Critique of Ryan Robinson’s “The Regular Things”

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Layout

The first thing that captured my attention of Ryan’s pieces was the layout that included a photo.  The photo helps to tell the story and provides a visual aspect to the story.  I had an idea of what the piece was about before I started to read.

The caption also helped to tie the photo in with the story.  Including the photo was a great idea, Ryan.

Audience Description

Ryan’s description of his audience was good.  Growing up in North Carolina, I have an appreciation for “Small-town America” and therefore appreciate Ryan’s story.  In the assignment, Andy mentioned thinking about what type of publication would your piece appear.  I believe that Ryan’s piece could easily be found in a magazine like Rowan Magazine that targets the people of Salisbury.

Tone

The tone of Ryan’s piece was very lighthearted.  I feel that it had an emotional element to help draw the reader into the story.  The piece pays homage to Ryan’s grandfather and readers are able to identify with this relationship.

Imagery

“And what about you ‘shuga?” the raspy-voiced waitress always asked.

I loved the way Ryan used conversation throughout the piece to help create the scene.  The sentence above immediately made me think of a small country diner. I saw the waitress standing there with a pencil and pad chewing gum while she took down your order.  Calling him “shuga” tells the reader that it’s a small, southern town where people have strong accents.

“Hey Fred!”

“Hey Johnny—see you got some help with you this morning!”

“Sure do.”

This exchange here helps to prove the point Ryan made about his grandfather knowing everyone around town. He used the dialogue here to bring a point to life for the reader.  The dialogue helps move the story along and again helps set the scene.

In this sentence here, “Not a day went by where a shirt wasn’t pressed and stiff with starch,” it would have been nice to have a few descriptors here to describe the shirt.  How stiff was the shirt? Were they white blue or stripped?

In enjoyed Ryan’s description of his grandparents’ house.  I have an appreciation of older homes and loved the way Ryan described the home for the reader.  The description of the “creaky wooden staircase” is a great way to help the reader know that the house is very old.

Grammar and Style

Overall, the piece was well written.  From the very beginning of the piece, it is obvious what the story will be about. The lede is clear and the nut graph tells the reader exactly why the story is important.  The piece flowed really nicely and takes the reader through a typical Saturday that Ryan would have with his grandfather.

There were a couple of instances where Ryan used the same phrase twice, for instance, “Richards was the kind of place.”  This is just something to be mindful of.

Below are some edits of grammatical errors.  I too make these same mistakes and it helps to have a second set of eyes to review copy.  After looking at a piece for so long, it’s easy to miss things.

  • The following is just an excerpt from one re-occuring event in my life. [“Re-occuring should be recurring.]
  • Most trips were pretty normal as I became and expert in remembering his post office number and picked it out every time from all of the others (this was a pretty difficult task until about age 8.) [Should be “an” and not “and.”]
  • On one particular morning we saw several dogs that had hijacked the owners car while he was in the post office and had their paws on the wheel. [“Owners” is missing an apostrophe to indicate possession.]
  • I had to be about five at the time, but its a story he still tries to convince me is true. [“Its” is missing an apostrophe.]

There were a few sentences were words were missing.  I’ve included examples below for reference.

  • It was here that we’d spend the rest of the morning before heading back home, sometimes stopping at the local carwash and burger nearby.
  • Some days I would stay at home and play cards or go see movie with my grandmother, “Mimi”.

Active vs. Passive

The sentence below is in passive voice.  I’d switch it to active voice in order to make it easier for the reader.

Papa was always an early-riser, so most Saturdays I was awoken by him trying to quietly enter my room and wake me.

Watch for redundancies

My grandfather owns his own real estate appraisal business, and is the kind of man that will work until his very last day on this earth.

Tags:

breakfast, grandfather, North Carolina, regular things, Salisbury, saturday mornings

Great use of tags here, Ryan.  I feel like these tags are relevant to the story and would help drive readers to your story.  The tags also give you an idea of where the story is set, what it’s about and who it is about.

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