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> Daily Writing Thread, For works in progress you need help with
&ru
Posted: Aug 5 2008, 04:31 PM
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With the blessing of Umino I'm posting this thread as a place where you can post shorter, incomplete pieces that you'd like help with or criticism on. Basically this is for things you'd like people to read and criticize, but that aren't yet good enough or complete enough to post in their own thread.

This could be a few lines of poetry that you'd like some advice on, or maybe some dialog from a story that just isn't working, or a fragment of a larger piece that you need help with, etc. These aren't the only things you can post here, just some examples.

In other forums I've seen daily writing threads in, usually the standard of what can be posted in them is lower than you'd see for something posted in its own thread. This is because it's intended for works in progress. But that doesn't mean to just post any crap that comes into your head or that you don't have to check your spelling or punctuation. It's still for serious work, just work that's at an earlier, less developed stage.

Also, for people giving criticism, keep in mind that this isn't final work, so don't treat it as such. This is more for giving help than passing final judgement.

Anyway, I hope this will lead to people posting more stuff in general.

A caveat: everything above is completely my opinion, not the mods, even though I was given general permission to post this thread. So if a mod wants to change something, please do. Also, if anyone else has ideas for/about this thread, please post them here.

This post has been edited by &ru on Aug 5 2008, 04:34 PM
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Demetrious
Posted: Aug 5 2008, 06:25 PM
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I'll start this out. This is one of the few things in my "short" file that I actually plan to expand into a full story. Roux already gave me one crit of this, that I've acted on. Now it's time for you folks to savage it.

--------------------------------------------




The world swam into view, revealing a young woman hovering over him against a backdrop of blue sky. Jake decided he should introduce himself.

“Urrgh.”

She simply frowned, admonished him in some lyrical tongue unknown to him, and pressed something against his leg.

“AhhUGH!” Jake tried to sit upright as a sharp bolt of pain shot from his thigh to his hip, and was returned firmly to the earth by a strong hand pressing against his forehead.

“Sit still,” the girl ordered sternly in perfect English as she finished applying the bandage to his thigh. “You’re not hurt badly, but you shouldn’t try to move around, okay?”

“Uh,” Jake confirmed. Not moving was fine with him. Just fantastic, in fact. He felt like he could lay there all day. He heard his benefactor moving away, and tried to rise on one elbow. “Hey, wait-“

“I’m not going anywhere,” she replied, returning to view with a canteen. “Just needed some water, okay? You’ll be fine,” she said soothingly as she produced another rag. Jake ceased his objections and tried to clear his mind. He’d been at treetop level, and had just selected a clear spot in the field when… Jake drew a blank.

“What happened?”

The girl paused a second, thinking, and apparently decided he was lucid enough to converse with. “You hit a tree when you came in low, and your machine flipped over. I pulled you out from underneath it and carried you over here.”

Jake thought about that for a moment, and for some reason it suddenly seemed very funny. He started giggling. He thought of Immelman- Immelman! and as the fight came rushing back, it seemed even funnier. He was full out laughing now, his rescuer regarding him with concern and a little caution, perhaps thinking he’d hit his head harder then she’d thought. “After all that, I manage to crash…”

Slowly, Jake felt the adrenaline in his system waning, and his mad laughter subsided with it as battle fatigue took hold. As his wits started to return, so did his sense of perspective, and he realized that his rescuer was very pretty.

“I usually don’t crash.”

”I’m sure,” she replied, glancing upwards at the sun.

“My engine was all shot up.”

“Shot up?” She spared him a quizzical glance.

“Well, I shot them up too,” he clarified swiftly. “I was outnumbered, you see.”

“Oh,” she replied tentatively, seeming confused. “I think you can walk. I’m going to help you up now, okay?” Jake nodded, and she reached forward and pulled him to his feet with surprising strength. His wounded thigh, on his right leg, buckled, and the girl wrapped her arm around Jake to support him. Jake steadied himself and put his arm around the girl’s slender waist for balance.

“I should crash more often.”

“Why is that?”

”Did I say that out loud?”

“Yes, you most certainly did.”

“Where’s my plane?” Jake said abruptly. The girl pointed off to the right, and Jake espied his overturned Morane, buried in the tall grass. “Shit,” he muttered sadly, in spite of himself. At least he’d never have to screw with that godamned finicky starter again. “Can we limp over there? I’d like to see if my gun is okay.”

“It’s still in your holster.” Jake didn’t need her to tell him that; he could feel the bruise where the revolver had smacked his leg in the crash.

“No, I mean my machine gun. On my plane.”

“Machine gun? They’re putting guns on those things now?” She looked thoughtful for a second, glancing back at the Morane, then frowned at him. “You’re banged up pretty good. We can come back for it, okay? It’s not going anywhere.

She was certainly right about that, Jake thought. “Okay. Lead on, um…”

“Eva.”

“Eva. I’m Jake.”

“Hi, Jake. Okay, just lean on me. The camp is pretty close…”


------------------------------------------------

Be gentle, and please use protection.
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Megaduck
Posted: Aug 6 2008, 07:05 AM
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QUOTE
His wounded thigh, on his right leg, buckled, and the girl wrapped her arm around Jake to support him.


Did you know that the word ‘pain’ is only used once in this story? The effects of pain are only described once as well.

You mention that his leg buckles but you don’t mention how Jake feels about this, or the fact that this should be excruciatingly unpleasant.

In fact, you sort of skip over how Jake feels here. Yes, you have him groan and struggle to come erect but at the same time I don’t get the feeling that you’re trying to say “Our main Character was in a horrible plane crash, lets all sit down and experience what that feels like.”
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Dusty
Posted: Aug 6 2008, 08:12 AM
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QUOTE
Jake decided he should introduce himself.

“Urrgh.”

This is pretty clever.

QUOTE
The world swam into view, revealing a young woman hovering over him against a backdrop of blue sky.

This is cliché, in the language and the situation. It wouldn't be so bad if you rewrote it without: "swam into view." Using something like that is the equivalent of a director using a "star wipe" or any other canned transition between scenes.

Its a strong piece and I only criticize that first line because its the first line.

----------------
I've been working on several poems, but I thought I'd post this one and see if any of the lines are worth keeping.

----------------



This is not a diner. This is not a place.
I wanted to burn down our coffee and eggs.
You wanted to fight fires with milk and cereal.

This is not a poem. This is not true.
Welcome to samsara.
Where everything is so important
but nothing matters.

We’re flying into the ground.
And if you’re so sure you’ll survive the crash
Then,
why are you screaming so god damn loud?

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&ru
Posted: Aug 6 2008, 10:30 AM
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QUOTE (Demetrious @ Aug 5 2008, 06:25 PM)
I'll start this out. This is one of the few things in my "short" file that I actually plan to expand into a full story. Roux already gave me one crit of this, that I've acted on.  Now it's time for you folks to savage it.

--------------------------------------------

Be gentle, and please use protection.



QUOTE
AhhUGH!” Jake tried to sit upright as a sharp bolt of pain shot from his thigh to his hip, and was returned firmly to the earth by a strong hand pressing against his forehead. “Sit still,” the girl ordered...


Shouldn't this be "lie still" or "stay still" since he's trying to sit up and she's trying to get him to lie down?

QUOTE
As his wits started to return, so did his sense of perspective, and he realized that his rescuer was very pretty.


"Sense of perspective" seems vague in the sense you're using it. Maybe you could put something like "As his wits returned, he examined his rescuer more closely and realized..." Just a suggestion.

QUOTE
“Shot up?” She spared him a quizzical glance.


Why "spared"? Is she busy doing something else?

QUOTE
Jake espied his overturned Morane


Espied sounds sort of archaic.

QUOTE
“Shit,” he muttered sadly, in spite of himself.


Why "in spite of himself"? This just seems like extra words. Why not end at sadly?

QUOTE
“It’s still in your holster.” Jake didn’t need her to tell him that; he could feel the bruise where the revolver had smacked his leg in the crash.

“No, I mean my machine gun. On my plane.”


The 2d sentence seems uneccessary. I'd think it sound better with just the dialog like:
"It’s still in your holster.”
"No, I mean my machine gun. On my plane."


So basically minor stuff. I enjoyed it though. It's a good beginning to a story.




OK for Dusty's poem now.

QUOTE
This is not a diner. This is not a place.
I wanted to burn down our coffee and eggs.
You wanted to fight fires with milk and cereal.


Not bad. I like the 3d line the best, the 1st the least.

QUOTE
This is not a poem. This is not true.
Welcome to samsara.
Where everything is so important
but nothing matters. 


This section comes of, to me, as a little vague and pretentious. Sorry.

QUOTE
We’re flying into the ground.
And if you’re so sure you’ll survive the crash
Then,
why are you screaming so god damn loud?


I like this one, the content of it I mean. The rhythym seems off though.

This post has been edited by &ru on Aug 6 2008, 10:39 AM
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FuchsiaG
Posted: Aug 7 2008, 09:47 AM
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QUOTE
This is not a diner. This is not a place.


I would like this line better without the second sentence.

QUOTE
I wanted to burn down our coffee and eggs.
You wanted to fight fires with milk and cereal.


Seems to me these lines should be in present tense to match the first line. "I want to burn down our coffee and eggs." It has more impact that way, too.

QUOTE
This is not a poem. This is not true.


Again, the second sentance seems useless.

QUOTE
Welcome to samsara.
Where everything is so important
but nothing matters.


Awesome lines. That about sums up my life, anywy.

QUOTE
We’re flying into the ground.
And if you’re so sure you’ll survive the crash
Then,
why are you screaming so god damn loud?


I don't like the way these lines are broken up. And you don't need a comma after "Then." Let me try something here...

QUOTE
We’re flying into the ground.
And if you’re so sure
you’ll survive the crash
Then why
are you screaming so loud?


I think that helps the rhythm out.

All in all, I liked this piece.
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Demetrious
Posted: Aug 7 2008, 10:28 PM
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QUOTE (Megaduck @ Aug 6 2008, 09:05 AM)

Did you know that the word ‘pain’ is only used once in this story? The effects of pain are only described once as well.

You mention that his leg buckles but you don’t mention how Jake feels about this, or the fact that this should be excruciatingly unpleasant.

All valid. I don't make enough of a point of the fact that he's had the everloving hell beaten out of him.

QUOTE (Megaduck)

In fact, you sort of skip over how Jake feels here.  Yes, you have him groan and struggle to come erect but at the same time I don’t get the feeling that you’re trying to say “Our main Character was in a horrible plane crash, lets all sit down and experience what that feels like.”


Again assuming that you're speaking of how the character feels physically, rather then emotionally: this might not be accidental. The crash was a relatively low-speed, low-altitude tumble. That's precisely why Jake is up and about, cracking wise and fretting about things like the state of his plane's (expensive) gun, rather then going "HOLY SHIT I WAS IN A PLANE CRASH."

I don't know if that's what struck you as odd about it, though.

QUOTE (Dusty)
This is cliché, in the language and the situation. It wouldn't be so bad if you rewrote it without: "swam into view." Using something like that is the equivalent of a director using a "star wipe" or any other canned transition between scenes.


That's quite true. There's plenty of different ways to start that; I'll look into it.

QUOTE (&ru)

Shouldn't this be "lie still" or "stay still" since he's trying to sit up and she's trying to get him to lie down?


"Sit still" is more of an idiom then a specific command, as far as I know. People will tell you to "sit still" no matter what physical orientation you're currently in. But it's a very minor change, should it be a problem.

QUOTE (&ru)

"Sense of perspective" seems vague in the sense you're using it. Maybe you could put something like "As his wits returned, he examined his rescuer more closely and realized..." Just a suggestion.


Also valid. "sense of perspective" refers to his ability to make substantive judgments on things; something that was lacking right when he regained consciousness. smile.gif

QUOTE (&ru)

The 2d sentence seems uneccessary. I'd think it sound better with just the dialog like:
"It’s still in your holster.”
"No, I mean my machine gun. On my plane."


I put it in there as an extra detail showing how battered the poor bastard was, is all.

Y'all have been awesome. Love weightedcompanioncube.gif
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Megaduck
Posted: Aug 11 2008, 12:24 PM
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I've never been good with speeches. So here is one I'm working on.





Positioning himself in front of them Alex planted the tip of his sword on the deck. Most of them seemed a little stunned, a few had bloody lips by which Alex assumed Dorcas hadn’t received the ‘Woman belong in the kitchen’ line very well and was releasing her irritation on people. “This is not the ghetto, this is not even New Mecca, with its open sky’s and free air.

“This is a very small metal tube in the middle of the most hostile environment known to man. There are exactly two things standing between you and an extremely painful death. The first, is the integrity of that tube, the second, is the person standing right next to you. Look at them,” Alex said and no one moved. “Look at them. Your life depends on them doing their job perfectly; their life depends on you doing your job perfectly. If you don’t, we all die.

“That means if I order you to cut off the hydrogen flow to the fusion reactor, you do it. You don’t argue, you don’t refuse, you do it right then. If I order you to shut the pressure doors you do it. If I order you to help in the kitchen you do it. If I order you to clean the toilets, you bloody well do it! If you don’t, you put yourself in danger and you put your shipmates in danger.

“And let me tell you right now,” Alex’s voice dropped from a near shout but what it lacked in volume it made up for in intensity. “They are all you have. That person you’re looking at is going to be with you for years. You’re going to eat, sleep, and live together because there is no were else to go. You’ll be together in the boring times and you’ll be together in those dangerous and exciting times because there is no one else. No one at all. Just us in here, and a whole lot of death outside. If you’re not with us then all you can look forward to is an excruciating death. Do you understand?”

There was a vague murmur of agreement and Alex shook his head. “It’s Captain. Do you understand!”

“Yes, Captain!” they thundered together and Alex nodded.

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&ru
Posted: Aug 12 2008, 04:33 PM
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QUOTE (Megaduck @ Aug 11 2008, 12:24 PM)
I've never been good with speeches. So here is one I'm working on.





Positioning himself in front of them Alex planted the tip of his sword on the deck. Most of them seemed a little stunned, a few had bloody lips by which Alex assumed Dorcas hadn’t received the ‘Woman belong in the kitchen’ line very well and was releasing her irritation on people. “This is not the ghetto, this is not even New Mecca, with its open sky’s and free air.

“This is a very small metal tube in the middle of the most hostile environment known to man. There are exactly two things standing between you and an extremely painful death. The first, is the integrity of that tube, the second, is the person standing right next to you. Look at them,” Alex said and no one moved. “Look at them. Your life depends on them doing their job perfectly; their life depends on you doing your job perfectly. If you don’t, we all die.

“That means if I order you to cut off the hydrogen flow to the fusion reactor, you do it. You don’t argue, you don’t refuse, you do it right then. If I order you to shut the pressure doors you do it. If I order you to help in the kitchen you do it. If I order you to clean the toilets, you bloody well do it! If you don’t, you put yourself in danger and you put your shipmates in danger.

“And let me tell you right now,” Alex’s voice dropped from a near shout but what it lacked in volume it made up for in intensity. “They are all you have. That person you’re looking at is going to be with you for years. You’re going to eat, sleep, and live together because there is no were else to go. You’ll be together in the boring times and you’ll be together in those dangerous and exciting times because there is no one else. No one at all. Just us in here, and a whole lot of death outside. If you’re not with us then all you can look forward to is an excruciating death. Do you understand?”

There was a vague murmur of agreement and Alex shook his head. “It’s Captain. Do you understand!”

“Yes, Captain!” they thundered together and Alex nodded.

QUOTE
Most of them seemed a little stunned, a few had bloody lips by which Alex assumed Dorcas hadn’t received the ‘Woman belong in the kitchen’ line very well and was releasing her irritation on people.


This sentence is really awkward. Plus a joke seems inappropriate at this point anyway.

QUOTE
If I order you to clean the toilets, you bloody well do it!  If you don’t, you put yourself in danger and you put your shipmates in danger.


This is (mabye unintentionally?) funny.

QUOTE
most hostile environment known to man


QUOTE
There are exactly two things standing between you and an extremely painful death.


QUOTE
If you’re not with us then all you can look forward to is an excruciating death.


These phrases together give the speech a really over the top feel. It seemed like you were maybe going for something a bit more serious. If so I'd cut down on the hyperbole some.
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Demetrious
Posted: Aug 19 2008, 05:38 PM
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QUOTE (Megaduck)


“That means if I order you to cut off the hydrogen flow to the fusion reactor, you do it. You don’t argue, you don’t refuse, you do it right then. If I order you to shut the pressure doors you do it. If I order you to help in the kitchen you do it. If I order you to clean the toilets, you bloody well do it! If you don’t, you put yourself in danger and you put your shipmates in danger.


The problem I have always had with speeches like this is that there is always a line just like that in there, with the Bad Ass Capitan telling everybody that they had better be his bitches or else. They often come off as imperious assholes, rather then men who are leaders because the understand intricately how to work and motivate other people. The lines "If I order you to help in the kitchen, you do it. If I order you to clean the toilets, you bloody well do it! If you don't, you put yourself in danger and you put your shipmates in danger" makes Alex sound like an imperious asshole. If they don't clean the toilets, it puts them and their shipmates in danger? Yeah, sure.

The key point of that passage is that the crew members need to trust Alex- trust that when he tells them to do something as crazy as cutting the hydrogen flow to the fusion reactor, he knows what he's doing. In turn, he has to trust his crew to carry out his orders as quickly as possible, otherwise he cannot command effectively. He has to trust them to trust him, in effect. What Alex needs to tell them, in plain and blunt language, that they need to trust him because he knows what he's doing- not just cuz. And if they don't trust him, they'll all die, including el Capitan; so they know he has the same motivation and sword over his head as they do. "We're all in the same boat," literally and figuratively.

That is how to engender trust in a crew, methinks.

----------------------------------------------------

So CW, I herd u liek storiez:

-----

Jason watched Robin surreptitiously from his spot by the door, swirling his Coke around in his hand automatically. She had retreated to an isolated corner with two other girls, and they were carrying on their own animated conference, away from the main bustle of the party. Others seemed to glide around their bubble of camaraderie.

Turning to visit the snack table again, Jason saw Alex glide into the room, effortlessly catching the current of conversation and riding it from one group of friends to another. Ripples formed in his wake as people broke away from their clusters to gravitate towards him, greeting, talking. He smiled and kept on gliding through the room, absorbing one knot of people after another, and inevitably sailed up to Robin’s isolated corner.

“Hey, Robin! Long time no see!” he exclaimed brightly, the cordialness lancing effortlessly through the little bubble of animated conversation. She looked up with a causal air so measured that Jason knew she’d been aware of Alex’s approach.

“Yeah, life has been like that,” she returned easily. “What have you been up to?”

“Oh, reading up for midterms, you know. Bad time of year to have so many gigs, but I guess I can’t complain.” He smirked winningly around her, towards the other two girls. “And you? How has Applebee’s been?”

“We still serve neither apples nor bees, but I did get a promotion,” she said lightly, before rising awkwardly, keeping her dark eyes locked on his.

“Ah, guess your manager really liked your style,” replied Alex smoothly, half-smiling at one of the other girls as Robin’s cool expression slipped ever so slightly.

“Sounds like he’s straight,” Jason interjected, sliding up behind Alex. “So sorry, man.” He smirked mischievously, friendly.

“Hey, man!” Alex gripped Jason’s hand and pumped it once, warmly. “What’s going on?”

“Actually, I’ve decided to open my own business,” Jason said brightly.

“Do tell.”

Jason grinned. “It’s an untapped market, really. Kind of like Micky D’s back in the day? Only sold milkshakes and hamburgers? Cept I’m just going to sell guitar strings and weed.” His smirk was just a shade harder this time.

Alex’s huff of amusement was a little forced. “You might have a little trouble getting the word out, though.”

My popularity? thought Jason. That’s all you have?

“Nah, that’s the beauty of it, I already have a market. All I gotta do is tack up my flyers next to the ones for your band down at the hardware store.”

That wiped the automatic smile off Alex’s face. He regarded Jason stonily. “You have a problem with me?” he asked with an air of injured innocence.

“Problem, singular? I have to choose just one?” Jason’s body language was still relaxed, but his can of Coke had ceased circling. The burble of conversation around them had chilled as the circle of Alex’s followers cautiously edged away from the pair contending.

Alex glared at Jason, and slid his left foot back ever so slightly to face Alex at an angle, his body tense. Relaxed as ever, Jason simply set his Coke down on a nearby table and nonchalantly hooked his thumbs in his pockets- still returning Alex’s glare, stony faced.

Alex stood that way for a few seconds, waiting for Jason to square off. He spoke.

“You can be a real dick, man,” Alex said sadly, sounding disappointed, and turned to slide back into the thick of the party as carefree as ever. The little drama having ended, the circle of observers slowly drifted away with him.

Jason retrieved his Coke and glanced sideways at Robin, who was staring at him in surprise. Jason just smiled meekly, shrugged, and awkwardly shuffled off towards the back yard, aware of her searching eyes on his back the whole way.

---------

What I am very, very interested in is weather or not the characters personalities and motives and emotions- especially towards one another were evident without me spelling them out. I tried to make all that background evident, yet organic. Thus I'd love it if y'all could tell me what you saw in the characters and what unstated conflicts and ties you picked up on, so I can see if I actually got them across.
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&ru
Posted: Aug 20 2008, 05:24 PM
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QUOTE (Demetrious @ Aug 19 2008, 05:38 PM)

What I am very, very interested in is weather or not the characters personalities and motives and emotions- especially towards one another were evident without me spelling them out. I tried to make all that background evident, yet organic. Thus I'd love it if y'all could tell me what you saw in the characters and what unstated conflicts and ties you picked up on, so I can see if I actually got them across.



OK, this is partly guesswork.

The most obvious conflict is between the 2 guys, Jason and Alex. Either the conflict is 1) over something not talked about in the story or 2) over the girl, Robin. I assume 2 is correct. Jason is jealous of Alex's popularity also.

The lesser conflict is between Robin and Alex. They seem to have some past and Robin doesn't like him now but possibly Alex still has some feelings for her.

Robin is suprised when Jason stands up to Alex so possibly Jason is an introvert or just not seen as being brave.

Here's the gueswork. Alex is Robin's ex-boyfriend (or at least had sex with her) and Jason is either her current one or at least has a thing for Robin. Jason is jealous of Alex because he used to be with Robin and possibly b/c he's in a semi-sucessful band and is generally more popular than him. Alex is comtemptous of Jason for some reason (possibly because Jason has has lesser social status than Alex in their group) and possibly jealous b/c he's now with Robin.

What's missing in this triangle is Robin's feelings toward Jason.

That's all I got.

This post has been edited by &ru on Aug 20 2008, 05:31 PM
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Posted: Aug 27 2008, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE (Demetrious @ Aug 19 2008, 06:38 PM)
What I am very, very interested in is whether or not the characters personalities and motives and emotions- especially towards one another were evident without me spelling them out. I tried to make all that background evident, yet organic. Thus I'd love it if y'all could tell me what you saw in the characters and what unstated conflicts and ties you picked up on, so I can see if I actually got them across.

The history or reasoning behind it isn't very clear, but the whole piece definitely shows animosity between the characters, a lot of what I'm going to outline here is complete and utter guesswork.

Jason, our "eyes" for this piece, is something of a guy who believes himself to be cool, and pulls off the personality well, but doesn't really have the popularity/party/people presence. He stands introverted from the party, but paying attention to the comings and goings. Part introvert, part people-person. Definitely an ex-something to Robin, be it the horizontal monster mash or dating, he's got an eye for Robin. Or maybe he's a stalker. Has issues with Alex, although it's not clear if it's because he has beef with him specifically, or if it's because of Robin. I'm guessing the former.

Alex, bandie, probably guitarist. Maybe a smot-poker, at least through the eyes of Jason. Big woman magnet, definitely Captain McPopular across the party/campus/school. Has a bit of beef with Jason, although not much. Easy to irritation, or at least easily broken from his casual comings and goings. Very appearance oriented, and quick to defend his 'tude. Looks like he has a thing for Robin, and women around him certainly have a thing for him. Possibly gay, because he doesn't seem to take offense to being called so from Jason. Backs down, mostly because he won't lose anything to take that from the likes of Jason.

Robin, not much of a stand-up-and-take-it girl, probably pretty as hell. She seems like she's just coasting, and tends to stay with her friends, who likely encourage her to get up and try for what she wants. Be it a date with Alex or Jason, I dunno, but it'll likely be an issue to become conflict later on, I think.

As far as the organic background, you did well for the most part. The problem is it's still distant. Is it an outdoor party? Indoor? Frat house? Parent-hosted? School organized? Beer? Drugs? Adults? Sex?

QUOTE (Demetrious @ Aug 19 2008 @ 05:38 PM)
camaraderie


Awesome word.

~~~~~
Now, my WIP for the Vamp Romance story, mostly establishing the main character the timeframe. Tell me if anything comes off as too strong, too weak, or unbelievable.

Rape metaphors aren't my usual tricks, but maybe I get a little too much pleasure from making these monsters fellate my shotgun. The kick of the gun jabbed me in the stomach, but the sight of spiraling of vampire skull chips soaring through the air was worth the discomfort. They landed with a gleefully disgusting splats on the concrete of the warehouse floor, and I turned to my squad. “Thanks for you work, gentlemen, the client will have you pay within the week.” The cheer resounded through the warehouse, and I could feel the adrenaline easing out of my system.

The outside air dripped with humidity, the Bay brought both fog and a salt water breeze. I squinted across the marina, trying to adjust to the painfully bright outdoors. I fished my cell phone from my pocket, and called my client. “Kids,” I spat at the overly cutesy song playing in the place of the standard ring, “answer the damn phone.” It took to the end of the chorus for a young sounding lady to answer the phone. After the hello, I said, “Job's done. List of mercs and supplies will be faxed, all supply fees go to me, each merc's fee will be listed. Any questions?”

“Are they all gone?” Christ, the kid sounded scared.

“Yeah, the vamps sucked off our shotguns. Pro'lly not enough of 'em left to identify, much less screw little prissies like you.”

Relief flooded over the line. “Thank you.”

“Thank me with your check.” I disconnected the line, and rubbed my temples. My thumb flashed over the phone, and I called my secretary. “Fax Mrs. Giggles the invoices, I need a shower.”

“Right away, sir. Do you need anything else?”

“A fuckin' drink.” I hung up on her, and got in my junked-to-hell Oldsmobile. Half-way to my cheap-ass apartment in the city high-rise, my partner-in-crime called my phone. It rang like a phone fuckin' should, screw the gay-ass prissy ring tones people are all usin' these days. I jerked the phone to my ear, “Yeah?”

Jason Griggs, my old college roommate, and part time vamp killer. “Dumb ass! How y'all gonna throw down with the blood suckers without me?”

“Like I just did, you ass. What is it?”

“Job's done, you got cash, we should party tonight.”

“Hell yeah!” I answered, killing the line and accelerating to my apartment. After a short shower, my door burst open and all 6' 1” of Jason Griggs bust into my apartment. Jason was a big dude compared to my short-ass 5' 6”, but never owned up to his height unless he was busting asses or chewin' gum. Born in Oklahoma, Jason talked like a swamp-dwelling redneck, but fought like a kid from the Bronx. He slapped a palm on my bare back by way of greeting, and whooped in victory. After being broke-ass for years, having some scratch was a fuckin' godsend. “Damn, Griggs. Can't a dude get dressed without you kickin' his door down?”

“How y'all feelin' the Velvet Palace tonight?” He said, holding up two tickets.

“The Velvet fuckin' Palace?” I snatched the tickets from him and looked. The Velvet Palace was the most exclusive club in the whole city, lined wall-to-wall with hot girls, good drinks, and bad music. Best party in town, and the hardest to get into. “Who the hell did you screw to get these?”

“Last client couldn't afford all of the mercs and fees, ended up fessing up these, along with a diamond big enough to pay off all of the mercs.” Damn.

“You ripped that old-ass lady off. Good fuckin' work, Griggs.”

He laughed, flicked me off, and walked outside. “I'll go start the car, get your slow ass down after you get dressed. We're gonna par-tay!” He left the room, and I started dressing. Velvet Palace, eh? Hell fuckin' yeah!
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&ru
Posted: Aug 31 2008, 08:45 AM
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I've been trying to come up with something for the Vampire Romance contest, and not having much luck so far. I remembered that I had tried to write a vampire story a long time ago, so I dug through my old notebooks and found it. I hadn't gotten very far in it and most of it sucked, but there was one section that wasn't too awful so I thought I could edit it and maybe salvage it for use now.

The problem is, it's just a conversation between 2 men, but at least one of them is a vampire, which is a start. I was thinking of changing the other guy to a woman. I guess I could leave him a man, but I dont' think I'm quite ready to write a gay vampire romance. Anyway, if you guys could give me any advice on this section, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.



Untitled


The wheels of a cart clattered – wood on stone – blocks away, but otherwise the night was silent. Why are the wealthy parts of town so much quieter at night, mused the waiting soldier? He rubbed his hands together against the cold. The only disadvantage of these lamps, he thought. You can’t warm your hands by them.

He gazed at the pleasant yellow light of the gas lamp that stood in the middle of the brick courtyard. They had been in the capital for nearly a year now, but he still marveled at them. Every other city in the empire, or without it for that matter, was torchlit at night, if at all. This man, soldier, officer probably, judging from his expensive calfskin boots and rich black cloak, preferred the steady buttery glow of the lamps to the harsh flickering of torchlight. It seemed…

“…More civilized?” a voice behind him said. “How quaint. You think that your – “

“Ugh, don’t do that!” said the man with genuine disgust. “Speaking of civilized, there’s nothing less so than peeping in a man’s head like you were digging through his garbage for scraps.”

“A particularly apt metaphor in your case Captain,” the voice smiled. “But don’t blame me for your carelessness. I take great risk in meeting you here and I must needs hear any nearby thoughts. Believe me, it has long since ceased being pleasurable or interesting to look into the shabby warped minds of your race. Present company excepted of course,” he lied. “No, for the most part it’s frankly depressing, but let’s not waste time. What do you want?”

The officer leered at him laughing, “You already know what I want,” he said, pulling a shiny leaf bladed dagger from his belt.

The voice caught a brief glint of armor under the man’s cloak as he drew the blade. What a grotesque combination of suspicion and naïveté he is, he thought. Does he really think that breastplate could stop me from tearing his heart out with my hands? He sighed inwardly. Idiot.

He strode toward the captain into the ambience of the lamp. He was thin, tall, and pale beyond the dreams of the wealthy noblewomen who bathed in milk and never walked outside without a servant carrying a ubiquitous umbrella. When he spoke long canines peeked out from under his upper lip like little spear tips. “I see,” the pale man said looking down at the long knife, “You want my life.”

The soldier started, afraid – really afraid rather than just nervous – for the first time, but in a moment his brow smoothed and he smiled. “Oh I see, your life. Yes, that’s exactly what I want.”

“So we have a bargain then, I take it?”

“Yes.”

But the pale man remained still. “Tell me Captain, do you remember your childhood? I can hardly remember anything of mine now. Not that there was anything particularly memorable about it, but still one likes to – “

With narrowed eyes the captain broke in, “What is this?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to ask you a question.”

“Then ask and be done. But if this is one of your tricks, you should know I’ve taken precautions. My mind is sealed on that matter. Professionally.”

“I know Captain. No tricks this time. I just wanted to ask if as a child you dreamt of the day you would be the warrior you are now. A commander of men, powerful, wealthy.”

“Yes, yes I suppose I did. What of it?”

“And now?”

“And now what?”

The pale man rolled his pale eyes. “And now that you have attained these things – power, money, even fame of a sort, is it as you imagined?”

“No, of course not, but it has been many years since I was a child and I no longer – “

“You are a child Captain. To me that is exactly what you are.”

“What is this foolishness? If you seek to rile me with your insults you’re wasting your time, and mine.”

“Not at all,” he smiled. “Consider it a friendly warning that childish dreams of power are just that. You will never attain what you seek. And even if you did, you would no longer be the man who wanted it, just as the child of your past can never enjoy the life of his dreams because he no longer exists.”

“I’ll take that chance,” he said and stepped forward to the pale man, almost touching him.

“You have no chance,” the pale man muttered under his breath, too softly to be heard.

The steel of the blade gleamed bright yellow. The officer lifted it up in the narrow space between the two men then flicked it sharply across his own throat. A thick stream of steaming blood under pressure shot out in an arc that hit the bottom of the lamp for a moment, then stopped.
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Posted: Sep 1 2008, 01:43 PM
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Nice, I spotted a few grammatical errors, but they don't appear throughout so I'm sure you can pick them up just reading through it again.

Other than that stay away from italics. Bold, italics and underlining as far as they go, unless you're using them to indicate telepathy or something, just don't work that well in speech. When I read this part.

“You are a child Captain. To me that is exactly what you are.”

I don't put any stress on that word. Then I read back notice the italics and the way the character's suddenly being made to speak by them completely changes my perception of him. While you might want to indicate the way a person talks to the readers how a person talks is closely tied to their personality and the reader will have their own perception of that.

This post has been edited by Nem on Sep 1 2008, 01:45 PM
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NewClassic
Posted: Sep 1 2008, 08:27 PM
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QUOTE (Nem @ Sep 1 2008, 02:43 PM)
Nice, I spotted a few grammatical errors, but they don't appear throughout so I'm sure you can pick them up just reading through it again.

Other than that stay away from italics. Bold, italics and underlining as far as they go, unless you're using them to indicate telepathy or something, just don't work that well in speech. When I read this part.

“You are a child Captain. To me that is exactly what you are.”

I don't put any stress on that word. Then I read back notice the italics and the way the character's suddenly being made to speak by them completely changes my perception of him. While you might want to indicate the way a person talks to the readers how a person talks is closely tied to their personality and the reader will have their own perception of that.

I really wish I knew which post this post is referring to...

Also, can anyone give my snippet a once-over, I kinda have a deadline on it.
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Posted: Sep 1 2008, 08:58 PM
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QUOTE (NewClassic @ Sep 1 2008, 08:27 PM)
I really wish I knew which post this post is referring to...

Also, can anyone give my snippet a once-over, I kinda have a deadline on it.


The one right above it.

Thanks for your comments Nem. As far as this

QUOTE
I don't put any stress on that word. Then I read back notice the italics and the way the character's suddenly being made to speak by them completely changes my perception of him. While you might want to indicate the way a person talks to the readers how a person talks is closely tied to their personality and the reader will have their own perception of that.


I understand what you're saying but shouldn't I, as the writer, be the one to guide the reader's perception of the characters? Sure, they're not going to see what I see in my head as I write it, but I'd like you, the reader, to think about the characters what I want you to think. Writing is manipulation.

I know some people criticize using italics to stress words, but it's a very common practice among writers good and bad. Overuse can be a problem though. I'll take another look and see if I can do without some of them. Thanks again for your comments.


NewClassic, I read your piece. The speech seems too much like typical action movie badass dialog. Maybe you could tone it down a little. Otherwise it seems ok.

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Posted: Sep 1 2008, 10:20 PM
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QUOTE (&ru @ Sep 1 2008, 08:58 PM)
I understand what you're saying but shouldn't I, as the writer, be the one to guide the reader's perception of the characters?  Sure, they're not going to see what I see in my head as I write it, but I'd like you, the reader, to think about the characters what I want you to think.  Writing is manipulation.


My answer to your question, admitedly there are other schools of thought on this, would be, 'As little as possible.'

There are great writers that use very simple language and let people fill in the blanks and great writers that use very abstract language and do the same, describing fights and the like in an almost poetic manner, but you don't get many great writers that use lots of very exact language, apart from anything else it makes it almost impossible for them to exercise greater control when they really do need it.

I think King said the purest thing he ever wrote was,
'The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.'
Was it the most descriptive thing he wrote? Probably not. Was the man in black dressed in a cassock; a shirt and tie; a robe? Personally I imagine the man in black in a light shirt and trousers with a long coat like the one Vincent wears in the Cowboy Bebop movie. But the point is it said all it needed to say, and that's the key to good writing; knowing how little you can get away with saying and still tell the story you want to tell.

To take a somewhat extreme example: no-one outside of forensics, or perhaps wannabe forensics hobbyists, is that interested in the exact mathematical angle of a bullet shot while they're being told of a fantastic gunfight, or ten pages describing in exact detail how someone takes a dump in order to get shot by that bullet because their head happened to interact with the same space. Other than the latter being an act of incredible squick, in the reader’s head it's the character they've created around your guidelines diving to the ground doing the shooting. Their imagination does a better job of immersing them in the sights and sounds of that than all the words you or I could come up with in a week's work. Well unless you're incredibly skilled and can make precise geometry interesting within a narrative that is.

The reader buys into the contents of their own imagination by default; you on the other hand have got to work for it, doubly so if you happen to contradict their imagination.

I'm just some guy with a keyboard, some whiskey and a bit of insomnia though. Don't take me as an authority on this.
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Posted: Sep 2 2008, 06:57 AM
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QUOTE (Nem @ Sep 1 2008, 10:20 PM)

My answer to your question, admitedly there are other schools of thought on this, would be, 'As little as possible.'

There are great writers that use very simple language and let people fill in the blanks and great writers that use very abstract language and do the same, describing fights and the like in an almost poetic manner, but you don't get many great writers that use lots of very exact language, apart from anything else it makes it almost impossible for them to exercise greater control when they really do need it.

I think King said the purest thing he ever wrote was,
'The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.'
Was it the most descriptive thing he wrote? Probably not. Was the man in black dressed in a cassock; a shirt and tie; a robe? Personally I imagine the man in black in a light shirt and trousers with a long coat like the one Vincent wears in the Cowboy Bebop movie. But the point is it said all it needed to say, and that's the key to good writing; knowing how little you can get away with saying and still tell the story you want to tell.

To take a somewhat extreme example: no-one outside of forensics, or perhaps wannabe forensics hobbyists, is that interested in the exact mathematical angle of a bullet shot while they're being told of a fantastic gunfight, or ten pages describing in exact detail how someone takes a dump in order to get shot by that bullet because their head happened to interact with the same space. Other than the latter being an act of incredible squick, in the reader’s head it's the character they've created around your guidelines diving to the ground doing the shooting. Their imagination does a better job of immersing them in the sights and sounds of that than all the words you or I could come up with in a week's work. Well unless you're incredibly skilled and can make precise geometry interesting within a narrative that is.

The reader buys into the contents of their own imagination by default; you on the other hand have got to work for it, doubly so if you happen to contradict their imagination.

I'm just some guy with a keyboard, some whiskey and a bit of insomnia though. Don't take me as an authority on this.

Interesting argument, but I'm not sure if I agree with your premise that the reader's imagination is more important than the writer's . Yes, the reader's imagination is very important, but it seems to me that it's the writers job to guide that imagination. If I want to character to say something and to have the reader interpret it in a certain way and the reader interprets it some other way, then I've failed to communicate on a pretty basic level.

Of course, you can't force a reader to think what you want him or her to think, but at the very least you can make yourself clear, so that if there are any misinterpreations, they're at least the reader's choice rather than the writer's lack of clarity.

Now, if you think my italizations fail to do what I want them to do, that's criticism I appreciate. But if you're saying that I shouldn't be trying to impose my vision on the reader in the first place, then well, I still appreciate your comments, but that's not why I write. Ideally, I'd like to have complete control of your mind when you read what I write. Obviously I don't have anywhere near the skill to do that, but that's what I'm shooting for anyway.

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Posted: Sep 2 2008, 10:12 AM
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I think you've got the wrong end of the stick, or maybe I'm just not being very clear. This isn't about not making the characters you want to make, it's about only getting given so much control over the reader's imagination before the reader gets bored and leaves, and using it sparingly.

There are times to do it and times not to do it. If after every line of dialogue you state that your character hissed it or muttered it or whatever pretty soon that's going to get old. Will the reader stick around to let you keep doing that? Maybe, maybe not. Why take the risk though when you could do more with less? The dialogue itself, and to an extent the punctuation, which people read much more naturally, along with how the character's acted over the rest of the story, should have informed them of how the thing was said without the author needing to go in there and exercise that control so completely all the time. There's no point in adding more control mechanisms in if you're not using all the control you've already got.

That's why it's handy to know how little you can get away with.

It'd be interesting to know how you saw the character there really. For me it went from reading like a relatively sophisticated person who's somewhat aloof to a rather snarky teenage girl with a god complex getting the first stage of her threat display on - (someone who'd probably be a not particularly important criminal or trying to decide how to spend her dead man's ten where I grew up.) I don't know if that's what you meant it to do or not, it's definitely not a story ruiner or anything like that, but it did have me sit back for a moment and go, 'wah?'
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Posted: Sep 2 2008, 10:31 AM
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QUOTE (Nem @ Sep 2 2008, 10:12 AM)
I think you've got the wrong end of the stick, or maybe I'm just not being very clear. This isn't about not making the characters you want to make, it's about only getting given so much control over the reader's imagination before the reader gets bored and leaves, and using it sparingly.

There are times to do it and times not to do it. If after every line of dialogue you state that your character hissed it or muttered it or whatever pretty soon that's going to get old. Will the reader stick around to let you keep doing that? Maybe, maybe not. Why take the risk though when you could do more with less?

Nem, I think you're misunderstanding &ru's point. It's not about describing everything down into the itty-bitty detail until the reader wants to stab you in the eye with a fork, that's just bad writing. A good writer will know how to guide a reader to the message/impression/whatever they intended to make without making it seem like that's what you're doing, or having the reader notice and be annoyed.
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Posted: Sep 2 2008, 11:06 AM
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Well we kinda got sidetracked into a related issue I fear. My original point was if someone's reading along and then going 'eh?' because you've brushed up against what the rest of the text, or their own cultural bias, has causes them to imagine then they've noticed what you're about.

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Posted: Sep 2 2008, 01:30 PM
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QUOTE (Nem @ Sep 2 2008, 11:06 AM)
Well we kinda got sidetracked into a related issue I fear. My original point was if someone's reading along and then going 'eh?' because you've brushed up against what the rest of the text, or their own cultural bias, has causes them to imagine then they've noticed what you're about.

Maybe so. Anyway, I do appreciate your comments. When I write the story itself I'll definitely keep what you said in mind.
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Posted: Sep 8 2008, 07:57 AM
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Edit:

gah. wrong forum. my bad.

This post has been edited by OmniAngel on Sep 8 2008, 07:59 AM
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Posted: Sep 16 2008, 04:00 PM
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Beat of blood.
Note of steel.
Dance of death.

Hear the tune.
Dance the dance.
Hold yourself firm.

-----------------------

it's an inserted piece from a short story that i'm working on. i'm wondering how well it works on its own. where i'd have to tighten it up, rebalance cadence, etc. i'd like to keep the pair of short three line sections.


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Posted: Sep 16 2008, 04:38 PM
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QUOTE (steuben @ Sep 16 2008, 04:00 PM)
Beat of blood.
Note of steel.
Dance of death.

Hear the tune.
Dance the dance.
Hold yourself firm.

-----------------------

it's an inserted piece from a short story that i'm working on. i'm wondering how well it works on its own. where i'd have to tighten it up, rebalance cadence, etc. i'd like to keep the pair of short three line sections.

What is it exactly? A poem, or a ritualistic phrase or what? Give us a little context.

This post has been edited by &ru on Sep 16 2008, 04:39 PM
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