I wrote this as a review for "Sam White - Case one - No excuse". http://storiesonline.net/s/41826
But it was three times too long for a review, so I wrote a summary there and the rest ends up here in my blog.
I am on a quest to find high-quality "gi" stories. Why? First, I write them myself, and I think some of mine are very good. Yet when I read the majority of the ones posted recently, I feel uncomfortable. They seem like artless productions of mediocre minds, maybe even insensitive minds, maybe even sometimes the kind of minds that could hurt a girl in real life.
So I was excited to find this story. It has an 8.48 score, especially impressive for a story that is only 141K. It is the first of a series of three, so the author felt he was onto something good. It's quite old -- 2004.
Sam is an ex-cop who literally bumps into 9-year-old Cheryl, landing her in a mud puddle. She has been brutally raped by her stepfather. Sam takes her in and nurses her back to health. There is a "police" thread, wherein he researches the evil stepfather, then tortures him for his rape of Cheryl and frames him for a drug crime. That part seems fine, though it's described in more detail than I would prefer. Then there is the love and sex thread. Sam is looking at and touching her private parts from the very beginning as part of treating her injuries. She invades his bed seeking the comfort of snuggling, but one thing leads to another and we find her leading the way into sex. Sam is able to adopt her and set her up in a normal life, including going to school. Life is normal except that the two of them are lovers and in love. Cheryl eventually kills her stepfather in self defense after he is released from prison and comes to rape her once more and perhaps kill her.
The writing is competent, with virtually no grammar or spelling errors. The development of the sexual relationship is smooth and (relatively) believable. Girl happiness is vital for me in enjoying any of these "gi" fantasies, as is some sort of guilt or reluctance on the part of the man. Uncle Sky's got that covered. Rage and revenge against the girl's previous tormenter is also satisfying and done well.
And yet my (admittedly high) expectations were not fulfilled.
The writing has long series of declarative sentences with little variation, for example:
"Before long the two men arrived. I told them I had a special job for them. I had reason to believe that someone might try to get into my house and harm either Cheryl or me. I wanted them to watch the house from nine in the evening to five in the morning. I wanted one in the front and one in the back. They were to stop anyone who approached the house and contact me at once. I also told them I might be going out during the night but they were not to see me if I did. They understood and agreed. They left to get some rest so they could start that night. I made arrangements with the shift sergeant to relieve them once during the night for lunch and anything else they needed."
I also felt I was being given a complete description of events which got kind of tedious. More could have been left to the imagination. The above paragraph might have been handled by, "Fearing that Cheryl's father might track us down, I arranged for two men to guard the house at night. They were to watch for any suspicious activity, but to keep completely secret any night-time forays I might make." Do you like it better, or not? If I put it in a story, would it be too cryptic?
Though there was too much detail in places, there were many vital details that were not filled in. For instance, we learn that she is 9 3/4 years old, but the story later talks about her grade in school without saying what it is -- a story just begs for specificity on such a point. In the U.S. most kids are 18 when the finish 12th grade, so... it's fourth or fifth. It's OK we're not told what time of year this is all happening, but if the author decided that question it could help him choose the right grade in school.
"I had her open her mouth and saw no missing teeth other than those normally missing for her age." Better to just say she had no missing teeth. If the author doesn't want to research which teeth are missing at age 10, just let it be vague, or at least find out that kids typically do have a visible tooth in each spot (baby or grown-up) except for relatively brief periods. It is almost "anti-showing" to describe what he sees as relative to some unspoken dental standard.
Of course we writers are amateurs. We're not paid to research the details, but we should at least leave smooth edges where we are going to be vague. I sigh and shudder whenever I have to say what some female is wearing, because I just don't know feminine clothing or how to describe it convincingly. So I sympathize.
Some things seem set up way too obviously. We are given a series of scenes where Cheryl is introduced to handguns, practices once, practices again, gets praised for her progress, and is awarded a gun to keep in her bedside table -- all just so she can shoot her stepfather, which doesn't seem to serve much purpose in the story.
The alibi is that Cheryl is his cousin sometimes, his niece at others.
There is a strange mix of enormous care in tracking the stepfather at first, but somehow later Sam just assumes he couldn't possibly be let out of jail for lack of evidence -- extraordinary carelessness.
Now, to my taste, you can set up a story with a little bit of humor and make it clear you're not sweating the details. Or you can leave lots of things vague. But here I feel I'm being given considerable detail and intended to take it seriously, but it doesn't hang together or "work".
But my biggest disappointment was not knowing who Sam and Cheryl were or what made them tick. We have no word about Sam's prior sexual experiences, no past girlfriends, no trouble keeping girlfriends, no nothing. We just know that he feels guilty to be getting aroused by Cheryl.
In their first conversation, Cheryl is terrified that the police will send her back to her stepfather, with no evidence she has run away before or been sent back before. We never find out what circumstances lead her to be where she is when he bumps into her.
She comes to Sam's house terribly traumatized, yet actively wants Sam to be touching her all over her body to wash and dry and dress her when we don't know why she can't do it herself. She just wants a man's touch? At a time like that? It is arousing for the reader -- but makes no sense.
This girl moans with pleasure whenever a finger brushes her labia, or so it seems. No girl could credibly be that sensitive. I spent much of the story waiting to learn what sort of positive experience she has ever had of sexuality, and find out near the end that she saw her mother making love with men -- with no explanation as to why her mother allowed this, how often it was, how it fit into their life. Her mother is quoted as saying sexy stuff is OK if both people want it -- but why is she telling her daughter this; in what context?
Now the truly puzzling thing to me is the scoring. 847 people voted on this story, with an average score of 8.48. If you figure that a few people gave it low scores, perhaps because they hate anything with pedophilia, then the vast majority of people chose to rate it as "great" or "most amazing story ever" -- far more than "very good". And that is before the mysterious adjustment that Laz makes, which I believe always brings scores down.
What are the readers seeing that I'm not? There is a basic pedophile fantasy of rescuing a needy girl and being very kind to her, which finally means giving in to her entreaties for sex. And there's torturing the bad guy. There's sex with the girl, but it is not described with especial flair.
Is that all it takes? Maybe the simple sentence structure lets an average reader follow the action without really considering the writing as writing?
My own writing gets far lower scores. Some of my better stories get around a 6.50, two full points below the 8.48 we find here. Why the huge difference? I know that scores from 2004 or 2005 are treated differently from recent scores because Laz adjusts for how on average stories got lower scores back then, and that may be a factor. I can't blame anti-pedophile bias. Maybe my writing has major flaws I don't see (and I'd be delighted to get feedback on that) or maybe the readers don't value what I do. I like to put something new and different in each story I write. I (usually) try to make the reader think a little bit.
"No Excuse" is a pretty good story, let me make that clear. I got into it and wanted to know what happened next, and the sex scenes were arousing at times.
But I didn't think it was anywhere near "great".