Nikolai Ladokhin Critique for: I. Balla, “The Hard Truth” I liked your story quite a lot; mainly because of the way you developed the plot. It was quite unexpected to find out that these body parts Ray found in his yard were, in fact, limbs of his butchered wife that haunt him and that he is the only one who sees them. However, while I was reading the story, I got confused by some of the plot twists. For instance, how is it possible that Ray has lived for two years without even knowing that his wife has been butchered and his friend John being the first one to actually tell him this “hard truth”? Or did Ray get some kind of amnesia as a result of psychological trauma? Personally, I think this part of story is rather unreal. Overall, disregarding such minor confusions, the development of the plot is spectacular and it makes one want to read it to the very last line. What is not least important, the whole story is brought to an end. Regarding the character, it seems that you did not put a lot of effort in describing Ray. Your character describes himself as “the most famous businessman this town had ever seen”, though the image of a wealthy and a famous man did not pop up in my mind while I was reading this line. I would suggest writing more about his appearance and character– that is, since he is a well-known, aging businessman, he is most likely a “little bit” obese and bulky, struggling with all these age-related diseases and psychological aftermaths of his wife’s terrifying death. All in all, the story is fascinating as regards to the plot, which becomes even more such with the truly unexpected ending considered, but a description of Ray and what kind of person he is will certainly improve it a lot.