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philosopher
March 28th, 2006, 12:07 AM
Having just started writing, I am fairly in experienced, and don't expect to publish anything - I write for fun. However, I still very interested in polishing work, so it would be awsome to get a critique.
I am not easily offended, and would appreiciate hardcore advice, be candid and tell me what you think. (if you thinks its crap, tell me its crap, so I can fix it :)


Here it goes first page or so:


A handsome fire crackled in the living room, casting shadows across the wood-paneled walls. Two fourteen-year-old twins, one a boy and the other a girl sat lazily on the sofa. Both teenagers were tall and slender, and had dark brown hair. They sat in silence, their faces crestfallen, starring contemplatively into the warm fire.
After a short while, a man strolled into the room and sat beside the twins. His eyes were like windows into a cloudless night sky, and his features were soft and wrinkled. He looked about fifty (although he was much older), and wore silver spectacles atop his nose. The man cleared his throat, and the twins were immediately shaken from their trance.
“I have been wanting to tell you something,” The man said, “You see, I feel it would be best if you did not return to boarding school after Christmas break.” A smile crept across the twin’s faces, and they sighed in relief.
Paul began, “Thanks Aleister, we feel the same. I was hesitant to talk to you about it--afraid you would think we didn’t appreciate--,”
“Nonsense, I know you appreciate my effort. I am just sorry this school was so awful,” Aleister said.
All of a sudden, Paul and Mara felt warmer and more comfortable, with the news that they would not be returning to the atrocious school. Paul stood up and poked the fire with an iron rod.
“Are we going to stay here?” Mara asked.
“I’m afraid so,” Aleister said, smiling warmly.
“But, I thought you were always on the run, traveling for your job?” Paul Inquired.
“My circumstances have changed – I have decided to live in this cottage for a time,”
The twins seemed satisfied by this answer, and returned to gazing in the fire. They didn’t notice their grandfather turn pale and shift nervously in his ancient leather chair.


Aleister glanced at the two teenagers, convinced they were daydreaming by their blank stares. Nervously Aleister, focused on a book that was lying on a mahogany table half way across the room. In his mind’s eye he imagined a cloud of air forming beneath the book, pushing it off the ground. Seconds later, the old book tentatively floated across the room, landing gently on Aleister’s lap. He sighed quietly, feeling drained of energy, and opened the book to read.
“How did you just do that!?” Mara was starring right at him, eyes wide with amazement.
“What are you talking about, I didn’t do anything,” Aleister lied.
“That book,” Mara said with enthusiasm, “for a second it was hovering right above your lap, I swear--”
“Mara,” Aleister said, cutting her off, “you haven’t gotten much sleep since you got back from school. There was no book hovering anywhere, I was just sitting here reading.”
Mara looked taken aback, and glanced at Paul, who seemed surprised. After a few minutes, Aleister arose from his leather seat and said, “I am going to make dinner,” before disappearing down the hall into the kitchen.
Mara asked in a low whisper, “Did you see that too, or was I hallucinating?”
“Of course I did, it was incredible. I didn’t even know that was possible,”
“How do you think he did it?”
“I have no idea. We should try and catch him again when he doesn’t know were looking,” Paul said.

Expendable
March 28th, 2006, 12:44 AM
It's a little different and could definitely use some polishing, but it's not bad.

Only for future submissions, please use the Community area, space is limited here. You click on Stores up top, then you sign up for a community account. Doesn't cost anything. Then you have a place to put your stories. For people to see your stories, you have to set the Status to Published - we can't see drafts. Then just post a link here back to your story so we can read and critique it.

In the begining it's unclear that they've just arrived. It might be better to start your story a little earlier, with maybe the two arriving at a bus or train station to be picked up by their grandfather.

You can then use conversation between the two to help set their attitudes, freedom from the boarding school even if it's just for Christmas - plus spending time with a favorite relative. Maybe a few hints about the town and the outside of the cottage, getting the two settled.


Paul began, “Thanks Aleister, we feel the same. I was hesitant to talk to you about it--afraid you would think we didn’t appreciate--,”
Do Paul and Mara always talk so formally? They sound older. And call their grandfather by his first name?


The twins seemed satisfied by this answer, and returned to gazing in the fire. They didn’t notice their grandfather turn pale and shift nervously in his ancient leather chair.

Aleister glanced at the two teenagers, convinced they were daydreaming by their blank stares. Nervously Aleister, focused on a book that was lying on a mahogany table half way across the room. In his mind’s eye he imagined a cloud of air forming beneath the book, pushing it off the ground. You've already said Aleister's nervous and the kids are daydreaming by the fire in the top paragraph then repeating it in the bottom paragraph. One of these should go.

I'm looking forward to reading more. Don't disappoint!

-Expendable =^_^=

BrianC
March 28th, 2006, 07:47 AM
Well, philosopher I like your opening sentence a great deal. I love to see unusual, yet appropriate, noun-adjective pairings. They keep writing, and therefore reading, unpredictable; there’s no cliché in a handsome fire. Well done.

Then, you become cluttered a bit in trying to describe the young people rumpled morosely on the sofa. The phrasing and pacing of the words here seem awkward. Try to tighten up in this section—something like this, perhaps:


A handsome fire crackled in the living room, casting shadows across wood-paneled walls. Two fourteen-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, lazed on the sofa as only teenagers may do. Tall and slender, with dark brown hair, the pair silently stared into the fire. After a short while, a man strolled into the room and sat beside the twins. In the firelight his eyes were like windows into a cloudless night sky, and his features were soft and wrinkled. He looked to be about fifty, although he was much older, and wore silver-rimmed spectacles atop his nose. The man cleared his throat, shaking the two unhappy dreamers from their trance.

Other than this Expendable has given you some good advice already.

philosopher
March 28th, 2006, 08:54 AM
Thanks a bunch for all the awsome feedback. Time for a rewrite...


Oh...one last thing: is it best to write a whole story, and then go back and edit and polish. Or go bit by bit, and edit as one goes?

Expendable
March 28th, 2006, 11:49 AM
Some like to clean it up as they go, others like to write the whole story first and then edit. Really it's what's more comfortable for you. I have no problem editing each chapter.

If you're not sure, try writing it in full first and then do the edit. Many of the writers here recommend waiting before doing an edit so you can do it with a clear head.

choppy
March 28th, 2006, 01:12 PM
Oh...one last thing: is it best to write a whole story, and then go back and edit and polish. Or go bit by bit, and edit as one goes?

I had an interesting discussion last night with some other writers about this. One suggested that there are multiple phases to the writing process:
(1) Speculation
(2) Research
(3) Planning
(4) Drafting (writing the first draft)
(5) Editing (including re-writes)
(6) Polishing

There are no clear guidlelines on how to progress through each step, or when each is finished. Ultimately, as Expendable suggested, every writer has to decide on his or her own what works. I might suggest however, that it's best not to get too tied up with the perfection of each chapter - otherwise you'll never advance through the process.

Expendable
March 28th, 2006, 10:43 PM
I might suggest however, that it's best not to get too tied up with the perfection of each chapter - otherwise you'll never advance through the process.

Hate it when he's right. ;)