Saturday, July 12, 2003


I just submitted to the workshop group my critique of the five fiction pieces submitted for my review. On the whole, these were excellent first drafts by a mix of writers of various pedigrees, and I am happy to see that the works bore the imprint of much of the ground we covered during the initial vignette sessions.

When I read a story with critique in mind, I look first at the overall compositon - the narrative flow, the use of language, the structure and theme. Everything must work in unison to create a satisfying reading experience. Next, I take a look at the finer points - characterization, description, dialogue These are the elements that form the body of the work, the details that make or break a piece. Finally, I read it again with a look at the margins and the agenda - these are no fluff pieces after all, but works that strive to rise above the mean, which means that they are written with excellence as one of the primary goals (of course THE prime goal is to tell a story, but that story MUST be well-told).

Bhoy Evolvo is a future fiction piece, a story about friendship and loss and the epiphanies that attend distance and time. Its eponymous lead character is a product of failed science, but does not cease to find meaning in his brief existence.

The other four are set in the shared realm of Hinirang:

Camorra takes us into the mind of a man interviewing the most feared man of Ciudad Meiora. In the course of the narrative, we discover the genesis of Don Roberto Camorra's career, the choices he makes and the implications thereof, defining more of Hinirang's setting and the people (and beast men) who walk its streets.

Tulisan y Ladron (Thief & Thief) is an enjoyable romp with sharp characters and dialogue, showing us a part of the world of Hinirang's ne'er-do-wells. It is a story about deception and about how ambition can be disguised as apparent helplessness.

Isa Pang Awit (One More Song) is a textured piece set during the Day of Return, when the dead come back for a brief sojourn with the living. Introspective, textured and complex, it deals with questions about the human condition.

The Secret City begins as a personal Tsino story and shows us the origin of Lujing BĂ©ishu, the City That Chose Its Own Path - the enclave of the Tsino exiles in Ciudad Meoira.

As I said, all good pieces, well-imagined and with the potential to be gems of writing - after the requisite hard work in revising, tweaking and rewriting (all necessary tasks for even the best of writers).

After reading these five pieces, I desperately need to find time to write myself!


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