View Full Version : Critique:Please comment on my first story (only one page long).
October 22nd, 2005, 09:38 PM
Here's the link: http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/979p0.html
I only started tonight and will update it as I go. Hopefully, given time and inspiration, it will turn into a full novel.
Really appreciate some early comments :)
October 22nd, 2005, 09:52 PM
This appears to be a promising start, Mike, but the first paragraph had me cringing a little. No matter how often I read it, those first two sentences seem a little clumsy, or over-written perhaps, with possibly too many references to 'lifeless'. It could just be me though. :)
October 22nd, 2005, 10:22 PM
This appears to be a promising start, Mike, but the first paragraph had me cringing a little. No matter how often I read it, those first two sentences seem a little clumsly, or over-written perhaps, with possibly too many references to 'lifeless'. It could just be me though. :)
I know what you're saying - I was considering removing the opening paragraph. Perhaps I will.
Thanks for your thoughts :)
October 22nd, 2005, 10:37 PM
I don't like commenting on unfinished work, but I think your writing style has a nice flow and is very descriptive. I can't really comment on the story, well because there is no story. But I would say just keep at it and sooner or later you may have a full-fledged novel on your hands. And, more importantly, it might actually be good!
October 27th, 2005, 05:00 AM
The first excerpt certainly makes me want to go on reading. It's an original idea (and that puts you above many published authors!) and I think you should persevere. It could be really Danté-esque. However it is also confusing. I don't get a very vivid sense of the place or of the angels or even of their problem. I get that this is some afterworld and that the angels are much diminished and have lost contact with their creator. But the writing doesn't visualise it as well as it could. This may sound strange but you need to stop writing about concepts and start describing the texture and fabric of what we're supposed to see.
That said, the quality of your writing is bumpy - some sentences are superior to others. You should decide what level of your sophistication your persona/narrator has and what level Gweb has.
"Angels, however, weren't the smartest entities"
"the latter were literally dubbed ‘extinct'"
sound a bit modern college boyish or, at best, Terry Pratchett-tongue-in-cheekish, which clashes horribly in style with:
"neither heaven nor hell longer held any meaning, and like pages in a blank book they were tossed aside, left to the scavengers who dwelled in emptiness. "
(And BTW, who are? heaven and hell are left to scavengers? Or the souls are left to scavengers?)
You need to decide which style you want to stick with, the dramatic one or the "I'm going to be modern" one.
Now some detailed quibbles:
"and then seize to be"
That would be "cease". And I quite like the atmosphere of the place, but, I can't imagine it very well. Try to make it more...real.
"dubbed" and "smart" and "lost all touch" are modern day terms and if this is some past or alternative world (as would seem by having a character named "Gweb") they seem anachronistic and throw the reader off.
"hung suspended from the rope that eased his pain"
You mean he hanged himself? Or is his soul hanging on some kind of metaphorical rope in free space?
And if he hanged himself, then the image is somewhat faulty: The rope doesn't actually ease the pain as much as squeeze it off or throttle it away. Your metaphor gives the reader a false sense of serenity, when in all probable fact his body is probably jerking all over the place in an instinctive, animalistic battle of its own.
"welcomed it with open arms"
gives me a strange image of a HANGED man spreading out his hands like some Jesus on a mountain. The "open arms" is also too much used in literature. Maybe you can find some more original way to say what you mean.
"he laughed bitterly."
That made me cringe. So many (anti-)heroes today try to engage the reader's emotion by laughing bitterly, it's come to be a cliché. Try to use another way to show his inner pain.
Besides, if he's hanging, there's no way he can actually laugh in any physical way. You need to show that it's his spirit doing the laughing.
"unsure as to where the holy crusade had found its new home, or why they'd been deserted in the first place,"
Are you talking about an actual crusade of angels that you've invented, or is it just a metaphor? I'm not sure what you're driving at. "Our" holy crusades were about "freeing" the holy land from the unbelievers - what's that got to do with the angel's problem? It sounds like the Angels got lost someplace near Constantinople while smiting Muslims. And, you know, nowadays crusades are generally considered bad things. All the burning, killing, and raping going on, I s'pose.
"within their holy heads"
"A shallow beard"
"it wasn't without good reason that many believed God dead"
Who do, the angels? Or Gweb's people?
"two dark stumps so deep-set into their skull"
Stumps are things that poke outwards, like doorknobs for instance. Not sure if this is the image you want to have.
"the strange energy they omitted"
Firstly it's emitted, not omitted and secondly "energy" is a rather technical sounding term. Makes me think of light bulbs.
Anyway, don't lose courage. You've got a great idea there, go and polish it up a bit.
October 27th, 2005, 03:18 PM
If I were in full crit mode, you would provide me with at least a half-day’s industry. I’d wind up presenting you with something along the lines of:
Dead rain fell from a dead sky. I like this a lot. It sets a really strong mood right off the bat.
Lifeless like the earth to which it fell, lifeless like that from which it fell, and lifeless like those upon whom it fell. Again, I like the feel of it. However, I think the first two phrases are in sync but the third departs from the mode; reads better if you keep the “which” motif, e.g., and lifeless like those on which it fell.
However it did not fall alone. Need a comma after ‘however’
Thoughtless shapes would often join it, unite for a passing moment, and then seize to be. (1)‘siese’ should be ‘cease’; (2) if ‘it’ refers to the rain, how do the thoughtless shapes unite with the rain? Do you mean fall in sync with the rain and then depart? Hard to follow your imagery.
Time and again would their cycles start and end, each one retracing the original path, unable to forget their last glances of reality. how do the cycles repeat if they unite for a passing moment and then cease to be?
Gweb, one of the departing souls, is ‘departing soul’ meant to link back to ‘thoughtless shapes’ two lines above? If it is, then what follows is hard to follow. Gweb is in the act of departing but not yet departed. Does he still join the dead rain to fall upon the building where he is dying?
Gweb, one of the departing souls, hung suspended from the rope that eased his pain. For minutes he dangled there in the dark room, second by second losing what he'd come to know as life. 'what he’d come to know?' Just recently? Only after getting strung up? What did he think it was before then?
It was easy, and after all, he'd rather forget the pain and constant suffering of existing in such a place. what place? All of a sudden we went from outside in a dead rain to inside being hanged.
Knowing that death was upon him, he welcomed it with open arms, and as his soul slid free of the body, he laughed bitterly. a bitter welcoming? With open arms when he is hanging limp from a rope? The imagery needs to be more consistent. If there is irony suggested in a bitter welcome than tell us what irony he sees. It’s his body his soul is departing, not ‘the' body or 'a' body. His soul would slide free of his body. Don’t let your clichés ruin your story.
The flights of angels were already lined up, waiting patiently for all the thousand souls to gather before them. Recommend you take this to active voice. Flights of angels waited patiently…
Angels, however, weren't the smartest entities, often leading herds of sinners along the route to heaven and the rare saint or two down to hell. ‘entities’ ought to be ‘creatures’ or something similar. The term entities negates any life in the beings, turns them into machines or mechanicals or things.
That’s a line crit, of course. If you are asking for nothing more than a take on your premise, then I would offer:
So, what you are trying to say is that it is a long overdue end of the world; it’s so passed its time that not only has god been forgotten but everything connected with him has deteriorated as well. It’s so bad that you can’t tell the difference between heaven and hell. Now there’s a theme you can work with.
Have you been talking to Holbrook? She’d be right at home with this one. :)
October 27th, 2005, 04:37 PM
Have you been talking to Holbrook? She’d be right at home with this one. :)
What have I done now?
I suppose I best go and read the piece ;)
February 2nd, 2008, 12:30 PM
My, my, my! I am extremely ashamed to say I don't remember reading a lot of these replies! Where was I? This thread is quite old now so I can't recall what I was doing at the time, but for some reason I seem to have bypassed all this excellent criticism! Did the thread just vanish? What on earth happened? Firstly I should apologize for not getting back to all your comments (especially Onions and Hereford Eye) and also thank everyone for their helpful and often detailed input. Really great having just read them over now! :D
It's been a good while since I've looked at this piece and I don't recall having added much more to it since. However, next week when I get home I will look at rewriting it with the excellent criticism in mind and perhaps expanding on it. I was just 16 when I wrote it at the time and started this thread so I didn't know much about writing (not that I do today), but I am better read and hopefully that should help. Perhaps I'll be able to make a good go of improving it. :)
Thanks again folks, and apologies!
February 4th, 2008, 10:26 PM
Well, most of the big criticisms are already given, so all I'm gonna say is, very nicely done indeed. ;) I only read half of it, but I give you a rating of 5 out of 5.
February 18th, 2008, 01:46 PM
Updated. Check it here here (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/979p0.html).
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