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Fantasy > 2nd Draft Chapter One ADVICE PLEASE

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message 1: by Trey (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Hello, people. First novel, chapter one, draft two is complete and I am calling for your help. I need some honest thoughts and criticism. Please don't pull your punches. I need the brutal true, its the only way I can learn. There may be some grammar errors and typos, they will be buffed out in draft three. The link to the doc is below.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxGf...


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Feb 05, 2014 07:22PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Its unreadable. I'm considered a stern critic --I know that--but I'm being nothing more than honest in this case. I've read a helluva lot of thrillers, mysteries, actioners, and espionage books. I'm not going out of my way to be cruel to you. You're a stranger and I have no reason to rain-on-your-parade. I'm simply seeing serious nuts'n'bolts issues with your basic writing technique.

Page 1 starts off adequately I suppose...the upcoming event the boy is concentrating on so fiercely, pulls us along. The first few paragraphs on Page 1 are light and brisk but it swiftly unravels.

But by page 2 I couldn't keep my eyes trained on anything you might have been trying to say. It was unmoving.

At first glance I think you may be trying to convey too much exposition with a ton of unnecessary dialog.

Give us short, quick, active descriptions. Give us potent visuals. You're leaping ahead. If a character wakes up from a night's sleep, don't just say that he 'rose quickly'.

Maintain the flow of time: if someone has to walk across a room to pick up a bouncing ball, hold up the flow of info to reflect that interruption.

Be more selective about what you waste words on. You're not writing a child's school play.

Overall, there is too much focus on 'external things' rather than on internal-feelings. You're not making us invest in the situation by hammering us with some fodderol about sword-types. What does this boy feel about what he's going through? Feelings and visuals. Characters in real life don't just 'gab' back'n'forth with each other like this.

Your entire technique needs overhaul. See my listopia for writer's aids.

Check out Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me for a crash-course in short, light, action imbued with feeling.


message 3: by Trey (last edited Feb 05, 2014 07:22PM) (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Feliks wrote: "Its unreadable. I'm considered a stern critic --I know that--but I'm being nothing more than honest in this case. I've read a helluva lot of thrillers, mysteries, actioners, and espionage books. I'..."

Thank you for your opinion. What do you mean by "Be more selective about what you waste words on. You're not writing a child's school play."?


message 4: by Feliks (last edited Feb 05, 2014 07:42PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) What I mean is that conversation is not the key thing to describe in this scene. You're over-focusing on the speeches these characters are making to each other; but the absolutely crucial event in this scene is not being conveyed.

It might be something so slight as a hole in the boy's sock, which makes him fidget, his fidgeting is noticed by his father, who infers that the boy might be bored, this then leads to a confrontation or an angry smack across the boy's face..that smack across the boy's face might be the deciding act which makes the boy realize he is not interested in undergoing this silly training; after all it wasn't his idea in the first place, and...

See what I mean?


message 5: by Trey (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments yes I do, thank you again.
Do you mind if a message you every now and then for tip and parts that I work on. Most of my real friends at too nice to say anything.


message 6: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Okay. Did you find the Listopia? Its here:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4...


message 7: by Trey (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Ok, think you.


message 8: by Reed (new)

Reed Bosgoed (ReedBosgoed) | 60 comments The first thing that jumps out at me is an issue with repetition. Right at the start of the chapter, you begin several consecutive sentences with the word "His". Try to use more variety in sentence structure. I hope you have an excellent copy editor picked out, because I noticed a considerable amount of grammar mistakes. After reading the first few pages, I began wondering if this may have been written by someone whose first language is not English.

The dialogue almost felt like part of a film script and not a novel. It would have been much more engrossing if there was more going on in the scene than a mundane conversation about which sword to use. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the scene felt very stale. If there was meant to be emotional content to the text, I personally didn't feel any. You have to do more than say "He was excited". Have him pace back and forth, maybe hyperventilate or something, but the important thing is to have something happen that shows he's excited.


message 9: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Well said


message 10: by K.J. (last edited Feb 05, 2014 08:41PM) (new)

K.J. Klemme (kjklemme) | 2 comments Travion,

Think about how to hook in your reader. Your first line should pique our interest. Also, drop us into the middle of the action. Waking up and eating breakfast with his family isn't something that will draw in the reader--unless they're eating something strange and unique.

Clean up your punctuation and tenses. Offer up a tiny bit of description on the claymore to help your readers visualize it. And don't forget to give us some setting, to help ground us.

Use your words efficiently. Don't say something like, "She ran really fast down the road." Be specific and make your words active and powerful: "She tore across the crumbling pavement."

Here's what I did with the beginning of your story, as an example.

The clang of hammers against red-hot metal roused Krow from his dreams of racing through a thick glen of boondoggle trees. Anticipating the day, his heart raced as he threw on an old pair of gray sweats and headed for the kitchen.

“Good morning, people,” Krow said. He slid onto a seat at the kitchen table next to his father, who nodded and returned to his newspaper. Krow’s mother set a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of him.

“Don’t be too long. We need you to start your training.” His father pushed himself away from the table and tossed the newspaper onto his empty plate.

“Alright, I’ll be there.”

His father disappeared into the garage and Krow swallowed a mouthful of eggs.

“Psst.” Krow’s mother beamed at him.


Remember, we can only see and hear what you allow us to.

Make sure to give us lots of tension and conflict, and start it off quickly.

I think you've got some great ideas. Read a few writing manuals, get into a writing group or attend conferences, and look into some online classes. Then write and read as much as you can.

All the best to you in your endeavors!


message 11: by Trey (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Thank you, all of your comments have been a great help in improving my writing. I will do some more reading on writing and try again.


message 12: by R.A. (new)

R.A. White (rawhite) | 361 comments Travion, I really admire your determination to learn and your willingness to take hard advice. Keep that attitude in everything you do, and you'll go far!


message 13: by Trey (last edited Mar 12, 2014 11:22PM) (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Hello, I'm back. I have done some reading and I've started chapter one again. I would like you to take a look at what I have so far to make sure I'm on the right track.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxGf...


message 14: by Reed (last edited Mar 13, 2014 04:42PM) (new)

Reed Bosgoed (ReedBosgoed) | 60 comments This version is much better. There are still some serious issues with copy editing, (conjugation of verbs, etc.) but it flows much better and there were some touches of emotion. (when his mother grabs his face) There are the makings of a good story here. A couple of notes on the use of dialogue: 1)When switching speakers, start a new paragraph. This isn't a cardinal rule, though it can help to keep things organized and easy to follow. 2) You don't need a dialogue tag (he said, she asked, etc.) every time someone speaks. If the reader can tell by context who is speaking, the tag just gets in the way. For example, from your excerpt: 'His father finished first, stood from the table and was about to leave, but not before stopping at Krow's side, "Don't be late," said his father.' You didn't really need the tag there. It is clear that Krow's father was the one talking.


message 15: by K.J. (new)

K.J. Klemme (kjklemme) | 2 comments Travion, I've offered comments. Let me know if you have any problems seeing the document.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p...


message 16: by Trey (last edited Mar 20, 2015 10:16PM) (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Hello, I'm back. I took at long break and came back to the first chapter. I made some changes, hopefully for the better, and want to hear your thoughts.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxGf...

Thank your for your help and remember brutal honesty please.


message 17: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Kaplan | 140 comments You're a brave man, putting yourself out there like this. I admire that.

I'm coming to this conversation late but one thing that leapt out at me is the formatting makes it really hard to read. It looked at first glance like one HUGE paragraph, and even after I realized it was broken into paragraphs I couldn't always tell where they started. This is more of a mechanical thing but getting the reader into the flow is a visual thing as well. Don't make the reader's eyes work for it. A few suggestions, consider double spacing your work. Also make your tabs deeper so that each paragraph starts out with some obvious whitespace.

You've got some mechanical issues to square away--I imagine many of them are just typos.

Someone above mentioned it but I'll say it again. An important skill as a writer is learning to show, not tell. And don't over show either. Allow the reader to leverage their imagination.

Another thing I noticed is that you don't really establish a healthy sense of rhythm. For example:

"No answer. The laughing started again. Krow quickly found the source. It was coming for the hole his mother’s face left. Krow drew close to the hole."

You've got a bunch of short, choppy sentences here. This forces a percussion that doesn't hold the reader. Try mixing up sentence lengths.

If I were to offer you one piece of hard advice it's that you should consider backing off and doing something smaller--write some short stories first. This will help you to build up your mechanics and develop some of the tools you will need as a writer. Once you feel like you've got a rhythm, then you can aim for something longer. A novel is a huge undertaking that will require a lot of focus and detail management.

I'm not saying you can't do it--I'm just saying that this could be a case of walking before you run.

Writing is a craft, and the writer is an artisan. Artisans know and love their tools before they try to create something. Wow, that sounds really pretentious. Sorry :/

But whatever you do DO NOT STOP. Don't let anyone discourage you, and no matter what anyone tells you, you are a writer.


message 18: by Trey (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments J.D. wrote: "You're a brave man, putting yourself out there like this. I admire that.

I'm coming to this conversation late but one thing that leapt out at me is the formatting makes it really hard to read. It ..."


Thank you and there no need to apologize. I could use all the help I can get. As you can tell I don’t have the best writing skills, but I enjoy doing it. So, I’ll go with your idea and start small. Do you have any recommendation to where I can post the short stories and get some honest criticisms. Goodread has been a little slow haven’t gotten any comments in a while.


message 19: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 361 comments Consider whether this is the right forum for critiques. You might go to a place specifically designated for that sort of thing, something like critters.org


message 20: by Debra (new)

Debra Easterling (debeasterling) | 10 comments For starters, you're on your second draft of chapter one? Have you written the whole book? If not, stop looking at the first chapter and move on. Write the whole book, don't worry about errors or even making it sound good. Then after all is written, go back and rewrite.


message 21: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Trundle (RyanTrundle) | 9 comments I just had a read and it's not too bad. But I would add some thoughts and emotion into your writing. We all know what they are saying but what are they thinking and feeling for example.

............................................................
Everybody woke early, to a loud noise in the field behind the house. Father got out of bed and reached for his gun.

'Bobby what's happening darling' Mother called to father.

Father could only think of what happened to him during the war, flashbacks rushed into his mind one by on. Men being killed and maimed. 'It will be ok, I'm going to see what it is' Father called stuttering, with his hand shaking in fear of what was outside.

The children were awake in there room and they where terrified. They both wished for the noise to go away.

The energy in the house became tense and sound outside was droning and never-ending (Weeeennnnd weeennnnnd).

'Why wont it stop' said Lucy crying. Lucy and her brother where shaking. 'I don't know' Her brother Steve shouted back through the noise.(Weeeennnnd weeennnnnd).

By this time their father Bobby was at the back door and everything went silent. Something stopped him from opening the door and he never looked outside. Bobby placed his gun back into the rack and he went back to bed, calling 'All is ok, get back to sleep'.

A feeling of serenity surrounded the house and they all relaxed and went back to sleep.

............................................................

This is just a short bit that I have just wrote but it gives felling, objective and perspective, all the way through. Just a thought. Don't give up, the first draft always dulls the mind. Regards Ryan.


message 22: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 326 comments Trey wrote: "Do you have any recommendation to where I can post the short stories and get some honest criticisms...?"

Find yourself a critique group. They exist in meatspace as well as online. This hit-and-miss method of getting random suggestions on GR isn't going to move your ball any farther down the field.

A good crit group -- especially one in which you're not the best writer -- will give you regular, ongoing feedback about your progress. Also, learning to read other people's work critically will help you read your own and recognize your own problems.


message 23: by Dwayne (last edited Mar 28, 2015 05:32PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 349 comments Trey wrote: "There may be some grammar errors and typos, they will be buffed out in draft three."

There are a lot of errors. Way more than there should be if you're asking anyone to read it and give an opinion. There are so many errors, I gave up halfway through, frustrated. That is the opposite of what a writer wants to do with readers.

Aside from that, the characters are flat, the dialogue is dull and there doesn't seem to be much of a story other than a bunch of men in some village that like to fight.

If you have a passion for writing, pursue it. But, please, read a few books on the art before attempting it. You may have some good stories in you, but you need to learn the art of expressing them.


message 24: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Kaplan | 140 comments A quick search yielded this site: http://www.critiquecircle.com/

Might be worth looking into. Also see if any colleges/community colleges have writing workshops you can get into. Sometimes there are local groups--check at your library or even rec dept.


message 25: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne Fry | 349 comments J.D. wrote: "Might be worth looking into."

I think I'll look into it as well. Looks interesting.


message 26: by Trey (last edited Mar 29, 2015 10:47AM) (new)

Trey Lawrence (travion) | 16 comments Thank you all the advice. I’ll put this story will work on the craft and start with some short stories.


message 27: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne Fry | 349 comments Trey wrote: "Thank you all the advice. I’ll put this story will work on the craft and start with some short stories."

Hey, yes, by all means, keep writing. Maybe some short stories would give you a chance to hone the craft. Read a lot, too, and pay attention to how other writers write. I should have mentioned that yesterday, but I have probably learned more just by studying works of great authors than I have by anything else I've done.


message 28: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Kaplan | 140 comments yeah, Dwayne is totally right.

As an author you need to read a TON. good, bad, fine literature, trashy fiction...it really doesn't matter. There's a lesson about writing in every book. You can learn what you should do and shouldn't do by simply reading a ton. I read 2-4 books a week.


message 29: by Dwayne (last edited Mar 29, 2015 03:38PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 349 comments J.D. wrote: "yeah, Dwayne is totally right.

As an author you need to read a TON. good, bad, fine literature, trashy fiction...it really doesn't matter. There's a lesson about writing in every book. You can lea..."


Good points, J.D. There is as much to learn in bad literature as there is in good. Start with "The Moon People" by Dale M. Courtney. And when you write, try to refrain from doing everything Courtney does.


message 30: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments J.D. wrote: "A quick search yielded this site: http://www.critiquecircle.com/

Might be worth looking into. Also see if any colleges/community colleges have writing workshops you can get into. Sometimes there a..."


There are several very good resources for new writers and are free. I'm familiar with the following and each works very well:
www.critiquecircle.com,
www.writerscarnival.com
www.scripophile.com.

These all require you to submit your work and exchange critiques with other writers. Some also have discussions and different groups depending on your genre or writing style. Writers Carnival publishes online and holds various writing contests.


message 31: by Christi (last edited Mar 29, 2015 09:31PM) (new)

Christi Smit (ChristiSmit) | 8 comments Trey,

I read parts of your story, the basic concept is there and there might be a good story there, but - yes there is always a but - your writing style and grammar makes reading your work very difficult. You are trying too hard to tell us instead of showing us, readers want to see through your eyes, and imagine your world.

I would honestly suggest looking at signing up for some free courses on writing and grammar. English is not my first language but I use it so much, almost every day, that I have become pretty good at it. I spent years before I started writing learning what I could about the language, I did many short courses including: Creating Writing Courses, Grammar for Writers Courses and Copy-editing and proofreading courses. All of these gave me enough tools to get started with my dream. If you cannot afford a course you could start learning from other authors or searching the internet for free documents, there are many authors offering vast amounts of helpful tips and learning material on their blogs.

https://iversity.org/en/courses?r=fba6b
That is a site with free courses some of my tutors recommended. They offer some valuable courses sometimes, not always, but sometimes you can find real gems there.

This does not mean you should stop writing, keep at it, write every day, but practice and learn while you are doing it. In a year from now, or even just a few months, you will see that your writing has changed for the better.


message 32: by Christi (new)

Christi Smit (ChristiSmit) | 8 comments One simple tip I can give you after reading a little more has to do with your formatting and grammar.

Every time someone speaks, coupled with an action, you start a new line, otherwise your work gets jumbled and everything reads as one. That makes it difficult to see who speaks every time, or where conversations begin or end.


message 33: by Brian (new)

Brian Foster (bwfoster78) | 191 comments Christine wrote: "J.D. wrote: "A quick search yielded this site: http://www.critiquecircle.com/

Might be worth looking into. Also see if any colleges/community colleges have writing workshops you can get into. Some..."


I've tried two of those.

I thought that the critiques at Scribophile were pretty good. Good some great insight that helped my writing. Probably 2/3 of the critiquers really seemed to know what they were talking about.

I didn't like critique circle as much. It seemed like, overall, the critiquers had, maybe, less experience.


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