View Full Version : Critique: My First Story
August 6th, 2005, 08:37 PM
After continuous assaults on the works of other writers, I decided it was only fair to post some of my own stuff. The first part of a story is up in the community.
The story is called "Dirty Guns." It's military science fiction. Any and all feedback is appreciated. My authorname is Charles James.
Dirty Guns - Part I (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/742p0.html)
(Thanks SubZero, I think that was the problem.)
August 6th, 2005, 11:01 PM
Did you put it as published? If you put Draft then it wont post it.
August 9th, 2005, 07:07 AM
Hey, it's up, now. :D
1. General appeal
I liked the story(-fragment). Its attraction lies mostly in the curiosity about the alien invaders. I really liked the last "if they had..." sentence, which indicates that they're not yet well known to the humans of the story either. They way you dose your info on them is great. The tension that King feels is a great vehicle to sustain attention and interest. I also wondered where the story would go (still do, actually).
It starts with 3rd omniscient, then zooms in on our PoV-character and stays with him throughout the story. That works well enough.
"With a whisper the caravan came to a halt," is a great sentence, as it works as a transition from set-up to story, and is ambiguous PoV-wise.
However, in the following paragraph, I'm not sure about PoV. My guess is omniscient, but perhaps there is a way that King could actually witness that level of detail?
The rocket-propelled round quickly caught up to the aircraft – too small and too fast to be detected by its defences. It cut through the cargo bay and deflected downwards and to the right where it tore through the seat of the co-pilot and right through the Rhiorc equivalent of a knee, severing one of its six limbs. From there the round spun through the control console, shredding navigation circuits and control lines.
If it is omniscient, I feel there isn't much of a transition, and it doesn't quite work. On the other hand, the paragraph is vital, because it gives us key info hitherto unknown.
Also, I think, the distance your narrator keeps to your PoV-character is a bit erratic and arbitrary at times. Usually, the tone is one of cool detached description. That's why the following sentence didn't work for me:
"On the last one he watched, helpless, as Dusty's head got blown off."
By giving the name only, the narrator gets closer to his character's point of view, then he normally does. I'd expect your narrator to introduce Dusty as friend/collegue/whatever, because that's the expectation you've set up with giving the entire name (complete with rank) of your character at the start of your previous paragraph. I doubt that's how he thinks of himself. That's why I expected something more objective instead of "Dusty".
Throughout the story, the narrative distance to the PoV character oscillates between distant and personal. I'd suggest going with greater distance and more objectivity, because that would allow you to keep phrases like: "RPBs – rocket propelled bullets". The closer you get to your PoV character, the less likely you are to explain abbreviations.
Of course, you could also go into close-up mode; or zoom in and out with proper transitions; but the latter would take a lot of high-detailed language work...
I'm not sure that made sense to you at all, it's kind of tricky to explain.
Works well for the most part.
A few "filler" words that aren't really needed. Example:
Corporal James King closed his eyes for a moment and tried to stop his stomach from swirling. Inside the belly of a K203, he always felt a little queasy. It wasn't the motion so much as not being able to see outside that bugged him. That, plus the fact that they were deep in Rhiorc territory now. It was just one more sweep. Gather the survivors, and pull out. He'd survived two dozen missions just like this one.
The first sentence works just as well if you take out "for a moment and tried", IMO. Down a bit, I think "plus the fact" could be a simple "and". Things like that. No biggie, though.
Also, there's past-present tense confusion when you're giving general information. You often start off general info in past and then leap to present with no justification. Example: "Conventional battle strategy was to first attain air superiority. Control the sky. Then you can cover any large scale land and sea movements."
Either past or present tense, I'd say. If you go with a close-up narrator (see PoV), I'd suggest past tense, but with a more distant narrator, both paths are open. You can even use both - as a distinguishing feature between narrator's explication and PoV description (but not both in one paragraph; like above).
I hope my comments made sense to you. It's a good story(-fragment), I think. :)
August 9th, 2005, 06:11 PM
Thanks for the excellent critique Dawnstorm. It's very helpful and I really appreciate the effort!
August 11th, 2005, 06:33 AM
I'm new to this forum, so have lots to learn, but I must say I was impressed by the care you've taken over details. I was pretty well in the landscape after one paragraph, which can't be bad. :)
I'll print it out and ponder in more detail ...
September 12th, 2005, 09:39 AM
I'm sorry for the delay, but how does one get stories from 'community' to print without tons of adverts? I'm using FireFox browser, if that helps. :confused:
September 28th, 2005, 07:52 AM
I might sample it if time permits, if you don't mind a Mordorian siege of Gondor, Choppy. But I'll be blatant, be warned. :)
September 28th, 2005, 06:25 PM
Sorry for not relying. I was about 4 days deep in the BC rocky mountains when you posted on the 11th. I'm not sure how one would print out the story without all the extras around it. Probably the best way would be to open a word processor (like MS Word) and paste it in. I'm happy to hear any thoughts you have.
Hack away. Please. Use a dull axe if you wish. The bottom line is that I really appreaciate the fact that it takes time to read over this work, think about it, and give any feedback.
September 28th, 2005, 07:07 PM
Choppy, I read the first page, but must honestly say your grammar and sentence structure is keeping me from getting into the story. A lot of things need to be cleaned up. For instance, in the first paragraph you write: "A fine layer of dust coated the concrete streets, the buildings, the powerless video screens, the shop windows, and even the energy efficient streetlights that would have flickered to life by now had the city any power left in it". This is a run-on sentence and does not flow well at all, especially toward the end.
I would write it like this: "A fine layer of dust coated everything in sight: the streets, the buildings, the cars, the public parks, and the darkened streetlights." I don't think you even need to put the video screens in the list nor that the streetlights are energy-efficient.
Further down the story you write: "There was an alley ahead of him, dumpster, and some residential homes with broken windows that looked over a hundred years old." Are the windows a hundered years old, or the homes?
I would write it like this: "He peered down the deserted alley ahead of him and carefully analyzed a row of ancient residential homes for signs of life".
Well, those are just some thoughts. I wish I could comment on the content of the story, but like I said, the sentence structure is restricting.
October 3rd, 2005, 09:01 AM
Part II is up if anyone is interested.
Dirty Guns - Part I (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/742p0.html)
Dirty Guns - Part II (http://sffworld.com/community/story/922p0.html)
Qonox. Thanks for the advice. Even though you only read the first page, I'm glad you took the time to let me know why. Sometimes (for me) it's hard to tell what works as far as sentence structure in fiction goes.
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