I got my first critique. It’s hard to swallow and I can defend myself in many areas. But I love the honesty that I have received. This is long. Thank you, Hazim for this brutal and honest feedback. I am going to grow with it.
1. Plot – a bit messy, needs more focus, more details The beginning chapters I think need to be cut short and refined to focus. They were monologs and I know the purpose were to set the place, introduce the characters as well as the problem the main characters (MC) have. Although I think is a bit tedious, and chapter 1-3 I believe were redundant in content and maybe you could have said everything in just one short chapter. Compile those you introduce in these 3 chapters into 1 and be succinct. The middle of the story needs more actions and reactions. You told me all about the threats the MC can face but I fail to see them as real except empty threats. The dangers seem real but they felt like out of reach, always in the background or looming on the horizon like a storm that wouldn’t come and I personally felt these threats would almost never to befall on the MCs. What I think you need to do is show me instead of telling me. Rather than saying for example “We need to be in some place where the angels can’t sense us”, show me instead. Maybe what you can do is like create a scene where the MCs are being watched or get a few head turns and suspicious glares because the MCs weren’t supposed to meet or talk since they are from a different class of angels, or they’re under probations or etc. Describe the situations, the ambiance in details, create panic, introduce twists, throw in some conflicts, put the characters in moments where they have to make important decisions. Also, I think you missed a great opportunity of not telling me how the archangel got the costumes. Maybe you can shift the POV to the archangel and describe the scene he went through. The ending was okay, but most stories I’ve read usually involves MCs battling with external threats or their own inner conflict; a villain, life, and death situations, cancer, etc before they are shown to have won the battle. An ending of just the pain the MCs went through when the spell was recited seems a bit shallow. Maybe you could try to change the nature of your ending to make it much more interesting? One honorary mention that I want to state in here is because I feel like you’re making it easy for you for not addressing and discussing the scene: What happens after the costume was stolen? No alarms? No dangers? Did Gabriel get in trouble on the way back? You didn’t tell me what happens afterward, it almost feels like cheating or you want to make it easy for Gabriel. That might frustrate some readers because of the fact that earlier on you said that the vault is going to be so difficult in order to get the human costume that even God himself cannot hide his entrance from everyone else. So why after Gabriel managed to get it, nothing happen? Even if nothing happens maybe because by miracle no one has noticed the costume get stolen, you should explain how Gabriel managed to do that instead of letting readers wonder or just accepting this fact you presented. This is what we call as ‘deus ex machina’ in the literary world, google it if you want to know what it is and I suggest you avoid it in your writing. It doesn’t enhance the plot, maybe it moves the plot forward but it’s a bad literary device to be using since most readers wouldn’t accept such proposal.
2. Characters – more developments needed Raphael needs the most development not just because he is your main character but because personally, I think damsel in distress doesn’t work well for MC. Raphael can be somewhat hopeless in the beginning but a great character that readers like is one that undergoes many changes and become a whole more solid person at the end of the story. Show me how he deals with the situation he has, make him do something instead of just waiting for the Archangel to do everything for him, make him do decisions, bad decisions even and make him regret them and deal with the consequences, make him go here, there, everywhere so that we can feel his anticipation of waiting, his distress and his panic. Make him act like how a human would act because after all, that’s what he wanted to become right? A human doesn’t sit still waiting for something to happen, he acts and he reacts to his actions and the environment around him. The supporting characters need a bit of edge too, especially the archangel. Gabriel needs more description since I mean as a reader I would like to see why Raphael falls in love with him in the first place. Again, show instead of telling. Tell him why he’s magnificent, majestic, and powerful but by not using such words in the first place. For example, instead of saying he looks majestic, say something like “His halo glows a thousand suns but even the holy ring cannot eclipse the radiance Archangel emits; the vibe he send out was angelic but with a touch of strict authority that’s enough to make fallen angels running in fear with tails between their legs.” Show me how he is majestic, instead of merely saying he’s majestic. I need more physical descriptions too because I believe that’s one of the reasons Raph likes Gabriel too right? Explore the physicality of love, make physical connections between them if you want to, don’t be afraid to explore this area of interest that don’t overdo it. I have a bit of problem with Adam and Eve. I know why you created them, to serve like BFFs for Raph and Gabriel. But if you really dive into the history of why Adam and Eve got kicked out from heaven in the first place, you know they would not encourage the angels’ love, they would probably try to stop the relationship from going further. Because Adam and Eve know the consequences, in fact, they don’t just know, better, they experienced them first hand. Logically if they’re BFFs, they’ll try to stop Raph and Arch from enduring the same fate like them since that’s what friends would do. But you can also make Adam and Eve feels the couple’s pain of not wanting to be separated, so here actually is a good notion for you to incorporate and discuss further in your novel, how Adam and Eve want to help Raph and Gabriel get the love they want without the couple getting exposed. Teaching them the basic things about human to the couple I think doesn’t make the cut. It needs to be more than that. Uriel, on the other hand, serves nothing more than just a shoulder for Raph to cry on. I think her character is a bit shallow. Unless if you can convince me how Uriel can be of major importance to the development of plot or Raph’s character, I think you can exclude her from the story. Besides, this is just a short story, right? So you have to make sure every word, every scene, every character and everything you put in the story is worth every line.
3. Dialogue The dialogue needs improvement too. And it needs to reflect the situation the characters is in and also the characteristics of the characters saying the dialogue. I kind of sense the dialogues you put in are those that you usually hear in a high school environment, more like teenagers feeling to them. Not a conversation that I would expect to be exchanged in heaven, between sentient beings, in an environment that is holy, peaceful and sacred. I expect them to be serious (little of playfulness is fine but not too much), more serene and have an ancient and wisdom feeling to the dialogues. I like how Gabriel dialogue is, he fits the description. Although his dialogues need some tweaks too. Dialogue needs to convey the important message across to the readers and be able to move the plot forward. Just mere exchange of greetings or description of simple feelings the characters are feeling is not a good one. These are better swap with simple narratives or descriptions which can convey much more. One good example the good dialogue you have is when Gabriel is telling the readers what he will have to get through in order to steal the human costumes. From here I know the history and nature of the vault, I know what are the consequences Raph and Gabriel would face if the Archangel fail and exposed, I know Gabriel’s determination to perform the heist even though it looks darn impossible, and I know how it pains him to choose between staying loyal to his role as an archangel or do the mission for the sake of his love to Raph. I get all of that from the dialogue and so this is the reason why I believe it was a good example. Write a dialogue like this one. Write ones that convey much more between the lines.
Thank you Hazim!