Reply To: The Disappearance of Rebecca Faulks (short Story – 2,800 words)

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Hi Elle,

Another superb bit of writing. It is a very convincing portrait of the slide into depression, which is very hard to do in a way that engages the reader. You’ve easily passed that test. I agree with Raine that a bit more tension would give the story more ‘shape’. I also agree with Jonathan that perhaps a few too many sentences are structured in the way he identifies, and it starts to feel like ‘putting the cart before the horse’.

The part about her parents’ perfect life feels a bit too ‘tell’ to me. Would be more powerful if hinted at, with a specific example perhaps.

I was a little confused by the ending on first reading, though it made more sense when I looked at it again. I’m in the middle of a migraine, so it might be that my brain is at fault. Overall, it felt as though the mould was symbolic in a ‘magical realist’ kind of way rather than entirely real, and the ending brings that all together quite nicely. I think I was thrown by the part where she seemed to be in hospital. I don’t know what to suggest other than to lead more clearly into the dream – I thought at first that when she dreamt she was back in the flat that she was actually there, so I think that led me a little way down the garden path.

Other than that, there’s some beautiful sensory detail but almost a bit too much for me, like a rich dessert, so it might be worth looking at how you can streamline the story a little generally.

Good work on a really difficult subject.

A few grammatical things:

First para – content should be contents, and followed by a comma

Second para, inhale should probably be inhalation. That sentence feels a bit clunky to me – not sure about ‘required’, it feels a bit detached.

Para after the phone call – seems to be missing a word, or there’s possibly an extraneous one. If you deleted ‘what’s’ the first part would read ok but the rest still feels like a fragment.

First para after first section break – ‘casted’ should be ‘cast’

Para beginning ‘a burst of energy’ – feels a bit awkward. Perhaps substitute ‘to take’ for ‘taking’

Para starting ‘Back in the bedroom’ – lied on the bed should be lay. Sentence ‘Her dream of being a writer discarded already’ is a fragment. Possibly ‘was’ or ‘had been’ discarded (and ‘already discarded’ rather than ‘discarded already’ is more conventional phrasing)

Para starting ‘Had her mother’ – ‘have you go your life together’ go should be got