. Keep writing and enjoy the process.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you or the very helpful comment manatita. Most of the short stories I have written recently have been flash fiction and because of the format needed to start at a fast pace and maintain it to the end. This being longer I felt I could take more time introducing my main character and building up, but I do get your point of beginning at a fast pace to hold the reader's attention. As for the criticism of my other story. I accepted it all as constructive and helpful except the last sentence " I think you should just hone in on your ability to create poetry (no small feat) and abandon short story writing." That too I may have accepted if he had read more than one of my stories before commenting. Thank you again, and your comment adds to the value of the hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Becky, I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this story, plot and ending. I guess some critics can appear harsher than they mean to be by seeing their advice as helpful, and you are right that everyone doesn't have to like your work. I used HubPages as a platform to practice and improve my writing, as do many others. I wonder if I know the hubber you refer to as "the prize short story writer". I would like to read his first story and compare it to a recent one. I enjoy writing and don't intend to stop. Thanks again and have a great upcoming weekend.


swalia profile image

swalia 10 months ago

I loved the story. I am not familiar with the formats and nitty-gritties, so all I can say is I found the story engaging and that's why I read it till the end. Considering my impatience and limited attention span, I generally don't read such long hubs...at least not every word of it but this time I did!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Swalia. It is a big compliment if someone as yourself who usually can't read long hubs managed to read it to the end. I am often the same, if I see a hub is overly long I often skip it, at least until I have time to spare. Much appreciated.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 10 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I will give you some criticism. I will criticize your critic. His critique was way to wordy and repetitive. More like he was showing off his writing rather than really getting to the heart of helping. How is that?

I loved the story -- but you cheat because I knew going in that I would love the story.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 10 months ago from sunny Florida

Jodah. This tale sounds like more to come....it was one I did not wish to see end... As far as critiquing goes...it really depends on from whom it comes...if the critquer is an established writer then the commenting is of more value to me...if you get that....no matter what comes Jodah...keep writing...you have LOTS of talent!!!


Eldon Arsenaux profile image

Eldon Arsenaux 10 months ago from Cooley, Texas

I agree with previous statements. I think the critique was confounded by a belief that all stories must have an end (though that's my own take). Life doesn't necessarily have a pretty little bow of a conclusion, so why should we package it that way? 'Art imitates life' or some other self-justifying adage. Constructive criticism too often mistakes itself for the only to way to construct 'good writing'.

This story is gripping throughout Jodah. The brilliance of the protagonist is that he possesses a talent that provides tension. He seems an unremarkable sort, at first, thrust into a world of criminal circumstance. Thanks for publishing this. I think many others will walk or away (or sit up) from this, and find your message on criticism a comfort.

-E.G.A.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the kind and wise words PS. You are right that the value of criticism depends on from whence it comes. I am so glad that you enjoyed this story and didn't want it to end. That is a great compliment. Yes, I did leave the story as though it could be expanded on, with Jim Bird (James Heron) as a sort of anti-hero.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you E.G.A. I really appreciate your comment. I felt the same way after the critique of my other story. I know a lot of writers on HubPages or out who leave their short stories open ended or up to the reader to reach the conclusion (very respected writers at that). That was one point that that tended to make me the criticism less seriously.

Thank you also for the encouraging review of this story. Glad you found it a gripping read.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Eric, I love your critique of the critic. That brought a smile to my face. I actually edited and deleted about 1/4 of his original comment..so if you thought what I included here was wordy and repetitive... I don't mind being a cheat as long as you loved my story.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 months ago from Olympia, WA

My response to the comment would have been about the same. I would have rebelled at first...then been hurt...then pissed...and eventually I would have learned from it. :) Good response on your part, John. You do have talent as a writer, but we all need to grow.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Bill, I'm glad you would have reacted in much the same way. Writing is a never ending learning experience and all we can do is to strive to keep improving. Oh I just finished rereading "Resurrecting Tobias" for the second time..it was just as satisfying. The happy ending always inspires me to think anything is possible no matter what you've done in the past. I placed it on my bookshelf...you sit between James Herbert and Stephen King :)


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 10 months ago

Jodah I thoroughly enjoyed this. Good style, face-paced. Your descriptions are done very well--I could see every bit of the action in my mind's eye. As others have said I feel the critique you received was much too harsh (and more than a tad showy). Bravo.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 10 months ago from Florida

Well, first of all, I'm no expert at writing. I have many flaws. However, I thought this story was really, really, good. It certainly kept my attention from beginning to end. I like to read stories out loud when I can, it seems to flow better, and somehow catches the mood of it for me. I see not a thing wrong in this story. I feel it is imaginative with a clear plot from start to finish. I don't think I could write like this honestly. I thought it was great!!

As for the critic you mentioned, having submitted my work before and also in a class setting where my instructor was a published author, I see no problem with his constructive criticism. However, there is a way to construct a criticism better than coming out and saying that you don't think the writer has the ability to be a short story author. It is one opinion. His advice was fine, but his total doubt of you as an author was just his opinion. Everyone is different. Some may like one thing, and others may not. That's life! My instructor never criticized me in a way that would push me away from my goal. So, I don't agree totally with what he said. I like Mike's response of not letting one negative response bother you so much. After all, you do see how many love your stories and poems!

Now here is my clear opinion! You are a very talented writer. I feel you will succeed in everything you attempt to write and put out there. You already have. I think you said it as how criticism should be looked at, and that is, it is a challenge when criticism becomes pessimistic BS. Sometimes, I do feel other people in the same field get threatened by other talents, and instead of acknowledging their talent, simply try to sway them away from doing well; planting negative thoughts to make them give up. It's sad, but true. I mean, what purpose does that hold for that person, except they have one less writer to be jealous of. It's crazy and insensitive for no reason. You are a great writer, never ever doubt that!!!! :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Wow! Missy that was one great comment. Firstly thank you for your generous review of this story. Glad it kept your attention throughout. I also want to thank you for your unbiased appraisal of the other comment I drew attention to. You make many good points and it was good to hear the comparison with your own writing instructor and published author. I also hadn't thought that some writers tear others down simply out of jealousy and competition.

You know I always appreciate your continued encouragement and support. Hugs.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Carb Diva, your enjoyment of this story and support in regard to the other critique I received is greatly appreciated. Have a great weekend.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean

I think that the advice to stick to your poetry was harsh and unwarranted. Your writing (in all genres) has always been good reading and way above average. This story is the product of a good writer. Keep at it!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 10 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Unless that critisism was from Stephen King, I wouldn't give it a second thought. Now back to your story.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 10 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hi John. This story engaged the reader from the beginning. You laid out the crumbs and we all followed willingly to see where you were taking us. Keep writing. Start your novel, if you have not yet begun. We are all here, more or less, for the same reasons.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 10 months ago from Southern Illinois

I can't imagine anyone telling you to stick with poetry. If you had, look what we'd missed. This is a story worth anyone's time and effort. It was different and suspenseful, plus it had all the elements of the paranormal, action and an ending that satisfied my feeling of, you got them, good over evil wins with me every time. Bravo!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 10 months ago from The Beautiful South

You do have a typo at the paragraph beginning where the Yarama is hanging from the branch. Other than that I thought your story was very good from start to finish and the thought of someone criticizing your writing makes me more than a little mad. (Possible you were not as good then, if it has been awhile, but still.)

If you can read people who criticize you they usually are a very unemotional writer. (Maybe a little jealous of a talent they do recognize.) I was truly convinced to remove my holiday hubs lately because they were too personal so who would be interested and then later when looking at this hubbers writings everyone was about one product, so I should have judged this persons outlook of no emotion before I yielded to the criticism.

You write with feeling John and I hope you will never change who you are to suit anyone else!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you MsDora, I will take your advice and "Keep at it!"


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Mike. If I had only read one of Stephen King's books, say "Gerald's Game"or "It", I would never have bothered reading any others because I didn't like them. You shouldn't judge without reading a selection of the person's writing. However if Stephen King even read one of my stories I would be so stoked no matter how bad a critique he left.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

A positive review and encouragement from a fiction writer of your caliber Mike more than cancels out any feelings of inadequacy following one negative critique. Don't know about a novel, but I do have more books in me. I do intend to keep writing.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the passionate and supportive comment Mary. So glad you enjoyed this story because it was nothing like I had ever written before.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Great comment Jackie. Thanks for getting mad on my behalf :) and glad you liked this story. I do know what you mean about writers with no emotion. I have read some whose work is technically perfect but so devoid of real feeling and emotion that it is a chore to read. There writing feels robotic and doesn't come from the heart. These are usually people who most freely offer negative criticism too. Maybe you are right and it is jealousy. I reread this and cannot find the typo you refer to. Can you give me another hint, please? Oh, and don't remove your holiday hubs. They are great.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 10 months ago from LOS ANGELES

I always loved your stories and thought they were creative and imaginative so, I can't offer much criticism. I remember when I put a poem of mine on -fan-story- and the very first comment I received was harsh. It was a religious poem and the guy was clearly an atheist but he did say that he felt the poem was good. Sometimes your friends and family are too nice to tell you what they really think. I don't have the heart to hurt others so I search for something nice to say and move on. Truthfully, the best advice comes from critics because we write in the hopes of turning it into a career and we have to know our weaknesses so we can strengthen our work in those areas. The flip side, of course, is to know that everyone has different tastes, so what some people may critique, others will love and find entertaining.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi John. I can appreciate constructive criticism but "Abandon short story writing"? In my opinion, that goes well beyond the pale. I have to agree with Frank. This is good writing, and you certainly have talent. We all need to grow a writers; it's a never-ending path. So I say "hooey" to abandonment, my friend, and full speed ahead! :-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Genna, thank you for taking the time to read this and to give me such wonderful encouragement. I think I have been convinced to keep trying to improve my writing in all its forms including short stories. Now I need to go read the last couple of hubs you posted in your series.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Dana, thank you for the kind but unbiased advice. You are right that friends and family often only give praise for your work, and may not say anything if they read something they don't like rather than hurt feelings. You have to be willing to accept unbiased criticism and see it as a positive to work with. In this case It was the commenter's final sentence that hurt, and the bit about endings, the rest of his critique I found reasonable. I used to write on fan story and found most comments positive..only a couple slightly negative but not rude.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 10 months ago from The Beautiful South

Too late; already removed them but if I am here another winter maybe I can tweak them to be more commercial!

It was other other together in the first sentence, second paragraph under "Cover of the Rolling Stone" but maybe you meant it to be that way. I guess it could be. Sorry if I was wrong! I appreciate anyone telling me if I have an error rather than discover it a year later and wonder why no one cared to tell me so sorry if you would rather not know or the next time you have the same two words together put a foot note for dummies like me! lol

Believe me if I didn't care I wouldn't say a word!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Too bad you deleted those hubs already Jackie..but if you felt it needed to be done so be it. Thank you for pointing out that repetitive typo. They are the easiest to miss when you are proofreading your own work. No need to apologise for pointing our errors to me. I appreciate finding out immediately rather than months later for all to see. Blessings.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 10 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

Good hub, Jodah. You can write short fiction. This story proves that. I fail to see what your critic saw. I think your ending is just what it should be. We can't please everyone all of the time. I believe some people enjoy being difficult.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia

As someone else mentioned earlier, taste in literature, as in beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoyed the tale very much, John. :) Since I've never had any writing classes I've been expecting a harsh critique of my short stories for about 8 years now.

I finally received one as the first comment on my FF story 'Traces of Ebony' which you kindly read. Didn't hurt a bit! Keep writing!

Randy


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Diana, or could handle criticism of other parts of the story but I thought the ending worked well and I was quite proud of it. I didn't agree with the critique that you have to spell out word for word what happens. I think the readers are smart enough to read between the lines and I think that makes it more interesting. Thanks for the kind comment on this story too.


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 10 months ago from United States

A gifted writer whose depths in his abilities are forever being revealed in each new work he writes. Nicely done my friend. whonu


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you whonu, for that kind comment. I appreciate it.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 10 months ago from California

Hi John, I have thought long and hard about the issue of constructive criticism on this writing platform. I don't think this is the place for it personally. But I do think it is very helpful to have a place and a group of people to do that with. So this is my thinking about it--when we ask people to provide us with critical feedback, it should come from someone whose opinion you really value. And it should come with some rules--discuss the work, not the writer, provide something that the writer can use to move the work forward--etc. This forum is wide open and there are no rules set in place --nor is it restricted in any way--to vet people before they offer their opinion. There are places to go to get critical feedback--maybe not here--that being said, in my opinion, your writing continues to improve--as I hope all of our writing does--rest easy John--you are a good writer!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for that advice Audrey. You may be right that this isn't the best place to ask for honest critique, but the writers I respect most are here at HubPages. I didn't ask for the critique on the other hub I mention, but received it. This is just my way of getting confirmation that my writing is continuing to improved. Maybe you need to set guidelines on what you want feedback on but I haven't had any adverse comments yet regarding this story. Thank you for confirming that my writing is still improving. We never stop learning.


DDE profile image

DDE 10 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Awesome! I enjoyed reading. Another good write here,


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading my story Devika, and for the "awesome!" comment, I like that.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia

As I mentioned in an earlier comment John, most of us on HP aren't really qualified to harshly critique anyone's fiction. But we do know what we like. :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am the same Randy...I just comment according to my tastes, but I do value the opinions of writers like yourself and others I respect.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia

Thanks for the kind words, John. :)


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 10 months ago from Hereford, AZ

Jodah, Cam is the one I am speaking of, and he no longer has that story on HubPages. If he did, he would have rewritten it by now. He has gone back and improved on many of his early work.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Becky, yes Cam is a friend and wonderful writer. We have even combined and written a story together "Dead Birds Everywhere". I know he often reworks and improves his older stories, but I may not have read his earliest.


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 10 months ago from Nibiru

That was a harsh critic though. But nice encouragement piece


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Clive, yes as he said it was a mixed review (he did praise my poetry) and it did inspire me to actually write more short stories to try and prove his critique wrong so I guess that was positive. Thanks.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 10 months ago from Toronto, Canada

Aww Jodah. I am sorry for replying late, buddy… you know work life!

Let me first give you a warm embrace before I begin my feedback. Smile please :)

So my dear sweet, Jodah. Let me first tell you how incredibly talented you are –

You are the mighty pen, who can write a History, making your own mark on the glorious pages of some renowned authors.

You are the creative mind, who can instantly write a flash fiction, attracting the readers with your magnetic, enchanting and creative ideas.

You are the noble Soul, who genuinely feels the pain of Humanity and devotes hundred per cent of time by crafting marvellous poetries so as to bring out the solutions to the epidemic issues like an awareness in the minds of many.

And of course, my favourite – The TRUE Artist inside you, which can create loftiest sketches.

Thank you for smiling :)

Back to the fiction, I loved it. I enjoyed it. Just a little suggestion – where there is honey, there are honeybees too. Don’t feel downcast or blue. We all know how awesome you are! Who the hell is that one person to suggest you not to write flash fictions? Perhaps he/she hasn’t read your other fictions. Anyway, don’t be concerned about such stupid criticism. It’s very egoistic on that person’s part to cite such a remark. I mean, when there is nothing good to say then it is better not to say. Stay happy! We are proud of you. We all love you. Buddy, take that criticism as a challenge. A tree that bears abundant fruits gets hit my many stones, but still the tree stands with determination and will power! Much Love.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 10 months ago from Toronto, Canada

Please ignore some of the typos. Here's the proper quote that I wanted to covey -

"If someone hurts you, don't mind it ever because it is a Law of Nature that the tree that bears the sweetest fruits gets the maximum number of stones." (unknown)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I have a very broad smile on my face Surabhi. How can I be downcast when I get such heartfelt and encouraging support? I am almost feeling guilty for highlighting one critical comment when I receive so many positive ones. Oh, I did take it as a challenge and wrote this hub because of it, so it served a purpose. I am pleased that you enjoyed this short story and thank you for that wonderful quote "If someone hurts you, don't mind it ever because it is a Law of Nature that the tree that bears the sweetest fruits gets the maximum number of stones." I will take that to heart.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 10 months ago from Oklahoma

Criticism at worst is ineffective and at best is helpful, so why are we so afraid of it?

Very insightful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

True Larry. Thanks.


Surabhi Kaura profile image

Surabhi Kaura 10 months ago from Toronto, Canada

That is very positive and nice of you, Jodah. I agree that constructive criticism is helpful and encouraging, but there should be a yardstick of it. I mean, it was helpful, but it was just the last sentence which I could not digest. One cannot shatter anyone’s passion like that. This is not nice. Anyway, I am glad to hear your feedback. That shows that you are a very broadminded person and of course, a gentleman. I commend you. Oh yea, take that quote in a friendly way. Just wrote that to make you smile :) Special people always remain in headlines (ha ha). God bless.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 10 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Very simply, I LIKED it a great deal. I felt like I was there on the street, seeing your visions and going through the hand-washing notion as I watched your actions in glee. After all those dirtbags deserved what they got.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Deb, that was the perfect reaction I wanted to this story. Thank you!


drbj profile image

drbj 10 months ago from south Florida

You are a talented writer, Jodah, no matter what anyone says. Trust me. And don't beat yourself up about that one negative comment you received. It is a well known psychological handicap that we tend to focus on that which is negative. For example, can you remember the questions you answered correctly on the last test you took? Or is it the question (s) you could not answer that stick in you mind? 'Nuff said.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hmm, good points drbj. Can I take that test again? I know the answers to the ones I got wrong now. I made sure I looked them up and memorised them :) You are very right I beat myself up for no reason..and hey that comment inspired me to write this story so it wasn't all bad. Like a lot of other commenters have said .. It was just the last sentence that riled me. Thanks for your encouragement and support.


annart profile image

annart 10 months ago from SW England

Loved the story, John, and I like the idea of the 'Eye of the Heron' though I didn't cotton on that it was a vigilante sort of idea but that's probably me being slow. The idea's great and I always like your story-telling.

I would've liked to have seen the effect of the fire on the villains when they realised what was happening - them knowing that someone had got them back would add satisfaction to the reader at the end!

I too thought the comment on your 'Avon calling' hub was harsh. It could have been more diplomatic and I didn't agree with the extent of the criticism. I remember that story and I found it entertaining and didn't think it left much doubt at the end. Constructive criticism is always good, but it must be delivered with a certain amount of care.

Well done, John, and I commend you for responding with such a good story, proving that you can do it!

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the great comment Ann and for the great suggestion. I know it won't help those who have already read this but I may add something about the outcome of the villains....I have have had an idea going around in my head for a couple of days. Originally I didn't want my hero James Hero (Jim Bird) to come over as just as bad as the gang, but you have a good point. I had to do a lot of thinking to come up with this story from the title "the Eye of the Heron".. It just sort of developed from another story I had read. Thanks for the support in regard to my other story too.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 10 months ago from Central Florida

John, none of us are accomplished writers or we wouldn't be practicing our craft on HubPages. Rather, we'd be stacked on book store shelves.

Whoever left you the comment that you cited at the beginning of this short story, should have had the respect to email you privately. If you'd queried an agent or publisher, would they have publicly posted their take on your work? No. They would have emailed you privately.

I'm not going to honor your wish of leaving a critique here for all the world to see. I'd rather touch base with you privately as your friend and someone who respects you.

Mike (I'm assuming it's our beloved mcbirds) gave you good advice. Don't let naysayers stop you from treading on uncertain territory. You should be congratulated and admired for having the brass ones to follow your dream and challenge yourself.

I'm getting ready to wind down in preparation of tomorrow's work day, but wanted to read this before I did so (I know. I'm behind in my HP reading). I'll send you an email by this weekend, my friend.

In the meantime, keep on truckin'!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Shauna, thank you for that. I agree that most criticism, constructive or otherwise is better off done in private via email. That said, I look forward to one from you.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

I enjoy twisted plot lines and complex characters who aren't what they initially appear to be. Good job.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Great to hear that Flourish, I think this kind of fell into that category. I hope so anyway. Thanks.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 10 months ago from New York

I have always enjoyed your writing. Constructive criticism is just that, constructive. Telling you to abandon short stories is about as far from constructive as you can get!

This story is interesting from beginning to end. First wondering about his "gift", then seeing the Yarma unfold. Vigilante? Following his gift? Lots to think about in this very well done short story.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Mary, I appreciate you taking the time to read this hub at the moment. Thank you for your supportive comment. All the best.


deepaliawasare profile image

deepaliawasare 10 months ago from Vadodara

enjoyed your story.... i guess if a reader finishes a short story from start to end in one go .. which i did .... then the story is good .....yours is very good .....as for criticisms .... consider them all positive and work from there... there are all types of people out there with different sensibilities ,attitudes and opinions and we cannot please or impress each one... so we just have to weigh the positives and negatives and go ahead !! looking forward to some more stories.....


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the positive comment/feedback deepali, and the good advice. you are quite right, and hopefully I have more stories to come.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 10 months ago from Riga, Latvia

A most gripping and interesting story. Took me from start to finish so the writer had my interest all along.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Rasma. I was worried due to the length of the story, but I am glad you found it gripping and it held your interest.


lollyj lm profile image

lollyj lm 10 months ago from Washington KS

The story is well written and intriguing. I always enjoy your work. My advice to you is the same advice a writer gave me years ago: Write in your own personal style and tell your stories your way. Some will like it and some won't. Accept the critiques that help you grow and discard the ones that don't.

Keep doing what you're doing.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Glad you enjoyed this story Lollyj, thank you for sharing that wise advice as well. Much appreciated.


goego profile image

goego 10 months ago from Loserland

Wow this was the first one I clicked on, 'ego' what ego, too strange- you gotta give me a minute to read this one, cheers


goego profile image

goego 10 months ago from Loserland

Ok so I read the whole thing- I don't think anyone is paying attention, read between the lines & I can hear everything your saying... Uhhh We gotta talk


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Haha what a coincidence that you chose the hub with that heading to start, goego. You must have been meant to read this. Well done, getting all the way through...and reading between the lines...shhh!


goego profile image

goego 10 months ago from Loserland

I agree- everything happens for a reason :)


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

John

This was a great story! I always look forward to your hubs and especially your short stories.

Mastering the telling of a story isn't easy and I don't think we'll always please everyone all of the time but this was a great story well told and I loved the way it was told.

Lawrence


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Lawrence. I did edit this story after a friend pointed out (in private) a few places I could improve it. I am quite pleased with how it turned out and glad you liked it. Have a great week.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 8 months ago from Houston, Texas

I enjoyed your story to the end and that was quite a twist at the end with the main character not only seeing and sensing evil but becoming a part of it as well. Clever name...the Yarama...for the little red creatures who portend violent events.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading Peggy and for your kind comment. The Yarama are actually a mythical creature of Aboriginal folklore.

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