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Author Topic: Writing Stories  (Read 4406 times)

Gigalith

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2008, 04:46:48 pm »

EDIT: All right, I'm on page seven now. So I'm getting the impression that the gods/goddesses of the world will take petty revenge. If this is something unique to this world, you may want to step it up/mention it somehow far earlier. That will help separate your book from Tolkien High Fantasy Clone #37. In this day and age, you can assume that fantasy novels are generic cliches unless proven otherwise. I'm not saying your novel is, but you want to make sure that your unique elements shine as soon as possible to pull the reader in.
Okay... when have you read a fantasy book that laid out all of the cards on the table in the first few pages? The gods and goddesses have enough backstory to write a prologue about their ascendency and in the current book I would much rather slowly reveal the truth behind them and their pettiness (along with other things that will come up, I could spoil things in this thread but am not sure I want to...)
About all I can do as a comprimise is to insert a little bit more information about them in one of the chapter quotes. However, I am certain there is a line about them ascending, something that gives a hint to their pettiness - their original mortality.
It's fine that you want to keep a mystery around your story. You should. What's I'm saying is that unique things like this are selling points in your story, and should be highlighted. And you are already doing that, so I guess I'm trying to say "This is good. Keep doing this."

I have more to say, but I don't have the time right now.

Little: Go ahead. Even if I don't read it, I think someone else probably will.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing a Story
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2008, 05:30:56 pm »

I have no objection to anyone else posting a story up here. The thread title should probably changed to 'Writing Stories' or something...

Sorry about my almost rant there, I thought I was being encouraged to throw everything I had into the beginning of the story. There are two main worries I have with it (aside from the obvious not finishing): The first worry is that the book will look derivative, I hope that almost nothing within the book is taken from anywhere else. The second worry is that the book would burn out in the first fifty or so pages. So me being forced to spill all my secrets at the start feels a little like having to choose between my two biggest worries.
There is rather a lot of information that I could give that would hopefully take away the feeling that it is a little clichéd, information that might be placed on a back cover or sleeve thing. The magic system that Quina begins to learn is a lie. The world is being subjected to a force that changes the natural magic into something terribly arbitrary - time consuming and expensive to use. It is this that makes the gods, who are immune to this force for reasons I shall not reveal, so dangerous. So (for anyone who got far enough to notice this) if the book feels a little stereotypical in that someone gets picked to learn magic blah blah blah... I promise there is a lot more to it than that, there are some dark undertones to the world.
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2008, 11:26:00 pm »

I winced as I heard the crowd scream. My eyes saw that the signs were in the air, handles slick with blood and pus from the welts and blisters on my fellow student’s hands. There were a steady thousand of us, and about a hundred or so of them. Of course, those bastards were heavily armed and not half-dead from the fucking plague like we were….

___

It had all started around two and a half weeks ago, according to the Port Pale news. Some stupid asshole of a country (I’m pretty sure it was Russia, but my memory hasn’t been that great recently, and who the fuck can blame me?) bombed Los Angles with some kind of germ and nerve gas. The thing that fucked you over was that symptoms didn’t show up for a week, and it took another three weeks to die. By then, you’d infected everyone else you’d come into contact with by even goddamn BREATHING on them. World’s a screwed up place when being breathed on is a death sentence, right?

It had hit the collage about two weeks after the bombing, with the first reports of people becoming seriously ill, and the oh-shit factor of everyone realizing that this wasn’t another cold. Another two days after that, and the reports of people dropping dead in the streets of big cities (with footage at eleven!)began to be reported, and that scared the shit out of everyone, because we all were having some odd fucking cold. The first casualty was Julia West. She just dropped dead in Physics, blood gushing out of her nose, mouth, ears, and a few other places blood shouldn’t come gushing out of. I liked Julia, I had known her quite well (went out with her in Grade 7), and to have her drop dead was a bitch of a shock.

The day after was the day I found my first blister, in my goddamn armpit. It scared the shit out of me, so I asked around. Turned out, everyone else had them (Tom had his in a place blister’s should never be), too. The next day, I found six more blisters, and woke up to cries of dismay and rage from Bryan and Patrick. I got up, my first blister bleeding and hurting like a bitch, and looked out the window.

The main entrance to the campus was blocked off by two large green tanks, with soldiers with what looked like gas masks and flamethrowers on sealing the place off with trucks and Jeeps. As it turned out, we weren’t allowed to leave and as Josh found out, trying to leave got you lit on fire and killed from a distance of twenty feet. That was the day we started making signs and scrounging for weapons….

___

We managed to get outside safely, thank God. We started charging, and I guess Santy and a few of his dealer buddies had guns or something, because I heard the bang! of gunfire coming from our crowd. I couldn’t see that well, but I think a few soldiers went down before an Uzi from our side cranked in. The last thing you could hear for the next several minutes was the roar of massive mounted machineguns as the Army began to fire back. I managed to curl up into a ball beneath the stampede of screaming students. About three minutes later, the machine guns stopped. The silence had seemed ominous. A loudspeaker droned out in a heavily filtered voice: “RETURN TO YOUR CAMPUS! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LEAVE! RETURN TO YOUR CAMPUS! STAND WITH YOUR HANDS UP!”



I stood up, hands on my head, shifting because I found I was uncomfortable. I was dismayed to find out I had wet myself. I heard the moaning of the wounded, and looked around. There were bodies littering the lawn, blood smeared on the ground. I recognized a few of the dead. My eyes started to blur with tears, which obscured exactly what happened next. All I managed to see was a huge flash of flame, and I fell to the ground, swearing because the flash hurt my eyes and blinded me. I heard someone scream, in a high pitched, cracking voice: “Holy shit, Santy, what did you eat?”

I began to laugh, tears streaming down my face.
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Gigalith

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2008, 09:31:20 am »

All right, I finished your sample. Here's the end of my critisism:

Four(I think): I strongly recommend you use some other term than 'spell components' to describe the physical stuff you use up. It's the exact same term that D&D uses, which makes it seem cliche. I would suggest the word 'reagent', because it means pretty much the same thing and actually sounds a bit cool.

Five: Most people need more description. Ghiram is not described except for his clothes. Quina is never described at all, which is something major for a main character. This goes for just about every other character too.

And now, a sub-section: Publishing Format Recommendations! Ignore this if you don't plan on publishing your book, but I suspect you do. It may be helpful anyway.

The blue text: No publisher is going to spend 2-3 times more money on the book just for a few blue lines. They wouldn't do it if the whole book was blue. You would be better off dropping it now, and just describing the blueness.

Page size: I'm not sure what size and font you are using, aside from that the 'e's are unreadable, but it's nowhere close to how much room you will have in a paperback novel (Being a first-time novelist, paperback is the best you can hope for in a first printing). You'll get about four regular size paragraphs to a page, and you have way more than that. Be aware of this, it means that your novel is a lot larger than you think. I'm guessing this is more like a 30-50 page sample.

Paragraphs: It's much more professional looking (and sadly, this is often a big point in how good the reader thinks your book is) if you tab the start of every paragraph and put no lines in between. It's easier on the eyes too.

Back to regular criticism:

I've finished talking about the book in particular, now I'm going to talk more about writing in general.

The thing that strikes me is that you are very vivid. I could easily imagine seeing some of your descriptive lines appearing in a published fantasy novel and not being able to tell the difference. However, you don't set the mood, which you need to do to make the reader feel like she's actually there.

You put a lot of information in your book, and this clogs the flow. Again, I've heard that you are trying to make it sound rambling, but honestly, it feels more like you want to put out all this information yourself. There are two things you can do to help this:

A: See if you can make a sentence do double or even triple duty. I can't think of an example off hand, but open any book by a famous author and you will probably find a large number of their lines having multiple meanings.

B: Prioritize. You will not be able to show every single detail of every single thing, and this is a sad fact of writing stories. Pick the details that the reader should know first, then things that show parts of the scene, and then other odd details.

That's the end of the general critisim, and now for yet another suggestion, which would affect the structure of your novel. Hear it out though:

I'd advise you cut Chapter 1 and distribute the important details to other chapters. Why?

Nothing happens. Quina doesn't actually do anything that appears to be outside of the ordinary, so why describe it? If you started reading right from Chapter Two, you wouldn't miss any action at all, in fact, you jump right into it.

Now, you may object that you want to start the book on the last normal day of Quina's life. This is fine, and many books start on day '1' of the adventure. However, this is more like day 0. Even Tolkien, whose writing can occasionally keep up with a glacier on a cold day, had the Lord of the Rings start with action, such as it was.

And that's it. That's all I have to say. Keep on writing, many of these things you can take care of in revision.

Little: The excessive profanity does nothing for your story. Tone it down some and look for a magazine that accepts short short fiction, such as Aoife's Kiss. Submit it. I'd say you have a pretty good chance with your quality of writing.

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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2008, 10:48:54 am »

Gee, right. There will be a mahoosive wall of text if I quote what you wrote, so I shall avoid doing so.

Ignore all the current formatting. It is currently in the shape it is in now so that if I print it off it is very easy to both read and put notes around the text. When I finish and polish it (if it is going to publishers) I would put it in a more conventional font/format once I get to that stage.
The blue text is... a format I am using in the same vein as bibles in which Jesus' words are written in red text. It's mainly because I want to avoid writing in block capitals. I suppose, with my description of how he talks the formatting isn't hugely necessary...
The font itself looks perfect on my moniter but I suppose I shall change it for my next update.
I am well aware of the size of the page and everything. In the current formatting I think I am aiming for 200-250 pages.

Onto the less format orientated stuff:
I might change the word component, reagent feels just as cliched to me though. I reckon I will get hold of a thesaurus and have a look through.
Ghiram doesn't have a great description at the moment, I will agree. However, a fair amount of information about Quina is found in the first few pages. I didn't want to stick a whole paragraph that was just describing her and so spread it out a bit. I'll pad out the descriptions of people a bit more.
As far as concising down the information, it's going to be one of the priorities of editing. I would much rather have it all out there to begin with and then I can pick and choose what I want. It's better than the alternative of forgetting something important.

Hmm, on to the comment about the first chapter. I don't think it would be such a problem if I went over the whole chapter and put a greater sense of tranquility and rural life. It's important to have plenty of it because later on Quina will be referencing it as her homesickness increases.

Thanks a lot for your feedback, I will definitly put this information to good use!
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2008, 01:37:53 pm »

Little: The excessive profanity does nothing for your story. Tone it down some and look for a magazine that accepts short short fiction, such as Aoife's Kiss. Submit it. I'd say you have a pretty good chance with your quality of writing.

Your kidding about the magizine, right?
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Asheron

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2008, 01:52:34 pm »

I actually disagree about the tone-the-profanity-part-down part. It adds a little bit of grit, which the story really needs ( more of ).
I like it, but I sighed when I read this...

Some stupid asshole of a country (I’m pretty sure it was Russia...

It seems a little bit stereotype, and very unlikely. Why the hell would any country bomb just one city with nerve gas and risk open war?

I know this is sort of nitpicking, but I couldn't resist mentioning this. It's still really good though. I like your style.
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2008, 01:56:48 pm »

I dunno why I said Russia. I'm a cold-war buff, so maybe that leaked in. After I wrote it, I did consider changing it, but decided not to.

I was thinking an anonymous Middle Eastern country, maybe Iran, maybe North Korea, but then decided Russia.

Anyone mind if I post another, completely diffrent one? It was one of the first things I ever wrote, and I went over it last month editing it.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2008, 02:00:24 pm »

If you were to upload your stories (possibly onto something like deviant art) I could link to them in the OP. Then we can sort of have a compendium of stories.

What do you think?
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2008, 02:04:43 pm »

But uploading them encourages dirty, rotten thieves.

Oh, yeah, please don't steal my work. It's not that good, but it's mine just the same. Besides, I do regular Google checks.
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Theoclymenus

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2008, 02:14:52 pm »

That's a bit backwards really. By uploading a file to deviant art you have undisputable proof that you wrote it. If anyone were to copy it their copy would have a later date attached to it which would allow you to win in a dispute.
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2008, 02:20:40 pm »

I've already posted it in another place, and this place, so I guess that's proof. But I'll host it anyway.

Edit: How the hell do you host it on Devianart?

Edit2: Nevermind.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2008, 02:41:20 pm by Little »
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Little

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2008, 02:57:48 pm »

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Lord Dullard

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2008, 03:46:03 pm »

Theo: I like it so far. I think Giga makes a lot of good points. Taking constructive criticism at face value can be exceedingly hard to do, and I salute you for doing so.

As long as we're sharing writing, here's the beginning of a story I've been working on. I've never really tried writing anything more extensive than a short story/poem before, so I'm iffy about sharing, but I suppose the worst I can do is embarrass myself.

http://www.mediafire.com/?xyjvs22rr3c (Chapter 1)
http://www.mediafire.com/?mmxutfxgidw (Chapter 2) - just the start of this one.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2008, 03:54:07 pm by Lord Dullard »
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Gigalith

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Re: Writing Stories
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2008, 05:31:26 pm »

Little: The excessive profanity does nothing for your story. Tone it down some and look for a magazine that accepts short short fiction, such as Aoife's Kiss. Submit it. I'd say you have a pretty good chance with your quality of writing.

Your kidding about the magizine, right?
No. Think of it this way: If you submit, there are two possibilities:

A: You get rejected. It happens. It's happened to me. It's happened to my mom. It's happened to my grandma. Name any famous author, they've been rejected several times. If you choose not to take it as a personal rejection and keep on writing, the absolute worst case scenario is that you're out a few minutes to put together a letter and maybe a quarter for postage. You still have the story, and you can try again with another publisher if you want.

B: You get accepted. 'Nuff said.

I personally think that you have a decent chance, and again, you have nothing to lose by trying. So really, try.

Re: Profanity. The reason I bring it up is that some magazines don't like to see excessive amounts. But whatever. It's a personal preference.
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