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May 20th, 2007, 01:39 PM
I'm looking for someone(s) who are interested in the same type of writing that I am. I would like to do/receive detailed critiques. I've edited my first novel to the point that I'm happy with it and am in the midst of the submission process, but there is always room for improvement ;)

Below is the summary I have been sending with submissions (critiques for this are welcome as well!) and if it sounds like something you're interested in, the sample chapter is on my website: http://zellie.bigcreepymansion.com

"GAMA (G.enetic A.lteration and M.utation A.ssociation) was founded by the parents of Amy Madison in their pursuit of a cure for the disease atrophying her body. GAMA scientists abused their genetic knowledge on unwilling subjects who then developed unanticipated abilities. The resistance protects these escaped “brethren” from GAMA’s attempts to reclaim their subjects. GAMA asserts that the abilities are natural defects linked to brain dysfunction—effectively discrediting anything brethren might publicize against them.

Mary Lalley alias Dove is a sympathizer who organizes a safe house for brethren including Nighthawk, a known murderer who was born blind. His sight was so enhanced by GAMA that it is impossibly painful for him to see in daylight. Rose spies on her abusive boyfriend, a GAMA employee. The impetuous pillow-fight-starting Force joined GAMA’s program in order to be given the power to be a hero for his sister but upon failing, was discovered by an ex-GAMA employee now known as Jack Frost.

Dr. James Gandon, Dr. Cher L’rue, and their cohorts begin a program to alter neurological code. To the public, they offer criminals mentally rehabilitated into slave labor but for themselves they aim to instill loyalty to their organization. GAMA’s influence is worldwide, but so is that of the resistance and the balance of power is continually shifting. "

Thanks for any help (:

James Carmack
May 20th, 2007, 09:38 PM
The premise is interesting enough. I'll give you that.

Reading your sample chapter, I spotted a number of mechanical errors and several stylistic choices I take issue with. As this isn't a workshop, I'm not going to get into the former. In the case of the latter, two major point stands out.

One is the perspective. You're using the third-person omniscient. In other words, you freely jump from one character's head to the next. I'm not saying you can't use the 3PO, but I advise against it. Because you don't have some lofty, disinterested narrator, the third-person limited makes the narrative more personal by keeping the reader on the shoulder of a given active lead. For instance, in the first section, Amy is our active lead. Using the 3PL, we shouldn't know what's going on in Jessica's head. The camera can swivel around a bit and see what Amy doesn't, though. In other words, you can say that Jessica has a wounded look on her face, but not that she was hurt that Amy was pushing her away. The reader is only privy to the inside of Amy's head while she remains the active lead. The 3PO takes the mystery out of storytelling. It makes it easy to explicitly tell everything. The 3PL forces you to show more. Yes, I get annoyed by the "Show, don't tell" line, but the more I see, the more I understand the point they're trying to get across. There's a time and a place for telling, but too many up and comers tell too much. Keeping the 3PO out of their hands is a good start.

My second big stylistic complaint is weaving four disparate threads together in a single chapter. As a general rule, you should only keep closely related material in the same chapter. Separate threads deserve their own chapter. No one's forcing you to make the chapters a certain length, so why bunch together stuff that's not related? The Gandon and Kevin threads are close enough together that they can stay in the same chapter, but Amy and Svetlana each deserve their own chapter. "But the connection comes in later!" you say. Well then, when they come together, then you can put them in the same chapter.

I'll be blunt. While your story has promise, it's not ready for primetime yet. Maybe you still stand a shot at being picked up, but from what I understand, publishers are far less forgiving than I am. Don't get discouraged, though. Maybe the slush pile holds more oportunities than I give it credit for. Whatever the case, you've got work to do. You've dug out the gem. Now make it shine.

May 21st, 2007, 08:00 AM
Thanks for the response!

3PL is what I was going for--I think I must be switching perspectives too soon and for too limited a time. Show, don't tell should be a poster on my wall ;)

Do you have any reccomendations for catching the mechanical errors? I've had the entire novel read over by a bunch of people (lots of fellow english majors as well as one with a masters in technical writing) and it sounds like we still haven't caught everything.

It's good to hear the idea interests people other than me ;) I can fix mechanics a lot easier than I can fix a crappy concept.

James Carmack
May 21st, 2007, 09:28 AM
As far as perspective goes, if you're wanting to maintain the 3PL, ask yourself this: Does my active lead know this? If not, is it something the reader can observe via the camera on the active lead's shoulder? If the answer to both of these is no, then you've slipped into the 3PO.

My recommendation for catching mechanical errors? Find yourself a brilliant proofreader. ^_^ Seriously, you can only catch so much yourself. You need an extra set of eyes, eagle eyes with an encyclopedic knowledge of the language. If you can't quite get someone at that level, look for the next best thing. Machine grammar checkers help catch some mistakes, but their grasp of the language is limited. Still, when you've got nothing else, it's something.

May 22nd, 2007, 07:59 AM
Now if only brilliant proofreaders grew on trees! I've unfortunately run out of people I know to ask.

James Carmack
May 22nd, 2007, 08:55 AM
Keep your eyes peeled and you may find what you're looking for.

Power to the J
May 29th, 2007, 03:52 PM
I'll review this later today or tomorrow unless my computer starts acting strange (I've been saving files to my flash-drive like crazy). Just looked at it, and it seems intriguing enough.

Power to the J
May 31st, 2007, 04:30 PM
Alright. I read this last night, and I have a few things to say.

First: the plot is very interesting. You seem to have a firm grasp on it and it kept me interested throughout the chapter.

Second: the characterization was a little bit weak. The scenes seemed to jump around pretty quick, and I didn’t feel as if I knew any of the characters at all. The scenes changed a few times in the first chapter (which is very short by the way). You need to add a bit more to each part and stretch all of them into separate chapters, or at least two or three, but definitely not one.

Third: the descriptions of what people do are great. I really felt like I was watching people right before me. Very nice job in that department.

Fourth: this is the last comment I have to make. The dialogue seemed a little bit off to me. It seemed sort of corny, and I didn’t feel like what the characters were saying was what characters in real life would actually say.

Overall, this is real good and you have a lot of potential in this idea.

Now, sorry to do this to you (kind of): can you please review my story (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16917)? In return, ya know?

June 2nd, 2007, 06:48 PM
Haha, I dunno...I think people can be pretty corny ;) Any specific lines that were just too corny to bear? Or a specific character?

I really felt like I was watching people right before me. - Very, very good to hear. That used to be one of my big weaknesses. (Flipside of that is now other people are saying 'noo, too much description! I don't care what stuff looks like or what is around them, just get on with the story')

One of the problems with the jumping around stems from the first few chapters jumping through 6 years of time. After that, the pace normalizing and you get lots of pages devoted to each scene. I hope clarifying the '6 years' part at the start will clear that up.

Sorry? Psh ;p I *expect* that if someone gives me feedback, that I should give them feedback!

I did much revising. How do I put the chapter up on here? I've seen other people to it...and I tried going to the stories section but I get "No access...log into the forums first"...but I'm already logged in?

James Carmack
June 2nd, 2007, 08:39 PM
First, log in here at the forums. Then click the "Stories" tab. After that, scroll down to Step 2 and click the "activate your account" link. After you've done that, you should be in your splash page. It should be no sweat from there. In the future, all you'll have to do is click the "log in here" link (after logging in here at the forums).

I don't know if HTML tags work for story submissions, but thinks like indents, boldface and italics don't translate. To keep your submission readable, double-space after every line break. If HTML can't be used in submissions, an easy way to denote emphasis in plain text is to put hyphens around the desired text, like -this-.