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  1. #11
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
    And I know you're completely right on the need for more setting/descriptive stuff, though. There's basically none. I'm just not sure how to do it well, so I tend to avoid it, and that is the opposite of what I should be doing. It's also a little less fun for me, but that's not an excuse. The second chapter is gonna start off with some more heavy descriptiony stuff, so maybe I can roll with it more there in general
    What I've found works is not to necessarily describe the things, but the things about them. Don't say that the parking lot was dark--say it was littered with shadows and dead light. Describe in the Third Person what the character is seeing. So--how would they describe it? Probably with certain types of words and pace. A bitter character is going to use hard and depressing descriptions, while someone who might be off-the-rails a bit might describe something with a certain beauty that we can't understand. This also goes far to set the tone of writing.

    Also keep in mind that it is something better and (to an extent, easier) to just describe enough to get the reader to start thinking. Our own imaginations are infinitely more powerful in terms of imagery, so it's better to play on that rather than describing the house brick by brick.
    Last edited by RedSavage; 01-16-2014 at 05:18 PM.

  2.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #12
    Sophomore Matt's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoyoteCaliente View Post
    What I've found works is not to necessarily describe the things, but the things about them. Don't say that the parking lot was dark--say it was littered with shadows and dead light. Describe in the Third Person what the character is seeing. So--how would they describe it? Probably with certain types of words and pace. A bitter character is going to use hard and depressing descriptions, while someone who might be off-the-rails a bit might describe something with a certain beauty that we can understand. This also goes far to set the tone of writing.

    Also keep in mind that it is something better and (to an extent, easier) to just describe enough to get the reader to start thinking. Our own imaginations are infinitely more powerful in terms of imagery, so it's better to play on that rather than describing the house brick by brick.
    Awesome advice. I'll take that to heart. Thanks again, man.
    Look at all the fun we're having.

  3. #13
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rory View Post
    The Wingless
    World building. I'd be a liar and half if I didn't say I'm all over that as a big fan. It's a challenge in that most alternate worlds, if nothing else, need to be feasible to read well. But on the same note, it has to be different enough that one doesn't merely accept it as a painted over version of our reality. The way people interact and go about themselves through dialogue and action reveal this to us as we go.

    That said, The Wingless has both strengths and weaknesses in this area. One one hand, the world is fascinating. Air ships have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and the notion of an alternate Earth that has fallen apart slightly, to the point of having significant floating land masses--that's a damn good premise. Some of the sociopolitical kismet that comes along with such a premise is exciting as well, harkening back to history lessons of the US, French, and other significant revolutions.

    However, it's all given away in far too large chunks. The prologue was a long explanatory bit, and it would be far more interesting to see ALL of that dropped piece by piece as it becomes relevant. In fact you don't need that prologue. It's mentioned that the attitude of the sky dwelling individuals that they should be independent because they built their society without the assistance of the beings on the ground--awesome. That's good detail. But, I'd like to hear that from the source. I'd like to hear it as explained by the story, rather than the narrator. It's the old adage of "Show don't tell", but I won't hark on that because it's a basic rule all writers struggle with. Tell it through the looking glass.

    What I can outright say this story needs is a sense of cohesiveness between the chapters. You seem fond of opening a chapter with a bit of an introductory bit--a recap or an explanation of what happened 'last episode'. Don't fall to this. We don't recap the last sentence before the next one, nor do we recap our paragraphs. So--chapters should be no different. It's just a shift in the story direction, which hasn't quite happened yet. The story is only starting.

    That said, take your time with some of these scenes. The opening air ship altercation was incredible, and I was getting into it deeper than a cave diver. But then it ended abruptly and FAR too soon. I wanted to SEE and HEAR the fiery, crashing hulk of a torn and splintered air ship tumbling down through the heavens with a screaming crew still on board. So slow things down. Build tension and THEN unleash the action. For instance, the captain of the Deception might instead be more suspicious of the ship. Thrown off by the fact that it's a civilian ship, yes, but still determined. Approach with caution. Send out the hailing flags. Pulls up broadside. Describe the exterior of the ship. The jutting canons. The people on the deck, slightly confused, nervous at being hailed with guns drawn.

    And once you can nail that aspect, balancing the world building and the immediate action, it'll all work out. Avoid long explanatory paragraphs or even dialogues that come off as plot serving (Salem's log entry, for instance. He's saying lots of things to the log entry that most anyone wouldn't bother explaining. Log entries, as they are, usually capture what is foremost on an individual's mind. The present. Not backstory). And give us some hard, explosive descriptions to match the tale. You've got an interesting ensemble cast of characters. Be careful not to make them archetypes of their characters, give them meaning outside how they come off as. Salem can either be the most interesting side character in your story--or the most aggravating to read, depending on how you portray him from here on out. Remember, he still is technically soldier, so don't let his erratic behavior get too whimsical or distracting. He's there for the job.

    Outside of that, and despite the fact that I went on for a bit, I truly do love it so far. You have such a solid foundation for a story, interesting characters, and an intriguing twist that clearly sets the course of the story--and all in the first chapter of reading. You really can't really ask for too much outside of that, except the story and stylistic specifics of it all. And it seems like that's all you need a bit of at this point.

    So props. I want to see more. Also upload this to Weasyl, ya schmuck. I want to follow it on here if you don't mind.

  4. #14
    From my message back, just so others can see:

    I laughed so hard at your last little bit there, thanks for that. So rarely do I hear that word outside family and the northeast. Before I upload The Wingless to Weasyl, I will go through with some of your recommendations and apply what I've learned over the past 2+ years (this was written before I was even a junior in college). You're dead right on everything you say, I have no arguments and I think your recommendations will really help me out. In fact, I was thinking about retooling a few of the concepts (a few characters and such, nothing major) to match more of my current interests and motivations, which I think would actually strengthen the story as well. I definitely fell into the trap of trying to recap and explaining things outright too much, I'm glad you pointed those out. I suppose if anything, that shows my amateur level of storybuilding, but we all start somewhere right?

    I'd easily have written far more for this story had I not stupidly signed up for two concurrent Classics courses that first junior semester, but the professor was well worth it and tore apart my writing at every chance to make me better. Ah well, maybe it's time to give it new life and just treat it as good practice for future endeavors. Please, absolutely go ahead and post this up in your thread. I'm really glad people are responding to your call. Now, if I could just get the musicians of the site to do the same...

  5. #15
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fay V View Post
    I'd like to see more writing support on the forum so I'll bite.

    https://www.weasyl.com/submission/244338/memory
    https://www.weasyl.com/submission/230292/unnamed-story

    both are extremely short one offs to get my into the practice of writing again.

    Feel free to critique publically
    As these are just exercise, this will be less critique and more light commentary of the things I liked and didn't. So less about story in particular and more about the form. (Also, might see what you can do about fixing up the formatting. )

    First a bit on Memory.

    The first thing I notice is how easy I jump into the writing and start reading. You have an audible voice, so to speak, that's readable and easy to follow. Some people get too caught up in trying to force the style of writing.

    That said, the second thing I do notice is a few -ing and other half-way verbs or helper verbs. Instead of "I'm not complaining, of course, it was a simple job--", I might think to use "I don't complain, of course, it's a simple job--" Just this little shuffling of the verbs and tense creates a more active reading sentence. And that's what you want to look for. Active sentences. Bad: He was running. Good: He ran. They say the same thing, imply that it happened in the past, and look! You saved a word. That's always good.

    That said the premise and execution of the story is interesting! I'm left wondering and that's a good thing. Is the man literally going back? Or is he, in some way, remembering his past as being told through someone he remembered? Or is he just a whimsical fellow?

    More so, what was the moment? I thought it might be the simple interaction between the narrator and the man. It's a nice moment and interaction. I could see that as being one interpretation. So, since it's obvious you know how to leave some things ambiguous, we can do away with blanket setups like "...had to be the funniest, most creative man I had ever met and it all started with taking his order." I don't think I need to point this out too much. Only set something up like this if it's to be effective in a specific way. Not to merely set up the scene and this goes for a lot of things. (I won't say all--because writing is never absolute.)

    Your dialogue is also pretty good, but it could do with a few more social cues to follow us along. If you're goin' minimalist, al-la Hills Like White Elephants style, then just one or two would do. Something to lead and make us think a bit. Even if it's as simple as "he sighed" or "I blinked." Just make them relevant.

    Now, as for [Untitled].

    I'll be honest, I was moved in a big, but quiet way. A somber moment. No, we don't think of these things. No, we don't think of our life in terms of the after--as in looking back on an old football game, wondering what you could have done to get that state championship touchdown. That kind of feeling--but for the entirety of a whole life.

    Think of that weight. That's what your getting at in this little bit. The weight of wondering how or even if it was supposed to measure up in the end. The only person, in the end, that you can let down is yourself. You really bring it into words.

    So my idea would be to maybe expand this. What are the things she remembers? Obviously you can't go into a life long narrative, but I can think that maybe there were certain pivotal points that could be brought up. Let's hear about these forgotten dreams. Let's see the forgotten friends, even. Let's see the wreckage of the burned bridges.

    And that's my two cents worth. Great stuff, plenty of room for expansion. And I wonder... maybe the two stories could be connected in some abstract way... This literally has nothing to do with anything I picked up on in your writings, but a passing idea I figured wouldn't hurt to pass on in the spirit of exercise.

    Okay. Uh. NEXT.

  6.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #16
    Didn't try, Succeeded Fay V's Avatar



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    Thanks, the commentary is actually really helpful and I intend to go back and play with them a bit more, particularly the memory one.

    The idea that started it was basically "How would a time traveler deal with grief?" considering they could actually go back and see the most important moments again. To let the cat out of the bag, my intention was that he's going back in time to the moment right before he would meet his wife for the first time. Anything in particular you could think of to help bring this across without making it too obvious?

  7. #17
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fay V View Post
    Thanks, the commentary is actually really helpful and I intend to go back and play with them a bit more, particularly the memory one.

    The idea that started it was basically "How would a time traveler deal with grief?" considering they could actually go back and see the most important moments again. To let the cat out of the bag, my intention was that he's going back in time to the moment right before he would meet his wife for the first time. Anything in particular you could think of to help bring this across without making it too obvious?
    Aha! I knew the sudden arrival of the fellow at the bottom meant something. I couldn't place it in any apparent meaning at the time, though. I think that had something to do with the sudden departure of the old man, just barely over lapping with the arrival of his younger self. And with that context in mine, well, the mentions of a ceremony make a bit more sense too.

    That said, I'm not sure of anything too specific to make this more clear. Perhaps make their time overlap just a bit more. Or add in a funny detail that jutts out... like maybe that the old fellow holds the door open a bit too long, as if expecting someone to walk around the corner. Or something in that light. Just... inconsistent.

    You can go about it one of two ways. You can slide this moment (or moments) in near the middle or beginning. Or you can save it for the end and give the reader a wrenching whoa moment when all these pieces fall in. Suddenly, the 'ceremony' makes sense. And now the old man isn't speaking nonsense about physics anymore. Here's his younger self walking in with the books. You have a decent setup for the latter, I think. Just again, more expansion in certain areas to carry it forward and spread out all these little clues.

    The best kind of twist is like a puzzle that only forms a picture when the last piece is dropped in. Or something to that effect.

  8. #18
    Regular TheLexicon's Avatar
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    Do you still do this? Because I have a crappy short story that I'd like some feedback on.

  9. #19
    Rattlesnake Flavored RedSavage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLexicon View Post
    Do you still do this? Because I have a crappy short story that I'd like some feedback on.
    Eeeeyup.

    Also, Zeitzbach, I've read your bit and am pulling together a response. Been busy with work, but it's being done. :B

  10. #20
    Senior Zeitzbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoyoteCaliente View Post
    Eeeeyup.

    Also, Zeitzbach, I've read your bit and am pulling together a response. Been busy with work, but it's being done. :B
    Ish kay, take your time.

    I'm having fun reading some of the works here just to get some ideas and to make it easier to understand everything you reviewed.

    So many of those "I did see it coming but it still gave me an oomph" here like in "Memory". You can kind of predict it the moment they mention their names but you still get the feel at the end. You can kind of guess what happen afterward there.

    But then it makes me smile when I start thinking

    "Imagine if there's another line with Kate saying "So, Chris Von Karma, what would you like for today?"

    "Wait, that's not Christopher? Aw dammit"

    Reading a lot really is required if you want to troll the readers.

 

 

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