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BrianC
September 25th, 2006, 09:50 AM
I've posted a new short story. This one I will submit for publication, perhaps to Grendelsong or something similar, and so I will delete it after a while. But I would like to have some criticism first, suggestions for improvement, wake-up calls.

Please let me know what you think.

Here is the link: Boxes for the Poor (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/1941p0.html).

Don't worry; it isn't terribly long, only about 2000 words.

Dazzlinkat
September 25th, 2006, 01:25 PM
Your story was really good. I was pulled right in. Hope it gets published!!

Dawnstorm
September 25th, 2006, 02:12 PM
Hi,

Good story. I like the way your language gains vigour in reminiscence.

I feel that, sometimes, the "mourning" is overdone, though. I'd get rid of a lot of the "once" occurences, but that's just a personal preference.

Some comments, mostly grammar and flow, as little else needs be amended. (All the way down I'll comment on how you, IMO, messed up the ending, but that's it.)


I had walked into it

Tense: have walked


hugging my shuddering body tight to keep from vomiting, to keep from falling.

hugging tight to keep from vomiting: check
hugging tight to keep from falling: ? (collapsing? Fall, to me, suggests balancing problems, which hugging tight doesn't really help with. Not sure though, hence the "?")


Passersby

Passers-by (I'm not sure if your version is correct spelling, too; my dictionary only has the hyphenated-version.)


Naked I had risen, somewhere and when now lost to memory.

Are both the "somewhere and when" lost to memory? Only the when?

I'd rephrase that, perhaps use parallel structures (as "some" is non-specific by default, I'd go with that)

Example:

"Naked I had risen, somwhere, some forgotten day. (That doesn't sound too good, but it's easier for me to make my point with specific examples.)

Alternatively: "Naked I had risen, where and when now lost to memory."

Oh, and: tense:

"Naked I rose" (start of past tense narration)

"Naked I have risen" (retains a relationship with the present, but doesn't work if you go for a parallel "some"-construction above, as this fixes the event as something that is past. Also, you'd have to re-view if you're sticking with past tense for the following sentence. [So, if you use "have risen", I feel you should also use "have found" etc. or find some sort of transition.])

Personally, I'd prefer present perfect (and no parallel "some"-structure, as I suggested above).


I had walked

"walked" or "have walked" (see above)


had wandered

wandered/have wandered (see above)


In the end I had wandered here, to this town of Syr, finding charity no where in the world.

Misplaced participle clause (if I don't misunderstand the sentence)

"Finding Charity no where in the world, I have wandered here, to this town of Syr." (Depending on how you pronounce "Syr", you may have a rhyme [here/Syr] which you might want to avoid, as it undermines the flow of ideas by drawing faux connections.)


passersby

passers-by (see above)


My vision wavers, now and then.

I feel the sentence would be more powerful if it ended on "wavers", but the transition from the previous sentence works better if the sentence starts with "My vision". "My vision, now and then, wavers." is an ugly sentence, but that's the structure I would suggest.


A man jostles me back to here, now. He steps on my foot...]

The first sentence is unnecessary: "A man steps on my foot..." or "A man jostles me, steps on my foot..." (depending on whether the jostling is literal as well as metaphoric)

[quote]Stumbling steps, trembling slowly I cross to the petty market bustling in the square outside the temple.

Participle overload.

Also: "petty market bustling": petty and bustling conjure very different images. They're not mutually exclusive, but they require different frames of reference. "petty" requires more philosophy than "bustling".

Reading on, I get what you're saying but it temporarily stopped my flow.


fashionable side of town

side?


On one hand an old woman sits

On one hand? Is this world-idiom for right/left? (--> "on the other hand" later)


on which is spread little piles of dates and figs and lemons

are spread (piles = plural)


with a tight, pinched faces

face


There are the women, adoring, loving the god Adon, and there the flowering of the plants in the meadow.

"flowering" is a non-countable noun and requires the singular:

There are the women, and there is the flowering

Alternatively: There are the women, and there the flowering plants in the meadow.


There is my story written in well-carved stone on the pediment of the fašade of the old temple.

Since the story isn't actually "written", it's a metaphor, but one that adds little (as he's not a god of pens and quills).

There is my story(,) carved into stone(,) on the pediment...


A different bustle now, a closing, shutting down for the night sort of bustle.

"sort of bustle" sounds out of register with your narrator's style.


only linen cloths wrapped around their waists

"cloths" is unnecessary, I feel.


body enwrapped loosely in cloth like the togas of upstart Roma

"enwrapped"? Why not simply "wrapped"?


He bears a casket in his arms held stiff, as if the dignity of the god mattered

"held stiff": sounds tagged on, and it's not immediately apperant whether the arms or the casket are/is held:

He bears/holds a casket in stiff arms, as if...


White linen robes drapes from her shoulders

1. drape (plural-noun)

2. "drape" isn't usually used with "from": to drape round/over something, or to drape something, depending on whether you mean rest on, or enhance the looks of by resting on. Perhaps you're looking for another word that means "to hang"?


her skin scored with wrinkles and spotted.

I'd reverse the order; I feel it reads easier if the shorter item in a list comes first.


She walks with a stick and a shuffling limp.

This reads odd, because the with has two different meanings (using as aid, and displaying). I suggest replacing the and by a comma; then we have a subordinate clause modifying the main clause.

She walks with a stick, a shuffling limp.


She is yet young, not yet ready for the rites.

Repetition of "yet". I'd keep the second, but get rid of the first. Actually, I'd put "too young", as she'll probably still be young when she's ready for the rites. It's a matter of degree, not category.


And do the rites matter anymore?

"Anymore" seems out of style.


Will the rites for this girl matter? No, perhaps not.

Delete those. "Too few believe," is a stronger ending for the paragraph.


barely raising a little cloud

"barely" and "little" say the same thing in this context. I'd get rid of little. (They don't enhance each other, really; at least not in my reading.)


I want to be see

seen


as I bit into

tense: bite


Once I was immortal. Tomorrow, I think, as I bit into the soft sweetness of the fig, tomorrow perhaps I will walk again, to the next dusty town along the dusty road, to a village where I hear that the old ways are still honored, where I matter. Once I was immortal. Once I had power. Tomorrow, perhaps, I will die.

I don't like the last three sentence. You are presenting a dying god:


Once I was immortal, now I was dying slowly. Slowly.

(Oh, look, I missed a tense slip: "now I am dying".)

The entire story treats death as a process, then - suddenly - the conclusion makes an event of it. I feel the "plan" (including the hope) is a much stronger ending, as the reader knows it's probably not going to happen. (The word "matter", though, does not make for good "last" word. You could add another "Perhaps." or something, I don't know.)

***

Good luck with the story. It's certainly good enough to have a chance. :)

Hereford Eye
September 25th, 2006, 04:20 PM
I skipped the Dazzler and DS' reviews to not prejudice myself and what I want to say.
The story needs editing for tense and person agreement. There are too many such mis-matches for the story to fly as is. I suspect DS will be on top of those.
What worries me is the 'why' of things. The protagonist asks the correct question often enough in the story and a good answer may or may not be implied but I would like to see it more definitized. It shouldn't be blow-by-blow or anything of that sort, but
[spoiler]
a confirmation that this is what happens when the people's faith dies which is what I gather from the text. Maybe, though, I am simply projecting and you have another idea in mind. I'd like to see more of your thought in the story.

MrBF1V3
September 26th, 2006, 12:49 AM
BrianC- just a few comments, I don't think I have strength for much more than that after reading. (That poor god!) You do get the emotion of the character involved in the story, which is a good thing. The protagonist's unrequited quest is disappointing on many levels. I think you may have something good, but I would suggest some serious editing.

You tend to use extended sentences, which sometimes works, but is easily overdone and can mess up the cadence of a story. I would also mention how sometimes long sentences can cause serious misunderstanding, but I think DS illustrated that several times. Sometimes I can discover those types of problems by reading my story out loud(, it also gives the kids proof that their dad is nuts). I would say especially where there is action, make the sentences shorter. When there is dark and sardonic brooding, feel free to allow the words to ramble through the pages.

You might also consider reserving any thoughts of past times to the good times. -this is just a style thing, and you must feel free to do what works for you- But he's thinking about how powerful he used to be and how good things were, and then mentions that his vision wavers, now and then--indicating an ongoing condition. I know it makes the situation worse than it has been going downhill for some time, but consider keeping that element in the background while building a sharp contrast between the awful 'what is' and the really great 'what once was'. Take that for what it's worth.

And yeah, keep working,

B5

BrianC
September 26th, 2006, 08:56 AM
Wow thank you all for the absolutely great advice and comments. I have made many revisions, for which the story is much stronger. I think still not perfect, but it's at least at 95%. B5 I was glad to see your comment about capturing the emotional state of Adon. I started with just the opening line, we have boxes for the poor, and a desire to write something consonant with the feeling that repeating the line engendered in me. So, the story became one of melancholy. I hope that I have been successful at that. Yet, I do not want it to be entirely depressing, so I have put a bit of optimism in the final, revised paragraph:


Tomorrow, I think, as I bite into the soft sweetness of the fig, tomorrow perhaps I will walk again, to the next dusty town along the dusty road. I hear there may be a village where the old ways are still honored, where I matter still. Once I was immortal. I had power. Now I am dying, for too few now believe. But dying, for a god, takes a long time in this world. Tomorrow, perhaps, I will walk again and beg again. Tomorrow I will see what happens.

Again, thank you all. I'm going to leave the story up for a while longer before deletion. Would anyone like to see the full revised version?

ETA: I've taken it down. Thanks all. If you want to see the revised version, just let me know and I'll PM you.

Dawnstorm
September 27th, 2006, 10:57 AM
I like the new ending better; I think it's more in keeping with the rest of the story.

One thing:

"Now I am dying, for too few now believe. But dying, for a god, takes a long time in this world."

That's too explicit for my taste. Instead of lamenting his condition, he's explaining it. (Although it's probably the confirmation that HE wanted.)

Although it does have an intriguing effect on how I re-read the story (especially with respect to immortality). If dying is a known issue for gods ("dying, for a god") that recasts the entire story in a new light. Now I have to see his condition, not as a reversal - as a god viewing his condition in the light of "alien" mortality, but I have to view immortality as a different kind of mortality, one that applies to gods.

An interesting issue to puzzle out.

***

Do you have a time limit? If not, I could take a look. I'll PM you.

Merancapeman
September 27th, 2006, 12:45 PM
Blast it all, Brian, I can't seem to find your story. I was so looking forward to reading it, but the link doesn't work for me. I might as well ask if you can send it to me. It sounds really good from what I've read on this thread! :D