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Author Topic: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___  (Read 198233 times)

Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1800 on: May 09, 2018, 05:00:54 am »

The Knight in the Corridor: Some great descriptive writing and atmosphere, but I can’t help but feel it’s another story that suffers from plunging in too quickly. There’s a lot of plot and worldbuilding information woven into the action, and I had difficulty reading it a first time. This is key. If we want our stories to be appreciated by publishers, editors, agents etc. then they have to be enjoyed on a first pass. They won’t get a second read-through.
   - For example, I’d think about getting rid of the part about the rat creatures; they don’t really have a purpose aside miscellaneous setting detail, and instead swap in something that illuminates Jia a bit more. As it stands, there are a lot of hurdles to leap in the midst of the action!

Werewolf: That’s awesome, Dwarfy! This piece reads a lot smoother than the last. It has some nice vivid action, and the story was clear to me on a first pass. The only thing I would point out is a dodgy metaphor: stones falling in a waterfall? Surely they would be drowned out by the sound of falling water? Waterfalls are LOUD. I’m also not sure grinding stones and water can be likened to the chuckle of a werewolf. It just didn’t work for me.
   - Overall a vivid, clearly-written piece with strong characters. Doesn’t suffer from information clogging up the story, which seems very common in previous examples.
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1801 on: May 09, 2018, 08:03:36 am »

The metaphor thing - it's Harvey's metaphor. It's gonna be bad.
Thanks for the critique!
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1802 on: May 09, 2018, 08:07:35 am »

The Knight in the Corridor

I agree with Dwarfy; it is done well technically. The mentions and hints of Jia’s true nature are good and they do not seem out of place when reading. Unfortunately, I did not keep in mind that the guard called her Dr. Briggs, so the revelation of identity theft was lost on me. It would make sense if the guard called her Dr. Briggs after checking the scheduling, as he sounds rude despite her clearance level, and it is ensures the name is remembered. It is reasonable that Jia is talking herself into triggering the knight, and it doubles as her warming up her vocal cords, so that left no outstanding questions.

“Harvey and the Werewolf Hunter”

This is certainly an improvement. It is written firmly in Harvey’s thinking, clear, and the style is unmistakable. I find it excellent, and it drew me in. I like Harvey’s overconfidence and attempts at poetry that last right up until the blade. It is great that Harvey eating a farmer is casually mentioned, like he was just eating a sandwich. It smoothly introduces the werewolf element and it illustrates that Harvey is wholly comfortable doing it.

For both these I agree with Levity’s post entirely, who conveniently points out what I was not going to cover.
I read these stories in a more functional, small-scale Does this work? Do the cogs turn? as opposed to Levity’s effective, large-scale Should this work? Does it tell the time? At least, that is the reasoning I have as to why our criticisms rarely overlap, especially this time as I had decided what I would say before Levity posted.

(“clearly-written” should not have a hyphen, but it is not conspicuous or detrimental beyond me falling gaspingly on a fainting couch and sobbing profusely)


Yes, well, I knew it was a piece of crap anyway. I just posted it because it only seemed fair.

Now, Mr. Aylokat, why don’t we see some writing from you?

It was incomplete and condensed, not bad. The direct telling of how characters are meant to be perceived, I thought later, perhaps was to save time or space to get out a draft version, something I am quite familiar with. I had no problem with the premise of the story or the characters. Like you said, and I agree, you have the technical skill.

I suggest, for an easier time of character writing, and thereby moving the narrative, placing and following a personality that you like and understand to the point where you do not need to consider what the character would, you just know. Start simple, a major trait or two, then later build on the details. That way it is also easier for the reader to understand.

It should please your sense of fairness if I would also post something from around January (because I do not have any complete thing more recent). Within a day I should be finished making it readable. You are not going to be disappointed by it plunging in too quickly, oh ho hoh no, not at all.
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GiglameshDespair

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1803 on: May 09, 2018, 09:07:37 am »

Enjoyed your one a lot, Gig. Only two nitpicks.


Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Though I also have to wonder why they killed the first expedition if the aim was to find new masters. Maybe the wielding of weapons near them, or something? Dunno.
In your quote she says she's been found out sooner than she'd like. :P

Jia knows from the beginning she's been found out: she's headed to the corridor before they can come and arrest her. It's why she has to resist the urge to look behind her at the airlock and she wasn't scheduled.

The first expedition was butchered because the knight also works by proximity ("To go thirty centimetres further would be to die.") and they tried walking past it. Jia wasn't killed because she spoke in Ruz - so the ship recognised her as a replacement. That's the idea she mentions she has but isn't certain about. The suggestion with the throat scars is she got throat surgery to be able to speak it.

Cheers for the feedback!

The Knight in the Corridor: Some great descriptive writing and atmosphere, but I can’t help but feel it’s another story that suffers from plunging in too quickly. There’s a lot of plot and worldbuilding information woven into the action, and I had difficulty reading it a first time. This is key. If we want our stories to be appreciated by publishers, editors, agents etc. then they have to be enjoyed on a first pass. They won’t get a second read-through.
   - For example, I’d think about getting rid of the part about the rat creatures; they don’t really have a purpose aside miscellaneous setting detail, and instead swap in something that illuminates Jia a bit more. As it stands, there are a lot of hurdles to leap in the midst of the action!

You may well be right about the rats. I'd wanted to establish the bio-tech nature of the ship's inhabitants, but I can see how something else about Jia would better serve.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1804 on: May 09, 2018, 10:07:09 am »

Quote
“clearly-written” should not have a hyphen, but it is not conspicuous or detrimental beyond me falling gaspingly on a fainting couch and sobbing profusely...
Yep! You’re right. I do need to rein in my hyphens; a lot of them are unnecessary.

Quote
At least, that is the reasoning I have as to why our criticisms rarely overlap...
We certainly have different focuses to our critiques! I look at the story as a whole. Minor points of punctuation, unless they completely warp the meaning of sentences (as in Dwarfy’s last piece) I ignore. They aren’t so much in my interest, but I do recognise that those small things go a long way in conveying a text to the reader.

I apologise for the bad tone of my messages yesterday. Wasn’t in the greatest mind-set and posting an old work I’m not particularly happy with didn’t help. I will be better in the future.

Thanks for all the submissions and critiques, everyone! The embers of the thread are aglow!
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 10:10:11 am by Levity »
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1805 on: May 10, 2018, 07:59:24 am »

I do insist that A Pint of Drakesblood is not bad. After fixing up my own piece it is abundantly clear to me that it was development that lacked. It is a frame—literary concept art—a guide. Condemning it as the author for being a frame is like a foreman looking at a concrete foundation and saying that it is not a good house on the grounds that it lets the draft in.

Perspective, both from the characters and the reader, is key. Consider this: What do the characters see and how do they react, what does the reader see and what might he think. What does that scene do in effect.

As I relearned when adjusting this writing, you should not bother rewriting. Instead write it again. It is faster, less tedious—goodness, is it less tedious!—and allows you to reconsider the phrasing to flow better or be differently weighted.


Here is my work. It got quite exciting to finish it in time for my self-appointed deadline as there was a lot more that needed fixing than I had thought.

Spoiler: Assessment (click to show/hide)
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Levity

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1806 on: May 11, 2018, 03:49:54 am »

Well that was interesting! It was pretty funny when Brutal Stallone punched the cock flying, but other than that, I don’t find comic violence all that amusing in my stories. Dwarf Fortress combat reports are one thing, a proper narrative is another. It was a great introduction though! I would be interested to read more about this unlikely duo.

I have next to no experience with writing, or reading, comedy; but I will still give my perspective on the narrative. Some of the purely unrealistic elements of the story sat oddly with me: the crowd’s total relish of graphic gore and violence; the army of gun-toting gangsters; the lack of any law or order; the strangely loyal animals. The story had so many unrealistic elements that it barred me from fully enjoying the piece (I think it’s far too violent, anyway. I would much prefer a stronger focus on the two unlikely characters and their relationship. This is a story, after all, not a DOOM game.)

However, if you had setup a premise prior to all this, such as: Mr. Miller and Kelly live in a strange, post-singularity world, where everyone is constantly high on hallucinatory drugs and crime is rampant and technology can fulfill any strange or sordid dream; then I would be on board. As it is, this seemed more akin to a videogame cutscene than a piece of literature. Which is a shame, as Mr. Miller is quite an interesting character concept.

The piece was solidly written with a consistent style, though I found its descriptions wooden in places. There are too many short sentences. The description sometimes sounds like a robot. Character action becomes stilted. It reads like a screenplay. (see what I’m doing?) I would recommend increasing the variety of your sentence structures outside of dialogue. It was pretty choppy in places, and it dulls the action on the page. The dialogue on the other hand, was fab! I did see two technical mistakes as I was reading.

Nice submission! Thanks, Aylo.
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1807 on: May 11, 2018, 07:58:37 am »

However, if you had setup a premise prior to all this, such as: Mr. Miller and Kelly live in a strange, post-singularity world, where everyone is constantly high on hallucinatory drugs and crime is rampant and technology can fulfill any strange or sordid dream; then I would be on board.

This is almost entirely what I imagined when I was looking over Assessment. Your post reminds that I had written the first few paragraphs as setup for the birthday suit joke, and when I continued I rationalized retroactively the story to be set in my science fiction setting, a hedonistic society where corporations effectively are large feudal states and the government literally has the military efficacy of strongly worded letters. Then I thought Mr. Miller did not fit, changed settings, and forgot I had done that at all, even when I looked at it in the meantime.

But in this modern setting I still had the powerful crime networks and the easy access to drugs, but dropped the debauchery from the world at large. It is certainly is strange, yes. You are absolutely right that I should have set up the premise. I had been too focused on setting up the events and neglected the context they were in.

The wafer that Kelly took was supposed to be partially responsible for her paranoia and why she half-suspected shadowy figures to creep up on her. I paused on that when fixing up Assessment, but I did not find a different way to communicate that more clearly swiftly enough that would not make Kelly look psychotic, as she was meant to the most reasonable person.

I had thought for a brief moment about how corrupt the government was, when Mr. Miller explained that the government suddenly had interest in the Tasteful Club, perhaps because certain officials were not paid hush money, but then forgot it as I moved on to the next line.

The start is a mess from a set of disjointed and sometimes contradictory attempts, is what I mean, and thus a second installment would not have that problem.

Quote
The story had so many unrealistic elements that it barred me from fully enjoying the piece

In my mind, I had thrown any pretense to realism out of the window with the nude nightclub in the first paragraph. Though when I consider it, it is instead a moment asking for suspension of disbelief. There is an internal logic, however, worry not.

Quote
the strangely loyal animals

For some reason sapient animals or objects are utterly hilarious to me, and I like to follow through on seemingly throwaway jokes.

Quote
I don’t find comic violence all that amusing in my stories.

That is a problem for it was never supposed to be comedic, as far as I can recall. My writing suffers from scenes that appear comedic to reader while terrifying to the characters. I have trouble telling what comes across as funny when I do not intend it, like Little Stephen getting pelted through the air. When Mr. Miller and Brutal Stallone talk, the tone was supposed to be what Kelly perceived (as everything else was): a tense “Now is not the time for a funny misunderstanding, Stephen!” slowly but inevitably leading to conflict because Mr. Miller had no reason to use different words that might not offend, as he thought someone would have told him by then; instead everyone just giggled and he took that as a good sign.

Kelly stopped feeling safe from the moment Brutal Stallone showed up to right at the end, in that space nothing was supposed to be funny (anything the characters say being a logical progression or continuation), and only Mr. Miller was in any way calm, thinking that no malice was intended by anyone out of a rigid belief in courtesy and fundamental human (and animal) decency. This was meant to be the opposite to Kelly’s pessimism and distrust.

The reason for the violence actually escapes me, as I did not make notes on that; I vaguely recall something about Little Stephen being as cruel as it looked. I might have been doing something with Mr. Miller’s tolerance and nonjudgmental personality about the animals, but your guess is as good as mine, in this case. The bit about Brutal Stallone’s fingers reminds of the detective thriller Hardcase by Dan Simmons, where the first chapter is an only an action scene, set 11 years before the rest of the story which takes place in a week, that details how the main character ended up in prison. Namely by avenging his murdered friend. I deduct I read the book and saw an opportunity to try practicing something new with the violence, as I had never done something like that before—or since. There is a reason why the dialog is better than everything else.

Quote
the crowd’s total relish of graphic gore and violence

I tried to imply that most of the crowd had consume quite the cocktail of drugs along with the cocktails. They were to be a disconcerting wall of malicious bystanders that would offer no help and prevented Kelly from leaving like a normal person, a desire which I also did not mention, as I had thought it was apparent from Kelly’s behavior. The crowd was meant to be inhumanly bloodthirsty, and the comments about club recommendation were supposed—and tremendously failed, looking back on it—to convey that Kelly found herself trapped in a strange place populated by lunatics.

Quote
though I found its descriptions wooden in places. [. . .] The description sometimes sounds like a robot. Character action becomes stilted. It reads like a screenplay. (see what I’m doing?) I would recommend increasing the variety of your sentence structures outside of dialogue. It was pretty choppy in places, and it dulls the action on the page. [. . .] I did see two technical mistakes as I was reading.

Could you tell me of this, please? I would be grateful to be pointed to the problematic sections, if you would, and be glad to hear any suggestions at all.

The awkward lines are the bare framework showing. I think you would agree, that if it had been only the framework, it would seem fundamentally bad. This is what I meant about A Pint of Drakesblood. Do not be so hard on yourself for not making your story in one go. It takes a few passes.

Quote
I would be interested to read more about this unlikely duo.
Quote
I would much prefer a stronger focus on the two unlikely characters and their relationship.

Fantastic news, then! I have about two thousand words of dialog fragments lying around taking place a few days after Assessment and revolving around the pair and Mr. Miller’s junior partner at his firm, a romantic who effectively serves as a halfway point between Mr. Miller and Kelly. The characters are the most well defined elements of the story, as that is my strength, to point that they define the rest of the narrative, like the Tasteful Club’s name only existing for the line about food and furniture.

There is no mention of the animals, though I imagine a bit would be seen at Mr. Miller’s apartment building, along with his neighbors and the local youths. No violence whatsoever, as, I think, Bloody Stavros and his syndicate were (but definitely now are) supposed to be a monstrous figure in the background that Kelly actively tries to avoid.


Thank for taking the time to read my work and comment, Levity. I appreciate it. Even if you have no experience with comedy, it is tremendously helpful to me to hear what other people think, so feel free to comment on whatever you wish. I found the remark that it seemed like a video game cutscene highly interesting because it never occurred to me that it could look that way, and now that you said it I can see it well.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 08:07:23 am by Aylokat »
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1808 on: May 11, 2018, 08:44:46 am »

I mostly agree with Levity. My only gripe is that it focuses heavily on dialogue. I'd prefer more description. However, that is obviously personal preference, and dialogue does fit what you're trying to do.

There's also a word missing near the start, but for the life of me I can't find it now...
Quote
Kelly watched the man sit perfectly still, entranced how the flashing lights of the dance floor cast shadows on his statue-like form. She came out of her lull when the man checked his watch and muttered something about a bill, though he had not ordered anything that she could see. Kelly suddenly felt rude for staring and averted her eyes.

In terms of wooden writing, this struck me as a bit stilted. Like a list, almost. Perhaps Levity had something else in mind, though.

It seems like too many words used to describe something basic, perhaps? I'm finding it hard to quantify its woodeness, hah.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 08:48:33 am by Th4DwArfY1 »
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1809 on: May 11, 2018, 11:16:48 am »

In terms of wooden writing, this struck me as a bit stilted. Like a list, almost.

The way I read it, it struggles after the second sentence, and it thoroughly goes wrong with the separating period between the third and fourth. There are sentences missing between Kelly staring and Mr. Miller looking at his watch, and between Kelly looking away and her looking back. The lack of the feeling of time passing makes it seem like a list.
I get the dreadful feeling that I originally placed it to space out the conversation, then never considered that it existed as its own thing.

Quote
I'd prefer more description.

Recently I have shifted away from description and narration as a result of concentrating on world-building and character-building, leaving only dialog in its full form rather than a notation or summary. I should rectify that, to prevent the awkward delivery if nothing else. The narration will be hindered if it only has one subject, I suspect, but I can compensate by enlarging Kelly's part in the description and removing objectivity in favor of her perception. I have no idea how that will go, but I shall find out.

With such a heavy focus on characters as this rather than events or plot, the advantages and disadvantages of a single viewpoint are now clearer to me: Because the narration does not know what characters other than the protagonist know or feel dialog is necessitated for the other characters exist as anything more than incidental bystanders; it forces the narrative, and thereby the reader, to be as ignorant as the protagonist; and the narrative will thus be distorted to fit the protagonist.


Thank you, Dwarfy. This made me reach unexpectedly helpful conclusions and make changes to my method for the next attempt.
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roseheart

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1810 on: May 15, 2018, 02:40:28 am »

Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1811 on: May 15, 2018, 03:13:01 am »

After thinking about the criticism, I got an epiphany. I had never outright categorized my strengths and weaknesses, only thinking in broad writing ability. It has given me a new perspective and I can now see the problems mentioned for myself in my writing.

On that note, I decided to try to look at Assessment from an outside perspective to gain greater understanding. I hope my mistakes can be learned from by others as I did.

Spoiler: Aylokat - Assessment (click to show/hide)


In summary, I was looking at the dialog fragments I had lying around, and as I was organizing them to be coherent I noticed that the rudimentary notation was virtually identical to the lackluster narration in Assessment. The reason Assessment reads like a screenplay is because I had effectively written it as such, forgetting over the months, and then failed to see that it was written as such when I was working out the kinks to post it, only now figuring that out with quite the bit of help. After focusing on world-building since August, I had grown so accustomed with notation that I held narration to that low standard.

Thank you, Dwarfy, thank you, Levity. I am immensely grateful for the commentary. At minimum it would been months before I would have found this fundamental flaw with my writing had I not been helped.
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Parsely

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1812 on: May 15, 2018, 01:40:31 pm »

I had never outright categorized my strengths and weaknesses, only thinking in broad writing ability.
Huh. That's an interesting idea
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Th4DwArfY1

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1813 on: May 15, 2018, 05:40:56 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Aylokat

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Re: ___/The Writer's Apprenticeship\___
« Reply #1814 on: May 16, 2018, 06:55:15 am »

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