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Nathan Carter
February 14th, 2002, 10:18 PM
my first short story... ive been wondering how to recieve comment on my efforts, i guess this would be the place. Also... somehow i managed to screw up and give the wrong e-mail posted at the end of the story, the correct adress is nathancarter65@hotmail.com
any feedback or honest criticism would be appreciated, im not sure how to enable a link to my story, but by luck it made the front page at the end of the most recent short story section, you should find it there

[This message has been edited by Nathan Carter (edited February 15, 2002).]

February 15th, 2002, 03:22 AM
The story can be found here (http://www.sffworld.com/authors/c/carter_nathan/fiction/imminentarrival1.html)

Unfortunately I can’t immediately read your story (to long for me to read it at work). Hopefully I will have some time this weekend. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif

February 15th, 2002, 09:01 AM
Enjoyed your short. Found it to be an easy and compelling read. Conveyed emotions well. If I had to make any comment, I guess it would be that compared to the build up of genuine concern the character expresses - I thought he came out of his reverie a bit too quickly and easily. Very minor concern however - just the human in me I guess...

February 24th, 2002, 01:21 PM
Finally had a chance to read your story. Very good start. I really do like the story, even if I did see some areas you can improve.

First of all, the dialogue doesn’t really flow. Try reading it aloud. For instance, “. . . you expect us to just pack up and drive to the desert because some NASA scientist was shot in Houston?" The reader already knows that it took place in Houston, there really isn’t a need to repeat it. Also, I don’t know many people who would have added the in Houston part. There are many other places where the dialogue just seems a bit off, not totally unbelievable, just a bit off. The only real place I had a problem with the dialogue was the initial televised news report and the final comments.

Another thing you need to watch out for is giving the reader information that is irrelevant to the story. You can put the story in a drawer for a few weeks then read it. This will help you objectively look at your story. Consider what emotions you want to create, what reaction you want the reader to have, and then determine if the passage is performing its function.

Also consider foreshadowing. It can be an effective tool, especially when you have a twist at the end of the story.

Remember, writing a good story is more than telling the reader what happened. It’s creating an atmosphere.

Nathan Carter
February 25th, 2002, 03:09 AM
Again, my deepest gratitude for your feedback. I understand and intend to apply your thoughts on dialogue and excessive information.

But, help me to understand your comment on foreshadowing. In writing this story I was fearful that readers would figure out the ending before they reached it. I didn't feel the ultimate idea was all that original, and I wanted the truth to hit like a gut shot, and come out of nowhere. In what ways would you suggest foreshadowing this particular story?

February 25th, 2002, 05:37 AM
*** SPOILER **** (Sorry so long, hope it helps.)

Ah, foreshadowing is one of my favorite toys - especially since seeing “The Sixth Sense”. Watching the writer/director’s comments really had an impact on me and my craft. There is of course the obvious difference between the big screen and the pen and paper.

I like the reader to think, “Of course, why didn’t I see it earlier?” The twist or climax is completely unexpected - yet at the same time perfectly reasonable.

Accomplishing this is a challenge (which is probably why I enjoy it). I’ve heard Robert Jordan comment on his foreshadowing. Often the hints he thought were obvious - no one picked up on, and the ones he thought were too obscure - everyone got.

With your story, there are several options, but personally, I’d start by changing the angle when you are talking about his insanity. Perhaps have him doubt himself. Play him more as truly teetering on the edge of sanity or even completely insane. This way the reader will not be so sure of the alien encounter. You echo dread and doom throughout the story. Dennis is convinced of the outcome and the reader knows he’s right. Give the reader some hope, some doubt, then the ending will hit them that much harder.

Another angle is to perhaps show how far his wife goes to help him, to stand by him. If you intensify the love between him and his wife, the ending will have an added edge.

I’d also change the way Charles and Sophia look at him. Instead of fear and annoyance, pity and unwavering love. Have Sophia especially have a soft spot for Dennis. Maybe even have her defend him, much like a mother would. This will make her fate impact the reader more.

Also you could play up the fact that they were married for 13 years with no children. Maybe they were trying desperately to have children. Then family and co-workers blame his break down and subsequent wild claims on their inability to conceive.

I’d also change the title. “Imminent Arrival” gives a lot away. With just the title to go on, the reader already knows at least part of the ending.

I have a short story that I will be submitting soon to some publishers and I had the hardest time with it’s title. I originally called it “The Vampire Assassin”, but that gave way to much information away. I didn’t want the reader to know immediately that the assassin is a vampire. A main part of the story is how ignoring good advice and being too curious can kill - you know “curiosity killed the cat”. I wanted that theme to come across in the title. For a long time I called the story “The Price of Disobedience”, but I still wasn’t happy with it. Finally I’ve titled it “Curiosity’s Folly”. I’m happy with this last title. It has a rhythm and is simple and direct without giving anything away. The reader can guess that something bad happens because of curiosity. How bad? Who’s curiosity? What are they curious about? Hopefully the title will get the readers attention, get them asking questions, which means they will start reading and hopefully get drawn into the story.

These are all subtle changes to the story, yet they may require cutting or major editing to large chunks of the story. It can be hard to let those paragraph go, but in the end, I think your story will be much better.

February 25th, 2002, 07:33 PM
Well, Nathan Carter (geez, I sound like an escapee from Star Trek), I think KAT and mul have more or less put everything in perspective.

I agree with their comments, especially on the reverie issue and the foreshadowing. But it has potential, so mebbe just some polishing. http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/wink.gif

(Just check out my other comments on your short stories, okay? Back to work...)

Nathan Carter
February 26th, 2002, 08:09 AM
Hmmm... ~ponders in deep reflection~

Your comments have helped me in alot of areas... especially how to approach a story. I don't think I'll change this one... not because it's perfect, but because I'd just rather move on, but your advice will no doubt help me in future efforts, and for that I am in your debt.

Admittingly, I have been shooting from the hip... slinging first drafts at the site just to see what would stick so to speak.

I just find trouble being a critic, with other peoples work, and my own. I've never written fiction before, but I've written poetry and song lyrics all my life... everything is rythem to me, and the coloring of reality through choice words.
Therefore... concepts like foreshadowing make sense to me, but I have difficulty in applying them while I'm writing.

At any rate, a new post is up... "Due Exchange" is in the latest batch of shorts. As always... I beg your comment and advice, as I long to improve my craft.

February 26th, 2002, 05:34 PM
Greetings Mr. Carter,
*Closes door to small dark, windowless room. Walks around the victim making sure he is properly secured to the gurney. Pulls on latex gloves, and reaches for a bone saw*
Shall we begin?

*Spoilers Below*

Woman with a Gun:
Love and insanity...beautiful. As I have said before, I like your style. It's clean. I get it. My only comments pertain to the story itself, which may not be significant in terms of critique. I feel the story loses nothing by eliminating the word schizophrenia. It seems an unnecessary frame of reference labeling Victoria's psychosis.

I also felt the story would have been rock-solid without the second change-up, referring to Martin. You know things are going to end badly (it is Nathan Carter story after all) but I didn't see that coming, and it threw me. The preceding layout of Victoria's perception of events was handled great. Martin's out of the blue and extreme response with no forewarning left me a little flat. I like your dialogue. I would have liked to have seen a bit more tortured dialogue between the characters. From Martin because he does truly love this damaged woman (or is encouraging her relapse and confusion), from Victoria as she wrestles with her sanity and tries to sort out what is real. I actually expected Victoria to use the gun on herself to eliminate "the other woman" and thus be free - albeit dead.

Satisfied Customer:
Great short. Pass the remote and the Cheez Doodles. I liked it very much.

Due Exchange:
Making a little social commentary in this one are we? The dialogue in this one did not feel as sharp, or on the mark as the other stories. Some of the convict's dialogue didn't sit with my image of the character. I wasn't quite sure where my loyalties should lie. The convict seemed defiantly indifferent about his fate, unrepetant, and untroubled by the fact that he was scheduled to "fry". The warden seems more evil than Blake (which is fine from where I am sitting). I did however like the contrast and theme of handing down a seemingly arbitrary death sentence - and how that decision is achieved.

Lastly, in terms of my commitment to provide useful feedback rather than ranting fodder, are there particular areas regarding your writing you would like to see addressed?

[This message has been edited by mul (edited February 26, 2002).]

Nathan Carter
February 26th, 2002, 06:51 PM
~looks to the left and the right as Mul reaches for the saw~
hey... this isn't the Tahiti room... where's my usual masseuse Gloria? Whattaya doin with that saw???

ahhhh... actually just having someone read all the way through something you wrote is rather satisfying, even if they don't completely like it. I imagine I'm still defining my goals as a writer as we speak, and fourms such as this are priceless in that respect.

A Woman With a Gun... I can't live with her, I can't live without her... honestly I felt that she was half baked when I submitted her, but I jumped the gun. I think it worked to my advantage however, because I've recieved very useful feedback, and it's one story I do plan to revise... I wonder if they let you re-submit?.

And the warden... frankly I intended for him to overshadow the evil of Blake, from death sentance to death sentance everyone lost... I'm just that kind of happy go lucky guy!
In retrospect, I see now that Blake, while the central character, is perhaps underdeveloped. I tend to focus on emotion and neglect mechanics. From bitter resentment to mortal fear... but who the heck is he? And so i learn...

"are there particular areas regarding your writing you would like to see addressed?" - madman with bone saw

Frankly... I don't know what I'm doing! I'm winging this whole thing... but enjoying it along the way. Seems the only thing I got going for me is my "style" in general, people seem to like it. If I could learn how to actually use it to write a story I might just have something!
I'm not even sure what my style is... I just get a hankerin and a vague idea... and I go clicking away at my keyboard. What would be nice is comment on how to maybe... "Outline" a story... for instance... should I start with a skeleten and then gradually add flesh, and how do I go about doing that? Because at the moment... I just pour out, like I'm filling up a glass... and subsequently the pieces fall randomly.

I know I just need to learn the basic elements of drama and literature... I droped out of school in ninth grade... whatta ya want from me???