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Author Topic: My Science Fiction Short Stories  (Read 1506 times)

RyanJT

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My Science Fiction Short Stories
« on: June 05, 2010, 03:44:09 pm »

Hello World,

As few may know, I am currently a law student. But like those in my major, I have a creative side. Every since I was a child, I loved writing short stories, but when I attended high school I got distracted and that hobby of mine disappeared. Recently, I got pulled back into my hobby and realize I may be capable of fulfilling one of my goals, creating an anthology series of sci-fi short stories.

I finished my first short story and I am currently working on my second. I plan to buy a website to display these stories hopefully gaining notice. But before I make a commitment, I would like to get some constructed criticism on my stories. Be as harsh as you can, if you abhor my stories, please tell me and a motive as to why.

Anyways, I am proud to present my first story: Recursion

[EDIT]
Site: http://terrortreehouse.no-ip.org/
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 05:29:36 pm by RyanJT »
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RyanJT

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2010, 12:32:47 am »

For those who refuse to download files, I was granted space on a server and I have temporarily displayed the story as the sites index. I have received some constructive criticism and will be providing an update soon. Hopefully, I can get this story finished as I have already started on my second and third short story.

http://terrortreehouse.no-ip.org/

Feedback is welcomed!
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RyanJT

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 05:34:19 pm »

I'm some what surprised that no one is interested in my work. Though, I guess reading isn't a big thing when video games and movies can be immediately in the palm of your hands now. Trust me, I would love to have a TV/movie series, but it just won't happen now.

Anyways, I still would like to inform those who are interested, no one, that I finished the semi-rough draft of my second story.

The Four Phases That Gained Tranquility

As always, criticism is welcomed.
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Dwarf

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 05:36:02 pm »

It's some kind of syndrome of these forums that written work goes by sparsely noticed.
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RyanJT

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 09:15:45 am »

Meh, well thanks for the notice. I would have thought this community would be more interested in reading.

I guess I will join a science fiction writing forum.
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Blacken

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2010, 02:13:24 am »

It's rather difficult to provide constructive criticism on work that has clearly not been carefully edited, because it becomes hard to tell what's intentional and what's not.

I would suggest getting a very, very, very skilled friend to go over the work for stylistic issues; they'll be able to do it much better in person than I (or most other people) could do over the wire. Suffice to say that when I see an introduction like this, I stop reading immediately:

The man witnesses the bright illumination (clumsy), which would ceaselessly blind (I don't think "ceaselessly" means what you think it means) any ordinary man (you haven't established a basis to make this statement, and you're not effectively holding the reader's interest in abeyance), gradually fading away. To his knowledge, he has just withstood an inescapable fatal accident (show, don't tell). To most, he went by the name of Adam Keen, a construction worker in his mid-thirties, (unnecessary comma) with a dusty brown jumpsuit, (unhelpful phrase) who only just got promoted to freight yard manager (why is this important? I think I get at what you're trying to do, but I don't know if you do).

I tried to go beyond there, but in that first story you used at least three (I stopped counting) verb tenses and it's just not readable. I'd like to be more helpful, but in all honesty I think you need to go back to base principles and work on the mechanics of actually writing English. You don't seem to be at the point where you should be worrying about stories, but rather simple coherence.

And, by the way: the passive-aggressive behavior is not exactly a good way to get people to want to read your work and give feedback. "Oh, I guess people would be more interested in reading"? Really? Come on.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 02:19:38 am by Blacken »
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Total_Meltdown

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 02:22:59 am »

It's a little late tonight for me to get involved in reading anything, but I read the first few paragraphs, and I can offer one bit of advice:

Read It Aloud

You will be astonished how many mistakes you catch when you read your own work aloud. Things that don't make sense will jump out at you like you wouldn't believe. You talk every single day, so when you make your face emit word patterns it isn't used to, believe me, you notice.

Quote
[...] a man declared, as the blinding light subsides and he becomes visible.
Quote
He wears a well-groomed white suit with polished black shoes. But what captured Keens’ attention is a door, which is in the right corner of the room.
Quote
“Hold on, what do you mean by appointments? Where am I, who are you?” Keen said, in frenzy, as he is quickly becoming impatient.

Three tense errors in the first four lines. I would put money down that if you read it aloud, it would sound funny.

On a more technical note, adverbs make me cringe. Use stronger verbs.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 02:30:46 am by Total_Meltdown »
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G-Flex

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2010, 02:31:26 am »

Judging by the snippet Blacken posted, I want to say you're engaging in something I'd like to call "cargo cult writing". You're using a lot of stylistic and grammatical techniques you've seen before, knowing they can be effective, but regardless of why or when they are effective.

For instance, take your use of "witnesses" there. There's a bit of purple prose going on there, but the point of purple prose (at least, one of the more legitimate points) is to convey things well and concisely by not restricting yourself to the most common words that would be used in a given case. When you disregard the purpose of this, it just becomes thesaurus-speak, and muddles the meaning. For example, in this case, "witnesses" carries connotations you probably don't intend, and a less-loaded word (or at least a properly-loaded one) would probably serve just as fine.


I disagree with Blacken saying "show, don't tell" in the sense that sometimes, you want to grab the reader's attention by hinting at an event before going into the details (although withholding them for too long is frustrating for the reader as well). However, in this case, I don't think it's effective, since someone "withstanding an inescapable fatal accident" doesn't even really make since (if he "withstood" it, how was it a fatal accident?); it's not a great hook, because in an attempt to make it sound intriguing, you've inadvertently made it confusing.


So my advice (on top of what's been said already) is to keep in mind why you're using the techniques you are - consider what you're trying to accomplish first, then examine the tools available. Maybe you are and it's just not coming across well, but it's important nonetheless.
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Eagleon

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2010, 03:16:41 am »

I'll add a bit of input. I'm the first to say that everyone should write, mind you.

For a story as short as this, it's important to keep with every little detail you give the reader to avoid very sharp contrast - here, you establish Adam as a construction worker, promoted to manager. Then you have him use words like 'clemency' and 'numerous'. That's alright, if you've established him as someone that tends towards being a bit wordy and intellectual. It's also alright if you do that first, then use other traits to provide contrast - an intellectual, loving, but hard-working man would be someone I could relate to.

That wasn't really how it came across though - more that you wanted to use those words to show that you can use them, especially given surrounding subtext. It might be more interesting to give him a position that most couldn't relate well to. A lawyer, perhaps :P If you want him to be a construction worker, you have to play with reader's expectations of what a construction worker should be like. Not that construction workers are all crude and simple, but it's a common image, and common images are tools to push your characters into unusual and intriguing positions.

Good luck!
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RyanJT

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2010, 07:50:56 pm »

Blacken:
"It's rather difficult to provide constructive criticism on work that has clearly not been carefully edited"
What exactly do you mean by that? Are you trying to say that my work is stolen?

"I would suggest getting a very, very, very skilled friend to go over the work for stylistic issues"
I'm afraid this is the reason why I came here. I do not have any friends that are considered "skilled". I need criticism, and getting criticism is one of the best route to becoming better.

Thanks for highlighting the parts you have problems with. I'll go over it.

I'll ignore the comment that seems like a shot at my intelligence, perhaps it relates to the comment I made about people not reading.  ;D

"And, by the way: the passive-aggressive behavior is not exactly a good way to get people to want to read your work and give feedback. "Oh, I guess people would be more interested in reading"? Really? Come on."
I'll admit, the comment of people not wanting to read was not needed.

Total_Meltdown: Thanks for the 'strong verbs' link. I'm currently reading it.

G-Flex: I really do not read many science fiction books, so I did not copy a stylistic and/or grammar technique.  But someone else did mention the use of 'purple prose'. I had to 'Google' it though. I am afraid that I was trying to engage the reader by using bigger words that sounded great to me. When, I should have just told the story.

I also disagree with those who say "show don't tell" in certain parts of my story. If they actually read my story, they would have understood why I did such a thing.

As with the "withstanding an inescapable fatal accident" part, I agree that it does not make too much sense. Thanks for the criticism, I'll work on the story some more.

Eagleon: Yeah, someone notified me of that as well. I have an new copy in which his English is less 'intellectual'.
----------


As I said, I tried grabbing the readers attention and I thought using such words would help. But, what I should have done was just write the story with no glitter. Thanks for your honest opinions, it will help me with my future stories.
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G-Flex

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2010, 01:18:56 am »

Blacken:
"It's rather difficult to provide constructive criticism on work that has clearly not been carefully edited"
What exactly do you mean by that? Are you trying to say that my work is stolen?

Speaking as an outside observer to this exchange, I'm not sure where you get that. He was stating that your work hasn't been edited carefully, not that it was plagiarized.

Quote
G-Flex: I really do not read many science fiction books, so I did not copy a stylistic and/or grammar technique.  But someone else did mention the use of 'purple prose'. I had to 'Google' it though. I am afraid that I was trying to engage the reader by using bigger words that sounded great to me. When, I should have just told the story.

To be fair, most of those techniques are in no way exclusive to science fiction. Also, even if you don't read many science fiction books, it would be hard to live and grow up in modern society without at least gaining a general sense of what the genre is like, if only through cultural osmosis.



As far as "no glitter" goes, sometimes glitter is good, but you have to make sure that it's effective for the goals you're trying to use it to achieve, and doesn't muddle anything else.
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RyanJT

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Re: My Science Fiction Short Stories
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2010, 08:58:04 am »

G-Flex:
"Speaking as an outside observer to this exchange, I'm not sure where you get that. He was stating that your work hasn't been edited carefully, not that it was plagiarized."
Ah, thank you for clearing it up.

"To be fair, most of those techniques are in no way exclusive to science fiction. Also, even if you don't read many science fiction books, it would be hard to live and grow up in modern society without at least gaining a general sense of what the genre is like, if only through cultural osmosis."
Though in my opinion, I do have a grasp of what the genre is like. I have studied the genre for many years through other forms of media. The way I displayed my work probably says other-wise. As you said, some glitter is good, but I basically sprinkled it onto every sentence. Total_Meltdown gave me a link about stronger verbs and it actually was very helpful. I had an excess of 'ly' ending adverbs but I did not believe it was wrong. After reading the article provided, I am embarrassed that I even released my unfinished work. I am currently fixing the stories I have provided.

Once again, thanks for the criticism.
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