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Writers Workshop > is this good enough to start as a suspense thriller?

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message 1: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments It has potential but needs to be simplified a lot. Also, I have no idea who this guy is and after a chapter I should know something concrete about him, not just what he's feeling.

message 2: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments I think your writing is very beautiful, but it doesn't read like a thriller, more like romance or literary. I'd say for a thriller, the beginning should be way more about plot, action, and as M.L. says, character.
Why do you want to write a thriller?

message 3: by Jay (new)

Jay Greenstein (jaygreenstein) | 249 comments • I don't know why I had a sudden feeling about her surged in to my souls, a memory that was covered somewhere down in my brain for quite a long time.

Before anything else, never show anything but your best work, polished to a high luster. This first line, obviously, hasn’t been edited. Remember, the reader has no way of knowing your intent for how to read the work, and can’t hear your voice (as you can). They have only what the words suggest to them, based on their background, not yours. So you need to take that into account when writing, and edit into a form that will cause the reader to know exactly what you mean, without you having to be there to explain.

Next, is that you’re thinking in terms of story, and wondering if the action is pleasing. But forget story. If the writing, in and of itself, doesn’t cause the reader to want to know more they won’t turn to page two, or three, or…they won't. Focusing on facts and events informs, but your reader wants to be entertained, which is an emotional objective. I mention this because our training during our school days was in how to clearly inform, with lots of practice in essays and reports.

As presented, aside from punctuation and such, it’s a transcription of you speaking the story aloud. And unfortunately, that can’t work on the page, because in verbal storytelling, how you perform the story—both visually and audibly—matter as much as what you say. It’s the performance that gives the reader the emotional part of the story. Think of how much emotion you place in your voice, and how you change cadence and intensity to add mood and ambiance to the words. Think of how much of that makes it to the reader via those printed words. Have your computer read it aloud and you’ll hear how different what the reader gets is from what you “hear” as you read.

So your intent is there—for you—as you read those words, and they makes perfect sense. But you begin reading knowing where we are, who we are, and what’s going on. For a reader, it’s someone we can neither see nor hear, expounding on someone we know nothing about, for reasons unclear. Informative? Sure. Entertaining? Not so much.

Do you clarify later? Perhaps, but that cannot retroactively remove the confusion felt as it’s read, so the reader won’t continue reading and reach that clarification.

As E.L. Doctorow observed, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

It’s not a matter of talent, potential, or even the story. It’s that there are some tricks of the trade the pros take for granted that we must learn if the reader is to see our work with the same clarity as that of those pros.

Though we may love the act of creating a story, our schooling provided us with a set of general skills that employers need us to have, and gave us none of the specialized knowledge and tricks-of-the-trade of the fiction writer. And doesn’t it make sense that if we want to write like a pro we need to know at least some of what the pro knows? If we hope people will be willing to pay to read our work, doesn’t it make sense to invest some time and a few dollars in our writer’s education?

The knowledge you need is as close as the local library’s fiction department, and free, too. So a few hours spent with the publishing pros, successful writers, and respected teachers to be found there would be a wise investment of time, as would be picking up and committing to memory, Strunk and White’s, Elements of Style.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

message 4: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
Jay wrote: "Before anything else, never show anything but your best work, polished to a high luster. This first line, obviously, hasn’t been edited."

This is a workshop, Jay. It's a place for people to get help with polishing.

message 5: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod

It's a good start toward something, but it's a tough read. I do not know who this character is who is narrating. I don't know who Shilpa is. Readers need something to invest in when they read our work, something to grab. All we know is that your main character covered his memory of Shilpa, covered it again, erased it... and it's still there. Can we get a clue who the main character is or who Shilpa is? Everything that happened after that was not thrilling as I didn't know or care about the characters.

The writing is problematic. I'll focus on this small section as I think I can show you some of the problems I'm seeing through the entire piece:

Sameer wrote: "Suddenly… Out of the blue… something crushed in to my head. I saw a sprinkle of thunder, I could feel the hotness of blood overflowing from my head. I heard somebody crying in panic. Then, I felt that I was losing my cognizance.
Then, something hit on my lower vertebra. I could feel coldness racing to my legs, then my upper parts. I thought I was drifting like a plume. Coldness surged in to my mind, and I could see the obscurity grab hold over the light. I swooned.

When I opened my eyes, I felt that I was coasting in thin air. Articulate coldness. I couldn't see a thing in that dimness. I felt an strange quietness. I shut my eyes."

Be careful with the use of ellipses. Nearly all of us use it from time to time in writing, often to indicate a pause in speech or a place of interruption. Over use, especially in narration, looks sloppy and lazy.

Cliche's need to be used sparingly, if at all.

Watch the use of "suddenly" or "all of a sudden". Phrases like that are completely unnecessary.

You end a lot of words with "ness". Like most anything in writing, this is fine, if done sparingly. When the reader is hit with words of a similar structure like, "hotness", "coldness", "dimness" and so on in a short time, it becomes monotonous. You have the word "coldness" in this section three times.

Descriptions are great and I think they're sorely lacking in most of today's writing. However, keep them sensible and don't go overboard with them. You have a guy with a head that's overflowing with blood? Sorry, but he should be dead if he's bleeding that badly.

Your writing can be tighter by watching how many times you start a sentence with "I felt" or "I heard". "Coldness filled my legs" is stronger than "I felt a coldness in my legs". This is one of my worst habits, too, so I'm used to looking for it.

message 6: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
Sameer wrote: "English is not first, I am limited to very basics. "

I wondered. Can I ask why you are writing it in English if this is not your first language? There are a lot of strange grammatical phrasings in your piece that grammar checking tools are not going to catch or, worse, will have you change something to a phrase that makes little or no sense.

message 7: by Petra (new)

Petra Jacob | 42 comments Sameer wrote: "Dwayne wrote: "Sameer wrote: "English is not first, I am limited to very basics. "

I wondered. Can I ask why you are writing it in English if this is not your first language? There are a lot of st..."

I think there's nothing wrong with doing this, you should challenge yourself with writing! However, I'd guess you'll need an editor - your English is great, but you're human. An editor can also help you with writing that is overly wordy - this is a fault of mine, so I know how difficult it is to keep writing simple. And with a thriller, I think the writing needs to be simple. In a thriller, the writing should never be the focus of attention, that needs to be the story and action, the writing itself should disappear as the story becomes real in the reader's head. In your writing, the prose is complex, lyrical and often based in emotions, so IT becomes the focus. That's why I suggested literary fiction. If the style changes to more plot based writing later on, then that won't help you, because thriller lovers probably wouldn't get that far.

message 8: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments You do have the basic set up for a mystery/thriller: a cop obsessed with a woman who is a crook/victim or both. Think James Elroy's rogue cops, all obsessed with one woman or another. Great stuff. You might read one of his books.

To write in a second language, immerse yourself in that language. Otherwise, you'll come up with a lot of words that seem close but give a wrong feel. For example, a woman bounced in front of a car. I understand the idea but it will come across better to say "darted in front of the car" or "ran in front of a speeding car."
Another example, instead of "coasting in thin air" say "floating" or "drifting." It's a matter of word choice and the only way I know of to make the language your own is by immersion. I know one writer who did this and wrote a remarkable first novel. It's a marvel, takes a lot of determination.

Know that you are still ahead of the crowd in many ways. A lot of people want to write but don't or they just don't have a story. You write and you have a story. Keep writing.

message 9: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4356 comments Mod
Kudos, then, for wanting to write in another language. It's something I would never attempt. Generally, it's against the rules here to suggest hiring a professional to help, but I'm making an exception. Your writing is good, but as others are pointing out, there are places where you use words that don't quite fit and at times the grammar feels off. A good editor could help you turn a decent book into a great one.

message 10: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Dwayne wrote: "Kudos, then, for wanting to write in another language. It's something I would never attempt. "
Well, it's an advantage of us non-native English speakers, because English is easy to learn the basics. Then, since literature in English is widespread thanks to e-books, it can be honed by reading a lot (to get the feel for it) and eventually get far with the skill to consider writing.

Anyway, Sameer...
I am not into thrillers but something that was said: when I read the very beginning, I have no clue who those people are. Personally, I don't need a detailed description, but at least stating who the person is (even if it's to say that he's a middle-aged policeman, for example) will help a lot. If it's happening in a real place, probably mention that as well - if I was to use your start, then maybe something like:
(city name), 04.06.2007 and if it goes in the diary style (for lack of better words) then you can use to show if the story moves around the land.

That's just my quick input, good luck writing!

message 11: by Melody (new)

Melody Ruth (melodyruth) | 2 comments There is a great online tool called Grammerly. It does not fix every grammatical and spelling error but does fix quite a bit. It also supplies suggestions for reducing redundant word use. I would not say that it replaces a good editor, but it definitely helps get closer to where you want to be. I suggest checking it out. They have both a free and a paid version.

message 12: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 731 comments Mod
Yeah, that too. Grammarly works well for the things simple spellcheck will not find even though it struggles with custom words (character names in my case), especially if there's an apostrophe in it.

message 13: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 915 comments ProWritingAid is another program you may use and is much like Grammerly. I find I doesn't get hung up on the odd names but does check a lot of things for you. It's my go to editing software.

message 14: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments A lot of good ideas here. I was thinking, try showing us rather than telling us. It's advice I constantly have to remind myself of, over and over as I edit.
For example, instead of someone being sad; tears burned, and she blinked, looking show us that she's sad rather than telling us.

Good luck!

message 15: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments And...I just read English isn't your first language. Yikes! English is HARD! We're all about breaking our own rules. :) When you're all done, you should definitely have a native English speaker look over it. It doesn't have to be a professional - a fellow writer, an English teacher...someone who does this type of work would be best.

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