Reviewing my Commentors – Stöberhund by Sarah Crysl Akhtar

Welcome to the first review of work by people kind enough to comment on my story. As a beginning author with a small number of readers, I’m able to connect with readers and look at their works – It’s one of the few things I’m going to enjoy about starting out!

First up, Stöberhund by Sarah Crysl Akhtar, published on EDF on November 13, 2013. She’s been published on Flash Fiction Online and several times at EDF.

This story was clearly written with the intent of capturing a fairytale or mythical atmosphere. Unfortunately, the language seems forced at many points, and makes the story difficult to follow. A good example is near the start, with the line “I was green with retching and sick to be caught this way now my man was dead.” I took this to mean that her sickness from getting handled roughly is another insult to the injury of her baby’s father’s death. It’s an awkward, forced connection in my mind, and distracts from the story at hand.

I followed the narrative well on the second and third reads, and a reply by the author in the comments helped clear a few things up. The Main Character made a deal to give up her baby, and now it’s time to pay up. The final line reveals that the father of this child must be a son of the King. As far as I can tell, the reader learns of the King (he sleeps around a lot, has many bastards), but nothing about the King’s Son except that he’s dead. A little information about how or why they met would have helped.

Rather than a traditional conclusion, this story ends with the drama between the cheated Queen and the pregnant peasant. It leaves the reader wondering, which can be good, but it also feels like a longer story was chopped up to meet word count.

My take:

I can appreciate the moment of drama as the payoff  – a hard choice, left unresolved, can be as satisfying as a definite conclusion. In this case, though, the difficulty in understanding the piece takes away a lot of the punch. I think the prose would work well in a longer story, where the reader would have more time to “get into” the world and the language. I’d love to see more work written in similar language, but simplified just a bit so that the overall story is more clear.

What my writing can get from this:

The story shows how choices in prose define the overall character of a story, but also shows that getting too complicated with language can be off-putting to some readers.

3 comments on “Reviewing my Commentors – Stöberhund by Sarah Crysl Akhtar

  1. Yes this professor likes quality prose with simple messages. If it gets too lofty this professor’s Punchyish nature kicks in and he loses interest. A secret: He then abruptly leafs to the back of the book for the ending and is mostly always disappointed. Do you ever feel the Punchyish nature coming on?

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