|@meme cheers. I had wondered about that!|
National Novel Writing Month 2012 • Page 49
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The mag is online as well as print, probs not out til June.
It's one of those weird rules of writing that on the surface doesn't seem to make much sense. Constantly using one single verb should, by logic, read as incredibly boring and tedious. Like if you had every character "walk" every other sentence it would sound awful. But it becomes background stuff that guides the reader without them consciously acknowledging it, like road markings or something.
Not sure if anyone is interested... but I really wanted to write something different. (I fully intend to go back and finish the other story, but this one was forming in detail in my head and I wanted to get it down)
If anyone IS interested I'll post updates here for your thoughts. (Particularly @technohippy and @meme )
It's provisionally called The Question, and the first three chapters are below. I intend to write it in NatNoWriMo style, I don't envision it being a long story, but will see as I go!
2. Amita (Ignore the gap, need to research what goes in there)
3. The Street
Edited by RobTheBuilder at 01:52:21 07-05-2013
Edited by RobTheBuilder at 01:57:08 07-05-2013
Will have a good look at it next week. I'm in the finals week of this semester at the moment, so don't have a lot of time or focus I could spare, but bump the thread around Tuesday/Wednesday of next week and I'll be sure to give it a look.
The Question. Chapter 4 - A Strange Place
Here are my thoughts if you want them:
It's off to an intriguing start. I would have liked a bit more of a hint to what the story will be about.
It starts in the same way as chapter 1, you may want to mix it up a bit.
I'm still not getting a feeling for where this is going. It reads well, but it feels like it's kind of drifting.
The chat messages have inconsistent spacing after the hashes.
Jesus. Amazon are linking "advice" from a supposed professional saying to blog your book as you write it - not for family and friends or to get feedback as you go as we do, but to actually PUBLISH it that way and attempt to get external readers. Like, literally publish your first draft as you write it, then just dump it out as an ebook once you type "the end". They're arguing that if you plan and write well you'll have no need for any sort of editing or quality control.
Fucking hell. No wonder the indie marketplace is rapidly becoming a joke. I'm tempted to bugger off to small press and stay there.
Er, I have a pretty high opinion of myself and I still think everything I write is several drafts away from being anything other than typo-strewn excrement.
They've since clarified to me they were talking about article-based non-fiction. Which is basically just blog posts in book form anyway, so does make more sense. But I've, perhaps ironically, pointed out that they may need to revise the article to clarify that, as it seems to be talking about all forms of writing.
Non fiction needs just as much editorial work. What a load of wank.
For anyone that is interested:
I've posted a new short story on my blog called 'Preaching WIth Dolphins'. It's free for anyone to read, if you like it then please leave a comment. It's a little different from what I normally write
You can read it here:
Had an awesome reading tonight for the lit journal I've been working on. 15 or so readers, maybe 40 or so in the audience, which is massive for a small as-of-yet-unknown journal reading. Some random guy told me that my work reminded him of Kurt Vonnegut, which is a colossal compliment to me.
Sorry for ignoring your story for so long. I’ve not had the proper relaxed space/time configuration to read and comment. Today I have created this space again. The positive thing here is that having to catch up a bit there will be quite a bit to read for me. Lately I have been reading fiction again, properly published stuff, the strange thing about that was that I was wondering how they ever got their books onto shelves. Not that what I read was badly written but it never managed to get better than ‘enthusiastic hobbyist’ level, with a lot of good ideas and good will but a sorely lacking execution. So if you ever are to critical about your own writing go and read some published stuff out there and you will see that in many cases what you are putting together beats books that are selling very well right now.
So. Where were we?
I remember our protagonist fleeing from the burned out hotel getting saved by our enigmatic alien friends…
About Kurt’s magical charm, it would seem to me that our protagonist should be a bit more aware of the extent of Kurt’s abilities as he has witnessed him influencing his way past tricky situations and has quite obviously infiltrated the human camp without drawing the wrong kind of attention to him. The anxiety of not personally going to save his son is perfectly understandable though.
What I like is how quickly the situation changes with this chapter. It was clear that Kurt was hiding something, that there is a full blown Alien resistance is a bit unexpected but it works so far. Another thing I notice is that despite only introducing a few new characters the perspective on the story does change rather dramatically. Right now I am wondering what other things might be hidden from sight, what the military knows and what the fuck they did to this planet. The strange powers of the aliens are also an interesting point of speculation, although right now I am wondering how our Earth could have strong armed its way into this earth so effectively when the planet seems to be populated by rather effective telepaths. Because so far you as the author have never broken plausibility and have followed up strange events exploring them to a sufficient degree that I as a reader believe that you know what you are talking about. Thus the strange things that happen right now enhance the mystery of the story instead of ruining immersion. The effort placed into making the setting plausible pays off in situations like these. Well done.
As always I have questions in my mind and not two paragraphs later the answers come. :-D
The description of what happened is very good. You seem to have found a way to paint a picture that carries the emotional background with it very effectively. Despite not being overly long Kurt’s tale carries the weight of an epic story of its own and I could imagine an entire book filled with his side of the story until he meets Jake.
What does work less well is the shocking revelation of the newspaper. With all that has happened so far and the signs and implications you worked into your yarn the appearance of General Sanderford is a bit of a ‘No shit, Sherlock?’ moment.
A few thoughts on that. Having Jake reacting less surprised but more crestfallen would work better here I think. The reader has probably already reached the rather bitter conclusion about the ‘technology deal’ so Jake doing the same would make sense. This would be a good moment for him realising how bad the situation actually is and how great the guilt of the military might be.
Another thing here is General Sanderford, for some reason I had expected to feel a bigger impact at the revelation that he is obviously the head of the disaster. So far he has been painted in a rather sympathetic light, most of the negativity carefully focused on Maxwell. Yet when he is seen there shaking hands with the locals I am not as shocked as I should be. It is OK as it is but I think that this bit could work better. It might even be more effective if it was revealed much later that Sanderford is or might be the mastermind behind this action. But frankly I have no idea how to implement that.
Very good chapter.
The thing I like most about your writing is that you seem to have worked out a way to present your readers with mysteries and explain the questions that come to mind shortly after. Despite posing a mystery and explaining most of it you still leave enough uncertainty and problems in there so that the tension remains untouched.
In a way your exposition has a rhythm. You bring new information carrying various mysteries with it, as you explain it the reader starts to wonder about many things, so does the protagonist. Then you explore these questions. Often in a back and forth way, either a conversation or a monologue that does not resolve everything but instead presents possibilities and the problems that arise with them.
Once the point is reached where the most glaring questions are answered or some plausible theories are laid out what remains is just the pure problem, which carried the tension.
What is so cool about that is that in this way the exposition that you present does not appear like the descriptor necessary to set the scene so that exiting stuff can happen, the exposition is part of the exciting stuff. It is engaging and I as a reader can feel clever for having come up with all my own questions (while not noticing the questions I did not ask because they are all part of the back and forth).
Furthermore with it you constantly remind the reader without ever breaking the fourth wall that you really, really know what you are talking about. Thus you not only keep up the tension but you also actively strengthen the suspension of disbelieve.
This I think is your greatest strength as a writer (followed by your knack for emotional scenes) keep working on it, because this is pure gold.
Funnily enough, as a reader it seems to me that you know extremely well what you are doing.
Good flow until the reach the apartment. It might be me but the conversation with Carver does not quite work. I know what it is supposed to do and it gets the job done but the feeling is a bit off. The flow of the conversation is a bit awkward.
Once Carver gives and let’s go of the radio the flow is much better.
The escape sequence is incredibly tense.
As is the mind duel between Kurt and the guard at the end of the chapter. Lots of tension there and knowing the rules of drama that prod authors all over the world to go for the worst case scenario whenever possible it was not even clear if they would make it past the gate in time.
The only thing I would point out here is that the chapter ends with escape and freedom. If you had stopped earlier when they were still driving towards an uncertain escape you would keep up momentum to drag the reader into the next chapter.
And right now I have to abandon your story for something is trivial as food.
But then this time there is another chapter waiting for me.
Sunjumper is EG's Proust of feedback.
(I've been thinking how to finish that novella thing I tried last year. I think I might be close to actually finishing something. I doubt I'll ever manage a NaNo though).
I think I'll take that as a compliment?
By the way 'fish, how is you fantasy epic doing?
I've been trying to read contemporary fantasy on and off again with varying degrees of success and so far I like your story best. I also have the sneaking suspicion that I might not have read your latest chapter yet. I remember our heroes being in some sort of canyon, only moments before meeting the chronically poisoned leader of the barbarians.
The novella is the story about the magic tower, right? Another bit story that I'd like to return to. Especially because it has magic comming out of its ears which is a nice contrast to your main magnum opus.
Salaman 19,801 posts
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Bah, I thought Blerk had birthed another chapter.
Wow, sunjumper that's amazing - I really can't thank you enough for the amount of effort you've put into your comments (both just then and previously), they go far above and beyond the call of duty! And as a bonus you also do a remarkable 'pep talk' job for when I'm feeling like nothing's working.
I'm with you on many of those points, especially about the stilted conversation in the apartment. That chapter was written in many short stints rather than a couple of longer ones and I think it shows. In the edit (ha!) I hope to be able to smooth things like that out.
As ever I've copy/pasted the whole thing into my edit notes, all points will receive due care and attention once I finally finish the first bloody draft.
Just to put Salaman's mind at ease, I have an almost complete chapter sitting in the wings that just needs a few more paragraphs to finish. I'll try and get some time in tonight and see if I can put that to bed, but I've had very little time for anything in the last few weeks because work's been a nightmare. I'm supposed to be going away on business for a week soonish though, so I'm wondering if I can use the evenings there to try and get this finished.... We shall see!
Let’s see where this goes.
It is interesting to see Carvers reaction, followed by my own when Kurt starts to explain how his life was. Also Kurt is not a sub-species of the local humans he may be a different race, if his psychic abilities are unique to people like him and bound to enough genetic factors they might be considered a race at least from a scientific point of view.
Carver would probably not say that the weapon would ‘target human DNA’ but rather ‘target the DNA patterns of the local human species’ or maybe even ‘humanoid’. By the way if the DNA of Kurt and the other survivors was different enough to survive weapon they would be indeed at least a different race. (Great now I am wondering if they could even be regarded as another human species.)
Sorry if I keep complaining, but again saying that Kurt is ‘not entirely human’ is not a very scientific way to word things. His DNA is diverges far enough from the ‘standard’ genotype of the local human race that it will not be affected by the weapon. (If for any reason you feel like having to pad your story you could also mention here that the difference between Homo sapiens and a chimp is less than 2%, thus the weapon would have to be very picky.) This does open up tons of interesting questions. Was the weapon already there and the invaders just fed it the data or did they deploy it themselves and if they did they were actually quite careful not to kill any other species on the planet. If they were not that careful and they would have eradicated higher apes to with a more broad-band shot Kurt and the others should have died too. Unless of course their mutation does not make them invisible to the weapon but actually resistant. Hmmm… )
Actually having just one other sample for the weapon would not be fool proof as it would be hard to tell how large the actual genetic variation between the races are and how large they are within their own sub-population.
Love that bird.
Jenson! I knew that he would be sneaking around somewhere outside. I was still mildly surprised to find him in the middle of a pool of blood outside the settlement.
For the shoulder shot. Not really necessary but you could add that no arteries or nerves were hit. (There is a lot of shit running through the general shoulder area that can be ruined quite spectacularly by a shot.) But then again Carver said that it went clean through and it isn’t as bad as it seems…
Oh right, he was getting ready for evacuation. I had forgotten about that.
Stranding people on a alien planet with a hostile environment is a great way to execute people. The victims are not going to resist that much because the hope of staying alive for a while longer will keep them docile and it is easier for the soldiers to do it as they are killing the people by proxy. Clever. Evil. But clever.
Maxwell is such a little shit. Nice touch of him insulting Jake by rubbing in Jake’s unfulfilled journalism aspirations. Great detail.
“You cannot play God and get away with it.” That sentence doesn’t work well here. It is perfectly fine on its own but it is to standard. It detracts form the strength of the scene by being one of these sentences that have been overused in pretty much every medium.
Come think of it you might want to tweak the scene slightly. Don’t start with oil, it will just push the wrong buttons with a certain crowd, start with other resources. Coal and gas are a good start. You could also point out (and even hint at it earlier) that certain precious materials are more common here. You will also have loads of untapped veins of fissile materials. Following that thought the bonus earth would also be the perfect dumping ground for toxic wastes of all kinds and a great locality to put up every type of industry that is high on pollution. And stuff…
OK. Carver is like the best camouflaged Red Shirt ever! Didn’t see that one coming. And damn!
I also like how Jake hardens at the end of the chapter. It makes perfect sense, furthermore it manages to let the chapter end on something of a high note considering how horribly wrong everything went.
Another little thing. Because you resist the urge to turn every possibility into a disaster full of juicy page turning drama and let your characters plans work every once in a while, cutting them some slack ever so often, when suddenly something horrible happens it is much more surprising. This is very good. A story that uses every possibility to make matter worse for the protagonists becomes predictable and in the long run tedious.
And with this I am up to date.
Back to Blerk in the writing dungeon.
Amazing! Immense thanks once again, sunjumper. I'm especially grateful for your suggestions and criticisms of the bits you think don't work so well, as I often feel that I'm blind to some of the clunkier bits. I suspect you're right on the slightly wobbly science at the start, there - I'll definitely pin that down a bit more carefully come the edit.
So, while you're in the mood... I finished up chapter 15 tonight!
This was a very, very difficult chapter and I'm not altogether happy with it. The third chunk especially feels a bit like it's retreading old ground and I suspect it could be integrated into the second chunk and the scene shortened a little. But I've spent weeks on this chapter so I think I need to accept that it is what it is and move on, get a little perspective and revisit it later.
Landmark-wise, this chapter pushed me over 100,000 words, which feels like it deserves some cake! I shall go get cake. Right now.
Ooh, something new to read.
I'm hosting a short fiction (500 words) contest on my blog if anyone fancies a go: